779: Accounts Deceivable Shows


December 21st -  There used to be money around here somewhere. On the last This is Hell! of 2013, princely pauper Chuck Mertz tallies dollars, dinars, lives and votes but finds that there’s no taste for accounting.

Listen to the full show:





Monique Morrissey: “Two-thirds of the benefits for 401Ks goes to the top twenty percent of workers. Those people are doing well, Wall Street is doing well, and those people have disproportionate influence of public discourse.”

Relax, your retirement isn’t in trouble from an aging population or a declining economy. Your retirement is under attack by profit-hungry Wall Street and the tax-shy rich. So maybe don’t relax. Monique Morrissey isn’t relaxing – she’s writing about Lies, Damn Lies, and Retirement Savings. She talks with Chuck about why everything you’re hearing about retirement is wrong and who that narrative is serving.

Monique Morrissey is an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.


Azadeh Shahshahani: “The US government, as reflected by the reaction of the ambassador, doesn’t actually recognize that at least some of the violence is directed specifically at the anti-coup forces, the leftists, the indigenous activists.”

2013 saw two very different elections in South America, and two very different receptions from the United States. We might have gotten those mixed up. John Kerry stamped his approval on a troubled Honduran election marked by murders, intimidation and widespread irregularities. The Secretary of State has had almost nothing to say about a Venezuelan election that was one of the cleanest in the world. Azadeh Shahshahani contrasts the elections, and their very different receptions from the Obama administration, in her TruthOut piece The Geopolitics of Election Approval: The US Response to Honduras and Venezuela. She shares election stories from post-coup Honduras, post-Chavez Venezuela.

Azadeh Shahshahani is a human rights attorney based in Atlanta and President of the National Lawyers Guild.


Thomas Frank: “Once upon a time, working class people knew how the system worked, they knew where they stood in the system, their leaders would demand things that would fix the system and those leaders were listened to. None of that applies today.”

The Tea Party couldn’t be doing more to put Democrats back in power, and the Democrats couldn’t be doing less. So who’s to blame? Both obviously, there’s always enough to go around, but Thomas Frank found enough fault with the post-Obama reelection democrats to fill an article at Harper’s. The writer of Donkey Business, calls in to blame demographic smugness, praise biblical loan terms and dismiss the notion that politics just settles back to an easy middle all by itself.

Thomas Frank is a writer working to fill up your bookshelf and mailbox. He is the founding editor of The Baffler and a Harper’s regular. He’s written seven books about money, politics and American life, including What’s the Matter with Kansas? and most recently, Pity the Billionaire. Him and Chuck go way back.


Mark Danner: “Iraq is now a client of Iran. It’s in the Iranian sphere on influence. So on both the strategic level and on the level of democratic development – the Iraq war was a disaster.”

Donald Rumsfeld left his mark on the Middle East, not in a way that anyone, not even Rumsfeld himself, would have dreamed. And he really really spent a lot of time dreaming a Middle East with his mark on it. Mark Danner has been writing a huge, multi-part series about Rumsfeld’s neocon visions of post-liberation Iraq and Iraq’s post-Rumsfeld’s realities for the New York Review of Books. The first part, Rumsfeld’s War and Its Consequences Now is available free to read at the NYRB website. The second part is available to subscribers. Mark talks with Chuck about neocon greatest hits like “creative destabilization,” why alliances not invasions build a nation’s strength, and the hole left in the Middle East by one man’s dream.

Mark Danner is a journalist who has covered foreign affairs and conflicts for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. He is the author of books about war, torture and Florida’s voting system, the most recent of which is Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War. You can read more of Mark’s work on his website.


Brian Mier: “Every project has overrun its cost by at least double and the difference is picked up by the taxpayer. Brazil now has four stadiums equal or larger than Wrigley Field, in cities that have the equivalent of AA minor league teams.”

The future world’s most watched television event is being constructed on a bed of rights abuses and crooked business practices, but you won’t see that covered during the 2014 World Cup. Irregular Correspondent Brian Mier lives in Brazil, which is not just a place on television, and reports on how FIFA’s corruption is poisoning its future in democratic nations. See you in Qatar!

Brian Mier grew up on the North Side of Chicago and has lived in Brazil since 1999.  He is currently a policy analyst at the Centro de Direitos Economicos e Sociais. He has worked with the Landless Peasants Movement (MST) and was a two time speaker at the World Social Forum. Brian has written extensively on Brazilian news and culture for the underground press over the years. His writing has appeared in Lumpen and Vice, and he has a novel coming out in 2014.


Brian Foley: “So really nothing has changed as far as action goes, but it’s a really important step because now we have a federal judge who has found this NSA program to be in violation of the constitution.”

Perhaps only Yakov Smirnoff could have predicted a world where in America, internet searches you. But here we are. In his latest Lawpaganda briefing, Brian Foley explains what the courts have learned about what the NSA learned about us, search and seizure in the real world, and search and seizure in the increasingly real digital world.

Irregular Correspondent Brian Foley is a legal scholar and stand up comedian. Naturally, he lives in Florida, where comedy meets the justice system.


Jeff Dorchen: “The poor often don’t make enough to bear much of the tax burden, and the corporate oligarchy have too much power to allow themselves to bear any but a token amount.”

In America’s class war, resentment is the weapon, and the poor are the target. And the enemy. And the weapon sort of too. Jeff Dorchen figures it out as easily as Mitt Romney drives an elephant off a cliff.

According to his contacts on LinkedIn, Jeff Dorchen can do just about anything. He’s a visual artist, songwriter/musician, actor, essayist, poet, playwright and screenwriter.


Producer Alexander Jerri couldn’t get another producer to come along, so more bagels for him!