Rural Spaces

13 November 2017 – We accidentally ended up with a theme this week – rural spaces. During our interview block we were fortunate enough to have Lane Siekman (@LaneSiekman), Congressional candidate in IN-6, and Dearborn County, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman, Tricia Gaustad (@GaustadTricia). Lane gave us an articulate and well thought out rundown of his priorities including progressive favorite, Medicare for All. Tricia talked about why the 2018 cycle is not at all the same as the 2016 cycle even in her deep red county. She is listening to local Dems and has built a strategy to truly fight the good fight.

Will started the show talking about the ways in which some conservatives are trying to twist the current conversation about powerful people sexually abusing others into a diatribe which reinforces feelings about LGBTQ people. They do this, of course, at the expense of women but that is their normal operating procedure so we should not be surprised. In his block Will gets serious about rural spaces and why the Democratic party simply must find a way both to honor our base and to reach back into rural areas for those who have priorities which are not all about racism. He reminds us that rural areas vary in demographics from state to state and that those variations represent opportunities.

I begin the show with a couple of brief observations about the elections this past week. In my block I explain carried interest, why it is part of the GOP tax plan debate and the fact that the issue with carried interest is not about how much the wealthiest Americans pay in taxes, it is about increasing inequity and inequality. …Oh, and eliminating the carried interest loophole represents yet another promise which Trump has broken. I spend most of my block talking about new research, summarized in an article in the Harvard Business Review, which evidences a strong correlation between opposition to federal spending and racial resentment. We keep thinking that it is possible to wrap our minds around all the ways in which racism is systemic in our society and, as this research shows, we are nowhere close to understanding.

On that cheerful note…the interview I was expecting to have this week really is happening next week. It will be very different from our normal fare but I think it is going to be wonderful. Stay tuned! Carrots! – Arliss

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JD Alt Dreams in MMT Reality

6 November 2017Architect and author JD Alt again graced us with his thoughts, this time talking about his new novella, Low Earth Orbit. The novella takes the functionality of modern monetary theory and applies it to solve major issues facing a society on the brink. The novella lives at the intersection between architecture, environment, society and economics with a light touch which will bring you back to it again and again in the future. Low Earth Orbit demonstrates the dreams of which reality is made and I could not recommend it more.

I begin the show with background information about Trump’s nomination for the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome “Jay” Powell. Powell is currently on the board of Governors of the Fed and it is thought that he will continue the practices of his predecessor, Janet Yellen. Trump could have nominated a number of truly despicable people, including Mike Pence’s favorite, John Taylor. Instead, the next Fed chair is known to be hardworking, calm,  interested in both sides of any question as well as being…frankly…rational (something in short supply these days.) In Trump-adjusted terms, Powell is basically a “win.”

Will pushes back against the not particularly factually-based spin being tossed about by former DNC chair, Donna Brazille. Here’s the bottom line:

We need a functional DNC which works for everyone.

We MUST win in 2018.

Nothing else is as important.

Will then moves on to a discussion of the upcoming race in Virginia. Virginia, he notes, tends to vote contrarian and is not necessarily the bellwether some are insisting upon. The race is being impacted by Trump’s impossible claims around coal and restoration of coal-based jobs while job training lacks a viable program.

Hopping Mad Associate, Dave Paquette, who is, himself, a registered nurse, updates us on the opiates crisis and the latest, minimal actions by the Trump administration. While Trump claims to have declared a “national emergency,” with all the funding and support such an act involves, in reality he only declared a “public health emergency.” The fund available for use in such emergencies is $56,000. So, not even sofa cushion change. Meanwhile, the family-owned Purdue Pharma has been profiteering wildly from sales of opiates. Purdue’s owner, the Sackler family, simply must be pulled out into the light of day. More than 2.5 million Americans are thought to be addicted. Overdose is now the leading cause of death for adults under the age of fifty. In 2016 up to 65,000 people (depending upon how the count is done) died from opiate overdose but, somehow, it is not a national emergency.

We will be back next week with an unusual interview I think you will love. Until then, carrots! – Arliss

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Pavlina Tcherneva & the World Beyond Trump

2 October 2017 – Some days it’s hard to remember that despite all appearances, there is a world out there beyond Trump and all the many, many ways he is failing this week. The truly dazzling economist Dr. Pavlina Tcherneva (her excellent site is here) is with us for the interview. I was able to interview her in person at the First International Conference of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT Conference). We talked about how the, now famous, chart (see above)  she developed was able to influence the conversation around inequality and how a job guarantee program can add more than just jobs to a society. It is inspiring to know the modern monetary theory rests in the hands of economists, like Pavlina, who have a clear connection to the ground truth of the programs and policies they imagine into existence.

I start out the show with just a quick overview of my experience at the MMT conference. It was genuinely compelling and I was overwhelmed by all the ideas and applications of MMT to which I was exposed. You will be hearing about many of these in depth in the future and I promise you will be intrigued too.

Will then updated everyone on the events in Catalonia related to the independence vote. Spain is refusing to acknowledge the vote and tension is ratcheting up. Will has covered Catalonia in the past and promises a deep dive next week.

We touched briefly on Puerto Rico. Now that it is (finally) being followed by major media we are leaving most of that to actual journalists but people are suffering and our President, while golfing, is too busy trying to shame the Mayor of San Juan with tweets to actually send an appropriate level of support. It’s not just frustrating or inhumane, it’s evil.

In Will’s main block he talked about Brexit. Many are saying that all the economic ills projected by those who wanted to remain in the European Union have not come to pass and were therefore simply election scare tactics. Will points out the obvious, the UK is still in the EU and the pain from Brexit will not be felt until Brexit actually occurs. It remains reasonable to expect cost-push inflation (also known as supply shock) as the UK strikes out on its own.

In my block I briefly lay out my reasons for supporting Bernie’s current “Medicare for All” bill. This may surprise some of you but I find this bill to be essential and extremely well-timed. Don’t get me wrong, this bill won’t move and, ultimately, the bill that does move will look different but here’s the thing – we can’t legislate until we get elected. Will disagrees but I think “Medicare for All” is a good bumper sticker way to sum up the shared Democratic party value that healthcare is a right. I think having this bill under active discussion now gives us an opportunity to build coalition and consensus in preparation for a non-Trump future. No matter what, this bill has already moved the Overton Window and that in and of itself is critical. Bernie has written a solid bill and he is gathering important voices. There is long, hard work ahead to build unstoppable grassroots momentum but this is how healthcare gets changed for real. It will take all of us…and it should. Carrots! – Arliss

Since recording this episode, the Spanish government has acted without restraint or dignity in Catalonia, attacking unarmed civilians with a wave of brutal repression. Many folks who oppose the referendum say that holding it is illegal. That may be true, but it isn’t an excuse for state violence. Spain had every ability to refuse to acknowledge the vote, which was itself an act of civil disobedience. But instead of responding to this act with restraint, and refusing to acknowledge the results, they chose to wage an unnecessary and unnecessarily brutal campaign of violence against the Catalan people. These actions bring the legitimacy of Rajoy’s governance of Catalonia into question. Things will likely only get worse in the coming days. I will report in depth on the situation next week, and talk about Kurdistan and its referendum as well. –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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Erasing Women, Healthcare, Trade & Policing – Something for Everyone

10 July 2017 – Today I was joined by all three of the new associates:  Michele LeSure, David Paquette & Joel Dent. They are all bringing new perspective and strengths to the show so I am reveling in the opportunity to showcase them. Will is still on vacation but he is back next week with, hopefully, some interesting stories to tell.

