On The Monitor this week:
- James Carden on the continued U.S.-arming of terrorists in Syria amidst DC’s ongoing Political Theater
- Andrew Cockburn on reviving the art of threat inflation and aiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen
More about this week’s guests:
James Carden is a Washington, DC–based journalist focusing on US foreign policy. He is also the executive editor of the American Committee for East-West Accord, and a contributing writer at The Nation. He has served as an Advisor to the US-Russia Presidential Commission at the US State Department. He has contributed articles on US-Russia policy to The American Conservative, The National Interest, The Moscow Times. He graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. His most recent articles include:Why Does the US Continue to Arm Terrorists in Syria? and Round Up the Usual Suspects, It’s Time for a Show Hearing. You can read his articles for The Nation here.
Born in London and raised in County Cork, Andrew Cockburn moved to the U.S. in 1979. He is a journalist, an author and a filmmaker. He is also the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. His books include: Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship and The Threat: Inside the Soviet Military Machine. His most recent book is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. His latest articles include The New Red Scare Reviving the art of threat inflation; and Acceptable Losses Aiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen. You can read his latest articles for Harper’s here.
On The Monitor this week:
- The confirmation of Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of Health and Human Services – an interview with Carol Paris.
- Terrorism, Trump, and the media narrative – an interview with Beau Grosscup
More about this week’s guests:
Dr. Carol Paris is a recently retired psychiatrist who worked for more than 25 years in private practice, community mental health, prison psychiatry, and academia. She is president of Physicians for a National Health Program. In the course of her experience, much of which was in Maryland, she became an outspoken critic of the private-insurance-based U.S. health care system.
In May 2009, she and seven others stood up, one by one, at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on health care reform chaired by Sen. Max Baucus to ask why there wasn’t a single advocate for single-payer health care on the 41-member panel. In an action that received national media attention, Baucus had all eight peaceful protesters, including Dr. Paris, arrested. (Charges were eventually reduced, requiring only community service.)
Quote in response to the Senate vote to confirm Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of health and human services: “The Senate’s confirmation of Tom Price as health secretary is a body blow to the health and welfare of all Americans. According to this week’s Monmouth University poll, Americans’ biggest concern today is with their mounting health care costs, more so than their job security, taxes or other household bills. With Price at the helm of HHS, this concern is only going to escalate. Price’s vision for reforming U.S. health care would result in millions of Americans losing existing health insurance coverage, and millions more having to make do with bare-bones policies that offer little to no meaningful protection. He can also be expected to push high-deductible health plans, which already result in millions of people forgoing needed care, and to undermine Medicare, the Medicaid program and safety-net hospitals. If Price’s policies come to pass, the free-market ideologues who supported them will no longer be able to hide behind false promises like ‘universal access.’ The results will be laid bare for everyone to see, and elected officials will have to answer to the poor, working-class, elderly, and chronically ill Americans who will suffer needlessly as a result. Studies show that about 43,000 people will die each year if such policies are implemented. Congress urgently needs to reverse course and embrace the obvious solution: an improved Medicare for all.”
Beau Grosscup is author of several books on terrorism including The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and, most recently, Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment. He recently retired from teaching (California State University).
- 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…”
This week’s show is a little different. It is a mix of audio clips edited together featuring: part of “Hypernormlization” by Adam Curtis, the voice of Carl Sagan, JFK’s “Peace” speech, a clip from “Mississippi Burning” and Charley Chaplin’s speech in “The Dictator“. I hope you enjoy the journey.
On The Monitor this week:
- A somewhat lengthy take on the result of the U.S. Presidential election
- Maria Páez Victor on the situation in Venezuela
The opening monologue references a couple of things for you to consider. First is the number of people who voted. Second is that there are some underlying factors that impacted who got to vote. Third is some of the reasons behind a significant number of the votes Trump got (NSFW).
More about this week’s guest:
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:
Animals Included: Hating Venezuela
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.