Cup of Joe – October 9, 2023

“Israel on Sunday issued a formal declaration of war against Hamas and pounded Gaza with strikes, promising retaliation for an unprecedented attack by the militant group that surprised Israeli security forces,” the Washington Post reports.

“The death toll has risen to 600 in Israel.”

Israel vowed retaliation after Palestinian militants attacked southern Israel in the broadest invasion of its territory in 50 years, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warning of a “long and difficult war” ahead, the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: More than 400 Palestinian militants killed so far, IDF says.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday the U.S. is “working overtime” to verify reports of missing and dead Americans overseas after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against Israel, CNN reports.

NBC News: “Former U.S. intelligence and military officers said they believed the timing of the Hamas attack was primarily aimed at disrupting negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as Riyadh appeared on the verge of a historic step to normalize relations with Israel.”

New York Times: “Until now, Israel has contained Hamas and Gaza with a strategy that hinged on an intelligence network that would warn against Hamas’s moves, and on the power of the Israeli Army to repel a ground invasion by Hamas. In the Hamas attack on Saturday, these two safeguards failed.”

“Israel is traditionally perceived as the strongest intelligence power in the region, with extensive coverage of the Gaza Strip. And in recent months, Israeli intelligence did repeatedly warn that a military conflict could flare up because Iran and affiliated militias have perceived Israel as weakened by the nation’s profound divisions over the judicial overhaul being pursued by the ultraright governing coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

“Still, while Israeli intelligence collected some indications that Hamas was planning a major operation, they were far from forming a clear picture. Israel, the official said, did not pick up on the elaborate preparations that were most likely needed for the 250 Hamas militants tasked to lead the assault, and target military bases, cities and kibbutzim.”

Politico: How did Israel miss what Hamas was planning?

Natan Sachs: “Hamas executed a stunning military surprise, breaching the Israeli border in multiple ways and attacking more than 20 Israeli population centers, as well as military bases. Militants kidnapped dozens of Israelis—apparently including children and the elderly—and captured military personnel. Israeli social media and news outlets filled with calls for help from families in southern Israeli towns occupied by Hamas, sheltering in their homes as armed terrorists went door-to-door. The failure of Israel’s intelligence and preparedness is second only to that in 1973.”

“But this Hamas victory might prove Pyrrhic. In fact, Hamas itself might have been surprised by the extent of its initial success. The trauma in Israel today should give pause to those thinking that Israel will simply acquiesce to a short tit for tat. As bad as things have been in Gaza in the past two decades—and they have been terrible—the coming weeks could prove even worse.”

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political opponents have criticized him for years and vowed never to join his governing coalition. But two such foes — Yair Lapid, the parliamentary opposition leader, and Benny Gantz, the leader of the National Unity party — said they would consider joining an emergency government led by the premier after Saturday’s deadly attack by Palestinian militants,” the New York Times reports.

“Both opposition leaders have repeatedly called for the end of Mr. Netanyahu’s rule. But the national crisis prompted by the assault — and the expectation of a protracted, bloody campaign — may have changed their calculus.”

“The Israel Defense Forces says it has established a situation room to focus on putting together accurate information regarding the Israeli hostages held by the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip,” the Times of Israel reports.

“Hamas gunmen took an unknown number of civilians and soldiers captive into Gaza after overrunning several military bases and communities.”

“House Republicans will try to decide this week who should take over from ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy, aiming to put a tumultuous chapter behind them and get back to work as critical deadlines loom. It won’t be easy,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Lawmakers head into a conference vote as soon as Wednesday with two strong candidates and no clear favorite for the gavel, trying to coalesce around a new speaker after eight rebel Republicans joined with Democrats to vote out their previous leader.”

Former Gov. Chris Christie (R) said the dysfunction in the House of Representatives leaves it without a way to pass legislation, including needed foreign aid to Israel, ABC News reports.

Said Christie: “The actions taken by some members of my party were wholly irresponsible without this going on. They’re now even putting a brighter light on the irresponsibility of not having someone in place.

Politico: “So far, McHenry’s overt actions on the floor have been minimal: He immediately put the House into recess after McCarthy’s ouster Tuesday, then brought the chamber back to order yesterday to adjourn it.”

“Behind the scenes, however, there have been mixed messages: He appears not to be undertaking the speaker’s basic ministerial duties — such as referring introduced bills to committees — but he did exercise the office’s broad authority over Capitol real estate when he evicted former speaker Nancy Pelosi and former majority leader Steny Hoyer from their prime hideaway offices.”

“That has created some confusion about the extent of McHenry’s powers — as well as some concern, given that his every move creates precedent for a future speaker pro tempore, perhaps one who might be appointed under more perilous circumstances.”

In his upcoming book, Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party, Jonathan Karl reports that Donald Trump had secretly plotted to be elected speaker back in January, when he was publicly supporting Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who was struggling to get the votes he needed, ABC News reports.

“The Biden administration is planning to announce military aid for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza but is concerned that the chaos among House Republicans could hamper approval of more aid,” Axios reports.

“Israel is expected to go on a massive counter-offensive in Gaza that could take several weeks and likely will need additional U.S. military assistance — especially if the war expands to other arenas, such as Lebanon.”

