Monday, February 28, 2011

Democracy in Arabia

There's this "European Heaven/European Hell" joke. There are many variations on it. This is a simple one:

European Heaven Is Where

-The French are the cooks.
-The English are the police.
-The Germans are the mechanics.
-The Italians are the lovers, and
-The Swiss organize everything.

European Hell Is Where

-The English are the cooks.
-The Germans are the police.
-The French are the mechanics.
-The Swiss are the lovers, and
-The Italians organize everything.

These are all stereotypes. Stereotypes have a bad image.We're not supposed to stereotype (in America, anyway).Yes, really it's okay.Stereotypes are helpful mental shortcuts that come naturally to the homo sapiens brain.In fact stereotypes are an indispensable tool that our brains must use if we are to function in the world.Our brains are not computers, they cannot take every single one of the four billion of us as blank slates.Our brains need to take the shortcut of "this looks like." This looks like: mommy, a cat, a car--our car--macaroni and cheese, etc.

As we get older and our brains develop and we get more experience we are able to distinguish, among the class "mommies," our mommy from a MILF, a cat from a tiger, our car from the neighbor's Lexus, and macaroni and cheese from food.

When we get really clever we can distinguish a Frenchman from an Italian from an Englishman and that is where the European Heaven/European Hell joke comes in. The reason the joke "works" is because there are national and ethnic identities, we all recognize them, and the joke captures them. Forget the opposites, if we randomly put the English in European Heaven as the organizers and the Germans as the lovers, the joke wouldn't work. A stereotype is only as good as its commensurability.

Discriminating among things is what we must do if we are to survive as individual members of our species. Stereotyping helps us do that. The problem with stereotyping is when we stop the discriminating at the class level. When we meet an individual member of a class, say Englishmen, we must not say "Don't go near the kitchen!"  And we don't do that, for goddsake. Nobody tells an individual Englishman don't go near the kitchen (unless he's cooked for us before). That is, we can enjoy the European Heaven/European Hell joke and still treat individual homo sapiens on their individual merits and demerits. We know that at base we are all homos with nearly identical DNA. We may not know this but it is true: our DNA is more similar to that of a chimpanzee than is chimpanzee DNA to orangutan DNA (we certainly do not like that (but it is true)).

And so in this post we have come from Englishmen to orangutans and somewhere in that range are Americans, Arab Muslims, Chinese, me, and you. Americans have a "democratic" political system; Arab Muslims and Chinese do not. The question becomes why?

I do not believe that Arab Muslims and Chinese lack the democracy gene; there is no democracy gene. I believe that Arab Muslims lack the democracy will (I can't deal with Chinese further here).  I believe that because I know that Americans invented modern democracy and we are a nation of mutts of average intelligence and so if we can do it anyone can. I believe that Arab Muslims can do democracy because they are at least the equivalent of us American mutts and because some few non-Arab Muslims (Turkey, Indonesia) do it.

I do not believe that democracy is a difficult thing to "organize," as Tunisia's Yadh Ben Achour said in explaining why the March 15 election there was called off. The demonstrations in Tunis, in Cairo, in whatever the hell the capital of Bahrain is, those, Mr. Ben Achour, are democracy-like acts, and they were done in the name of democracy.You put a bunch of ballot boxes in Tahrir Square, form a line, dip your finger in purple ink after you're done voting like they do in Haiti (avoid the butterfly ballot like we did in America), and voila as the French say.

The Tunisian elections were called off because Tunisians (we're talking class) had not the will to organize them. They valued "order" more. Order is a good thing, I like order...Actually order is not a good thing and I don't like order. Too much order and you'll end up German. Rather the will to democracy is the will to listen, and to compromise. People who order don't listen and don't compromise.

I don't find the will to democracy among Arab Muslims because of Islam. Islam has too many orders. When the organizing doctrine of life requires the toilets to face all toward (or away from, I forget which) Mecca, there is too orderly an organizing of life for the listening and compromising that is required of democracy.

Religion is not destiny (despite what all religions say) any more than biology or history or melanin is. Even DNA changes. Democratic change will not come, it says here, until the Arab Muslim people change Islam as it is practiced and preached today--just a little. Really not much. Or if they just change Islam's role over their lives that same little bit. But until "Islam Is The Answer" is truly believed by Arab Muslims to be NOT the answer, the toilets will all face one way, democracy will have a hard time, and the Arab Muslims will all be like Germans. 

Democracy in Arabia

The caption to this photograph, from Reuters, in The New York Times, is:

"Tunisian soldiers tried to calm Egyptians fleeing Libya on Monday."

Now, when you have Tunisians, who can't keep Tunisians from fleeing Tunisia, trying to calm Egyptians--about anything--that doesn't seem like it's going to work. And then to have Tunisians trying to calm Fleeing Egyptians, in Lybia...Uh, good luck Tunisian soldiers, keep in touch.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Libya 2.0

"A Revolution is not a dinner party."
                            -Mao Zedong.

