February 12, 2019

Ilhan Omar's Tweets

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar ‘unequivocally’ apologized Monday for tweets [from the night before] suggesting that members of Congress support Israel because they are being paid to do so.” In her apology, she critiqued “the problematic role of lobbyists… whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil fuel industry.” AP News, Twitter



Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress condemned her tweets from Sunday night:

House Democratic Leadership stated, “Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.  We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.” House.gov

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy stated, “Members of the Democrat caucus have increasingly and alarmingly used anti-Semitic language which has no place in the halls of this Congress.” House.gov



Both sides also argued that her comments about AIPAC and its influence are inaccurate:

AIPAC does not in fact spend very much money on politics: It is not among the 100 biggest spenders on lobbying or even among the 5,000 biggest donors to political campaigns. Neither does the NRA, which was No. 4,161 among political donors in 2018 and No. 83 among lobbyists. For comparison, the NRA’s political contributions amount to a little less than 3 percent of those from the teachers’ unions. The power of these organizations does not come from bribery — it comes from belief.” National Review

There are much greater and simpler explanations for general and very specific pro-Israel attitudes in this country that bely the claim that it’s ‘all about the Benjamins’... Generally speaking, Americans tend to be pro-Israel thanks to acute and widespread awareness of the Holocaust and of Jewish statelessness as one of the principal reasons the Holocaust occurred… A particularly large and politically active group of conservative American Evangelical Christians, moreover, not only identify themselves with Jews thanks to a common scriptural legacy, but also place the State of Israel at the very center of their vision of global salvation.” New York Magazine

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports eliminating the electoral college, arguing that all votes should count equally regardless of which state they're from.

“At a moment when activists have finally pried open space in American politics to question our relationship with Israel, it’s particularly incumbent on Israel’s legitimate critics to avoid anything that smacks of anti-Jewish bigotry. And the idea of Jews as global puppet masters, using their financial savvy to make the gentiles do their bidding, clearly does.”
New York Times

“There’s only so many times Omar can claim ignorance of anti-Semitic tropes. However, it’s undoubtedly true that AIPAC and other groups spend quite a bit of money to influence U.S. policy toward Israel… It’s not controversial to talk about that kind of influence when the group in question is the National Rifle Association or the fossil fuel industry, to use two examples Omar cited in her apology. To use another example, raising questions about Saudi influence in Washington does not make one Islamophobic.”
Slate

“This is an inherently difficult topic for Democrats. A large majority of Americans say they sympathize more with the Israeli side than the Palestinian side in the conflict, but rank-and-file Democrats are split roughly 50-50. That means that in order to be effective, people who want to challenge the pro-Israel consensus in politics need to be careful and strategic with their interventions — the opposite of tossing off inflammatory tweets on a Sunday evening with no strategy lined up.”
Vox

At the same time, the president of J street, a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group, notes that, “the consensus position in the Democratic Party… is [both] supportive of Israel and supportive of the cause of Palestinian self-determination… There are a couple of people in the caucus who have come out in favor of [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement], but there’s 230 members who have not… What I see is Republicans who, for partisan purposes, are trying to drive a wedge in the Democratic Party.”
Slate

“The summary, released this morning, is a wild look into the president’s mind-set and approach to his job. It shows a commander in chief consumed by conspiracy theories, strong-arming a foreign government to help him politically, and marshaling the federal government in his schemes… The call is bizarre on several levels. First, the United States has legitimate interests in Ukraine, but Trump is using his conversation with that country’s president to pursue his pet, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Second, Trump appears—as has been alleged—to be engaging in a quid pro quo, asking Zelensky to assist him in pursuing those conspiracy theories, in exchange for help to Ukraine. Trump never puts it in plain terms—he’s too smart, and too experienced in shady business, to do that—but it requires willful blindness to miss what Trump is asking… Third, the call shows how Trump enlists the might of the U.S. government in his weird, personal, political schemes.”
David A. Graham, The Atlantic

“Trump’s defenders will say this evidence is all circumstantial. But circumstantial evidence is not weak evidence: it’s simply evidence based on the circumstances in which an act of wrongdoing is committed — such as the license plate of a car that speeds away from a bank just after that bank is robbed. Criminals are convicted on such evidence all the time. They will also say that there’s no explicit quid pro quo proposal here. But… ‘even when a corrupt deal is struck implicitly, the government can still prosecute extortion on a quid pro quo basis. Circumstantial evidence can be enough to prove a criminal exchange.’…

“In the absence of an explicit quid pro quo over restarting aid, the context and circumstances are what will become the focus of the investigation. There is enough here to support impeachment. Whether it is also enough to convince Republicans and lead to removal is another matter.”
Noah Feldman, Bloomberg

Some suggest that Congress “remove Trump from office, so that he cannot abuse incumbency to subvert the electoral process, but let the American people make the judgment on whether or not he gets a second term… Removing Trump from office for the remainder of his term would disable him from abusing presidential power again and protect the integrity of the electoral process from inappropriate interference. At the same time, letting him run for a second term would permit the American electorate to decide whether Trump, despite his attempt to subvert the system, should have another chance… Decoupling removal from disqualification lowers the stakes and changes the constitutional calculus. As long as Trump can run again, Republicans cannot hide behind a claim that they are [the] ones protecting voter choice by opposing impeachment.”
Edward B. Foley, Politico

From the Right

The right criticizes Sanders and Warren for adopting far-left policies, and praises Marianne Williamson’s performance.

From the Right

“Omar’s comments on Sunday were neither a surprise nor an unexpected gaffe by the Minnesota congresswoman, but part of Omar’s long and calculated opposition to Israel and Jewish people worldwide. In 2012, Omar posted on Twitter that ‘Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.’”
Fox News

Anti-Semitism now thrives inside the Democratic Party. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) wrote a piece for Louis Farrakhan in 2006… Linda Sarsour continues to be an ally to [several freshman Democrats]... Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) holds conference calls with vicious British anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn… Keith Ellison, now attorney general of Minnesota, was nearly made the head of the Democratic National Committee after engaging in blatant anti-Semitism for years.”
Daily Wire

Many point out that “Republicans don't need AIPAC to convince them to be pro-Israel. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I've had plenty of Republican lawmakers and staffers confide in me over the years that they're increasingly frustrated with AIPAC for working to water-down various letters in support of Israel to get Democrats on board… The truth is that Republicans are pro-Israel because their voters overwhelmingly are.”
Washington Examiner

“Israel’s detractors cannot imagine that Congress — or Americans generally — could support Israel in good faith. It must be because of the evil string-pulling jooz spreading around their filthy Benjamins that we haven’t thrown her under the bus…

“Israel is popular with a number of important constituencies including many Jews (imagine that). But its real popularity resides among evangelical Christians and voters generally. And, despite its perfectly debatable flaws, real and alleged, it should be popular. It’s an ally. It’s democratic. It’s Western. And its enemies are largely our enemies.”
National Review

Regarding her candidacy as a whole, “Warren seems to have concluded that if a rule-breaking candidate like Donald Trump can be elected president, then the old political rules don’t apply any more. So she has endorsed Medicare for All and backs eliminating private health insurance; she has said she’d ban fracking for oil and natural gas; she supports decriminalizing illegal border crossing, health care for illegal immigrants who get across, and paying reparations to the descendants of slaves…

“Warren obviously hopes that her calls for federal oversight of large corporations and her call for a 2% wealth tax on multimillionaires will resonate with non-affluent Trump voters. But those voters seem more concerned with elites’ political correctness than convinced that Warren’s proposal will send their way any money somehow mulcted from corporations…

"This is not to say that Warren is a sure loser. Any Democratic nominee has a serious chance of beating Donald Trump. But it says something interesting about the Democratic Party that its current top three are in their 70's and all from overwhelmingly Democratic states.”
Michael Barone, Washington Examiner

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“Why did Modi pick this moment to do something so radical? Violence in Kashmir had been trending downwards for the last year, after all. The main reason, besides President Donald Trump's alarming offer to mediate a settlement, is that he wanted a distraction from India's mounting economic woes. India's GDP growth dropped from over 8 percent to 5.8 percent over the last year, and it is widely expected to dip further. Just as ominous has been the crash in consumer demand. India's usual problem has been an insufficient supply to meet its voracious appetite for vehicles, cell phones, and other similar goods. But sales figures for all consumer goods have posted a precipitous decline, slamming businesses that are dramatically scaling back investments.”
Shikha Dalmia, Reason

On the bright side...

Expect Stiff Competition at This Year’s International Hair Freezing Contest.
Smithsonian

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