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Time is on whose side in Egypt?

Pro-Mubarek protestors and secret security forces are attacking anti-government protestors in Egypt.  Al Jazeera is reporting that Mubarek’s speech yesterday took some of the fire out of the public who were demanding his ouster.

The Art of War probably has a whole subsection on time.  I can almost hear Sun Tsu telling his students that making your enemies hesitate is crucial to undermining their momentum.  It sounds like Mubarek appealed to the public’s sense of fairness to him, a national hero whose patriotism is unquestioned.  He promised to not run again, isn’t that enough?  It sounds so reasonable.  The public is probably wondering why to bother protesting anymore.  It’s too much chaos, too dangerous.  Too messy.

Yes, democracy is messy.  And there will always be speechwriters who know how to appeal to our weakest instincts, who will sneak into our subconscious and whisper to us of our powerlessness and will play up fear.  Sort of like what David Brooks does weekly in the New York Times.

If the Egyptians can resist the messaging and stick it out and redouble their numbers, who knows what they can accomplish?

Of course, it’s easy for us to say, sitting in our warm houses, minding our own business, not making trouble.  This year, economic conditions and corruption are enflaming the middle east.  In twenty years from now?  Who knows?  It may be us.

Is time on our side?

Lambert is live blogging the situation in Egypt on Corrente.  Check it out.

Lazy Saturday News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!! What’s happening out there in the world?

I’m a little out of touch, as I spent most of yesterday driving my mom to Cincinnati and back. She wanted to visit her older sister, who has been staying with her son (my cousin), but is leaving today to return home to Gulf Shores, Alabama. My mom’s younger brother and his wife came too. We had a nice day, despite getting lost in the Cincinnati ‘burbs for awhile and driving through several incredible cloudbursts.

My aunt is hoping the BP oil doesn’t come her way, but she ate a lot of oysters before she came north, and she also bought several pounds of shrimp to freeze just in case.

Today is supposed to be warm and sunny in central Indiana, and boy am I looking forward to that! It has been cold and rainy much of the time since I got here.

On to the news…

The Texas state board of education has finally approved a very conservative curriculum which will heavily influence textbook publishing and test preparation. The Republicans on the board were able to get their way on most things. From the Dallas Morning News:

Approval came after the GOP-dominated board approved a new curriculum standard that would encourage high school students to question the legal doctrine of church-state separation – a sore point for social conservative groups who disagree with court decisions that have affirmed the doctrine, including the ban on school-sponsored prayer.

Democrats claimed that the Republicans had allowed politics and religion to influence their judgments, but Republicans claimed they were just trying to make up for a supposedly liberal slant in past history and social science textbooks.

Oh really? I strongly recommend anyone who believes that to read Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen.

Board Democrats accused the Republicans of a “cut-and-paste” job that included a flurry of late amendments undoing much of the work of teachers and academics who were appointed to review teams to draft the curriculum requirements last year.

“Here we are trying to approve standards for our children that will be used for years, and we are being asked to approve all these last-minute cut-and-paste proposals,” said Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi. “I don’t think any teacher would accept work like this,” she said. “They would have thrown this paper in the trash.

We’ve done an injustice to the children of this state.”

At least the Democrats managed to get Thomas Jefferson back on the list of political philosophers children can study.

Via edgeofforever, the ultra-conservative but always entertaining Boston Herald has a column today by Hillary Chabot arguing that Obama has become “toxic” for candidates running for office.

Bay State Democrats are hardly rolling out the welcome mat for President Obama as Republicans all but dare them to rally with him during the midterm election campaigns and continue the White House-backed losing streak. [….]

[Democratic] U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch – whose South Boston hometown is a stronghold of Tea Party activists – said he’s not pushing for help from Obama as he campaigns for his sixth term in Congress. “Bringing someone in from Washington to intervene on your behalf doesn’t seem like the right way to go. I should be connecting with my constituents myself,” said Lynch, noting the electorate’s strong anti-Beltway fervor.

Well, when your approval rating is fluctuating from the mid-to-high forties, I guess that’s the way it goes.

The Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama has appointed an “oil spill panel.”

The president has called on former Sen. Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly to lead the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Mr. Graham is a former two-term governor of Florida and served for 18 years in the U.S. Senate. Mr. Reilly is a founding partner of Aqua International Partners LP, a private equity fund that invests in water and renewable energy companies. He’s also a senior adviser to TPG Capital LP, an international investment partnership.

Obama is giving them 6 months to come up with recommendations. By that time the Gulf Coast could be a dead zone, but hey….he set up a commission so that should take care of the mess, right?

Thanks to RalphB for this link to Nieman Watchdog. Has Obama Created a Social Security Death Panel?

President Obama and the leadership in Congress have delegated enormous, unaccountable authority to 18 unrepresentative, inordinately wealthy individuals. The 18 individuals are meeting regularly, in secret, behind closed doors, until safely beyond this year’s mid-term election. If they reach agreement, their proposal will be voted on in December by a lame duck Congress, without the benefit of open hearings and deliberations in the pertinent committees and without the opportunity for open debate and amendment on the floors of the House and Senate. Despite the speed and lack of accountability, the legislation will affect, in substantial ways, every man, woman, and child in this nation.

Who are these powerful people and what are their views?

They are the members of President Obama’s newly-formed National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. They lack racial and gender diversity, and more importantly, they lack diversity of opinion. Their mantra is that “everything is on the table,” but their one member who has any expertise with respect to defense spending, for instance, is the CEO of a major defense contractor that devotes millions of dollars each year to lobby Congress for more defense spending.

“Everything is on the table,” they say, but the members appointed by the minority leaders in the House and Senate have made clear that they do not believe that the problems in this country stem from under-taxing, rather from overspending. The one area that they seem to be in agreement on — and which they are in fact, focusing on like a laser — involves programs that help the middle class and those Americans who are the most vulnerable. Even liberal Senator Richard Durbin has stated, “the bleeding-heart liberals… have to…make real sacrifices to strengthen our nation.”

This is very scary, and we’ve talked about this issue here since way back during the 2008 primaries. It was clear to me from what Obama wrote in his book, The Audacity of Hope that he intended to privatize, cut, or end Social Security and Medicare. It’s obvious now that our “representatives” in Congress don’t care one bit about us–only about the needs of giant corporations. And we are on our own. As the article points out, the press aren’t doing their jobs, because they too only care about what the super-rich and the giant corporations want.

The New York Times discusses the firing of Dennis C. Blair as head of all U.S. spy agencies. There are a lot of excuses given, but the gist seems to be that Obama didn’t really like Blair that much, so Blair became the designated scapegoat for recent intelligence failures surrounding foiled “terrorist attacks.” In addition, Blair tried to negotiate an intelligence agreement with France that the WH didn’t care for.

Mr. Blair had pressed for a pact between the United States and France that would have halted espionage operations on each other’s soil, a more formal version of America’s “gentleman’s agreement” with Britain.

The informal agreement with London is built on decades of trust between the American and British governments. Officials said that Mr. Blair had come to believe that Mr. Sarkozy’s presidency was a unique opportunity for two countries long suspicious of each other’s motives to build lasting security ties.

But others worried that a written pact — the first of its kind for the United States — would handcuff the United States if a new government came to power in France that was more hostile to American foreign policy goals.

Al Jazeera has an interesting article about the effects of sanctions on Iran. It is critical of U.S. policy and of Hillary Clinton’s “penchent for sanctions.”

Finally, Jordon Romero, age 13 has become the youngest person to climb to the top of Mt. Everest.

Jordan Romero, from California, telephoned his mother from the peak of the world’s highest mountain, she said.

“Mom, I’m calling you from the top of the world,” Leigh Anne Drake quoted her son as saying.

He was climbing with his father and three Sherpa guides. The previous record was held by a Nepalese boy of 16.

The 13-year-old has now conquered the highest mountains on six of the world’s seven continents.

So what are you reading and discussing this morning. I look forward to following your links. And have a wonderful Saturday and a great weekend!!!!!