Yesterday The New York Times published a major article about Hamas’ October 7th massacres in southern Israel. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, I’m going to provide a brief summary and then share a few thoughts on how to contextualize the news.
The gist is that Israel had a lot of intelligence about Hamas’ plans to mount an attack something like the one that occurred on October 7th. And in the last year, Israeli intelligence got ahold of plans for an attack pretty much exactly like the one that unfolded on October 7th. (The Israelis gave the plan, some forty pages in length, the code name “Jericho Wall.”) But mid-level and, in some cases, high-level intelligence and military leaders dismissed the intelligence, considering it either aspirational, something Hamas lacked the resources to accomplish or something that conflicted with its current strategy of seeking “quiet” to focus on effective governance within Gaza.Read More
It’s hard to know where to start with this. But here goes.
Christian Ziegler is the chairman of the Florida Republican party. His wife Bridget is a member of the Sarasota County School Board and cofounder of Moms for Liberty. Today Trident News revealed that Christian Ziegler is currently under criminal investigation after a woman accused him of raping her. The woman filed a complaint with the Sarasota Police Department on October 4th; the alleged rape took place on October 2nd.
The story gets significantly more complicated.
According to the woman’s complaint she was involved in a consensual three-way sexual relationship with Christian and Bridget Ziegler. Christian Ziegler recorded videos of the threesome having sex together. Sources told Trident that police have done a forensic examination of Christian Ziegler’s phone, possibly looking for evidence of those videos.Read More
Henry Kissinger’s death yesterday at the grand, round age of 100 was greeted with a broad chorus of “It’s about times” and “good riddances” and “go straight to hells.” I have always been fascinated by the intensity of the animus toward the man. And to be clear: that’s not because I necessarily disagree with the verdict.
In the quickest possible summary, during his roughly eight years as first National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State, Kissinger spearheaded or oversaw two broad policies which account for most, but by no means all, of what that vituperation is about.Read More
I wanted to flag to your attention this post by John Ganz, someone who, if you’re not familiar with him, is well worth becoming familiar with. Ganz and I see the questions about Israel, the Palestinians and Zionism differently. Indeed I disagree with the title of the post I’m sending you to. But what is most important in writing, especially in commentary, is not that it be “right” but that it be illuminating. Reading what is “right” is often reading a more polished version of what we already think — the utility of which is limited. Ganz manages to approach these questions with insight as well as texture and elegance, no simple feat.
On that matter of disagreement, I want to note something about what I have written on this issue. If you read carefully, I seldom make positive arguments for any particular position or question on this topic. I tend to point up what I see as disconnects or inconsistencies in pat arguments and responses. This is partly temperamental. I don’t like making arguments or claims that aren’t packaged with strong and concrete defenses. It’s also because with all the internal media and imagery there’s a huge amount of what is going on that we simply don’t know. One such question is whether Israel’s retaliation in response to the October 7th massacres is justified.Read More
I had a clarifying moment this early afternoon sharing notes with TPM Reader MH via email. This was about the situation in Israel/Palestine but more particularly how it is impacting both people’s views and politics in the United States. What I think has happened is that the events, which began with the Hamas massacres in southern Israel on October 7th and has continued with Israel’s merciless retaliation, has pushed the discussion among not just Democrats but everyone to the left of the 50 yard line of American politics from “should Israeli policy be different” to “should Israel exist.”
The first is fairly unifying. The second is profoundly divisive and, for a non-trivial chunk of the Democratic coalition, existential.Read More
We’re back to another of those comical developments in the Republican Party and it’s relationship with its leader, Donald Trump. This morning the Koch Network announced it is supporting Nikki Haley, former South Carolina Governor and the latest forlorn hope of the billionaires who fund the GOP. She joins the heap of broken political bodies like Ron DeSantis, Glenn Youngkin and others. It raises the question: Does this completely not matter or mostly not matter? It may surprise you to learn that I’m only at “mostly doesn’t matter.” There may actually be some limited significance.
When I first started writing this post I decided to double check the latest polls. Haley is in the midst of a meteoric rise in pundit and GOP elite esteem. Lots of observers point either to polls or other evidence suggesting that if only Haley could win the nomination she’d be a lock to beat President Biden. (I actually doubt that’s true. But that’s a different story.) Candidly, I was surprised by just how much Trump is now crushing the entire GOP field. Trump is no longer sitting at about 50% or so in a big field, what by really any measure is more than enough to make him nominee. He’s now consistently 10% or 15% higher. He’s no longer at 50% support. He’s now usually 50% or more ahead of the second place vote getter.
What Haley is now accomplishing is being on the verge of surpassing the crumpled carcass of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Enough to win the small trinket, not the full stuffed animal at the fair.Read More
November 13th marked our 23rd anniversary at TPM. During these past 23 years I’ve managed to write as much as I have because I kept to a simple approach, which was following whatever aspect of US politics and political culture interested me most. This worked because it combined the exertion and mental energy most put toward ‘work’ with the off-hours hobbies, life, downtime and, if possible, fun we do outside of work. One might also call this obsession. But it worked in terms of productivity, focus and drive. Indeed, for those who enjoy the Editors’ Blog one of the things that makes it compelling is following the idiosyncrasies of my interests and particular storylines I latch on to. Or, so many are saying …
But over the last couple months that pattern has shifted for me in that my mind has been heavily preoccupied by something that isn’t US politics. The Israel-Hamas war has a clear bearing on US politics. Some people think it could turn the 2024 presidential election, though I suspect its salience will decrease dramatically over the coming months, as most big news stories do. At the moment it’s the dominant national news story in the US and has been for weeks. But it’s not really a US story. More importantly my interest in it goes far beyond its bearings on US politics. So I’ve been aware that my focus has shifted from things at the heart of US politics toward subject matter that is, in many ways parochial, communal and personal. And that’s not what TPM is about, at least not in its current iteration.
And it’s not like we’re in a slow period in American politics. But there we are.Read More
While we’re still in the extended Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you, especially our members but all of our readers, on behalf of everyone at TPM. We literally couldn’t do it without you. It’s a member funded publication. The overwhelming percentage of our revenue comes directly from your monthly and annual membership fees.
We are, paradoxically and oddly at this point, a huge success story, in this strange relative sense of moving forward, having stable finances and getting ready for a hugely consequential election. This would be normal and unremarkable if not for the fact that almost everyone else is struggling or going under. It’s entirely because of our readers and their dedication to what we do. You’ve consistently been there for us. Which is amazing. And we thank you for it.
In addition to keeping us solvent it has also been a liberation for us inasmuch as basically our entire focus, both editorially and in terms of our business, is reader satisfaction. That should be the case for any successful publication. But when most of the revenue comes from advertising much of that focus is only indirect. You need to keep readers happy because without happy readers you can’t keep the advertisers happy. They’re the source of the money.
If you’re looking to do us another solid, let me remind you we’re trying to hire a new reporter and we’re looking to spread the word. You can see more on that here.
Thank you and have a great rest of the weekend.
After an email exchange TPM Reader TW flagged to my attention this Times symposium on the Oslo Process. It’s quite good, better than we usually have any business expecting from daily journalism. If you’re too young to remember the Oslo years or aren’t familiar with it, you’ll learn a lot from reading it. It’s quick and conversational, not a challenging read. If you are familiar you’ll probably learn some new nuances and details. The gist and one many of us know is that peace was genuinely sought after by both sides and I think it was really possible. History is full of contingencies, things that might have gone one way or another. Those contingencies build on each other to create what is usually the illusion of inevitability. But there were also basic structural flaws to the process and the standing participants which led to failure.
The core structural flaw was that the process was open-ended. In theory there was a five year deadline, but just what was supposed to happen over that five years or what end state it would arrive at at the end of five years was never clear. That meant that enemies of the process on both sides had plenty of time to destroy it. And they were able to do that because the players in power on the both sides were weak.Read More
In a few recent posts we’ve discussed the question of whether one state or two states is the most logical or possible resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (You can see my argument here.) A few days ago TPM Reader RC sent me this April Foreign Affairs article, Israel’s One-State Reality. It was written by three scholars at GW and another at the University of Maryland. The piece was interesting to me because it illustrates a lot of what the one state argument is really about. As the title suggests, the article is not so much an argument that one state in Israel-Palestine is a solution to anything but an assertion that it is the current reality.
In other words, Israel’s not a country that functions as a democracy while controlling occupied territories whose final status will be decided at some point in the future. It’s a single country in which all Jews have political and civil rights and most Palestinians have limited civil rights and no political rights. Given that the post-67 occupation has persisted for 56 years, this argument has many merits to it. But what is the import of that assertion? In itself it’s simply a definitional claim. That part comes next. It’s an argument for the withdrawal of US support and some escalating framework of sanctions to compel Israel to come up to international standards in which one ethnic group or most of it facing systemic legal discrimination just isn’t okay.Read More