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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Parliament, the House and Games, Games, Games – Margaret Pless Goes Meta

19 October 2015 – We started out simply this week with a big tip of the carrot to Whole Foods in thanks for their decision to no longer sell bunny in their freezer section. Rabbit Americans everywhere join me in collective relief. Will and I are both reading unusually good books this week. I’m reading the magical, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights Nights by Salman Rushdie. I’ll be the first to admit that I never managed to struggle to the end of The Satanic Verses but Rushdie’s new book is in the style of 1001 Nights and is truly a book that has transported me. Will is reading The Discovery of Middle Earth, by Graham Robb. Robb traces the history of the Celts using the results of recent archeology and research. He brings a potentially new slant to the history of a tribe with much greater reach than most realize.

After the break Will told us about some of the more recent revelations by Edward Snowden and the realization by British MPs that they too are the subject of surveillance despite the repeated statements by the government to the contrary. You will be pleased to know that a court ruled that the statements by the government were “political” and not really intended to be factual so everything is all okay. Or not.

I’ve been thinking about the lack of a Speaker and the so-called debt ceiling crisis upon which Republicans continue to insist despite the fact that it is a useless anachronism dating back to the gold standard. Is this the time for platinum coin seigniorage, aka “the trillion dollar coin?” Probably not but PCS sure would solve a lot of problems. I explain what it is and a bit about why it works. Later this week I will post, under our “Other Podcasts” tab an MMT podcast I did for The After Show during which I also covered PCS. There is a bit more detail in that podcast and I will include my notes as well in case you would like more information.

Our interview this week was with citizen journalist and blogger, Margaret Pless. While Margaret has been involved in covering Gamergate, we didn’t bother to dive down into the weeds of who said what, when or to whom. Personally, with rare, rare exceptions (The Room, for instance) I don’t play games and I’m not really interested in them. What DOES interest me are some of the more meta issues of which Gamergate is only one example. We talked to Margret about women in science and tech, about games in the larger context of society and in our extended “Extra Mad” segment Margaret got in to more detail about how to protect yourself on-line. Margaret is a terrific young talent and we think you will be as engaged by her as we were.  – Carrots! Arliss

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