Zack Beauchamp

The Donald Trump Show (Typing in Stereo)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., 3 December 2015.

“On Thursday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump delivered a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition in which he essentially praised members of the organization for being a bunch of Shylocks.”

Scott Eric Kaufman

Daring openings are what they are, and Scott Eric Kaufman of Salon delivers one that might well be, according to murmur and buzz, worth its punch.

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed chose a more sober lede that pretty much makes the point:

Donald Trump repeatedly invoked stereotypes about Jews and money during a speech to a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on Thursday.

Zack Beauchamp summarized for Vox―

The nicest thing that you can say about these comments is that they play on ancient stereotypes of Jews as money-grubbing merchants. The meanest thing you can say is that they’re outright anti-Semitic.

―and pointed to some social media reaction, including Chemi Shalev of Haaretz, who tweeted his critique: “The time that Trump spit on a Jewish audience and everyone pretended they were in a water park”.

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The Art of Buying Cotton

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - OCTOBER 31: U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Arkansas looks on during a tailgate party before the start of a Fayetteville High School football game on October 31, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. With less than a week to go before election day U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is holding a narrow lead over incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR). (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Former generations might have looked upon filmreel of American servicemen dumping helicopters and other equipment overboard as our ships fled east Asia in the wake of our military debacle in Vietnam and been expected to believe that was what victory looked like. And that really is a note for middle age, because even my own generation seems to forget how we used to say, “America has never lost a war”. And over time that notion has been variously scaled, such that we’ve never fought a foreign war on our territory, and other such historical inaccuracies. No, really, there is even a way in which we argue that what happened in 1814 wasn’t a foreign invasion; after all, they were British. Fast forward to the twenty-first century when a guy from Mexico looking for work constitutes an invasion.

Never mind. Nostalgia, of a sort.

Let’s try a game show voice. Beauchamp says!

Wednesday night, Sen. Tom Cotton went on Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room to talk about Iraq and ISIS. He said something surprising.

Meta-irony. The headline is, “Tom Cotton says ISIS is winning in Iraq. That is false.”

It’s a nice headline, I suppose. Functional. Direct. Not really much of a gray area, you know?

The headline isn’t the problem, of course; it is merely the frame. Because the question does, in fact arise: Why is this surprising?

“We just haven’t rolled back the Islamic State at all over the last six or seven months since we began our air campaign,” he said. “They’ve continued to hold the ground they always have. They haven’t advanced, but we haven’t rolled them back, either. And that’s not going to be enough to defeat them.”

“The Islamic State seems to be winning now,” Cotton later added.

This is, in fact, the exact opposite of what is occurring. ISIS is losing substantial ground in Iraq, and it’s hard to imagine why Cotton is insisting otherwise.

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A Texas-Sized Example of Why “Government Doesn’t Work” (Hint: Because You Elect Republicans)

Texas

Do we all remember “Texas-sized”, or has that silly exaggeration finally gone the way of general decency in the Republican Party?

Then again, this isn’t exactly a matter of general decency, except that the ignorance required to be a Texas conservative really is indecent. Put more directly, Eva Hershaw explains, for the Texas Tribune:

Campell proposed the Protect the Alamo Act in response to a nomination that could make the San Antonio Missions — including the emblematic Alamo — a World Heritage site through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A decision is expected to be announced in July. Campbell said that without the law to protect the Alamo, there would be a risk that the Texas General Land Office, which manages the Alamo and surrounding properties, could sell it.

“In the charge to the battle, the battle cry was ‘Remember the Alamo,’ and since then, the Alamo has been recognized as hallowed ground in Texas, and a shrine of Texas liberty,” Campbell said at a hearing before the The Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee. “The Alamo is a story of Texas, and it should be owned, operated, and maintained, controlled by Texans.”

This is Texas logic: In order to protect the Alamo from being sold, we shall protest a world heritage designation that would prevent it from being sold.

See, they seem to believe that UNESCO would then own the Alamo.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush’s deputy told lawmakers that the General Land Office would only be able to sell the Alamo if lawmakers passed legislation directing them to do so.

“I believe Commissioner Bush would state emphatically that we are not interested in selling the Alamo or giving up our authority on the Alamo,” said Deputy Land Commissioner Larry Laine.

“Commissioner Bush would say no to allowing the Alamo to be sold, but what about the next commissioner?” Campbell asked Laine, who responded, “I cannot speak for that next commissioner.”

“I can’t either,” said Campbell. “And neither can anyone else.”

Well … that’s not exactly true.

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Ptomaine Word Salad

"It'd be a permanent downward economic spiral — like Gaza, basically," Kirk Sowell, a risk analyst and Iraq expert, says. An ISIS mini-state is just not sustainable. (Zack Beauchamp/Vox)

One would expect, then, to die when Daa’ish, (a.k.a. Daesh, ISIS, ISIL, and IS, at the very least) secretly invades the United States across the Mexican border in order to pose as migrant workers and infect our lettuce with ebola.

Oh, right. Reality. Er … ah … sorry.

So, you might have heard some murmuring of late about those bad guys from Iraq and Syria getting caught while crossing the border. It’s … something of a campfire election-season scary story.

Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind call horsepucky for Vox:

One might think that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is primarily of concern for people in and around Iraq and Syria, but some politicians beg to differ. Over the past couple months, a number of House members (and a Senator and governor here or there) have made increasingly specific statements about the perceived danger of ISIS members coming to the US, particularly by way of the Mexican border.

On one end of the spectrum, there are vague hypotheticals like the ones Texas governor and likely 2016 GOP contender Rick Perry has been posing. While noting he had “no clear evidence” this was happening, he expressed an “obvious, great concern that — because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across — that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be.” Or fellow 2016 possibility Sen. Mario Rubio (R-FL), who when asked by Fox News’ Sean Hannity if ISIS could cross the border, answered, “Sure, potentially.”

Statements like these are basically un-factcheckable, since it’s obviously conceptually possible that people with terrorist affiliations could, at some point, sneak across the border. Some tweets from people claiming to be affiliated with ISIS have threatened attacks within the US, but there’s no indication that the group’s actual leadership is at all interested in that. Perry and Rubio’s statements aren’t outright wrong so much as they give excessive credence to a possibility for which there’s little real evidence.

But others have made statements that are more falsifiable. For those cases, we reached out to the relevant Congressional offices in search of supporting evidence. In most cases, we came up short.

Don’t let that idea of “most cases” scare you. The short answer is no, Daa’ish is not invading the United States, nor crossing the border and getting arrested in twos and fours. Yet within any myth is a grain of truth.

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Palestine

Israel strike kills four children on a Gaza beach

This is how it goes:

Hamada Baker, 13, rests on the terrace of a hotel, after he was hit in the chest by shrapnel from an Israeli missile fired at a port in Gaza. (Islam Abdel Karim for The Washington Post)I had just returned to the hotel to type up some notes and file inserts on the day’s news when there was a large explosion on the quay at the port, a little after 4 o’ clock in the afternoon.

We could smell the charge. I wondered: Did Hamas just fire a rocket? But it was the sound of an incoming round. We saw a small fisherman’s shack on the quay, churning with gray smoke.

Then we saw a gang of kids running from the shack, down the breakwater and onto the sand, hurtling toward al-Deira. A couple of waiters, the cook and a few journalists started waving at them. Run here! Then a second strike landed right behind them.

The staff were yelling, “They’re hurt!”

WaPo: 'Our reporter witnessed the Israeli strike that killed 4 children on a Gaza beach"A half-dozen kids made it to the hotel. A young man also reached safety and fainted. He was bleeding from the abdomen. He was scooped up and carried to a taxi by a big, friendly bear of a bellman, room cleaner and night watchman named Mahmoud Abu Zbaidah.

Two young terrified kids were bleeding and injured, and they were quickly bandaged on the floor of the terrace, where guests usually eat skewers of grilled chicken, suck on water pipes and watch the sun go down. The kids suffered from shrapnel wounds, one to the head, one to the chest. They were treated by translators, hotel staff and journalists, who ran up to their rooms to grab medical kits.

On the quay, ambulances took away four more. They either died on the pier or at the hospital, I am not sure. The Gaza Health Ministry tweeted their names a few minutes later: Mohammed Baker, 9; Ahed Baker, 10; Zakaria Baker, 10; and Mohammed Baker, 11.

(Booth)

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Really Happening

Detail of image by Pius Utomi Ekpei

Three depressing paragraphs from Zack Beauchamp of Vox:

One of Boko Haram’s central grievances with the “fake Muslims” who currently run their country is Nigeria’s secular education system. The name Boko Haram, translated from Hausa, is often translated as “Western education is forbidden.” But more precisely, it means “Western culture is Islamically forbidden,” underscoring that Boko Haram’s campaign against schooling is only part of its broader crusade against non-Islamic influences on Nigerian society.

So it makes sense that they’d target a girl’s school. Still, why kidnap the girls?

“Their goal is almost certainly to ransom [the girls],” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation of the Defense of Democracies who follows Boko Haram, told me. “Otherwise, they have chosen a target that will make everybody hate them. Killing [100] schoolgirls would be a huge PR hit even for some of the rougher jihadist groups.”

Apparently, the group is known for this sort of stunt. And, yes, this really is happening.

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Beauchamp, Zack. “A Nigerian terrorist group just kidnapped 100 girls to keep them from going to school”. Vox. April 15, 2014.

Image credit: Detail of image by Pius Utomi Ekpei (AFP/Getty).