Background Briefing: January 16, 2024

After Trump’s Blowout Victory in Iowa, He Is All but Certain to Be the GOP’s Presidential Nominee

We begin with Trump’s blowout victory in Iowa making it all but certain he will be the Republican nominee, short of an unforeseen circumstance, and now that he appears to be taking the weight loss drug Ozempic, Trump will likely be a fighting fit candidate to take on Biden. Joining us is a recovering Republican Geoffrey Kabaservice, the Vice President of political studies at the Niskanen Center in Washington DC, as well as the author of several books including Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to the Tea Party. He is a contributor to an analysis at The Guardian, “Trump’s Iowa win marks a comeback for him and a step backwards for the country.”


As MAGA World Celebrates Trump’s Lawlessness, Is the Rule of Law Itself on Trial in This Election?

Then with only 32% of Iowa Republicans unwilling to vote for a candidate who is likely to be in jail in November, we assess how much the MAGA movement accepts, if not celebrates, Trump’s lawlessness, and whether the rule of law itself in America is on trial in this election. Joining us to discuss the mental state of much of the country, who fervently back a mentally unstable and criminally-inclined narcissist, is Dr. Allen Frances, a Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University. He is the author of the award-winning international bestseller Saving Normal and the reference work Essentials of Psychiatric Diagnosis and his latest book is Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump, now out in an updated paperback version.


A Report From Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, on an Iranian Missile and Drone Strike

Then finally we go to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan which is the site of an Iranian ballistic missile attack on what the IRGC are claiming is an Israeli “espionage center” as well as drone attack on a US base at the Erbil airport. Joining us is Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a journalist and political analyst specializing in issues concerning Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey with a particular focus on Kurdish politics. He has covered several major battles against ISIS in northern Syria, and Iraqi Kurdistan among other subjects for outlets such as Middle East Eye, Daily Beast, The Region, Defense Post, Al Jazeera, and Foreign Policy. His latest book, based on first-hand research and interviews conducted on the ground in Iraqi Kurdistan and Northern Syria, is The Kurds of Northern Syria: Governance, Diversity and Conflicts.