We begin today with Mary Ellen McIntire, Laura Weiss, and Allen Quigley of Roll Call reporting that the race for House Speaker is still up in the air with House Majority Leader Steve “David Duke without the baggage” Scalise not yet having the 218 votes needed to become Speaker.
Several conservatives said they won’t support Scalise on the floor, even as his top rival for the job, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is supporting him and encouraging others to do so. Instead of kicking off the formal nominating speeches and votes on the floor Wednesday after coming into session at 3 p.m., Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick T. McHenry recessed the chamber.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, later told reporters there wouldn’t be any votes in the House on Wednesday. Roy, a Jordan supporter, said he opposed a quick floor vote on Wednesday so soon after the conference nominating meeting, which didn’t wrap up until Wednesday afternoon, and that he wouldn’t back Scalise if the vote occurred the same day. […]
The House adjourned for the night before 7 p.m. An advisory from House Democrats said votes were “possible” Thursday, and the chamber is scheduled to gavel back into session at noon.
Almost as soon as the vote totals were announced, multiple House Republicans vowed to not back Mr. Scalise on the floor. He can afford at most four defections to avoid an embarrassing repeat of Mr. McCarthy’s 15 rounds of voting back in January. They raised questions about Mr. Scalise’s leadership capabilities, his legislative strategy and even his health status as he battles blood cancer.
Republicans who wanted the House to move fast were now demanding that things be slowed down. […]
Other Republicans thought Wednesday’s closed-door conference meeting was that further discussion. They were following what has been the process for congressional leadership elections for decades. A top slot comes open, candidates emerge, they twist arms, make promises, court support and hold issue forums to answer questions. A secret ballot is held, and the winner is the party’s choice. That’s it. But to the consternation of Mr. Scalise’s backers, some on the short end of Wednesday’s 113-to-99 vote seemed to want a do-over.[…]
The fact that many Republicans were unwilling to consider the case closed was stunning considering the history of leadership contests on Capitol Hill. Losers have generally accepted their fate and gotten behind the winners in their party’s political interests. While they might not always have been enthusiastic about the outcome, they did not buck the party and try to overturn it or challenge it. Certainly there have been a few defections, but nothing on the scale of Republicans abandoning Mr. Scalise.
Madiba K. Dennie of Balls and Strikes reports on the willingness of the majority conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court to maintain a racially gerrymandered district in South Carolina.
After the most recent census, South Carolina Republicans worked so hard to reduce Black electoral power while redrawing the state’s congressional maps that a lower court described them as “effectively bleaching” a key congressional district. Today, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP to determine if this electoral Clorox poses any constitutional problem. After two hours of questioning, the Court’s Republican justices seem inclined to conclude it does not. […]
On Wednesday, the liberal justices peppered the legislature’s attorney with questions that emphasized that the legal standard is not on his side. When he argued that the lower court didn’t weigh the evidence as he thought it should have, Justice Kagan was audibly irritated. “That’s the legal error, is that they didn’t correctly weigh the evidence?” she asked. Justice Sotomayor similarly observed that the lawmakers were “in a very poor starting point,” and described herself as “really troubled” by the absence of any apparent clear error.
After Justice Samuel Alito asked a series of pointed questions about whether the district court evaluated the evidence properly, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson pushed back in the form of a polite question. “I didn’t know that we were to evaluate whether we agreed or disagreed with each of their findings,” she said. “Do I not understand what the clear error standard is?”
Adam Liptak of The New York Times notes a disturbing practice by the U.S. Supreme Court.
We say that the Supreme Court decides cases, but that is not correct. It picks isolated questions to answer, often choosing among ones proposed by the parties or writing ones of its own.
That practice adds a disturbing element of politics to the judicial process, said Benjamin B. Johnson, a law professor at the University of Florida and the author of three recent papers on the subject.
“They are no longer doing what a court does, which is deciding cases,” he said. “They’re now doing what a legislature does, which is answering discrete policy questions.” […]
This sort of cherry-picking and revision, Professor Johnson said, is on the rise. “What was once a relatively rare occurrence now makes up between a tenth and a quarter of the docket,” he said.
The practice is problematic, he added. “This arrangement may serve the court’s institutional interests,” he wrote in the Columbia Law Review, “but it also pulls the court into politics.”
Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria of Mr. Legum’s “Popular Information” Substack look into two secretive organization where Charles Koch is funneling billions of dollars.
According to a profile published Tuesday in Forbes, in 2022, Koch donated $4.3 billion in Koch Industries stock to Believe in People, a newly formed 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. The organization is run by Koch’s inner circle, including Chase Koch, his son, Dave Robertson, co-CEO of Koch Industries, and Brian Hooks, the co-author of Charles Koch’s last book. The organization is so new, it has no publicly available filings.
In 2020, Koch also donated $975 million in Koch Industries stock to CCKc4, another 501(c)4 organization controlled exclusively by Chase Koch. (The organization’s name is his initials.) In its 2020 IRS filing, CCKc4 listed its mission as “N/A.”
But while little is known about the current activities of Believe in People or CCKc4, as 501(c)4 organizations, a large percentage of their assets — in this case, billions of dollars — can be spent directly on political campaigns. Koch was able to make this money available for political spending without paying a dime in taxes.
Yuval Noah Harari writes for The Washington Post attributing Israel’s embrace of populism as a factor in leaving it vulnerable to the horrifying attack by Hamas.
So how did it happen? How did the state of Israel go missing in action?
