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Countdown: Vol. 10, No. 9

Tuesday August 09, 2011


Al Gore Supports Yalla Change?
 

After touching on the Arab Spring, former Vice President Al Gore said we needed “an American Spring” to bring about Tahrir Square-like “non-violent change” to reinvigorate our democracy from the grassroots. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because Jim Zogby had said virtually the same thing shortly after the fall of Mubarak, and the idea that we need an American Spring was the impetus behind the Yalla Change campaign, driven by a coalition seeking to reclaim American discourse on the foreign and domestic policy tracks in the lead up to the 2012 elections. The Weekly Standard took this opportunity to take some shots at Al Gore and Obama, effectively saying that while they find the President terrible, they don’t agree with Gore comparing him to Syria’s Assad (of course he wasn’t comparing him to Assad, but partisan politics will leave no jab opening unutilized). For our intents and purposes, we’ll stretch things a little and take Gore’s comments as a loose endorsement of the Yalla Change campaign.

Herman Cain’s Other Problem 

Over the past few months, we’ve picked on Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain a little for making repeated inflammatory anti-Muslim remarks. But in last week’s Countdown, we were pleased to highlight an apology by Herman Cain to the Muslim community for suggesting that they could be excluded from the First Amendment’s protections for religious freedom. Problem solved? Not exactly, Cain now has a new problem: the far-out conservative base is furious with his outreach to the Muslim community, delivering a “weeklong beating” on social media and elsewhere. His facebook page is now littered with such comments as “Friendship with Islam is sympathy for the devil” and “I withdraw all of my support for your campaign.” Fingers crossed for Cain standing his new ground.

Still Pandering to Scary Forces 

You may have heard about Texas Governor Rick Perry’s hosting of a national day of prayer over the weekend, causing a stir with his flirtation with the constitutional line separating church and state. But did you know that that day of prayer was sponsored by the American Family Association? That’s the group whose spokesperson, Bryan Fischer, is on the record saying (among other fascinating statements) that all Muslims in the United States should be deported. One can only imagine the kind of profound apology that would be demanded of a governor who allied with people who advocated the deportation of African Americans, Jewish Americans, or just about any other major demographic group in this country. But, once again, we’re reminded that we live in a political environment where offending Muslims seems to carry little to no political cost.

TSA Mind Tricks

It’s here, folks! Your typical TSA agents will now be replaced by mind-reading Jedi Knights. Using the Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques program (SPOT), TSA screeners will monitor the behavior of passengers and ask certain questions that are aimed at inducing certain reactions in order to detect suspicious individuals (signs of nervousness, deception…etc.). This sounds like a HUGE improvement over the racial/religious/national profiling mindset. We can now relax knowing that a person’s background won’t count against them, right? Well, um, not exactly; the program is being described as “Israeli-style screening” and we all know with what that means.  Way to go, guys!

Don’t Worry, It’s a Different Pledge

Remember when we called out Michele Bachmann for signing the crazy "Marriage Vow" with the slavery and the Sharia and the pornography…etc.? Mitt Romney, who has been more reasonable than many of his GOP counterparts on the manufactured controversy surrounding Sharia, has refused to sign it. But now, there is a new marriage pledge by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and that pledge has been skipped by Tim Pawlenty, but signed by Bachmann, Santorum, and this time, Romney. Don’t worry, this one is not nearly as bad as the last one, but it does include a pledge to appoint “a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.” Yeah, we are wondering if this is really a major national problem too.

More Israeli than the Israelis Themselves

Tzipi Livni is no dove. She is on the record having demanded “real hooliganism” from IDF troops in Gaza during operation Cast Lead, and most of her party’s Knesset members supported a measure to deemphasize the “democratic” requirement in Israel’s Basic Law, making it subservient to the “Jewish” requirement in defining the state. Nonetheless, concerned that Prime Minister Netanyahu was doing irreparable damage to Israel’s international reputation and relationship with the United States with his hyper-rejectionist attitude, Livni came out supporting President Obama’s pressure on Netanyahu. Yes, while Obama’s political opponents here at home are giving him a hard time about being too tough on Israel, the leader of the largest party in the Israeli Knesset is praising Obama’s pressure and asking him to keep it up. It seems like some US politicians insist on being more Israeli than the Israelis themselves.

Seeking Torture Accountability 

Last week, a federal judge granted an American army veteran who says he was tortured during military detention in Iraq the ability to sue former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The veteran, identified as John Doe, was held for several months on suspicion of “sharing classified information with the enemy” but was ultimately never charged. Only one other suit against Rumsfeld with regard to torture has been allowed to proceed, which is that of Donald Vance, who in a recent interview with Keith Olbermann described his physical and psychological abuse and said that he had turned down a money offer by the government to settle the case because he wanted to bring the issue to light. Torture is no joking matter so we’ll skip the humor on this one, and just hope that the whole truth will come out soon so we can put this dark chapter behind us.

 

 

 

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