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On The Monitor this week:
- The case for the impeachment of President Trump with Catherine Ross
- A one state “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian question with Ali Abunimah
More about this week’s guests:
Catherine Ross is a professor at the George Washington University Law School, where she specializes in constitutional law (with particular emphasis on the First Amendment), family law, and legal and policy issues concerning children. She is the author of Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights (Harvard University Press, 2015). The Fourth Edition of her family law casebook, Contemporary Family Law (Foundation Press/West) (co-authored with Douglas Abrams et al.) was also released in 2015. She is spending the 2015-2016 academic year as a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Last week she took part in a press conference with groups organizing ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org that featured a petition of 850,000 signers urging Congress to initiate an impeachment investigation into President Trump’s corrupt business dealings.
Quote: “President Trump has likely been violating the Constitution since the moment he was inaugurated because he refused to divest himself of ownership of the Trump Organization and all of its businesses and properties. Profits from those business interests, we learned a week ago, are expressly being held for him. This arrangement appears to violate Article II, Section 1 (7) of the Constitution, known as the domestic emoluments clause, which is squarely aimed at preventing presidential corruption, and which has not received sufficient attention in the last few weeks. President Trump has challenged the rule of law by saying laws about ethics and corruption don’t apply to him — but he can’t say that about the domestic emoluments clause because its language is clear. It applies only to the President. It says that the President ‘shall not receive’ any ‘Emolument’ from the federal government or the government of any state during his term in office, thus limiting the material benefit of his office to his salary. Emoluments were defined broadly by the dictionaries at the time the Constitution was written. Emoluments are not just payments, profits or bribes, though all of those are emoluments that have been known to flow to office-holders. Emoluments also include advantages, opportunities, and what today we would call sweetheart deals. The Trump hotel lease in D.C., and the federal government’s planned lease of space in Trump Tower in New York both implicate the domestic emoluments clause, as does the Trump Organization aggressive plan for expansion within the U.S. that will entangle the company with every level of government as they seek zoning, construction and environmental permits, approvals or waivers, as well as tax breaks that often accompany development plans. The bar against domestic emoluments is mandatory — Congress cannot waive it. Who is to enforce the constitutional mandate? It is not clear who could sue for enforcement. Impeachment is not to be undertaken lightly, but it is the remedy the Constitution provides.
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada. He is the author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books and One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. You can see his most recent articles and interviews here including the recent piece “Trump-Netanyahu meeting lays ground for one-state solution”
Quote: “U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a joint press conference at the White House on Wednesday morning, before going into their much-anticipated bilateral meeting. Asked about whether the U.S. was still wedded to a two-state solution, Trump broke with longstanding orthodoxy. I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like,’ the president said. On settlements, Trump reaffirmed to Netanyahu, ‘I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.’ Conventional opinion views any Trump abandonment of the two-state solution as capitulation to Israel’s far right wing that is pressuring Netanyahu from within his coalition to annex the West Bank outright. The annexationists may hope that the Palestinians could eventually be pushed out, or forced to live under some form of Jordanian jurisdiction — the so-called Jordanian option. That may even be the motivation of the anti-Palestinian extremists in the Trump administration, but the analysis fails to take into account the growing support amongst Palestinians for a democratic one-state solution. Trump has at least acknowledged that Palestinians must agree to the terms of any agreement. And Palestinians will not submit voluntarily to Netanyahu’s conditions. Israel could not just annex the West Bank on its own terms. Pressure would escalate — as it did on South Africa — to end openly declared apartheid. Indeed there could be no greater boost to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Even the Israeli president recognizes this. Speaking at a conference on Monday, Reuven Rivlin argued for annexation of the West Bank, but said it must mean full citizenship for Palestinians. ‘Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all those living there,’ Rivlin said. ‘There is no [separate] law for Israelis and for non-Israelis.’ ‘It must be clear: If we extend sovereignty, the law must apply equally to all,’ Rivlin added.”
The music before and after the interview with Ali is “Hopeless Town” by Rasha Nahas. You can hear/watch it here.
