Why Is John Kelly Leaving the White House?

President Trump announced over the weekend that Chief of Staff John Kelly will be leaving the White House by the end of the year. The announcement is hardly a surprise considering the high turnover in the Trump administration. But why Kelly? And why now? More at Time.

White House chief of staff John Kelly discovered what every White House staff member should know about their job status: they serve at the pleasure of the president. Once any chief loses the confidence of POTUS, and to a lesser extent the confidence of the rest of the White House staff, they are a dead man walking. This

Retired Marine general John Kelly’s exit from the White House might be more than the usual Trump-era turnover – it may signal Donald Trump’s pivot to his 2020 campaign… Additional reports have posited that Nick Ayers – Vice President Mike Pence’s current chief of staff – will assume the role, and according to Politico that’s a strong indication that Trump is ready to focus on his re-election strategy.

…we should stop asking who’s finally going to get Donald Trump under control. No one is. Self-discipline is not in the guy’s DNA. This is a White House unlike any other, and it will be for at least another two years. Kelly’s replacement won’t really be the chief of staff, even if that’s what it says on his door; Trump is unwilling to give anyone the authority they would need to perform that job.

Would a Recession Tank Trump’s Re-Election Chances?

The strength of the U.S. economy has been one of Trump’s biggest talking points throughout his presidency. With the latest volatility in the stock market, some analysts are predicting a recession on the horizon. How would this effect Trump’s re-election chances?

Many of Trump’s political allies acknowledge that his reelection prospects hinge in large part on how Americans judge their economic prospects at the time of the next election. But many independent analysts say that recent market turbulence is a warning sign that the U.S. economy will likely slow and maybe even tip into recession by 2020.

Trump has defied all sorts of conventional wisdom to date. For starters, he defeated the nominee of the party that oversaw America’s recovery from the Great Recession; by the 2016 election, the economy had been expanding for seven straight years. That trend has continued under Trump—the economy was even historically great last year—and yet, his approval rating has been mired in the low-40s. A recession almost certainly wouldn’t help Trump’s reelection chances, but it seems like an overreaction to pin his political future on whether or not one occurs in the next eighteen months.

President Donald Trump knows that a recession would cripple his reelection bid in 2020 — and that’s why he’s reportedly already prepared a list of people to blame should economic disaster strike sometime over the next two years… Although the president’s attacks on congressional Democrats may seem predictable, he’s also reportedly plotting to pin blame on some of his own appointees should the economy turn south.

Will the Settlement of Ofra Be Legalized After Sunday’s Shooting?

A drive-by shooting near the West Bank settlement of Ofra left seven individuals wounded on Sunday evening. As with many terror attacks in or near settlements in the West Bank, the shooting has been met with celebration from Hamas and calls for the legalization of the Settlement as a response.

Seven people were wounded in Sunday’s attack, including a 21-year-old woman in her seventh month of pregnancy, who was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and whose condition has stabilized. Doctors at the hospital delivered her baby boy, whose condition deteriorated Sunday overnight and who is now in serious condition. The woman’s husband, who was also wounded in the attack, was said to be in stable condition.

“The Jewish Home Party calls on the prime minister to immediately regulate the settlement of Ofra and grant it the status of a regular town in our country,” a statement from the right-wing coalition party said. The national-religious faction said that the proper response to such terror attacks was “to strengthen settlements.” The party’s statement also claimed that a “draft legal opinion for legalizing Ofra is already ready,” though it declined The Times of Israel’s request to view the document.

Another vile act of #Palestinian terrorism last night included the shooting of a pregnant woman. Hamas calls the shooters “heroic” — yes, the same #Hamas that the @UN could not resolve to condemn last week. The #US stands with #Israel against terrorists even if others won’t.

Is Michelle Goldberg Right About Anti-Zionism?

In a column for the New York Times (below), Michelle Goldberg argues that anti-Zionism ought not to be conflated with antisemitism, and Israel ought not to be conflated with the Jewish people. Not all Jews agree.

The conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is a bit of rhetorical sleight-of-hand that depends on treating Israel as the embodiment of the Jewish people everywhere. Certainly, some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, but it’s entirely possible to oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot. Indeed, it’s increasingly absurd to treat the Israeli state as a stand-in for Jews writ large, given the way the current Israeli government has aligned itself with far-right European movements that have anti-Semitic roots.

Goldberg claims that opposing Jewish ethno-nationalism doesn’t make you a bigot. But those who wish to deny the Jews the right to their own state, as well as the right to live there in security—things they don’t seek to deny to other ethno-religious groups in this fashion—are singling them out in the same way anti-Semites have always done and are practicing a form of bias. And bias against Jews is anti-Semitism.

Goldberg only plays lip service to the confluence between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, ignoring how much those two overlap. On the Right and the Left, being anti-Zionist is the way to be antisemitic in polite society, by treating Israel like the Jew among the nations, and then punting that hatred onto local Jews.

Does the Republican Party Have a “Woman Problem?”

When people talk about the Republican party having a “woman problem,” they’re referring to two things. The first is female GOP voters turning away from Trump. The second is the decreased number of female GOP congresswomen after the midterm elections. Are the two issues connected?

Part of the difficulty for female GOP candidates, according to lawmakers and political operatives, is that they find themselves having to answer for President Trump’s controversial policies and heated rhetoric toward women in ways their male colleagues don’t always have to.

But by elevating smart GOP female candidates through tangible support and money, the party can attract more female voters. What’s more, this will foster the creation of more policies that empower women, unlike those that encourage greater dependence on government and weaken women’s abilities to get jobs, start businesses and live in peace and safety.

A separate Pew Research survey conducted in July found that 68% of women feel that more women running for Congress would be a good thing, which seems to indicate that more women within the GOP would help garner more support from women. Of course, increasing the diversity of the party is only the beginning. To attract even more female voters, the GOP would probably have to re-evaluate its stance on several key issues, like upholding Roe v. Wade, which 68% of women support, according to a June Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Should “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Be Banned from the Radio?

Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” the classic Christmas standard written by Jewish songwriter Frank Loesser, is being called to task (and selectively pulled from the radio) for its perceived message about sexual consent. The song, about a man trying to convince a woman to stay at his place a little longer, hasn’t aged well in the #MeToo era. But is it an overreaction to ban the song altogether?

…a man unconvinced that a woman’s “no” really means “no.” She wants to go home; using the lousy weather as an excuse, he’s cajoling her to stay. She also needs a ride, but he makes no offer to oblige her. At the very least, he’s an insufferable jerk. The creep factor amplifies after she agrees to “just a half drink more,” then asks, “Say, what’s in this drink?” Whatever Loesser’s lyrical intentions were when he wrote it in 1944, it now makes me say, “You in danger, girl.”

Unilaterally moralizing that songs, movies, novels or any art from another time is no longer fit for public consumption sends us down a no-win path. It leaves so many valued cultural artifacts vulnerable to puritanical erasure — whether it happens overnight or over time — and robs us of opportunities to continue seeing ourselves in other humans, stories and cultures from our past.

Perhaps the song would have a better reputation if the gender roles were reversed… In the song’s original score, the duet partners are designated only as “wolf” and “mouse,” with genders unspecified, and the song’s many decades of covers have featured several women taking the wolf’s role—including Miss Piggy of the Muppets, who relentlessly pursued ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, clad only in a towel.

Today’s Hot Issues

Why Is John Kelly Leaving the White House? Would a Recession Tank Trump’s Re-Election Chances? Will the Settlement of Ofra Be Legalized After Sunday’s Shooting? Is Michelle Goldberg Right About Anti-Zionism? Does the Republican Party Have a “Woman Problem?” Should “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Be Banned from the Radio?