Posted on June 12, 2012 in Countdown


Romney's Middle East Policy

Remember Sheldon Adelson? He’s the billionaire who likely turned Newt Gingrich into the token anti-Palestinian candidate of the primaries. Last week, we reported that he had a private meeting with Romney. Well, now we know that he’s giving “at least $1 million — and possibly much more — to the Mitt Romney-affiliated super PAC Restore Our Future.” Sheldon was perhaps encouraged by Romney’s earlier indication that he would turn decision-making on his Israel/Palestine policy over to Israeli leaders. In other (maybe related?) news, senior Romney adviser Richard Williamson told Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that “When Mitt Romney is president, Iran will understand that there is a new sheriff in town,” noting that the military threat against Iran would be more credible (yay war). In a stab at the Obama Administration’s fallout with Netanyahu over settlement expansion, Williamson also said that “in a Romney Administration, an American vice president won’t act like a teenager and keep the elected prime minister of Israel waiting for 45 minutes for dinner, because of a personal pique.” If standing up to Israeli officials when they embarrass American officials or undermine our policy makes one a “teenager,” we’re a little worried about the Romney camp’s conception of maturity.

Unfolding Tragedy in Syria

We know it’s hard to continue hearing about the horrendous developments unfolding in Syria, but it’s not like the tragedy would just go away if we ignored it. After another round of horrific violence this past weekend, Washington policymakers have come down hard on the Syrian regime. Of course, the definition of “hard” can vary quite a bit… Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the violence as “simply unconscionable” and bluntly stated that “Syria will not, cannot be peaceful, stable or certainly democratic until Assad goes.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took a stronger tack, in a Wall Street Journal article calling for the U.S. to “step in and fill key gaps [in] the rebels’ military needs.” Though there’s still quite a gulf between most Republican and Democrat positions on Syria (Rubio accused Obama of “all wishful thinking and no national will”), the violence may be bringing their positions closer together. Let’s just hope that’s a good thing.

Mr. Facebook Unloads on Partisanship

Why is Arab American Congressman Justin Amash known as Mr. Facebook? “Because he uses the social networking site to explain to his constituents every single vote he takes and to speak his mind on various issues.” Last week, Amash took to Facebook to unload on an unusual target: his own party. "When did Republicans start supporting hate-crime legislation?" If you’re confused about why Amash is so worked up about hate-crime legislation, it’s probably because we interrupted the story to check on your confusion level (get your head around that one). Amash went on to vent that it’s “apparently okay if they have to do with a baby's gender but not okay if they have to do with a person's skin color…” Wait, Republicans introduced “hate-crime” legislation in relation to the gender of the unborn? Go on, Justin... “Or maybe they're okay if it's an election year and Republicans are trying to make the President look like he doesn't care about women. I am appalled and outraged that we would take an issue as sacred as life and use it so cynically as a political weapon." Ah! So it’s partisan attacks disguised as concern for our pre-citizens that’s upsetting him. Right on, Amash! If more Republicans and Democrats berated the distractions of partisan politics, we just might get to focus on the real issues we face.

Getting Furious Fast with "Fast and Furious"

Yesterday, Arab American Republican Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa (R-CA), with the backing of John Boehner, threatened to put forward a resolution placing Attorney General Eric Holder “in contempt of Congress.” This is based on the allegation that Holder isn’t turning over all the needed documents for an investigation of the failed “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking program that put thousands of guns in the hands of criminals (oh, the brilliance). And what does the DOJ think about that? Why, they think it’s unwarranted, and a spokesperson said that the Attorney General will remain focused on protecting the country “while Chairman Issa continues to play these political games at the expense of all Americans.” Feisty! According to The Hill, some of the requested documents are under a federal court-ordered seal, “which makes it a federal crime to release them to Issa.”

NYPD Spying Now Facing Lawsuits

With the NYPD virtually inscrutable in New York, New Jersey presented an alternative platform for efforts to constrain the NYPD’s overreach. Recently, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) proposed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar federal funding from going to law enforcement organizations that engage in profiling, and Governor Chris Christie instructed State Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa to investigate whether the NYPD was doing anything illegal. But Rush Holt’s amendment failed, and the AG found nothing wrong with the NYPD’s actions (seriously?). But there is another effort underway in Jersey: Eight individuals are stepping forward (including a Muslim Army Veteran), represented by the California-based legal group Muslim Advocates, to take on the NYPD in a federal lawsuit. On a related note, the Associated Press is also suing a New Jersey Police Department for violating the state’s open-record laws by denying them access to 911 calls and other records related to a 2009 incident. What was the incident? It was when a building superintendent called 911 to report the discovery of a terrorist hide-out in New Jersey, only for us to later discover that it was an undercover operations command center for NYPD spying. We’ll keep you posted on how the lawsuits go.

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