Background Briefing: August 20, 2019


Another Cowardly Retreat by Trump After a Call from the NRA

We begin with President Trump’s latest reversal of a promise to do something about recurring gun massacres in this country with his capitulation to the NRA after a phone call from its head Wayne LaPierre. At the urging of his daughter Ivanka, three days after the Dayton and El Paso gun massacres that killed 31 people, Trump was about to do a Rose Garden ceremony calling for universal background checks when the NRA called to stop him dead in its tracks. A similar series of promises and cowardly retreats happened after the 2018 Parkland, Florida High School massacre and heartfelt appeals from surviving schoolmates of the victims in the Oval Office. Lawrence Douglas, a Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College joins us to discuss his article at The Guardian “The supreme court’s pro-gun radicalism puts us all in the crosshairs” and point out that even if Biden or another of the Democratic challengers were to replace the current shill for the NRA in the White House, it is far from clear that an assault weapons ban would survive review from the Supreme Court. From 1791 until 2008 the Supreme Court refused to touch gun control laws, but Scalia pushed through the radical Heller decision and now joining Thomas is a right wing radical Kavanaugh who argued as a judge on the DC Appeal Court that any ban on semiautomatic rifles should be struck down as unconstitutional.


The Democrats Should Be at Least as Radical as FDR

Then we speak with Robert Kuttner, the co-founder and co-editor of the American Prospect who was an assistant to the legendary I.F. Stone and a chief investigator for the Senate Banking Committee who for 20 years wrote a column for Business Week. We discuss his new book “The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy” and, since in the last 40 years Americans have seen their economic prospect diminish as cynicism about politics increased, Kuttner disputes the centrist caution that Democrats need to be conciliatory like Obama was, but instead he argues they should be at least as radical as FDR.


The Pentagon’s IG Cautions Trump to Not Let ISIS Rebuild in Syria

Then finally Nicholas Heras, a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, joins us to examine the recent report by the Pentagon’s Inspector General cautioning Trump from a precipitous withdrawal from Syria which would allow ISIS be rebuild and fight another day. And in the vacuum, allow the territory under the control of the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to be grabbed by the Russians, the Iranians and Turkey either to give it back to Assad or in the case of the Turks, ethnically cleanse the area of Syrian Kurds who did the main fighting to defeat and all-but eradicate ISIS.