Progressive politics, news & talk hosted by David Waldman

We got a lot crammed into today's show. Greg Dworkin called in with news that the American Academy of Pediatrics is carrying forward the position statement of the United Physicians of Newtown, and to discuss the latest polling on how the gun votes are playing in key Senate races, and public perceptions of the prospective U.S. role in Syria. Other topics we touched on: Today's top #GunFAIL stories (another gun instructor has accidentally shot himself); fear of terrorism vs. fear of gun violence; NRO yells at Alex Jones; Congressional Republicans find a new way to combat science; Cass Sunstein demolishes the "slippery slope" argument; former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says that in hindsight, maybe the Supreme Court shouldn't have taken the Bush v. Gore case after all; Republican loon Jan Brewer signs AZ legislation banning the destruction of guns collected in buyback events; VA Gov. Bob McDonnell is alleged to have let a "friend" (and huge political donor) pay for the food at his own daughter's wedding. Family values!

Direct download: April_30_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:30pm EST

Greg Dworkin rejoined us on his regular schedule today, talking about his Sunday Kos piece on the latest iteration of bird flu, before moving over to polling showing the sustained popularity of universal background checks. We read through a Nature profile of lone wolf firearms researcher, Dr. Garen Wintemute, and a NYT op-ed laying out "A Libertarian Case for Expanding Gun Background Checks." Also of interest, an article from the Israeli paper Ha'aretz, noting a growing debate over that country's armed populace. That seems sure to drive American cultural conservatives batty, if they deign to take notice of it. Next, a weedy explainer of the procedure use to pass (sort of) and the screw up (sort of) the much-discussed FAA sequester fix. Finally, we started looking at Matt Taibbi's latest in Rolling Stone, wherein another giant banking conspiracy is alleged to be manipulating the price of everything, to everyone's detriment.

Direct download: April_29_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:49am EST

A Friday grab bag today. The FAA sequester fix was in the works, just as Congress heads to the airport. But will it collapse on the House floor? Procedure fans will delight in noting that the House will have to waive the normal rule prohibiting consideration of bills under suspension of the rules in order to take up the bill suspending part of the sequester that has become uncomfortable. A new craze in #GunFAIL: "home invasion shooting." Revisiting the wholesale Hostess pension theft as a segue to addressing the petty pension theft of 401(k) management fees. Armando called in with his own grab bag: The continuing backlash against Reinhart-Rogoff; a new low in the Republican Benghazi craze; losing the sequester game piece by piece; and a sneak peek at his Sunday Kos piece on a new lunatic right-wing legal theory granting standing for individual federal employees to challenge agency legal interpretations. Lastly, a gun enthusiast's online post pretty much explains why #GunFAIL, embarrassing as it may be, has real value to gun guys.

Direct download: April_26_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Congress is still mad about airline delays, which are clearly the fault of this annoying "government," whoever that might be. Greg Dworkin called in and let us know that House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, in an effort to put a softer face on the Gop, failed at bringing a not-quite-repeal of Obamacare to the floor yesterday, and ended up having to pull it in the face of Tea Party-type opposition. Repeal or nothing! We discuss the minor media firestorm over the empty dais at the Joint Economic Committee's hearing on long term unemployment. Essentially, that's the way most hearings look. Which doesn't make it a good thing. It just... is. Then, a look at the latest on Hostess. The Wall Street Journal says the new owners (of which they speak to just one of two partners) plan to reopen the bakeries, but without unions. Surprise! And wow, have they got awesome plans to save the brand. You know the plans are awesome because the people who drew them up are rich! In the second hour, we talked to David Wehde, Organizing Director of Working America, about the launch of, a sort of WebMD for workplace organizing. Finally, we read a Concord Monitor editorial on the failure of the gun bill, and the case it makes for filibuster reform. Don't think we've made any progress in that fight? Consider that newspaper editorial boards no longer laugh out loud at the idea that Senate rules can be changed by majority vote. Now they call on the Senate to do exactly that. A key step forward in a relative short time, during what has historically always been a long, long fight.

