I'm not surprised to hear this. The El Sisi crew is rather full of themselves.
I'm not surprised to hear this. The El Sisi crew is rather full of themselves.
Iran continues to grow its influence around the region.
I am always willing to listen to anything that Seymour Hersh has to say. But this article by Bobby Ghost turns Hersh's story about the death of Bin Laden over and over and finds it wanting.
A look at the 'spirits' that haunt the Bell Centre in Montreal. Might be friends with the same spooks that hangout in Yankee Stadium.
Great piece by Josh Marshal of TPM about the stew that Bibi has found himself in before he even starts a new term in office.
Comment from my scientist daughter, commenting on the trend towards denying scientific findings: "All matter is composed of protons, electrons, neutrons and morons." And my young daughter added, "Yes most of the observable universe is composed of morons."
Recently the Board of Education in the Virginia suburb of Montgomery County (which is just outside DC) faced a dilemma. A group of Muslim parents were pressing the board to add religious holidays that would allow Muslim children to observe the important days to their faith without missing any school.
On the surface, I have no problem with this. If we're going to allow Christian students to observe Christmas, and Jewish students to observe holidays like Yom Kippur, then it only makes sense that we allow Muslim students to observe their religious days.
But I do confess I wonder where will this end? Islam is currently one of the faster growing religions in the United States and Canada, so I understand it from that angle. But there are lots of other religions in the world with different holidays, and what do we do it in the future one of those religious group starts to grow in popularity in the two countries?
And what happens when you get into the question of the Gregorian calendar that some religions observe versus the lunar calendar that others follow? It can really make for a bit of a mashup.
So I find what the Montgomery County Board of Education decided to do interesting. The board will stop connecting non-school days to religious observances and from now on breaks will have secular names. Christmas will just become winter break, and on days like Yom Kippur there will just be no school. I like this. (It should also be noted that they are not the first school district in the United States to do this, just the most recent.)
In one way it's a bit of a sleight-of-hand, a way to avoid giving the Muslim parents what they want. That I find rather sneaky. The best solution would have been like the one that was used for Yom Kippur – just give the kids the day off. But it's the best long-term solution if the board decides to use this new way of determining breaks wisely. Just awarding vacation days based on religious observances has problems for some of the reasons outlined above, and public school should not be determining their schedules based on what a particular religion dictates.
One friend argued with me that the Board of Education's new policy undermines tolerance towards other religions. After all, how will children know about things like Hanukkah if their school doesn't break to observe it?
But it's a mistake to think the use of religious vacation breaks promoted tolerance in any way. Do we actually believe that on Jewish holidays Christian parents sit their children down to explain why it was an important day for Jews to observe? Do you think that if Muslim kids were given a religious holiday that Christian and Jewish parents make the effort to explain to their children the idea behind that day off? (Would they even know?) I wish that were the case but if you believe that I have a narrow strip of unused land I would like to sell to you.
The decision to move to a secular naming policy actually promotes tolerance, or to be more accurate, reduces the opportunities for bigotry. There's nothing to prevent the Board of Education from selecting days off that allow some of their students to fulfill religious obligations, if that's what they want to do. But by not naming it a "Muslim holiday" they deny bigots the opportunity to drag out the bogusarguments about sharia law, the takeover of the world by Muslims, and all the old tired diatribes that seem so popular in conservative circles these days.
And besides, there is enough religion in the public square, particularly in the United States, that there is no danger of a change in public school policy threatening religion. School should be a place to learn about reading, writing, arithmetic and science. The promulgation of religious beliefs belongs in the home and in the church. Not in the public school.
John Diefenbaker, the Canadian Prime minister in the late 50s and early 60s, hated polls. His most famous comment about them (I am sort of paraphrasing here) was that only dogs found 'poles' useful.
I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Diefenbaker. I'm not the world's biggest fan of polls because I believe they are so misreported by the media and so misunderstood by the public. There have been times when I've made my antagonism towards polls public. Back in the 80s, when I was a columnist for a newspaper in Nova Scotia, I wrote a column advising people to lie to pollsters. After all, I wrote, there is no law that says you have to tell the truth – it's not like answering the census or something.
Well, pollsters howled at my suggestion, and said that polling was often the only way to figure out what people were actually thinking in a huge and diverse country.
I guess I can see the argument for why polls are necessary. I think it's hard in a country of 300 million or more people to know what everybody's thinking at one time. Even in a Congressional District of 50,000, or whatever the number is, it's impossible to read the mind of every constituent. So I'll give pollsters the point on that one.
