This is history we’re seeing

First Tunisia; then Egypt; then Yemen and Bahrain and Iran, and now Libya, where the country’s ambassador to the UN  has broken with the government, and Qaddafi has ordered the military to attack the people but two fighter pilots flew to Malta and asked for political asylum rather than attack the protesters in Tripoli.

This is just stunning to see: across a part of the world that we Americans just assume has given in to the rule of kings and despots, people are standing up for themselves.  They’re not demanding an Islamic theocracy—they’ve taken to the streets to claim their right to self determination.  Outstanding!

I don’t know if any or all of these popular uprisings will succeed; I don’t know how far the rulers will go to keep their grip on power and privilege.  (I don’t know what the literati of 18th century Europe thought of the first reports of rebellion by the British colonists in the Americas, either.)

But I have a feeling…I think that by this time next year, we’ll see more than a couple of new democratic governments in northern Africa and the Middle East.  We’re witnessing a new birth of liberty, right where we’d have never bet we see it.

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Yea, Egypt!

It is rare, indeed, to witness an important moment in world history: I’m old enough that I saw man’s first step on the moon, 63404977I saw the Berlin Wall fall (both on TV…thank you, TV), and today my old friend let me see an historic triumph of freedom and peaceful resistance to oppression in Egypt.   It’s an important reminder to us cynics to everyone about the power of ideas, and of the human spirit.  And like Gandhi and King and others taught, it shows that monumental change can be gained without resorting to violence.  How’s that taste, Al Qaeda?

I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but neither do the wingnuts who are certain that Muslim fundamentalists will soon be in power in Cairo.  Any assertion that Muslims, as a group, would rather live in a theocracy than a democracy is just flat wrong—as groups, Muslims and non-Muslims prefer democracy, and in virtually identical percentages.  Did hundreds of thousands of Muslims peacefully fill the streets of Cairo around the clock for the last three weeks to get out from under a secular dictator so they can submit to the whims of religious zealots?

Today the military is in charge in Egypt, and while on its surface “military assuming power from civilians” does seem to be the definition of “coup” this doesn’t feel that way.  It was the police that pushed back against the demonstrators in Cairo, but the army kept things from blowing up and seemed to be on the side of the people instead of the president.  The military leadership gives me the impression that even if they weren’t eager to see Mubarak go, they were smart enough to see that he couldn’t stay.  (And props to the protesters themselves for their patience and restraint after the disappointment of Mubarak’s Thursday speech when he said he wasn’t leaving; any other response might have forced the military to take another course.)

We shall see what comes next.  In the meantime, the old reliable Explainer at Slate has a very good list of answers to some nuts and bolts questions about what’s going on in Egypt.

This is how nothing gets done

OK…finally, I’m going to write; I don’t even know what’s been so important for the past week that I couldn’t find time to write, or even to start to write.  But today is different: as soon as I let the dogs out I’ll be nailed to the keyboard—about time I wrote about this amazing revolution in Egypt and linked to those articles backgrounding the Muslim Brotherhood before Mubarak flees and a new government is already in power.

That was weird: a broken fence slat.  Looks like something on the other side of the fence, where they’re building the new road, slammed into the middle of that fence slat and broke it in two; hell, the big piece was knocked out into the garden.  I’ll just get a hammer from the garage and nail it back in, and then hit the blog—maybe something about the deafening cognitive dissonance of all the talk about “high taxes” while today’s news reports that our tax burden is lower than it’s been since 1950!

You’d think a grown man would be smart enough to, first, change out of his dress shoes before stepping into the garden, and second, be careful enough to avoid the dog poop obstacle course between the back door and the back fence.  After I clean off my shoes and walk around to check out the other side of the fence, I’m back at the blog—gotta check on the reaction to the story that new government spending under Obama has been less than the tax cuts under Obama!

Wow; I learned more about the neighbors in the last 20 minutes than I have in the whole nine years we’ve lived here.  Dude just kept talking, changing from one subject to another, with no apparent destination in mind.  I like the guy, but it was too cold for just standing there for a chat.  Now, just let me get this mess on the desk cleared off and I’ll get to work…I should riff on David Frum’s post about how the crazy talk on the talk shows is getting even crazier as the ratings start to slide.

I had a nagging feeling I’d forgotten something: well, now’s a good time to get that stack of papers off of the kitchen counter.  Some think getting a  new job is a pain in the neck, but I have a much lower opinion of it.  Forms for new health insurance, and receipts, and registration info for the new 401(k).  At least I can do that quickly on line, and then start writing…what’d I do with that article about the brain being wired to resist new science?  That can mesh with the story about the people who insisted on believing—despite the absence of any evidence—that a terrorist attack was being plotted in a Port Arthur Ramada Inn conference room…15 years ago!

OK then, I’m going to start with—was that the dryer?