Amanda Werner, Brad Voracek & Michele LeSure are All Back!

30 October 2017 – It worked! Brad Voracek (@bradvoracek) is back this week and the wait was worth it. This time you are able to hear his full answers on youth employment, Senator Sander’s & Congressman Conyers’ Employ Young Americans Now bill, the science versus human aspects of economics and his thinking on so-called (and wildly mis-named) “Right to Work” laws. Brad is a founder of the not-to-be-missed website, The Minskys and I recommend regular visits there.

We were also extremely lucky to have Amanda Werner, of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen (aka The Monopoly Man), back with us to fill us in on the loss this week when the Senate voted to support Wells Fargo and Equifax in their illegal/incompetent behavior by making sure that citizens cannot sue these corporations either singly or in class actions suits. Forced arbitration is, apparently, forever, just like diamonds.

We also had Hopping Mad associate, Michele LeSure giving us more information on the strange anti-boycott legislation which has been passed in Texas and Kansas and is, supposedly, in support of Israel. This legislation is preventing some Texans from receiving federal aid post Hurricane Harvey. It’s strange and wrong and the ACLU is on it.

Will updates us on the latest in the rapidly changing situation in Catalonia as the Spanish government attempts to “fire” the elected government of Catalonia. The Spanish government claims it will hold “legitimate” elections in December but the specifics remain to be seen.

As always, there is a great deal going on and we will be back next week to take another swing at it. Carrots! – Arliss

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The Monopoly Man!

9 October 2017At the last minute we were incredibly lucky to get an interview with the oh-so-popular Monopoly Man! Amanda Werner, of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen, joined us right at the top of the show to talk about her experience as the Monopoly Man at the recent Senate hearing on SJ Res 47. GOP members of the Senate want to rollback the new rule from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) which eliminates forced arbitration clauses. Due to careful tactical planning, the Monopoly Man was able to get a seat behind and just a bit to the left of the (now former) CEO of Equifax so that every time the CEO was on camera Amanda was right behind him making her point by clowning it up. Within a matter of minutes the meme blew-up on Twitter and generated a truly phenomenal amount of coverage. Obviously, this was a powerful and funny way to get the word out about a topic many would otherwise overlook. Amanda (cough!), I mean, Monopoly Man, take a bow! Now the rest of us need to do our jobs and call our Senators to let them know we oppose SJ Res 47. We cannot let this one slip through the cracks unnoticed.

Since we had already recorded the entire show and because it was an unusually formatted episode anyway, the only way to hear the complete show is on the website or through your favorite podcast app. The last ten minutes of Will’s block and all of my block are pushed back into Extra Mad.

Following the Monopoly Man interview, in the original top of show block, I talked about the work Big Pharma, and especially Indiana-based Eli Lilly, is doing to support their employees in Puerto Rico, to mitigate supply-chain disruption for critical medications for the US and to supply medication into the region. Pharmaceuticals comprise 72% of Puerto Rico’s exports and the 80 pharma and medical device facilities there employee nearly 100,000 people. It is an enormous job made no easier by the failure of the Trump administration and their disaster response. Will followed-up by talking about the response of private individuals and companies to the problem of entirely rebuilding the electrical grid and cell service system in Puerto Rico. Again, a massive task which should be the responsibility of the US federal government but which is being totally mishandled by unqualified Trump appointees and understaffed, under-resourced agencies.

Will did an extended block on self-determination. This was especially timely because of the recent vote in Kurdistan and the attempted vote in Catalonia. Will underpinned his later discussion of specifics with a thoughtful backgrounder on who it is who determines who will be “allowed” to determine themselves. He moves from there seamlessly to use the nationalist movements of the Kurds and the Catalonians to illustrate his points.

In my block I talk about why cash is still king. Unlike electronic transactions, cash is resilient enough to accommodate disasters like that in present-day Puerto Rico. But that is just a small thing in comparison to the fact that we are rapidly being trained to believe that a so-called cashless society is upon us and if we don’t give up (literally) dirty and ecologically harmful cash then we are falling behind the trend. This is a corporatist agenda being pushed by the companies who are skimming a bit off every single digital transaction. …and then there’s the digital trail. A cashless society is one where we forfeit the power of a transaction to the middlemen and we leave behind us a record of the “micro texture of our electronic life,” to quote economist/anthropologist Brett Scott. Preventing the subversion of cash to a cashless society not only preserves choice, it preserves our option to be anonymous. Cash equals privacy for all of us equally.

