December 12 - 10 Electors Ask For an Intelligence Briefing; Google and Facebook: "A Terrifying Duopoly of Power"; The Recount Results From Wisconsin

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We begin with a letter from 10 electors who are expected to vote in a week’s time to, as the constitution dictates, “elect a president who is constitutionally qualified and fit to serve”, which they sent to the Director of National Intelligence asking for an intelligence briefing on Russia’s meddling in the U.S. presidential election. An expert on the Electoral College, Alexander Keyssar, a Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and author of the forthcoming book “Why Do We Still Have The Electoral College?”, joins us to discuss whether, if the evidence of Trump’s collusion with Putin is compelling, enough electors could switch to Hillary Clinton. We examine the constitutional wiggle room that allows so-called “faithless electors” to vote their conscience and perhaps follow the advice of Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils”.

 

Alex Keyssar

Part 2

Then with Trump and his spokespeople denying any Russian involvement in the election while leading Republicans call for a bipartisan inquiry into apparent Russian interference, we look into how the truth is a moving target in our politics resulting in he or she who is the best at spinning the truth, winning the argument. Frank Pasquale, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland whose research addresses the challenges posed to information law by rapidly changing technology, joins us. The author of “The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information”, will discuss what he calls “a terrifying duopoly of power”, Google and Facebook, and the way Republicans intimidated Facebook into switching their news selection to algorithms which opened the door to fake news. 

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Part 3

Then finally we assess the just-announced results of the recount in Wisconsin that confirmed Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in this key swing state by more than 22,000 votes resulting in Trump picking up an extra 131 votes. Matthew Rothschild, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and the former Editor and Publisher of The Progressive magazine in Madison, Wisconsin, joins us to discuss whether the recount was worth it and how much Governor Scott Walker’s suppression of Democratic votes effected the outcome. 

 

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December 11 - Trump Trashes the CIA for Tying Victory to Putin; An Oil Tycoon Running US Foreign Policy?; Politicians Are the Last People to Run Intelligence

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We begin with the growing evidence that the new czar of Russia, the former KGB officer Vladimir Putin, has chosen America’s next president, a man who he admires, Donald Trump, and has been rewarded even further by the nomination of his close friend and favorite American, Rex Tillerson, the head of Exxon, who Trump wants as our next the Secretary of State. A CIA veteran, Robert Baer, the current national security analyst at CNN, joins us to discuss Donald Trump’s rejection of the CIA’s assessment that Russia tried to sway the election in his favor which Trump calls “ridiculous”, suggesting the CIA is biased and incompetent, while Republican spokespeople claim that Trump’s new head of the CIA, the Tea Party ideologue Congressman Pompeo, will provide better intelligence. This presumably means Trump, who says he does not require the CIA’s daily intelligence briefings, will start getting briefed with Pompeo’s intelligence on January the 20st.

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Part 2

Then we look into the implications of an oil tycoon running America’s foreign policy and speak with an expert on Russian energy, David Kotz, a Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts and the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. The author of “The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism”, he joins us to discuss how U.S./Russian joint energy deals could bring about vast geostrategic changes that could marginalize the Middle East with a Russian/American alliance against Saudi-inspired jihadism, and possibly result in a U.S./Russian alliance against China.

 

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Part 3

Then finally we speak with Loch Johnson, the Regents Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia who served on the staffs of both House and Senate Intelligence Oversight Committees and is the author of “The Threat on the Horizon: An Inside Account of America’s Search for Security after the Cold War”. We discuss how politicians are the last people who should be running intelligence agencies, particularly ideologues like Congressman Pompeo, and the need for the evidence of Russian interference in our election to be made public.

Loch K. Johnson

 

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December 8 - An Insult to American Workers: Trump's Choice of Labor Secretary; A Third General in Trump's Administration?; How to Get Rid of the Electoral College

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We begin with another case of putting Dracula in charge of the blood-bank with Donald Trump’s nomination of Andrew Puzder, the CEO of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast food chains, who is a relentless foe of raising the minimum wage and paying workers overtime yet will be heading up the Department of Labor tasked with enforcing workplace safety and wage laws on behalf of American workers. Fred Rotondaro, a member of the Patriotic Millionaires who was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress working on poverty and inequality, joins us to discuss how this nomination will put the brakes on a raise in the minimum wage and overtime pay since Puzder has made it clear he thinks giving a worker a fancy job title helps them more than paying them a living wage. Puzder also believes that food stamps discourage poor people from working and machines are better than humans because “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take vacations, they never show up late, and there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case”.

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Part 2

Then we speak with David Schanzer, Professor of the Practice and Director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University.  He was staff director of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security and we will discuss Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Homeland Security, General John Kelly, who will be the third general nominated to a top position in Trump’s Administration with General David Petraeus a possible fourth. We will examine how a military mindset might adjust to civilian challenges in an agency that will oversee the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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Part 3

Then finally we examine efforts to abolish the antiquated Electoral College that twice in recent years has resulted in the loser of the popular vote winning the presidency. A Pulitzer Prize-winning expert on the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, Jack Rakove, a Professor of History and American Studies at Stanford University and author of “Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America”, joins us to discuss his testimony this week before the House Judiciary Committee on the future of the Electoral College.

 

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December 7 -- Trump's Cynical Choice for Head of the EPA; Academic McCarthyism; The Continuing Fallout From Trump's Taiwan Call

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We will begin with Donald Trump’s naming of the Attorney General of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt as the next head of the EPA and speak with a leading expert on energy and environmental issues who helped bring about the Environmental Protection Agency under President Nixon. David Freeman, a senior advisor to Friends of the Earth who headed up the Tennessee Valley Authority, New York Power, the Los Angeles DWP and is the author of “All Electric Future: A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future”, joins us to discuss the cynical choice of an aggressive anti-environmentalist to head up an agency meant to protect the land, air and water. As Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, a protégé of Oklahoma’s global warming denying Senator James Inhofe, has spent most of his time suing the EPA on behalf of fossil fuel companies and shale oil “fracking” outfits who have turned Oklahoma into the earthquake capitol of the United States. 

 

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Part 2

Then we speak with Anthea Butler, a Professor of Religious Studies and Graduate Chair in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is on a McCarthyite hit-list funded by a right wing billionaire that targets academics who they consider subversive which results in an organized blizzard of hate mail and demands for resignation sent to university chancellors, deans and students to get professors fired. She joins us to discuss her article at The Guardian “I’m on the ‘professor watchlist’. It’s a ploy to undermine free speech” and the Orwellian nature of “reporting” on professors by students who, in the name of fighting “bias”, are encouraged by groups like Turning Point USA and Campus Reform, to be informants rather than enter into dialogue and discourse with those who have differing opinions.

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Part 3

Then finally we look into the continuing fallout from Donald Trump’s call to the leader of Taiwan with The New York Times’ revealing that Senator Bob Dole, a lobbyist for Taiwan, helped arrange the call that has China fuming and many wondering whether it is a sign of incompetence and amateurism or if there is some kind of strategy at work. An expert on Taiwan, Shelley Rigger, a professor of Political Science at Davidson College and author of “Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse” joins us to try to make sense of where relations between the U.S. and China might be heading amid mixed and contradictory signals from the new Trump Administration.

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December 6 - General Flynn and Son's Peddling of Fake News; Pentagon Buries Evidence of $125 Billion in Waste; The Former Head of Exxon as Secretary of State?

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We begin with the consequences of General Michael Flynn and his son and other top members of the incoming Trump Administration spreading fake news which resulted in an attack on a Washington pizzeria popular with families and children by a supporter of family values who had a real gun and believed an online conspiracy theory Flynn and his son were peddling that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex-trafficking ring out of the pizzeria.  An Internet and technology policy lawyer, Leslie Harris, the former President of the Center for Democracy and Technology, joins us to discuss what happened at her neighborhood pizzeria and the reckless and dangerous behavior of the next National Security Advisor General Flynn and his son. We will also look into how Republican pressure on Facebook to get rid of supposedly “biased” human oversight and use algorithms instead, led to the proliferation of fake news and a deluge of outrageous fabrications and hate speech aimed at the Clintons that helped elect Trump. 

 

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Part 2

Then we examine a Washington Post expose of how the Pentagon buried evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste so their next budget under the next Administration will be laden with pork from a massive spending binge promised by Trump. Mandy Smithberger, the Director of the Straus Military Reform Program at POGO, the Project on Government Oversight, joins us to discuss how little outrage has been expressed in Washington as top Republicans with oversight like Senator John McCain, ignore the report and plan to throw more money at the Pentagon. 

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Part 3

Then finally we speak with Cleo Paskal, who is a Trudeau Fellow at the University of Montreal’s Center for International Studies and a Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London. An expert on the geopolitical, security, and economic consequences of environmental change from global warming, she joins us to discuss the possibility that Trump will choose the former head of Exxon as his Secretary of State, at a time the oil giant is under investigation for actively suppressing evidence of the contribution to global warming from the burning of fossil fuels.

Cleo Paskal

 

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