Posted on July 12, 2011 in Countdown

Hot Off the Presses
So hot, it’s not even released yet. Tomorrow, AAI will release its newest poll, conducted by Zogby International, which has startling findings on Arab attitudes toward the United States and the Obama Administration. Such as, you ask? In the two years since his famous “Cairo speech,” ratings for both the U.S. and the President have spiraled downwards. The President is seen overwhelmingly as failing to meet the expectations set during his speech, and the vast majority of those surveyed disagree with U.S. policies.  

Worse yet—in five out of the six countries surveyed, the U.S. was viewed less favorably than Iran, and “U.S. interference in the Arab world” is seen as the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East, second only to the continued occupation of Palestine.

Tune in to tomorrow for live streaming of our press conference on the poll, and tune in to The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer tonight at 5:25 p.m. Eastern(check local listings) to see AAI President Jim Zogby discuss the troubling findings.

Bachmann Out-Sarah-Palins Herself
A little bit of crazy from people like Donald Trump can be slightly disturbing but mightily entertaining. However, when “crazy” comes from a declared candidate who is being taken seriously, the “disturbing” goes up a couple of notches. Just before the weekend, Michele Bachmann signed the “Marriage Vow,” a pledge that is opposed to pornography and infanticide (yes, they’re so comparable they appear in the same sentence), one that highlights the positives of slavery time in America for African American children compared to Barack Obama’s America (no, we kid you not), and one that opposes “Sharia Islam” (not to be confused with regular strength Islam, which Pamela Geller has already developed immunization shots for). If Bachmann does well in the polls and other candidates start trying to one-up her, this election season could witness unprecedented levels of “disturbing” and “entertaining.”

Saleh Strikes Back
Last week, embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh made his first televised appearance since fleeing to Saudi Arabia last month after being gravely wounded in a bomb attack. Saleh, who was almost unrecognizable with severe burns on his face and bandages on his arms, called for “dialogue” with the opposition and lambasted the pro-democracy opposition for having an “incorrect understanding of democracy.” Protestors have been critical of the Obama administration’s unwillingness to take a stronger stand against Saleh, but if being bombed in his own office isn’t enough to convince the man to step down, what will?

To Bomb, or Not to Bomb
The House of Representatives can’t seem to make up its mind on Libya. Last week, the House voted down a bill sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash and Dennis Kucinich to prevent any financing of military operations in Libya, 199 to 229. Later the same day, however, the House approved an amendment by Rep. Tom Cole that prohibits the U.S. from providing “military equipment, military training or advice, or other support for military activities” to the Libyan rebels. These contradictory votes came weeks after the Housrejected both a measure to de-fund the military operation, and a measure to authorize it. Way to be decisive!

Central Intelligence?
Newly-appointed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta raised eyebrows the other day when he told 150 soldiers at the Camp Victory U.S. base in Iraq that they were fighting there because of 9/11. "The reason you guys are here is because of 9/11. The U.S got attacked and 3,000 human beings got killed because of Al-Qaeda," he said before being immediately corrected by spokesman Doug Wilson. If you thought only Fox News viewers still think Iraq was connected to 9/11, think again. (Sigh!)  

The U.S. Recognizes South Sudan
The Arab League’s largest country, Sudan, has officially split in two, and South Sudan has been formally recognized by (North) Sudan, the United Nations, and the United States. While it’s never fun to see nations split, a referendum that shows 99% of people voting for independence doesn’t leave much room to dispute its legitimacy or appropriateness. President Obama said "Today is the reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible." We raise a figurative glass to a more peaceful and prosperous future for both nations.

Anti-Palestinian Resolution Passes? No Way!
Just before the weekend, the House of Representatives passed H. Res. 268, introduced by Eric Cantor (R-VA), with a vote of 407-6 (13 voted "present"). The bill blames the failure of the peace process entirely on the Palestinians (ignoring Israel’s steps that have rendered productive negotiations impossible), prohibits assistance to the Palestinian national unity government, and calls for vetoing Palestinian efforts for recognition by the UN. This marks a significant departure from Congress’ typically level-headed positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Wait, hold on, we’re being told they’re actually always this unreasonable on this issue. We know it’s an uphill battle, but expanding the circle of dissent from Congress’ dogmatic attitude on Israel-Palestine is absolutely worth pursuing. Also worth noting, and thanking, are the six representatives who voted against (they include Arab American Congressmen Justin Amash and Nick Rahall, and GOP Presidential Candidate Ron Paul), and the 13 who voted Present.