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Tom Frank, Harper’s Columnist, on Obama’s Decline and the Age of Enron; Journalist/Activist Mike Elk on the HuffPo Strike and ALEC

Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter With Kansas and The Wrecking Crew, returns to talk about his next book, the problems with Obama, and his recent Harper's column on the Age of Enron.  Mike Elk, journalist and activist, talks about the writer's strike at Huffington Post and about the role of ALEC in filling prisons--and then privatizing the operation of prisons.Another freewheeling and amusing chat (or, if you prefer, a "frank and useful discussion") with Tom Frank.  We talk about Obama's loss of support from his liberal base and recent discussion of a primary challenge, his focus on the "liberal banker" vote at the expense of the rest of us, and whether Hillary would've fought the GOP more effectively.  We talk about Enron and the impact of deregulation, and how the same mentality prevails today despite Enron's failures.  And we talk about the 12-member uber Congress committee, where all 6 Republicans have taken Grover Norquist's pledge not to raise taxes.  There are a few audio glitches in this interview, courtesy of Skype.

At 44:53, Elk joins us to talk about the HuffPo strike and he calls out progressives who are crossing the virtual picket line.  We ask which version of Arianna is the real one, and Elk describes AOL's plan to expand the use of "free content" produced by unpaid writers.  Read Elk's article about the strike here.  (To get the link, I just did a search via AOL, and this article was the first search result.)

We also talk about the recent article for The Nation that Elk co-wrote, about the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in producing draft legislation that surfaced this year in multiple state legislatures to bust public unions, impose voter ID laws to suppress participation by Democrats, and privatize state property and functions.  Elk reports that ALEC has written laws that have swelled the prison population and privatized prisons under corporate control.  He also talks about the expanded use of prison labor in many states.