Tuesday, February 22, 2011

22 February 2011

image via rocknetroots

Robert Reich advocates raising the top tax bracket to 70 percent
[via Avedon ]

Ian Welsh discusses events in Wisconsin and advocates a top tax bracket of 90 percent.

Yahoo/AP:At CIA, grave mistakes, then promotions via Detroit Free Press, but I have a feeling this link will eventually be no good.
In December 2003, security forces boarded a bus in Macedonia and snatched German citizen Khaled el-Masri. For the next five months, el-Masri was a ghost. Only a select group of CIA officers knew he had been taken to a secret prison in Afghanistan for interrogation. But he was the wrong guy.

Paul Craig Roberts, "From Brunei to Washington: Kleptocrats at Work"

'Upper-Class People Have Trouble Recognizing Others’ Emotions''

and (speaking of perception) Rob Payne, "The Gaddafi Mirror"

Mother Jones, "South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers"

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics

Two via the redoubtable BDR:

1. Hosni Mubarak used last 18 days in power to secure his fortune
2: Corporate scavengers

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt 2011:Now what?

I agree with Mimi (and Ian Welsh) that the events of the past 3 weeks in Egypt represent a victory for ordinary people, no matter what the eventual outcome.

Meanwhile the US mainstream press is full of fancy-pants learned assessments of how Obama and the State Department "handled" the events in Egypt, as if we really still have so much influence in the region, which I doubt. I assume Obama hopes the displacement of Mubarak as just so much rebranding, and that may prove be the case(Change he can believe in...). At any rate I suspect Egyptians are less likely to be fooled by mere window dressing and symbolism the way, say, many democratic voters were fooled by Obama.

Pankaj Mishra, The Guardian:"The tyrant has gone. Now the real struggle begins for Egypt"

"The edifice of despotic government totters to its fall. Strive so far as you can to destroy the foundations of this despotism, not to pluck up and cast out its individual agents." This was the deathbed exhortation-cum-warning of the itinerant Muslim Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838-1897) who pursued a long career in political activism and trenchant journalism.

John Dickerson, Slate, Was Obama Too Indecisive on Egypt?
Or did his refusal to meddle actually speed Mubarak's fall?

Ethan 6 or 7, "A perfect symbol of how hard the fight is"

Ian Johnson: Washington’s Secret History with the Muslim Brotherhood [via BDR]

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Cairo Spring

Robert Springborg, Foreign Policy "Game over: The chance for democracy in Egypt is lost" Feb 2nd

Gareth Porter, "The Illusive Quest for Dominance: Why Washington Clings to a Failed Middle East Strategy"

Juan Cole, "Saad’s Revolution"

‘ Saad Eddin Ibrahim has spoken out forcefully on human rights and democracy for decades, and he is finally being vindicated. But his message that the United States needs to support democracy in the Arab world and put aside its paranoia about Muslim fundamentalist movements may be unpalatable to Washington’s elites. ‘

Firedoglake,“No One Could Have Predicted the Housing Bubble Middle East Status Quo Would Crash” [via Corrente]

Ahdaf Soueif: The regime unleashes its thugs

Washingtonblog, "Why Did Mubarak's Thugs Ride In On Camels?"

Gary Farber, "De Nile Truly Is A River"

Steve Lendman, "Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA?" 1/31

Parvez Sharma, 'We are very much in the early stages of our revolution’ Feb 3rd

Helena Cobban, "Obama's know-nothings discuss Egypt" 1/28

Chris Floyd had several interesting posts up about recent events in Egypt but apparently hackers have removed them.

I've seen very little in the way of polling regarding the turmoil in Egypt. From the somewhat right-wing Rasmussen people there's this.

Juan Cole mentions another poll, here: "Why Egypt 2011 is not Iran 1979"

A recent Pew poll found that 59% of Egyptians favor democracy in almost all situations. And fully 60 percent are very or somewhat worried about the specter of religious extremism in their society. About 61% do not even think there is a struggle between modernizers and religion in Egypt.

Among the 31% who did see such a struggle, 59% favored religious forces and 21% favored the modernizers. Barry Rubin and Michael Totten misread this latter statistic to be true of all Egyptians. They are wrong. The statistic is not about Egyptians in general, but about the third of them who see a conflict between modernizers and religion. 59% of 31% is 18% of the whole Egyptian population who favor fundamentalists over modernizers. The rest either favor the modernizers or think it is a phony conflict. Not thinking that modernism and religiosity conflict is generally a liberal point of view.

Vermont's Bernie Sanders has an interactive poll on his Senate web site, here. Last I checked about 2,700 people had participated. I know it's not remotely scientific, but I found it interesting.

Regarding Gary Farber and Marc Lynch (whom Farber quotes extensively), I'm inclined to think they both make too many excuses for Obama-- although I doubt that if Obama actually took a more forthright stand in favor of a meaningful change to democratic government it would make much difference in terms of actual events. My sense of Obama is that he just cares about avoiding having people and events making him look bad, and at this point the US government's main rhetorical struggle is the attempt to seem relevant to events in the Middle East. I wonder if many Americans can see how our influence in the region has declined, and it's not about dems versus the GOP, any more than Iraq was about WMDs. At any rate I hope Robert Springborg is wrong and the street revolutionaries really have a chance to get rid of the government and replace it with something better. History suggests the odds against them are steep, not because Arabs "don't understand" democracy, but because outside forces tend to interfere if they can.

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