Politics & Policy

Keith Ellison’s Bad Week

Keith Ellison’s Bad Week

You know Keith Ellison, Minnesota congressman and aspiring DNC Chair, has had a bad week when yesterday’s news about his imam’s views on homosexuality is the third or fourth worst bit of news for him in the past day.

Admittedly, they’re tough to rank. Probably atop the list is the Anti-Defamation League statement declaring Ellison unacceptable as the head of the Democratic party:

When Rep. Ellison’s candidacy to be chair of the Democratic National Committee was first reported, ADL did not rush to judgment. Instead, we took a hard look at the totality of his record on key issues on our agenda. We spoke to numerous leaders in the community and to Mr. Ellison himself. ADL’s subsequent statement on his candidacy appreciated his contrition on some matters, acknowledged areas of commonality but clearly expressed real concern where Rep. Ellison held divergent policy views, particularly related to Israel’s security.

New information recently has come to light that raises serious concerns about whether Rep. Ellison faithfully could represent the Democratic Party’s traditional support for a strong and secure Israel. In a speech recorded in 2010 to a group of supporters, Rep. Ellison is heard suggesting that American foreign policy in the Middle East is driven by Israel, saying: “The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes.”

Rep. Ellison’s remarks are both deeply disturbing and disqualifying. His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests. Additionally, whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S.

Ellison says his remarks were “selectively edited and taken out of context.”

Then there’s the Free Beacon, finding unsavory details of Ellison’s 2008 trip to Saudi Arabia:

Ellison, now a leading candidate to head the Democratic National Committee, was brought to Saudi Arabia for a two-week trip by the Muslim American Society (MAS), a group founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood to act as its “overt arm” in the United States.

Details of Ellison’s religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia are scarce, but photographs discovered by the Washington Free Beacon show that Ellison met with controversial figures during the trip.

A photo album of Ellison’s hajj trip posted by MAS’s Minnesota chapter includes a picture of the congressman meeting with Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, who was vice president of a Muslim Brotherhood-created group that in 2004 issued a fatwa urging “jihad” against U.S. troops in Iraq and supported the Palestinians’ Second Intifada against Israel.

Then there’s Tim Ryan, unsuccessful challenger to Nancy Pelosi, declaring that the next Democratic National Committee chair has to treat the job as a full-time job, a fairly commonsense perspective that would either eliminate Ellison as an option or require him to resign from the House.

Ellison is also sure to face questions about his younger years as a member of the Nation of Islam and defender of Louis Farrakhan for a decade. Ellison renounced his membership in 2006. Ellison’s imam, Makram El-Amin, is also a former member of the Nation of Islam. El-Amin’s father was a minister in the Nation of Islam and a bodyguard for Elijah Mohammad, the founder.

What America Could Purchase With That Money, ‘Instead of a Recount’

It’s a neat rhetorical trick. Whenever Republicans want to do something, the Democrats claim the expense will be unreasonable, and the money would be better spent no any one of many other noble causes instead. You’ve heard it before: “For the cost of the Benghazi investigation, America could have fed X number of malnourished children…” etcetera.

Strangely, they never ask how many hot meals, medical treatments, or homes could be built with the money spent on presidential vacations, U.S. government lawsuits against the Little Sisters of the Poor, lawsuits against state governments for passing voter ID laws, or Healthcare.gov.

Last night, a few like-minded friends and I started the hashtag #insteadofarecount, using the same rhetorical method against the giant wasteful exercise in denial going on in three states. If Jill Stein had simply conceded she was running a giant scam and taken the money and run, you almost could respect the sheer shameless deviousness and greed. But no, they’re really going through with this, and Wisconsin will need $3.5 million. Michigan’s localities and state government will need another $4 million.

Just think, instead of being wasted on a recount that won’t change anything, that money could have helped the victims of the Tennessee fires, gifts under the tree for needy families this year, helped veterans get the health care they need when the VA leaves them waiting, gone towards researching a cure for any one of the world’s horrible diseases…

This and That…

Senate Republicans would like to reintroduce you to their 2014 class, as they’re just a month away from not being the rookies anymore: Steve Daines taking selfies with U.S. Capitol Police officers, Joni Ernst running, Ben Sasse balancing on a skateboard on the phone, Bill Cassidy doing television interviews in his jeans, Thom Tillis doing push-ups, Cory Gardner playing with a Millennium Falcon drone, David Purdue tossing old reports in the recycling bin, Dan Sullivan doing pull-ups, and others.

The editors point out that the incoming Trump administration’s deal with air conditioning manufacturer Carrier is fantastic optics and not particularly good policy:

Although it is a very good deal if it is your job being saved, it does not look like such a good deal if you pay the taxes that are making the deal happen. But nobody ever takes into account the poor taxpayer, whose resources are treated as though they were inexhaustible. This is a case of Frédéric Bastiat’s contest between the seen and the unseen: Every dollar spent subsidizing Carrier in Indiana is a dollar that could have been invested in a more productive enterprise that does not require government support, that could have put food on a family’s table or helped to fill up its retirement account. The benefits of the deal are easy to account for, but the costs are dispersed and diffused and difficult to account for, which is what makes these sorts of deals seem attractive: It is an exercise in one-sided accounting.

The Trump administration will no doubt get political juice out of the Carrier deal, whose symbolism will be particularly welcome in the Rust Belt that just delivered Trump the presidency. In the long run, though, corporatism is no substitute for a healthy overall economy and a subsequently strong labor market, which we hope the Trump White House and Congress will encourage with a new policy direction beginning in January.

 

Tim Alberta on the folly of the Democrats:

Pelosi’s comment implies that the Democratic party should only be led (and represented) by someone hailing from liberal America. It’s a convenient argument for her to make: Pelosi’s district, California’s 12th, covers the city of San Francisco and has a Cook PVI rating of D+34 — making it the seventh-most liberal district in the country. But this area isn’t representative of the nation on the whole, nor is it critical to winning 270 electoral votes. The presidency isn’t decided in San Francisco or Manhattan or other ultra-liberal enclaves in dark-blue states; it’s decided in places like Trumbull County, Ohio, which Obama won by 22 points in 2012 and Clinton lost by 6 points to Trump even as Ryan, who represents almost the entire county, carried it by 36 points.

Back in 2013, Military Times offered a detailed summary of the career of James Mattis, expected to be Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Defense. Wow. The country is probably going to love this man the way the Marines did.

ADDENDA: After a long absence and travels, the pop culture podcast returns, with a lament of how the entire week after Thanksgiving has turned into some sort of giant Retail Hannukah: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Whatever’s Left Wednesday and Stop Creating New Faux-lidays Thursday. We return to the relentless big-budget ominousness of HBO’s Westworld, mock the friendship-wrecking holiday gift ideas from Goop, the lifestyle site run by Gwyneth Paltrow — more or less the official piñata of The Jim and Mickey Show — and conclude with a detailed dissection of the unnerving theological implications of Frosty the Snowman.

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