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- The GOP’s death cycle
- Has “Corporate Personhood” Delivered America to the Brink of Dictatorship? You Betcha…..
- Jon Stewart for Celebrity President. This Is Not a Joke!
- Cornel West in Oakland on Sunday
- Biden Should Just Say ‘No’ to Israel
- ‘End the War on Gaza… End It Now’: Doctors Decry Relentless Israeli Attack
- Don’t Let Fabricated Outrage ‘Distract From Genocidal Violence in Gaza,’ Says Naomi Klein
- WHERE’S BIDEN?! POTUS Blows Off Dem Primary Debate
- McCarthy’s Exit May Create Even More Headaches for the Tiny G.O.P. Majority
- DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE DEBATE RESPONSE
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How the Republican Party turns fascist
|ROBERT REICH DEC 7, 2023 (email@example.com)|
Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina announced Tuesday that he won’t be seeking reelection.
McHenry steered the House as acting speaker during the chaos following Kevin McCarthy’s ouster. McHenry helped negotiate this year’s debt limit deal. He’s also one of the House’s most prominent policy wonks.
Retirements across both parties are already outpacing those of the past three election cycles.
The retirements are unlikely to alter the balance of political power in the House or Senate, since most come from “safe” districts that will almost certainly elect someone else from the same party.
But the retirements may alter the balance of integrity, making the Republican Party even less principled than it is now.
Some pending Republican retirees, like McHenry, are institutionalists who care more about policy than ideology. They respect the Constitution and want Congress to run well. A few actively opposed Trump.
McHenry was one of the handful of House Republicans who voted to certify Joe Biden’s victory in 2020.
Another House Republican who announced he won’t seek reelection is Colorado Representative Ken Buck.
Buck has denounced his party’s election denialism and the refusal of many Republican lawmakers to condemn the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. “We lost our way,” Buck told The New York Times. “We have an identity crisis in the Republican Party. If we can’t address the election denier issue and we continue down that path, we won’t have credibility with the American people that we are going to solve problems.”
Several other Republican institutionalists exited before the 2022 midterms. Former Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez, who was one of only 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of Trump’s second impeachment, left because of threats received by him and his family.
Former Republican congressman Peter Meijer, another of the 10, also exited before the 2022 midterms. He stated that the day after the vote, he purchased body armor and made changes to his daily schedule due to threats against his life.
Meijer also noted that his colleagues who voted not to certify the 2020 election “knew in their heart of hearts that they should’ve voted to certify, but some had legitimate concerns about the safety of their families. They felt that that vote would put their families in danger.”
In the Senate, Utah’s Mitt Romney, a Republican institutionalist, will not be seeking reelection.
The degeneration of the GOP has occurred over many years. I witnessed the first major purge of so-called moderate Republicans in 1994, when Newt Gingrich took over the House. The Senate still contained a few moderate Republicans: I worked with Senators Mark Hatfield, Arlen Specter, John Chafee, Jim Jeffords, William Cohen, and Susan Collins on several pieces of legislation. I found them all to be thoughtful and reasonable.
But moderate Republicans are gone from Congress. Soon, any Republican lawmaker still possessing some integrity will also be gone.
The Republican Party is in an integrity death cycle. As the GOP is taken over by Trump’s enablers and sycophants, the few remaining principled Republican lawmakers want out. As they depart, the Trump rot spreads.
Republican lawmakers who remain are the most self-aggrandizing and least principled. Which in turn causes the GOP to degenerate further.
Tragically and frighteningly, this means that if Trump regains the presidency, Republican lawmakers in Congress and the states will be even readier to do his bidding.
Corporations don’t need pure food, clean air, or safe drinking water, but they control our government and elections… and the outcome is proving disastrous.
America is in the midst of a domestic political crisis with a literal madman and his cult/Party — heavily supported by some of America’s largest companies — threatening to turn America into a dictatorship.
As Yahoo news reports this morning:
“Could a second Donald Trump presidency slide into dictatorship? A sudden spate of dystopian warnings has got America talking about the possibility less than a year before the US elections.
“Dark scenarios about what could happen if the twice-impeached Republican former president wins in 2024 have appeared in the space of a few days in major US media outlets that include The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Atlantic.”
So, where are we now and how the hell did we get here? It turns out we are seeing the consequences of a corrupt, bribed Supreme Court from over 150 years ago.
It was a fraud at the time, the result of a Supreme Court Justice having been bribed by the big railroads, and continues to be a fraud to this day. This didn’t originate with an American billionaire paying off Clarence Thomas; that’s just the latest incarnation of it.
Corporations are pouring increasingly large amounts of money into politics, and like an invisible planet or black hole, it warps our political system to the point it has brought us Donald Trump.
And it’s all because of a doctrine created out of whole cloth by the US Supreme Court in the late 19th century called “Corporate Personhood.” It has become one of the most destructive forces in American politics.
The history is fascinating, and if we truly want to pull this horrible weed out by the root, we have to understand where it first grew.
While much of the world tries to emulate the American experiment, because of this doctrine created by the Court, contemporary America is moving in the direction of Mussolini’s corporate-state partnership.
Executives from regulated industries are heading up the agencies that regulate them. Other symptoms of increasing corporate control of the nation include widespread privatization and so-called public-private partnerships: euphemisms for shifting control of a commons’ resources (like water or electricity) from governments, responsive to their voters, to the morbidly rich leaders of massive business operations.
Since five corrupt Republicans on the Supreme Court fully legalized political bribery, corporations and their agents have become the largest contributors to politicians, political parties, and so-called “think tanks,” which both write and influence legislation.
That distinction between corporate control and human control is absolutely pivotal: governments that “derive their just powers from consent of the governed” should be exclusively responsible to citizens and voters: their agencies were originally created exclusively to administer and protect the resources of the commons used by those same citizens and voters.
Corporations, on the other hand, are responsible only to stockholders and are created exclusively to produce a profit for those stockholders. When aggressive corporations control political power, the results are predictable.
We have recently seen, all too often, the strange fruits borne by placing a corporate sentry where a public guardian should stand: for instance, we now know that the California energy crisis of some years ago was manipulated into existence by energy companies to get rid of Democratic Governor Gray Davis.
The cost to humans for that corporate plunder was horrific, but a corporation that’s now been convicted of multiple deaths of Californians still has a stranglehold on that state’s energy.
How did it happen that corporations have the ability to do such things even when the public protests vigorously?
It turns out, says the Supreme Court, that corporations have human rights. In several different decisions, all grounded on an 1886 case, the Court has ruled that corporations are entitled to a voice in Washington and state capitols, the same as you and me.
Our nation was built on the ideal of equal protection of people (regardless of differences of race, creed, gender, or religion), and corporations are much bigger than people, much more able to influence the government, and don’t have the biological needs and weakness of people.
The path from government of, by, and for the people to government of, by, and for the corporations was paved largely by an invented legal premise embraced by the Supreme Court that corporations are, in fact, people, a premise called “corporate personhood.”
This doctrine states not just that people make up a corporation, but that each corporation, when created by the act of incorporation, is a full-grown “person” — separate from the humans who work for it or own stock in it — with all the rights granted to human persons by the Bill of Rights.
This idea would shock the Founders of the United States.
James Madison, often referred to as “the father of the Constitution,” wrote:
“There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by…corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.”
And in a letter to James K. Paulding, 10 March 1817, Madison made absolutely explicit a lifetime of thought on the matter.
“Incorporated Companies,” he wrote, “with proper limitations and guards, may in particular cases, be useful, but they are at best a necessary evil only. Monopolies and perpetuities are objects of just abhorrence. The former are unjust to the existing, the latter usurpations on the rights of future generations.”
The concept of “corporate personhood” hasn’t been around forever; it arrived long after the death of James Madison (and the entire Revolutionary Era generation). Although the Court first recognized a corporation as having some personhood rights in 1815, today’s Corporate Personhood crisis really kicked off in 1886, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s reporter inserted a personal commentary called a headnote into the decision in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad.
For decades the Court had repeatedly ruled against the doctrine of corporate personhood, and they avoided the issue altogether in the 1886 Santa Clara case, but Court Reporter J.C. Bancroft Davis (a former corporate president) added a note to the case saying that the Chief Justice, Morrison R. Waite, had said that “corporations are persons” who should, Davis suggested, be granted human rights under the free-the-slaves Fourteenth Amendment.
Davis had recorded a remark made in a side conversation that was never part of a ruling by the Court; he phrased it in a way that implied it was part of the decision, but it wasn’t.
In this, he was being encouraged by Stephen J Field, the Supreme Court Justice from California who had been bribed by one of the nation’s largest railroads.
When I was writing my book on the 14th Amendment, Unequal Protection, searching the Library of Congress’ archives we found a note in Waite’s handwriting, specifically saying to Davis, “We avoided meeting the constitutional question in the decision.”
As far as I can tell, nobody had seen the document in over 100 years.
Nonetheless, the headnote for that decision, falsely claiming the Court ruled that corporations have rights as persons, was published in 1887 (a year Waite was so ill he rarely showed up in court; he died the following year).
Since then, corporations have claimed that they are persons — pointing to that decision and its fraudulent headnote — and, amazingly enough, in most cases the courts have agreed.
Many legal scholars think it’s because the courts didn’t bother to read the case but instead just read the headnote, which has no legal standing. But at this point, after a century of acceptance, the misreading has been repeatedly quoted by the Supreme Court itself, making it into real law.
The impact has been almost incalculable. As “persons,” corporations have claimed the First Amendment right of free speech and — even though they can’t vote — they now spend billions of dollars to influence elections, prevent regulation of their own industries, and write or block legislation.
Before 1886, in most states this behavior was explicitly against the law.
In Wisconsin, for example, on the eve of his becoming chief justice of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, Edward G. Ryan said ominously in his 1873 address to the graduating class of the University of Wisconsin Law School:
“[There] is looming up a new and dark power…the enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marching, not for economical conquests only, but for political power….
“The question will arise and arise in your day, though perhaps not fully in mine, which shall rule—wealth or man; which shall lead—money or intellect; who shall fill public stations—educated and patriotic freemen, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital….”
The Wisconsin legislature had recently put into law severe restrictions on corporate election interference:
Political contributions by corporations. No corporation doing business in this state shall pay or contribute, or offer consent or agree to pay or contribute, directly or indirectly, any money, property, free service of its officers or employees or thing of value to any political party, organization, committee or individual for any political purpose whatsoever, or for the purpose of influencing legislation of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for nomination, appointment or election to any political office.
Penalty. Any officer, employee, agent or attorney or other representative of any corporation, acting for and in behalf of such corporation, who shall violate this act, shall be punished upon conviction by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the state prison for a period of not less than one nor more than five years … and if a foreign or non-resident corporation its right to do business in this state may be declared forfeited. (emphasis added)
And it wasn’t just Wisconsin: every state had similar laws to limit corporate power, particularly when it came to inserting themselves in politics.
