Editors’ Blog

Morning Update on the Israeli Elections Prime Badge
A Bit More on the Israeli Elections

A few more observations on the Israeli election. Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu wrecked Netanyahu’s shot at forming a government last time. He bet it all on that and he won big. His seat total went up substantially. If you assume he will again not join a Netanyahu coalition, then Netanyahu really doesn’t appear to have the seats to form a government. If the exit polls are roughly accurate the rightist bloc has 56 seats.

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A Note on the Israeli Elections

The first exit polls from today’s Israel elections came out almost two hours ago. They show Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party coming two seats behind Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party. They also show the right-wing bloc in a difficult position to form a government. But there is an ocean of tears of Bibi-haters who put their faith in Israeli exit polls. We have seen repeated examples of narrow Likud defeats which overnight turned into narrow victories. This is definitely looking like a tough situation for Netanyahu. But I’ve been Charlie Brown and seen this football teed up far too many times to put much stock in these numbers. If you’re obsessed, keep watching the results. If you just want to know how it all turns out, see where things stand tomorrow morning.

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Being a House Republican Apparently Sucks

Some of the most important work of government happens down at the city and county level. So it’s no knock on Boards of Supervisors, city councilors and the like. But the latest Republican retirement from the House – Paul Cook (R-CA) – is a remarkable commentary. He’s leaving the House to run for the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. I think you’d have to look pretty long and hard for a similar retirement really anywhere.

The Next Democratic Party Prime Badge
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA), speaks with reporters about the committee's investigation into Russia's involvement in the recent U.S. presidential election, on Captiol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Let’s Talk About This

This note is for everyone who is a TPM Reader. But it’s particularly for our regular readers who are not members or who maybe were members but lapsed or unsubscribed. We have our annual sign up drive coming up later this month. It is an absolutely critical one. If you’re a regular reader and you value TPM we literally need you to sign up and become a member. I’m going to explain below why it’s so important both in negative and positive terms.

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A World of Refugees

Josh Kovensky has a fascinating look at how white nationalists are glomming onto and pressing climate change hysteria to advance their goals of a walled-off, whites-only America. This makes me think of a central part of how I see the future of climate change.

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This Week’s Focus On Climate

Starting today and continuing for a week, TPM will be joining more than 250 news organizations in amping up our coverage of climate change and the political realities that surround it.

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On Kavanaugh

There was a thread in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings about a then-girl he and his friends shamed as promiscuous in their school yearbook. Unlike so many other accusations that were raised in the hearing we didn’t need to credit a victim’s account or those of other witnesses. The yearbook itself made what happened crystal clear. Kavanaugh simply lied about it outright. From the point of view of the hearings process this always struck me as a key moment. There was no ambiguity. He was being scrutinized for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court and he was perfectly willing to lie under oath. The conduct was less egregious than the assault allegations. But the unambiguous evidence of willful and malicious deception was clarifying.

Here was a key part of that exchange …

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Malevolence and Incompetence

A tranche of emails sheds new light on the chaos surrounding President Trump’s voter fraud commission debacle, the most illuminating and comical parts are real government officials who deal real non-criminal things trying to distance themselves from the commissions work, others not being clear on what it even was or whether it was something intended to look at actual election security issues versus generating propaganda to make it harder for people to vote. Tierney Sneed has the story.

Dear Leader Watch

Pro-Trump media is an increasingly odd place. The personality cult aspect of it is nothing new. But this is the kind of “SMILE BE HAPPY OUR LEADER IS POWERFUL” loudspeaker talk is something worth just taking a few minutes to listen to. It’s wild. Note also that the script is played in real time in the graphics.

Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) looks and listens to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during a debate at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU in Dallas, on  Friday, September 21, 2018. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/Pool)
90 More Minutes of This, Folks!

10:31 PM: Biden’s answer to the resilience question captured a lot of him, both some incoherence, jumping at several different ways of coming at the question, but coming back to something very core and genuine, compelling.

10:31 PM: Both Biden’s and Warren’s answers on resilience captured a lot about them, both approaches to the question and the substance.

9:45 PM: This is a really good answer from Warren on Afghanistan and more broadly about the militarization of American foreign policy.

9:41 PM: Booker’s the only one making a really good point: if you are going to get into a trade conflict with China, you need all your allies on side. It’s insane to be picking battles with our allies too at the same time.

9:33 PM: Striking to me how incoherent most of the candidates are on the China tariffs issue.

Pretty Good So Far

9:15 PM: It was interesting that Warren was sort of all over the place on guns in her answer. She only really got coherent, got traction when she pulled it into a discussion of corruption and money in politics.

9:12 PM: Biden is wearing a bespoke Obama coat, socks and and cufflinks.

9:08 PM: I’ll say it again: why isn’t Corey Booker polling better?

8:57 PM: Biden’s having a good night. Amazing? No. But solid and no stumbles. And he’s already ahead.

8:54 PM: I continue to be surprised at how little support Corey Booker has been able to generate. I’m not saying he’s the best candidate. But he’s really good and he just hasn’t connected. I don’t get it.

8:51 PM: I don’t know much about the substance of Klobuchar’s record on criminal justice. But the answer was good.

Okay Let’s Do This!

8:39 PM: This debate is being moderated very well. Here’s how you can see that. We’ve now had an almost 40 minute discussion of health care. It’s been pretty substantive. And it’s hard for me to think of much of anything the moderators have aid. Stephanopoulos started with a good framing question. And that was pretty much it.

8:32 PM: Fascinating to see Obama recede into history as a Reagan-like figure for Democrats with all the name-checking. Democrats haven’t had a figure like that in decades.

8:25 PM: Biden is getting the better part of this because Warren and Sanders are having a conversation that is very internal to the Democratic policy conversation about health care. I don’t think they’re making the best case they can for Medicare for All, maybe because they’re reacting to Biden. Biden’s having the better part of it because his points are clearer, simpler. (Again, I say this setting aside the relative merits of the different policies.)

8:22 PM: Purely in political terms, I think Biden has gotten the better part of this engagement on health care.

8:17 PM: Fine for Biden? Okay? Just okay. But fine. (Did better on the first question.)

8:15 PM: Warren’s just a really good politician. And I mean that in the positive sense. Just connects, has a story. She’s a natural.

8:12 PM: Harris’s opener strikes me as the first of the night that probably connected with some voters.

8:11 PM: Buttigieg’s opener seems completely out of sync with where most Democratic voters are right now.

8:10 PM: I find the Yang thing lame. Sort of patronizing and gimmicky. Though probably pretty awesome if you get the money!

Okay let’s do this!!!

Debate Night!

Join us at 8 p.m. for live coverage of tonight’s Democratic debate. Josh Marshall will be writing here in the ed blog, and TPM staff will be on hand with a liveblog for members and coverage of tonight’s notable moments.

Making Sense of the Long-Predicted Trump ‘Pivot’ Abroad

Remember far back in the before-times there was the “pivot,” way back into 2015 and 2016. It’s so far back and so confounded by everything that has come since that it is genuinely hard to remember. But we need to.

The idea was that Donald Trump was acting like a clown — and, what’s worse, a fairly racist and even fascistic clown. But he was also becoming a more credible presidential candidate. Because he had jumped to the head of the GOP primary pack and, contrary to the expectations of many, he wasn’t collapsing. Indeed, he was gaining strength. At the time it was considered obvious and essential that you can’t actually become president that way, not behaving like an erratic and dangerous buffoon. So at some point he had to “pivot” to acting normal. He even got in on explaining that the “pivot” was coming.

Of course, it never came. He won the primaries, which should have been entirely expected. He also won the election, which — well — many of us didn’t see coming. He continued being the same unstable, erratic and predatory person. The pivot never happened.

But something is different now.

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There’s a DS-9 Episode

Aside from the myriad other stories swirling this morning, we have a report that captures not just the sorry but ridiculous state in which the country now finds itself. According to the Post, the White House is considering a plan, which, depending on one’s generosity and willingness to squint, ranges from federalizing homeless policy in California to setting up internment camps for the homeless in the state.

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Going Anti-Trump Would Cost Bolton His Access to the World of Rightwing Grift
The National Security Advisor of the United States, John Bolton talks to Miami Herald on Latin American policy at the National Historic Landmark Miami Freedom Tower on November 1, 2018.

The word is that John Bolton is not going quietly after President Trump’s ostentatious slam-dunking of him on Twitter. Maybe he won’t. But there’s a part of this equation I doubt we’ll see discussed much in the press coverage of this story. Bolton isn’t really a foreign policy guy and hasn’t been for more than a decade. Yes, he still discusses foreign policy and for the last year or so he had what is basically the top foreign policy job in the U.S. government. But since the end of the Bush years Bolton has really been a public politics guy and a consummate player in the GOP buck-raking industrial complex.

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Trump Gives Iran the Soybean Farmer Deal

This is quite astounding. President Trump is considering issuing a $15 billion line of credit to Iran to help them weather the financial chaos created by the sanctions we placed on them after Trump tore up the Iran nuclear deal, according to a new report from the Daily Beast. We would be doing this to get them to come back into compliance with the deal that Obama negotiated, which was working and being complied with until Trump abrogated the deal. That led to sanctions and to Iran eventually “violating” the deal.

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Falwell Claims Criminal Conspiracy

It sounds like Jerry Falwell Jr. may be taking legal advice from lawyers who went to Liberty University.

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