Background Briefing: May 30, 2019


Trump Spews Poison at the Lawman Who Could Not Nail Him Because of a DOJ Rule

We begin with the question of what can be done to rid this country of a criminal and a possible traitor who has always been one step ahead of the sheriff and today is spewing poison at the lawman who just ended his pursuit without nailing him because according to a DOJ rule, the president is above the law. But as Robert Mueller pointed out at the beginning of his remarks yesterday, then reiterated at the close of his remarks, the American people should be concerned about Russian interference in our elections. Unfortunately there is one American who is not concerned that the Russians meddled in our elections and will do so again, and he sits in the Oval Office. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University who writes and speaks on fascism, war, racism, authoritarian rulers, propaganda and the politics of images, joins us to discuss the politics of images in terms of the White House instructing the U.S. Navy to cover up the name of the USS John McCain docked in Tokyo in case Trump were to see it during his state visit to Japan. We will also look into Trump’s rabid rhetoric today attacking Mueller and how Trump and Fox News are operating out of the fascist dictator’s playbook by portraying opposition leaders like Nancy Pelosi as being too extreme and outside the bounds of American values and traditions as the enablers lay the groundwork for authoritarian rule in this country.


Choosing Science Over Pseudoscience

Then we  investigate the rise of quackery, conspiracy, anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, fraud and pseudoscience in this country with Lee McIntyre, a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and the author of a new book, just out, “The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience”. He joins us to discuss the need to refute these harmful ideas by explaining what is special about science and why we should value empirical evidence and the willingness to change your mind and try something different when the experiment fails.


The Problem with Liberal Luddites

Then finally we examine further the assault on science and the growing belief in alternative facts and an era of post-truth and speak with Lisa Miller, a staff writer at New York Magazine who was previously a columnist for The Washington Post covering religion for the paper’s front page. She joins us to discuss this growing problem on the left, the far right and among religious fundamentalists and her latest article at New York Magazine, “Measles for the One Percent: Vaccines, Waldorf Schools, and the problem with Liberal Luddites”.