Progressive politics, news & talk hosted by David Waldman

Greg Dworkin updated us on the Connecticut legislature's progress toward a vote on new gun safety measures, and notes that a new polling report says the fervor for reform on a national level hasn't dimmed appreciably in the months since 12/14. Indianapolis "Moms Demand Action" rally for gun law reform draws a counter-protest: guys who just want to stand right up next to you with their AR-15s. Because Freedom. Just one of the weird meta twists that protesting about guns by showing up with guns can lend to an already tense situation. Also: a local city council declares all future laws restricting guns to be unconstitutional, because they love the Constitution so much, except for the part about supremacy and also the separation of powers. Later, a story about college fraternities and liability insurance leads to speculation about how they might feel about proposed laws allowing guns on campus. Despite her CPAC railing against high-priced political consultants, turns out most of Sarah Palin's PAC money has gone to... high-priced political consultants. Surprise! Just the latest in a long line of pols who use their PACs as lifestyle slush funds. Finally, we finish up on the "trickle-down consumption" article, and yell at WalMart some more, this time for contemplating a plan to trick their customers into becoming unpaid delivery drivers. Dolts, or evil geniuses? You decide.

Direct download: March_29_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51pm EST

Greg Dworkin joined the early discussion of our new category of #GunFAIL emerges: guns people claim they "forgot" they were carrying. At airports, courthouses and other secure areas. Cold, dead hands! But also, I totally forgot I even had a gun! Wanting to have things both ways on guns isn't anything new, but it seems particularly outrageous that the same people for whom guns are the end-all, be-all could also forget they even have them. Well, if that doesn't suprise you, you probably also won't be surprised to learn there are those who don't see much point in the TSA screening for guns at all, which is another amazing thing discovered during this inquiry. Also: police departments around the country are having trouble finding enough bullets to keep their officers supplied, thanks to the nationwide panic and run on ammunition inspired by believers in gun confiscation conspiracy theories. The second half of the show was a broad economic discussion centering on the surprising development that Wal-Mart seems to be running itself into the ground in a vicious cycle wherein the drive for ever bigger management bonuses become dependent on keeping payroll--their largest cost center--down, but then seeing short-staffing hurt sales, which they compensate for by... cutting payroll. If that's not a metaphor for spending cut-driven budget hawkery, I don't know what is.

Direct download: March_28_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51pm EST

Somehow, people keep shooting one another and doing various other wacky things with their guns, so we keep covering it. Greg Dworkin joins us to discuss developments including the decision in the town of Enfield, CT to put armed guards in their schools, the pullback in South Carolina from their proposed Docs 'n Glocks gag rule, and the marriage equality issues currently before the Supreme Court. Armando also joins in the discussion on today's DOMA proceedings, taking on issues of justiciability, standing and others which underlie the substantive issues. In between, we discussed a statistical analysis of guns and safety issues as written up in the UK Guardian, and two recent #GunFAIL incidents that almost perfectly crystalize the issues behind those statistics, namely that gun owners appear much more likely to inject themselves in dangerous ways into already dangerous situations, relying on a false sense of security their guns may sometimes give them. And of course, we had to take note of the insane story out of Tennessee of the "Sharia Sink" in the state capitol, and Glenn Beck's insistence that the ethics investigation into Michele Bachmann's failed presidential bid is really a Muslim Brotherhood plot against her.

Direct download: March_27_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:35am EST

All eyes are on the Supreme Court today, as it considers the California Prop. 8 question and perhaps the future of marriage equality rights across the country. Greg Dworkin and Armando helped round out the conversation on that topic, noting both the wider social and political trends that make up the context in which the case will be decided as well as the legal and mechanical framework. Two very different ways of looking at the case and its potential impact. We also read Sally Kohn's Salon piece making another key point bound up in the issue: that there are questions beyond marriage equality that have, for strategic reasons, been set aside, but which will necessarily come to the fore once this issue is settled. Specifically, is it worth elevating marriage above other familial relationships at all? And even if it is, is it fair to do so? Expect that to be the future of the debate. Also discussed: that last entry among "The 5 Shadiest Crimes Ever Pulled Off by Famous Corporations," specifically, The Battle of Blair Mountain, and; a fascinating and well-lawyered immigration case that highlights the value of some of President Obama's small steps toward meaningful reform.

