Posted on May 11, 2017 in Countdown

Click here to subscribe to Countdown, AAI's weekly take on news from Washington, around the country, and abroad.


Nothing To See, Move Along...

Just one day after he asked for more resources to speed up the investigation into Russia’s interference with the US election, the 6’8” tall FBI Director James Comey (you didn’t know he was that tall, did you?) was fired by President Trump. Why? The Trump administration had several explanations, each more compelling than the next. Many noted a self-contradiction in the administration’s claim that Comey was fired for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the election, given that Trump had previously praised that exact handling. But there is actually one way this might not be a contradiction at all: What if Trump grew to hate the burden of the presidency so much that he’s genuinely upset with Comey for potentially swinging the election his way? We’d like to run this theory by Sean Spicer, but we’re office geeks untrained to roam the bushes in search of people. Ok, since this is the top story on every news channel, paper, and website, you probably don’t need us any further on this one.


Howdy, Show Me Your Papers

When you think “travel warning”, you probably think of some country plagued by instability or civil unrest. But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) just issued a travel warning for… Texas? Yup, that’s right. Their travel alert says going to Texas “may result in violation of constitutional rights”.  This comes after Texas passed SB4, a law that targets “sanctuary cities”, which the ACLU says will lead to “widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny, and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike presumed to be ‘foreign’ based on how they look or sound.”  Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, said “We plan to fight this racist and wrongheaded law in the courts and in the streets. Until we defeat it, everyone traveling in or to Texas needs to be aware of what’s in store for them.” Okay, now we’re confused and can’t decide whether we’re supposed to stay away from Texas or take to the streets of Texas. But the city of El Cenizo, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and Maverick County are less indecisive, as they just sued Texas over the law, saying “plaintiffs are safer when all people, including undocumented immigrants, feel safe when their local law enforcement officers can be trusted for reporting crimes.” Hmmm, security AND civil liberties are on the same side of an issue? That’s a tough one!


Rubio, BDS, and Godwin’s law

Defending the indefensible tends to take people to hysterical ends (not “haha” hysterical, but actual hysteria). That was certainly the case with Senator Marco Rubio, when he spoke at the Anti-Defamation League conference about the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israeli human rights violations. It’s hard to make reasoned arguments against a non-violent boycott campaign to resist a glaring injustice, so Rubio resorted to claiming BDS was a “disturbing echo of Germany's anti-Jewish boycotts of the 1930s”. This is just so beyond the pale that we won’t even attempt to inject humor on this one. But we do have a message for Senator Rubio: Smearing human rights advocates as Nazi-like bigots is pretty reprehensible, and particularly so in the current climate. It is also patently false and disturbingly dangerous in our humble opinion to equate the very real problem of rising anti-Semitism with the legitimate criticism of Israel as Rubio did in his attack on BDSand as the ADL seems increasingly comfortable doing. 


Rehashing Trump’s Travel Ban

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates was at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing this week, discussing Russia’s interference in the US election. But Texas senator Ted Cruz had something else on his mind: Trump’s executive orders restricting Muslim entry into the US, which Yates was fired for refusing to go along with. The epic video showdown between Cruz and Yates set the internet on fire, as it was sliced and memefied all across social media. Cruz was harping on the president’s statutory authorization to restrict the entry of aliens to the US, but Yates schooled the senator on the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibits “any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.” She proceeded to remind him that the US Constitution prohibits such discrimination as well. Just in case the massive airport protests and successful court interventions to halt the travel bans didn’t make things clear enough, we want to thank Senator Cruz for giving us a viral video to explain why the discriminatory travel bans were dead wrong.


Obama Let ISIS Ruin Soccer for Your Children

You know the feeling: Your kids are playing soccer in the front yard, and you end up having to drop your groceries and rush to protect them because ISIS is running around your neighborhood again, with their masks and military fatigues on. Thanks a lot, Obama! Wait, this doesn't happen in your neighborhood? Strange, because this is what Bryce Reeves, candidate for Lt. Governor in Virginia, seems to think Obama did to previously peaceful suburbs. No, seriously, watch the ad. We know what you're thinking, "this has GOT to be a parody". Well, we thought that too for a moment, but it’s not. Every time we tell ourselves we’ve seen the most absurd fear-mongering possible in an election season, someone comes along and shatters the record, so we’ve learned our lesson, and we’re done thinking we’ve seen it all. On that note, if you see a political ad in your paper, on your TV or on the internet that’s praiseworthy, troubling, or just flat-out hilarious, be sure to send it our way, we’d like to keep track of those.