Monthly Archives: January 2011

Israel and Mubarak; still BFF

Following up on yesterday’s tantalizing suggestion from Al Jazeera that Israel might take in Mubarak, now here’s a story from Haaretz saying that Israel is urging the world to cool down the anti- Mubarak criticism. I can understand why Israel would be happier with Mubarak in power – it’s  preferable to Mubarak out of power. As commenter Alan noted a few days ago, Mubarak has contained the radicals in that country.

But the premise of the story just doesn’t ring true:  Israel can see the writing on the wall. They can’t possibly believe that toning down the rhetoric is going to keep Mubarak in charge. So it’s something else. Are they still planning to take him in?

UPDATE: Just listening to Richard Engle, one of the few reporters I trust. He’s saying a compromise is possible. He says it could be the Army taking over and pushing Mubarak out. And thru it all, the Brotherhood is gaining ground. It was Engle who said two days ago that theirs was not a big presence; he says it’s changing. He adds that if the wealthy start fleeing en masse, he thinks the Army will move in and take charge. They could rule for a while and hold elections or they could simply allow space for a government to step in. It is SO up in the air. He also says Brotherhood may be talking to the Army about being a reasonable player in this. So dynamic.

He adds “Whoever controls the mosques, the unions, the people who clean the streets – that is the grassroots and that is the place to watch.”

Is tomorrow the day?

Tomorrow, Egypt may see the biggest street marches yet. No matter the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ footage, there has been remarkably little actual violence (I’m not counting looting etc). New elements have joined the action – prisoners are out on the street (most of them political radicals, which in Egypt meant Islamists) and the Muslim Brotherhood is starting to show its head over the hedge. Combined,  they are still a small minority in the country, but are likely to be overrepresented in the crowds.

The police continue to mostly stand back and the Army hasn’t allowed itself to be pulled in so far. But the looting especially is getting out of hand and the police have said they’ll be resuming regular law enforcement duties now  but won’t be trying to block the protests.

The country – for all the noise – hasn’t imploded. El Baradai is ready to step in, as is the new VP.

I think Mubarak will leave tomorrow.

And the beat goes on . . .

While the Middle East appears to be going through its thing (Renaissance? Reformation? French Revolution?), I’m reminded there are still protesters (the kind that blow up bombs) in Iraq and Afghanistan.  While our eyes have been focused elsewhere, our wars go on; it seems to be bombs in Iraq and bullets in Afghanistan, where today is the 117th day of the tenth year of the war there.

The world behind the curtain

I’m going to assume that the government of my country is not telling the level truth to the Sunday morning hosts about what we’re doing, planning, and saying in Egypt.

That’s all she said

From Al Jazeera, a brief short paragraph. Tantalizing but no more info there at present. Huh?

According to sources in the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel is making preparations to welcome Hosni Mubarak into exile after Saudi Arabia rejected overtures.

 UPDATE: Oddly, that story is still on Al Jazeera’s front page at 7pm on Monday, but there are no more details than yesterday. Just the single sentence.

The NFL is me. Who knew?

Bill Maher comments on the decline of baseball, and the vigorous insurgent success of football:

” . . . football is built on an economic model of fairness and opportunity, and baseball is built on a model where the rich almost always win and the poor usually have no chance. You have to be a rich [team] just to play. The Super Bowl is like Tila Tequila. Anyone can get in.   

Or to put it another way, football is more like the Democratic philosophy . . . That’s why the NFL runs itself in a way that would fit nicely on Glenn Beck’s chalkboard – they literally share the wealth, through salary caps and revenue sharing – TV is their biggest source of revenue, and they put all of it in a big commie pot and split it 32 ways. Because they don’t want anyone to fall too far behind. That’s why the team that wins the Super Bowl picks last in the next draft. Or what the Republicans would call “punishing success.”


It’s from one of his recent New Rules segments. (I don’t have HBO so I never get to see his show, but do manage bits of it online)

Friday night oldie

A day when I find a number by The Platters that I’ve not previously posted, is a very good day.

I’ve said before that I fell in love (with someone!) to every single Platters song.

In the middle of it all

via ReadWriteWeb:  Now, for [Al Jazeera]’s  coverage of the Egyptian uprising, it has released photographs via Flickr and video on a CC license.

Some remarkable stuff at the link. Like this of a TV camera and an injured but unbowed protester.

Mileposts in media

In 1981, the recently-launched 24-hour CNN had the great good fortune to instantly become the ‘go-to’ source for events of January 20, when the release of the US hostages from Tehran occurred at the exact moment that Ronald Reagan was being sworn in as president. A huge drama watched by the whole world. And they watched it on CNN.

In 1991, MSNBC hit the air just in time for Operation Dessert Storm – CNN was on air too, but perhaps because of their new kid on the block fiestiness, the opening days of that war belonged to MSNBC.

Now, that moment has arrived for Al Jazeera.  They have grown in influence over the last decade, becoming the primary news source in the Arab world. They lost reporters in Iraq. They were on the street in Iran a year ago. There is, however,  nothing in that part of the world quite like Egypt. And the story of what’s happening there this week is the global break out story for Al Jazeera. They’re all over it

WASHINGTON — As street protests raged across Egypt on Friday, with the future of the Arab world seeming to hang in the balance, rapt viewers across the region — and the globe — watched it unfold on Al Jazeera, which kept up an almost continuous live feed despite the Egyptian government’s repeated efforts to block broadcasts.

Protest in a vacuum

This is disturbing. If it works, other nations will take notice. Right now, we – and more importantly, they – are dependent on ‘old’ media.

Egypt Cuts Off Most Internet and Cell Service
Egypt has cut off nearly all Internet traffic into and out of the country in the largest blackout of its kind, according to firms that monitor international data flows. Cellphone networks were also disrupted.

Stuff you get in email

Add together the last two digits of the year you were born to the age you will be this year. It will equal 111.

Why? Fer elvis’ sake, someone explain why before my head explodes!

(h/t Jane)

Big Pharma is our friend. The insurance dudes too.

A little something by artist Michael dal Cerro via A Paralell Universe. Says it all.  (from this post, “The Gilded Age on Steroids”)

Brief follow-up

Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC right now, where they’re discussing the Commission report.

He’s furious as usual about how we’re not doing anything, how in fact the banks are even bigger than they were! They’re asking where is the Teddy Roosevelt courage we need to break up these monsters?

Ratigan is pointing out that Administration official Jamie Dimond is in Davos right now defending the big US bankers. A reporter just asked someone “what are we talking about, a market economy or a madhouse?” 

Financial Crisis Enquiry Commission

The Commission charged with investigating the financial crisis of ’07-’08 has finished its work. Their report is up at and the book is now available for $29; it’s about 700 pages. (I think I’ll stick with the news summaries – they will no doubt get too far into the weeds for a layman.)
Just listened to some of their press conference. Six of the nine commissioners were present. I’m familiar with three of those, impressive people and honest brokers. Phil Angelides, former Sen. Bob Graham (also former FL governor) and Brooksley Born, who famously warned from her post inside the Clinton administration  about the impending subprime crisis but her warnings were opposed by other regulators and Congress.

The Commission comes down hard on the failure of ‘senior public officials’ to do their jobs, on the rating agencies, on regulators (“regulators didn’t understand the markets they were regulating”), and on the compensation system that rewarded risk. They said they had referred to the Justice Dept any names and instances that might indicate criminal activity, but were firm that they were tasked only with studying what led to the crisis. It is not their role, they emphasized, to either comment on or pursue criminal matters.

The closest they came to ‘naming names’  in a somewhat derogatory tone, were Alan Greenspan and Goldman Sacks – and even then you had to listen real hard. There was frequent mention of the “shadow banking system” and the devastating effect it had on the financial health of the US economy.

Other mentions: laissez-faire, gutting of regulations that protected us for most of the 20th century – now have 19th century safeguards.In many respects, our system is still as it was on eve of this crisis.” Too much risk with too little capital, companies were over leveraged.  “These companies got too big to manage, not just too big to fail.”

Perfunctory mention of US households taking on too much debt but the brunt of their findings implicate the investment banks, the financial industry surrounding them, and the Federal Government.

 So it’s a good thing we’ve been fighting these wars to keep us safe.

But those didn’t count, see?

Just picked this up at The Conservative Lie, where interesting things are often found. He has more link rich info.

These are the 8 straight budgets with tremendous 50% spending hikes that Paul Ryan voted for.

FY 2000, H CON RES 68, 3/25/99,

FY 2001, H CON RES 290, 3/24/00,

FY 2002, H CON RES 83, 3/28/01,

FY 2003, H CON RES 353, 3/20/02,

FY 2004, H CON RES 95, 3/21/03,

FY 2005, H CON RES 393, 3/25/04,

FY 2006, H CON RES 95, 3/17/05,

FY 2007, H CON RES 376, 5/18/06

Here’s what I heard today

I heard Glenn Beck today. I’ve never listened to his radio show for more than two-three minutes at a stretch, but I do stop by periodically to measure the crazy.

Let me set the stage for his amazing claim today: an element of the theology of Shia Islam is that, like many religions, they await a sort of ‘messiah’, known as the Twelfth Iman. Okay, ordinary religious stuff – the theology is of course deep and complex, but it’s pretty much about a messiah. (Perhaps blogfriend umersultan can flesh this out for us.)

So, Beck. I tuned in and found out he’s making a documentary – and he’s going to show his viewers how remarkably the Twelfth Imam sounds exactly like the dreaded anti-Christ.

We shouldn’t let this man anywhere near a microphone.

Simple bad manners

A lot of this going around – courtesy and good manners are really the rules of the road which have evolved to keep us from hitting each other all the time. They work when we use them.

From the House, the tweets flew last night while the President was speaking. The SOTU is largely ceremonial; as such it demands the attention and respect of elected officialdom. But the rude will misbehave.

Obama talked about the troops and Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) tweeted: Mr. President, give them the tools they need to defend our country. Not just lip service.

Obama talked about who-knows-what and Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) tweeted: Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism. (This while the president was fulfilling his constitutional duty.)

Guess they don’t teach manners down in Georgia.

New gov, just like that old gov

Friend Ed brings this, from The Herald Tribune, to my attention this morning:

I want it my way.

Rick Scott, our interesting new Governor, was elected on the same ballot on which the people voted by 63% to approve two constitutional amendments that would force lawmakers to follow new standards for redrawing congressional and legislative districts.

But that doesn’t float Rick’s boat, so he has cavalierly thrown a wrench into the works. Under law, Florida is required to ask the US Justice Department to review the changes (because of past fraud here in cracker heaven). That request went in automatically, but Gov. Scott just withdrew it. For not a single proper reason.

“Florida’s top election office in December asked the federal government to review the two amendments. Former Gov. Charlie Crist supported both measures. But the Scott administration withdrew that request on Jan. 7, or three days after Scott became governor.”

I think the word is disdain – for the law and for the people. Scott was elected with 46% of the vote. The amendments were approved with 63% of the vote. Gives him a clear mandate dontcha see.

The legislature and the Florida Republicans are out to kill the amendments, and if the example set by former gov Jeb Bush is any guide, they may succeed.

(Jeb Bush was horrified when a high speed rail referendum passed overwhelmingly in the same election in which he won his second term.  Jeb got a bit red in the face, stamped his foot and said  “I don’t care what they voted for we just won’t do it in fact we’ll just delay it, force it back onto the next ballot and then hire lobbyists to make the stupid people vote against what they just voted for. Yeah, that’s the ticket!” He did. We did. )

Let the games begin.

Live blogging da speech

We’re done. Let the jibberers begin their jabber.

10: 12 “Our destiny remains our choice . . . the state of our union is strong.”

10:09 “As messy as our democracy can be, there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on earth.” Orgasmic O’s . Of course. Kind words for Joe B and for Boehner – he was pleased.

10:07 “Enlist our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.” Another fine line. “And, yes,  some of them are gay.” Wow.

10:05  South Sudan – we supported; we did good. We stand with the people of Tunesia. Good luck brothers. Soldiers good again. Applause again. Long applause.

10:02 We’re controlling bad weapons – gettin’ those nukes. We’re forgin’ alliances in the Americas.

Is he going to say ‘State of the Union is strong’ or something?

10:00 “Reform, responsibility and innovation”.  Soldiers – applause.   Muslims are Americans too – standing O.  Tough fighting ahead. Iraq finished; Afghan, well, lot of words, but ya’ know . . . .

9:56 I will veto any bill with earmarks inside. Got that?

Boehner is still looking detached. Still orange though. I was kind of hoping he’d cry – I find I’m becoming fond of that eccentricity of his. Really.

9:55 Winding down now. “Win the Future’ again. Competent government. Efficient government. The last major reorganization of government happened in the age of black and white tv.  (Smoking joke) Administration will submit a proposal.

9:53  Strengthen Social Security. Don’t subject it to the whims of the stock market. Must end tax cuts after the two years. Simplify the tax code.

Kathleen Sibelius has nice hair.

9:52  Annual domestic spending is 12% of budget. It’s not enough. Need to cut more. Defense, health care, tax breaks and loopholes. Malpractice reform  – yes, I’m down with that.

FREEZE DOMESTIC SPENDING FOR FIVE YEARS – $400 billion over a decade. Painful cuts. Defense will cut. Community programs. But let’s not cut on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.

9:50  Debt. Worst of recession is over. Time to deal with it.

9:48  “So instead of refighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and let’s move forward.” Great line.

9:46  Ordered a review of gov’t regs but will enforce safeguards.   HEALTH REFORM – just got first ‘mixed’ standing O – half up, half down. Then he made a joke. I’ll work with you – we can start with some corrections – applause. 

I wasn’t going to do this – I’m tired already.

9:44  Corporate tax rates – big guys get out of paying, little corps pay high high rates – fix the tax code! Standing O on that one.

9:42  Connect every part of America to the digital age. Expand wireless around the country.

9:40  High speed rail and high speed internet!!! Whooo!!! Our infrastructure used to be the best. Our nation’s engineers gave us a D on today’s infrastructure.  But he’s not asking for money that I can tell.  Give 80% of Americans access to high speed rail – in five(?) years!!

9:38 Illegal immigration. Camera to John McCain. He is, thankfully, awake. Stop kicking people out after we educate them.

9:38 John Boehner looks bored, keeps looking into his lap. I sure hope he’s not tweeting.  

9:37  Still education – this is important. Community colleges good. Raise expectations. Give the kids a chance.

9:34 Still talking schools, education. Keep it up Barry! “We want good schools.” In South Korea, teachers are known as ‘nation builders’ (second standing O). “become a teacher, your country needs you. ” Extend tuition tax credit – please.

It’s kind of nice to hear a speech go forward without those constant interruptions for partisan applause. This is a good thing. George Will was right! (I hate to say that.)
9:30   We’re falling behind in education and we can’t. Have to change this. Just got first standing ‘O’ – celebrate winner of science fair as well as winner of superbowl. 

9:28 Cut oil subsidies! Invest in clean energy – the fuels of tomorrow, not yesterday. Hmmmm, he’s saying ‘clean energy’ – he be talkin’ coal, what they ‘call’ clean coal. Not so good.

9:26  “We’ve begun to reinvent our energy policy. We’re not just handing out money – we’re issuing a challenge.” Lots of science talk – a good thing!

9:25 New budget – we’ll invest in biomedical technology, information technology and clean energy.”

9:25 Sputnik. NASA. “we unleashed a wave of industries”. Our Sputnik moment.

9:23  “In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives; it is how we make our living.” Okay, that was cool.

9:22  “Winning the future”. How to get there. Here we go.

9:21 “the future is ours to win”. We can’t stand still. (It’s our turn to [dare I say] invest?)

9:21   Saying how great we are (applause), the ‘but’ will be the heart of the speech I imagine.

9:19  China is now home to the world’s fastest computer(!) – investment talk begins – I hope.

9:18 “Proud men and women who feel like the rules have changed in the middle of the game. They’re right. The rules have changed.”

9:17 “challenges that have been decades in the making” Good line.

9:15 That was a really strong start. Cut right to the reality. We’re bigger than party.

9:11 Boehner just introduced the Prez. Very brief, the usual words, but spoken in an oddly detached way.

9:08  Just a brief glance at the First Lady’s box, but did I see Lt. Chu up there? (The West Pointer Iraq commander who ‘came out’ last year.)

8:58 Is CNN still covering the Tea Party response?

8:52  Most egregious aisle hogs – Sheila Jackson Lee and Vern Buchanan. So far.

8:50  Fun watching who’s chatting up who. Best so far – Rand Paul and Al Franken, laughing – a lot. Wonder if they’re each other’s date tonight? Odd seeing so many Senators whose faces are new to me.

8:45  CSpan covered the magisterial moment when 100 Senators leave their chamber and ‘cross the aisle’ to the House, where they are welcomed, much as the President is when he enters. Nice.  Never saw that before.

Maybe we can put Bernie Sanders on!

Stupid CNN.

” . . . there’s [was] an important detail to keep in mind. Politico noted that Bachmann’s “response will be streamed on the Tea Party Express’s web site, while Ryan’s will be carried by national networks.”

“[But] As it turns out, that’s no longer accurate. CNN announced late yesterday that it will broadcast all three speeches — President Obama’s national address, Ryan’s response, and Bachmann’s response — on the air, in their entirety.”


Well, he’s definitely broken new ground

Tim Pawlenty is running for the big job.

Egypt erupting.

This can’t be good.

State of the Media

As we news-junkies await the State of the Union, Matt Yglesias looks at the breathless coverage in the media of Rahm Emanuel’s ballot crisis in the Chicago mayoral ballot and notes:

“BREAKING THE NEWS: The basic phenomenon is nothing new, but the only thing preventing me from saying that the ratio of articles about Rahm Emannuel’s mayoral bid to information about Emannuel’s views on urban policy is almost infinite is my strong suspicion that the denominator is actually zero.”

He’s got that about right.

Treasured moments

A much-loved nephew, father of two, busy busy man,  blew in (and out) of town yesterday. I had dinner with he and his parents last night; we ate and talked for almost four hours. Hugged too.

I think he’s  looking good these days, don’t you?

Hang your heads in shame, Liberals!

Over at The Conservative Lie, bigotbasher has a post called ‘Liberals Built America“. He lists (via Kos) some of the things, to use his words, ‘bequeathed to America”. Like:

.. the 8 hour day
.. paid holidays
.. paid vacations
.. sick pay
.. pensions
.. workplace safety
.. Social Security
.. Medicare
.. Medicaid
.. GI Bills
.. student loans and grants for college
.. Consumer Product Safety Commission
.. requiring truth in advertising
.. Food safety
.. safety in drugs and cosmetics
.. requiring auto makers to recall and fix unsafe vehicles
.. clean water
.. clean air
.. free public education

There are so many more at his link.

Get outta my way peasants!

A new reader (and blogger) ScriptorObscura posted this graphic detailing the political history of the Koch family, whose current patriarchs are brothers David and Charles.  (I borrowed it, as did she.*) Their father founded the John Birch Society; they founded Freedom Works, the best financed Tea Party group. The ‘freedom’ they are concerned with of course is for their own money; to them, the rest of society are barely worth notice. That ‘rest of society’ is you. And me. And anyone we’ve ever met.

They don’t like us, they don’t like taxes, they don’t like Social Security or the minimum wage. And taxes – did I say taxes?

They do like Dick Armey though.

(* graphic originated at The Other 98 dot com.)

Let me say this about that

Folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher and listening to the Sunday shows. First up for me –  new Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Meet the Press. Gregory has been trying to get him to say the birthers have an illegitimate issue. He won’t. He’s trying to get Cantor to dispute the birther script and agree that it’s just ‘crazy talk’. He won’t. But he has a good reason – Cantor says he ‘won’t be prodded into calling people names’.

How about specifics for cutting the budget? Everything is on the table David. Like what? See, David, we need to get back to fiscal responsibility. But Rep. Cantor, what would this Congress cut? We have a committee working on that.

How about repeal of Health Care? What will the Republicans to cover the Americans who have no health insurance now? Well first David, we have to keep our campaign promise and repeal this bad bill. Will you repeal all fo it or parts of it? Americans were clear. Elections have consequence.

Find an answer in there. I dare you.

(For some Sunday fun, go visit The Bobblespeak Translations, where the weekend jibber jabber is translated every week for the rest of us. Funny stuff.)

Sweet Sunday morning – here and there

It’s early Sunday morning. The sun isn’t yet up. I love this gentle quiet before the world around me rouses itself. There’s a fresh pot of coffee – that steaming first cup, so appreciated this cold Florida morning (it’s in the 30’s outside). The heat in my old house blows hot and cold.  I’m thinking about wood stoves and how one would be lovely right now. My neighbor fires his up at the first hint of cold and even inside I can smell that earthy wood smoke.

A nephew will be in town tonight (although he’ll be incommunicado until after the Packer’s game) and it’s pleasant to contemplate that visit with my second coffee warming my fingers.

These small graces put me in mind of the young Americans in Afghanistan, where today is the 109th day of the tenth year of the war there.

Coming to a tweet near you!

From Sherri at A Feather Adrift. Meet SIWOTI, a new achronym, from

Duty Calls

FOX News: My new best friend. Thanks Steve! (whoops, I mean pino!)

In a comment thread below, blogfriend Steve said something about Obama loving GE and liberals loving GE for their green initiatives. That was news to me – I’d always considered GE to one of the more blatant corporations at the government tit (as it’s often so inelegantly called) and a major maker of weapons of war. (Plus the directions that come with their appliances really really suck which should be cause enough on its own to hate them.)

But Steve’s comment sent me surfing and I found this story at FOX, which seemed to track the objection Steve (and I assume many conservatives) have with the appointment of GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as a major Obama advisor.

On liberal sites, the appointment is decidedly not popular. But in reading the FOX story with its questions (coming from such a different point of view)  I found much to like about this appointment. 

So now this liberal may have found an enlightening new way to see the whole story – but not exactly as Steve might have hoped. Where he sees a downside and something suspect, I see an upside and something hopeful and forward looking (if what FOX identified as ‘problems’ is correct).

I’d thank Steve, but I’m not sure he’d appreciate it.

UPDATE/CORRECTIONS: Blogfriend Steve points out that I incorrectly refer (above) to an exchange with him, that was actually with blogfriend pino (and Alan of course). Sorry guys.