Direct download: March_26_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:35am EST

Plenty of #GunFAIL and gun-related discussion today. Greg Dworkin updated us on his extensive interview with Australian 60 Minutes on the events in Newtown, and on the pace of legislative responses on gun policy. Among the latest to take note of the #GunFAIL phenomenon is The New Yorker, wherein we learn the historical lesson that "melancholy accident" was the original hashtag used by newspapers of the colonial era and early 19th century. We also read Mark Sumner's Sunday Kos piece, "Congratulations on your new gun laws." Switching gears for some economic analysis, we read Salon's "How rich 'moochers' hurt America," and then four entries from "The 5 Shadiest Crimes Ever Pulled Off by Famous Corporations," from Cracked magazine, of all places! Humor and entertainment outlets have a better read on the news these days than most newsrooms do, it seems. Sigh.

Direct download: March_25_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:51pm EST

Beset by a different set of technical difficulties today, the show went on anyway! There was much more to discuss about the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, mostly focusing on the toxic political atmosphere that existed, and still plagues us in many ways to this day. Greg Dworkin joined us despite the live stream outage, to discuss the current state of play of federal gun policy legislation and state gun gag laws on physicians. In other news, Sen. Coburn amends the continuing resolution to block the National Science Foundation from funding research not directly connected to national security or the country's economic interests, the real target of which is apparently the funding of political science research, including surveys of American voters' attitudes toward the Senate and the filibuster, and study of presidential executive powers. Both of those are hot topics on the show, of course. And what have they got to do with the rest of the day's stories? Well, don't the boundaries of executive power have anything to do with, say, getting us into a boondoggle of a war that compromised both our national security and our economic interests? Republicans just can't ever seem to see the forest for the trees.

Direct download: March_21_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:57pm EST

The 10th anniversary of the Iraq war continues to dominate the discussion today, but of course we can connect it to other top issues, like the strangely Very Serious push for austerity and slashing of the social safety net, which every Very Serious traditional media analyst agrees is absolutely imperative, despite the shrill cries of those who say the evidence points to the necessity for the exact opposite. But other than that, in no other way are the two stories related. Except of course for the deficit "crisis" having been largely created by that war, which was supposed to pay for itself and be a cakewalk. We also take a brief detour for an update on the week in Congress, including the parliamentary maneuverings around the continuing resolution and the competing budget resolutions, including a discussion of how and why the Senate hasn't produced a budget for the past few years but will this year. Afterwards, Armando joins us to take the discussion back to the parallels between the Iraq war political landscape and today's austerity craze.

Direct download: March_20_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:10pm EST

The 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war gives us as good a reason as any to focus on the Republican history of being wrong and/or ineffective on pretty much everything, since forever. Wrong on foreign policy? See Nixon's interference with Vietnam peace talks, Reagan's interference with Iranian hostage negotiations and Iran-Contra, and the disaster of Iraq. Wrong on the economy, taxes and the social safety net? See their dire warnings of tyranny and socialism from 1935, 1965, 1993 and today. Wrong on their ability to reach out to minorities? See the history of their failed attempts but repeated patting of their own backs for "trying." And of course, wrong on guns and what to do about them, even when those in favor of working out some common sense reforms offer up those the NRA has offered up in the past. Hey, can't we have some kind of bipartisan compromise on a Grand Bargain with these people? Lucy promised she'd let Charlie Brown kick the football this time. So isn't it Charlie Brown's responsibility to lead now?

Direct download: March_19_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:58am EST

Everything you want in a Monday morning show. Lousy weather and technical difficulties! Republicans in disarray! Yes, one branch of the bitterly divided Republican party is attempting a reboot, while the CPAC branch stomps its feet, bravely endorsing both dynastic libertarianism and the brave protest of drinking a very large Diet Coke on stage, in defiance of... New York City's Republican mayor. Greg Dworkin reflected on the Republican autopsy, as many are calling the report, noting in particular that they're well aware that most voters see them as "narrow minded" and "scary." Hi, CPAC! On the gun front, the NRA steps up its efforts to prevent local authorities from revoking gun rights from the target of protective restraining orders. That ought to help win back the 80+ percent parting ways with them on background checks! Some #GunFAIL stories, new and old that challenge some assumptions. South Carolina looks to join the fool's parade, barring physicians from asking about guns in the home. In other news: Congress continues work on the continuing resolution and on next year's budget. Media Matters points out that Jennifer Rubin is waving around a report that debunks everything she wrote about the New Black Panthers, but saying it proves her right. What a shock. The story of how the federal SNAP program sustains fully one-third of Woonsocket, RI. The implications of reinvigorating labor law with a new fighter at the Labor Department.

Direct download: March_18_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:54am EST

It's Friday, and that means it's time for publishing the next installment of #GunFAIL. And that in turn means it's another big gun discussion day. Greg Dworkin called in with news of the big multi-group gun policy meeting in Newtown, including more talk about the need for hard data on gun incidents, and viewing gun policy as a public health issue. A few interesting points crystallized by gun news include the enormous costs associated with recovery from wounds, and where those costs (thanks to many other socio-economic factors figuring into gun ownership and usage) tend to fall on the income scale. In other news: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) changes his view on marriage equality after revealing that his own son is gay. And in not-exactly-news: the Popes Benedict were a weird bunch, historically speaking. Lastly, we finish up reading and discussing the Mother Jones piece, "All Work and No Pay."

Direct download: March_15_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:30pm EST

Connect all the dots! Republicans are busting out everywhere, saying the Supreme Court doesn't actually get to decide what laws are constitutional, the party will do best by opposing the black guy in the White House, everything you think you know about the Constitution is wrong if it disagrees with what we think we know about it, continuing their abuse of the filibuster, etc., etc. etc. Greg Dworkin joined us to discuss all this, give a little (important!) context to that quote about opposing the black guy, and remind us that despite the surface crazy, Republicans are playing a patient long game here. And winning. So, where did the dots that we connected today come from? Scott Keyes and Ian Millhiser's "GOP Congressman Says Supreme Court Doesn't Actually Get to Decide Whether Laws Are Constitutional" for Think Progress. Corey Rabin's "I am not a racist, I just hate democracy." Peter Finn's "NRA money helped reshape gun law" and  Jonathan Bernstein's "Harry Reid's only move is to threaten immediate Senate reform" both for the Washigton Post. Jeffrey Toobin's "How Filibusters Harm Federal Courts: Caitlin Halligan's Cautionary Tale" for the New Yorker. And Lee Fang's "Charles Koch Reflects on Last Election, Promises to Do More to 'Persuade Politicians" for The Nation. All topped off by Hunter's dispatch from CPAC, "Lions and tigers and communists, oh my"!

Direct download: March_14_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:59am EST

Another grab bag of topics and info, today. Greg Dworkin continued building on the narrative of guns as a public health issue, and brought word of Team 26's arrival in DC. Today's #GunFAIL updates included follow-ups on some recent stories, plus the story of a robber shooting himself in the nuts. Always a crowd pleaser! In Congressional and Congress-related news, the Senate is stuck on another filibuster of a motion to proceed, this time to the House-passed continuing resolution to fund the government past the end of March, and the NLRB is planning an appeal of the recent DC Circuit Court's ruling invalidating actions taken during the service of recess-appointed board members. Armando joined us to discuss the recess appointments question, and raise a related one about how Paul Ryan's budget purports to commit the Social Security trustees to tackling the task of fully funding the trust fund for a 75 year window. We wrapped up with a return to Robert Parry's "Rethinking Watergate/Iran-Contra," and some consideration of whether expansionary views of executive power has been equivalent as between Democratic and Republcian administrations.

Direct download: March_13_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:30pm EST

A little bit of everything today. Greg Dworkin joined us for a brief Team 26 update, and a continued discussion of guns as a public health issue. Conservative backlash against departure from the "Hastert Rule." Peggy Noonan's profoundly stupid article. Which one? The one about how she had a sad because she stayed in a budget rate hotel and couldn't find a footman. Shocked by the place being short-staffed, Nooners apparently has no idea how it could happen. But Mother Jones explains in "All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup." Armando then joined the show for a discussion of NRO having a sad because conservatives are the heirs of the situational ethics of John Calhoun, to some poignant examples of the inheritance: their abuse of the "states' rights" canard on marriage, abortion, guns, voting rights, and just about anything under the sun. But don't both parties engage in hypocrisy from time to time? Sure. But you wanna talk about differences in orders of magnitude? Let's start reading "Rethinking Watergate/Iran-Contra" by Robert Parry.

Direct download: March_12_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:16pm EST

We're back for another Monday, and the beginning of Daylight Austerity Time. The Associated Press has picked up the drum beat of cataloging and taking a closer look at gun incidents around the country, focusing on January 19th, like I did, and like NBC has done since. But curiously, neither NBC nor the AP bothered to mention that January 19th was "Gun Appreciation Day." Greg Dworkin joined in to update us on the "Team 26" ride from Newtown to DC, now in progress, and continued to make the case for gun policy as a public health issue, as a follow-up to his Sunday Kos piece on the subject. We could use a little help on that score from gun folks, though, who could help a lot by doing their part to encourage real compliance with safety protocols, and stop accepting those who refuse as full members in mainstream gun culture. Despite the lip service given to gun safety, the pattern of shooting two toddlers per weekend continues apace, as does the trend of mistaking one's partner for an intruder. Is there really nothing we can do consistent with gun rights here? Moving on to the political roundup: the Senate begins moving a budget for the first time in years, Republican presidential hopefuls somehow view CPAC as a springboard to legitimacy (!), Jeb denies the existence of Bush family baggage, Sen. Coburn says Senate leadership is the big hurdle to compromise, House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy quietly declares the Hastert Rule dead, and Republican crazies make compromise tough. Shocking. To wrap up, we read Krugman on Dwindling Deficit Disorder, and's roundup of the nonsensical agenda behind "Fix the Debt."

Direct download: March_11_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:23pm EST

A good Friday mixed bag. Greg Dworkin called in to discuss the jobs report, the Paul talking filibuster vs. the Halligan silent filibuster, and means testing Social Security vs. lifting its tax caps. Of course, there was more #GunFAIL news, just illustrating that even highly trained professionals find they can have potentially serious trouble with shooting situations. You can't have a discussion of both gun news and jobs news without Meteor Blades. So we didn't! And as always, we were much the better for it. We talked economics in general, reading Laura Clawson's post on the divergence of increased productivity and real wages. Why doesn't anyone ever worry about diminishing that incentive to work hard? Probably because they love being historically wrong. To prove the point, we turned to a Krugman piece reviewing Republican predictions of doom and disaster from the Obama stimulus, and from there, to an old Daily Kos piece reviewing Republican predictions of doom and disaster from the Clinton stimulus. And Medicare. And Social Security. This. Is. What. They. Do. To wind up, we noted word from scientists that the Earth's temperatures appear to be at a 4,000 year high! And we left you with a weekend thinker about immigration, the abandoned capitalist value of the free movement of labor, and just for a twist... how that relates to the consecration of rights, including gun rights.

Direct download: March_8_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:44pm EST

The Great Dishwasher Installation Caper of 2013 is over, and so is Rand Paul's sorta-kinda filibuster of the Brennan nomination. We had a shortened visit with Greg Dworkin, but he reviewed a new Q-Poll with national numbers (as compared to CT numbers) on gun policy issues and gave us an update on the "Team 26" ride from Newtown to Washington, DC. After a brief couple of points about the Paul filibuster, Armando took the reins while I managed the household, and from there, the discussion turned to the issues surrounding drone policy, the fatally-flawed AUMF. That encroachment on Congressional power led to discussion of yet another, this time by the courts in the Voting Rights Act case. Rejoining the show (at last!), I revisited the dynamics of the Paul filibuster, took up a listener question about how party leaders are selected and challenged in the Senate, and then had to wrap up with two more rather egregious tales of #GunFAIL that just couldn't wait.

Direct download: March_7_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:04pm EST