Pennsylvania corporate charters were required to carry revocation clauses starting in 1784; and in 1815 Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story said explicitly that corporations existed only because they were authorized by state legislatures. In his ruling in the Terrett v. Taylor case, he wrote:
“A private corporation created by the legislature may lose its franchises by a misuser or nonuser of them…. This is the common law of the land, and is a tacit condition annexed to the creation of every such corporation.”
It was a concern the nation shared. As President Grover Cleveland said in his 1887 annual state of the union address immediately following the Santa Clara decision:
“As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”
Since the 1890s, however, corporations have repeatedly and successfully sued to have these “unequal” restrictions removed, based on that phony headnote in the Santa Clara case.
As a “person,” corporations can (and do) claim the Fourth Amendment “right of privacy” and prevent government regulators from performing surprise inspections of factories, accounting practices, and workplaces, leading to uncontrolled pollution and hidden accounting crimes.
Before 1886 concealing corporate crimes was also, in most states, explicitly against the law. Ironically, corporations have also successfully claimed that when people come to work on their “corporate private property,” those very human people are agreeing to give up their own constitutional rights to privacy, free speech, and even to the control of their own possessions.
As a “person,” corporations can claim that when a community’s voters pass laws to ban them, those voters are engaging in illegal discrimination and violating the corporation’s “human rights” guaranteed in the Fourteenth Amendment — even if the corporation has been convicted of felonies.
The result has been an Alice In Wonderland situation where a corporation convicted of felonies can and did own television stations (GE, for example, was convicted of multiple felonies but owned many television stations), but when a human being in the Midwest was convicted of a felony the FCC, moved to strip him of his TV station.
The terrible irony is that corporations insist on the protections owed to humans, but refuse to acknowledge the responsibilities and consequences borne by humans.
They don’t have human weaknesses: don’t need fresh water to drink, clean air to breathe, uncontaminated food to eat, and don’t fear imprisonment, cancer, or death.
Granting personhood to corporations is an absolute perversion of the principle cited in the Declaration of Independence, which explicitly states that the government of the United States was created by people and for people, and operates only by consent of the people whom it governs. The Declaration states this in unambiguous terms:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The result of corporate personhood has been the relentless erosion of government’s role as a defender of human rights and of government’s responsibility to respond to the needs of its human citizens.
Instead, we’re now seeing a steady insinuation of corporate representatives and those beholden to corporations into legislatures, the judiciary, and, with corporate CEO’s Trump, Bush, and Cheney, even the highest office in the land.
We’ve reached the point in the United States where corporatism has nearly triumphed over democracy.
If events continue on their current trajectory, the ability of our government to respond to the needs and desires of humans — things like fresh water, clean air, uncontaminated food, independent local media, secure retirement, predictable weather, and accessible medical care — may vanish forever, effectively ending the world’s second experiment with democracy.
We will have gone too far down Mussolini’s road, and most likely will encounter similar consequences, at least over the short term as we saw beginning to emerge during the Trump presidency: a militarized police state, a government unresponsive to its citizens and obsessed with secrecy, a ruling elite drawn from the senior ranks of the nation’s largest corporations, and the threat of war.
Alternatively, if we reverse the 1886 fraud that created corporate personhood, it’s still possible we can return to the democratic republican principles that animated our Founders and brought this nation into being.
Our government — elected by human citizen voters — can shake off the neoliberal experiment of the Reagan Revolution’s past forty years with its exploding corporatism, and throw the corporate agents and buyers-of-influence out of the hallowed halls of Congress.
We can restore our stolen human rights to humans, and keep corporate activity constrained within the boundaries of that which will help and heal and repair our Earth rather than plunder it.
The path to doing this is straightforward. Citizens across the nation are looking into the possibility of passing local laws denying corporate personhood, and increasing numbers of Democratic politicians are looking for ways to correct the Supreme Court’s reporter’s 1886 lie and its spawn, like Buckley, Bellotti, and Citizens United.
Taking another path, some are suggesting that the Fourteenth Amendment should itself be amended to insert the word “natural” before the word “person,” an important legal distinction that will sweep away a century of legalized corporate excesses and reassert the primacy of humans.
Congress could also exercise its Article 3 Section 2 power and tell the Supreme Court that corporations are not persons and that is an “exception” to the Court’s ability to create doctrine without congressional consent.
An expanded Supreme Court could even take up this issue, along with its bizarre twin, the Court-created doctrine that money is the same thing as free speech.
The concern is not corporations per se; the bludgeon of corporate personhood is rarely used by small or medium companies; it’s used almost exclusively by a handful of the nation’s largest, to force their will on governments and communities.
This means a very small number of parties (the biggest corporations) are all that stand in the way of reform, which suggests the corporate personhood doctrine is the weakest link in the chain of corporate power.
And it’s a link that can be broken by alert and activist citizens, thus steering America away from Mussolini’s view of government and back on course toward that of our nation’s Founders. What is required is that we undo that 1886 court reporter’s incorrect headnote, by any of the various means people are beginning to try.
Corporations don’t need pure food, clean air, or safe drinking water, but they have the ability to influence our government and elections. To rescue democracy, America must reject the bizarre Supreme Court-created doctrine of “corporate personhood.”
Once again in America, we must do what the author of the Declaration of Independence always hoped we would:
“[T]he people, being the only safe depository of power, should exercise in person every function which their qualifications enable them to exercise, consistently with the order and security of society.” (emphasis added)
Donald Trump and the GOP would not be the threat they are to America today were it not for billions in corporate money, particularly corrupt corporate money from industries like fossil fuel, tobacco, and weapons, holding them up. \
In a very real way, you could argue that this corrupt act by the Supreme Court has brought America to the brink of dictatorship.
We must take back from corporations the power to govern if we ever hope to have a government that is truly representative of We the People, and save a viable planet for our children and our children’s children.
Thank you for reading The Hartmann Report. This post is public so feel free to share it.
|Jerry WeissWrites Feathers of HopeDec 6 Thank you Thom for this excellent piece. Only one thing is missing: what ordinary citizen activists can do to help make a change. Here’s my suggestion:Join in the effort to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that only human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (R-WA) is the lead sponsor of the We the People Amendment which had 94 co-sponsors in the last Congress. Learn more at www.MoveToAmend.org|
Republicans understand that America loves celebrities. Democrats need funny and famous people running for office.
December 6 2023, 6:00 a.m. (TheIntercept.com)
SHOULD LIBERALS — i.e., America’s jambalaya of FDR-heads, radicals in name only, organizers with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and even normcore Democrats — try to get Jon Stewart to run for president?
An affirmative response comes from Jeff Cohen, the founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and former director of Ithaca College’s Park Center for Independent Media. Stewart rose to stardom as host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, and after stepping down in 2015, he returned to TV in 2021 in “The Problem With Jon Stewart” (which Apple TV recently canceled). Cohen makes the case here, in a column, and here, in an interview with Salon.
Whether or not Stewart will run for president, Cohen convincingly explains why he should. His arguments about this apply beyond the specifics of Stewart and suggest that what Democrats truly need is more funny celebrities running for office.
First of all, this kind of brainstorming should be the norm instead of the exception in progressive U.S. politics. For a society that comes up with a new, crucial form of social media every month, it’s notable how stultifying our politics are. It’s not just that there’s never any outside-of-the-box thinking, it’s that the box itself is a cube 2 inches on each side. You can still go to protest rallies and hear people chanting, “The people, united, will never be defeated.” This may be new and appealing for younger activists, but it’s 50 years old, from another country (Chile), and doesn’t rhyme in English — all a measure of how there hasn’t been a lot of recent new work in this area.
Second, let’s face it, America loves celebrities. Republicans understand this and utilize it. Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump could never have become president without first achieving their chintzy forms of fame. When Reagan was asked why being an actor was a suitable preparation for politics, he astutely observed that he didn’t understand how anyone could be an effective politician who wasn’t an actor.
Other GOP candidates who’ve ridden preexisting renown into office include George Murphy (senator from California), Arnold Schwarzenegger (governor of California), Tommy Tuberville (senator from Alabama), Sonny Bono (representative from California), and even Fred Grandy, star of “The Love Boat” (representative from Iowa). There almost certainly will be more soon, such as Tucker Carlson (TV’s representative from white grievance).
For whatever reason, the hearts of Democrats seem to cry out against this. Indeed, there are examples of Democrats taking this path in reverse, as with Jerry Springer: an extremely talented orator who parlayed the mayorship of Cincinnati into a lucrative career in trash television. Many regular Democrats seemingly would prefer that politics have no humans involved at all and simply be a battle of lengthy position papers available online in 10-point type. (One unusual Democrat here is Al Franken, who started off on “Saturday Night Live” before being elected to the Senate from Minnesota in 2008.)
The U.S. has barely any culture in which people can rise to prominence beyond the culture of corporate entertainment.
Nonetheless, it’s time to accept that we are the country that we are. The U.S. has barely any culture in which people can rise to prominence beyond the culture of corporate entertainment. While there’s been a minor upsurge recently in union culture, we generally don’t have a political culture. (When’s the next meeting of political parties in your neighborhood? You probably don’t know unless you live in Iowa or New Hampshire.) We have barely any noncorporate music culture. (Maybe in Austin?) We have a culture of regular people acting in one city. (Chicago.)
The filmmaker Michael Moore (whom I once worked for) has tried to make this case to Democrats for decades. As he said when he once beseeched Matt Damon to run for president, “If you want to win, the Republicans have certainly shown the way: that when you run someone who is popular, you win. Sometimes even when you run an actor, you win. … I’d like us to start thinking that way.”
Third, being funny is an underrated superpower in politics. In Reagan’s first debate in 1984 with the Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, he appeared frighteningly confused. For the next debate, his writers gave him a perfect line, which he hit out of the park: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” He remained noticeably confused, but the issue evaporated.
Both Trump and Barack Obama also thrived in the presidency thanks to their comedic effectiveness. Trump is essentially an insult comic, a Don Rickles who sincerely hates the objects of his cruel jibes. As Obama’s speechwriters noted, his understanding of comedic delivery — showcased every year at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner — was impeccable, so perfect that if his life had taken another path, he could have hosted “The Daily Show” himself.
So why not just go for an actual host of “The Daily Show”? The rationale for why the 2024 Democratic candidate should be someone other than Joe Biden is obvious, so obvious that it’s boring to run through it. Biden is too old. He will be 82 on Election Day. For comparison, people used to call the Soviet Union a gerontocracy in the early 1980s when the average age of its members was 69.
Biden is unpopular, with an average approval rating of 38 percent, despite the U.S. economy being in good shape by normal standards. Trump is ahead of Biden in most swing state polling. Even last year, before Biden’s full-throated support for Israel’s actions in Gaza, which has probably cost him some votes, 94 percent of Democrats under 30 wanted another presidential nominee.
Why Cohen believes Stewart specifically — among the large crop of funny celebrities — would be an ideal replacement is more subtle and intriguing, and you should read it for yourself. The short version is that Stewart is not just famous and beloved, but also has a genuine passion for public life and viscerally understands why Americans are so angry about it — because he’s angry too.
Whether there’s any chance of this happening is unknown. Eleven months before a presidential election is pretty late to launch a campaign, even with an enthusiastic candidate. Most importantly, Stewart has shown no signs of being interested in being an enthusiastic candidate, or any candidate at all. Cohen acknowledges that this idea is “a Hail Mary,” but “these are desperate times,” given that we are currently on track for a second Trump presidency.
That concept is horrifying, given that it could plausibly mean the collapse of U.S. democracy. The paradox of our current plight is that the people screeching most loudly — the corporate Democratic establishment — have demonstrated by their immovable support for Biden that they do not actually take this threat seriously. As Cohen puts it, they’d “rather lose with Biden, someone they can control and someone they’ve known and used for 30 years, than win with someone they can’t.”
That is no joke. But maybe we should start taking famous people who tell jokes more seriously.
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U.S. President Joe Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Israel’s prime minister at a hotel in Jerusalem on July 14, 2022.
(Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
To secure peace, the U.S. would also have to change its “No” at the United Nations to a “Yes” and support a Security Council resolution recognizing Palestine as a state.
Dec 07, 2023 The Arab American Institute (CommonDreams.org)
In recent weeks, the Biden administration has attempted to pivot from its initial unconditional support for Israeli actions in Gaza by combining caution with a vague plan for “the day after.”
In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ October 7 attack and murder of 1,200 Israelis, President Joe Biden offered the Netanyahu government exaggerated support including its right to defend itself, its goal of eliminating Hamas, and his pledge that the U.S. would always stand with Israel. This response to what had just occurred may have been understandable, but it soon became clear that Israel viewed Biden’s words as a green light to exact a punishing toll on the Palestinian people as a whole.
As the staggering numbers of dead grew, and Americans witnessed the horrific damage and scenes of over 1 million Palestinians walking miles seeking safety, the White House attempted a slight pivot. They cautioned Israel to be “more strategic” in bombing raids to not put civilians at risk. With no “and if you continue, we’ll…,” these warnings were viewed in Israel as toothless.
If we were serious about a path forward to the conflict’s peaceful resolution, we need to perform dramatic surgery to remove the cancer continuing to provoke violence and create radicalization on all sides. We would have to say “No” to the continued occupation.
As U.S. polls showed growing disapproval for Israeli actions and the administration’s timid response, coupled with signs of increasing Arab world dissatisfaction with America’s refusal to rein in Israel, the administration attempted to create even more distance. Key White House talking points now included: urging Israel to adhere to the “rules of war” by limiting civilian casualties, warnings that the U.S. wouldn’t accept the reoccupation of Gaza, and insistence on increased humanitarian assistance to displaced Palestinians.
Despite this slight change in tune, there was no shift in policy. The administration refused to place conditions on future U.S. military aid to Israel. Nor would it discourage Israel from resuming its war, while continuing to caution about “limiting” civilian casualties.
More recently, after the White House expressed concern with the lack of an Israeli “end game,” they offered a few of their own ideas—most of which are not “new” nor especially serious. In addition to warning Israel against a reoccupation of Gaza, they called for a “reconstituted Palestinian Authority” to administer Gaza, leading to recognition of the West Bank and Gaza as one entity that would constitute the future Palestinian state. The U.S. has also called on Israel to control settler violence in the West Bank.
After almost two months in which more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed, 1.7 million forced to flee, and one-half of Gaza’s structures demolished, several questions come to mind. How will renewed bombings not take more civilian lives? With many of Hamas’ leaders and operatives having gone to the south, to a now overly congested region of misery, how can Israel fulfill its goal of eliminating Hamas without creating more deaths? How can the Palestinian Authority be reconstituted while Palestinians continue to live under occupation?
While Hamas’ popularity was low before the war began, polls now show that Hamas is surging in support, with the PA losing even more legitimacy. How can an election be held under these conditions, which is almost guaranteed to produce a result that the Israelis and the U.S. will never accept?
Although many ideas put forward by those close to the White House also envision an end of the Netanyahu government and its replacement by a new coalition, no possible reconfiguration of the existing Knesset nor a new election will produce a government able to pursue significantly different policies regarding Palestinians. They would not guarantee anything close to an independent Palestinian state, would be unable to rein in settlers and uninterested in limiting settlement expansion in the West Bank.
Just two words would reverse this downward spiral. The first is “No.” Instead of oblique reminders of the “rules of war,” or asking the Israelis to please limit civilian casualties, settlement expansion, or settler violence, the president should just say “No.” No more offensive military equipment or U.S. support in international fora without a permanent cease-fire, firm action to disarm violent settlers, and an end to all settlement expansion.
If we were serious about a path forward to the conflict’s peaceful resolution, we need to perform dramatic surgery to remove the cancer continuing to provoke violence and create radicalization on all sides. We would have to say “No” to the continued occupation.
To facilitate this, the U.S. would have to change its “No” at the United Nations to a “Yes” and support a Security Council resolution recognizing Palestine as a state, declaring its continued occupation as a threat to regional peace and security, and ordering an empowered U.N. peacekeeping force to the occupied territories to provide peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Such moves from the U.S. would undoubtedly cause a shock to both societies. Only under the security provided by such a U.N. mandate would the Palestinians be able to put their house in order. At the same time, the shock of a U.S. “No” to Israel and “Yes” to a U.N. Security Council resolution that would change the status of territories to Palestinian land, Israelis would be left to ask hard questions about where decades of unchecked acquisitiveness and expansion have led them. They would be forced to reexamine whether they could continue to oppress Palestinians with impunity. In the aftershock, sane voices will be able to break through in the public square reigniting both Israeli peace forces and Palestinian moderates. It won’t be easy, but leaving the cancer in place is nothing more than a prescription for certain death. A shock to the system is required and it all begins with a U.S. “No” followed by “Yes.”
