The Ghost of You-Know-Who

Happy Halloween! We hope you and yours are responsibly celebrating the holiday in SAG-AFTRA-approved costumes. Does dressing as Barbie (the doll), and not Barbie (the movie character who is also a doll), absolve a reveler of the dreaded “scab” label?

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories 

  • The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) moved deeper into Gaza on Monday in a major advance toward Gaza City, the largest city in the strip, encircling from multiple directions with armored vehicles and troops. IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari reported the Israeli military had killed dozens of Hamas fighters during Monday’s advance, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally rejected calls for a ceasefire. “Calls for a ceasefire are a call for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terror, to surrender to barbarism,” Netanyahu wrote in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. “Just as the U.S. wouldn’t have agreed to a cease-fire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or after the terrorist attack on 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of Oct. 7.” 
  • House Republicans released a standalone proposal on Monday to provide Israel with $14.3 billion in aid, offsetting the funds with cuts to money allocated for the Internal Revenue Service in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. “We’re going to have pays-for,” Speaker Mike Johnson said of the measure he spearheaded. “We’re not just going to print money and send it overseas.” The Biden administration has requested Congress pass a $106 billion package, including the $14.3 billion in aid for Israel but also aid to Ukraine and funding for border security. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the rescinding of IRS funds would make the GOP bill “much harder to pass” in the upper chamber.
  • President Joe Biden issued a broad executive order on Monday attempting to establish some guardrails around the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI), including provisions surrounding safety, security, consumer protection, and privacy. Most of the order involves the establishment of monitoring and review programs within various federal agencies, directing them to develop standards and best practices for AI use. It also requires companies to submit information to the government about potential national security, economic security, and public health risks, relying on presidential authority from the Defense Production Act. “To realize the promise of AI and avoid the risk, we need to govern this technology,” Biden said yesterday at an event unveiling the order.
  • The United Auto Workers (UAW) reached a tentative deal with General Motors on Monday, marking the end of a month-and-a-half-long strike launched against the Big Three automakers. The deal is broadly similar to the agreements the union reached with Ford and Stellantis in recent days, including a 25 percent wage increase over the course of a four-year contract. “We wholeheartedly believe that our strike squeezed every last dime out of General Motors,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. Union members must still vote to ratify the deals, but will return to work in the meantime. 
  • Venezuela’s high court, the Supreme Justice Tribunal, suspended the results of the opposition party’s primary election on Monday, reneging on a promise by President Nicolás Maduro to allow the opposition to choose their own leader. María Corina Machado, a former lawmaker barred from public office by the Maduro government, won the primary with 93 percent of the vote, according to the primary commission. Maduro and the opposition reached a deal earlier this month to hold elections next year, resulting in the easing of U.S. economic sanctions against the country. The Tribunal is dominated by judges appointed by Maduro’s socialist government.
  • The trial began Monday in a Colorado lawsuit alleging former President Donald Trump should be excluded from the ballot for violating the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment as part of his attempts to overturn the 2020 election. The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear a similar case later this week, and one of the two lawsuits is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. 
  • Wesley Bell, a prosecutor based in St. Louis, Missouri, announced on Monday he was dropping his bid to unseat Republican Sen. Josh Hawley to instead mount a campaign against left-wing Rep. Cori Bush, a fellow Missouri Democrat. Bell criticized Bush in his announcement speech over her lack of cooperation with Democratic leaders on key legislation—pointing to her vote against the bipartisan infrastructure deal as an example—as well as her criticisms of Israel in the wake of the Hamas attack. “We must stand with our allies,” he said.

Zombie Primary?

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks to potential voters during a campaign event at Central College on October 21, 2023 in Pella, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks to potential voters during a campaign event at Central College on October 21, 2023 in Pella, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The purge of Republican presidential candidates kicked off this weekend—just in time for Halloween—when former Vice President Mike Pence became the first casualty of the 2024 GOP primary contest. Or at least the first casualty among the characters who have received any significant screen time.

“Your task is to give us government as good as our people again, and I know you will,” Pence told attendees at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday, where he announced his campaign’s end. “I urge all my fellow Republicans here to give our country a Republican standard-bearer that will, as Lincoln said, ‘appeal to the better angels of our nature,’ and not only lead us to victory but lead our nation with civility back to the time-honored principles that have always made America strong, prosperous, and free.” 

With less than three months to go before the first primary contest, when actual voters will have a chance to make good on Pence’s request, the field looks ripe for further winnowing as candidates face the dual numerical challenges of fundraising and polling. Former President Donald Trump can still claim a healthy lead in each category, as the remaining candidates fight to see who will be the last (wo)man standing in the undercard race. The third Republican debate next week—and the Republican National Committee’s stringent requirements to make the stage—may hasten the culling of the rest of the field, which will be necessary if the “Not-Trump” candidates wish to mount a meaningful challenge against the indicted former president.

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