Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TPM.

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.

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.

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

OJ, Dead at 76—Some Thoughts on the Man, the Fantasy and the Universal Text Prime Badge
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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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Trump Feels on the Run on Abortion

Today in Atlanta a reporter asked Trump whether he would sign a national abortion ban if Congress sent one to him as President. He said he would not. A clear “no.” He got asked again, and again said no. It should go without saying that there’s zero reason to believe him. If Congress passed such a law he would almost certainly sign it. But that’s not what’s interesting here. He very conspicuously did not say this in his abortion mini-speech on Monday. It’s not like he didn’t know that was an option. He and his campaign very strategically did not say this. Now he has. It is a very clear sign of just how much Trump and his campaign feel like they’re on the run and on the ropes on this issue, partly because the Monday announcement was generally ineffective and even more after the bombshell news yesterday out of Arizona. Just two days later and they’re already having to do repair work on his big announcement that was supposed to sidestep the issue for the campaign.

Biden’s campaign has settled on a very clear message they’re using in response to every new restriction and horror story. “Donald Trump did this.” It works because it’s true. Indeed, Trump himself has shown he’s unwilling and unable not to keep taking the same credit. Donald Trump did this. And he’s feeling the heat in a way his own campaign did not expect and so far is showing itself unable to deal with.

The GOP-Funded Spoiler Candidates Prime Badge
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Over the coming months we’re going to see a lot of articles about some secret plan Republicans have to totally undermine or destroy Democrats, like this one in the Times. These will all of course be pitched by Republicans eager to spread the word about their devious secret plans, pump up their partisans and demoralize Democrats. The one I’m flagging here has some of that. But it’s worth reading because it is what this campaign will almost inevitably come down to — third party candidates and whether Republicans will be able to elevate them enough to allow Donald Trump to win.

One thing we should expect is for all of the “major” third party candidates — Kennedy, Stein, West — to be funded in part by ultra-high-net-worth Republicans. That’s already happening to some degree.

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Big Fibbin’ Tim Sheehy and a Whopper as Big as Montana

TPM Reader JK checks in on a Montana Senate candidate’s absurd claims about his emergency room visit after he accidentally shot himself while visiting a National Park in Montana.

Speaking as a trauma surgeon, you’re absolutely right about Sheehy. There’s absolutely no reason for doctors to report a bullet in someone, unless it just got there. People come in with “retained missiles” all the time. If there’s a healed scar over it, it doesn’t matter at all – it just means they can’t get an MRI.  And of course it’s obvious when someone has been recently shot vs years ago. The whole story is complete nonsense from bottom to top.

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