Inherent Contempt: Not Just Another Pretty Statute

23 April 2018 – Everyone is talking about the Comey memos and I think I’m about over it BUT I have been curious about how Congress and the Justice Department both run investigations in parallel without pulling a Nunes or embarrassingly dropping a Gowdy on the floor. David Waldman (@KagroX), who is a lawyer, Congressional procedure expert and the master of all that is Kagro in the Morning, is on the show to walk us through why it is such a mess right now, how it is supposed to be done and, in Extra Mad, he gets into something I had never heard of, inherent contempt. Between March of 2007 and April of 2008 David wrote a number of explainer diaries at Daily Kos so I have included the links here:

At the top of the show, Hopping Mad #99, we take a quick look back at how we got started and then Will continues his Big Ideas of Democracy series talking about just war theory. In my block I begin my own multi-show series, this one focusing on framing MMT.

Many, many carrots! – Arliss

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Dems Dangerous Debt Dance with Bluegal

16 April 2018 – There comes a time in every federal budget cycle when I have to find a way to talk about debt and, specifically, the Dems dangerous debt dance. This time I decided to switch things up and invited Frances Langum (Bluegal), from my favorite podcast, The Professional Left, to interview me and to provide push-back. Fran is someone for whom I have enormous respect but, like 99% of the Dems out there, she comes at economics from a purely Keynesian perspective…and that’s what I wanted. You are going to love the conversation and, I hope you find it an interesting way to get the MMT message out.

At the top of the show I refresh the information about the Rapid Response events taking place when (if) Trump does any of the following:  fires Robert Mueller, fires Rob Rosenstein, pardons any key witnesses. Please go to Nobody Is Above the Law to register for the event closest to you. Our democracy cannot be allowed to go down without a fight. Also, on the day you can tune in to Netroots Radio for a live stream as events unfold.

During the rest of the show Will covers an item you may have missed on your news feed, the angry Scottish badger, as well as some of the larger issues surrounding the US/UK/French strike on Syria. I get into Mick Mulvaney’s appearance on Capitol Hill to give his bi-annual report from the CFPB. Both Joan McCarter, of Daily Kos, and David Dayen, for The Nation, covered this particularly well.

Be vigilant folks, things are getting real. – Arliss

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Fadhel Kaboub of the Binzagr Institute – MUST Listen!

12 March 2018Dr. Fadhel Kaboub (@FadhelKaboub and @BinzagrInfo), President of the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity and Associate Professor at Denison University, gave us such a wonderful interview that we dedicated the entire show to it including the compelling extended part of the interview. Dr. Kaboub became interested in modern monetary theory (MMT) early in his studies at a time when there was virtually no understanding of how the precepts of MMT could be applied to developing economies. His work in this area and his emphasis on the specific issues faced by the peoples and economies of the Middle East has become the leading edge of the conversation. You are going to be fascinated to hear him talk about how he believes Tunisia can fight imported inflation and political unrest with fish. Really. It’s brilliant. Also, Fadhel deeply understands the relationship between TIARA (There is a Real Alternative) and hope as a key to leveraging economic prosperity and political stability. I also enjoyed listening to his description of how the currency he has invented for his economics students, the Denison Volunteer Dollar (DVD), has crossed-over into the basketball program!

Will and I do plan to be back with a regular program next week. Carrots! –  Arliss

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Special! Mad Testimony on Trade

8 March 2018 – This is a special combined Hopping Mad and Irreverent Testimony entirely focused on trade. Travis Rosen and Rachel Hutcheson of Irreverent Testimony joined Will and I to talk about the domestic and international implications of the Trump Trade Tariffs and the basics of what international trade really means. This is a dive into what we should all really be messaging about trade and why “trade deficit” matters not at all.

Will and I will be back on Monday for our regular show. Carrots! – Arliss

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Real Progressives’ Steve Grumbine

5 March 2018 – WOW! We had an exhilarating, affirming, healing conversation with Real Progressives founder, Steve Grumbine (@sdgrumbine) who was on with us for the whole show. Steve is a long-time MMT evangelist and activist. He also has been active and is well known in Bernie & Green Party circles. I knew, from having heard his panel at the MMT conference in Kansas City last summer, that we shared many values and virtually all objectives and that was why I was determined to have him on as a guest. Still, I worried a little bit because the Hillary/Bernie divide runs so deep among so many. What I think we all learned as we spoke, and what I hope we were able to convey, is that there is little which divides us and much which unites us. This was a genuinely remarkable show. I learned a great deal and I think you will as well.

Next week I’ll get back to talking about inflation and unemployment but this break was well worth it. Many Carrots! – Arliss

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White Men, BS & Deficits vs Investment

26 February 2018 – Perhaps this time we will be willing to finally talk about the elephant in the room, white men and guns. We will never be able to ask the right questions or find workable solutions until Americans acknowledge that white men are not only usually the shooters but purchase most of the guns, organize the gun shows, protest in favor of their gun-based religion, own the gun manufacturers and are the legislators. The problem is white men from top to bottom.

Will begins the show talking about Jeremy Corbin and the Czech spy fiasco in the UK and then moves on into his main block on the subject of bulls*t. He ranges from the right-wing conspiracy theories about so-called “crisis actors” to left-wing nonsense that the “Russia stuff” is a smokescreen conceived by Hillary.

I burn the barn down (lol) explaining why neoliberal economists are completely wrong when they say “deficits crowd out investment” or that deficits cause inflation. It’s amazing that they continue to push this unproven drivel to the detriment of the real overall economy.

Next week I will cover the relationship between unemployment and inflation while Will will cover something genuinely compelling. Many carrots! – Arliss


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Our interstitial music today had an addition. The Flobots “Handle your Bars,” which was in response to the mangling of their song by an infamous YouTuber. I’ve posted links that song, and the original song below.

Flobots Handle Your Bars (Response Song)

Flobots – Handlebars (Original Song)

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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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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Brad Voracek from The Minskys – Part 1

23 October 2017 – This was one of those shows which fought every step of the way.* While at the MMT conference this summer I recorded a terrific interview with the bright and articulate young economist Brad Voracek (@bradvoracek) from one of my favorite websites, The Minskys. Embarrassingly, I managed to error during the recording process and had both a sound problem and actually lost part of the interview…twice. As I say in the show, I am making it my life’s work to have Brad back for a fully and competently recorded interview very, VERY soon.

Meanwhile, though Will told me weeks ago that he was traveling this week, I have been so distracted by the fires in my hometown of Santa Rosa, CA,  that I forgot to make arrangements in advance for a cohost. Fortunately, Michele LeSure stepped in and went well above and beyond not only doing nearly all the editing but presenting two blocks. We decided to update you on some of the issues surrounding three of the four major disasters all of which are only in the earliest stages of recovery. Michele talked about Florida and Houston. I, of course, am still on what is now being called the October 2017 Fire Siege which has savaged Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties in California.

Michele concentrated on the poor quality of the support being rendered in Florida and Texas. She also discovered an issue I had not heard about at all which manages to entangle disaster recovery aid in Texas with the politics surrounding Israel. Yes, you read that correctly. Michele just touches on the subject this week and has promised to come back next week with more.

It will not surprise you to know that in progressive, liberal Sonoma County the experience around receiving the basic necessities for survival for the more than 5500 families who have lost their homes is the polar opposite of that in states controlled by Republican legislatures. Additionally, the Sonoma County Sheriff, Rob Giordano has distinguished himself not only demonstrating superhuman leadership during the crisis but by being an extraordinary protector of all the residents of his county, including a homeless, hispanic man that ICE and Breitbart are falsely accusing of setting the fires. Sheriff Giordano is the kind of experienced, fair and thoughtful law enforcement officer who seems to live the ethic of “to protect and serve.” Sonoma County is fortunate to have him at this sad, terrifying, challenging time.

Will will be back next week. Many carrots! – Arliss

* Note:  among many of the other things which went wrong while I was flailing about trying to get this show out,  Comcast had an area blackout as I was uploading the show…because it really was just one of those shows.

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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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