Dr. James J. Zogby is the author of Arab Voices (2010) and the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington, D.C.-based organization which serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab American community. Since 1985, Dr. Zogby and AAI have led Arab American efforts to secure political empowerment in the U.S. Through voter registration, education and mobilization, AAI has moved Arab Americans into the political mainstream. Dr. Zogby has also been personally active in U.S. politics for many years; in 1984 and 1988 he served as Deputy Campaign manager and Senior Advisor to the Jesse Jackson Presidential campaign. In 1988, he led the first ever debate on Palestinian statehood at that year’s Democratic convention in Atlanta, GA. In 2000, 2008, and 2016 he served as an advisor to the Gore, Obama, and Sanders presidential campaigns.
A Palestinian child, injured in an Israeli airstrike, arrives at Nasser Medical Hospital on December 07, 2023 in Khan Younis, Gaza.
(Photo: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)
“We are in the darkest time for the right to health in our lifetimes,” said one U.N. expert.
Doctors treating wounded patients on the ground in Gaza and medical experts watching in horror from the outside pleaded with world leaders on Thursday to push for an immediate, sustained cease-fire as Israeli forces continue to pummel the besieged Palestinian territory, leaving hospitals unable to cope with the rapid influx of airstrike victims.
Doctors Without Borders, known internationally as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said that for the first time since Israel’s latest war on Gaza began in early October, the number of deceased people who were brought to the MSF-backed al-Aqsa Hospital on Wednesday “surpassed the number of injured people.”
“The hospital is full, the morgue is full,” MSF wrote on social media. “We call on Israeli forces to stop the indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza Strip and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.”
At the two-month mark of Israel’s assault, Gaza’s healthcare system is barely standing, with many hospitals damaged by airstrikes or forced to cease operations due to a lack of fuel, anesthesia, sanitation equipment, and other critical supplies. Israel’s blockade has deprived the territory’s medical facilities of electricity, forcing them to generators and—when those have run out of fuel— phone lights.
“This war is raging because of a lack of political leadership. End the war on Gaza, and end it now.”
Near-constant Israeli airstrikes and the lack of fuel caused by the blockade have forced ambulance services to shut down in parts of Gaza, undermining emergency rescue efforts.
Hundreds of healthcare personnel are among the more than 16,000 people in Gaza who have been killed by Israeli forces since October 7, 90% of whom have been civilians, according to one estimate. The United Nations has recorded more than 360 Israeli attacks on Gaza healthcare services.
Medical workers experiencing firsthand the devastating consequences of Israel’s bombardment and siege have provided harrowing—and often sickening—accounts of the carnage.
(Warning: What follows is a graphic description of the scene at one hospital in southern Gaza.)
British war surgeon Tom Potokar, who is working for the International Committee of the Red Cross at the European Hospital in the embattled southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, toldThe Independent that he has “seen far too many children whose lives have been destroyed.” Israeli forces have stormed Khan Younis in recent days, imperiling displaced people in an area previously deemed a “safe zone.”
“I’ve treated a four-month-old with significant burn injuries. I treated an eight-year-old that had an open fracture of his skull with an exposed brain,” said Potokar. “It is just awful to see and it’s so relentless. It’s just not stopping, they keep coming in every day.”
Addressing anyone who doubts the appalling images and accounts emerging from the strip by the minute, Potokar said that “if you could bring any person here who was not sure, and you place them here, and you got them to smell the stench of rotting flesh, to see the sight of maggots creeping from wounds of a person who has necrotic flesh and to hear the screams of kids because there’s not enough analgesia, and they want their mum, who’s not going to appear because she’s dead—I think people might feel a bit different about this.”
On Sunday, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive board is set to hold a rare emergency meeting on the spiraling healthcare crisis in Gaza, where infectious diseases such as Hepatitis A are beginning to spread in the territory’s makeshift and badly overcrowded shelters for displaced people, who are struggling to survive without proper medical supplies and uncontaminated food and water.
“Gaza’s health system is on its knees and near total collapse,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday. “We need peace for health.”
Tlaleng Mofokeng, a physician from South Africa and the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, issued a scathing statement Thursday accusing the Israeli military of waging an “unrelenting war” on Gaza’s healthcare system and warning that “the practice of medicine is under attack.”
“As a practicing medical doctor, I cannot fathom what my Gazan colleagues are enduring. They are working while their colleagues and loved ones are under attack. Many have been killed while treating their patients,” said Mofokeng, who called for an immediate cease-fire. “We are in the darkest time for the right to health in our lifetimes.”
“We bear witness to a shameful war on healthcare workers,” she added. “This war is raging because of a lack of political leadership. End the war on Gaza, and end it now.”
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.
Author and rights advocate Naomi Klein speaks to the media before an event on December 12, 2019 in Berlin, Germany.
(Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
“Keep sharing reports from Gaza,” said the author and activist. “Israel is freaking out at the implications, which is why the distraction machine is in overdrive.”
This post has been updated with information about the House investigation into antisemitism on college campuses.
