Why Did the Hostage Releases End?

As you’ve no doubt seen, the series of ceasefires and prisoners for hostages exchanges have come to an end and hostilities between the Israeli military and Hamas has resumed. Through several channels Hamas officials have now said that they won’t release any more hostages until the war is over. Though the details are murky it appears that only a small number of female civilians and children remain in captivity. Israel puts the number at 17. Those that remain are male civilians and soldiers.

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About that Big Israeli Intel Story in the Times

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Yesterday The New York Times published a major article about Hamas’ October 7th massacres in southern Israel. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, I’m going to provide a brief summary and then share a few thoughts on how to contextualize the news.

The gist is that Israel had a lot of intelligence about Hamas’ plans to mount an attack something like the one that occurred on October 7th. And in the last year, Israeli intelligence got ahold of plans for an attack pretty much exactly like the one that unfolded on October 7th. (The Israelis gave the plan, some forty pages in length, the code name “Jericho Wall.”) But mid-level and, in some cases, high-level intelligence and military leaders dismissed the intelligence, considering it either aspirational, something Hamas lacked the resources to accomplish or something that conflicted with its current strategy of seeking “quiet” to focus on effective governance within Gaza.


Florida GOP Power Couple hit With Allegations of Rape, Three-Way Lifestyle

It’s hard to know where to start with this. But here goes.

Christian Ziegler is the chairman of the Florida Republican party. His wife Bridget is a member of the Sarasota County School Board and cofounder of Moms for Liberty. Today Trident News revealed that Christian Ziegler is currently under criminal investigation after a woman accused him of raping her. The woman filed a complaint with the Sarasota Police Department on October 4th; the alleged rape took place on October 2nd.

The story gets significantly more complicated.

According to the woman’s complaint she was involved in a consensual three-way sexual relationship with Christian and Bridget Ziegler. Christian Ziegler recorded videos of the threesome having sex together. Sources told Trident that police have done a forensic examination of Christian Ziegler’s phone, possibly looking for evidence of those videos.

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Listen To This: Gaming Out The Haley Boost

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss the ascendant Nikki Haley, the war on the administrative state and Hunter Biden’s journey towards Congress as George Santos is on his way out.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.


Why Did So Many People Hate Henry Kissinger So Much?

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Henry Kissinger’s death yesterday at the grand, round age of 100 was greeted with a broad chorus of “It’s about times” and “good riddances” and “go straight to hells.” I have always been fascinated by the intensity of the animus toward the man. And to be clear: that’s not because I necessarily disagree with the verdict.

In the quickest possible summary, during his roughly eight years as first National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State, Kissinger spearheaded or oversaw two broad policies which account for most, but by no means all, of what that vituperation is about.


Decision Time

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I wanted to flag to your attention this post by John Ganz, someone who, if you’re not familiar with him, is well worth becoming familiar with. Ganz and I see the questions about Israel, the Palestinians and Zionism differently. Indeed I disagree with the title of the post I’m sending you to. But what is most important in writing, especially in commentary, is not that it be “right” but that it be illuminating. Reading what is “right” is often reading a more polished version of what we already think — the utility of which is limited. Ganz manages to approach these questions with insight as well as texture and elegance, no simple feat.

On that matter of disagreement, I want to note something about what I have written on this issue. If you read carefully, I seldom make positive arguments for any particular position or question on this topic. I tend to point up what I see as disconnects or inconsistencies in pat arguments and responses. This is partly temperamental. I don’t like making arguments or claims that aren’t packaged with strong and concrete defenses. It’s also because with all the internal media and imagery there’s a huge amount of what is going on that we simply don’t know. One such question is whether Israel’s retaliation in response to the October 7th massacres is justified.


Moment More of Israel Obsessiveness

I had a clarifying moment this early afternoon sharing notes with TPM Reader MH via email. This was about the situation in Israel/Palestine but more particularly how it is impacting both people’s views and politics in the United States. What I think has happened is that the events, which began with the Hamas massacres in southern Israel on October 7th and has continued with Israel’s merciless retaliation, has pushed the discussion among not just Democrats but everyone to the left of the 50 yard line of American politics from “should Israeli policy be different” to “should Israel exist.”

The first is fairly unifying. The second is profoundly divisive and, for a non-trivial chunk of the Democratic coalition, existential.


Haley In Unstoppable Drive Toward Second Place

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We’re back to another of those comical developments in the Republican Party and it’s relationship with its leader, Donald Trump. This morning the Koch Network announced it is supporting Nikki Haley, former South Carolina Governor and the latest forlorn hope of the billionaires who fund the GOP. She joins the heap of broken political bodies like Ron DeSantis, Glenn Youngkin and others. It raises the question: Does this completely not matter or mostly not matter? It may surprise you to learn that I’m only at “mostly doesn’t matter.” There may actually be some limited significance.

When I first started writing this post I decided to double check the latest polls. Haley is in the midst of a meteoric rise in pundit and GOP elite esteem. Lots of observers point either to polls or other evidence suggesting that if only Haley could win the nomination she’d be a lock to beat President Biden. (I actually doubt that’s true. But that’s a different story.) Candidly, I was surprised by just how much Trump is now crushing the entire GOP field. Trump is no longer sitting at about 50% or so in a big field, what by really any measure is more than enough to make him nominee. He’s now consistently 10% or 15% higher. He’s no longer at 50% support. He’s now usually 50% or more ahead of the second place vote getter.

What Haley is now accomplishing is being on the verge of surpassing the crumpled carcass of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Enough to win the small trinket, not the full stuffed animal at the fair.


History and Enthusiasm

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November 13th marked our 23rd anniversary at TPM. During these past 23 years I’ve managed to write as much as I have because I kept to a simple approach, which was following whatever aspect of US politics and political culture interested me most. This worked because it combined the exertion and mental energy most put toward ‘work’ with the off-hours hobbies, life, downtime and, if possible, fun we do outside of work. One might also call this obsession. But it worked in terms of productivity, focus and drive. Indeed, for those who enjoy the Editors’ Blog one of the things that makes it compelling is following the idiosyncrasies of my interests and particular storylines I latch on to. Or, so many are saying …

But over the last couple months that pattern has shifted for me in that my mind has been heavily preoccupied by something that isn’t US politics. The Israel-Hamas war has a clear bearing on US politics. Some people think it could turn the 2024 presidential election, though I suspect its salience will decrease dramatically over the coming months, as most big news stories do. At the moment it’s the dominant national news story in the US and has been for weeks. But it’s not really a US story. More importantly my interest in it goes far beyond its bearings on US politics. So I’ve been aware that my focus has shifted from things at the heart of US politics toward subject matter that is, in many ways parochial, communal and personal. And that’s not what TPM is about, at least not in its current iteration.

And it’s not like we’re in a slow period in American politics. But there we are.

An appellate court unanimously found on Friday that Donald Trump can face civil lawsuits over claims that he incited violence on Jan. 6, allowing cases to go forward while permitting Trump to re-raise immunity defenses down the line.

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My Pilot Vinny: A Hardcore MAGA Airman Who Believed Mike Lindell Would Restore Trump To Power Is In the Cockpit Of ‘Trump Force Two’ 

A Trump true believer fired as Mike Pence’s 2016 pilot makes his comeback.

As former President Trump travels around the country airing grievances and fighting to reclaim power in between arraignments and court appearances, he is flying with a pilot who is quite friendly to his conspiratorial and authoritarian brand of politics. The man who says he is piloting the former president’s “Trump Force Two” private jet is a hardcore MAGA activist who urged people to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a TPM review of his social media posts.

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