Republicans love -- just loooove -- to tell us how much they love, love, love Israel and stand by Israel. Never mind that the reason they loooove Israel has next to nothing about Israel as an ally of the United States in the Middle East, but because of the (of course) Bible and End Times. Because Israel is where the final conflagration will take place, and it will go up in flames and all the Jews there will go up in flames, unless they convert to Christianity. But putting that aside, Republicans still love, love, love Israel and love telling us how much they loooooobe Israel.
One of the very first things new, unanimous GOP Speaker Mike Johnson did -- after telling us he was ordained by God to be Speaker -- was release a photo of him on the telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling the P.M. that he loved Israel and stood by Israel.
Because Republicans in Congress just love, love, love Israel.
All Republicans do. Including the leader of the party. Just this past Saturday, in a speech in Las Vegas, Trump cried out how much he looooves Israel:
"The United States will stand with Israel," he shouted. "ALL the way, 100% without hesitation, without qualification and without any apology, we're not going to be apologizing."
That said, when President Biden put forth his aid package for Israel, Ukraine and the border, House Republicans wanted to separate Israel from that -- never mind that Ukraine is fighting for democracy against Russia which is not just one of the main enemies of the Untied States, but also one of Israel's enemies, so much so that when a plane from Jerusalem landed the other day in Russia, the passengers were attacked with police pretty much just watching. And never mind that for the past six years (if not longer), Republicans have been shouting from rooftops about how the biggest national security crisis for America is protection at the southern border. But House Republicans chose to separate Israel from everything else in the aid package because they really love Israel so very, very much that it had to stand alone!!!
Of course, when it came time to actually put up a bill in the House for that standalone aid to Israel, it turned out not to be so...well, totally standalone as you'd think. Rather, House Republicans had a pesky rider attached to it. A "qualification" you might call it. The GOP proposed bill offsets $14.3 billion in aid to Israel with (are you ready...) a cut of $14.3 billion from IRS!! Yes, really. That's home truly important the GOP considers its deep love of Israel. House Republicans say they will only support Israel (who they insist they loooooooove) if we take away $14.3 billion earmarked for the Internal Revenue Service as mandated in the Inflation Reduction Act. Money that will help reduce the national debt by collecting unpaid money from the wealthiest Americans who have been cheating on their taxes.
Which means, of course, that even putting aside they House Republicans are attaching an offset before they'll pass an emergency aid bill for Israel, who they insist they loooove, as a matter of national security -- but their offset not only won't pay for the aid to Israel (who they insist they love, love, love), but cutting money from funding to the IRS for collection of the wealthiest tax cheats will actually increase the debt!
As Joe Scarborough put on his Morning Joe show --
"We'll protect the Jews if you protect the billionaires. We want billionaire tax cheats to get away with stealing more money from the American people. We'll let you protect the Jews, Joe Biden, but you have to let us protect our donors, our billionaire donors that are tax cheats.'"
Or as Rep. Ted Lieu (my Congressman) wrote on social media --
"Dear @HouseGOP: You are conditioning aid to Israel. Never before has Congress required an offset for foreign aid. And your offset protecting billionaires would actually increase costs. Why are you singling out Israel for differential treatment, during her greatest hour of need?"
So much for no "qualifications". And not "hesitating".
But then, that's because -- aside from being lying, disingenuous hypocrites -- it turns out that there is one thing that Republicans love, love, looooove more than Israel and Biblical End Times, and that's cutting taxes for the wealthiest millionaires, billionaires and corporations.
Even if it comes at the cost of national security. Because this GOP bill does. Democrats in the Senate have already said it is a non-starter. The White House also put out a memo which said, in part --
"...after the worst terrorist attack in its history, House Republicans are engaging in a dangerous political stunt that for the first time in American history demands emergency national security funding be fully offset." It adds that by their actions, Republicans are "politicizing our national security interests" which would "set an unacceptable precedent that jeopardizes the United States’ ability to reliably support Israel’s self-defense into the future."
But still, putting national security aside -- and Israel's security aside -- Republicans insist that they just love, love, loooove Israel. It turns out that it's just Israelis who Republicans don't seem to care much for. Especially those who burn and go to Hell.
On this week's Naked Lunch podcast, hosts Phil Rosenthal and David Wild have a pure food conversation, though understandably beginning more sedate than usual, and start the conversation off by putting it in perspective, as they write, "With the heartbreaking and horrific backdrop of the recent terrorist attacks on Israel, Phil & David have a heartfelt, warm and funny yet timely and emotional conversation about Judaism, food, identity and life with Jake Cohen, the New York Times bestselling cookbook author of Jew-ish: Reinvented Recipes From A Modern Mensch and his latest delicious tome, I Could Nosh: Classic Jewish Recipes Revamped for Every Day" Jake shares his remarkable rise to being a food celebrity and Instagram favorite, with a notable assist from Britney Spears, among others.
As we finish Yom Kippur, which starts tonight at sundown, I thought I'd get this in under the wire and repost this video from last year. It's the song "Avinu Malkeinu" which comes at the very end of the service.
This was one of my mother's favorite songs for the High Holidays, and it's sung wonderfully here by 13 cantors from around the world. I find some of the visual editing a little distracting, but not the singing.
Avinu Malkeinu means "Our Father, Our King," and the prayer itself is basically one of supplication, while also asking God for compassion whether or not it's deserved. It can be recited throughout the year, though the prayer is an important part of 10 days of the High Holidays starting with Rosh Hashanah and notably sung at the end of the service atoning at the start of the new year.
Or something like that. There are many variations, and even verses, whose order I think maybe can even be flexible, and the different denominations handle it their own way.
The other day, Russell Moore gave a brief, texting interview with the online news startup, Semafor. Moore is former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and currently editor-in-chief of Christianity Today. He was promoting his new book that deals with the difficult struggles he and evangelical leaders have had over Donald Trump and his sexual abuse scandals. Moore describes Trump as a "a unique threat, both to American institutions and to the church's witness."
I admire knowing that a loyal acolyte of Trump is now cutting ties with him, What I'm not exactly sure about is where the struggles exist for him. After all, to me, once you consider someone to be a "unique threat" to both America and the church, that should pretty much eliminate any struggling. Make it close to a no-brainer. But that's me.
Anyway, Moore talks about the weariness that evangelicals appear to be having comes from trying to reconcile what the Bible teaches with its support for Trump. A gap made all the wider, one would assume given Trump being found liable for sexual assault - which the judge has written meets the standard public meaning of rape - along with his two indictments, one for espionage, and two more indictments likely coming, for trying to overthrow democracy and the U.S. government. So, with a gap that wide, it would indeed seem very difficult to reconcile - assuming, of course, that for some reason you would want to reconcile it.
"I wrote the book," Moore says, "because I'm hearing every day from evangelical Christians who are exhausted and almost in despair over the state of American Christianity. They know something has gone terribly wrong but they are losing hope that anything could be different. At the same time, I get asked by non-Christians, as a man said to me as recently as yesterday- "What the hell is wrong with you people."
I believe at this point, the proper reaction is - the heart bleeds While I'm glad the find out that everyday evangelical Christians are finally seeing that maybe Trump isn't someone to put all their devotion into, I would suggest that if they are exhausted and almost in despair over the stage of American Christianity, it is their own blind, fervent support (emotionally, religiously and at the ballot box) of Donald Trump - a man who it has been abundantly clear has less interest in the tenets of Christianity than the dust of a crushed boulder - that has helped bring American Christianity to its current state so wearying to them. When Trump was running for president and asked his favorite Bible passage, and he couldn't even name it - his favorite! - hiding behind, "There are so many of them," it was near-impossible to miss that he was as empty as a vacuum tube when it came to religion. And yet the idolizing Christian evangelicals with stars blocking their eyes and minds devoutly threw themselves at Trump's bidding - in large part because he promised them far-right, religious judges who would help strip rights from the needy and because he spoke out so vociferously with hate in his heart against those who were different, All of which seems to be against the teachings of the Bible, not in support of it. But then, I'm not an evangelical Christian, so it's likely they have a different view on such things than I do.
Moore also adds that "An evangelical America in crisis isn't good for anybody."
No, that's wrong. An evangelical America in crisis isn't good for evangelicals. That's a very different concept from what he thinks. Perhaps conflating the two is one of the reasons evangelical Christians are so wearied, trying to reconcile adoration of Trump with the teachings of Jesus.
Moore also notes that he remains even more committed to the gospel and to the Bible than he's ever been. "'Evangelical' as a word," he says "conjures up all kinds of politicized hackery and moral scandal. But I think it's too good a word to abandon it to authoritarians and demagogues."
