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.
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.
Is the Affordable Care Act imploding and beyond repair? We discuss the topic with John Geyman.
Comey, Clinton, and the politics of investigations – an interview with Coleen Rowley.
Reminder – this coming Thursday Greg Palast is coming to Houston and there is a screening of his movie The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. This is a single screening on one night only. Full Details here.
More about this week’s guests:
John Geyman is professor emeritus of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, where he served as Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine from 1976 to 1990. As a family physician with over 25 years in academic medicine, he has also practiced in rural communities for 13 years. He was the founding editor of The Journal of Family Practice (1973 to 1990) and the editor of The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine from 1990 to 2003. He is a past president of Physicians for a National Health Program.
Quote: “Premium increases for 2017 under the Affordable Care Act are being reported in a number of states (e.g. 59 percent in Minnesota up to 119 percent in Arizona), typically associated with reduced choice of health plans as more insurers exit the market. The costs of health insurance and health care already exceed $25,000 a year for a family of four on an average employer-sponsored plan as these increases become unaffordable and unsustainable for a growing part of our population.” His recent piece lists a host of problems with the ACA, as well as proposals by Hillary Clinton and Republicans. He writes: “Multiple studies have demonstrated that in the U.S. we could save about $500 billion a year by enacting a nonprofit single-payer national health program that streamlines administration. Those savings would be sufficient to guarantee everyone high-quality care, with no cost sharing, on a sustainable basis. The system could also negotiate lower drug prices. Studies over the past two decades have shown 3 of 5 Americans supporting an improved version of Medicare for all. Support for single payer is also growing among doctors and other health care professionals. Yet the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, H.R. 676 (Rep. John Conyers’ bill), with 62 co-sponsors, sits neglected in a House committee.” Geyman is the author of more than a dozen books. The most recent are:
• Health Care Wars: How Market Ideology and Corporate Power are Killing Americans (2012), • Souls on a Walk: An Enduring Love Story Unbroken by Alzheimer’s (2013) • How Obamacare is Unsustainable: Why We Need a Single-Payer Solution for All Americans (2015) won a National Nonfiction Book Award
• The Human Face of ObamaCare: Promises vs. Reality and What Comes Next (2016)
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. She now writes op-eds for Consortium News.
Quote: “Given the beating that FBI Director James Comey is taking from Democratic leaders and partisans as well as from the Clinton campaign, it would be good to remember some of his history. Back in 2013, I wrote a New York Times op-ed [“Questions for the F.B.I. Nominee“] that attempted to question and point out some of the (mostly undeserved) basis for Comey’s reputation for integrity. My op-ed came out the day of his Senate confirmation hearing accompanied by a nice torture graphic (although the Times watered it down a little; for instance, they made me change the word ‘torture.’ We settled on: ‘He ultimately approved the C.I.A.’s list of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding, which experts on international law consider a form of torture.’). The op-ed had little effect as Comey sailed through the nomination with full bipartisan support and only one Senator voting against his confirmation. Comey is neither saint nor villain but someone who has been around the block. As an acting Attorney General, he’s actually been in his nominal boss’s Loretta Lynch’s exact position and knows how the political pressures as well as media disclosures (i.e. leaking to the public) work. Although he wasn’t really challenging mass surveillance of American citizens or the CIA’s use of torture back March 2004 in Ashcroft’s hospital room, he did stand up to John Yoo’s (presidentially ordained) pettifoggery establishing a form of martial law after 9-11, based on (fascistic) ‘imperial presidency’ war powers. Considering his background, I think Comey could be truly worried about the high level of corruption that has engulfed Washington D.C. It should be recalled that he appointed Patrick Fitzgerald as an independent prosecutor to investigate Bush-Cheney’s ‘Plamegate’ perfidy. And don’t forget a young Comey helped investigate the Clintons’ ‘Whitewater’ fraud over two decades ago. Yet after his stint at the Department of Justice, Comey went on to become a Vice-President and General Counsel for Lockheed Martin which donates to and has numerous ties to the Clintons and their Foundation.”
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 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.
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.