January 2 - Erdogan: Turkey's One-Man Wrecking Crew; Pulling Back the Curtain to Expose the Real Donald Trump

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We begin with the New Year’s massacre in Turkey which the Islamic State has taken credit for and assess the exploding blowback to President Erdogan’s misrule across a broad front of issues, not just his earlier support for Islamic State fighters and their entry into Syria, but his resumption of a war against the Kurds, his wholesale purging of teachers, lawyers and judges, and more recently his uncritical embrace of Russia which calls into question Turkey’s membership in NATO. David Phillips, the Director of the Peace-building and Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University and author of “The Kurdish Spring: A New Map for the Middle East” joins us to discuss what it will take for the people of Turkey to wake up to what a dangerous and destructive autocrat they have in Erdogan. As he dismantles democracy, ruins the economy and divides the country between its secular traditions and a resurgent Islamic fundamentalism of the ruling AKP Party, the irony becomes clear that Erdogan and the AKP are increasingly similar in outlook and ideology to the Islamic State terrorists who are just beginning to strike at their former patron.

 

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Part 2

Then, with the editor of the Wall Street Journal saying that in their coverage of the new Trump Administration, they will not call Trump’s lies, lies, we explore what the role of the press is likely to be in covering Trump since so far he has written his own rules which the press has dutifully followed, as well as not demanding his tax returns, not getting him to do press conferences, and all the while giving Trump $5 billion’s worth of free media. John Nichols, The Nation magazine’s Washington correspondent and author of “People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy” joins us to discuss what can be done to expose the real Donald Trump and whether he is in any way up to the job of president when the press has so far been unable to lay a glove on him while our political opposition appears unwilling to question Trump’s legitimacy let alone his competence to be president.    

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January 1 - Understanding the People Who Vote For Trump; How the Press Helped Elect Donald Trump; Our Plutocratic Future Under Trump

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On this New Year’s Day we revisit some of the guests who elicited the most praise and gratitude from our listeners. We begin with an interview from September 11 exploring the paradox that the people who will vote for Donald Trump are the Americans who need government support the most, but want it the least, with many living amidst great industrial pollution who nevertheless oppose all environmental regulation. Arlie Russell Hochschild, one of the most influential sociologists of her generation, joined us to discuss her latest book, “Strangers in Their Own Land” Anger and Mourning on The American Right”. Over the past five years, she embedded herself in Lake Charles, Louisiana amongst red state supporters of Trump and went to his rallies to find out why, as liberals often lament, working class white Americans seem to vote against their own interests which they are certainly doing supporting such a manifestly false prophet as Donald Trump who represents an oligarchical system that has left them at the back of the line. We looked into what the emotional or cultural self-interest is that sustains those that feel alienated and betrayed by their own government and what can be done to bridge the gap between patronizing liberals and good-hearted folks who are falling victim to a political huckster.

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Part 2

Then we jump ahead to a program after the election of Donald Trump broadcast on November 13 in which we assessed the extent to which the press can be blamed for helping elect Donald Trump. We spoke with Jeff Jarvis, a Professor and Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at City University New York, who is a national leader in the development of online news and writes an influential blog Buzzmachine.com. He joined us to discuss how the media failed to communicate to the public who Donald Trump is, in spite of the overwhelming evidence he provided to make clear how unsuitable he is for the highest office in the land, and how much the false equivalency of so-called “balance” provided endless coverage of Hillary Clinton’s email server, while Trump was able to get away with not releasing his tax returns and thereby not reveal who he is indebted to and who has influence over him.

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Part 3

Then finally we replay a broadcast from November 24 that drew attention to the struggle underway between autocracy and democracy in America as we head into a plutocratic future, accelerated by Trump’s election. Stephan Schwartz, the editor of the daily web publication, Schwartzreport.net and author of “The 8 Laws of Change: How to Be an Agent of Personal and Social Transformation” joined us to examine what can be done to reverse the oligarchical takeover of the world where just 85 families control half of the planet’s wealth. A trend that resembles medieval duchies as we face a future controlled by a few families and powerful multi-national companies, with a shrunken middle class of professionals and a vast global underclass. We discuss the grassroots mobilization of opposition to concentrated global power in the hands of a few, and movements towards local control and cooperative engagement of, by and for the many.  

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December 29 - Obama Sanctions Russian Diplomats and Spies; The Blonde Prosperity Gospel Televangelist Who Will Bless Trump's Inauguration; What "Winning" the War in Syria Will Mean

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We begin with the sanctions imposed today by President Obama against Russia over its efforts to influence the recent election which U.S. intelligence agencies believe were directed by President Putin to hurt Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump. Nina Khrushcheva, a Professor in the Graduate Program of International Affairs at The New School and author of “The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey Into the Gulag of the Russian Mind”, joins us to discuss the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in response to harassment of American diplomats in Russia and the closing of Russian “recreational” compounds in Maryland and New York used for signals intelligence. We also discuss the broader question of whether sanctions against Putin work, since earlier sanctions over Crimea have served as an excuse for Putin’s mismanagement and looting of the Russian economy.