It's finally snowing. Therefore, nothing can get done. That's what happened in the Senate today, as the filibuster once again blocks a top judicial nomination. Did you know President Obama hasn't been able to confirm a single judge to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, by most accounts the second highest court in the land? Nothing to see here! Move along! Greg Dworkin joined us with the latest Q-Poll, hitting gun policy issues from new and interesting angles, plus the latest on United Physicians of Newtown and "Team 26," biking from Newtown to DC to raise awareness of gun issues. Of course, we had to add to the #GunFAIL record with the latest news, both the outrageous and yet more items that really crystalize the problems with widespread gun usage, including a recent Dear Abby column on the subject. You know you're penetrating the popular consciousness when you break the Dear Abby barrier. Next, a review of the day in Congress, including a new CR in the House and a judicial filibuster in the Senate. Then, the foolish Republican state legislator in Washington state, forced to admit (!) that bicyclists don't actually create a carbon dioxide emissions problem. Another look at the gap between record high corporate profits and record low household income, plus a note about how tax expenditures (which are the same thing as grants or subsidy payouts) could more than cover the sequestration cuts they're imposing on us instead. Lastly, some observations about how Republicans redefined "balance" in order to try to squeeze out even more cuts, and who the wealthy (on "both sides," admittedly) are paying to make sure nobody notices that you're getting the short end of the stick. Again.

Direct download: March_6_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:36pm EST

Pundit-centric DC is still insistent that everything is Obama's fault because he's not offering to lead or to compromise, which fact comes into better focus if you ignore all of Obama's efforts to lead or compromise. Greg Dworkin points out the latest to fall into this trap: Bill Keller of the New York Times, who's called out on it by Greg Sargent of the Washington Post. All of which just brings us back to the Upton Sinclair observation that it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. And nowhere is that more true than in Congress, where there's an entire party built on the idea of running know-nothings for office & filling in the blanks later, with the old campaign-in-a-box trick. The less your team knows when they get to Washington, the greater the chance they'll eat what you feed them. We also talked a bit about Mark Sanford's comeback bid in South Carolina, and were reminded that we ought to be talking about the leading Democrat in that race, Elizabeth Colbert Busch. So we did! After a little diversion into regional accents and their political implications, we talked about the latest and greatest in Republican Crazy: the theory of the missing "original Thirteenth Amendment." So now they hate science, history, the judicial system, and basically any metric or system of thought by which people might come to conclusions out of keeping with their wish lists. Hello. Upton Sinclair. Thank you. And just to recap the economic discussion from yesterday, and add a fresh approach via The Atlantic today, this applies to the complete failure to produce job growth even after conceding the entire conservative economic wish list, as well. Ta-da!

Direct download: March_5_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:04pm EST

Back from the weekend, filled as usual with plenty of #GunFAIL shootings. Greg Dworkin joined us this morning with news of the punditry's discovery that Republicans aren't particularly serious about governing. Not that it's changed anything. It's all still somehow the President's fault, for failing to lead the un-leadable. We also give a hat tip to friend of the show Twigg, who gave us a nice shout out in a Daily Kos diary! Then, a read through a NYT piece on how the recovery is lifting corporate profits to record levels but not adding jobs. Gee whiz! Why aren't things trickling down? And hey, remember when Mitt Romney tried to make political hay out of the President saying "the private sector is doing fine"? Weird! Yeah, we spent a little time on that one! (Including a brief musical interlude from The Union Electric.) Finally, we wrap up with the outrageous story of the Malaysian government payoffs to conservative bloggers in exchange for positive press (and negative press for their opposition). Time for a blogger ethics panel!

Direct download: March_4_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:54pm EST

It's March! Happy Sequester Day, everyone! The sequester no longer "looms." It's reality, and with the sun rising in the East, it's a little anti-climactic, as well. Greg Dworkin joined us this morning to talk about our current favorite topics. Besides the sequester, those favorites include government-by-stupid, false equivalence fetishism, the death of the Hastert Rule, and conservatives vs. liberals on interrelationships among issues and policies in general. Other topics: NRO does some victim-blaming on rape in the military (where they have guns), even as conservatives suggest guns will solve the same problem on college campuses. E.J. Dionne and Greg Sargent's recent columns on sequester madness and false equivalence memes. A Utah legislator introduces a bill that would give parents the right to find out if their childrens' teachers are exercising their right to carry concealed weapons into the classroom. And gun rights advocates find this offensive and tyrannical. Armando called in to discuss the continuing Bob Woodward madness, and remind us of the time when Woodward didn't seem to mind the administration threatening the livelihood of people like Valerie Plame. We also looked forward, realizing that even if they settle the sequester issue in some way, we'll be looking at a government shutdown at the end of March, absent negotiating our way through yet another hostage situation as the current continuing resolution expires on March 27th! Finally, one more look back at that Utah bill, and what it tells us about the way conservatives approach rights they like versus those they don't.

Direct download: March_1_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:43am EST