In This Episode
- Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election in 2024. Manchin’s decision to step down leaves Democrats in a bind and jeopardizes their narrow 51-49 Senate majority.
- The White House said on Thursday that Israel agreed to daily, four-hour-long pauses in its military operation in Gaza to allow civilians to evacuate. These pauses will also make it easier for deliveries of humanitarian aid to get into Gaza safely, and hopefully facilitate the release of more of the 200 hostages still being held.
- And in headlines: the U.S. is one week away from another potential government shutdown, federal officials are investigating a series of suspicious letters sent to local election offices, and the trailblazing feminist website Jezebel will shutter after 16 years.
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Juanita Tolliver: It’s Friday, November 10th. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi. And this is What a Day. On today’s show the latest from Gaza, where there will be pauses in the fighting so civilians can evacuate. Plus, we are just one week away from another potential government shutdown.
Juanita Tolliver: But first in the news that made me audibly groan. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced that he will not seek reelection to the U.S. Senate in 2024. But let’s not call this a retirement because Manchin’s announcement video was full of campaign vibes and language. Take a listen:
[clip of Senator Joe Manchin] I’ve made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for reelection to the United States Senate. But what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.
Juanita Tolliver: [laugh] I mean, I don’t know who’s going to answer this call for this man’s movement, but uh he’s going to be out there.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Uh. One of the toughest decisions of his life, one of the easiest of mine to not watch the video. So I’m just going to say that.
Juanita Tolliver: Interestingly enough, though, the part that Joe Houseboat Manchin left out was the fact that his exit from the Senate leaves Democrats in a bind.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Okay. That is the heart of the matter here. Democrats have a 51-49 majority over Republicans in the Senate. How difficult will it be for Democrats to retain their Senate majority in 2024, given Manchin’s decision now to not run for reelection?
Juanita Tolliver: Let me just put it this way, friend. Democrats were already facing an uphill battle going into 2024 because they have the tough task of defending 23 Senate seats. And now Manchin’s decision makes it that much harder because one of those seats is basically gone entirely.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: And I say entirely knowing that West Virginia is a red state that has consistently gone for Trump. And because even before Manchin’s announcement, his unfavorables were on the rise and two formidable Republicans were already in the race, including the governor.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, not to mention he has done this within one calendar year of Election Day, which is extremely short notice when it comes to a campaign. He is like leaving everybody in 2 to 3 times the bind that we were going to be in in the first place by doing that.
Juanita Tolliver: And he did it on purpose. That’s Manchin for you.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. [laughter]
Juanita Tolliver: But looking beyond West Virginia, Democrats will have tough races across the nation, including in Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Montana and Wisconsin. So the pressure to win these 22 other Senate seats is high. I’m also going to be watching how Democrats modify their investments and organizing strategies in states like Texas and Florida in an effort to, you know, try to flip those seats. If this has y’all groaning and worried too. Remember that you can start volunteering now to help. Go to VoteSaveAmerica.com/NoOffYears.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes I can guarantee that volunteering, making calls, canvasing, all of that getting involved feels so much better than sitting in your home and worrying or complaining ever does. But speaking of groaning, there has been no shortage of tension between Manchin and Democrats for years. Tell us more about what has led up to this moment.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, 1,000%. There’s been frustrations all around. They’ve been mutual. They’ve been frequent, and at one point Manchin even hinted at switching party affiliation. But he backed down on that notion. But with every step that President Biden and congressional Democrats took to realize an agenda full of things that people need and want. I’m talking about things like paid family leave, Medicare vouchers for the elderly, universal pre-K and more. Manchin was there to block it all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: Here’s one of the ultimate Manchin moments from December 2021 that enraged Democrats as Manchin went on Fox to deal a deadly blow to Biden’s build back better legislation. Take a listen.
[clip of Senator Joe Manchin] I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.
[clip of Fox News reporter] You’re done. This is this is a no.
[clip of Senator Joe Manchin] This is a no.
Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you, I remember watching this feeling the personal disrespect that President Biden must have felt, that congressional Democrats must have felt, because at the time they were bending over backwards trying to get this dude on board. And this was how he decided to shut it all down. On Fox, no less.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, absolutely. It is a slap in the face, and there have been so many slaps in the face to the rest of the Democratic Party from Joe Manchin over the last few years especially. It’s really been a lot. But you mentioned earlier, this wasn’t a retirement announcement from Manchin. What exactly is he planning to do now?
Juanita Tolliver: So Manchin’s announcement included key ingredients like a personal story, a unity message, and finger pointing out Washington being the problem. So let’s all brace ourselves for a dun dun dun presidential announcement. I’m taking bets now. Place your bets on when that announcement’s coming, because Manchin said that he’ll be traveling the nation to see if there’s interest in starting a movement to unite Americans. And that? That definitely has no labels written all over it. So consider Manchin’s announcement to be kind of an onramp to 2024, where he will most likely join Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Cornel West, and Jill Stein as a third party candidate for president.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Meanwhile, I will be searching for an off ramp from this world. [laughter] Anyways, thank you so much for recapping all of this chaos over the years and this big news. Now, let’s switch gears a bit for the latest from Gaza. The White House announced yesterday that Israel has agreed to daily four hour long pauses in its military operation in Gaza in order to allow civilians to evacuate the northern areas of the territory. Short term pauses like this have happened over the past few days, but now that this agreement has been formalized, it’ll include advance notice of when these periods will start at least 3 hours ahead of time and the opening of a second corridor for evacuations along the coast to expand this process.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, I’ve got two really massive things glaring when I hear this announcement. One, that there’s still going to be 20 hours of bombing. Right? Like I can–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Juanita Tolliver: –extrapolate that from the okay. And the other thing is they’re making another corridor for people to evacuate. But evacuate where? Because this is clearly still an unsafe situation all across Gaza.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Absolutely. I mean, the duration for these pauses, just 4 hours really gives a sense of the conditions on the ground in Gaza, the frequency of bombardments that they have been experiencing for a four hour pause to be considered a really big, really significant deal. These pauses will make it easier for more deliveries of humanitarian aid to get into Gaza safely and will hopefully facilitate the release of more of the 200 plus hostages who are being held in Gaza. We’ll touch more on that in just a moment. This also follows pushes from the Biden administration on Israel to do more to minimize harm to civilians in their efforts to root out Hamas. In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israeli troops had already permitted the safe passage of 50,000 people in Gaza who used this route to travel south on Wednesday. However, he added that there will be no full on cease fire, which, you know, many people have been asking for without the return of the hostages who were taken by militants in the early days of the war.
Juanita Tolliver: No. And I do appreciate you mentioning how the pauses will allow for more humanitarian aid to get into Gaza. That is key. And also facilitating the release of these hostages. And I know there have been some more discussions over the past few days about securing their release. So what can you tell us about that?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, the CIA director and the chief of Israel’s spy agency met yesterday with officials from Qatar who have been serving as mediators in hostage talks with Hamas to discuss hostage releases in exchange for a pause in Israeli attacks on Gaza and the entry of more aid. Hamas had asked for a three day pause. Obviously, you know, Israel just agreed to these shorter daily pauses. So we will see in the coming days if Hamas does release more hostages now that there have been pauses baked in. Yesterday, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is another armed group on the ground in Gaza that is holding hostages. They are separate from Hamas, actually released a video of two Israeli hostages that they are holding. There are two women ages 77 and 13. They are shown asking Israel to bring them home. Obviously, we don’t know if these statements were coerced. These women are being held as hostages, so they are not really in control of so much that they are doing. But Israel has denounced the release of these kinds of videos of hostages, you know, asking Israel, calling on them to do more and have called it, quote, “psychological warfare.”
Juanita Tolliver: Now, let’s discuss the conditions in Gaza now, because I know they are worsening every single day.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, that is correct. The agreement for daily pauses comes amid Israel’s continued bombardment of Gaza, as well as combat on the ground now in Gaza City. The IDF claims that just yesterday they captured a Hamas stronghold in northern Gaza after hours of intense fighting. In some videos that have been released, you can see fighting in very close urban quarters amid crumbling buildings and debris in the streets. The violence has also not been confined to Gaza alone. At least 18 Palestinians were killed yesterday in the West Bank, where millions of Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation alongside Israeli settlers. I believe over 150 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since this conflict began just last month. But back to Gaza, health wise conditions continue to deteriorate as well. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the majority of Gaza’s hospitals have stopped functioning entirely. The World Health Organization has warned that due to intense overcrowding and the lack of water, health care, and sanitation in Gaza. Diseases like chickenpox, scabies and upper respiratory infections have surged rapidly in the area, putting the area’s 2 million people at risk. We will continue to keep you updated with everything going on in the ground, going on diplomatically, but that is the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: For the second time this year, the country is bracing for a potential government shutdown that could come one week from now. So that’s just a little something to look forward to. That is because House Republicans still don’t have their shit together. On Thursday, the chamber adjourned for the week without making any progress on a bill that would fund the federal government through November 17th. And as a result, the White House’s budget office told several federal agencies to prepare for a possible interruption. This comes after newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson told the public to, quote unquote, “trust” him and his Republican colleagues to keep the government open.
Juanita Tolliver: Never trusted him. Not for one second. Nope.
Priyanka Aribindi: Not for one. And things have gotten so bad that even members of Johnson’s own party expressed disappointment in his leadership. Republican Representative Troy Nehls of Texas literally told reporters yesterday that he would pray for a new speaker and that, quote, “I don’t think Lord Jesus himself could manage this group.” [laughter] Everyone here always bringing Jesus into it. I’m sorry. He wants nothing to do with you people.
Juanita Tolliver: I love this so much, because he’s like, Jesus can’t do it. And also, I want to remind everybody the rule has not changed. It still only takes one person to call for a motion to vacate. So here we go.
Priyanka Aribindi: House Republicans have seven days to figure something out, but even then, their spending package has to still pass the Democratic majority Senate. If Congress fails to pass a short term spending bill by November 17th. Millions of civil service workers and military personnel could be sent home or forced to work without pay. Government shutdowns are bad for–
Juanita Tolliver: Yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: –pretty much everyone. We want to avoid them. So if House Republicans could get their act together, figure it out for the sake of the country, that would be great. Just this once. It would be lovely.
Juanita Tolliver: Federal officials are investigating a series of suspicious letters that were sent to local election officials this week, some of which were laced with substances like fentanyl. Like–
Priyanka Aribindi: Geez.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my gosh. This feels like a massively scary moment for election workers.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: According to the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, suspicious envelopes were sent to offices in at least five states. California, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Four of the letters intercepted contained fentanyl. An election worker in Tacoma, Washington, posted a photo of the letter their office received that read, quote, “End elections now.”
Priyanka Aribindi: Excuse me. End elections. I’m sorry. That seems like end times type of talk. Uh. No, absolutely no.
Juanita Tolliver: Completely unhinged. Thankfully, there have been no reports of election workers falling ill from the mail. But the news has raised concerns about their safety heading into the 2024 presidential election. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that officials will provide election workers in the state with doses of naloxone, the medication that reverses drug overdoses as a precaution. This is extreme, y’all. Like we know that election workers are regular people, often time volunteers or extremely low paid employees who are doing this civil service and this work for us. And they should not come under threat for doing this like they’re critical to our democracy.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I’m sorry. You’re saying I might be drugged with fentanyl. I might have to take Naloxone to save my life. When I just–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –showed up to uh help people vote at their polling place, that’s crazy.
Juanita Tolliver: Take a listen to what Raffensperger told reporters yesterday.
[clip of Brad Raffensperger] This is domestic terrorism and it needs to be condemned by anyone that holds elected office and anyone that wants to hold elected office anywhere in America.
Juanita Tolliver: No lies detected. This is domestic terrorism.
Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely.
Juanita Tolliver: And you know who won’t be calling it that? You know, his name. Starts with a T. He’s not going to call this out. He’s not going to condemn this, right?
Priyanka Aribindi: No. He’s not going to talk about this at all.
Juanita Tolliver: Federal officials issued a statement to election workers nationwide yesterday saying that they are working to intercept any other suspicious letters before they arrive to their offices. Y’all I’m scared for election workers. This is going to be wild times in 2024. And I just need everybody to please, please, please take every precaution and stay safe.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. And as we learned in 2020 post COVID, so many of these people who volunteered to do this job are often elderly, and many of them in Covid times were like, No, I can’t do that anymore. So we are in this situation where we need election workers. We need people who are able to be out there.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: To do this. And it’s scary that these threats are now going to discourage people from doing things that will really help our democracy function. I hope they don’t discourage people. I hope this stuff stops, but this is so necessary. And it’s really unfortunate to see scary threats like this happen and threaten democracy for all of us.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: A caravan of about 3000 migrants blocked off one of Mexico’s main highways on Wednesday, demanding transit visas to help them cross the country and reach the U.S. border. Migrants from Central America, Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti first started walking towards the U.S. last week, after leaving the southern city of Tapachula because the visa processing times there were taking too long. People often have to wait weeks or even months to get such visas and aren’t able to work in the meantime. The caravan then stopped in the nearby city of Huixtla, and so on Wednesday, thousands of migrants blocked highway inspection booths just outside the city to demand transit or exit visas. An activist and organizer of the march told the Associated Press, quote, “We know we are causing discomfort for Mexicans and we apologize. But the drug cartels are kidnapping us, killing us.” As a form of protest. Some migrants had their lips sewn together last week–
Juanita Tolliver: Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: –in an effort to demand documents for legal passage. Seriously. Wow. Meanwhile, the Mexican government’s Refugee Aid Commission said in a statement late Tuesday that it does not issue transit visas.
Juanita Tolliver: These migrants are clearly acting out of desperation and–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: –really need some structural changes so that they can get the support they need to avoid exactly what they’re protesting. The kidnappings, the killings, all of it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely.
Juanita Tolliver: In surprising but good news out of the Vatican. Pope Francis has recently clarified that transgender people can be baptized, serve as godparents and be witnesses at church weddings. This announcement was revealed in a Vatican document that Pope Francis approved last week and was posted online Wednesday. It’s part of the pope’s larger movement to include the queer community in the Roman Catholic Church without changing the church teachings. Hmm. That gives me a little bit of pause. Okay. But American bishops were notably quiet about this clarification from the Vatican. Last year, the American Bishops Conference put out its own statement that gender transition surgeries were not, quote, “morally justified” and instructed Catholic hospitals to not perform them. However, this isn’t to say that we’ll see the pope at a pride event anytime soon. While the pope has repeatedly said the church welcomes everyone, he hasn’t walked back the church teachings that say, quote, “Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” And therein lies the reality that the math ain’t mathing on this. So the symbolic gesture is critical. It is important. It is a step. It is not everything, though.
Priyanka Aribindi: Certainly not everything. And so glaring to see the American bishops in contrast with Pope Francis.
Juanita Tolliver: Imagine.
Priyanka Aribindi: It really is wild. I mean, Pope Francis clearly not all the way there with what is needed, but American bishops are like miles away from where Pope Francis is. It really is wild. It really is. And finally, the trailblazing feminist website Jezebel is shutting down after 16 glorious years. The site’s parent company, G/O Media, announced the, quote, a “very, very difficult decision” yesterday because of “economic headwinds.” And in a memo to the company’s CEO, Jim Spanfeller said 23 people will be laid off from the company’s editorial staff, including the Jezebel team. He also said the company tried to sell the site but was ultimately unsuccessful in finding a new home for it. Jezebel was first launched back in 2007 and became a leading voice on women’s and feminist issues and the site published commentary about gender, power, and sexism well before the MeToo movement brought those conversations to mainstream media. Crooked Media’s own Erin Ryan is actually an alum of Jezebel and wrote for the site for nearly five years, and at one point during her tenure, she was the managing deputy editor of the site. Here is a little bit of what she had to say on this very sad day.
[clip of Erin Ryan] It’s a real shame that one of the most important and enduring voices in pop feminism is being shut down due to corporate stupidity on basically the eve of the 2024 election season. When abortion and other issues that Jezebel has brought to the forefront throughout its life will be at the center of the American political discussion.
Juanita Tolliver: 100%. Wow, what a critical loss here in political discussion, but also in media. But I want to emphasize the point she made. It’s because of stupid corporate decisions that we’re losing–
Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely.
Juanita Tolliver: –such a guiding light like Jezebel.
Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. So many vital, incredible voices came up through Jezebel, including Erin. I think we all owe Jezebel so much and owe these writers so much for expanding you know our conversations, bringing really, really great commentary into the discourse. And I know we’ll be worse off without it. And that makes me very sad. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with a little science lesson from a longtime WAD listener.
Priyanka Aribindi: Hey WAD squad. We are ending the week by opening up our mailbag. We’d love to shout out a WAD listener Nick Reilly. He is a Ph.D. student in physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, and he wrote us a very thoughtful and informative email after our headline earlier this week about the recent discovery of the oldest black hole in space.
Juanita Tolliver: Y’all know I was geeking out over this 13.2 billion year old black hole and wondered out loud, how do scientists calculate this kind of stuff? And lo and behold, Nick came to our rescue. He explained that researchers will look at the colors in the light from a distant star.
Priyanka Aribindi: Nick included a lot of details, but one thing that we both found super cool was how he explained this complicated calculating in layman’s terms. He wrote to us saying, quote, “Because the speed of light in a vacuum at least, is a constant. That means that the expansion of space is actually stretching out light. It loses energy in this process and becomes redder. This loss in energy allows us to look for emission or absorption features in distant objects and compare them to what we know they should be, at least here on earth.”
Juanita Tolliver: Y’all, when I was reading Nick’s explanation one, I got a little bit overwhelmed, so I had to put it down a couple of times Nick, but I came back to it and then I felt like we know nothing. If space is continuously stretching, we’re Jon Snow over here. We literally don’t know how far this goes. We know nothing. But you are clearly so talented, my friend. Thank you so much for writing in and sharing your knowledge. We truly appreciate you.
Priyanka Aribindi: So appreciated. We love hearing from you.
Juanita Tolliver: If you’ve got a fun story or a passion related to something we talk about on the show or you just want to say hi, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tell us on our Discord Channel once you’ve joined at Crooked.com/friends. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Go to Vote Save America and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just emails from Nick Reilly like us, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And have a great weekend.
Juanita Tolliver: I really hope everybody gets rest because wow, what a week. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. We earned ourselves a weekend. Everybody, please. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our showrunner is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.