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Heavy Implications

Wednesday May 30, 2012

Countdown Vol. 10, No. 50

 

Another Outrage in Syria

Over the weekend, nearly 100 people were killed in the Syrian town of Houla, most of whom (according to the U.N.) were killed execution-style. The Assad regime denied responsibility for the massacre, but residents blamed regime henchmen, causing countries around the world to expel their Syrian envoys in response, including a request from the State Department for the Syrian Charge d’Affaires to leave the U.S. within 72 hours. The violence has also prompted the Obama administration to prepare for the vetting of Syrian opposition members  to approve arms transfers to them from Turkey and some Arab countries. Our hearts go out to the people of Syria, and we pray for a speedy and peaceful end to a conflict that has already taken far too many lives.

Romney's Ups & Downs

Romney has finally won the Republican nomination, and has reversed Obama’s lead in Florida into an 8 point lead of his own. So why is Donald Trump trying to ruin his good fortune? If you haven’t been following, the Dems were trying to remind everyone that Romney was fundraising with a birther, but Trump’s spokesman Michael Cohen called the controversy a “distraction” which Trump “doesn’t want to talk about.” Too bad for Cohen and Romney, it turned out Trump did want to go on a few more birther rants, resulting in a funny CNN bit where Wolf Blitzer tells Trump that he’s “beginning to sound a little ridiculous.” Beginning? Just a little? Romney has yet to “refudiate” Trump (he must be worried about losing the birther & terrible-haircut demographics). In more interesting news, Romney met privately with Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire who likely turned Newt Gingrich into an anti-Palestinian fanatic. We’ll see what becomes of Romney after this meeting, though he should be careful because too much Adelson kool-aid could result in another scolding from Collin Powell.

Obama's War on Terrorism is Worth a Thought

We’ve written about the drone war a number of times before, but each new revelation is somehow scarier than the last. The New York Times recently outlined President Obama’s deep personal involvement in the program, and the methodology for determining legitimate targets, which “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.” And all these years, we thought people were innocent until proven guilty… guess we got it backwards. And what about assassinating American citizens involved in terrorism without trial? Obama said that was “an easy one.” But don’t worry, the authorization for the President to assassinate anyone without due process or a warrant expires just as soon as we’ve vanquished terrorism from the face of the Earth, which has to be any day now, right?

Kirk and Palestinian Refugees

Seemingly in an effort to undermine the Palestinian right of return, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced an amendment that would make it U.S. policy to only recognize Palestinians who were personally displaced in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as refugees, but not their descendants. In a show of even-handedness, Kirk also recommended restricting Israel’s law of return, currently applying to all Jews across the world, only to Jews who were personally driven out by the Romans 2000 years ago. Yeah, we’re totally being facetious about the second part. Well, the children of Palestinian refugees who still live in Palestinian refugee camps don’t cease to be refugees on the say-so of Congress. Thankfully, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) objected to Kirk’s language, leading to a new draft which only requires UNRWA to account for the numbers of different generations of refugees without dropping the “refugee” status off any. Um, still, if they’re not trying to undermine the rights of some refugees, what’s this required breakdown for? Leahy was still uncomfortable with this fishy business, but accepted the new language as a compromise only when the Jordanian government (a party in the compromise negotiations for some reason) reportedly decided it was fine with it. Given that controversial policies are often advanced incrementally to avoid backlash, this “compromise” may be part of a creeping effort to change U.S. policy, laying the groundwork for further assault on the rights of Palestinian refugees.

Unintentional Sabotage

After ten years in the game, one would think that a seasoned Member of Congress and former presidential aspirant would have his house in order in time for reelection. Well, not Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI). McCotter’s reelection campaign failed to gather the required number of signatures (1000) in order for the incumbent to place himself on the ballot. The failure is a little strange, given the fact that McCotter (serving Michigan’s 11th district since 2002) was expected to coast to victory. Someone in his campaign really dropped the ball on this one! Mlive.com highlights the best tweet from Republican consultant Tom Shields: "Someone is going to the woodshed for this screw up." Yikes! Well, McCotter may now have to go the write-in route, against tea-party Republican Kerry Bentivolio and now Democratic frontrunner (and American Muslim) Dr. Syed Taj. For the first time in over a decade, the Dems have a real shot at taking the seat with Taj. If McCotter fails with a write-in campaign bid, he’ll have been tripped right out of the gate by his own campaign. Oops!

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