Elections

Show Details for the week of August 22nd, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:
  • On the Cynicism of the Clinton Foundation with Ken Silverstein
  • On America’s Racial Wealth Divide with Josh Hoxie
More about this week’s guests:
ken-silverstein-675Ken Silverstein is a Washington, D.C. based investigative reporter. He wrote the piece “Shaky Foundations: The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends” for Harper’s Magazine. He just launched Washington Babylon, which features “shockingly true stories of political sleaze.” He is also a columnist for the New York Observer and a contributing editor to VICE. You can read his full bio here.
Quote: “This move by the Clinton Foundation is an acknowledgement that they shouldn’t have done it in the first place. Further, it’s outrageous that they are saying they won’t take foreign money — if Hillary Clinton wins. So, they will keep taking it if she loses — perhaps to facilitate Chelsea Clinton’s political career? This is clearly a totally cynical political move. If Hillary Clinton wins, which seems incredibly likely now, the Clinton Foundation would have served its purpose. It helped portray them as do-gooders while they used it to solidify their corrupt brand of politics on the country and enriched their cronies.”
Silverstein has reported: “It is beyond dispute that former President Clinton has been directly involved in helping foundation donors and his personal cronies get rich. Even worse, it is beyond dispute that these very same donors and the Clintons’ political allies have won the focused attention of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton when she served as Secretary of State. Democrats and Clinton apologists will write these accusations off as conspiracy mongering and right-wing propaganda, but it’s an open secret to anyone remotely familiar with accounting and regulatory requirements for charities that the financial records are deliberately misleading.”

josh-hoxieJosh Hoxie is the director of the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies. Josh joined the Institute for Policy Studies in August 2014 heading up the Project on Opportunity and Taxation. Josh’s main focus is on addressing wealth inequality through the estate tax, a levy on the intergenerational transfer of immense wealth. Josh grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and attained a BA in Political Science and Economics from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

Josh worked previously as a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the longest serving independent in Congressional history, both in his office in Washington, DC and on his successful 2012 re-election campaign.

According to a new report, it would take the average black family 228 years to accrue the same amount of wealth that white families have today. The report is called The Ever-Growing Gap: Failing to Address the Status Quo Will Drive the Racial Wealth Divide for Centuries to Come . Josh is one of the main authors. You can read analysis of the report here by Chuck Collins (senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good (www.inequality.org) and Dedrick Asante-Muhammed (director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at the Corporation for Enterprise Development).

The report release coincided with the 2nd anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO. police officer, which spawned the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for racial justice across all segments of society. Here’s a summary of key findings within the report:

  • “If current federal wealth-building policies remain in place, it will take the average African-American family 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth that white families have today and it will take Latino families 84 years to reach that goal
  • “By 2043, when households of color will constitute a majority of the U.S. population, the racial wealth divide between white households and African- American and Latino households will have doubled from about $500,000 in 2013 to $1 million.
  • “The Forbes 400 will see their average wealth skyrocket to $48 billion by 2043—more than eight times the amount they hold today. During that same period, the average wealth for white families will increase by 84% to $1.2 million compared to $165,000 for Latino families (69% growth) and $108,000 for African-American households (27% growth).”

The Corporation for Enterprise Development and IPS call for a range of reforms to address the problem, including fixing an “upside down” tax system that currently doles out more than half a trillion dollars annually to help primarily wealthy households get wealthier, while providing almost nothing to lower-income households.

Show Details for the week of August 15th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • D. Brian Burghart on creating an impartial, comprehensive and searchable national database of people killed during interactions with law enforcement
  • Jeff Cohen on why presidential debates should be opened up to all candidates

More about this week’s guests:

083015_2951D. Brian Burghart is the creator of Fatal Encounters. He is a former editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review, a master’s student and often, although not at this moment, a journalism instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He lives in Reno, Nevada and created Fatal Encounters because, as he says: “I believe in a democracy, citizens should be able to figure out how many people are killed by law enforcement, why they were killed, and whether training and policies can be modified to decrease the number of officer-involved deaths.”

 

 

Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He is also is cofounder of RootsAction.org, founder of the media watch group FAIR.

He recently wrote the piece “TV Networks Should Open Up the Presidential Debates,” which states: “If ten major TV networks got together and decided to nationally televise a presidential debate restricted to Republican nominee Donald Trump and right-leaning Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, while barring other candidates including Democrat Hillary Clinton, it would be recognized as an act of media bias or exclusion. But what if the televised debates this fall are restricted to just Trump and Clinton? That, too, needs to be recognized as an intentional act of media exclusion.

Beginning in 1988, major TV networks granted journalistic control over the debates to a private organization with no official status: the Commission on Presidential Debates. The CPD is often called ‘nonpartisan.’ That’s absurdly inaccurate. ‘Bipartisan’ is the right adjective, as it has always carried out the joint will of the Republican and Democratic parties. The commission grew out of a deal cut in the 1980s by GOP and Democratic leaders. Today, even though the U.S. public largely distrusts the presidential candidates of the two major parties, TV networks seem willing to allow them to again dictate the terms of debate, including who gets to participate.”

