Background Briefing: May 31, 2020


How Rioting and Looting Will Help Trump Cast Himself for Reelection as the “Law and Order” President

We begin with the riots and looting across the country sparked by the on-camera murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis which has degenerated into looting and burning fueled by street gangs, anarchists and some right wing groups and has spread across the country with some of the worst incidents occurring here in Los Angeles. With California’s Governor Newsom having declared a state of emergency in the city under curfew last night as well as calling up the National Guard, we speak with Brian Levin a Criminologist, civil rights attorney and Professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino where he studies hate groups and terrorism and was just awarded the 2020 Wang Family excellence award for outstanding faculty scholarship. He joins us to discuss the fact that most of the demonstrators are peaceful and justifiably indignant at what happened to George Floyd but we look into the role of so-called “outside agitators” in particular some of the right wing groups like the Boogaloo movement which appears intent on provoking a second Civil War and the nationwide 2nd Amendment rallies by heavily-armed right wing and pro-Trump militia groups planned for the 4th of July. With Trump threatening protesters with “vicious dogs” while calling upon his MAGA-hatted followers to protect property, we assess the possibility of a combustible summer ahead as unemployment increases and millions run out of money and food while the death toll from Covid rises and anxiety over the pandemic continues. As long as the headlines show burning buildings and chaos in the streets, the media will not be talking about Trump’s bungling and culpability for the deaths of 50,000 Americans and Trump will be able to cast himself for reelection like Nixon did during the anti-Vietnam war riots of the 60’s, as the “law and order” candidate.


The Know-Nothings of the 1850’s Have Come Back as Donald Trump’s GOP of Today

Then we speak with Sidney Blumenthal, the former assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton and senior advisor to Hillary Clinton whose latest book is All the Powers on Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln 1856-1860, the third in a five volume biography.  He joins us to discuss his article at The Guardian “Jared Kushner is a Know-Nothing – not just because he has failed on so many fronts” and we explore the similarities between the nativist, anti-immigrant Know-Nothing movement of the 1850’s with the current Republican Party which is no longer conservative but is the radical party of Donald Trump at the service of reactionary plutocrats.

 Trump’s Bluster Against China Backfires

Then finally, with Trump blasting China from the White House Rose Garden on Friday while announcing the U.S. is quitting the WHO and will no longer grant Hong Kong special trade status which is likely to hurt Hong Kong, not China, we speak with Andrew Nathan, Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and author of China’s Transition; the Tiananmen Papers. He joins us to discuss how the Chinese are not cowed by Trump’s bluster but rather are trolling us with propaganda like “Hong Kong rioters and police should carefully look at how the “democratic” U.S. deals with the chaos in Minnesota.”