Podcast September 18, 2023

The Death Of Democracy By A Thousand Cuts. When our nation was founded, the Framers couldn’t possibly imagine what the future would bring. So, the Constitution they created is intentionally sparse – a simple framework that would be able to accommodate change. Thus, most of the rules of our government are unwritten – the result of a sense of fairness and traditions that have been established over our nearly 250-year history.

Rules that Republicans seem all too willing to ignore.

Beginning with Reagan, they have labeled what Abraham Lincoln called a “government of the people, by the people and for the people” as the enemy. And, in recent years, their attacks on the unwritten rules and traditions of government have accelerated. In fact, they seem to rely on the rules only when they enable Republicans to gain power or to stay in power.

In this podcast, we list many of the rules and traditions Republicans have undermined – from free and fair elections to the rule of law. We call out the Republicans’ lack of respect for the truth and longstanding legal precedent. We explain how they have replaced honest negotiations and compromise with brinksmanship and hostage-taking. And how, by doing so, they have endangered our democracy as never before.

Indeed, this is how democracies die. Not by a single event. But by a series of events that erode democratic norms and allow autocrats to take hold.

Posted in Abortion, Autocracy, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Civil Society, Compassion, Conservatives and Reactionaries, Constitutional Issues, Corporations, Corruption, De-regulation, Democratic Governance, Disinformation, Domestic Extremism, Domestic Violence, Economic Policy, Education, Education Funding, Elections, Ethics, Fiscal Policy, Food Insecurity, Founding Fathers, Government, Immigration, Justice System, Labor Unions, LGBT Issues, LIberals and Conservatives, Military Policy, Morality, National Debt Ceiling, National Politics, Political History, Political Lies, Political Parties, Privatization, Propaganda, Public Education, Religion, Supreme Court, Voter Suppression, Voting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Podcast September 11, 2023

Domestic Terrorists In Suits. What else would you call the Republican members of the House of Representatives who have placed political power and extremist ideology over the best interests of our nation?

For example, the fiscal year for the federal government ends on September 30. But, instead of voting on a new budget or a continuing resolution to extend funding for the government, the so-called House “Freedom Caucus” (aka the Chaos Caucus) is focused on impeachment of President Biden. In fact, they have said they will not vote to fund the government unless Speaker McCarthy opens an impeachment enquiry. That’s despite three House investigations of the Biden family which have already lasted nine months and turned up no evidence of any wrongdoing by the president.

The consequences of the House failing to pass a budget are dire.

The last time Republicans forced a government shutdown was in 2018. Though it lasted just 16 days, the shutdown cost upwards of $2 billion in direct costs and the indirect costs were much greater. Indeed, that shutdown caused more than 800,000 workers to be furloughed or to go without pay. It also reduced the national GDP by as much as $11 billion and it interrupted a vast number of federal programs and services that caused widespread pain to many Americans.

Another shutdown could be much worse. It will likely plunge the economy into recession, and, without disaster relief funding, it will cause irreparable harm to the Americans affected by the wildfire in Hawaii and to those impacted by hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Of course, none of this is necessary. This kind of ideological brinksmanship is no substitute for budget negotiations and compromise. Yet Republicans continue to use the tactic every time a Democrat is in the White House, whether it’s over the federal budget or over the debt ceiling.

It’s time voters hold Republicans accountable and vote them out of office in 2024!

Posted in Corruption, Democratic Governance, Disinformation, Domestic Extremism, Domestic Policy, Domestic Terrorism, Economic Policy, Financial Crisis, Fiscal Policy, Funding, Government, Jobs and Employment, Judicial System, Medicaid, Military, Monetary Policy, National Politics, Political Parties, Political Polarization, Presidential Elections, Small Business, Social Security, Voter Suppression | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Oliphant Interview – Podcast September 4, 2023

A Years’ Long Commitment To Fairness And Equity. Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Bob Oliphant back to the show. Oliphant is a former law school professor and dean who has been tracking geographic inequities in the availability of Yavapai College programs for more than a decade.

