Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Rep. Jim Jordan, come on down…

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Rep. Jim Jordan, come on down...

We begin today with Karoun Demirjian of The New York Times reporting about how House Rep. Jim Jordan is utilizing his favorability with Number 45 in order to bully fence-sitting GOP lawmakers in his efforts to become Speaker of the House.

In efforts to close the gap, lawmakers and activists close to him have taken to social media and the airwaves to blast the Republicans they believe are blocking his path to victory and encourage voters to browbeat them into supporting Mr. Jordan.

It is an extraordinary instance of Republican-on-Republican fighting that underscores the divisions that have wrought chaos inside the party, paralyzing the House of Representatives in the process. Several of Mr. Jordan’s supporters have posted the phone numbers of mainstream G.O.P. lawmakers they count as holdouts, encouraging followers to flood the Capitol switchboard with calls demanding they back Mr. Jordan — or face the wrath of conservative voters as they gear up for primary season. […]

The strategy is reminiscent of the bullying tactics that Mr. Jordan and his allies have used over the past decade to pull the G.O.P. further to the right, and borrows a page from former President Donald J. Trump, who is backing Mr. Jordan.

It is also an approach that helped propel the House G.O.P. into its current leadership crisis. Republicans last year fielded several extreme-right congressional candidates who were popular with the base but ultimately could not win general elections in competitive districts, leaving them with a razor-thin majority in the House. A new generation of hard-liners has been able to exploit the tiny governing margin, dethroning one speaker and scuttling the bid of his heir apparent.

Today marks one month to the day of the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against the Big Three automakers. Eric D. Lawrence of the Detroit Free Press explains how the history of UAW strikes informs its current Stand Up Strike.

The views on profit-sharing in the auto industry in the 1950s, a time when prosperity is now viewed as the theme of the day even though the economic picture was more mixed, show how the connections of the current moment reflect different parts of the 88-year-old union’s history. Today’s so-called Stand Up Strike against the Detroit Three hits the one-month mark on Sunday, with a strategy that the union and its president, Shawn Fain, have connected to the earliest days of the union, although with a twist. At about four weeks so far, the Stand Up Strike certainly exceeds many UAW strikes of the past, some only a day or two long, but it’s well short of the longest strikes, which have lasted months.

The name itself is a nod to the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936 and 1937 that garnered the union recognition by GM and helped lay the groundwork for the union to eventually represent workers at Chrysler and a few years later at Ford, despite aggressive resistance. That aggression was exemplified by what came to be known as the Battle of the Overpass in 1937 with Ford security attacking union organizers and providing the bloodied photographs of Reuther and others.

Erik Loomis, a professor of labor history at the University of Rhode Island, said he sees echoes of the past in what the union is doing today.

“I do think that the Flint strike is relevant and, you know, Shawn Fain has talked a lot about Flint. … That foundational moment is pretty central to the way the UAW is framing this, this action in a way that I don’t think it has been in, in quite a while,” said Loomis, author of the book, “A History of America in Ten Strikes.” “I think that although economic circumstances are very different than they were in the mid-‘30s, obviously, you know, we’re at a moment of very high income inequality.”

Mara Gay of The New York Times writes that New York City needs to maintain its 1981 consent decree requiring that the city must provide shelter to the homeless.

Mr. Adams has said the mandate, stemming from a 1981 consent decree, was “entered over 40 years ago, when the shelter population was a fraction of its current size,” and it was “never intended to apply to the extraordinary circumstances our city faces today.”

Yet, even when the migrant crisis fades, the city’s longstanding housing and homelessness crisis will remain. And for all the failures of the city’s shelter system, in the four decades since the mandate was enacted, tens of thousands of people have been kept off city streets. A Staten Island judge recently referred to the mandate as a “relic,” but it is among the reasons (along with the weather) that New York’s streets don’t resemble those of Los Angeles, where nearly 50,000 people are living on the streets. By comparison, the number of people who live on the streets of New York is estimated at just over 4,000 (though advocates for the homeless say it may be several thousand higher).

New Yorkers should be aware that suspending the right to shelter puts this significant achievement at risk. Also at risk are the city’s quality of life, its economy and principally, the lives and dignity of the thousands of vulnerable people who may be forced to live on the streets if the city’s legal obligation to shelter them is lifted. Their presence on the streets could also affect businesses and tourism in New York, from restaurants and Broadway to efforts by large corporations to coax workers back to Manhattan offices.
Isabel Goodard of Pew Research Center takes a look at polling about how Americans view friendships.

A narrow majority of adults (53%) say they have between one and four close friends, while a significant share (38%) say they have five or more. Some 8% say they have no close friends.

There’s an age divide in the number of close friends people have. About half of adults 65 and older (49%) say they have five or more close friends, compared with 40% of those 50 to 64, 34% of those 30 to 49 and 32% of those younger than 30. In turn, adults under 50 are more likely than their older counterparts to say they have between one and four close friends.

There are only modest differences in the number of close friendships men and women have. Half of men and 55% of women say they have between one and four close friends. And 40% of men and 36% of women say they have five or more close friends.

Paul Waldman of The Washington Post feels that we have more than enough moral “clarity” about the reasons for the Israel-Hamas war and that what we need is more moral “consistency.”

You know who does have moral clarity? Hamas has moral clarity. The protesters in Sydney celebrating the Hamas attack with chants of “Gas the Jews” have moral clarity. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right government have always had moral clarity, and it didn’t protect his nation’s people, so now they prepare to lay waste to Gaza. “We are fighting human animals,” said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as he announced that Israel would cut off electricity, water and food to the area as the bombing begins.

Hamas’s barbarism, both in the number of people it murdered (the Israeli death toll has now topped 1,200, proportionally equivalent to 43,000 Americans) and the unspeakable manner in which it was carried out, is already producing a boiling desire for revenge. No one has a good answer to the question of what happens next, but even asking it will be seen as a violation of moral clarity.

So perhaps what we need more than clarity is consistency. I feel Israel’s anguish, fear and rage; I have family and friends there. But I’m horrified by Hamas fighters going house to house and murdering people not because the victims were Jews like me, but because they were human beings. And so are the innocent civilians now being killed in Gaza.

Masha Gessen of The New Yorker writes about the tremendous grief and political considerations of Israel’s anti-occupation activists.

On Saturday, October 7th, Avner Gvaryahu and his wife were awakened by an air-raid alarm. Their house in Tel Aviv doesn’t have a safe room, so they huddled in a windowless corner of the house. Being awakened by a siren was distressing but by no means an unprecedented occurrence. Gvaryahu’s wife is a journalist and nine months pregnant. Gvaryahu is the executive director of Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli military veterans that collects and disseminates testimonies on the cruelty and possible criminality of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Both he and his wife are experts in finding and analyzing information. Still, it wasn’t until about noon that they had learned enough about the Hamas attack on southern Israel to know that something extraordinary was happening. […]

Breaking the Silence was one of the first among Israel’s anti-occupation groups to make a public statement about the Hamas attack. Then details, videos, pictures, and casualty figures began accumulating. By Tuesday, it appeared that the events were not just extraordinary—they were unlike anything that Gvaryahu, who is thirty-eight years old, had ever witnessed. He drafted a new statement, which began, “There are some things that must be made crystal clear: Hamas has committed crimes that should horrify any decent person. As people who firmly criticize Israeli policy in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on a daily basis, it is our moral duty to state things as they are: this weekend, Hamas blatantly violated humanity’s basic moral norms.” The statement reiterated the group’s commitment to fight against the occupation, but this one contained no hint of holding the Israeli government responsible for the attack. “Those who find some kind of twisted theoretical logic in order to justify a massacre are not fighting for human rights, and push the goal of liberation further out of reach,” it read. “We dedicate our lives to the struggle to end occupation and the siege on Gaza because no human being should live under tyranny, and because no one’s blood is redder than any other.”

That Gvaryahu felt he had to draft two separate statements in the space of three days, that he felt that he had to state the obvious—that the Hamas attacks had been horrific and unjustifiable—is one symptom of the excruciatingly complicated predicament in which Israelis who publicly oppose the occupation have found themselves. In Israeli society, which has invented myriad ways to keep the occupation invisible, their expertise is their ability to see the causal connections between the occupation and violence directed at Israeli Jews. But, at this moment, if the activists focus on these causal connections, or if they focus too much on crimes perpetrated against Palestinian civilians, now and in the past, they risk being irrevocably marginalized in their own country. Unlike most Israelis, these activists are simultaneously absorbing two streams of traumatic news: the still accumulating details of the brutality and extent of Hamas’s attacks, and the real-time flow of information on the bombardment and siege of Gaza, whose two million residents are being collectively punished with lack of fuel, water, energy, and food.

Darrell M. West of the Brookings Institution looks at the problematic nature of so-called murder videos that are posted online.

Extremist organizations long have broadcast gruesome videos with hopes of shocking the world and recruiting followers to their cause. For example, ISIS often taped beheadings and put them on the internet for recruitment purposes. Although nauseating to typical viewers, such actions were fruitful in convincing thousands of people to travel from America, the United Kingdom, France, and other places around the world to join that cause.

Some mass shooters also have live-streamed their killings. They apparently do this to document their rampages and serve as a role model to others who want to murder other people. The Christchurch shooter in New Zealand did this as did the killer in a Buffalo grocery store shooting. In the latter case, the gunman live-streamed his rampage on Twitch. Although only a handful of people were watching at the time and the stream was removed within minutes, one viewer kept a copy and posted it on other websites and message boards. Before long, millions of people had viewed the tape. […]

Social media firms have algorithms that are good at spotting violence but spotty in assessing motives. How can they distinguish graphic scenes being broadcast from historical or other cases designed to inform people about atrocities versus contemporary scenes of decapitations and carnage designed to radicalize people and attract allies? There is legitimate interest in informing people about some kinds of historic and contemporary violence and some of that public education does involve scenes that are horrific or brutal in nature. We witnessed this in the war on Ukraine, for example, where videos raised public awareness about Russia’s premeditated brutality. The old adage that people should “never forget” atrocities means that some graphic videos may need to be online and available for people to remember.

Finally today, Wojciech Kość of POLITICO Europe reminds of the stakes in the polish elections being held today.

After months of bitter campaigning, scandals, gaffes, attacks and just one debate, the political landscape ahead of Sunday’s general election is pretty much where it was a year ago. Two big parties — the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party and the centrist Civic Coalition — are far ahead and a clutch of smaller parties are straggling far behind.

It’s a testament to the very deep divisions in Polish society.

The government’s backers see the opposition as traitorous sell-outs willing to hand Poland off the Germany (or even Russia) and to turn Poland into an irreligious, gay-friendly dystopia subservient to Brussels and filled with Muslim immigrants.

Opposition backers warn that if Law and Justice wins a third term in office, it will succeed in throttling what’s left of Polish democracy by completing its takeover of the courts, attack independent media and isolate Poland from its partners in the European Union. […]

Far-right Confederation is at 9 percent — it’s the only possible coalition partner for Law and Justice, even though its leaders say they won’t do that. The two parties have similar nationalist views, but their economic policies are very different.

(Note: In order to join a coalition, political parties need to win eight percent of the overall vote.)

Everyone try to have the best possible day!

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