BTS 7/6/09: Obama in Russia; Goldman Sachs; KPFK LSB Elections

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President Obama is in Russia for his first Russian-American summit aiming to rebuild relations between the two nuclear powers. While mainstream media has stressed that Obama’s toughest act may be in balancing the power equation between Dimitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, Stephen Cohen, whose just released book Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War goes much deeper - and here on Beneath The Surface we’ll explore the real dangers facing the historic relationship between the US and Russia. More than a ‘re-set,’ which is certainly a starter, Cohen has argued that the US has deceived and betrayed the Russians since the end of the Cold War, squandering opportunities to recreate our relationship and instead treated Russia as a vanquished power to be looted, plundered and humiliated. Can Obama’s foreign policy team, made from some of the same cast from the Clinton administration who facilitated the misdeeds, understand the depth and nature of Russian anger and the danger of further stoking it? Can Russia get some respect? How Obama handles this, Cohen believes, is a crucial test of his bold leadership.

Matt Taibbi was writing from Russia’s “Wild East” when all this transpired, doing some of the best investigative reporting of that rocky, mostly failed political and economic transition. Goldman Sachs was there too with Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin (and their protégés) making off like bandits. Taibbi’s investigative skills, honed in Russia and sharpened ever more since his return are in full splendor with his reporting on the back story to the economic meltdown, the Wall Street system, the bubbles and busts – and this time he focuses on Goldman Sachs, and they are pretty upset with his exposé. You may have read it about it in Frank Rich’s column in Sunday’s NY Times. Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article “The Great American Bubble Machine” follows his earlier investigation into the meltdown, shows how Goldman Sachs was behind every major market manipulation since the great depression -- culminating in the internet bubble, subprime mortgages, record high gas prices, and last year's financial meltdown. And just wait until you hear what Matt Taibbi says is the next bubble slash sinkhole for US tax payer money: Matt joins us to tell the story.

And finally on tonight’s Beneath The Surface we’ll talk to Nalini Lasiewicz about some Pacifica history in preparation for the upcoming LSB (Local Station Board) elections.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Stephen Cohen is professor of Russian studies and history at New York University and professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. His books include Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography; Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History Since 1917; Sovieticus: American Perceptions and Soviet Realities; and Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia.

2. Matt Taibbi is a political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, a sports columnist for Men's Journal, has written several books, the latest published by Spiegel & Grau (Random House): The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion. He blogs at True Slant, and you can check out all his book titles on Wikipedia – but a must read for a glimpse of Russia during the rocky ride of the 90s is The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia.