Posted on October 02, 2012 in Countdown

Netanyahu Saves the Day

When world leaders gather at the UN General Assembly once a year to bestow their wisdom upon us, we huddle up around the TV at the office with high anticipation.  Obama gave a speech that challenged world leaders to combat extremism, and paid a moving tribute to the U.S. Ambassador in Libya who was recently killed, saying, “Today, we must affirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers.” Iran’s Ahmadinejad gave the same old predictable rant that included a reference to the “uncivilized Zionists,” which of course left us completely confused about who Pamela Geller wants us to support. President Abbas brought a long list of legitimate grievances regarding Israel’s obstruction of peace, but he fell short of last year’s epic speech that accompanied the Palestinian bid for UN membership. And just when we were about to give up on the entertainment, Bibi Netanyahu stepped up to the podium, with nothing but a bizarre self-contradicting speech and a cartoonish bomb-drawing that instantly turned into an internet meme, triggering ridicule in the form of hilarious photoshopped renditions and caption competitions. Thanks to Bibi, we can’t say there was nothing to laugh about this time around.

Looking Beyond Big News for Big Emergency Money

Somewhere between celebrating that the Voter ID law won’t go into effect in Pennsylvania this election (yaay), and mourning the surge in warrantless surveillance under President Obama (booo), you may have missed a fascinating story about the Republican and Democratic parties saving money for a potential recount in November (doesn’t that bring back the good old times of Bush v. Gore?). So how much have the Democrats set aside for a potential recount? $54,000, held over since the 2010 election cycle. It’s a hefty amount, for sure, but it is dwarfed by the GOP recount money which, get this, stands right now at $5.29 MILLION. We don’t care who wins, but for the love of God, don’t let it be a close election, because these guys seem serious about dragging us through all of this again.

How Are Arab Americans Feeling About This Election?

Last week, we released the results of our latest poll of Arab American voters, and we found a lot of interesting stuff. While President Obama maintains a substantial lead over Romney among Arab American voters (52% to 28%), Obama’s support among Arab Americans is 15 points lower than what he got back in 2008. There is also a growing number of independents (24%), and 16% are still undecided about this election, which translates into about 100,000 voters in swing states, and those votes are pretty much up for grabs. There is a video of the press conference where we released the results, and the poll has a lot of telling charts about party ID trends over the past couple of decades and other issues that concern Arab Americans most, so we’ll just let you check those out here.

That's Something!

We may have a do-nothing Congress, but that’s only true until someone actually does something. For example, our old friend Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has sponsored new legislation to “make needed reforms to the U.S. refugee resettlement program, with a goal of supporting refugees’ integration into U.S. communities.” The bill calls for strengthening grant programs, streamlining refugee processing, and admitting refugees as lawful permanent residents, all of which should help make sure that refugees are allowed to seek refuge here, and are treated like human beings upon their arrival. You may not have noticed, but things have gone a little pear-shaped in the rest of the world, and no small part of that is our own doing, so this should be a great way to help balance that out; good job Congress! And of course, by Congress, we mean Rep. Ellison, and the three other members of Congress who co-sponsored the bill.

Could the Panderers Be Out of Work?

The re-election of bigotry panderers Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Allen West, and Rep. Steve King, was once thought to be a foregone conclusion. Their fear-mongering garnered them national fame and a windfall of donations to their campaigns. These three representatives are shocked to find out, however, that their constituents care more about constituent services than hateful rhetoric from their members of Congress. Bachmann’s and King’s opponents have each pulled to within the margin of error, and West’s opponent now leads by 9 points. The numbers of ours friends here weren’t only expected to stay the same this election; they were expected to grow, with several new Islamophobic candidates taking early leads in their races. Former Florida State Senator and Geert Wilders fan Adam Hasner is now trailing his opponent. Rising tea party star Gabriela Mercer has seen her lead evaporate since claiming “Middle Easterners” who “look Mexican” are sneaking into the country in order to cause harm to Americans. There is still a month until the election, but it’s now distinctly possible that the ranks of the hate panderers could be drastically diminished in November. Regardless of the outcome, these candidates are learning the hard way that distasteful rhetoric may earn you donations from “crazies” (as Governor Christie likes to call them) around the country, but it doesn’t help if your district is full of reasonable people.

Tomorrow's Debate

Tomorrow night is the first debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The debate will take place at the University of Denver at 9:00pm ET, and will be moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS NewsHour. The subject of the debate will be domestic policy. Depending on which pundit you ask, this debate will change the direction of the race in one direction or the other, or not matter at all (thank you, pundits). Both candidates have been attempting to lower expectations about their debate performance so that any result can be spun as a success. Recent polls and swing state dynamics show President Obama to have a lead, so anything short of a stellar debate performance for Romney will spell trouble for his campaign. In order to beat a calm and cool President Obama, Romney will need to appear to be as comfortable and candid on the debate stage as he does at a secretly-taped fundraiser, and he will have to moderate a debate of sorts between 2008 candidate Obama and 2012 President Obama (there have been a few broken promises alright). In order for Obama to win, he will have to moderate a debate of his own between liberal Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and conservative presidential candidate Mitt Romney (gotta love politics).

Will Torture Make a Comeback?

Foreign Policy magazine released a disturbing poll showing that support for torture, including specific methods such as waterboarding, is actually greater now than it was during the Bush administration. Around the same time this poll was released, the New York Times obtained a Romney campaign internal policy memo, in which Romney’s top advisors urge Mitt to bring back the debate on the morality of torture. If this were to occur, it would likely be on similar terms to Romney’s primary debate with McCain on the subject, in which Romney expressed his support for “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the vaguest possible terms. If Romney takes his strategists’ advice and engages Obama on torture, it is likely to backfire. Regardless of what the foreign policy poll says, dredging up an abandoned, effectually suspect, and morally bankrupt policy of the past is terrible political advice. 

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