THAT is a revolutionary, not a protester. Qaddafi will not crush him, as he vowed to do as Deng Xiaoping crushed the Tienanmen protesters.

Egypt 2.0

"'So far, Tahrir is my favorite place,' said Mr. [Aart] Blijdorp, who had visited the Pyramids the day before."

"Jennifer, Jennifer, can you show us the place in Tahrir Square where Lara Logan was brutally sexually assaulted by a mob of 200 Egyptian men?"

Egypt 2.0

Shoulder in sling I went to Tahrir Square yesterday where New York Times correspondent Jennifer Conlin was giving a guided tour. With me were Aart Blijdorp from The Netherlands and Julia Griffin and her boyfriend Joel Anthony from Canada.

"Hi!," said Jennifer, cheerfully.

"Hi Jennifer!"

Jennifer said when she was last here in October "it was still hard to ignore the broken glass and cigarette butts underneath my feet, and the tired, worn faces of the young Egyptians standing near me."

"Ughh, Jennifer were you wearing sandals or pumps?," asked Julia.

Jennifer said now the scene "could not have been more different."  Kasr el Nil bridge was now "spotless" she said.

"Look at spotless Kasr el Nil bridge!," we all said at once.

Jennifer slid "[her] hand along the shiny hunter-green and silver railings, marveling that even the curbs had received new coats of black-and-white paint to prevent illegal parking--courtesy of the protesters."

"No illegal parking!  No illegal parking! Thank you protesters!"

Jennifer said "Rick Zeolla, the general manager of the Cairo Marriott, where Christiane Amanpour...stayed" had said, 'Right now Egypt is like having a fast pass at Disney.'"

"Christiane Amanpour!"
"Cairo Marriott!"

"And not unlike Berlin, where visitors can see many of the relics surrounding the fall of the wall in the city's museums, plans are already under way in Cairo to do the same with the revolution's memorabilia," said Jennifer.

"The Berlin Wall!  The Arab Wall of Authoritarianism!  Jennifer, can I see the relics of the Arab Wall of Authoritarianism, where are they?," I asked, wincing.

"Tahrir means "liberation'" in Arabic, explained Jennifer. "The square was named Tahrir when the Egyptians were liberated from the British in 1919."

"Bad old British!"

"1919?!  Is that when the American agent Hosni Mubarak unliberated the Egyptians, Jennifer?"

Jennifer explained that "Sultan Fuad I"  took over from the British.

"Was he a Democrat or Republican, Jennifer?"

"What's a Sultan, Jennifer?"

"It's like a king."


"Was he a British king, Jennifer?"

"Who liberated the Egyptian people from Sultan Fuad I, Jennifer?"  Jennifer explained that the son of Sultan Fuad I, Farouk, succeeded him.

"Was Farouk a Democrat or Republican, Jennifer?"

Jennifer said Farouk was a king too.


"Was he a British king?"

"Who liberated the Egyptian people from King Farouk, Jennifer?"  "Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1952," replied Jennifer.

"My oh my, the Egyptian people have had a lot of liberations, huh Jennifer?"

Jennifer explained that Gamal Abdel Nasser was not a king.

"Yea, Gamal Abdel Nasser!  Yea, Gamal Abdel Nasser!"

"Was Gamal Abdel Nasser a Democrat or Republican, Jennifer?"

Jennifer explained that Gamal Abdel Nasser died in 1970.


"Who took over for Gamal Abdel Nasser, Jennifer?"

"Anwar Sadat," replied Jennifer. "He signed a peace treaty with Israel and won a Nobel Peace Prize!," she said.

"Yea, Anwar Sadat!  Yea, Anwar Sadat!"

"It is amazing what has happened here," said Aart.

"Jennifer! Jennifer!," I broke in. "Can you show us the spot in Tahrir Square where President Sadat was assassinated by Egyptian soldiers?"

Friday, February 25, 2011

Democracy in Arabia

It was the policy of the United States government under President George W. Bush that democracy was the answer to what ailed Iraq. The United States government and influential writers such as Thomas L. Friedman and Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times support democracy in Egypt, Tunisia, and throughout the Arab world. I believe most Americans do too.

I believe that democracy has done fine enough in Iraq and that is tribute to President Bush's vision and the Iraqi people's practice. And the U.S. imposed democracy on Japan after World War II, and that could not have worked out better. Those, among others, are encouraging precedent, and those precedents have encouraged presidents and carpel tunnel afflicted wretches alike.

I don't believe democracy will be the outcome in Arabia any time soon, but I will be proved wrong or right about that. The issue in this post is whether it is in the United State's best interests to be supporting democracy in other countries.  I believe that most Americans, including presidents and New York Times writers, believe that democracy in other countries will, by its nature, be good for America. But is that true?

Adolph Hitler ran for president of Germany in April, 1932 against the incumbent, Paul von Hindenburg. In a democratic election Hitler came in second, receiving 35% and over 11,000,000 German votes. In the July Reichstag elections Hitler's Nazi party won 37% of the vote and became far and away the largest party in that legislative body. Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January, 1933. In March, 1933 Hitler and the Nazis got 43.9% of the vote. Over 17,000,000 Germans voted for them.

The People's Republic of China has never had democratic elections. Yet, I have never read any account whatsoever that has argued that Mao Zedong would not have been elected had free elections been held.

There are instances, and these are two of them, where clearly the will of the people of the nations involved was in support of ruthless, homicidal dictators. They have not been "good" for their people, not for the American people, not for humanity. There are instances, and these are two of them, where the people of other nations have clearly expressed their will to oppose the United States, it's security, and it's values.

I do not believe that it is in America's best interests to support democratic movements in foreign countries without considering whether the government that those people wish will be hostile or friendly to American security and values.

Democracy in Arabia

"This is the Arab world's Berlin moment. The authoritarian wall has fallen, and that's regardless of whether Mubarak survives." 

Dr. Fawaz Gerges
Tahrir Square
Free Egypt

Dear Fawaz,

I dislocated my shoulder.

I wasn't looking and some Fleeing Tunisians bumped into me on their way to Lampedusa and I fell against the Arab world's authoritarian wall.

Fawaz, the Tunisian election on March 15 has been canceled.  Ohhhh.

Has the League of Egyptian Women Voters met yet to recommend a presidential debate format?  I see that the Egyptian army, that agent of the swine Americans, has not yet lifted the state of emergency of that agent of the swine Americans Hosni Mubarak. Ohhhh.

Yemen's "strongman" American ally is still in place, Bahrain's king is still impalaced, the kingdom of the House of Saud is still a kingdom, and our noble Libyan brothers are still fighting Qaddafi.

Fawaz, the Prophet Muhammad taught us that the first person to reason by analogy was the devil. Fawaz, your analogy of the Egyptian protests as the Arab world's Berlin moment was overstated a bit peut-etre, no?

Benjamin el American Agent Harris.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Libya 2.0

"[The rebels] ages are 17. They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe," Gaddafi said.

This is normal brain:

This is Muammar Gaddafi brain:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Democracy in Arabia

If Not Now, When.

The message is "clear as a bell" according to Thomas L. Friedman. What is happening in Arabia right now means ONE THING for us Americans:

"impose a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax."

Democracy in Arabia

Thomas el Friedman is back.  Hi, I'm Thomas L. Friedman. I lean my chin on my hands and look right at you to show that I am a Listener.

"What is unfolding in the Arab world today is the mother of all wake-up calls," is his opening sentence. Hi, I'm Thomas L. Friedman, I use phrases like "mother of all," and so-and-so "left the building" to show that I Listen to the popular culture and the way popular cultures speak to show I'm "with it" even though the popular culture phrases I use are out of date by ten years.

Mr. Friedman's wake-up call was not to advise him that it was check out time, that it was time for him to leave the building, it was a wake-up for us you see, American us's. According to Thomas L. Friedman, "the smart thing for us to do right now is..."

This man is so deep, this man is so learned that we must take him in bite-sized pieces. We must digest his sentences before moving on. So let us us's digest what Thomas L. Friedman has said so far about this mother of all wake up calls, under the heading of "If Not Now, When," before we take the next bite.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


It has been a full month since I have written about China after having written and thought little else for so long. I have never felt so deeply as I do now. 

Libya 2.0

In what may be--and certainly is hoped to be--his last national address Col. Muammar Qaddafi today vowed to crush Libya's rebels as the Chinese government did theirs in Tienanmen Square in 1989.

I will never forget reading understated George Will's lead sentence in his column, when it looked like the Chinese people might really force the government to democratize: "These are the most momentous days in mankind's history."  For George Will to write that was...impressive.

And then the Chinese government massacred the students.

The difference between Beijing, 1989 and Tripoli, 2011 is that the Libyan rebels armed themselves. They knew that Qaddafi would slaughter them, they decided to die fighting, not just protesting.  The Chinese students, the Chinese people, did not think the People's Liberation Army would open fire on them. Indeed the army had not. Unforgettably, the "Lone Student" forced a tank to detour around him, and then...stop. The Libyan rebels seized a tank, and drove it into an army barracks. It would be as if the Lone Student had seized that tank and driven it straight into Zhongnanhai.

The Chinese government won the battle of Beijing in 1989. Col. Qaddafi will not win the battle of Tripoli.

Can Someone Go To The Airport For Me? (Redux)

Some light-heartedness on a day and in a month of such seriousness. Long-time readers may remember a post of the same title that appears here:
Just saw the below email, received Saturday:


Mr David Mark

I am a Diplomat named Mr David Mark, sent to deliver your contract/inheritance fund of$7.6m to you. I'm presently in at jfk international airport.Reconfirm your details,Name,address,phone,occupation and your identification card.

Libya 2.0

"Witnesses described the streets of Tripoli as a war zone."
                                                        -The New York Times, 2:15 pm.

The rebels are closing in. The Qaddafi regime is in its death throes. The Libyan rebels have fought magnificently and heroically. They are about to achieve victory.

Libya 2.0

Above, Keith Richards arrives for a concert to adoring fans...Whoa, no it's Muammar Gaddafi. 

Libya 2.0

"Eastern Libya Falls To Anti-Gaddafi Rebels."
                                  -Reuters, 10:39 am

Sonny, time to make reservations at the Caracas Hilton.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Libya 2.0

Look at this guy!

This is al-Islam.


"Do not shrink me, Gypsy. I warning you.


Look at him pointing his finger!
Dude, do you have any idea what's coming your way? You're going to be swinging from a lamppost soon.

Yeah, or that; that's what's going to happen to your head.

Didn't your daddy tell you not to pick your nose with both hands?  And sit up straight!

Swine Men.

There's a funny article in today's Wall Street Journal, "Where Have the Good Men Gone?"

"Too many men in their 20's live in a kind of extended adolescence--and women are sick of dealing with them."

It is true :(  And also of men in their 30's, 40's, and 50's. I have told Carmen my Cuban Consort that if it wasn't for men of the male persuasion I, and the American criminal justice system, would be out of business.

There's a video accompanying the article, "Why Are Men Today Such Losers?" 

Egypt 2.0

Where is Thomas el-Friedman?  He didn't write his column yesterday.

Mr. Friedman, you were in Tahir Square the day Lara Logan was brutally sexually assaulted. Who did it?  There were over 200 in "the mob" according to CBS, did you see it?  Have you asked, using your journalistic skills and contacts?  When did you find out about it, Mr. Friedman? Why haven't you written about it-ever?  Were any of the Egyptian protesters you praised in your column, "They Did It," for bringing down President Mubarak among those who "did it" to Ms. Logan?

"He leaves, and then we think."
            -Mina George, Cairo resident, as reported in The New York Times February 10. 

Mr. George, he left. What have you been thinking the last eleven days?  There's another demonstration tomorrow?  A million people hoped for?  You got rid of the "agent" of the Americans, the "American-backed strongman," what do you want tomorrow, a weak woman? How are the plans for the September election coming along? You too busy building ballot boxes to think?  How many presidential debates should there be?   Question-and-answer format only or with (30 second) rebuttals? You "did it," Mr. George, now what?

Democracy in Arabia.

The cause of Democracy in Arabia is being hindered by alcohol.

Yesterday, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, the male issue of Libyan "strongman" Muammar el-Qaddifi, blamed the recent upsets in the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (I did not make that up, that is the official name of Libya, and no, I don't know what "Jamahiriya" means. Neither do I care what it means.) on "drunks, criminals and foreigners."

Today The New York Times reports in an article based on an interview with Yadh Ben Achour, a lawyer, and head of Tunisia's High Political Reform Commission that there will be no presidential election in Tunisia on March 15 (said election being required by Tunisia's constitution). "It would be impossible to organize before March 15 deadline, [Mr. Ben Achour] said," according to the Times. 

"We might lose our freedom because we become too drunk on freedom," Mr. Ben Achour was quoted as saying.

Ahh. Yes, I understand that. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Libya 2.0

I'm calling this one for the protesters. Down goes Qaddafi.

It is easy, for me, to see how Egypt 2.0 or Tunisia 2.0 will be worse for America and worse for humanity than were the Mubarak and Ben Ali governments. If I have to favor a foreign government that would be worse for humanity or worse for America, I will always favor a government that would be worse for humanity. It is not easy to see how Libya 2.0 will be worse for either.

Protests in Libya

"In a speech early Monday on state TV [Saif al-Islam Qaddifi], the son of Libyan leader Moammar Qaddifi blamed drunks, criminals and foreigners for fomenting violence..."

I didn't have anything to do with it.
                           -Benjamin al-No Islam Barnesboro.

photo: al-Islam.

Protests in Libya

Benghazi to the protesters.

CNN is reporting that the second largest city in Libya has fallen to the protesters.
Reuters is reporting that a military unit, the Thunderbolts, has defected.
Libya's ambassador to the Arab League has resigned, according to CNN. Abdel Ehuni is quoted as saying that Col. Qaddafi "lost the people," and is "over, finished."

Protests in Libya

They stole a tank.

This is the most dramatic, heroic action by any Arab people in the post-World War II era. CNN is the source for the story, that the protesters "used an explosives-laden car and a tank to attack a military camp in Benghazi."

CNN is also reporting that Col. Qaddafi's son will speak on state television tonight.

"Protesters packed at least one car with explosives Sunday and sent it crashing into a compound wall at the [Alfadeel Abu Omar] camp," CNN continued. "Security forces then fired on the protesters as they attempted to breach the camp."  "On the camp's southern side, meanwhile, protesters drove a tank from a nearby army base in another attempt to break in."

The odds are with the ones with the bullets and guns, but now the protesters are arming themselves.

If there is to be a New Libya the odds too are that it will turn out to be as undemocratic, dysfunctional, and hostile to the U.S. as Qaddafi's Libya. In which case we Americans will continue to return the enmity, gladly. For this one moment, from one American: all respect for the Libyan protesters. They are fighting for a new country.

Democracy in Arabia.

Libya has long been closed to foreign media and Col. Qaddafi has now shut off the internet so the reports today, summarized below, may be erroneous.

Reuters is reporting that protesters have taken the streets of the second city Benghazi from Qaddafi’s security forces. If this is true it is far the most impressive example to date of the desire of the Arab people for change. For if this is true, it is true heroism.  Foremost, because Col. Qaddafi is far more ruthless than was Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, or Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.  Too, because the protesting Libyans do not have the crutch of blaming—to any degree—the United States or Israel for their government as Col. Qaddafi’s regime is, and has always been, implacably hostile to both countries. Thus, these protests are more purely homegrown protests against a homegrown dictator.

The courage of the protesting Libyans is also greater. “Despite,” as Reuters is reporting, “security forces killing dozens” the protesters have seized the streets of Benghazi and. Qaddafi’s police have retreated to a barracks. From there they have continued to fire as snipers. Mubarak’s and Ben Ali's forces let the protests continue.

Even if what is being reported today is true, the odds are decidedly with those with the guns and the bullets. China's democracy movement was stopped with the massacre in Tienanmen Square. And if, against the odds, the protesters win and force Qaddafi from power, democracy is not the foregone outcome. It says here democracy will not be the outcome, not in Libya, not in Egypt, not in Tunisia, not in Bahrain, at least any time soon.

“Islam is the Answer.”  That is the stock label of the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, Islam has no answers to what ails the Muslim world. It is a totalitarian ideology wrapped in religious garb. Islam is the main problem, and Libya is, of course, Muslim.

The original “protesters” in the West were called “protestants;” They—Martin Luther and John Calvin—successfully challenged the grip of the Catholic Church over Europe. They forced “reform,” but the “Reformation” took 133 years. Until, and if, Islam undergoes a Reformation like the Catholic Church did in the 16th and 17th centuries, Islam will be the answer to only one question: why is there so little democracy in the Islamic world? 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fawaz Gerges

Fawaz Gerges.

Fawaz Gerges, Fawaz Gerges. Where for art thou Fawaz Gerges?

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no Gerges.

Fuzz you is or Fuzz you ain't my baby. dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee.

Fawaz Gerges.

fawazgerges=seer aggwzf.
fawazgerges=serge fag waz. Oh hell, not that.
fawazgerges=grease fgwaz.
fawazgerges=graze safe w.


Bad old asterisks.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Egypt 2.0

Ladies and gentiles, meet "Fawaz Gerges."

It was this interesting individual who was quoted in the January 30 post here as saying,

"This is the Arab world's Berlin moment. The authoritarian wall has fallen, and that's regardless of whether Mubarak survives,"

which saying from Fawaz Gerges elicited this pithy retort from the undersigned,

"If this is the Arab world's Berlin moment, and authoritarianism has fallen in that world I will fly to London to kiss Fawaz Gerges a**" *

Fawaz was (or is, I don't know) also a consultant for ABC News. On December 14, 2006 Fawaz was interviewed by Lynn Neary of NPR. He related the following:

"I think it would be very misleading to see that, to say, as some people in the United States and the West argue, that anti-Semitism has migrated from its home base in Europe, particularly Germany and other counties, to the Muslim world."

His concluding remark was,

"I really believe that both the Jews and the Palestinians, basically, are, have suffered from similar historical injustices."

And so there you you have it. Fawaz Gerges. 

*That does not count as the use of a word requiring asterisks as it's a quote and therefore grandfathered in. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Egypt 2.0, Israel, America: Thomas L. Friedman.

Thomas L. Friedman, columnist for The New York Times, began his writing on the Egyptian protests on February 1 with this:

"Whatever happens in the only two Arab states [Jordan's the other] that have peace treaties with Israel, the moderate secularists who had a monopoly of power will be weaker and the previously confined Muslim Brotherhood will be stronger. How much remains to be seen."

That would be bad, and Mr. Friedman continued:

"As such, it is virtually certain that the next Egyptian government will not have the patience or room that Mubarak did to maneuver with Israel. Same with the new Jordanian cabinet."

Ergo, as we Latin scholars say, Mr. Friedman recommended to Israel that it conclude a peace treaty with the Palestinians forthwith.

"If Israel does not make a concerted effort to strike a deal with the Palestinians, the next Egyptian government will 'have to distance itself from Israel because it will not have the stake in maintaining the close relationship that Mubarak had,' said Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian pollster.

I would be surprised to know that Israel had not made a concerted effort before Mr. Friedman's column but I will defer to him as having greater knowledge. Mr. Friedman concluded:

"What the turmoil in Egypt also demonstrates is how much Israel is surrounded by a huge population of young Arabs and Muslims who have been living outside of history — insulated by oil and autocracy from the great global trends. But that’s over."

"It is vital for Israel’s future — at a time when there is already a global campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state — that it disentangle itself from the Arabs’ story as much as possible. There is a huge storm coming, Israel. Get out of the way."

As advice goes, "Get out of the way," seems to me generally to be sensible advice to a country with regards to other countries. All in all a pretty sensible column, I thought. 

Something happened on the way to get out of the way (Feb. 13):

"...when young Egyptians looked around the region and asked: Who is with us in this quest and who is not?, the two big countries they knew were against them were Israel and Saudi Arabia. Sad. The children of Egypt were having their liberation moment and the children of Israel decided to side with Pharaoh – right to the very end."

So inside of two weeks Israel was supposed to get in the way. I thought they were to conclude a peace treaty with the 'Stinians asap because, "whatever happens," "it is virtually certain" that Egypt 2.0 would "not have the patience or room to maneuver." Yes, that is what the man wrote and cited as authority for the proposition "Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian pollster." So even according to a 'Stinian, Israel was supposed to get out of the way on Feb. 1, according to "Thomas L. Friedman, an American columnist."

But wait, Israel did get in the way, but in the wrong way:

"…this Israeli government took two approaches during the last three weeks: Frantically calling the White House and telling the president he must not abandon Pharaoh – to the point where the White House was thoroughly disgusted with its Israeli interlocutors – and using the opportunity to score propaganda points: 'Look at us! Look at us! We told you so! We are the only stable country in the region, because we are the only democracy.'"
Really, Israel went "Look at us! Look at us!"?  Well, that's pretty childish; Israel, don't be so childish.  But wait a minute, "Pharaoh?"  I thought President Mubarak was "Moderate Secularist" on Feb. 1. Yes, that is what the man wrote. 
What happened?
"You did not need to be a Middle East expert to see that what was breaking loose here in the past three weeks was unprecedented – the first ever, largely bloodless (except for what the regime did), Facebook-driven, youth-led democracy uprising in an Arab country." 

to be continued.

The 133rd Pennsylvania Volunteers Regiment at Fredericksburg

Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woolen 
Gray and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.
Curious I halt and silent stand,
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest the first 
   just lift the blanket;
Who are you elderly man so gaunt and grim, with well-gray’d 
   hair, and flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you my dear comrade?
Then to the second I step—and who are you my child and darling?
Who are you sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming?
Then to the third—a face nor child nor old, very calm, as of beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man I think I know you—I think this face is the face of the Christ himself,
Dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies.
                                         -"A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Grim." Walt Whitman.

Writing in the current issue of Humanities, Randall Fuller, professor of English at Drury University says:
"Standing in the aftermath of battle, Whitman could 'hear plainly the music of a good band, at some Brigadier’s headquarters, a mile and a half away.' He continued: 'Then the drum tap from one direction or other comes constantly breaking in. . . . I hear the sound of bugle calls, very martial, at this distance.' Something about the music altered his mood, made him both pensive and hopeful. The landscape was suddenly transformed. 'Amid all this pleasant scene, under the sweet sky and warm sun, I sit and think over the battle of last Saturday week.' That battle was Fredericksburg."

"A Sight in Camp" was written by Whitman for the Battle of Fredericksburg. Whitman's brother George was wounded in the battle. 

Happy Birthday Mohammed!

Sorry I missed it yesterday. And Happy Valentine's Day, punkin!
That's such a good picture of your face. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Egypt 2.0

A couple of hours ago, CBS News issued a statement saying that during the celebrations in Tahir square, Cairo, after former Egyptian president Hosni Hubarak resigned, 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan, above,  "was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers." Ms. Logan and her team were flown back to the the United States and she is "currently in the hospital recovering," according to CBS. 

Protests in Iran

The photograph above, showing traders on the floor of the Tehran stock exchange, illustrates the vibrancy of the Iranian economy--Whoa, no it's members of Iran's parliament gleefully voting in favor of the death penalty for two opposition figures charged with leading protests against the Iranian government in emulation of the protesters in Egypt and Tunisia.

Iran is Islamic but not Arab, and this photograph illustrates the vibrancy of Islamic justice in action.

The Jasmine Revolution

Under the headline "Fleeing Tunisians Swarm Italy," MSNBC is reporting that 5,337 have fled the womb of Arab democracy for safe haven on Lampedusa, a small Sicilian island. This is not good, not for the people of Lampedusa (pop. 6,000), not for the fleeing Tunisians, not as an example of hope for Arab democracy.

The Tunisian people should stay and build the new society they have brought into being.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

                                                         all my brethren and sistren, to friends, enemies--strike that--not-yet friends, readers, members, pageviewers, to Song Yaowu, Weili Ye, Ye Weili, Chinese censors, Andrew Ross, Egyptians for Democratic Action, The National Organization for Women (NOW)-Cairo chapter, The Muslim Brotherhood, The Presbyterian Brotherhood, to all homo sapiens. Please let us join hands (don't worry I'm not a 'mo):

There comes a time 
When we heed a certain call 
When the world must come together as one 
There are people dying 
And it's time to lend a hand to life 
The greatest gift of all 

We can't go on 
Pretending day by day 
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change 
We are all a part of 
God's great big family 
And the truth, you know love is all we need 

We are the world [Sing it with me now!-B.H.]
We are the children 
We are the ones who make a brighter day 
So let's start giving 
There's a choice we're making  
We're saving our own lives 
It's true we'll make a better day 
Just you and me 

Send them your heart [I'm sending mi-ine-B.H.]
So they'll know that someone cares 
And their lives will be stronger and free 
As God has shown us by turning stone to bread 
So we all must lend a helping hand 

We are the world [We are the world!-B.H.]
We are the children [We are the children!-B.H.]
We are the ones who make a brighter day 
So let's start giving 
There's a choice we're making 
We're saving our own lives [li-i-ives-B.H.]
It's true we'll make a better day 
Just you and me 

When you're down and out 
There seems no hope at all [No, none at all!-B.H.]
But if you just believe 
There's no way we can fall 
Well, well, well, well, [Well, well, well, well!-B.H.] let us realize 
That a change will only come 
When we stand together as one [one, one, ONE!-B.H.]

We are the world 
We are the children 
We are the ones who make a brighter day 
So let's start giving [Here's $1.3 billion for star-ters!-B.H.]
There's a choice we're making 
We're saving our own lives 
It's true we'll make a better day 
Just you and me [Just you and me-B.H.]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt 2.0

"I think that Islam has to bend to allow Free Egypt to become a member of the International Monetary Fund." 

Egypt 2.0

"I believe that a Jew should be able to become president of Free Egypt." 

Egypt 2.0

"I believe in the separation of Mosque and State in Free Egypt."

Protests in Yemen.

One thousand Yemenis, protesting for "a Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution," clashed with police in the capital Sana'a today. According to the Reuters account the protesters took the silver medal in this one. The New York Times describes President Ali Abdullah Saleh as "a strongman and key ally of the United States." That is bad for President Saleh.

The Jasmine Revolution.

Alarming news out of Tunisia where the Jasmine Revolution has apparently not brought the days of jasmine and honey to the masses. Nearly 1,000 people, "escaping turmoil," according to Reuters, have fled Tunisia and have landed on an Italian island, which is unfortunate for them because (1) The island is Italian. (2) The current Italian government, headed by Silvio Berlusconi, was elected on a promise of cracking down on illegal immigration. 

Egypt 2.0

"I believe that a woman should be able to become president of Free Egypt if enough men vote for her."

Egypt 2.0

"I prefer a bicameral legislature personally, but that's just my opinion."

Egypt 2.0

"I beg to differ with you, sir."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Protests in Egypt


"He leaves, and then we think."
                -Mina George, Cairo resident last night, as reported by The New York Times.

Let the thinking begin.
President Mubarak has resigned. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This Is Public Occurrences

Susan Sontag has quit clicking on her 2006** post.

Replacing it in Google's Top IX posts with the most "pageviews" is "Red Legacy In China," March 19, 2009 edition.

A new entry on the Top IX, "Seeking the Soul of China: "Women Hold Up Half The Sky," November 11, 2010 is number VI. That was a fun couple of posts.

This is the 1,289th post since inception in 2002. At the time of this writing there had been 16,120 pageviews of the entire blog since May***, 2010 (which is less than on the Huffington Post since then, I would guess). Of those 16,000 pageviews 2,402 have been ON ONE POST, "The Anthropology of the Cultural Revolution," September 19, 2009. Fifteen percent of all pageviews on that one post.

I remember getting the idea for that post that Sunday.*  I thought it was a good idea, yes I did. And a different approach, yes. That number and that percentage are inexplicable. Maybe if you defocus your eyes and look at the post images of copulating couples appear, I don't know.

In that general area, "Lisa Randall Vogue" is the number two Search Keyword. On January 1, 2008 I wrote a post on Dr. Randall. With accompanying photograph (which doesn't appear anymore). That post will now supplant "Anthropology" next month. Swine men.  Besides Lisa Randall, "blogger" and "public occurrences" (and a separate entry misspelled with one "r") the list is, "Wang Guangmei,"  "We Rise With Our Dreams," "North Korean military," "Song Binbin," and "Lebron James."

Had two readers from Mongolia yesterday, one from Argentina; two from United Arab Emirates this week, six from India. And fourteen from Latvia. China has fallen from fifth to seventh among countries of readers. After the U.S. the list is: UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, South Korea, China, The Netherlands, Denmark, and France.

I needed a break, thus these posts the last couple days.

* Ah yes, that Saturday.
***Make that July.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

AOL is buying The Huffington Post for $300,000,000?
Three hundred million American dollars?
Hey, I have an AOL account. I can be...purchased.
Aside from the insults though, I don't change my opinion of student foreign exchange. It's dumb and we should be more careful. The thing with Song really galls me. Okay, you want to have an "open door" policy, fine. You do do some checking, no?  I mean, you don't want to have a repeat of Mariel, do you?  No you do not. SO COULD YOU CHECK THE F******, strike that, DARNED FRONT PAGE OF "PEOPLE'S DAILY," PEUT -ETRE? 
President Reagan, "that non compis mentus fool," and "You idiot?"

Maybe I could limit myself to one word in need of asterisks per front page of posts. 
Oh lord. Sunday's post is in need of a nuance infusion.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Murder of Lynne Friend


New post at 

Sunday, February 06, 2011


Received the below email several days ago from a frequent contributor and good friend. Events in the Middle East caused me to neglect publishing it sooner. 

I have made various references through the years to how I got so involved in China and Song Yaowu.  I will summarize here as it has relevance to the email from Wang Yi.  After coming back from Beijing in June, 2006 I picked up MacFarquhar and Schoenhals "Mao's Last Revolution." Travel can stimulate learning and I wanted to learn more. I was enjoying the book when I came to the photographs section in the middle and saw what I have previously termed, "The Picture,"  such was it's impact: Yaowu pinning a Red Guard armband onto Mao.  It was a deja vu moment. Somewhere, somehow, I had seen that picture before.  And her name before that moment, "Song Binbin," so strange and striking in its rhythm to an American ear. I had heard that name before, I thought. I don't know how or when. I looked the name up in the appendix.  She had immigrated to the United States; worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  If it had not been for that, none of...this...would have happened. It would have been an interesting book, I would have learned some new things, and I would have gone back to writing about Islam.  But that intelligence lit the fire:  HOW THE F*** DID SHE GET INTO THIS COUNTRY!

How the f*** she got into this country was because President Reagan, that non compis mentus fool (I apologize Mr. President, may you rest in peace. You idiot.), was approached timorously by an aide and asked if he would approve the entry of (I'm making this number up because I don't remember exactly) 75,000 young Chinese students to be educated here and learn about America. "Why not 750,000?" said Brown Suits. 

After the Second World War there was this movement;  it was based on the idea that "If only they could see how wonderful America is they would not hate us and we'd have a peaceful world." In other words, somebody got drunk one night.  And so Fulbright Scholarships, this scholarship, that scholarship, here a program, there a program, everywhere a program-program. And EVERY American politician bought into this drunken fantasy, from liberal Democrats to conservative Republicans who would otherwise have been standing on the Mexican border with shotguns.  But whisper "student foreign exchange" in their ears and they put flowers in their shotgun barrels and hold hands and sing "We Are the World." 

One who came to the U.S. via this road of flowers was Sayyid Qutub, who after a stint at the University of Northern Colorado, and a gander at hot American girls, and those hot American girls making out with their friend-boys in American bars, was repulsed at this intermingling of the sexes and went back to Egypt ("We Are All Egyptians," according to Nicholas Kristof al-Yamhill), wrote "In The Shade of the Koran," was imprisoned and martyred by Nasser, and became inspiration for Al Qaeda. So the Road of Flowers did not work out well for America with Sayyid Qutub. 

Nor with Song Yaowu (who was now named Yan Song). Her presence in this country debased America, her existence debases the human race. 

So, of course there are going to be Chinese spies in this country when we open up our parlor doors this wide. 

I do not think that I write in confusing nuance; I do not think one has to search for true meaning in my sentences, but...But, just in case, I will restate as clearly and concisely as I can: I believe that the brother and sisterhood of Man is a drunken fantasy.  We Are All NOT Egyptians, and We Are All NOT Chinese. 

They oppose us, and we must oppose them.


Hi Benjamin,

The following is an article I found at The Voice of America has
broadcasted it. It says currently Chinese government is establishing the system
of informants in universities or other institutions of higher ed, using
designated students to spy on those among students and professors whose ideas
they believe deviate from the official ideology. They even try to lure visiting
instructors from this country to talk about their views on sensitive topics such
as Taiwan, Tibet, etc. China has become more and more of a police country with
spies everywhere including Chinese communities in this country and others. As I
cautioned you before, in dealing with Chinese, you need to be very careful. Some
people may purposely try to approach you with some dissident ideas. Be alert and
don't be trapped.

Take care.

Wang Yi

发布者 siyu 11-01-27 05:10


记者: 陆杨





学生线人也举报教师的所谓论。美国一家中文网 转载了中国华东政法大学杨师群教授两年前发表在中国某门户网的一篇博文,题目是有同学告我反革命他在博文中讲述了学生到公安局和市教委告他讲课时评政府的遭杨师群的博客说,上面已经立案侦查他。







美国中央情报局的报告说中国重点高校在89年天安门广场事件之后就实行了学生信息员制2000年代初,中 国教育部门将信息员制度普及到武汉大学上海师范大学等省级高校,做为教育改革的一部分。2005年,学生信息员制度进一步扩大到层次更低的学校甚至一些中学。