Background Briefing with Ian Masters Russia Files


December 10, 2017

Trump is More Interested in His TV Reviews Than His Performance as President
The Alabama Race is Shaping Up as Trump’s Waterloo and a Referendum on America
Thanks to Trump the Saudis Are Losing the “Arab Street” to Iran
Program Notes

We begin with the emergence of an orchestrated campaign led by Fox News to delegitimise the Robert Mueller investigation and cast it as a Democratic plot to undermine Trump’s election victory in the Electoral College. David Mindich, a Professor and Chair of the Journalism Department at Temple University and author of “Just the Facts: How “Objectivity” Came to Define American Journalism”, joins us to discuss how Trump watches between 4 and 8 hours of television a day, tuning into Fox News for the comfort it provides him while occasionally watching MSNBC to get riled up and ready for combat. We will examine this un-American relationship between a sitting government and a volunteer Ministry of Truth which Fox has become under Rupert Murdoch who talks to Trump every day and appears to set the agenda for the White House talking points and policies, as well as assess what work the president actually does given his television watching habit which suggests the reality TV star is more interested in his reviews than his performance.

Then we go to Montgomery, Alabama for an update on Tuesday’s election for the U.S. Senate seat that is both shaping up as Trump’s Waterloo and a referendum on America itself with a child-molester likely to win against a former U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted the KKK. Mark Potok, the former Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project who was a spokesman for the SPLC, joins us to discuss the close race and the concern that turnout of the critical African-American vote may not be sufficient to overcome the expected mobilization of the fundamentalist so-called “Christians” who see the tribulations of Jesus Christ in their persecuted champion Roy Moore.

Then finally we speak with Lina Khatib, the head of the Middle East and North African Program at Chatham House and the former Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. She joins us to discuss the demonstrations in front of the US Embassy in Beirut and across the Arab world in response to Trump’s gambit to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and how this is complicating the close ties Trump has forged with the Saudis who are losing the so-called “Arab street” to Iran due to the anger Trump has ignited in the Middle East.

David Mindich | Mark Potok | Lina Khatib

December 7, 2017

Will Franken’s Resignation Hurt Dems’ Senate Chances?
Trump Wrecks US Foreign Policy to Get Christian Zionist Votes in Alabama
The Republican Tax Plan’s Massive Giveaway to Private Jet Owners
Program Notes

We begin with the resignation of Senator Al Franken today which he announced on the floor of the US Senate, noting with some irony that while he is resigning, a sexual predator who bragged about his ability to assault women is still sitting in the Oval Office. David Schultz, a Professor of Political Science at Hamline University who also teaches election law at the University of Minnesota School of Law, joins us to discuss the local reaction to their senator stepping down under pressure from his Democratic senate colleagues who are doing the right thing while their Republican counterparts in the senate and the White House are brazenly ignoring the record of the child molester they are running in Alabama and the open admission by the head of the GOP sitting in the White House who boasted he can grab women by the private parts and get away with it because he is a celebrity. We will also assess whether the appointment of a placeholder to fill Franken’s vacated seat until the 2018 election will expose the Democrats to a potential loss of a safe seat in a critical election in which Democrats now have to defend 26 senate seats while the Republicans only have to defend 9 seats.

Then we speak with Matthew Sutton, Distinguished Professor of History at Washington State University and author of “American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism”. He joins us to discuss the main reason why Trump upended U.S. diplomatic history and foreign policy in moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and that is apparently his political calculus that he needs to shore up the Christian Zionist vote in Alabama for accused child molester Roy Moore. We  look into the sick theology behind the Christian Zionists’ spiritually pornographic interpretation of the Book of Revelation that has them raptured up to heaven while the rest of us burn in hell as the end of the world begins in Israel.

Then finally we examine a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, “High Flyers 2017”, and speak with its author Josh Hoxie, who heads the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies and edits inequality.org and was a legislative aide to Senator Bernie Sanders. We discuss the big lie in the Republican tax plan that is supposed to help the middle class but massive tax breaks for the owners of the 12,000 private luxury jets in the U.S. whose owners have an average net worth of $1.6 billion, tells another story.

