Egypt actually has fairly positive views of America. Egyptians don’t like Israel at all, though. As I was periodically checking in with Mid-East unrest over the weekend I was wondering just how panicked Benjamin Netanyahu must be, since the regimes that Israel’s peace depends on are led by autocrats who can impose peace despite popular opposition. It turns out: he’s fucking panicked. One wonders whether this wave of uprisings will actually make the Middle East more democratic, about which I have my doubts, though ElBaradei has always struck me as a decent guy and he’d be an improvement over Mubarak. It seems like it could pressure Israel into actually resolving the Palestinian conflict lest they be suddenly surrounded by hostile, popular democracies who would use it as a rallying point against them. Even for a greater Israel type like Bibi, there’s a certain logic to dealing with it now. Perhaps I’m being too hopeful. I guess we’ll see.
Still, it’s interesting that America actually is fairly popular. I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising. I was talking to a friend of mine a while ago who is from the general area and has spent significant time in the Middle East, and he insisted that Egypt was the most liberal and modern of all the Middle Eastern countries, and it formed the counterbalance to the much more conservative regimes of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Just something to keep in mind the next time you hear sweeping generalizations about how the whole Middle East hates America.
Blame it on the racialist thugs who continue to terrorize lower Manhattan with unhinged fear-mongering about some Muslims setting up a community center in an old Burlington Coat Factory, or blame it on a meth-addicted paranoid tooth fairy, it really doesn’t matter.
What does matter, however, is the fact that widespread hyberbolic demonization of always-evil government and the tens of millions of stealth Muslim jihadis in our midst really does drive crazy people to do crazy things:
Roger Stockham, a 63-year-old Army veteran from California who was reportedly angry at the U.S. government, was arrested by police in Michigan and charged with allegedly threatening to blow up a Mosque in Dearborn.
Dearborn police allegedly found Stockham inside his vehicle outside the Islamic Center of America with a load of M-80s in his trunk and other explosives, the Detroit News reported.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Counsel on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the newspaper that police told him the suspect was drinking in a Detroit bar on Monday and threatened to do harm to a mosque in Dearborn. An employee at the bar followed the man outside and wrote down his license plate, which he reported to police, Walid told the newspaper.
The 63-year-old grandfather is charged with one count of a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of possession of bombs with unlawful intent, according to the newspaper.
Let us always be wary of the threat that Decoy Muslims pose to America:
- Before social security and medicare, millions of seniors were forced to live in abject poverty because (a) they were too poor or irresponsible to build their own retirement savings, (b) if people might have had a bit of money, it was quickly wiped away by ailments so common to seniors, and (c) there was no social safety net to to provide a modest income when they hit old age.
- Once social security and medicare came along, our country almost entirely eliminated the plague of seniors living in abject poverty.
- Republicans and even a few libertarians I know have proposed to dismantle medicare and social security by giving health care vouchers to the elderly to go buy insurance in the private market, and privatizing social security so people will invest the money themselves, respectively.
- I view both of these proposals as misguided because (a) senior health care is the most expensive insurance to buy on the free market and this option would only really help people who can afford it, and (b) privatizing social security won’t protect the tens of millions of people to manage their accounts irresponsibly.
- Because of 4, and the fact that I believe that nothing can really be done to eliminate the fact that tens of millions of people are too poor and/or too irresponsible to properly save for retirement, my assertion is that dismantling medicare and social security will lead to tens of millions of seniors (not to mention handicapped people) once again living in abject poverty.
According to the model, Iran, Sri Lanka, Russia, Georgia and Israel are the five countries most likely to face “political violence” between 2011 and 2014. Russia was the target of a major terrorist attack on Monday. Other countries on the top 25 list include some surprising predictions — the Czech Republic (#10), Italy (#12), Jordan (#17) and Ireland (#21) alongside Colombia (#13) and Tunisia (#25), which has seen major protests against the government in the last few days that included occasional violence. Egypt, however, only ranked 36.
I’d be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t link to Kevin Drum’s very astute questions about the increased unrest in the Middle East:
1) How much logic will be contorted in an effort to argue that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the trigger? I’m thinking a lot.
2) Which neoconservative impulse will win out — the embrace of democratic longing, or the fear of Islamic movements taking power?
3) A year from now, will Tunisia actually be a democracy? The “Jasmine Revolution” portion of this story is easy — it’s the grubby parts of institution-building and power-sharing that muck things up.
He concludes that (1) is going to be near-impossible, and (3) is going to be no. I’m cautiously optimistic, though certainly not under any neoconservative illusions that the desire for freedom will overtake all obstacles and objections, as the desire for stability is much, much stronger. While democracy definitely is best at accomplishing that, dictators can deliver it too, at least for a while. But one can always hope, I guess.
Barack Obama’s popularity rise has come to North Carolina. For the first time since December of 2009 PPP finds more voters in the state approving than disapproving of him, at a 49/47 spread. [...] Mitt Romney comes the closest to Obama this time, trailing 47-44. Mike Huckabee is next, with a 49-45 deficit. Newt Gingrich is down 50-44 and and Sarah Palin as usual fares the weakest of the GOP hopefuls trailing Obama by nine points at 50-41. It’s safe to say Republicans have no chance at taking back the White House next year without winning North Carolina. Obviously the election is 21 months away but the President’s resurgence here is a very bad sign for the GOP.
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