Posted on March 04, 2016 in Countdown

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The Votes Heard ‘Round Trump’s World

Donald Trump all but swept Super Tuesday primaries and continues to prove himself to be the most Teflon-y Teflon man ever to run for President. Just as South Carolina Republicans picked Trump less than 24 hours after discussion of pigs blood soaked bullets, Super Tuesday voters chose Trump less than 24 hours after David Duke's  white supremacist endorsement, which Trump then took days to disavow. In the same week, Trump also quoted and defended Mussolini and got a thumbs up from another squirrely character (no, we’re not talking about Chris Christie), the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. While the word “Trump” is being chanted by some particularly bigoted citizens to incite fear, it looks like the Republican establishment is finally in full scale panic. Notable GOP adults Joe Scarborough, Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain all condemned Trump this week. While we wish we could only offer praise to the Republicans finally speaking up about this guy, it’s a bit concerning that it took the Ku Klux Klan to get them to do it, and that the voters don’t seem to mind.

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Sanders’ 8 State Loss Looks a Lot Like a Win

It has been a little hard to shake the feeling of watching a conspiracy as the media touts just one story about how Clinton and Sanders fared on Super Tuesday. Clinton had an undeniably great showing in all 12 states that voted, and she won an expectedly impressive – but hardly decisive – 8 states, a few with huge margins of victory. BUT, why does it seem the media is ready to write off Sanders’ campaign when the Senator carried 4 states and swept the support of young voters by wide margins even in states he didn’t ultimately win like Texas, Virginia, and Clinton’s home state of Arkansas? How is that a resounding, campaign-ending defeat? Especially when you consider Secretary Clinton was overwhelmingly expected to win in this set of mostly southern voting states, but the 4 states Sanders won (Vermont, Colorado, Minnesota, and Oklahoma) are more indicative of the primary states to come. We’re not saying Sanders won Super Tuesday, we’re just saying he wasn’t crushed like you might be lead to believe.

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This is What Moving Goal Posts Look Like for Peace in Palestine

In what has been a great week for the peace process, more ink has been spilled trying to philosophize a solution to the worsening problems on the ground. Let’s start with the Quartet, who in a great sign of hope for negotiations decided that it was time to write a report about what the challenges to peace are rather than acting on the common knowledge that things like settlement growth, violence, land annexation--you know, the occupation--are obvious obstacles to peace. But no, let’s write a report about it first! The “never say die” crowd was also at it again, with Dennis Ross and David Makovsky penning a paper for the Washington Post making the totally not a big deal suggestion that the U.S. should accept some settlements as legitimate and not at all a problem. Congress is doing a good enough job changing U.S. policy on settlements by themselves they don’t need Ross and Makovsky to create philosophical space for that problematic argument. The last writer-culprit of the week is Israeli MK Isaac Herzog who The New York Times decided to give inches to this week for his abominable op-ed suggesting that it’s time we all “look reality in the eye” and allow Israel to annex everything West of the separation wall and “physically and politically” separate Palestinians from Israelis in East Jerusalem.  Together, Ross, Makovsky, and Herzog are moving those goal posts further and further to the right, giving Israel more and more and Palestinians less and less. We are extending our best wishes to Vice President Joe Biden who is travelling to Israel next week, and we’re hoping he hasn’t read any of these bad ideas. We’ll let you know how it goes next week.

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Hayden Doesn’t Like the Sound of President Trump

We’re all scared of what a Donald Trump presidency might look like. When former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden joins the ranks and starts speculating what could actually happen, we should all take notice. Like some of the so-scary-it’s-funny possibilities, Hayden shook some people up by boldly declaring if President Trump were to order the military to actually carry out some of his most appalling policies, “the American armed forces would refuse to act.” It’s comforting to know that military chiefs have so much respect for the Geneva Conventions that they wouldn’t allow Trump to bring back “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” or wouldn’t listen to him if he insisted that “when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.” It is comforting…until our short term memory kicks back in and we remember Abu Ghraib, waterboarding in the first place, and other U.S. military actions that were less than international law abiding.

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U.S. Commandos Raid & Capture ISIL Figure, Now What?

The U.S.’s ETF unit began operations against ISIL on the ground (not from the sky) last December, and recently captured it’s first – and reportedly significant - ISIL operative. We’re hearing all kinds of assurances of what this won’t be: it won’t be an indefinite detention; it won’t be anything less than transparent for international observers; it won’t be torture; it won’t devolve into an Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo situation. But we are left wondering what it will be because the U.S. is broadcasting plans to have a “wave of detainees” and at the same time trying to avoid the diplomatic tight rope walk it faced with its first ISIL detainee Umm Sayyaf last year. With more detainees likely to come, it seems the U.S. is trying to normalize the process for questioning the terrorists and rather quickly handing them over to the Iraqi and Kurdish leaders. It is precisely at times like these that we should all be pleased that  a lot of questions are being asked.