Until next week, many carrots! – Arliss

P.S. Giving Arliss the “Wild Haggises at Dawn” treatment, I closed out the show with a bit of a song called Subdisco by Niteworks, an Electronica band from the Isle of Skye who make a ton of great music, much of which modernizes Gaelic song traditions. –Will

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Darlene McDonald for Congress

14 August 2017All across the country incredible first-time candidates are entering the political fray. Darlene McDonald (@VoteDarlene), running in UT-4, is an articulate, accomplished, woman with a truly compelling backstory. This is the very kind of candidate who has the ability to change the Democratic party…and I don’t mean only if she wins. Darlene’s message, story and her campaign carry the voice of the party in the way no amount of tweeting, blogging or, frankly, podcasting, every will. Darlene is precisely how and why the Democratic party will shine and grow in the future and we LOVED having so much time to talk with her. We think that after you hear from her you will want to support her and we look forward to having her back as the race heats up.

Will threw down the gauntlet in the Lying Liar Lie of the Week segment describing some of the abuses perpetrated by the new Netflix show, What the Health. Will makes the point that someone with a doctorate in English advising on health and health-related issues is disingenuous at best. Sadly, for Will and for all of us, I soundly defeated him with the report, from Alex Thompson at Vice News, that Trump gets a 22 to 25-page report twice each day full of all the positive things said about him on cable news, Twitter and the like. Inside the administration this document is called the Propaganda Document. Unlike past administrations, which collected media in order to judge the public mood positive or negative, only positive media is forwarded to Trump and the intention is strictly to fluff his ego. (Yuck!)

Will hasn’t taken us to Scotland lately and, of course, we knew that couldn’t last! For the past few years, HMRC has been engaging in what might be called “Willful Incpompetence” when it comes to measuring the Scottish Economy. As far as various sectors of Scotland’s economy are concerned (including two of the biggest, oil and energy) HM Revenue and Customs has been allocating Scotland’s economic activity to an “Unknown Region” because they simply didn’t want to do the work to determine where said economic activity was actually occurring. Recently, they were forced to update their figures revealing that they had been understating the value Scotland’s Oil exports by about 90%. This equates to 15 Billion worth of revenue that was allocated to an “Unknown Region,” and these updated figures still do not give an accurate accounting of Scotland’s economic activity.

I finish-up my three week run on Dodd-Frank and the efforts by the administration to change the Volker Rule both by legislation and just by reinterpreting enforcement. Dodd-Frank and the Volker Rule seem like distant things which are way above the “pay grade” of most of us but the fact is that these are the rapidly breaking walls which are holding back the surge of another financial crisis just like the last one. The GOP and Wall Street have learned nothing. Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, and FDIC Director, Martin Gruenberg, are among the only (Obama appointed) regulators standing between the Trump hoard and their goal. Emailing them your support would not be a wasted effort. They need to know we are watching. Additionally, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has opened Volker revisions up for public comment. You are the public so go here to comment. It is not important that you be technical. Tell them your story and make sure they know you are paying attention.

I will be away for the next two shows but Will and our new team have got you. Carrots! – Arliss

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Charles Gaba – Fixing the ACA, a Deep Dive

7 August 2017 – This week we go really deep into the weeds, which is our favorite place! National ACA expert, Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba aka Brainwrap) of ACASignUps.org fame is with us to help us sort out current legislative efforts, what needs to be done as well as what is politically possible. Charles also defines and clarifies terms like “Medicare for All” and explains the problems with Dems settling on that vocabulary and policy at this point.

Will starts us out with a bang and a rant. I chime in too. We have both just HAD IT with with the “Brocialist” attitude toward women. We also REALLY hate the entitled, special snowflake crap they throw at every idea which does not fully comply with their purity tests. Politics is work and compromise. It’s about community. It’s almost always a long, hard slog to get anything of real merit. It’s definitely not for the whiny or precious. Being mean, vindictive and exclusionary is expressly not welcome in the big tent of the Democratic party. Everyone who wants to work, cooperatively to achieve the platform goals is welcome. Brocialists? Get the hell out.

