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    • Hope Is Bullshit
      I am unintersted in “hope.” Or as we called it in the Obama bullshit years, Hopium. Hope is not a plan. Hope is bullshit. Luck is real, but you don’t count on luck other than in the sense that the harder you work, and the more things you do, the more likely you are to […]
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Joy to the World

I walked into the cafeteria a few minutes ago to see the TVs tuned to Egypt. I was watching with a big smile on my face when someone asked me, “Are you Egyptian?”, to which I replied:

“We’re all Egyptian today.”

The story of Egypt 2011 is all about people, determined and with solidarity, not backing down in the face of overwhelming odds against them. Those people stood up to thugs, bloodshed, and the fear of the secret police. We witnessed the terror of their struggle behind the barricade and watched the sun rise to find them still there. Like a flag waving over the ramparts and a night of bombs bursting in air.

I am amazed and in awe of the Egyptians, a mighty nation for many millennia.

But the struggle is not over. It has just begun. Right now, it is very important to maintain solidarity with each other, to not descend into factionalism and to trust one another. Because there will be forces that will want to tear this triumph apart.

Make peace with your neighbors as quickly as possible and get back to work. Toppling a nation is euphoric but keeping your liberty is an ongoing struggle.

As the Egyptians have shown, it is worth the effort.

For years, the middle east has been a hopeless case of immovable objects and irresistible force. We may find that the Egyptians have forced the region into a higher energy state but the dynamics of the situation may lead to a more stable resolution down the road.

So, let’s all “Walk Like an Egyptian” today. Buckle down tomorrow. People around the world offer the Egyptians their sincere Congratulations.

Versailles

Brooke is studying the French Revolution this month.  I told her that Charlotte Corday and the death of Marat would make a pretty good essay topic.  Then I realized that the guy was essentially a blogger who was murdered in his bathtub.  Ok, he was a nasty blogger who let things get out of control. He was more like Glenn Beck. Then I get all philosophical about the ethics of committing crimes to prevent even bigger ones, like Dietrich Bonhofer did during WWII, and she gets that “Ok, I’m bored now” look on her face.   Uh, nevermind.  Start at the beginning, go all the way to the end and, then, stop.

The French were pissed off over bread.  The Romans at least got that right.  Never keep the rabble hungry for bread.  But I digress.  Anyway, the roots of the French Revolution had something to do with a really bad financial collapse.  The tax system was a mess with the lower classes bearing the burden and the aristocracy getting away with murder.  There were some bad harvests.  The king was inept.  Not necessarily a bad man.  He just felt entitled.  Oh, sure, there had to be reform but it couldn’t go too far.  He was the king after all and he had the last word.

The Bastille fell in July 1789.  There was rioting on and off throughout the summer.  But the rabble definitely wasn’t going away.  It wasn’t until one night in October 1789 that a mob of women got to Versailles and the royals scrambled from bedroom to bedroom in a panic.  The monarchs left the palace and after a couple of years of factional fighting, The Terror began in earnest.

The Terror.  What a waste.  Thousands of lives lost, rivers red with blood.  Fear, chaos, instability.  It makes you wonder why any king would let that kind of pressure build up over 4 months to result in the country essentially eating its own for several years afterwards.

I saw Mubarek’s face on the frontpage of the NYTimes site, a face only a mother could love and a poster child for Grecian Formula and wondered, what the hell is he thinking?  He’s 82 years old for god’s sakes.  As one commenter said, it’s the ego of a man pampered by 30 years of power who thinks that only he can stabilize Egypt and the middle east.  In fact, he’s doing quite the opposite.  The people of Egypt want him gone.  A week ago, Mubarek stepping down might have been enough to turn the boiling pot down to a simmer, buying the region enough time to put together an interim government.  Now, it looks like all Hell is about to break loose.

But Mubarek must have the last word and he’s not going.

I’ve read that the protestors are starting to move on the presidential palace.

Those kinds of things never end well.

Hillary vs Obama on Egypt: Will the left ever get it??

Hillary calls unrest a "perfect storm"

So, apparently, Obama has backtracked on urging Mubarek to leave.

At the same Munich meeting on Saturday, Frank G. Wisner, the former ambassadorPresident Obama sent to Cairo to negotiate with Mr. Mubarak, suggested that the United States should not rush to push Mr. Mubarak out the door. He said Mr. Mubarak had a “critical” role to play through the end of his presidential term in September.

“You need to get a national consensus around the preconditions of the next step forward, and the president must stay in office in order to steer those changes through,” Mr. Wisner said of Mr. Mubarak. “I therefore believe that President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical — it’s his opportunity to write his own legacy.”

A senior administration official quickly sought to distance the White House from Mr. Wisner’s comments. American officials have said that they are seeking privately to nudge Mr. Mubarak out of his executive role ahead of September elections, though they have also said that they do not view his departure as an essential first step toward a transition to a new democratic system in the country.

Why am I not surprised?

So, the Egyptians are disrupting their country and economy and destabilizing the region because they really REALLY don’t like the Supreme Dictator and (apparently) President for Life and his brutally, repressive goons and they are willing to die and risk torture to get rid of him and what does Obama do?  He says Mubarek should stay.  Is that how I’m supposed to interpret this?  Or should I conclude that there is disagreement in the administration over how to handle Egypt and it is sending mixed messages to the world and to the Egyptians themselves, who it may be leaving high and dry?

This is stupid.

It’s not only stupid but it’s not very strategic.  Yes, we can expect some instability if Mubarek leaves but the alternative is probably worse.  If he stays, that will only energize the more radical elements in Egyptian society meaning that the next time the Egyptians try to revolt, they may very well have a charismatic religious figure to lead them and voile!  Son of Iran.   Short term thinking is at work here and Obama is nothing if not an exceptional short term thinker.

Contrast with Hillary Clinton, who is busy in Munich trying to convince Angela Merkel that helping Egypt make a swift transition is the best option for stabilizing the country and improving its economic condition, which is in part driving the explosion of unrest in the middle east.

“The region is being battered by a perfect storm of powerful trends,” Clinton said.

“This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region.”

Clinton said that Washington was backing Egypt’s drive to craft orderly reforms to allow democratic elections.

“It is important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government actually headed by now-vice president Omar Suleiman,” she said.

“The principles are very clear, the operational details are very challenging.”

The secretary of state urged leaders across the Middle East to embrace democratic reforms in response to the growing unrest in the region, despite the risk of short-term instability in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

She said change is a “strategic necessity” that will make Arab nations stronger and their people more prosperous and less susceptible to extremist ideologies.

Addressing events in Egypt, Merkel said: “Early elections at the beginning of the democratisation process is probably the wrong approach.”

However, Cameron said a delay would produce an unstable country that the West would not welcome.

“There is no stability in Egypt. We need change, reform and transition to get stability,” he said at the conference

For completeness, it’s important that we read the transcript of Hillary’s remarks but this seems very consistent with what she has said before all hell broke loose in Tunisia.  It also seems to be the interpretation of several other news orgs like the Indian Times and Euronews.

Once again, it looks like Hillary is doing the heavy lifting, lobbying for a principled democratization of Egypt and other countries in the middle east while Barry can’t make up his mind.  (That blockquote is from an Al Jazeera link of all places.  Go figure.  Check out the picture of Merkel and Clinton.  I’m guessing they’re using the same stylist.)

This is yet another of the many reasons why you star struck lefties should have gone with the girl.

He’s not the messiah.  He doesn’t know how to play chess, let alone the 11 dimensional kind and he’s not going to become the boyfriend you hoped he would be when you jumped into bed with him.

It’s not too late to dump the dude for 2012.

 

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.

Wednesday: The Northeast cries “Uncle!”

See that area of pink between the white and green? That's us.

It is snowing. Or raining?  Snain? Again.

Yesterday, we had freezing rain.  Delightful.  Last night when I left work, my car was like the top of a creme brulee.  I LOVE chipping off the icy crust only to realize as I got to the security gate that my window was frozen shut and I had to engage  in a tricky maneuver of applying the emergency brake, opening my door, swiping my ID, and quickly getting the car moving before the gate came down.

Schools are closed.  There have been so many snow days and delayed openings that these kids will be going to school in July.  Today, Brooke is competing in a national linguistics competition at Princeton.  Well, that should be fun, getting into Princeton.  And there’s no place to park in Princeton.  The only way the competition will be postponed is if there is four feet of snow on the ground.  But do they mean cumulative?  Does last week’s foot and a half that is still on the ground count towards that total?  And what if the snow plow doesn’t dig us out in time to make it down to Princeton??

Seriously, we give up.  We’re waving the white flag.  We completely identify with the bleak prospect of Ethan Frome’s winter scape, that endless expanse of dirty white coldness, leaden skies and bitter cold, the way the salt spreading trucks hurl pellets of salt and gravel at my car like a shotgun as I pass them.  Lovely.  Sometimes, I feel like I will never be warm again.

I’d love to take a flight to someplace warmer but in all likelihood, the airports are delaying flights and there’s a backlog.

Get us out of here.

The NYTimes gives a confusing version of who was proactively encouraging Mubarek to move on. Funny, my recollection was that Hillary Clinton was hot out of the box with a statement last week asking the Egyptian government to respond to its people.  Joe Biden is reported to have said “No” when asked if Mubarek should go as late as last Sunday.  But no, it was Obama who the NYTimes credits with sending a diplomatic envoy to Egypt on Sunday, even though it was Hillary Clinton who chose the guy and recommended the strategy last Saturday.  But you don’t know that until paragraph 14:

At a two-hour meeting at the White House last Saturday, Thomas E. Donilon, the national security adviser; William M. Daley, the White House chief of staff, Secretary of StateHillary Rodham Clinton; the director of the Central Intelligence AgencyLeon E. Panetta; and other officials coalesced around a strategy to start trying to ease Mr. Mubarak out, an official said.

Mrs. Clinton, officials said, suggested that the administration send Mr. Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt who knows Mr. Mubarak well, to deliver a message directly from Mr. Obama to the Egyptian leader. Officials said Mr. Wisner urged Mr. Mubarak to declare publicly that he would not run for re-election. But Mr. Wisner has extended his stay in Cairo, officials said, and may have a follow-up meeting with Mr. Mubarak if events seem to demand a quicker exit.

Oh, sure, Obama is the guy who is her boss and he has to be the one to approve the strategy, yadayadayada.  {{rolling eyes in exasperation}}.  But come on, Obama and Biden have definitely been behind the curve here.  Getting Mubarek out and someone the Egyptians want in as soon as possible is the best way to control the crazy turmoil that is rocking that nation.  After a couple of days of dizzy triumph and champagne, wait, Muslims don’t drink, ok, days of lines of guys dancing around, people would start getting back to work and the wheels could start turning again.  The army is on the side of the protestors.  It’s time for Mubarek to give it up.  When it comes to self-determination, it became clear last weekend that the Egyptians had self-determined.  It’s just a waiting game now.

But Obama gets the credit.  {{yawn}}  Look, NYTimes, we all know of instances when the supervisor takes credit for his underling’s work, makes the presentation to a high stakes audience, forces their way onto a patent without lifting a finger… where was I?  Oh yes, we all know people like that.  No one wants to work for them.  It might be common practice but it’s not moral or ethical to take credit for someone elses work.

So, Hillary read the tea leaves correctly and had to drag Barry kicking and screaming, once again, to do the right thing. Whatever.  We know what we saw.  Barry dithering again.

The DNC has chosen Charlotte, NC for their mock convention in 2012.  We should have known in 2008 that Denver meant a caucus strategy focussing on the west and mountain states.  So, what does Charlotte say?  Well, to me , North Carolina conjures up Roanoke, the Lost Colony, those intrepid colonists of fortune hunters.  Carolina means tobacco plantations.  It means furniture manufacturing.  It means very little union strength.  It means the Research Triangle.  It means a very large Cherokee reservation.  It means the largest private house in the United States.  It means “First in Flight”, Kitty Hawk, the horses of Chincoteague and a large African American population.  It means Jesse Helms and his infamous commercial.

It means bible belt.  It means Southern Appalachia.  It means generational poverty.  It is more rural than the most Democratic states in the nation.  Put it all together and what do we get?

No doubt, North Carolina is an up and coming place. I’ve heard very good things about how their educational system is improving.  But culturally?  It’s still the south.  Let’s ponder this one for awhile.  The religious aspect is really bugging me here.    It also shows that the party is leaving the rust belt and the northeast to fend for itself.  Good bye labor.  Hello Cavalier Culture, that remnant of English royalists who settled Virginia and the Carolinas, entrenching a social hierarchy and vast disperities of wealth.  Yeah, North Carolinians might be pulling themselves up by their bootstraps but look at how many centuries it took for them to actually get boots.

It also spurns California and the tech heavy states like Washington and Massachusetts.  It looks like Obama is going to reach out to the south.  And that can only mean that he intends to court them.

Go away all you silly middle class Americans!  He farts in your general direction.

Obama on “Women’s Rights” in His Speech in Cairo, Egypt

Obama's concept of women's rights?

Obama's concept of women's rights?

Oh. My. God. Is this man really as clueless as he sounds? Obama on the rights of Muslim women in the U.S.:

…freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

On what he refers to as “women’s rights”:

I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now let me be clear: issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.

That is all Obama had to say about “women’s rights” yesterday in his speech to a Muslim audience. Continue reading