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The Final Countdown

Tuesday October 30, 2012

Countdown Vol. 10, No. 72

We’d like to pretend that we’re broadcasting “The Final Countdown” from some underground emergency Countdown command center as Sandy wrecks the surface above, but we do our best not to over-dramatize so here is the plain truth: we’re sending you our final Countdown from our homes because the DC metro is down and it’s not safe to be driving around out there just yet. For starters, our thoughts are with those who lost homes and loved ones as a result of the hurricane. Since there is no smooth way to transition from storm to Countdown, we’re just going to dive right into it.

One Week Away

In exactly one week, the 2012 presidential election will take place. We won’t only be finding out who the next President is before the end of the night (barring some Florida 2000-type madness), but we’ll be deciding who that President is by casting our votes, so be sure to cast yours. To combat efforts to target Arab American political participation, we issued this video. And to make the assertive case for who we are and why we make our voices heard every day, we issued this video. Check them out, share them around, and let’s make sure that, in this election, Arab Americans turn out big and make a difference.

A War Within?

President Obama is predicting that a war would break out within the GOP if he is reelected. He reasoned that while the Party has thus far “been unified in opposition to me,” his reelection would be a “mandate” from the American people to do things his way. This, the President said, would create a “war… inside that party” between those who would choose to remain obstructionist and those who would work with the President to get things done, “It just hasn't broken out” yet. You know the state of our politics is pretty bad when a war within one of two major political parties is posited as a positive alternative to the current stalemate of partisan noncooperation.

The Scary Times Ahead

Do you remember the part in George Orwell’s 1984 when the government creates a “disposition matrix” that’s used by a shadowy government agency to determine who they should assassinate? Oh wait, that’s not from a dystopian novel about a future totalitarian state, that’s just a Washington Post report about the Obama administration’s current attempt to “streamline the processes” of targeted killing campaigns. If that sounds a little terrifying, don’t worry, it’s only supposed to be used until the end of current hostilities, which administration sources expect to be in about ten more years or so. And on the bright side, criticizing the drone program doesn't appear to be enough to land you on the hit-list (otherwise Countdown would be in a lot more trouble), but apparently it does get you kicked off airplanes.

3rd Party Debate

We only recall seeing two people on stage during each of the presidential debates, but as it turns out, there are 4 more parties besides the Republicans and the Democrats, and they have 4 more candidates for President. On Sunday, November 4th, Ralph Nader will host a debate between these third party candidates. The debate will focus on issues that, like the candidates themselves, have been ignored during this presidential campaign. Participating in the debate will be Gary Johnson (Libertarian), Jill Stein (Green), Virgil Goode (Constitution), and Rocky Anderson (Justice). Ralph Nader, himself a third party candidate in several past elections, is exceptionally suitable to moderate this debate. Nader hopes not only to highlight these other choices of candidates for President, but also to advocate for a more open and inclusive format for future presidential debates so they no longer exclude third party candidates or avoid controversial topics. Nader describes the questions and exchanges in the Obama/Romney debates as "cautiously circumscribed, predictable, scripted and repetitious." The exchanges at the third party debate this Sunday are likely to be anything but. 

Aid to Israel

Three weeks ago, fifteen religious leaders representing major Protestant denominations challenged one of Washington's most powerful taboos by writing a letter urging Congress to investigate whether unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel is contributing to violations of Palestinian human rights. This led to the predictable overreaction whenever Israel is discussed, and several Jewish groups canceled their regular interfaith dialogue meeting with the Christian leaders who signed the letter. In what can only be described as a bullying attempt to shut down criticism of Israel, some leaders defamed the letter as "anti-Judaism" and even threatened to pressure Congress for a hearing on the Christian groups' so-called "anti-Israel" behavior. AAI's President Jim Zogby wrote a column on the subject, which eventually turned into a debate on Huffington Post Live. Also participating in the debate was writer David Kaufman, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Peter Makari, and Ethan Felson of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs. Because it is not common for a mainstream media source to mention, let alone have a lengthy discussion on, the question of U.S. military aid to Israel and Palestinian human rights, we think this is really worth watching.

The Moments that Made Us Laugh and Cry

Looking back, what were your most noteworthy moments of this election season?  The Arab American community certainly had lots of ups and downs. We got a rocky start in the Republican primaries, from Gingrich’s “the Palestinians are an invented people” to Herman Cain’s “I won’t appoint Muslims.” In Paterson, New Jersey, it was bitter-sweet for us, as we were attacked yet again for our political participation, but we also emerged galvanized as a community that proved it can swing elections. At the conventions, Arab American delegates showed up in record numbers and stole the show, especially during the controversy over that DNC platform amendment on Jerusalem. Later in September, our poll on how Arab Americans were leaning this election got serious news coverage. As we continue to make our voices heard in this last week before the election, let us not forget our trials and triumphs along the way.

We're Not Saying Goodbye

Well, folks, it’s been quite a ride, and we actually are saying goodbye (we were just trying to put it off for a few more seconds). But worry not, you’re in for one magnificent substitute weekly publication from AAI. And if that doesn’t quench your Countdown thirst, don’t panic, we’ll be back before you know it. Presidential elections are our bat signal in the sky, and given that these campaigns now start literally years before the actual election, you can sleep tonight knowing that we’re practically just around the corner. Until then, stay politically active and keep the Arab American community strong.

Yours truly,
The Countdown Team

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