October 18, 2018

Will Congress Be Forced to Sanction Saudi Arabia Over Yemen?
America’s Middle East Strategy on Steroids
How the Two Dialysis Monopolies Almost Destroyed Obamacare
Program Notes

We begin with growing international outrage at the barbaric behavior of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince MBS who more evidence increasingly implicates as the author of the butchery of a dissident and Washington Post columnist. Yet MBS has yet to even come up with any explanation for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Shireen Al-Adeimi, an Assistant Professor of Education at Michigan State University who is originally from Yemen, joins us to discuss her article at NBC News “Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Disappearance has Accomplished What 50,000 Yemeni Deaths Could Not”. We look into the possibility that as Trump tries to offer cover to MBS whose arrogance and impunity knows no bounds, the evidence the Turks are holding back on will be released and will be so damning that the Congress will be forced to act. Although it is clear from complaints by Bob Corker the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the White House is preventing U.S. Intelligence agencies from sharing what they know with lawmakers, it seems likely that congress will eventually sanction Saudi Arabia. With bills already in the House and Senate to cut off U.S. military and logistical support for MBS’s cruel and pointless war on Yemen, there may be a respite for the Yemeni people facing what the U.N. calls the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet initiated by the impetuous brutality of Saudi Arabia’s incompetent boy king.

Then Stephen Walt, Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University joins us to discuss his article at Foreign Policy “This is America’s Middle East Strategy on Steroids” and his latest book, just out, “The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy”. And while Trump is such a wrecking crew he makes the foreign policy elite look good, we explore how we can have greater security if we stopped trying to bomb enemies real and imagined and took better care of our own people, and stood as a more authentic example of democratic values.

Then finally we speak with the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist for The Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik about his latest article at the LA Times “How profiteering by the same dialysis firms trying to kill Proposition 8 almost destroyed Obamacare”. We will examine how the country’s two biggest monopolies in the dialysis clinic business DaVita and Fresenius are spending a record-breaking $100 million plus on deceptive advertising to defeat Proposition 8. After having almost destroyed Obamacare by encouraging Medicare patients to sign up to the Affordable Care Act to have a pre-existing condition covered, these dialysis monopolies then gouged the insurance companies and made such exorbitant profits they forced big insurance companies to opt out of Obamacare.

Shireen Al-Adeimi | Stephen Walt | Michael Hiltzik

October 17, 2018

How the Saudis Buy Washington, DC
Will Erdogan Release the Evidence or Bury It at the Behest of the Saudis and Trump?
Globalization as the Enemy of Social Democracy
Program Notes

We begin with the enormous financial clout Saudi Arabia wields in Washington through lobbying firms who then pass on the money to politicians, retired senior government officials and think tanks.Dr. Ben Freeman, the Director and Founder of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy who is the author of “The Foreign Policy Auction”, joins us to discuss how presumably now the Saudi lobbyists are working overtime, along with President Trump, to defend the indefensible as the whole world, with the exception of the White House and Fox News, is appalled at the brazen butchery of Jamal Khashoggi apparently ordered by the Saudi Crown Prince. With some Washington lobbying firms dropping their lucrative Saudi client, we examine how, after shelling out millions and having exerted enormous influence in Washington for decades, Saudi spending in 2017 was nearly three times what it was a year earlier. And we will assess whether the vocal outrage at Saudi behavior coming from prominent Republican senators will have an effect on Trump’s efforts at a cover-up since the Congress can exert its authority on arms sales and possibly impose sanctions on the kingdom to pressure the King to ditch his son the Crown Prince who Senator Graham described as “a wrecking ball”.

Then we speak with Max Hoffman, the Associate Director for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress whose research focusses on Turkey and the Kurdish regions. He joins us to discuss if and when the Turks will release the audio and video evidence they have been leaking which they claim are recordings of the actual torture, murder and dismemberment of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We assess what leverage President Erdogan might be using over the Saudis and what would prompt him to either release the evidence or bury it in a secret deal with Trump and the Saudis.

