Indivisible SE IN “Where’s Waldo” Town Hall

28 February 2017 Indivisible Southeast Indiana (@IndivisibleSEIN on Twitter and Indivisible Southeast Indiana on FB) met on Sunday, 19 February, for our second meeting. We gathered in the home of one of the organizers and decided that we needed to act immediately. One week later, on Sunday, 26 February we hosted a “Where’s Waldo” themed constituent town hall. We invited Congressman Luke Messer (R – IN-6) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN). Both declined to come. In fact, neither held any open-to-the-public town halls or events anywhere during this recess. We persisted.

Our  Where’s Todd? Where’s Luke? Town Hall was held in front of the lovely and historic Ohio County Courthouse (the oldest in continuous operation in Indiana) located in little Rising Sun, Indiana (population 2304). Sunday was cold but sunny and with little notice and very little publicity in this red, red corner of Indiana, about fifty people turned up. In San Francisco this would be an embarrassing turnout but in Rising Sun it was exceptional and you could feel the excitement in the air. We even had (briefly) a tiny Trump contingent but they left when they didn’t draw attention or a fight.

The event featured life-sized Todd and Luke Waldos, lots of handmade signs and really darling Waldo scarves that one of the organizes made and handed out. Several planned speakers told their two-minute stories and then other attendees asked to speak and we were thrilled to have them. The thing which most struck me was how well informed these voters are and how wide ranging their issues of concern.

For Hopping Mad I recorded a brief interview with two of the organizers, Rebecca Barhorst and Christine Craig, just after the meeting on the 19th and then the entire town hall on the 26th. I think what people had to say during the town hall was as important as any of the interviews we have done on this show. I think you will enjoy this and when you imagine what people are thinking about in these midwestern states, remember what you heard here today. Carrots! – Arliss

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PS – For anyone wondering, the show will remain on hiatus for another few weeks. Will may try to host a show on his own but I will again be unavailable. I went in for surgery, as I had previously mentioned, on 6 February but the surgeon found a conflict in the diagnostic reports just a few minutes before the surgery was supposed to begin. I was floating on a cloud by this point but, as I understand it, the decision was made to run another entire battery of (hideous) tests over the following two weeks. Ultimately, those tests confirmed the original diagnosis and I go back in for the originally planned surgery on Thursday, 2 March, which means I will be down for the count for a while. Already I have a backlog of things I want to talk about so by the time I am back with you I will be brimming over. Take care of yourselves. I miss you already!

Flippable.org, Journalists, Emoluments

16 January 2017The genius of flippable.org is that it engages us with “small bite” activism. On a weekly basis Flippable suggests little bits we can each actually do to help Democrats take back state legislatures and governor’s mansions around the nation. Catherine Vaughan and Chris Walsh, two of the three Flippable founders, join us to talk about the genesis of the project and the leadership they and their team are collectively providing to flip targeted state legislatures from red to blue. I know that 2018 and 2020 seem like a long way away but in political terms they are, basically, tomorrow. Time is short and, as Catherine says, we can sleep after the 2020 election. Between now and then, we work. What I love about Flippable is that I can do the things they suggest in a reasonable amount of time and still know that I am making a difference. This is the drip, drip, drip, drip constant activism, constant pressure that matters.

Will and I started the show talking about specific journalists. I dive into the genuinely remarkable life of Clare Hollingsworth and Will wonders about what the hell happened to Glenn Greenwald. Clare Hollingsworth was the first female war correspondent (as we know that profession today). She is the reporter who got the scoop and broke the story that World War II had begun. She was the first person to figure out and the first reporter to break the story that Kim Philby was the infamous “third man” and that he had defected to Russia. Hollingsworth was at the very front, in fact often behind enemy lines, of all the many conflicts she covered and her reporting was renowned for peeling back the layers and complexities of war. Clare died on 10 January at the age of 105. To her final day she kept her shoes and passport right next to her bed in case she was called by her editor to report a story from the field.

Glenn Greenwald, on the other hand, has become a Russian shill. He has allowed the Snowden case to push him past the point of rational thought when it comes to Russia and he has taken to reporting the world through a Russian lens. Once upon a time Glenn was one of the great left-wing reporters but that was long ago. Buh-bye, Glenn. Don’t let the borscht hit you on the way out the door.

In my block I give some background on Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution, the Title of Nobility Clause known today as the Emoluments Clause. It is likely that Congress and the courts will not be able to use the constitutional provision as a stand-alone way to remove the President Collect from office. However, if other matters (say a traitorous relationship with Russia) was to move public opinion enough, the Emoluments Clause may become the handy “big stick” the GOP needs to impeach Trump and get us to a horrible but not nearly as dangerous, President Pence.

This next week is going to be really hard on all of us. Join flippable.org, read up on Clare Hollingsworth. Hold on to hope.  Many Carrots! – Arliss

Note:  we will not have a new show next week as I am traveling on business. We will be back on 30 January with an interview with the Armando.

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Charles Gaba on the ACA & How Fake News Works

19 December 2016 – We are thrilled to welcome back ACA expert Charles Gaba (ACASignUps.net, Brainwrap.com, Brainwrap on Daily Kos and @Charles_Gaba on Twitter) to the show. It’s hard to even understand all the rumors flying around about the ACA (aka “Obamacare”) these days and Charles helps us to parse what different options will mean. Basically the ACA is a towering healthcare Jenga and the GOP is imagining they can pull the foundational blocks out without the whole thing crashing down. They are wrong. [BWT – there’s a GoFundMe on Charles’ ACA page. His work is unique in media and often quoted by progressive media everywhere so if you can, pitch in a little to help him out.]

Will and I combined our blocks to talk about how fake news works, define propaganda, touch on the PropOrNot controversy which was stirred-up by the Washington Post and then get into detail about how sites like TruthDig and TruthOut are exhibiting pro-Russian bias rather dramatically. For us, sites like Naked Capitalism, are still important and trusted sources but we recognize that all sources have a certain amount of bias and it is essential that every consumer be clear about how that bias may or may not be slanting coverage of a given topic. We do definitely concur with seventeen different US intelligence agencies that the Russian government did directly interfere with the US election. This puts our democracy at risk and it is not wrong to be alarmed.

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Matt “Neo” Taibbi

General show notes:  I apologize for suddenly having to cancel the show last week. On Friday morning I rushed little Matt “Neo” Taibbi to his exotics veterinarian in Cincinnati. They stabilized him and then I rushed him up to a major exotics veterinary hospital (with their own CT Scanner, MRI equipment etc) in Columbus, Ohio. Neo’s medical team fought all through Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday morning but shortly after 9AM, while snuggled in my arms, Neo hopped over the Rainbow Bridge. He was only five, a young and strong bunny, so none of us were prepared. Neo is mourned by his loving life partner, David Dayen, his new bunny friend, Mercy, and his human family. We are all crushed to lose such a bright spirit so soon.

Will and I will be taking the next two weeks off to spend the holidays with our respective families. We will return on 9 January to kick-off 2017 with an all new show packed full of information you won’t hear in this detail in many other places.

Many Carrots of the Season – Arliss

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Dr. Randall Wray on Minsky

31 October 2016Modern Monetary Theory innovator and torchbearer, Dr. L. Randall Wray is with us for most of the show in a deep dive interview on his book, Why Minsky Matters:  An Introduction to the Work of a Maverick Economist (here from Princeton University Press or here from Amazon). If you have been a listener for more than a couple of weeks you have undoubtedly heard me speak of Dr. Wray. I may have discovered MMT through Dr. Stephanie Kelton but it was Dr. Wray’s book, Modern Money Theory:  A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems, which entirely captured my imagination, gave me hope as to how we get to where we need to go and (finally) made economics make real sense to my very pragmatic mind. Still, even though this was one of our longest interviews to date I could have easily asked another hundred questions–Wray is that interesting. I think you will be fascinated.

At the top of the show Will takes just a few minutes to knock down the persistent Clinton bashing related to Honduras. People, facts matter. Really. Twitter is just loaded-up with Bros who are convinced that Hillary backed a war in Honduras facts not withstanding. …very frustrating. I take a similar ride only related to the most recent e-mails FBI Director James Comey detonated into the election, likely breaking the Hatch Act while he was at it. According to Kurt Eichenwald, of Newsweek, who seems to have an inside source, none of the e-mails involved appear to be either to or from Hillary. None of the e-mails appear to have been withheld by Hillary from the investigation. The FBI has had the laptop with the e-mails for weeks and they were told about the e-mail accounts involved in April! Director Comey said, in the bomb he sent to Congress, that he has no idea what is in the e-mails. He just thought he would blow-up the election for the hell of it!

Sadly, Will and I will be off next week. Will has an election-related job and I am, of course, busy making sure the Rabbit American vote turns out. We will be back on the 14th. Carrots! – Arliss

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Trump is Toast & Fascism in the UK

10 October 2016 – We were lucky to have Scottish National Party Councillor Math Campbell  to preview for us what it looks like when fascism takes over a country. The British government of Prime Minister Theresa May is talking about creating a “registry” for all foreign nationals and has decided that no organizations which advise Whitehall can include foreign nationals among their advisors. Prime Minister May has also announced that when negotiating Brexit from the European Union, limiting immigration will take priority over jobs, the economy and justice. It’s good to know she has established her priorities. Math let us know that plans are continuing apace for a Scottish break from the UK.

At the top of the show Will makes it clear that the most recent release from Wikileaks, which is intended to be problematic for Clinton, is not now and was not ever created by the Clinton Foundation or part of a speech given by Hillary. The release is comprised of falsified documents, probably written by Russian agents, in an effort to influence the US election.

I answer the question, what is Hillary’s plan to pay for debt-free college? This is a nod of the carrot to Travis & Rachel, our friends at Irreverent Testimony, who were faced by a Libertarian with this very question last week. I hope this answer helps. If anyone needs additional detail, there is a lot more at Hillary’s website. This link will take you to the specific page.

Usually, both Will and I have a block on the show to talk at a bit more length about a subject of interest to each of us. We planned that for this week. We prepared our notes. We got ready to record the show. And then Politico announced that the Republican National Committee had temporarily frozen the funding and all work on Trump Victory Fund projects. Will and I were willing to let the rest of the media deal with the despicable things Trump has said about women but when the GOP starts to seriously break-away from their candidate, well, that we had to cover. Late on Saturday afternoon we pitched our original plans out the window and started again. What you will hear is current as of about 6PM on Saturday, 8 October.

I didn’t mention it on the show but I did find this graphic of 150 GOP leaders who don’t support Trump and when they reached their breaking point. It is fascinating.

With luck, next week will be a bit more normal. Carrots! – Arliss

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1st Anniversary! Media, Money & Bitcoin

19 September 2016 – We are ONE! This is our first year podcast-aversary and we truly want to thank those at Netroots Radio who were so much a part of getting us launched. Also right at the top of the show I talk about where we came from and where we are going. We’re pretty excited about the future.

We do not have an interview this week. Alex Lawson, of Social Security Works!, had a family emergency and had to cancel at the last minute but we can all look forward to having Alex with us next week.

In his segment Will focuses tightly on a terrible article in New Republic which exemplifies one of the dramatic failings of the media during election cycles. Guess what, folks, most of the time it isn’t “both sides.” Most of the time it is facts and reality on one side and absolute make-believe fear mongering on the other side. What is amazing is how easy it is to slip lies into the public space when journalists, like Clio Chang, completely fall down on the job.

I get really wonky and go into the differences between money, sovereign currency, monetary instruments and commodities like Bitcoin. Bitcoin is no more a form of money than is a Beanie Baby. Both are commodities which only have value because the market has deemed it to be such and just like the infamous Pet Rock or, historically, tulips, that “value” can dry up and blow away at any time. Bitcoin is also not a cybercurrency. Thinking of it that way is Bitcoin Bro hype which has been accepted by journalists sheep. These are the links to some of the articles I mention in the show.

Bitcoin is Not a Currency by Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism

Everything I was Afraid to Ask About Bitcoin but Did by Lambert at Naked Capitalism

Money & Banking Part 16:  FAQs About Monetary Systems by Eric Tymoigne at New Economic Perspectives

Bitcoin’s Deflationary Weirdness by Dan Kervick at New Economic Perspectives

A note about the music in this show:  I wanted to use some short snippets which fit with the themes of the blocks we were doing this week. As in the past this will not be a common thing for us, I just really love these particular songs and I thought you might want to hear them too. Selling the News, by Switchfoot, and and Channel 5 News, by Bo Burnham, both have dense and brilliant lyrics. The songs are well worth hearing in full and many times. At the very end of the show I slip in a tiny part of Cyndi Lauper’s genius acoustic reworking of her hit Money Changes Everything. It is seriously wonderful and a must-own piece of music.

Thank you to all of you and a huge thank you to Will. It has been such fun and I can’t wait for more. Carrots! – Arliss

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