Friday, November 10, 2023

Doo-Doo DeSantis and his creepy smile


Last night was yet another GOP presidential potentials debate.  By most accounts, Nikki Hayley won.  However, Doo-Doo carved out some attention for himself.   MEAAW reports:

Florida Governor and GOP candidate DeSantis's outfit stood out compared to the other candidates, and his outfits in the first and second GOP debates, and the internet were quick to notice. On X, formerly known as Twitter, several people criticized DeSantis' outfit, and especially his tie.

People claimed that the Florida governor did a "sloppy job" with his tie, and also noticed the absence of the lapel on his outfit which carries the American flag.

He's our little princess and he always provoke commentary on what he wears. That little fashionista in his high heels.  LGBTQ NATION notes:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s (R) hostile takeover of Disney’s special tax district has proven to be taking its toll. According to the Associated Press, more than 40 of 370 employees have quit their jobs with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District since February, when DeSantis replaced Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District with his own appointed board.

Doo-Doo runs everyone off.  No one wants to get splattered with Doo-Doo.  And that's true of the GOP itself.  THE DAILY BEAST notes:

Even after the GOP’s abortion rollback cost Republicans dearly in the 2022 elections, the new GOP majority in the House moved forward with policies curtailing abortion access.
But after wipeouts in Tuesday night’s elections in Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia—each of which hinged on abortion—Republicans are going to have to tread even more delicately on the issue in Washington, both in policy and politics.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, November 9, 2023.  Moms For Bigotry is rejected in Tuesday's voting, a bigot in Sherman, Texas tries to destroy a kid's dream, the assault on Gaza continues, US House Rep Rashida Tlaib is censured by members of Congress who are doing nothing to save the people of Gaza, and much more.

Tuesday, elections took place in the US.

Republicans across the country suffered a crushing defeat in the transgender battle that they thrust into the national spotlight just two years ago.

GOP candidates in Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kansas suffered major losses Tuesday night in several local elections where voters rejected anti-trans policies by voting against Republicans in school board races.

The results of the 2023 election suggest that a tide is turning against the so-called "parents rights" movement, which gained momentum two years ago and has since dominated the national conversation about education and American politics.

Fresh off of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin's 2021 victory, Republicans seized on school culture wars as a winning election strategy. Advocacy group Moms for Liberty gained significant traction as Republican lawmakers, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, pursued education policies that tackled critical race theory, sexual orientation and transgender rights.

This year alone, 586 anti-trans bills—which include bans on gender-affirming care, the inclusion of transgender athletes in women's sports and choice of pronouns—have been introduced in 49 states, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker.

But Tuesday night suggested that the crusade against transgender students may not be as popular among Americans as Republicans believed two years ago. Virginia Democrats triumphed in statehouse elections, effectively shrinking Youngkin's power, and the majority of candidates endorsed by Moms for Liberty lost their school board elections.

Far-right groups like Moms for Liberty say they speak for parents, a proposition that’s always been dubious. As they push for book bans, whitewash American history, and try to drive LGBTQ+ teachers and students back into the closet, they’ve made plenty of enemies. Parents, especially mothers, have gone head to head with Moms for Liberty and the candidates it backs, stunting the far right’s march through local school boards. That trend was particularly apparent on Tuesday evening when anti-diversity candidates lost a number of pivotal school-board races across the nation.

When Moms for Liberty assaults protections for LGBTQ+ children in public schools, and threatens to out trans children to families that may not be welcoming, they do so with specious arguments about “parental rights.” Nobody wants to co-parent with the government, they argue, and parents have a right to know what their children are doing in school. Members have backed policies that would prevent teachers from covering LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom, ban trans girls from playing school sports, and notify parents if a child requests a name change at school. Those policies place LGBTQ+ students — and educators — at risk. Tuesday’s school-board races tested the nation’s priorities: Did voters want culture war or did they want candidates focused more on the work of education? The answer is a blow for Moms for Liberty and their larger platform.

[. . .]

Banning books about LGBTQ+ issues or racism is somewhat popular with Republican voters, but like much of the GOP’s culture-war turn, they alienate other voters. According to polling from YouGov, independent and Democratic voters don’t want to ban books from school libraries and are much less likely to think that certain topics should be banned from classrooms, too. Moms for Liberty and the parental rights cause they celebrate may appeal to the base, but it’s not yet a winning formula. That’s good news for parents, educators, and students alike.

Moms For Bigotry?  Yes, those hate merchants.  As I noted a few months back, the country reached the turning point on those hate merchants.  They got a lot of traction early on due to liars and trash but they don't fit in with democracy, people who preach hate rarely do.   One of the group's earliest champions grasps this and it's why she rejected an insult one of her new supporters made this week where the supporter attached "trans" to another term and the woman replied back that they shouldn't do that.  Maybe there's hope for that woman yet.  Or maybe she's just grasped how unpopular and harmful Moms For Bigotry actually are.  Troy Matthews (MEDIASTOUCH NETWORK) notes:

Moms For Liberty, an anti-LGBT hate group that couches itself as a "parent's rights" organization suffered a massive electoral defeat Tuesday with many of their targeted school board races going to Democratic candidates.

As the Republican caucuses approach in Iowa, all but one of the 13 candidates endorsed by Moms For Liberty lost in school board races in that state. The sole winner will serve in a district with less than 1,000 students.

Pennsylvania also proved rough for Moms For Liberty despite being the group's home state, as Democrats swept several school board races in Bucks County including Pennsridge and Central Bucks, after Moms For Liberty had put forth a slate of five "approved" Republicans for each district.

For more on this week's election results, Rebecca covers the impact reproductive rights had and Marcia notes some LGBTQ+ victories. But let's take a moment to look at a specific example of how Moms For Bigotry's hate destroys children's lives.  Marlene Lenthang (NBC NEWS - Dallas, Fort Worth) reports:

A Texas student who identifies as a transgender male was kicked out of the lead role of his high school musical after his principal introduced a new gender casting policy.

Max Hightower, a senior at Sherman High School, learned just last month that he landed the starring male role in the school’s production of “Oklahoma!” But the 17-year-old’s excitement didn’t last long. 

Why?  Because a transphobic man named Scott Johnston got his panties in a wad.  Why?  A trans male can play a male.  In fact, in the theater, anyone can play anyone and has since the beginning of time.  It's called . . . acting.  In Shakespeare's time, the cast were all males -- even Juliet was played by a male.  At schools across the country, throughout the last century, there were females playing male characters and males playing female characters -- sometimes due to talent, sometimes due to not having anyone else.

There was no reason to destroy this child's hopes and dreams and sense of accomplishment.  Talia Richman (DALLAS MORNING NEWS) explains:

Max Hightower was cast in ensemble roles for theater productions throughout high school. Then, finally, his teacher offered him one of the lead spots in Oklahoma!.

He would play Ali Hakim in the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical – and even get his own song, “It’s a Scandal! It’s a Outrage!


Max tried to act like a seasoned professional in front of his teacher. But as soon as the ecstatic 17-year-old left the office and told his friends about his role, they all started screaming in excitement.

“Everybody in the choir room, like, blew up,” Max said.

Max threw himself into preparing for the part. He read the script during class, managing to go off-book in three days. But last week, Max’s dad Phillip Hightower got a call from Sherman High School principal Scott Johnston. School officials were taking away his part.

Outrageous.  Uncalled for.  What kind of an idiot is Scott Johnston? He's not even a trained educator.  He has a degree in administration from Lamar University (masters degree) and a b.s. from UNT in . . . kinesiology.  So he's not really a teacher then, no training at all.  And I'm told he's creepy and he makes homophobic jokes.  How did this loser end up a principal of a high school just a few months ago?  Seems like someone needs to explain that.   Especially his with his known status as an alleged  bigot -- including a racist -- was already known before he returned to the school this fall as principle.  (He left the school as an assistant principal and then a brief time later returned to become principal.)  His rumored comments about Barack Obama alone should have kept him out of any school.  Those alleged  comments had nothing to be with politics but everything to do with Barack's skin color.  This information is based upon what adults who've worked with him told me last night on the phone.   From the beginning THE COMMON ILLS has had a Texas audience.  Our community members are all over the world but from the beginning we've had support from Texas.  To get info when it has anything to do with Texas, all I ever have to do is a group e-mail blast to Texas members asking, "Does anyone know anything about ____?" And I will get hundreds of replies including suggestions of who to speak to.  How do you think we got the floor plan to the dump Bully Boy Bush bought -- the dump he lives in now.  He's so damn cheap, Laura Bush wanted to live in Highland Park.  It has a higher tax rate than Dallas and the homes are more expensive.  So Bully Boy Bush went with a house close to Highland Park.  And because he's so cheap, he bought that wasn't finished.  One that still needed building and had been abandoned after it didn't pass inspection in its first attempt.  How were we able to post the floor plan all those years ago?  Texas community members.  

