Contrary to the popular narrative, Americans overwhelmingly agree on a startling range of issues. So why is there such a disconnect between what Americans want and what Americans get? Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, and co-author of the book “The Corporate Sabotage of America” identifies the culprits and outlines what we, the people, can do about it. Then, Ralph welcomes Ambassador Chas Freeman, who brings his vast diplomatic experience and historical insight to bear on the ongoing collective punishment raining down on the people of Gaza.
Robert Weissman is a staunch public interest advocate and activist, as well as an expert on a wide variety of issues ranging from corporate accountability and government transparency, to trade and globalization, to economic and regulatory policy. For 20 years, he edited the Multinational Monitor magazine, and as the President of Public Citizen, Weissman has spearheaded the effort to loosen the chokehold corporations and the wealthy have over our democracy. He is the author, with Joan Claybrook, of The Corporate Sabotage of America’s Future And What We Can Do About It.
More than three in four people want to have CEOs held accountable for the crimes they commit. Eight in ten think the minimum wage is too low. Four in five support paid family leave, and on and on and on. By way of context, those are not regular numbers when you get polls. In fact, if you ask people, “Does the earth revolve around the sun?” only 80% of Americans agree that the earth revolves around the sun. So, when you get numbers in the 90% or 85%, these are extraordinary levels of national agreement.
If you step back from the immediate moment, I think the big-picture story is that the bounds of what's considered important—or the policy solutions that are considered acceptable or reasonable—are really constructed by corporations and their lobbyists, and that's the problem we face every day.
Ambassador Chas Freeman is a senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, ambassador to Saudi Arabia, acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Chargé d'affaires at both Bangkok and Beijing. Ambassador Freeman is the author of several well-received books on statecraft and diplomacy, including The Diplomat’s Dictionary, America’s Misadventures in the Middle East, and America's Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East.
I think one of the great pieces of collateral damage from this (Israeli/Gaza conflict) is the United Nations Charter, international law, and the credibility of these institutions at the UN. But more particularly, I think the next time Americans lecture foreigners about human rights, they're not going to laugh at us—they're going to sneer. Because this is such a tremendous demonstration of hypocrisy on our part.
Ambassador Chas Freeman
It (the bombing of Gaza) is a gross violation of any standard of human rights. And the fact that we support it is discrediting us. We started out claiming that the eyes of the world were upon us, and we should shine like a city on the hill. I think much of the world looks at us now and they see dead babies in rubble, not a shining city on the hill.
Ambassador Chas Freeman
In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis
1. On Tuesday, political titans like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries rallied in support of Israel in Washington. While supposedly condemning antisemitism, the speakers were joined by Pastor John Hagee, a rabid Christian Zionist who wrote in his book Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World that Hitler was a "half-breed Jew" he was sent by God, as a "hunter," to persecute Europe's Jews and drive them towards "the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have – Israel." John McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement in the 2008 presidential campaign. Meanwhile, the Intercept reports that the ADL plans to add Jewish peace rallies to their map of antisemitic incidents.
2. Axios is out with a report on an “internal State Department dissent memo [which] accuses President Biden of "spreading misinformation" on the Israel-Hamas war and alleges that Israel is committing "war crimes" in Gaza.” Axios continues “The memo — signed by 100 State Department and USAID employees — urges senior U.S. officials to reassess their policy toward Israel and demand a ceasefire in Gaza, where more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war.” This memo comes as the State Department is attempting to establish red lines on Israeli aggression, with Secretary of State Blinken stating “The United States believes key elements [for peace] should include no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza. Not now, not after the war…No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza,” per the Washington Post.
3. Al Mayadeen reports that Colombian President Gustavo Petro will cosponsor Algeria’s war crimes case against Israel at the International Criminal Court. Petro has previously voiced support for ICC action, stating “what is happening in Gaza are crimes against humanity.” TimesLIVE reports South Africa’s Foreign Minister Zane Dangor is also calling for an ICC investigation of Israeli leaders for “war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” stressing that “Failure to do so will exacerbate the growing cynicism that international law is applied selectively for political purposes.”
4. From the Huffington Post: “Staffers from more than two dozen Democratic [congressional] offices say they are receiving an unprecedented number of calls and emails demanding for members to support a cease-fire…“Let it go to voicemail” was the prevailing guidance in several offices, one staffer said.” Yasmine Taeb of Mpower Change, a Muslim advocacy group lobbying on behalf of the ceasefire resolution, said there have been over 380,000 letters sent to the House alone. Last week, more than 100 staffers staged a walkout calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
5. Journalists have also begun speaking up for Palestine. Over 1,200 journalists have signed a letter “condemn[ing] Israel's killing of journalists in Gaza and urg[ing] integrity in Western media coverage of Israel's atrocities against Palestinians.” The letter names many of the reporters injured or killed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza, including Mohammad Abu Hassir, who was killed along with 42 of his family members in a strike on his home. The journalists write “This is our job: to hold power to account. Otherwise we risk becoming accessories to genocide.”
6. Pro-Palestine protesters have also been taking the fight directly to the arms manufacturers. CT Insider reports protesters “blocked entrances at Colt…to protest…the gun manufacturer's sale of arms to Israel.” Protester Mika Zarazvand is quoted saying that Israel is requesting 24,000 guns from the United States, and “we know that two-thirds of them are going to come from Colt.” In Arizona, the Tucson Coalition for Palestine staged a “die-in” blocking the roads to Raytheon’s facilities, according to Arizona Public Media. Meanwhile in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 50 protesters chained themselves to the door of Elbit systems, decrying the company for profiting “from genocide” per NBC 10 Boston.
7. Abed Ayoub, Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, reports that 5 U.S. citizens from Pennsylvania were “seriously injured after their bus out of Gaza was bombed. The family was on the State Department list of evacuees, and followed instructions.” Instead of speaking out for these victims, Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman has instead been antagonizing pro-Palestine protesters. At a recent veterans protest in favor of ceasefire, Fetterman laughed at veterans being arrested and waved an Israeli flag at them, per progressive veterans group About Face.
9. In other news, details of the SAG-AFTRA deal have been released. In a note to members, the Guild wrote “In a contract valued at over one billion dollars in new wages and benefit plan funding, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope that includes "above-pattern" minimum compensation increases, unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and for the first time establishing a streaming participation bonus. Our Pension & Health caps have been substantially raised, which will bring much needed value to our plans. In addition, the deal includes numerous improvements for multiple categories including outsize compensation increases for background performers, and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities.” A full summary of the deal is available at SAG-AFTRA.org.
10. Finally, ProPublica reports that for the first time, the Supreme Court has adopted a code of conduct intended to avoid improper outside influence on the Justices. This code establishes guidelines for acceptance of gifts and recusal standards, both of which have become major points of contention following ProPublica’s reporting on Harlan Crowe’s influence network targeting Justice Thomas. However, the publication is quick to note that this code does not come equipped with any sort of enforcement mechanism. Law Professor Stephen Vladeck is quoted saying “Even the most stringent and aggressive ethics rules don’t mean all that much if there’s no mechanism for enforcing them. And the justices’ unwillingness to even nod toward that difficulty kicks the ball squarely back into Congress’ court.”
This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard.