Posted on September 06, 2019 in Countdown

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Loss of the Architect

Have you heard the tragic news? Jason Greenblatt, the architect of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, is leaving the administration. As you can imagine, Trump’s real estate lawyer was incredibly successful in leading Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. He was great for many reasons, including supporting Israel’s occupation, and claiming that Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land weren’t an obstacle to peace. But what was his biggest accomplishment in this role? The deal he helped devise was “ultimate” (know anyone else who worked on ultimate deals? Neither do we). And let’s not forget his sense of humor: He invited Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi over the U.S., and then his administration denied her a visa. Isn’t he hilarious? It’s hard to imagine someone more suited to lead Trump’s futile efforts to try and force Palestinians to surrender their rights under the guise of “peace,” but when you look at the clown lineup this administration has been able to assemble, we have no doubt they’ll find someone almost as perfect as Greenblatt.

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Not the (re)Solution

Now let’s get something straight: we harbor no sympathies for the National Rifle Association (NRA), but c’mon, San Francisco, what in the world are you doing? The news broke yesterday that the city’s board of supervisors unanimously passed a resolution designating the NRA as a “domestic terrorist organization.” The resolution, which implores other cities, states, and the federal government to follow suit, cites federal definitions of terrorism to justify the designation and seems (the grammar is tortuous) to insinuate that anyone who so much as supports the NRA is also a terrorist, with the logical consequence being that they could be subject to federal prosecution. Apart from the fact that under current law you can't designate domestic terrorist organizations, what’s most disconcerting about this resolution is that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors can make a plausible case for their absurd resolution: with the overbroad, vague, and ripe-for-abuse terrorism laws we have in our country today, it isn't difficult to make an argument that the NRA engages in terrorism. But that is just the same for plenty of organizations that the board of supervisors probably supports. Take a moment to let the madness of this sink in. Sunk? Good, now let us make our point clear: Of course we must fight gun violence. But legitimizing an unjust counterterrorism framework is not the solution.

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The Tar Heels Dig In Their Heels

Back in June, we wrote to you about the Supreme Court’s decision to punt the ball on gerrymandering back to the states rather than take a stand against partisan redistricting. One of the two cases they considered came out of North Carolina, where Republican lawmakers intentionally drew congressional maps to give their party an advantage. After SCOTUS’s refusal to protect democracy at the federal level, advocates dug in their heels on a state-by-state model to end partisan redistricting once and for all. In the first (but we’re betting not last!) victory against gerrymandering since June, a three-judge panel ruled North Carolina’s General Assembly maps violate the state constitution. The court is mandating the General Assembly redraw the maps, with some serious stipulations: they can’t use the bad 2017 maps as a starting point, there must be full transparency and opportunities for the public to weigh in, and they have two weeks to do it. These transparency measures send a strong message to lawmakers: in this democracy, redistricting is for the benefit of the people, and those people are on to you. So, which state wants to go next? We have some great tips on how to get started in yours.

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Hungry? Have a Whopper

After weather experts pushed back on his false claims that deadly Hurricane Dorian was going to impact Alabama, President Snowflake couldn’t handle being caught in a gaffe, so he used an altered weather map (with a hand-drawn black line added to the original print) to pretend this was the official projection after all. Imagine that: faking evidence to defend a gaffe. Now, sure, Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden too is pretending he opposed the Iraq war back when he didn’t, but he’s not faking posters of himself opposing the Iraq war (we almost designed one of those just for this Countdown). Then again, supporting the Iraq war is more serious than having no clue where a hurricane is going. Then again, Trump lies nonstop. Speaking of whoppers, it’s lunch time, so we’ll end here and go get burgers.