Weekend Review, 4/20-4/27

The Mendenhall’s “Weekend Review” relays articles, videos, and other media from recent days that the contributors of The Mendenhall have found promising, frustrating, or simply interesting. We hope you enjoy our selections and the accompanying commentary.

Last week, we warned that members of the right may not really know what they were getting into with Cliven Bundy: “[Bundy’s support] is a manifestation of the frustration of the anti-intellectual right. The sorts of individuals who showed up in support of Bundy are the same who are unhappy with the state of politics and who want ‘smaller government’ without really understanding what that means or how to achieve it. What they saw was a rancher in a battle against the federal government, so they jumped to his aid, never pausing to examine the nature of the conflict or whether it was worth getting involved.” As it turns out, our concerns were more than justified. A New York Times report revealed repugnant, racist comments from Bundy, in which he openly wondered whether or not black individuals were “better off as slaves, picking cotton.” For the fringe groups that do not seem to care, heated arguments continue about the context of his remarks. For everyone else, that is enough – any man who questions whether a man is better free or as a slave is living on another plane entirely. The response was swift, with politicians like Rand Paul and pundits like Sean Hannity quickly doing damage control and breaking all ties with Bundy. In the future, it would serve the right well to choose their battles more wisely, and also to vet media circus stories before giving them an endorsement – or a microphone. Article: “Cliven Bundy’s first and last rodeo” by David Nather

On Monday, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) revoked its approval of Palcohol, a powdered alcohol produced by General Foods. According to the AP Report, the approval earlier this year was made “in error.” Not all are buying the story, however. Robert Lehrman, owner of a beverage law website, said he does not believe the revocation of approval could be a matter of oversight, given the extensive review Palcohol had undergone before arriving at that stage. Instead, Lehrman suggested the revocation may have been do to lawmakers putting their thumbs on the scales amidst public uproar about the approval — of a powdered version of an already widely consumed and legal commodity. The future of Palcohol is uncertain, but what is certain is that the government is once again inhibiting the rights of producers and consumers in the meantime. Article: “Powdered Alcohols No Longer Have Label Approvals” by Candice Choi

As the situation between Russia and Ukraine continued to broil this week with connections proven between anti-government Ukrainian forces and the Kremlin, reports have surfaced indicating that Russian President Vladimir Putin has cut off contact with President Obama and has forbidden top officials from direct communication with their American counterparts. If so, this would mark a new lowpoint in relations between the two countries and, with heavier sanctions against Russia already going into effect, would make the Obama administration’s control over the rate of escalation in Ukraine tenuous short of increased military involvement. Article: Putin Cuts off ‘High Level’ Contact with Obama Administration

And despite continued escalations in Ukraine, the Middle East reestablished its claim as the most tense and dangerous region of the world in a series of developments: the bombing of a Shiite political rally in Iraq claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a helicopter crash killing five NATO troops in Afghanistan, and the failure of Afghan presidential elections to provide a clear and decisive replacement for departing President Hamid Karzai, spurring a runoff likely to come next month between former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.

That’s all for this week’s edition of The Mendenhall‘s weekend review. Thank you for joining us and we will see you Monday!

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