Posted on June 13, 2011 in Countdown

With the 2012 election a mere 512 days away, we are re-launching Countdown in time for tonight's Republican primary debate on CNN in New Hampshire. Even though the debate won’t include all the delightful candidates polling below 2%, we’ll try not to be as elitist as CNN is accused of being but we are still launching our 2012 coverage with the first debate that people from Washington care about.

Read it and let us know what you think. And even better, feel free to drop us an email with items we should include in future editions of Countdown.

GOPers Step Up
Shattering anticipations, likely presidential candidates Mitch Daniels (the fiscally responsible Arab American), Mike Huckabee (the apocalyptic religious leader), and Donald Trump (the carnival barker) all announced they weren’t running. But last week, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney announced they are running for President, joining Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Fred Karger, and Gary Johnson. Arab American Comedian Dean Obeidallah, a member of “Comics for Palin”  is urging Sarah Palin to run in order to provide comedians with better material, but she has yet to announce (fingers crossed).

Weiner Acknowledged His Photos, But Still Denies the Undeniable
After initial denials spiced up with a bit of his infamous temper, Congressman Anthony Weiner finally acknowledged that he was responsible for accidentally tweeting a lewd photo of himself to a woman who is not his wife. This came after the release of several lewd photos that left no dispute over the identity of the man in action. In a press conference held last Monday, Weiner admitted to having sexually-charged online relationships (chats, photo exchanges...etc.) with 6 different women, and apologized to his wife, his constituents, and members of the media. What Weiner has yet to admit, however, is the existence of the Israeli occupation over the Palestinian territories. Weiner has repeatedly denied that the West Bank or Gaza were under occupation, including as late as this past March. This all leaves us wondering, would Weiner hold a press conference and apologize for previously denying the occupation if we leaked photos of it to the media? Or would he have to tweet one of his own first?

Got Constitution?
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report explaining in detail why the efforts of Islamophobes to single out Sharia for banning in various states are unconstitutional. This comes after the paranoia (if not flat out hysteria) about the imaginary threat of Sharia imposition has spread to presidential candidates, with Herman Cain cautioning that “the Muslims of this country… some of them [notice the backtracking], try to force their Sharia law [sic] onto the rest of us.” Cain was recently saved by Glenn Beck when he failed to come up with a coherent defense of his earlier comments about refusing to hire Muslims to his cabinet.

John Boehner – Peacenik?
Capitalizing on growing disillusion with the Libyan intervention, John Boehner successfully passed a resolution in the House of Representatives on June 3 to “transmit to the House of Representatives a report describing in detail United States security interests and objectives” in Libya. Boehner, who has been unapologetic in his support for the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, appears to have suddenly become “weary about the amount of money that is being spent,” never mind that operations in Libya cost 80% less than the Iraq occupation, and have resulted in no American casualties.

USCRI Campaigns to Help Arabs in America
The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has launched a campaign to grant Temporary Protected Status to Syrians, Libyans, and Yemenis currently residing in the United States. TPS allows foreign nationals currently in the U.S. to extend their stay when faced with imminent violence in their home countries, and is currently in place for citizens of Haiti and El Salvador. Despite the fact that TPS does not affect anyone’s long term immigration status, and does not contribute to permanent residency, USCRI has already begun to feel the heat from anti-immigration groups. You can support the campaign by sending a letter to Secretary of State Janet Napolitano.

Bigoted Policy Pursuits
Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA) stated publicly on more than one occasion that “Arabian” looking individuals and people in “Arabian Dress” need to be profiled by the TSA at Airport security checkpoints (Brilliant plan! What will terrorists wear if they knew their dresses will be profiled? They’ll just have to cancel their plots). Despite testimonies from a number of law enforcement experts at hearings - at which Broun, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, was present - refuting the efficacy of profiling, Broun continues to be a proponent of the fundamentally flawed policy. The Congressman’s diction denotes a lack of fundamental knowledge of Arab culture and constitutes a refusal to heed the advice of national security experts, all in the interests of pushing a bigoted approach to national security. You stay classy, Representative Broun!

An Arab Earful
Upon returning from a week-long trip to the Middle East, AAI President Jim Zogby details Arab responses to Obama and Netanyahu’s dueling speeches on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On American leadership, Zogby said Arabs “were already disappointed, now most have given up." Zogby met with numerous heads of state, opinion leaders, and young activists on his trip who he said gave him an “earful” on Obama and Netanyahu’s most recent speeches on the region. The dueling messages put forth by both leaders on the 1967 boarders and skewed congressional support for Netanyahu’s refusal to adhere to such preconditions continue to perpetuate doubt in Arab opinion.