Posted on May 31, 2016 in Countdown

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Waiting for Donald and Watching the Ticker

Aside from his attacks on the press and the Trump University lawsuit file dump, there’s not much new to report on Trump this week. Just like everyone else, we’re still waiting for his “pivot to the general.” But on the other hand, other Republicans making news this week have us thinking that we might need to extend our “Countdown” count-down past the November 8th General Election. Republican godfather Bill Kristol fielded the (not) widely known, (not) wildly popular, but seemingly qualified veteran and writer David French to mount a 3rd party bid. While it might be easy to dismiss the French plan, the difficult and unlikely scenario where French is able to get on a handful of state ballots and earn enough votes from the #NeverTrump and #Never“DemocratName” block, he could split the delegates which would then block either major party candidate from reaching the 270 electoral college votes it takes to win, and then toss the whole election to the House of Representatives for a vote. Also helping the “split-the-vote” strategy is the Libertarian ticket featuring two former blue-state Republican governors that is already polling in the 10th percentile. In that case, Countdown will keep counting-down à 158 days to go until the General vote.


Polarity in the Democratic Polls

The simmering war in the Democratic Party is painting a really confusing picture of what the average Democratic voter is thinking. And with a tight race in California carrying high stakes for both Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, we thought it be helpful to do a head-spinning round up of what the polls say Democrats are thinking. We’ve got a near 50/50 split between Hillary and Bernie in California today, but nationally Democrats are increasingly (but still narrowly) in favor of Clinton, and 50% of Democrats would continue supporting Clinton as the Democratic nominee even if she is indicted over her email server drama. But at the same time, Clinton’s unfavorable rating among Democrats continues to drop (and drop, and drop). Let’s not even mention Clinton’s historically high unfavorable ratings among the general public - - 2nd only to… (wait for it) …Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the establishment pressures seem to be aggravating the average Bernie supporter and then some because almost 60% of Democrats want Bernie to stay in the race until the bitter convention. Let’s not forget that Bernie continues to poll better against Trump than does Clinton. Spin the polls and justify the numbers all you want; all we’ve got to say is that it’s all a bit mind-blowing.


The Two-State-Solution This Week, Whatever That Means

This is nothing new, but we feel obliged to say it anew after the events of the past two weeks in Israel: the language of the two state solution has lost all meaning. If you can do what Bibi has done in the very recent past [i.e. ally with Avigdor Lieberman and appoint him to a crucial government posting, turn a blind eye when the Justice Minister says there will be no Palestinian state on her watch, and authorize new settlement construction in the powder keg of East Jerusalem of all places] and then say that you’re interesting in revisiting the Arab Peace Initiative’s vision for a two state solution - - it just shows how very empty the language of two states has become for Israel’s government. Bibi-apologists will – we’re sure – find ways to explain away the anti-peace moves as hard realities or true leadership or simply misunderstood statements, but maybe now the rest of us will finally call a spade a spade. We’re looking at you Secretary Kerry, and we know you’re on the way to the Paris Middle East Peace conference this week.


What’s in a Face? Not Privacy Protections if the FBI Has Its Way

Surveillance issues are C-O-N-F-U-S-I-N-G, and straight up creepy too. We’ll spare you the overly-technical details and just let you know that the FBI has begun deploying facial recognition technology that has unprecedented surveillance powers AND is trying to make the biometric data (like physical appearance cues and iris scans) behind that technology exempt from provisions in the Privacy Act that would allow you to know what they have on you. Yeah, combine powerful technology with little-to-no public oversight and knowledge, and we’re getting really far away from what a free, liberty-valuing democracy should look like. This week we’re asking all of our supporters to take a few minutes to contact the Department of Justice to oppose the secrecy of this technology – what is called the “Next Generation Identification” system. So please join AAI and 44 other organizations calling for the exemptions to be rejected and privacy rights maintained. Learn more and add your voice here.


About Those New Foreign Policy Plans for a New Administration

The impending reality of a new face in the White House opening up new possibilities in U.S. foreign policy has some of us wonks pretty excited (and also very scared). And then there are those foreign policy wonks who are very excited to repackage, rebrand, and resell the same old ideas written by the same old people to a new administration. If that sounds pretty accurate to you, don’t miss your chance at catharsis and take a good look at this nicely written piece about the “old ideas, new wrapping” crowd. It’ll give you something to think about while you’re watch Game 1 tonight.