 

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Then we speak with Diane Winston, who holds the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and is the publisher of Religion Dispatches. She joins us to discuss Donald Trump’s choice of the prosperity gospel televangelist Paula White to offer readings and give the invocation at his upcoming inauguration. She was a target of Senator Grassley’s 2007 congressional investigation into the spending habits of Pastor White on church-owned private jets and luxury homes and we will explore the similarities between political magical thinking that a billionaire president will make average folks wealthier and Paula White’s promise to her followers that if they give her money, it will make them richer.

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Part 3

Then finally we look into the latest ceasefire in Syria brokered by Russia and Turkey that already is showing signs of not getting off the ground and speak with James Gelvin, a Professor of History at UCLA and author of “The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know”. He joins us to discuss what “winning” the war in Syria will mean for the Assad family and what the bill will be for Assad’s Russian and Iranian backers in making a devastated country habitable again, assuming the cycle of atrocity and vengeance ends.

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December 28 - Obama's and Kerry's Last-Minute Stand Against the Israeli Right; American Nazis Plan an Inauguration Protest March Against Jews; Did the Angry White Working Class Vote For a Team of Billionaires?

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We begin with the speech today by Secretary of State John Kerry that denounced the right wing settler movement in Israel for putting the two-state solution “in serious jeopardy” and speak with Avraham Burg who was Speaker of the Knesset and a leader in the Israeli Labor Party and the One Israel Party. He joins us to discuss the fury on the Israeli right against Obama who they blame for “orchestrating” the U.N. vote against Israel over its continued expansion of Jewish settlements in disputed Palestinian territory, and his disappointment in both Obama and Kerry for taking this stand in the last days of their administration when they should have stood up for a peace deal on their first day instead of wasting eight years.

 

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Then we look into the irony that the Israeli right sees Donald Trump as their hero riding to the rescue as he has promised in his tweets, while the neo-Nazi white nationalists of the alt-right here in America hail Trump’s victory and see Trump’s right hand man Steve Bannon as a leader of the alt-right since Bannon himself has called his publication Breitbart News, the platform of the alt-right.  Brian Levin, the Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, joins us to discuss a heavily-armed anti-Semitic protest march against Jews and Jewish businesses by American Nazis planned to coincide with Trump’s inauguration. The march will be held in Whitefish, Montana where the leader of the alt-right, Richard Spencer, is a part time resident.  

Part 3

Then finally, with Donald Trump’s cabinet shaping up to be a team of billionaires, we speak with the author of “Oligarchy”, Jeffrey Winters, a professor of Political Science at Northwestern University. He joins us to explore why the angry white working class voted for Donald Trump who ran as a populist. And since it is clear now, and will be even more so once Trump is in office, that giving more power and wealth to billionaires will not benefit working Americans, whether there will be an even angrier electorate four years from now.

 

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December 27 - Trump's New Rules for the Press; The Continuing Fallout From the U.S. Abstention at the U.N.; How the U.S. Empowered Iran

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We begin with the successful blurring of the line between news and fake news and propaganda that Steven Bannon and the Trump campaign have employed so far and look into how they will manage the press once they are in the White House. Playing by their own rules so far they’ve got the press to give them $5 billion’s worth of free media without him suffering any real scrutiny from them, certainly when it comes to tax returns, and in return Trump has given limited access to Fox News only and no press conferences, all the while threatening the press, insulting them and inciting his followers to attack them as he threatens to change the libel laws to sue them into submission.  An award-winning investigative correspondent for CNN, ABC and NBC, Mark Feldstein, a Professor and the Chair of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Maryland, joins us to discuss whether, as Trump continues to play by his own rules, the press will be able to have access to him, let alone be able to hold him accountable.

Part 2

Then we assess the fallout from the recent diplomatic upset Israel suffered at the U.N. Security Council where the U.S., which has routinely shielded the Jewish state from international condemnation by using its veto, for once abstained in a 14 to zero vote. Shibley Telhami, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution who was recently a Senior Advisor to the State Department on Palestinian – Israeli negotiations, joins us to discuss further tensions expected from an upcoming speech by Secretary of State Kerry while the White House continues to incur the wrath of Prime Minister Netanyahu whose Ambassador to the U.S. is claiming that Obama orchestrated the whole thing, a charge that he will only provide evidence for once Trump is inaugurated.

Part 3

Then finally, we speak with Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma who writes the daily newsletter and blog on Syrian politics, “Syria Comment”. We discuss the so-called Shia crescent as a reality and how much the ground has shifted in the Middle East with the expected victory of the Assad regime in Syria that will mean Iran, through its proxies, will project its power across Iraq and Syria and into Lebanon and right onto Israel’s doorstep.

 

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