Posted on December 03, 2015 in Countdown

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More American Than Apple Pie

“This just doesn't happen in other countries,” President Obama said after three people were murdered at a Planned Parenthood women’s health center  in Colorado the day after Thanksgiving. Five days later an even more lethal attack, this time in sunny San Bernardino, California, stole fourteen innocent lives. Two attacks in the span of one week brings the grand total to 355 mass shootings in 2015 alone. Is this what a regular week in America looks like? We have nothing clever to say.

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Another Week Spent Proving Trump is a Bigot

Another week, another bigoted headline for Donald Trump. This time, the Trump circus’s main act featured an emphatically regurgitated lie that after 9/11 there were “thousands and thousands of Muslims cheering on the streets of New Jersey.” Fellow 2016 candidate and current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – who is under fire from his Muslim constituents for his own embrace of bigotry against refugees – stepped up after the 9/11 attacks and has stepped up once again to return that old lie to its grave and shame Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric. But we can’t let Trump’s predictable bigotry distract from some of the more unpredictable xenophobic mis-leadership cropping up across the states, including one Alabama state representative’s slanderous directive regarding “American” small businesses and Texas’s ill-conceived choice to sue organizations helping refugees. 

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Congress Fights & Flirts with More Bad Policy

The House of Representatives is trying to craft the perfect “omnibus spending bill” to fund the government in 2016 – and they need to reach an agreement fast. It’s being held up by the regular partisan fights over allocation, but we’re seeing Syrian refugees take center stage. House Republicans, who draft the budget first, included language reinforcing the SAFE Act, a bill that passed the House last week to make the resettlement of Syrian refugees nearly impossible by adding untenable requirements to the vetting process. House Democrats who voted for the SAFE Act last week are balking at including it as a budgetary provision. Why? Well, in the intervening time, a bi-partisan bill that targets the Visa Waiver Program – not the refugee resettlement program – for enhanced security measures has been introduced in the Senate. And while we’d love to tell you it’s a better bill, we can’t do that quite yet.

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Justice Matters

The Democratic Party has been surprised that the Black Lives Matter movement hasn’t gone easy on the Party that gets the majority of the African American vote, and even more surprised that private meetings and stirring speeches aren’t received with thanks and praise. Even though Republican candidates have taken a decidedly more oppositional approach to BLM, activists are right to keep the flames under the feet of both parties. 2015 was a year that lived in the shadows of Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and it’s been a year that has added many new names to that list like Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland. And while Republican leaders aren’t taking a good line on the underlying racial structures that led to their deaths, it’s by and  large Democratic Prosecutors who are flubbing their trials and raising questions about the justice system’s ability to deliver justice. Both parties must be held to account.

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Meanwhile in Israel…

Israeli PM Netanyahu has not been having a regular ol’ week. Internationally, Bibi’s settlement project was handed a notice of condemnation by the European Union’s decision to enact policy explicitly differentiating products made in Israel versus in its settlements. Unable to stop the EU’s settlement shaming policy, Bibi kicked them out of the peace process to stave off additional pressure from the increasingly leader-ly Europeans. The US, having given its somewhat begrudging approval of the EU decision, is also proving to be less malleable to Bibi’s demands when last week the White House said “a big no” to his request for US approval of West Bank settlement growth in exchange for steps towards Palestinian self-rule. Back at home, Bibi is scrambling desperately to keep the Palestinian Authority from stepping on the gas at the United Nations, but at the same time trying to keep the PA in business amidst rumors of looming collapse. Bibi’s new world isn’t what it once was.