David Schultz | Matthew Sutton | Josh Hoxie

December 6, 2017

A View From Israel on Trump’s Dangerous Gambit
Could Tax Reform Die in Conference?
Trump’s 3 Month Window to Attack North Korea
Program Notes

We begin with President Trump’s formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital announced today and his plan to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv. The former spokesman for Shimon Peres, Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist and columnist for Ha’aretz joins us from Tel Aviv to discuss Trump’s gift to Netanyahu that leaves the U.S. totally isolated as the only country in the world to have an embassy in Jerusalem. We assess the likely impact of Trump’s announcement on the Palestinian territories and in the neighboring countries and the extent to which it dims the hope for any future two state solution, a prospect that already appears to be dead in the water. We will also examine the similarities between Trump and Netanyahu in as much as both are pursuing aggressive right wing policies while judicial inquiries close in on them and threaten their political futures.

Then we get an analysis of whether the rush to get something passed by the Republicans so that they will not have to run next year as the “do-nothing” congress will result is a worse backlash once their constituents know what is in their so-called tax reform bill and how much it will hurt average Americans. Paul Waldman, who writes for The Washington Post’s Plum Line and is a contributing editor to The American Prospect where he has an article “How Republicans are Digging Their Own Grave for 2018” and another at The Week “Republicans’ remarkable self-deception on tax cuts”, joins us to discuss the possibility that the bill will die in conference as many members from blue states begin to realize how much their vote for the bill will amount to political suicide.

Then finally we speak with the former speechwriter for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Mark Seddon, a professor of international relations at Columbia University about his article at The Guardian “Have we got just three months to avert a US attack on North Korea?” He joins us to discuss John Bolton’s recent trip to the U.K. House of Commons where the former US Ambassador to the UN relayed a message from the Trump White House that the CIA head had told Trump he had a “three month window” to strike North Korea before they had the capability to hit Washington with a nuclear-tipped ICBM.

Gideon Levy | Paul Waldman | Mark Seddon

December 5, 2017

Resurrecting the Logan Act
Will All Hell Break Loose in the Middle East?
Corporate Backers of GOP Tax Giveaway Are Now Complicit with Who Trump is and What He Does
Program Notes

We begin with the possible resurrection of the 18th century Logan Act under which only two people have been charged and neither convicted, and assess whether Jared Kushner or his father in law Donald Trump could be charged with violating the Logan Act based on what Michael Flynn has told the special counsel Robert Mueller who Flynn is cooperating with. Daniel Hemel, a Professor of Law at the University of Chicago who was a law clerk for Justice Elena Kagan on the U.S. Supreme Court, joins us to discuss his article at The New York Times“Why the Trump Team Should Fear the Logan Act”. And while the Logan Act prevents private citizens from unauthorized communication with foreign officials to influence U.S. foreign policy, as the incoming National Security Advisor to Donald Trump, Michael Flynn was hardly an ordinary private citizen. Furthermore his communications with the Russian Ambassador about easing sanctions and advising them how to react to President Obama’s new round of sanctions in response to Russian meddling in our election, appears to rise to the level of “a high crime and misdemeanor”.

Then we anticipate the reaction in the Middle East and Europe to President Trump’s expected move on Wednesday to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem which is widely seen and an abandonment of any pretext of supporting any future viable Palestinian state. Juan Cole, a professor of Modern Middle Eastern  and South Asian History at the University of Michigan and author of “The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East”, joins us to discuss the possibility of a new “intifada” erupting, the Jordanian kingdom in turmoil and Saudi influence over Trump because of the friendship between MBS and Jared Kushner exposed as worthless.

Then finally we speak with David Halperin,who served on the Clinton National Security Council and was counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his article at The Huffington Post “GOP’s Unholy Alliance: Trump-McConnell-Moore-Kochs”. We discuss how all the big corporations backing the GOP tax giveaway to the rich including the so called ones that do good like Google and Facebook, are now complicit in screwing the middle class, supporting a sex offender and validating Trump’s bigotry, misogyny, environmental destruction, kleptocratic corruption and his likely treason with Russia.

Daniel Hemil | Juan Cole | David Halperin

December 4, 2017

Trump Trashes the Peoples’ National Monuments
After Switching Sides, Yemen’s Ex-President is Killed by Houthis
Saudi patriot missiles Failed in Five Out of Five Launches
Program Notes

We begin with today’s unprecedented reversal by Donald Trump of protection of America’s national monuments as he announced the reduction of the size of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and the Grand Staircase Escalante by 50%. Robert Keiter, the Director of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources, and the Environment at The University of Utah College of Law and author of “To Conserve Unimpaired: the Evolution of the National Park Idea”, joins us to discuss the peculiar logic of Trump’s remarks today when he said he was bringing the land back to the people from Washington bureaucrats when it is the “people” of the United States who own the land in national parks being preserved for posterity. We will assess what the real motives for Trump’s latest unpopular act might be given that there is no evidence the now unprotected land is rich in oil and gas and minerals that can now be extracted. Could it be that this sick and spiteful man in the Oval Office is simply doing this to undo Obama’s legacy in furtherance of Trump’s obsessive racist hatred of his predecessor.

Then we speak with Sheila Carapico, a Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Richmond and the author of “Arabia Incognita: Dispatches from Yemen and the Gulf” about the killing of Yemen’s ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh by Houthi rebels after he had accused them of “idiocy” for protracting the devastating civil war and had switched sides to joins the Saudi-backed coalition. We discuss the merciless Saudi blockade that is starving the Yemeni population and a proxy war that has no end in sight.

Then finally, following a recent missile attack on Saudi Arabia from Yemen, we will look into the results of an investigation by The New York Times which finds that the US missile defenses in Saudi Arabia failed five out of five launches in spite of President Trump’s claim that “Our system knocked the missile out of the air. That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all around the world”. Laura Grego, Senior Scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists who analyzed the data, joins us to explain how the failure of five of the five Patriot missiles fired at the incoming Houthi Scud-type missile exposes the false assurance that the US and South Korean military have in their Patriot batteries intercepting North Korean missiles.

Robert Keiter | Sheila Carapico | Laura Grego

December 3, 2017

Leaks From Inside Trump’s Transition Reveal a Need to Pay Back Russia for Throwing the Election
Trump Lashes Out at the FBI
The Republican’s Massive Gift to America’s Oligarchs
Program Notes

We begin with an update on the Mueller inquiry now that Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has pled guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with the special counsel. Scott Horton, a professor at Columbia Law School and a contributing editor at Harpers in legal affairs and national security, joins us to discuss the emails leaked to The New York Times that shed light on how much Trump’s transition team knew about communications and active involvement with the Russians that are illegal under the Logan Act which prohibits private citizens from working with a foreign government against the United States. We assess how much jeopardy Jared Kushner faces since he lobbied members of the UN Security Council behind the back of the U.S. government on behalf of Israel and whether Trump ordered Flynn to contact the Russian Ambassador and Vice President Pence knew about Flynn’s activities.

Then with Trump now tweeting criticism of the FBI, we will speak with Asha Rangappaa former FBI Special Agent who specialized in counterintelligence investigations, about the central role that FBI counterintelligence played in revealing secret contacts the Trump transition team was making with the Russians and others, and how the acting attorney general at the time Sally Yates was fired for warning Trump based on evidence from FBI counterintelligence that Flynn was compromised by the Russians. We will also examine what Trump’s Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarlane meant when she wrote to Trump’s top advisors about how Trump should pay back the Russians by easing sanctions because Russia “has just thrown the USA election to him”.

Then finally as the Republican so-called tax reform bill makes its way through conference towards an expected signature by the president, we will look into how this massive reward to the donors will further embed and entrench an American oligarchy while the 99% who have not had a raise since the late 1970’s will be left paying more for less of their share of the American pie and will soon see their social safety net cut in order to pay for the deficits caused by the Republican trillion and a half dollar gift to the oligarchy. An expert on American and global oligarchy, Jeffrey Winters, the author of “Oligarchy”, joins us.

Scott Horton | Asha Rangappa | Jeffrey Winters

November 30, 2017

An Urgent Call for Intervention as Trump Loses Touch with Reality
Musical Chairs in the Trump Cabinet
Having Bought the US Government, the Koch Brothers Will Now Be Able to Deduct it as an Expense
Program Notes

We will begin with growing indications that President Trump is exhibiting signs of dementia in addition to his obvious lack of impulse control, and get an assessment of if and when concerns expressed by White House insiders will lead to an intervention under the 25th Amendment. Dr. Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist on the faculty of the Yale School of Medicine who was the lead organizer of the Duty to Warn conference at Yale University out of which the best-selling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President”, which Dr. Lee edited, emerged, joins us. We will discuss growing evidence that Trump is losing touch with reality and how his marked signs of volatility and attraction to violence could lead to a nuclear war with North Korea, and her call for an urgent psychiatric evaluation of the president by an independent panel of experts before he reaches for the nuclear button.

Then we will look into the rumored musical chairs about to take place in the Trump cabinet with the CIA Director Mike Pompeo elevated to head up the State Department once Rex Tillerson either quits or is fired, a shuffle which is likely to result in Republican freshman Senator Tom Cotton replacing Pompeo at the CIA. We will speak with Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace who was appointed to the Foreign Affairs Policy Board, the advisory body to the U.S. State Department. She joins us to discuss the likelihood that there will be little change in U.S. foreign policy which will continue to be damaging to the U.S. and dangerous for the world as long as Trump remains in the Oval Office.

Then finally we will speak with the author of a new report at Public Citizen, “The Koch Government: How the Koch Brothers Agenda has influenced the Trump Administration”. Alan Zibel, research director of Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project joins us to discuss the extent to which the Koch Brothers have been the main beneficiaries of what the Trump Administration has achieved so far and now are poised to be rewarded mightily by the so-called tax reform bill which eliminates restrictions on tax exempt foundations engaging in politics, meaning that the Kochs will soon be able to deduct the expense they incurred buying the U,S. government.

Dr. Bandy Lee | Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld | Alan Zibel

November 29, 2017

Program Notes

We will begin with the latest North Korean missile test that indicates their missiles now have a range to hit all of the continental United States and Australia. George Lopez, a Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University who was on the United Nations Panel of Experts for monitoring and implementing UN sanctions on North Korea, joins us to discuss the extent to which Kim Jong-un has called Trump’s “fire and fury” bluff resulting in the president’s limp response promising today to increase sanctions on the Kim regime, tweeting lamely that “this situation will be handled”. We will examine the lack of military options and the need for a diplomatic initiative and whether Trump who is re-tweeting far-right anti-Muslim fake videos, reviving the Obama birther conspiracy, suggesting that Joe Scarborough murdered his intern and claiming that the Donald Trump captured on the “Access Hollywood” video was not him, has the competence or the stability to handle an increasingly dangerous situation that he has made worse.

Then we will get an analysis of the extremely unpopular so-called tax reform bill before the extremely unpopular Congress which in spite of exploding the deficit, rewarding the already-rich while shafting 99% of Americans, looks like it will pass and be signed by an extremely unpopular president. Dr. Jacob Hacker, a professor of Political Science at Yale University and an expert on the politics of U.S. health and social policy and author with Paul Pierson of “American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper”, joins us to discuss how the Republicans are clearly more afraid of their donors than their voters and will empower the plutocracy even further no matter how much is shreds our democracy.

Then finally we will speak with Alexandra Ellerbeck, the North America Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists about the global implications of Trump’s attack on the press who he has labeled as “the enemy of the people” and “fake news”. Not only is he putting foreign correspondents for CNN International and other outlets in greater jeopardy, but since Trump has taken his complaints about the press abroad and made common cause with leaders who are either murdering, jailing or taking control of their press in Poland, China, Turkey and The Philippines, he is contributing to the global retreat of democracy and empowering the spread of autocracy.

George Lopez | Dr. Jacob Hacker | Alexandra Ellerbeck

November 28, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with the future of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which is now in the hands of a Trump-appointed Federal judge to decide whether Leandra English who was appointed acting director by outgoing Director of the CFPB Richard Cordray is in charge or Mick Mulvaney who Trump has appointed as acting director. Kimberly Wehle, a Professor of Law at The University of Baltimore School of Law and a former federal prosecutor, joins us to discuss her concern that Trump is constitutionally out of line and in creating this showdown between two branches of government, a major battle over the separation of powers is shaping up. And if Mulvaney is allowed to be seated by the judge as the head of the CFPB, it would give the President new powers to pick and choose which federal law Trump wants to comply with.

Then we look into Trump’s latest attack on CNN, calling CNN International fake news, and what consequences this could have for foreign correspondents abroad covering the news in countries runs by despots and criminals who are now calling criticism of their corrupt and brutal regimes, fake news. Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickerson University and author of “Fox News and American Politics: How One Channel Shapes American Politics and Society”, joins us to discuss Trump’s tweet that Fox News “is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN” which he claims “represents our nation to the world very poorly”.

Then finally we speak with David Neiwert, an award-winning journalist, author and expert on American right-wing extremism about his new book “Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump”. He joins us to discuss accusations against The New York Times for normalizing a suburban neo-Nazi they profiled and whether the issue is not so much about right-wing extremists entering the mainstream, as America itself being in the process of mainstreaming extremism.

Kimberly Wehle | Dan Cassino | David Neiwert

November 27, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with the standoff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which now has two acting directors, one Leandra English is the deputy to the outgoing Director of the CFPB Richard Cordray, and the other is an avowed enemy of the CFPB Mick Mulvaney who Trump has appointed as acting director. Dennis Kelleher, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Better Markets Inc., a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization that promotes the public interest in the U.S. and global financial markets, joins us. We discuss a bureau that has been under constant political assault from Republicans since it was created under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and how President Trump, who ran against Wall Street but has since proven to be the financial industry’s most faithful servant, will reward Wall Street by crippling the most effective watchdog against financial abuse and predatory behavior that has resulted in 30 million American consumers collecting $12 billion in refunds.

Then we examine the Pope’s visit to Myanmar, Burma and the delicate diplomacy underway with Burma’s small Catholic community urging the Pope not to even utter the word “Rohinga” despite global condemnation of the ethnic cleansing that has driven Burma’s Muslim minority into neighboring Bangladesh where their future in crowded refugee camps is uncertain. David Steinberg, a distinguished professor of Asian Studies Emeritus at Georgetown University and a former member of the Senior Foreign Service and author of “Burma: The State of Myanmar”, joins us to discuss how the Pope is trying to exercise his moral authority while not exposing Burmese Catholics to a backlash of persecution.

Then finally we speak with Christopher Marsicano, a Ph.D candidate studying higher education policy in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Vanderbilt University. He joins us to discuss his article at The Los Angeles Times “If the GOP gets its way on taxes, the party could doom post-graduate education in the U.S.” and how the country’s best and brightest who live on $25,000 per year will see a 400% increase in their taxes under the House GOP bill to offset tax cuts for the biggest corporations and the richest Americans.

Dennis Kelleher | David Steinberg | Christopher Marsicano

November 26, 2017

Program Notes

With the recent news that Michael Flynn is presumably cooperating with Robert Mueller, we begin with a roadmap of the Mueller investigation and explore the “follow the money” strand, the political operatives strand, and the digital Kushner/Bannon/Mercer strand that will likely coalesce into a conclusion by the special counsel to recommend the impeachment of President Trump if Trump does not fire Mueller first to try to shut down the inquiry. Steven Harper, a professor at Northwestern University who blogs at “The Belly of the Beast” and has an article with Bill Moyers at Billmoyers.com “The Trump-Russia Story is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of It”, joins us.  Having produced timelines and a map with over 700 entries of the entangles ties between Putin and Trump and the murky world of Russian oligarchs, state officials, hackers, spies and Republican operatives, Steven Harper  discuss how everything that Trump, his cabinet, his campaign and his complicit GOP Congress has said about connections and collusion between Trump and Russia is a lie.

Then with the upcoming week the crucial test of whether the Republican Senate will pass their version of the so-called tax reform bill, we get an analysis of what we know about it so far from economist James Galbraith the Chair in Government/Business Relations and a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He joins us to discuss the Republican race to get something passed before voters notice how damaging this obscene gift to the super-rich donors at the expense of the middle class will be to the average American, coupled with the pressure on Republican lawmakers to get any legislation passed no matter how disastrous it will be for the American people and the economy.

Then finally we look into the slaughter in the Sinai that has outraged the Egyptian people and exposed the central fraud of General Sisi’s military dictatorship, revealing that a military government cannot even provide basic security for its citizens. Samer Shehata, a professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and author of “Shop Floor Culture and Politics in Egypt” joins us to discuss the blowback from the worst bloodshed of its kind in modern Egyptian history resulting from the ISIS attack on a Sufi mosque in the northern Sinai that killed over 300 worshipers, including 27 children.

Steven Harper | James Galbraith | Samer Shehata

November 23, 2017

Program Notes

We begin on this Thanksgiving with an exploration into the megatrends that will impact our lives and the planet as we gather to celebrate that which we have to give thanks for. The author of “The 8 Laws of Change”, Stephan Schwartzthe editor of the daily web publication theSchwartzreport.net, which concentrates on trends that will shape the future, joins us to discuss his new book “Awakening” and how simply being born white or male will no longer confer privilege in the future and how a new form of global feudalism is evolving with a handful of plutocratic families controlling most of the world’s wealth, while a vast worldwide peasantry scrambles to make a living as competition bids down labor and technological advances make traditional work obsolete. We also explore hopeful trends as a growing mass movement develops as citizens around the world begin to realize what they have in common and how they are all in lifeboat earth together which is threatened by rising sea levels from global warming, presenting a global challenge that transcends national boundaries.

Then we continue the conversation on Thanksgiving with Frank Schaeffer, a best-selling author whose parent Francis and Edith Schaeffer were world-famous evangelical speakers and authors, and Frank previously worked for such figures as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson. However he felt increasingly alienated and experienced a crisis of faith that would ultimately lead to his departure from the evangelical movement. The author of a number of fiction and non-fiction books, he joins us to discuss his latest iBook “Letter to Lucy: A Manifesto of Creative Redemption – In an Age of Trump, Fascism and Lies” and talk about how the values of non-commercial family holiday Thanksgiving can be built upon to rescue the country from the Trump nightmare.

Stephan Schwartz | Frank Scheaffer

November 22, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with an investigation into the dark power of secret government that is the subject of the new film by the legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris who joins us in the studio. He won an Academy Award for his film “The Fog of War: Eleven Lesson from the Life of Robert S. MacNamara and his other films include “The Thin Blue Line”, “The Unknown Known” and his latest out on Netflix on December 15, “Wormwood”. This new four hour film is an exploration of the mysterious death of Frank Olson, a CIA employee who was unwittingly dosed with LSD and was pushed or plunged to his death from a New York City hotel window in 1953. The film follows the odyssey of Olson’s son Eric who tries to piece together the mystery behind his father’s death and uses dramatic scenes acted out by Peter Sarsgaard and Molly Parker to make the case that the CIA, which later apologized for drugging Frank Olson, also had him murdered and spent decades covering up its crime.

Then we look into the growth of a spinoff of the Military Industrial Complex President Eisenhower warned about, the Nuclear Industrial Complex, and speak with William Hartung, Director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the Center for International Policy. The author of “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military Industrial Complex, he joins us to discuss his article at Tom Dispatch “Massive Overkill: Brought to You by the Nuclear Industrial Complex”. We analyze the insanity and the skewed priority of the massive investment about to made by the Trump Administration to spend $1.7 billion dollars on a new generation of bombers, submarines and missiles and the warheads that go with them that can only be used in ending the world as we know it, in a race of redundancy to improve on the quality of death at the expense of the quality of life in America.

Errol Morris | William Hartung

November 21, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with insight into a new radical movement Antifa that has become the nemesis of the alt-right who along with the Fox echo chamber have exaggerated the power and influence of a small group fighting back against well-funded right wing provocateurs on campus and Nazi attacking and murdering citizens as they did in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mark Bray, an historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe who was one of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street, joins us to discuss his latest book “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook”. We examine the rise of white supremacy and neo-Nazism around the world following recent demonstrations in Warsaw, Poland and survey the history of anti-fascism from its origins to the present day. While critics say shutting downs adversaries is anti-democratic, Antifa activists argue that the horrors of fascism must never be allowed to triumph again, especially with Donald Trump in the White House who is enacting his authoritarian tendencies at home while displaying affection and solidarity with despots abroad.

Then we speak with Henry Giroux, a world renowned educator, author and public intellectual whose latest book is “The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism”. He joins us to discuss his latest article at Truthout “Disposability in the Age of Disasters: From Dreamers and Puerto Rico to Violence in Las Vegas”. We assess how the Republican Party has been captured by the far right and will be a continuing problem for American democracy and society going forward unless a citizen’s movement can be built to counter a right wing kleptocratic takeover of America, as growing plutocratic power and the drift towards authoritarianism threatens our economic viability and democratic future.

Mark Bray | Henry Giroux

November 20, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with an analysis of how the Trump Administration’s foreign policy looks like from abroad one year after an “America First” isolationist whose business empire has been built upon shady financial deals with kleptocratic families and despotic regimes around the world, became President of the United States defeating a former Secretary of State who got three million more votes than he did. Thomas Wright, a fellow and director of the Project on International Order and Strategy, as well as a fellow in the Center on the United States at the Brookings Institution, and the author of “All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21st Century and the Future of American Power”, joins us. We will discuss his article at the Irish Times, “In the age of Trump, maybe it gets worse from here” and the apparent retreat underway around the world of democratic institutions and the rule of law because of Trump’s embrace of criminal regimes and powerful despots he appears to admire. We examine the consequences of the unprecedented comingling of the Trump family businesses with US foreign policy and whether, in spite of the crippling of the Department of State under Rex Tillerson, the generals surrounding Trump can prevent the ship of state from sinking America’s standing and reputation around the world.

Then with the recent veto by the Russians that shut down a UN inquiry into the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against his own people, as Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers head for a Pyrrhic victory in Syria, a country that has been torn apart and largely destroyed, we speak with Firas Fayyad, an award-winning Syrian filmmaker about his latest film “The Last Men in Aleppo” which won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. He joins us to discuss the work of the White Helmets who are the subject of his film. They are ordinary Syrians who dig men, women and children out from under collapsed buildings, often with their bare hands, risking their lives as Russian bombs rain down on civilians as their city Aleppo is gradually turned to rubble.