This creep is uneducated and a bigot and never should have been put in charge of a school. 

Phillip Hightower tells Brianna Brown (KTEN), "I mean, they didn't even try to jazz it up when they called me; it was, 'Max isn't a boy, essentially, so Max can't have this role.' And you know, you never forget something like that."
"I could not believe they brought him back," said one teacher over the phone last night about Principal Johnston.

Max and his parents were elated until they were notified two weeks later by the school principal that there was a new policy.

"And [he] said we're instituting a new policy where only males can play males, and only females can play females," said Max's father, Phillip Hightower.

"I was devastated," said Hightower.

His father said their son's identity has never been an issue with the District, and the decision by school leaders cost other students their roles, too. Parents plan to appeal to the school board.

"I'm not an activist. I'm not highly political. I have both liberal and conservative beliefs. I'm just a dad that wants to fight for his kid," Hightower said.

Sherman ISD released a statement saying the production was being reviewed after "It was brought to the district's attention that the current production contained mature adult themes, profane language, and sexual content."

First question: Policy?  If it's a policy it should have been in place already.  You don't create a law and try to apply it after the fact, nor do you create a policy and try to apply it after the fact.

This should not survive a legal challenge.   Secondly, "mature adult themes, profane language, and sexual content"?  


Confession, I've never seen it.  I loathe Rogers & Hammerstein.  I love Rogers & Hart and can play any song by that duo on the piano or guitar.  But I loathe Rogers & Hammerstein.  So maybe I'm missing the raunchy  scene in the play?  I don't grasp how a play from 1943 that became a film in 1955 that has resulted in one school production after another for over 70s years is inappropriate?  Apparently when you sleep with goats, you find everything objectionable.  (Don't worry, Scott Johnston knows what I'm talking about.) The film's been aired on TV repeatedly -- broadcast TV. 

Cora Neas (KXAN) reports, "Parents opposed to the decision tell KXAN that they plan to be at the Sherman ISD board meeting on November 13. This comes after a petition to reinstate the roles was ignored by the board, according to a district parent."  Talia Richman (DALLAS MORNING NEWS) notes:

Amy Hightower, Max’s mother, was devastated when she found out about the school’s decision

Max has been Max for years, but not everyone in the Hightowers’ orbit knows that he’s transgender. Amy Hightower hasn’t shared it broadly; the family lives in a conservative community.

But the school’s actions changed things for her. She decided to post about what happened on Facebook – and to make her post public.

“I don’t normally post super personal stuff out here on the ol’ FB but today I am. Until you have a kid that comes to you and tells you they don’t want to live anymore because they’re different, don’t tell me what you would do,” she wrote. “We almost lost this kid, more than once, and now we just support Max and what makes Max happy.”

She said she poured her heart out online because her family has gotten to a place with Max where he’s able to thrive. What helped him, she said, was his parents’ support.

 What should have been a happy moment for a young man has instead become an excuse for a bigot to attack.  Stop lying that this was ever about protecting children when it was always about bigots projecting their hate and causing pain.

That's why elections do matter -- to hold the hate merchants in check.

And here's more proof that they matter, from yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to censure Democratic Congressmember Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, for her criticism of Israel. The vote was 234 to 188, with 22 Democrats joining Republicans to censure Tlaib. Prior to the vote, the congresswoman spoke from the House floor.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: I’m the only Palestinian American serving in Congress, Mr. Chair, and my perspective is needed here now more than ever. I will not be silent, and I will not let you distort my words. Folks forget I’m from the city of Detroit, the most beautiful, Blackest city in the country, where I learned to speak truth to power even if my voice shakes.

Trying to bully or censor me won’t work, because this movement for a ceasefire is much bigger than one person. It’s growing every single day. There are millions of people across our country who oppose Netanyahu’s extremism and are done watching our government support collective punishment and the use of white phosphorus bombs that melt flesh to the bone. They are done watching our government, Mr. Chair, supporting cutting off food, water, electricity and medical care to millions of people with nowhere to go. Like me, Mr. Chair, they don’t believe the answer to war crimes is more war crimes. The refusal of Congress and the administration to acknowledge Palestinian lives is chipping away at my soul. Over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed. Majority — majority were children.

But let me be clear: My criticism has always been of the Israeli government and Netanyahu’s actions. It is important to separate people and governments, Mr. Chair. No government is beyond criticism. The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent, and it’s being used to silence diverse voices speaking up for human rights across our nation.

Do you realize what it’s like, Mr. Chair, for the people outside the chamber right now listening in agony to their own government dehumanizing them, to hear the president of the United States we helped elect dispute death tolls as we see video after video of dead children and parents under rubble? Mr. Chair, do you know what it’s like to fear rising hate crimes, to know how Islamophobia and antisemitism makes us all less safe, and worry that your own child might suffer the horrors that 6-year-old Wadea did in Illinois? I can’t believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable.

AMY GOODMAN: As Congressmember Rashida Tlaib composed herself, her sister congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, put her hand on her shoulder, the only other Muslim woman in Congress.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: We are human beings, just like anyone else. My sity, my grandmother, like all Palestinians, just wants to live her life with freedom and human dignity we all deserve. Speaking up to save lives, Mr. Chair, no matter faith, no matter ethnicity, should not be controversial in this chamber. The cries of the Palestinian and Israeli children sound no different to me. Why — what I don’t understand is why the cries of Palestinians sound different to you all.

We cannot lose our shared humanity, Mr. Chair. I hear the voices of advocates in Israel, in Palestine, across America and around the world for peace. I am inspired by the courageous, the courageous survivors in Israel, who have lost loved ones, yet are calling for a ceasefire and the end to violence. I am grateful to the people in the streets for the peace movement, with countless Jewish Americans across the country standing up and lovingly saying, “Not in our name.”

We will continue to call for a ceasefire, Mr. Chair, for the immediate delivery of critical humanitarian aid to Gaza, for the release of all hostages and those arbitrarily detained, and for every American to come home. We will continue to work for a real lasting peace that upholds human rights and dignity of all people and centers a peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians, and censures no one — no one — and ensures that no person, no child has to suffer or live in fear of violence.

Seventy-one percent of Michigan Democrats support a ceasefire. So you can try to censure me, but you can’t silence their voices. I urge my colleagues to join with the majority of Americans and support a ceasefire now to save as many lives as possible. President Biden must listen to and represent all of us, not just some of us. I urge the president to have the courage to call for a ceasefire and the end of killings. Thank you, and I yield.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Detroit Congressmember Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American, speaking on the House floor before the House voted to censure her for her criticism of Israel.

Rashida Tlaib may have been censured by Congress but she is right and has history on her side.  Those who voted to censure her cannot make the same claim.  They do want to silence her.  234 members of the House of Representatives want to censor her, to silence her.  One voice, one Palestinian-American's voice is just one too many for them.  That's why representation matters and Rashida voiced her experience, her lived-experience, and that of many of her constituents.  And even one voice -- just one voice -- telling the truth was too damn much for 234 members of the House of Representatives.  

Palestinian suffering "is 75 years old" and "did not start on October 7," Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Thursday at an international humanitarian conference for Gaza in Paris.  

"We are a victim here... defending oneself doesn't mean occupying someone's land,” Shtayyeh said, adding that “what Israel is doing is not a war against Hamas” but a war against “all Palestinian people.”   

  As most Western leaders stand staunchly with Israel as it wages what many experts have described as a genocidal war on Gaza, a top Cabinet member of a NATO nation on Wednesday implored her government to sanction Israel and call for the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes committed by Israeli forces and Hamas.

"It's time for sanctions against Israel," Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter, a member of the center-left Groen (Green) party, said on social media.

"The rain of bombs is inhumane," she continued. "While war crimes are being committed in Gaza, Israel is ignoring international demands for a cease-fire." 

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

As we continue to cover Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, we’re joined by two guests: one, a Holocaust survivor, the other, one of the world’s leading genocide scholars. Omer Bartov is a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University. He’s the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Genocide, the Holocaust and Israel-Palestine: First-Person History in Times of Crisis. He is an Israeli American scholar who’s been described by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as one of the world’s leading specialists on the subject of genocide. He recently signed an open letter warning of Israel committing a potential genocide in Gaza.

We’re also joined by Marione Ingram. She’s an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who’s been protesting outside the White House calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, longtime activist who was an organizer with SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in the 1960s. She’s the author of The Hands of War: A Tale of Endurance and Hope from a Survivor of the Holocaust and Hands of Peace: A Holocaust Survivor’s Fight for Civil Rights in the American South.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! We’re going to begin with Marione Ingram. Before we talk about the ceasefire in Gaza, I’d like you to respond to the censuring of the only Palestinian American member of Congress, Rashida Tlaib, whose speech we just played.

MARIONE INGRAM: I totally support her comments. And I think it is, on top of that, shameful that her justified defense of human lives is considered antisemitic. It is pro-human beings. I find it horrific that the politicians have the nerve to censure righteous voices for peace and for the lives of Gazans, who are being murdered. It is slaughter that is happening. And Rashida Tlaib is, in my eyes, a hero.

Netanyahu’s government, Israel’s policies for decades has been the suppression of Palestinians, land grabs, deprivation of Palestinians. It is painful for me, as someone who has experienced all of the terrors that Gazans are experiencing, and even the horrific attacks in Israel by Hamas. But Hamas’s attack on Israel does not justify the slaughter of women and children, especially children. I was a child of war. I have experienced all of these things. I have also known for a fact that what Israel is doing will not end this conflict. It will only exacerbate it. It will increase resistance to anything.

I think that Biden needs to defund all of the money that is given to Israel. I think he should not only call for a ceasefire; I think he needs to start thinking about peace. We cannot continue to make wars and then call for ceasefires, only to have wars start again after the ceasefire ends. We’ve experienced this over and over and over again. I am so tired of having to protest everything — wars, gun violence, the war against women. It is ridiculous that we are not able to think clearly.

My husband has an expression, and that is, “all about the Benjis.” I think that the happiest people in the universe must be the manufacturers of armaments, and probably are also complicit in the promotion. The fact that the United States is complicit in this murder of children is, to me, a horrific indictment of inhumanity. And I applaud Rashida Tlaib with all of my heart, with all of my being. I think she’s fantastic. I just wish that there were more voices to join her in the House.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Marione Ingram, I wanted to ask you — you grew up in Hamburg, Germany, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Could you tell us and to our audience some of your experiences that shaped and determined and made you want to participate in these protests in Washington against the Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza?

MARIONE INGRAM: Because I am a Jew, my mother was a Jew, my family was murdered in 1941. My Jewish family was murdered in 1941. Hamburg Jews were sent to Minsk in Belarusia. Upon arrival, they were stripped and then shot and dumped into a mass grave. My grandmother was taken by two Gestapo who came to my mother’s apartment and took her away the night before I turned 6 years old. From about the time I was 3 years old, I was aware that I was the object of hate of the German government, the German country. It was made clear by a playmate who told me that she wouldn’t play with me because I was a dirty Jew pig. I had no idea what she was talking about.

This horrific war against Jews and Germans who protested the Nazi regime progressed. It got worse. My mother had to go to the Gestapo every week. The only reason we were not taken in 1941 was because my mother had married a non-Jew. And this saved us in 1941. But in 1943, the Nazis said that all Jewish spouses were to be exterminated, as well. And in 1943, in the summer of 1943, my mother got our deportation order to Theresienstadt.

My mother tried to commit suicide, in the hopes that my father’s relatives would take in her children, in the hope that she would be able to save her three daughters. She had sent me off to one of the relatives, who was instrumental in helping us. And I had not been allowed to be outside since the Nazis came to power, and it struck me as very odd — I was seven-and-a-half — that she let me take my baby sister to my father’s cousin. And I turned around, and I found my mother with her head in the gas oven, and I pulled her out. And my mother lived and never had another such moment and was horrifically strong.

Right after that, the Allies bombed the city of Hamburg. It was called Operation Gomorrah. The Brits bombed at night. The Americans bombed during the day. It was a 10-day and 10-night uninterrupted bombing. My mother and I were not allowed in a bomb shelter. We were forced to run through flaming streets. The Allies dropped phosphorus, and I saw human beings jumping into the lake, in the canals, and coming up. They were like human candles. Their bodies were in flame. And every time they jumped into the canals and lakes, the flames would be doused, but the minute they came up for air, they would be in flames. As a seven-and-a-half-year-old, I saw more dead bodies burned to a crisp.

Two things: I’m a pacifist, and it is ironic that this horrific revenge attack on civilians — it was entirely targeted on civilians — saved my life, because there were so many burned bodies that could not be identified that I was able to go into — we were able to go into hiding. This was arranged. My father was in the underground. He had managed to arrange for us to be hidden in a sort of exurban farm outside the city of Hamburg by communist underground members. The elderly couple who hid us were not pro-Semitic, but they were virulently anti-Nazi.

And we were in hiding in a tar paper shack, when there were no people around. When there were people around, we had to go hide in an earthen dugout. And on my eighth birthday, on 19th November, 1943, in the earthen dugout, I told my mother that if I lived, I would never, ever be quiet, and that I wanted to become a peacemaker. Well, I’ve never — I’ve kept that promise. I have not been able to figure out how I can get governments to make peace, but I continue to battle on all fronts. I have battled — when I came to America as a 17-year-old, I saw that America was a racist country, and I became active in the civil rights movement. I thought —

AMY GOODMAN: Marione, in Part 2


AMY GOODMAN: — of our conversation, we’re going to talk about your history in the civil rights movement. But just before we go to the Israeli American genocide historian, Omer Bartov, just if you could share a message to the world about what “never again” means to you?

MARIONE INGRAM: To me, it would mean never again to repeat the horrors that we have committed throughout my lifetime, and certainly before that. Nothing has been learned from the atrocities of the mid-20th century, the continued atrocities in Vietnam, Iraq, in Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ve been holding signs of you calling for a ceasefire.

MARIONE INGRAM: Yeah, I want more than that. I want peace. I’m disgusted at the fact that not a single nation, not a single leader has even mentioned that word, as though that is a word of — a dangerous word. There has to be a way of bringing together warring parties. When the Allies attacked Hamburg, Germany, thinking that that would weaken the military conflict, it only strengthened it. What Israel is doing in Gaza, in the West Bank, and has been doing, is only going to strengthen the attack on Israel. You cannot expect that people will be quiet after what we’ve all witnessed. I say stop, stop this madness.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I’d like to bring in professor Omer Bartov, one of the most prominent scholars of Holocaust and genocide studies. Your sense, Professor Bartov, of what Israel is doing right now in Gaza?

OMER BARTOV: Well, good morning, and thank you for having me.

Look, what Israel is doing right now, according to its own political leaders and military commanders, is attempting to destroy Hamas, which is the hegemonic power in Gaza at the moment. And it claims to be doing it, A, as retaliation for the heinous attack on October 7th, where over a thousand civilians were butchered and 240 people were kidnapped and are still kept in Gaza. But it claims to be doing it also because it feels that without doing that, it would be permanently under threat from that organization. So, that’s its own position.

The problem with this position is not only is there massive and excessive and disproportionate killing of civilians, of Palestinian civilians, in Gaza during this operation, but also that it doesn’t have any clear political horizon. It is not clear what the day after would look like. And the reason the Israeli government does not want to talk about that is that it does not want to have any sort of compromise with the Palestinians. And that has been the policy of the Netanyahu administration, or many administrations, for decades now.

And Netanyahu actually kept Hamas quite strong and kept the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank quite weak, so that he could say that he could not find any representative of the Palestinians who would be willing to sit down and find a compromise, while at the same time he was busy — he and, of course, the settlers, who are now heavily represented in his government, could keep settling in the West Bank. So, the larger context of this is that the refusal of the Israeli government to find any kind of compromise with the Palestinians, and, frankly, the indifference of the large part, the majority of the Israeli population to the occupation, is what led and keeps leading to this ongoing and increasingly violent confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Omer Bartov, we’re going to continue with Part 2 of our conversation and post it at, Brown University professor of Holocaust and genocide studies, called by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum one of the world’s leading specialists on the subject of genocide. And Marione Ingram, 87-year-old Holocaust survivor, about to turn 88. We thank you for sharing your experience. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk declared Wednesday that "the collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians amounts... to a war crime, as does the unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians."

Israel's monthlong war on Gaza has killed over 10,500 Palestinians, wounded thousands more, displaced 70% of the strip's 2.3 million residents, and decimated civilian infrastructure, including homes, religious buildings, and hospitals.

Türk's comments came after he visited the Rafah border crossing that connects Egypt to Gaza, which he described as "the gates to a living nightmare—a nightmare where people have been suffocating, under persistent bombardment, mourning their families, struggling for water, for food, for electricity and fuel." 

The following sites updated:

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Doo-Doo DeSantis doesn't want you to know (but Trump's whispering anyway)

This is where I normally kick things of with Doo-Doo DeSantis.  But I've got to dive into the sewer that is Marjorie Taylor Greene for a moment.  In this community, we all grab certain things to cover.  Elaine covers MTG and Lauren Boebert.  She's covering MTG tonight and, in fact, covering the story about to note.  We're married, it's okay if I cover it too.  So BENZINGA reports:

House Republicans proposed reducing Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg‘s salary to a mere $1 amid intense debates over spending bills with a looming government funding deadline.
What Happened: House Republicans, led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), successfully passed an amendment by voice vote. This amendment aims to slash Buttigieg’s salary as part of the 2024 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development spending bill.

I'm getting really tired of MTG and Boe-Boe and their efforts to attack public servants because they're African-American (Lloyd Austin) or because they're gay (Pete) or because they're trans (Rachel Levine).  There are real issues to address and these mental cases that just masturbate in public office are wasting all of our time.

Now we're on Doo-Doo DeSantis.  ROLLING STONE reports:

In the time since Ron DeSantis launched his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has only increased his wide national and state primary polling leads over the Florida governor. With DeSantis 2024 flailing for months, it would perhaps seem natural for the former president to now ease up a bit on thrashing and gratuitously humiliating DeSantis.

Trump and his senior staff have absolutely no intention of doing that.

Within the upper ranks of Trumpworld, there is an entire sub-industry dedicated to making DeSantis’ life hell, sometimes in a flamboyantly childish, taunting approach that more closely resembles teenage cyberbullying than it does a White House run. Top Trump aides have near-daily discussions about new and outrageous ideas for how to attack and debase DeSantis, including via the campaign’s regular anti-DeSantis “Kiss of Death” email blasts to supporters and the media, two people familiar with the situation say.

According to a person with direct knowledge of the matter, a recurring inside joke bounced around by Trump 2024 senior staffers is: “We aren’t gonna be done with him until he’s fat again,” a crude reference to the Florida governor’s weight loss.    

If you read the article in full, you'll find out that Donald Trump is floating a rumor of Doo-Doo. It's about something that happened to him a few years back.  In the Congress, in the bathroom.  To do with wiping.


Doo-Doo DeSantis.  Starting to grasp why we refer to him as Doo-Doo DeSantis?  Or why C.I. tagged him Doo-Doo Ron Ron DeSantis over a year ago?  

Yeah, I know the rumor Donald's talking about.  C.I. knew it last year and every time I type Doo-Doo DeSantis, I chuckle a little at.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 8, 2023.  The assault on Gaza continues, Joe Biden loses support, Antony Blinken has become a dirty joke on the international stage, and much more.

As the assault continues, the world recoils as the Israeli government continues its War Crimes.  ALJAZEERA notes:

A humanitarian aid convoy has come under fire in Gaza City, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Two trucks were damaged and a driver lightly wounded as the ICRC convoy, which was carrying “lifesaving medical supplies to health facilities including to Al Quds hospital of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society,” was hit by fire, the medical NGO said on Tuesday.

The Red Cross.  Attacked.  People just trying to deliver aid are being attacked, their lives threatened by the Israeli government.  Susan Miller, Jorge L. Ortiz and Vanessa Arredondo (USA TODAY) note

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees announced on Sunday that five more staffers died within the last two days. In total, 79 UNRWA workers were killed and at least 24 have been injured since the war began on Oct. 7. 

The agency said a UNRWA school in Jabalia camp, north of Gaza, was directly hit by strikes on Saturday, killing 15 people and injuring 70 others who were sheltering in the facility. Eleven others were injured in a bombing at a school in Nuseirat camp.

Nearly 1.5 million people have been displaced on the Gaza Strip, and about half of them, 710,000, are sheltering in 149 UNRWA facilities. Since the war began, 48 of those facilities have been damaged, the agency said. 

An hour ago, ABC NEWS updated the UN employee death toll to 92.  

Aid workers and officials fear that Israel's call for an evacuation of the northern part of Gaza is precipitating a humanitarian disaster as electricity and other supplies have been cut off in preparation for what appears to be an imminent ground offensive.

Humanitarian groups have urged Israel to call off the evacuation and agree to a cease-fire, even as the country has asserted a right to defend itself -- a right the United States endorses.

This does not win 'hearts and minds.'   ALJAZEERA notes, "Israeli forces have killed twice as many Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip over the past month than the total number of Palestinian children killed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza combined since 1967, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.  The NGO said on Tuesday that in addition to the number of children killed in Gaza, about 1,350 children are missing under the rubble, 'most of whom are presumed dead'."  UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told CNN, "I know the boys and girls and the moms and dads behind (the numbers) and that’s – I think for UNICEF – why we’re so outraged that they keep spiking and that we can’t get a humanitarian ceasefire."

As DEMOCRACY NOW! pointed out yesterday, the bullying and the brutality is focusing on Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital in Gaza City.

AMY GOODMAN: Israel is threatening to bomb a children’s hospital in Gaza that houses the enclave’s only pediatric cancer unit. Earlier today, the Israeli military ordered the immediate evacuation of Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital in Gaza City. Israel already shelled the hospital two days ago.

This comes as Palestinian health officials say the Israeli bombardment of Gaza has killed over 10,000 Palestinians, including 4,000 children, since October 7th, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing up to 1,400 people while seizing about 240 hostages.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres repeated his call for an immediate ceasefire.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day. More journalists have reportedly been killed over a four-week period than in any conflict in at least three decades. More United Nations aid workers have been killed than in any comparable period in the history of our organization.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with two guests. Steve Sosebee is the president and founder of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, an organization that provides medical and humanitarian aid to Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank. The fund runs the pediatric cancer unit inside Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital. He splits his time between the occupied West Bank and Kent, Ohio, where he joins us today.

And we’re joined by Dr. Barbara Zind, pediatrician who traveled to Gaza October 6th to support the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. After nearly a month trapped in Gaza, she was finally evacuated through the Rafah border crossing and arrived back home Monday. She’s joining us from Grand Junction, Colorado.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Steve Sosebee, let’s begin with you. Can you talk about what’s happening at Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital in Gaza City and the overall collapse of the medical system in Gaza? We saw a tweet of yours a few days ago asking, had the hospital bombed? You have a ward there, the only one for children with cancer.

STEVE SOSEBEE: Yeah. In 2019, we opened the first and only pediatric oncology department in the Gaza Strip, based on the fact that every child prior to that, every single child in Gaza with cancer, had to travel outside for care that they couldn’t get locally. And that was a problem, because that required permits from the Israeli military, which were often either delayed or not provided for these kids with cancer. So we opened. We started a campaign through grassroots fundraising and raised enough money to open a cancer department in the main pediatric hospital in Gaza City, where, since 2019 until October 7th, hundreds of children had had life-saving care, professional care, through local services and through the support of our international teams coming in. We provide chemotherapy drugs, child life services, and training for doctors and nurses in that department, in addition to any other support those kids possibly need.