On one level, Israelis are paying the price for years of hubris, during which our governments and many ordinary Israelis felt we were so much stronger than the Palestinians, that we could just ignore them. There is much to criticize about the way Israel has abandoned the attempt to make peace with the Palestinians and has held for decades millions of Palestinians under occupation.
But this does not justify the atrocities committed by Hamas, which in any case has never countenanced any possibility for a peace treaty with Israel and has done everything in its power to sabotage the Oslo peace process. Anyone who wants peace must condemn and impose sanctions on Hamas and demand the immediate release of all hostages and Hamas’s complete disarmament. […]
The real explanation for Israel’s dysfunction is populism rather than any alleged immorality. For many years, Israel has been governed by a populist strongman, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a public-relations genius but an incompetent prime minister. He has repeatedly preferred his personal interests over the national interest and has built his career on dividing the nation against itself. He has appointed people to key positions based on loyalty more than qualifications, took credit for every success while never taking responsibility for failures, and seemed to give little importance to either telling or hearing the truth.
Zack Beauchamp of Vox takes a look at how we should look at the mortality of the Israel-Hama war.
The language of mass murder we’re hearing is intentionally bloodless.
When the Israeli military kills Palestinians, they speak of “collateral damage,” not families blown apart. When the defense minister talks about cutting off electricity and water to Gaza, he speaks only of fighting Hamas “animals” — not of the hospital patients and formula-fed babies likely to die as a consequence.
You see the same among Hamas’s Western apologists. They do not gleefully post pictures of Israeli children executed in their beds. Instead, they cheer pictures of Hamas breaking down the border fence with Gaza, calling it “decolonization” — ignoring that Hamas fighters broke down those fences to commit intolerable acts of mass slaughter.
A case in point of this moral evasion is an essay by Tariq Ali, a prominent British public intellectual. Ali’s essay furiously goes through a litany of abuses committed by Israel against Palestinians, all real enough and worthy of condemnation. But when he gets to the actual actions of Hamas, he retreats to pure abstraction instead of talking about Hamas gunning down teens at a music festival.
“The elected leadership in Gaza begins to fight back,” Ali crowed, asserting their right to do so “by any means necessary.”
By. Any. Means. Necessary.
David Gilbert of Wired reports on the “unprecedented” flood of disinformation to X.
While all major world events are now accompanied almost instantly by a deluge of disinformation aimed at controlling the narrative, the scale and speed at which disinformation was being seeded about the Israel-Hamas conflict is unprecedented—particularly on X.
“For many reasons, this is the hardest time I’ve ever had covering a crisis on here,” Justin Peden, an OSINT researcher from Alabama known online as the Intel Crab, posted on X. “Credible links are now photos. On the ground news outlets struggle to reach audiences without an expensive blue check mark. Xenophobic goons are boosted by the platform’s CEO. End times, folks.”
When Peden covered the escalation in Gaza in 2021, the sources he was seeing in his feed were from people on the ground or credible news agencies. This weekend, he says, verified content or primary sources were virtually impossible to find on X.
“It’s getting incredibly hard to find people that actually live in Palestine or in southern Israel,” Peden tells WIRED. “It’s been incredibly hard to find their preliminary information and share their videos and photos. You have this perfect storm where on the ground, preliminary sources are not being amplified, especially those that maybe don’t speak English, which is a large majority of users in that area.”
Bellingcat has a lot of examples of the varieties of disinformation being circulated about the Israeli-Hamas war, mostly from X and Telegram.
Nilanathan Niruthan of The Diplomat looks at some lessons that South Asia can learn from the Israeli-Hamas war.
Regardless of how successful or comprehensive Israel’s response is, the attack will always be remembered as one of the most brutally successful low-tech, cross-border assaults on a legitimate military power. For South Asia in particular – a region plagued with insurgency and cross-border tension for several decades – the attack presents numerous lessons in warfare that need to be learned sooner rather than later. […]
By using the air, land, and sea to insert gunmen into Israel, it would not be an exaggeration to say Hamas has ripped apart one of the fundamental assumptions of recent Israeli counterterrorism – that their primary threat was from the rockets themselves and not human infiltrators. If Israel’s defense planners had truly envisaged that large numbers of armed militants could fly in with paragliders and sail in with rafts, such an attack would have never taken the security forces by surprise. Low-tech attacks like this work only when the element of surprise plays in their favor. […]
For countries in South Asia, this should be a strong lesson to constantly reimagine new threats. The Mumbai 26/11 attack for example, highlighted the same issue. In that case, militants infiltrated India’s wealthiest city by boat – a threat not taken seriously before that – and mowed down hundreds of civilians on the streets.
Finally today, Gregorio Sorgi reports for POLITICO Europe that Tunisia has returned €60 million given to the country to the EU in order to stem the flow of migrants reaching Europe.
A Commission spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO the North African country returned €60 million of budget support delivered by the EU executive in September.
This comes as a major blow to the controversial migrant deal signed by the European Commission with Tunisia in July that offered cash in exchange for help stemming migrant flows across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
Tunisia gave back the money as a sign of its dissatisfaction toward the Commission. The North African country accused the EU executive of withholding more funds it had promised under the migrant agreement.
Relations between Tunis and Brussels have collapsed since July as the EU punted on handing out the promised cash — worth €255 million — to the North African country, amid growing criticism over the funding.
Tunis accused the bloc of pledging funding that originates in ongoing programs that predate the migration pact.
Everyone try to have the best possible day!