On The Monitor this week:
- The confirmation of Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of Health and Human Services – an interview with Carol Paris.
- Terrorism, Trump, and the media narrative – an interview with Beau Grosscup
More about this week’s guests:
Dr. Carol Paris is a recently retired psychiatrist who worked for more than 25 years in private practice, community mental health, prison psychiatry, and academia. She is president of Physicians for a National Health Program. In the course of her experience, much of which was in Maryland, she became an outspoken critic of the private-insurance-based U.S. health care system.
In May 2009, she and seven others stood up, one by one, at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on health care reform chaired by Sen. Max Baucus to ask why there wasn’t a single advocate for single-payer health care on the 41-member panel. In an action that received national media attention, Baucus had all eight peaceful protesters, including Dr. Paris, arrested. (Charges were eventually reduced, requiring only community service.)
Quote in response to the Senate vote to confirm Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of health and human services: “The Senate’s confirmation of Tom Price as health secretary is a body blow to the health and welfare of all Americans. According to this week’s Monmouth University poll, Americans’ biggest concern today is with their mounting health care costs, more so than their job security, taxes or other household bills. With Price at the helm of HHS, this concern is only going to escalate. Price’s vision for reforming U.S. health care would result in millions of Americans losing existing health insurance coverage, and millions more having to make do with bare-bones policies that offer little to no meaningful protection. He can also be expected to push high-deductible health plans, which already result in millions of people forgoing needed care, and to undermine Medicare, the Medicaid program and safety-net hospitals. If Price’s policies come to pass, the free-market ideologues who supported them will no longer be able to hide behind false promises like ‘universal access.’ The results will be laid bare for everyone to see, and elected officials will have to answer to the poor, working-class, elderly, and chronically ill Americans who will suffer needlessly as a result. Studies show that about 43,000 people will die each year if such policies are implemented. Congress urgently needs to reverse course and embrace the obvious solution: an improved Medicare for all.”
Beau Grosscup is author of several books on terrorism including The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and, most recently, Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment. He recently retired from teaching (California State University).
On The Monitor this week:
- A round up of US national security news with Jonathan Landay
- William Black on the Trump administration’s dismantling of the Obama administration’s already insufficient post-2008 financial regulations
More about this week’s guests:
On The Monitor this week:
Mark Bebawi is still on the road and not easily able to put together the normal show with live interviews. By way of thanking all those who gave to generously during the pledge drive, this week’s show features more of Adam Curtis’ work: Part 1 of his 2002 documentary titled “The Century of the Self“.
This first part is called “Happiness Machines“. It is the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the public relations profession in the 1920s and was the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.
Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticising the motorcar.
His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile. Bernays wrote that
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” (Edward Bernays Propaganda (1928) p9–10.)
It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate today’s world.
Originally broadcast on 29th April 2002.
KPFT is in Pledge Drive and this is your last chance to support The Monitor. The show has a goal of $880 for the hour. Please call 713.526.5738 during the show to pledge your support. You can also donate securely online at https://pledge.kpft.org/ Just select The Monitor from the list of shows and enter your details. Thank you!
KPFT has all the usual thank you gifts available at various pledge levels but this week’s show is going to offer copies of the documentary “HyperNormalisation” on DVD (more about the documentary below). This DVD is available at a pledge level of $90 if you call during the show.
More about HyperNormalisation:
This week’s show features excerpts from HyperNormalisation, a 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. The film was released on 16 October 2016. In the film, Curtis argues that since the 1970s, governments, financiers, and technological utopians have given up on the complex “real world” and built a simple “fake world” that is run by corporations and kept stable by politicians. The documentary runs for more than 2.5 hours and features some rare archival footage that starts in the 1970s and takes the viewer on a thought-provoking journey all the way up to the election of Donald Trump.
Starting in 1975 with the fiscal crisis in New York City and the emergence of the idea that financial systems could run society; Curtis brings in the shuttle diplomacy between then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Middle Eastern leaders in the Arab-Israeli dispute and the subsequent retreat by Hafez al-Assad of Syria and the onset of hypernormalisation in the Soviet Union. Then, following the United States’ involvement in the 1982 Lebanon War, a vengeful al-Assad made an alliance with Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran to February 1984, when the U.S. withdrew all its troops from Lebanon because, in the words of then-US Secretary of State George P. Shultz, “we became paralyzed by the complexity that we faced”. For the remaining 2 hours Curtis takes you on a journey, full of rare footage, that is sure to make you think.
Get a copy of this fascinating documentary with a pledge of $90 to KPFT during the show. You can do so only by calling 713.526.5738 during the show and telling the volunteers that you want a copy of HyperNormalisation. Once we have a final tally of listeners wanting a copy I will take care of the rest.
Don’t help me set the table
Cause now there’s one less place
I won’t lay mama’s silver
For a man who won’t say grace
If home is where the heart is
Then your home’s on the street
Me, I’ll read a good book
Turn out the lights and go to sleep
— ”Standing Room Only” from This Is Barbara Mandrell
KPFT is in Pledge Drive and this is your first chance to support The Monitor. The show has a goal of $880 for the hour. Please call 713.526.5738 during the show to pledge your support. You can also donate securely online at https://pledge.kpft.org/ Just select The Monitor from the list of shows and enter your details. Thank you!
This is probably the final time The Monitor will be able to offer Greg Palast’s new movie: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the sequel of his New York Times bestselling book with the same title. You can have one of each for a pledge of $90 or both for a pledge of $150.
More about this week’s guests:
Greg Palast has been called the “most important investigative reporter of our time – up there with Woodward and Bernstein” (The Guardian). Palast has broken front-page stories for BBC Television Newsnight, The Guardian, Nation Magazine and now Rolling Stone Magazine.
He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse , The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.
His books have been translated into two dozen languages.
Palast is known for complex undercover investigations, spanning five continents, from the Arctic to the Amazon, from Caracas to California, using the skills he learned over two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud.
- Donald Trump nominates Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of Education. We discuss the topic with Diane Ravitch.
- News or Propaganda? What is happening to the news and what is the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” about? We discuss the topic with Rick Sterling.
Diane Ravitch is an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1960. She received her Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Ravitch is author of many books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.net
Quote: “Betsy DeVos should not be approved by the Senate committee or confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Secretary of Education. She has no experience or qualifications for the job. She is a lobbyist for alternatives to public schools. Eighty-five percent of the students in the U.S. attend public schools. Her only plan is to weaken and destroy them by diverting public money to charter schools and vouchers for religious schools. DeVos is a billionaire who has never worked in a public school, never attended a public school, never sent her own children to public school. She has lived in a billionaire bubble of privilege. She has no understanding of the needs of our nation’s public schools, and she is in fact actively hostile to them. This is unacceptable. She is unacceptable. Our public schools are one of the cornerstones of our democracy. We have never had a Secretary of Education who was opposed to public schools. We should never have one.”
Rick Sterling is a retired electronics / aerospace engineer turned independent investigative journalist. He just wrote the piece “The War Against Alternative Information” for ConsortiumNews.com — which states: “The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’ that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any ‘propaganda’ that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality. The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center ‘to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.’ The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to ‘coordinate with allied nations.’The new law is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because it merges a new McCarthyism about purported dissemination of Russian ‘propaganda’ on the Internet with a new Orwellianism by creating a kind of Ministry of Truth — or Global Engagement Center — to protect the American people from ‘foreign propaganda and disinformation.’ As part of the effort to detect and defeat these unwanted narratives, the law authorizes the Center to: ‘Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.’ (This section is an apparent reference to proposals that Google, Facebook and other technology companies find ways to block or brand certain Internet sites as purveyors of ‘Russian propaganda’ or ‘fake news.’) Justifying this new bureaucracy, the bill’s sponsors argued that the existing agencies for ‘strategic communications’ and ‘public diplomacy’ were not enough, that the information threat required ‘a whole-of-government approach leveraging all elements of national power.’ The law also is rife with irony since the U.S. government and related agencies are among the world’s biggest purveyors of propaganda and disinformation…”