On The Monitor this week:
Since we have passed the “first 100 days” into the Trump administration, it is time to assess two key issues:
- As a candidate Trump often said he wanted to run the country like a business. His business acumen is one of his supposed strong suits. So what exactly does “Trumponomics” mean? And can “Trumponomics” extend the economic recovery that started after the 2008 global recession?
- The Democratic Party was mired in internal conflict both before and since election day. Revelations of DNC officials doing everything they could to tip the balance in favor of a Clinton nomination are continuing to emerge. What is the current state of the Democratic Party and its efforts towards party unity?
More about this week’s guests:
Stephanie Kelton is professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She served as chief economist on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee in 2015 and then became an economic advisor to the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign. She was the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the top-ranked blog New Economic Perspectives and a member of the TopWonks network of the nation’s best thinkers. In 2016, POLITICO recognized her as one of the 50 people across the country who is most influencing the political debate. Her book, The State, The Market and The Euro (2001) predicted the debt crisis in the Eurozone, and her subsequent work correctly predicted that: (1) Quantitative Easing (QE) wouldn’t lead to high inflation; (2) government deficits wouldn’t cause a spike in U.S. interest rates; (3) the S&P downgrade wouldn’t cause investors to flee Treasuries; (4) the U.S. would not experience a European-style debt crisis. She recently wrote the paper “Can ‘Trumponomics’ extend the recovery?”
Also see: “Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics” in CounterPunch.
Robert Borosage writes a weekly column for The Nation magazine and is a senior advisor of People’s Action. He is the founder and president of the Institute for America’s Future and co-director of its sister organization, the Campaign for America’s Future. The organizations were launched by 100 prominent Americans to develop the policies, message and issue campaigns to help forge an enduring majority for progressive change in America. Mr. Borosage writes widely on political, economic and national security issues. He is a Contributing Editor at The Nation magazine, and a regular blogger at The Huffington Post. His articles have appeared in The American Prospect, The Washington Post,Tthe New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He edits the Campaign’s Making Sense issues guides, and is co-editor of Taking Back America (with Katrina Vanden Heuvel) and The Next Agenda (with Roger Hickey).
“For all the urgent pleas for unity in the face of Trump, the party establishment has always made it clear that they mean unity under their banner,” Borosage wrote in a recent article. “That’s why they mobilized to keep the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representative Keith Ellison, from becoming head of the DNC. It’s why the knives are still out for Sanders and those who supported him.”
Borosage commented that “Democrats are in the midst of a major struggle to decide what they stand for and who they represent.” And he added: “Part of that is the debate over a bipartisan interventionist foreign policy that has so abjectly failed.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Deconstructing environmental party politics with Dahr Jamail
- Bernie Sanders supporters going Green with YahNe Ndgo
More about this week’s guests:
Dahr Jamail is a journalist who is best known as one of the few unembedded journalists to report extensively from Iraq during the 2003 Iraq invasion. He spent eight months in Iraq, between 2003 to 2005, and presented his stories on his website Dahr Jamail’s Mideast Dispatches
He has appeared on The Monitor with Mark Bebawi several times in the past, including live unembedded reports from Iraq at the height of the US invasion. Since his return he has written two books – “The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,” (Haymarket Books, 2009), and “Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq,” (Haymarket Books, 2007).
More recently Dahr has been covering environmental topics. You can read his latest articles on his website. The interview will focus on the policies of the various parties on climate change.
YahNe Ndgo describes herself as “Bernie Lover, Ubuntu Promoter, Singer, Writer, Activist, Traveler, Mother, Sister, Auntie, Daughter, Granddaughter, Cousin, Friend, Neighbor, Lover, Human Being” and gained significant attention when a CNN interview she gave went “viral”: YahNe Ndgo explains Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary
She was one of the keynote speakers at the Green Party’s convention in Houston and I interviewed her for Pacifica’s live coverage of that event. I asked her about the Sanders campaign, his supporters’ potential for voting Green, and what motivates her political activities.
The Green Party held its convention in Houston August 4-7, 2016 and the Pacifica Network was there to cover the event, including 4 hours of live coverage carried by all 5 network stations (KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WBAI, WBFW) and many affiliates. I hosted those hours with several people (more on that below). This post is less about the coverage and more a place to share some observations and a few pictures. You are welcome to comment and share but if you share the pictures please credit me and link back to this post.
Impressions as a member of the “Press”:
To give you some context for what follows, my only reference point for comparison is the 2012 Democratic Party Convention. Until I arrived on the UH campus, the 2012 DNC was the only US political convention I had attended in person. It will surprise no one that the Greens’ convention was much smaller: Fewer people, smaller venue, much less media attention, etc. These are not necessarily negative observations however because they made for a more friendly and unpretentious atmosphere. While the ’12 DNC was slick, loud, and highly orchestrated, the ’16 Green Convention was low key and relatively amateur. Here are the things that stood out to me as a member of the media covering both events: At the DNC the entire venue was blocked off and access was very controlled. I had to go through multiple security checkpoints, including metal detectors and sniffer dogs, just to get in the venue. Inside the venue the various areas were only accessible with the correct credentials and access was restricted in various ways, even if you had the credentials to be there. For example, I had media credentials to the convention floor but I could only walk in and out at specific times and at one point was not allowed in at all. The credentials themselves were textured plastic and incorporated several security features to deter counterfeiting (like textured surfaces and bar codes).
In very stark contrast, the Green convention was in the student center at UH. The building was open to anyone and I saw no restrictions to access any of the rooms (with the exception of the one room reserved for press conferences). The credentials consisted of a clear plastic name-tag holder with glued-on ribbon reading “Press” and a shoelace lanyard. Despite registering ahead of time, when I arrived to check in the volunteer wrote my details on a bit of card and put the card in the holder. It was something one of my kids could have done.
Attendees were, as far as I could tell, mostly older (over 30) and predominantly white. There was a subset that was a diverse mix of ages and backgrounds and many of these appeared to be migrating Bernie Sanders supporters. I spoke to a few of them, including YahNe Ndgo, and they seemed disappointed enough with the Dems to be now pinning their hope on the Greens. A decent summary of this phenomenon is offered by Christopher Hooks on Politico’s website: What If the Green Party Stopped Being Kooky and Started Getting Real? (note: I don’t know Hooks and have no affiliation with Politico or the Texas Observer).
Speeches were well attended and the crowd was enthusiastic. The best speech was Cornel West’s keynote (that is not him in the picture, obviously). As our 4 hours of live radio thundered along, we were plagued with all sorts of issues that made getting the broadcast on the air on ongoing challenge. Otis Maclay (pictured below) and Bobby Modad performed several technical contortions in a constant struggle against fluctuating audio quality from the convention floor, distracting background noise in the room, and impromptu visits and comments from passers by.
Despite the many challenges and variable sound quality, I am happy to have witnessed and covered this convention. If you want to hear what it all sounded like you can check out the archive on audioport where you will hear the many voices besides mine, including David Cobb, Ann Garrison, Greg Palast, Kat Gruene, Staci Davis, Scooter, YahNe Ndgo, Cornell West, Howie Hawkins, Bruce Dixon, Ajamu Baraka, and Jill Stein.
Last’s show was preempted by Pacifica’s coverage of the Republican National Convention. This week’s show is running at the same time as key speeches at the Democratic National Convention, and KPFT is also fundraising this week. That means that the show faces the interesting task of trying to compete with the DNC and raise money after not being on the air in two weeks.
We can do it but we will need your help so, please, call 713 526 5738 and donate to KPFT. Help us keep in tact The Monitor’s 13-year record of doing its part. Thank you!
Our only guest for this week’s show is Otis Maclay. Otis is the Pacifica Web Administrator and was for many years the Program Director at KPFT. He gave me my start on the radio and will perhaps share some of that story with you.
This week’s show takes a closer look at the domestic presidential election through interview with two guests. First, we talk to Sam Husseini about The Anti-Democratic Structure of Two Party Elections, and second, we shift focus to California to talk to Greg Palast about Placebo Ballots.
More about this week’s guests:
Sam Husseini is the founder of the website VotePact.org. He is director of media and communications for the Institute for Public Accuracy and is based on the IPA media office at the National Press Building in Washington, D.C. His articles on politics, foreign affairs, public policy, media, and pop culture have been published in the Washington Post, Newsday, the Nation, FAIR’s magazine Extra! and numerous other outlets. Prior to joining IPA, Husseini was media director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He has published articles for Counterpunch, some of the more recent of which include:
- The Anti-Democratic Structure of Two Party Elections: Chomsky, Bloomberg and and the VotePact Solution
- Could Voters Opposed to Both Clinton and Trump Team up Using VotePact?
- After Sanders — a Path to Electoral Revolution
- Trump is Right About Iraq, and That Should Stick to Clinton
Greg Palast is an investigative reporter, whose news-breaking stories appear on BBC Television, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone Magazine. You can read his reports at GregPalast.com. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic. He is best known in the US for uncovering Katherine Harris’ purge of black voters from Florida’s voter rolls in 2000. Greg Palast is currently finishing the final frames of his new film on the upcoming theft of the 2016 election: “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.” Greg is now posting a weekly podcast on itunes. Take a look at it here. You can also see some of his recent writings at GregPalast.com where recent examples include:
On The Monitor this week:
- The misconstrued relationship between automation and wage inequality, with John Schmitt
- The gap between rhetoric and reality in Hillary Clinton’s assessments of Bernie Sanders’ healthcare plan, with Gerald Friedman
More about this week’s guests:
John Schmitt is research director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and co-author of the piece, “Don’t Blame the Robots: Assessing the Job Polarization Explanation of Growing Wage Inequality.” (co-authored with Heidi Shierholz — who is now the chief economist at the Labor Department — and Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute). You can follow John on Twitter here.
Background: President Obama said in his State of the Union address: “Now, what is true — and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious — is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit; changes that have not let up. Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and they face tougher competition. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.”
Schmitt Quote: “Technological change is not the force behind rising inequality. Technological change has been a constant feature of the economy throughout the entire 20th century, with no obvious associated increase in wage or income inequality for much of that period. As many researchers have also noted, the timing of the microcomputer revolution doesn’t match well with the jump in inequality. The largest increase in wage inequality took place in the few years between 1979 and 1982, well before personal computers, let alone the Internet, had transformed workplaces. And, the pace of growth in wage inequality slowed somewhat even as computerization spread steadily in the late 1980s and 1990s. Technology is also not well suited to explain important dimensions of wage inequality by gender, race, and age.