We begin today with Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post reminding us that the real fiscal fights are still ahead.
The House and Senate remain billions of dollars apart on their respective appropriation bills that would fund all government departments until Sept. 30, 2024, with both chambers failing to mark up their proposals to the $1.59 trillion in spending enshrined into law by House Republicans and President Biden in exchange for raising the debt ceiling earlier this year. But while appropriators and governing-minded lawmakers in both parties believe they can strike compromise and avoid an automatic one percent cut across all federal departments early next year, far-right hard-liners have suggested rejecting any compromise that does not fulfill their spending requests and have flirted with the idea of supporting a government shutdown if the Senate does not accept their demands. [...]
When they return from the Thanksgiving break, House Republicans hope to continue passing full year-funding bills, of which five of 12 remain. But they acknowledge intraparty differences will make the process incredibly difficult. Republicans believe three of the five remaining bills may be able to pass once changes are made, but proposals funding the Department of Agriculture — usually the least controversial bill — and Labor and Health and Human Services are riddled with provisions that vulnerable Republicans representing swing-districts could never support.
Foreshadowing the expected fight ahead, 14 members of the Freedom Caucus and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) put Johnson on notice this week by reverting back to an old tactic that previously helped extract concessions from leadership. These Republicans sunk a procedural hurdle to consider a full-year funding bill that the group has been demanding a vote on all year — a scheme Freedom Caucus members agreed to deploy against Johnson’s decisions as “a shot across the bow … in good faith,” as Perry described the move.
John Blake of CNN notes UAW president Shawn Fain’s use of the Bible and the Social Gospel in speeches.
Fain, a middle-aged, bespectacled man who could pass for a high school science teacher, was warning auto workers they would probably have to strike, citing resistance by automaker CEOs whose companies he said made “a quarter of a trillion dollars” in profits while they “nickel and dime our members every day.”
He then paused before saying, “Now I’m going to get personal.”
Fain started talking about his Christian faith. He cited scripture, including Matthew 17:20–21, where Jesus told his disciples that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed they can move mountains because “nothing will be impossible for you.” He said that for UAW members, organizing and making bold demands of automakers was “an act of faith in each other.” [...]
Fain’s faith did move a corporate mountain — three, to be exact. After a six-week campaign of strikes, the UAW reached a historic agreement with General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler-owner Stellantis that would give workers their biggest pay raise in decades. The victory (it still has to be ratified by UAW members) not only reinvigorated an emboldened labor movement in the US, it also marked the revival of another movement in America: the Social Gospel.
Blake’s essay illustrates why I (a religious agnostic) do support the proper teaching of Biblical selections even in public schools. How are you going to properly study American literature or American history without an understanding of why Americans do what they do (for good or ill)?
(Granted, I would not implement proper the study of Biblical selections in this political environment.)
Helene Cooper of The New York Times says that proof of Israel’s claims of a Hamas command center beneath Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital could take a while.
It could take weeks, months, or could never come, American military officials said on Friday.
American and Israeli officials said that many of the tunnels could be booby-trapped with bombs either remotely triggered or set to explode when something crosses a tripwire. In 2013, six Israeli soldiers were wounded, and one was blinded, when a booby trap exploded as they tried to shove a camera into a Hamas tunnel.
Whether this is the case under Al-Shifa Hospital or not, Israeli forces will view sending soldiers down into the tunnels as a measure of last resort, one Pentagon official said Friday. [...]
Pentagon officials privately said there was frustration that Israel did not take more time to plan the Gaza invasion, which could have allowed the Israeli Defense Forces to evacuate civilians. The lead-up to the American and Iraqi fight to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State in 2016, American officials said, took nine months, in part so that officials could work out how to limit civilian casualties.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says that yes, Israelis are, by and large, “rallying around the flag” but not around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to yet more polling.
Israel’s Channel 12 released a new poll today. It told largely the same story every poll has told since the days just after the October 7th massacres: a big drop for the Likud, a huge jump for Benny Gantz’s National Unity party. Stepping back the current government loses about twenty of its seats while the opposition jumps to roughly 70. Again, this is broadly consistent with all the other polls over the last six weeks. I’ve noted before that while this is a rare occasion where the head of government hasn’t received any kind of rally-round-the-flag effect. Quite the contrary. But if we define rally-round-the-flag as rallying around the country, the war effect or national unity, there is overwhelming evidence of that.
But looking at this and other polls, I think we can make an additional observation.
There actually has been a rally around a tough talking national security focused leader. It’s just that it’s Benny Gantz rather than Benjamin Netanyahu. Gantz is a former IDF Chief of Staff, one of those proven general officers Israeli politics have long gravitated towards. When the same poll asked respondents who they preferred as Prime Minister they chose Gantz over Netanyahu by 41% to 25%. Netanyahu had dominated that question basically forever, notwithstanding the fact that he had a notable but brief military career. When they asked the question about Netanyahu and the other opposition leader (actually the official leader of the opposition), Yair Lapid, the two were tied at 29%.
Jaime Dettmer of POLITICO Europe sees cracks in Netanyahu’s far-right governing coalition over the decision to deliver fuel to Gaza.
Rebellious coalition partners demanded to have more say over the conduct of the war after Netanyahu’s decision was announced Friday. They argued there should be no delivery of fuel, however limited, to the Palestinian coastal enclave — or any other humanitarian concessions — until Hamas frees the 240 Israeli hostages the group seized on October 7, when gunmen launched an attack on southern Israel, killing at least 1,200 people, Israeli officials say. [...]
The eruption within the coalition government over the fuel concession illustrates the dilemma Netanyahu faces in trying to balance far-right religious nationalists in his government and Israel’s Western allies, who are increasingly pressing him to ease the plight of Gaza civilians. The majority of Palestinians in Gaza, which has been under air, land and sea blockade by Israel since 2007 — when Hamas wrested power over the Strip from Fatah — relied heavily on humanitarian aid before the war, including fuel to clean water, operate sewage systems and power now-shut-off telecommunications. Egypt has upheld a blockade on its border crossing at Rafah with Gaza since 2007.
Israeli officials say the decision to let in small amounts of fuel daily, a fraction of the fuel allowed before the war, was allowed as a gesture to Western allies and to avoid a breakdown of Gaza’s sewage and water systems, which would risk spreading disease, impacting civilians and Israeli troops.
Shannon Tiezzi of The Diplomat looks at what America’s Indo-Pacific allies think about the U.S.-China relationship in light of last week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) conference.
What did the United States’ Indo-Pacific allies think?
While it’s become an adage that China-U.S. bilateral relationship is the most important in the world, few countries have as much directly at stake as Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea – all U.S. treaty allies dependent on Washington for their security, but closely linked economically with China. Located in the Indo-Pacific region, these countries would bear the brunt of any China-U.S. conflict.
Taiwan, which faces an existential threat from China, is even more invested in China-U.S. relations. Beijing considers Taiwan to be an “inalienable part of China” and reserves the right to achieve full “reunification” by force. With China’s military maneuvers around Taiwan becoming ever-more provocative, the threat of forcible annexation looms large – and the question of how the United States would respond is the subject of immense debate. While Washington is not treaty-bound to defend Taiwan – the two have not had a formal alliance since they severed diplomatic ties in 1979 – it is widely assumed the U.S. would intervene on Taiwan’s behalf. [...]
Nearly every country in the world – U.S. allies included – has deep concerns about China-U.S. tensions reaching a point of no return, and potentially sparking a great power war. While their alliance (and in Taiwan’s case, quasi-alliance) relationships with the U.S. mean they have effectively already “chosen sides,” none of these countries wants to be forced to entirely write off its relationship with China. In that sense, any progress in China-U.S. relations is both welcome and a relief.
That said, each country’s positioning is unique and worth considering.
Rodolfo Terragno writes for the Argentinian newspaper Clarin (translated or “crunched” by Alidad Vassigh of World Crunch) that contrary to what political demagogues say, we need politics, especially in a democracy.
Evidently electorates are not infallible, and democracy does not mean "the people are never mistaken." But it does give voters, the people, a chance to repent, and make amends.
And yet, when more and more people vote emotively, the margin of error grows considerably. Devotion or hatred are not worthy counsellors for anyone casting a ballot. Yet in critical situations, whatever their origin, ordinary folk will feel overwhelmed, skeptical and suspicious, which is when they fall prey to 'anti-political' campaigning. [...]
Take the United States: a country that became the greatest in the world thanks to democracy and is now suffering from anti-political demagoguery. The September 11 attacks showed Americans their country was not invulnerable, while massive immigration has made sectors of American society feel defenseless. Former President Donald Trump brought out his America First slogan in response, which won him those emotive votes he needed to enter the White House.
Finally today, The Grammarian writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer about the war on apostrophes being waged by the chicken and biscuits chain Bojangleś.
Last month the zoning board in Piscataway, N.J., approved plans for the North Carolina-based chicken and biscuits (or as they say, unnecessarily, “chicken ‘n biscuits”) chain to open in the township. The company is planning 10 restaurants across Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, and Union Counties.
But until recently, the company was too chicken to even say where the apostrophe in its name was supposed to go.
For years, the official Bojangles logo included an apostrophe right smack on top of the S.
Not before, not after.
This was obviously wrong. But it was also hilarious. (It’s funny enough to be a major plot point in my original musical — The Angry Grammarian — coming to South Philly next spring.) The letter Ś — with an accent atop the S — does exist … in the Polish alphabet. But there was nothing to suggest that Mr. Bojangles or his chicken had Polish roots.
Try to have the best possible day everyone!