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The News Not Noise Letter: Trump Pulls Ahead in Battleground States
A shift in 2024 polls, a petulant Trump testifies in NY, and monitoring the new House Speaker. Plus: it's the 30-day anniversary of the 10/7 massacre.
We’ve been so focused on the conflict in the Middle East, we haven’t brought you much domestic news lately. It’s time to catch you up. Today: the threat of a government shutdown, a new poll that could have Biden world up at night, and Trump’s combative testimony in his civil fraud trial. We also bring you news that matters from the Israel-Hamas war as the US pushes for humanitarian pauses and it’s the 30-day anniversary of the 10/7 massacre.
Plus we include a clip from my interview with Fauda co-creator, journalist, and Israeli commentator Avi Issacharoff.
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Here are the headlines:
Shutdown Deadline Looms: Speaker Mike Johnson has just about two weeks to do the impossible: fund the US government. Congress has until November 17 to pass a stopgap measure to keep the lights on while the GOP works on passing their appropriations bills. Johnson has to balance the demands of his far-right members — budget cuts and more border security — with the need to woo moderates. He can afford to lose only a handful of GOP votes, no easy task. Can he do it? Axios has described Johnson as the least experienced legislator to become speaker in 140 years. If Johnson can’t do it, the government shuts down on Saturday, November 18. If Johnson does keep government funded, ironically, that could cost him politically; remember, former Speaker McCarthy was ousted for agreeing to a stopgap measure.
Also, the latest “Mike Johnson is really weird” news: According to a newly resurfaced interview from 2022, Speaker Johnson said he and his then-17-year-old teenage son monitored one another’s porn intake. He explained that they used a software called “Covenant Eyes” that is meant to discourage men from watching porn by tracking their internet use on all devices and sharing reports with an “accountability partner.” Johnson said it looks for “keywords, search terms, and also images,” and added, “I’m proud to tell you my son has got a clean slate.”
Developmental psychologist Dr. Aliza Pressman, author of the upcoming The 5 Principles of Parenting, offers, “This speaks to a worrying lack of boundaries and a confusion of the child-parent relationship.” This story may be noisy, but also meaningful from a leader with the power to shape US social policy.
Polls Worry Dems: A new NYT/Siena College poll highlights some trends that will have Democrats concerned. In a matchup with former President Trump, President Biden is losing in five key swing states: Nevada, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin. (In some instances, Trump’s lead is within the margin of error, meaning Biden could have more support than the poll reflects.) Other findings:
Support for Biden is especially eroding among young voters and Black voters. Among 18–29-year-olds, Biden is only polling 1% higher than Trump (47%–46%), and among Black voters Biden’s support has dropped from 92% in the 2020 election to just 71% in this poll.
We’d note, though this isn’t reflected in the poll, that young progressive voters object to Biden’s support for Israel. This threatens to deepen a divide between moderate pro-Israel Democrats and the progressive left.
But remember – this is one poll, the election is a year away, and polls have been notoriously unhelpful in recent election cycles. Wait for a new poll and the numbers could change.
Humanitarian Corridor Now, Pauses Next?: Israel continues to reject calls for a ceasefire without a return of the hostages. But there is limited progress on the humanitarian front. The IDF says it opened a humanitarian corridor for four hours on Sunday to allow civilians in the north of Gaza to flee south. And on the phone today President Biden and Israeli PM Netanyahu discussed potential “tactical pauses” that would allow civilians to move to safe locations. Secretary of State Blinken pressed for these “pauses” during his visit to Israel – telling reporters “all of this is a work in progress.” On his trip Blinken also visited Jordan, the West Bank, Cyprus, Iraq, and finally Turkey and is now headed to Asia. And on Thursday, over 100 aid trucks were allowed in through the Rafah Crossing — the greatest amount allowed through so far.
Street by Street Fighting: The IDF has surrounded Gaza City and troops will begin direct combat with Hamas. The AP reports, “Casualties are expected to rise on both sides.” An important note: ground operations like this can be more deadly for IDF soldiers but less dangerous for civilians because they are more precise than airstrikes.
Rockets Land in Israel: Rocket fire continues to hit Israel. Hezbollah and Hamas launched volleys of rockets Monday — most were intercepted by the Iron Dome, but some made it through to Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel, killing one Israeli. Israel responded by shelling in the direction the rockets came from.
US Submarine: In America’s most forceful show of deterrence so far, the US Navy sent an Ohio-class submarine through the Suez Canal. This class of submarine can carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, each of which packs enough punch to destroy a house. This does not mean the US has imminent plans to fire missiles at anyone — it’s meant to deter further attacks on Israel by other countries like Iran. (Note: you may see headlines about a “nuclear-powered” sub. All US Navy submarines run on nuclear power, but not all of them carry nuclear ballistic missiles.)
War Tech: Israel used its long-range hypersonic Arrow defense system to down a ballistic missile fired by Houthis in Yemen — above Earth’s atmosphere. This is technically the first-known act of space warfare. This isn’t the only incidence of high-tech weaponry in the Israel-Gaza war — Israel is using SLAM (simultaneous location and mapping) drones in Hamas’ extensive tunnel network to map out facilities and potentially even carry out strikes directly.
30 Days of Captivity: It’s been 30 days since the 10/7 attack and a month of captivity for up to 240 hostages. Family members of hostages are visiting the US to be “living reminders” of their family members. There are vigils across the US to honor the dead and kidnapped.
Interview with Avi Issacharoff: I spoke with Avi Issacharoff, the co-creator of the TV show Fauda and an Israeli journalist with unique knowledge of warfighting and the conflict. He talks about how Iran keeps an arm’s distance from combat, by using other terror groups to attack Israel. The full interview will be released to paying subscribers this week.
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Trump Testifies: In the US, former President Donald Trump took the stand today at his New York civil fraud trial. Those in the room report that Trump angrily clashed with lawyers and the judge, insisting his financial statements actually underestimated his wealth and that if there were errors, he couldn’t be responsible because all the statements contained disclaimers as well as a “‘worthless’ clause” (essentially, a clause saying the document isn’t reliable). He said all this should exempt him from fraud charges. Throughout his testimony Trump attacked Judge Engoron — calling one of his rulings “very stupid” — and Attorney General James — “a political hack.” A frustrated Judge Engoron told one of Trump's attorneys, “I beseech you to control him if you can,” threatening to “excuse him and draw every negative inference I can.” Trump’s lawyers took a rosier view of their clients’ testimony praising nearly every one of his responses: “Brilliant,” one said.
Verbal Slip-ups: In other recent Trump news, the 77-year-old former president has recently made some embarrassing gaffes on campaign stops, including forgetting the name of the city he was in, saying Biden would “plunge the world into World War Two,” and forgetting he was running against Biden, not Obama. Trump has repeatedly mocked Biden for similar mistakes. Anyone remember that old saying about glass houses?
Support for Trump: On a more serious note, while former President Trump’s 91 indictments haven’t seemed to faze his devoted base, a conviction might. According to the same NYT/Siena College poll we referenced earlier, about 6% of swing state voters who are leaning towards voting for Trump say they wouldn’t vote for him if he gets convicted of a crime. That could be enough to tilt the balance back in Biden’s favor.
Elections in Ohio and Elsewhere: Tuesday is Election Day in some states and municipalities including Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Iowa, Mississippi, and Rhode Island. Ohio is voting on whether to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution.
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