Now, since October 7th, obviously, due to the conflict on the ground in Gaza, the services there have been disrupted significantly; however, the department itself is full of children, full of patients with cancer, and, in addition, their families, who are seeking refuge. Many of them have had their homes destroyed and have no other place to go. So the department itself and the hospital itself is full of refugees, full of people seeking shelter and seeking aid.

And in addition to that, the doctors who provide — the oncologists who work at that hospital had to flee Gaza City or have not been able to access the hospital on a regular basis to provide therapy and treatment for the patients. And some of the nurses themselves have had their homes destroyed and family members killed, and they continue to provide services as much as they can.

However, two days ago, there was a threat to Gaza, to the hospital itself, and it was struck yesterday. About 30 hours ago, it was struck by a rocket, and the floor above the department was destroyed, and part of the department itself was destroyed, killing some children and — not in the department itself, but in the hospital — and destroying part of the department that we had built. Now, as of today — and some of the family members have fled. But, unfortunately, there’s no — we’re trying to get them south, out of Gaza City, so possibly evacuating them out of Gaza and getting them continued care in Egypt or in Jordan. But, unfortunately, Gaza itself is encircled.

And now, as of now, there was a report this morning from the Israeli military that they are demanding the evacuation of the hospital because they consider it a combat area. And, unfortunately, a lot of the families have no place to go. They have no place to be evacuated to. And there are still literally hundreds of children and patients within that hospital and the increasing sound of bombings and shootings around the department, around the hospital, is increasingly making it difficult for anybody to leave at this time.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Steve Sosebee, could you talk about what the lack of medical care was for the children in Gaza even before October 7th and before the beginning of this horrific round of Israeli attacks?

STEVE SOSEBEE: Yeah. So, we started our organization over 30 years ago during the First Intifada to provide medical care for children who were getting — who were being injured on the ground as a result of the uprising and the use of force against the civilian population in the West Bank and Gaza, and over the years evolved into an organization that brings volunteer medical teams in on a regular basis to the Gaza Strip and West Bank to provide free specialized medical care to those kids. And over the last few years, we’ve been the main organization on the ground in Gaza bringing in international teams of volunteers with — providing a variety of different kinds of specialized surgical services and medical services, including pediatric oncology, pediatric cardiac surgery, pediatric neurosurgery, general pediatric surgery, orthopedic, so on and so forth, which don’t exist or are underdeveloped within the health sector in Gaza, in an attempt to fill the significant gap of children not having access to quality specialized care and not being able to access that care that may exist in the West Bank or may exist outside of Gaza. We were developing those services locally within the Gaza Strip and treating thousands of children a year in Gaza with these very specialized services. Unfortunately, and this is how Dr. Zind got stuck in Gaza, is that we have teams rotating on a regular basis in Gaza from all over the world, and she was there at the time of the closure, along with another specialist who was developing artificial limbs for amputees, children who are amputees.

And unfortunately, there are literally thousands of kids in Gaza, in addition to those who are being injured now — and we already know that number is graphically high — that there’s thousands of kids in Gaza who have nontrauma-related injuries who need medical care, kids who are born with congenital defects, kids with heart problems, kids with cancer, kids with cystic fibrosis, kids on dialysis. These are children, in addition to those thousands of kids who have been injured over the past month, who need specialized care they can’t get in Gaza. And as a result of the hospitals now running out of fuel and not able to provide services, as a result of hospitals running out of drugs and services, as a result of specialists being killed and being injured or not able to access the treatment centers, as a result of hospitals closing, thousands of children in Gaza, in addition to those who are being injured, are going without specialized care, and many of them are even dying. And that’s actually a huge concern to us. And we hope that we’re able to get these kids out as quickly as possible to provide them care outside if they cannot get care within Gaza. But, of course, we’re asking, more importantly, for a ceasefire and enabling our medical teams, who are standing by, ready to go to Gaza and continue to provide services there — we have several surgical missions ready to go at a moment’s notice if we can access Gaza and be able to relieve the doctors there and provide those services directly to those kids.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to bring in Dr. Barbara Zind, a pediatrician who traveled to Gaza to support the relief efforts of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Dr. Zind, could you talk about your experience while you were there during this Israeli bombardment?

DR. BARBARA ZIND: Yeah. I had arrived on October — November? I can’t remember which month. October 6 for a three-day mission to see about a hundred children that the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund is sponsoring with chronic diseases. And then, the morning after I arrived, I was just walking along the beach and saw those missiles fired, and, after that, ended up joining other humanitarian aid staff and volunteers going — over the next month going to, you know, three different U.N. sites for safety, and finally one last place, and then getting there the day that the Rafah border opened with our names on a list to exit.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Barbara Zind, talk about why you got involved with Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and then what it was like, if you can take us on that journey. You were one of a number of foreigners, specialists, humanitarian relief workers inside Gaza as the bombardment began. Can you talk about where you went, whether you were able to get clean water, more importantly, everyone around you — not more importantly, but equally, everyone around you, how you took shelter? You were on TV. We saw you as a bomb went off next to you. You jumped.

DR. BARBARA ZIND: Well, yes. I mean, I was fortunate, much more fortunate than the Gazans themselves, in that we were able to — we had administration. The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund worked with other humanitarian organizations, and they could see safe places to move.

I’ve been with this organization since 2010, going over to the West Bank and Gaza almost every year, except for the years I couldn’t because of COVID. And it’s because of all the great things that they do. It’s because the children that I see — I’m not a surgeon, but I fill — they help fill in the gaps, medications, special schooling, everything that these children with chronic diseases can’t get through the Ministry of Health, and that includes just diabetics getting insulin, and so, really, life-saving medications that can’t be fully provided through the governmental services and health services that are there.

So, throughout that month, we went — we started in Gaza City and with continuous bombardment, and then everyone was supposed to go to the south. We went to another U.N. facility in the south. That one was just thousands of people coming in the gates. Usually people go to U.N. schools, but the U.N. schools were already full when they ordered the evacuation of the northern part of Gaza, and so people just went to this — it was a vocational school. So it really didn’t have facilities. And those people started building things right away. They took wooden pallets. They took bricks. They just started just building a place for their families. And these are extended families, so they are large families. Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund has a staff member who’s in the last U.N. facility that we were at, and he’s with 150 family members. He has eight children. He has 19 siblings. So, his close relatives are 150 people, and they are living in that southernmost camp.

We were fortunate in that we had clean water delivered, but for — and we had 50 people using one toilet versus 400 to 600 people per toilet. I mean, even in our group of a lot of medical workers, we had an outbreak of diarrhea. I can’t imagine what it was like outside of our camp as far as that. They had limited water. They had a certain amount of drinking water, which ran out. Our drinking water started to run out. Definitely, our water for washing and running the toilet was running out right before we left. We were fortunate to have food, but at the last few days, we ended up computing how much food we needed for 50 people. And at 800 calories a day, we had enough for two days, until we were able to have a driver go all the way to Gaza City, a dangerous drive, to bring some other foods. But I don’t know what — but we knew that the grocery stores were going to be empty. But out in the camp, they were giving one pita bread per person and, initially, a can of meat for two people. And then that went down to four people while we were there. So, the United Nations was supplying some food, but so limited for those people.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Dr. Zind —

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead, Juan.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dr. Zind, I’m wondering — I’m wondering about the issue not just of the life-and-death travails that the Palestinian people are confronting with this bombing, but also if you could talk some about what you see in the terms of the mental health, the long-term — we’re talking about a population, a complete population, that’s been traumatized now for years, and now especially with this bombing. Your sense of what the mental health needs of these children will be for years to come?

DR. BARBARA ZIND: Well, I think a lot of times I’ve described Gaza on a good day. So, in these other missions that I’ve gone to Gaza, they’re just constantly, constantly under siege, really. I mean, food is limited a lot. I mean, fishermen can only go out so far, and that’s — they can’t go to the international water boundaries for fishing. And so, food is always limited. Medications are limited. Sixty-five percent of Gazans are on humanitarian aid all the time. So, when we talk about humanitarian aid coming in, it’s not just for this conflict. I mean, they’re always needing humanitarian aid based on limitations of food and clean water. There’s no surface water. So these children live under that stress all the time. They’re wonderful, resilient people, but I can’t imagine, you know, what it’s like to be a child and be with a family that’s moving around, has really no place to go that’s safe.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Steve Sosebee back into the conversation. This is Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who was interviewed on CNN on Sunday.

GILAD ERDAN: There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In coordination with the U.S. and the U.N., we allowed a number of trucks entering Gaza now with food and medicines to reach almost 100 trucks every day. So we don’t see the need for humanitarian pauses right now, because it will only enable Hamas to rearm and regroup.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to this, Steve Sosebee? He doesn’t see — this is the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. He doesn’t see a humanitarian crisis on the ground right now. And if you can also weave in, for example, the children in your cancer ward? How are they possibly getting chemotherapy right now?

STEVE SOSEBEE: Well, that’s an interesting point of view. It’s coming from a political perspective and not a realistic one and not based on reality. The fact is, on the ground, that there is an obvious humanitarian crisis. This is described not only by people on the ground there, but by the United Nations and by other, let’s say, objective points of view.

The humanitarian crisis is obvious. There is no fuel that’s been delivered to Gaza since October 7th. And what does that mean? Well, all of the hospitals in Gaza, every single one of them depends on fuel to run generators. They’re not connected to the electrical grid, because the electrical grid’s shut down since October 11th, so that, then, even when it was operating, it only provided electricity for three or four hours a day, as we all know, prior to October 7th. So, therefore, the hospitals are running out of fuel. They’re not able to operate. They’re not able to provide ventilation for children in the intensive care unit who are severely injured, and there’s hundreds of them. They’re not able to provide electricity for babies in incubators in the neonatal units increasingly. The fuel is running out. We know that in Shifa Hospital, there’s only one generator working now. The Indonesian Hospital has run out of fuel. And other hospitals have closed. And so, I don’t know what humanitarian crisis he’s not seeing.

In addition to that, as Dr. Zind just mentioned, children and people there are on a significant calorie diet, and that’s affecting the entire population. One-point-five million people in Gaza out of 2.2 [million] are displaced. They’re living in warehouses, in tents, in other — in makeshift places, in U.N. schools. And those schools are being hit. There are no safe places in Gaza. We’ve seen the casualty toll, as you mentioned at the beginning of this program, of over 4,000 children who have been killed so far in one month. Four thousand children, that would be hundreds of thousands of American children, if that was compared to our population in the U.S. And that’s not counting the over 1,000 children who are buried under rubble, some of them alive right now, slowly dying. And that’s not a humanitarian crisis. The lack of medication, doctors are operating on children without anesthesia, without pain medication. That’s not a humanitarian crisis. There’s over 200 children who are burned from bombing of their homes, and the doctors don’t have dressings. They don’t have anesthesia. These kids are getting Tylenol, while they have third-degree burns all over their bodies. That’s not a humanitarian crisis. I don’t know what world he’s living in or what world he’s watching, but for those of us who are actually watching with open eyes and open hearts and open minds, this is a humanitarian crisis that we’ve never seen before, and it’s 2023. This is unacceptable that this is happening in this modern world. And it’s happening with modern weapons, and these modern weapons are being paid for by our American tax dollars.

Now, your question about the children in the cancer department, they are running out of drugs. They’re running out of chemotherapy. They’re running out of adequate treatment. The kids who were in remission are falling out of remission. There’s literally dozens of children in Gaza with cancer who are not getting adequate care, not because they don’t have the facility to get that care. We built that and opened it in 2019, and it’s an excellent facility. They’re not getting care, not because the doctors there aren’t qualified and the nurses aren’t qualified to treat them. They are. They’re not getting care because their hospital right now is under attack. It’s been hit by — it was bombed two days ago. The doctors don’t have access. The nurses don’t have access.

The children themselves are living in a state of absolute terror, as was mentioned earlier. If we want to talk about the mental health situation, it’s affecting the entire population in Gaza Strip, and it’s going to be a generational conflict, or a generational issue. How do you solve an entire population that’s been exposed to conflict and war — children — over 1 million children have been traumatized now, and they’re going to live the rest of their lives with this trauma, and it’s impossible to treat it. Why? Because the source of the trauma is not going away. It’s not post-traumatic stress disorder; it’s current traumatic stress. And we can’t solve it. We have a mental health program. We can’t heal these children. We can’t heal their hearts, we can’t heal their souls, and we can’t heal their bodies, until this conflict stops. And it’s not going to stop until there’s a political will on the part of everybody who believes in peace, in justice, in freedom, in equality to take a stand and put an end to this situation once and for all.

AMY GOODMAN: Steve Sosebee, I want to thank you for being with us, president and founder of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, speaking to us from Kent, Ohio, and Dr. Barbara Zind, pediatrician who traveled to Gaza October 6th to support the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. She was finally evacuated through the Rafah border crossing weeks later and arrived back home in Grand Junction, Colorado, this week.

Next up, we’ll look at how President Biden’s refusal to support a Gaza ceasefire could impact his reelection chances next year, as his support among Arab Americans is plummeting. Back in 30 seconds.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the northern Gaza Strip, which Israeli forces have virtually sealed off as part of their genocidal onslaught on the Palestinians. Events over recent days make it increasingly clear that the far-right Netanyahu regime is carrying out a vicious campaign to ethnically cleanse the northern regions of the Gaza Strip, while expanding military operations in the West Bank and on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

“The Israeli military offensive has caused the largest mass displacement of Palestinians in such a short period of time since the 1948 Nakba: around 1,500,000 or about 65 percent of Gaza’s population, are now internally displaced inside Gaza,” noted three Palestinian rights groups, Al Mezan, Al-Haq and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, in a statement.

Reports Tuesday revealed that due to a lack of flour and fuel, which Israel has refused to allow into Gaza since its bombardment began, no large bakeries are operating north of the line established by the Israeli military to cut Gaza in two. Under conditions in which bread is one of the main foodstuffs for people who have no electricity or water to cook, this development is tantamount to starving hundreds of thousands who remain confined to Gaza City and surrounding areas.

Conditions further south are little better, where Israeli air strikes continue to pummel densely populated areas indiscriminately. Intense strikes took place on the Al-Shati refugee camp on Tuesday evening, with Israeli troops reportedly gathering on its outskirts.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

“No ceasefire, no votes” and “In November, we remember,” those were two chants we heard Saturday in Washington at the largest rally in U.S. history for Palestinian rights. Protesters denounced President Biden for refusing to support a ceasefire in Gaza while sending more arms to Israel as it continues its monthlong bombardment that’s killed over 10,000 Palestinians, including 4,000 children. Polls show Biden’s support among Arab Americans is plummeting. This is Nihad Awad, the head of CAIR — that’s the Council on American-Islamic Relations — speaking at Saturday’s rally.

NIHAD AWAD: No ceasefire, no votes. No ceasefire, no votes. No votes in Michigan. No votes in Arizona. No votes in Georgia. No votes in Nevada. No votes in Wisconsin. No votes in Pennsylvania. No votes in Ohio. No votes for you anywhere, if you do not call for a ceasefire now. … We will make our voices heard more and more. In November, we remember. In November, we remember.

AMY GOODMAN: Nihad Awad, the head of CAIR, said he was speaking in his own capacity.

We are joined now by Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, joining us now from Washington, D.C.

It’s great to have you with us. If you could talk about these figures, that I’m sure the White House is looking at carefully? In 2020, President Biden had something like 59% support of the Arab American community. Right now it’s at something like 17%. James Zogby, if you can talk about Biden’s stance right now on Israel and Gaza?

JAMES ZOGBY: Thanks, Amy. It’s been a long time since we’ve been together, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

Look, yeah, the poll is one that we did to get a read on the community. I have never seen, in the 27 years we’ve been polling, my brother and I have been polling Arab Americans, we never saw a movement this dramatic over this short a period of time. The last time we polled Arab Americans was just a few months ago, and the drop since then has been even more precipitous than the drop since 2020.

This issue resonates. It’s big. It’s important. It also is part of a general national trend. Arab Americans are not immune from what the rest of the culture is feeling, and that is that President Biden just is not in control of his own presidency and how he is being portrayed to the American people and to the world. They didn’t elect a Reaganite foreign policy advocate, a neocon who was fighting for freedom there to have freedom here, that kind of rhetoric that comes from the White House. They voted for somebody that focused on a whole bunch of domestic issues to bring domestic peace and tranquility after four years of Donald Trump. And that’s not what they’ve gotten. And I think that, coupled with the Gaza situation, most certainly, is driving these negative numbers. They are deeply disappointed with the position he’s taken on this conflict, and they just are jumping ship.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Jim Zogby, could you talk about some other aspects of the poll, what the support for a ceasefire was, and also whether there were gender or age or religious differences in those you polled?

JAMES ZOGBY: What was really significant was that across the board — when you get numbers that high, a flip that high or numbers in the 70% range on several questions, like support for a ceasefire, or how important is the Palestinian issue to you, or how disappointed are you with the president’s performance on this issue — all of those numbers were two-thirds or greater. When you get numbers that great, you expect, across the board, to see the crosstabs reading that way. And we did. There was virtually no difference in terms of majorities, regardless of religion, regardless of whether born here or immigrant, or gender or age. Pretty much across the board, there’s frustration and deep disappointment with this president.

And the question I keep getting asked is: Can Biden win them back? The visceral reaction to this issue is so great that in order to do that, something dramatic has to come from the White House. And I’m not sure that the president has the wherewithal to do it. Look, I’ve heard two things from people at the White House. The one is, they’re not going to vote for Donald Trump, because they don’t want — you know, they don’t want back what he was doing during his four years, and so they’ll come around in a year. I told them that — when I heard that, I said, “That’s insulting and dismissive. You have to earn that vote.” They might just as well stay home. They might vote for Cornel West. They might just not vote at all. And it’s not a given that young Arab American women, who want control over their bodies and their healthcare, that older Arab Americans, who want protection for their Medicare or an expansion of healthcare — it’s not clear that they are going to make the decision to vote at all, if they don’t have something to vote for. It worked the last time: “Vote for me because I’m not the other guy.” I’m not quite sure it will work this time.

And, you know, I’ve got an article coming out in The Nation tomorrow that makes the point that it’s not just Arab Americans who are affected this way. It’s young people. It’s progressive Jews. It’s Black, Latino, Asian voters. There’s a significant decline that this president is encountering across the board. And, you know, Gaza is playing into it. It is a sort of a canary-in-the-coal-mine issue. It’s one that sort of is speaking to a broader sense of dissatisfaction. And the White House has to get a handle on that, not just dismiss it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And speaking of broader sense of dissatisfaction, you worked with Bernie Sanders for two of his campaigns. How do you understand his insistence only on calling for a humanitarian pause and not a ceasefire?

AMY GOODMAN: And, Juan, let me play a clip of Bernie Sanders, who was interviewed this weekend on CNN.

DANA BASH: I want to just clarify one thing, Senator, if I might. You support a humanitarian pause in Gaza. Some of your fellow progressives say that there should be a full-on ceasefire, which would require an agreement on both sides to halt the fighting. Do you support a ceasefire? And if not, why not?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I don’t know how you can have a ceasefire, permanent ceasefire, with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the state of Israel. And I think, what the Arab countries in the region understand, that Hamas has got to go.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Bernie Sanders being interviewed by Dana Bash of CNN. In fact, just a few days ago, Bernie Sanders’ office was occupied by a group of progressives protesting that he wasn’t calling for a ceasefire, among other senators. Jim Zogby?

JAMES ZOGBY: Look, you know, I have no idea. I’ve called the senator, didn’t get a call back; left him a couple messages, text messages, didn’t hear back. And I’m disappointed and, frankly, confounded. I don’t understand the thinking here. One could easily take the sentence that he spoke about “You don’t have a ceasefire with a group like Hamas” that blah, blah, blah, and stick in the Netanyahu government of the most extremist rightists in the country that are today, while under the cover of Gaza, taking armed settlers to evacuate Palestinian villages and force people to leave their lands, leave their orchards and their homes. This is a crazy extremist government. And, yes, Hamas is a group that has done and does evil things, just like the Netanyahu government does evil things. The question is — that’s why you need a ceasefire. And to say we can’t have peace with them, it’s what the Palestinians say: We can’t have peace with the Netanyahu government.

But the problem is that the United States has to act like the adult in the room, and we haven’t. We’ve been the cheerleader, the coat holder, the enabler and the funder of one side, digging the hole deeper every single day. And the result is, is that we’re locked in a conflict here, on Israel’s side, that has no good end in sight. Those who think, “On this path, we’ll eliminate Hamas,” forget what happened in Beirut in '82, forget what happened in Lebanon in 2006, or what happened in Afghanistan or Iraq. You don't eliminate. What you do is you create the conditions for something more virulent afterwards. You’re not going to get rid of Hamas. I mean, the million-plus people who have been forced to leave their belongings, their memories, the neighborhoods that they lived in now reduced to rubble, and flee to the south, where there’s no infrastructure to take care of them, the families of the 10,000 who have died, 4,000 of whom children, they’re not going to say when this is over, if it’s ever over, “Oh, we love Israel. Let’s have peace.” There is going to be the seed — there are the seeds being planted today for Hamas 2.0 or something more virulent. And I don’t understand how the folks in the White House or the State Department just don’t get it, and say, “This is not going to end well.” At the end of this path, with the exception of more dead bodies, more anger and more virulent extremism, we’re going to be right back where we started. It’s a failure of the United States, not of Hamas and of Israel, but the United States. We have not shown the leadership — that we ought to be showing, given the fact that we’re funding this damn thing — to stop it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, James Zogby, you’ve been, for decades now, an expert in public opinion and polling. And it’s not just the United States or England and France where we’re seeing unprecedented demonstrations in support of the Palestinians and opposed to Israeli bombardment and the invasion, but also across the Global South. In the rest of the world, outside of the Western countries, there is virtually no support for the United States’ policies and Israel. I’m wondering if you could talk about that?

JAMES ZOGBY: Yeah. We’ve just finished a poll in 12 Arab countries. I should add, my brother does the domestic polling. We played the game of Risk, and he took one side of the board, and I got the other side of the board. I do polling in the Middle East and some polling in Europe. We’ve done some polling on Ukraine with European countries, their attitude toward it.

But in the Arab world, we’ve blown it. There wasn’t actually much of a bounce when Joe Biden got elected. The damage done by George W. Bush, the disappointment in Obama making promises in Cairo that excited people and then blaming the Arabs for not delivering on the promises he made, and then Trump and the chaos of four years. People have told me there, “We’ve been on a roller coaster with your country for the last 20 years, and, frankly, we’re dizzy right now. We don’t know what we’re getting.” They, too, hoped for calm when Joe Biden got elected. And instead of calm, they have two big wars, and they’re being forced to choose. And frankly, they can’t, because they have decided, as European countries are deciding, that they have to make their own decisions, and they have to do what’s in their interest. And their people are watching what is happening in Gaza and saying, “Hell no, we’re not going to do this anymore.” Even countries that have made peace with Israel, their public opinion has turned decidedly against Israel and decidedly against the prospect of living in harmony with that country. Damage has been done here.

And I don’t understand, in all of my conversations with people at the White House and the State Department, that they don’t just get it. I don’t know what they’re taking in the morning that makes them think, “Today is going to be a better day. Israel is going to kill more people, and Arabs are going to say, ’Let’s have peace with Israel.’” It doesn’t work that way. And I’ve been down this road now for the last 40, 50 years doing this work full time, and, frankly, it gets worse, not better. And those who think you win a victory in a war where you kill lots of civilians, their heads aren’t screwed on right. And frankly, we need new thinking on this, but the guys in the White House aren’t capable, I think, of that kind of new thinking. And it’s really — it’s deeply disturbing, because the hole we’re digging is one that’s going to take a generation to get out of.

AMY GOODMAN: Jim Zogby, I wanted to ask you a few quick questions. I see you have a TV behind you, and I was looking to see if there was a crack in the screen, because I was wondering of your comments on the coverage by the mainstream media. A word you almost never hear — and I’m not talking about Fox, I’m talking about MSNBC and CNN, places where you appear — rarely do we hear the word “occupation,” and why that is so significant in understanding how to end this. We’re not just talking about Gaza; we’re talking about the West Bank. When you had the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, saying, right before October 7th, you know, “It’s peaceful there in the Middle East. We’re moving on to other issues,” yet at that time you had at least a Palestinian a day being killed in the West Bank by settlers or by the Israeli military. Now I think, since October 7th, the number is well over 150. The OPT, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Gaza and the West Bank. Question: How we should be talking about this issue, what you think would be the most honest? And do you think there’s a difference between Biden and Trump, not on other domestic issues, but on Israel-Palestine?

JAMES ZOGBY: Joe Biden promised us a lot. He issued not just a platform plank, that was one that they made some accommodations to us about, but they issued a separate policy statement for Arab Americans. And I remember when we wanted language that talked about the equality of human needs and rights, and they issued that statement that both Israelis and Palestinians are equally deserving of, and then there were a litany of words that followed it. Three-and-a-half years later, we’re still waiting for the delivery on the equal promise of. All that Palestinians have gotten has been a green light for Israel to run roughshod over the West Bank, take more land, build more settlements, demolish more homes, more restrictions on Palestinian rights, Jerusalem the same, and Gaza worse. It’s been a huge disappointment.

And frankly, I don’t — I recall some interesting things in the platform debate that still trouble me, because I remember back in '88 when I was negotiating with Madeleine Albright on the Dukakis-Jackson platform issue, we wanted the word “Palestinian” in the platform. And she told me, she said, “If the P-word even appears in print in the Democratic Party platform, all hell will break loose.” I told her, I said, “Don't play Chicken Little with me. The sky is not going to fall. We can do it and live with it. I mean, it’s not rocket science to say there are Palestinians in this conflict.” The party had never even mentioned the word up 'til then, and it didn't that year, either.

What troubled me in 2016 and 2020 was that we couldn’t get the word “occupation” in the platform. They wouldn’t use the word “occupation,” which was Trump language. Trump wouldn’t use “occupation,” either. In fact, they changed the human rights report from reporting on the Occupied Territories to putting it all in one thing. That was the — what do you call it? — by U.S. Ambassador Friedman. Trump’s ambassador wanted it that way. There was no occupation. The Biden administration deals with it as if it were an occupation in language, but not in practice. Not in practice. We have not put conditions or terms on Israel to deal with Palestinians as an occupied people. And so, we’ve kind of come a ways, but we haven’t come anywhere at all, from not using the P-word to not using the “occupation” word. Frankly, it’s maybe a little bit of a semantic thing.

But Palestinians are living under a brutal occupation. It’s an apartheid occupation. And they are also being victims of a genocidal attack on Gaza right now that is killing the infrastructure, killing the people, forcibly evicting over a million people from their homes in the north to move south, where there is no capacity to care for them. They’re living in tents, without water, without power, without healthcare. The hospitals in the south are not capable of dealing with all the issues. And the Israelis are treating the people in the north as if, as the general says, they’re all animals and deserve to die. If that’s not genocide, I don’t know what is.

And yet, this administration, if they can’t use the word “occupation” — and, for God’s sake, they won’t use the word “apartheid” — they can’t use the word “genocide.” Something horrible is happening to these people, and this administration is turning a blind eye to it. And I’m sorry, but when they say, “We’re deeply concerned,” if that’s the best they can do, when we’re providing $14.3 billion additional this year on top of $4 billion, when we’re providing diplomatic cover at the United Nations, that is not enough. And frankly, this, what is happening in Gaza, is not only happening on our watch, but we’re complicit and enabling it. Sounds harsh, but it’s the reality. And they have to deal with it. And there are going to be electoral consequences. And I wish it weren’t so. Last thing on Earth I want to see is a Republican of the type of Donald Trump or whoever comes after in the White House. But they have to earn the vote and establish that there’s a difference. They haven’t done it.

AMY GOODMAN: James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, joining us from Washington, D.C.

Americans recoil in horror and wonder how the hell Joe Biden cannot just endorse this but fund it with our tax dollars.  Brett Wilkins (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

  The leaders of youth-led progressive groups on Tuesday published an open letter warning U.S. President Joe Biden that his administration's staunch support for Israel's war on Gaza—which many experts say may be genocidal—could cost him millions of young votes in next year's presidential election.

"We mobilized the record youth turnout in 2020 that pushed your ticket over the finish line in key swing states. Many of us worked to provide the critical source of support for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections that prevented the Red Wave. We have been preparing to mobilize the youth vote again as you face your reelection," wrote the campaigners—who include leaders of groups like March for Our Lives, Gen Z for Change, and Sunrise Movement.

"We share your conviction that the 2024 election will be one of the most important in American history," the letter states. "We write to you to issue a very stark and unmistakable warning: You and your administration's stance on Gaza risks millions of young voters staying home or voting third party next year. We are pleading with you to use every tool available to you to broker a cease-fire, now, and to revive the peace process." 

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes Henry Kissinger look like Mother Teresa.  This morning, CNN notes, he's yet again denounced the idea of a cease-fire:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has escalated his opposition to a ceasefire in Gaza in comments made Wednesday, saying “those calling for an immediate ceasefire have an obligation to explain how to address the unacceptable result that would likely bring.”

Many of the Arab states have called for such a ceasefire – putting the US and its G7 allies at odds with their regional partners. 

Blinken’s remarks at a press conference following the G7 Ministerial in Tokyo go further than his comments in the past. He has consistently said the US does not support a ceasefire, arguing that such an indefinite stop to the fighting would allow Hamas to regroup and again attack Israel, but had not explicitly called out those who support one.

He is a disaster and Joe Biden needs to task someone else with this responsibility.  Courtney McBride and Iain Marlow (BLOOMBERG NEWS) note:

After stopping in five cities in four days in his latest Middle East mission, the best a tired-looking Antony Blinken could say about the results was that “all of this is a work in progress.”

Judging from the outward results of the US secretary of state’s second marathon trip through the region in the less than a month since Israel’s latest war with Hamas began, there was more labor than payoff.

In Israel, Blinken’s calls for humanitarian “pauses” in the assault of the Gaza Strip were met with more air attacks and ground operations, worsening a grave humanitarian crisis for hundreds of thousands of trapped civilians. An Israeli government minister even hinted at using nuclear weapons there, although his comments were quickly disavowed. A stop in Jordan, one of the US’s closest allies in the region, brought an unusually public lecture about the need for not just breaks but an immediate cease-fire — an option Israel and the US reject.

Monday’s visit to another ally - Turkey - brought a snub by the president and a sense of US frustration at the lack of progress in talks with others, according to officials there who asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations.

I'm confused.  Is there a reason that his visit to Iraq isn't noted?  It did see the biggest protest of all the stops on his junket. Susan Miller, Jorge L. Ortiz and Vanessa Arredondo (USA TODAY) could note the Baghdad stop: 

Blinken met Sunday in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and they discussed putting a stop to the attacks by Iran-backed militias on U.S. and coalition military facilities in Iraq and neighboring Syria, which have surged to 32 assaults since Oct. 17.

There is no trust in Blinken who seems to just lie and make stuff up over and over.  THE FINANCIAL TIMES notes:

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has played down prospects of Israel reoccupying Gaza after Israel’s prime minister said the country would maintain an indefinite grip over the Palestinian territory following its war with Hamas. After a meeting of the Group of Seven foreign ministers in Tokyo, Blinken said on Wednesday: “It is imperative that the Palestinian people be central to the governance in Gaza and in the West Bank as well. 
 “What I’ve heard from Israeli leaders is that they have no intent to reoccupy Gaza and retake control of Gaza,” he added. His comments echoed a warning from John Kirby, White House National Security Council spokesperson, on Tuesday that President Joe Biden “maintains his position that reoccupation by Israeli forces is not the right thing to do”. 
 The interventions by Blinken and Kirby came after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC News that “for an indefinite period, [Israel] will have the overall security responsibility” for Gaza. Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant has stressed that after the war ends, neither Israel nor Hamas will rule Gaza, from which Israel formally withdrew in 2005.

The following sites updated: