Episode 159, with guests Michael Shear and Stephen Grand

Michael Shear and Stephen Grand are our guests this week.
Show produced by Katherine Caperton.
Original Air Date: July 12, 2014 on SiriusXM “POTUS” Channel 124.
PoliOptics airs on POTUS on Saturdays at 8 am & 6 pm, Sundays at 4 am & 5 pm and Mondays at 2 am.
Follow us on Twitter @Polioptics.
Listen to the show by clicking on the bar above.
Show also available for download on Apple iTunes and other streaming services.

President Obama and Texas Gov. Rick Perry

This week saw a real polioptical kerfuffle break out. (That is likely the first time those words, one of them a neologism, have ever appeared in a sentence.) Republicans (and one Democrat) attacked President Obama for his failure to take part in a photo-op. In particular, they were exercised over the White House decision not to send the President to see the crisis in unaccompanied children crossing the border as part of his trip to Texas. All kinds of fulminating ensued.

 We talk about this question that goes to the heart of polioptics with Mike Shear, a longtime political reporter who is now a White House correspondent for the New York Times. Before arriving at the Grey Lady, Mike was at the Washington Post for many years, covering Obama, the 2008 Republicans (Remember them? They were a hoot.), and Virginia politics. Mike got to cover then-Senator George Allen’s own polioptical catastrophe – the infamous “Maccacca Moment.”

 

Our second guest is Stephen Grand, an academic, think tank denizen, Hill staffer, book author, and all-around expert on things relating both to the Arab world and to emerging democracies.

Steve’s new book offers a fascinating look at the often messy process when democracies are born at what that might mean in the wake of the Arab Spring (and now, alas, the Arab Winter).

 

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Tahrir-Square-Transitions-Institution/dp/0815725167/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

We cap off the show with a visit from founder, guiding light, and host Josh King with a special announcement about the future of Polioptics.

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Episode 158, with guest Joe Plumeri

Joe Plumeri is our guest this week.
Show produced by Katherine Caperton.
Original Air Date: July 5, 2014 on SiriusXM “POTUS” Channel 124.
PoliOptics airs on POTUS on Saturdays at 8 am & 6 pm, Sundays at 4 am & 5 pm and Mondays at 2 am.
Follow us on Twitter @Polioptics.
Listen to the show by clicking on the bar above.
Show also available for download on Apple iTunes and other streaming services.

On this July 4th weekend, it’s one from the heart. As you’re listening, I hope you’re driving to a ballgame or watching cheese melt over burger on a set of hot coals. You’ll find me at a water park up in the Catskills with the kids.

Our regular listeners of this show know that, over the past month or so, my pals Jeff Smith, Matt Bennett and Steve Silverman have been filling in for me, and ably so. I’ve loved the show’s they’ve put on. The reason for my absence, and why is this one from the heart, is that I’ve been at a reunion of sorts. Back in 2009, a man named Joe Plumeri became my boss. Over the last five years, he’s become a coach, a mentor and a friend, and I’m lucky for all those roles he’s played in my life.

Now, like Capt. John Yossorian in Catch-22, we’re on one more mission together. You might say it’s like turning a B-25 Mitchell into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This isn’t an easy assignment, but If you have to go on a tough mission, there’s no one better to follow into battle than Joe Plumeri, with 48 years of playing in traffic, and winning, on Wall Street under his belt.

The stories Joe tells on this episode of PoliOptics are, by the nature of our 1-hour radio show, abbreviated versions of what he talks about when he’s in front of an audience of thousands who give him their undivided attention for hours, culminating in a standing ovation. As much fun as we have with some of the audio clips going back to a rare one between Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1927, nothing substitutes for being in a live setting with Joe and watching how he captivates a crowd. National Public Radio recently compiled their list of the 300 greatest college commencement speeches of all time, going back to 1774. John F. Kennedy was on that list, as was Benjamin Franklin and Franklin D. Roosevelt. So too was Joe Plumeri, for a speech he gave at the 2011 graduation exercises at the College of William & Mary.

To provide a sense of what Joe is like on stage, here’s his William & Mary speech in full. As you’ll see, he gives the camera operator a challenge just keeping up with him.

As we celebrate the American story on this July 4th weekend, the journey that the Plumeri family has taken on these shores, since Joe’s grandparents arrived from Italy in the last century, is truly the American dream. The story moves from the streets of Trenton to the athletic fields of the College of William & Mary to the corporate boardrooms of the biggest global companies. From teacher to coach to CEO, Joe offers leadership and communications lessons at every stop, for businesspeople and politicians alike.

