What If Mubarak Were A Communist?

It’s a valid question.  What if President Hosni Mubarak were a communist?  Would the United States be calling on him to resign in the face of widespread protests?  We all know the answer to this question, and it’s a resounding yes.

Throughout the Cold War, the United States pressed the argument against the Soviet Union and its bloc that they were not, despite what they claimed, free.  And they weren’t.  The United States assumed a position of moral authority in the global struggle against communism based on the fact, and solely on the fact, that what we stood for, freedom, what an absolute good, in and of itself, free from political consideration or advantage*.

That resolve to stand up for liberty on the behalf of the downtrodden, namely in Egypt, seems to be weakening.  The United States official policy regarding instability in Egypt is that we don’t have a policy.  For fear of angering Mubarak should he survive the protests, and also to be seen as not interfering in the internal affairs of another Arab state, we’re basically staying mum on the topic.  Because, honestly, if we were to aggressively push for Mubarak’s resignation, that probably wouldn’t play to well on the Arab street, given the level of resentment against us in the wake of the US occupation of Iraq.  So, in a way, we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.

But, really, what I’d like to see from this Administration is a full throated, unrestrained, unqualified call for liberty in Egypt.  This being politics, there’s lot of ways to do it that could be seen to put the US in a much more favorable light.  But we shouldn’t do it for the positive publicity (though that never hurts).  We should do it because not only is it the right thing to do, but because we talk the talk.  Some would say we’ve talked it to death.  Now we ought to walk the walk.  It’s not a coincidence that the majority of the signs that we see protesters holding aloft on television are in English.  They’re addressing a global community, namely, us, Mubarak’s biggest supporter.

We’re holding back on calling for Mubarak’s ouster for a lot of reasons.  We’ve loaded him up with as much cash and advanced weaponry as he can handle.  He’s better than the Muslim Brotherhood.  He may not be great, but the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.  Basically, he’s awful, but he’s less awful than what might potentially spring up in his absence.  Democracy is messy and chaotic.  Look at Florida in November 2000.  It’s unpredictable, uncertain, and therefore scary to human beings.  But, at the end of the day, it’s a lot better, not to mention more stable, to actively promote democracy across the world, than to prop up an aging gerontocracy of which we ought to have been ashamed decades ago.

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*This isn’t to say that the United States was angelic throughout the Cold War.  We did some pretty awful things.  And we ought to keep that in mind.  But many more people today are free because we resolutely contained the spread of communism across the globe.

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Almost Unanimous

I always liked hearing election results being announced from totalitarian regimes.  The bad guys always are reelected in a landslide, usually getting somewhere north of 90% of the vote.  Well, during the recent referendum in Sudan that determined the fate of the south of the country was conducted.  The results were never in question, it was widely assumed, going into the process, that the south would secede.  But, the extent to which the support would go was surprising.  99.57% of the electorate turned out in the south.  Amongst the states in the south, the lowest level of support came in at 95.5%.  The election was monitored by international observers and deemed to be free and fair.

So, when you usually hear about elections being this unanimous, it’s nonsense.  But this time, I think there’s something to it.  I doubt, highly, that we’re going to see genuine election results like this at any point in the future.

Mubarak Survives the Weekend

Well, I was wrong.  Earlier, I wrote that I didn’t think that Mubarak would survive the weekend.  He did.  But, the protests are still going on.  And today, protesters are calling for a nationwide, general strike to be reinforced with one million people in the streets.  So, while Mubarak is still in office, I’m not entirely sure that he’s in power.  It could well be that he’s lost control over the situation and his government.  Only time will tell.

The Juke Joint

Few institutions in Detroit are able to boast the history that Baker’s Keyboard Lounge can.  I’m particularly partial to the place, despite having been there only once, years ago.  The ambiance was exemplary, the music was great, and they served me when I was still only twenty.  Which, when you’re underage, is pretty outstanding.

Baker’s has been in operation since 1934.  Since then,the club has played host to Louis Armstrong, John  Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Waller, Nat King Cole and Cab Calloway, among others.  Even the just aforementioned names alone should be enough to warrant landmark status.

