Friday, January 29, 2016

Episode 19: Bern the Trump? Clinton v. Bush II?

Join Jon, Rob and Dave as they explore the Trump phenomena, debate the Democratic merits of Hillary Clinton and tend to violently agree... yes, you read that right. Retro PoliSci Theatre involves a guest appearance from Jerry Brown, too!

To listen, click here. To download, right click and "Save As..."

Please support our show by clicking the links to our Sponsors.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

1-27-16: Rob's Book of the Week!

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer


Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against big government led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.

The network has brought together some of the richest people on the planet. Their core beliefs that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws.

The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch, whose father made his fortune in part by building oil refineries in Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany. The patriarch later was a founding member of the John Birch Society, whose politics were so radical it believed Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights.

When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency. Richard Mellon Scaife, the mercurial heir to banking and oil fortunes, had the brilliant insight that most of their political activities could be written off as tax-deductible philanthropy.

These organizations were given innocuous names such as Americans for Prosperity. Funding sources were hidden whenever possible. This process reached its apotheosis with the allegedly populist Tea Party movement, abetted mightily by the "Citizens United" decision a case conceived of by legal advocates funded by the network.

The political operatives the network employs are disciplined, smart, and at times ruthless. Mayer documents instances in which people affiliated with these groups hired private detectives to impugn whistle-blowers, journalists, and even government investigators. And their efforts have been remarkably successful. Libertarian views on taxes and regulation, once far outside the mainstream and still rejected by most Americans, are ascendant in the majority of state governments, the Supreme Court, and Congress. Meaningful environmental, labor, finance, and tax reforms have been stymied.
Jane Mayer spent five years conducting hundreds of interviews-including with several sources within the network-and scoured public records, private papers, and court proceedings in reporting this book. In a taut and utterly convincing narrative, she traces the byzantine trail of the billions of dollars spent by the network and provides vivid portraits of the colorful figures behind the new American oligarchy.
"Dark Money" is a book that must be read by anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Episode 18: Red State of the State!

Jon, Dave and Rob discuss culpability in the Flint, MI water crisis and how the GOP legislature poisoned thousands of people. Invariably, discussion turns to the Presidential race and T-Dog has a new endorsement! Also, get ready for another thrilling episode of Retro Poli-Sci Theatre!

To listen, click here. To download, right click and "Save As..."

Please support our show by clicking the links to our Sponsors.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

1-20-16: Rob's Book of the Week!

Jimmy Hoffa Called My Mom a Bitch! by Jason Vines

Buy It @ Blue Frog Books!

Jimmy Hoffa Called My Mom a Bitch!: Profiles in Stupidity is a compilation of author Jason Vines best columns as an original contributor to The Detroit News political website beginning in June of 2010. The book s outrageous title becomes crystal clear moments into the book as the satire, jaw-dropping true stories and hilarity take off. Who says conservatives aren t funny? says Detroit News Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley. Jason Vines delivers his smack-down humor without regard to whose nose gets mashed. He punches past political correctness to expose the hypocrisy of the left, the bungling of business and the lameness of our political leadership. If you re looking for subtlety, don t look here. Jason is blunt. And he's right. Jimmy Hoffa Called My Mom a Bitch! is the follow-up to Vines first book, What Did Jesus Drive?: Crisis PR in Cars, Computers and Christianity, the critically-acclaimed, take-no-prisoners, tell-it-like-it-is expose inside some of the biggest crises in American business history. When What Did Jesus Drive? was released as a hardcover on July 4th it also included a new endorsement from America s current dean of Public Relations, PR Week s Editor-in-Chief Steve Barrett: ...kept me gripped from start to finish...I couldn t put it it, it s great it should be taught in PR schools. The new Jimmy Hoffa book is broken up into chapters of stupidity: Stupid Republicans, Democrats, Bureaucrats, Atheists, Christians, Criminals, Policies, Dictators, People and so on. The Stupid Criminals chapter contains one of Vines most popular columns that appeared in The Detroit News under the moniker, The Wisecracker . The June 29, 2010 column Globe Al Warming Gets Rubbed the Wrong Way, takes on allegations that former VP Al Gore got inappropriately horny with female masseuse at a Portland, Oregon hotel. It is sick, twisted, hilarious and true. Frank Beckmann, host of his own radio talk show on powerhouse WJR and a Detroit News columnist, says of Jimmy Hoffa : I ve known Jason from his days as a wise acre PR flack for Chrysler through the time when he busted the shackles of restricted speech to finally enjoy the completely unfettered world of editorial writing when we shared the pages of The Detroit News. I ve always felt that we ve selfishly hogged his talents to ourselves in Detroit. Much of this book will make you laugh until you cry, but save some of your tears for the realization that what he writes about is all true. That s what really makes us sob. And only a wisecracker like Jason Vines could pull it off. This hilarious, profane, politically-incorrect, auto communications veep was an American original, says Payne. So when I created The Michigan View - a funny, un-PC, opinioned, commentary publication for The Detroit News in 2010, one of the first people I turned to as a columnist was Jason Vines. He jumped at the opportunity. The Michigan View would become a nationally-known publication in no small part thanks to high profile contributors like Jason. He took the column title The Wisecracker and made his mark almost immediately by coining the phrase Masturgate to describe the scandal of the illiterate (honestly) president of the Detroit School Board who resigned after (um) unzipping in front of a Detroit super (still not making this up). Now you know why Detroit is such a great news town. Masturgate ruffled feathers, rolled eyes, and brought us a flood of attention, says Payne. Vintage Vines, in other words. The PR whiz s second career as columnist was born. Vines was a must-read for his sense-of-humor and keen insights as a longtime auto and Detroit insider.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Epsiode 17: Take Notes, GOP... Rob Did!

Join Jon, Rob and David as they breakdown the President's State of the Union address, what they think of how that will be remembered and Obama's legacy. Don't worry, there is plenty of Trump Dumping, Bernie Slander and Cruz Crud to go around, too. The also continue examining the Flint Water Crisis and the culpability of a Republican state senate.

To listen, click here. To download, right click and "Save As..."

Please support our show by clicking the links to our Sponsors.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

1-13-16: Rob's Book of the Week!

The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economics Die by Niall Ferguson


"From renowned historian Niall Ferguson, a searching and provocative examination of the widespread institutional rot that threatens our collective future"

What causes rich countries to lose their way? Symptoms of decline are all around us today: slowing growth, crushing debts, increasing inequality, aging populations, antisocial behavior. But what exactly has gone wrong? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues in "The Great Degeneration," is that our institutions the intricate frameworks within which a society can flourish or fail are degenerating.

Representative government, the free market, the rule of law, and civil society these are the four pillars of West European and North American societies. It was these institutions, rather than any geographical or climatic advantages, that set the West on the path to global dominance beginning around 1500. In our time, however, these institutions have deteriorated in disturbing ways. Our democracies have broken the contract between the generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are hindered by overcomplex regulations that debilitate the political and economic processes they were created to support; the rule of law has become the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all of our problems to be solved by the state.

It is institutional degeneration, in other words, that lies behind economic stagnation and the geopolitical decline that comes with it. With characteristic verve and historical insight, Ferguson analyzes not only the causes of this stagnation but also its profound consequences.

"The Great Degeneration "is an incisive indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. While the Arab world struggles to adopt democracy and China struggles to move from economic liberalization to the rule of law, our society is squandering the institutional inheritance of centuries. To arrest the breakdown of our civilization, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Episode 16: Happy New Year, Now Be Afraid!

Jon, Dave and Rob get in another fun discussion about fear, the media, Bundys in Oregon and how "The Other" is used to separate us as a nation and how the candidates use that divide against us. We also feature the first episode of Retro PoliSci Theatre!

To listen, click here. To download, right click and "Save As..."

Please support our show by clicking the links to our Sponsors.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

1-5-16: Rob's Book of the Week!

Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert B. Reich


From the author of "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations," his most important book to date a myth-shattering breakdown of how the economic system that helped make America so strong is now failing us, and what it will take to fix it.

Perhaps no one is better acquainted with the intersection of economics and politics than Robert B. Reich, and now he reveals how power and influence have created a new American oligarchy, a shrinking middle class, and the greatest income inequality and wealth disparity in eighty years. He makes clear how centrally problematic our veneration of the free market is, and how it has masked the power of moneyed interests to tilt the market to their benefit.

Reich exposes the falsehoods that have been bolstered by the corruption of our democracy by huge corporations and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street: that all workers are paid what they re worth, that a higher minimum wage equals fewer jobs, and that corporations must serve shareholders before employees. He shows that the critical choices ahead are not about the size of government but about who government is "for: " that we must choose not between a free market and big government but between a market organized for broadly based prosperity and one designed to deliver the most gains to the top. Ever the pragmatist, ever the optimist, Reich sees hope for reversing our slide toward inequality and diminished opportunity when we shore up the countervailing power of everyone else.

Passionate yet practical, sweeping yet exactingly argued, "Saving Capitalism" is a revelatory indictment of our economic status quo and an empowering call to civic action.