We preview the annual Rochester Jewish Book Festival, which runs October 25 through November 1. We're joined by Ben Sheehan, author of "OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?: A Non-Boring Guide to How Our Democracy is Supposed to Work." The book is a humorous look at why Americans don't understand how government works and how to change that.

Sheehan shares what he thinks Americans need to know, especially during election season. Our guest:

  • Ben Sheehan, author of "OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?: A Non-Boring Guide to How Our Democracy is Supposed to Work"

When it comes to more help for struggling Americans, did the Democrats blow it? David Dayen, executive editor of “The American Prospect”, says yes. Dayen has been one of the most prolific writers in the country when it comes to all the ways that working Americans have been stuck with stagnating wages, foreclosed homes, and dead ends. He argues that Democrats had a window of opportunity in March, and were badly played. Now that the President is facing a possible election loss, Dayen says Democrats might have missed out on the chance to help workers for the duration of the pandemic.

So how did we get here, and what happens next? Our guest:

We're joined by RIT professor Sarah Burns, who has written a new book called "The Politics of War Powers." She argues that the U.S. Constitution creates an invitation to struggle between the legislative and executive branches of government, but the president has little checks and balances when it comes to how he uses the U.S. military.

She joins us to discuss her research, and how it relates to recent events in Iran. In studio:

  • Sarah Burns, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at RIT, and author of “The Politics of War Powers: The Theory and History of Presidential Unilateralism”

Is it time to break up big tech companies like Amazon and Facebook? Senator Elizabeth Warren says yes, and she’s offered a detailed plan for how to do it. Other Democratic contenders like Senator Cory Booker say no.

Our guests debate the merits of breaking up big companies, and whether Facebook has become too powerful. In studio:

What would the U.S. Constitution look like today if it were created from scratch? An upcoming panel discussion hosted by the Rochester Public Library will explore that question. We'll preview the event with a conversation about how to address modern issues in a new constitution. Our guests:  

  • Tim Kneeland, professor and chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Nazareth College
  • Adam Chodak, anchor and managing editor for WROC-TV
  • Kent Gardner, principal and chief economist for the Center for Governmental Research
  • Jennifer Byrnes, head of the Science and History Division at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County

Hillary Clinton used her personal email while Secretary of State, and it's not clear that we'll ever know if she's been forthcoming with all the emails she should be disclosing. Andrew Cuomo's administration is purging emails earlier than many good government advocates say they should. What is the public's right to know? How can we be sure our government leaders are preserving records properly?

On top of that, we'll examine how reporters handle Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests -- cases that involve freedom-of-information laws. Are those requests being handled properly? How quickly do government agencies respond? In studio we'll have two reporters who utilize FOIL requests more than most:

We'll also talk with Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government.

We welcome Ron Lindsay, author of the new book The Necessity of Secularism, to talk about his views on Charlie Hebdo and the European movement toward a parallel legal system for religious factions. For example, the UK is considering sharia law courts. Lindsay is the CEO of the Center for Inquiry, which was involved in this past summer’s Greece town prayer case

Last week Zephyr Teachout lost to Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, but not without taking 34 percent of the vote, more than what most people thought she’d get. Teachout has not supported Cuomo in the general election, instead, she will help Democrats get elected to the State Senate, in an effort to reclaim the majority. What would this mean for the State Senate? We discuss this with Laura Nahmias, of Capital.

Then, we talk about a plot to try and poison the world’s most expensive wine. In January 2010, the proprietor of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, a vineyard that produces the most expensive wines in the world, received a letter that unless he paid a one million euro ransom, his vines would be poisoned. He believed it was a joke, but the threat was real. Reporter Max Potter joins us to talk about how went to France to document this crime and wrote about his findings called “Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine”

Jeff Smith is the rare politician who lied, broke the law, got caught, went to prison, and will admit to all of it. Smith spent time in a federal prison and is finishing a book on the experience. Now he writes for Politico, and his piece on Governor Cuomo earlier this week picked up a lot of buzz. He joins us to talk about why politicians lie; his own thirst for power that felt out of character; and why Preet Bharara should be taken very seriously.

We talk to filmmaker Tia Lessin of the new documentary Citizen Koch. The film chronicles the rise of the Tea Party and its financial backing by the billionaire Koch brothers. Lessin will explain why she believes it's a vital look at how democracy can be threatened by big money.

The film will be shown Thursday night at the Little Theatre at 6:30.