Mike Pence Makes Strong Case for Donald Trump’s Resignation

A couple of guys who sincerely object to bigotry.
Photo: Doug Mills – Pool/Getty Images

Earlier this week, Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar suggested that AIPAC — and its associated donors — effectively dictate American policy toward Israel. Her argument has some basis in fact. Through its lobbying and coordination of campaign donations, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has had a clear and significant impact on U.S. diplomacy toward the Jewish State (or so AIPAC’s members and donors have proudly claimed).

Still, it is inaccurate to say that America’s deferential posture toward the Israeli government is all about AIPAC’s “benjamins” (it is also about American Evangelicals’ impatience for the eschaton, among other things). More critically, the notion that Jewish organizations use their community’s wealth to control foreign affairs is a staple of anti-Semitic propaganda. Thus, while Omar’s critique was aimed at a single pro-Israel lobbying group — and while her claims would have been plausibly correct, if modified only slightly — the congresswoman unequivocally apologized for her unintentional insensitivity to the historical traumas of the Jewish people.

But for Mike Pence, that wasn’t good enough. On Tuesday, the vice-president revealed that he is so adamantly opposed to hate speech, he believes that merely using rhetoric that is reminiscent of anti-Semitic tropes disqualifies a person for high political office.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress, much less the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Pence tweeted, referring to Omar’s seat on said committee. “Those who engage in anti-Semitic tropes should not just be denounced, they should face consequences for their words.”

Pence’s words here are both remarkable, and remarkably brave. The vice-president is, in effect, calling for the immediate resignation of not just Ilhan Omar, but also of Donald Trump, and much of the congressional GOP. To interpret Pence’s remarks in any other fashion would be to suggest that his purported objections to anti-Semitism are purely opportunistic.

After all, if Pence sincerely sees Omar’s tweets as an unforgivable invocation of anti-Semitic tropes, then he surely feels the same way about Donald Trump’s remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in 2015, when the presidential candidate told the assembled Jewry, “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians, that’s fine.”

And unless the vice-president’s condemnation of Omar’s anti-Semitism was wholly cynical — and I see no reason to jump to so uncharitable a conclusion — then Pence must see the president’s final 2016 campaign ad as an unforgivable offense:

During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump’s final television commercial featured grainy images of George Soros, the Hungarian-born financier who has become a potent symbol for anti-Semites; Janet L. Yellen, then the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve; and Lloyd C. Blankfein, then the chairman of Goldman Sachs — all of them Jewish — as Mr. Trump warned darkly about the “global special interests.” Shadowy figures, he said, “partner with these people who don’t have your good in mind.”

And anyone who believes that Omar’s claims about AIPAC are a gift to violent anti-Semites (and thus, endangered Jewish lives) must feel the same way about Donald Trump’s decision to insinuate that George Soros was trying to steal the 2018 elections — by directing a caravan of migrants out of Central America, across the U.S. border, and then to polling places all across the country — just days after a neo-Nazi who subscribed to a nearly identical conspiracy theory shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue.

So, barring the highly unlikely possibility that Mike Pence does not actually have much of a problem with anti-Semitism (but only with anti-Zionism, because he believes that Jews must assemble in Israel before the rapture can plunge them all into eternal hellfire), the vice-president has effectively just called on Trump to step down. And Pence is also ostensibly demanding that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy do the same; last fall, McCarthy tweeted, “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer and Bloomberg to buy this election,” insinuating that three Jewish financiers weren’t merely trying to dictate U.S. policy toward Israel with their money, but rather, dictate the outcomes of all U.S. elections.

Finally, it seems grossly unfair to assume that Mike Pence has had an epiphany about the evils of bigotry against Jews — but remains perfectly comfortable with hateful discrimination against other marginalized groups. Thus, it seems reasonable to conclude that Pence believes there is no place in our politics for people who defend apartheid rule in the West Bank, and will call for virtually every member of the U.S. Congress to resign, as soon as he reads the following paragraphs from Peter Beinart:

Establishing two legal systems in the same territory—one for Jews and one for Palestinians, as Israel does in the West Bank—is bigotry. Guaranteeing Jews in the West Bank citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote for the government that controls their lives while denying those rights to their Palestinian neighbors is bigotry. It’s a far more tangible form of bigotry than Omar’s flirtation with anti-Semitic tropes. And it has lasted for more than a half-century.

Yet almost all of Omar’s Republican critics in Congress endorse this bigotry. The 2016 Republican platform declares that, “We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier” in the West Bank. In other words, governing Jews by one set of laws and Palestinians by another is fine. Last December, Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, who has called for stripping Omar of her committee assignments, spoke at a fundraiser for Bet El, a West Bank settlement from which Palestinians are barred from living even though it was built—according to the Israeli supreme court—on land confiscated from its Palestinian owners.

Of course, Pence’s new moral clarity will require him to resign from his own post (in recompense for his myriad offenses against Palestinians, immigrants, and the LGBT community). But when he does step down, he will be remembered as a good Christian man, whose opposition to hateful prejudice was earnest and unequivocal.

Mike Pence Makes Strong Case for Donald Trump’s Resignation

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Democrats submit late-night House bill to stave off second shutdown

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, filed the legislation to fund approximately a quarter of the federal government roughly 48 hours before the funding lapse deadline. 

The 1,159-page bill includes $1.375 billion for physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border — well below the $5.7 billion President Trump has demanded.

A Congressional Democratic aide said the funding bill would only allow the administration to use “existing technologies” for fencing and barriers. The legislation specifies that the barrier funding would have to be “pedestrian fencing” or “levee pedestrian fencing” in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

With the tight timeframe, the Senate is expected vote first on the funding deal, according to a Senate source. The House is then expected to voteon the agreement on Thursday evening and send it to President Trump’s desk.

russia investigation

russia investigation

Manafort ‘Intentionally’ Lied to Mueller Investigation; Plea Deal Voided

By Matt Stieb

Paul Manafort is now the fourth Trump surrogate to be caught lying to investigators about campaign contacts with Russia.

If Israel wants “war with Iran,” they have a friend in National Security Advisor John Bolton

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu startled Iranians and even the White House on Wednesday with a strident call for Israeli-Arab action against the government in Tehran that was translated by his office as urging “war with Iran.”

Although Israeli officials tried to soften the reference by altering the English translation, the provocative comment was likely to further the perception that Israel, its Gulf Arab neighbors and the United States are interested in using military action to topple the government of Iran. It comes at a particularly delicate moment, as the Trump administration uses a U.S.-organized summit in Warsaw and this week’s 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution to try to rally the world against the government in Tehran.

The Israeli government posted the Hebrew-language video on Facebook and Twitter. In the video, Netanyahu uses the word “milchama,” which is literally translated to “war” but can also be used figuratively to refer to “combat” or “battle.”

After a defeat on wall funding, the president will likely hit his social policies hard in coming weeks to appeal to his base

The night before last week’s National Prayer Breakfast, President Donald Trump was hosting religious leaders and lawmakers for dinner at the White House when he spotted Democratic Senator Chris Coons — and pounced.

Trump confronted Delaware lawmaker — who attended the event as the Prayer Breakfast’s official Democratic co-chair — over the issue of abortion, creating a tense scene in the White House’s Blue Room, according to three sources familiar with the exchange.

Trump leaned in close to Coons, who calls himself “a practicing Christian and a devout Presbyterian,” and laced into the Democratic senator over controversial moves to change statewide policies on abortion that have roiled New York and Virginia politics in recent weeks. “He was in his face about it,” said one person familiar with the exchange. The person described Trump as extremely “worked up.”

That passion also conveniently dovetails with what they call a concerted recent effort to energize white evangelicals who might otherwise be turned off by the concessions Trump appears poised to make to Democrats who have refused to meet his demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding. In need of a boost with his base, Trump is turning increasingly to social and religious issues.

She who controls the asteroid controls the universe

The asteroid Psyche 16 is a very special space rock: it’s almost entirely made of metal, including iron, nickel, and gold, which has led astronomers to believe that it was originally the core of a planet. It’s also estimated to be worth around $700 quintillion—enough to give each of the 7.6 billion people on Earth about $92 billion each.

Psyche 16 lies between Mars and Jupiter, and is already the target of a NASA mission, scheduled to launch in 2022. That mission will explore the history and composition of the asteroid, but the question on everyone’s mind is when we can start collecting ore from it. It turns out that will take a bit longer—according to Professor John Zarnecki, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society:

“The timeline for space mining is the $64,000 question. My opinion is probably 25 years for a ‘proof of concept’ set-up, and 50 years for a commercial start. But there are so many uncertainties—mostly based around economics and the progress of space technology.”

Michael Avenatti is allegedly dabbling in a little white-collar crime

Michael Avenatti hid millions of dollars from the court overseeing his law firm’s bankruptcy and used much of the money for personal compensation, a former partner alleges in new court records.

The firm, Eagan Avenatti, was required by law to file monthly reports on its income and spending during the year when it was under U.S. Bankruptcy Court protection from its creditors, starting in March 2017.

But the reports did not disclose that Avenatti opened six bank accounts that received millions of dollars in legal fees during the bankruptcy, his former partner claims in court documents filed Tuesday night.

He used some of the money for personal expenses such as $13,000 in rent for his Century City apartment; a $3,640 payment on his Ferrari; $21,000 for Passport 420, an Avenatti company that owns a Honda jet; $150,000 for his troubled coffee company, Global Baristas; $53,600 for his ex-wife, Christine Carlin; and $232,875 for HTP Motorsport, his auto racing team, the records show.

Jake Malooley – whose work was copied by Jill Abramson – interviews the former Times editor about how it about the importance of intention in plagiarism

With regard to intention, that’s an important point. Plagiarism, with or without intention, is still plagiarism. Even if you didn’t intend to do this, intention doesn’t really matter.

Well, yes, it does actually. Yes it does.

Isn’t inadvertent plagiarism still plagiarism?

No, it isn’t. I mean, you can consult your own experts. It may be that not all agree with me, but I’ve talked to a number of respected eminent scholars who have said that this is not a venal mistake. It’s a venial mistake, which is unintended. So, I don’t know, I feel like I’ve answered all of these questions. So what else do you need from me?

What’s perhaps most troubling about the plagiarized portions of your book are the minor word changes— a person’s last name being changed to a pronoun, for instance — that seem to hint at something even more insidious than sloppy citation. Because it looks as though you, or someone who was working with you, purposefully changed just enough of these sentences in a determined attempt to avoid detection.

I believe it, again, is not with any kind of ill intent. But in taking notes quickly, I probably — I mean, changing a name to a pronoun would be, again, sloppy. It’s on me. I’ve said that again and again. And that is really all I’m gonna say. OK?

2018 midterms

Remember That Disputed NC Congressional Race? We May Learn Its Fate Next Week

By Ed Kilgore

A new state election board will hold a public hearing and could order new elections – as could the Democratic-controlled House itself.

Manafort is the fourth Trump campaign surrogate to have lied to investigators about contacts with Russia

Paul Manafort “intentionally” lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, breaking the plea agreement that made him the star cooperator in the Russia probe, a federal judge found on Wednesday.

Manafort “made multiple false statements to the FBI, the OSC and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation,” including his contacts with his Russian associate during the campaign and later, Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote on Wednesday.

Manafort was convicted of various financial crimes in August, and then cut the deal to plead guilty to two charges of conspiracy and witness tampering in September.

In all, Jackson determined Manafort intentionally lied about $125,000 he received for the legal bills, about another unnamed Justice Department criminal investigation and about his interactions with his longtime Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik while he was campaign chairman and later.

Telling remarks in the limo on the way to Trump’s El Paso rally on Monday

In El Paso on Monday night, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R) rode with President Trump in “The Beast,” the president’s heavily armored Cadillac.

Miller says Trump was “upset” that the city’s Republican Mayor Dee Margo publicly contradictedhim on the success of El Paso’s border wall. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick were also on the ride from Air Force One to the rally.

Miller said he told Trump to shake it off, because “they [the city of El Paso] pad the books,” suggesting that the city underreports crime rates. (Miller said he learned this while serving as the former chairman of the Texas House committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety. However, Axios has found no evidence to corroborate this claim.)

Trump replied: “You mean like fake news?”

Miller said: “Yeah! It was the first fake news.”

Trump: “Can I say that [at the rally]?”

Miller: “Yeah!”

The lieutenant governor then chimed in: “No, no. You probably shouldn’t.”

Publisher behavior closer to J. Jonah Jameson than to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger

The Guardian has a list of undercover investigations conducted by the police against political groups. Some are chilling.

Robinson, whose real name was Bob Lambert, fathered a son with an activist while he was undercover. He then abandoned them both and they only found out the truth more than decades later. He also deceived three other women into intimate relationships while he was undercover. In the 1990s, Lambert was a senior member of the Special Demonstration Squad, supervising undercover officers while they infiltrated political groups.

government shutdown

government shutdown

Republicans May Block Efforts to Get Shutdown Backpay to Federal Contractors

By Sarah Jones

A Democratic bill would provide backpay to low-wage contractors affected by the shutdown, but Trump and fellow Republicans oppose it.

The case for more cops

In terms of the intersection of criminal justice policy and racial politics, new polling provided exclusively to Vox from the leading Democratic data firm Civis Analytics shows that black voters — just like white ones — support the idea of hiring more police officers. Black voters are likely aware that they are disproportionately likely to be victims of crime and disproportionately likely to benefit from extra police staffing in high-crime areas. Indeed, as Jenée Desmond-Harris wrote for Vox in 2015, one primary grievance African Americans have with the criminal justice systems is that black neighborhoods are paradoxically underpoliced.

In a 2005 paper, Jonathan Glick and Alex Tabarrok found a clever instrument to measure the effects of officer increases through the terrorism “alert levels” that were a feature of the early to mid-aughts. During high-alert periods, the Washington, DC, police force would mobilize extra officers, especially in and around the capital’s core, centered on the National Mall. Using daily crime data, they found that the level of crime decreased significantly on high-alert days, and the decrease was especially concentrated on the National Mall.

Critically, the finding was not that adding police officers leads to more arrests and then locking up crooks leads to lower crime in the long run. It’s simply that with more officers around, fewer people commit crimes in the first place. That seems to be the criminal justice ideal, in which fewer people are getting locked up because fewer people are being victimized by criminals.


Area Criminal Shocked By Congresswoman Who Cites His Crimes Out Loud

By Sarah Jones

Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams wasn’t pleased when Ilhan Omar called him out for supporting a Salvadoran regime that massacred civilians.

By Nazi stickers, the MTA meant anti-Nazi stickers

Subway commuters on the L line enjoyed a typically frustrating commute this morning, as Manhattan-bound trains mysteriously stopped running shortly after 8 a.m. Although the MTA did not immediately acknowledge the delay, NYCT Subway eventually tweeted an explanation: Swastikas had been spotted inside the cars, prompting the MTA to take an L train out of service in the middle of rush hour.

People then began tweeting things like, “Nazi hate: now also responsible for subway delays,” probably thinking that when the transit authority said there were swastikas inside a train car, it meant graffiti—the traces of a hate crime. A reasonable assumption to make, sadly. But according to an NYPD spokesperson, the Citywide Vandals Taskforce actually showed up to investigate those Antifa-style stickers that have been showing up on the subway for years now.

These stickers have been documented within our subway system for at least two years, cropping up in apparent response to the rise in white nationalist sentiment (and the attendant rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes) that coincided with Trump’s political ascent. Although the stickers are intended to condemn neo-Nazi sentiments, it’s worth remembering that hate symbolism remains hate symbolism regardless of whether or not you put a bar through it: People still have to look at a swastika. And as we learned this morning, the MTA can act swiftly and decisively, when it wants to.

Ilhan Omar goes after a notorious Reagan-area neocon who has new power in the Trump era

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) got into a heated exchange Wednesday with Elliott Abrams, who has been appointed as the U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela.

“In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush,” Omar began during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on U.S. policy towards Venezuela.

“I fail to understand why members of this committee, or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”

“If I could respond to that,” Abrams said, quickly leaning into the microphone.

“That wasn’t a question,” Omar shot back.

“It was an attack,” Abrams said his voice rising as Omar repeated that her statement was not a question. “I reserve the right to my time,” the congresswoman continued.

2020 presidential election

2020 presidential election

There’s a New, Improved Iowa Democratic Caucus

By Ed Kilgore

The new rules make it possible to participate by a “virtual caucus” and require an actual straw poll of all caucus participants.

lyndon larouche

Political Cult Leader Lyndon LaRouche Dies at 96

By Ed Kilgore

At first a Marxist and later a right-wing conspiracy theorist, LaRouche thrived on deception and the fanatical support of his followers to the end.

Everyone’s Running. Is That Bad for Dems?

So, Nate Silver has a piece out today in which he warns that the huge field of Democrats expected to run for president may result in a fair bit of wackiness. He cites earlier examples of large primary fields, most recently the GOP in 2016, and notes that the winners have tended to be outsiders like Trump, or someone nobody was really very happy with, like George McGovern in 1972. Do you think the large field necessarily means the splintering and semi-chaos that led to those kinds of candidates winning?

Not “necessarily.” But it sure makes wackiness more likely.

Yeah, I think that’s right. There are plenty of wild scenarios that become more likely with a big field, but the field is *already* pretty big, and nothing even remotely wacky has happened yet.

But we’ve barely started! Bill de Blasio hasn’t even had time to shake up the field yet!

2008 had a relatively large Democratic field (though not as large as this one), but it got winnowed down to a two-candidate race very soon.

A few things will really tell the story here. First, if Bernie/Biden/Beto get in soon, that will significantly shape who else gets in, and how. And if clear tiers start to form soon (after that?), I’d expect some of the longer-shots to start throwing rhetorical bombs/ante-ing up the gimmicks to break through.

But one of the things that makes this cycle different from other ones that have been ~~~disrupted~~~ is that there’s no clear outsider looming, like Trump was in ‘16. So what would that wackiness look like? Just a Republicans-in-2012-style series of polling bumps for a bunch of little-known candidates?

That seems quite plausible. Separately, I think that Democrats want to beat Trump so badly that there might be a sort of revolt if the candidates start attacking each other too fiercely

The likelihood of relatively abundant money, and strictly proportional delegate award rules (unlike the Republicans), could make it possible for a lot of iffy candidates to survive for a good while. Assuming you don’t get some early stampede, like Biden and Bernie crushing everyone in the early states, or Kamala Harris doing well in the early states and then winning California big.

I think this is the most important point. The proportional delegate allocation, combined with the basic mathematical fact that it will only take getting like 10% of the vote in some early state polls for candidates to be taken seriously.

Remind me – have they tweaked the delegate-proportion rules since last time? I know superdelegates are less important now…

They got rid of autonomous superdelegates altogether.

The proportionality is the same, but you’ll see a different calculus from candidates in a 15-person field than you did in what was effectively a 2-way race in 2016.

But this is also why I said earlier that we need to see if clear tiers form. If there’s a lot of fluidity — a la Rs in 2016 — then who knows. But if we do indeed get 3 or 4 big candidates in the mix stomping over everyone else, it’ll be a different kind of messy.

For example, you’re already seeing some candidates trying to figure out whether they can snag delegates in small districts/media markets in California and Texas, for example, rather than simply trying to win the whole state, which seems totally not doable if you’re not Kamala or Beto. (Apologies to Eric Swalwell and Julián Castro.)

Don’t think you should apologize to Swalwell for anything. His presence in the field makes remembering them all virtually impossible.

So this sounds like Silver has a point; these are the kind of conditions that might, just might, lead to a fairly unexpected winner, or even – gasp – a brokered convention

I can’t stand the term “brokered convention,” because it implies there is someone to broker it. I’d say “contested convention.”

But yeah, I don’t think you would find any Dem candidate who disagrees. To me, though, I think a lot of the talk about the size of the field misses something that Silver actually did mention, which is: not all of these candidates will actually be around for Iowa, let alone New Hampshire, or anything that follows!

Are you expecting quite a few to drop out before the voting even starts?

True, though when you start with 20 or 25, you could have a lot of attrition and still have an unwieldy group.

Most Dems I talk to about this expect that maybe 12-15 will make it to Iowa, and maybe 5 or 6 will make it through New Hampshire. This might be wishful thinking, but it’s still highly unlikely we’ll see 15 people fighting over electoral votes in, like, late March.

Yeah, but given the hoary wisdom that there are just “three tickets out of Iowa,” it’s still different than what we’re used to.

That’s when de Blasio shocks everyone and enters the race

OK, I’ll spot you two BDB jokes, but now you have to stop.

One of the things we haven’t really touched on, though, is the notion that in the past, when an unexpected candidate breaks through from a crowded field, it’s often been someone widely deemed unacceptable, or at least very iffy, by (whichever) party’s old establishment, right? It’s hard to see who that could be right now, given the state of the Democratic “establishment.” I could see enormous heartburn if it’s, like, Tulsi Gabbard, which feels very unlikely. But there are very few other candidates out there who I think would fit that bill. That crowd would obviously have a hard time accepting Bernie Sanders as the nominee, but not as hard as four years ago.

True. I think the greater possibility is something like Jimmy Carter’s emergence from a big field in 1976. He wasn’t obviously out-of-the-mainstream like Trump, but he turned out to be a different proposition from past nominees. Somebody like, say, Beto could be, too.

Right, agree. Though it’s not just Beto. I see a bunch of people on the potential candidate list who could hit that mark.

But in any event, we should not think of the complications produced by a large field as equalling Trump ’16 or nothing. Let’s hope Trump ’16 was sui generis, forever.

the national interest

the national interest

Trump Has Willed the Wall Into Existence With His Mind

By Jonathan Chait

A new stage of fantasy begins with Trump’s most famous campaign promise.


mike pence

Mike Pence Makes Strong Case for Donald Trump’s Resignation

By Eric Levitz

The vice-president argued Tuesday night that “those who engage in anti-Semitic tropes” have no place in our politics.

Profound stuff from the president

Trump: “So many good things happen with the Internet but bad things happen too”


Another Trump administration departure appears imminent

SCOOP: FEMA chief Brock Long is planning to leave the agency, sources say. Could be announced as soon as today.


2020 presidential election

2020 presidential election

Looks Like the 2020 Democratic Presidential Field Could Be the Largest Ever

By Ed Kilgore

In the past, very large presidential fields have produced unusual results, and more often than not, defeat.

After saying that “the atrocities in America are equal, or worse” than the Khashoggi murder, Trump ally Tom Barrack apologized

21 Savage’s ultimate fate remains up in the air

SCOOP: DHS attorneys dropped an “aggravated felony” charge against 21 Savage in immigration court yesterday. DHS is only proceeding on his “visa overstay.”

“They had to,” his attorney said. “It didn’t exist,” he said of any felony conviction. “They didn’t do their homework.”


tell me something i don’t know

tell me something i don’t know

Today in Ugh: Online Harassment Up 20 Percent in 2018

By Madison Malone Kircher

A new study from the Anti-Defamation League paints a grim picture.

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