Posted on February 09, 2018 in Countdown
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At the Expense of the Vulnerable, Again
While you were sleeping, the federal government restarted to install updates, apparently. Unlike the shutdown earlier this month, however, the government was back up and running before dawn and includes a two-year budget. The reason for the shutdown? Governing is not working so well. Senator Rand Paul criticized Congress for a lack of budgetary responsibility, saying of fellow Republicans who regularly tout fiscal conservatism, “The hypocrisy hangs in the air and chokes anyone with a sense of decency or intellectual honesty.” His words, not ours. But DACA remained unaddressed. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave up on the DREAMers early this week, striking a budget deal without a DREAM Act. This prompted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to launch an 8-hour filibuster-style speech on Wednesday, pleading with colleagues to protect them—even though there is no such thing as a filibuster in the House. (And we’re down with Pelosi making up new rules to speak up for DREAMers). As we approach President Trump’s arbitrary and unnecessary deadline of March 5 for DACA to expire, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have thus far refused to allow a vote within normal rules to restore the policy.TWEET THIS
3rd Branch Steps In
Judicial intervention in voting rights is not new. "One person, one vote" became the mantra for voting rights advocates after a 1964 Supreme Court decision examining equal representation in legislative districts. The revolutionary Voting Rights Act passed soon after. Leading up to the 2016 elections, legal challenges to restrictive voting laws in several states were abundant. In cases that weren't settled in time for the presidential election, or which didn't fully restore voting rights, the impact on voter turnout was noticeable. Now, ahead of the midterms, we are watching monumental legal challenges unfold. In Florida, an unexpected decision opened the door to voting rights restoration for over 1 million former felons. In Ohio, the practice of purging inactive voters from the rolls has been challenged at the US Supreme Court. And in Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court declared the current district map unconstitutional, prompting one Republican to call for the impeachment of the Democratic Justices. How did we get here? For decades, politicians have abused their mandate to make "good faith efforts" to protect voting rights by using an exclusionary vision of who should be allowed to vote (clue: their policies disproportionately affect black & brown folks). With enhanced awareness of these practices, advocates are pushing back to make clear we won’t accept cheating in our democracy. No one said democracy would be easy, but shouldn’t we at least get the fundamental part right? Then again, it took us a while to get the whole suffrage for all. We must do infinitely better.TWEET THIS
Bring On the Ads, Not the Bigotry
Get excited, folks! It’s election season, which means it’s time for campaign ads that will inspire us and warm our hearts. But those will be few and far between, so we’ll probably spend more time on the ads that will shock and appall us. And if you think you’re cruising because it’s only February, buckle up, because we just crashed into a dumpster fire called the Jeanne Ives campaign for Illinois governor. Ives released a TV ad featuring a series of caricatures thanking sitting Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner for just a few things: a trans woman using “the girls’ bathroom;” another woman “making all Illinois families pay for [her] abortions;” some liberal guy praising their sanctuary state status for “illegal immigrant criminals.” The ad closes with an African American teacher thanking Rauner for making the state bail out Chicago teacher pensions. When asked if she understood why her ad offended so many people, Ives said she didn’t, adding: “What’s so offensive about the ad? The ad is a policy ad.” Come on Ives, when the orange guy was campaigning, he was at least upfront about his bigotry. So, if you’re going to suggest trans women are just men in dresses, that feminists are serial abortionists, and that Black teachers are leaching off taxpayers, don’t be coy. Your inner bigot is kind of out. Truth be told, the disgusting madness of this ad will be hard to top, but we’re not putting anything past the 2018 election season just yet.TWEET THIS
Good enough for government work, 2.0.
Remember that shoddy, xenophobic, anti-Muslim report we told you about last month? Let us jog your memory. Pursuant to the President’s Muslim Ban 2.0., the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are required to publish a semiannual analysis of terrorism-related activity in the United States. How’d they do? Well, the joint-DOJ/DHS report was submitted four months late, relied on questionable sources, misrepresented data, and arrived at unfounded conclusions. Or to put it more succinctly: they failed. Now, in what appears to be a competition for most inflammatory, another DHS report is making news. This week, Foreign Policy released a copy of a draft report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that has us running like its argument: in circles. The authors begin with the presumption that Sunni Muslims are an outsize threat to national security. Problematic presupposition in hand, they assess 25 terrorist incidents over the last 17 years in which the perpetrator was apparently driven by “radical Sunni Islamist militancy.” Given their confessed inability to draw any commonalities between the narrow pool of perpetrators and their path to violence, other than the fact they were lawful U.S. residents who happened to be Sunni Muslims, the authors conclude that our government should “continuously evaluate” Sunni Muslims in the U.S. (Do you think we’ve said “Sunni Muslims” enough? Draft report says it even more!). But why stop at Sunnis Muslims when we have all kinds of crime being committed by all sorts of people. Here’s a crazy stat: Did you know that 100% of the crimes committed in America are committed by humans? Clearly, it’s time for life-long surveillance of everyone, 1984-style.TWEET THIS
It's You, Not Me or that 50 + Year-old Occupation
In standard reversal of reality by the Trump Administration, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley suggested that Palestinian President Abbas was being an obstacle to peace (yes, it’s the same guy who bent over backwards to accommodate years of U.S.-Israeli pressure. But go figure!). She argued that peace requires “courageous leaders,” and “prayed” for “history” to provide the Palestinians with more courageous leadership. In response, PLO Secretary General Saeb Erakat said this: “Nikki Haley needs to shut up and realise that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem” (is this how you reacted too?). We’re not big on the “shut up” part because we are all about civility and being nice to each other on the Countdown team, but we’re definitely in favor of her realizing that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem. I mean, don’t get us wrong, they are absolutely a problem when it comes to freedom of expression in Palestine, among many other issues. But when it comes to the absence of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that one is on the Israeli occupation, and the Trump Administration’s multifaceted enablement of it, from irresponsible embassy moves to terrible speeches at the UN. Speaking of terrible speeches at the UN… Oh never-mind, we’re for civility, so we’ll stop.