Virtual Front Page, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011

Today’s been one of those days — meeting after meeting — that is interesting, but which makes it hard to get work done. Or keep up with the news. But as I DO check what’s going on out there, I share it with you:

  1. President to Mideast: ‘Get out ahead of change’ (WashPost) — Hopefully, the U.S. can do the same going forward. So that we can be a part of it, and thereby help define it — so that it’s the good kind, rather than the other kind.
  2. Iranian Lawmakers Call for Death of Opposition Leaders (NYT) — Boy, these hammerheads just can’t seem to learn a new trick, can they? Somebody wants reform, “Kill ’em!” That’s so old school. As in, millennium before last. But that’s the way they roll. Which is why we need to root for the other guys.
  3. CBS News’ Lara Logan Was Attacked, Sexually Assaulted In Egypt (NPR) — Speaking of Old School. Some of you may not be over-concerned about what happens to reporters, but I am. Especially when they’re ladies. What worries me about this (or rather, an additional thing that worries me about this) is that I can’t tell from this report who the assailants were. Were they anti-government demonstrators. Were they pro-government demonstrators? Or just run-of-the-mill thugs? The really puzzling thing is that this happened amid the jubilation following Mubarak’s abdication, NOT during the confrontations that preceded…
  4. S.C. home sales down 4.7 percent in January ( — You know, I wish the economy would make up it’s freaking mind. In a positive direction, of course.
  5. SC college students rally for higher education (AP) — Yeah, they do this every year. Fat lot of good it does them at this State House. But I shouldn’t say things that might make young people jaded about public affairs, should I?
  6. Sex charge trial for Berlusconi (BBC) — Man, they don’t fool around over there when they want to have a scandal, do they? None of this lame taking a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror stuff. Sleazy Italian politicos go all out. Especially this one. Of course, he denies having sex with the girl when she was 17. He admits thinking she was Hosni Mubarak’s daughter, which puts this beyond weird, and just goes to prove my long-standing belief that ALL big news stories are related.

5 thoughts on “Virtual Front Page, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011

  1. bud

    I’m not sure I understand this Berlusconi story. Not only does he deny having sex with the young lady but so does the 17 year old alleged victim. So what evidence is there to support this crime?

  2. bud

    So let’s get this straight. Conservative economic doctrine suggest that the less we spend the better off we’ll be. Since South Carolina government spends far less than other states we should be in high cotton right about now. Yet the housing report shows the opposite. How do these people continue to control political events given that their programs fail so completely? And the voters continue to put them back in office. Weird.

  3. Phillip

    Re #1, I go back to my comment on your last VFP…which is that delicacy is required. So as far as the US being “part of it” and especially regarding wanting to “help define it,” extreme caution is in order. If we truly believe in the right of self-determination for the peoples of the region, THEY will decide what they think is the “good kind” of change. The true dangers of the “other kind” of change appear as blowback to our heavy-handed attempts to ensure the “good kind”: it’s worth remembering that the span of time between the CIA-backed overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran and the Islamic revolution there was LESS than the span of time between Mubarak’s ascension to power and the recent Egyptian revolt.

    So Obama and Hillary Clinton are right to “get out in front” of change in the Middle East, and there certainly is a place for back-channel maneuvering and negotiations and pressure, and maybe we have some leverage with countries like Jordan or Saudi Arabia, but even there and especially in Iran, any sense within those countries that the US is too obviously “helping define” the change will doom any impetus for real transformation. This is no time for neocons.

  4. Brad

    Actually, Phillip, I would say this is no time to SPEAK of neocons, or other distinctions. Basically, we should have (and for the most part DO have) in the West a consensus on what constitutes good change and the other kind. If the shift is toward liberalism (in the sense it’s used in speaking of freedom and respect for basic human rights, not the sense of the counterpoint to conservatism in US politics), it’s generally good, and there’s not much disagreement about that between these artificial constructs of “left” and “right.”

    If the change is toward totalitarianism, toward ethnic tribalism, toward the more severe forms of sharia law or the like, then it’s the other kind.

    And while being sensitive to others’ rights of self-determination is a beautiful sentiment, it ignores some realities. One is that the US has such global influence that it will never be SEEN as neutral in these matters, even if it tried to stay out of them. It will be seen as helpful or inimical to new regimes. Better to be seen as helpful, and to have a hope in helping these countries find their ways to more liberal systems. That is in those countries’ interests and ours as well, and I make no apology for wishing for it.

  5. bud

    And while being sensitive to others’ rights of self-determination is a beautiful sentiment, it ignores some realities. One is that the US has such global influence that it will never be SEEN as neutral in these matters, even if it tried to stay out of them.

    Let’s try first before we randomly conclude that “it ignores some realities”. We have meddled constantly in foreign affairs for a century now and it generally results in unanticipated consequences. We can start by closing all military bases abroad and bringing all troops home. That would send a message that we are indeed a neutral. How many bases does Russia have in other countries? How about Brazil, Canada or France. Very few I would guess. So what good does this all do us? None as far as I can tell but it adds hundreds of billions to the deficit while stiring up animosity around the globe. Let’s try my way for a decade then if it doesn’t work we can go back to Brad’s approach. Until it’s tried we’ll never know.

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