Direct download: April_25_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:05pm EST

Had to start off with another rather startling gun story today, this one the Whitesboro, TX gun instructor who decided that since he didn't see anybody around, he could just start teaching his outdoor concealed carry permit class without a backstop of any kind. But, oops! A guy fishing nearby got shot! Then, into the weeds on budget procedure, as three years of Republican bleating for a Senate budget is met by... a Senate budget. Which is in turn met by... filibustering the motion to go to conference with the House on that budget. More on Republican backlash against sequestration cuts that make them uncomfortable. An explainer of why Harry Reid often switches his votes "for strategic reason," but then nothing "strategic" ever seems to happen. Finally, a return to that crazy story line about the collapse of the academic underpinning of the global austerity movement.

Direct download: April_24_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:17pm EST

We return to the critique of Maureen Dowd's Obama bashing, because it seems the meme is spreading that there were some magical things the President could have done to erase entrenched Republican obstructionism and pass the gun bill. Greg Dworkin joined us on that subject at the top of the show, and Armando comes thundering in on at at the end. In between, we run down the day's headlines from The Hill, using it as a jumping off point for the day's tangential thoughts, also known as: What We Do On This Show. Key issues: filibuster reform, sequestration cuts, and the complicated politics surrounding both. It turns out that the amazing catalyst for sequester frustration finally breaking through is... airport delays. Cancer research and the like, not so much. Even more interesting, Congress reverts to form with the emergence of a new kind of earmark: sequester exemptions.

Direct download: April_23_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:14pm EST

Greg Dworkin returned to the air with us this week, and although law enforcement in the Boston area was kind enough to wrap up that whole terrorism thing by Friday evening, we figured we might as well revisit it on Monday. Do Republicans really want him held as an "enemy combatant?" Is the Miranda warning as big an issue as all that? Arkansas Republicans provided us with plenty of stupid this weekend, too. There was the Congressman who figured the manhunt meant everybody in Boston was wishing they had AR-15s. Whereas I'm pretty sure it meant everybody in Boston was glad there were no Arkansans around with their guns. Arkansas also brought us the county Republican chair letting us know that the 2nd Amendment is really about guaranteeing our right to conduct sucker punch political assassinations if we lose a vote. We also checked in with Gideon from overseas, talking Boston, America's seeming obsession with violence, and filibuster reform, among other things. Finally, we wound up with Maureen Dowd's much-talked-about gun bill post mortem, and the blistering critique of it by Walter Russell Mead. Yow!

Direct download: April_22_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:01pm EST

Nothing in the world exists this morning but the situation in Boston, about which we know nothing. Greg Dworkin and Armando Llorens joined us as we watched the media circus and tried to make the most of it. Did we treat it too lightly? Did we break a few rules, and take a few liberties with our listening guests? We did. But we also looked away for a few minutes and connected some GunFAIL dots, including the realization that there was actually an accidental discharge at a gun show somewhere in America every single weekend in January! Just for kicks, we threw in a story about the New York hipsters who are raising infants diaper-less, and one about physicists running an experiment to find out whether the entire universe might be a computer simulation.

Direct download: April_19_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:41am EST

Tough news everywhere today, from the Senate floor to West, Texas. We spent a little more time clearing up issues of procedure, and pointed out that maybe Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, both conservatives, have a little bit of thinking to do about who supports you when you go out on a limb to do what you think is the right thing, and who leaves you hanging out to dry. Turns out that Republicans aren't just opposed to collecting, studying and disseminating data about gun injuries. They also oppose it when it comes to Twinkies. Rep. Aaron Schock declares in an op-ed in Politico that food and beverage makers "shouldn't have to worry" about "their tax money" being used by the government to "attack" their products. Good corporate PR is now a government entitlement. The attacks in Boston give rise to renewed inquiry into the nature of terrorism, and the political symbolism of using the word.

Direct download: April_18_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:15pm EST

The Senate votes today on gun bill amendments, so we go back over the procedure, and some of the more troubling aspects of the substance as well. Everything will require 60 votes, and yet there will be no filibuster, per se. How can that be? And what difference does it make, if any? Among the more problematic issues raised by some of the "poison pill" amendments: inter-state reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders, even as stories are breaking about a not-insignificant rate of suspected fraud in the issuance of those permits, across several states. Not to mention the news that Tennessee's "I'm gonna start killing people" guy may get his permit back now, too. Follow-up on some other GunFAIL stories points up some of the unexamined consequences of gun accidents, including long-term health and economic effects. Also in the news: the collapse of a major tenet of austerity doctrine. Seems one of the academic papers most often cited in support of austerity policies, including the Ryan budget, contained serious errors, including things as basic as spreadsheet coding errors, and high debt to GDP ratios don't predict economic contraction at all. Whoopsie! Sorry, global economy! So, Republicans are pushing gun reciprocity as significant permit fraud is revealed, and they're pushing austerity as calculation errors behind that theory are revealed. Hooray for reality!

Direct download: April_17_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:49am EST

Thanks to Greg Dworkin, Armando & Meteor Blades for joining us this morning. Naturally, the events in Boston were the main topic of discussion today, and we looked at things from a number of different angles. The cautionary reaction, urging people not to jump to any conclusions. The many-layered question of whether or not there's a difference in investigating the bombing as terrorism versus some other sort of crime. And the continuing issue among observers of different stripes as to whether there even is such a thing as domestic terrorism. We did turn to other current events as well, discussing Senate procedure for undertaking debate of the gun bill, the strategizing about amendments, and what might go into Harry Reid's decision-making in handling it all. And of course, there was a little additional talk about the subject underlying that debate: the guns themselves, and the policies governing their sales.

Direct download: April_16_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:34am EST

Yes, it's "Tax Day," which apparently still matters to people who don't just take care of business a little earlier. To "celebrate," we read Liz Day's account of "How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing." It not only made appropriate note of Tax Day, but connected us to last week's reading about the "rentier" class. TurboTax maker Intuit apparently spent some $11 million+ fighting to keep tax filing complicated so that millions more would be spent by the rest of us, buying their software to make it easier. Armando called in for Greg Dworkin, who was out today, with a grab bag of items. For one thing, he reminded us that today's Jackie Robinson Day, as well. He also noted Gallup's annual polling asking if people thought their tax bills were "fair." That is, he noted that it's kind of dumb. We also lingered for a bit on the NYT headline, "Hedge Fund Titans' Pay Stretching to 10 Figures," noted the continuing lack of action on Guantanamo detainees, and finally wound up with Missouri's move to certify teachers to carry weapons in the classroom, even as the story broke of the arrest of a St. Louis area gun instructor who was faking his students' qualifications. But hey, what could go wrong? Besides, the answer to gun-related fraud, the logic tells us, is more fraud.
Direct download: April_15_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:41am EST

We began the show by catching up with the day's #GunFAIL news, running down the Capitol Hill headlines and noting the insanity of the spin surrounding the Mitch McConnell taping incident. The rest of the show was a hodge-podge of media clippings, including: a look at whether or not the President can or should relieve Ed DeMarco as acting head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; new revelations about the extent and official knowledge of standardized test cheating under Michelle Rhee; the relative value of a watered-down gun bill, and; the NYT's editorial view of the President's budget. Continuing the grab-bag approach, we read and discussed Mike Konczal's, "How an anti-rentier agenda might bring liberals, conservatives together" and Andrew O'Hehir's "Colonial Williamsburg: Where the Tea Party gets schooled."

Direct download: April_12_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:41pm EST

While we waited for the Senate to take its cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the gun bill today, the topic was much on our minds. Of course, we're not kidding anyone by suggesting it wasn't going to be on our minds, regardless. But it provided a convenient excuse. We checked in with Greg Dworkin, who was on hand for some of the rallying of public support up in Newtown, CT. He also filled us in on the latest polling on the issue, from NBC. Other tidbits: Some Connecticut-based gun manufacturers are apparently threatening to leave the state in the wake of the passage of its new gun safety laws, though their leverage is questionable at best. A "hermit" living in the Maine woods is suspected of perpetrating over 1,000 burglaries! Compare the treatment of people openly carrying assault rifles versus those who dare try to take video of cops. Guess which one gets in trouble for carrying a "weapon." Moving on the the 4th Amendment, the ACLU asks whether the IRS is reading your emails without a warrant. Finally, we wind up the reading of the NYT article "A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood," inviting Armando to join the discussion. Seems we've hit a brick wall for the moment on just how this deal could possibly have been justified, even in the notoriously "cowboy" George W. Bush administration.

Direct download: April_11_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:10pm EST

The Senate's attempt at getting to debate on a gun bill is underway as a bipartisan deal on background checks is announced. We review Harry Reid's options and discuss how procedure is likely to play out, noting the threatened filibuster. And speaking of the filibuster, we spoke with Monte Frank of Team 26 and the Newtown Action Alliance about the simultaneous "Filibuster the Filibuster" events being held in Newtown and DC to protest the Republican obstruction. We had a follow-up to that nutty proposal in North Carolina to facilitate the establishment of a state religion (just to stick a thumb in the ACLU's eye), and read a report from Indiana's legislature in which we learned that more guns are the answer because abortion. We also spent some more time on drone issues, specifically, a read through the New York Times' "A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood." And just before closing time, we snuck in a quick report on the early word on the background check compromise.

Direct download: April_10_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:43pm EST

We had to start off with an update on an extraordinary run of child-focused #GunFAIL, this time with three shootings in three days by kids 4 years old and under. Armando called in to fill in for Greg Dworkin today, noting the threatened filibuster of any gun bill, including the universal background checks that have overwhelming public support, and what it means in terms of how dysfunctional our Congress can be. In addition, we discussed the continuing fixation on the "Grand Bargain," adding to the mix Sen. Max Baucus' undermining of the tax policy position of both Congressional Dems and the White House, and Peter Orszag's latest dispatch which seems to be calling for even greater concessions on cuts to the safety net. Meteor Blades also called in, clarifying a key point about the gun issue: there already is a national registry of automatic weapons, and nobody's come to confiscate them yet. He stayed with us for our big interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who gave us a far-reaching, hour-long, multiple topic interview, pulling in issues of guns, economics, political activism, campaign finance reform, the runaway financial sector and the rampant income inequality it's produced.

Direct download: April_9_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:42pm EST

Congress returns to DC, which surely will put filibuster issues back on the table by the end of the week. Greg Dworkin calls in to discuss the passage of Connecticut's new gun policy legislation, the state of play on the federal level, and new Pew polling on the subject. We note the passing of Margaret Thatcher, which somehow caught Fox News flat-footed, but then again, we don't have a great deal to say about it, either. Cuban-American Republicans in Congress are apparently demanding an investigation into Beyonce and Jay-Z's vacation, so that seems super important. Right? Armando joined in to discuss the absurdity of the freak-out, and the inconsistencies of Cuba policy. Setting up an issue for the future, we noted some of the more disturbing issues raised this weekend in the NYT article "A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood." We also read through an interesting discussion between Joe Nocera and Dan Baum on the subject of guns that brings up a lot of great points, but which ultimately degenerates into the same mess as pretty much every other discussion of the topic, thus proving that erudition is no savior here. Finally, a little listener mail raising the always important point that painting with too broad a brush causes serious problems, in this case, when dealing with the topic of corporations and corporate behavior. Listener, Daily Kos community member and business owner Arliss Bunny reminds us that it's corporate actions, not the corporate form, that create problems, and that Democrats would do well to remember that and make allies of the vast majority of business owners who are good folks, and who benefit as business owners from liberal public policy.

Direct download: April_8_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:07pm EST

Everything on the show today has a Greg Dworkin component to it. First, an extended version of Greg's regular segment, during which we were joined by Monte Frank of Team 26, for a recap of their nationally covered advocacy on gun responsibility legislation, an update on their activities and a look at what's next. Then, the story of the surprising phone call Greg got from Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, regarding my reading and discussion of his latest article, "What The NRA's 'School Shield' Would Cost." And just to be sure we didn't leave it unmentioned that Johnston's an accomplished and celebrated journalist, Armando called in to fill in some background, and I made sure to let him know about the whole Pulitzer Prize situation. From there, I tried my best to properly differentiate between my commentary and the remaining text of article, but hey, it's hard to restrain yourself when you're the only voice in the room. But Armando's working behind the scenes to change that, and with a little luck, next week we'll be able to feature the man himself, so you'll be more able to tell who's saying what!

Direct download: April_5_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:32pm EST

Greg Dworkin brings us news of the Connecticut legislature's completed work on post-12/14 gun policy reforms, set to be signed into law today, plus a new Q-Poll showing continuing and overwhelming support for universal background checks (even as respondents acknowledge the data could theoretically be used for government confiscation programs). Yesterday was an extraordinary day in #GunFAIL story collection, and we recapped some of the most outrageous and egregious among them, including new entries in the dangerous trend of firing bullets through the homes of neighbors. Next, we noted the new round of strikes by fast food workers in New York, and checked in with Mike Hummel (aka bluebarnstormer) on last night's community event in Biddeford, ME, where bakers and other workers in the former Hostess plant there are facing the same threats and thefts that plagued his plant in Lenexa, KS a few months back. Afterwards, we actually segued back to #GunFAIL, comparing the labor fights to the gun issue in the sense that both controversies appear to depend on manipulation of the facts, and the so-called "conservative" side seems to get pretty irate when people start sharing information about what's really happening out there. Finally, we looked at David Cay Johnston's attempt in The National Memo to begin calculating the cost of the NRA's proposed "School Shield" program. First, of course, we have to wonder whether it's an idea likely to work and actually save lives and prevent injuries, but also, how many of us think the "conservatives" behind it will be there with funding when the bill comes due?

Direct download: April_4_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:52am EST

Greg Dworkin fought through his laryngitis to call in and discuss the NRA-backed suppression of federal gun violence data collection, and a new Marist poll suggesting no wavering in public support for stricter gun laws. Afterwards, we drew on a diverse cross-section of insanity for our entertainment today, starting with the introduction by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature of a bill that would free the state to establish a state religion. Because they love the Constitution so much, the bill's sponsors basically declare that Constitution not binding. Louie Gohmert out-derps himself with comments linking gun laws with gay marriage and bestiality, which of course make no sense. But he's angry, so send him some money or something. For variety, we threw in a story about a court ruling in favor of Aereo, a start up that has cobbled together (at least temporarily) a way around copyright laws and allow users to stream broadcast TV to their mobile devices, and another about how much of your current cable TV bill is due to payments tied to professional sports contracts. Armando joined us briefly with the story of a fight developing between Bill O'Reilley and Rush Limbaugh, and the latest in the conservative craze for Ben Carson. We wrapped up with a check-in from Kansas former Hostess worker Mike Hummel (aka bluebarnstormer), who's in Maine speaking to the employees of yet another former Hostess bakery who now stand in the same position as those in Mike's Kansas facility. Seems their pensions, to which they made even larger contributions than the Kansas workers did, are being stolen as well, and this and the threat to their jobs comes after the town gave significant tax breaks and other subsidies to the company to build that plant. Do you think the company would get to keep that money if we really did run the government like a business?

Direct download: April_3_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:08pm EST

The show went on without Greg Dworkin this morning, but... Ha! April Fool! He was totally on the show. Ha! April Fool again! No, he wasn't! With that out of the way, we actually did get a laugh out of yesterday's conservative freak-out over the Google doodle, and then immediately stopped laughing to get somewhat up-to-date on what's (not) happening in Congress, where they are in the budget & appropriations process, etc. Armando joined in for a round-up of stories including the controversy over a proposed $20 million bonus to the CEO of American Airlines, which is still in bankruptcy, the Jeff Sachs op-ed in the NYT complaining that Obama isn't doing the things he's doing, and new Pew polling on immigration. In the second hour, Gideon joined in for some discussion and Q&A covering everything from Senate voting procedure (on Bernie Sanders' amendment opposing chained CPI), to the threat of a filibuster against gun policy legislation, to Democratic prospects in the 2014 elections. Lastly, we read through Meteor Blades' write-up of the controversy over nominations to the Mississippi Board of Public Health, which has apparently caught the attention of the Reddit community. Always good news to see people sitting up and taking notice!

Direct download: April_1_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:46pm EST