Posted on September 25, 2012 in Countdown

Obama and Netanyahu's Noise-Making on Iran

A couple of weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu took a jab at the Obama Administration’s opposition to an Israeli attack on Iran, saying that those “who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” Shortly after that jab, President Obama turned down a meeting request by Netanyahu, in what news outlets described as a “new low” in the relationship between the two leaders. The following week, the Republican Jewish Coalition launched a $5 million TV ad campaign in swing states to promote war with Iran, featuring Netanyahu, and ending with “The world needs American strength, not apologies.” But Obama seems entirely unfazed. Responding in a ’60 minutes’ interview to a question about Israel’s pressures on the United States to set strict red lines that would trigger U.S. military action, Obama reiterated the importance of the alliance with Israel, but added the following: "When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that's out there." Frankly, Obama isn’t just putting America first by trying to avoid a war with Iran, he’s doing Israel a favor as well; a favor that Netanyahu seems to lack the foresight to appreciate. We’ll see if he takes the noise up a couple more notches before the election to get Obama’s attention.

A Stand Against Hate on Capitol Hill

Last week, The Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights held a hearing entitled “Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism.” Attendance at the hearing and the number of organizations submitting written testimony for the record were quite large, displaying a heartening level of solidarity with communities affected by hate crimes. AAI took an active role in the effort to urge for this hearing in the wake of recent attacks on places of worship across the country. The panel included Daryl Johnson, who authored the widely criticized report on the threat of right wing domestic terrorism during his tenure at DHS. Among the criticisms directed at the report from Republicans who preferred to dismiss this threat and focus on Muslims was John Boehner’s false accusation that the report painted the “American people” as “all potential terrorist threats.” Johnson delivered a stinging critique of the government’s lack of resources and attention devoted to the threat of domestic right wing extremism. All of the testimony paled in comparison to the incredibly moving testimony from young American Sikh Harpreet Singh Saini. He gave a harrowing account of what his family and community experienced that day during worship in Oak Creek. He urged government agencies to devote resources to combating violence against the Sikh community, saying “we cannot solve a problem we do not acknowledge.” Harpreet also noted that the FBI and other government agencies do not track hate crimes against Sikhs and asked the Committee “for the dignity of making my mother a statistic.”

Decision Time in Pennsylvania

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a hearing last week to determine whether the state’s draconian voter ID law will disenfranchise any voters, arguments are being presented in court today to determine whether or not the law will stand for the November election. The law, which requires voters to present a photo ID at the polls, was initially upheld in a ruling that cited a legal precedent, from 1869, which advocated implementing a discriminatory registration process in order to avoid placing “the vicious vagrant, the wandering Arabs, the Tartar hordes of our large cities, on a level with the virtuous and good man” (we’re not kidding). But since up to 500,000 eligible voters today do not own photo identification, the state will have to prove that it can churn out half a million new IDs in time for the election. We still don’t know which way the court will decide, but considering the legendary efficiency of the DMV, we’re sure they’ll make a very compelling argument.

Don't Like Poll Results? Just Change Them

The era of post-truth politics has entered a new arena: the world of polls. A new website, unskewedpolls.com, removes the “liberal media bias” from national opinion polls. As it turns out, Mitt Romney has a substantial lead in every national and state poll. Yes, this process of “unskewing” means re-weighting every single national poll to reflect pollster Dean Chambers’ own personal belief that Republicans are under-sampled. The results may be drastically different from all those pesky mainstream scientific polls, but in a free country, we have the right to whatever polling results we want. Even noted fact-fans like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann have said they like and use Unskewed Polls. After all, the Bill of Rights says that “Americans are free from the burden of changing their preconceived notions when confronted with contradicting evidence; they have the right to shape facts to suit their beliefs.” Enough said.

Those Savages

One of Pamela Geller’s hate groups, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, has posted ads in the New York and San Francisco mass transit systems that read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) had initially refused to post the ads, but a U.S. District Court Judge ruled in August that they constituted protected speech under the First Amendment. The DC Metro is still reviewing whether they will accept the ads, but Geller’s group is pursuing a lawsuit over the delay thus far. Some ignorant ads are worth arguing with, but others (like this one) are so blatantly bigoted and distasteful that all you can do is dismiss or condemn them. Condemnations of this offensive ad campaign have come from all walks of life, but most creatively from Twitter, where opponents of bigotry used the hashtag #MySubwayAd to promote their alternative texts for what they would like to see posted in the subway system. Follow the hashtag for some funny commentary and some inspiring pronouncements. Also, if you want to do your own versions of "In any war between X and X, support X, defeat X" (fill in the blanks), be sure to tweet them at us. We'll retweet the best lines.

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