Sunday, February 20, 2011

Obama in Ditty

With gratitude to the wondrous—and inimitable—W. H. Auden:

Stop all the cock-ups, send home the cicerone,
Prevent the lapdog tweeting on his new iPhone,
Silence Arianna, and with muffled Christiane,
Bring out the coffers, let the donors come.

Let the neocon denouncers debark my Clairoled head—
Scribbling in Politico my policies are dead!
Put duct tape on the loose lips of my sorry bureaucrats,
Let the civil-discourse pietists pervade my apparat.

I am your North, your South, your East and West,
Your waking dreams, your hopes addressed,
Your God, your deliverer from dangerous throng;
I thought the Jews might leave me: I was wrong.

The stars are not needed now: Richard Lugar is my gun;
Pack up the moon: Lindsey Graham’s the bon ton.
Pour away the ocean—it’s risen where I’ve stood,
For everything I am and ever was is good.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Faux Joe—Revolutionary, Prize Winner

Hello Bad Rachel. Don’t ya know. Talking about a revolution. Ill tell ya. Sounds like a whisper. POTUS has gotten me really into Tracy Chapman. But also. Maybe you want to turn on the television. What’s that look like? Arab Freedom. The Obama Doctrine. It took Barack two years to make good on the Bush freedom agenda. So I came out tonight basically to gloat to all the neocons. Obama’s policies have finally brought democracy to the Middle East. You guys had your speeches. We did it with smart power. I would predict the Nobel committee would give Barry the peace prize, but, oh yeah, he already has one of those. Can I ask a serious question Bad Rachel? Can old Joe get Obamas second Nobel Peace Prize? It would be like giving Scottie Pippen one of Michael Jordan’s MVPs. We need to start that whisper campaign now: Joe Biden for the Peace Prize. 

Cause this whole Egypt policy is 100 percent pure, cold-filtered Biden. I told Barack Obama from the beginning. You have got to lock these Muslim leaders in. We gotta get them to stop telling their kids to grow up and kill us. As a Muslim, Barack, you have a golden opportunity here to tell them to stop all this Jihad. At that point, John Brennan reminded me that we are never to say Jihad in this administration. But I was already there. Yes. I get it. Smart power. That’s why we did our first international interview with Al Jazeera. By the way, I can’t turn off al Jazeera English. I want my AJE. 

OK. I know, I know. What was Joe Biden doing, going out on Jim Lehrer, saying Mubarak is no dictator? But Joe Biden knows world leaders. I’m a stand up guy. I’m not going to go around and say Hosni Mubarak is a dictator like that. Joe wouldn’t do that to a friend. But just to make it perfectly clear: This administration supports a transition process through the offices of President Mubarak to achieve a sustainable outcomes-based foreign policy objective for Egypt. We have been saying it since day one of this crisis. It’s as clear as crystal. 

One of the reasons I am checking in is because I am worried about some of you conservatives. There is no reason why you can’t look at the Muslim Brothers as literally our Muslim Brothers. They are the most credible democratic voice on the street. We have nothing to fear from them. The Muslim Brotherhood has renounced violence. Now I get where you’re going to go with this. What about Hamas? Doesn’t the Muslim Brotherhood support Hamas? The truth is we really don’t know. The intelligence community is pretty divided on this. I think we have a golden opportunity to reach out to the moderate Muslim Brothers and start the long work towards healing the rift between our two nations. Hosni Mubarak has told me many times that he wants the same thing. He just can’t say that in public—cause of the Arab street and all. But you will see. Power has a funny way of moderating Islamists. Look at Obama. 

I mean I can’t tell you how great it is to be vice president at such a historic moment. I have for years been telling world leaders it’s time for Islamic revolution in the Middle East, except for Iraq which needed Saddam Hussein to keep a lid on that three-way civil war. You can’t really know this. But when you get a foreign policy really right, like we did with Egypt, it really does make you feel good. So this is the big leagues. I belong here. Joe Biden, Islamic Revolutionary, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dickens on the Potomac

Watching Barack Obama’s foreign policy flopping like a Minnesota perch on a White Bear Lake dock this week (as every other week since January 20, 2009) and enduring yet another dose of his wife’s hortative obsession with the size of the collective American bootay—to say nothing of the occasionally slipping-out utterances, when their true natures get the better of them, of the racism-tinged resentment they harbor for many of us, their fellow citizens—I shake my head in wonder for the zillionth time: How did this arrogant overrated swaggerer out of nowhere and his angry bigoted wife wind up running the country? And will the two of them excite as much fond nostalgia, when they’re exiled back to their Hyde Park digs and their black-liberation-theology church, as the Clintons and the Kennedys have done?

There’s still a certain pleasure—maybe it’s a touch unseemly, but whatever—in the memory of Ma and Pa Clinton struggling to hold things together during the dark hours of his impeachment. The astounding rapacity, the infantile self-indulgence, the voracious appetite for things lowdown and dirty that had cruised with him like balanus balanoides from Hope to Little Rock to the White House and allowed him to permit himself to sully the presidency and then lie about it, baldly, made Mr. Clinton a figure of contempt: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. . . . These allegations are false.” No, wait, I mean, “Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.” Uh huh. His wife—in her incarnation as Arkansas’s first lady and then America’s—with her smug piety and frosty acquisitiveness, was as alienating as her husband was weak: Cattle futures? Sharp banking practices? “Shoulda, coulda, woulda.”  Mr. Clinton’s Oval Office romp? “This is—the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.” Exactly.

Did they remind us of the Kennedys? Yes, though probably not in quite the way they’d hoped and expected to do so. The private bargains of the two couples were not our business, but the violation of the office of the presidency most certainly was. Both men needed wives sharp-tongued and virtuous, but liked their squeezes soft and raunchy. Mr. Clinton was hard at it with Miss Lewinsky in 1995 and 1996, but he’d already been outmanned by his declared idol, JFK: Marilyn Monroe vs. Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky? Any questions? And could a U. S. president—never mind his wife’s Frenchified elegant cultivation and the Camelot-as-imagined-by-Broadway-lyricists occupied by his retinue—get any cruder or more sordid than sharing a mistress with Chicago mob bosses? Had he been exposed then, would JFK have lied to Americans about it? We can’t know, owing to Lee Harvey Oswald and the corrupt Kennedy-worshipping of the White House press corps, Ted Sorensen, Arthur Schlesinger, and the rest of his obsequious retainers. But it’s fair to surmise he would have done as much to salvage his presidency as his Papa had done to get it for him. And really, was there ever a president’s father more vulgar or avaricious—or more prepared to flout convention and the law to get his son elected president—than Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.? Or complicit biographers more eager to beatify their subject? Or, for that matter, a pair of brothers more shamelessly willing to profit from proximity, pre- and especially post-mortem, to their sibling? Only in Shakespeare—or Dickens.

There was no trace of Shakespeare, or Boston ward-heeling, or bootlegging, or vote-stealing, or Las Vegas crime-syndicating in the Clinton orbit, but Dickensian crudity there was in ample supply. That, if it occasionally seemed at odds with Bill’s rockin’-rollin’ technocraticism and Hillary’s holier-than-thou sexual-revolution priggishness—and their joint 1960s-born sense of entitlement—shimmered in the sub-tropical oleaginous Little Rock air, permeating their skins for nearly two decades before they arrived in Washington and unpacked the first generation of draft-dodging baby-boomers onto the White House lawn to grow there like Topsy.

What Mr. Clinton did have that Mr. Kennedy hadn’t was time to unfold himself in full as a liberal-world-orderist; but no matter—he was as disappointing on this score, even occasionally to himself, as JFK had showed promise he would be during the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Khrushchev spanking, to name an obvious few. Mrs. Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda’s husband sat on his hands as the Rwandan genocide took place (“I blew it”), watched the (first) al Qaeda bombing of the World Trade Center, the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and the U.S.S. Cole, without responding, tried desperately to curry favor with the blood-stained Yasser Arafat, hosting the terrorist at the White House thirteen times—more often than any other foreign . . . leader, if “leader” be the word for what that creature was—in a hopeless attempt to secure the chimerical Middle East Peace. And all the while engaging in, then lying about, then defending his “not appropriate” relationship with Miss Lewinsky, and who knows how many others.

Which brings me back to crassness Obamaesque: It isn’t about sex, or the definition of sexual relations, or the meaning of the word “is”; and it isn’t about French-accented elegance-covered venality, even if venality there surely has been in their lives, or about French chefs in the White House kitchen—though in part it does involve the kitchen garden sowed, so they say, by Mrs. Obama’s own personal two hands, with the help of a bunch of elementary school students (some of the same children, maybe, who’ve been deprived by her husband and his co-teachers-union-religionists in Congress—whose own children attend private schools—of access to the vouchers and grants for the private-school educations their parents are so desperate to get for them?), and used as a trowel to shovel good nutrition down our throats. 

It’s the hagiolatry, including Mr. Obama’s own two contributions to the published literature, elaborating his stratospheric brilliance, it’s the brazen vanity of the man: “I have a gift,” “Every place is Barack Obama country once Barack Obama’s been there,” and, best of all, given two years’ worth of foreign-policy disasters, “foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain”; it’s the ugly (and duplicitous) disloyalty to old friends when they’ve stood in the way of the main chance: “I never heard [Reverend Wright] say some of the things that have people upset.” No, I mean, “Our relations with Trinity [United Church of Christ] have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views.” Or “We've got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois.” That is, “I believe the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place”; and it’s the shameless whining about the great good fortune of being president of the United States: “You know, the typical president, I think, has two or three big problems. We’ve got seven or eight big problems,” that are so vulgar.

Add to this the remnant of the racism that punctuated his wife’s senior thesis at Princeton (“Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second”) and rises to the surface in both of them from time to time, like pond scum after a storm—“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change”—and you have a pair as comically and tragically Dickensian as ever the Kennedys and Clintons were. Alas that all their comedic drama must also be imprinted on our memories, and some of it even in our history books.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sandmonkey Tweets:

will tell the story later . Thank you all. I just need to rest now. #jan25
I am ok. I got out. I was ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated , my car ripped apar& supplies taken #jan25

Sandmonkey Update

Rumors out of Cairo have it they've found Sandmonkey and he's under arrest.

"Be Heroes"

Sandmonkey, Egypt’s leading blogger, reports from Cairo (warning: you may find when you open the link an announcement that the account has been suspended. The Mubarak regime seems to have shut him down, again):

You watched on TV as "Pro-Mubarak Protesters" – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID's on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn't give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.

Now, just in case this isn't clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it's one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won't say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.

The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay "because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people". This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can't. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can't allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them the battle for the soul of Egypt isn't over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak's gurantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.

Read the whole thing and weep.