Coleen Rowley, is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. Following Comey’s firing, she said: “In July 2013, I suggested in this New York Times op-ed that James Comey should answer a lot of hard questions before the Senate confirmed his appointment by Obama as FBI Director, explaining why he had signed off on the Bush administration’s torture, unlawful detention and illegal warrantless surveillance programs. But in 2013, the Senate barely scratched the surface before rushing to confirm Comey, ironically lauding his integrity. But if anyone in government actually cared about integrity and upholding the rule of law, maybe Comey ought not to have been hired in the first place! Comey’s unorthodox press briefings are far less significant to adherence to the Constitution than his prior illegal actions. But I doubt that his press statements in the lead-up to the election are actually why Comey was fired. Hillary Clinton’s campaign apparently suspects that Trump and gang just seized on the Clinton email investigation as an opportunistic way of getting rid of Comey and they may be right.”
Ray McGovern’s 27-year career as a CIA analyst spanned administrations from John F. Kennedy to George H. W. Bush. He leads the “Speaking Truth to Power” section of Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s five most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985. In January 2003, Ray co-created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to expose how intelligence was being falsified to “justify” war on Iraq.
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?
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?”
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.”
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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.
More about this week’s guests:
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…”
If you tuned in last week you would have heard Greg Palast‘s analysis of voter turnout vs voter repression in several states and how those factors helped determine the outcome of the election. This week we follow up on the recount effort with Bob Fitrakis.
The Monitor tends to cover serious news stories and this can perhaps make you feel like there is no good news out there. By way of correcting that impression, our second interview is with Justin Zimmerman of Bricker-Down Productions. He is the Director and Producer of a documentary called SMART (Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team).
During the show you will also hear a song called No More War Anymore by Eileen Kozloff. More about her at the end of this post and thank you to Hank Woji for giving me her CD to listen to.
More about this week’s guests:
Robert J. Fitrakis is Distinguished Full Professor of Political Science at Columbus State Community College, where he won the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991. He was a Ford Foundation Fellow to the Michigan State legislature in 1975 and studied at the University of Sarajevo on scholarship in 1978. Fitrakis earned a J.D. from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2002. His Ph.D is in Political Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He has also taught political theory at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and political science at Wayne State University and Oakland Community College. He holds the following degrees: B.S., Political Science and History, Grand Valley State College, 1978; M.A., Political Theory, Wayne State University, 1982; Ph.D., American Government, Wayne State University, 1990; J.D., The Ohio State University
He was the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 12th District, and in 1995 ran for election to the Columbus School Board. He has written extensively about political theory, co-published a scholarly article on health-care policy, and made presentations at academic conferences on political theory, electoral politics, and public policy. He also has a radio talk show called “Fight Back!” on talktainmentradio.com (Wednesdays at 7:00pm). He publishes and edits The Free Press, a quarterly journal of opinion and new analysis. It is on the web at www.freepress.org .
Justin Zimmerman of Bricker-Down Productions is the Director and Producer of SMART (Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team). He is a nationally recognized writer, filmmaker and professor. He has taught in multiple colleges and programs and his production company, Bricker-Down Productions®, has been the recipient of many grants, film festival honors and awards.
Since SMART’s formation in 2009, the self-trained team has saved nearly 1,000 animals (domestic, wild, and abused animals of all kinds), including 200 this year. Covering the entire city of Los Angeles, an area of over 400 square miles encompassing 4 million people and approximately 8 million domestic animals, the team of 12 Animal Control Officers, represent the cultural melting pot that is this city, and has a 100% save rate. Due to SMART’s distinctive training, it can respond to calls that other emergency responders and Animal Control Officers are not equipped to handle, as seen in the film when they are called in to help Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) after a buck gets trapped in his backyard.
“We will do anything and everything we can to rescue an animal. We’ll go buy whatever it is we need. It’s not unusual to go to the store and put down $500 on some equipment…out of our own pocket. We just really believe in what we are doing.” –Annette Ramirez, Animal Services Personnel, SMART team member
Since its inception, SMART has inspired the creation of two other similar teams in Riverside and San Diego, and have won the Higgins & Langley Award in 2012, the top accolades for swiftwater rescue teams globally. The team’s leader (Armando Navarrete) has received department commendations in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the team also makes school visits at least once a month and participates regularly in emergency preparedness fairs.
The team is currently made up of 5 women and 7 men (Team Leader Armando Navarrete, Ernesto Poblano, Annette Ramirez, Ramon Garcia, Yvette Smith, Hoang Dinh, Hugh Briefman, Glen Julian, Verna Riparip, Tam Shepphird, Felix Lopez and Gabby Lera) representing the ethnic multiculturality of Los Angeles. In the last seven years, team members have spent almost $80,000 dollars of their own money to assist with expenses not covered by the department’s budget.
Says Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, SMART’s role is “to show people that the impossible is possible.”
