Stu Rothenberg, The Rothenberg Political Report

Presented by Political Wire:

With the government shutdown and debt ceiling battles behind us – at least until January – focus has turned to what in politics passes for the long term: Next year’s midterm elections. The fight for next November is on.

But who has the momentum? Did the shutdown reveal Republicans’ as too far outside the political mainstream – or, worse, too divided internally to ever unite around an electable platform? For Democrats, will a disastrous debut for the government’s health care website turn Americans against them and Obamacare? And what about this talk of a so-called Democratic Wave?

Helping us make sense of the policy and the politics: Stu Rothenberg, Editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report and Columnist at Roll Call.


Retro Report’s Bonnie Bertram: “Liebeck v. McDonald’s: The Big Burn”

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 12.50.38 PMIt was the poster child for a legal system gone haywire. In 1994, an Albuquerque, NM jury gave $2.9 million dollars to a local grandmother who spilled McDonald’s coffee in her lap.

Within days, the story went global: New York. Germany. France. And then, Capitol Hill, where it became a political centerpiece for Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America and the Common Sense Legal Reform Act.

But as this story grew, did it become more fiction than fact? What if this cause célèbre of a case got that way, because in the oversimplification of storytelling and lawmaking, people didn’t understand what really happened?

Bonnie Bertram is a producer at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that follows important news events after the headlines fade. Their new video is “Liebeck v. McDonald’s: The Big Burn.”

Corey Mead: “War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict”

From drones to Tomahawk missiles to Navy SEALs, it’s no exaggeration to say that the U.S. military has a range of incredibly effective weapons at its disposal. But it’s at most only a minor exaggeration to suggest that the military’s most effective weapon might not be found in an arms depot, but in fact might be down the hall in your teenager’s bedroom. I’m talking about video games.

From single shooter games to specially-customized, near-real-life military scenarios, video games have become an incredibly important tool in how we recruit, train and even heal U.S. soldiers – important to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

How did video games take on such an outsized role? How, exactly, do they make us safer?

Corey Mead is an Asst. Professor of English at Baruch College. He’s also the author of the new book “War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict.”

Retro Report’s Matthew Spolar: “Dolly the Sheep”

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 8.34.48 PMIt was a scientific feat for the ages. A result so exciting and scary, that one reporter wondered , “Should we be applauding a mind-boggling scientific breakthrough or be nervous about where it might lead us?”

February 1997. Scientists in Scotland succeeded where no man had gone before. A mammal was cloned. Sheep number 6LL3. Her name was Dolly.

Dolly became an overnight sensation and fears of counting the same sheep over and over again – or, worse, the same cloned human being – took hold. But those concerns – some moral, and some the stuff of science fiction movies – soon got in the way of other promising science. Science that might have saved lives.

How did Dolly spin out of control? And to what extent did our fears at the time come true?

Matthew Spolar is a producer at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that follows important events after the headlines fade. Their new video is “Dolly the Sheep.”

Daniel Alpert, Economist: “The Age of Oversupply”

How did we arrive at our economic situation? What can we do to get out?

According to Daniel Alpert, we suffer from “oversupply.” Today’s economic challenges  link to a global event we all welcomed with joy – the collapse of Socialism. But that freedom for billions also added billions to the global labor force. It drove a boom in production capacity. Toss in a glut of capital, and you have a global economic disaster – a disaster for which common prescriptions for economic recovery aren’t going to work.

Alpert is a founding Managing Partner of Westwood Capital and a Fellow of The Century Foundation. He is also author of the important new book “The Age of Oversupply: Overcoming the Greatest Challenge to the Global Economy.”

Retro Report’s Olsen & Michels: “Richard Jewell: The Wrong Man”

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.40.09 PMWe hear it nearly every time news breaks. The Boston Bombing. Newtown, CT. Even the recent Navy Yard Shootings. Speculation on who did it. Speculation that often is spectacularly wrong.

But perhaps no whodunit speculation was more wrong that what occurred in 1996. The Atlanta Olympics, Centennial Olympic Park. A bomb goes off. One killed; more than 100 injured. But quickly – to nearly everyone’s relief – the FBI had a person of interest. Richard Jewell.

His face and name were everywhere. The media followed him from home to work and back again. According to widespread media reports, Jewell fit the profile of a potential terrorist. Many felt sure we had our man. Of course, it turned out Richard Jewell was missing one key quality: He wasn’t a terrorist. He didn’t commit the crime.

How did the media – and law enforcement – get the story so wrong? And when getting it wrong often means destroying an innocent reputation, why does it keep happening?

JP Olsen and Scott Michels are producers at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that specializes in following important news events after the headlines faded. Their new video is “Richard Jewell: The Wrong Man.”