Posted on August 07, 2012 in Countdown

Romney Draws A Line Somewhere (Yay!)

We occasionally give Romney a hard time because his attempts at “out-pro-Israeling” President Obama make him say terrible things sometimes, like when he suggested Israelis were culturally superior to their Palestinian neighbors (which elicited an interesting response from Bill Clinton). But to give credit where credit is due, Romney is no puppet of extremist wealthy donors like Sheldon Adelson. As reported in the Daily Beast, Adelson has been pressing Romney to call for the release of Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy serving a life sentence for passing U.S. secrets to Israel. He also asked “Romney to state publicly that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are a waste of time because the Palestinians are unwilling to make peace.” Romney has rejected both requests, saying for the first one that he would have to “review the relevant intelligence material accessible to him as president” before taking action on Pollard. We should all be happy that Romney draws the line somewhere.

Reid Kicks the Hornets' Nest

Last week, Harry Reid made the explosive accusation, based on an unnamed source, that Mitt Romney hadn't paid any taxes over the last 10 years. Romney fired back saying: "it's time for Harry to put up or shut up." When Reid did neither, Romney's senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom went a step further, describing Reid's comments as "shameful, pathetic, baseless and untrue." But, still, Reid wasn't backtracking, so RNC Chairman went even further, describing Harry Reid as a "dirty liar" (whoa!). Is it possible that he thinks he went too far with that one? "I'll triple down on my comments from yesterday." Ok, it’s not possible. Well, Nancy Pelosi came to Reid’s defense, saying “Harry Reid made a statement that is true. Somebody told him… Whether [Romney] did or not can easily be disposed of: Mitt Romney can release his tax returns and show whether he paid taxes." It's not clear whether the Republicans are reacting so harshly because they're upset by what they see as a damaging attack by Reid, or whether they're just taking the opportunity to slam him for making unsubstantiated charges. We’ll find out which of the two it is if we get to see Romney’s records one day.

Indefinite Disappointment

When President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), civil rights groups were alarmed by section 1021 of the Act, or the "Homeland Battlefield" provisions, which allow for the indefinite military detention (without charge or trial) of American citizens suspected of terrorism. We gave the Administration a hard time when the Act first passed. But we were relieved when a Manhattan federal court judge, ruling in favor of plaintiffs that included former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges, issued an injunction back in May preventing the government from enforcing the troubling provisions. Well, federal prosecutors are now appealing the judge’s order, trying to get the power to indefinitely detain people again. That’s more “drone-style” due process from the Administration for ya!

Games of the 30th Pandering Olympiad

Over the past few weeks Michele Bachmann has been auditioning for the part of General Ripper in a Dr. Stangelove remake. Michele Bachmann’s McCarthyite witch-hunt presented a clear opportunity for public officials to either show leadership or pander to the Islamophobic sentiment.  AAI has been following the developments and, this week, published a new edition of its “Leadership or Pandering” series that grades public officials’ responses to the unfounded attacks on Arab American and American Muslim public servants. An encouraging number of politicians and public figures condemned these specific attacks, including many prominent members of Bachmann’s own party. Others went above and beyond to condemn the Islamophobic underpinnings of the allegations. Still others, maybe inspired by the Olympics, performed impressive feats of mental and moral gymnastics to avoid having to take a stand. A select few disappointments defended Bachmann’s attacks, but none quite so spectacularly as Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Gingrich claimed that Bachmann was “just asking questions,” so apparently you can say whatever slanderous nonsense you want as long as it ends with a question mark. Gingrich may be on to something here, which raises the question: did Gingrich tell Harry Reid that Romney paid no taxes over the last 10 years in order to get back at the Governor for defeating him in the primaries? We’re just asking questions.

Tragedy in Wisconsin

We were shocked and saddened to hear about the tragic shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin over the weekend. Our hearts go out to the victims of the shooting and their families. In the wake of this horrific incident, the nation is asking questions about the shooter, Army veteran Wade Michael Page, who had links to white supremacist groups and whose military file included “patterns of misconduct.” When a Department of Homeland Security report warned in 2009 of the terrorism threat posed by “disgruntled veterans” and white supremacists, the report was blasted by some politicians who preferred to focus on Muslim terrorists. As recent events demonstrated yet again, threats to public safety can come from many sources and against many targets. While it is, of course, impossible to sponsor heavy security presence at every place of worship, movie theater, or busy venue throughout the country, terrible events like the Wisconsin shooting remind us of the need to allocate our law enforcement resources more smartly instead of wasting them on ethnic and religious profiling.

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