Reality is the Achilles heel of American foreign policy.
Humpty Dumpty: “There is no turning back from the path of reform that we chose,” said a clueless Mubarak. “We seek more democracy and freedoms.” Quite possibly (1) he believed what he was saying, or (2) words mean what I say they mean.
Wait, Children: The Israeli government is “not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process.” Saudi King Abdulla called the protesters troublemakers for calling for freedom of expression. Obama said the US supports an “orderly transition” - stop making a mess in the streets, go home and wait.
Pay to Play: Obama's new best boy, former Wall Street exec William Daley thinks the US should sell off its roads, airports, bridges, sewers, water systems – its infrastructure.- to “private sources both foreign and domestic”. Silent auction, submit your bids.
Understatement: “It seems clear that some basic premises of US policy towards the [Arab world] have been rendered invalid.”
Here We Go Again: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to replace Medicare with a voucher system to make recipients buy medical insurance with taxpayers' money. Ah yes, that'll make the health dollar go further.
Point of Order: Pundits are pointing to rising food and energy prices, high unemployment, and great economic inequality as the triggers behind the people's street theater in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and so on. But Tunisia's unemployment rate was only 13% and Egypt's lower than the US at 9.4% And inequality in America is far worse than in any of these revolting countries. Someone should mention this to the Few, The Proud, The Financiers.
Whose Ox? President Obama wants to cut the expensive and unnecessary subsidies granted the oil business, but Congress will not go along for fear of losing their expensive and unnecessary subsidies from the oil business.
Preventive Medicine: On January 17th, between the Tunisian and Egyptian street fairs, Kuwait announced it would distribute free food for the next 14 months and $3,500 to each citizen. That's the bread, circuses to follow.
Genie/Bottle: If the European Financial Stability Facility is going to rescue the countries in dire straights like Spain and Portugal, why are the interest rates on Spanish and Portuguese bonds back at all time highs? Is that Thomas I hear, over in the corner, doubting?
Where's the Beef? There are loud but peaceful demonstrations throughout the US in support of the Egyptian cry for freedom and democracy. The US doesn't rowdy, enthusiastic street protests any more. The Egyptians – and the Tunisians and Yemeni and on and on – have realized that they no longer want to accept the gulf between the rich rulers and the rest. Wonder when we'll come to the same conclusion and take to the streets? Never, or just too late?
Two World Sympathy: The Best and Brightest, or at least the Highest Paid, gathered at Davos do not understand all the concern about the economy and the lack of jobs and all. They, after all, are quite satisfied with the current status quo, where their status is quite nicely paid, thank you. Profits are good, bonuses better and they simply do not understand even the concept of the common man, mush less conditions in that other world, the one where actual work is – or used to be – performed.
That'll Teach 'Em: Rumor has it that NY Gov Cuomo's new budget will short NYC about $1 billion in education aid, forcing the city to cut 21,000 teachers. Other rumors suggest this one is a preventive strike.
Porn O'Graph: Oil upon Egyptian waters.