… But Venezuela … – Episode 54

It’s another grab bag episode! This week, Paul and Sean discuss everything from the shortcomings of the 1980s and Donald Trump’s movie tastes to Paul’s penchant for chatting up rideshare drivers and Sean’s successful prediction about the outcome of the government shutdown. By episode’s end, however, they turn their focus to the dangers of a US intervention in Venezuela and the importance of seeing Venezuela as a real country with a real history rather than a mere litmus test for leftist policy.

Will 2020 Be for Democrats What 2016 was for Republicans? – Episode 53

This week, the guys discuss the increasingly crowded field of hopefuls for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020. Paul argues that both the size of the field and the growing ability of progressive candidates to raise funds outside of party control could lead to the kinds of collective action problems that bedeviled Republicans in 2016. Sean responds with the hottest of hot takes, the “probable” nomination of one Bernie “My Hair Don’t Care” Sanders. Then the guys talk about the federal government shutdown, what it exposes about the dysfunction in American politics, and a few hopeful silver linings.

All I Want for Christmas is … Socialism

Paul’s secluded himself in a cabin this weekend, so Sean is helming the show with two-time guest host Hélène Huet. Their topic: Hallmark Christmas movies. Reprising their previous political analysis of American pop culture (in their Ep. 38 break down of the Real Housewives franchises), Hélène and Sean break down the business side of Hallmark’s Christmas juggernaut and propose some theories about why these films have become such pop culture staples in the late-Obama and early-Trump years. Along the way, they propose some foolproof ideas for future Hallmark holiday films.

Musical Credits: Frank Sinatra, “Jingle Bells”; Stevie Wonder, “Living for the City”; Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

No Butcher or Baker, But Damn, Do We’ve Got a Candlestick Maker to Talk About! Frederic Bastiat and the Candlemakers’ Petition – Episode 52, Part Two

Ep 52_2 Meme

Frederic Bastiat was a French classical liberal who sat in the National Assembly after the Revolution of 1848. But while today classical liberalism is largely associated with the political Right in American politics, in 19th century France Bastiat sat on the Left side of the Assembly with the socialists in opposition to the monarchists.

Bastiat, who came from a long line of merchants, was particularly frustrated with French mercantilism, the idea that domestic industry ought to be protected from cheaper foreign competition. It’s a bad idea that won’t die, but I suppose we have mercantilists to thank for inspiring this witty, little satire.

Notes

Here’s a link to Sean’s friend’s medical fundraising page.

Here’s a link to next episode’s reading from Lenin on imperialism.

Bush the Elder and the Yellow Vests – Episode 52, Part One

Ep 52_1 Meme

Does the opening music sound like mediocre elevator music? Yes? Well, good, because it is an homage to the most mediocre of modern Presidents, the late George H.W. Bush, a man whose current legacy appears to be that he is roundly agreed by all to be a somewhat better human being than the present occupant of the Oval Office.

After a discussion of Père Bush’s legacy, Sean and Paul try to decide what the heck to make of the gilets jaunes or “yellow vest” protestors in France. Are they from the Right? From the Left? Nobody, least of all us, really knows, but they are exceedingly French.

Opening music credit: “Vacaciones (salsa)” by Dee Yan-Key from the Free Music Archive.

Rank the Vote! – Episode 51, Part Two

In part two of our midterm recap, Paul geeks out about ranked-choice voting and its potential to break the Democrats and Republicans’ stranglehold on American politics. Sean, for his part, makes the (incredibly dubious) case that Vladimir Lenin would have been a fan of this electoral innovation.

Musical Credits: AC/DC, “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock ‘N’ Roll).”

Blue Tide – Episode 51, Part One

In part one of this long-overdue episode (sorry everyone!), Paul and Sean discuss the Democrats’ anemic results in the November midterms. Paul argues that centrism still represents Democrats’ clearest route to power, citing the surprise blue upset in South Carolina’s traditionally-red 1st Congressional district. And Sean makes the case for far-left organizing outside the Democratic Party, based on the election results from Florida.

Musical Credits: Roy Clark, “Over the Waves.”