Directed by Justin Zimmerman (“Fireland,” “The Titanic of Southampton”) and executive produced by Kimberly Zimmerman, the 74-minute film has been an Official Selection at 19 festivals, nominated for 12 awards and won 7 including Best Feature, Best Documentary, Audience Award and Best Photography:
BEST DOCUMENTARY – Artemis Film Festival, ’16
BEST FEATURE – Animal Film Festival / Grass Valley, ’16
AUDIENCE AWARD – Animal Film Festival / Grass Valley, ’16
BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY – Northern Virginia International Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY – Intendence Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY CINEMATOGRAPHY – Southampton International Film Festival, ’16
SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Global Cinema Film Festival of Boston, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY NOMINEE – Cayman Islands International Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY & EDITING NOMINEE – Action on Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY SOUND & EDITING NOMINEE – Southampton International Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – University of Colorado, ’15
Official Selection – Lewis & Clark College, ’15
Official Selection – Gasparilla International Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Green Bay Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Reel Cinerama, ’16
Official Selection – MCAS / Hollywood, ’16
Official Selection – FoF / Salem, ’16
Official Selection – OCHS / City Lights, ’16
Official Selection – Central City Comic / Film Con, ’16
Official Selection – Colorado Animal Welfare Conference, ’16
Official Selection – Animal Film Festival / Del Mar, ’16
Official Selection – StarDoc Fest, ’16
Official Selection – Black Hills Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – New Hope Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – SF DocFest, ’16
Official Selection – Cinema at the Edge Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Pickford Film Center / Doctober, ’16
Official Selection – International Women’s Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Downtown Film Festival LA, ’16
Official Selection – Wexner Center for the Arts, ’17
Eileen Kozloff is a multi-instrumentalist who has been actively involved in the autoharp world for over a quarter of a century! She is an award winning artist, for her singing, songwriting and instrumental work. She is best known for her uique “pick-less” style of diatonic autoharp and for her soaring vocals, stunning harmonies and commanding performances. Her ability to compose, play and sing in a wide range of genres has made her a versatile festival performer and workshop teacher. In addition to performing at festivals, concerts and dance venues, Eileen has appeared live on numerous radio and television broadcasts, and for several years she was a “Rostered Artist” with the Pennsylvania Council of the Ats Artist-in Residence program. In the winter of 2012, Eileen performed and taught workshops at two Australian Folk Festivals,: Cygnet (in Tasmania) and Illawara (in Wollongong). She has been invited to return to Oz and will be adding even more venues in 2017!
Maria Páez Victor is a sociologist, born in Venezuela and educated in Caracas, New York, Mexico City, and Canada. For several years she taught the sociology of health and medicine as well as health and environmental policies at the University of Toronto. Páez Victor has national and international experience in policy analysis and impact assessment, with expertise in the areas of health, environment, and energy. You can read some of her recent articles at the following links:
Quote: “At the heart of American political consciousness right now lies a soul-crushing reality for millions of distraught Americans: the choices for president couldn’t be feebler or more disappointing. On the one hand, we have a petulant, vocabulary-challenged man-boar of a billionaire, who hasn’t paid his taxes, has regularly left those supporting him holding the bag, and seems like a ludicrous composite of every bad trait in every bad date any woman has ever had. On the other hand, we’re offered a walking photo-op for and well-paid speechmaker to Wall-Street CEOs, a one-woman money-raising machine from the 1 percent of the 1 percent, who, despite a folksiness that couldn’t look more rehearsed, has methodically outplayed her opponent. … In this election, Hillary has crafted her talking points regarding the causes of the last financial crisis as weapons against Trump, but they hardly begin to tell the real story of what happened to the American economy. The meltdown of 2007-2008 was not mainly due to ‘tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy’ or a ‘failure to invest in the middle class,’ two subjects she has repeatedly highlighted to slam the Republicans and their candidate. It was a byproduct of the destruction of the regulations that opened the way for a too-big-to-fail framework to thrive. Under the presidency of Bill Clinton, Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era act that once separated people’s bank deposits and loans from any kind of risky bets or other similar actions in which banks might engage, was repealed under the Financial Modernization Act of 1999. In addition, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed, which allowed Wall Street to concoct devastating unregulated side bets on what became the subprime crisis. … One possible contender for treasury secretary in a new Clinton administration would be Bill Clinton’s Under Secretary of Domestic Finance and Obama’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman, Gary Gensler (who was — I’m sure you won’t be shocked — a Goldman Sachs partner before entering public service). These, then, are typical inhabitants of the Clinton inner circle and of the political-financial corridors of power. … Among the emails sent to John Podesta that were posted by WikiLeaks is an article I wrote for TomDispatch on the Clintons’ relationships with bankers. ‘She will not point fingers at her friends,’ I said in that piece in May 2015. ‘She will not chastise the people who pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop to speak or the ones who have long shared the social circles in which she and her husband move.’ I also suggested that she wouldn’t call out any CEO by name. To this day she hasn’t.” Prins’ past pieces include “Madoff in the White House? How Trump’s Conflicts of Interest Could Become Ours.”
Quote: “AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner would create a media behemoth with dangerous concentrations of political and economic power. With one corporation controlling so much production and distribution of news and entertainment media, this vertical integration poses significant potential hazards for millions of consumers and could harm the health of our democratic discourse. AT&T is already one of the nation’s largest internet and phone providers, as well as the largest pay-TV operator with its recent acquisition of DirecTV. By acquiring Time Warner’s media empire, which includes CNN, HBO, and Warner Bros, AT&T can privilege its own programs over competitors’ and prevent other internet and cable companies from having access to them. Such a merger deserves close regulatory scrutiny from the Justice Department. It raises serious antitrust concerns, especially since the lack of competition resulting from such mega-mergers can lead to higher costs and fewer choices for consumers. Much of the American media system is already plagued by prohibitive costs and poor services and this merger would not make things better — indeed, it could make things considerably worse. It could also spur a new wave of mergers between other content and distribution companies, encouraging an already highly concentrated media system to become more consolidated. In the coming weeks and months, we will no doubt hear from industry representatives that such a merger would provide many public benefits. But historically this has rarely been the case. Moreover, there’s growing pressure from antitrust circles — as well as activists and leading politicians — to reverse the trend toward vertically-integrated oligopolies. This proposed deal may provide a crucial test case for whether the era of new media monopolies has begun to recede.”
Pickard is also co-editor, with Robert McChesney, of the book Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It.