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Turning the Tables

Wednesday July 25, 2012

Countdown Vol. 10, No. 58

Too Far For Their Own Good

Last week, several Republican leaders scolded Michele Bachmann for her unsubstantiated attacks on Huma Abedin (and by extension countless Arab Americans and American Muslims serving in government), suggesting she was a part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to take over the U.S. government.  Hearing of this fancy plot, one Brotherhood leader in Egypt remarked that “the Muslim Brotherhood can’t even penetrate the Egyptian government.” What Bachmann received from the GOP establishment in response was a public chiding that could potentially mark a turning point in the battle against Islamophobia on the right. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) took to the Senate floor to reprimand Bachmann, and he was followed by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Even Bachmann’s own former campaign manager Ed Rollins spoke out against her baseless accusations. Rollins delivered one of the most scathing rebukes and got personal, saying, among other things, “I am fully aware that she [Bachmann] sometimes has difficulty with her facts.” At least he had the kindness to call those things she struggles with “facts” instead of contrivances. Yes, by directing their delusional venom at respected high-level public servants, the Islamophobes may well have just overreached, awakening a previously passive GOP establishment to the dangers of leaving Islamophobia unchallenged. Nevertheless, Bachmann still has her backers: John Bolton bolted to her defense; newt Gingrich Gingriched worse remarks; and Louie Gohmert called Senator McCain a “Numb Nuts” for criticizing Bachmann. Stop laughing, Gohmert is perfectly allowed to ironically call people names like that.

Wasserman Schultz Hits Romney on Israel

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that Romney was set to travel to Israel by the end of the month to deliver a major Middle East policy address, and to host a $60,000 per plate fundraiser in Jerusalem. To keep from being outdone, symbolically at least, the Obama campaign said that Obama would visit Israel in his second term, but Eric Cantor said that would be "four years too late." Too late for what exactly is not entirely clear (maybe Israel has a lengthy doctor's appointment next year that will keep them from meeting with Obama), but the DNC's Debbie Wasserman Schultz responded harshly to Cantor, saying "the only candidate in this race playing politics with America's bipartisan support for Israel is Mitt Romney." Um, excuse us, Countdown team question here: who was the last politician who wasn’t playing politics when it came to U.S.-Israeli relations? Anyway, Schultz went on to deliver a devastating rebuttal to Romney's plan to "do the opposite" of everything Obama does on Israel, suggesting if he were to really do that he would have to "slash security assistance funding, abandon Israel at the U.N., [&] de-fund the Iron Dome system protecting Israelis from terrorist rockets." Good point! Now let’s try to get a candidate who is more embarrassed than proud of our distasteful U.N. record of protecting Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights from criticism.

BREAKING: U.S. to Stop Funding Terrorism

After months of wrangling, the House finally passed the 2013 Defense appropriations bill. It provides $606 billion in defense spending; $518 billion for non-war funding, and $88 billion for “Overseas Contingency Operations,” the Obama Administration’s friendlier term for the Global War on Terror. But there’s one thing Congress won’t be funding anymore: terrorism. Well, actually, that’s a pretty nebulous concept, but thanks to an amendment tacked on by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), “none of the funds made available by this Act” can be used to assist “the Government of Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah,” or “The Muslim Brotherhood.” If you ask us, it’s about time the Pentagon stopped spending all that money on aid to Hizballah, so we salute you for your timely and perfectly meaningful contribution to making us safer, Congressman. On a serious note, is Congress really so overwhelmed with free time that they’re going to pass resolutions prohibiting the funding of groups we have never funded and will never fund anyway? On another serious (but less pressing) note, can the world please agree on a spelling for “Hezbollah,” or do we have to keep spelling it a thousand different ways?

What's the U.S. Doing in Syria?

You must have heard about the simultaneously figurative, literal, symbolic and actual blow that the Assad regime suffered last week when several members of its top leadership were killed in Syria. In one blow, the regime's sense of impunity was replaced by vulnerability, its top strategists were eliminated, its confidence in its security apparatus has evaporated, and the spirit of its opponents was emboldened. This came at a time when more revelations were made about what the U.S. is doing in Syria. Stopping short of using force, the Obama administration has passed intelligence to rebel fighters on the front lines, pressured Iraq to close its airspace to flights from Iran to Syria (which are suspected of smuggling weapons), and tried to block suspicious Syria-bound ships from crossing the Suez canal. But House intelligence committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) doesn't agree with the administration's policy, saying it "stops far too short of really having an impact." Whether or not we are having an impact, the situation on the ground is certainly changing rapidly. As for the chemical weapons Syria has moved out of storage, the regime has pledged to only use them against a foreign invasion of the country. If that's truly the case, let's at least hope they don't believe their own rhetoric about this uprising being led by foreign terrorists who infiltrated the country.

They Know It's Ramadan

Last Friday (or Saturday, depending on who you ask) was the official start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and even though we’re still waiting for our “Ramadan Mubarak” card from Michele Bachmann, American Muslims were honored by other members of Congress last week. Several members attended a reception last Thursday sponsored by Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Andre Carson (D-IN), to show their support for the millions of American Muslims observing Ramadan this year. In addition, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced a House resolution "Recognizing the commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commending Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith." On that note, the Countdown team would like to wish all our observing friends a Ramadan Kareem. Also, the fasting Countdown team members would like to take this opportunity to passive-aggressively tell the non-fasting team members to stop bringing fresh shawerma to the office.

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