Posted on August 02, 2011 in Countdown

Release the Confetti; We Have a Deal!

President Obama and congressional leaders came to an agreement on Sunday night to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, ending what is perhaps the highest-stakes’ game of Chicken in the history of American partisan politics. With the deal based on nothing but cuts (no tax revenue or loophole-closing), Paul Krugman of The New York Times described the deal as an Obama surrender. Despite what looks like total victory, the Tea Party is still not happy with the deal, leading to an angry “what the bleep” tirade from Jon Stewart about how they can’t tell when they have won. National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling seemingly agreed that the Tea Party didn’t win, saying “the President didn’t give one inch." Congresswoman Gabriel Gifford made her first return to Congress since surviving an assassination attempt back in January to vote for raising the debt ceiling, highlighting the significance of the deal, which passed by a 269-161 vote, overcoming opposition from both liberals and tea partiers. The Senate passed it earlier today by a vote of 74 to 26 and the President just signed it into law. However good or bad you feel about the deal, we can all at least agree that the worst case scenario has been averted.

American Muslims Apologize to Herman Cain, No, Wait...

American Muslims have come forward and apologized for being protected by the Constitution, as that has complicated Herman Cain’s presidential bid by restricting his ability to pander to the anti-Muslim sentiment without criticism or backlash. Herman Cain accepted their apology. Wait, sorry, we’re told we have this backwards. Herman Cain was the one who apologized to the American Muslim community after meeting with a Virginia-based Muslim group: “I am truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it. Muslims, like all Americans, have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully." There you go, Cain; was that so hard? Despite such a reasonable and indeed much needed apology, Cain is doing pretty well, winning the straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver over the weekend, and placing second (after Michele Bachmann) in the Smart Girls Conference straw poll. Maybe we’ll see a better discourse in 2012 when candidates realize that being reasonable is not that big a liability.

Chris Christie Takes on Crazy

Following the predictable cries of far-right  lunatics about “Shariah Law” over the appointment of a Muslim (Sohail Mohammed) to the NJ High Court, Republican Governor Chris Christie did what few political leaders have had the courage to do over the past couple of years--stand up to them and call them what they are: crazy. At a press conference discussing the appointment, Governor Christie said “This ‘Shariah Law’ business is crap! It’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies… I’m happy that [Mohammed] is willing to serve after all this baloney.” Way to go Governor Christie! We could not have said it better.

No Spying & Indefinite Detentions?

Last Wednesday, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged that Norway would never be same after the recent devastating terror attacks. On July 22, “Christian terrorist” Anders Breivik blew up a government building and shot more than 68 people. Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto railed against Muslims and “cultural Marxists,” and was sprinkled with quotes from Islamaphobes Robert SpencerWalid Shoebat and Pamela Geller.  But when asked if the attack would prompt Norway to adopt more stringent security measures–a la the PATRIOT Act— the response was a firm “no.” Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang said  “I don't think security can solve problems. We need to teach greater respect."  Stoltenberg echoed this sentiment, saying “The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation.” Even as we mourn with the people of Norway, we commend them for their dedication and commitment to tolerance and inclusion.

10 Years Later, Desperate to End Things on a Good Note

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker gave a short inaugural speech in which he promised that the United States would begin a gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan. Warning that “the way we do this…will have consequences far beyond Afghanistan and far into the future,” Crocker acknowledged that “we left the wrong way in the early 1990’s, and we all know the history of those decisions: the civil war, the rise of the Taliban, sanctuary for Al Qaida, and 9/11.” The timetable for withdrawal in unknown, but The New York Times speculates that bases will remain for at least another 10 to 12 years.  

Poll Central: You’re Just not Helping

Arabs are sending a clear message to the U.S. and Iran: you’re not helping, so please mind your own business! In both part one and part two of our latest six-nation Arab opinion poll, the 4000+ people surveyed expressed strong opposition to any sort of intervention from  the U.S. in Arab affairs (except in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where they see US favoritism towards Israel as a problem), and expressed concern over Iran’s role in the region. Moreover, President Obama’s favorable ratings are lower in the Arab world than Bush’s were, primarily due to disappointment after raised expectations. Someone should really catch our political establishment up on the breaking news (not really so breaking) that the existing policies that diminish our standing in the region also diminish our chances for success in pursuing our interests there. Isn’t it time to Yalla Change?

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