Rothchild Interview – Podcast November 27, 2023

Identifying The Root Causes Of The Israeli-Gaza War. Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Alice Rothchild to discuss Gaza and its war with Israel. Rothchild is a physician, author, activist, and filmmaker who has devoted decades to understanding and writing about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and its relationship to US foreign policy.

Beginning with Hamas, she says that it’s an organization with a long and complicated history. As for the attacks of October 7th she says, “I think you have to always think of things in context. I mean I’m not a supporter of Hamas and I’m not a supporter of violence. But Hamas – the more militant aspects of Hamas – rose in response to the level of aggression that the Israeli military has put on people in Gaza and the Palestinians in general. So, you know, I think it’s a little dangerous to talk about Hamas as a terrorist organization and not mention the fact that the Israeli policies of the government and of the military have been incredibly aggressive and destructive to Palestinians living in the occupied territories.”

Rothchild continues, “I think it’s important to examine what it’s like to live under a severe occupation and more recently a siege.”

As a result of the attacks, the two sides are now engaged in an asymmetrical war that Rothchild claims has been devastating for Gaza civilians. “We had a population that was already under severe stress and then a massive bombing that has resulted in almost 15,000 people killed, including 6,000 children and 4,000 women and a huge amount of injuries. And half the housing stock has been destroyed. Northern Gaza has been pretty much flattened. I mean the level of destruction of infrastructure of wastewater infrastructure, of water treatment plants, all those things that are necessary for a healthy society have basically been carpet bombed.”

She adds the facts on the ground do not support Israeli rhetoric.

“We have to ask: What is the Israeli government’s end game here?” she says. “Personally, I don’t think they have a well worked out end game. They keep saying they want to destroy Hamas. Hamas is an ideology, it’s a resistance movement with a military wing that did some very, very horrific things. But you’re not going to destroy a resistance movement unless you deal with the root causes.”

She calls for a permanent ceasefire and a reexamination of the U.S. relationship with Israel.

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Bacevich Interview – Podcast November 20, 2023

U.S. Middle East Policy: A Lack Of Imagination? Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Andrew Bacevich, Jr., retired Army colonel and Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University.

Asked to speculate on what goals Hamas hoped to achieve by its terrorist attack on Israel, Bacevich says, “My guess is that nobody in Hamas ever imagined that Hamas could defeat IDF in any meaningful sense.” However, since the horrific attack, he says, “The amount of sympathetic attention given to the Palestine cause has gone through the roof. And that is accentuated, I think, by the humanitarian consequences of the ongoing war.”

Asked to predict the outcome of the war, Bacevich responds it’s impossible to say. “My general view of war is that one should be very careful predicting the course of any war or predicting the outcome of any war.” He notes that it does not appear that Israeli leaders had a clear conception of what political outcome they were seeking at the beginning of the conflict. Now he says, “It has become more urgent for Israel, for the United States and for other actors to be able to say, ‘This is what we intend the outcome to be.’”

And despite President Biden’s call for a two-state solution, Bacevich remarks, “I would argue that the two-state solution is as dead as a doornail.”

So, what should the U.S. do? “We need to be more imaginative,” says Bacevich. He stresses the importance of the upcoming presidential election saying, “We need to have a very serious national conversation about what America’s role in the world ought to be given our own strengths and weaknesses, given the way the international order has changed in many respects, given the emergence of new threats such as climate change. And I’m worried that we won’t have that kind of serious discussion or debate…I fear the election will end up being a missed opportunity.”

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Bibles, Jordahl Interview – Podcast November 13, 2023

Prosecuting Hate. Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Attorney Mik Jordahl and special guest, Judge Camille Bibles to discuss her experiences in international criminal law. Currently a federal magistrate judge, Bibles previously prosecuted war criminals as a trial attorney at The Hague.

After describing the various types of charges that come before the International Criminal Court, she notes, “The offenses that I prosecuted were genocide, crimes against humanities, and, really, war crimes and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.”

Some of those cases involved the massacre at Srebrenica – the genocidal killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian men and boys during the Bosnian War following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. “It was a brutal, brutal, brutal offense and spanned over…the killing machine operated over a series of days in July of 1995.”

The cases resulted in many convictions of Serbian commanders and the individuals involved including their leader, Ratko Mladic.

Asked how seeing evidence of the horrors presented during the trials had impacted her personally, she says, “Many, many things were difficult for all of us, and I think we all get hit differently. For me, the first time that I had a refugee in who had been sent back into his area – the idea was we were going to repopulate the areas where Bosnian Muslims and others had been driven out of – when he started crying, begging me to take him back to the United States, and described to me what it was like every night being there. And really talking to the witnesses – people who had been severely traumatized, people who had survived massacres – is extremely difficult. People who lost everything. It is work that takes a toll on the people engaged in it.”

Posted in Bigotry, Civil Society, Criminology, Genocide, Human Rights, International Terrorism, Interviews, Judicial System, Jurisprudence, Justice System, Legal Issues, Morality, Public Accountability | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bibles, Jordahl Interview – Podcast November 13, 2023

Podcast November 6, 2023

The Republican Plans To Destroy America. In this show, we look at Agenda 47, the 2025 Project, and Trump’s own words to determine what to expect should Trump or another Republican win the presidency in 2024.

In a new Republican administration, the first order of business is to create a new category of “Schedule F” civil servants that can be fired and replaced by the president and his senior political staff. It would, in effect, allow the president to clear out more than 50,000 thousand government employees and replace them with MAGA loyalists. (The Conservative Partnership led by The Heritage Foundation has already identified thousands of such willing foot soldiers.)

One of the goals of such a move is to weaponize the Department of Justice and the FBI to exact revenge on MAGA political enemies, including Biden, Merrick Garland, Jack Smith, Michael Cohen, John Kelly, Bill Barr, Mark Milley, Ty Cobb, and all the prosecutors behind the 91 criminal indictments against Donald J. Trump.

Almost immediately following the inauguration, the president would invoke the Insurrection Act in order to authorize the deployment of the U.S. military to control and punish any public demonstrations.

The plans also call for drastically shrinking or eliminating numerous federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency. the Department of Energy’s renewable energy office, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, and the FBI.

Of course, another priority would be to again cut taxes on corporations and the very wealthy.

And that’s just for starters.

In essence, under current plans, a new Republican administration would, in Trump’s words, call for “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

Posted in Abortion, Autocracy, Bigotry, Capital Punishment, Civil Liberties, Climate Change, Congressional Oversight, Conservative Paranoia, Constitutional Issues, Corporations, Corruption, De-regulation, Death Penalty, Department of Justice, Domestic Extremism, Domestic Violence, Drug Trafficking, Education, Elections, Energy Policy, Environmental Issues, Federal Lands, Foreign Policy, Front Organizations, Government, Housing, Immigration, Income Inequality, Intelligence Agencies, International Relations, Judicial System, Justice System, Legal Issues, LGBTQ Issues, Mass Media, Military, National Politics, Political Action Committees, Political Candidacy, Presidential Elections, Privatization, Public Education, Regulatory Agencies, Special Counsel Investigation, Taxation, Trade Policy, Voting, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Podcast November 6, 2023

Podcast October 30, 2023

A Real Fright. On Halloween Eve, host Steve Williamson and contributor Gary LaMaster discuss the scariest development in Washington DC this year – the selection of MAGA Mike Johnson as the 56th Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

In short, this relatively unknown backbencher was personally chosen by the twice-impeached, insurrection-leading, state and federally indicted, convicted sexual assaulter: Donald J. Trump.

So, who is MAGA Mike?

He served as a member of Trump’s legal defense team during Trump’s two Senate impeachment trials, and he was an architect of the legal challenges to the results of the 2020 election. Even more worrying, he’s an ultraconservative evangelical Southern Baptist who says his religion guides his political views.

For instance, Johnson doesn’t believe in evolution or separation of church and state. He likens homosexuality to bestiality. He is vehemently opposed to abortion having stated in a House hearing that if women were forced to have more children, i.e., future “able-bodied workers” we could solve our labor shortage.

Johnson has consistently voted against any measures intended to mitigate climate change, while accepting large campaign donations from the gas and oil industry. He also received illegal donations from a company controlled by Russian oligarchs. (Perhaps that’s why he opposes more aid to Ukraine.)

And he has called cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid his number one priority.

Posted in Abortion, Bigotry, Campaign Finance, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Conservatives and Reactionaries, Constitutional Issues, Dark Money, Domestic Extremism, Energy Policy, Foreign Affairs, Funding, Global Warming, Government, Immigration, LGBTQ Issues, Marriage Equality, Medicaid, Medicare, Minimum Wage, Misogyny, National Politics, Political Parties, Political Polarization, Presidential Elections, Religion, Russia, Social Security, Supreme Court, Theocracy, Ukraine, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Podcast October 30, 2023

Cole Interview – Podcast October 23, 2023

Sustained Horror. Steve and Karen welcome Juan Cole, professor of history at University of Michigan, Middle East expert, author, and editor of Informed Comment to discuss the Hamas/Israeli conflict.

Cole begins by offering historical context for the conflict, “There have been a series of gut punches with 1,400 Israeli lives lost and thousands wounded in horrific war crimes by Hamas. And then, in turn, the Israeli military has subjected this small and densely populated enclave of the Gaza strip – 2.2 million Palestinians – to very intensive bombing which, in the nature of the case, has produced very large numbers of civilian casualties with thousands dead and more thousands wounded.

“These are emotionally difficult times on both sides,” he says. “And we have to begin by acknowledging that, I think. In a way, I see this as a conflict between two refugee groups.”

He explains that the creation of Israel after World War II forced 750,000 Palestinians from their land and onto the Gaza strip. So, 70 percent of those who live in Gaza are descendants of those who were expelled from southern Israel. Then, in 1967, Israel seized Gaza and the West Bank and more or less colonized them, putting them under Israeli control. He says, “The Palestinians are without citizenship. They have no state. They are stateless, and people without a state don’t really have human rights.”

Cole notes that it’s an unsustainable situation. But he makes it clear that there is no justification whatsoever for the Hamas attack on civilians.

Posted in Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, International Relations, International Terrorism, Interviews, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Middle East Policy, Morality, Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, Refugees, Religion, Theocracy | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Cole Interview – Podcast October 23, 2023

Baker Interview – Podcast October 16, 2023

The Deficit, Inflation, Media, And Republican Dysfunction. Karen McClelland and Steve Williamson welcome acclaimed economist Dean Baker back to the show. Baker is co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

They begin by discussing the federal deficit. “It’s not as though it’s a catastrophe,” says Baker. “But it would help to have a lower deficit and, again, the obvious way would be through increasing taxes. We have very low taxes, particularly on high-income people. But the first and foremost thing is let’s get people to pay their taxes. And it’s one of the things that has been striking to me is how much resistance Republicans have put up to Biden’s proposal simply to give the IRS enforcement capability. They wrote these stories about IRS storm troopers. They’re total fiction. I mean, literally, the vast majority of these people are going to be accountants working in an IRS office and tax lawyers. They’re not going to be knocking down your door to inspect your house to see if you didn’t pay taxes on God knows what.”

Regarding inflation, Baker says, “We have a higher wage economy and prices are going to be higher. If we look back, our last big bout of inflation was the late 70s. Well, in the 80s we had Morning in America. People were celebrating. Prices didn’t go back down. We had 4 percent inflation in 1984 when Ronald Reagan was re-elected in a landslide.”

Baker notes that even though the economy is very good, Biden hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves. He explains, “You have the right doing everything they can to trash the economy with the idea that’s going to improve their prospects against Biden…it’s largely echoed by the center, and needless to say you have the social media where it’s non-stop. It’s hard to combat.”

