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.


O'Reilly Out, Pointless Executive Orders In  

So, that happened. This week, President Donald Trump issued another one of his patented executive orders, this time endeavoring to bring jobs back to America through a "Buy American, Hire American" policy. Trump immediately went back out on the campaign trail to signal that great changes were now afoot in the land, but are they really? We've dug down into the details and discovered that it's a blend of activity masquerading as achievement. And guess what: it's a trend. Meanwhile, the conservative media universe played a big role in boosting Trump to the White House in 2016. But in 2017, there's a growing sense that the favor will not be returned in kind. This week, Fox News' top talent Bill O'Reilly was pushed out of a perch that was once pretty secure, owing to a litany of past sexual harrassment transgressions that finally came home to roost. Meanwhile, in Texas, Trump enthusiast Alex Jones is in the middle of a custody battle with his ex-wife, and Jones' legal counsel has asserted an interesting defense: that the conspiracy-mongering and hot rhetoric that shot Jones to acclaim is all just an act. Finally, we look once again to Turkey, where Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has prevailed in a referendum vote that will give his office sweeping new powers. It looks for all the world like the vote was rigged, that authoritarianism is gaining a deeper foothold, and that these changes will bring grave complications to U.S. foreign policy. So why is President Trump celebrating this?

Donald Trump Has Small Hands But Huge Flip-Flops  

So, THAT happened! Remember all that stuff about draining the swamp and taking down the Washington establishment? Well, President Trump talked to some guys from Goldman Sachs and has decided to be Jeb Bush instead. HuffPost reporter S.V. Date joins us to discuss the latest contours and convulsions of the Trump presidency. But some things never change, including The Democratic Party, which just blew a chance to pick up a House seat in deep-red Kansas. Party leaders -- they actually said this and appear to believe it -- they told reporters they thought the best way to win the election ... would be to not try to win. Amanda Terkel helps us break down why Democrats are still bad at politics. Speaking of bad, for-profit colleges exploit people desperate for higher education thanks partly to political rhetoric about how college is the only way to have a good life. We interviewed Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Tressie McMillan Cottom about her new book on the great college swindling of America's lower classes.

A Colony In A Nation On A Podcast  

So, that happened. This week, we are joined by the host of MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes," who in case you haven't figured it out is named Chris Hayes. We'll be talking about his new book "A Colony In A Nation," which documents how white fear has led to America's frustratingly unjust two-tiered justice system -- where some get to live peacefully as citizens, and others get treated by the state as if they were under the bootheel of an occupying force. Meanwhile, have you been wondering how the next big world war would start? Well, wonder no more! It could all begin over the Baltic Sea, with a confrontation between an American spy plane and a Russian fighter jet, pushing the boundary of confrontation. But this isn't just some fantasy out of "Top Gun." The real story here is that all of the traditional mechanisms by which we've de-escalated conflict so many times in the past have deteriorated, and leaders on both sides who seem ill-equipped to lead the way back. The Huffington Post's David Wood joins us to explain. Finally, we have to strap in and deal with the week that was. The judicial filibuster in the Senate has been put out to pasture. White House advisor Steve Bannon has been kicked off the National Security Committee. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is recusing himself from the House's investigation into Russian meddling. And Paul Ryan's attempt to bring TrumpCare back from the dead is now also dead. When will life ever be sane again?

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Trumpcare  

So, that happened. This week, Washington lawmakers began crawling out from under the wreckage of the failed American Health Care Act, better known as the bill that finally emerged from the GOP's seven-year effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. The bill largely foundered because of deep divides within the House Republican caucus, with House Speaker Paul Ryan and establishment leaders on one side, and the insurgent House Freedom Caucus on the other. But now, they have a common enemy at least, in the form of President Donald Trump -- who has spent the last week lashing out at both sides, raising an obvious question, where does everybody go from here? Meanwhile, this week the president unveiled his Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, a measure that would roll back steps taken by his predecessor to reduce carbon emissions and keep America on track to hit its climate change targets. Trump has framed this endeavor as one that would end what he calls the "War on Coal," and which would supposedly bring back mining jobs in coal-rich Appalachia. Trump's one of the few national politicians in recent memory who's engaged with this part of the country, which is a good thing. What's not as good is making promises that you can't keep, and restoring coal country to its former glory looks to be a very heavy lift, if not impossible. Finally, our guest this week is professor and author Michael Kazin, who joins us to talk about his book "War Against War: The Fight For American Peace, 1914-1918," which tells the largely forgotten story about the mass movement in America that tried to keep the country out of World War I, and what today's activists can learn from their efforts.

Trump's Defense Splurge Won't Trickle Down To Working Soldiers  

So, that happened. This week, Neil Gorsuch made his confirmation hearing debut as Donald Trump's prospective Supreme Court nominee. And he came to DC with a long and concerning history of putting his finger on the scales of justice in favor of entrenched monopolies of money and power. What's really at stake here, is your money, and we're joined by law professor Zephyr Teachout, to explain what you stand to lose if Gorsuch is confirmed. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has promised to boost the military budget, bringing a considerable amount of your tax dollars into a Pentagon that already hardly wants for cash. But with all this money sluicing through the system, it might surprise you to learn how little of it makes it down to the grunts who do all the hard work, and whose lives are much more frequently on the line than Washington's dizzying array of defense contractors. We'll take a look at the working class military, with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Wood. Finally, we have a real cops and robbers caper to share with you today, but it's not something out of Law And Order. Unless, of course, there's a Law And Order: Special Financial Victims Unit that we've not heard of. It involves insider trading, the biggest hedge fund in the world, and a guy who's idea of fine art is a dead shark in a formaldehyde tank -- and you can read all about it in a new book called "Black Edge: Insider Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street." Author Sheelah Kolhatkar is joining us to talk about it.

Three Trump Fails In One Week  

So, that happened. This week, President Donald Trump moved forward on a number of policy fronts. He also moved backward on a number of policy fronts. Very typical week, to be honest. But we now have the first Trump budget, and as you might expect, it really does a number on several high profile domestic policy projects. We'll lay out where negotiations with Congress are likely to begin. We'll also bring you up to speed with the Congressional Budget Office's evaluation of Trumpcare (it wasn't good) and the how the president's second attempt at a Muslim travel ban became another hilarious self-own. Meanwhile, our guest today is Ganesh Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University, who's written a new book titled "The Crisis Of The Middle-Class Constitution." In it, he goes back to our nation's founding, uncovers our founders' belief in the necessity of a strong middle class. That's a belief that persisted for much of our history. But in recent decades, the vitality of the middle-class has badly eroded. So if the the middle-class and our Constitution are inextricably linked, there is an inevitable question: is our current state of income inequality a Constitutional crisis? Perhaps we should start treating it that way. Finally, a few weeks ago a group of American reporters took a journey to Ankara, Turkey, and the memories they made will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, those will be memories of a trip undertaken on the promise that they would get exclusive access to a gaggle of high-ranking Turkish officials, including President Erdogan himself. But things did not go as planned, instead these reporters were taken down a strange, conspiratorial rabbit hole of bewilderment. Our own Jessica Schulberg was one of the reporters who made the trip and she's here to tell you all about her zany adventures.

The Early Reviews Of Trumpcare Are In And They're Not Great  

So, that happened. This week, House Speaker Paul Ryan finally released the Republican alternative to Obamacare plan from the sanctum sanctorum in which he'd been keeping hidden, and as soon as it was seen by the light of day it became something everybody from across the political spectrum instantly hated. Still, Ryan say it's the plan he's been dreaming about. What does this plan do, and how will he get it passed? We'll try to figure it out. Meanwhile, we are less than a week away from the implementation of the second version of President Trump's executive order banning Muslim travel into the United States. This time out, the White House believes they've got something that will survive legal scrutiny. Whether the tweaks they've made will be sufficient is unknown. What may be more important, is how these orders continue to reveal this White House's ideological beliefs where the Muslim world is concerned. Finally, we really can't let this week pass without mentioning some more of Donald Trump's lonely weekend tweets, which this week involved an extraordinary flight of fancy in which the Obama administration had wiretapped the phones in Trump Tower. Whoa if true! It would be a truly cunning plot -- perhaps the most cunning part about it is that it makes no freaking sense at all.

Donald Trump's Not Changing; Here's How Dems Can Go Populist  

So, that happened. Well, how about that pivot, folks? Tuesday night, President Donald Trump gave a speech to a joint session of Congress and somehow the media managed to extract the idea that he'd finally undergone that transformation into a real live "presidentialness." And then, hours later, the Trump White House was once again plunged into their customary chaos, as reports emerged that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had meetings with members of the Russian government, facts that ran against testimoy he proffered during his confirmation hearings. Will the media ever learn? We'll try to paper train these puppies again. Meanwhile, the contest for the Commonwealth of Virginia's governor's mansion is one of the few really big electoral contests of 2017. In general, it's going to be test case for whether or not the Democratic Party can recover after their 2016 wipeout. But more specifically, this race is emerging as a proving ground for whether or not Democrats can fashion their own message of economic populism in the age of Trump. Joining us to discuss this is one of the candidates in that race, former Virginia Representative Tom Perriello. Finally, while we're on the subject of what the Democrats are doing to get back in the game, we'll take a look back at last weekend's exciting conclusion to the race to be the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, won by former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez. The Huffington Post was on the scene for the final act, and we'll share what we learned about the future of the Democratic Party, and whether it's truly ready to evolve into a party that can compete again.

Town Halls And Tocqueville Are Back In Style  

So, that happened. Every week we talk about how insane it can be to simply live in America. This week, we're going to help you do something about it, by welcoming journalist and author James Poulos to the show. James' new book, THE ART OF BEING FREE, looks back at Alexis de Tocqueville's masterwork, DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA, and pulls from its pages some wisdom about how each of us can confront the challenges of love, sex, loss, and this crazy-making, frustrating, wonderful nation that is our predicament and birthright. Yes, for a brief mad moment, we're going to try out this "optimism" thing we've heard so much about. Meanwhile, we've got politics as well. It seems like only eight years ago that the Affordable Care Act was galvanizing town hall protests all across the country, birthing new political movements. Well, it's happening again, only this time all the players are reversed and President Obama's landmark health care bill's defenders are the ones getting into lawmakers' grills. We'll talk about this phenomenon -- and we'll also spend a little time trying to get into House Speaker Paul Ryan's well-coiffed head, to figure out what GOP lawmakers might do next. Finally, after their first attempt at a Muslim travel ban ended in chaos and court decisions, the Trump administration is going back for a second bite of the apple. Plans are afoot to release a new executive order that promises the same policy effects with sufficient technical tweaks to avoid judicial rejection. We'll discuss that coming order, the stepped up enforcement actions from ICE, and the possibility that Trump may be wavering on one of his immigration promises.

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.

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