The Green Party Convention: Houston, 2016

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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.

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Impressions as a member of the “Press”:

_DSF0879To 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). _DSF0916

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.

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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).

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_DSF0901Speeches 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. _DSF0910

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.

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Show Details for the week of August 1st, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • The DNC from the inside, and the outside, with Lenny Siegel
  • The Freak out over Brexit in the context of Interventions and Austerity, with Robin Hahnel

More about this week’s guests:

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Image Credit: Mountain View Voice

Lenny Siegel is a member of the Mountain View (CA) City Council and was a Bernie Sanders delegate at the Democratic National Convention. Siegel was a leader of the anti-war student movement at Stanford University from 1966 to 1975. He founded Mountain View Voices for Peace for both Iraq Wars. Since 1989, he’s become a national leader in the effort to clean up contaminated military bases. He ran for office three times before eventually winning. His term expires in 2019.

Quote: “The highlight of the evening for me came when former CIA Director Leon Panetta spoke. Other than honoring veterans, few speakers at the convention have addressed foreign policy. But Panetta was assigned to defend the Obama-Clinton policies of regime change and the war on terror, two terms they don’t use because they were associated with George W. Bush. To be honest, given what happened, I don’t remember exactly what he said, other than claiming credit for killing Osama bin Laden. I sat there quietly and sadly, holding up a hand-made sign I got from the fellow sitting next to me. It read, ‘End the drone wars.’ Democrats are quick to criticize Republican wars, but most are reluctant to challenge Democratic Commanders in Chief. I am not looking forward to four or eight more years of endless war. To my surprise, across the hall the Oregon delegation started chanting ‘No more war!’ Or maybe it was ‘wars.’ Our larger group quickly echoed them. I couldn’t tell if other delegates joined in. Before long, the masters of the house dimmed the lights shining on the Oregon delegation. We shouted ‘Lights, Lights …’ The Oregonians pulled out their smartphones and turned on their flashlight apps. It looked like a cosmic constellation. We shone ours, and I believe others were shining elsewhere in the arena.”

robin_hahnelRobin Hahnel is professor emeritus at the American University. He is best known as a radical economist and co-creator of a post-capitalist economic model known as “participatory economics.” His ten books include The Political Economy of Participatory Economics (Princeton University Press). He just wrote the piece “Brexit: Establishment Freak Out,” which states: “It is comical to watch the establishment on both sides of the Atlantic panic over short-run economic damage due to market ‘over reaction,’ because any danger of this is due to their own negligence. Only because the establishment has hitched our economic destinies to the whims of financial markets is there any need to worry that Brexit might trigger yet another global meltdown. Only because the establishment failed to implement prudent, financial regulation in the seven years since the last financial crisis crashed the global economy is there any danger today. Only because the Cameron government and the European Commission responded to the Great Recession with counterproductive fiscal austerity is a return to deeper recession in Europe quite probable. But we can be sure of one thing: All negative economic trends will now be blamed on Brexit and the populist ‘mob’ who brought it on, rather than on the establishment’s neoliberal policies which are actually responsible.” You can follow him on Twitter here: @RobinHahnel and you can read more examples of his work here:

Economic Growth, Climate Change, and Capitalism

Brexit: Establishment Freak Out

‘Told You So’ Is Bitter Sweet

Capitalist Cheating

An Open Letter to the Climate Justice Movement

Read more…

Show Details for the week of July 25th, 2016

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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.

jwxnslxt_400x400We 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.

Show Details for the week of June 20th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week is an extended interview with Barry Lando in which we discuss the terror attacks in Paris and Orlando in a broader context of history, international events, media coverage, and the relationship between government and media. This is the kind of exchange this show is known for – a freeform conversation about an important topic that moves beyond the media’s norm of decontextualized sound-bytes and ahistorical sensationalism.

More about this week’s guest:

79641e0e9451a1416658b671cef8769bBarry Lando was a producer for 60 Minutes for over 25 years, most of those producing stories for Mike Wallace. Lando produced the first interview with the Ayatollah Khomeini after the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, which aired 14 days after the hostages were captured. Another famous story he produced was on the 1990 Temple Mount riots. Wallace said of Lando and another producer, “if it wasn’t for [Marion Goldin] and Barry there would be no 60 Minutes.”

Lando pioneered the use of hidden cameras for investigative television reporting. He was awarded a George Polk award for Television Reporting in 1977. Lando and Wallace won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award in 1990 for the segment “40,000 a Day.” Lando also won two Emmys at 60 Minutes.

In 2004, Lando collaborated with Michel Despratx to produce a documentary for Canal+ called “Saddam Hussein, the Trial the World Will Never See.” Lando’s 2007 book, Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, From Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush, covered 85 years of Western intervention in Iraq. Lando has written for The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the International Herald Tribune, and Le Monde. 

His most recent book is The Watchman’s File. You can read excerpts of that book here. During the interview, specific reference is made to Barry’s recent article TERRORISM: PARIS & ORLANDO-AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS

You can follow Barry Lando on Twitter

Show Details for the week of June 6th, 2016

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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:

height-200-no_border-width-200Sam 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:

 

palast_hi_res_sepia-squareGreg 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: