Posted on June 05, 2016 in Countdown

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A Word About the Democracy-Destroying Aspect of Trump’s Most Recent Racism

It hasn’t been a pretty week for the presumptive Republican nominee and the leaders of the Party he is likely going to represent. While many Republicans have been finding ways to criticize Trump’s comments but still support him, others are giving him a short timeline to “get it together,” and a handful of Republicans are dumping Trump altogether. We, on the other hand, are not likely to move on from Trump’s slanderous remarks about Judge Curiel anytime soon. Trump said, “He’s member of a club or society very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine. But I say he’s got bias.” We here at an ethnic-based organization take this assault on any ethnic-based organization very seriously. Don’t mind the factually incorrect parts of Donald’s numerous deplorable statements, Trump’s argument that ethnicity (Mexican or Arab or other) comes with a foreign agenda is a disgraceful insinuation that ethnic groups have dealt with since the founding of America. It is repulsively wrong and undemocratic. Ethnic politics are a cornerstone of political organizing in America, they bring minority voices together to advocate for issues that are wholly American. So the media and respected Republican leaders should stop correcting Trump on what “La Raza” he is talking about and start correcting Trump’s understanding of how American politics and values work. T-minus 6 weeks to go until the Republican convention in Cleveland, who knows what will happen in that time.


Clinton Has Arrived and Delivered

While the Republicans are trying to reign in their presumptive nominee, Democrats are trying to unleash their own. Secretary Clinton outperformed the polls to win this week’s primaries in Puerto Rico, New Jersey, and California with a wicked-good ground game, giving her the delegate numbers she needs to clinch the nomination at the convention (T-minus 7 weeks to go until Philly). But the Democrats are going to have to wait a bit longer for the startling singularity of candidates that Republicans enjoy, because Senator Sanders says he isn’t going anywhere. While some high level Democrats are “nudging” – very kindly we assume – Sen. Sanders to clear the playing field, it’s worth mentioning that Clinton is looking and acting the part of the chosen Democratic nominee. Her national security speech last week in San Diego is being hailed as her best campaign moment to date. She focused on Trump and only Trump, putting forward her affirmative understanding of American greatness in contrast. The pivot to the general that we noted in the Clinton campaign a few weeks back really came home to roost this week. The field might not be clear but she’s operating like it is, and many would say rightly so.


In Cuomo’s New York, the Sky Might Actually Be Falling

It’s difficult to explain what’s happening in New York without sounding hyperbolic, but really, the sky might indeed be falling for freedom of speech and/or BDS supporters in the U.S. With support from AIPAC and Israeli officials, New York Governor Cuomo issued a devastating anti-BDS executive order this week requiring a black list to be created of entities that are involved in the “BDS campaign against Israel coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.” That kind of pulls the rug out from under the feet of a strong coalition that has very effectively mobilized against several anti-BDS bills in state legislatures. Gov. Cuomo is totally within his authority to issue an order, and the state legislature can’t legislate it away even if it wanted to – only the courts or a present/future Governor can overturn it. So the use of an Executive Order freezes out all the advocacy strategies that don’t directly influence the Governor. To put it plainly, Andrew Cuomo just stripped New York residents of their right to free speech (boycotts are protected form of speech and a cherished part of the American tradition). We’re joining the many advocates trying to figure out the best strategy to undo the damage already done.


Let’s Count the Reasons to Veto the 2017 NDAA Authorization

The “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA, S.2943) is currently up for debate on the Senate floor after passing the House over two weeks ago; with close to 100 amendments let’s suffice it to say it is a wild week here in the nation’s capital. The President has already threatened to veto the NDAA if it arrives on his desk with some certain pesky and restrictive amendments which were part of the House version of the bill. Well, Mr. President, we want to add a few more reasons for you to veto this “must-pass” legislation if you’re seriously considering it. Let’s start with something we’ll cover more extensively when we get to talking about New York Governor Cuomo: an anti-BDS amendment. A host of Senators filed an anti-BDS amendment to the NDAA that would permit states to divest from companies which are engaged in BDS against Israel. There’s also Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s (R, FL-27) amendment in the form of a Sense of Congress that states “the U.S. should use its voice, vote, and influence at the UN to improve the Human Rights Council (HRC) voting behavior vis-à-vis Israel.” I guess we could live with this amendment if it was angling to make the U.S. more helpful in passing votes calling out Israel’s human rights practices, but we’re pretty sure that’s not what the Congresswoman from Florida is calling for. And another reason to veto: a few members are trying to pull a fast one to perpetuate secrecy around some of the most legally dubious Department of Defense (DoD) programs, including the Department’s use of interrogation techniques. Two amendments would exempt DoD from “Freedom of Information Act” requests, therefore burying hopes of transparency and accountability. If that passes, maybe the government won’t have to “lose” any future Torture Reports. And that’s not all, the Senate is also cutting funding to the morally imperative “Special Immigrant Visa Program” which resettles Afghani translators who served alongside U.S. forces. Mr. President, there’s a lot to be concerned about – this isn’t even our whole list.


The Newseum’s Newsworthy IDF Guest

We were pretty appalled to learn that the Newseum was planning an event to examine how the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) use social media, like in the 2014 Gaza war. We sent a letter pointing out the very troubling fact that the Newseum’s values aren’t exactly reflected in the event or the speaker choice, but apparently it got lost in the mail because the event proceeded - - and proceeded exactly as promised, straight into principled chaos. The guest speaker, retired Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich has made a (very) bad name for herself by justifying the killing of Palestinian journalists (which is a war crime) in the New York Times by calling them “terrorists who hold cameras and notebooks.” She earned herself widespread condemnation for that appalling zinger, but it definitely should not have earned her platform at any scholarly discussion about the importance of media and journalism during warfare (reminder - the Newseum is dedicated to promoting freedom of the press and honoring fallen journalists). CodePink activists, journalist Max Blumenthal, and many others asked the right questions of the guest and of the Newseum’s CEO who presided over the chaos without any sort of acknowledgement about these concerns, rather insisting that his museum is “fostering debate.” We’re all for debate, we’re not for ignoring war crimes or elevating their apologists.