Michele Bachmann re-enters the political fray with accusations against prominent Muslims in public life

July 24, 2012

Michele Bachmann  has accused  [Democratic] Representative Keith Ellison, of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group she says is seeking “America’s demise.”

A report in the Boston Herald outlines the emerging story:

Ellison, a Muslim whose congressional district borders Bachmann’s, said Friday that he saw Bachmann’s remarks less as a personal attack than as a broadside against Muslims in public life. Earlier in the week he had criticized Bachmann for similar allegations against Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  

Ellison said of Bachmann, “I knew when I raised the issue of her unfounded accusations of disloyalty that sooner or later she was going to get around to accusing me. I will say for the record that her allegations are false.”

He pointed out that Ms Abedin would have had to pass rigorous background checks to obtain the security clearances needed for her position.  If Bachmann’s allegations are not challenged, he noted “there literally could be no Muslim who could hold a position of responsibility in government.”

A growing wave of negative reaction has emerged from within Bachmann’s own party, beginning with Senator  John McCain, who took to the Senate floor [Wednesday 18th July 2012] to defend Abedin.

Bachmann sits on the House Intelligence Committee, a post she has cited in an attempt to give heft to her allegations. But that committee’s chairman told USA Today that Bachmann’s remarks about the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration efforts are false.  With Republicans distancing themselves from Bachmann’s remarks, many Democrats have stayed on the side lines, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said:

“New immigrants to America have always faced a wave of ignorance and discrimination.  I would have hoped that this type of discourse no longer existed in our country, but clearly we have more educating to do with respect to what America is about.”

 

A few Bachmann defenders argue that the political storm represents an overabundance of political correctness.

Ironic

 

As happens in politics, attacks invite counter-attacks.  US TODAY correspondent DeWayne Wickham addressed an irony he found in the story:

After she dropped out of the GOP presidential race following her [poor] showing in the Iowa caucus, [Bachmann] was granted Swiss citizenship [in May 2012]. Because her husband has Swiss parents, she could have obtained Swiss citizenship in 1978, the year of her marriage.

Why did she wait 34 years? Bachmann said through a spokesperson after the story was broken by a Swiss broadcaster, that her children  “wanted to exercise their eligibility for dual-citizenship, so they went through the process as a family.”

Two days later, Bachmann renounced her Swiss citizenship. “I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America, and I am a proud American citizen. I am, and always have been, 100% committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America,” Bachmann said in a statement.

In other words, Bachmann didn’t want her followers to see in her what she so often claims to have discovered in others: a lack of commitment to the country of their birth. By this, I don’t mean those who hold dual citizenship are less American. But I suspect Bachmann realized she would have a hard time explaining her shared citizenship to the people who back her attacks on those who are not thought to be American enough.

What goes round comes round

Or, in a dirty fight everyone gets muddy. At election times,  attacks on opponents are part of the spectacle.  But there is much to learn from military wisdom that attackers should always consider the possibility of leaving a hostage to fortune in the hands of the enemy, which could lead to personal disadvantage.

 

 

 


Mubarak watch

February 5, 2011

The events of political turmoil in Egypt in the first two weeks of February 2011 are followed and evaluated for lessons of leadership and the management of change

Saturday February 11th Mubarak is gone. For Egypt there will now be a lengthy period in which the speed of change slows. Mubarak watch concludes. For status reports see
The Los Angeles Times
Aljazera
The Guardian/Observer

Friday February 10th

Friday mid-afternoon. Mubarak’s resignation announced. Much more to follow.

Mr Suleiman said Mr Mubarak had handed power to the high command of the armed forces.
“In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he said.

Thursday evening, the world’s media turned to Tahrir Square. News was the Mubarak would speak to the nation to announce his resignation. Crowds expecting victory. Then dismay as Mubarak offers little. Confusion. Anger. “God help Israel now ” one commentator remarked. Fears for the next 24 hours.

Thursday February 9th

Intelligent discussion on BBC’s Newsnight. Historians plus activist spokesperson from Cairo. Lessons from history: revolutions result in emergence of ‘the strong leader’. Overnight, news of further initiatives, strikes in various parts of Egypt said to be ‘spontaneous’. Newsnight tested proposition that the protest could not bring down the Mubarak regime. Not easy to reduce to a logical proposition. Practically, Mubarak authority has been seriously and irrevocably damaged. He has lost unconditional support of his powerful ally the United States.

Wednesday February 8th Overnight view is broadly that there had been renewed efforts (if only in numbers) by the protestors in Cairo yesterday. Worth checking on the country-wide situation. A wikileaks view assembled by The New York Times mostly confirms what has been written about Mubarak’s negotiaons for US aid in return for his claimed ‘stong’ policies maintaining peace in the region. He viewed the removal of Saddam as a huge mistake which he believed made his own continued rule even more critical.
Tuesday February 8th In search of a leader? Aljazeera reports freeing of Google executive Wael Ghonim, whose facebook page has been considered to have triggered off the protests in Cairo.

Monday February 7th Overnight news indicates that the situation in Cairo has reached an impasse. The New York Times suggests it presents a dilemma for the Obama regime. Stock exchange opening has been postponed for 24 hours, as the government attempts to sell $2.5bn in short-term debt.

Sunday February 6th Muslim brotherhood in talks. Aljazeera suggests these to be ‘critical’ to next stage of events in Egypt. US sends mixed messages regarding the need for Mubarak to oversee a smooth transition of power. Brief opening of banks reminds us of the financial crisis running with the political one.

Saturday Feb 5th Yesterday’s ‘day of departure’ is now evaluated as no clear tipping point. Around 100,000 rather than a million people were reported around Tahrir Square. The possiblity of a longer struggle is now firming up.

One of the leaders of the protesters, George Ishaq of the Kifaya (Enough) movement, told the BBC they intend reduce their presence in Tahrir Square, holding big demonstrations on Tuesdays and Fridays.
“Protesters will remain in Tahrir Square on all days of the week,” he said on Friday [4th Feb, 2011]. “But each Friday, there will be a demonstration like today.”

Friday Feb 4th This was the day announced in advance as the day when a million protesters would symbolically end the Mubarak regime. But the tone of reporting of a few days earlier has been somewhat muted. There is greater concern that there is more of a temporary condition of stalemate.

Another voice was raised in support of Mubarak, President Berlusconi of Italy, himself facing a struggle to survive politically. Like Tony Blair he considers the merits that stability of regime has brought to the wider Middle East.

Feb 3rd Situation is confused. Voice of America suggests that the Pro-Mubarak forces are gaining ground. The BBC however reports gains by the opposition demonstrators. What is clear that there have been fatalities acknowledged. Prime Minster Ahmed Shafiq broadcast an apology for the fighting, which has killed nine and wounded hundreds and promised an investigation. Tomorrow is the scheduled ‘day of a million protestors’.

Feb 2nd Reports a few days ago were talking of repid removal of the President from power. Now the tone is of more organized efforts to resist the revolutionary forces concentrated in Cairo. Jeremy Bowen of the BBC described events

Since I arrived a week ago I have seen no significant demonstrations for President Mubarak. But from the morning there were thousands of his supporters on Cairo’s streets, mobilised presumably by the ruling party, the NDP. The pro-Mubarak demonstrations were well organised, not spontaneous. Numbered buses unloaded supporters. Many placards looked as if they had been made by professional sign writers. Their opponents claim that they are paid to demonstrate. For an authoritarian leader like Hosni Mubarak, the sight of so many people in Tahrir Square calling for his removal must have been deeply humiliating. He will have wanted to reassert his authority over his capital city – and his supporters were given the job.