Author and rights advocate Naomi Klein warned late Wednesday that supporters of a permanent cease-fire in Gaza must stay focused on one thing—Israel’s mass killing of civilians in the blockaded enclave, a violation of international law—and resist efforts to distract the public from the issue at hand.
“The distraction machine is in overdrive,” said Klein on social media after more than a day of commentary and outrage directed at the presidents of three top universities after they testified before the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee at a hearing titled “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.”
Republican members including Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) demanded to know whether the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) would discipline students for “calling for the genocide of Jews.”
The university leaders suggested that their schools typically do not punish students for speech alone—in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, Penn president Liz Magill said in a video posted later—but said such calls could qualify as harassment if they were “directed and severe, [or] pervasive,” and could be punished if it “crosses into conduct.”
Sally Kornbluth, president of MIT, said she had “not heard calling for the genocide of Jews on our campus.” Stefanik replied that “chants for intifada”—a call for an “uprising” which is not inherently violent—have been heard at the school.
Videos of students holding an anti-war protest at University of California, Los Angeles were widely circulated in October, with some influential pro-Zionist celebrities and commentators asserting that students were proclaiming, “We want Jewish genocide.” The protesters were actually addressing Israeli officials and saying, “We charge you with genocide.”
“Can someone point me to an example of a student group calling for the genocide of Jewish people?” asked Mari Cohen, associate editor of Jewish Currents. “Why are we having this conversation?
There were the Cornell threats and an arrest was made and other conversations to be had about campus antisemitism. But I don't get why this is being discussed around the rhetoric of "calling for genocide" when that….is not happening?— Mari Cohen (@maricohen95) December 6, 2023
The hearing wasn’t the first to confront speech on college campuses since Israel began its U.S.-backed onslaught in Gaza, which has killed at least 17,177 Palestinians in just two months. Last month the House Judiciary Committee invited student leaders of conservative and pro-Zionist groups to testify about “hostility towards certain points of view” on campuses, and the hearing was interrupted by pro-Palestinian rights students who demanded to know whether their speech should also be protected.
Klein said Wednesday that the repeated hearings on the topic “are smoke and mirrors to distract from genocidal violence in Gaza.”
All these hearings are smoke + mirrors to distract from genocidal violence in Gaza.— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) December 7, 2023
it's so obvious and yet so many people take the bait. Don't.
Keep sharing reports from Gaza. Israel is freaking out at the implications, which is why the distraction machine is in overdrive.
Klein suggested that it has not gone unnoticed by Israeli officials that journalists and residents in Gaza have continued to widely share information about the reality on the ground, where dozens of Palestinians were killed Thursday in Israeli air raids on a home in Gaza City. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) escalated attacks on the city of Khan Younis in the south—previously a relatively safe refuge for people who fled northern Gaza—with “multiple residential buildings and units… flattened,” according toAl Jazeera.
“The occupation is trying to destroy all residential buildings in the eastern areas of Khan Younis,” reported the outlet on Thursday.
Gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases as well as hepatitis have also begun spreading due to blockades on medical supplies, fuel, and safe drinking water, leading the World Health Organization to warn last month that disease could ultimately kill more civilians in Gaza than the bombs the U.S. has helped to provide for Israel.
“Congress should be working towards a lasting cease-fire to end Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza, a hostage exchange, and a path to equality, justice, and safety for all Palestinians and Israelis,” said the Jewish-led Palestinian rights group IfNotNow on Wednesday, responding to a House resolution that claimed anti-Zionism and antisemitism are one and the same. “Not wasting precious time using antisemitism as an excuse to shut down free speech.”
On Thursday afternoon, Stefanik announced that the committee was launching “an official congressional investigation with the full force of subpoena power” into the three universities and other schools regarding antisemitism on campus and administrators’ responses.
“This investigation will include substantial document requests, and the committee will not hesitate to utilize compulsory measures including subpoenas if a full response is not immediately forthcoming,” said committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). “Other universities should expect investigations as well, as their litany of similar failures has not gone unnoticed.”
The student newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, The Daily Pennsylvanian, noted that the school’s rules governing hate speech state that the university can only discipline students if their “inflammatory speech intentionally and effectively provokes a crowd to immediately carry out violent and unlawful action.”
“Universities can invest their efforts and resources in educating their members and in creating spaces and contexts for productive dialogue, but they cannot legitimately punish members—students, staff, and faculty—who choose not to participate in those, or who profess bigoted and other hateful views,” the policy states.
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.
The former speaker’s decision to leave his seat a year early could affect control of the House, the legislative agenda and his party’s efforts to keep its majority in the 2024 election.
Dec. 7, 2023 (NYTimes.com)
Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement that he would leave Congress came as little surprise to his closest colleagues, but his decision to do so a year before the end of his term poses challenges for his party. It will shrink Republicans’ already razor-thin majority in the House as they face a number of issues in the coming months that will require near-unanimous party support.
The departure of Mr. McCarthy, who was his party’s strongest fund-raiser in the House and spent two election cycles helping to build the Republican majority, also could put a dent in the G.O.P.’s ability to rake in campaign cash, although he has said he wants to continue to play a role in politics.
Here’s how Mr. McCarthy’s departure could affect the House and his party.
A slim majority will get even slimmer.
Republicans started the year acknowledging that one of their biggest challenges would be keeping their party unified as their midterm victories delivered a tiny majority. They had 222 members while Democrats had 213, leaving little room for defectors and making it easier for a small number of disgruntled Republicans to influence policy and vote outcomes.
They could afford to lose no more than four votes on any bill if all Democrats showed up and voted against them. Any more than that would doom G.O.P. legislation.