Despite the residents of Sedona and the Verde Valley paying for a substantial portion of the college’s revenue, the college governing board was preparing to sell the Sedona Center. “They were slowly closing it down,” says Oliphant. “They had gotten rid of the Zaki Gordon Film Institute that was nationally recognized – a terrific project – and had almost nothing left in the Sedona Center and so…people both in Sedona and throughout the Verde Valley rallied to prevent them from closing that facility. And have been fighting, more or less, to keep it open since 2015.”

“I was on the governing board at the time when they proposed their $103.5 million renovation program for the district and, when I looked into it, I was shocked. Less than five percent of the effort was going to come to the Verde Valley and Sedona,” according to Oliphant.

Not much has changed.

He explains, “Only 10 percent of the classes for credit are even available over here.” And, as for performing arts, sports, and career and technical education, the Verde Valley and Sedona are recipients of mere tokenism.

To address the inequities, Oliphant offers what he believes is the only real solution: “Over here, we need to own the college ourselves. It needs to be our college, our problem, our development, our theater.”

Posted in Community, Community Activism, Continuing Education, Education, Education Funding, Education Policy, Ethics, Interviews, Public Accountability, Public Education, Tax Revenues | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Susskind Interview – Podcast August 28, 2023

Rightwing Assault On Israeli Courts And Democracy. Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Hadar Susskind, President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now.

When asked about the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he replies, “I’ll tell you this: It’s a very complicated question. I think a lot of people are having doubts about whether that is possible, which even the current Israeli leadership and given the current Palestinian leadership there’s a perfectly logical set of doubts. I still do believe it’s the best, most likely answer.” But he says, “I don’t really see any Israeli government that would do what in their view would be giving up the entirety of the territory.”

Addressing the massive public demonstrations against the Netanyahu-led government, Susskind notes that Israel is experiencing a judicial coup in which the rightwing government is trying to take away the one check on executive power. It began after Netanyahu appointed a convicted felon as Finance Minister and the Supreme Court said you can’t do that because there is a law that says convicted felons cannot serve as cabinet members.

Susskind says, “It [Israel] has been a democracy – flawed like others. But this change around the Supreme Court is threatening that. And, Stephen, as you said, you can’t have democracy with occupation. It has never been a full-on perfect democracy because there are millions of Palestinians living under occupation. Not as citizens yet who do not have basic rights.”

Posted in Civil Liberties, Democratic Governance, Foreign Policy, Government, Human Rights, International Relations, Interviews, Israel, Judicial System, LIberals and Conservatives, Middle East, Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, Political Polarization, Racial Discrimination, Religion, Theocracy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Rothchild Interview – Podcast August 21, 2023

Israel’s On-going Apartheid Of Palestinians. Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Alice Rothchild who just returned from Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank to help us understand the latest developments in the area. Rothchild is a retired OB-GYN turned documentary film director, writer, speaker, and blogger who has focused much of her energy on understanding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Responding to a question about the recent Israeli Parliament decision to change the judicial system, Rothchild says, “The results of those changes are very serious because they are going to strengthen the Israeli right’s hold on the West Bank with more settlements and annexation. They’re going to increase support for the ultra-orthodox who are very anti-LGBTQ and against women’s rights, especially around marriage and divorce. And they want to increase privileging of Jews over Palestinians. And we see these changes happening in the Israeli society. Not only have there been hundreds of thousands of more liberal-minded people protesting, reservists have resigned from the Israeli military, the top civil servants in the Israeli education ministry resigned, business leaders have been discussing whether it’s time to divest from Israel.”

“The interesting thing for me,” she says, “is that people are very concerned about the rights of Israeli Jews…the liberal rights that they feel that they’ve had for decades. They have absolutely no interest in the rights of people living under occupation – the Palestinians. So, for me, when I look at this, it’s a very focused kind of protest…They’re talking about saving Israeli democracy. But from my point of view, Israel is not particularly well described as a democracy because almost half the people that are under Israeli control are under occupation.”

And the future of those people seems bleak. Rothchild says the two-state solution is dead. “What we have is a one-state situation and by many, many definitions it’s apartheid.”

Posted in Bigotry, Civil Liberties, Democratic Governance, Domestic Extremism, Government, Human Rights, International Relations, Interviews, Journalism, Judicial System, LGBTQ Issues, Mass Incarceration, Middle East, Middle East Policy, Military, Morality, Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, Political History, Poverty, Religion, Theocracy, Unemployment, Water Policy, Women's Issues, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Rothchild Interview – Podcast August 21, 2023

Habern Interview – Podcast August 14, 2023

The First Rule Of Politics Is Simply Showing Up. Karen McClelland welcomes Llama Habern, Precinct Leader and Field Organizer for the Yavapai County Democratic Party.

It’s been said that politics is not a spectator sport – that if you care about good governance, you need to get involved at some level whether it be as an activist, supporter, or organizer. Or as a candidate for a local school board, fire board, city council or other elected office. Habern says, “I would argue that those are the most important positions because they have the most direct impact on your life.”

For example, she notes that the Camp Verde Library and librarians are currently under attack by a local church because the library featured a pride display during Pride Month. Habern explains that she does not believe that the church’s views represent those of the majority of the community. “But we have to show them,” she says, “which means we have to show up at the city council meetings, at the library…talk to the librarians. Tell them that you appreciate what they’re doing.”

Posted in Arizona Politics, Bigotry, Civil Rights, Civil Society, Community, Community Activism, Cultural Change, Democratic Governance, Domestic Extremism, Education, Education Funding, Elections, Government, Interviews, LGBT Issues, Local Politics, National Politics, Political Clubs, Political Polarization, Public Accountability, Public Education, Religion, Voting | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Habern Interview – Podcast August 14, 2023

Deardon Interview – Podcast August 7, 2023

Reflecting On 50 Years In Public Education. Karen McClelland welcomes Dennis Deardon, former superintendent of Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District, who recently retired after nearly 50 years in education.

He says, “The political landscape has certainly changed in the past few years. And these 5 years I spent – my last 5 years – in Sedona [were] very rewarding. But challenging and probably the most difficult I spent in the 50 years in education. It’s very challenging. I mean the competition with charter schools, private schools and so forth. Personally, I value competition. I think it’s good. I always told my leadership team quit talking about and worrying about the competitors. Let’s work at putting in place things that will attract students in our public schools to make us stand out.”

Reflecting on the changes, Deardon says that when he started his administration career in 1993, in his district in Colorado, they were still paddling and using corporal punishment as discipline. He notes that dress codes have changed. And, thanks to social media, the time you have to respond to a crisis has gone from 24 hours to instantaneous, so you’re almost in a reactive mode.

According to Deardon, other challenges he’s experienced include continuing changes in testing and the role of schools, as well as finding qualified teachers.

Posted in Community, Education, Education Funding, Education Policy, Interviews, Local Politics, Public Education | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Deardon Interview – Podcast August 7, 2023

Bidenomics – Podcast July 31, 2023

Rebuilding The Economy From the Middle Out And Bottom Up. Steve Williamson and Gary LaMaster examine the enormous success of the Biden-Harris administration in rescuing the United States economy from the chaos caused by the pandemic and the Trump administration.

As a result of the Biden-Harris plan, the US has seen the strongest growth of any major economy in the world. It has added 13 million jobs, including 800,000 manufacturing jobs. And thanks to the infrastructure bill, the economy is expected to add 1.5 million jobs each year for the next 10 years. In addition, President Biden has presided over $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction – the largest reduction in American history. And there are plans to reduce the deficit by another $2.5 trillion over the next decade.

Inflation is coming down. Wages are going up. Working people and families are seeing their taxes cut. And we’ve seen the largest investment to address the climate crisis in US history. By any measure, it’s clear that no president since FDR has better earned the right to be reelected for another term than Biden.

Posted in Affordable Care Act, Civic Renewal, Civil Liberties, Climate Change, Deficit Reduction, Domestic Policy, Economic Policy, Economic Stimulus, Energy Policy, Environment, Fiscal Policy, Global Warming, Government, Growth, Health Care Policy, Infrastructure, Infrastructure Investment, Jobs and Employment, Labor Shortages, National Debt Ceiling, National Politics, Offshoring, Pandemic, Pharmaceutical Pricing and Procurement, Political Parties, Presidential Elections, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Development, Taxation, Taxes and the Deficit | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bidenomics – Podcast July 31, 2023

Podcast July 24, 2023

US Foreign Policy – Liberal Idealism v Realism. Steve Williamson and Gary LaMaster look at the many challenges now facing our nation. Our current situation stands in stark contrast to the unbridled optimism that followed the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union.

What went wrong?

Since the 1990s, US administrations of both parties have followed a policy of liberal idealism. Distinct from the traditional definition of liberalism used in domestic politics, as it pertains to foreign policy, it is defined as the belief that a nation should make its internal political philosophy the goal of its foreign policy. As a result, most especially during the George W. Bush administration, the US embarked on a policy of regime change and nation building. The hope was that we could use the world’s most powerful military to export our style of democracy to much of the world beginning with Afghanistan and Iraq.

By almost any measure, that approach has been an abysmal failure.

The alternative approach is what is usually referred to as realism. Or as foreign policy expert, Stepen Walt, terms “Offshore Balancing.” With this approach, he suggests that we maintain relations with ALL other nations, even our rivals and enemies; that we gradually draw down troop deployments in Europe and elsewhere; and that we help create balance. For example, Europe would provide balance to Russia. And a multination Pacific alliance would balance China.

The money needed to serve as the world’s police force could then be put to use to help underdeveloped nations and head off many conflicts.

Posted in China, Climate Change, Corporations, European Union, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Government, Human Rights, International Relations, Iran, Mass Migration, Middle East, Middle East Policy, Military, Nuclear Weapons, Philosophy, Political Action Committees, Public Accountability, Russia, Trade Policy, Ukraine | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Podcast July 24, 2023

War On Woke – Podcast July 17, 2023

The Right Wing’s War On Woke. Though it seems no one can actually define what Woke means, the so-called War on Woke has become the GOP’s latest attempt to divide us based on rewriting history, discriminating against the LGBTQ community, banning books, and telling educators what they can and cannot teach. Led by Florida’s autocratic governor, they have even attacked Disney for being too inclusionary and for speaking out against discrimination. (What else would you expect from a corporation that built its empire around a mouse, a duck, a dog, and a host of other characters?)

Picking up the torch and pitchfork from DeSantis, a group called Moms for Liberty has taken the fight nationwide. This wholesome sounding organization which claims to be nonpartisan has ties to the chair of the Florida GOP, the Heritage Foundation, the Proud Boys, and a number of conspiracy theorists.

One of the organization’s chapters even proudly quoted Hitler in one of its newsletters!

The group’s stated goals are to ban discussion of our nation’s history of slavery and racism for fear of making white kids feel guilty, to ban discussion of our nation’s woeful treatment of the indigenous population, to ban any discussion of homosexuality or transsexuality, to ban SEL (Social and Emotional Learning), to ban intersectionality (how a person’s social and political identities combine to create discrimination and privilege), and to ban Action Civics (how to understand and get involved in the community’s government).

Calling themselves Joyful Warriors (what’s joyful about spewing division and hate?), they have succeeded in taking over school boards to push their hateful ideas. In the process, they have turned school board meetings into shouting matches, and doxed and threatened educators, forcing many of them to resign. They have even set themselves up as kingmakers by inviting GOP presidential candidates to speak at their national summit (swamp may be more accurate).

Though liberty may be in the group’s title, it would seem that it’s not interested in universal liberty – just in forcing their own narrow-minded ideas onto others.

Posted in Arizona Politics, Banking And Finance, Bigotry, Business Cultural Change, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Community, Community Activism, Conservative Paranoia, Conservatives and Reactionaries, Conspiracy Theories, Constitutional Issues, Cultural Change, Cultural Diversity, Democratic Governance, Disinformation, Domestic Extremism, Education, Education Policy, Elections, Ethics, Founding Fathers, Front Organizations, Human Rights, LGBT Issues, LIberals and Conservatives, Local Politics, Morality, National Politics, Native American Issues, Political Clubs, Political Lies, Public Education, Racism, Religion | Tagged , , | Comments Off on War On Woke – Podcast July 17, 2023