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.
- 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…”
- Is Donald Trump really Anti-Establishment or about to function as a tool of insiders? We discuss the topic with Patty Lovera
- The potential ramifications of a Trump presidency on the Israeli-Palestinian question – an interview with Miko Peled
More about this week’s guests:
Patty Lovera is the Assistant Director of Food & Water Watch. She coordinates the food team. Patty has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Lehigh University and a master’s degree in environmental policy from the University of Michigan. Before joining Food & Water Watch, Patty was the deputy director of the energy and environment program at Public Citizen and a researcher at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.
Wenonah Hauter, the executive director Food & Water Watch, said last week: “While Trump campaigned as a political outsider, his transition team is filled with corporate lobbyists. His agriculture advisors are agribusiness insiders. He has called climate change a hoax, and his energy advisor is a lobbyist for the Koch Brothers. His reported top pick for energy secretary is Harold Hamm, a modern-day oil tycoon. Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration will likely be filled with people who will benefit financially from more fracking, more industrial agriculture and factory farms, and expanded deregulation masquerading as trade policy. The people he has indicated will be in his cabinet are the same people who have advocated policies that are destroying our climate and creating a society marked by stratification and racial prejudice. We expect to see more deregulation of industry that will damage our communities, our environment, and our democracy.”
He said one week before the U.S. election: “Nonviolent demonstrations in Palestine have been going on since 2005, protesting their lands and fresh water supply being taken by Jewish settlements. I was arrested Friday, Aug 3, 2012 in the village of Nabi Saleh and was charged with disturbing the peace, participating in an illegal gathering and entering a closed military zone. I was acquitted by a judge in October 2015. The government of Israel won the case on appeal, claiming that I was guilty by association because I anticipated disturbances and rock-throwing would occur at the protest, and chose to attend anyway. This prosecution is clearly politically motivated. These weekly demonstrations are part of the Palestinian peaceful, nonviolent resistance often attended by Nobel laureates and other people who are respected worldwide. The only disturbance of the peace is when the army shows up and starts to shoot, first tear gas, then rubber-coated bullets and then live ammunition. As privileged Jews in the state of Israel, I and other Israeli activists face minor consequences even if we are found guilty of the charges. This is in stark contrast with what Palestinians face if they are arrested in the same place and are faced with the same charges.”
Peled’s sentencing took place on Nov. 8th — Election Day in the U.S. He says, “The 2016 elections give Americans an opportunity to speak up against the $38 Billion boondoggle in foreign aid to Israel. Israel is a fully developed country that neither needs nor deserves foreign aid. Much of this money will go to activity that contravenes U.S. laws, yet both major candidates wholeheartedly support it.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Gareth Porter on How Putin’s leverage shaped the Syrian ceasefire
- Max Blumenthal on Israel, BDS, and U.S. media coverage of Israel and Palestine
There is an event on Tuesday the 29th of March that is probably of interest to our listeners: The Ervin Frederick Kalb Lecture in History at Rice University. The title is “America, Energy and War” and the speaker is Toby C. Jones. The event starts at 7:00PM. Get all the details here and come along, if you can. See you there!
More about this week’s guests:
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian who specializes in U.S. national security policy. He writes regularly for Middle East Eye and has also published investigative articles on Salon.com, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is the author several books, including Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in 2005, and Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare in 2015. He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Follow him on Twitter
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He has written several books, including The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party (a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller). He also recently completed a short documentary with James Kleinfeld in which they speak to far right activists in Finland. Watch it here. Follow him on Twitter
On The Monitor this week:
- Flint Water Crisis: What Did the EPA Know? We discuss the crisis with Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
- Donald Trump’s rhetoric and the AIPAC agenda, what’s the difference? We discuss the issue with Rabbi Brant Rosen
More about this week’s guests:
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is author of No Fear: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. As senior policy analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she became a whistleblower when the EPA ignored her complaints about a U.S. company harming the environment and human health in its vanadium mining in South Africa. Denied promotion, she sued and won a jury verdict finding EPA guilty of discrimination. Coleman-Adebayo is a founder of the No FEAR Coalition and EPA Employees Against Racism. Under her leadership No FEAR organized a grassroots campaign that won passage of the “Notification of Federal Employees Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act,” AKA the No Fear Act. Coleman-Adebayo serves on the board of directors of the National Whistleblower Center and was inducted into the Project on Government Oversight’s Hall of Fame. She is an editor and columnist for the Black Agenda Report. She recently wrote the following articles for The Guardian: Flint’s best hope for justice? The streets and Water crises like Flint’s will continue until the EPA is held accountable (co-written with Kevin Berends)
Quote from her recent article on BlackAgendaReport.com: “EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder are scheduled to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday, March 17, to provide testimony on the poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s water. Public outcry has finally empowered Congress to demand that McCarthy and Snyder provide an accounting of their role in the poisoning of thousands of citizens. The essential question for this hearing is the same as that of the Watergate Hearing: what did they know and when did they know it? EPA electronic traffic between the former Region 5 Administrator and McCarthy must be subpoenaed. McCarthy and Snyder had perhaps hoped that the public would be silenced with sending former EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman careening under the bus. The ultimate authority for water regulations rests with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act. In fact, the CWA provides for criminal penalties for violations of this Act. Flint, Michigan falls within the federal jurisdiction of Region 5 and, until her resignation in February in disgrace, was under EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman. …EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was aware that there were problems with Hedman’s leadership prior to the Flint crisis. …This is a sickeningly familiar story at the EPA, an agency governed by fear, recrimination, retaliation and discrimination. It is likely that EPA Administrator McCarthy will argue that the Flint disaster was the result of ‘a few bad apples’ and that with Administrator Hedman’s resignation the problem has been addressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The EPA is rife with managers who have been allowed to engage in criminal behavior without fear of accountability. Far from dealing with root causes, McCarthy stands on protocol over the well being of her own employees. She will always side with her in-house group of managers who are in bed with their corporate masters — this is one of the lessons of the Flint poisoning crisis.”
Rabbi Brant Rosen is the co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinic Council. The group recently put out a statement, “Trump’s Islamophobic Rhetoric Goes Hand in Hand with AIPAC’s Agenda,” which states: “Many of the most alarming statements and policy proposals Donald Trump has made are already reality in Israel, and supported by AIPAC. Israel already refuses to open its doors to Syrian refugees (many of whom are of Palestinian origin), allows privileged immigration status for one religious group over others, is building highly militarized walls … and allows a demagogue leader to get away with using blatant racism to get votes.” Also see: “On Israeli election day, Netanyahu warns of Arabs voting ‘in droves.’”
Rosen is the Midwest Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee. In August 2015, he founded Tzedek Chicago, a new ‘non-Zionist’ synagogue in Chicago. Rosen previously served as the rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois from 1998 to 2014. He is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. In 2009, he co-founded the Jewish Fast for Gaza, or Ta’anit Tzedek with Rabbi Brian Walt. Rosen is also an active environmentalist. Under his leadership, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation built their new building with an environmentally sustainable design in 2008, becoming the first house of worship to ever receive a Platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. He was the recipient of Chicago Magazine’s Green Award for his environmental leadership in 2009. Rosen’s blog Shalom Rav explores “the intersection between Judaism and social justice, with a particular emphasis on Israel/Palestine.” In 2012, Just World Books published his book, “Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity,” which featured his posts and numerous reader comments from Shalom Rav. Rosen is also the author of the blog Yedid Nefesh, where he posts his poetry and thoughts on Judaism and spirituality. He has contributed to The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Forward, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and other media outlets.
On The Monitor this week
- Assessing the gap between rhetoric and policy – just how “extreme” is Trump’s discourse? We discuss the topic with Arun Kundani
- A journey from Zionism to peace activism with Miko Peled
More about this week’s guests:
On The Monitor this week:
- Reporting from Syria and not just on Syria – an interview with Eva Bartlett
- The difference between a tactic and a strategy for dealing with ISIS – an interview with Ambassador Edward Djerejian
More about this week’s guests:
Eva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. She has visited Syria four times in the last 2 years (April and June 2014, February and December 2015). You can read other articles by Eva, or visit Eva’s website. She has a lengthy article published on DissdentVoice titled Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria
You can follow here on twitter here and read her articles about Syria here. The interview attempts to dissect the divergent narratives presented about Syria in the media and to get an eyewitness account from somebody who has actually been there. It is sure to cause some controversy.
Edward Djerejian is a former United States diplomat who served in eight administrations from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton (1962–94.) He served as the United States Ambassador to Syria (1988–91) and Israel (1993–94), Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1985-1986), and was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1991-1993.) He is the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and is the author of the book Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East. You can read his full bio here and follow him on twitter here
The main focus of the interview is Ambassador Djerejian’s policy brief on ISIS titled A STRATEGY TOWARD DEFEATING ISIS in which he argued that recent attacks were an opportunity for a U.S.-led coalition to come together to defeat a common enemy. Full text available online in English (CME-ISIS-111915) and Arabic (CME-ISIS-Arabic-122115).
During the interview I asked Ambassador Djerejian for his response to the speech President Obama gave in which he outlined the U.S. response to the terror threat posed by ISIS: Full text of President Obama’s speech in reaction to the shootings in San Bernardino, CA You can also read Ambassador Djerejian’s June 2, 1992 speech mentioned towards the end of the interview: Meridian House Speech.