Quick Takes: Trump Decision to Move U.S. Embassy Sparks Violence

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* While Jared and Ivanka were celebrating Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, this is what was happening in Gaza:

A mass attempt by Palestinians to cross the border fence separating Israel from Gaza quickly turned violent, as Israeli soldiers responded with rifle fire. Monday became the bloodiest single day since the campaign of demonstrations began seven weeks ago, to protest Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians took part in the Gaza protests, which spread on Monday to the West Bank, where the focus was on opposition to the embassy move.

By 7 p.m., 52 Palestinians, including several teenagers, were dead and at least 1,700 were injured in Gaza, the Health Ministry said. Israeli soldiers and snipers used barrages of tear gas as well as live gunfire to keep protesters from entering Israeli territory…

By midafternoon, the protest nearest to Gaza City had turned into a pitched battle — a chaotic panorama of smoke, sirens and tear gas that stretched along the fence. Emergency workers with stretchers carried off a stream of injured protesters, many with leg wounds but some having been shot in the abdomen. A number were teenagers.

* Could this be the reason Trump is changing his tune so dramatically on China?

A billion-dollar Indonesian property development with ties to Donald Trump has become the latest project in China’s globe-spanning Belt and Road infrastructure project – just as Washington and Beijing are tussling over trade.

A subsidiary of Chinese state-owned construction firm Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) signed a deal with Indonesia’s MNC Land to build a theme park outside Jakarta as part of the ambitious project, the company said on Thursday.

The deal is the latest to raise questions about the extent of Trump’s financial exposure to Beijing.

The park – expected to be backed with up to US$500 million in Chinese government loans – is part of an “integrated lifestyle resort”, known as MNC Lido City.

The project includes Trump-branded hotels, residences and a golf course, as well as other hotel, shopping and residential developments.

* You’ll want to read our friend Ed Kilgore’s assessment of the latest move by Republicans on Medicaid.

Frustrated in their congressional efforts to “reform” Medicaid by ending its status as a personal entitlement and rolling back the expanded coverage that 32 states have chosen under the Affordable Care Act, Republicans in many states are now seeking to pare back Medicaid eligibility through work requirements that they hope will discourage enrollment. They’ve largely been given a green light by the Trump administration via waivers. But a new wrinkle in the way these requirements are drawn up is driving concerns (and lawsuits) based on suspicion that the idea is to make urban minority folk work while exempting rural white beneficiaries.

* Can anyone continue to deny that Sean Hannity is Trump’s real chief of staff?

The call to the White House comes after ten o’clock most weeknights, when Hannity is over. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Sean Hannity broadcasts live at 9 p.m. on Fox News, usually from Studio J in midtown, where the network is headquartered, but sometimes from a remote studio on Long Island, where he was raised and now lives…

Their chats begin casually, with How are yous and What’s going ons. On some days, they speak multiple times, with one calling the other to inform him of the latest developments. White House staff are aware that the calls happen, thanks to the president entering a room and announcing, “I just hung up with Hannity,” or referring to what Hannity said during their conversations, or even ringing Hannity up from his desk in their presence.

* We know that Steve Bannon had Cambridge Analytica field-test messages about so-called “scientific racism.” It is interesting how all of that work coincides with what the Russians did on Facebook.

More than half of the Facebook ads created by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency to influence Americans during and after the last presidential election made references to race, according to a new analysis by USA Today. The news organization reviewed every one of the 3,517 IRA ads released to the public earlier this week by the House Intelligence Committee (IRA), and its reporters discovered that nearly 2,000 of the ads referred to race — accounting for some 25 million impressions from targeted Facebook users…

Fifty-five percent of the ads targeted race, which was also a primary angle for many of the 24 percent of ads that focused on crime or policing. The IRA’s use of divisive racial ads ramped up as Election Day approached in 2016, as well as after Trump was elected. In fact, the vast majority of ads from September 2016 to May 2017 focused on race in one way or another. And while it should be noted that many IRA ads did very poorly with Facebook users, the race-related content performed better on average.

* Way back in early 2015, I suggested that a great way to demonstrate the outcomes of Republican vs Democratic policies is to compare what has happened in Wisconsin and Minnesota since 2010. The Economic Policy Institute just updated the numbers.

Since the 2010 election of Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota, lawmakers in these two neighboring states have enacted vastly different policy agendas. Governor Walker and the Wisconsin state legislature have pursued a highly conservative agenda centered on cutting taxes, shrinking government, and weakening unions. In contrast, Minnesota under Governor Dayton has enacted a slate of progressive priorities: raising the minimum wage, strengthening safety net programs and labor standards, and boosting public investments in infrastructure and education, financed through higher taxes (largely on the wealthy).

Because of the proximity and many similarities of these two states, comparing economic performance in the Badger State (WI) versus the Gopher State (MN) provides a compelling case study for assessing which agenda leads to better outcomes for working people and their families. Now, seven years removed from when each governor took office, there is ample data to assess which state’s economy—and by extension, which set of policies—delivered more for the welfare of its residents. The results could not be more clear: by virtually every available measure, Minnesota’s recovery has outperformed Wisconsin’s.

This is precisely why I’ll be paying a lot of attention to governors races this November.

* Finally, I found this tweet to be food for thought.

The possibility of “performative cruelty” isn’t a pleasant thing to contemplate, but it certainly isn’t outside the boundary of what humans have done in history. Upon reading that tweet I thought back to pictures of white people who seemed to be enjoying the lynching of black bodies. This one in particular is haunting, particularly because it seems that performative cruelty can be passed on to our children:

That is why I strive to continue to be shocked at the cruelty of Trump’s words and deeds. Performative cruelty is the kind of thing that becomes normalized if it is allowed to spread.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.