Posted in Conservative Paranoia, Conspiracy Theories, Deficit Reduction, Disinformation, Domestic Policy, Economic Policy, Fiscal Policy, Government, Income Inequality, Inflation, Interviews, IRS, Jobs and Employment, Mass Media, Monetary Policy, National Politics, Political Lies, Tax and Investment Policy, Tax Law, Tax Revenues, Taxation, Taxes and the Deficit | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Baker Interview – Podcast October 16, 2023

Singal Interview – Podcast October 9, 2023

A Master Class In Politics Of The Day. Steve Williamson welcomes Dan Singal back to the show. Singal is a professor of history at Hobart and William Smith Colleges who has, in the past, offered our listeners great insights into national political races. More often than not, his prognostications have turned out to be accurate.

Today, he offers an optimistic view of the upcoming 2024 presidential election. But he also offers some warning signs.

Regarding the removal of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a possible government shutdown, he says, “First of all, I completely agree with you that this is worrisome for Democrats because voters who don’t pay very much attention, they see the chaos and blame that on Biden as much as on the Republicans. So that does, exactly as you say, worry me. The other thing I would point out: everyone is saying here that the blame lies with a small group of extremists. But the fact is, the Republican Party has gone so far to the right it has itself become an extremist political organization driven by all the crazies in its base.

As for the prospects of a second term for President Biden, Singal explains, “I have a feeling that as we get closer to the actual time – November 2024 – we’re going to see increasing seriousness in voters really starting to pay attention and what they’ll see when they look at the economy and Joe Biden, I think they’re going to like more and more.”

“I think Biden has done so well in getting his campaign off the ground early and organizing it the way he has. He’s done a terrific job. He’s a fabulous campaign manager and he’s running his campaign through the Democratic Party. And the whole point is that they’re going to work on the down ballot races as much as the presidential.

Posted in Arizona Politics, Conservatives and Reactionaries, Democratic Governance, Domestic Extremism, Economic Policy, Elections, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Funding, Government, Growth, Infrastructure Investment, International Relations, Interviews, Jobs and Employment, National Politics, Political Candidacy, Political Parties, Political Polarization, Presidential Elections, Ukraine, Unemployment, Voting | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Singal Interview – Podcast October 9, 2023

Sauer Interview – Podcast October 2, 2023

Recruiting Democratic Candidates In One Of America’s Reddest Counties. Steve Williamson, Karen McClelland and Holli Ploog welcome Kathleen Sauer, newly elected chair of the Yavapai County Democratic Party.

Asked how the organization is doing, Sauer replies, “We just had our major fundraiser…and it was very successful. We did very well raising funds and now we have got to get to work. Right now, we’re focusing on candidate recruitment. We’re reaching out to everybody in the county saying if you want to run for office or you know somebody, let us know who you are or that person is…we’ll reach out and get as many good candidates as we can for these offices…that’s our big push now.”

Sauer emphasizes, “It’s important to contest every race.”

Posted in Arizona Politics, Community Activism, Democratic Governance, Domestic Extremism, Education, Elections, Government, Interviews, Local Politics, National Politics, Pandemic, Political Candidacy, Political Clubs, Political Polarization, Public Service, Voting, Women's Rights | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Sauer Interview – Podcast October 2, 2023

Lenze Interview – Podcast September 25, 2023

The Growing Influence Of The Global South. Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Paul Lenze, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University to discuss the latest developments around the globe, including the conflict in Ukraine and our relationships with China and India.

Speaking of international relationships in general, Lenze explains, “Politics is politics. Economics is economics. It will always be there. Countries will always need to trade with one another. Friends will come and go. In international politics, the discussion is that we live in an anarchic world where states must do what is necessary to defend their national interests…That’s why you constantly see the shifting.”

As for the future, he says, “The world’s a complicated place but there is hope for peace down the road but it’s going to take a lot of concerted effort by both us here in the United States and also our allies to try and find some commonality that’s not just driven solely by economics. We have to care more about humans. That’s the important thing to think about.”

Posted in Afghanistan, Capitalism, China, Civil Liberties, Compassion, Corporations, Democratic Governance, Economic Policy, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, International Relations, Interviews, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Middle East Policy, Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, Political Theory, Russia, Trade Policy, Ukraine | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lenze Interview – Podcast September 25, 2023