125 episodes

Engaging interviews and discussions of elections and the political issues of the day

Chris Riback's Conversations Chris Riback

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Engaging interviews and discussions of elections and the political issues of the day

    Rick Wilson: Running Against the Devil

    Rick Wilson: Running Against the Devil

    Rick Wilson – the sharp-witted, wise-cracking Republican political strategist, ad-maker, analyst, columnist, and crazy-good tweeter – joined me in Westchester County, NY for a live conversation about the 2020 election, impeachment, and his new book, “Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump – and Democrats from Themselves.”
    It was a terrific event, and we discussed everything:
    How Democrats can beat Trump?
    What has happened to his fellow Republicans, the ones he calls “bootlicks, yes-men, [and] edge-case weirdos?”
    How endangered is our democracy?
    Would Democrats be better off if they in fact do nominate a woman – and if so, who would make for a more compelling candidate, Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar?
    As a bonus, we also discussed his regular Waffle House roundtables for The Lincoln Project – breakfasts with his other #NeverTrump Republican strategists, including one named George Conway.
    No surprise for anyone who has heard Rick or, better yet, followed his Twitter feed: He was at his colorful best. You may notice this particular edition of Chris Riback’s Conversations carries an “explicit” label, and folks, it’s not because of me!
    At the end, we opened it up to questions from the audience – you’ll want to hear those. Over the next weeks, I’ll post the video from the event.
    For show notes & my newsletter, go to chrisriback.com.

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Chief Justice John G. Roberts: 2019 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

    Chief Justice John G. Roberts: 2019 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

    (Note: This is a DocuPod – audio reads of important public documents. No conversation; no interview. Just the document itself.)
    You may have noticed: Especially with the impeachment, there’s been a lot of news, coverage and discussion – tweets, speeches, rallies, angry letters, hearings, cable panels – around two branches of government: The Executive and Legislative.
    But assuming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indeed sends the two Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, and assuming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indeed convenes a trial, our third branch – the Judiciary – will be front and center.
    That’s because, as you may know, when the President of the United States faces an impeachment trial in the Senate, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides. And that person, of course, is John G. Roberts.
    Now, we don’t hear much from Chief Justices. Sure, they write some of the Court’s opinions. But they don’t really do interviews. They certainly don’t tweet. So when they speak, their words carry great power, and everyone scrambles to read between their lines.
    Just recently, Chief Justice Roberts spoke.
    Actually, he published – on New Year’s Eve, his annual Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary. And, of course, with the tensions among the branches of government – with an impeachment trial likely on the horizon – this year’s report was widely anticipated.
    You may recall Roberts’ last comments that seemed to be directed towards President Trump in 2018, when the Chief Justice reminded the President that, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.” President Trump tweeted back: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country.”
    So what about now? Would Roberts say anything about President Trump? Would he reveal his feelings on the state of our nation – on whether we are in, or headed towards, a Constitutional Crisis?
    Chief Justice Roberts didn’t disappoint.
    As the New York Times described, Roberts “issued pointed remarks… that seemed to be addressed, at least in part, to the president himself. The two men have a history of friction, and Chief Justice Roberts used the normally mild report to denounce false information spread on social media and to warn against mob rule. Some passages could be read as a mission statement for the chief justice’s plans for the impeachment trial itself.” 
    For show notes & my newsletter, go to chrisriback.com.

    • 14 min
    Matt Stoller: The American Battle Between Monopoly and Democracy

    Matt Stoller: The American Battle Between Monopoly and Democracy

    As our 2020 Presidential campaign becomes more intense and pointed, it’s clear there is a battle going on for, among other things, America’s economic soul.
    Politically, the debate has exploded a revival of -isms… Populism, authoritarianism, socialism. But through the issues – from Trump’s tax cuts to Elizabeth Warren’s Health Care Plan – the complicated arguments largely can be simplified to this: For our democracy to survive, do we need massive economic restructuring?
    If you think this battle is new, you might want to listen to Matt Stoller.
    Stoller is a Fellow at the Open Markets Institute. Previously, he was a Senior Policy Advisor and Budget Analyst to the Senate Budget Committee and also worked in the US House of Representatives on financial services policy, including Dodd-Frank, the Federal Reserve, and the foreclosure crisis. He new and important book is “Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy.”
    As Stoller outlines, the tension between monopoly and American democracy is, without exaggeration, as old as our country. In fact he explains how concentrated financial power and consumerism transformed American politics, resulting in the emergence of populism and authoritarianism, the fall of the Democratic Party, and the need to create a new democracy.
    As Stoller has said: “We are in a moment where capitalism is being seriously questioned. There are corrupted and concentrated markets everywhere, not just search engines and social networks but dialysis, syringes, baby food, missiles and munitions. This isn’t just a threat to our quality of life, but to our democracy itself. We have been here before, and we defeated the monopolists. But to do that, we must understand our own history.”
    For show notes & my newsletter, go to chrisriback.com.

