Posted on March 14, 2016 in Countdown

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Devastation in Brussels, Posturing on the U.S. Campaign Trail

The amount of pure mania in this election cycle seemingly has no end; it’s been a politically definitive year and a half that has seen the Paris attacks, the San Bernardino attacks, Charleston, Chattanooga, Oregon, and more. But ISIL’s attacks over the past month - which have spanned from Indonesia, to Yemen, to Istanbul, and the day-to-day reality in Iraq and Syria – became the leading news after the Brussels attacks on Monday. This latest devastation and fear is already leaving a huge mark on the 2016 elections here in the U.S. The remaining presidential candidates have blitzed the media with substance and seriousness. Hillary Clinton delivered her most presidential speech yet at Stanford; Gov. John Kasich sought to be the responsible and sober Republican; Bernie Sanders stuck to his solid message of unity and determination; and Trump was Trump, unfortunately. And then there was Ted Cruz who did this….(read on)

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Sitting U.S. Senator & Constitutional Scholar Abandons the Constitution

Sitting Senator Ted Cruz unsurprisingly thinks the answer to real, traumatic terrorism overseas is to put in place policies here in the United States that will victimize American Muslim communities. Cruz, who represents around 100,000 Arab American constituents as the Senator from Texas, called for law enforcement to “patrol and secure” American neighborhoods in response to the ISIL attack in Brussels. [As an aside, businessman Donald Trump who does not represent a constituency, also supports the Cruz-crafted plan to profile American citizens]. In a rather rich moment of the pot calling the kettle black, senior members of the NYPD have forcefully come out against Cruz’s plan to harass Americans Muslim communities. The NYPD literally did this after 9/11. Despite the irony, we’re glad the NYPD is speaking out. And even though Ted Cruz holds up the decommissioned NYPD spying program as an example of what he wants to see more of, the program did not work, it was unconstitutional, and it damaged the relationship between American Muslim communities and law enforcement. There is no redeeming, funny part of this story. We are seeing an elected official running for the highest office in our country advocate for creating a police state for a segment of the American public. Period.

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New Fun Game by #2016ElectionProblems: Presidential Advisor, Bigot, or Both?

While the board game version is pending a patent, we’ll have to break this game down for you right here and even give you the answer: Both. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and unelected businessman Donald Trump announced their own special lists of advisors on national security and foreign policy. Both are appalling. Trump’s includes the infamous Walid Phares, but Ted Cruz’s is scarier. He has named disgraced advisors to his team including none other than “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes” Frank Gaffney. What’s more, the Cruz team is now full of staff from Gaffney’s hate hub, the Center for Security Policy. Who’s next, Pamela Gellar?

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If A Tree Falls for Palestine…

By all accounts – all three of them – Bernie Sanders’s speech on Palestine, Israel, and assorted Middle East predicaments was a monumental moment in American politics. Having snubbed the anti-Palestinian ring-kissing ceremony AIPAC hosts each year, Sanders spoke from the campaign trail in Utah with politically extinct amounts of compassion for Palestinians and difficult truths for Israel. When’s the last time you remember any credible, popular politician said anything like, “Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory,” or, “Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza”? That’s not to make it seem like Bernie didn’t include good content speaking to Israeli concerns and fears, but the word “occupation” did not appear in any other AIPAC speech this year. Maybe we can blame the news cycle that was focused on weekend primaries and then quickly shifted to terrorism in Brussels, but Sanders’s speech is the best moment Palestine has had in American politics since Obama drew the 1967 line back in 2011. Probably better, but it’s not being covered like it should.

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A Resolution but Not a Plan for ISIL-Perpetrated Genocide

No one disagrees that ISIL is committing atrocities on an unfathomable scale in Iraq and Syria; and last week, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that ISIL’s crimes amount to genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and Shias. There has been a global push for the United States to officially recognize that ISIL, in addition to killing everyone in their path, has an acute focus on destroying specific ethnic, religious, and national minorities. The official recognition by the U.S. may not mean much in practice – it’s not likely the U.S. will act differently now that we’re calling it a genocide – but the designation means a tremendous amount to the advocates, diasporas, and suffering people. And it’s logical and appropriate that since ISIL is targeting these groups, the U.S. must respond to what’s actually happening on the ground. It is also an important step in the right direction, after the calamity that was the U.S. response to the Rwandan genocide.