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.


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?

Let's Talk Trade: Is There An Alternative To TPP?  

If there's been one issue that has animated the presidential race this year, it's got to be the future of trade. The Obama administration's efforts to get the Trans-Pacific Partnership in place have been met with resistance. The issue has been central to Donald Trump's pitch to the middle class. Hillary Clinton, somewhat recently and conveniently, has also come out against the TPP. So, great. But here's a question: anyone have any new ideas? As it happens, yes, Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a new paper out that promises a progressive approach to globalization. He joins us to discuss it. Meanwhile, do you feel that the media has given short shrift to Hillary Clinton's actual policies? Well, we have some good news: the Huffington Post's own Jonathan Cohn recently spent some time in Brooklyn at Clinton's HQ, and discovered that it has a nougaty, wonkish center that's not only the hub of Clinton's campaign effort, but an engine that's reshaping the Democratic Party's whole approach to policy. Next up, our colleague Elliot Nelson, who many of you may know from the Huff Post Hill newsletter, has written a book! It's funny and it's accurate and you will actually learn things you didn't know about how Washington works. It's called The Beltway Bible and he's here to talk about how the best place to read it is on the toilet -- just like all Bibles. Finally, in the past year you may have started to notice that the worst people on Twitter have all become closely associated with a cartoon frog named Pepe. Well, this week, this frog has been designated as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. Well, Pepe's creator, Matt Furie, called in to urge the good people of America to reclaim his creation.

The Final Stretch: What To Expect In The First Presidential Debate  

I don't know if you've noticed this, but when people talk about how it came to pass that Donald Trump is the presidential nominee of a major political party and looking more and more like he could win, one group that often gets the blame is...well, us. The media. Has the press become the brilliant ally of democracy's gravedigger? Joining us to sort through this is the New Republic's Brian Beutler. Meanwhile, we return to the matter of Wells Fargo bank, who face huge fines for having feathered their bottom line on the backs of a massive scam perpetrated against their customers. This week, Wells Fargo head John Stumpf was called before Congress to answer for his bank's malfeasances, and while there were the expected pyrotechnics from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, there were also helpless shrugs from other parties. We're joined by Slate Columnist Haleine Olen to discuss the matter. Finally, are we headed toward yet another government shutdown? Probably not. Hopefully not! But once again, Congress has run up against the deadline to pass another continuing resolution to fund their own operations and are leaving it very, very late. To help get us sorted on where the fault lines are, we're joined by our pal, Wisconsin Representative Reid Ribble.

Big Banks Are Still Behaving Badly  

This week, we have a bank dork treat for everyone as we are joined by author and historian Eric Rauchway, to talk about his most recent book, "The Moneymakers" and how FDR getting our currency off the gold standard is the gold standard of economic policy. Meanwhile, a bill that would allow the victims of terrorism to sue the states that sponsor such acts has passed the House and is on the way to the president's desk, where it is sure to be vetoed. However, this bill has such broad and bipartisan support that we may be on the verge of a first-ever Congressional override of an Obama veto. How did the White House end up here? We'll lay it out. Finally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has levied a huge fine on Wells Fargo bank, after it was revealed that thousands of Well Fargo employees were routinely, and purposefully, charging their customers bogus fees. It was a dumb and venal scam that we're all glad was caught out by the CFPB. But can a hefty fine cure a diseased corporate culture?

Journalists Have Become Comfortably Numb To Trump  

Summer vacation is over, school's back in session. and the long hard march to Election Day is the only thing filling our days. Fortunately, we are sharing this journey with one of our favorite guests, MTV News' Ana Marie Cox. She joins us today to talk about the renewed focus on Donald Trump's shady dealings with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and how the Bondi story serves as unique platform to discuss the way the media has treated both the Trump and the Clinton campaigns over the past year. Meanwhile, in case you've forgotten, America is still facing a Zika crisis, especially in the Gulf Coast states, where mosquitoes carrying the virus have established a foothold. You may also recall that we have this thing called "Congress" that is supposed to provide the means by which the Zika crisis is averted. Well, once again, Congress has managed to cock up their response. We'll break down the Zika week that was, and the solutions that aren't coming. Finally, we return this week to our previous coverage of America's jails -- a story that the Huffington Post provided some relentless coverage of back at the end of July, in which we found that over 800 people died needlessly in jail in the year since Sandra Bland's well publicized death. Since then, we've continued to uncover stories about the ways in which these punishments hardly fit the crime, and HuffPost reporter Ryan Reilly joins us to tell some of them.

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