In today’s Morning Memo, David notes that Donald Trump’s latest ravings have been so extreme as to manage to break through, at least partly, the wall of mainstream media indifference. Trump pledges to take Comcast (owner of MSNBC) off the air for “treason” if he’s returned to office and suggests that retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley should be executed. Milley, who retires at the end of the month, gave a lengthy (and, for Trump, unflattering) interview to Atlantic Monthly editor Jeff Goldberg. So that’s what Milley’s execution is about. This is the moment we live in in the history of the American republic, a man who talks like a character out of a dystopian novel about the end of America is the choice of about half of Americans to be the next President.Read More
In last night’s piece, I noted that while Bob Menendez’s D.C. dam was mostly holding, the story was dramatically different in New Jersey where virtually everyone in the state party establishment had already called on him to resign. Just in the last couple hours the D.C. dam appears to be giving way. Sens. Warren and Rosen and, most importantly, his New Jersey colleague Cory Booker have now each called on Menendez to step down. I’d be surprised if half his senate colleagues hadn’t followed suit by the end of the day.Read More
If you watch politics long enough you realize that the secret to not being forced to resign is simple: just don’t resign. Obvious? Sure, in a way. But for countless politicians it remains oddly elusive. It’s a sort of Zen Koan of political scandals only revealed in its fullness to those who have spent years or decades meditating on the carnival of political scandals.
I often regret when good politicians fail to grasp this. We now see a bad one — Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey — trying to make a go of it. As our proverb makes clear, if Menendez absolutely refuses to resign there’s literally no way to force him. But that may not be as big a deal as it seems. Forcing him to resign may not be necessary.
The simplest alternative is for another candidate to defeat him in a primary. It may not be as hard as it sounds.Read More
TPM Reader RS chimes in on the senior Senator from New Jersey …
In watching the different reactions of NJ politicians and Senate Democrats to Sen. Mendendez’s indictment, I’m struck by another juxtaposition: the different responses of Senate Democrats to Sen. Menendez and former Sen. Franken.
I have never been particularly concerned with the pressure that was placed on Sen. Franken to resign (and think that Sen. Gillibrand has gotten a bit of a bum rap for her role in the process that probably affected her Presidential campaign in 2020, unlikely as it was to succeed in the first place). But I can’t help but wonder if the Democrats haven’t created a situation where getting indicted is what helps a Senator keep his or her seat at least in the short-term — because colleagues will point to due process, the presumption of innocence, etc. — whereas non-criminal allegations of impropriety are in a way more serious because they “have to” be dealt with by the Senate.
While English-language AI is gobbling up much of the online English language almost always without permission, there’s a problem for Danish AI, reports Bloomberg. Apparently, most of the Danish web is under pretty stringent copyright protections. And Danish law makes the kind of recourse-less stealing that Silicon Valley AI companies are getting away with way too hard. Government records and legislation are in the public domain. But that formal Danish is too distant from how people really speak and write to serve the purpose. The solution turns out to be horses.Read More
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, essentially frozen out by President Biden, is back in laudatory mode. In a long withheld sit-down with the President yesterday Netanyahu told Biden, “Under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.” Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s longtime chief agit-prop guy and hype man, says it could be a “reverse 9/11” for the U.S. That sounds kind of weird frankly and not necessarily something you’d want, given that 9/11 and everything that happened after it kinda sucked. But what he means is that whereas 9/11 led to one disaster after another for the U.S. in the region, this Israel-Saudi peace deal would make everything in the region suddenly awesome for the U.S.
But who are we kidding here exactly?Read More
There was a revealing bit of news today on the Republican government shutdown front. Punchbowl reported that Republicans are debating whether “to move the CR debate away from spending levels and toward border security.” This sounds tactical and a bit in the weeds until you realize this means House Republicans are considering changing the reason for creating a government shut down crisis in the first place. The idea is supposed to be that the GOP right is so hardline on spending that they’re pushing to shut the government down unless they get even more spending cuts than they agreed to back in May. But now they’re saying, forget about the spending stuff we’ve decided to shut the government down over “border security” instead. Who knew the budget stuff was so easy to solve? It illustrates perfectly what most of us already know, which is that policy issues are just an excuse to shut the government down because it’s something Republicans like to do. Otherwise you can’t change your reason in the middle of the whole thing.
Don’t worry. I’ve made my points about Biden and Harris not getting dropped from the 2024 ticket. Here I just want to address a few responses from readers that I found notable. TPM Reader JA argues not so much that I’m wrong on the merits but that I’m suggesting that there are some kind of “forces” or laws that govern presidential tickets. On the contrary, each presidency is unique and needs to be taken on its own internal dynamics, says JA. JA doesn’t say this directly but one of the best rejoinders to any discussion like this is that we simply have too small a sample set, whenever we’re talking about presidential politics, to make categorical judgments or statements.Read More
As noted below, there are clear, obvious and available ways to take Donald Trump apart on abortion rights. But one thing that completely won’t work is thinking he’s going to face some kind of pro-life rebellion in the Republican primary. That’s how Ron DeSantis apparently thinks this is going to work, attacking Trump for getting ready to sell out the pro-life base. But there’s no one to sell out. The pro-life movement – as opposed to the bans in various states – is in a state of irreversible collapse. Really everybody involved in GOP primary politics knows that. You know it’s over when Mike Pence says Republicans need to elect a bible-believing, evangelical purist and then declares his support for a national 15 week ban.Read More