Where Will the GOP Go from Here?

The GOP is facing a crisis prompted by Trump’s refusal to concede the election and the riots at the Capitol Building on January 6th. Will the party, as exemplified by some notable Republicans, distance itself from Trump and his base?

Mr. Trump’s style of personalistic authoritarian populism is his alone. It is unfamiliar to most American politicians, and the messianic loyalty he commands among his most martial followers is unlikely to be replicated by those within the party who seek to pick up his mantle. But Mr. Trump’s Republicanism, despite his belief that everything is about him, has always been about more than that. He has forged what is likely to be the Republican blueprint for the future…

For four years, President Trump used his rabid conservative populist following to intimidate even the most traditional Republicans. Now, after a crushing November election defeat and the public scorn ignited when his backers stormed the U.S. Capitol, the future of the Trump-led GOP teeters uneasily between self-destruction and reconstruction.

The invasion of the Capitol was undeniably a disaster for Trump and the Republican Party. But Democrats should be careful about celebrating. Both parties are facing increasingly fractious politics, and the party that figures out how to walk through the minefield will win in the end.

Will There Be Another “Coup” on Inauguration Day?

The Capitol Building riots are being referred to by many as a failed “coup” attempt. But “coup” or not, the attempt may not yet be failed. Security officials are on high alert for Inauguration Day, when white nationalists and far-right extremists may be planning another riot.

The FBI’s warning of another right-wing march on the Capitol, scheduled for Sunday, has been billed by some news reports as a sequel to the attempted insurrection of Wednesday or as a protest of calls for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. But in fact, militant groups have been advertising the upcoming march for several weeks.

Concerns about more violent incidents appear to be well-founded. Calls for widespread protests on the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden have been rampant online for weeks. These demonstrations are scheduled to culminate with what organizers have dubbed a “Million Militia March” on Jan. 20 as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris are to be sworn in on the same Capitol grounds that rioters overran on Wednesday.

On one hand, the impending threats are real, and law enforcement agencies can’t make the mistake of underreacting as they did ahead of Wednesday’s riot… At the same time, there’s now a danger of police overreacting, especially because they’ve just seen one of their own fatally injured and another crushed against a door by the Capitol mob.

Will Israel Have a Fifth Election?

In March, Israel will have its fourth election in just two years. As if that’s not enough, many Israelis are already starting to speculate that this election will fail to create a viable coalition and that a fifth election will be needed.

No one is winning, and this means that everybody is losing. So much so that a casual talk about a fifth election has become an everyday occurrence. As if it is normal to have an election without a conclusion. As if it is normal to have not four election cycles in two years but even five in two-and-a-half years.

[Netanyahu’s] highest priority is to gain a majority in the 24th Knesset that will vote in favor of a law that will grant a serving premier immunity from prosecution. Failing that, he will try to at least get a majority supporting his sixth government. And if that’s not at hand, he will do everything to exploit divisions among the opposition to ensure that no one else can form a government, leaving him the caretaker prime minister until Israel holds its fifth election in two and a half years.

That is certainly an option for Netanyahu. Vacating the official residence on Balfour Street is not an option.

In March, Israel will end up with another political deadlock, but Netanyahu won’t resign or cut a plea-bargain with legal authorities. Instead, he will maneuver Israel into a fifth election in September while repeatedly delaying his trial proceedings.

What’s With All the Kristallnacht Comparisons?

Arnold Schwarzenegger compared the January 6th riots to Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass), the deadly pogrom in 1938 Germany which preceded the Holocaust. Later, the memory of Kristallnacht was invoked again by Republican Steve King and Fox News commentator Jeanine Pirro-this time to describe the online backlash against conservative social media accounts and platforms which followed the attack.

Yeah. Losing Twitter followers is in no way the same as what happened during Kristallnacht, when actual human beings were murdered. At least when Schwarzenegger made the comparison, he was drawing on his own childhood growing up in Austria and what he saw then — and comparing it to an event that has so far resulted in five deaths.

In the end, the Capitol siege itself is not analogous to Kristallnacht. But the falsehoods that motivated it, and the mob mentality that fueled it, have already been likened by some scholars to one of Hitler’s calling cards: “The Big Lie,” a distortion of fact so audacious, many find themselves believing it.

Kristallnacht comparisons are everywhere now. It has to stop. Leading figures on the left and right are turning to Nazi parallels with ever more alacrity as their political cudgel of choice. The memory of the millions of innocents is sacred. Find other ways to make your points.

Why Is Everyone Downloading the App “Signal?”

Move over Whatsapp and Telegram. Everyone is downloading the messaging app “Signal.” Here’s why:

Last Thursday, Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted “Use Signal” and sent the valuation of the wrong company, tiny health care technology firm Signal Advance, beyond its wildest expectations. Musk had been referring to the unrelated encrypted messaging outfit, which also benefited immensely from the tweet.

The jump in new Signal downloads also followed the riots in Washington D.C. and moves by Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOGL) to cut ties with Parler, the social networking service favored by members of the far-right. Telegram, another encrypted messaging app on Tuesday said it had attracted 25 million new users from around the world in the previous 72 hours, bringing its total active user base to 500 million.

Known for its end-to-end encryption and independent structure as a non-profit organization run by a foundation — not a big tech company — Signal has previously been the communication method of choice for activists, people in the hacker community, and others concerned about privacy.

Do Psychedelics Have a Place in the Future of Judaism?

Recent research has revealed that psychedelic drugs may have a big role to play in the future of medicine, being used to treat depression, PTSD, and other disorders. Do psychedelics also have a role to play in the future of Judaism? While most Jewish authorities remain concerned about health risks and strongly opposed to drug use, a few on the fringe are ready to experiment. Here’s what they have to say:

Many Jewish thinkers have had a huge influence on psychedelic thought. Yet, many have also rejected their Judaism in their approach. Today, however, a strong Jewish strand is emerging on the psychedelics scene. From reviving direct religious experience to healing intergenerational trauma, psychedelics and Judaism have a lot to offer each other.

As more research about the applications of these substances for psychotherapeutic therapies and sacred encounters emerges from respected research facilities around the world, I hope we might seek out and experiment with the Jewish ideas and practices that touch and heal the deepest parts of our psyches and spirits. Our noble mystical tradition, by and large, remains in the storehouses, waiting to be shared and flow freely.

Jewish psychedelics reformer Rick Doblin wants to see therapeutic MDMA legalized… Though his family had arrived in America before the war, the Holocaust loomed large in Doblin’s childhood imagination. The irrational hatred, the othering of minorities and the potentially lethal consequences terrified him. Psychedelics offered him a way to turn that fear into something useful.

Today’s Hot Issues

Where Will the GOP Go from Here? Will There Be Another “Coup” on Inauguration Day? Will Israel Have a Fifth Election? What’s With All the Kristallnacht Comparisons? Why Is Everyone Downloading the App “Signal?” Do Psychedelics Have a Place in the Future of Judaism?