Before Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was scheduled to testify behind closed doors, a group of Republicans stormed a secure room, known as the SCIF, in protest. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) spoke with CNN’s senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju about what was revealed in top US diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor’s opening statement.
Netanyahu’s speech was another knife into the heart of the bipartisan U.S.-Israel alliance. He attacked Democrats, singling out one Muslim member of Congress for remarks that were seen as anti-Semitic, while ignoring the many anti-Semitic remarks by Republicans. And he leveled the scurrilous claim that anyone who opposes AIPAC is anti-Semitic.
.. On Monday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) literally read from Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” on the House floor and borrowed Hitler’s “big lie” allegation against Jews to use on Democrats. “Unconscionable,” said the Anti-Defamation League. But Republicans, and Netanyahu, said nothing.
.. Tuesday was the 40th anniversary of the signing of the historic Camp David Accords. But the Israeli leader didn’t mention this, either, instead delivering division to a group that has embraced his (and Trump’s) nationalist policies.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest branch of American Judaism, noticed that the AIPAC crowd had “beyond a doubt” become mostly pro-Trump conservatives, not the cross section of Israel supporters that AIPAC once drew. The rhetoric fit the room. “To suggest anti-Semitism is part of the Democratic Party and liberal part of the spectrum and not also part of Republican leaders’ discourse . . . is corrosive,” he said. “The thing that has kept Israel safe over the decades is rock-solid bipartisan support.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) issued (then deleted) a tweet targeting three wealthy Jews: “We cannot allow [George] Soros, [Tom] Steyer and [Michael R.] Bloomberg to BUY this election! . . . #MAGA.” But at AIPAC, McCarthy denounced anti-Semitic language on the “floors of Congress” — an apparent reference to Omar — and said he’d be “lying” to say Democrats are as opposed to anti-Semitism as Republicans.
President Trump, of course, said there “were very fine people” among the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, told Jews they wouldn’t support him “because I don’t want your money,” tweeted an image of a Star of David atop a pile of cash, used anti-Semitic tropes in an ad with photos of prominent Jews, and often denounces “globalists” such as Soros — among many other offenses. But he calls the Democrats “anti-Jewish.”
.. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tut-tutted: “I am troubled that leading Democrats seem reluctant to plainly call out problems within their own ranks. And I am troubled that many of the declared Democrat presidential candidates seem to be avoiding this gathering.” But he didn’t “call out” Republicans such as Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) for spelling Steyer’s name as “$teyer,” or Rep. Steve King (Iowa) for championing white supremacy.
Anti-Semitism is real on both the right and left. Selectively denouncing it based on party is dangerous to Jews, to Israel and to civilized society. Mindless tribalism seems already to have broken AIPAC, based on the changing audience over the two decades I’ve attended. Tuesday’s conservative crowd was cool to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) vow that “we will never allow anyone to make Israel a wedge issue.”
More enthusiastic was the reception for Netanyahu, who, after singling out a Democrat’s anti-Semitism, championed a new Israeli law demoting Arabic as a national language and assigning only Jews “the right to exercise national self-determination.”
Claimed Netanyahu: “We don’t judge people by the color of their skin [or] their religion. . . . No one is a second-class citizen.”
As the AIPAC hard-liners condone such chutzpah, cheering the dishonest and partisan jabs of Netanyahu and the Republicans, do they not see that this destroys the American political consensus that has preserved the Jewish state for 70 years?
Republicans who spoke up this time should be asking themselves why a president of their party felt he was enforcing its principles by breaking apart families and caging children.
.. But many, many other party leaders have been venturing ever deeper into the dank jungles of nativist populism for quite some time, exploiting the politics of fear and resentment. Mr. Trump did not invent Republican demonization of “the other” — it came about in two ways: gradually, and then all at once.
.. From the early 1990s to 2000, the conservative firebrand Pat Buchanan kept the Republican Party on its toes, running for president three times with an explicitly isolationist message.
.. But it was during the George W. Bush years that anti-immigrant sentiment started to become more central to the party’s identity.
.. Mr. Bush made comprehensive immigration reform a priority of his second term.
.. Conservative talk radio took up the cause, smacking Mr. Bush as squishy on immigration. The very concept of comprehensive reform became anathema to many on the right.
.. The Great Recession that Mr. Obama inherited did nothing to quell nativist resentment among working-class whites, and the rise of the Tea Party pulled the Republican Party further to the right
.. Just ask Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, who saw his fledgling political career almost snuffed out by his flirtation with comprehensive reform
.. in the wake of Mitt Romney’s presidential loss in 2012, after which the Republican Party briefly decided that one of its principal goals was to improve its image with Hispanic voters.
.. The resulting plan would have done everything from beefing up border security to overhauling visa categories to promoting a merit-based immigration system.
It also provided for the legalization of undocumented immigrants, which meant conservatives hated it.
.. the bill cleared the Senate by an impressive 68-to-32 vote. But John Boehner, then the House speaker, refused to bring it up for a vote in the Republican-controlled lower chamber.
.. Mr. Rubio became a pariah to the Tea Party voters who had propelled him to office three years earlier. Soon, he was denying that he had ever really supported the bill.
.. Party leaders fanned those flames, accusing Mr. Obama of being imperious and “lawless.” In one bit of twisted logic, Mr. Boehner argued that the House couldn’t possibly take up reform legislation because it couldn’t trust Mr. Obama to carry out said legislation.
.. Along the way, Republican candidates continued to play to their base’s darker impulses. On the whole, the rhetoric was subtler than that of the current president
.. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, painting Dreamers as drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
.. Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama: “I’ll do anything short of shooting them”
.. Nor was Mr. Trump the first Republican to promote the idea that within every immigrant lurks a murderer or terrorist.
.. Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, ran around warning of what came to be mocked as the great “terror baby” plot. As Mr. Gohmert told it, radical Islamists were plotting to impregnate droves of young women, who would infiltrate the United States to give birth here. The babies would be shipped back home for terrorist training, then return as adults to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting America.
.. Time and again, given the choice between soothing and stoking nativist animus, Republican lawmakers chose the low road.
.. And he has even less interest in addressing the root causes of migrant families flocking to the border.
.. In 2016, the Department of Homeland Security reported, “More individuals sought affirmative asylum from the Northern Triangle Countries (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) in the last three years than in the prior 15 years combined.”
.. Helping these nations stabilize themselves is key to reducing the flow of asylum seekers. But Mr.
Trump does not like complexity or long-term strategizing.
He prefers casting blame and making threats.
.. In the administration’s budget proposals, it has sought deep cuts in aid to these countries — something Congress has wisely ignored. Removing a financial lifeline from nations already in chaos is hardly a recipe for progress.
.. Mr. Trump’s move to kick out as many people who are from these countries as possible threatens to overwhelm nations ill equipped for such an influx. And without the money that many of the immigrants living here regularly send back to their families, the economies of these countries would further crumble.
.. In 2016, 17 percent of El Salvador’s gross domestic product came from remittances from abroad.
.. America’s immigration mess is not going to be cleaned up anytime soon.
.. conservatives are terrified that the base will punish them if they concede even an inch. Speaker Paul Ryan, with one foot out the door, has no juice. And pretty much everyone assumes that nothing will move through the Senate anyway.
.. Trump is planning fresh crackdowns in the run-up to the midterms, to reassure his base that he has not lost his resolve. If anything, given the fragility of his ego, last week’s flip-flop will make him all the more desperate to prove his strength.
.. Mr. Trump is more a breaker than a fixer.
.. The question now is whether the conference will learn anything useful from this episode.
.. There is also his
- politicization of law enforcement, his
- attempts to undermine public faith in the democratic process, his
- attacks on the press, his
- family’s suspect business dealings and his
- habitual lying
.. this is unlikely to be the last time the president puts members of his party in an uncomfortable, and perhaps untenable, position.
.. The weight of this moment should be recognized. Mr. Trump’s capitulation was not a given. With a little less media scrutiny, fewer heartbreaking photos and fewer calls from angry voters, tent cities could have kept on filling with traumatized children.
.. Having done so much to pave the way for Mr. Trump and his immigration policies, they now owe it to the American people to help keep him in check.
Despite the numerous allegations made by women that Moore had acted inappropriately toward them when they were teenagers, Bannon blazed ahead with his support for the candidate, stumping with him in the campaign’s final days.
“If they can destroy Roy Moore, they can destroy you,” he told a crowd in early December.
.. many prominent conservative voices, including the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, were quick to question Bannon’s importance to the party because of the loss.
On Breitbart, the site that Bannon serves as executive chairman, conservative writer Ann Coulter pushed back on the assertion that he deserved blame for the loss.
“Bannon is the least culpable!” she tweeted
.. Coulter’s piece served more as a broadside against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for fighting against one of Moore’s primary challengers, Mo Brooks, a view shared by far-right Fox News host Sean Hannity.
.. She said she believed that the election demonstrated the importance of harsh immigration policies for Republicans.
“Everyone who screwed the pooch on this one better realize fast: All that matters is immigration. It’s all that matters to the country, and it’s all that matters for winning elections,” she wrote.
.. The Daily Caller, a reliably conservative site with a large following, downplayed the election news entirely, with only scant references on its home page. Instead the site focused on negative stories about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into possible Russian collusion: sound bites of Republican congressmen aggressively questioning Rod J. Rosenstein
.. One story, which later led the website, focused on the “pressure” facing Doug Jones to vote with the GOP, a push started by the Republican National Committee immediately after Moore’s loss.
.. A couple of conservative sites published stories saying the election was tainted by fraudulent voting, claims that were published with scant evidence.
.. “And they, as they do all over the country, had the dead people vote and had the folks bused in in those Democrat areas, and they stole the election,” he said. “So it really is biblical what we’re witnessing, and the dirty tricks of the Clintons and the dirty tricks of their systems in this country reaching down through into daily life. I mean, they come after you when you fight them.”
.. Right-wing site Big League Politics, which was started by former Breitbart employees, ran multiple stories that sowed doubt about the integrity of the vote.
At one point, it looked as if there might be only days left in Sessions’s tenure, and his position still appears precarious; it now seems to depend on his openness to obstructing justice. In other words, Sessions might be out of his new job with two rounds of voting still to go to determine who gets his old one.
.. Roy Moore, meanwhile, had quit his most recent job, as Alabama’s chief judge, after being suspended for telling other state judges not to listen to their colleagues on the federal bench—not even those on the Supreme Court.
.. It was his second time losing that job: the first was in 2004, when he defied a federal-court order saying that he needed to take a large stone statue engraved with the Ten Commandments out of his courthouse.
.. But while, or maybe because, he has any number of problems with the Constitution, Moore does not have a problem with Trump. When he was asked about the President’s endorsement of Strange, Moore saidthat he wasn’t worried about losing Trump voters, because “They’re voting for his agenda, which I firmly believe in.” He has presented himself as someone who would be willful and stubborn enough, or just extreme enough, to follow Trump even if Party leaders decided that it was madness to do so. Also, he rode a horse to the polls to cast a vote for himself.
.. Robert Bentley, in a case involving ethics and campaign violations, and what was, reportedly, a wildly indiscreet affair with an aide. (Certain of Bentley’s family members recorded his conversations with the aide, and the transcripts were, inevitably, published online.) At the same time, Bentley, exercising his gubernatorial power, was interviewing candidates to replace Sessions in the Senate—one of whom was Strange, the man investigating him.
.. the Senate seat amounted to a favor to a prosecutor from a man facing potential felony charges. Strange could have waited to run in the primary against whomever Bentley did appoint. Instead, he headed to the Senate, with little regard for how the circumstances of his appointment may have compromised him.
.. Mo Brooks, a member of the Freedom Caucus, who campaigned on the premise that he is more Trumpish than Trump’s designated candidate because he, like Trump, is disdainful of McConnell, who is a Washington insider and not nearly enough of an absolutist.
Obamacare 2.0 is the largest Republican welfare program in the history of the Republican Party. That has a lot of implications, cascading effects,” Brooks warned.
“By way of example, it undermines the work ethic. It encourages more and more Americans to live off the hard work of others. Obamacare 2.0, because of this welfare provision over time, is going to dramatically increase the need to raise taxes or borrow more money to pay for, if past experiences are any indication, what will be escalating welfare costs.
.. if this bill passes with this huge welfare program, all of a sudden, you are converting tens of millions of voters who now are self-reliant into welfare dependents – thus making elections about who can deliver the most welfare for me to help me with my health insurance premium,” he said.
“That’s going to have a huge electoral impact. That’s going to turn America over to the Bernie Sanders socialist wing of American society. Quite frankly, it may be the death knell for the free enterprise system that has helped make America the greatest economic power in the world,” he warned.
.. “We’re not doing what we were sent here to do: cut premium costs, make health care more affordable on the one hand, and on the other hand, to create a huge new welfare program that, in effect, duplicates the structure of Obamacare,”
.. Marlow noted that the bill is “overwhelmingly unpopular” with voters, scoring as low as 17 percent support in polls, but seems to enjoy vastly disproportionate support from the House Republican caucus.
.. “The simplest and smartest thing to do would have been to pull up the Obamacare repeal bill that passed the Republican House and passed the Republican Senate two years ago that was vetoed by President Obama,”