Michele starts off the show with a brief introduction of herself and then her nomination for the Hopping Mad Lying Liar Lie of the Week – Donald Trump. He claims, in some truly twisted ways, to respect women but his actions show us what he really thinks. This week it was revealed that the women who are part of the White House staff, those who work most closely with the President, are paid far less than their male counterparts. Additionally, the Trump White House is far more male dominated than was the Obama White House. No surprise there but now we have evidence. I countered with Trump failing to mention or notice the only female astronaut in the room, Sandy Magnus, when he was signing an executive order establishing a related space commission and while thanking and commenting on the three male astronauts who were there. Trump not only does not value or hear women, he completely erases them. 

David followed next with some information on healthcare and American exceptionalism. He introduced a concept called “duct taping” which is a single number which can be seen to encapsulate a wide variety of other seemingly unrelated elements. This, he explained, is why the CIA uses maternal morbidity as a CIA Fact Book statistic. I promise you, you are going to be depressed when you hear where the US falls in the ranking of maternal morbidity.

I’m still on trade this week. I get into some detail on the upcoming NAFTA 2.0 negotiations and what you can expect to see there. Additionally, I touch on the brand new (spit in Trump’s eye) in-principle trade agreement between Japan and the European Union. They call it, “Cars for Cheese” but this is going to be an enormous and, apparently, forward looking deal. It will take some time to negotiate but this is the first hard evidence that the world is reshaping its relationships into a new structure without either the US or the post-Brexit UK at the center. This really, really isn’t a good thing for American business.

Joel and Michele close out the show with a sobering discussion about the militarization of the police. Dr. Victor E. Kappeler, of Eastern Kentucky University, has a paper out called A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing, which ties the origins of modern police forces back to slave patrols. It’s chilling. Joel and Michele make this concept present by tying it to the murder of Philando Castile and modern policing tactics and mindset. They also discuss the difference between a military action and a police action as well as why this is becoming an evermore gray area in the US.

We do not have an interview this week so there is no Extra Mad. I expect all will be back to normal once Will is returns safe and sound. He is missed! Carrots! – Arliss

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Trumpcare, Medicaid, & Rights

26 June 2016 – Most of this show was recorded within a few hours after the Senate released their “Better Care” bill and we were lucky enough to have Linda Benesch (@LindaBenesch), the Communications Director for Social Security Works, with us to spell out the depth of the depravity of the GOP. I began by asking her “On a scale of 1 to I’m moving to Norway, how bad is it?” She recommended the Arctic. And she’s not wrong. Linda got into some detail (because we, at Hopping Mad, love to go out into the weeds) but she was also very clear that we need to be talking about people’s lives, not statistics. This really is an “all hands on deck” level crisis and none of us can afford to just hope for the best. I recommend going to the site for Indivisible’s targeted campaign, aimed at the ten (or so) GOP senators most vulnerable on this.

The other real stroke of luck this week is that I was joined on air, for the Hopping Mad Lying Liar Lie of the Week segment by one of our three new associates, Joel Dent. Joel begins by telling you a bit about himself and then goes right into why he thinks Jason Chaffetz is the Lying Liar of the Week. (Thank you to Rebecca Romans for nominating Chaffetz. Excellent choice!) I reserved my wrath for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. You’ll hear why. Oh, and I took just a minute at the beginning of the show to update everyone on the change in the line of succession within the House of Saud. MBS is in.

Will is actually traveling this week but prior to leaving he recorded a brief segment on rights. We on the left are the party of expanding and ensuring rights but defining them can be interesting. Will gets even further behind the curtain when he talks about who it is that “grants” rights and the purpose of the social contract and of government.

I thought it would be helpful to talk about how Medicaid works and what it is right now. Since the GOP is getting ready to completely end Medicaid as an entitlement program (as a foot in the door to privatizing Medicare and Social Security) it seemed to make sense to talk about why it is so critical that Medicare remain a fully functional part of the social safety net.

Wow! I know this is the fourth week but I’l still just really, really glad to be back on the air. Carrots! – Arliss

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