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Update From The Courthouse …

As I mentioned in today’s Morning Memo, TPM’s Josh Kovensky arrived at the courthouse in Manhattan at 6 a.m. ET to stand in the press line. Two and a half hours later, he was denied access because the press room had filled up.

Good news! Through patience and persistence, Kovensky kept waiting even though there wasn’t really a press line any more and somehow it worked. He is now inside the courthouse and will be able to report on jury selection for us.

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Call It What It is

Things can change in a moment. But the clearest sign out of Israel this morning is Benny Gantz (et al.) statement that Israel will respond to Iran at a time of its own choosing. That’s a pretty clear signal there is not going to be immediate retaliation and that’s what the White House wanted and demanded. As I noted yesterday, Israel itself has very big reasons not to involve itself in an open-ended conflict right now, as much as all its muscle memory and defense doctrines demand a swift and overwhelming retaliation. But I want to note what we’ve seen here from the perspective of U.S. policy.

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Follow Up

I assume we’ll know a lot more about what happened here by tomorrow. But I wanted to comment on one aspect of what happened tonight in the skies over Israel. One theory seems to be that Iran fired off a bunch of drones and missiles which it knew Israel would be able to intercept in the great majority of cases. In other words, they get to strike an apparent heavy blow (good for restoring honor/credibility) but with the knowledge the blow wouldn’t really land. So they can avoid regional war/escalation.

Earlier in the evening I was thinking something like this. But the more I hear the less that seems credible to me. Current reports suggest Iran fired some three hundred aerial devices, both missiles and drones, at Israel. A substantial number of those were surface-to-surface missiles. The U.S. appears to have shot down upwards of a hundred of those with anti-missile destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and fighter jets intercepting from the air. Some of the more technical reporting I’ve seen explains how the U.S. destroyers could specifically augment Israel’s ballistic missile defenses. So not just adding more defenses to what Israel has and not just better ones, but interlocking the two, as it were, to create something much stronger.

Let me add the important caveat and that I’m of course no expert on missile warfare. But it just doesn’t add up to me that Iran fired off that much hardware and was confident that few if any of them would find their targets in Israel. The U.S. also seems to have played a very big role in the result, perhaps as many as a third of the shootdowns with other Arab states likely shooting down a small number themselves. If it was just a performative light show I don’t think you’d need the U.S. to be that heavily involved.

What all of that would amount to is that Iran really struck hard at Israel but seems to have failed almost completely. I’m not sure this totally adds up to me. But at least for now it seems more credible to me than the other theory.


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What Just Happened?

9:27 PM: We have a complicated and, if it weren’t so dangerous, fascinating mix of developments. I will try to hit some key points.

Iran appears to have fired or launched at least two hundred drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles against Israel. The overwhelming majority of them appear to have been shot down. The impacts where they happened appear to have caused minor damage, mostly around military bases. One boy in the South was gravely injured by shrapnel falling from the sky. But that seems to be the extent of injuries in the entire country. This was a massive attack from Iranian soil directly on Israel. To the best of my knowledge Iran has never attacked Israel directly from Iranian territory. This blows through a forest of red lines. At the same time the damage appears to be extremely limited.

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Iran Retaliatory Attack

I’m going to use this thread to try to give you as best I can tell the most current information on what’s unfolding between Israel and Iran.

5:59 PM: Iranian state news services are now claiming they’ve launched a wave of ballistic missiles. I say claim because we’re deep in the fog of war here. And the use of ballistic missiles will take this situation into very different territory. They also arrive at their targets very quickly.

5:34 PM: Not surprising but still notable: the UK military also appears to be involved in the shootdown effort. It is highly interesting to me that there are credible reports of the Jordanian and Saudi militaries already targeting parts of the Iranian attack. The Houthi militia in Yemen has apparently also entered the fray. Less clear what if anything is happening with other “axis of resistance” proxies in Lebanon, Syria or Iraq.

