Avedon Carol & Jay Ackroyd • VS Sundays

Virtually Speaking Sundays – a counterpoint to the Sunday morning talk shows.

Dec 29, 2013 – This week, commentators Avedon Carol & Jay Ackroyd look back at 2013.

Political satirist Culture of Truth provides another ridiculous moment.

Follow @Avedon_Says @JayAckroyd @Bobblespeak

2013 has been a year of exposure of secrecy and abuse of power among those who lead us publicly and privately. It has been a year characterized by systematic attempts to undermine the social insurance programs that all Americans depend upon. 

At Virtually Speaking, we've discussed this patterns  of elite rule and the resurgent forces arising in response to an increasingly plutocratic ruling class. On the last program of 2013 we recount 10 of the issues we discussed over the last year. 



Virtually Speaking Sunday's serves as a counterpoint to the elite voices of the Sunday morning talk shows.  Let us know whether we've done so.

10) Public service pensions 

In Illinois in early December the State Supreme court ruled that guarantees to pensions for public employees under contract with state and local jurisdictions were inoperative. David Dayen reported on this issue on the week of December 8 and discussed the implications of the ruling.

This ruling is a rather shocking example of the two-tiered system of justice that we live under in the first part of the 21st-century. Criminal activities on the parts of senior members of the banking and finance industry went unpunished and contractual bonuses preserved, public employees found that even constitutional language did not  protect them.

David Dayen and Gaius Publius discussed this on December 8.

9) The Deep State

The Deep State was a recurring subject of discussion over the year---the actions taken by political and policy actors who are neither elected nor easily identified but persist across administrations and across congressional sessions. When the president defended his national security apparatus by saying he hadn't been told what the NSA was doing, he offered a striking confirmation that there is someone else in charge. Or at least the president is not entirely in charge, told about illegal,  sometimes unconstitutional policies only after the fact. 

It's clear the Deep State's primary mission is to retain its position of power and authority behind the scenes of government.  It's not clear what the Deep State's other objectives are.

Gaius  Publius and Marcy Wheeler October 30

Dave Johnson and Gaius Publius August 17

Marcy Wheeler and Cliff Schecter July 6

Joan McCarter, Marcy Wheeler and Digby February 11

8) The Death of the Grand Bargain

2013 was the year that the grand bargain to cut Social Security and Medicare in return for, well, l nothing finally became exposed as the agenda of the very rich and their friends in the centrist media. We saw various mechanisms used by the technocratic elite to circumvent democratic processes and implement austerity measures and elements of the grand bargain. These included various gangs of whatever special budget committees special commissions threats to shut down the government and of course David Gregory demand encourage on the part of elected officials. In the event, all of these mechanisms failed and the broad opposition to the imposition of the grand bargain finally seemed to have succeeded as the year came to an end.

Budget committee

Austerity zombie 

Government Shutdown

Here we go again 

7) The Filibuster and the  Reid  rule

One of the major steps forward for representative government in 2013 came when Harry Reid decided he finally had enough and imposed what became known as the Reid rule,ending filibusters of presidential appointees. This implementation of what Sen. Merkley calls the constitutional option look to be the first step in restoring the Senate as a legislative body ruled primarily by majority vote rather than by super majorities.

Key actors in the implementation of filibuster reform were progressive change committee's Darcy Burner, Sen. Jeff Merkley and virtually speaking panelists Joan McCarter and David Waldman.  David and Joan joined us to discuss the mechanics and implications of the Reid rule.

The Reid Rule

6) Voting Rights Act

The single most stunning act of the year was the Supreme Court deciding that in the wake of concerted efforts by Republican state legislatures doing all they could to restrict the franchise of their citizens, the voting  rights act had become obsolete..

Digby and Avedon discussed this in June


Much of the latter part of the year was absorbed by issues related to the patient protection and affordable care act. Republican shutdowns organized around them. The veal pen was reopened for liberals who viewed Obama care is a great disappointment and terrible politics. Virtually Speaking Sundays RJ Eskow and Stuart Zechman talked about deficiencies in the program and the difficulties that will arise in addressing them.


4) Centrist media

The role of the centrist media in protecting Republican and the centrist technocratic elite from oversight has been a long-standing theme. Stuart Zechman and Jay Rosen laid the groundwork a couple of years ago. This year Stuart and Digby assessed the role the media played in covering the rise of the new populism.

3)  Climate

Marcy Wheeler has said that the most pressing national security issue we face today is climate change. Gaius Publius has written extensively at America blog on the issue. There is no issue more threatening to the technocratic elite or to our centrist media than destruction of the petroleum based economy. But there is no issue more threatening to the future lives of Americans than the preservation of petroleum based economy. Our defense establishment largely exists to preserve the petroleum-based economy and is one of the key providers of funds for the centrist media message we hear every Sunday.

Marcy and Gaius discussed these issues in October.


2) The Surveillance State

Marcy's site is the first destination for anyone concerned about the details involved with the establishment of the surveillance state. The brilliant series of revelations from Glenn Greenwald of the material provided by Snowden has made it very clear the depth of the NSA's implementation of a surveillance state in the United States. Marcy has discussed her work with Digby and  David Dayen

1)  "Populism"

it's hard to select a single episode or two on a topic of Democratic politics in 2000 because of the issue came up week after week. But in the last month or so there was a change in the air brought on in part by the filibuster reform but mostly by Elizabeth Warren speaking out in the voice that that liberal Democrats have been thirsting for. We have long said that popular policy that would expand the economy and reduce inequality makes for great politics. Elizabeth Warren seems to recognize that and exposed vacuity of the ruling Democratic elites.

Dave Johnson and Cliff Schecter talked about the politics 2014 politics of these new, these sadly new, ways of addressing domestic issues.

Avedon and David Waldman  On Noam Scheiber's bulletin to the Village: Watch out for Warren.

Finally Stuart Zechman, Gaius Publius and David Waldman presents what Avedon Carol's sterling commenter CMike called the Liberal Powell memo.

The 2013 Virtually Speaking Media Panel: Avedon Carol, Cliff Schecter, David Dayen, Dave Johnson, David Waldman, digby, Gaius Publius, Joan McCarter, Marcy Wheeler, Stuart Zechman