Background Briefing Archive

We will begin with Thursday’s expected release of the last of the JFK files on the Kennedy assassination following a 1992 order from Congress to the National Archives to release the documents 25 years later. Along with MLK and RFK, the JFK assassination has long been the subject of a cottage industry of conspiracy theories, and now with a conspiracy theorist in the Oval Office who claimed Ted Cruz’s father was seen with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before Kennedy’s death, we have Trump tweeting out on Saturday that “I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JKF FILES to be opened”.  Philip Shenon, the bestselling author of “The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Commission” and a former reporter with The New York Times for 20 years, joins us to discuss his latest book “A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination” and his article at Politico “The JFK Document Dump Could be a Fiasco”. We will examine whether Thursday’s release will satisfy conspiracy theorists and whether there will be further redactions before the release of the last of the classified documents.

Then we speak with Charlie Sykes, a longtime host of the #1 conservative talk radio show in Wisconsin who is now a regular contributor to MSNBC. He joins us to discuss his new book, just out “How the Right Lost Its Mind” and the paradoxical place the Republican Party is now in with control of all branches of government and the judiciary but with all that power they can’t seem to get anything done and are becoming increasingly unpopular. We look into why Republicans have abandoned facts in the Trump era, why they can’t govern and when will traditional Republicans fight back in Steve Bannon’s “season of war” against the GOP.

Then finally we examine how voter suppression in Wisconsin may well have been the deciding factor in Trump’s narrow win of 23,000 votes in that key swing state. Ari Berman, a senior reporter at Mother Jones covering voting rights and author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America”, joins us to discuss his article at Mother Jones “Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump”. We look into the key role in enabling voter suppression that the judiciary played, and now that Trump is stacking the Federal Courts with reactionary judges, how Wisconsin’s “success” in voter suppression will be expanded nationwide.

Background Briefing

Will the Release of the JFK Assassination Files Clear the Air?

The Author of "How the Right Lost Its Mind"

How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump


We begin with recent criticism of Trump’s domestic and foreign policy coming from Senator McCain, former President George W Bush and former Vice President Joe Biden and speak with a foreign policy advisor to Joe Biden, Dr. Michael Carpentera former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense and Director for Russia on the National Security Council.  He joins us to discuss the price the US is paying for the absence of leadership in US foreign policy because of a disengaged and disruptive president who has little knowledge of or interest in global affairs, and has not staffed his government with foreign policy and national security professionals. With Iraq about to explode as our allies the Kurds are being squeezed by Iran whose influence in Iraq and Syria grows with the emergence of the “Shia Crescent” land corridor from Tehran to Damascus, we assess how much the generals around Trump who are preoccupied “containing” him, are not able to pay sufficient attention to the roiling global events that demand daily attention if not a strategy to deal with them.

Then we look into the latest expensive headline-grabbing by fringe groups on the far right wing like Breitbart, David Horowitz and Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute who deliberately choose to speak on liberal campuses like Berkeley where they are not welcome, to provoke students from minority communities with racist insults in the hope that they can extort media attention and become martyrs for free speech. Clay Calvert, the Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication and Director of the First Amendment Project at the University of Florida, Gainesville joins us to discuss the $600,000 expense incurred by his public university today because Richard Spencer decided to speak there even though a handful of students wanted to hear him while thousands showed up to protest Spencer shouting “Go home Nazis!”

Then finally we speak with another professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Michael Gorham about a different subject, the latest Kremlin-approved straw man to run against Vladimir Putin in Russia’s next presidential election. A Professor of Russian Studies whose latest project is “Russia’s Digital Revolution: Language, New Media, and the (Un)making of Civil Society” joins us to discuss how this time the daughter of Putin’s political mentor who is Russia’s equivalent of Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton, will be running to split the opposition vote.


Background Briefing

The Cost of "Containing" Trump to US Foreign Policy

It Cost the University of Florida $600,000 to Have An American Nazi Speak Today

Russia's Kim Kardashian to Run Against Putin to Split the Opposition Vote


We begin with China’s leader Xi Jinping’s coronation of himself at the 19th Communist Party Congress where he promised a “new era” of Chinese power with his nation transforming itself into “a mighty power” that will lead the world politically, economically, militarily, and on environmental issues. In drawing a contrast to Trump without mentioning his name, Xi noted that China has “taken a driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change”. Scott Kennedythe Director on the Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and author of “Global Governance and China: The Dragon’s Learning Curve”, joins us to discuss Xi’s vision of a China he will lead with him at the top of the Communist Party, the Communist Party on top of China, and China on top of the world.

Then we speak with Lawrence Korb, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan Administration who was in charge of manpower to get an assessment of how the bitter and growing feud between Trump and families of the fallen is impacting morale and the important relationship between the men and women serving in the military and their families and dependents. We will discuss the apparently callous insensitivity of Trump who, in consoling a widow on her way to meet the body of her dead husband, is alleged to have said that the slain Special Forces sergeant “knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

Then finally we speak with Jonathan Tasini,the author of “The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America” who is President of the Economic Future Group and the host of the “Working Life” podcast whose new book “Resist and Rebel: The Peoples’ Uprising in America” will be out soon. He joins us to discuss his article at CNN “America needs higher wages: not lower taxes” and how increased unionization and a higher minimum wage, not lower taxes for the rich, will boost the American economy.

Background Briefing

The Self-Coronation of China's Leader

The Growing Bitter Feud Between Trump and Families of the Fallen

Americans Need Higher Wages, Not Lower Taxes


We begin with Trump’s latest distraction as he keeps the disgusting lie that Obama did not console families of the fallen alive by doubling down, questioning whether Obama consoled the family of Trump’s Chief of Staff General Kelly with a letter when they lost their son in Afghanistan, when in fact General Kelly and his wife sat at Michelle Obama’s table at a White House breakfast for Gold Star families. David Graham, a staff writer for The Atlantic joins us to discuss his latest article at The Atlantic “How Trump Changed the Topic to Obama’s Consolation Calls” and the method to Trump’s madness as he continues to distract the press and the public with outrageously false claims and inflammatory statements instead of addressing questions of policy and leadership in particular why were the Green Beret’s in combat in Niger and what is the U.S. doing there and what is our military strategy in Africa etc.

Then we will look into the brimming issue of impeachment and speak with the author of a new book, just out, “A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment”. Joining us is Barbara Radnofsky, who has practiced law for nearly four decades and was the first woman in Texas to run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate and for Texas Attorney General. We discuss her article at The Washington Post “The Founding Fathers designed impeachment for someone exactly like Donald Trump” and her article at The Los Angeles Times “The Founding Fathers provided us with a way out of troubled presidency – the direct, doable process of impeachment”.

Then finally with the fall of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the last stronghold of the Islamic State in Syria, we speak with Middle East expert and a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, Nicholas Heras. He joins us to discuss how a city that was once a prize is now a pile of rubble requiring billions in funds to restore it, and the challenges facing the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces of mostly Kurdish fighters who have liberated a Sunni Arab city but have Russian and Iranian forces and Assad’s Shia Army poised just miles away.

Background Briefing

Trump's Latest Distraction: Lying About Obama Not Consoling Families of the Fallen

"A Citizen's Guide to Impeachment"

What Follows the Fall of Raqqa?


We begin with Trump’s promise to “look into” a report on his nominee for drug czar after a Washington Post/60 Minutes expose revealed that Congressman Tom Marino pushed legislation that hobbled the DEA in combatting the opioid crisis by preventing their enforcement efforts against big drug companies and distributers who manufacture and peddle Oxycoten and similar drugs that have killed close to 200,000 Americans. The editor of The Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, Mark Kleiman, a Professor of Public Policy in the Crime and Justice Program at the Marin Institute for Urban Management at NYU and author of “When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment”, joins us to discuss the legislation championed by Marino and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who received $200,000 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies, that prevented the DEA from seizing suspicious shipments of pills to rogue pharmacies and corrupt doctors. We will also assess what President Trump might offer in terms of solutions when next week he is expected to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency.

Then we get an analysis of the results of the Austrian elections which indicate a major shift to the right inflamed by an Islamophobic and anti-immigrant campaign by the handsome 31 year-old Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the People’s Party which captured 31% of the vote and is likely to form a coalition with the right wing Freedom Party founded by former Nazis. Christian Schueller, Senior Editor in the magazine and documentary department of the Austrian TV network ORF, joins us to discuss the rise of anti-immigrant populism and nationalism across Western and Eastern Europe.

Then finally we examine the fate of the Kurds in Northern Iraq who are surrounded by enemies Turkey, Iran and now the government in Baghdad which just seized oil-rich Kirkuk, the cash cow of Iraqi Kurdistan. Henri Barkeya Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University who was a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, joins us to discuss how a more engaged U.S. President and State Department might have prevented the Kurds from going ahead with a referendum on independence which has backfired, spreading more instability and possibly provoking conflict across the region.

Background Briefing

Trump's New Drug Czar Hobbled the DEA

The Rise of the Right in Austria

The Kurdish Independence Referendum Has Backfired Dangerously


We begin with Trump’s de-certification of the P5+1 deal with Iran which was kicked to the Congress as a compromise worked out by the adults in the White House day care center following a tantrum by Trump who insisted on repealing another Obama initiative against the advice of his top advisors and America’s allies with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Israel who want America to fight a war on their behalf against Iran. We begin and go to Iran and speak with Ali Arouzi, the NBC bureau chief in Tehran who is one of the few Western journalists operating out of the country. We will discuss the local reaction to Trump’s attempt to destroy an agreement put together by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the uncertainty that ensues from having the fate of America’s adherence to the deal in the hands of Congress.

Then following the Secretary of State’s denial that Trump is “castrating” him and Tillerson’s ambiguous statement that diplomacy goes on until “the first bomb drops”, we will look further into the political forces trying the preserve the deal and those trying to scuttle it. Iranian/American historian Maziar Behrooz, a professor of History at San Francisco State University joins us to discuss the symbiosis between hawks in the Trump Administration and in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and how this reversal of an American opening with Iran is seen by the majority of Iranians who are young.

Then we speak with Kurt Andersen, the host and co-creator of Studio 360, the Peabody Award-winning public radio show and bestselling author whose new book is “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500 Year History.” We discuss the post-truth “fake news” age of Trump in the context that America was founded by wishful dreamers, magical thinkers, true believers and by hucksters and their suckers. And with the lines between reality and illusion blurred, we assess whether a consensus on what is real and true could be restored in America.

Then finally we examine the likely consequences of Donald Trump second and perhaps fatal blow against Obamacare following his cutoff of health insurance subsidies to the poor. Jonathan Oberlander,a Professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina joins us to discuss whether this spiteful and destructive act will backfire since the pain from these cuts will be felt most acutely in Red States that support Trump.

Background Briefing

The Trump Tantrum That Tore Up the Iran Deal

The Post-Truth Fake News Age of Hucksters and Suckers

Will Trump's Spiteful Destruction of Obamacare Backfire?


We begin with President Trump’s executive order that he held up to the press today with a self-satisfied smile which the Democratic Leader in the Senate says is aimed at sabotaging the Affordable Care Act otherwise known as Obamacare.  Sarah Lueck, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who works on healthcare reform implementation, health insurance exchanges and private market reform included in the Affordable Care Act, joins us to discuss her article at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities “Trump Order Could Destabilize Health Insurance Markets, Hurt Those With Pre-Existing Conditions”, and the likely impact of Trump’s executive order combined with efforts within HHS by its former head Tom Price to sabotage the ACA via administrative obstacles. We analyze the extent to which the insurance pool essential to the ACA’s economic viability will be rendered ineffective as younger healthier participants are encouraged to pay less for less coverage ensuring that there will be less money in the pool to take care of older sicker patients and those with pre-existing conditions.

Then we speak with Robert Jay Lifton, an award-winning psychiatrist, historian and public intellectual about his article at The New York Times “”Our Changing Climate Mindset” and his new book, just out, “The Climate Swerve: Reflections on Mind, Hope, and Survival”. We will discuss how climate change is turning weather events from disasters into catastrophes forcing us to change our collective consciousness to look upon ourselves as members of a single species in deep trouble aboard lifeboat earth.

Then finally we examine the Republican tax plan with Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research who has an article at The Huffington Post, “The Republican Plan to Slow Growth”. We discuss how allowing “pass through” businesses to pay less in taxes has crippled revenues and almost bankrupted the state of Kansas and will surely explode the deficit if adopted at a national level, and how the plan to eliminate the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes is aimed at punishing successful states like California who largely vote for Democrats.

Background Briefing

Trump's Executive Order to Sabotage Obamacare

The Psychiatrist, Historian and Public Intellectual, Robert Jay Lifton

The Republican Tax Plan Aimed at Hurting Successful States That Vote For Democrats


We will begin with President Trump’s threat to go after NBC’s FCC license because he does not like the news that they are reporting about his own Secretary of State calling him a moron and now revelations that Trump called for the U.S. nuclear arsenal to be increased tenfold. An historian of science who specializes in the history of nuclear weapons and nuclear secrecy, Alex Wellerstein, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology, joins us to discuss how different Trump is from previous presidents who upon learning of the power they have at their fingertips to destroy the world, felt the weight of enormous responsibility that came with their stewardship of the nuclear arsenal. But unlike his predecessors who found it a sobering burden, Trump sees nukes as instruments of power to be used, as he has said cavalierly, “otherwise why do we have them?”, and will also look into the sobering truth is that there is nothing stopping Trump from unleashing America’s arsenal of 7,100 nuclear weapons if he feels like it.

Then we speak with Norman Ornstein, a contributing editor to The Atlantic and the co-author of a new book, just out, “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported”. We discuss how Trump is both a threat to our democracy and a product of its weaknesses and look ahead to the challenges we face in fixing our broken democracy so that we don’t have more Trump’s elected by a minority via the reactionary Electoral College.  And because of demographic changes underway from the depopulation of rural Red States and the concentration of populations in urban areas, in a few decades 60% of the U.S. Senate will be elected by 40% of the American population.

