June 2, 2021

The big story today is that in Israel, a coalition of eight very different parties has come together to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power after 12 years. Netanyahu, who was a close ally of former president Trump, is currently on trial for fraud, bribery, and breach of trust while in office. For the first time, the coalition that will replace him includes a party that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel. According to the deal, hardliner Naftali Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years before turning the office over to center-left leader Yair Lapid, who hammered out the arrangement. The deal has to be accepted by the Israeli parliament, which is expected to do so.

As soon as the coalition announced it was approaching agreement, Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee flew to Israel to offer support to Netanyahu and to call President Biden weak. Cruz released a video that he claimed was of a home destroyed by a Hamas rocket that killed “an elderly woman’s caretaker.” Considering that Cruz left Texas to go to Cancun in the midst of the deadly freeze in that state that killed at least 111 people, it seems likely that his concern for the 12 Israelis killed in the 11 recent days of fighting was related less to humanitarianism than to wooing U.S. pro-Israel voters.

Other stories from today are the kind that advance bigger stories, nothing that stands alone as a game changer. 

Like Cruz, Fox News Channel personalities seem to have forgotten the old saying that politics stops at the water’s edge, an expression meaning that Americans don’t criticize the government to other nations. FNC personality Sean Hannity has been cheering on Russian President Vladimir Putin while calling President Biden “weak and... a cognitive mess,” telling the president he shouldn’t go to the scheduled summit on June 16, and not to forget “your warm milky and your sippy cup.” 

Today, we learned that, during the Trump administration, the Department of Justice secretly seized phone records from four New York Times reporters. We already knew it had seized records from reporters affiliated with CNN and the Washington Post. The department appeared to be trying to figure out the source of leaks from the FBI. 

Early reviews suggest that the policy of trying to help people in crisis has been a success. A study from the University of Michigan reveals that the December 2020 Covid-19 relief bill and the March 2021 American Rescue Plan dramatically improved American lives. Food insufficiency fell by more than 40%, financial instability fell by 45%, and adverse mental health symptoms fell by 20%. The study suggests that “the speed, breadth, and flexibility” of the programs, especially the use of cash transfers, was key to easing material hardship.

Opponents of the programs argue that hardship would have improved anyway, since tax credits arrived in April. Scott Winship of the American Enterprise Institute told New York Times reporter Jason DeParle, “It’s not sustainable to just give people enough cash to eliminate poverty…. And in the long run it can have negative consequences by reducing the incentives to work and marry.” 

Today, in order to reach his goal of having 70% of U.S. adults vaccinated by July 4, Biden announced that certain child care chains and YMCAs would provide free child care while parents and caregivers get their shots, and that certain pharmacies will be open all night for vaccinations. The administration has enlisted barbershops and hair cutting salons in Black communities to hold vaccine clinics—these locations are important community centers that were key to organizing during the Civil Rights Movement—and Anheuser-Busch, the beer corporation, has announced it will buy a beer for the first 200,000 applicants over the age of 21 if the U.S. meets Biden’s goal.