    • 40 min
    Peter Bergen: Trump and His Generals

    Peter Bergen: Trump and His Generals

    It started with the generals. Mattis. Kelley. McMaster. Along with Rex Tillerson, they were part of the “Axis of Adults,” the ones, as the story of this presidency has been told, who stood between President Trump and chaos – between President Trump and his own, unchecked impulses, particularly in foreign affairs.
    As we know now, only Trump is left standing. And he stands impeached, because, the U.S. House of Representatives found, he couldn’t withstand his unchecked impulses and withheld U.S. military aid and White House prestige from Ukraine unless our ally announced investigations into his political rival.
    How did we get here? What happened to the defense and security these generals – heads of defense, security and more – were supposed to provide? And, not for nothing, where are they and what are they saying now?
    Peter Bergen is here to tell us. His new book is Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos. Bergen seems to have been inside the room for all of the details – the fights, debates, wins, losses. His goal: “To reveal what happens when the unstoppable force of President Trump meets the immovable object of America’s national security establishment.”
    For show notes & my newsletter, go to chrisriback.com.

    • 37 min
    Fintan O'Toole: Think It’s Crazy Here? Time to Look at Brexit

    Fintan O'Toole: Think It’s Crazy Here? Time to Look at Brexit

    If you’re feeling lousy about the state of politics in America, now might be the time to surround yourself with some Brits. As they surely must ask about us: What in the world is going on over there?
    The UK is now more than three years into Brexit, the unexpected, unplanned and so far unfinished move to pull out of the European Union. The latest delayed exit was delayed again when Boris Johnson – UK’s permanently disheveled Prime Minister – couldn’t, as we like to say, get the bloody ball over the goal line. Ok, we don’t say the “bloody” part. Instead, Boris called for and got new elections.
    So December 12, UK voters will decide whether to elect a new leader, or not, and through that choice, whether to leave the EU or not. In other words, Britain’s future is as clear to see as a plate that holds a double helping of bangers and mash.
    So what, in fact, is going on over there? How did they get into this Brexit mess – and will they ever get out?
    Few better – or funnier or more thoughtful – to help explain than Fintan O’Toole, the award-winning writer and columnist for the Irish Times, Guardian, and New York Review of Books. His own new book is “The Politics of Pain: Postwar England and the Rise of Nationalism.”
    O’Toole is Irish borne and loves England – both important facts as you read and listen to him analyze the English psychology around self-pity, colonization, and that terrible EU oppression that, we’re told, led to Brexit. In fact, among the surprising insights from O’Toole – at least to this American – is O’Toole’s argument that the Brexit push has less to do with the European Union than it does with England itself.
    For show notes & my newsletter, go to chrisriback.com.

    • 39 min
    LTC Alexander S. Vindman: Opening Statement to US House Impeachment Investigators

    LTC Alexander S. Vindman: Opening Statement to US House Impeachment Investigators

    This is a special episode of Chris Riback's Conversations.
    For this podcast, I read the opening statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman to the US House Impeachment Investigators on October 29. As you surely know, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is the decorated Iraq war veteran and top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, who listened in on that July 25 telephone call between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky.
    That’s it. No conversation; no interview. Just the 6-page document itself -- a DocuPod.
    Here’s why I believe there’s a need for this type of service – audio reads of important public documents.
    First, with our democracy under stress, these documents are interesting and essential; 2) with all of the spin, it helps to know the exact words ourselves; and 3) those exact words are powerful — much more powerful than that third-party spin. And of course: It’s really hard to find time to read them.
    For show notes & my newsletter, go to chrisriback.com.

    • 13 min

Customer Reviews

heysailor53 ,

Fantastic In-Depth Conversations

Chris hosts thoughtful, insightful conversations with some news-worthy people you’ll want to hear from.

GumshoeAndy ,


Thanks for reading the opening statements

SuzannaFL ,

Thank you

I really appreciate you reading the opening statements of those witnesses testifying before the impeachment inquiry.

It is essential that we hear the truth.

Your reads are well done and a pleasure to listen to.

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