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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Landon Shroder on Terrorism & White Nationalism

17 July 2017 – Will is back and he brought political risk and security expert Landon Shroder (@LandonShroder) with him. The interview, both in the broadcast and in the podcast versions of the show, is longer than usual and with good reason. We go wide getting into Mosul, the Kurds, Saudi, Yemen and the UAE during the broadcast show and then, in Extra Mad, coming stateside to talk about the rise of terrorism within the white nationalist movement.

Will continues his series on small “d” democratic principles and progressives. For this show Will is thinking about citizenship and it’s relationship with social responsibility. I push back just a bit asking Will about the difference between what is a right and what is earned. Also, Will and I talk about distinguishing between ideals and the reality of history and privilege.

I geek a bit on this show about the continuing rise of the discussion about how modern money really works (aka modern monetary theory or MMT) and the implications of having the power of fiat money recognized and utilized by society. It turns out that the debt-ceiling battle of 2013 really was an inflection point for MMT and voices have been added at a steadily growing clip. The Nation has a great article on 8 May 2017, The Rock-Star Appeal of Modern Monetary Theory, and that is just one of the many, many places MMT is being discussed.

I love having Will back and, friend of the show, Landon on with us again. We have another strong interview lined-up for next week too. We are definitely getting our hop back on! 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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UK Election, Trumpcare & Positive Liberty

12 June 2017 – While the results of the snap election in the UK were not quite as unexpected as the most recent US election, they came close. Recovering politician and the founder of English Scotts for YES, Math Campbell (@MathCampbell and @EnglishScottsForYES) joins us to sort out the chaos. We take extra time to really understand why British PM Theresa May opted to form a coalition government with the terrorist affiliated political party from Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party. Since this tipping of the delicate balance in Northern Ireland toward the unionists and away from the republicans could potentially re-ignite the Troubles it seemed worth our time. Math and Will also dissect the voter turnout problem in Scotland and, like the 70,000 voters in the upper Midwest who tipped the entire US election, they cover why the SNP voters who stayed home made such an outsized difference in the result nationwide.

We begin with our new weekly segment, the Lying Liar Lie of the Week. Arliss’ competitor was proposed by listener @bosengood. Apparently, David Brooks thinks the Flynn/Russia matter had little to do with why Trump fired Comey! Will rejoined with Trump assuring us that he is 100% happy to testify under oath. (Sure you are, Donald.)

The American Health Care Act (AHCA / Trumpcare) is back with a vengeance and I went over what we think is in this bill and why the AHCA is incredibly bad even for those with health insurance through their employer. Ben Winkler, of MoveOn.org, has a truly excellent set of instructions and tips for how to optimize a call to your senators and how to #resist.

Will got way back to basics, all the way back to Thomas Paine (and further) talking about the principle of positive liberty and why it is this basic core value which distinguishes progressives from conservatives. Positive liberty is about having the capacity to create real opportunity versus the negative liberty principle of not being prevented from achieving an outcome. Positive liberty is why progressives believe in basic rights and is at the heart of the healthcare debate.

On a side note, Will and I have begun speaking with some folks who have come forward to volunteer to join the Hopping Mad team. If you are interested please let us know. We are serious about adding more voices. Carrots! – Arliss

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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!

Social Security Works!, Charlotte & Banks

26 September 2016 – We are finally back up to full power this week and have a truly terrific interview with Alex Lawson of Social Security Works! Because our listeners already have heard me talk about the mechanics of how Social Security works, Alex was free to wade out into the weeds where the world gets really interesting. He went into a great deal of detail about the dirty underbelly that the lying liars are trying so hard to keep us from seeing when they promote the privatization of Social Security. He also recommended that we take a side trip to the link for Social Security Spotlight where the (excellent) website lays out the economic impact of Social Security state by state.

At the top of the show Will talked about the importance and joy of celebrating Bi Visibility Day. I was especially caught by his pointing out why it is that the largest group within the LGBTQ community is also the most ignored.  For my opening section I was less cheerful in giving an update on the latest news from the protectors gathered on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation along the Cannonball River. Like Keystone XL before it, the Dakota Access Pipeline is an enormous environmental threat and its construction has already caused the bulldozing of burial grounds, sacred sites and the locations of historic villages. Pressure from around the world has caused the Obama administration to reconsider but the project is by no means stopped. We must join in demanding an end to this and all similar pipeline projects.

Will then really spent time time getting into the role that journalism is playing in the protests in Charlotte. That journalists have stopped operating as journalists and now are only feeding the clicks necessary to support advertising has destroyed one of the cornerstones of our democracy. When the people lose their voice, they lose hope and then where do they turn?

I spend just a few minutes talking about how banks create money and why new money is pulled out of central banks by private sector banks instead of being pushed out as is the common view.

One last note, if you haven’t checked us, ImHoppingMad, out on Instagram yet, the six Team Arliss bunnies are now there providing their own brief comments on politics, economics and, of course, carrots. Carrots! – Arliss


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Ariella Barker on PwD Advocacy

13 June 2016 – We always think our interview guest is going to give us a strong interview but there is no way to predict when an interview is going to be breathtaking. Ariella Barker, advocate and activist for persons with disabilities (PwDs) gave us a truly stunning, erudite and heartfelt interview. It is no surprise that this is our longest interview to date. Ariella had a lot to say and all of it was important. I tracked Ariella down after I read her 18 May blog post, “‘Berned’ by Bernie,” which was suddenly all over my Twitter timeline one day. You. Must. Read. This. Blog. Post. There is a reason it went viral. Even more than this post though, I was astonished by the revelatory honesty and genuine humanity of Ariella’s blog as a whole. She goes by “shiksappeal” on WordPress and that is only one of the lovely things about her. I always gravitate to smart people who can laugh at themselves. Ariella is my kind of person. I guarantee you will learn an astonishing amount about the political issues with which the PwD community is grappling. I did. Did you know PwDs are the largest minority community in the United States! Fully 20% of all Americans fall into this group. Twenty. Percent!!! I had no idea and I suspect that most people don’t. Shiksappeal is a natural storyteller and she teaches by sharing her life with us. I, for one, am so grateful.

In my block I am finally turning toward Brexit, the 23 June referendum when the UK will vote to either stay in or exit the European Union. The two campaigns, Leave and Remain, are neck and neck and there is so much more on the line than most people realize. Certainly there is more involved than most in the Leave camp are taking into consideration. One of those things would be the end of peace in Northern Ireland. No joke. I spend my time this week talking about Ireland v Brexit and how both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be deeply damaged, both economically and culturally, should Leave win the vote. Next week I’ll be on the economics of Brexit.  Basically, both this week and next Will and I are all Brexit all the time. (You had to know it was coming, right?)

I was a busy bunny this week. I was on the 10 June Kagro in the Morning show with the always interesting David Waldman. David had spent time in each of his two previous shows talking about Social Security and I had some additional information which I hope was helpful. I was also fortunate enough to be a guest on the newest episode of Irreverent Testimony. Travis and Rachel are such a joy. Smart, snide, funny and never afraid to say what they are thinking – they give me hope for the future. We talked about the end of the Dem primary, what it means for Rachel and I as women to see this moment in US history, potential VPs and the hot mess that is Trump.

With that I will leave Will to say a few words. Carrots! – Arliss

We had a last minute change to the program because of the attack on the Pulse LGBT Club in Orlando. Arliss and I had a long conversation about that, about grief, and about healing. We talked about giving Orlando space to grieve. Sunday was a very difficult day for a lot of us. – Will

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