Background Briefing: May 3, 2023

Was the Drone Attack on the Kremlin Staged or a Ukrainian Attempt to Rattle Putin’s Cage?

We begin with the two drones that exploded over the Kremlin last night aimed at Putin’s residence inside the walls and assess whether the attack was the work of Ukrainian military intelligence or a propaganda event staged by the Putin regime. Joining us to discuss the unusual amount of publicity Russian state media is giving to the drone attack which would seem to be a humiliation for Putin but may be a pretext for a planned retaliation is Vera Mironova, a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. The author of From Freedom Fighters to Jihadists. Human Resources of Non State Armed Groups, she conducted fieldwork in numerous active conflict zones and post-conflict regions including Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Georgia, Sudan, Congo, Myanmar and Ukraine. From 2016 to 2017 she was embedded with Iraqi Special Operations Forces during the Mosul Operation. She is currently writing a book about insurgency in the North Caucasus and she has a recent article at Foreign Policy, “Ukraine Has a Secret Resistance Operating Behind Russian Lines.” And she has a Substack at


In the Face of House Republicans Extortion, is the Democratic Work-Around of a Discharge Petition Feasible?

Then we explore the feasibility of a possible Democratic work-around of the Republican debt ceiling extortion with the use of an arcane congressional gambit known as the discharge petition that could bypass Speaker McCarthy and the House Freedom Caucus that controls him to avoid a default expected as early as June 1st. Joining us is James Thurber, the University Distinguished Professor of Government and Founder and Former Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, Washington, D.C. He is author of numerous books and more than eighty articles and chapters on Congress, interest groups and lobbying, and campaigns and elections and his latest book is Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations.


40% of 8th Graders Are Below Average in History and 31% Are Below Basic Proficiency in Civics

Then finally we look into a new report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, often called “the nation’s report card” which found a troubling drop in history and civics comprehension amongst eighth graders nationwide, the first decline ever recorded on the tests which cover the American political system, principles of democracy and history. Joining us is Henry Giroux, a world renowned educator, author and public intellectual who currently holds the McMaster University Professor for Scholarship in the Public Interest and is also The Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His latest books include: Pandemic Pedagogy: Education in a Time of Crisis and most recently, Pedagogy of Resistance: Against Manufactured Ignorance. He has an article at Truthout, “US Fascism Is Spreading Under the Guise of “Patriotic Education”: Republicans are rallying behind racist pedagogy as an organizing principle.”