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:
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
On The Monitor this week:
- Is Wall Street in the Saddle? We discuss Hillary Clinton’s relationships with Wall Street and Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest with Nomi Prins
- What of the media’s role in understanding our elections? We talk about AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner with Victor Pickard
More about this week’s guests:
Nomi Prins is author of All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power and just wrote the piece “Waking Up in Hillary Clinton’s America: Wall Street in the Saddle” for TomDispatch.com.
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.”
Victor Pickard is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of the book America’s Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform. He also recently wrote the piece “Media and Politics in the Age of Trump.”
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.
- On the Cynicism of the Clinton Foundation with Ken Silverstein
- On America’s Racial Wealth Divide with Josh Hoxie
Josh 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.
On The Monitor this week:
- Wendell Potter discusses his book Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts our Democracy and What We can do about it
- Money and Musicals – Gerald Horne on Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, and Harriet Tubman
More about this week’s guests:
Following a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Wendell left his position as VP of Communications for Cigna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, to advocate for meaningful health care reform and to help organizations working for the greater good achieve their goals. In widely covered Congressional hearings, Wendell disclosed how insurance companies, to boost profits, engage in practices that have forced millions of Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, and use deceptive PR tactics to undermine health care reform.
His book, “Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks out on how Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans,” is a stark warning that corporate spin is distorting our democracy. Wendell is also the author of “Obamacare: What’s in it for me? What everyone needs to know about the Affordable Care Act.” Wendell is a regular contributor for The Huffington Post and HealthInsurance.org.
Wendell’s latest book, coauthored by Nick Penniman is “Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do about It,” which exposes legalized corruption and links it to kitchen-table issues citizens face every day.
Gerald Horne holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. His research has addressed issues of racism in a variety of contexts involving labor, politics, civil rights, international relations and war. He has also written extensively about the film industry. Dr. Horne received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and his B.A. from Princeton University. Dr. Horne’s undergraduate courses include the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. History through Film. He also teaches graduate courses in Diplomatic History, Labor History and 20th Century African American History. Dr. Horne uses a variety of teaching techniques that enrich his classes and motivate students to participate.
Quote: “The U.S., as an artificially constructed former settler state, has a problem of unity — not least of all with its African American population. Many nations have to construct a mythology to achieve unity. The U.S. myth of the Founding Fathers has revolved around Washington and Jefferson, but both have been scrutinized. Alexander Hamilton is now in effect being put forward, but he was the captain of the one percent — he represented the interests of big finance at the beginning of the United States. He personified the grievances that continue, and that the Sanders campaign and — to a degree the Trump campaign — have objected to. So, if you have a multiracial, hip hop cast in this musical, you pretend we’re achieving national unity. The actual historical record is so very different. Britain was moving toward abolition, so in 1776, the slave owners rebelled. That’s in large part the origin of the United States. In terms of Alexander Hamilton the man, he migrated to the mainland from the Caribbean as the enslaved Africans became more rebellious. The elite whites could no longer control the situation though the region had been considered the crown jewel of the British empire in this hemisphere. His coming to what became the U.S. was actually an example of what we’d call white flight. Much of our political climate is continuously obscured because we still haven’t come to terms with the racist and economic realities of the United States from its origin. That allows for many poor whites to align politically with white elites rather than with black folks.”
Among his most recent publications
- Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow, 2014.
- The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America, 2014.
- Black Revolutionary: William Patterson and the Globalization of the African-American Freedom Struggle, 2014.
On The Monitor this week:
- Despite the Democrats shalacking in the midterms the Minimum Wage is Four for Four…in “Red States.” We talk to Peter Davis about the issue.
- As Veteran’s Day approaches, why do we keep thanking the troops? We discuss the topic with Rory Fanning.
More about this week’s guests:
Peter Davis is a campaign activist for Time for a Raise campaign, a project of Ralph Nader’s Center for the Study of Responsive Law. He and Ralph Nader just co-wrote a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi which states: “Buried underneath the coverage of the Democrats’ second midterm ‘shalackin’ in a row is a stark public sentiment that provides a path forward for your caucuses during the upcoming lame duck session. Despite the Republican wave, a minimum wage raise passed in every state in which it was on the ballot. These were not coastal blue states: the four 2014 minimum wage ballot initiatives – for Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota — passed in Republican-dominated states which all elected Republican senators alongside the initiative. If your caucuses were to uniformly and exuberantly push for a minimum wage raise in the upcoming Congressional work session, it would transition the national media narrative away from Republican momentum in the never-ending horse race and towards whether the new Congressional leadership will be responsive to the public sentiment and needs of American workers.” See the full letter.
In August, Nader wrote the piece “Democrats Are Doomed (Unless They Make the Minimum Wage the #1 November Election Issue).”
Nader’s latest book is Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Earlier this year, Nader’s office hosted a conference on left-right alliance. See video of the conference here.
“Last week, in a quiet indie bookstore on the north side of Chicago, I saw the latest issue of Rolling Stone resting on a chrome-colored plastic table a few feet from a barista brewing a vanilla latte. A cold October rain fell outside. A friend of mine grabbed the issue and began flipping through it. Knowing that I was a veteran, he said, ‘Hey, did you see this?’ pointing to a news story that seemed more like an ad. It read in part: “This Veterans Day, Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Rihanna, Dave Grohl, and Metallica will be among numerous artists who will head to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on November 11th for ‘The Concert For Valor,’ an all-star event that will pay tribute to armed services.
Concert For Valor? That sounds like something the North Korean government would organize,’ I said as I typed Concertforvalor.com into my MacBook Pro looking for more information… As I read, my heart sank, my shoulders slumped. Special guests at the Concert for Valor were to include: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg. The mission of the concert, according to a press release, was to ‘raise awareness’ of veterans issues and ‘provide a national stage for ensuring that veterans and their families know that their fellow Americans’ gratitude is genuine. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen were to serve in an advisory capacity, and Starbucks, HBO, and JP Morgan Chase were to pay for it all. ‘We are honored to play a small role to help raise awareness and support for our service men and women,’ said HBO chairman Richard Plepler. Will the ‘Concert for Valor’ mention the trillions of dollars rung up terrorizing Muslim countries for oil , the ratcheting up of the police and surveillance state in this country since 9/11, the hundreds of thousands of lives lost thanks to the wars of George W. Bush and Barack Obama? Is anyone going to dedicate a song to Chelsea Manning , or John Kiriakou , or Edward Snowden — two of them languishing in prison and one in exile — for their service to the American people? Will the Concert for Valor raise anyone’s awareness when it comes to the fact that, to this day, veterans lack proper medical attention, particularly for mental health issues, or that there is a veteran suicide every 80 minutes in this country? Let’s hope they find time in between drum solos, but myself, I’m not counting on it.”