July 4 - Are We Still a Democracy or Have We Become a Plutocracy?; Have the Koch Brothers Bought the US Government?

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We begin on this 4th of July, as we celebrate American democracy, with the question of how much of a democracy we still are and to what extent have we become a plutocracy, given that just two plutocrats, the Koch brothers, have essentially bought the U.S. Congress along with the presidency which are both enacting the Koch’s agenda at the expense of the American people. Jeffrey Winters, a Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University where he specializes on oligarchs and elites spanning a range of historical and contemporary cases from ancient Athens and Rome to Indonesia, Russia and the United States, joins us. He is the author of “Oligarchy” and we will discuss how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has turned our political system into a money competition in which the race goes to the richest donor who can buy the most politicians, which is exactly what the Koch brothers and their network have done.

 

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Part 2

Then we explore further the question of whether or not we are still a democracy or have become a plutocracy with Robert Johnson, the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking who served as the Chief Economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. He joins us to discuss how the plutocrats succeeded is having one of their own, Donald Trump, barely win the presidency running as a populists against the moneyed establishment. And how now Trump, and the Congress elected by the Koch network, are now rewarding their donors with tax cuts for the rich, opening up offshore drilling, bringing back coal, turning on the tar sands pipeline, crippling the EPA and reversing U.S leadership on climate change.

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July 3 - Trump's Bogus Election Commission; Where Is the Strategy to Counter Trump?

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We begin on this 4th of July holiday with an analysis of the foundation of America’s democracy, our electoral system that has been under attack by the Russians and is now being attacked by the Trump Administration in order to prove an outrageous and unsupported claim by Trump that 5 million illegals voted in the last election which was why Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million. Andrew Gumbel, an award-winning investigative reporter and author of “Down For the Count: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America” joins us to discuss the bogus commission that Donald Trump has set up chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who is the country’s leading crusader against the imaginary scourge of voter fraud. Needless to say, Trump’s commission which is not looking into the role of the Russian hacking of our election but is comprised of voter-suppression zealots, will be using the specter of voter fraud to deny the votes of minorities who vote Democratic as has already happened in Kobach’s Kansas. We also look into why the majority of the nation’s Secretaries of State have rejected the commission’s demand for personal data on voter’s voting habits, partial social security numbers and other personal data which will be housed on an unsecured website.

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Part 2

Then we examine further Trump’s partisan electoral purge and the abuse of the power of the presidency where the delusions of an insecure narcissist still obsessed with his loss in the popular vote, who championed an earlier witch hunt against Obama based on the lie that Obama did not have a birth certificate, is now commissioning a wild goose chase that could end up a cover for voter suppression. Michael Lewis-Beck, a Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa, whose interests include comparative elections, election forecasting, political economy and quantitative methodology, joins us to investigate the lack of a strategy to counter the Trump disaster on the part of Democrats, too many of whom are invested in the notion that Trump will be impeached. We discuss the lack of an alternative narrative of what the Democrats would replace Trump with in terms of a vision of a better America for all and leadership that could heal the country’s divisions and bring America back to greatness.

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July 2 - Trump and Patriotism on the 4th of July; Canada's 150th Birthday; Putin and Trump's Upcoming Meeting

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We begin with the latest display of presidential childish whining, this time on Saturday before a group of veterans and evangelicals where the president attacked the media again proclaiming that “The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president, and they’re not”. A highly decorated combat veteran who was awarded 2 Silver Stars, 2 Legions of Merit, 2 Bronze Stars, and 2 Purple Hearts, Phillip Butler, joins us. In 1965 he was shot down over North Vietnam where he spent 8 years as a POW and is now a peace and justice activist with Veterans for Peace. We discuss what patriotism means on this 4th of July holiday in a country led by a man who has deliberately divided the American people against each other while attacking the press as the enemy of the people. And examine the uncomfortable possibility that Trump, who expropriated the patriotic mantle of the declaration of independence, proclaiming to the evangelicals that “America always affirmed that liberty comes from our creator. Our rights are given to us by God”, could in fact be proven to be a traitor.

 

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Then we look into Canada’s celebration of its 150th year as a country, with its youthful Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressing Canada’s inclusiveness as the country’s first nation indigenous protesters set up a teepee on Parliament Hill calling for a “reoccupation”. Cleo Paskala Visiting Trudeau Fellow at the University of Montreal’s Center for International Studies and a fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London, joins us to discuss how her country is managing its relationship with its powerful neighbor now headed by a leader whose policies could not be more different than those of Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

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Part 3

Then finally we examine what might transpire at the upcoming G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany at which President Trump will meet with Russia’s President Putin for the first time. Kathryn Stoner, Director of International Policy Studies and a Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University, joins us to discuss whether the meeting will be a love fest or whether Trump will try to act tough with Putin to distance himself from lingering charges of collusion with the Russians.

 

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June 29 - The Latest Global Cyber Attack; When Will Republicans Stand Up To Trump's Tweets?; When Will Trump's Supporters See the Real Side of This Weak Strongman?

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We begin with the latest round of global cyber-attacks and focus on the crippling assault on Ukraine’s infrastructure that is widely being blamed on Russia although Russian companies such as Rosneft have also suffered intrusions. Patrick Tucker, the technology editor of Defense One and author of “The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move?” joins us to discuss Russia’s active use of cyber weapons, particularly against its neighbors, that operate just below the threshold of open warfare but can come close to paralyzing a country. We look into reports that the U.S. has even greater offensive capabilities in cyber warfare and assess why these capabilities have not been used offensively as far as we know since the Stuxnet virus was used to cause havoc inside Iran’s nuclear program.

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Then we get an analysis of why Donald Trump is able to continue tweeting out his childish, bullying and petty insults aimed at people he does like or those who criticize him without any embarrassment or shame being expressed by Republicans. The same Republicans who piled on with such righteous indignation against Bill Clinton for his behavior they felt was beneath the dignity of the office of president of the United States and warranted Clinton being impeached. Adele Stan, a weekly columnist for The American Prospect joins us to discuss her latest article at The New Republic “First Family LLC” and whether there is a threshold of undignified behavior that the head of state could cross that would force Republicans to stand up for decency and decorum.

Part 3

Then finally we look further into the Trump tweets spewing misogyny and abusive insults that reflect his extreme narcissism and insecurity, indicating a compulsion the leader of the free world has to tear down other people in order to build himself up. Lawrence Douglas, a Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College, who is a regular columnist for The Guardian, joins us to question when Trump’s supporters, who seem cocooned in propaganda and impervious to reality, will see the real side of this weak strongman.

 

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June 28 - SCOTUS Tears Down the Separation of Church and State; The Venezuelan Tragedy Worsens; China's Rare Earth Monopoly and America's Blindness

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We begin with Monday’s ruling by the Supreme Court in a case that appears innocuous but the 7 to 2 decision could result in a tectonic shift in American life. Elaine Pagels, a Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of “Revelations: Vision, Prophesy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation”, joins us to discuss how churches are now eligible for public funds. We assess the warning issued in an impassioned dissent from the bench by Justice Sotomayor that the decision “discounts centuries of history and jeopardizes the government’s ability to remain secular” and how right wing “Christian” fundamentalists cheering the ruling like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Vice President Pence could use the decision to drive their agenda of promoting religious schools and voucher programs to the extent that, quoting Justice Sotomayor, “leads us to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment”.

Part 2

Then we go to Caracas, Venezuela for an update on the helicopter attack on the Supreme Court by a dissident police officer who is a highly-trained agent with the Special Actions Brigade as well as a movie actor and something of an almost-comical action figure proclaiming “peace is coming”. Michael Penfold, a professor of Political Economy and Governance at IESA, a Business and Public Policy School in Caracas and co-author of “Dragon in the Tropics: Venezuela and the Legacy of Hugo Chavez”, joins us to discuss the deadlock between a population opposed to an incompetent government and a government with the power of the military and vigilante “collectivos” behind it.

Part 3

Then finally we speak with Victoria Bruce, the author of a new book just out “Sellout: How Washington Gave Away America’s Technological Soul and One Man’s Fight to Bring it Home”. We will discuss her alarming and true story of one citizen’s fight to preserve a U.S. stake in the future of clean energy and the rare earth elements essential to high tech industries and national defense. We will examine why China has a monopoly over rare earth minerals and why the U.S. let it happen.

 

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