Posted on March 19, 2015 in Countdown


No Really, I'm Not

The Israeli elections wrapped up on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu securing a fourth term. This victory will make him second only to David Ben Gurion in time served as Israeli premier. Many had expected, or hoped, that this election could mark the end of the Netanyahu era. His public shift to the right in the days ahead of the election, declaring there would be no Palestinian state under his watch, and his racist insult on election day against Israel's Arab citizens, "right-wing rule is in danger, Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations," worked as designed. However, once the afterglow wears off, Mr. Netanyahu may come to realize he stepped on a few too many toes on his way to holding on to the premiership. On Wednesday the White House Press Secretary said "the administration is deeply concerned by divisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens" and that the administration would communicate its concerns "directly to the Israelis." Isaac Herzog, of Zionist Union, said his party—which won 24 seats to Likud's 30—will not join Netanyahu's government and will sit in the opposition. Herzog said Netanyahu's comments "touched on racism" and "destroyed a deep relationship" with Israel's allies. Responding to those that are correctly calling Netanyahu racist, the Prime Minister said simply "I'm not." Well, in the words of Mr. Netanyahu himself "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…"

Courting Votes in the Granite State

What do former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), have in common? Well, two things. First, they all continue to pretend that they may not run for President in 2016. Second, they all just happened to swing by New Hampshire (NH), a crucial early primary election state, to establish a relationship with the citizens of the Granite state. During his trip to NH, Bush discussed several pertinent policy issues such as climate change, the Common Core Education Initiative, and how to address our broken immigration system. Bush also fielded questions from voters and even posed for selfies with them. This was all part of an attempt to engage in the freewheeling politics that characterizes NH. Meanwhile, Gov. Walker used the trip to portray himself as a hard worker whose humble beginnings allowed him to connect with everyday Americans, and also took a shot at Jeb Bush when he suggested that the future needs a new name, not one from the past. Thankfully, Senator Cruz saved an otherwise dull weekend by scaring three year old Julie Trant with his morbid diagnosis of the current state of the world. Sen. Cruz opined that the Obama administration’s foreign policy had set the world aflame and when Miss Trant innocently asked if the world was indeed on fire, Sen. Cruz assured her it was. But she need not worry, because as Sen. Cruz reassured her, he and citizens like her mother would save us all.

Jeb Bush's Terrible Hires

For the second time in his still unannounced 2016 Presidential run Jeb Bush—one of the more moderate of the potential Republican candidates—has made a controversial addition to his campaign team. Back in February, the former Florida Governor hired Ethan Czahor as chief technology officer for his "Right to Rise" PAC. Following controversy over Czahor's tweets and blog posts, which were filled with misogynistic, racist and anti-gay remarks, the 31 year old was fired. Last week, conservative attorney Jordan Sekulow was hired as senior adviser to Bush's campaign staff. Mr. Sekulow, who serves as the executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), said he is "excited to begin a conversation with conservatives about Governor Bush's pro-life, pro-family, tax-cutting record." Criticism came quickly over Mr. Sekulow's anti-muslim, anti-gay views. Sekulow is no stranger to controversy. It was revealed during Mitt Romney's 2012 Presidential campaign that Jordan and his like-minded father Jay Sekulow encouraged policy makers in African countries to "take the Christian's views into consideration as they draft legislation and policies." ACLJ offices in Zimbabwe and Kenya sought to have same sex marriage outlawed, criminalize homosexuality, and eliminate exemptions allowing for abortion when the health of the mother is at risk. It's unclear if Sekulow will face the same fate as Czahor, but perhaps Bush's team hopes to capitalize on his far-right perspectives to more effectively position Jeb Bush in primaries set to begin a mere ten months from now.

New City, Old Problems

Egypt’s much hyped economic development conference this past weekend brought 2,000 government officials and business people from 112 countries, all eager to invest in the country’s still struggling economy. In his speech at the opening plenary, Secretary Kerry praised Egyptian President El Sisi’s commitment to anti-corruption reforms following his election, and his recent approval of investment laws that were hurriedly drafted in the days leading up to the conference. These are the very same laws that were passed without the approval of Parliament—still dissolved and with no elections in sight—and which several rights groups have said give companies many rights without the corresponding accountability. While the conference was described as an “economic development” conference, the meeting did little to address actual reforms that will improve the lives of the one quarter of Egyptians below the poverty line. Despite  promises for affordable housing and job creation through the establishment of Cairo’s Dubai-like satellite city, little headway has actually been made on the one million affordable housing units that were promised in the run-up to Sisi’s election. While the future looks bright for Egypt’s ruling political and social class, it appears that there is little promise for the country’s unemployed and impoverished youth—the group of individuals whose grievances were the fuel for Egypt’s uprisings in 2011. It seems that in spite of the abuses and restrictions that have been the hallmark of Sisi’s reign so far, the large, varied attendance of the conference marks the international community’s tacit approval of the path Egypt and its leaders have embarked upon.

comments powered by Disqus