May 30, 2018

The Disgusting Moral Vacuum in Leadership at the Top in America
Inside Russian Organized Crime and Its Grip on Russia
Italy’s Political Upheaval and the Rise of a Slick Right-Wing Protege of Steve Bannon’s
Program Notes

We begin with the disgusting moral vacuum at the very top of leadership in America today with a president who could not disavow ugly racist comments by Roseanne but rather complained that the head of Disney who fired her, apologized to Valerie Jarret but not to the injured frail ego of Donald Trump who has been hurt by the “horrible statements” on ABC that were said about him.  Dr.  Andrew Hartman, a Professor of History at Illinois State University whose latest book is “A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars” joins us to discuss his article at The Baffler “The Culture Wars Are Dead: Long Live the Culture Wars”. We explore this return to Trump’s Charlottesville moment where he panders to the worst manifestations of our racist past which he, Trump, helped resurrect with the “birther” movement. A movement Trump began which in effect, gave permission to American racists to come out of the shadows and openly express their racist and conspiratorial views, turning back the clock on the nation’s long and painful struggle to discover the “better angels of our nature”.

Then we  speak with Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague who is an expert on transnational crime and Russian security affairs and whose latest book is “The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia”. He joins us to discuss the history of organized crime from czarist times through the Soviet Union to Russia today which is a kleptocracy in which the ruling oligarchs and the ex-intelligence siloviki work hand-in-hand with the “vory”, the criminal gangs, who in turn work with the security services and the government. We will also explore Trump’s links to organized crime given his open door policy to Russian criminals with money to launder.

Then finally we get an analysis of the political upheaval in Italy which has spooked the markets and speak with Ruth Ben Ghiat, a Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University who writes and speaks frequently on fascism, war, racism, authoritarian rulers and propaganda. She joins us to discuss the alarming possibility that the current political crisis has been engineered by the slick right wing leader of The League Matteo Salvini who could win the next election and is threatening to “March on Rome” which has unmistakable echoes of Mussolini’s rise.

Dr. Andrew Hartman | Mark Galeotti | Ruth Ben Ghiat