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It's A Free Country ®

Is a Government Shutdown Looming, Really?

Monday, February 28, 2011

WNYC
In reality, the entire showdown that we're seeing in Wisconsin and that we're seeing to a lesser degree in other states, or at least a less visible degree in other states,this is all about politics. This is all about who has the upper hand in these elections, and certainly in the elections coming up in 2012. If Republicans looked back at the 2010 elections, as well as they did across the country, they believe that there are six to eight governerships they should have won and the reason they didn't win those was that the unions are very effective at spending for Democrats and getting out the vote for Democrats and so this is an opportunity, at least politically, for Republicans to try to hurt the Democrats and...it awakens Democrats, recognizing that this is a constituency they need to support and mantain.

Taegan Goddard, creator of CQ Roll Call's Political Wire, on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [8]

It's A Free Country ®

Libyan Unrest and Gas Prices Here

Friday, February 25, 2011

[Prices] are not being moved by fundamentals. Supply is ample...What you have instead is a price being driven merely by the amount of money that flows into oil as an asset class, which in fact the oil market, or any commodity market, was never intended to be—an investment, a bet or a wager. In fact, it's become that, so when these geopolitical things happen you have this flood of money into a marketplace that was never designed to accept it, and you have an enormous spike in prices.

Dan Dicker, author of Oil's Endless Bid: Taming the Unreliable Price of Oil to Secure Our Economy, on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [13]

It's A Free Country ®

All for One? The Relationship of Public and Private Unions

Friday, February 25, 2011

WNYC
Unions represent workers, and there are upsides and downsides to that.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research on The Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [44]

It's A Free Country ®

DOMA Done?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WNYC

The nation has shifted very quickly and I think Obama understands that, and when he talks about his own struggle with these issues, and how he's evolving on these issues in the same way the nation is, I think that's what he's getting at.

Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law.

Comments [12]

It's A Free Country ®

Lessons from the Crisis: Ask the Chairman

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WNYC
I will tell you this, if unemployment stays high, if for the foreclosure trend in this country stays steady, it will be a consistent drag and of course these all have ripple effects… all these are continuing threats both to the economy and the financial system. I don’t think we’re out of the woods by any means at this point in time.

Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Chairman Phil Angelides on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [16]

It's A Free Country ®

What Are the Prospects for Democracy in Libya?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WNYC
All the western powers and Clinton and Obama have is, at this point, very weak power of talk, of rhetoric. They will make noises and they will condemn and they will say that's too bad, and they're right, it is terrible and it ought to be stopped. But we live in a world where it's impossible to intervene in the internal affairs, even when a revolution is going on, without inviting the charge of imperialism and colonialism.

Benjamin Barber, political theorist and Distinguished Fellow at the policy center Demos, on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [3]

It's A Free Country ®

The State Budget Crunch

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

State budget gaps were really quite huge. If you add up all those numbers during the recession, budget gaps totaled about $500 billion. The stimulus offered about $280 billion to states, including things like grants for building roads. The part that was really just to plug state budget holes was only about $150 billion. It was a modest portion of the total problem, and temporary. A lot of governors on both sides of the aisle will say that they really saw it as an essential lifeline. The issue is that now it's going away.

Tracy Gordon, fellow at Brookings studying state and local public finances, on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [5]

It's A Free Country ®

What Does the Future Hold for U.S. Labor?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WNYC
Some people say that if Governor Walker gets his legislation through that would weaken public sector unions, it's inevitbale that the Republicans will also take some steps to weaken private sector unions.

Steven Greenhouse, New York Times labor and workplace correspondent, on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [30]

It's A Free Country ®

This Week: Budget Battles from Washington to Wisconsin

Monday, February 21, 2011

Union members would argue well, those benefits were hard won and those deals were made when wage incresases were not offered...so to help people understand it, this is like actually cutting pay...What Walker and others would say is that the reason this has to do with budgeting is that ...it gives governments more flexibility in doing the things they need to do to deal with their deficit problems and that they're hamstrung by collective bargaining. And without that flexibility, says Walker, you have to end up firing people instead of reshaping benefits, which makes them more draconian.

John Dickerson, chief political correspondent for Slate, on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [51]

It's A Free Country ®

In Libya, Government Vows to 'Fight to the Last Bullet'

Monday, February 21, 2011

The escalating violence is in a sense explained by the fact that the security organizations owe their loyalty very directly to Qaddafi. There is no way back. This is either kill or get killed. It's vice versa for the population: if you're known to act against the interests of Qaddafi, in sense you're in the same boat. For both sides this is a life or death situation. That introduces a dynamic that escalates violence very rapidly, knowing that if your side doesn't win the results will be very dire.

Dirk Vandewall, associate professor of government at Dartmouth College and author of A History of Modern Libya, on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comment

It's A Free Country ®

The Speaker's Speech

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I fully recognize that Governor Cuomo has no choice but to make tough decisions and pass a budget that has cuts in it. All I ask is that New York City not be cut worse than anywhere else. As far as aid to municipalities, all other jurisdictions are getting their funding cut by two percent; we're getting our total allocation of $300 million zeroed out. We'll take our fair share and not complain about it, but we don't want to take more than our fair share.

—New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn talks about some of the ideas in her State of the City address The Brian Lehrer Show

Comments [9]

It's A Free Country ®

The 2011 Food Crisis

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

High food prices are not by themselves a guarantee that governments will fall, because if it were, we'd see overhauls in the governments of India or China. It's certainly the case that higher food prices combined with other things are like revolution kindling. A food price spike can spark something that can turn into this kind of democratic overhaul.

Raj Patel, visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's Center for African Studies, on The Brian Lehrer Show

Comments [19]

It's A Free Country ®

How Will Uprisings Change U.S. Policy in the Middle East?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WNYC
We had a deal with the Arab world for 30 years which was, you give us cheap oil, a stable supply of oil, and we'll stay out of your business. That deal fell apart on 9/11. First of all, oil is no longer cheap, and secondly, they weren't stable, and obviously threatened us. Reform in the Arab world has been something since 9/11 the U.S. government has been trying to push. We didn't know how to do it, George Bush thought we would invade Iraq and democracy would blossom all around the Arab world, that did not happen.

Nancy Soderberg, deputy national security advisor to the Clinton administration, former UN Ambassador and president of the Connect U.S. Fund, on The Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [11]

It's A Free Country ®

New York and the New Budget

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WNYC
It’s easy to demonize someone when they’re cutting, because it hurts. Everyone is screaming for cuts because we have to stop the spending. But they just don’t want their program cut. That’s the political nightmare, if you will, for someone who does want to stand up and do the right thing for the country.

— Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY13) on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [43]

It's A Free Country ®

The Impact of CPAC 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

A potential presidential candidate doesn't go to CPAC because they want to win the straw poll, they want to go there because you get 11,000 or so conservative activists in one place and hopefully you give a barn burner of a speech and then some chunk of that 11,000 comes out and says, I really like that guy.

Jim Geraghty, columnist and blogger for the National Review on The Brian Lehrer Show

Comments [7]

It's A Free Country ®

Protest Context: The History of Mubarak Abuses

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Torture actually spread, it became sort of an epidemic, which is what it is today, I'm sorry to say. It happens in police stations, it happens not just with political dissidents, it happens with people just picked up for suspicion of committing ordinary crimes. This has become a serious and widespread problem.

Joe Stork deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, on The Brian Lehrer Show

Comments [6]

It's A Free Country ®

Strange Bedfellows Block Patriot Act

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Even going back to the original passage of the Patriot Act, you found folks like Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform, these arch-conservatives teaming up with the ACLU. So there's a long tradition, not always within the elected Republican party establishment itself, but certainly across ideological boundaries, of people who are protective of civil liberties and skeptical of intrusive government.

Julian Sanchez, research fellow at the Cato Institute, on The Brian Lehrer Show

Comments [3]

It's A Free Country ®

Rejecting The Muslim Brotherhood

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood is so elusive and, in a way, far more dangerous than al-Qaeda because of their ability to participate in a democratic system even though they have undemocratic objectives, and to make everybody believe they are peaceful...Once they get to a place of power, we've seen quite the opposite

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former member the Muslim Brotherhood in Kenya and the author of Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations, on The Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [34]

It's A Free Country ®

Democracy in Egypt Means Engaging Muslim Brotherhood

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

We can't start a democratic process in a place like Egypt by simply cutting out some group that represents some 20 to 25 percent of the Egyptian populace. They need to have a voice, some role in government, and we need to allow Egyptians to decide for themselves whether that ideology is good for Egypt or bad for Egypt. If they think it's good for Egypt they'll vote for it, if it turns out to be bad for Egypt in a democratic process they get to vote these bums out!

— Reza Aslan, on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [23]

It's A Free Country ®

The Koch Brothers' Fundraising Machine

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

WNYC
They really see themselves as sort of the Tea Party before the Tea Party was cool...funding what have really become the sort of intellectual infrastructure of the Libertarian movement, not just the conservative movement, something even more specific, more precise than that. The small government, low regulations, low taxes movement.

— Kenneth Vogel, senior reporter for Politico on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Comments [19]