But polling has become like the latest hot Christmas toy – everybody has to have one, or in this case be producing one. Once upon a time there were maybe a handful of companies conducting polls and surveys. Now polling firms pop out of the political landscape like dandelions on my front lawn. And a lot of these polling firms have connections to powerful political figures or to political parties themselves. In other words, they more than likely have an agenda.
And not only are there a tsunami of new polling firms, there are a plethora of poll types. You have the instant poll, the rolling poll (with either a three-day or a seven-day average), the national poll, the state poll, the district poll, the "are you a white male with a disability who happens to go bowling on Thursdays?" poll, the automated poll, and my personal favorite, and the one that does more to distort democracy than any other poll, the push poll.
But the biggest problem with polls is that they are so badly reported by the media. Like everything else it does, the mainstream media treats a poll as a horse race: just give us who's winning and losing. This is particularly true of national polls at presidential election time.
The truth is national polls are about as meaningful in a presidential election as a sailor's promise to a girl he just met while on shore leave. For instance the latest Gallup poll shows Mitt Romney seven points ahead of Barack Obama. Well, we all know that's just malarkey, to borrow a phrase from VP Biden. It was no more true than polls that showed Pres. Obama ahead by five or six points a few weeks ago. Particularly in the case of Mitt Romney a closer examination of the Gallup poll shows that one of the reasons for this huge spike in support is that the red states are redder than ever. Pres. Obama literally could not be elected dogcatcher in these red states.
This would be statistically significant if we'll actually elected a president by a popular vote, but as Gore and Bush showed in 2000, we don't. We have the funky little electoral college, an institution put in place by the founding fathers to ensure the public never really did get to pick its leaders. My guess is that if this race remains as close as the meaningful polls show (more on that in a second) Pres. Obama could win the election and lose the popular vote, and the same Democrats that were howling in 2000 when this happened to VP Gore, will be thanking their lucky stars for electoral college in 2012.
So who can you trust when it comes to polling? I think the first name has to be Quinnipiac. They don't do national polling so much as they do state polling, but I think they are the best in the business. Pew polls can be very good too. Gallup has a long history of polling, but they been inconsistent at times. I think the change that they made recently to include more cell phones in their sample will lead to much more accurate results. Marist is good too. When it comes to automated polling firms - basically companies who let machines do the surveying for them rather than real people - SurveyUSA has a good record. (But I'll take a poll that actually talks to people rather than just contacting them via an automated call.) I think there are other good companies as well but these few can really give people a more accurate idea of what's taking place politically, particularly on the state level.
When it comes to understanding the polls, don't trust what you read in your newspaper or see on your cable news channel, or their websites. These reports tend only skim the surface of what the polling really says. To understand what the polls really mean, if they mean anything at all, I turn first and foremost to Nate Silver of 538.com, now an appendage of the New York Times, and Mark Blumenthal at Huffington Post. There are some new people on the scene who are getting a lot of buzz online but I don't know as much about them as I know about these two, so I'm going to stick with Nate and Mark for the moment.
What I appreciate most about Silver and Blumenthal is that they know that polling is a marathon not a sprint. They are not distracted by every shining bobble that pops up from some obscure polling firm that would skew their models. If you really want to understand what's happening with the polls, read them. (Blumenthal's and Silver's recent take on a very interesting YouGov poll – a firm I am not all that familiar with because they are primarily known for their work in Britain – is particularly fascinating. )
Ultimately the only poll that really counts is, as Mr. Diefenbaker pointed out, the one on election day. It is the only one that we really must pay attention to, and the only one whose results directly affect our lives. Until then I have found that far too many polls are a lot like cotton candy - sugary goodness that gives us a momentary high but really has no lasting nutritional value.
Update: Two Iowa polls provide a great example of what I'm talking about. Yesterday, the Marist/NBC poll shows Obama ahead by eight points. Today a PPP poll shows Romney ahead by 1 point. How can that be, you might ask. I'll let Mark Blumenthal explain:
"Pollster methods may explain some of the difference. Marist calls samples of both landline and mobile phone numbers, while the other telephone polls conducted in Iowa since the first debate use automated methodologies that are prohibited byfederal law from calling cell phones."
So the Marist poll is most likely the better bet, at least for now.
The fat lady is not warming up.
The sky is not falling.
You can come in off the ledge now.
Since President Obama's miserable performance in last Wednesday's debate, there has been more hand-wringing by Democrats and Obama supporters than there was by bookies after that disastrous last-second call by the replacement refs in the Green Bay-Seattle game. Andrew Sullivan seems convinced it's all over – Obama has imploded. Michael Tomasky, another Daily Beast fire alarm puller (Coincidence? I don't think so…everything at the Daily Beast always seems turned up to 11 on the dial), speculated that Obama doesn't even WANT to win the election.
Cripes guys, please go change your Depends in some other corner of the public media.
For the rest of us, this might shed a different light on the proceedings. It's from CNN about three days after Sen. John Kerry handed President George W. Bush his head in the first debate back in September of 2004:
"A majority of Americans
believe Sen. John Kerry won the first presidential debate of the 2004 campaign,
putting him in a virtual tie with President Bush, according to polls released
Saturday by Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times.
"Newsweek reported that Thursday's debate in Miami, Florida, had "erased the lead" that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have held over Kerry and running mate Sen. John Edwards since the Republican National Convention in New York.
"Newsweek's post-convention poll had Bush leading among registered voters 54 percent to 43 percent. Its post-debate poll had 47 percent choosing Kerry-Edwards, and 45 percent for Bush-Cheney. Two percent said they would vote for Ralph Nader and his running mate, Peter Camejo."
In 2004, Bush-Cheney saw an 11-point lead in national polls disappear, to fall behind by two-points. And Sen. Kerry then went on to win the second and third debate as well, on his way to…losing the election. In Ohio.
Get my drift. It's déjà vu, all over again.
Now, there is no sugar-coating it, President Obama performed incredibly poorly last Wednesday and gave Gov. Romney an opening that he could have driven an RV through. Not good.
But good lord people, it's not fatal either. There is already some evidence that the President's poll numbers are improving following the Friday job reports numbers. And don't forget, this is Mitt Romney after all. Polls taken after his victory on Wednesday still show his unfavourability ratings are higher than his favorability numbers. And while they are better than they were a few weeks ago, so are President Obama's.
My personal opinion is that the most important political event last week was not the first debate, despite what the pundits say. It was the decision by a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit to allow voting over the weekend before the election in Ohio. This will allow thousands of voters, and African Americans in particular, go vote on the Sunday before the election in Ohio – something the GOP knows will very likely tip the state, and thus the election to Obama.
Even without Ohio, Obama is still holding his own in the swing states. Most of those polls still show him ahead in states like Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin ... and even Ohio. And there are two more debates to come and they will NOT be like the first one. Even if it comes out a draw, Obama wins.
So for all the worry warts and Eeyores out there, go take a valium. This is a marathon, not a sprint. As Obama has said again and again to the huge audiences that have come to see him, and boo when he mentions Romney or the GOP, don't boo, vote.
UPDATE: Ohio's secretary of state has said he will appeal the 6th's court decision to the Supreme Court. I'll be curious to see if the Supremes even take the case. First, it's only 4 weeks until the election. Second, if it's another 5-4 decision in favor of the GOP, it will be seen as another blatantly political decision like Gore vs. Bush. And that will undermine the court's authority all together, regardless of the Affordable Care Act decision last spring.
2nd Update: Most polls are showing Obama still leading in the swing states. Romney seems to be having trouble breaking that "47%-48%" barrier in the polls.
So I see that Mr. Weingarten's column in the Washington Post has stirred up a hornet's nest. Well, that is what a columnist should do. Provoke a reaction in his or her audience. It had been my intention to ignore Mr. Weingarten and the debate over his not -on-the-scene observations but so many people mentioned his column to me today and asked me for my take on it, I thought I'd share it.
First, let me extend to Mr. Weingarten the same courtesy that he showed the Online News Association and its conference In Boston. I won't actually read his oeuvre before I write about it, and just rely on hearsay to opine about it. That at least puts us on equal footing.
Then again, I really don’t need to read it because I've read it a hundred times before. In papers and magazines. I've also heard similar rants on the radio and seen people talking about it on the tube. Some of them have the feeling of a Sunday sermon. Jeremiads are a popular choice. Others have a nervous hand wringing tone. Some, like Mr. Weingarten, apparently try to use humor. That, at least, is a unique approach.
But the message is always the same. The Internet (digital media, blogs, twitter, Facebook, microblogs, user-created content, etc. etc.) and other forms of popular media will be the death of (Are you ready?…take a deep breath everyone) SERIOUS journalism. Serious is always said in capital letters in this case so that the great unwashed, will know that it's, well, serious.
First let me establish my credentials as a SERIOUS journalist. First, I'm an old fud. I've been working in this field for 35 years now. I've written for newspapers in Canada and the US, including the great Christian Science Monitor. I've worked for the CBC in Canada and NPR in the US. I'm a Nieman Fellow (that's my attempt at SERIOUS name dropping.)
I've been working online for about 20 years now, sometimes in combo with print and radio, sometimes only online. I also worked for the ONA for a few years as a part-time executive director, back when people thought ONA meant "Only Nubile Amazons" or "On No Account." Yes, after working in almost every form of journalism, my old fud view is biased towards online.
I could give you lots of reasons why I think Mr. Weingarten and his ilk fear the future, because I think that is at least part of what's happening here. Instead, I recommend you watch the excellent series Michael Lewis did for the BBC several years ago called "The Future Just Happened." Of particular interest will be the part about how technologies that begin at the fringes of society eventually undermine the priesthoods at the center, and how those priesthoods deal with the loss of control over the "message" as the means of control opens up to a large number of people. (I suppose Mr. Weingarten might not like being lumped in with a bunch of other fuds in a 'priethood', but you get my drift.) The whines are always the same – the purity of the message is lost, these people don’t know what they're doing, only we can be trusted with this task…you know the drill.
But I have to stop now. I'm getting ponderous. Stroking my beard stuff. Well, if I had one. But here's the bottom line. Nothing is going to change. The ball is rolling and it's not gonna stop. The task for us, as journalists, is to learn how to harness these new technologies so that SERIOUS journalism does not vanish. That's kinda what the ONA is really all about and what its conferences are all about.
And for my final note…wait. Is that Gene Weingarten with a piece of bacon strapped to him? Oh. Too bad. It doesn't make me LOL.
I want to salute an all-American pastime
It's as American as apple pie. Or saluting the flag. Or watching fireworks on the 4th.
Or taking steroids to improve athletic performance.
I'm talking about that great American pastime, cheating.
Now I'm not necessarily talking about corruption here. Corruption is like cheating's first cousin. There are certainly nations that are more corrupt that we are, although we're no amateurs at it either. Nor am I talking about cheating on a spouse. I'll leave that to John Edwards and various GOP senators.
No, I'm talking about good ol' fashioned American cheating, like the huge scandal that has broken in Atlanta recently over the fixing of the standardized test scores of the city's schools. And surprise! …it wasn't the kids who were cheating.
This fine display of Americana came from the teachers, the principals and the administrators for the city's school district in an effort to boost scores to reflect unearned levels of excellence, to ensure continued funding and to keep people from being fired for being lousy teachers.
But let's not just pick on the teachers in Atlanta. There are news reports that this may have happened in as many as 10 different states. Now that's what I call an outbust of patriotic spirit!
Yes, I know, we all teach our children not to cheat. I certainly teach that to my kids. But in a culture that cheats on almost every level (come on, admit it, you've tweaked you tax returns a bit or two over the years) and in almost every profession (steroids in baseball, track and field, cycling, football, Wall Street insiders cheating by getting inside information, health care companies cheating on the Medicare payments forms they file, farmers who report more acres than they actually have so they can collect more government hand-outs, healthy people who park in handicap zones etc., etc.) it hard to get them to listen to you when everyone around them is, well, cheating.
In fact, I would say that we kind of glorify cheaters. Few people are as famous as Bernie Madoff. Or Barry Bonds. Or the 1919 Black Sox (anyone remember even remember the name of the team that they played that year). Lots of people still think George W. Bush cheated when he became president in 2000.
Which begs the question why do we cheat so much? Well, that's easy. Fear of failure for one. "Because everybody does it" is a great rationalization to cheat. But I think it's' often about the Benjamins and the fame. Baseball players took steroids so they could sign contracts that were bigger than the economies of small African countries, or because they would do anything to break an important record. Or, as in the case of Atlanta's test scores, people cheated to make themselves look good and keep the money and accolades flowing.
Oh yes, they do get caught now and then, and when they do the consequences can be drastic. Barry Bonds will never be in baseball's Hall of Fame. Bernie Madoff is probably in prison until the second coming. Many, many teachers and administrators across the country are going to lose their jobs over cheating on test scores. But even knowing those possible outcomes, they still cheated. Because we all think we can get away with it.
They say that cheaters never prosper. That might be true. Certainly that's the case in Atlanta. But Barry Bonds name is still in the record books. And last I checked, not all that many people have gone to jail for the Wall Street escapades that have put us all on economic life-support. Wall Street is recording record profits again.
So we can expect cheating to remain a popular activity for a while yet. The potential rewards are just too tempting.
I've wanted to do this for a long time. But Friday's murderous shooting rampage in Norway has become my tipping point, I guess. It's not that I think that everyone who believes in a religion is a bad person, or needs to be chastised, or is worthy of scorn. I know from personal experience that there are many good people of faith in the world. Religion, or a belief in a divine being, does not always necessarily translate into a negative, even if I believe that such a belief is a mistake.
But something is happening. Religions are increasingly being overwhelmed by extremists and fundamentalists: Christian right-wing fundamentalists in the United States, Islamic extremists in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, ultra-Orthodox Jewish settlers in the West Bank. It's not that they necessarily represent large numbers within their particular denominations or faith, but technology and modern-day weapons have made it possible for just a few of these extremists to have a much louder voice and effect on the world than their more moderate compatriots. The time has come to speak up against these people, regardless of their religious affiliation.
The country in which I live, the United States of America, is in danger of being overwhelmed by a right-wing fundamentalist Christian, xenophobic, homophobic, bigoted, misogynist, racist ideology. And it's time to start to fight back. This group, largely represented by people who define themselves as tea party "patriots," are threatening to undermine the very values that make America the great place that it is. I believe this with my heart and my soul.
So we have a choice. To do nothing or to speak out against these forces.
To be perfectly honest with you I was surprised that this horrible shooting happened in Norway. Perhaps because it was so much easier for the Norwegian shooter/bomber to obtain the fertilizer that he needed to make a bomb and the guns that he needed to shoot down 84 children that it happened in this relatively peaceful Scandinavian country. I am surprised it did not happen in the United States of America where violence hangs in the air like the noxious odor of cheap cologne in a strip club.
I guess I've reached the point where I just think we'd all be better off without religion
I think I will try to use this space to talk about issues and incidents were I see religion overwhelming good sense and the common welfare of all Americans. I'm sure I'll have a lot to write about.
This was Sand Monkey's last post before he was attacked, maybe arrested and his account suspended. Please read and pass on the link....
I don’t know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one’s friend house to another friend’s house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.
It didn’t start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square. We have been fighting to keep it ever since.
That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn’t go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.
Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what’s right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn’t believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak’s departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime’s ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn’t nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.
Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because “we got what we wanted” and “we need the country to start working again”. People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it’s time for Unity under Mubarak’s rule right now.
To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn’t caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren’t the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn’t enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children. After all, he gave us his word, and it’s not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.
Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.
You watched on TV as “Pro-Mubarak Protesters” – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID’s on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn’t give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.
In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it’s the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.
Now, just in case this isn’t clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won’t say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.
The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay “because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people”. This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can’t. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can’t allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn’t over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak’s guarantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.
I think being a politician is an incredibly difficult proposition. On the one hand, you have to be ego-driven to enter the fray, even if you're doing it for all the right reasons. On the other hand, in a 24x7 media world, with Internet and twitter and Facebook, etc., you surrender your privacy, and every mistake you may have made in your life becomes fodder for every person who has access to a keyboard.
Latest example: Nikki Haley, candidate for the GOP nomination for governor in South Carolina. Yesterday a conservative blogger and supporter of Haley said he had a brief affair with her several years ago when she was married and he was single. Haley has vehemently denied the allegation. The blogger, Will Forks, a well-know conservative in Columbia, said he came forward with the story because he was aware that it was about to be published in the media.
And it seems that Forks may be telling the truth. The Columbia Free Times quotes several politicians in an article about the revelation, and apparently the alleged affair was "common knowledge" around the state house for the past year. The Times reveals in the piece that they were one of the media outlets pursuing the story.
Meanwhile, Michael Brendan Dougherty at the American Conservative writes that "Columbia, South Carolina is one of the most treacherous, gossiping, and self-obsessed political capitals on Earth. Everyone there talks, and whispers about an affair between Haley and Folks are nearly a year old at this point. Political consultants were wondering two years ago why Haley’s car was so often seen in front of Folks’ home." Dougherty believes the allegations are true after talking to sources in South Carolina, and writes that the AP and other South Carolina sources have been researching the story for the past year.
Itf the allegations are true, it could be the end of Haley's bid for governor ... or South Carolinian could rally around her. The recent romantic adventures of current Governor Mark Sanford may make that more difficult.
The other two people who may be hurt by this affair if it turns out to be true are Jenny Sanford (the governor's wife) and Sarah Palin. Both women have strongly backed Haley but Palin has gone a step farther, denouncing the allegations and comparing them to things said about her and her family.
I wish we were more like the French when it came to this sort of story. If we disqualified every person male (mostly male, let's be honest) or female who has made this kind of mistake, there would be few people in public office. Or in the schools, or in the churches, or just about anywhere.
And being from the religious right doesn't seem to help (ask John Ensign). People are people when to comes to sex.