Posted on October 18, 2011 in Countdown

Countdown: Vol. 10, No. 19

From Tahrir to Wall Street

Ahmed Maher, founder of Egypt’s April 6th youth movement, spoke at an AAI press conference that we held at our offices earlier today, discussing the latest challenges facing the Egyptian revolution and outlining the role he envisions for his movement moving forward. Maher noted that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is effectively a continuation of the Mubarak regime, carrying out very similar policies. He noted that while many challenges remain, and will likely take years to overcome, he is optimistic about the success of the revolution at the end of the road. He stressed the importance of defending the rights of the Christian community in Egypt, and the need to safeguard the country against sectarian strife. He also called for the U.S. to cease supporting Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people and their rights. Following his talk, Maher met with “Occupy DC” protesters who are demonstrating in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, where he also met with Jim Zogby. Watch his talk here

How President Cain Will Handle Business 

Herman Cain has a perfect generic answer to “what would you do” questions about things he knows nothing about: “President Cain would first make sure that he's making the right decision based upon all of the information... I'm going to consult with my advisers and say, 'What are our options?'" Brilliant! This happened to be his answer to how he would’ve handled the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador, though it’s clear how it didn’t have to be that question in particular. But Cain is not always afraid to bring bold ideas to the table without consulting his advisers. For example, his solution to illegal immigration was to electrify the border fence so that it would kill anyone trying to climb it.  Oh, it turned out he was joking about that (thank God!). With policy expertise of this sort, it’s obvious why he’s challenging Romney for the lead.

Pressing Question: Is 2782 A Presidential Election Year?

If you find it disappointing that campaign mode takes over our news cycle only 2 years before an election, you’ll be delighted to know that NBC’s Today show is already looking past next year’s election and is raising questions about 2016. They discovered the pressing news that Hillary Clinton does not plan to run 5 years from now. But the real question on everybody’s mind, which they have strangely yet to ask, is whether Sasha and Malia Obama would feel comfortable taking up senior State Department posts in 2040 if one of Michele Bachmann’s children were to win a controversial presidency after an electoral dispute in Ohio.

GOP Freshmen in Trouble?

Tea-Party fervor has swept many Republican freshmen into office during the last election season, but many of them are new to the game and are finding themselves in fundraising trouble, raising questions about the longevity of their careers in elected office. Unfortunately, the crisis does not extend to Florida’s Allen West. West has raised nearly $2 million in the third quarter of this year, indicating high energy around his reelection campaign. West is probably the single most anti-Muslim member of Congress, declaring last year that America was at war with a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology […] called Islam.”  Whether Florida will vote out this national embarrassment next year is far from certain.

They Can No Longer Bomb Them With Impunity? Not Fair!

Shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles are on the loose in Libya, and many of them are finding their way to Sinai and potentially Gaza. This is scary stuff, to be sure. But the reason given by the Washington Post is, at best, bizarre. According to the Post, the weapons cause concern because they “could add significantly to the threat against Israel, whose helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft frequently patrol the strip.” Surely they jest?

Happy Monthiversary Occupy Wall Street

As the nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement enters its second month, the reportedly Arab Spring-inspired protest shows no signs of slowing down, and may even be influencing the upcoming presidential elections. POLITICO reports that President Obama made reference to the “interests of the 99 percent” earlier this week, echoing a slogan from the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators that 99% of Americans are being exploited by the 1% at the top. Without a clear agenda or list of demands, however, it remains to be seen whether they will successfully develop as the Democratic counterweight to the Tea Party by the next election.

Playing Ball Against the Wall

The people are speaking out, but the banks are still writing the checks. While demonstrators outside Wall Street rage on, the financial firms it houses have been trying to influence the elections in their own way, and it’s clear which way they’re leaning. The New York Times reported last week that Republican candidate Mitt Romney has raised significantly more money from large Wall Street firms than Obama, demonstrating Wall Street’s disenchantment with the President’s handling of the financial sector. It’s not good news for Obama (at least money-wise; not so clear which way the PR points go), but it could be even worse for Wall Street if Mitt loses the nomination.

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