Today’s my birthday, and I’m probably now at a point where I can’t deny I’m a middle-aged guy.
Given that, I don’t have a lot of big thoughts today. I barely have any thoughts at all other than what to eat for lunch.
But the site needs content, and there’s a lot going on in the world. So lunch can wait.
Egypt: History Repeating
I’m watching this revolution in Egypt on my TV, and I can’t help but be amazed at how history repeats itself. This looks just like Iran when the Shah fell.
Look, Mubarak is a distasteful guy. Joe Biden might not have the stones to call him a dictator, which is ridiculous – of course he’s a dictator. Mubarak’s human rights record is hideous. He’s exactly like the Shah was in that respect.
But just like the Shah, Mubarak is OUR dictator. For the most part he’s been an asset to us in foreign policy, just like the Shah was.
And just like Iran in 1979, when Mubarak goes the people who will take up the reins in Egypt will be the worst of the worst. In Iran it was the Khomeinists, and once they took power “Death To America” became the national motto. Iran has been the most dangerous regime in the world ever since, and the toll of American lives they’ve taken in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere over the last 30 years has been significant. What do we get in Egypt when Mubarak goes down? The Muslim Brotherhood. You can’t get much worse than that.
And just like Iran in 1979, a weak Democrat president has no clue how to handle the protests in the streets. The Carter administration abandoned the Shah and subsequently stood by and watched the Islamists take over the country, to terrible effect, and the Obama administration’s reaction to the teetering of Mubarak’s government shows they’re just as paralyzed as Carter was. We won’t support the guy, but we wring our hands at the Muslim Brotherhood taking power.
And I wonder if it’s intentional that Mohammed El Baradei, who we know as the ineffective turd atop the UN’s IAEA but who in Egypt is an opposition leader with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, has returned to Cairo amid a lot of fanfare. Khomeini’s return to Tehran was a similar big deal. El Baradei is a less significant figure than Khomeini was, but he clearly wants to run that country.
This isn’t likely to turn out well. And given that last weekend Hizbollah deposed the government of Lebanon and is now in control there, it looks like the Israelis are in more existential danger than at any time since 1973 – they’re going to have Hizbollah (which is Iran) in control to the north, Syria (which is Iran) in control in the northeast, Hamas in control in Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood in control in Egypt.
That looks a lot like a war on the way. This doesn’t look a lot like an administration capable of charting a good course. And if you want to see history repeating itself, what happens if the Israelis get into a war with their neighbors again like in 1973 and the Arabs decide to embargo oil again? We import a lot more oil now than we did then.
I don’t like it. Hopefully we have more strategy than we’ve shown.
Obama’s Missing Birth Certificate
Meanwhile, in Hawaii the new Democrat governor made a big show of how he was going to put out Obama’s birth certificate and end the “birther” debate once and for all. Turns out he can’t put the birth certificate out, which has poured a ton of gas on that fire. Things got even worse when a celebrity journalist went on national radio last week saying Neil Abercrombie, the governor (who looks more like a hippie selling sea shells by the side of the road than a politician, by the way), told him that he couldn’t find the birth certificate. Then that celebrity journalist had to walk back his statements and admit he never talked to Abercrombie.
From Obama? Silence.
I’m not a birther, but I know a good Charlie Foxtrot when I see one. And this is one heck of a Charlie Foxtrot.
If Obama’s people think keeping this birther business around as a nice conspiracy theory/sideshow to distract their opponents, and that’s why the president won’t just produce a birth certificate to discredit the birthers and make a big joke out of the whole thing, which incidentally would be good for the country since it would indicate that our president is interested in transparency and full disclosure, it’s a big mistake.
Consider the whole “Bush lied, people died” crap where Iraq was concerned. Every intelligence agency in the world thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction when we went in there. The previous administration to George W. Bush’s thought Saddam had them. When we went in, we found a well-developed program to manufacture WMD’s. But we didn’t find stockpiles of nasty stuff. Bizarre, sure, and disappointing to the extent that we went in there partly to eliminate a threat that turned out to be less immediate than we thought it was. But Bush and his people largely stood idle as the cranks turned an intelligence failure into a grand conspiracy to manufacture an illegal war so Halliburton could turn a profit. Or something. To this day, I can’t quite understand what those people were talking about, and neither can most of the people in the country. But what most of the folks did take from all that was they didn’t like us being in Iraq, and they turned on Bush as a result.
This birther thing could be very similar where Obama is concerned. Is it likely he was born in Kenya, rather than Hawaii? I don’t think so. But other than a newspaper announcement in Honolulu and a computer generated statement from the state government over there, neither of which conclusively prove anything, we’re largely being asked to take it on faith that Obama was born in Hawaii. I don’t really have a problem doing that – but the squirrelly and unconvincing way he and his people have treated this whole question has fueled the birther thing for two and a half years, and it will only continue to grow. Because people like conspiracy theories and movies and TV have fed them into the culture. And a good conspiracy theory will eat a president, just like the Bush-lied-people-died business did to Bush to a large extent.
Maybe the majority of the country won’t decide Obama was born in Kenya. But they might well decide he doesn’t represent us as Americans. And once they do, he’s cooked. I don’t care what his polls look like now. If Obama thinks it’s an imposition on his privacy to have to produce a long-form birth certificate, the answer is – tough. You want to be president. Think you get to keep your dignity and do that? Since when?
Arizona is now mulling a new law which requires a presidential candidate to produce a birth certificate or some other conclusive proof of eligibility in order to be on their ballot in 2012. It’s hard to argue against such a law. It’s really hard for Obama to argue against it, particularly given his relationship with Arizona on the immigration issue and the ironic connection between his debated status and that state’s border crisis.
No Pence, None The Richer
My favorite potential GOP presidential nominee was Mike Pence. I agree completely with Dick Armey, who went on Fox News yesterday and backed him as the best option to unite Tea Party folks, social conservatives and national security hawks in the way Ronald Reagan did.
Shortly after Armey made that statement, though, Pence threw water all over the idea he was running for president. Speculation now has Pence running for governor of Indiana in 2012 instead.
Which means the GOP field still lacks sizzle. Oh, sure, Sarah Palin is still in it. Yeah, Huckabee is out there. Romney sure seems to be running. And Gingrich is going to run. Herman Cain is, too, and I’m a big Cain fan – and if he gets some momentum going I could get behind him. And while I don’t think he’s got much chance to win I really hope John Bolton runs, because we need his voice on geopolitics and global strategy.
But Pence was the guy everybody in the party could get behind. His downside is that he’s only a congressman and he lacks executive experience. That’s certainly a valid point, but then again – look who’s president.
In the almost-unthinkable event that the GOP ends up running another Dole or McCain type in 2012 and can’t beat Obama (yes, I recognize that what I call almost-unthinkable is anything but unthinkable; I just don’t want to think about it), Pence would be a fantastic potential 2016 candidate. Problem is, by then Marco Rubio will be as well. And so will Chris Christie. So will Bob McDonnell. And Jim DeMint (who might end up jumping in this time anyway). Or a host of other potential people in what could be an excellent, and really competitive, field.
The current field sucks, though. Pence would have made it better.
Oh Come On Emanuel
Big surprise – the scumbags on the Illinois Supreme Court put Rahm Emanuel back on the ballot yesterday.
Rahm Emanuel hasn’t lived in Chicago for a year. That’s clear. So is the law there. But it doesn’t matter. The political result is what matters to the Illinois Supreme Court, so they did what the Machine needed done.
One of the things I cannot stand about Democrats is their total disregard for the rule of law. Something’s unconstitutional? Let’s find penumbras and emanations to hide behind. Got a bad candidate and about to lose a Senate seat in New Jersey? Throw your guy off the ticket and replace him with somebody else at the last minute. And on, and on. Yes, Republicans do that as well, and I despise when they do it. But Democrats are far and away the champions of Creative Governance.
And Illinois, and particularly Chicago, is the epicenter of that kind of thinking. Little wonder, then, that the place is also the epicenter of corruption. And, with apologies to California, probably the epicenter of fiscal ruin as well.
Frankly, I don’t care if Emanuel gets to be mayor of Chicago. If he wasn’t on the ballot, Carol Moseley Braun probably would win. Either way, Chicago is screwed. But the reason they’re screwed is they don’t care about the law.