Thomas Wright | Firas Fayyad

November 19, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with the possibility of a new war in the Middle East breaking out with the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran heating up as an impetuous young Saudi Crown Prince MSB tries to provoke a clash between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon while the endgame of the civil war in Syria appears to be leaving Russia and Iran in stronger positions in the region. A veteran CIA operative in the Middle East Robert Baer, who is now the national security affairs analyst for CNN, joins us to discuss the volatility in the region exacerbated by the unprecedented amateurism of an American Administration led by the Trump family whose priorities appear to be self-enrichment through their ties to MSB. In addition to this the State Department is led by a businessman who is both out of his depth in the world of diplomacy and undercut by his own president. Tillerson is also crippling this own department in the misguided name of corporate efficiency while the so-called “adults in the room”, the generals surrounding Donald Trump, also lack diplomatic skills and come from a hierarchical world of following orders and responding to every problem with military force.

Then we will speak with Diane McWhorter the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution”. She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and is a regular contributor to The New York Times where she has an article ”Want to Know What Divides This Country: Come to Alabama” and as the nation’s attention turns to Alabama’s December 12 US Senate race, we will discuss the state that has transformed from backwoods to bellwether and the complex psyche of Alabama where Roy Moore’s supporters would rather be poor than not be proud.

Then finally we will be joined by Brian Klaas, a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and the author of a new book “The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy”. We will discuss the growing number of countries controlled by despots and kleptocrats as democracy retreats around the world in part because the main champion of democracy, the United States is led by a powerful cheerleader for some of the world’s worst regimes as Donald Trump continues to display a bizarre adoration and idolization of despotic strongmen like Putin, Erdogan and Duterte.

Robert Baer | Diane McWhorter | Brian Klaas

November 16, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with troubling questions raised in investigative reports by the BBC that in spite of Trump’s talk of bombing the **** out of ISIS and General Mattis’ promise to annihilate ISIS, it seems that some kind of deal was made to allow ISIS fighters to escape from Raqqa, and according to truck drivers who ferried the terrorists to safety, there were huge numbers of foreign fighters among the evacuated ISIS survivors who will likely go on to cause mayhem in the west. Mike Lofgren, who spent 28 years working in Congress, the last 16 as a senior analyst on the House and Senate Budget Committees whose latest book is “The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of the Shadow Government”, joins us. We will discuss his article at The Washington Monthly “The Trump Scandal That Democrats Aren’t Talking About: Did ISIS escape Raqqa with Trump’s connivance?” and try to understand how the world’s most dangerous jihadists were allowed to live to fight another day, and whether there will be any inquiry into what happened given how much time, money and attention was devoted to the phony Benghazi story that pales in comparison.

Then we examine the Trump Administration’s reversal of an Obama-era ban on the importation of elephant trophies from big game hunting which was the result of a suit by Safari Club International and the NRA to block Obama’s 2014 ban. George Wittemyer, a professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology who is the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Save the Elephants in Africa, joins us to discuss the rapidly diminishing populations of African elephants who have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1978.

Then finally we speak with The Guardian’s former Moscow bureau chief who was expelled from the country by the Kremlin about his new book just out, “Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House”. Luke Harding who knows Julian Assange and Edward Snowden well and has interviewed the author of the Steele dossier Christopher Steele, joins us to discuss why Steele believes that his dossier on Trump’s collusion with the Russians is between 70 and 90% accurate, and why Steel feels he will be vindicated as the special counsel’s investigation digs deeper into Trump, his family and associates’ contacts and collusion with Russians close to Putin.

Mike Logfren | George Wittemyer | Luke Harding

November 15, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with the coup in Zimbabwe that so far has been bloodless and speak with Ambassador John Campbell, the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa at the Council on Foreign Relations who was a former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria during South Africa’s first non-racial election. He is the author of “Morning in South Africa” and joins us to discuss the military coup in Zimbabwe that has the 93 year-old President Robert Mugabe under house arrest along with his younger wife Grace Mugabe who has been criticized for her conspicuous consumption in a desperately poor country and likened to Imelda Marcos and Eva Peron. We look into whether the military will bring back Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who Mugabe recently sacked and how the generals who are veterans of the war of liberation from white rule in the 1970’s will neutralize the unpopular Grace Mugabe while treating the popular and revered Robert Mugabe with kid gloves.

Then we examine the exhibition of far right wing nationalism and fascism on display in Warsaw, Poland over the weekend with a march by over 60,000 that coincided with Poland’s 99thIndependence Day with marchers carrying banners with “Clean Blood” and “White Europe” emblazon while white supremacists chanted “Seig Heil” in a country where the Nazis carried out the worst atrocities. Jan Kubik, a Professor of Political Science at Rutgers and a professor in the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University College, London and author of “Twenty Years After Communism: The Politics of Memory and Commemoration”, joins us to discuss the apparent complicity of the Polish government since the only arrests by the police were 45 counter-protesters and Poland’s Foreign Minister called it “a great celebration of Poles…united around the common values of freedom and loyalty to an independent homeland”.

Then finally we get an analysis of the House and Senate’s so-called tax reform bills that have been negotiated in secret with the Democrats excluded which the House might vote on as early as Thursday. Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist and co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley joins us to discuss how the Republicans are scrambling to find pots of money to offset the enormous tax cuts to corporations and the richest Americans by going after Blue States, post-graduate students and in the case of the Senate bill, grabbing over $300 billion from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

guests

John Campbell | Jan Kubik | Sylvia Allegretto

November 14, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with the testimony today by Attorney General Sessions before the House Judiciary Committee that was full of memory lapses when it came to discussions about the Trump campaign reaching out to the Russians and Putin himself. Lisa Graves, who served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department and as Chief Counsel for Nominations on the Senate Judiciary Committee, joins us to discuss how Sessions denied that he lied to the Senate in October about contacts with Russians but his memory suddenly got better when he recalled shooting down a proposal for a Trump-Putin meeting. We also examine Trump’s picks for the federal judiciary which he is rapidly filling with far-right bloggers and assess whether the Republicans will stick with the party-line and all vote for a candidate who has never tried a case and is deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. Furthermore this 37 year old Hillary Hater failed to disclose that his wife is the Chief of Staff for the White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who along the Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, control the pipeline for lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

Then we discuss today’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the “Authority to Order the Use of Nuclear Weapons” which has been prompted by bi-partisan concerns that Donald Trump does not have the stability and competence to be a steward on America’s nuclear arsenal and is so volatile and quixotic that he could wake up on the wrong side of the bed and order a nuclear strike. Jon Wolfsthal, who served at a special assistant to President Obama on the National Security Council for arms control and nonproliferation, joins us to analyze what barriers could be placed between Trump and the nuclear button without diminishing the deterrence value of the US nuclear arsenal.

Then finally we look into the revelations in The Atlantic of secret correspondence between Donald Trump Junior and Wikileaks that uncover Julian Assange’s close cooperation with the Trump campaign to disseminate damaging information on Hillary Clinton from Russian hacks and show how much Assange was offering advice and guidance to Trump who he was unctuously endorsing. Michael Kelly, an editor and investigative reporter at Yahoo who previously was a senior news editor at Business Insider, joins us to assess how leftist supporters of Assange can reconcile their hero’s bromance with Donald Trump and his hard right wing presidency.

Lisa Graves | John Wolfsthal | Michael Kelley

November 13, 2017

Program Notes

We begin with the emergence of a fifth woman claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Roy Moore when she was a minor, this following a call from the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate demanding that Moore step down as the Republican candidate for the Senate race in Alabama. Asked about Leigh Corfman’s account of being sexually assaulted by Roy Moore when she was 14 and Moore was 32, Mitch McConnell replied, “I believe the woman. Yes”. Diane Winston, who holds the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and is the publisher of Religion Dispatches, joins us to discuss whether or not a pedophile could be elected to the U.S. Senate by the Republican voters of Alabama. We will also try to assess what possible strategy could be behind Steve Bannon’s championing of far-right fringe candidates and why Bannon thinks Roy Moore, “Chemtrails” Kelly in Arizona and convicted felon Michael Grimm in New York could make America great again.

Then we go to Jerusalem to speak with Israeli journalist and historian Gershom Gorenberg who is the author of “The Unmaking of Israel” and a senior correspondent at The American Prospect where he has an article “In the Saudi Game of Thrones, a Prince Knocks Over the House of Cards”. He joins us to discuss what machinations and war plans as well as financial deals are underway within the secret alliances between Jared Kushner, the Saudi Crown Prince MBS and his mentor the leader of the Emirates MBZ, and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Then finally we look into the war of words between Donald Trump and the former Director of National Intelligence Clapper and Director of the CIA Brennan, following Trump’s remarks in Asia that be believed Vladimir Putin had nothing to do with interfering in our elections. Ali Watkins, a national security correspondent for Politico joins us to discuss Trump’s subsequent correction of his remark to say that he believed Putin believed what he said, then the Russian claim that the conversation never took place, and Brennan’s remark that Trump is being played by Putin.

Diane Winston | Gershom Gorenberg | Ali Watkins



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