Day: March 10, 2019

Background Briefing: March 10, 2019


The Outrageous Disparity in US Sentencing

We begin with the unusually light sentence handed down last Thursday by a Federal judge who, in sentencing Paul Manafort to 47 months, said he has led an otherwise blameless life. Rachel Barkow, a former member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission who is now a Professor of Law at NYU, joins us to discuss the glaring disparity between the sentences wealthy white-collar criminals are given compared to the jail-time poor minority offenders get. Just two weeks ago a black man in Mississippi was given 12 years in prison for possessing marijuana he bought legally in Oregon and a public defender in Brooklyn provided context in the Manafort case, pointing to his low-income client who was offered a 36-72 month sentence by prosecutors for stealing $100 worth of quarters from a residential laundry room. And it could be argued that all sentences in the U.S. are too harsh and that our “correctional” system which houses the highest number of prisoners per capita in the world, is also more focused on punishment than rehabilitation.


Will the Democratic Left and Center Collide?

Then, with centrist Democrats nervous that the party is being pulled too far to the left by charismatic young members of the new House such as the Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we speak with Bhaskar Sunkara, the founder and editor of Jacobin Magazine and a columnist for The Guardian about his new book “The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in the Era of Extreme Inequality”. We will discuss how the Trump 2020 campaign is already weaponizing the slur of “socialism”, equating the disastrous state in Venezuela to what would happen if Bernie Sanders were to be elected president. We assess the semantic and political difference between social democrats and Democratic Socialists and whether socialism is an alternative to capitalism or a means by which capitalism can be improved.


Why the Intelligence Community Denied Jared Kushner a Top Secret Clearance

Then finally we investigate the reasons why Intelligence officials took the unusual step of refusing Jared Kushner a top secret clearance, putting their careers on the line in taking a stand against a vindictive president who over-ruled their objections, prompting the White House Chief of Staff and the White House Counsel to write memos for the record objecting to Trump’s move. Robert Baer, a veteran CIA officer who is now a national security analyst at CNN, joins us to discuss the likelihood evidence from intercepts in which Kushner spilled U.S. secrets to his friend Mohammed bin Salman are now in the hands of investigators for Committees in the House.