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Never Go Full Trump: The Lena Epstein Story

Yesterday I discussed this bizarre incident where a “Jews for Jesus” faux rabbi did some kind of invocation or prayer at an event Vice President Mike Pence held for Rep. Mike Bishop and candidate Lena Epstein. Making it particularly offensive is that the ‘rabbi’ Loren Jacobs was asked to say a prayer on behalf of the eleven Jews murdered at the synagogue in Pittsburgh. I tried to explain some of it in this post last night. Suffice it to say that most Jews have a viscerally negative reaction to this group, which they correctly see as a stalking horse for evangelical groups trying to convert Jews to Christianity. Which brings us to the question: who the hell invited this guy?

I’ve been digging into this minor mystery. And boy, it’s a really weird story. And by that I mean not just the ‘rabbi’ but the whole campaign of Lena Epstein which appears to be an unfolding train wreck that I didn’t know about but really needed to.

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The Most Important Races You're Barely Paying Attention To

In the latest episode of the podcast we talk about the biggest campaigns you’re probably barely paying attention to: thousands of state legislative seats across the country. There are over 7,000 legislative seats in 99 chambers (Nebraska is America’s only unicameral legislature). Most of them get little press coverage, certainly very little national press coverage. They can just seem kind of boring. But these contests determine whether your state expands Medicaid, recognizes basic union rights, cares about voting rights or has gerrymandered congressional districts that lock in Republican control even in a 50-50 state. Fascinating important and extremely important.

It Gets Better

By which I mean the attempt to bring down Bob Mueller by a group of right wing clowns gets better if by better you mean more hilarious as it crashes and burns. The scandal about a non-scandal seems to be pulling down one of the most maniacally pro-Trump Twitter personalities, Jacob Wohl. Here’s the story.

Nope. The President Can't End Birthright Citizenship

A simple point as we start the morning. The President can’t end birthright citizenship by executive order. This is a completely ridiculous idea, a sort of clown-show trial-run at rule by decree. No one with any credibility, let alone legal experts think an executive order can end birthright citizenship. There has been a push on the right to change this practice by passing a law through Congress, specifically revising Immigration and Nationality Act. This too is dubious at best, though it has been proposed and with a sufficiently partisan Supreme Court anything can be done. The change to legislate a change is best scene as a stunt not real lawmaking.

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Fake Jews

In Michigan today, Vice President Pence held a rally for congressional candidates Mike Bishop and Lena Epstein. In tow, he brought a rabbi to offer a benediction and prayer of mourning for the eleven Jews killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. Only it wasn’t a rabbi, or at least not one who would be recognized as such by American Jews. Rabbi Loren Jacobs is a “Messianic Jew”, better known as ‘Jews for Jesus’. If this isn’t something you’re familiar with these are Jews by ancestry who maintain the trappings of Judaism and some of the ritual law while accepting Jesus as the Messiah and the entirety of Christian theology. They make up an incalculably small number of American Jews and are largely supported, subsidizedand advanced by evangelical groups hoping to convert Jews to Christianity.

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A Country Awash in Fox's Dark Toxins

I managed to involve myself this weekend in a tiny eddy in the storm around the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. As you can see below, early yesterday evening I happened upon this interview on Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business News show in which a guest, Chris Farrell, claimed the migrant caravan in southern Mexico was being funded and directed by the “Soros-occupied State Department.” This is, as I explained, straight out of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the foundational anti-Semitic tract, first circulated and perhaps authored by the Czarist secret police in the first years of the 20th century.

If you’re not familiar with this world, “ZOG” is a staple of white supremacist and neo-Nazi literature and websites. It stands for “Zionist Occupied Government” and is a shorthand for the belief that Jews secretly control the US government. Chris Farrell’s phrasing was no accident. All of this is straight out of the most rancid anti-Semitic propaganda. Rob Bowers, the shooter in the Pittsburgh massacre, appears to have been specifically inspired by this conspiracy theory. Indeed, Bowers had also¬†reposted references to “ZOG” on his social media accounts.

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