Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

Endorse This: Ted Cruz’s Islamophobic Foreign Policy Advisor Is Worried About Electromagnetic Pulses

The terrible attacks in Brussels early this morning underscore just how important an even-handed approach to foreign policy is. If the U.S. were to be attacked under similar circumstances — as we have been — it’s crucial that our leaders don’t respond in a way that rewards the terrorists: namely, by falling into crazed conspiracy theories and religious scapegoating.

That’s why Ted Cruz’s response yesterday to a question from Wolf Blitzer about his advisor, Frank Gaffney, is so troubling.

I wrote about Gaffney a few days ago, when Cruz first revealed that he was a foreign policy advisor. In short, Gaffney is at the root of some incredible fear-mongering about Islam and terrorism, and imagining him in the ear of Ted Cruz — who, let’s face it, probably shares most of his beliefs anyway — is terrifying.

When confronted with Gaffney’s theories — that Saddam Hussein was connected to the Oklahoma City bombings, that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the darkest corners of American government — Cruz refused to disavow his advisor, insisting instead that Blitzer was playing “gotcha” journalism. Remember, that’s the phrase Sarah Palin invented when she wouldn’t admit that she didn’t read newspapers.

Then, Cruz pivots: Gaffney’s too busy for conspiracy theories, apparently, because his schedule is all booked “leading the effort” looking into the dangers of an “electromagnetic pulse.” That is, a nuclear bomb detonated over major U.S. cities that would fry the electrical grid and kill millions.

I’ll try to list every problem in Cruz’s response, but we don’t have all day.

First, in order for an EMP to be used against the U.S., whoever was using it would have to have access to both ballistic missiles — most likely, intercontinental ballistic missiles — and nuclear weapons. They’re the same as nuclear weapons, in this regard. And we’ve spent decades keeping tabs on and accounting for the rest of the world’s nuclear capabilities.

Cruz is right on one point: plenty of people talk about the danger of EMPs. They’re just mostly survivalists and conspiracy theorists. Speculation about EMPs spiked during the debate over the Iran deal, but using them to emphasize the threat of nuclear attack has been around for a long time. Plenty of public figures have preceded Cruz’s unreasonable obsession, mostly to make President Obama look weak and ignorant: Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Glenn Beck, and others.

In fact, it was none other than Frank Gaffney who alerted Beck to the dangers of an EMP. He immediately followed, at the time, with a warning: “Listen to what the Iranians are telling you: Not only that they think that taking us out is achievable, but also, 2012 is the year that Mahdi will return.”

“Mahdi,” or Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdī, is an apocalyptic figure whose return alongside Jesus, according to many Muslims’ beliefs, will signal the end times.

Remember: Just like he is on electromagnetic attack, Gaffney is an expert on Islam.

And actually: We do plan for attacks such as an EMP attack — thousands of people in our national defense apparatus make careers thinking about possible ways the United States and its crucial infrastructure could be attacked. You never hear about EMP attacks on their own because that would mean we were under nuclear attack as well. EMP attacks make the specter of nuclear war even more terrifying, but if such a nuclear attack were to happen, the electromagnetic affects might be a secondary concern to, I don’t know, global nuclear winter.

In short: Cruz ducked a question about his conspiratorially racist foreign policy advisor by pointing out that advisor is spending all of his time worrying about hypothetical threats that, in all reality, he would be better off shelving to continue his investigations into the Muslim Brotherhood. Blabbering about EMPs isn’t a acceptable response to your foreign policy advisor’s McCarthyism. It’s not even a viable foreign policy response. At best, it’s a good way to sell gold on Fox late a night.

Video: Crooks and Liars.

Endorse This: Ted Cruz’s Own Joseph McCarthy

Have an idea for our next Endorse This? Tweet @nationalmemo with the hashtag #EndorseThis and we may use it in our next newsletter!

Yesterday, Ted Cruz reminded the political world that, in any other election year, he would be the subject of myriad editorials by sensible people running around with their hair on fire. Yesterday, Ted Cruz released the names of his foreign policy advisors.

Trump’s free media advantage has diverted some well-deserved scrutiny away from Cruz this election cycle. On everything from reproductive rights to foreign policy, Cruz represents the type of insurgent, fundamentalist Tea Partier that relishes government dysfunction as a matter of federal policy, and intrusive moralism at the state and local level.

When it comes to Cruz’s worldview, one confidant in particular stands out as an especially egregious source of advice: Frank Gaffney.

The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Gaffney “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes.” Donald Trump cited an extremely shady poll from Gaffney’s anti-Islam think tank, the Center for Security Policy, to support his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

Gaffney was behind allegations that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s family had “extensive personal and family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.” In fact, Gaffney’s been making similar claims — that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the United States government — for years. Call it his own brand of McCarthyism.

This video a bit of a throwback for #EndorseThis, but Cruz’s endorsement of Gaffney’s ideology deserves a deep historical treatment. Here’s Gaffney in 2011, alongside CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and Suhail A. Khan, a conservative American Muslim on whom Gaffney proceeds to unload his Muslim Brootherhood Infiltration schtick.

To those waiting for a brokered convention in hopes that Ted Cruz will prevent Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination, Gaffney should complicate things. Donald Trump is an oaf. But judging from his choice in foreign policy advisors, Ted Cruz isn’t much better.

