Daily Briefing - Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today we will look into a number of subjects and issues in the news. We will begin in a moment and analyze the tax reform proposals in the Simpson-Bowles Presidential Commission's report that came out yesterday, and assess the news from the White House today that they are likely to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Joining us is one of the nation's leading experts on taxation, tax policy and tax fairness, David Cay Johnston, who is a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist who now teaches tax law at Syracuse University and writes a column for Tax Notes. He is the author of the best-selling books “Perfectly Legal” and “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With the Bill”

Then on this Veteran's Day, we will hear from soldier/poet Brian Turner who served as an infantry team leader in Iraq with a Stryker brigade. His latest book is “Phantom Noise” which is a collection of poems that deal with the invisible war at home, where places like Iraq and Afghanistan might as well be on the moon for the average American, but for the veterans of these wars, who wage a daily battle for normalcy in the country they fought and sacrificed for, it is a different matter.

And then finally we will be joined by George W. Bush, not in person, as much as he wanted to join me today, but reading from his latest book “Decision Points”. And also joining us to comment on the former President's memoirs is Adam McKay, a former Saturday Night Live writer and director of such films as “Anchorman” and “Talledega Nights”. He is also the founder with Will Ferrell of “Funny Or Die” a website that has created numerous comedy videos for political causes. Adam McKay co-wrote with Will Farrell and directed “You're Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush” on Broadway which later aired on HBO.


David Cay Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter formerly of The New York Times. He teaches at Syracuse University College of Law and writes columns for Tax Notes and The Nation. He has uncovered so many tax dodges that he has been called the “de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States.” He is the author of the bestselling books Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You With the Bill).

Brian Turner is a soldier-poet whose debut book of poems, Here, Bullet, won the Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times “Editor's Choice”, the Pen Center "Best in the West" award, and the Poets Prize. Turner served seven years in the US Army, including one year as an infantry team leader in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. Turner was featured in Operation Homecoming, a unique documentary of firsthand accounts of American servicemen and women. His poems were published in the Voices in Wartime Anthology and documentary film. His new book of poems is Phantom Noise which he will be presenting at the LA Public Library on Thursday, November 18, 2010 7:00 PM with Louise Steinman, 
curator of ALOUD.

Adam McKay is the former head writer of Saturday Night Live and the director of films such as Anchorman and Talledega Nights. His recent film The Other Guys put a comedy spin on the financial meltdown, focusing on the Wall Street Ponzi scheme and celebrating the regular people who were affected. He is also the founder, with Will Ferrell, of Funny or Die, a website that has created numerous comedy videos for political advocacy. He also co-wrote with Will Ferrel, and directed on Broadway, You're Welcome America: A Final Night with George W Bush which later aired on HBO.

The author Adam mentioned was Gary Shteyngart, who wrote Absurdistan and the recent Super Sad True Love Story.

Daily Briefing - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jacob Heilbrunn is a Senior Editor at the National Interest, and the author of the newly released, They Knew They Were Right: the Rise of the Neocons. He was an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times and senior editor at The New Republic, and a Japan Society Fellow. His articles have been published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and the Washington Monthly.

Stephan A. Schwartz is the Senior Fellow at the Samueli Institute and a Research Associate of Cognitive Sciences at the Laboratories for Fundamental Research. He is also the editor of the daily web publication Schwartzreport.net, where he identifies and analyses trends that are affecting the future. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Smithsonian, American Heritage, American History, OMNI, and Harpers. His current article on the Huffington Post is “Willful Ignorance”.

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive economic think-tank based in Washington DC. His latest book is Taking Economics Seriously and he also wrote Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy, and in 1999, Social Security: The Phony Crisis. His blog, Beat the Press, elaborates critical issues in American media.

Daily Briefing - Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kevin Gallagher on China/Latin America, Sylvia Tiwon on Obama in Indonesia, and Sean Wilentz on Obama and the election.

Kevin P. Gallagher is a professor of International Economics at Boston University, and senior researcher at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University. He specializes in global economic and development policy, with an emphasis on Latin America. His new book, with Roberto Porzecanski, is The Dragon in the Room: China and the Future of Latin American Industrialization.

Sylvia Tiwon is a Professor in the South and Southeast Asian Studies Department at UC Berkeley. She is on the advisory board of the Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures and on the editorial board of the journal Critical Asian Studies. Her work includes the book, Breaking the Spell: Colonialism and Literary Renaissance in Indonesia.

Sean Wilentz is a professor at Princeton University and is currently a Times Foundation Fellow at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic and his books include The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln and The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008. His latest book is Bob Dylan in America.


Special announcement:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 7pm

HAMMER Conversation

And the Winner is...the Television Networks!

with Eason Jordan and Toby Miller moderated by Ian Masters

Billy Wilder Theater

With a large portion of the money that politicians raise for campaigns going to the television networks, do the media monopolies have any incentive to fix a system from which they benefit so profitably? Former CNN chief news executive and president of newsgathering and international networks, Eason Jordan joins us to provide a perspective on the choice between social responsibility and the corporate bottom line. Leading media and culture scholar Toby Miller also joins us to examine the medium from which most voters get their political information.

HAMMER FORUM - This ongoing series of timely, thought-provoking dialogues addresses current social and political issues. Hammer Forum is moderated by Ian Masters, journalist, author, screenwriter, documentary filmmaker, and host of the radio program Background Briefing, Sundays at 11AM, and The Daily Briefing, Monday through Thursday at 5PM, on KPFK 90.7 FM.

ALL HAMMER PUBLIC PROGRAMS ARE FREE. Tickets are required, and are available at the Billy Wilder Theater Box Office one hour prior to start time. Limit one ticket per person on a first come, first served basis. Hammer members receive priority seating, subject to availability. Reservations not accepted, RSVPs not required. Parking is available under the museum for $3 after 6:00pm. Hammer Public Programs

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Daily Briefing - Monday, November 8, 2010

Andrew Revkin is a reporter for THE NEW YORK TIMES and creator of the paper's Dot Earth blog, where he has covered global environmental issues that have included climate change, Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami, science policy and politics, and the North Pole. He has served as adjunct professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, teaching environmental reporting and is the Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University. He is the author of several books, including The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest, Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, and The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World.

Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel is a Climate Scientist from the Union of Concerned Scientists. She is leading UCS's climate science education work aimed at strengthening support for strong federal climate legislation and sound U.S. climate policies. Her specialty is isotope geochemistry, a tool she has used to study climate variability in places as disparate as the Arctic Ocean and the desert southwest. Dr. Ekwurzel completed her doctorate work at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and post-doctoral research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Dr. Josef Silverstein is a distinguished professor emeritus of Political Science at Rutgers University. He is an expert on Myanmar and the author of "Burma: Military Rule and the Politics of Stagnation" and "Burmese Politics: the Dilemma of National Unity." Recently he has taught at the University of Pittsburgh and in the East Asian Studies Program at Princeton University and is an occasional lecturer at the Department of State’s Foreign Services Institute.

Rafiq Dossani is the Head of South Asian Program at the School of International Relations at Stanford. He is also Senior research scholar at Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. His research areas include development, education, finance, international relations, outsourcing and telecommunications. His books include: Does South Asia Exist?: Prospects for Regional Integration, India Arriving: How This Economic Powerhouse is Redefining Global Business, Prospects for Peace in South Asia, and Telecommunications Reform in India.

Background Briefing - Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thomas Ferguson is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. His books include Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems and Right Turn: The Decline of the Democrats and the Future of American Politics. He is a member of the advisory board for George Soros' Institute for New Economic Thinking and a contributing editor to The Nation.

Dr. Jacob Hacker is a Professor of Political Science at Yale University, a Resident Fellow at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and a Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. An expert on the politics of U.S. health and social policy, he is author of The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream, The Divided Welfare State: The Battle over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States, and is also co-author of Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy. His latest book, with Paul Pierson, is Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.

C. Christine Fair is a professor in the Center for Peace and Security Studies within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Previously, she served as a political officer to the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, and as a senior research associate in USIP’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. She is also a senior fellow with the Counter Terrorism Center at West Point. She has authored, co-authored and co-edited several books including Treading Softly on Sacred Ground: Counterinsurgency Operations on Sacred Space, The Madrassah Challenge: Militancy and Religious Education in Pakistan, and Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.S. Internal Security Assistance.