Then finally we examine the growing tensions between the U.S. and Turkey as Turkey’s authoritarian leader becomes more and more unhinged with his government-controlled press demonizing America to the point where the U.S. is blamed for everything including earthquakes. A former senior advisor and foreign affairs expert to the State Department during the administrations of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, David Phillips, joins us to discuss how the U.S. and Turkey are on a collision course because of a trial in New York that will expose Erdogan and his family’s massive corruption.

Background Briefing

Why Trump Should Not Have Our Nuclear Arsenal At His Fingertips

Trump is Both a Threat to Our Democracy and a Product of Its Weaknesses

Erdogan Inflames Tensions Between the US and Turkey


We begin with a president who instead of governing is lashing out at an ESPN sportscaster, challenging his Secretary of State to an IQ test and tweeting out a new round of insults against the Republican Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, referring to him as “Liddle” Bob Corker in a snide reference to Corker’s height.  Tim Naftalia clinical professor of history and public policy at New York University, who was the first director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, joins us to discuss his article at The Atlantic, “The Problem with Trump’s Madman Theory” and Corker’s rejection of the notion that there is some kind of madman strategy akin to Nixon’s behind Trump’s belligerent threats against North Korea. We will also examine the historical record of the waning days of the Nixon administration regarding an impaired Nixon’s access to the nuclear button, compared to the concerns raised by Senator Corker that “Trump may be setting us on a path to World War III”.

Then we assess the impact of the repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan by the head of the EPA who declared that the phony war on coal is over. David Freeman, who helped bring about the EPA, headed the TVA, New York Power and the LA DWP, and is the author of “All Electric America: A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future” and a new autobiography “The Green Cowboy”, joins us. We will discuss the commonly- held delusion that switching from coal to natural gas is a move in the right direction and the need to immediately outlaw fossil fuels as poisons to the planet while rapidly converting to available clean solar and wind alternatives.

Then finally we examine the withdrawal of Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga from the rerun of the disputed August election overturned by Kenya’s Supreme Court and scheduled for October the 26th. Kefa Otiso, A Professor of Geography and Director of the Global Village at Bowling Green State University and the founding president of the US-based Kenya Scholars and Studies Association joins us to discuss the standoff between Odinga’s followers who want election reforms instituted before a new election and the Kenyetta government who are treating Odinga’s withdrawal as a concession instead of the protest that it is.

Background Briefing

Comparing Nixon's Madman Strategy to Trump's Mad Threats

Trump's EPA Kills Obama's Clean Power Plan

The Withdrawal of Kenya's Opposition Leader From the Rerun of the Overturned August Election


We begin with Donald Trump’s tweet storm attacking the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker who replied by tweeting “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning”. Derek Shearer, a former U.S. Ambassador to Finland who is currently a Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College where he serves as Director of the McKinnon Center for Global Affairs, joins us to discuss the state of U.S. diplomacy and Corker’s fear Trump is treating the presidency like “a reality show” and is steering the US “on a path to World War 111”. We will assess whether Senator Corker’s warning that Trump “Concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation”, will prompt other Republican senators to express in public what they say in private since Corker is apparently not alone in being alarmed about Trump, claiming “the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here”.

Then Wendy Young, the Executive Director of KIND, Kids in Need of Defense, the leading organization for the unaccompanied children who enter the US immigration system alone, joins us to look into the cynical game Donald Trump is playing by trying the fate of the 800,000 DACA “Dreamers” to a hardline wish list that is dead on arrival with Democrats who Trump can then blame for the failure of immigration reform. We discuss how Trump again throws red meat to his base as a way to distract from his failure to govern, by insisting on building his wall, hiring 10,000 more border patrol, denying federal funds to “sanctuary cities” and closing the door on thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America.

Then finally we explore the growing tyranny of the minority in America as an increasingly unpopular president whose approval rating continues to shrink, throws the full weight of his Administration behind satisfying the wish-lists of right wing extremists and religious zealots. Gretchen Borchelt, Vice President for Reproductive Rights and Health at the National Women’s Law Center, joins us to discuss how the vast majority of American women can now be denied birth control coverage in order to satisfy a vocal minority of anti-abortionists who have succeeded in making abortions more likely, numerous and frequent.

