Hawkish Politicians Use Soldiers' Deaths to Call for War with Iran - The Monday AM Quickie 1/29/24

I'd like to buy Rufus Wainwright's house, but I'm about $2.2 million short. -Jacob

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U.S. Soldiers' Deaths Excite Warmongers in Congress

Israel's devastating military campaign in Gaza has catalyzed once-dormant conflicts from Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen. Besides Gaza and the West Bank, Israel has launched air strikes in Syria and Lebanon, killing Hamas and Hezbollah officials, with the clear intention of intimidating these militant groups' Iranian sponsors. The US has gotten involved, killing a militia commander in Iraq, engaging with Houthi pirates in the Red Sea, and facing regular mortar and missile barrages at its bases across the region.

Meanwhile, various militant groups have struck back, injuring but rarely killing any U.S. or allied personnel. Over the weekend, that changed: a drone strike killed three U.S. soldiers stationed at a base in Jordan near the Syrian border. Dozens of others were hurt.

Rather than questioning why, after the failed war in Iraq and the calamitous rise of ISIS, the U.S. has more than 45,000 troops scattered across the Middle East, waiting to be targeted by "Iranian-backed militias," top Republicans have done what they love most: demand more war.

"I am calling on the Biden Administration to strike targets of significance inside Iran, not only as reprisal for the killing of our forces, but as deterrence against future aggression," said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. "Target Tehran," tweeted Texas Senator Jon Cornyn. Other Republican mandarins took the opportunity to sound the horn for more aimless conflict.

President Biden promised that the US would respond "at a time and in a manner [of] our choosing." Such statements have become almost commonplace, as American forces in Syria and Iraq have been attacked at least 150 times since October 7. It's enough to make one think they're serving as bait.

Pelosi Claims Ceasefire Protesters Are a Russian Plot

In a CNN interview over the weekend, Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said that pro-Palestinian protesters were doing the bidding of the Russian government and should be investigated by the FBI.

"For them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin's message," said the 83-year-old Democratic representative, who last served as Speaker of the House from 2019 to 2023. "Make no mistake: this is directly connected to what he would like to see."

Although Pelosi has ceded the Democratic leadership to Hakeem Jefferies, she's still a major party figure, and her remarks represent yet another example of a prominent Democratic politician failing to acknowledge that most of her constituents support a ceasefire in Gaza. Worse, from President Joe Biden on down, Democratic leaders seem unwilling to even entertain being pro-ceasefire as a legitimate political position. But by casting any dissent from the pro-Israel status quo as the work of Russia or Hamas, Democrats are further alienating an electorate that largely disapproves of Biden's handling of the Gaza crisis.

Democrats Prepared to Sacrifice Migrants' Rights for Ukraine Funding

The Republican Party has amplified its anti-migrant rhetoric in recent weeks, claiming that the perpetually crisis-ridden US-Mexico border is now practically a theater of war. Once again, right-wing media has tried to terrorize its consumers with tales of a migrant caravan wending its way up from the Darien Gap. Texas Governor Greg Abbott deployed the Texas National Guard to position razor wire along the Rio Grande – the latest unilateral act of border enforcement placing him at odds with federal authorities (and the Constitution).

However extreme and ginned up the crisis is, it's had a real effect on immigration politics. Republican politicians are lining up in support of Abbott. A civilian convoy calling itself "God's Army" is supposedly headed to the border, with violent designs against anyone trying to cross into the U.S. And for months, Republican leaders have insisted that additional military aid for Ukraine in its fight against Russia had to be tied to stricter, even more militarized border policy that shuts down asylum opportunities. For some reason, Democrats have consented to this devil's bargain and seem on the verge of giving Republicans what they want.

"What’s been negotiated would – if passed into law – be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country," said President Biden in a statement released on Friday. "It would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law."


  • Black Christian Leaders Ask Biden for a Gaza Ceasefire More than 1,000 Black pastors have written to President Biden asking him to support a ceasefire in Gaza. The appeal reflects serious and growing criticism of Biden's Israel policy from Black, Muslim, and other minority group leaders who are normally counted on as key parts of the Democratic coalition. via New York Times.
  • Union Membership Fails to Climb Despite celebrated labor victories in 2023, the percentage of U.S. workers belonging to a union stood almost unchanged at 10 percent. Unions are popular, but a growing workforce and weak labor laws mean that organizing more American workers remains a challenge. via CNBC.
  • The U.S. Saw 451 Labor Strikes Last Year In a sign of the growing militancy of the American labor movement, workers struck at least 451 times in 2023, according to one university department tracking such events. Gig workers, healthcare workers, and teachers were all prominently represented. via Cornell ILR.
  • UNRWA, Accused of Hamas Sympathies, Faces Funding Cuts Nine countries, led by the United States, have stopped providing funding to the United Nations refugee agency dedicated to assisting Palestinian refugees in Gaza. The Israeli government produced prisoner confessions and social-media chats that it claims prove that 12 of the UNRWA's 13,000 staff members are Hamas sympathizers or were involved in the October 7 attack on Israeli border communities. via Reuters.


$48 million

That's the size of a loan that Donald Trump once claimed he took from one of his companies. Now, a special monitor appointed by the court in Trump's civil fraud case says that it appears that the loan never existed – and that the Trump Organization confirmed as much. Contacted by The Daily Beast, a Trump lawyer claimed that the loan did exist. If the loan was indeed fictitious, it could represent criminal liability for Trump, who claimed the debt across years of tax and legal filings.


1/28: Happy Monday! Sam speaks with Wendy Parmet, professor of law, public policy, and urban affairs at Northwestern University, to discuss her recent book Constitutional Contagion: COVID, the Courts, and Public Health.


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UAW President Shawn Fain continues his rise as a political power player.

Host's Anti-Ceasefire BS Completely Dismantled

More than 26,000 people are dead in Gaza and the chattering class feels no responsibility.


"I apologize to the Board of Supervisors for my comments late last night in a post. There is no place, no excuse and no reason for this type of speech and charged language in discourse. I am sorry for my words and regret my poor decision. I love San Francisco. I know the community will hold me accountable"

-- From an apology by Garry Tan, a prominent venture capitalist, CEO, and San Francisco political donor. On Saturday, Tan, who by his own admission was drunk, posted on X wishing death upon a number of members of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. An angry critic of Bay Area progressives, Tan is known for donating to recalls of Democratic politicians, whose governance, he claims, has plunged San Francisco into crisis. He also has blocked hundreds of people on Twitter, including his political critics, making it a tad more difficult to "hold [him] accountable."