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.


Draconian Budget Cuts And Fake News Conspiracy Theories: Just Another Week In Trump's America  

So, that happened. This week, while President Donald Trump was away on foreign business, the wider world got a look at the latest White House budget proposals and the experience was like staring into a moral void. Broadly targeted for elimination: just about anything that offers assistance to the poor and vulnerable. Cashing in big time: rich income earners. There are education cuts that could decimate profitable research, new burdens on food stamp providers that could result in fewer in the market. Joining us to marvel at the pure draconian nature of it all is Alexis Goldstein from Americans for Financial Reform. Meanwhile, the murder of Seth Rich -- a young DC resident and Democratic National Committee staffer -- was a tragedy for those who knew him. But the internet's conspiracy swamps and right wing media outlets have teamed up to further traumatize Rich's family and friends. It's weaponized fake news, and it's perfectly emblematic of the surreal world that Donald Trump has both ushered in and continues to maintain. Finally, four years ago, Thomas Piketty's book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" took the world by storm, a deeply researched book on the history of wealth inequality that managed to jump beyond an academic audience and become a popular best-seller. Now, a new book titled "After Piketty: The Agenda For Economics and Inequality" has arrived, bringing together a wide group of economists and social scientists to try to assess the impact Piketty's book has had since it hit the shelves. Joining us to give us a taste is one of the editors of "After Piketty," Marshall Steinbaum.

Donald Trump Is Taking His Clown Show To Europe  

So, that happened. This week, President Donald Trump had another one of those weeks where Donald Trump is president. By which I mean, total omnidirectional omnishambles. Building off the controversy of last week's controversial firing of James Comey, Trump revealed highly classified intelligence from a source in Syria to two high-ranking Russian officials, touching off yet another self-immolation. He's ended the week with more trouble from Comey, more indefensible deceptions, fewer allies willing to go to bat for him, and a newly appointed investigator nipping at his heels. We'll dive into the Trump black hole to try to rescue some light Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, fans of fixing the criminal justice system scored a major victory this week. Civil rights attorney and progressive-minded reformed Larry Krasner won the Democratic primary election for Philadelphia district attorney. It's a major shift in Philly, and it's also part of what seems to be a burgeoning trend of voters opting for reform champions at the ballot box. Finally, the Trump White House is populated by people who simultaneously hate their jobs and are terrified of being fired. How does that work? Well, in what can only be called a radical act of empathy, we're going to try to imagine what life in this oddball cult is like.

Donald Trump Is Lighting His Presidency On Fire  

So, that happened. This week, Donald Trump fired James Comey. And that's been the implacable news event of the week, so much so that we are just going to surrender to it entirely. This single decision is the apotheosis of Trump. It has everything: a stumbled over decision that landed with a kersplat on the news-cycle, constantly shifting rationales that change by the hour, massive leaks from the White House, the usual concerns over temperament, and the unalterable impression that the White House is either strategically engineering a cover-up, or too impulsive to govern in a sane way. Or both! We even have White House press secretary Sean Spicer hiding among the bushes on the White House grounds. It's well and truly bonkers. We'll try to piece through the most troubling aspects of this decision, beginning with the implausible reason we've been told guided Trump's decision. Former Department of Justice spokesman joins our own Sam Stein, to offer an insider perspective on the matter. And we'll deal with the aftermath, in which a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that was supposed to be regular discussion on global threats, became consumed with this week's Comey-a-Lago instead.

Republicans Initiate Brilliant Midterm Strategy Of Kicking Tens Of Millions Of People Off Health Insurance  

So, that happened. This week, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a bucket of garbage, placing the lives of some 24 million people at risk. Quite a spectacle really. We'll have fifteen minutes of flabbergasted gasping for you to enjoy. Meanwhile, for some reason we'll also talk about other things. For example, just how populist is the Trump White House going to get? The new head of the SEC will be Goldman Sachs' bailout lawyer, Jay Clayton, so it's sure not looking good for that whole "drain the swamp" project. But maybe we're wrong. Joining us to figure this out is our pal Alexis Goldstein from Americans for Financial Reform. Finally, Donald Trump is hoping to appoint Tennessee State Senator Mark Green to the position of Secretary of the Army. This is his second attempt to place someone in that job, and based upon Green's litany of bizarre statements and strange positions, there is a not insignificant chance that he'll need a third. With that in mind, why did Trump pick this guy? We'll try to figure it out.

The 100 Day Deadline Has Trump Flailing  

So, that happened. This week, we've reached the end of Trump's first 100 days. How will it be remembered? In many ways, it's been like watching someone's body reject an organ transplant. Somehow, Trump has managed to hit the century mark at the threshold of a government shutdown fight with his own party. Nevertheless, some things never change, and 100 days into the Trump presidency we can report with confidence that everything remains really, really great for people who are really, really rich. Meanwhile, we are taking a look in at the mayoral race in Omaha, which would normally be a sleepy race focused mainly on things like potholes. But the Democratic nominee, Heath Mello, has become one of those totemic candidates in 2017 -- a test of post-2016 Democratic Party strength. And so Democrats made a big investment in raising his profile, only to discover that he was not with them on a key issue: reproductive rights. Finally, our guest today is Jonathan Taplin, a filmmaker and author who used to be a tour promoter for Bob Dylan. But now he's turning his attention to Silicon Valley and tech monopolies in a new book titled, "Move Fast and Break Stuff: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy."

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.

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