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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Trump is Toast & Fascism in the UK

10 October 2016 – We were lucky to have Scottish National Party Councillor Math Campbell  to preview for us what it looks like when fascism takes over a country. The British government of Prime Minister Theresa May is talking about creating a “registry” for all foreign nationals and has decided that no organizations which advise Whitehall can include foreign nationals among their advisors. Prime Minister May has also announced that when negotiating Brexit from the European Union, limiting immigration will take priority over jobs, the economy and justice. It’s good to know she has established her priorities. Math let us know that plans are continuing apace for a Scottish break from the UK.

At the top of the show Will makes it clear that the most recent release from Wikileaks, which is intended to be problematic for Clinton, is not now and was not ever created by the Clinton Foundation or part of a speech given by Hillary. The release is comprised of falsified documents, probably written by Russian agents, in an effort to influence the US election.

I answer the question, what is Hillary’s plan to pay for debt-free college? This is a nod of the carrot to Travis & Rachel, our friends at Irreverent Testimony, who were faced by a Libertarian with this very question last week. I hope this answer helps. If anyone needs additional detail, there is a lot more at Hillary’s website. This link will take you to the specific page.

Usually, both Will and I have a block on the show to talk at a bit more length about a subject of interest to each of us. We planned that for this week. We prepared our notes. We got ready to record the show. And then Politico announced that the Republican National Committee had temporarily frozen the funding and all work on Trump Victory Fund projects. Will and I were willing to let the rest of the media deal with the despicable things Trump has said about women but when the GOP starts to seriously break-away from their candidate, well, that we had to cover. Late on Saturday afternoon we pitched our original plans out the window and started again. What you will hear is current as of about 6PM on Saturday, 8 October.

I didn’t mention it on the show but I did find this graphic of 150 GOP leaders who don’t support Trump and when they reached their breaking point. It is fascinating.

With luck, next week will be a bit more normal. Carrots! – Arliss

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We’re BACK with Failed Tech & Blockchain

12 September 2016 – The stars have almost fully aligned. Will and I are both fully functional this week. Sadly, we have no interview or Extra Mad, because we are both frantically catching-up at work, but the show is all new this week and next week, for our 1-year anniversary show, we have an interview I have been trying to get for a while so I’m excited.

At the top of the show I talk about the bankruptcy filing by South Korean shipping giant, Hanjin. Sea freight is a canary in the coal mine economic indicator and the sinking of Hanjin speaks volumes. Also, with Christmas on the horizon, the Toy Shippers Association (no joke, there’s clearly a club for everyone), is expressing deep concern. It is already apparent that the stranding of so many toys will be putting extra pressure on reindeer-based transport systems on the night of 24 December. Also during the top block, Will, as predicted/promised, gets into the appearance of Nigel Farage at a Trump rally in Mississippi. Fascism is real and it’s gone mainstream. The “Lauering” of the bar by the press has allowed it to go unchallenged for years and now we are all reaping the crop of hate so carefully nurtured by the AltRight.

In his block Will has some fun talking about the history of tech and projects that failed because they were too far ahead of their time. The Scottish efforts to build a canal across Panama, the Macon and Akron airships and the Apple Newton were all failures. Still, there is a tiny bit of Newton in every iPhone. Eventually, good ideas tend to take root. The photo below is of the USS Macon during a visit to new York City in 1933.

enosmacon

US Navy Photo colorized by Jared Enos.

 

In my segment I answer the question, what is blockchain? Bitcoin, the first iteration of blockchain, is an interesting experiment but it has substantial limitations. Blockchain itself, however, will have a big future and be used in many applications. It will not replace currency, for reasons I will get into in more detail next week, but it is an important technology which is on the rise. I do spend some time on the technical limitations of blockchain including the Byzantine Generals problem. There are many serious descriptions of this hurdle as it has been an unresolved challenge, both for programmers and applied mathematicians, for nearly forty years but there was one genuinely short but funny article and I promised to link to it here.

Both Will and I thank you for sticking with us through the past few weeks. – Carrots! Arliss


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Losses & Listening, Mark Carney & Stress

11 July 2016 – We could not begin without acknowledging that yet again our nation has suffered terrible losses:  Alton Sterling, Philander Castile, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa. Will sums up our feelings by reading parts of Hillary Clinton’s speech in Philadelphia which, we feel, speaks for us.

It’s hard to believe there was anything else important in a week like this past one but there was and I get to two of the big pieces of financial news. The US Federal Reserve released the stress test results of both the quantitative (DFAST) and qualitative (CCAR) testing of the thirty-three largest US banks. Stress testing is one of the big gains which emerged from the Dodd-Frank Act. In order to pass banks must prove that they can withstand specific “severely adverse scenarios.” The scenarios are both different and more difficult each year. This year all the banks tested passed DFAST and all except the US subsidiaries of Deutsche Bank and Santander passed the CCAR. I know you don’t think this really applies to you but that brings me to my second segment for the show….

The UK really is in a crisis, both political and economic. In the midst of all the chaos the one steady, calm voice of national leadership has come from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England (BoE). In a critical speech on 30 June (PDF here), Carney delineated what the BoE has done, is doing and will do as the economic disaster of Brexit trundles forward. Alone among major UK governmental departments or associated institutions the BoE had a Brexit contingency plan and they have put it into action. Carney steadied markets and calmed the City with his cogent, realistic assessment and announcement of actions which the BoE is taking. Carney also reminded everyone that the most recent round of UK bank stress testing did include a Brexit scenario and that UK banks have been found to be capable of withstanding losses more than twice those they sustained during the global financial crisis. In addition, Carney noted that the BoE will be making sure that banks are making loans both to business and to individuals and he let banks know that the BoE will not be taking its eye off the regulatory ball either, ring-fencing will progress. In this period of complete UK political breakdown, Carney looks like the only adult in the room and proves it by managing to walk and chew gum at the same time–times ten. Oh – and central banks can make all the difference in a crisis.

Will got into the one other big piece of news from this past week, the matter of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. He made a point of fact-checking and adding to the information that is out there and he clarifies the difference between Clinton and those who have willfully and knowingly divulged classified information. There is a reason no prosecutor in the country would bring the case, Hillary’s mistakes do not meet either the letter or intent of the law. We will all, regardless, spend another two years listening to the GOP yammering on about it but it’s good to get the facts straight at the top.

Next week we are hopping down the bunny trail and our show will consist of interviews we have done while at Netroots Nation in St. Louis. If you are there, please come on by and visit with us. We will be on radio row (on and off) in the vendor hall. We’re bringing treats!  –  Carrots! Arliss

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SNP Councilor Math Campbell-Sturgess

27 June 2016 – Well, THAT happened. Brexit basically ate the news cycle of much of the world this past week. Who knew so many people could find legitimate use for the word “gobsmacked.” We were lucky to be guided through the chaos by Scottish National Party Councilor Math Campbell-Sturgess. Will has been wanting to have the Inverclyde Council representative on for a quite a while and this seemed like the moment. In fact, the timing was so good that Will trimmed down his block and I ditched mine completely because there was just too much ground to cover. I am especially interested by the way austerity is playing in elections and politics around the world. It’s insidious. We also talked about the upcoming Scottish referendum on leaving the UK, the terrific leadership of Nichola Sturgeon, the mess that is trying to pass as the Labour Party, the horror that is the Conservative party, commonalities between current UK and US politics, land reform and the general future of Scotland. Also, I think Angela Merkel joined Nichola Sturgeon on a very short list of people who managed to look like world leaders this week.

I began the show with a short tribute to Amjad Sabri, the sublimely talented Sufi Qawwalis singer and musician who was killed on Thursday in Karachi, Pakistan. He was a man who had devoted his life to a message of peace and love. His loss is unspeakably great. In tribute to Amjad, all of our interstitial music this week is his.

Will took a few minutes to hit the highlights of the ruling by the Hague on the case being brought by the Philippines against China over the Spratly Islands. The Philippines won. Enforcement is another matter entirely. *sigh*

It was a big week and I don’t think anyone knows what comes next. Hang on to your ears!  Carrots! – Arliss

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Dr. James Brusseau on Inequality & Philosophy

20 June 2016 – Both of the main topics this week, inequality through the lens of philosophy and Brexit, ended up stretching me to a new perspective. In both cases I default to the economics and the associated numbers but it turns out this wasn’t the week for that. Dr. James Brusseau is an author, a professor at Pace University and recently hosted a new documentary, the Wealth Inequality Workshop. Most people think about inequality in terms of the political sphere or the economic sphere but James brings a new voice, philosophy, into the conversation and in so doing the realization that the reason so many of us talk past one another on this topic is because we are starting from opposing perspectives on the equality/freedom continuum. Once you listen I suspect you too will be surprised at where you find yourself in the end.

Will and I are both on Brexit this week. I thought I was going to be talking about Brexit economics but following a Twitter conversation with a listener I ended up really thinking about the emotional content that has come to be so closely wrapped into Brexit. I tried to think about it in several different ways, as an MMT wonk, as a pragmatist and as just a feeling being. All of this was made immeasurably more sad by the assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox (photo above). Her loving, generous, brave life was taken by a man acting on a wave of the current of hate which is insidiously sweeping through the Leave side of the referendum. It’s easy to recognize because it is here in the US too, in the campaign of Donald Trump and even, to a lesser degree, in that of Bernie Sanders. As is the first line of the editorial in The Guardian about Jo’s death, “The slide from civilization to barbarism is shorter than we might like to imagine.”

#MoreInCommon – Carrots! Arliss

Just a quick note, I mentioned almost offhandedly the complexities of the relationships that surround the European Union.Wikipedia actually has one of the best breakdowns charted out here. That explains all the ancillary agreements and groups that surround the EU.

Catch you all next time! – Will

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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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