Background Briefing

A Reality Show Presidency in a White House Adult Day Care Center

Trump's Cynical Game on Immigration

The Growing Tyranny of the Minority in Trump's America


We begin with the reality TV president teasing upcoming episodes of the Apprentice in the Oval Office by cryptically warning about “the calm before the storm” then tweeting that “only one thing will work” with North Korea, implying military action. Mark Fitzpatrick, the Executive Director of the Washington-based Americas office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and head of their Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Program and author of “Asia’s Latent Nuclear Powers, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan”, joins us to discuss how Trump’s threats are forcing Kim Jong-un into a hair trigger posture with North Korea’s nuclear weapons based on the “use them or lose them” logic of striking first. We examine the symbiosis of hawks on both sides leading us into a holocaust and the dangers of provoking a cult-like regime whose hardliners are buoyed by delusional propaganda and the belief that they could not only survive a nuclear war with the United States, but win.

Then we get an update on the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and speak with investigative journalist James Henry, the co-founder of and a global justice fellow at Yale and the lead researcher for the Tax Justice Network. He joins us to discuss the significance of the special counsel’s interviews with the author of the Steele dossier and Robert Mueller’s focus on the Trump campaign’s use of data mining in social media and micro-targeting voters in key swing states with the possible magnification of their messaging involving help from Russian bots and troll farms.

Then finally we examine the consequences of the Trump Administration’s reversal of the Obamacare contraceptive mandate which will now allow employers to deny their female employees contraceptive coverage under health plans on the specious basis of a moral objection. Francis Kissling, a feminist activist and the former President of Catholics for Choice and a consultant to the Western Hemisphere Region of the International Planned Parenthood Federation joins us to discuss how employers can now save money by claiming to have a moral objection to birth control which will likely result in many more women seeking abortions.

Background Briefing

Trump Forces North Korea to Move to a Nuclear Hair Trigger

An Update on the Mueller Investigation

Employers Can Now Deny Women Contraceptive Coverage Based on Specious "Moral" Objections


We begin with the crisis in American foreign policy with our Secretary of State calling the president an “f-ing moron” and the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warning that Rex Tillerson, General Mattis and General Kelly are the “people who help separate our country from chaos”. David Rothkopf, a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a columnist at The Washington Post and the former editor and publisher of Foreign Policy Magazine, joins us to discuss reports that Trump’s top cabinet secretaries have formed a “suicide pact” in which if one is suddenly fired by an unstable and impetuous president, the others will walk out of the White House, and how Trump has undercut Tillerson publically to the point where he has no credibility abroad. We will also look into the consequences of Trump’s intention to pull out of the Iran deal next week which will sow further chaos in U.S. foreign policy and lead to more isolation and self-marginalization of the United States on the world stage.

Then we are joined in the studio by Dr. Lance Dodes, who was a clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and is a contributor along with 26 other Psychiatrists and Mental Health experts who have contributed to the new book assessing President Trump, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”. We examine the consensus that Trump is dangerously mentally ill and that he presents a clear and present danger to the United States and the world as long as he has access to the nuclear codes allowing him to start a nuclear war because of a childish tantrum or some other trigger that could unhinge Trump’s frail psyche.

Then finally we look into the signals by the Republican Congress and the NRA that they will head off any serious moves on calling for gun control following the worst mass shooting in U.S. history by banning so-called “bump stocks” on semi-automatic assault rifles that allow the weapon to fire bullets at a rate similar to fully automatic machine guns. An expert on the 2nd Amendment and the history of gun control, Saul Cornell, Chair of American History at Fordham University, joins us to discuss whether any real reform will happen after the Las Vegas massacre.

Background Briefing

The Thin Line Separating Us From Chaos

Trump is a Clear and Present Danger

Republicans and the NRA Head Off Real Gun Safety Reform


We begin with an analysis of the Trump Administration’s tax overhaul plan from the former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation Edward Kleinbard.  Now a Professor of Law at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, he joins us to discuss his article at “The GOP says its business plan will help workers and small business. It won’t”,and the cynical way Republicans are trying to sell this latest giveaway to the 1% or the 1% claiming it will help the middle class and working Americans. And while this so-called “tax reform” is clearly a gift to the donor class by the Republicans, these lackeys of the plutocrats are counting on satisfying their political masters by conning their voters into believing they are getting the government off their back when in fact Trump and the Congress are making ordinary Americans shoulder more of the tax burden so that the already-rich can get even richer.

Then we speak with one of the country’s leading experts on taxation who, because of his investigative journalism, has been called the nation’s de facto tax enforcer-in-chief.  Pulitzer Prize-winner David Cay Johnston, the founder and editor-in-chief of DC whose latest book is “The Making of Donald Trump”, joins us to discuss how the soulless hirelings of the rich in Congress are trotting out the same tired old trickle-down lies, and the real possibility that Donald Trump could be the first American president to do a perp walk in an orange jumps suit, on his way from the oval office to a federal penitentiary.

Then finally we speak with Natalie Hernandez, a Nevada gun violence prevention organizer with Battle Born Progress, a part of a coalition of gun safety activists who successfully passed Question 1 on last November’s ballot only to have the law stymied and the will of the people trampled on by Nevada’s Attorney General Adam Laxalt. We will discuss what impact the massacre in Las Vegas on Sunday might have on finally instituting the background check law and whether Adam Laxalt will be punished in his expected race for governor in the 2018 elections.

Background Briefing

How Trump's "Tax Reform" Rewards the 1% of the 1%

Trump Could Go from the Oval Office to a Federal Pen

An Activist Who Helped Get a Background Check Law Passed in Nevada That the AG Blocked


We begin with the reaction to the worst mass shooting in U.S. history from the White House and the Republican Congress who, with new-found reverence, piously intone the talking point that now is the time to honor the dead, not talk about gun control. Joshua Horwitz, the Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and author of “Guns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea”, joins us to discuss how an NRA-sponsored bill to make silencers legal and allow concealed-carry permits from permissive states to be legal in states like California where concealed weapons are banned, was just pulled for a second time by the Republican leadership because of the Las Vegas shooting after it was taken of the table earlier following the shooting at a Congressional baseball game.  We will look into the difficulty Las Vegas police had in finding where the shots were coming from, and if the shooter had used silencers on his guns, how many more lives would have been lost had concert-goers not heard the gunfire and taken cover.

Then with Trump and Republicans attempting to dismiss the massacre as an act of evil by a madman, we look into the sanity of the American body politic that continues to prevent sensible gun safety measures from being enacted after repeated mass shootings that cost the lives of increasingly-high numbers of innocent American citizens.  Dr. Allen Frances, Professor Emeritus and Former Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University and author of “Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump”, joins us to discuss what little chance there is of changing the cultural myths surrounding guns and American manliness compared to the attainable goal of background checks to prevent dangerous criminals and the mentally ill from acquiring arsenals.

Then finally, now that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the arsenal of 42 guns and explosives that the Las Vegas shooter had in the hotel room he shot from and at his home, we will speak with a former ATF Special Agent  William Vizzard, Professor Emeritus in the Division of Criminal Justice at California State University, Sacramento. He joins us to discuss how the NRA has prevented efforts to collect data on the history of guns found at crime scenes and the lax laws that make machine guns legal in many states.

Background Briefing

Offering Prayers Instead of Prevention

Blaming Insane Shooters Instead of Politicians Who Prevent Sane Gun Safety

How the NRA Prevents Data Collection on Crime Scene Guns


We begin with last night’s worst mass shooting is U.S. history carried out by a 64 year-old man armed with 10 rifles and 9 handguns who fired on a crowd leaving a country music concert from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas, killing 58 and wounding 515. Joining us is an expert on the impact that high-powered firearms have on the human body and a researcher who studies death and injury statistics in America where 92 Americans die from guns every day with American kids 14 times more likely to die from guns than children in other developed countries. Dr. David Hemenway, the Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center and author of “While You Were Sleeping: Success Stories in Injury and Violence Prevention,” will examine the folklore and romanticism surrounding guns. We discuss the myth pervading our gun culture than firearms offer security, when it is increasingly clear from repeated mass shootings that the greatest threat to our life and liberty is the NRA who place the right of gun owners to acquire unlimited unregulated firepower over the right of American citizens to be safe with the right to bear arms envisioned within “a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state” as the 2nd Amendment promises.

Then we get an update on the overwhelmingly negative reaction around the world to the Spanish government’s brutal suppression of the Catalan referendum with riot police beating up citizens trying to vote in a democratic country. Dr. Luisa-Elena Delgado, a Professor of Spanish, Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the European Union Center at the University of Illinois and author of “A Singular Nation: Fantasies of Democratic Normalcy in Spain” and “Engaging the Emotions in Spanish Culture and History”, joins us to discuss how Spain’s heavy-handed overreaction has increased support for Catalan independence.

Then finally we speak with Jason Fagone, the author of “The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies”, a new book about a poet and Shakespeare scholar, who along with her husband, laid the foundation of American counterintelligence. Today as the FBI and the NSA lead a highly visible and potentially regime-changing counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, we discuss how Elizebeth Smith and William Freidman later became estranged from the agency they helped establish after their home was raided by the NSA.

Background Briefing

Last Night's Worst Mass Shooting in American History

Spain's Brutal Overreaction to Catalan Independence

The Woman Who Founded American Counterintelligence


We begin with an assessment of the relief effort underway on the devastated island of Puerto Rico that Donald Trump has turned into a contentious political issue in flurry of 18 tweets on Saturday that were full of anger and blame and completely lacking in compassion, inspiration, hope and leadership that presidents usually offer to their fellow Americans at a time of need and a time for unity.  Alexander Betancourt, the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Professor at the University of Puerto Rico, joins us to provide a local perspective on what is happening in Puerto Rico compared to the rosy self-congratulation coming from Trump who again is addressing the alternative universe of his base inside the Fox News, Sinclair, right wing talk radio bubble, feeding them his brazenly cynical lies while attacking the rest of the media for reporting what they are seeing with their own eyes as the American citizens on this small, hurricane-ravaged island search for food, water, medicine and their missing loved ones.

Then we go to Spain for an update on today’s violently contested referendum over independence for Catalonia that the Madrid government is forcefully shutting down by closing polling places and arresting voters trying to cast ballots injuring up to 500.Anthony Geist, a Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature who is the Vice Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and author of “They Still Draw Pictures: Children’s Drawings from the Spanish Civil War” joins us to discuss how much this referendum is exhuming the ghosts of the Spanish Civil War as Catalonians young and old are being beaten up by the national police for expressing their independence.

Then finally we get a critique of the PBS series on the Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick from Roger Morris who served on the senior staff of the National Security Council under Presidents Johnson and Nixon until resigning with Anthony Lake over the invasion of Cambodia. He joins us to discuss how the Vietnam War was many wars, not just in Vietnam, but inside the White House, between the press and the government and on the streets of America between protesters and supporters of the war.

Background Briefing

Trump Turns the Puerto Rico Tragedy Into a Twitter War

An Update From Spain on the Violently Contested Referendum in Catalonia

A Critique of the PBS Series on the Vietnam War From Inside the White House at the Time


We begin with Trump’s proposed overhaul of the tax code that White House economic advisor Gary Cohn is insisting will not benefit the wealthy while other experts insist the opposite is true and speak with Bruce Bartlett, who served as a senior policy advisor in the Reagan White House and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy in George H.W. Bush’s Treasury Department. He joins us to discuss his article at The Washington Post “I helped create the GOP tax myth. Trump is wrong. Tax cuts don’t equal growth” and how the Republicans are going to push through a tax bill in the same way they tried to repeal Obamacare by excluding the Democrats, hiding the details and steamrolling the experts and analysts to get tax cuts for the rich passed before the public finds out later that they have to pay for them and that the promises made to benefit middle class and working Americans were yet another lie.

Then we examine Trump’s latest racist outburst from the safe confines of his sycophantic softball news outlet “Fox and Friends”, where the president revived his phony fight with the NFL by dog-whistling that the all-white NFL owners are going along with the protests by the mostly black players because they are being intimidated by them, claiming NFL owners are afraid on their players. David Steele, who writes about the NFL for Sporting News as a columnist and is the co-author of Olympic champion Tommie Smith’s autobiography “Silent Gesture”, joins us to discuss Trump’s unmistakably racist inference and cheap exploitation of patriotism when the NFL owners and players are linking arms in a statement of unity as their president does everything he can to encourage division and fan hatred across the United States of America.

Then finally we look into the desperate and perhaps dangerous measures Spain’s conservative government is resorting to in an effort to thwart and frustrate Sunday’s referendum in Catalonia. Becquer Seguin, a professor of Iberian Studies at Johns Hopkins University and co-author of an article at The Nation “Have Spain and Catalonia Reached a Point of No Return?”, joins us to discuss the Madrid government’s deployment of thousands of riot police to Barcelona and threats to fine and jail secessionist politicians while shutting down polling places and arresting those printing ballots.



Background Briefing

An Analysis of Trump's Tax Overhaul

Trump's Latest Racist Rant

Spain's Efforts to Shut Down Catalonia's Referendum


We begin with the U.S. Senate primary election in Alabama that resulted in Judge Roy Moore emerging as the Republican candidate, which raises the possibility an avowed theocrat and Christian dominionist could end up in the United States Senate and grind an already dysfunctional body to a halt, holding up bills and nominees if they do not pass muster with God who is apparently on speaking terms with Roy Moore. Frederick Clarkson, a Senior Fellow at Political Research Associates and the author of “Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy” joins us to discuss Judge Roy Moore’s belief that 9/11 was America’s punishment for Godlessness and how he has defied the constitutional separation of Church and State and the Supreme Court while claiming that Obama is a secret Muslim and parts of the U.S. are under Sharia Law.

Then we look into whether the Democrat who will run against Roy Moore for the senate seat in Alabama in December, a former Federal prosecutor Doug Jones, could pull off an upset victory and speak with political strategist and pollster Zac McCrary, a partner at ALG Research based in Montgomery, Alabama. He served as Communications Director for the Alabama Democratic Party and we will discuss how Alabamans are sick of the state being a joke and will likely vote for the underdog Democrat. They are also weary of political scandals which contributed to Trump’s candidate losing to Moore since Luther Strange was handpicked to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat by the same now-disgraced Governor he was investigating for sexual impropriety with a female employee.

