On today's BradCast: Yes, the kids are alright. And, if this past week has been any indication --- along with the results of a fascinating social experiment by my guest today --- they may well save us all. I hope they hurry. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]
First up, however, a boatload of news broke shortly before air today, and we scramble to cover as much of it as we can. Among those stories...
- New indictments are filed by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe against two former Donald Trump campaign officials. His former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates, who also served on the Trump transition team saw 32 counts added to the 17 felony counts leveled against them in October. The new charges relate to some $30 million in money laundering and tax fraud, based on funds said to have been received while Manafort worked for a Russian-backed Ukrainian President prior to joining the Trump campaign;
- U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House have reportedly pushed out, Matthew Masterson, the Republican Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for reasons that remain unknown The EAC, formed by Congress after the 2000 election debacle to help state election officials with e-voting system standards, has failed in many ways over the years, as we discuss (and as we've reported at The BRAD BLOG for many years.) Still, they remain the only federal agency tasked with that role, even while Republicans have been attempting, for years, to shutter the Commission entirely. Masterson, said to be highly regarded by state election officials, was overseeing cyber-security standards for new voting systems before the 2018 mid-terms, in light of concerns of foreign manipulation of U.S. voting, registration and tabulation systems;
- And, also breaking just before air, Missouri's new "family values" Republican Governor Eric Greitens was indicted late Thursday on a felony charge related to allegations that threatened to blackmail a woman he had tied up and photographed nude in his basement during an affair in 2015, prior to his 2016 election.
Then, with the incredibly impressive students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida speaking up, marching, organizing and protesting unapologetically to demand new legislation on guns after a former student killed 17 at their school last week with a legally-purchased semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, President Trump unleashed a Twitter rant on Thursday morning calling for teachers across the country to be armed in response. That call has not gone over well with the Stoneman Douglas students, though many Republican officials and their paymasters at the National Rifle Association (NRA) support the measure to place even more guns into our nations schools.
But, as my guest today, Philadelphia area high school teacher and writer DINA LEYGERMAN argues, the current generation of high schoolers across the country are fierce, a force to be reckoned with and not to be underestimated.
In her recent article headlined "The Teens Will Save Us", Leygerman documents a fascinating social experiment that she has run for a number of years while teaching George Orwell's 1984 to her English class. After similar results of the experiment year after year --- in which, without informing the students, she basically turns her classroom into an Orwellian totalitarian regime over a matter of days, with her as the dictator turning students against each other --- she says that this year, for reasons she discusses, the response by the students was completely different from previous years. The students, she explains, were having none of it, and actually stood up, organized with their classmates and other students in rebellion against her. As she wrote, "For the first time since I've done this experiment, the students 'won.'"
Leygerman joins us for what turns out to be a very hopeful segment, as she explains what happened, why, and how this generation may be very different from the slacker image many have painted them with. "They are participating in marches. They are participating in their student government. They are listening to the news. They're reading the news more, everyday. They are involved. And I think in our current political climate, where everything is so hostile and divisive, they are learning. I walk around and, even in the cafeteria, I'll listen to them talk about DACA, they'll talk about issues that I don't ever remember discussing when I was a kid," she tells me.
It's a fascinating conversation that I hope you'll tune in for. I also get her thoughts on Trump and the NRA's proposal for arming teachers, which she describes as "insane and dangerous" and a "diversion and deflection" from the actual conversation of what should be done about our nation's gun epidemic. Leygerman, who also writes for parenting website Romper, wonders: "Where's the funding coming from? And if it's coming from the government or from the state, why can't we have basic supplies instead?"
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as a chemical giant settles a decades-long water contamination lawsuit, global temperatures continue to sky-rocket, sea levels rise at an ever-quickening pace, and another western state becomes the latest to block Donald Trump's scheme to expand off-shore oil drilling...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)