Wall Street Journal: “A senior administration official said that the recent dysfunction in Congress, including the vacant speakership, had been the topic of discussion at the White House with regard to options for assisting Israel.”

“Senior Biden advisers quietly visited Saudi Arabia last week to continue talks on a potential mega-deal that could include a peace agreement between the kingdom and Israel,” Axios reports.  “Talks for the deal gained momentum last month following President Biden’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But it also became clear there are still many issues to work out, including a Palestinian component to any such agreement, and that the process will take time.”

“Saudi Arabia has told the White House it would be willing to boost oil production early next year if crude prices are high—a move aimed at winning goodwill in Congress for a deal in which the kingdom would recognize Israel and in return get a defense pact with Washington,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Wall Street Journal: “The concern that their age somehow disqualifies them from public office doesn’t really align with the state of aging in the year 2023. There’s biological truth to the adage that age is just a number. Americans on average are healthier in old age than before. Many of the factors that predict longer life favor Biden and Trump, based on publicly released information about their health.”

“The judge presiding over the Georgia election subversion case rejected an attempt by pro-Donald Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro to dismiss his indictment,” CNN reports.

Atlanta Journal Constitution: “In all, the Georgia GOP has spent more than $1 million on legal fees since the beginning of last year, most of it for the Trump election interference case.”

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX), who pre-annouced Donald Trump’s endorsement of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for House speaker, ruined the former president’s attempt to gain publicity by traveling to Capitol Hill next week, The Messenger reports.

Said one Trump aide: “Nehls just totally fucked this up.”

“Trump’s allies are discussing the utility of going at all because, for Trump, the plan revolved around secrecy. He wanted to stoke the coals of speculation about what he would do, thereby heightening the drama and attention, advisers said. His appearance and speech would have made a splash on Capitol Hill and sucked up all the media attention in the presidential primary, where he’s already leading by a forbidding margin.”

“Donald Trump said undocumented immigrants were ‘poisoning the blood of our country’ in a recent interview, language with echoes of white supremacy and the racial hatreds of Adolf Hitler,” the New York Times reports.

Said Trump: “Nobody has any idea where these people are coming from, and we know they come from prisons. We know they come from mental institutions and insane asylums. We know they’re terrorists. Nobody has ever seen anything like we’re witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It’s poisoning the blood of our country. It’s so bad, and people are coming in with disease. People are coming in with every possible thing that you could have.”

“The New Jersey attorney general’s office seized records on Thursday from Bergen County law enforcement agencies to review whether the investigation of a fatal 2018 car crash involving the soon-to-be wife of Senator Robert Menendez was handled properly,” the New York Times reports.

“Nadine Menendez, who was dating Mr. Menendez at the time of the crash, was released by the police without a summons or a sobriety test after she struck and killed Richard Koop, 49, while driving at night along a wide, two-lane boulevard in Bogota, N.J., police records show.”

“The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to Narges Mohammadi, an imprisoned Iranian human rights activist. She is the fifth person to receive the prize while incarcerated,” the Washington Post reports.  “The prize will cast an international spotlight on the fight for women’s rights in the Middle Eastern nation, where women have taken to the streets in protest under the banner ‘Woman, Life, Freedom,’ following the death in custody of a young woman in September 2022.”

Axios: “Trump’s violent rhetoric — a staple of his political brand dating back to 2015 — has grown more extreme as the walls have begun to close in on his business empire, livelihood and personal freedom.”

“His words’ violent turn in recent weeks — calling for a U.S. military leader to be executed, mocking a potentially fatal assault on a congressional spouse, urging police to shoot shoplifters — suggest a line has been crossed.”

“As Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) takes his first concrete steps on the national stage, a cloud of a scandal involving one of his former top aides is emerging back home,” Politico reports.

“Last week, Mike Vereb, a member of Shapiro’s cabinet and a longtime ally to the Pennsylvania Democratic governor, abruptly resigned. A day later, local outlets reported that a former female aide to Vereb alleged that he had sexually harassed and retaliated against her.”

“You all are not the happiest people in the world, what you report. And I mean this sincerely. It gets—you get more legs when you’re reporting something that’s negative. I don’t mean you’re picking on me. It’s just the nature of things.” — President Biden, quoted by the Daily Beast, blaming the news media for Americans’ poor view of the economy.

Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) “says she’s ready to return to Washington. She’s been in Alaska since learning that her husband, Eugene ‘Buzzy’ Peltola, died Sept. 12 following a plane crash,” Alaska Public Media reports.

Said Peltola: “The past few weeks have been some of the most difficult in my life. I am so thankful for the space that Alaskans have given me to celebrate Buzzy’s life with my family, and for all those who celebrated it with us.”

“UK Labour leader Keir Starmer said his party is on track to return to power at the next election, as he deflected concerns that voters are still unclear about what he stands for,” Bloomberg reports.

Said Starmer: “We’re bang on schedule.”

“Buttressed by polling giving his party a double-digit lead over Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s governing Conservatives for the past year, Starmer is increasingly portraying Labour as a government-in-waiting. That’s something that was almost unthinkable in 2019 when the party sank to its worst electoral defeat since before World War II.”

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