Episode 157, with guests Sam Hall, Ashley Parker and Jay Barth

Sam Hall, Ashley Parker and Jay Barth are our guests this week.
Show hosted by Jeff Smith, New School professor and former Missouri State Senator
Show produced by Katherine Caperton.
Original Air Date: June 28, 2014 on SiriusXM “POTUS” Channel 124.
PoliOptics airs on POTUS on Saturdays at 8 am & 6 pm, Sundays at 4 am & 5 pm and Mondays at 2 am.
Follow us on Twitter @Polioptics.
Listen to the show by clicking on the bar above.
Show also available for download on Apple iTunes and other streaming services.

I’m Jeff Smith, urban policy professor at The New School and former Missouri state senator, sitting in for Josh King. This week, we dissect Mississippi politics, which stood at the epicenter of American politics last week as Senator Thad Cochran came back from a political near-death experience and clung to his seat.

We dig deep into what happened on the ground – and why it all matters for the rest of the nation. I’d like to thank my fantastic guests, all three of whom spent election day in Jackson, the state capital: Sam Hall of the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger, Ashley Parker of the New York Times, and Professor Jay Barth, chairman of the Hendrix College political science department, and member of the Arkansas State Board of Education.

***

In his 1949 landmark book “Southern Politics,” the famed political scientist V.O. Key concluded that the politics of the South “revolves around the position of the Negro … Whatever phase of the Southern political process one seeks to understand, sooner or later the trail of inquiry leads to the Negro.”

Since the Civil War, wealthy and struggling whites clashed over wages, the right to organize unions, and the role of government. About the only thing they agreed upon was the myth of black inferiority that helped unify the South in national political battles to lock in iron-clad segregation and ban black voting.

Throughout the 20th century, the Mississippi Democratic Party housed these two factions. Mississippi politics was a battle between the Delta planters and the poor white “peckerwoods,” as Key called them. The planters wanted low taxes and limited public services; the peckerwoods favored the New Deal and the electricity and jobs it brought to the rural South. The affluent Delta produced politicians such as Sen. James Eastland, while the poorer piney woods region produced pols like KKK member Sen. Theodore Bilbo, a fire-breathing race baiter whose vile rhetoric embarrassed the genteel Delta planters.

These divisions persist in Mississippi politics – except now they exist within the Republican Party. As the Mississippi Republican Party’s elder statesman, Thad Cochran is a modern-day Eastland, embodying the measured tone of the planter class. Conversely, the fiery McDaniel was born and raised in an impoverished rural county, and McDaniel’s retrograde rhetoric on race and sex bore uncomfortable resemblances to the hateful Bilbo speeches of yesteryear.

***

But after much strife and bloodshed, civil rights finally came to Mississippi, giving politicians a new voting bloc with which to contend. And yet even after black residents began registering in droves, it was often considered taboo for politicians to actually court their votes.

But that all changed three weeks ago. After McDaniel’s near-upset in the primary, Cochran tried an unusual strategy during the runoff election: he tried to persuade black Democrats to cross over and vote in the Republican primary. And instead of doing this via under-the-table vote buying, as had once been typical in the Delta, Cochran strategists even boasted about their strategy.

***

Though the rise of Southern Republicanism in the 1950s did not begin because of race – indeed, Nixon was seen as more
progressive than Kennedy on civil rights until word spread about Kennedy’s phone call to Coretta Scott King while her husband sat in a Birmingham jail – Southern Republican success mushroomed in the 1960s and 1970s due to the Republican Party’s increasingly conservative positioning on civil rights and other issues linked to race.

For 150 years, Mississippi politicians of both parties succeeded by vehemently oppose policies that benefited black residents. Indeed, it was only last year that Mississippi finally ratified the 13th Amendment freeing slaves. And yet Cochran’s very prominent African-American outreach – even as he courted a Republican primary electorate that has been bred on decades of racially-laden appeals – somehow succeeded.

Native Mississippian Sam Hall describes the political undercurrents of the election barely, if at all, visible to the national media who swarmed the state in the closing weeks. Ashley Parker analyzes the national political and policy implications of Cochran’s stunning come-from-behind win. And Jay Barth goes deep twice – first, offering an historical lens through which to understand the politics of the Deep South, and second, describing the tactics and techniques of the Cochran ground war that eluded most of the media. It’s a show no political junkie will want to miss.

Episode 156 with guests Gene Sperling, Peter Carlin and Kevin Morris