Posted on July 26, 2011 in Countdown

The Stalemate that Just Won’t End

Here we are, one week away from defaulting on our national debt, and an agreement between Republicans and Democrats to avert a potentially catastrophic economic collapse has yet to be reached. Then again, there are plenty of hints that both parties are determined to reach an agreement before the deadline, but with each side still trying to get the best deal possible by playing this game of chicken till the very last minute. And pressure from their constituents is undoubtedly high, with CNN reporting that lawmakers’ phone lines are jammed and their websites have crashed due to the sheer volume of weigh-ins from citizens across the country. Rhetoric is as heated as ever, but Majority Leader Eric Cantor is finally throwing his weight behind Speaker Boehner in favor of some sort of compromise that will get the debt ceiling raised at least temporarily, though the Democrats (having compromised on tax-revenue) are still pushing for a more long-term solution. By the time you get the next edition of Countdown, we’ll either be breathing a collective sigh of relief or running around in panic. Shall we place some bets on which it will be?

Playing Hard to Get Really Does Work

Texas Governor Rick Perry has thus far refused to declare his candidacy for President. However, he’s got a 527 group organized, and he’s got supporters working on the ground in Iowa, even though he will be joining Sarah Palin in NOT being on the ballot there. Then again, he wasn’t on the Ohio ballot either, and he still beat 5 other candidates in the Ohio straw poll last week. In the run-up to the Aug. 13 event at Iowa State University (seen as a make-or-break moment for campaigns including Tim Pawlenty’s), Perry is making sure he goes on the record and gets his message out… in New Hampshire. Referring to his Christian faith in the interview, Perry said “I can no sooner separate my public life from my values — I can't do that.”  Someone should check with Herman Cain to see if that endangers the separation of church and state.

Dangerous “Journalism” Comes full Circle

How damaging is the anti-Muslim sentiment frequently found in right-wing media in the US? Apparently, (and the evidence looks fairly compelling), it’s damaging enough to have influenced Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the Oslo attack who dedicated his atrocious terrorism to protecting Europe from Islam. This is undoubtedly a tragic and sobering moment about the dangers we face from the Islamophobic industry. Worse yet, the anti-Muslim propaganda got internalized by those who spread it, leading many in the media & on the blogosphere to embarrass themselves by jumping the gun in blaming Muslims for the Oslo attack (and reporting it as news) before any evidence even hinted in that direction. It was nice seeing them forced to backtrack though.  And the best scolding for their absurd brand of journalism came from Stephen Colbert who satirically suggested the headlines for the rest of the year should just all read “bad thing happens some place; Muslims involved” while journalists devote the rest of their time to the retractions (it’s a must-watch).

When 140-Characters Say it All

Twitter is great, but it does have its limits; 140-characters to be exact. So when announced that it was going to hold the first-ever Twitter presidential debate for six GOP candidates, some were skeptical. But sometimes what is bad for some may be good for others. For Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, the first-ever twitter debate was monumental. For Bachmann, the debate constituted a rare opportunity to avert any potential word mispronunciations, the conflation of singers with mass murderers, or the delivery of completely false statements. For Herman Cain, the self-professed champion of shortening things that require reading, Twitter could not be a better forum. If he weren’t picked on for the 3-page limit suggestion, Cain’s experience with 140-character limits may have provided his next proposal for Presidential intelligence briefings. By the way, did you notice that we just talked about Herman Cain without alluding to some bizarre anti-Muslim comment he made? That took a lot of restraint on our part!

Change We Can Believe In, But Would Really Rather Not

Last week, the House Foreign Relations Committee was busy inserting incredibly harmful amendments and language – oops, we mean marking up – the Foreign Relations Authorization Act.  More commonly known as the State Department Authorization, HR 2583 was introduced by Chairwoman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and contains such gems as moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, potentially cutting aid to Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen and the Palestinians and so much more.   We won’t say more here because the good news is authorization bills almost never pass the full Congress.  The bad news is that other bills do pass, including appropriation bills and the language that appears in the authorization bill can sometimes be an indicator of what is to come. 

Non-Breaking News: Allen West Still Not Making Sense

Allen West is clearly not having a good week. Not only did he refer to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as “vile, unprofessional, and despicable,” in an email asking her to “shut the heck up,” but he’s also decided to team up with the notoriously racist Citizens for National Security to host a briefing on “Homegrown Jihad in the USA.” While West tries to root out the “infiltration” of the Muslim Brotherhood in America, maybe he can also find the sneaky communists that slipped through Joe McCarthy’s fingers.

Ethan Bronner Clearly Doesn't Understand the Arab Spring

Ethan Bronner, The New York Times’s Chief Middle East Correspondent, is no fan of “advocacy journalism.” But that didn’t stop him from writing a piece last week, “Spirit of Middle East Protests Doesn’t Spare Israel,” about how the democratic tide of the Arab Spring has finally reached Israel, sweeping away the occupation in the name of… oh wait, it’s not about that? Oh, it’s about Israelis who are angry about increasing rent prices? Yeah, I suppose that’s almost the same thing…if we can use the Arab Spring as an umbrella term for any protest about anything, can we have our own Arab Spring to complain about the heat wave in the northeast?

comments powered by Disqus