So That Happened

So That Happened


An inside-the-beltway show that's truly for beltway outsiders. Each week the HuffPost Politics team offers an entertaining alternative to the Sunday shows you've stopped watching. Along with their outside the beltway guests, join Arthur Delaney, Zach Carter, and Jason Linkins as they analyze the news of the week and explain why it should matter to you.


This Week Has Been Flynn-sane  

So, that happened. It's been a truly FUBAR week for the Trump administration, who this week accepted the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn in the wake of an unfolding investigation into Flynn's contacts with Russian officials, whether or not he told the truth about them, and the extent to which entanglements with the Russian government can be found throughout Trump's political organization. Add to that the recurring theme of a quiet war between the White House and the intelligence community, and the worries only get wider. But how alarmed should we be? We'll try to find out. Meanwhile, one of the more interesting things about Trump advisor Steve Bannon is that when he talks about the 2008 financial crisis he can sound...well, a little like us, to be honest. At least, up to a point. But there is an observable point at which our points of view diverge. One person who has noticed this is journalist and author Thomas Frank, who joins us today to talk about it. Finally, as the Democrats rebuild themselves after the 2016 election, they've been debating the extent to which they need to shift their political priorities and alter a philosophy whose usefulness has expired. One way in which the Democrats can obviously reform themselves is to end their co-dependent relationship with Wall Street. But are they smart enough to do so? One person who is skeptical is The Week's Ryan Cooper, who joins us to talk about his recent piece on the matter.

The Resistance Gets A New Mantra  

This week, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tried to read a letter penned by Coretta Scott King and an objecting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided that she should the maximum amount of attention she could possibly receive by silencing her on the floor of the Senate. Smooth move, Ex-Lax, for out of this dust-up, a new slogan of resistance was born. Meanwhile, you've probably noticed that Donald Trump's White House is the leakiest one in memory, and this week, the Huffington Post told the story of the President making oddball late-night calls and complaining about the quality of Air Force One handtowels. But hey, should you be concerned by all of this? Well, the people who keep leaking stories like this clearly are. Finally, as you may have heard, one of the more potent members of Trump's inner-circle is former Breitbart News' media maven Steve Bannon, who is a different sort of conservative than your standard issue Beltway Republican. One way in which he differs? He's a full-on apocalypticist who believes America should be getting ready to fight multiple, potentially world-ending wars. Which is probably going to be news to those Trump voters who thought they were electing a war critic. We'll delve into where Bannon gets his ideas from -- I'll warn you in advance that you won't be feeling too optimistic by the time we're done. So it'll be just like all of our other podcasts.

Democrats Notice They Have A Base  

So, that happened. This week, something interesting started to occur. The Democrats...started listening to their base. After a weekend in which demonstrated erupted at major airports in protest of President Donald Trump's Muslim travel ban, Democrats in Washington have suddenly found some steel, standing with their supporters in the street and withdrawing a more readily offered rubber stamp in the Senate confirmation hearings. Can they possibly keep this up? Meanwhile, we need to talk about that executive order itself. Talk about a Friday news dump -- the Trump White House's directives, which initially barred refugees, travelers, and legal permanent residents alike from entering -- or re-entering -- the country caused disorder and chaos across the country, all of which the Trump administration is pretending to have not noticed. We will break down what we know, and what might come next. Finally, the new president had the opportunity to dip his toe in a fetid pond left behind by his predecessor -- the ongoing conflict in Yemen, which played host to Donald Trump's first command decision as the Chief Executive. It's an open question how Trump will deal with this mess that Obama left behind, but this week gave us some indication about the shape that Donald Trump's foreign policy might take. Is it going to be good? I'd stick around to hear for myself if I were you, but spoiler alert: no.

Big League Lying From The Trump Administration So Far  

So, that happened. This week, the wider world was introduced to Donald Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer, who christened his tenure in the White House Briefing Room with several days of big league lying. Now, this may not be Spicer's choice -- White House insiders have turned out by the dozens to tell multiple newspapers about how Trump's first week has been a tumultuous mess, with Trump lashing out at numerous petty slights. Spicer has been tasked with offering up forceful responses, to nonsensical complaints. And we have a highlight reel to share with all of you. Meanwhile, Trump has been taking numerous steps to begin the implementation of his policy preferences, including several geared toward the fulfillment of promises he's made about immigration. Naturally, that wall he wants to build, at taxpayer expense, has taken center stage. But there have, in this first week been some curious omissions and at least one surprising addition to his plans, all of which we will break down for you. Finally, as the Democratic base takes to the streets to organize against Trump, Democratic elected officials have chosen another path -- a surprising deference to the president. This has primarily taken the form of Democrats by the bushel offering a rubber stamp to Trump's Cabinet appointments, which has fostered a deep disappointment among their voters. What are the Democrats playing at here? In all likelihood, a losing strategy.

The Trump Administration Is Already A Mess  

So, that happened. This week, the parade of cabinet appointments continued in the Senate, as Trump's nominees continued to try to strut their stuff under what was often withering questioning from Senate Democrats. There should be little doubt that all of these people are going to be confirmed but it has to be said -- in another era, some of what these folks said during these hearings would have gotten them bounced from consideration. Welcome to the new normal, which is the old abnormal. Meanwhile, this week, the Huffington Post hosted a debate between seven candidates who are vying to lead the Democratic National Committee. At issue: who's doing the best coming to terms with the Democratic Party's catastrophic 2016, what reforms are coming to the committee to make their process fairer, and who has the best vision for the party's future. It was...what's the word? Oh, yes: disappointing. Very disappointing. Finally, the battle over Obamacare continues to, moderately simmer, I guess? The desire to repeal remains strong, even in the face of a robust public defense of the law that's emerged in recent weeks. But as they say, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak: GOP lawmakers still haven't committed to a plan, and what they seem likely to rally behind isn't what even committed Trump voters want.

Repeal and Replace Collides With Reality  

So, that happened. So, everything happened! This was one of those weeks where the worst thing you could say is that the news wouldn't get any crazier. By mid-day on Tuesday, we were pretty convinced the most bonkers story was going to be the anti-vaccine alliance that president-elect Donald Trump forged with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. By the end of the day, however, CNN and Buzzfeed were breaking different aspects of a troubling intelligence community report that the Kremlin had compromising material on the president-elect. We'll break down the details, but I'll warn you, there is nothing good to be said about this. Meanwhile, late Wednesday night, the U.S. Senate cast a series of procedural votes that have been hailed as the first move in eventually scuttling the Affordable Care Act. Not necessarily a surprise, mind you, the Republican Party have long been threatening to repeal and replace the bill. But after taking this first move, what are Republican lawmakers going to do next. As it turns out, even they may not know. Finally, this week the Senate began the process of holding hearings on Trump's various cabinet appointments. Leading things off was Trump's attorney general pick, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who began the proceedings being dogged by his checkered past, and ended up being dogged by a very unique rebuke.

The DNC Chair Race Is Lit  

So, that happened. Happy New Year everyone. On January 18th the Huffington Post will be hosting a debate between the declared candidates for the chair of the Democratic National Committee. The way things are shaping up, it's looking like the top contenders will be Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez. We'll continue to dig down into the distinctions between the two men and explain what's at stake. Meanwhile, incoming President Donald Trump has made a lot of promises about keeping the United States out of pointless military conflicts. But in Yemen, which has become a destructive proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Trump is inheriting quite the quagmire. It's been almost a year since he's had anything substantive to say about Yemen, so I guess we're going to be warning him that he'd better stop tweeting and start thinking about this. Finally, we're going to spend a little time on the legacy of outgoing President Barack Obama, with an eye on his judicial legacy -- the appointments he's made, the opportunities he's lost, and the political precedents that have been left behind. As with most things in life, it's a mixed bag -- only the contents of this bag will shape policies affecting all of us for decades to come.. I'm Jason Linkins, with Huffington Post reporters Akbar Ahmed, Jen Bendery, Zach Carter, and Arthur Delaney. Here's what happened first.

Let's Talk About Moral Grandstanding  

This week, we are bidding farewell to to an old year and welcoming in a new one, because we are slaves to artificial constructs like calendars. But since this is a time for New Years' resolutions, we'll offer one up: let's try to do less moral grandstanding in 2017. And to explain why that's bad, we welcome University of Michigan post-doctoral research fellow Justin Tosi to the show. Meanwhile, with all the talk of an incoming administration, we sometimes forget that our politics are primarily shaped by figures who've actually been in town for a while. One in particular is our sometimes-reluctant Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Not too long ago, Ryan was the de facto standard-bearer of conservative politics, but there's been a lot of changes lately. What does his future look like? We'll dig down into the Ryanology to find out. Finally, you the funny thing about unaccountable executive power is that once it's unleashed, it's hard to stuff it back in the box from which it came. Now, America's drone war capability -- which got ramped up considerably under Barack Obama's presidency -- will become Donald Trump's plaything. We'll take a look at some lasting Executive Branch regrets that will surely not stress you out at all.

Four Books That Should Be On Your Holiday Reading List  

Happy holidays, friends! This week, we have a special treat for everyone -- we're welcoming back the authors of our four favorite books of 2016 to celebrate their accomplishments and hopefully convince you that if you need last-minute or late gifts for people you love, you couldn't do better than these reads. With us today: David Dayen, author of CHAIN OF TITLE; Thomas Frank, author of LISTEN, LIBERAL; Sarah Jaffe, the author of NECESSARY TROUBLE; and our own Eliot Nelson, who wrote THE BELTWAY BIBLE. Do you want some more festive? Well we have got some more festive. Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer is with us today, with an important Christmas message: fruit cake doesn't have to suck. It really doesn't! And Congressman Blumenauer should know because he has perfected a fine fruitcake recipe, and he's using his baking skills to give back to his community. Finally, I guess we wouldn't really be "on brand" if we didn't give you guys some bad news, so...what have we got? Oh, yeah, here's a real kick in the pants! Have you heard about Donald Trump's incoming Labor Secretary, Andy Puzder? He's basically best known as a serial target of the Department of Labor for wage-theft and workplace safety violations. Now he'll be in charge of that agency. I tell you what, this Trump administration is gonna be populist as fuck.

What If Obama Actually Prosecuted Wall Street?  

This week, we bring you a Democratic party autopsy, of sorts. But it's not likely to be the one sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. And in fact, much of it was written before the election took place, and written by our guest, author Thomas Frank, whose 2016 book, "LISTEN LIBERAL" now, in many ways seem prophetic. But speaking of the Democratic National Committee, their future is now up in the air and it won't be settled until a new leader for the organization is chosen. And the way it's shaking out, the race to run the DNC could come down to Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison and outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez who, on the surface, don't appear to be all that different. So what's all the shouting about? We'll take a deeper look. Meanwhile, the Cabinet of president-elect Donald Trump is taking shape and it's looking more and more like an exercise in irony, as the candidate who ran against elites continues to populate his administration with people who will, if anything, be even more elite than their predecessors. Maybe we are going to drain the swamp through global warming? Finally, did you know that the government nearly shut down last week? How are we supposed to know this if the cable news channels don't put up countdown clocks? But yes, it nearly did, and it was all because it's wanting to help coal miners avoid dying is somehow controversial

The Real Reason Carrier Stayed In The U.S.  

President-elect Donald Trump doesn't just use his phone for tweeting. Apparently, he's also taking and making frequent calls with other world leaders. And hey, it's good to get to know other people. But there is some concern that Trump's communications abroad are being done off-the-cuff, without the benefit of briefing from the foreign policy community. And in a couple of examples, his mere phonecalls have had the potential to undo long-standing foreign policy goals and alliances. So, should this worry us? We're going to find out. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are already making plans to fulfill one of their longstanding goals -- the dissolution of Obamacare. But there's a catch: right now, the GOP doesn't have a plan in place to serve as a replacement. It's been sort of an ongoing thing with them, actually. So with the chance to repeal looming, Republicans are looking to pull off a maneuver called "repeal and delay" -- that is, if they convince everyone in their caucus to go along with it. Finally, has the Democratic Party lost it's populist soul? The 2016 election definitely raises the question, but if we're being honest, the party has been gradually forfeiting their claims to the working class over the course of several decades. How did it all fall apart? Matt Stoller of the New America Foundation joins us to explain where everything went wrong.

A New Era Of Theatrical Populism  

Over the course of the presidential campaign, president-elect Donald Trump was quick to make elaborate promises to working class Americans, promising to do away with Washington's business as usual, usher in an era of tough dealmaking, and revive the country's moribund manufacturing sector. Three weeks after the election, Trump has earned himself something of a win in the area, with a claim to having saved a thousand jobs at Carrier from going to Mexico. But how different from the status quo was this Carrier deal. Joining us to walk us through it is Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Meanwhile, while we're sorting through whether or not Trump's first foray into working-class populism is sustainable or not, we're going to be taking a look at how he's proceeding in his efforts to, as he says, "drain the swamp" in Washington. It's a noble goal, to be sure, but it's hard to look at the way his cabinet is shaping up and see a lot of hope. What's so different about Trump's coterie of billionaires that makes them more apt to help the working poor than everyone else's coterie of billionaires? We'll try to sort that out. Finally, ever since the election ended, the media has been having to wrestle with an uncertain future, in which they'll have to report on a president whose gone to great lengths to attack press freedom while simultaneously drowning the media in shiny twitter distractions and outright deception -- all coming at the same time that news organizations are contending with an influx of fake news that has dominated the information landscape. What is to be done? Joining us to figure it out is reporter and columnist Emma Roller.

Obama Has Pardoned More People Than Turkeys  

It's Thanksgiving week, and by the time you hear this podcast, President Barack Obama will have already performed his ceremonial turkey pardoning duties. But here in the last few months of his presidency, Obama will have more acts of mercy on his mind as he heads for the exits. Today we'll discuss presidential pardons and commutations, and whether or not Obama will fulfill an ambitious clemency plan. Meanwhile, as Trump mulls the activities he'll pursue at the beginning of his presidency, attention has turned to his infrastructure proposals, which are typically the sort of thing that could earn him a lot of bipartisan buy-in. But is Trump's plan on the level, or is it just another con? Joining us to discuss the matter is journalist and author David Dayen Finally, Congressional Democrats are still at sixes and sevens, nursing their electoral wounds, girding themselves for a lame duck session, and planning for the years ahead. We'll catch you up with what Democrats are thinking about up on Capitol Hill, and how they might challenge and collaborate with a Trump White House.

A Messy Transition For President-elect Trump  

So *that* happened, Donald Trump is now President-elect of the United States. With this somewhat unexpected victory, the So That Happened team takes a deep dive into the messy transition process for Trump, and questions what will happen to the Affordable Care Act, and the future of America's foreign policy.

2016 Election Post-Mortem  

Welcome to our official 2016 post-mortem. Emphasis on the mortem. So, let's remember my first rule of political thermodynamics: an object in fucked-up motion tends to stay in fucked-up motion until a force sufficient to the task arrests it. That force did not materialize in this election. We'll try to get started down the path to explaining why that is. Meanwhile, the polling industry spent the bulk of election night coming to the numbing realization that the mechanics of their enterprise need to be newly recalibrated. We are joined once again by HuffPost Pollster's Ariel Edwards-Levy who will endeavor to explain what went so badly wrong. Additionally, for every winner there is a loser -- in this case Hillary Clinton, who's political fortunes rose and fell in dramatic fortunes over the course of an evening. We'll take a look at the remarkable circumstances that led to her having to concede this election, and what can be drawn from a speech she never anticipated having to give. Finally, it's not too soon to start looking ahead to the transfer of power and the transfer of policy. This week, we look at something Donald Trump will inherit from Obama -- our ongoing foreign policy commitments in the Middle East. Specifically, we'll ask why the Obama administration has been helping Saudi Arabia bomb the hell out of Yemen, and what the Trump administration intends to do about it.

Then We Came To The End Of The Election  

We have finally come to the end of this election cycle. It was too long and mostly terrible. And we're probably kidding ourselves that everything is going to be fine just because it's over. But let's end it anyway. At this point, you probably want to know what's going to happen in a few days time. You're probably looking to polling experts for certainty. One of our in-house polling experts is here to help. Keep calm. Look at the polling aggregate. And remember that there is always a margin of error. Meanwhile, you have probably been wondering just what is going on over at the FBI ever since its director, James Comey, announced that the agency was pursuing a new and not-totally clear angle on the Clinton email scandal, despite longstanding Bureau traditions of keeping the hell out of the way of electoral politics. Former Justice Department official Matt Miller joins us to discuss Comey's decision to politicize the FBI by injecting the agency into our lives at this late date. It's not all 2016, thank God. The Washington Post's Alyssa Rosenberg has just published a fantastic and fun study on the relationship between the entertainment industry and the police. It's a fascinating look at the way pop culture and real police intertwine, shaping both Hollywood storytelling and law enforcement policy. We are fortunate to have Rosenberg here to talk about her ambitious project and what we can all learn from it. Finally, it's our last podcast before the election. The next time you hear from us, the world will have changed. We'll have our final thoughts about the path we took to get here, and what the future might look like. And we'll offer our best prediction about how this will all turn out.

What Kind Of Voters Make Up Trump's Donor Base?  

This week, with the election winding down, Donald Trump is running out of creative ways to spend Republican money on himself. But the wily old grifter has still got it, and now people who thought they were donating to a presidential campaign have actually bought copies of the Art Of The Deal. We'll take a look at Trump's ability to rook gullible Republican donors. Meanwhile, the media has been having a debate about Trump's voter base. On one side you have people who believe it's entirely driven by racial resentment. On the other, you have those who insist it's all rooted in economic anxiety. But what if the real problem is that we've all just taken sides in a dumb debate? Joining us to travel to a middle ground is University of Connecticut history professor James Kwak. Additionally, the 2016 election cycle has been a real boon for the factchecking industry. Interest in fact-checking among readers is seemingly at an all-time high. And thanks to Donald Trump, there is a never-ending supply of material. And yet, it doesn't seem that it makes much of a difference. Joining us to talk about how fact-checking is still losing the battle of confirmation bias is New York Times columnist Emma Roller. Finally, you have a choice in this election, and it's not limited to the imperfect humans running for president. If you're out there on Twitter, you may know that one of the candidates whose thrown their hat into the presidential ring is a self-described "Sweet Meteor Of Death." On this week's show, we talk to the Sweet Meteor, live from deep space, about its bold plan to annihilate the planet and extinguish all life on Earth.

The Presidential Debates Are Over, Now The Voters Have To Decide  

This week, the season of debates has finally ended, with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican counterpart Donald Trump doing battle in Las Vegas, Nevada. And the emerging headline from the final head-to-head tilt is that Donald Trump doesn't seem to be planning for a peaceful transition of power, refusing to promise to accept the result of the election. That shouldn't pose a threat to our democracy at all, right? Well, for all the attention that Trump gets whenever he goes out of his way to deform our democratic norms, it's worth asking ourselves how our civic foundation has come to be so rickety that a glorified reality-teevee huckster can so readily endanger it. Joining us to discuss whether or not there was some notable rot in our foundations that we should have noted much sooner is Rolling Stone columnist and author Matt Taibbi. Finally, for all you history dorks out there, we have a special treat for you today, author and historian John Cooper Miller, Jr. is on the show today. Miller is best known for his 2009 biography of President Woodrow Wilson, he joins us today to examine some of the historical roots of the Democratic Party and how it may inform its future.

What We Learned From Clinton's Wall Street Speeches  

This week, with the help of WikiLeaks, we've finally gotten some real insight into Hillary Clinton's famous speeches to Wall Street elites, and you'll probably be shocked to learn that many of the policies she happily advocated in those circles are a little bit different from the economic agenda she's pitching now. We can't be sure, but it seems that Clinton is some sort of centrist? But the big question is whether or not Clinton might be pulled from these positions as the tide of conventional wisdom is changes. And speaking of those changing tides, last week, Jason Furman, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers gave a speech in which he all put rejected the deficit-hawk consensus that President Barack Obama and most mainstream Democrats had embraced during Obama's first term in office. In its place, Furman advocated for a new view of fiscal policy and its application, and Furman is going to join us today to discuss it further. Finally, as Republican legislators abandon Donald Trump in the wake of constantly unfolding scandals, Trump has responded by lambasting House Speaker Paul Ryan for disloyalty. It's an open war between the GOP's down-ticket steward and their party's standardbearer, and it's almost as if it could have been avoided if someone had said, early on, that Trump was going to be a disaster for Republicans. Here to remind us about how he said, early on, that Trump was going to be a disaster for Republicans, is our pal, Congressman Reid Ribble.

Trump And Clinton: Ready For Round Two  

This week, it's all about hot vice-president on vice-president action, as largely forgotten white guys Mike Pence and Tim Kaine laced them up in Farmville, Virginia. Who won? Who lost? Will it matter in the end? Surely our thoughts will be worth the zero dollars you paid for them, but we will offer them to you, humbly, anyway. Plus we'll set up this weekend's presidential debate between the two people that American actually cares about. Meanwhile, it is possible that things could get worse for Wells Fargo? Weeks after getting beat up in the press for massively defrauding their own customers, the beleaguered bank is getting savaged by Wall Street analysts, shedding business partners, and trying to satisfy critics by clawing back compensation from executives. Plus, did you hear about all the military veterans that the bank has mistakenly tossed out of their homes? Alexis Goldstein from Americans for Financial Reform joins us to discuss whether we should just burn this bank down to the rafters. Finally, columnist Ryan Cooper will join us for a look at the blossoming fascist movement in Greece. Is Donald Trump a harbinger of something worse already playing out in Europe?

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