Like many institutions in Michigan, Baker’s is in trouble.  Years of economic decline in Detroit have pushed the club’s finances into the red for a few years, and the current owner, John Colbert, has been forced to declare bankruptcy.  As a result a court-supervised auction is scheduled for this coming Monday.  There’s a good chance that whoever ends up buying it would continue it as a jazz club.  There’s been a lot of interest in the property, according to the realtor.  I can’t imagine what else potential investors would want to do with what is arguably one of the most important musical institutions in Detroit.  And in a town like Detroit, having the storied musical legacy that it has, is saying a lot.

So, Baker’s, thanks for the good times.  I have a feeling that everything will work out for the best, and that we’ve not see the last of this vaunted institution.  It may not be the exact same, but, then again, the best things in life never do stay exactly the same.  Baker’s might serve as a metaphor for Detroit and Michigan.  We’ve got a way to go, but the worst of the bad time are behind us, and we look forward to better things to come, much like Baker’s.  It’s uncertain, but there’s a future there.

Mubarak: Day Late, Buck Short

Well, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak fired his cabinet, in an apparent concession to the protesters that are currently the single biggest threat to Mubarak’s power in this nearly three decades in office.  If Mubarak had started off with this offer, at the outset of the protests, or even the day that the government of Tunisia collapsed, this may have well killed the entire movement before it gained any traction.  But he’s still about to be shown the exit, probably either today or tomorrow.  This should have been his opening gambit, but, based off a combination of hubris and plain stubbornness, it will be his closing act.

The opposition is demanding nothing short of his ouster.  Since the protests began, there have been 90 confirmed deaths and there’s also reports that even should the military get the orders to fire on the protesters, that the orders would not be followed.  This was basically Mubarak’s last remaining weapon.  If he couldn’t talk the protesters into submission with half measures or bullying, in his mind, he could have at least put down what he viewed as a rebellion by just killing enough of the mob.  Unfortunately for him, he waited until that last weapon in his arsenal was no longer willing to do his dirty work.

And at this point, I have to admit, I think it’s funny that the media is as obsessed with this story as it seems to be now.  They totally dropped the ball on the story in Tunisia, and as a result, it seems like they’re compensating with this.  All coverage, all the time.

Ohio Gnome Sues Congressional Cafeteria

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), perennial presidential candidate and lawn jockey is suing the company that operates the cafeteria in the Longworth House Office Building on Capital Hill.  Kucinich is claiming that in April of 2008, he was eating a sandwich wrap that contained an olive that wasn’t pitted, and that said pit caused ‘serious and permanent dental and oral injuries requiring multiple oral and dental surgeries.’  So what does Kucinich want?  Money,  specifically, $150,000 of it from the food services company.  His reasoning?  The ‘said sandwich wrap was unwholesome and unfit for human consumption, in that it was represented to contain pitted olives.’  Wow.  This sounds serious.  Like the company was busy stirring shards of broken glass into the filling, specifically to take out Kucinich.

You know what I think happened?  I think that one of his fillings, probably in one of his molars, failed.  Dentistry in the 1950s and 1960s wasn’t as advanced as it is today, and fillings were much, much larger, which causes a lot of molars on baby boomers these days to just kind of fracture when you bite down on something hard, say perhaps an olive pit.

Kucinich’s spokesperson’s position on the matter: ‘this is a private legal matter.’  Yes it is.  But it involves a United States Congressman suing his workplace cafeteria over something frivolous and idiotic.  So, expect people to pay attention, because it’s totally ridiculous, and  therefore amusing.

Shutting Up the Birthers

Two years into the Obama Administration, I’m still kind of surprised that people still cling to the notion that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.  It would be funny were it not for the fact that there’s a significant portion of the American population that can make that statement with a straight face.  To them, it’s serious, not a joke.  So, while it may be sad on a certain level, I opt to mock them and laugh at them.

The state of Hawaii has been fielding requests for official copies of the President’s birth certificate.  Now, they’re getting ready to release the official certified copies to those who make a request, but with a fee: $100 a copy.

So, while these crazy tea party birthers will continue to hoot and holler about how Obama was born in Africa, I doubt, highly, that more than a handful of people in America will actually have any interest in laying down their own money to see an official copy of the President’s birth certificate.  Call me crazy.  Actually, no, don’t call me crazy, call those birthers crazy.