The Jerusalem Post is an English-language Israeli paper which is probably best described as center-right-ish, though it’s hard to use these terms in a way that maps clearly to the way we use these terms in the US. It’s current editor-in-chief is Yaakov Katz who in a addition to being a journalist was at one point a national security advisor to Naftali Bennett, a key player in the current dance over the next Israeli government.
As I mentioned yesterday, the current crisis – really several overlapping crises – has been a boon for Prime Minister Netanyahu. At least in the short-term it short-circuited all efforts to form a government to replace him. A key part of why is the aforementioned Bennett. Bennett is an erstwhile Netanyahu protege or junior ally. He’s part of the Israeli right and comes out of Religious Zionism, basically Revisionist Zionism koshered with Orthodoxy. Before the last week’s cascade of violence he was negotiating joining a government created by opposition leader Yair Lapid. It likely would have involved the two sharing the Prime Ministership and Bennett taking the position first. (Not bad for a guy whose party garnered only 7 seats out of 120.)
COVID vaccination, for all the slowdown, remains fast moving across the United States. It seems likely we’ll see a brief surge in shots as parents bring their 12-15 year olds in for their shots. But we’re already seeing the emergence of what in the later months of 2021 is like to be two separate Americas as defined by COVID.
This is a map from the CDC vaccine data portal.
I had missed this article about a very sobering study about the post-acute-illness impact of COVID. Most of us are now familiar with ‘long COVID’, people who continue to have various health problems long after they are past the period acute COVID infection. Some people simply don’t fully recover. Other have various knock-on symptoms or what appear to be recurrences of COVID, even if these are not actually new infections and illness. This study catalogs the likely impact of this phenomenon at scale. They say it will be a protracted health crisis for years to come, both in the US and around the world. The study also found that even people with mild cases of COVID have an elevated risk of death in the six months after they recover. This risk increases with the severity of the original illness.
There’s a lot of stunning and yet not at all surprising information in a new big poll out from Democracy Corps. In short, in battleground states Republicans are pretty much totally united and energized behind Trump, the Big Lie-centric posture of congressional Republicans and well-positioned for 2022. That doesn’t mean Democrats won’t also be united and pumped up. But any questions you may have had about Republicans being divided, demoralized or any essence having second thoughts about the events of the last six months … well, they’re not.
Here’s the overview from Democracy Corps and here’s the whole report. The fine points are a bit more nuanced than I put it above. But not much …
We conducted a large, mostly cell phone survey with an oversample of Republicans in the 2022 battleground for the U.S. Senate, governorships, and House, and it is painfully clear Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, and Kevin McCarthy know their party. The Trump loyalists who strongly approve of him are two thirds of those who identify as, “Republican.” And they are joined by the Trump aligned to form a breathtaking, three quarters of the party in the electoral battleground states and districts that will decide who leads the country.
All of Israel-Palestine is on fire today. There is a recurrence of the mix of Hamas rockets from Gaza and overwhelming military response from Israel which we’ve seen episodically over the last 15 years. It’s as horrible as it was each earlier time. You can choose who you think is more to blame. But it is not new. Violence is now erupting in the West Bank. But most novel is outbreak of what the Israeli police chief is calling an ‘internal intifada’, widespread inter-communal violence within Israel proper, particularly in cities with relatively mixed populations, especially Lod.
In these towns there have been Jewish mobs attacking Arab civilians and Arab mobs attacking Jewish civilians. This isn’t unprecedented in Israel proper. But it is certainly at a different and more widespread level than anything seen in many decades. Each dimension of the crisis is distinct but deeply related. They all grow from the century-old conflict over who controls the land between the Jordan River and the sea. But the immediate trigger was violence by far-right Jewish groups against Arab civilians in East Jerusalem and related efforts to evict a group of Arab families from homes allegedly owned by Jews in East Jerusalem. That in itself was, as I’ve argued, tied to the on-going political crisis within Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s increasingly desperate reliance on the far-right Kahanist movement and its electoral leader, MK Itamar Ben Gvir, to remain in power.
What I want to focus on is a clear political reality. This may look catastrophic but it is actually an unalloyed win for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Open and shut. Not even close.
I hear a backdraft of warnings that Rep. Liz Cheney, recently defenestrated from the clown house which is the House GOP caucus, could ride her fame and adulation with the center and the left all the way to the White House. So stop with all the wild praise of Liz Cheney! Because it could in fact saddle us with a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary as President.
First of all, I don’t see anyone wildly praising Liz Cheney, white washing her record of deeply awful policies or really anything else. Some folks, who shall remain nameless, seem to have a great desire to manufacture this deeply frivolous caricature person for their own ends. But as far as I can see that person does not exist.
What I see are a lot of people who have a clear sense of who Cheney is but are giving her grudging credit for making a stand, at an apparently high political and professional cost, not even so much for what is “right” but simply for what is reality. The election was not stolen. Donald Trump is not the rightful President. The insurrection did in fact happen and insurrections are bad. Very bad. When the republic is in imminent peril we shouldn’t be creating litmus tests for who is allowed to defend it. Roosevelt and Churchill made common cause with Stalin to defeat Hitler. None of this is complicated.
But could Cheney ride her newfound political celebrity to the presidency, with all her odious politics and policies in tow? The short answer is no. Unfortunately for Cheney the long answer is also no. And in fact the very long and long-term answer is also no.
Let’s discuss this.
I agree with TPM Reader JL about McConnell’s “red line” …
So McConnell says that GOP won’t revisit the 2017 corporate tax cuts. It seems to me that would be a perfect exit ramp for the negotiations. Biden can say he tried to negotiate with Republicans but they won’t revisit an unpopular tax cut that only benefit corporations and the rich and didn’t deliver the promised boom in capital expenditures.
Of course, Manchin still holds a lot of the cards so it’s more complicated than that. But still …
One of the hearings today on Capitol Hill was with former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. This was another Big Lie/January 6th hearing. And Rosen caught a lot of grief for refusing to discuss what happened during his January 3rd meeting with President Trump. Rosen seemed to be hinting at assertions of privilege but wouldn’t quite say why he was refusing. A logical read is that Rosen – who after all got the acting gig because Trump thought he was reliable – was still covering for Trump. But it’s not the only possible explanation, nor the most interesting one.
Let’s recall that ex-Presidents have zero privileges to assert as President. They still have lawyer-client privilege for communications in their personal capacity during their presidency. But they have zero power to assert any of the privileges unique to presidents. Only the current President can do that, i.e., Joe Biden. In practice, President’s have long deferred to former Presidents in decisions over privilege for a variety of reasons. But it is entirely the current President’s call. Rosen said he was operating under the guidance of the current DOJ. So let’s pull that thread and see where it might lead.
The big story is that Liz Cheney was ousted from her leadership position for not supporting the Big Lie of the stolen election and for not endorsing the insurrection. But we knew that was coming. The big story today had to do with how the vote was held. These are usually recorded votes and secret ballots. That was the case last month when Cheney retained her position by a decisive margin. Today it was a voice vote. After the vote, as Tierney Sneed notes here, a request for a recorded vote was denied.
This tells you the real story of what happened here.
As you’ve likely seen, what began as civil disturbances in East Jerusalem has cycled into a full scale military engagement between Israel and the Hamas quasi-state in Gaza. Every level of these issues trace back more than a century, or decades, depending on which dimension of the interlocking stalemates you look at. But we shouldn’t ignore the way this particular conflagration has been spurred and accelerated by the protracted crisis of government within Israel itself. Having helped drive the crisis, Benjamin Netanyahu, now acting as the caretaker Prime Minister, has little incentive to deescalate it.