5:27 PM: We now have closed airspace in Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. This isn’t surprising. It would be insane to have anything but military aircraft in the air right now. Multiple militaries and air defenses will be shooting anything in the air out of the sky. But still a measure of the moment.

5:18 PM: From my limited understanding of these things, Israel, the U.S. and others should be able to intercept most of these attacks, perhaps even the great majority of these drones and missiles. The much bigger question is what Israel will feel compelled to do in response.

5:13 PM: Drones take nine or ten hours to get from Iran to Israel. Cruise missiles three to four hours.

5:04 PM: In the last hour Iran launched a large armada of “suicide” drones against Israel, apparently in two or three waves. Israel, Jordan and probably other countries have totally closed their air space. Basically, anything in the air is going to be shot out of the sky. There are further reports that Iran has launched a volley of missiles, presumably cruise missiles. But that later detail seems less clear. There have been a number of on-the-record reports that the U.S. and Israel are currently tracking drones en route to Israel. The confirmation that cruise missiles have already been launched is less clear. It’s quite possible the drones — which can be shot down in most cases — are meant to saturate air defenses and allow other more lethal munitions to get through. That’s about all we know at the moment. Iran and Israel are not close to each other. These things take hours to get from one place to another. It is clear that the U.S. and almost certainly regional allies are actively involved in trying to shoot all of these things down.

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Trump Cornered Like the Feral Beast He Is In the Abortion Crisis of His Own Making

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Trump Cornered Like the Feral Beast He Is In the Abortion Crisis of His Own Making

It is bracing, remarkable and simply amazing to watch the sheer panic among Republicans, and especially Donald Trump, in reaction to the Arizona Supreme Court decision which put the state back under the near-absolute 1864 abortion ban. We talked a few days ago about Kari Lake’s desperate attempts to get out of the way of the backlash. Today Donald Trump went on Truth Social and demanded that Gov. Katie Hobbs and the Republican state legislature “remedy what has happened.” But if you look at what he says he doesn’t seem willing to call for anything more than adding rape and incest to the list of possible exceptions under the 1864 law? “We must ideally have three Exceptions for Rape, Incest, and the Life of the Mother.”

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OJ, Dead at 76—Some Thoughts on the Man, the Fantasy and the Universal Text

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OJ, Dead at 76—Some Thoughts on the Man, the Fantasy and the Universal Text

OJ Simpson’s death today at 76 seems and by all rights should be a smallish blip on the news horizon. He hasn’t been a public figure of any consequences in more than 26 years and he hasn’t been a truly public one in the sense of being successful or beloved in 30. But it’s still some milestone because of what a seismic event his killing of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, and his subsequent trial truly were.

There are so many dimensions of this event you could write whole books about — a good half a dozen meta-topics spring to mind without even giving the matter much thought. Though it was essentially a pre-internet story, it was unique to the early cable news era, a kind of progenitor of today — CNN, national tabloid culture, the birth of commentator culture. In a way it created each. The story had this criss-crossed relationship with racism and the country’s racial politics and the state of the criminal justice system, one which was upended, hopelessly upside down and yet somehow deeply true. It was at heart of horribly ordinary story about chronic spousal violence which finally escalated to murder. There was the DNA, the glove, the perjurious racist cop. The whole thing was like a universal text.

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Listen To This: It’s 1864 In Arizona

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Kate and Josh discuss Arizona’s new, near-total abortion ban and what it means for the 2024 elections.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

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For Real? Sometimes it pays to take a step back and soak in the sheer absurdity of Trump and the current moment. It remains true that he and his movement are a threat to the Republic and the constitutional order while at the same time being a comical combination of goofy, ridiculous, preposterous, and transparently absurd.

All Systems Go: Juan Merchan, the trial judge in the New York hush-money case, batted down on Friday Donald Trump’s final attempt to delay today’s start of the trial, and he did so with flourish.

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