Friday, January 28, 2011

Joe "Naam" Biden

In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak stands for reelection every six years (after all, as VP Joe Biden says, he's not a dictator). The campaign posters usually have Mubarak's ugly face and the word Naam - "Yes", in Arabic. Until this decade, one couldn't vote for an opposition candidate; just "Yes" or "No" on Mubarak. In 1999, Mubarak's press reported that 94% voted Naam.

Joe Biden is a Naam guy (hat tip to Drudge). He can't think of any reason to label Mubarak a dictator; and doesn't particularly think that Hosni's 29 years in power are too many. After all, Biden was in the Senate for 36 years, and the sextennials just flew by. Mubarak is paid handsomely to advance the U.S. agenda in the Middle East, and Joe thinks of him as an "ally of ours" and "very responsible". Like Biden, Mubarak has been grooming his son to succeed him. These two guys go way back, and understand each other quite well, apparently.

Here's what's worse: Biden was picked to be Vice President on the strength of his foreign policy credentials. He's the wise old head, the adept diplomat, on the Obama-Biden ticket. And he should know better: Biden was in the Senate as the U.S. supported the Persian Shah right down to his defeat. He was on the Foreign Policy committee during the Cold War, supporting brutal South American dictators for geopolitical purposes. Most of America learned a lesson from that: it's not worth it in the long run. The dictator always falls, and the victims know who propped him up for so long.

Biden hasn't learned that lesson, and he's leading the U.S. (at least with his mouth) squarely onto the side of the mukhabarat goons, police brutality, control of the press and communications, and the Mubarak family dynasty. On the other side is the best chance for secular, non-Islamist regime change in decades.

Biden wants the world to know that the US is firmly in support of the status quo in Egypt. Naam Mubarak! That, my friends, is not change we can believe in.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Unrest Spreads

Serious protests are occurring all over the Arab World. Ten thousand people marched peacefully in Sana today; thousands more continue to march in Cairo and elsewhere despite the banning of protests. The Times says this is a new generation of malcontents:
He tolerated a tiny and toothless opposition of liberal intellectuals whose vain electoral campaigns created the facade of a democratic process... But this enduring and, many here say, all too comfortable relationship was upended this week by the emergence of an unpredictable third force, the leaderless tens of thousands of young Egyptians who turned out to demand an end to Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Stay tuned - the rumblings of this year (and of 2005) show that the status quo will not survive too much longer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sé Aysen Mwen An

My sister continues to get recognition for her work in rebuilding Haiti. Apart from not knowing how to spell her name, this Northeastern University video is a great piece - and gives you the chance to help Kez financially, too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Abortion Kills

Paradoxically, it's only a crime when it goes wrong. By anyone's standards, this Pennsylvania "doctor" is an embarrassment:
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, faces eight counts of murder in the deaths of a woman following a botched abortion at his office, along with the deaths of seven other babies who, prosecutors allege, were born alive following illegal late-term abortions and then were killed by severing their spinal cords with a pair of scissors...

Investigators also said Gosnell allowed unlicensed employees, including a 15-year-old high school student, to perform operations and administer anesthesia...

The grand jury investigation revealed that, for over two decades, government health and licensing officials had received repeated reports about Gosnell’s dangerous practices. However, no action was ever taken, even after the agencies learned that Mrs. Mongar had died during routine abortions under Gosnell’s care.
Apparently, the local authorities cared more about keeping abortion "safe and legal" - and free from reproach - than they cared about protecting patients (let alone babies).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Immolation Is the Highest Form of Flattery

How desperate is the Arab World for change? How widespread is the sense that the government is deaf to citizens' voices? Copycat self-immolations were reported this week in three other North African countries. In Tunisia's neighbor, Algeria, seven - count 'em, seven - protesters torched themselves (or tried to) in seven different towns.

The scary thing is that many of these kleptocracies don't care a lick for citizens, angry, burning, or burnt. A hundred Algerians, a thousand Egyptians could self-immolate without prompting anything from their governments but deeper politicization of the fire department.

Friday, January 14, 2011


What's happening in Tunisia is amazing. One despondent unemployed man was able to accomplish more by immolating himself than the years of wrangling by Lebanese politicians, the millions in aid given to Egypt, or the invasion of Iraq. The NYTimes reports:
[T]he most dramatic change in the old Arab order in years was inspired by Mohammad Bouazizi, the 26-year-old university graduate who could find work only as a fruit and vegetable vendor. He set himself on fire in a city square in December when the police seized his cart and mistreated him...

Tunisia’s protests were portrayed as a popular uprising, crossing lines of religion and ideology, offering a new model of dissent in a region where Islamic activists have long been seen as monopolizing opposition... Tunisians’ grievances were as specific as universal: rising food prices, corruption, unemployment and the repression of a state that viewed almost all dissent as subversion...

Tunisia’s uprising electrified the region.
Today, instead of continuing to fight the uprising with his goods, dictator-for-life Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country for Saudi Arabia, leaving his prime minister in control. Al-Jazeera reports:
Tensions remain high despite Ben Ali's exit, with protesters reported to be ransacking government buildings in the capital, Tunis, and other cities... Protesters are reportedly demanding that the new interim president, a close Ben Ali ally, stand down.
This revolution was one for its time. The tinderbox that Bouazizi lit was stoked by revelations in Wikileaks, which mostly reported that the president was vastly unpopular, and led a weak - "sclerotic" - regime. Knowing that their emperor had no clothes, Tunisians were bold to stand against the "mukhabaraat", or security forces emblematic of these Arab kleptocrats. Once the fire was lit (figuratively as well as literally), it spread (just figuratively) via Facebook and other social media. In another era, this never would have spread beyond one district; one month of 2010 and '11 was enough to engulf the country.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Little Brother Win, Part II

Attentive Global Review readers remember the discussion about the value of the Red Sox's signing of OF Carl Crawford. Little Brother and I debated the relative merits of the multi-tool left fielder, and whether he was worth his contract.

At Christmas, Little Brother got the last word (or thousand words):

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Human Shield

Al-Ahram reports that Egyptian Muslims - up to and including the president's own sons - bodily protected Egypt's Coptic minority by surrounding their Coptic Christmas Eve services with a human shield. Any would-be murderer would have to blow his way through his own kind to do harm to the Christians.

Echoing m a t t, we hope this is a turning point in the stony relationship between Egypt and her Christian minority.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Little Brother Win, Part I

My Little Brother has had trouble getting his driver's license. He's a fine driver, for a noob, but our state has very strict regulations about what kind of car one may test in. Since my parents don't have an emergency brake where the passenger can reach it, their minivan is out. So my sister agreed to let him use her car, with Kentucky plates. He showed up, and was asked for proof of insurance. Oops - it was at home: Fail. Reschedule.

This time, he asked me for use of my car (also out-of-state). I said "sure", but didn't check everything out until Christmas Day. Oops - my registration expired a week ago: Fail. Little Brother was distraught when we arrived, until a friend of the family's answered the phone and said, "Sure, you can use my car." The night before the test, we got a call from the friend, who said, "Why was it you needed to use our car again?" Because it has a middle e-brake. "Oops - we got rid of that car. Our new car has a foot-pedal e-brake. Sorry about that." Fail.

So the night before the exam, my dad got one of his colleagues to agree to let us use his car. Perfect, thanks, that's great, you're a real pal! We showed up at his house an hour and a half before the driving test, so Little Brother could practice his parallel parking. We looked at the car's documents... all in order. And we looked at the e-brake... right where it should be, next to the manual shifter.

The manual shifter?!? "Hey, bro, can you drive a stick?", I asked. "Oh no, are you serious? It's a stick-shift? I've never even tried to drive one."

So Little Brother and Dad spent the next 35 minutes learning to drive stick, and then drove up to the exam place. He stalled out 3 times during the test, prompting snide comments and laughter from the examiner. But: he passed. Little Brother Win. Happy New Year!