Background Briefing: September 18, 2023


In Spite of Damning, Salacious Testimony, Texas Republicans Acquit AG Paxton

We begin with the acquittal of the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after damning and salacious testimony before the Texas State Senate which failed to sway Republican senators under pressure of threats from Trump and MAGA world to launch primary challenges against those who dared vote to impeach Paxton. Joining us from Austin, Texas is Zach Despart, a politics reporter for The Texas Tribune. He investigates power — who wields it, how and to what ends — through the lens of the Texas government and previously covered Harris County for the Houston Chronicle, where he reported on corruption, elections, disaster preparedness and the region’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey. We discuss his latest article at the Texas Tribune, “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton acquitted on all 16 articles of impeachment.”


Mitt Romney, the Last Honest Republican in the Senate

Then we examine the retirement of Mitt Romney from the U.S. Senate and the craven cowardice of Romney’s fellow Republican senators who privately tell him they agree with his criticism of Trump but dare not say anything in public. Joining us is Thomas Nichols, a professor emeritus of national-security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College who previously taught international relations and Soviet/Russian affairs at Dartmouth College and Georgetown University. He is the author of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters and Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy. Currently a staff writer at The Atlantic, we discuss his latest article at The Atlantic, “When Americans Abandon the Constitution: Mitt Romney foresees a disaster.”


The History of What Contributed to the Tragic Loss of Life in Libya

Then finally we look into the historical legacy of dictatorship, civil war, outside interference and corruption that has contributed to the tragic loss of life in Libya and the current failure to deal with the aftermath of the tsunami that swept away as many as 20,000 residents of Derna. Joining us is Mansour El-Kikhia, a professor of Global Affairs and Middle East politics at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is a Libyan native who has published widely on Libyan politics and society and is the author of Libya’s Qaddafi: The Politics of Contradiction.