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.


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.

The Crisis Facing America's Public Higher Education  

This week, joining us in the studio we have documentary filmmaker Steve Mims, whose latest movie, "Starving The Beast," details an ongoing crisis in public higher education. After decades of funding cuts, our great public universities are finding themselves increasingly vulnerable to the whims of agenda-setting politicians and post-crash "disruptors" who are angling to redefine these universities' missions and curricula -- leaving them as shadows of their former selves. The movie is coming soon to a theater near you, hopefully it gets there before the emergency it describes. Meanwhile, are capitalism and democracy headed for some kind of nasty break-up? That's the provocative contention of influential British economist Martin Wolf, who recently took to the pages of the Economist to suggest that the pace of globalization may be pushing us to make a choice. Given the state of our politics, where cash rules everything around us, it could be that this choice is already being made for us. Finally, they say that any time our national anthem is sung, we have the opportunity to pause and contemplate this nation of ours and our place within it. Oddly enough, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently took the opportunity to think deeply about these matters, and he's getting pilloried in the press for having done so. I guess ruminating on America is all well and good until you point out the racism. We'll discuss the story that has every hot-take artist with a sub-100 IQ all a-froth.

Lets Talk About The Clinton Foundation  

This week, we have got the latest storm and stress from the 2016 presidential race. The Associated Press rocked the Clinton campaign's world after they released a report detailing new concerns about the Clinton Foundation, alleging that foundation donors got better access and treatment from Hillary Clinton's State Department. Clinton's defenders have pointed to the fact that the AP failed to prove any evidence of quid pro quo. We're here to remind you that this is exactly what a defender of the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision would say. Over in the Trump campaign, they are working hard at the pivot they've promised to make for months, and the most interesting thing that's emerged is that on the reality-television host's signature issue -- his draconian approach to immigration -- Trump no longer seems to know what he either believes or says. Did Donald Trump mean it when he said his Republican rivals were soft on immigration? And if so, why does he suddenly seem to prefer the immigration policies of low-energy Jeb Bush? Meanwhile, a pharmaceutical company called Mylan is under fire this week after they raised the prices of their epi-pens -- a device used by the severely allergic to prevent a fatal allergy attack -- by 400%. Consumers are angry, as are members of Congress, who are demanding that Mylan reverse course. If only that same Congress hadn't continually made policy choices that allowed for these monopolistic practices in the first place. Finally, for some third-party perspective on our presidential race, we welcome back our favorite Bernie Sanders supporter, the always effervescent Tim Black of the Tim Black show. We'll ask him if Clinton's managed to close the deal with him, and whether or not folks like him are having an impact on Democratic party policies at all.

Does The Aetna Merger Have Obamacare On Its Deathbed?  

This week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump opted to shake-up his campaign for what seems like the twenty-third time. Paul Manafort, who was the campaign's manager -- and who was thought to be a force toward professionalizing the wayward effort -- is out. His replacement, Steve Bannon of Breitbart News, heralds a shift toward allowing Trump to fully fly his freak flag. Hopefully this is amusing to the aliens who watch over us. Meanwhile, in an effort to contend more substantively with Trump, we're going to wade into what's turning out to be a hot media debate -- are his followers fueled by racial animus, or by economic anxiety? And to that end, we have a rather interesting interview for you, with Republican lobbyist who thinks that a Clinton presidency would be much better for the GOP than a Trump presidency. This lobbyist wishes to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons, so you'll get to enjoy our first foray into digital voice alteration! Finally, we turn to Obamacare, which faced some bad news this week after Aetna, a major player in the insurance business, announced that they would be pulling back from participating in the Afforable Care Act's exchanges. According to Aetna, the sticking point is lost profits, but we found out something interesting -- namely, that Aetna threatened to pull out of Obamacare if the Department of Justice impeded their planned merger with Humana. Funny how creating a market-based solution to health care provision created the means by which corporations could use leverage to procure other favors, isn't it?

The Long Intertwined History Of Politics And Protests  

This week, we are going long on the politics of protest and the short term legacies of movements that have become an essential part of the public discourse. First up, we welcome journalist and author Sarah Jaffe to the program to discuss her forthcoming book, "Necessary Trouble: Americans In Revolt," which documents everything she has learned about the various protest movements that have emerged in post-crash America after spending years in the field with them. Meanwhile, we are marking the two-year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown and the protest movement that emerged shortly thereafter, to consider what effect they've had in changing the conversation on the criminal justice system in Ferguson, Baltimore, and beyond. Finally, we are pleased to welcome Zephyr Teachout back to the show, now officially the Democratic party nominee for the House of Representatives in New York's 19th district. After a long career in taking on big issues like government corruption and economic justice, we'll ask her about the challenges of paring down her message to fit a House race, and whether or not in this 2016 election, if the bigger ideas about policy and governance might come from the down ticket races.

This Week In Trump  

This week, we are happy to have one of our old Huffington Post colleagues on the show for the first time: author and journalist Marc Lamont Hill. Marc has new book out called "Nobody," in which he traces America's state-sanctioned war on its most vulnerable citizens, from Ferguson, Missouri to Flint, Michigan and beyond. He joins us to talk about how much America has learned about itself since Michael Brown was killed, and whether or not forces are emerging that might achieve a more perfect union. Meanwhile, the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro have kicked off, and if you're enjoying watching the competition from the comfort of your own home, you may want to think about doing everything you can to prevent where you live from becoming a host city for the games because it's becoming increasingly clear that when the Olympics come to town, people lose their homes. Maybe the Olympics are just bad for us? Finally, we are marking a sad chapter in history this week, the two-year anniversary of the genocide of the Yazidi people in Iraq at the hands of ISIS death-cultists. We're joined by the Kurdistan Regional Government's Representative to the United States, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, to find out how the Yazidi community is rebuilding itself, and whether or not any progress against ISIS has been made.

Bernie Sanders Supporters Express Their Fears At DNC  

We are coming to you this week from both Washington, DC and from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the host city of the Democratic National Convention. The big issue of the week has been about unifying the party after a bruising primary fight between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the man she dispatched, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. But while Sanders' supporters have, to some extent, made peace with Clinton's nomination, one issue has emerged that they've refused to back down on -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. We'll discuss how the TPP seized all this attention, and we'll speak to Sanders' supporters about where they'll take their movement next. Of course, the Democratic National Convention kicked off under a black cloud, and we're not talking about the intermittent downpours that have drenched the attendees. Emails hacked from the servers of the Democratic National Committee were published by Wikileaks ahead of the Democrats' confab, causing enough embarrassment that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign her position. Since then, the matter has only grown more concerning, with security experts fingering Russia for the original hack, and Vladimir Putin's BFF Donald Trump publicly soliciting further assistance from Russia's state-sponsored spies. Finally, our own Sam Stein and Ryan Grim sat down for an interview with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in Philadelphia. They asked him what he'd say to his colleague Bernie Sanders now that the campaign is finally over, and what he thought about Donald Trump withholding his income tax returns. Reid got...quite colorful.

So That Happened Crashes The Republican National Convention  

We are coming to you this week from both the nation's capital and from Cleveland, Ohio, the host city of the Republican National Convention, where amid the chaos, there has been one consistent refrain from the gathered delegates -- that Hillary Clinton should be locked up. Interestingly enough, not every party elder has been enthusiastic about the "Hillary for prison" meme, and there's a good reason why -- it originates well outside the party with the Alex Jones/Infowars conspiracy theory set, who have been ubiquitous on the streets of Cleveland. We'll catch up with the agitators who have put their stamp, for better or for worse, on the campaign rhetoric. We'll also hear from California Democratic Representative Xavier Becerra, for his thoughts on the Republican message. The other big issue in Cleveland has been the forging of party unity -- a goal of every convention that's proven to be difficult to bring about in Cleveland. Wednesday night, those efforts took a big hit after Texas Senator Ted Cruz took the stage, refused to endorse Donald Trump, and was greeted with a chorus of recriminations from the audience. We'll catch up with some of the delegates who witnessed the conflagration last night. Meanwhile, as America watches the conventions unfold, across the Atlantic, democratic norms in Turkey have been gravely imperiled after an attempted coup d'etat to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to do so, clearing the way for Erdogan to accelerate the entrenchment of his autocratic regime through a brutal, countering crackdown. We'll discuss what the road ahead looks like for this scarred nation. Finally, next week is the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and by the time we get there, Hillary Clinton will have decided who will serve as her running mate in 2012. We'll talk about who she might choose, and what signal it might send to the Democratic base.

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