I devote my segment this week to part two of a three-part “series” highlighting the current, fierce attack on Dodd-Frank. Last week I was on the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). This week I review the basics of the rest of Dodd-Frank in preparation for getting into detail regarding the increasingly successful Trump administration attack on the foundations of our entire financial system. It’s a big deal and very much under-covered in the media, hence a three week project to shine a light.

I’m here next week but traveling for the following two weeks so you can look forward to hearing from some of our new folks later in August. Carrots! – Arliss

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The CFPB is Under Attack!

31 July 2017 –  [Note:  this post was, somehow, erased from our site. We have republished to the site as of 20 September 2017.] We were incredibly lucky to have just the right interview guest at just the right time, Amanda Werner (@wamandajd), Arbitration Campaign Manager for Americans for Financial Reform & Public Citizen, was with us to talk about the dangerous efforts, by Congress, to overturn the new arbitration rule just published by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). In the first half of the interview Amanda gets into some great detail about why forced arbitration is problematic and why some communities are particularly impacted. In the second half we get into the politics of the rule and explain why it is essential that you get involved in this very winnable fight.

At the top of the show I talk with Will a bit about the letter sent by the American Psychoanalytic Association to its members clarifying their long-held position that as medical professionals they have a “duty to warn” and that they see this duty as particularly relevant due to the observable behavior of President Trump.

And speaking of observable, impulsive, antagonistic, aggressive behavior…

This week Trump thought he could change DoD policy with a 140 character tweet in which he attempted to ban transgendered individuals from serving in the armed forces…where they are already serving…by the thousands. The Pentagon was blindsided and made it clear that DoD policy is not now and never will be issued via tweet. Will spoke both about the organizational issues and the personal struggles of the trans community. Trump’s efforts to feed hatred are despicable and, frankly, just another bit of evidence that he is mentally ill and unfit to serve as president.

Just before the interview with Amanda Werner, I reviewed the mission and successes of the CFPB. I also talk a bit about their enemies. In government, of course, no good deed goes unpunished so Congressman Jeb Hensarling, in an especially personal and vicious manner, is directly attacking CFPB Director Richard Cordray. Hensarling really despises Cordray because Cordray is so good at his job. Which is proof that it is absolutely essential that, like other regulators, the CFPB remain insulated from the political process as much as is reasonable. The GOP is looking for every possible opening to diminish this critically important agency. As we did with the ACA, we must, we simply MUST fight to defend the CFPB at every turn.

And so it goes. No rest for the victorious! Carrots! – Arliss

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You Heard It Here First…

19 June 2017 – This was one of those shows where Will and I covered a lot of ground. We did not have an interview (and there is no Extra Mad) so we just moved straight through the show with no breaks.

I began with a nod acknowledging Will for bringing on Math Campbell last week and taking time from the discussion of the UK snap election results to talk with Math about the fact that the new agreement between the May government and the DUP has destabilized the already precarious Good Friday Agreement. This week Gerry Adams and the group of the Sinn Fein leadership met with PM May and made their grievances known and clear. Interestingly, Adams also pressed May on the fact that her austerity economics has drained more than £1bn out of the Northern Irish economy, an economy already dramatically endangered by the coming closure of the border between the Republic of Ireland and the Counties.

I also took a moment to note that MP Jo Cox was assassinated one year ago this week and the memorial event her family planned, The Great Get Together (#Jo Cox, #GreatGetTogether, #MoreInCommon) spread deep and wide across the country as people joined to acknowledge their desire for less divisiveness and more unity. More than 100,000 listed events took place and millions of people participated in everything from fair-like activities held in parks to tea parties held at libraries, churches, mosques and synagogues and even in simple things like baking cupcakes for neighbors. In this week when members of Congress and their staff were terrorized in Alexandria, it seemed appropriate to take a look at what trying to heal could look like if we wanted it to.

In our Hopping Mad’s Lying Liar Lie of the Week segment Will’s contender was the inability of the Trump administration to have any actual idea if Trump went to see Rep. Steve Scalise. I nominated Trump’s “witch hunt” tweets and included my favorite response tweets. As it turns out, Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) made the best case. He, of course, represents Salem, MA. ’nuff said.

In the body of the show I use the example of the central bank of Denmark warning its member banks about concerns related to the hot lending market despite the fact that all of those banks have passed ECB compatible stress testing. Meanwhile back in the US, the House voted to roll-back Dodd-Frank and the Trump administration is tamping down regulatory enforcement at every opportunity. This leaves only the Fed between us and the same economic disaster which nearly destroyed the economy in 2007. So – every time you hear the deeply misguided “audit the Fed” meme, I want you to remember this week and thank the Great Bunny that the US Federal Reserve is (relatively) independent and self-funded.

Will then spoke about the violent, so-called “left” DemExit movement and enumerated the ways in which they not really part of the left and definitely not part of the Democratic Party. Their dangerous, nihilistic rhetoric is really not about politics it’s just a self-justification for their rage. They are not interested in engaging in the public debate about policy. Truly, their only focus is on revolution in the streets and destruction. Just as progressives blame the GOP for not having called-out the violent, far right; progressives must now take responsibility and call out the terrorists on the farthest fringes of the left for both their views and actions.

I followed-on the subject of the responsibility to speak out by talking about former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s new book, Courage to Act. NOW Bernanke acknowledges the the economic crazy is all coming from one side, the GOP, and even goes so far as to blame the Obama administration for not having issued more progressive budgets and then fought for them. Ben, where were you then!?!

This show will air on 19 June and so I thought it was appropriate to take time to talk about the history of Juneteenth and why it is a relevant and important holiday for all Americans. I have to say I had to educate myself from scratch in order to even be able to speak in the most general ways about Juneteenth but I hope to listen and learn more in the coming year. By next year I would hope to lift up this topic with greater understanding.

One last thing – Rebecca Romans, thank you for the AMAZING TOUR and for all that you do in supporting progressive media. I know I speak for many podcasts when I say that we all love you! Many, Many Carrots! – Arliss

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Stingers: Bees, Donald Loves Dictators, & Audit the Fed

24 October 2016 – We don’t have and interview today due to a last minute cancellation but Will and I had a LOT to say so everything worked out as it was meant to be. At the top of the show Will uses the example of the Vauxhall automotive plant, in Liverpool, to illustrate why Brexit is creating such a tenuous employment environment all across the UK. It is incredible that people thought they could place a protest vote for something every expert was telling them would damage their economy and yet they are still stunned that companies are talking about moving their operations out of the UK.

My first topic today is bees. The decline of pollinators is continuing and the first bees have recently been added to the Threatened and Endangered Species list . They will soon to be joined there by more of their sister species. Still, through on-going research we are steadily learning how, precisely, it is that we are killing the bees and finding that many of those factors are reversible if we start now…. Two good places to begin are the Xerces Society and the Great Sunflower Project. Every little flower helps. As promised, I have included a photo of the newly threatened buff-tailed bumble bee above for your enjoyment.

Will then comes back to talk about Donald Trump’s ongoing praise of dictators. From Vladimir Putin to Saddam Hussein to Mummer Gaddafi to Bashar al-Assad to Kim Jong-un to Rodrigo Duterte – Trump respects and admires each and every one. In fact, Trump wants to BE them. Fortunately, unless he plays that sort of character on Trump TV, we aren’t actually going to give him the chance.

My big block of the day, on Audit the Fed, begins on the broadcast version of the show but is only available in full on the podcast version. If you thought Audit the Fed was about auditing the Federal Reserve then you probably got suckered in by Right to Life and Right to Work too. Audit the Fed is about Congress taking control of monetary policy…because they handled Zika so well.

Will then closes out Extra Mad talking about why Mars is where all the science is. How we move our species forward, how we survive, will in no small part be determined by how serious we get about space.

And in closing, the loss of pollinators is already having a negative effect of carrot crops. CARROTS, people! This is serious. Carrots!Arliss

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