To be fair, the word "evangelical" was not abandoned to authoritarians and demagogues. The reason the world conjures up all kinds of politicized hackery and moral scandal is because evangelicals themselves have long been drawn to such people. Letting their fervent sense of personal religion cloud their view of the wider world around them.
Moore himself, while finally, at last, seeing Trump - after years of adoration -- as a "unique threat" to America and religion, still struggles with the gap. That's on him. Not on political hacks and moral scandals.
Again, as I said, I'm very glad when a Russell Moore - or anyone - who worshiped Trump with an adoration can now see him as a "unique threat" and speak out against him. However long it took.
But even putting aside the appropriate question, "What took you so long from seeing the blatantly obvious?," when you're still struggling with how to deal with that, then you really aren't seeing the threat for what it is, because it seems there's a big part of you that likes the message Trump brought, just not the messenger.
On the Fourth of July, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) -- who helped promote the Insurrection -- decided to celebrate the freedoms of Independence Day for all Americans by demeaning the Freedom of Religion. He posted a tweet that quoted Patrick Henry as saying, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here."
Patrick Henry, who is of course best-known for saying, "Give me liberty or give me death," is not known for saying this other quote, but that's for a very good reason. He never said it.
Indeed, if you had suspected that might be the case when reading the quote Hawley tried to pawn off because the words seemed a bit modern, there's a good reason for that, too - they are. They were from an article about Patrick Henry for a magazine called The Virginian, written in 1956.
That article was published 67 years ago, so it's been around for a long time. Though not nearly as long as if Patrick Henry had actually said it. The quote has been used a lot in the Christian community over the years, despite it repeatedly being debunked.
But that's not the point here. It's that it's one thing for U.S. Senator Josh Hawley to have posted this non-existent quote that Patrick Henry NEVER SAID without checking it first. But it's another thing entirely that he's left it up, despite most-certainly knowing now it's a lie (and knowing its source). That is far-more important because it speaks volumes about Hawley's craven inability to be trusted.
Indeed, it would near-impossible for Hawley to not know the quote is a lie, because Twitter has attached the actual attribution to Hawley's original posting.
(By the way, the person writing the history of the magazine passage and noting the correction explains that "The language is twentieth-century. The word 'religionists,' for example. In Patrick Henry's time it meant a fanatic, a person obsessed with religion; not as here people of different religions (or something like that). Furthermore, he notes other clear red flags that this couldn't have been said by Patrick Henry, even if you didn't know it was from a 1956 article. Among them, he notes that Patrick Henry would have had to have been incredibly clairvoyant to know that "peoples of other faiths" are, in the future, going to be "afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship" in it. Something only really made clear in full over 150 years later.)
And if you didn't know all that, if you missed the clues, it's right there linked to the original tweet. And Josh Hawley has chosen to leave the lie up.
This profile in honesty and the courage to acknowledge your mistake comes from the same person who wrote a book called Manhood about (as the sub-heading says) "the Masculine Virtues America Needs". And the same tough, masculine guy who, after giving a fist-bump of support to the Jan. 6 Insurrectionists, later was spotted on video running away to safety after those same Insurrectionists broke into the U.S. Capitol.
And Josh Hawley doesn't even have the masculine virtue to delete a tweet he got totally wrong. Or the human decency that most people learn in childhood to admit a lie when caught - or just say "Oops, I was wrong."
But it turns out to be better in the World of Josh Hawley to be divisive and continue passing along a known lie and try to obfuscate religion, which I guess is ultimately what you should expect from a coward who promotes overthrowing democracy, and is such a fascist thing to do.
And this is what Josh Hawley chose to do on Independence Day, when Americans celebrates it freedoms. Post what was an easy-to-know was wrong, and then leave it up because the false words served his needs.
In the end, how telling that a guy named Josh is such a joke.
Okay, yes, that's a little bit harsh. But only a little-bit. Because it's well-earned by his own hand.
Oh, my. If Alan Dershowitz hasn't been getting many party invites before back in Martha’s Vineyard, his Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday won't help. It's titled, "Elon Musk Is Right About George Soros—and Not Anti-Semitic."
And no, I'm not kidding. He really wrote that. Honest.
Putting aside other points to debate that Dershowitz want to argue on behalf of some of Musk's statements being "right" and "not Anti-Semitic," what the once-admired attorney much too conveniently is happy to overlook and give a kindly pass to is when Musk says (among other things) about Mr. Soros such deeply anti-Semitic smears as “He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.”
Gee, hmmm, I don’t know, but to me that’s pretty hard to ignore when trying to insist someone is "right" and "not anti-Semitic". But then, hey, that’s me.
(I was going to add that after saying that George Soros “wants to erode the very fabric of civilization” and “hates humanity” Musk didn’t bother to give any evidence to explain how he knew this was so. But then I figured the statement was pretty damning all on its own, without even having to add “Oh, yeah?? Prove it.”)
There are certain basics in communication that are pretty well accepted, and as an attorney, I’m sure that Alan Dershowitz knows them. And one of the most basic – that I’m sure he's most-especially aware of – is that agreeing with someone on one point does not even remotely mean ALL things that person has said are therefore correct.
So, the fact that Alan Dershowitz wants to insist (rightly or rightly) that one point or another that Elon Musk has made about George Soros are true does not even remotely mean all things Musk has said about Mr. Soros are therefore correct and not at all anti-Semitic. Like, for instance, as just a starting point, that George Soros “wants to erode the very fabric of civilization” and “hates humanity.”
I am sure there are a great many things that Nick Fuentes – the white supremacist who Kanye West brought to dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Trump – has said about Jews and Black people that were completely valid (like, to make up one, “Jews don’t believe in Jesus Christ.” Or "Blacks work hard"), but to extrapolate that to then say, "See! Nick Fuentes is right about Jews and Black people and not a white supremacist in the slightest" misses the entire point by ignoring all the virulent white supremacist things Fuentes has, in fact, made a career saying. Like telling Jews to "get out fuck out of America.” And "You serve the devil. You serve Satan. ... I piss on your Talmud." As well as complaining about "flooding the zone with "ni**er votes".
I am going to guess that even Alan Dershowitz would agree that things like that totally dismiss any – no, sorry, all – of the lovely, accurate things Nick Fuentes has said in his life. And that Fuentes is, in fact, a white supremacist.
Yet he gives a pass to Elon Musk because Musk said a few things about George Soros that Dershowitz (rightly or wrongly) agrees with.
In fairness to Dershowitz, he has maintained the ability for using hyperbole to make a point, which is always a top quality when trying to explain why someone’s anti-Semitic attacks should be ignored.
In fact, his over-exaggerated comment, “The Hungarian-born billionaire has done more than anyone to turn Americans against Israel” was so important to Dershowitz that he made it his sub-headline. ("More than anyone," not bad. If that won't get your cockles up, what will?!) Two things leap out here –
First is that I would suggest that America has not actually turned against Israel at all. Some Americans have, but then some Americans are actually anti-Semitic. And some Americans hate foreign aid to any country. And some Americans strongly support Israel, but don’t like the current extreme-right conservative leadership in Israel. But overall, America has very strong support of Israel. Including support from the religious right who absolutely love Israel with a fervent passion, though that’s because of it being the home base for End Times when all Jews will be consumed in flames unless they convert to Christianity. More to the point, even if Alan Dershowitz wants to argue that George Soros doesn’t support the current extreme-right leadership in Israel (which is the case for many Americans having zero to do with George Soros), I would suggest that the extreme-right, Trump-supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done significantly more than not just George Soros, but everyone to turn those Americans who are against the current regime in Israel against it.
And second, Dershowitz’s oh-so adorable use of “Hungarian-born billionaire” to describe George Soros not only leaps out in attempting to smear him with images of xenophobic hatred, and outrage against totalitarian Nazis and oligarchs, but also ignores calling Elon Musk the “South African-born one-time richest man in the world.”
Gee, go figure.
In the end, Alan Dershowitz’s op-ed says far more about the descent of Alan Dershowitz than it does about George Soros or Elon Musk, the man who yesterday helped promote for president of the United States a governor who is banning books, removing Black history from education, undermining women’s health, blocking health care for transgender children, making it illegal to mention LGBTQ people in schools, tricking undocumented immigrants for deportation to other states, using the power of his political office to try to destroy a corporation for disagreeing with his law against gays, and outlawing how people dress when reading books to children...who Alan Dershowitz says is "right" and not anti-Semitic.
The one good thing, though, about Alan Dershowitz complaining about not getting invited to parties for his growing outlandish positions is that it means more food for the rest of us.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor