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“Ted Cruz Doesn’t Seem To Mind”: Cruz’s Cozy Ties To DC’s Most Prominent, Paranoid Islamophobe

The top two Republican presidential contenders share more than a star-crossed bromance: They are also both big fans of an Islamophobic birther conspiracy theorist who thinks Huma Abedin is a sleeper agent.

It’s old news that Donald Trump has a thing for Frank Gaffney, who helms the conspiratorial Center for Security Policy. When the reality television star-turned-presidential frontrunner decided we need to temporarily ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States, he cited a methodologically goofy poll from Gaffney’s group suggesting one quarter of the world’s Muslims support global jihad and violence against America.

Though the Trump megaphone probably gave Gaffney more exposure than he’s ever had, Gaffney has friends in other high places as well: namely, the office of Ted Cruz. But Cruz, might have more to lose than his golden-hued frienemy, since his connections to Gaffney highlights just how hard it may be for him to posture as simultaneously mainstream-friendly and die-hard conservative.

In fact, just yesterday Cruz sent a video message to his buddy’s Nevada National Security Action Summit, in which he praised Gaffney without equivocation.

“I’m so sorry I can’t be there in person,” he said in the video, “but I want to thank Frank Gaffney and the entire team at the Center for Security policy for elevating these critical issues.”

“Frank, a patriot, he loves this country, and he is clear-eyed about the incredible threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz added.

Then he said that Loretta Lynch has implemented a “ban on anti-Muslim rhetoric.”

Nope. That didn’t happen.

On the offhand chance you aren’t a long-time Gaffney watcher, a few things about his resume stand out. For starters, he helped push birther conspiracy theories about Obama, writing in 2008 at the Washington Times that “[t]here is evidence Mr. Obama was born in Kenya rather than, as he claims, Hawaii.” He argues that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, is a secret agent for the Muslim Brotherhood.

And he floated that a logo redesign for the Missile Defense Agency “appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo” and was indicative of “submission to Shariah by President Obama and his team.”

Yipes!

On top of that, Gaffney has long argued that Grover Norquist, who heads the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, is secretly working to help Muslim Brotherhood moles infiltrate the U.S. government.

Big if true.

Because of curious statements like those, many mainstream conservatives have tried to banish him from their movement. He lost access to the CPAC mainstage, for example, and in 2012 got disinvited from a weekly off-the-record meeting of D.C. conservative power brokers.

But while everyone else has run away from Gaffney, Cruz has embraced him.

The video in Nevada wasn’t a one-time thing. Cruz also sent a video message to Gaffney’s July 25 New Hampshire National Security Summit, calling the organizer a “good friend.”

In March, Cruz appeared in person at Gaffney’s South Carolina National Security Action Summit—an event that Breitbart News co-sponsored—where he lavished praise on the birther.

“Frank Gaffney, the one and only,” Cruz said at that event, “you are a clarion voice for truth.”

He also appeared in person at Gaffney’s “Defeat Jihad Summit” in February of this year, where he praised his conspiratorial organization.

“This is an important gathering,” Cruz said at that event. “Let me say thank you to the Center for Security Policy for its leadership, for the Secure Freedom Strategy, a comprehensive serious strategy addressing the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”

Secure Freedom Strategy is authored by a group called “The Tiger Team” and calls for identifying the Muslim Brotherhood’s operatives, “overt and covert.”

(Cruz’s team didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether he shared Gaffney’s concerns that Norquist is a covert Muslim Brotherhood operative. We will update this story if we hear back from them.)

On Feb. 6, 2014, he and Gaffney sat next to each other to discuss the dangers of an electromagnetic pulse attack at an event Gaffney’s group sponsored.

On September 8 of this year, he appeared on Gaffney’s radio show and said the Iran deal means “we are at a moment much like Munich in 1938, where allowing homicidal maniacs to acquire the military power to murder millions.” He also joined the show on April 22, 2014.

While Gaffney has found favor with Cruz and Trump, he isn’t buddy-buddy with everyone in the Republican presidential field. In fact, he suggested in 2011 that Chris Christie committed “misprision of treason” by appointing a Muslim lawyer, Sohail Mohammed, to the New Jersey Superior Court of Passaic County.

“Mr. Mohammed’s work for the American Muslim Union (AMU), an organization with close ties to Hamas, is what concerns Mr. Gaffney, not his religion,” emailed Alex VanNess, a spokesperson for the Center for Security Policy. “During an interview with Andy McCarthy on his book, Mr. Gaffney simply asked Mr. McCarthy if appointing a person with ties to such a terrorist group amounted to ‘misprision of treason.’”

Cruz and Trump aren’t the only 2016 contenders to legitimize Gaffney. Carly Fiorina sent a video message to the group’s most recent event, and Rick Santorum spoke at its South Carolina summit. But the Texan, by far, has done the most to consistently and publicly praise a guy who thinks Grover Norquist is a secret Muslim spy.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, December 15, 2015

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Frank Gaffney, GOP Presidential Candidates, Islamophobia | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Being Mrs. Carlos Danger”: Subjected To A Storm Of Contempt

As America basks in the comedic glow cast by Anthony Weiner’s dirty little keyboard, made so hilarious by Weiner’s use of the online pseudonym “Carlos Danger,” many are asking, what about Huma? That Weiner is a dirtball is pretty clear to all at this point, and given that a year after he had left Congress over the first incarnation of the sexting scandal he was still playing these games suggests something compulsive about the behavior. An ordinary person, particularly one who wanted to stage an eventual political comeback, would say, “OK, I had my fun, but now I’ve been caught and humiliated—no more of that.” But who the hell knows what was going on in his head? Maybe the possibility of getting caught was the whole thrill.

If you want to read the texts, they’re here. My absolute favorite is when, in the midst of all the Penthouse Forum dirty talk, Weiner sends this plaintive text to his digital paramour: “I’m deeply flawed.” You can say that again, Carlos.

Huma Abedin is just the latest in a long line of women who had to stand before the press while their husbands discussed their betrayal. Each one handled it differently—Elizabeth Edwards was supportive in front of the cameras but raged at John privately, Jenny Sanford dumped Mark like a rock—but as Garance Franke-Ruta notes, if we assume Weiner and Abedin are telling the truth that she’s known about Sexting II: Sext Harder for a while, then they had prepared for this moment for some time.

I didn’t find much wrong in the statement she gave; it was blunt about how difficult it was for her to stay married to Weiner, said in the end their marriage is private, and expressed her belief in his political career. In other words, it was exactly what you’d expect. What was she going to do, slap him across the face in front of the cameras? I’ve seen many people react negatively toward Abedin’s statement (here’s an exception), which I think isn’t so much about what she said at the press conference but more a reaction to the fact that she hasn’t packed her bags. We can all say, “How can she stay with him?”, particularly when the two of them were posing for People magazine talking about all the progress they’d made at the same time he was starting up a new online relationship. The trouble is that it’s hard to find a good reason Abedin would stick with this. Is being the mayor’s wife really that great?

And that may be the most despicable thing about what Weiner did. Not just that he betrayed Huma in this way but that he asked her to accompany him on his mission to become mayor of New York, all the while taking this enormous risk that would not only put that bid in jeopardy but also mean that at some point, she’d have to come before the cameras and do what she did. Forcing his wife into that public humiliation, even knowing it would inevitably subject her to a storm of contempt, was, for him, worth the price of Carlos Danger having his fun (or feeding his addiction, or however you want to think about it).

It can’t be said too often that none of us knows what goes on between them or what is in her head. But I picture Huma going down to the basement every night, where there’s a punching bag on a chain; she puts on the gloves and goes to town, eyes narrowed, teeth clenched, sweat pouring down her face. The sound of her punches echoes up the stairs to where Anthony sits reading campaign memos, each thwack a reproach that he knows he should feel worse about than he does. After a while she climbs the stairs, panting, and stops in the doorway to stare at the back of his head. Knowing her eyes are on him, he turns and puts on a smile. “Good workout?” he asks. She pauses an extra second before answering, just to let him know she knows how full of it he is. “Yes.” Then she turns and heads for the shower, while he lets out a big sigh and returns to his computer.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 24, 2013

July 25, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Viciousness Is Over”: Michele Bachmann Wasn’t Funny, She Was Awful

I used to think Michele Bachmann was hilarious, and so did you: I know because you clicked the blog posts that I wrote about her. It didn’t matter what she did. She could make a funny face, pronounce a word incorrectly, pronounce a word correctly—the traffic would always come. She provided a constant fix of comical escapism that readers loved. Like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann was always a sure success.

It became part of the daily routine: Post a 20-second clip of Michele Bachmann saying something silly, secure ten trillion page views, then work on a lengthier piece with actual value that five or six people would read. Many young political writers were able to have their jobs because traffic was heavily subsidized by Michele Bachmann saying something weird at a barbecue in Ames or whatever, everyday.

Many commentators will miss her for this reason. James Carville, for one, called her retirement announcement a “sad day.” Who will deliver the funnies now? Texas Representative Louie Gohmert, Carville suggested. We’ve still got Gohmert. 

Yeah, I don’t know. It’s difficult to call Bachmann’s retirement a “sad” event right now, even with tongue in cheek. Face it: The show had been getting less and less worth watching in recent seasons. Almost entirely infuriating, really, if worth caring about at all. Let’s not remember Michele Bachmann as the goof she got away with portraying for so many years, while she was really doing so much damage. Her “legacy,” which, hope against hope, will eventually prove nil, was a very nasty, egomaniacal one, rife with smears and dark innuendo. The harm she caused to the political culture far outweighs the lift of a daily laugh. Peak Bachmann coincided with her political career’s high-water mark—that period in the summer of 2011, when she briefly led the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, before collapsing. Inflated, perhaps, by her success, she began to flaunt her uglier beliefs. Bachmann’s tumble from the top (which would have happened over one thing or another, eventually) accelerated into free fall during an early September 2011 debate, when she attacked fellow eventual loser Rick Perry over his 2007 gubernatorial mandate for all sixth-grade Texas girls be vaccinated against HPV. There were legitimate angles to work here—Perry’s close ties with a lobbyist from Merck, the pharmaceutical company that made the HPV vaccine Gardasil. She made that point during the debate. Afterwards, however, she went on television to describe her encounter with a woman in the audience:

“She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter,” Bachmann said. “There is no second chance for these little girls if there is any dangerous consequences to their bodies.”

Repeating this without qualification wasn’t just sloppy; it was pernicious and wholly inappropriate. Medical professionals are constantly working to swat back such rumors that embed in the mind quickly and are difficult to erase. And here was a presidential candidate, bizarrely trusted by a not insignificant number of parents, voicing it as truth on national television. That’s not stupidity, or whimsy, or comical ineptness. It’s viciousness. This was the year of the debt ceiling crisis, as well. Perhaps you remember it? It was that fantastic time when Congress considered arbitrarily destroying the credit of the United States and, along with it, the entire global economy, all because Republican politicians thought it would be too much of a hassle to explain what the debt ceiling was to their constituents. (Or, in a scary number of cases, to learn what it was themselves.) Michele Bachmann was a prominent player in that group. And even after the crisis had passed, at the non-fatal but still very avoidable cost of an S&P downgrade of U.S. debt, Bachmann was still out there, explaining to America that she had witnessed the crisis and proudly learned no lessons from it:

“I think we just heard from Standard & Poor’s. When they dropped—when they dropped our credit rating, what they said is, we don’t have an ability to repay our debt. That’s what the final word was from them. I was proved right in my position: We should not have raised the debt ceiling. And instead, we should have cut government spending, which was not done. And then we needed to get our spending priorities in order.”

And so she pledged repeatedly to never sign a debt ceiling hike if she were elected president. To call this position of hers, or her personally, stupid, would have let this off the hook too easily. What if she wasn’t? What if she was just awful? Her most egregious move may have come last summer, when she smeared Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin as being in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood’s perceived attempts to infiltrate “the highest reaches of the federal government.” Her evidence was … limited. She relied upon lunatic sources like Frank Gaffney, who likely checks for Muslims under his bed each night before going to sleep. Per Salon:

In case Abedin hasn’t already been through enough already, Bachmann is now questioning her loyalty to the U.S. by asserting that Abedin has three family members who are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood (Abedin is Muslim). She’s been targeted before by anti-Muslim activists, and Bachmann notes that Abedin’s position “affords her routine access to the Secretary and to policy-making.” Bachmann also claims the state has “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.”

At some point in the last year, the voters in Bachmann’s district decided that maybe they would be better served by an alternate member of Congress. She won with only 50.4 percent of the vote in 2012, and now, facing a more difficult rematch for 2014, Bachmann is choosing to make the exit on her grounds. Nevertheless, she managed to win a whole four terms to the House of Representatives. What many laughed at for the early years were the same things that others took as reasons to support her candidacies.

Maybe it’s because I no longer have the pleasure of scrambling to meet traffic quotas each day, but right now, I see no cheeky reasons to mourn Bachmann’s loss from public service. She’s not funny anymore. She’s only terrible. Louie Gohmert isn’t funny anymore. Chuck Grassley’s Twitter isn’t funny anymore. Sarah Palin isn’t funny anymore. (Okay, she was sort of funny at CPAC.) If you never thought any of these sure-things were ever even slightly funny, consider our caps doffed. And join us in being content to see that for Bachmann, it’s all over.

 

By: Jim Newell, The New Republic, May 29, 2013

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“With Friends Like This”: Michele Bachmann Still Has Access To Our Nation’s Top Secrets

Here are just a few of the people who have publicly condemned Rep. Michele Bachmann’s work on the House Intelligence Committee in the past year — from her own party: The GOP’s most prominent voice on foreign policy, the speaker of the House, the party’s leading 2016 presidential candidate, and the chairman of that very committee.

Then there was the epic eye roll that White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennnan, who was recently tapped to lead the CIA, delivered when asked about Bachmann. “I’m not even going to try to divine what it is that sometimes comes out of Congress,” he said with a laugh.

The rebukes followed Bachmann’s neo-McCarthyite witch hunt against Muslims in the federal government, for she feared “deep penetration” by Muslim Brotherhood agents. One suspect included Huma Abedin, a top aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who it turned out was not a terrorists and happened to be beloved by members of both parties.

While the witch hunt was surprising, the fact that Bachmann would use her perch on the Intelligence Committee to do something stupid was entirely predictable. This is Michele Bachmann, after all, who sees conspiracy theories everywhere and for whom the word “intelligence” is rarely used in the same sentence without the addition of a negative qualifier.

And yet, Bachmann has now officially been reappointed to her seat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. On Friday, House Republicans released their list of committee members for the nascent 113th Congress, and Bachmann’s name is on it. The post gives her access to classified information and the power to oversee the country’s intelligence agencies, including the use of drones and efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program.

And if that’s not enough, two of her co-conspirators, Reps. Lynn Westmoreland and Tom Rooney, will retain their seats on the committee as well. Westmoreland and Rooney, along with Reps. Louie Gohmert and Trent Franks, signed on to Bachmann’s letters to the inspectors general of five national security agencies demanding investigations into alleged Muslim Brotherhood penetration.

(Incidentally, security breaches are not really the domain of inspectors general, who deal more with budgetary and administrative impropriety. Counter-intelligence agents would be the more appropriate choice if Bachmann were actually concerned about infiltration and not using the campaign to boost her fundraising and reelection bid.)

That means that most of Bachmann’s anti-Muslim cabal remains on the Intelligence Committee, representing a quarter of the 12 GOP members of the group. The only new member, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, replaces Rep. Sue Myrick, who had one of the most notoriously anti-Muslim records in Congress before resigning last year. Pompeo may not be much better.

Why is Bachmann getting another round on a committee she probably has no business being on? We can’t know for sure, but probably because immediate domestic political concern trumps foreign policy competence every time, especially if you’re John Boehner.

In July, the National Review’s Robert Costa reported that “many senior House GOP aides were wary of elevating” Bachmann to the Intel Committee at the time of her appointment, but “Boehner assured them that it was an appropriate gesture.” After losing her presidential race, the seat was “a political lifeline” for Bachmann and it was all thanks to Boehner, Costa explained.

The uproar over the Abedin affair threatened to undo all of that, but apparently was not enough. Either Boehner is scared of taking on Bachmann and her vast grass-roots network of admirers, or he’d rather appease her and tap into that political power. Either way, he’s choosing to keep her in a position of power over national security, despite calling her views “dangerous” only a few months ago.

And it’s all the more surprising considering that Boehner had no problem culling a number of other high-profile Tea Party members from plum committee posts last month, in what became known as the “Tea Party purge.”

 

BY: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, February 11, 2013

February 12, 2013 Posted by | National Security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Having Clearly Learned Nothing”: Michele Bachmann Keeps Seat On House Intelligence Committee

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) will remain a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the 113th Congress — despite leading a widely discredited anti-Muslim witch hunt against government personnel last year.

According to the committee list released Friday, Bachmann will stay on the powerful committee despite calls from People for the American Way and others for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to remove her. Instead, Boehner in his statement making the announcement praised the lawmakers “charged sacred task of supporting that mission by ensuring the intelligence community has the resources and tools it needs to stay ahead of the evolving threats we face, and by conducting effective oversight of the administration.”

Dismay towards Bachmann’s continuing presence on the committee stems from her use of that position to lead a witch-hunt against then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin and other U.S. government personnel. In the letter sent to the State Department, Bachmann suggested that Abedin and others were allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, seeking to infiltrate the U.S. government and affect policy decisions. The charges were clearly false, based mostly on the conspiracy theories of noted Islamophobe Frank Gaffney.

Bachmann’s actions split the Republican Party, with several prominent members — including former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton — signing onto her conspiracies. Many other Republicans — including Boehner himself — abandoned Bachmann to her quixotic pursuit of imaginary infiltration. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), then-Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and others joined President Obama and Clinton in condemning Bachmann’s scare tactics.

Joining Bachmann in being renamed to the committee are Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), who signed onto the original letter sent to State about Abedin. The clearly Islamophobic stances of these committee members makes their position on the committee, with its oversight of the National Security Agency and CIA’s activities, particularly troubling.

Bachmann in particular clearly learned nothing from her experience smearing Abedin. Not only did she stand by the content of her letter to State, as recently as December, but she also compared a letter from a Muslim advocacy group to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

 

By: Hayes Brown, Think Progress, February 8, 2013

February 9, 2013 Posted by | Islamophobia | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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