Trump Promises a "Bloodbath" and the Media Shrugs - The Monday AM Quickie 3/18/24

In another grim sign of where the platform formally known as Twitter is at under Elon Musk: they're now suspending users for naming the writer of a Nazi cartoon. -Jacob

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Donald Trump Promises a "Bloodbath" If He Loses the Election

In a typically unhinged, rambling speech in Ohio yesterday, Donald Trump promised economic chaos and the end of American democracy if he doesn't win the 2024 presidential election. "Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole — that’s going to be the least of it," Trump said. "It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country."

The "bloodbath" line immediately seized the news cycle, becoming an obsessive target of MAGA spin. Some Trump allies and media critics claimed that the former president was merely talking about the calamity that would befall the automotive industry, which he had been talking about moments before. Whether Trump was merely promising a figurative economic bloodbath or a literal one involving mass death, either outcome seems to augur poorly! It shows how skewed the political debate over Trump has become that an apocalyptic threat quickly became reduced to a parlor debate over the ex-president's muddled semantics.

The Ohio event, which was supposed to promote the Senate candidacy of Republican Bernie Moreno, was straight from the recent Trump playbook. He called January 6 protesters "hostages" who were protesting a stolen election. He said that the United States was being invaded by convicts and "animals." He ranted and raved and all but stomped his feet.

"I don’t think you’re going to have another election, or certainly not an election that’s meaningful," said Trump, speaking about the possibility of losing the election.

Maybe we should listen.

Netanyahu Defies Growing US Criticisms

Facing public criticism from once stalwart supporters like Sen. Chuck Schumer, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated his promise to invade Rafah, in southern Gaza. More than a million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, which the Israeli government claimed would be a safe zone, free from bombing. It hasn't.

No stranger to meddling in the American political process, Netanyahu called Schumer's speech a "totally inappropriate" attempt to influence Israel's leadership. With ongoing protests against his rule, Netanyahu has refused to hold elections before the end of the war. And given his low public support and the chance that he may be prosecuted for corruption, it's unlikely he'll push for elections even then.

"We will operate in Rafah," said Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting yesterday. "This will take several weeks, and it will happen."

As the world waits for another US-assisted massacre in Rafah, Israel has already killed more than 31,000 Palestinians while children starve to death. It seems inconceivable that the Biden administration will continue following the same disastrous policy – and yet.

"There is no safe way to evacuate nearly 1.5 million people from Rafah," wrote Rep. Pramila Jayapal on X. "President Biden called an invasion of Rafah a red line, and it’s time for a policy shift behind that rhetoric. We cannot continue to provide offensive military aid to Israel."

That TikTok Ban May Be Hitting a Roadblock

The TikTok legislation that sped through the House of Representatives this week faces a slower path in the Senate. The legislation is unlikely to be voted on soon in the Senate, with some leading senators arguing that the subject requires more deliberation. The decision on whether, and how, to advance the bill lies mostly with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has said he would consult with the appropriate Senate committees.

After an initial burst of enthusiasm – and a promise from President Biden that he would sign a TikTok ban – Democrats seem less than eager to ban an app popular with its voters. (If the bill were passed now, any ban would likely go into effect in September.) “What is the actual evidence that you couldn’t pass a data privacy law or law banning data going to a foreign country, and get that done that way?” said Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna on ABC's This Week.

This much is clear: The TikTok ban is politically unpopular, based on murky reasoning, infringes on free speech, and could end up getting many other apps and websites banned. But if politicians bang the table about China and national security enough, anything is possible.


  • Putin Wins An "Election" In a carefully controlled electoral process, Russian President Vladimir Putin won another term as his country's president, claiming a purported 88 percent of the vote. Russia's longest-tenured leader since Stalin shows no sign of losing his grip on power. via Financial Times and CNN.
  • Niger Nixes US Military Deal The government of Niger ended a 2012 military cooperation agreement with the United States, claiming that the deal was undemocratic and in violation of the country's constitution. Like a number of west African countries, Niger once had a close military relationship with the US but – again, like a number of west African countries – that has changed since a military junta took power last summer. via CNN.
  • Chicago Evicts Migrants From Shelters Claiming limited resources, the city of Chicago began evicting migrants from shelters over the weekend. City officials plan to kick out 2,000 people over the next six weeks. via New York Times.
  • Bay Area Lawyer Could Be RFK's VP Pick Nicole Shanahan, a lawyer, tech investor, and ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, has been floated as a possible VP candidate for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Shanahan was reportedly responsible for RFK's Super Bowl ad, and someone registered the domain name last week. via New York Times and The Hill.

$155 million

That's how much cash the Biden presidential campaign claims it has on hand after a $53 million fundraising haul in February. The nine-figure sum – which has become practically unremarkable in the money-soaked world of campaign finance – reflects donations to Biden, the DNC, and affiliated PACs. The Biden campaign has promised to spend big on hiring more staff and blanketing swing states with a new six-week, $30 million ad campaign.


3/18: Happy Monday! Sam and Emma speak with David Bellos, professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, to discuss his recent book Who Owns This Sentence?: A History of Copyrights and Wrongs, co-authored with Alexandre Montagu.


Democrats Pivot To Blaming Netanyahu As Scapegoat For Gaza Disaster

Sen. Chuck Schumer launched some uncharacteristically barbed critiques of Bibi. Will other leading Dems follow?

Ben Shapiro's "Apology" on Social Security Goes Nowhere

Apparently people don't like it when you suggest that they should work until they die.


"But what is happening in Gaza is not only Israel’s war: it is a US war, and it is most particularly Biden’s war. Israel simply could not afford to carry out this prolonged and resource-intensive assault on the Palestinian people without US money and weaponry. Polling shows that a majority of Americans want a permanent ceasefire; Biden’s support for Israel even appears to be damaging his chances in the upcoming presidential race. And yet he’s refusing to listen to his voters, and has repeatedly bypassed Congress, in order to keep supplying Israel with the resources on which it relies."

-- Novelist Sally Rooney, writing in the Irish Times, summed up the particular horror of President Biden maintaining a policy that is both unpopular and leading to mass death in Gaza.

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