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Divergent Realities

Tuesday July 03, 2012

Countdown Vol. 10, No. 55

 

Does ObamaCare Cover CNN?

If you’re like us, this happened to you on Thursday morning: you tweeted “BREAKING” news that the Supreme Court just struck down the individual mandate from ObamaCare, then watched 5 minutes of utter confusion engulf social media, followed by another 10 minutes of bad puns being made at CNN’s expense. Yup, in a rush to be the first to break the news, CNN got the ruling wrong, proving that “the most trusted name in news” cannot be trusted (see? we can do bad puns too). And though they weren’t alone in messing up, pouring such an embarrassment on top of terrible ratings has apparently led to more infighting at the network. Since they can’t report correctly on what the government is doing, maybe they should just say that what the government does is none of our business to begin with. Wait, CNN really published an Op-Ed arguing as much? Back to what matters, the Supreme Court upheld the legality of ObamaCare because conservative Chief Justice John Roberts had apparently suddenly switched sides, giving Glenn Beck an opportunity to make some money by selling t-shirts that are every bit as reasonable as he is. Despite some confusion on the Republican side on how to react to the ruling, Romney remains committed to repealing ObamaCare. 

New Jersey's "Pro-Arab" Candidates

When was the last time you heard of American politicians competing for the Arab American vote, or fighting over who is the more “pro-Arab” candidate? You won’t be answering that question the same anymore after you read this! We’ve written in a previous Countdown about Bill Pascrell’s New Jersey Democratic primary victory over Steve Rothman, in part because of incredible Arab American mobilization and participation in the race. Now, the Republican contender for the seat, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, is reaching out to the Arab American community in an effort to pull votes away from Pascrell. In the wake of the primary, Rabbi Shmuley has set out to cast himself as the “true pro-Arab candidate.” Just a few weeks ago, right-wing so-called “pro-Israel” groups were calling this an “ethnic brawl” between Jews and Arabs over Israel, and Pascrell’s outreach to the Arab American community came under attack. Rabbi Shmuley’s outreach efforts demonstrate the interesting shift from the now-undermined race-baiting narrative to a more sound narrative: Arab Americans are an integral part of the political system, and if you want New Jersey’s ninth congressional district, you would be wise to court their vote.

Divergence on Syria

In spite of rising bloodshed, we’ve written before about Congress’s inability to agree on a way forward on Syria. Well, two bills are currently working their way through the House that encapsulate the divergence perfectly. Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) recently introduced H.Res.687, “Calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be tried before the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against humanity.” At the same time, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has introduced H.R.5993, the “Syria Non-Intervention Act of 2012,” which aims to “prohibit the use of funds …for the purpose of…military or paramilitary operations in Syria by any nation, group, organization, movement, or individual.” Both of them have bipartisan support, but if you find either bill unpalatable, don’t worry; neither one will likely ever reach the House floor.

Two Arab Americans In Important Races

We’re following two Arab Americans in high profile races, one Democrat and one Republican for seats in both the House and Senate, respectively. Arab American Arizona State Senator Dr. Matt Heinz is vying for former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ seat in the newly drawn district 2. Heinz was initially one of two Arab American contenders for Giffords’ seat, but both he and fellow State Senator Paula Aboud opted to withdraw to give former Giffords aid Ron Barber a clear path through in the special election to serve out the remainder of Gifford’s term. With a new term coming up, Heinz is now competing for it again, and is going after Barber’s backing of GOP measures on border policy. Heinz is well-positioned to mount a serious challenge for Barber’s seat, so this will be worth watching closely. Far away from Arizona, Joe Kyrillos is an Arab American Republican State Senator from New Jersey’s 13th legislative district. Kyrillos powered through the Republican primary, defeating four fellow GOP contenders, and now he has his sights fixed on U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s seat. Kyrillos is putting up quite the battle and has remained within margins small enough throughout the race to shake the confidence of Menendez, who has served six consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate. While Kyrillos’ vast fundraising deficit puts him at a notable disadvantage, the outcome is far from predetermined.

The Best Race of Them All

Yes, we’re excited about the Arab Americans running, and we’re keeping a close eye on Pascrell’s race against Michael Jackson’s spiritual advisor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, but none of these races are as thrilling to us as what just jumped to the top of our list. Marcy Kaptur, after defeating Dennis Kucinich in the primary for the newly-redistricted OH-9, will be facing off against Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as [drumbeat]…. “Joe the Plumber.” Ohio has a fairly large number of Arab Americans, and Kaptur has a fairly good history of supporting Arab American issues. Joe the Plumber has… well, his website doesn’t really have much in terms of those policy positions, but he did recently state that the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide were the products of gun-control laws. Are you as thrilled as we are about this now?

 

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