Then finally we speak with John Judis, Editor at Large of Taking Points Memo whose latest book just out, is “The Nationalist Revival: Trade, Immigration, and the Revolt Against Globalization”. He joins us to discuss his article at The New York Times “What the Left Misses About Nationalism” and argue that as long as corporations are free to roam the globe in search of lower wages and taxes, and as long as the United States opens its borders to millions of unskilled immigrants, liberals will not be able to create an equitable society free from the anxieties of obtaining healthcare, education and housing.

Dr. Ben Freeman | Max Hoffman | John Judis

October 16, 2018

Trump’s Long and Deep Financial Ties to the Saudis
Is Erdogan Angling for a Pay-Off or Is He Bluffing?
What Kind of a Deal Is Pompeo Making Between the Saudis and the Turks
Program Notes

We begin with President Trump’s denial in a tweet today claiming he has no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia for that matter) which flies in the face of the many statements he made on the campaign trail boasting about how much money he was making out of the Saudis and that he liked them very much. Carolyn Kenney, a senior policy analyst for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress joins us to discuss her new report, “Trump’s Conflicts of Interest in Saudi Arabia” and the large number of Saudi-related LLC’s Trump listed in his May 2016 financial disclosure. We go back to Trump’s earlier dealing with Saudi Prince Alaweed bin Talal who gave Trump an infusion of desperately needed cash when he bought Trump’s yacht in 1991 after he was forced to surrender it to creditors and then again in 1995 when lenders made him sell the Plaza Hotel. Talal bought the Plaza for less than Trump paid for it years earlier. It seems to be hardly a coincidence that Prince Alaweed bin Talal who Trump took frequent jabs at on Twitter, was one of the names on a classified U.S. Intelligence list of critics of the Saudi Crown Prince that Jared Kushner is reported to have given MBS. One of the richest Saudis, Alaweed bin Talal was arrested by MBS, tortured and forced to give over a considerable chunk of his fortune to Jared and Trump’s friend MBS who now stands accused of murdering and butchering a Saudi-American journalist with The Washington Post.

Then finally we examine the possibility that Turkey’s President Erdogan is angling for a big pay-off from the Saudis to make this embarrassing matter go away or that he is bluffing and does not have the evidence of the murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi that has been leaked to the press in tantalizing snippets for the last week. Henri Barkey, who served as a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff and is the author fo “Reluctant Neighbor: Turkey’s Role in the Middle East”, joins us to discuss his hunch that Erdogan does not have the evidence the Turks have promised.

Then finally we speak with Aaron Stein, a resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. An expert on Turkey, he joins us to discuss the extent to which President Trump is orchestrating the Saudi denial and cover-up following Trump’s announcement today that MBS told him in a phone call that he “totally denied any knowledge” of what happened to Khashoggi and that the Crown Prince wants “a full and complete investigation into this matter”. We  assess what kind of a deal Secretary of State Pompeo is making as he heads to Turkey tomorrow after talks with the Saudi leadership.

Carolyn Kenney | Henri Barkey | Aaron Stein

October 15, 2018

Trump and MBS Concoct a Cover Story
Senator Warren Fires Her Opening Shot Against Trump in the 2020 Presidential Race
Program Notes

We begin with the cover story the White House and the Saudi Crown Prince MBS came up with to get them both off the hook following the murder and dismemberment of the Saudi-American journalist Jamil Khashoggi in Turkey. Trump’s entire Middle East policy, not to mention his business interests, rest on his and Jared Kushner’s investment in MBS, and this violent ignorant spoiled prince who ordered the barbaric butchery of a Washington Post journalist needed a way out from under the international outrage his latest impetuous and rash act has provoked. Robert Baer, a veteran CIA Middle East operative and author of “Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude” who is now the national security affairs analyst for CNN, joins us. We discuss how an insular and inexperienced Saudi Crown Prince with absolute power would interpret Trump’s labeling of the free press as “the enemy of the people” as well as his constant attacks on The Washington Post, as a green light to get rid of a Washington Post reporter who was exposing the truth about this faux reformer who Khashoggi likened to Putin. Indeed the comparison between MBS and Putin is very apt since MBS is looting Saudi Arabia as he buys a yacht for half a billion dollars along with a fake Da Vinci for the same amount while confiscating the wealth of oligarchs who run afoul of him just as Putin does. And both Putin and MBS order highly provocative and grim murders of dissidents on foreign soil as a way to send a message to their citizens living under a reign of terror not to step out of line. But more to the point, both MBS and Putin are two of Trump’s favorite world leaders if not silent partners. So it is reasonable to assume that if Trump could get rid of the constitutional restraints on him and the rule of law which he seeks to undermine, then Trump would be able to emulate his despotic friends and lock up Hillary and start renditioning his many critics to black sites.

Then with the release today of a video by Senator Elizabeth Warren answering Trump’s challenge of donating $1 million to charity if she could prove her Native American ancestry, which she did with DNA evidence, we assess whether this is her opening shot in a presidential contest for 2020 against her race-baiting cheapskate tormentor who needless to say, wimped out on making good on his bet.Robert Hockett, a Professor of Law at Cornell Law School who recently worked with Senator Warren to develop the Accountable Capitalism Act, joins us to discuss the reasons why Trump trashes Senator Warren. Apart from her being in every way the opposite of him, Trump knows she will be his toughest opponent and that is why he is going after her.

Robert Baer | Robert Hockett

October 14, 2018

Will the Saudi Crown Prince’s Reign Be Over Before It Begins?
The GOP’s Brazen Voter Suppression
Should the Democrats Take the Gloves Off to Confront Republican Ruthlessness
Program Notes

We begin with the increasing isolation of Saudi Arabia as more and more evidence points to the Saudi Crown Prince MBS as the person responsible for ordering the assassination and gruesome murder and dismemberment of a Saudi journalist in Turkey. David Hearst, the Editor of The Middle East Eye, joins us from London to discuss his latest article “Trump and the boy king: Mohammed bin Salman’s reign is over before it even began”. Although MBS has moved ruthlessly to control Saudi Arabia’s three militaries and intelligence services and is conducting a reign of terror against his fellow princes, we assess the likelihood that international pressure on the Saudi royal family will eventually mean that MBS will not become their next king. As David Hearst points out in his article “If Khashoggi’s death was an act of insanity, a total madman must have ordered it”, not to mention that it was an act of barbarity you would expect from ISIS. We also look into the similarities between the two pampered, arrogant and incompetent princes MBS and Jared Kushner and MBS who claims he has Trump’s son-in-law in his pocket, and the likelihood that Kushner gave MBS a classified list of the Crown Prince’s critics who were later arrested, tortured and had their fortunes confiscated.

Then we speak with the policy director of the non-partisan National Election Defense CoalitionSusan Greenhalgh about the brazen voter suppression going on in Georgia where the Republican Secretary of State running for governor is rigging the election in his favor. We will also address concerns about Russian interference in the November election and the puzzling inaction by Republicans and the Trump Administration to ensure our vulnerable election systems are protected. Particularly since there is evidence the Russian’s likely hacked the vote in North Carolina’s Durham County in 2016 and got away with it because of a lack of interest on the part of Trump’s Department of Homeland Security to look into it.

Then finally we speak with Greg Sargent, who writes the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post about his new book, just out, “An Uncivil War: Taking Back Our Democracy in an Age of Trumpian Disinformation and Thunderdome Politics”. He joins us to discuss the dilemma facing the Democrats, many of who are seething at the ruthless GOP tactics used to get Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, as they face a choice whether to follow Michelle Obama’s advice that “when they go low, we go high”, or takes the gloves off and stop bringing a butter knife to a knife fight.

David Hearst | Susan Greenlagh | Greg Sargent