Then finally following Trump’s tweet today attacking Facebook after having praised them for helping elect him, we speak with Ann Ravel, a Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley who served on the Federal Election Commission until resigning in 2017. In October of 2015 at a meeting of the FEC she warned, “Think of it, do we want Vladimir Putin or drug cartels to be influencing American elections?”, a warning that led to a Republican FEC commissioner ridiculing her on Fox News which resulted in her receiving death threats.

Background Briefing

A Theocrat and Dominionist Could Tie Up the US Senate

Could the Alabama Democrat Beat Roy Moore?

The FEC Commissioner Who Warned About Putin Influencing Our Elections


Following the collapse of the Republican Senate’s latest effort to repeal Obamacare we will begin with another less publicized effort by Republican senators to jam through unpopular legislation, this time a vote to kill a new ban by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on banks and credit card companies requiring customers to give up their right to sue and participate in class action suits, forcing them instead into corporate-friendly closed-door arbitration. Amanda Werner, the arbitration campaign manager with Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen joins us to discuss how this brazen stealth attempt to cripple the CFPB that comes on the heels of exposes of widespread consumer fraud by Wells Fargo who ripped off customers and corporate negligence by Equifax who have exposed the personal data of 143 million to cyber-criminals. In both cases these corporate miscreants have used arbitration clauses buried in the fine print to deny consumers access to the courts for restitution.

Then we examine the humanitarian disaster that Puerto Rico is enduring following the devastation from two hurricanes that have left the island’s 3.5 million American citizens without electricity and water. An historian of Latin America and the Caribbean, Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a Professor of History at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, which has one of the world’s highest concentrations of Puerto Ricans, joins us. We discuss Trump’s belated attention to the island’s plight after days of distracting the nation with a ginned-up controversy over football players kneeling during the national anthem. But today, following a series on insensitive tweets about bad infrastructure and too much Wall Street debt, at a White House press conference Trump repeatedly congratulated himself on his handling of the crisis in Puerto Rico.

Then finally we assess the impact of Monday’s non-binding independence referendum by the Kurdish Regional Government which has provoked threats from Turkey and rebukes from the Iraqi government in Baghdad. An internationally recognized expert on the Kurds,Edmund Ghareeb, the author of “The Kurdish Question in Iraq” and “The Kurdish Nationalist Movement,” joins us to discuss the unusual nature of Iraqi soldiers joining with Turkish troops for military exercises near the border with Iraqi Kurdistan.

Background Briefing

The Republican Senate Poised to Kill Consumer Protection

Trump's Belated Attention to Puerto Rico's Plight

Threats From Turkey After an Independence Referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan


We begin with the escalating tension between the U.S. and North Korea following the North’s UN Ambassador Ri Yong Ho’s assertion that President Trump’s comments at the UN that he will “totally destroy” North Korea and his subsequent tweet that the North Korean leadership “won’t be around much longer” constitute a declaration of war by the U.S. giving the North Koreans “every right to make counter-measures”. Charles Armstrong, a professor of History and Director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University and author of “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World” joins us to discuss the nature of the North Korean regime as a mixture of politics and spirituality whose subjects are taught from childhood that they come from the birthplace of civilization and are indoctrinated with the “Juche” self-reliance philosophy, a nationalistic religious cult led by the dynastic Kim family who the North Korean people believe are the royal lineage of Tangun, the mythical founder of Korea 4,500 years ago.

Then we get an assessment of the nuclear threat from North Korea following their recent announcement of their intention to shoot a missile with an H-bomb on it to be detonated somewhere over the Pacific. Philip Coyle, who was associate director for national security and international affairs in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director of Operational Test and Evaluation in the Department of Defense, joins us. We discuss the likelihood of reckless rhetoric leading to a nuclear exchange in Northeast Asia.

Then finally we look into Sunday’s extraordinary display of solidarity and indignation expressed by NFL players and owners in response to Trump’s crude attack on Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the national anthem and the president’s contention that the NFL was losing fans because the game was not violent enough. Ben Carrington, a Professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and author of “Race, Sport and Politics” joins us to discuss Trump’s dog whistle to his angry white voters that if the mostly black players in the NFL “want the privilege of making millions of dollars” they “should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag”…if not YOU’RE FIRED”.

Background Briefing

The Nationalist Religious Cult That Rules North Korea

Will Trump's Reckless Rhetoric Lead to nuclear War?

NFL Owners and Players Line Up Against Trump