Betsy Kaplan | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Betsy Kaplan

Senior Producer

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. Prior to that, Betsy worked as an intensive care registered nurse in several Connecticut hospitals.

While taking time off from nursing to have fun with her three young daughters, she was elected to three terms on her town's Board of Education and worked at a local museum. 

She's produced shows for Where We Live and the Colin McEnroe Show, several of which have won local awards.

She is currently the senior producer for the Colin McEnroe Show

Chief Justice John Roberts scolded House managers and the President's counsel early Wednesday for using language beneath the dignity of the world's "greatest deliberative body." This, after Senator Susan Collins complained about "unsettling comments" she felt went against Senate rules of decorum.

Speaking of decorum, senators played with fidget spinners and did crossword puzzles while House managers made their case for impeachment. Enough of this pettifoggery!

Connecticut Public

Slate's Stephen Metcalf thinks President Trump is a hostage to 1979.

Why else would he overreact by killing Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani for inciting protesters to storm the U.S. Embassy in Iraq?

Connecticut Public

Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey argue that President Trump has changed the function of the presidency from one of public service to one that serves his personal interests.

The President was impeached for withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for a political investigation into his political rival and obstructing the House investigation into his behavior.

The President will likely be acquitted in the Senate. It may be up to voters in November to decide whether to ratify or reject Trump's vision of the presidency.

President Trump fretted this week that White House lawyer Pat Cippolone and personal lawyer Jay Sekulow lacked experience on television. So he added a few TV-ready lawyers to the mix, each with scripted roles to play.

This week, Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey argue that President Trump has changed the presidency from one of public service to one that serves his personal interests. Will we ratify his vision or reject it? It may be up to voters to decide.

Also this hour: Slate's Stephen Metcalf thinks Trump is a hostage to 1979. Why else would he be obsessed with U.S. embassies and Jimmy Carter?

And singer/songwriter Lara Herscovitch proves music is the antidote to our troubled times.

This hour, we air an updated version of the most recent episode of our weekly impeachment show, Pardon Me, which normally airs Saturdays at noon.

Law professor Bruce Ackerman argues that President Trump's order to kill Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani is a far graver offense than his efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden. Think about it: He's bragging about his decision to kill a high-ranking official of another country. Will Chief Justice John Roberts save us?

And that's the positive view on the show this week.

makelessnoise / Creative Commons

We like to open the phones and hear what's on your minds. We never know what you're going to say but we love that you call us to say it. 

Law professor Bruce Ackerman argues that President Trump's order to kill Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani is a far graver offense than his efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden. Think about it: He's bragging about his decision to kill a high-ranking official of another country. Will Chief Justice John Roberts save us?

And that's the positive view on our show this week.

Sarah Kendzior studies autocratic governments. She thinks we'd be foolish to believe there are limits to what the Trump administration would do -- whether jailing witnesses and whistleblowers, threatening protesters, or using nuclear weapons.

Robert C. Demarest / Wikimedia Commons

Ram Dass' 1971 book, "Be Here Now," was the gateway drug into spirituality for a lot of young people seeking answers in the era of Vietnam.

Dass first tried being a psychology professor at Harvard, where he and colleague Timothy Leary, sought God through experiments with psychedelics. Then, he went to India and found his guru, who taught him how to feel high without the drugs. 

America and Iran have not had an easy relationship since 1979, when 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days by students supporting the Iranian Revolution. The resulting rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini further weakened the relationship.

Last month, we launched a whole other show. It's a weekly show airing on Saturdays at noon and hitting your podcast feeds on Fridays most weeks hopefully. It's called Pardon Me (Another Damn Impeachment Show?). It's about all the latest trends and tech in the world of industrial welding. Wait, no. That's not right. It's about the impeachment, silly.

Professor Michael Gerhardt argues that the impeachment process is legitimate, despite efforts by President Trump and his defenders to deny it. It is the president's conduct that is not normal.

Gerhardt was one of four law professors summoned by the House Judiciary Committee in December, to share their legal expertise on whether President Trump's conduct met the legal threshold for impeachment. Three out of four of them believe it did.

Also this hour: State Department witness George Kent's bow tie and Rep. Jim Jordan's jacket have their own Twitter accounts. Nancy Pelosi's dagger-like gold pin turned heads on the day she opened up House debate on the president's impeachment. We talk about the fashion semiotics of impeachment.

Peter Sokolowski, lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, fears we're currently having a crisis of meaning in our cultural understanding and use of words.

How do we understand phrases like "fake news"? Does it mean news that has no relationship to reality or is it how President Trump refers to truth-based news he doesn't like? What is an "alternative fact"?

We Take Your Calls

Dec 30, 2019
Marc Falardeau / Creative Commons

During this 'perineum' week in-between Christmas and the New Year, we decided to take your calls. 

We got such a great mix of callers on today's all-call show (including a wonderful goat farmer) that we kept taking your calls all the way through a fire drill at our studio! 

GUEST: 

There's a good chance that President Trump knows that the stain of impeachment will be part of his legacy. And as damning details about the president's behavior trickle out, we're realizing how much we still don't know. This may explain why impeachment may be more popular than we realize.

David Howard / Creative Commons

Christianity Today, an evangelical Christian publication founded by Billy Graham in 1956, published an editorial Thursday by editor-in-chief Mark Galli, calling for President Trump to be removed from office. 

There's actually some question whether President Trump has officially been impeached, it turns out.

In any case, on Wednesday, December 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two Articles of Impeachment charging the president with abuse of power and obstruction of congress.

On our third full episode, we talk to the founder of Politico about the huge difference a tiny bit of self-control would make to the Trump presidency and a Yale historian about what those crazy founders were thinking when they put impeachment in the Constitution in the first place.

Plus: Our first AccuFrankie report from the Target parking lot in New Britain, Conn., and a song performed live in our studios by Nekita Waller, "Big Al" Anderson, Jim Chapdelaine, and The Shinolas.

The White House

Voters in favor of Brexit handed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson an electoral victory on Thursday in a landslide not seen since Margaret Thatcher’s win in 1987. Conservatives won seats in British working-class districts that have been Labour strongholds for generations, giving Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party its biggest defeat since 1935. What can 2020 Democratic presidential candidates learn from this election? 

On Friday, December 13, the House Committee on the Judiciary voted 23 to 17 to send two Articles of Impeachment to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

On Episode 2 of Pardon Me, Yale Law School's Emily Bazelon joins us to look at the legal ins and outs of the articles, the House vote, and a future Senate trial; The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik tells us to "Stop Saying That Impeachment Is Political"; and our friends from Sea Tea Improv in Hartford stop by to perform a holiday-themed, Scrooge/Trump mashup sketch.

Adam Gopnik is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism. We talked to Gopnik late last week about his New Yorker piece on the impeachment called, "Stop Saying That Impeachment Is Political."

This interview will run, likely in a form very similar to this one, in this week's Episode 2 of Pardon Me. But we're making it available to you now because... well, because why not, really.

Dave Eggers is the author of six books for young readers, including The Wild Things; three works of nonfiction, including Zeitoun; twelve novels, including What Is the What, A Hologram for the King, and The Circle; and the memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. He has written three screenplays, including Where the Wild Things Are with Spike Jonze. And he is the founder of McSweeney’s.

Are you having trouble keeping up with the nonstop impeachment information coming your way? If you're starting to confuse Gordon Sondland with Rudy Giuliani, then you should start listening to Pardon Me (Another Damn Impeachment Show?), our weekly answer to your confusion. 

Beth Beverly / Diamond Tooth Taxidermy

When you think of taxidermy, you may imagine a trophy room in which mostly male hunters have mounted the heads of 12-point stags along wood-paneled walls. If so, your image would be incomplete.

rbeard113 / Creative Commons

Private weather companies are cropping up to produce weather and climate models that have historically been provided by the government. Private weather forecasting is a $7 billion industry that threatens the dominance of the National Weather Service and could lead to a tiered system of access.

Jesse Steinmetz / Connecticut Public Radio

If you ever drive across the country, you’ll notice there is a surprising amount of World’s Largest attractions.

West Virginia has the world’s largest teapot, California has the world’s largest yo-yo and Arkansas, for whatever reason, has the world’s largest Spinach can. This hour we talk to the man who brought the world’s tallest Uncle Sam to Danbury, Connecticut. 

Phil Roeder / Creative Commons

Defense Secretary Mark Esper demanded the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Sunday. Esper said he had lost confidence in Spencer. Esper's action follows Spencer publicly disagreeing with President Trump over the military's decision to demote one of three war criminals the president pardoned against military advice. What are the consequences of presidential interference in the military code of justice?

Yuichi Kosio / Creative Commons

Ralph Nader's niece died when Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 max 8 jet crashed in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, in March 2019.  Since that day, her family has been trying to prove that Boeing put profits before public safety when they failed to ground the plane when they recognized the danger it posed. 

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public

William Outlaw is a natural leader. He's been a key figure in helping to lower New Haven's homicide rate over the last decade. He's a strategist and an organizer who can size up a situation quickly. He can defuse a threatening situation with his charisma and charm. He can run a business. 

As a street outreach worker in New Haven, he uses all the same skills today that he used when he co-ran New Haven's largest cocaine gang in the 1980's. 

Uptowner / Flickr Creative Commons

Donald Trump's election was the culmination of a venom-filled campaign that was nastier than almost any in recent memory. The mean-spirited comments tossed to voters eager to "lock her up" fell just shy of the malicious rhetoric coming from Thomas Jefferson's presidential campaign in 1796. Jefferson's hatchet-man called John Adams a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."

The Nobel Foundation / Wikimedia Commons

Eugene O'Neill doesn't get enough credit. His plays are a form of therapy. O'Neill forces us to watch the raw pain of our human condition, the disillusionment and existential fear that we push into the background.

O'Neill's plays are dark but there's a catharsis in confronting our deepest fears and illusions. 

Travis Wise / Creative Commons

President Trump changed his primary address from New York to Florida.  He says he'd been treated badly by political leaders.

He was also booed twice last week, first at Game Five of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, this past Saturday at UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden. It does hightlight how infrequently the president ventures beyond the safety of the controlled settings of his rallies. 

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