Posted on July 09, 2015 in Countdown

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I'm Not Your Candidate

We were among the first to call out 2016 Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for ignorant remarks about Arabs and we will be the first to recognize when he says the right thing. At a campaign stop over the holiday weekend, an Iowa voter asked the Senator about outlawing Islam as a way of dealing with ISIL. Graham cut off the questioner to say "I'm not your candidate," and "I don't want you to vote for me. I couldn't disagree with your more." It's refreshing to hear a ridiculous remark addressed with a sensible answer. With offensive comments from several candidates on a range of issues, we hope Graham's response, along with fellow candidate Chris Christie's previous remarks, help set a more constructive tone for the rest of the Presidential race. It should be clear that the policy suggested by the Iowa voter has no place in the U.S.


Vermont’s Anti-Establishment Democratic Star

Since announcing his candidacy for the 2016 Presidential election, Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign has gained greater and greater momentum, so much so that he has cut down fellow Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s primary poll lead substantially. Sen. Sanders’s growing support was most evident when 9,600 people showed up to a rally his campaign organized in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin. Some political analysts continue to believe that Sen. Sanders’s support will eventually fizzle out or may never be enough to beat Hillary Clinton. Realistically, despite Sen. Sanders’s rapidly growing popularity, it is more than likely that Sen. Sanders will not beat Hillary for the democratic nomination. However, even if he fails to win the nomination, Sen. Sanders’s swelling fame demonstrates that there is a growing portion of the democratic electorate who are tired of the candidates and policy solutions that the democratic establishment has to offer. This time last year, no one would have imagined that a socialist Senator from Vermont would be within 10 percentage points of Hillary Clinton for the New Hampshire primary, but Sen. Sanders has taught us to never say never.  There's even still time for Vice President Joe Biden to join the race.


Well, This is Awkward

In what may not be too much of a surprise, 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton recently bowed to the Democratic equivalent of Sheldon Adelson, multi-billion dollar Israeli-American media proprietor Haim Saban. In a July 2nd letter to Saban, she made a series of extremely perplexing statements: most striking, Hillary jumped from criticism of the BDS Movement to the January murdering of four Jewish patrons at a Paris supermarket. Anti-Semitic terrorism has nothing to do with criticism of Israeli policies. Nothing. There may be some fair criticisms of BDS, but one thing is clear: BDS itself is not anti-Semitic. One scholar said the letter demonstrates how Hillary is “out of touch with the progressive base of her party.” This is especially true after considering a new poll of “opinion elites”: just 23% of these Democrats are less likely to vote for a candidate who criticizes Israeli occupation (47% also believe that Israel is racist). 


Grand Old Party at Romney's!

CNN reported that Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) spent the night at Mitt Romney’s home in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire over Fourth of July weekend, just days after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his campaign for president. While both deny that they discussed politics at the sleepover, Chris Christie is in dire need of advice given the rough six months leading up to his announcement, characterized by falling poll numbers and increasing political fallout over the “Bridgegate” Scandal. Both Christie and Rubio have a lot to gain from getting cozy with Mitt—his extensive experience as a presidential candidate and his broad network of donors makes him a strategic player for candidates looking to gain an edge in the New Hampshire primary. Romney’s opinions on candidates carry significant weight in the Republican Party, and just last week Romney publicly denounced Donald Trump’s comments on illegal immigrants, prompting other candidates in the GOP race to weigh in on the issue. While Mitt Romney has repeatedly indicated that he will not be giving a formal endorsement to any candidate in the primary, the sleepover gives significant publicity to Christie and Rubio, and implies that the two have Romney’s favor. 


Nowhere to Live and No Escape

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Israel’s bloody and destructive war on Gaza known ridiculously as Operation Protective Edge. It seems the only thing it protected was Israel’s preference to have Gaza be an utter disaster zone, or as one high-ranking Israeli politician put it, “the goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for 40 years.” As it stands, little has changed in Gaza, including Israel's impermeable blockade. The restriction Israel mercilessly places on goods going into Gaza has created year-long delays in promised international aid including desperately needed housing materials and construction goods which are nowhere to be found – leaving some 100,000 homes slated for reconstruction still in ruins and children continuing to live a nightmare. Meanwhile in air-conditioned parlors, important politicking over the UN report on the Gaza war and the BDS movement are stealing the attention of those who can make a difference on the ground. After a year, if we don’t rebuild Gaza now – and the all the lives shattered by the war – when will we?


Desperate Funding Need for Syria

In late 2014, as the Syrian Conflict raged for its fourth year, the World Food Program (WFP) warned it was running out of money after an 89% funding shortfall. WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian agency dedicated to fighting hunger, provides food every month to nearly six million people in need in Syria and Syrian refugees in the surrounding regions. However, with only a small portion of the necessary funding raised, due to an unprecedented number of humanitarian emergencies around the world, WFP is now having to scale back its program after already struggling to provide basic necessities to refugees. WFP has had to cut its food voucher program and halve rations to 500,000 Syrian refugees. On World Refugee Day, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice announced an additional $360 million in aid for Syria, which puts U.S. humanitarian assistance to the crisis at over $4 billion since 2011. Even with this announcement, the State Department has stated that WFP remains severely underfunded. If the funding shortfall is not addressed further, WFP will have to cut all help for the 440,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan in August. The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, we must not forgot that real lives are on the line.