Wednesday, October 25th, 2023


The Coming Johnson Era

As defendants keep flipping in cases against Donald Trump's scheme to overturn the election, Donald Trump keeps flipping GOP House members in favor of codifying that election denial as a core party principle. Tom Emmer, who voted to certify the 2020 election results, saw his nomination for House Speaker fizzle after a few hours and a few calls from the Trump camp. And today, a (until this week) low profile Lousiana Rep, who the NYT once described as "the most important architect of the Electoral College objections" received unanimous support from the House GOP and has been elected as Speaker of the House. This is big news for Trump. It's big news for the Congress. And it's also big news for the 2024 election. After all, the votes in that presidential election have to be certified, too. Mike Johnson, a staunch conservative from Louisiana, is elected House speaker with broad GOP support.

+ "Johnson's efforts to hand Donald Trump an unelected second term are no mere biographical detail. His work on behalf of Trump's autogolpe is the primary source of his leadership claim and the central reason he has managed to unify the party." NY Mag: House Speaker Nominee Mike Johnson Was the Mastermind of the January 6 Plot.

+ Johnson has pushed for a national abortion ban and when discussing the "so-called separation of church and state" says, "the founders wanted to protect the church from an encroaching state, not the other way around." Who is new House Speaker Mike Johnson?

+ Dan Pfeiffer argues that "if Democrats could design in a lab the perfect candidate to run against, that person would look a lot like Mike Johnson." (Even if the pick is a bad longterm pick for the GOP, it's not a good path for America.)

+ While we're on the topic of challenging election results... "Nearly a quarter of Americans (23%) agree that "because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country,' according to the survey. This is up from 15% in 2021." NPR: More Americans say they support political violence ahead of the 2024 election.


Betting on the Spread

"The Houthis surprised the Pentagon last Thursday by launching a string of attack drones and long-range cruise missiles from Yemen that U.S. defense officials say were destined for Israel but intercepted by the USS Carney, an American guided missile destroyer, over the Red Sea. The Houthis have threatened in the past to strike Israel in support of Tehran and its Mideast allies." And that's just one element of a complex array of potential players that could make for a much wider regional war. "Missile strikes from Yemen. Killings in the West Bank. Attacks on U.S. troops in Syria. And that's before Israel officially launches a ground invasion of Gaza." Politico: Biden is worried about wider war in the Middle East.

+ Leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah holds talks with senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad figures.

+ There have been some reports that "Israel is delaying a planned ground operation in Gaza as the US seeks to bolster air defenses for its forces in the Middle East, which have been targeted in a series of missile and drone attacks."

+ The Atlantic: The Axis of Resistance Has Been Gathering Strength. "When the U.S. stepped back from the Middle East, Iran stepped up."

+ "Since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on October 7, at least 24 journalists have been killed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The NGO says that's more than in every previous war in Gaza since 2001." Reporters in Gaza Turn to Radios and Generators to Keep the News Moving.

+ Queen Rania of Jordan is complaining that media isn't giving the suffering of innocent Palestinians enough coverage. "Why isn't there a call for an immediate ceasefire? We are seeing staggering human suffering happening today, so why is the narrative always skewed towards the Israeli side? The Western media and policymakers are quick to adopt the Israeli narratives." (I visit 50-75 news outlets a day and over the past week, I've seen a ton of coverage focused on the death, destruction, and humanitarian emergency in Gaza.)

+ More countries urging a humanitarian pause, Bibi says ground invasion still to come, France sending ship to support Gaza hospitals. Here's the latest from CNN, BBC, and NBC.

+ And if you missed it yesterday, I shared some personal takes on the situation: "People often ask me how I can consume so much bad news and not suffer from a paralyzing depression. The answer is pretty simple: I use my coverage of the news to deflect the associated emotions. It's a defense mechanism. My job isn't to feel something about the news, it's to make you feel something about it. But in the days after October 7, the strategy is not working."


The Age Age

"As the nation heads into an election year, American politics can look much like a gerontocracy, with the most likely presidential nominees being two men who would be octogenarians in the White House ... Yet even beyond Washington, a geriatric elite also controls many other aspects of an aging society, to such an extent that in some professions there are deep concerns about how those roles will be filled in decades to come. In medicine, big business, farming, construction trades, and across much of the American economy, the workforce is getting older and older. In the leadership ranks, the elderly are increasingly staying in command." WaPo (Gift Article): Older Americans are dominating like never before, but what comes next? (What comes next is any of you younger newsletter writers getting the hell of my lawn.)


Pit Stop

"Once the plane landed in Portland, Emerson allegedly told police officers that he hadn't slept in 40 hours and believed he was experiencing a nervous breakdown. The complaint says he also spoke to them about using psychedelic mushrooms for the first time, along with his recent struggles with depression. 'I pulled both emergency shut off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up.'" As we learn more about the scary and weird story about the off-duty pilot who tried to crash an SFO bound flight, it just gets scarier and weirder. 'I'm not okay': Pilots allege terrifying struggle in cockpit of SFO flight.


Extra, Extra

With Extreme Prejudice: After Jan 6, we know groups like the Oath Keepers are active. Are they also active inside police forces? "An investigation by WBEZ, Chicago Sun-Times and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found allegations of excessive force, improper searches and racist comments on the job." Extremism in the Ranks.

+ Road Less Traveled: More Texas counties are trying to prevent people from using specific roads to get an abortion.

+ Hit the Brakes: "Cruise can still test its vehicles with human safety drivers behind the wheel. But its robotaxi permit that allowed it to pick up and drop off passengers in driverless vehicles has been suspended." California DMV suspends Cruise's robotaxi permit effective immediately.

+ Otis Operandi: "Hurricane Otis knocked out all communications and unleashed a 'nightmare scenario' in Acapulco in southern Mexico in Wednesday morning after the storm rapidly intensified into a Category 5 just before landfall and gave officials and residents little time to prepare." (In terms of advance coverage, this one seemed to come out of nowhere.)

+ Gag Proof: "It was the second time in less than a week that Trump was penalized for his out-of-court comments." Trump is fined $10,000 over a comment he made outside court in his New York civil fraud trial. Meanwhile, things got weird and heated at the fraud trial.


Bottom of the News

One nice advantage to having Jimmy Kimmel as a father is when dad picks up a hitchhiker on the way to school. Olivia Rodrigo Surprises Jimmy Kimmel's Kids. (Jimmy, please let me and my daughter know if Taylor Swift ever needs a ride.)

+ "The four-year-old shapewear brand is expanding beyond female clothing and into men's products, with a new lineup launching Thursday that includes briefs, undershirts, boxers and leggings." Kim Kardashian is making Skims for men.