Hopping Mad May 2016

Episode 27:  William Spriggs, Scots and Saudis

2 May 2016 – Even more than in the past there is this nexus between the progressive movement and the labor movement in the US. This week we were joined for the interview by the Chief Economist of the AFL-CIO, the deeply knowledgable Dr. William Spriggs. Dr. Spriggs kindly gave us an unusually long and detailed interview and we highly recommend visiting some of the pages, to which I refer during our talk. They are on the excellent website of the AFL-CIO here, here, here and here.

At the top of the show Will fills us in on what is going on with the protestors who have just taken the Iraqi Parliament. Later in the show he gives us the promised update on the Scottish elections which will take place on 5 May.

I start out on the newly released anti-austerity budget which has just been announced by the Trudeau government in Canada. I come back a bit later to give a lot of detail about the very aggressive Vision 2030 economic plan aimed at weaning Saudi Arabia off of its dependence on oil. Headed by favorite son Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MbS as he is called in Saudi), the plan is interesting and hopeful but will have to overcome significant resist

I also learned that Netroots Radio has moved all of the old shows to which we had links from this site. Of course, all those links are now dead. I’ll have to figure out where they went and fix that. On a more cheerful note, the archive section for Hopping Mad has been updated and an index has been added making it easier to find specific subject – Carrots! Arliss

 

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Episode 28: Putting Pundits in Context & Learning From Labour’s Loss

9 May 2016 – This week on Hopping Mad we had two guests for an extended interview which we dubbed our Pundit Primer. Greg Dworkin (DemFromCT at dKos and Twitter) and Driftglasshis own blog and Mr_Electrico on Twitter). Greg  starts most weekday mornings on the popular Netroots Radio show and podcast, Kagro in the Morning with David Waldman. Driftglass joins Bluegal on the podcast The Professional Left, which also airs on Netroots Radio. These are both shows I can honestly say I never miss and I encourage you to give them a listen if you have not done so in the past. Both Greg and Driftglass are long-time pundit watchers and they both put various pundits into context and make us laugh. Just perfect.

[Note:  at the bottom of this blog post we have included some links Greg sent us which evidence the work of some of those pundits we discuss.]

Will took a look at the Scottish election results which show what might happen to the Democratic Party if we decide to slide to the right. Scottish Labour is in trouble because they aren’t fighting for the things the Scottish people actually care about. Scotland was once a country run by Labour with its largest city, Glasgow, called the “Citadel of Socialism” by pundits. But the red and gold “Vote Labour” signs have been replaced with the SNP’s black on yellow Clootie Dumpling symbol. Glasgow’s constituencies are held almost entirely by the SNP. Labour has fallen into third place as the battle in Scotland becomes one between the SNP and the Tories.

Meanwhile, the SNP won a historic third term as the government of Scotland but lost their overall majority despite their vote share increasing. That’s because the D’hondt method of vote counting is intentionally designed to prevent any one party from having an overall majority. However, the SNP were also the victims of inflated expectations and that’s where another lesson applies to our own country. The Democratic Party looks as if it will sail to victory in November. But can similar inflated expectations hurt us here?

Carrots! – Arliss

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Pundit Links:

David Brooks

Kathleen Parker

Ross Douthat

Ron Fournier

Matthew Doud

Salena Zito

Erica Greider


Episode 29: Conspiracy Theories, Democracy & Social Security

16 May 2016 – When you have Mark Potok, from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), on for the interview, you already know it’s going to be a good show. Mark is the editor of  the SPLC quarterly journal, Intelligence Report and most of this interview is based upon an article he and Don Terry wrote for the Winter issue, Margins to the Mainstream. While Mark is one of the leading experts in the country on extremism (and we will have him back in a few weeks on that very subject) this article took a look at the conspiracy theories which have seeped into the mainstream of politics from the radical right. In this, the season of Trump, it seemed apropos.

Will takes a thoughtful stroll around democracy. Once initially ensconced, most citizens tend to think of democracy as a done deal but it is a process and, certainly, both in North America and in Europe, it is undergoing change, some good and some bad. Will knows where he wants to go and that’s what he’s “on about” today.

I’m off on one of those “third rail” topics of American politics, Social Security. Everyone seems sure that Social Security is in need of saving and, well, everyone is wrong. It isn’t that we shouldn’t maintain and even strengthen Social Security, we most assuredly should, it’s that the problem with Social Security isn’t funding, the problem is politics.

…and one other thing…we are going to Netroots Nation in St. Louis in July! Will and I will be there the whole time. We will be recording interviews for Hopping Mad and helping out on Radio Row at the Netroots Radio booth. Come on by. We would love to meet you, maybe chat over a couple of carrots and generally have a fabulous time.

Thanks for listening! – Carrots! Arliss

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Episode 30:  Counter-Messaging ISIS, Immigration & Transphobia

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23 May 2016 – Middle East expert Landon Shroder (@LandonShroder) has returned to talk to us about the work being done to counter-message ISIS. His new company and foundation, Applied Mathematics, combines the skills of experienced foreign policy experts with the messaging genius of marketing professionals to create authentic, high quality content which will provide a counter-weight against on-line, violent, extremist media.

Will starts off the show with a story about flags. Because they had nothing better to do with their lives, Spanish soccer authorities tried to ban the Catalan flag, the Estelada, from being waved by fans during a championship match.  Will then goes on to talk about the tremendously dangerous environment which now exists for ALL women as a result of the new anti-trans, bathroom laws in North Carolina. Women across the nation have already come under active threat and it’s only going to get worse. Bathroom vigilantes are coming to a bathroom near you.

Transwomen look like women, because they are women. Take these women for example:

Do they look like they belong in the Men’s restroom?

What about her? But it’s not just women that this affects.

Does he look like he ought to be in the Women’s restroom? What about this couple? Which one should use which restroom?

North Carolina thinks they ought to use the same restroom. And honestly, I have no idea which restroom that would be, because the couple here haven’t informed anyone which one of them was assigned the wrong gender at birth.

I begin with the extravaganza that is Eurovision and the politics of the win this year by Jamala of Ukraine. You must, must, must take a moment to take a look at both the Ukrainian and Russian competitors. A…maz…carrots! My main take this week is on the economics of immigration and the enormous upside potential which exists for the US if we can force our way past the politics. This is one of those rare cases when we need business and money to do the talking because progressives, economists and American business are all on the same side.

Next week we have David Dayen for the interview on his new book, Chain of Title. Enjoy these few, final days of Spring. Carrots! –  Arliss

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If you’d like to contact Landon about his work, he can be reached at info@apmathlabs.com.


Episode 31:  David Dayen on “Chain of Title” & Housing Choices

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30 May 2016 – I have a house rabbit named David Dayen. That’s how highly I think of our guest this week.  Dayen is a highly respected financial news and economics journalist for a reason. He finds a way to make even the most dry and dense topics understandable while also making it absolutely clear why we should all care. David’s first book, Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud (also on Audible.com  here),  is meticulously researched and a deep dive into the foreclosure crisis. Typical of David he found a unique way into the story through the lens and lives of three regular people who, instead of going quietly into the dark of foreclosure shame, chose to shine a revelatory light. Whatever you know about the foreclosure crisis sprouted, quite directly, from the questions Lisa, Michael and Lynn asked and the shocking answers they unearthed. Heroes are those who run into the fire, into the storm, to bring others to safety. Chain of Title is a gripping, true-to-life rendering of the lives of heroes and the deeds of villains. And, whether you know it or not, what this handful of people discovered changed your life. You can follow all of David’s writing here and I strongly recommend subscribing to his weekly summary e-mail.

I lead into David’s interview with some information about Gresham’s Law, the idea that bad money drives good money out of the market, meaning that Wall Street criminals make it virtually impossible for competitors to continue to abide by the law. I also talk about something that seems obvious, asymmetric information, meaning that the seller knows more than the buyer. One would think that was as plain as the orange on a carrot but three people won the Nobel in economics for describing how asymmetric information influences macroeconomics and, in the case of Wall Street, further influences the criminographic environment.

Will brings up something which so often gets left out of the political mix, housing. He observes that the desires and right to choice of those who are among the most vulnerable in our society, the homeless, must be sine qua non to any array of solutions. Will uses, as an example, a heart rending description of the state of homeless shelters in Washington, DC.

Will and I open the show with what can only be described as a rant. I read an article this week which eloquently encapsulates my feelings regarding the 2016 Democratic primary, Misogyny Rules the 2016 Election by Victoria A. Brownworth. I truly am done with the sexism which is spreading, from the top down, through the Sanders campaign. Bernie’s silence, in some cases, and defense, in others, regarding the violence being committed against women by his campaign makes it clear that it is a leadership-lead issue. Bernie reveals himself with the lack of women (with the glaring exception of his wife) in the upper tier of his campaign as well as his shocking opinion that he believes Hillary to be “unqualified” to be President. (His too little, too late “apology” not withstanding.) Bernie’s personal rage at the world has permeated all facets of his campaign. He and his cult are frightening women…on purpose. Bernie could have been great. Instead he is the leader of a cult that is tilting ever more toward increasing degrees of violence. History will remember him as an old, white man who, while choking on his privilege, turned away from leadership and toward ignominy. Good riddance. – Arliss

First off, I apologize for the lack of music in today’s show. We simply had too much content and not enough time. I had to cut my discussion of Bernie’s e-mails and a section from my block where Arliss and I discussed the Tiny House movement. Across the nation communities have begun using tiny house neighborhoods as part of a menu of solutions for homeless housing. Tiny houses provide homeless folk with a place of their own, an address, a place to sleep protected from the elements, a place to cook their food, and a place to feel safe.

But I also made a promise at the top of the show which I was forced to cut: that I’d provide access to the threats Roberta Lange recieved. For those who want to see just a small selection of the nearly 1000 phonecalls and hundreds of thousands of harassing text messages received by Lange, here’s a dropbox folder released by the Nevada Democrats. 

I’m really frustrated with the situation. I want to talk about what we can do to make the Democratic Party better, more transparent and the process more trustworthy. I want to talk about things like Modern Monetary Theory and work on the housing policy I described in today’s show. But unless the people who step-up to lead chase the dangerous nonsense out of the process we can’t have those conversations. We simply can’t be silent while women are harassed and while people call for their public lynching. If we want to change the conversation we absolutely cannot afford to let it fall into the gutter. We need leadership, not rhetoric. – Will

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