Posted on October 12, 2017 in Countdown
Click here to subscribe to Countdown, AAI's weekly take on news from Washington, around the country, and abroad.
DREAMers Countdown: It’s been 37 days since President Trump moved to end DACA, and Congress has yet to save it.TWEET THIS
The Great Unravelling
Ever worked in an office where you hated everyone? Now imagine living in that office. Now you know how the orange president feels. Yup, Trump reportedly vented to his security chief: “I hate everyone in the White House.” But can you blame him? All he seems to have wanted to do was make tens of thousands of nukes for no reason at all, and his own Secretary of State calls him a moron? And if Tillerson is so smart, why doesn’t he accept Trump’s IQ test challenge? Yes, all of this would be hilarious drama if it were unfolding on "House of Cards," but this stuff is happening around the guy who has access to the nuclear codes, so it’s really not that funny. In fact, it’s so dead serious that former officials are speculating that people around an “unstable” and “unraveling” Trump are strategizing about how to intervene if he were to order a nuclear war. Talk show comedians had a ton of fun with this one last night, but we think everyone should take a moment to reflect on the fact that we’re actually, truly in a dangerous situation.
Groundhog Day in Hawaii
Trump issued a Muslim Ban. Courts, including upon the urging of the State of Hawaii, struck it down. Trump issued another Muslim Ban. The Supreme Court limited it, per Hawaii's request. Trump issued a third Muslim Ban. The Supreme Court threw out arguments over the second one. Now, Hawaii is back at it: The state has filed an amended complaint to challenge Trump’s latest version of its Muslim Ban. The state’s attorney general stated, “Hawaii fought the first and second travel bans because they were illegal and unconstitutional efforts to implement the President’s Muslim ban. Unfortunately, the third travel ban is more of the same.” The Trump Administration has done its part in annoying the Aloha State. In early April, Jeff Sessions III dismissed a federal injunction by stating, “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States….” That comment, however, seems to just be foreshadowing how the Administration views another island, which just has happens to be part of the United States, to the great annoyance of the president himself.TWEET THIS
Pro-Israel Bias Required
There was a time when the U.S. was content with privileging Israel with unparalleled military aid and diplomatic protection. But in the Trump era, unconditional support is not enough. Now the U.S. is demanding everyone else show an equal level of irrational bias towards Israel, or else be accused of “anti-Israel bias” and risk ending a productive relationship with the U.S.. And how far is Trump willing to go? Today, he withdrew the US from the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), apparently for the crime of recognizing the old Palestinian city of Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site. That move unsurprisingly angered Israeli settlers illegally taking over Palestinian land in Hebron. But let’s reiterate the obvious: Opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands is not “anti-Israel bias.” And if the Trump Administration wants to boycott institutions that don’t support Israel’s occupation, they could be leading the U.S. down the path of self-isolation.TWEET THIS
Can’t Drain the Swamp? Drain Those Who Speak of It
This week, the President of the United States tweeted, “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” He later added, “It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.” Surely a strike against such a basic principle of democracy as press freedom is the sort of thing you’re more used to hearing from some despot, but Trump lowered the bar so much that this sort of talk is even getting old from the “leader of the free world.” During his first 100 days in office, Trump tweeted the phrase “fake news” 30 times. During that time, he also referred to the news media as the “enemy of the people.” Trump’s attempts to undermine public trust in independent sources had some novelty early on, such as this tweet from February: “Any negative polls are fake news.” Hoping the novelty has worn off by now and that just maybe our very own State Department can review this statement it issued on World Press Freedom Day and consider aiding the United States in the protection of the press “as a key component of democratic governance.” And yes, this does take us back to the great unravelling noted above!TWEET THIS
Defending Free Speech
We’ve talked in previous Countdowns about efforts to pass national legislation that seeks to restrict and criminalize advocacy for Palestinian rights. While members of Congress engage in a process on the federal level to deny their constituents’ free speech as guaranteed by our Constitution, some states already have laws on the books that defy our cherished First Amendment. Targeting the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel over its occupation and human rights abuses of Palestinians, these states passed what are commonly referred to as anti-BDS laws. In practice, those laws are trying to codify what we have known and fought against for a long time: the desire to create a free speech exception on Palestine. Thankfully, a main steward of free speech is on the case. The ACLU just announced they’re suing to challenge a Kansas law that “prohibits the state from entering into contracts with individuals or companies participating in a boycott of Israel.” As ACLU attorney Brian Hauss noted, “The government does not get to use its leverage to silence one side of the debate.” We agree.