With the expulsion last week of former Representative George Santos of New York, Republicans now have only 221 members, meaning their four-vote margin has shrunk to three. Any more defections than that would result in a 217-to-217 tie or give the Democratic side more votes than the Republican one.
With Mr. McCarthy gone, Republicans will enter the new year with 220 votes, leaving the same margin since they could still lose three votes and be ahead of Democrats, 217 to 216.
A special election for Mr. Santos’s seat is set for Feb. 13, and Democrats hope to recapture the politically competitive district, which President Biden won in 2020. That would further erode the Republicans’ edge.
A winter shutdown showdown could become even more unmanageable.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California will have 14 days after Mr. McCarthy’s final day to call a special election, which must take place about four months later. The Bakersfield-anchored district is solidly Republican, meaning that a G.O.P. candidate is likely to win the race to serve out the remainder of his term. But that won’t happen before mid-January, when lawmakers face the first of two deadlines for funding the government.
Speaker Mike Johnson, Republican of Louisiana, has struggled to push critical legislation through the House, and a slimmer majority would probably empower the rebellious hard-right wing of his party to double down on its policy demands ahead of the deadlines, the second of which is in early February.
The smaller majority could also affect the fight over an emergency national security spending bill to fund the war in Ukraine, along with help for Israel in its war against Hamas and border security funding.
On Wednesday, Republicans blocked the measure in the Senate. The bill would face an uphill battle in the House, where Republican support for Ukraine’s war effort is dwindling.
Republicans will lose their best House fund-raiser.
For years, Mr. McCarthy has traveled to hundreds of districts across the country, bringing in millions of dollars in campaign cash for candidates and helping Republicans win control of the House in 2022. He has said he planned to remain engaged in Republican politics.
“I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office,” Mr. McCarthy said in announcing his plans to leave the House in The Wall Street Journal. “The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders.”
During his time as speaker, Mr. McCarthy brought in $78 million for his colleagues’ re-election efforts, more than 100 times the amount of money Mr. Johnson had collected before becoming speaker.
His support of new candidates will be aided by a campaign account with more than $10 million at his disposal. Even after leaving office, Mr. McCarthy can use the campaign funds to establish a political action committee or directly support other campaigns. He has signaled that he would like to play a substantial role, and many lawmakers and aides believe he may intervene in party primaries to target the far-right Republicans who led the push to oust him from the speakership.
Republicans are holding their breath for more exits.
More than three dozen incumbents from both parties in both chambers have said they will not seek re-election. If even a handful more House Republicans leave in the coming months, it could wipe away their majority before a single vote is cast in the 2024 election. Another Republican, Representative Bill Johnson of Ohio, has announced that he will leave Congress in several months to become the president of Youngstown State University, though he has not said precisely when.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, and one of Mr. McCarthy’s strongest allies, expressed her frustration over the eroding majority in a post on social media, saying, “Hopefully no one dies.”READ 234 COMMENTS
The Young Turks • Dec 7, 2023 Join The Young Turks John Iadarola, and presidential candidates Cenk Uygur, Marianne Williamson, and Rep. Dean Phillips. Donate:https://secure.actblue.com/donate/mar… The DNC has stated that they will not host any primary debates for the 2024 election. The Democratic National Committee might be afraid – but TYT is not. Tune in as Democratic Presidential Candidates have the opportunity to respond to the Republican candidates’ answers, share how they would have answered the questions and share their positions on the same policies/platforms discussed in the debate. The fourth presidential debate is hosted by News Nation. The debate will be available to watch from 8pm – 10pm on television, streaming and digital platforms of News Nation, including streaming on Newsnation.com. The debate will be moderated by Elizabeth Vargas, anchor of NewsNation’s “Elizabeth Vargas Reports,” Megyn Kelly, host of “The Megyn Kelly Show” and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon. Candidates face the strictest donor and polling eligibility requirements yet. Candidates will need to be polling at 6% or higher in two national polls, or at 6% in one early state poll from two separate “carve out” states — listed as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — to get behind a podium in December. cANDIDATES Trump will skip the fourth Republican primary debate and will host a fundraising dinner party.
Dec 7, 2023
Join The Young Turks John Iadarola, and presidential candidates Cenk Uygur, Marianne Williamson, and Rep. Dean Phillips.
Support the candidates here:
Campaign website: www.cenkforamerica.com
Campaign website: https://marianne2024.com/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/ @marwilliamsonofficial
Rep. Dean Phillips:
Donate: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/dean24?refcode =topNav
Campaign website: https://www.dean24.com/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/ @deanbphillips
The DNC has stated that they will not host any primary debates for the 2024 election. The Democratic National Committee might be afraid – but TYT is not. Tune in as Democratic Presidential Candidates have the opportunity to respond to the Republican candidates’ answers, share how they would have answered the questions and share their positions on the same policies/platforms discussed in the debate.
The fourth presidential debate is hosted by News Nation. The debate will be available to watch from 8pm – 10pm on television, streaming and digital platforms of News Nation, including streaming on Newsnation.com. The debate will be moderated by Elizabeth Vargas, anchor of NewsNation’s “Elizabeth Vargas Reports,” Megyn Kelly, host of “The Megyn Kelly Show” and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon.
Candidates face the strictest donor and polling eligibility requirements yet. Candidates will need to be polling at 6% or higher in two national polls, or at 6% in one early state poll from two separate “carve out” states — listed as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — to get behind a podium in December. cANDIDATES
Trump will skip the fourth Republican primary debate and will host a fundraising dinner party.
- 1 hour, 32 minutes