We begin with the cliffhanger vote in the senate with Vice President Pence casting the tie-breaking vote to proceed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and speak with Dr. Adam Gaffney, an instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Secretary of Physicians for a National Health Program. He joins us to analyze the three bills that the Republicans will be voting on along with the House bill passed in May and we will discuss the various levels of pain the bills will cause with between 22 million and 32 million Americans suddenly deprived of healthcare which many only recently were able to afford in what is an abomination of the Hippocratic Oath physicians take that begins with the declaration to “first do no harm”.
Then we examine the apparent determination on the part of President Trump to humiliate and force the resignation of the first and only senator to join his presidential campaign, his most loyal and faithful servant the Attorney General of the United States, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third. The author of the new book “Rivals for Power: Presidential – Congressional Relations”, James Thurber, the University Distinguished Professor of Government and Founder and Former Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University joins us. We discuss the likely constitutional crisis that will erupt if and when Trump proceeds to force Sessions out in order to put in a compliant replacement to fire the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Then finally, following Trump’s latest insult against who he called “the beleaguered A.G.” and now calls “VERY weak”, we assess how long Jeff Sessions can survive on the job and how Trump can get away with appointing someone to stop the Russia investigation by firing Robert Mueller. Bill Yeomans, a former at Assistant Attorney General who is now the Ronald Goldfarb Fellow for Justice at the Alliance for Justice joins us to discuss how this standoff between Trump and Sessions puts all of us in the unfortunate position of asking whether it is better to have a relic from the Jim Crow South turn back the clock, or have Trump escape justice.
We begin with the increasingly important White House role of Stephen Bannon who successfully challenged the Secretary of State’s argument that Iran is sticking to the deal made with Obama, which makes it likely that in 90 days Trump will pull out of the G-5 +1 agreement with Iran. Joshua Green, a senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek and author of the new book “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency”, joins us to discuss the deep right wing Catholic fervor driving Bannon’s apocalyptic worldview that appears to go back to the 11th century crusades of the crescent versus the cross. We will look into the key role of Rebekah Mercer who brought Bannon and Kellyanne Conway in to rescue Trump’s flagging campaign and what the Mercer’s expect to get in exchange for being the biggest donors to both Bannon and Trump.
Then we speak with Thomas Nichols, a professor of national security affairs in the National Security Affairs Department of the Naval War College and author of the new book, “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters”. He joins us to discuss his belief that “the abysmal literacy, both political and general, of the American public is the foundation for all these problems. It is the soil in which all of the other dysfunctions have taken root and prospered, with the 2016 election only its most recent expression”.
Then finally we get an assessment of the new Democratic agenda, the “Better Deal” announced by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi that aims to rebuild the coalition that FDR put together and bring the white working class back into the Democrat’s big tent. Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, joins us to discuss Schumer’s implicit criticism of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the promising anti-trust measures in the plan that hopes to reclaim the Democrat’s populist mantle that Trump was able to expropriate in the last election.
We begin with the Congressional vote to sanction Russia that constrains President Trump in a clear rebuke which indicates a distrust of the president’s peculiar determination to please Putin. Ruth Ben-Ghait, a Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University joins us to discuss her article at CNN “Trump’s Authoritarian Playbook: What’s Next?” and the authoritarian playbook that she witnessed in Italy under Berlusconi that Trump appears to be following which could result in a constitutional crises if he does what he is threatening to do by firing the special prosecutor Robert Mueller and pardoning himself and his family. We will examine the portent of a political and cultural civil war that Trump has laid the groundwork for and the open appeal to American fascism in a recent NRA video that threatens armed insurrection against liberals with “the clenched fist of truth”.
Then we will look into Trump’s assertion that he has “the complete power to pardon” and speak with Brian Kalt, Professor of Law at Michigan State University and author of “Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies”, a book that identified unresolved constitutional questions that could easily lead to chaos and crisis. We will discuss what would happen if Trump fires Mueller as he has threatened to do, and tries to pardon himself and his family.
Then finally we will go to Warsaw, Poland to speak with Jan Kubik, Director of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and Provost for Europe at the University College, London. He joins us to discuss the power grab by Poland’s right wing government in taking over the constitutional court and the encouragement that the anti-democratic right wing governments in Poland and Hungary are getting from Sebastian Gorka, the Hungarian fascist in the White House who is a close advisor to Donald Trump.
We begin with the public humiliation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by his boss Donald Trump who told The New York Times he would not have hired Sessions had he known Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. David Graham, a staff writer for The Atlantic where he has an article “The Inadvisable President”, joins us to discuss the one-way street of loyalty in the Trump White House where Trump expects absolute loyalty while everyone around him, except for perhaps his family, are disposable. And in an Oval Office with the opposite message of Harry Truman’s that “the buck stops here”, if underlings are not blamed for everything that goes wrong they are at the mercy of a man who made himself famous as the gleeful executioner of jobs and careers with his power-play pronouncement – “you’re fired!”
Then we look into the deteriorating situation in Venezuela where today’s national strike has paralyzed a country on the brink of economic collapse and social chaos. David Smilde, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Office of Latin America who has studied Venezuela for 25 years and curates a blog “Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights”, joins us to discuss how much the embattled and unpopular President Maduro is in control of a country he is systematically turning into a Cuban-style pseudo-democracy. We assess what other centers of power exist with deep-rooted Cuban influence over the Intelligence and Military services as well as the power of cartels in the lucrative drug trade and the corrupt former Chavez loyalists who have become the new oligarchs.
Then finally, following the diagnosis that Senator John McCain has a virulent form of brain cancer, we assess the possibility that Arizona will have two senate races in 2018 with both the junior Senator Jeff Flake who is up for re-election and successors to John McCain on the ballot. Evan Wyloge, and investigative reporter with the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting joins us to discuss how the White House is already gunning for Jeff Flake who Trump hates and what a prolonged absence of Senator McCain will mean for the narrow Republican lead in the senate.
We begin with the revelation that Donald Trump held an hour-long second meeting with Vladimir Putin at the recent G-20 meeting that the White House did not mention at which there was only a Russian interpreter and no notes were taken leaving the U.S. Government to rely on whatever record the Russian Government produces. James Goldgeier, the Dean of the School of International Service at American University who was Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council and is the author of “Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy towards Russia after the Cold War”, joins us. We will discuss his article at The Washington Post “There are no notes on Trump’s meeting with Putin. That’s a big deal” and the importance of Memorandums of Conversations known as MemCons which are not only important for the leaders themselves, but are invaluable for scholars and the historical record.
Then we examine why the Republicans are having such a hard time repealing and replacing Obamacare, a seven-year-long mission if not obsession that is in disarray. James Morone, a professor of Political Science at Brown University and editor of “Healthcare Policy in the USA and Germany” whose latest book is “The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office”, joins us to discuss how not just Obamacare is proving to have a powerful political constituency, but also Medicaid is proving durable since it covers the costs of retirement homes for most of the nation’s elderly citizens.
Then finally, with the president hosting Republican senators for lunch at the White House where he issued a not-so-veiled threat to wayward senators urging them to “hammer” out a health plan adding, “We shouldn’t leave town until this is complete”, we look into the conflicted politics of repeal and replace. Jonathan Cohn, a senior correspondent at The Huffington Post and author of “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Healthcare Crisis – and Who Pays the Price”, joins us to discuss his latest article at The Huffington Post “Republicans Have a Way Out of Their Health Care Mess: Working with Democrats”.
We begin with an attempt to understand why Donald Trump persists in trying to make deals favorable to Russia on Putin’s terms, and speak with Dr. Michael Carpenter, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense with responsibility for Russia who served as a foreign policy advisor to Vice President Biden and as director for Russia at the National Security Council. Now a senior director of the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania, he joins us to discuss his article at Defense One, “The U.S. Should Steer Clear of Russian Help in Syria”. We look into the folly of working with the Russians to combat ISIS since Putin’s strategy is to support his proxy Assad at all cost without recognizing that Assad is the main reason why Islamic terrorists have a foothold in Syria.
Then we examine the reasons why Trump and the Republicans have sold their souls to Russia following a recent poll that finds 48% of Republicans see nothing wrong with Donald Trump Junior’s meeting with Russian operatives offering help to elect Trump and damage his opponent. James Kirchick, a journalist and foreign correspondent who is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of “The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues and the Coming Dark Age”, joins us to discuss his article at Politico “How the GOP Became the Party of Putin”. And since Trump’s core supporters live in a bubble of delusion impervious to facts and evidence, we assess the extent to which Trump’s advisors like Bannon and Gorka have followed the playbook of Putin’s media guru Vladislav Surkov to create a parallel universe of alternative facts in which there is no objective truth, but where only subjective truth matters.
Then finally we speak with Abbe Gluck, a Professor of Law and the Faculty Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School. She joins us to try to make sense of the many tweets and statements coming from Donald Trump in the wake of the Republican Senate’s latest failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act which Trump is praising as “a pretty impressive vote by any standard” while declaring he wants Obamacare to fail and that “Republicans are not going to own it”.
We begin with White House plans to privatize the war in Afghanistan following a proposal by Erik Prince the brother of Betsy DeVos and founder of the mercenary army Blackwater along with Stephen Feinberg the billionaire hedge fund owner of the military and intelligence contractor DynCorp, that Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner are championing. A biographer of Erik Prince, Robert Young Pelton, the author of “License to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror”, joins us to discuss what is called the “Laos option”, to turn over the fate and future of Afghanistan to a CIA shadow army largely made up of foreign mercenaries thus reducing American boots on the ground and providing Trump with an exit strategy from nation-building, a concept that Stephen Bannon abhors.
Then we speak with Alexander Klimburg, a program director at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies about his new book, just out, “The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace”. He joins us to discuss the weaponization of information and the global struggle over the future of the Internet with democracies wanting to keep the Internet free and open while autocracies like China and Russia argue for sovereign control of information using appeals to nationalism to control their populations through censorship and propaganda.
Then finally we examine a rare victory in the congress for decency and human rights following a surprise vote in the House to block U.S. participation in the Saudi war on Yemen. Kate Gould, the Legislative Representative for Middle East Policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby in the public interest fielding the largest team of registered peace lobbyists in Washington D.C., joins us to discuss the two amendments to the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act that passed overwhelmingly.
We begin with the unprecedented and alarming possibility that the greatest threat to our national security is the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Joining us is Roger Morris, who served on the National Security Council under presidents Johnson and Nixon and is the author of “Kindred Rivals: America, Russia and their Failed Ideals”. We will discuss the deadly combination of ignorance and arrogance, avarice and amateurism, that characterize this chaotic administration which so far has not had to deal with an international crisis, but in the event that the White House is faced with a serious challenge as is likely to be the case, how will the petulant, childish, insecure and unstable leader we have in the Oval Office deal with it? Particularly if it requires the steady and experienced hands of Generals Mattis and McMaster who Trump apparently does not listen to, but instead, will the fate of the world rest on the advice of a white nationalist nihilist Stephen Bannon, a neophyte reactionary throwback, Stephen Miller, and a Hungarian fascist Sebastian Gorka?
Then we speak with Peter Stone, a special correspondent for McClatchy DC Bureau about his latest article co-authored with Greg Gordon “Trump-Russia investigations probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation”. We investigate Kushner’s relationship with the right wing billionaire Mercers and Jared’s use of their social media data mining company Cambridge Analytica of which Stephen Bannon is a board member. And since Russia deployed armies of bots carrying pro-Trump messages and used human “troll farms” to flood social media and the Internet with anti-Hillary stories, we look into what collusion took place between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
Then finally, on the first anniversary of the botched coup in Turkey, that President Erdogan is celebrating as a victory for democracy as he rolls back democratic rights and jails thousands of teachers, soldiers, judges, lawyers and journalists, in a creeping dictatorship, we assess whether the coup itself was fabricated or manipulated. A former senior advisor and foreign affairs expert to the State Department during the Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations, David Phillips, joins us to discuss his latest article at The Huffington Post “Was Turkey’s Coup for Real?”