This Week In Crazy: Michele Bachmann Is Very Disappointed In Jewish-Americans, And The Rest Of The Worst Of The Right

Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the wildest attacks, conspiracy theories, and other loony behavior from the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Pat Robertson

Noted scientist Pat Robertson checks in at number five, for counseling a woman who wrote in to his 700 Club program on Wednesday that her friend should feel free to marry her first cousin — as long as she speaks to a genetic counselor first.

You may think that this is uncharacteristically sensitive advice from the conservative televangelist. You’d be wrong.

“There’s nothing in the Bible that says you can’t marry your first cousin,” Robertson counseled. But there are risks.

“You don’t want to have some mongoloid child,” he added.

Noting his co-host’s disapproval, Robertson quickly backtracked, acknowledging “I shouldn’t say Mongol.”

No, Pat. No you shouldn’t.
4. Steve Deace

Steve Deace

Right-wing commentator Steve Deace pulled off an impressive Tea Party double play on Monday, when he managed to combine two of the far-right’s favorite topics into one absurd conspiracy theory.

Writing in the Washington Times, Deace raged at the attention that openly gay NFL draft prospect Michael Sam received at the NFL draft combine.

“This is Michael Sam. The leftist media’s latest contrived attempt to distract the American people from the daily failures of the president who they cover for daily,” Deace wrote.

But from what are the leftists trying to distract us? If you guessed “Benghazi,” you’re correct (and you may have been reading This Week In Crazy for too long).

“Not to be outdone, a flailing president who seemingly has no time to give answers to the families of four dead Americans at Benghazi, or the millions he broke a promise to that they could keep their current health insurance if they liked it, couldn’t wait to jump on Mr. Sam’s bandwagon,” Deace explained.

“This is the same president who said if he had a son he wouldn’t let him play a dangerous sport such as football,” he added. “Mr. Obama cares about Mr. Sam so much he wants him to risk life and limb playing football. With friends like that, who needs fundamentalist Christians?”

Stay tuned for Deace’s next column, in which he reveals that openly gay NBA player Jason Collins is actually the first step in Obama’s march towards fascism (actually, scratch that joke — he’s already written it).

3. CPAC

Although the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference is only one-third complete, there has already been no shortage of crazy moments. But with all due respect to Wayne LaPierre’s absurd vision of America’s dystopian present, the craziest speech of the day belonged to Donald Trump.

For the second consecutive year, Trump used his speech to attack immigration reform (although this year he didn’t propose an exception for the children of his white, European friends).

“Immigration, we’re either a country or we’re not, we either have borders or we don’t; you have a border, you have a country and if you don’t have a border, what are we, just a nothing? A nothing,” Trump said, ripping a page from the Ron Paul playbook.

He also took a moment to mock President Obama’s 54 percent approval rating — not mentioning that Trump has a 68 percent unfavorable rating in his home state of New York — before comparing Obama to the “late, great Jimmy Carter” (who is, for the record, not dead).

It’s almost hard to believe that this guy is losing to Andrew Cuomo by 44 percent.
2. National Security Action Summit

As crazy as CPAC may be, the real fringe action was taking place at former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney’s alternative conference on national security issues.

Gaffney, a noted islamophobic conspiracy theorist, was banned from CPAC in 2011 for his unhinged attacks against his fellow conservatives (Gaffney would later claim that he was boycotting the event because it was infiltrated by the Muslim brotherhood.) He then launched his own summit to compete with the annual conservative gathering.

Think about that for a moment: Frank Gaffney is too crazy for CPAC.

As Right Wing Watch documented, the speeches at Gaffney’s event reflect its founding father rather well.

There was Rep. Steve King comparing immigrants to animals (again).

Phyllis Schlafly took a break from her war with the brewery that shares her name to lament the apparent decline of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who really knew how to persecute immigrants back in the ’50s:

But the real star of the show was God’s favorite gun salesman, Jerry Boykin, who reminded America that the greatest threat facing our country is President Obama’s non-existent Benghazi conspiracy:

In case you were wondering who would provide a platform for such an outrageous gathering, by the way, the answer is exactly what you’d think: The good, conspiracy-minded folks at Breitbart News.


1. Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann 427x321

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

This week’s “winner” is once again Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), whose Monday appearance on fellow This Week In Crazy favorite Tony Perkins’ radio show was just as absurd as you’d hope.

During the interview, Bachmann accused American Jews of selling out Israel by supporting President Obama in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

The Jewish community gave him their votes, their support, their financial support and as recently as last week, forty-eight Jewish donors who are big contributors to the president wrote a letter to the Democrat [sic] senators in the U.S. Senate to tell them to not advance sanctions against Iran. This is clearly against Israel’s best interest. What has been shocking has been seeing and observing Jewish organizations who it appears have made it their priority to support the political priority and the political ambitions of the president over the best interests of Israel. They sold out Israel.

Although Bachmann told Perkins that President Obama’s policies will lead to a “final war, destroying and reducing [Israel] to rubble,” thankfully Jewish-Americans won’t have to live with their guilt for long. After all, as the deranged congresswoman loves to point out, we’re in the Biblical End Times.

Despite the characteristic insanity of her argument, Bachmann is actually slightly more qualified to rant about Israel than she is on most other topics — after all, she once lived in a socialist commune there (and apparently had a heck of a time). But don’t expect to hear that little factoid in her inevitable post-Congress career on the Tea Party scam circuit.

Audio of Bachmann’s comments is available at Right Wing Watch.

Check out previous editions of This Week In Crazy here. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments!