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For those who missed the event, or were there and really wanted to fully absorb its import, here it is in video

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Between The Lines Presentation at the Left Forum 2016

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"How Do We Build A Mass Movement to Reverse Runaway Inequality?" with Les Leopold, author of "Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice,"May 22, 2016, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, 860 11th Ave. (Between 58th and 59th), New York City. Between The Lines' Scott Harris and Richard Hill moderated this workshop. Listen to the audio/slideshows and more from this workshop.





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JEREMY SCAHILL: Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker "Dirty Wars"

Listen to the full interview (30:33) with Jeremy Scahill, an award-winning investigative journalist with the Nation Magazine, correspondent for Democracy Now! and author of the bestselling book, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," about America's outsourcing of its military. In an exclusive interview with Counterpoint's Scott Harris on Sept. 16, 2013, Scahill talks about his latest book, "Dirty Wars, The World is a Battlefield," also made into a documentary film under the same title, and was nominated Dec. 5, 2013 for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category.

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"The Rogue World Order: Connecting the Dots Between Trump, Flynn, Bannon, Spencer, Dugin Putin," by Anna Manzo (GlobalHealing), Daily Kos, Feb. 13, 2017

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Sen. Jeff Sessions' Attorney General Nomination Among Trump's Most Dangerous Cabinet Picks

Posted Dec. 21, 2016

MP3 Interview with Drew Courtney, communications director with the group People for the American Way, conducted by Scott Harris

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Amid anti-Trump protests across the U.S., members of the Electoral College met at state capitols on Dec. 19. But despite millions of petition signatures and phone calls urging electors to switch their votes, the hoped for upending of the nation’s constitutionally mandated non-democratic Electoral College process failed. In the end, only two Republican electors from Texas voted against Trump, while five of Hillary Clinton’s electors defected, three voting for ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell, one for a Native-American tribal leader and another for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The final Electoral College total was 304 votes for Trump and 227 for Clinton.

But now with that phase of the election over, Trump opponents are gearing up to battle many of the right-wing ideologue millionaires and billionaires that have been nominated or appointed to government posts. One of the most controversial Trump nominations is that of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, named to become the nation’s next attorney general. In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship by the Senate Republican majority, due to charges that he held racist views and had a history of making racially insensitive statements.

While Senate Democrats don’t have the votes to defeat the Sessions nomination, they will surely question the Alabama senator about his extreme anti-immigrant views, support for torture of U.S. held-prisoners and opposition to hate crime protections for LGBTQ people. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Drew Courtney, communications director with the group People for the American Way, who explains why he believes that Trump's nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general is one of his most dangerous cabinet picks. [Rush transcript.]

DREW COURTNEY: We really believe that Jeff Sessions is perhaps Donald Trump's most dangerous pick to join his Cabinet. He has really made a name for himself as one of the most extreme members of the Senate on a number of issues – including voter suppression issues, including attacking immigrants, including Islamophobia over a long period of time. He first came to national attention around his career as an assistant U.S. attorney in the early 1980s where he was rejected for a judgeship. And he threw in very early with Donald Trump and was one of Donald Trump's most committed boosters throughout the campaign. And I think that, more than anything else, speaks to why he got the nod from President-Elect Trump, which is actually frightening, for a couple of reasons.

The first is, I think in any other Republican administration, Sessions would not have been a serious contender. I don't think he's viewed as up to the job in a lot of ways. I don't think he was viewed as mainstream, even within the rather extreme Republican party we're dealing with. And second of all, unlike other offices in the Cabinet, it's really critical, or more critical in this particular position that the attorney general operate independently of the president. They're not the president's lawyer, the attorney general is the people's lawyer. And sometimes that brings them into conflict with the administration. I think that we have a lot of reason to doubt that Jeff Sessions is up to the job or has much interest in being independent of Donald Trump, and that's really concerning because he's not there truly to serve the president. He's there to serve the people of the United States by upholding the law.


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BETWEEN THE LINES:Drew, review for our listeners some of the most objectionable things that Jeff Sessions has said and done as a senator. And I want you to take into account some of the talking points of Trump supporters who say Jeff Sessions, when he was rejected as a federal judge nominee back in 1986, has changed a lot during the course of his being a senator in that his views have mellowed, or he's matured as a public official.

DREW COURTNEY: To be clear, I actually think we should be open to the idea that someone has changed in the last 30 years. Unfortunately, for Jeff Sessions, he spent that time in public life and we can see that his attitudes have not changed. He's always been one of the most vocal opponents of voting rights reforms that have gone forward, so although he voted for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, he was a cheerleader when the Supreme Court gutted it in [the Shelby County decision]. That was one of the major decisions that led to all the voter suppression laws that we've seen in recent elections and that made it much harder for folks to vote in this election. He's repeatedly a demagogue that's attacked immigrants of all kinds. He's really led the anti-immigrant caucus in the Senate, not just against undocumented immigrants but also trying to reduce legal immigration, calling for a return to the early 20th century quota system that had much more generous quotas for nations that were sending European immigrants as opposed to other countries. And on Islamophobia issues, he's been pretty aggressive in attacking, for instance when the National Endowment for the Humanities was distributing material about Islam to some libraries as part of their broad mandate to be distributing research to libraries and all different kinds of institutions. He reached out and attacked them.

One of the other issues that I think has probably not gotten enough attention is that he's also been really dangerous on issues related to women's equality. So he voted the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He was only a handful of senators to oppose the reauthorization of the Violence Act Women Act. And I think that's relevant, because when he was supporting Donald Trump when he was asked about his really horrible comments about grabbing women by their genitals, Jeff Sessions said, "I really don't think counts as sexual assault," which is really disturbing, because again, he will be our nation's chief law enforcement officer and he seems to have a very vague idea of what the law is.

So, on a really wide range of issues, I think we've not only seen a level of extremism that's disturbing, but we've seen again and again a real willingness to kind of put his own agenda before the law when it's convenient. When the law and his ideology conflict, he tends to go with ideology. And that's about the last quality you want to find in someone who's going to be your attorney general.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Drew, one of the biggest questions surrounding the nomination of Jeff Sessions to become the next attorney general is how the minority Democrats in the Senate will respond to that nomination when it comes to the confirmation hearings? What are we hearing from Democrats in terms of the weight they're willing to throw around and use of the filibuster possibly to keep Jeff Sessions at bay here, or to defeat his nomination?

DREW COURTNEY: So, because of the changes in the filibuster, Democrats have limited power in terms of blocking him on their own. So, on lower federal courts – not the Supreme Court – but on lower federal courts and on all executive branch nominations, the vote margin for cutting off debate was lowered to a simple majority. So, if Republicans can keep their caucus together, Democrats are not able to sustain a filibuster or someone like Sessions, or any of the other Senate confirmed nominees. Now that doesn't mean that Democrats are completely without power. There are some other procedural rules that they can use and of course, they can pressure Republicans to do the right thing by calling out some of these concerns. So in committee, I think that they should be pushing really hard, and asking some really tough questions. And I think that we have seen that attitude. Unfortunately, I don't think Republicans have been particularly receptive to that this time. But I do think that it's going be really important that Democrats – both before and during the hearings – ask tough questions about the things that matter. You know, there need to be real questions to Jeff Sessions about whether or not it's constitutional for a president, any president, to set up a registry of folks of a particular religion. I think that he needs to commit very clearly that he understands that that's plainly unconstitutional and if not, Republicans really need their feet held to the fire about why they're willing to support someone who would say that.

Find more information, visit People for the American Way at pfaw.org.

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