The Sow’s Ear Nominee

I watched Mitt’s speech with the soft bigotry of low expectations.  I thought it was overall a well-crafted speech, well-delivered, probably the best I’ve seen him.  They took their sow’s ear of a candidate, and certainly didn’t turn him into a silk purse, but they fashioned a decent pigskin one.

I still can’t stand his little tight-lipped smirk that passes for a smile.  You’d think someone who’s been running for president for five years would have fixed that by now.

I don’t think the speech changes anything, I still think President Obama will win.  When Mitt talked about his mother’s running for the Senate and wondering why women shouldn’t have power in national affairs, he left hanging the question why we shouldn’t have power over our own bodies.   He didn’t bridge the gender gap chasm.

The attack on Putin/Russia was ill-advised.  We have a sitting President who is trying every day to get more cooperation from them on issues like Iran and Syria.  Mittens wasn’t helping.

Putin’s Katrina

The death toll of 172 from the flooding in Krymsk, Russia is sad enough.

But the revelation that the government knew of the coming flood at ten o’clock the night before and did nothing to warn the residents is both heart-breaking and outrageous.

The Russian people have gone from the Czars to the Communists to a Mafia-with-nuclear-weapons regime, and still they suffer, and their leaders don’t give a damn about them.

How Syria Looks From Moscow

From “Why Russia Is Backing Syria,” Ruslan Pukhov, NYT:

“Many Russians believe that the collapse of the Assad government would be tantamount to the loss of Russia’s last client and ally in the Middle East and the final elimination of traces of former Soviet prowess there — illusory as those traces may be.

“Such attitudes are further buttressed by widespread pessimism about the eventual outcome of the Arab Spring, and the Syrian revolution in particular.  Most Russian observers believe that Arab revolutions have completely destabilized the region and cleared the road to power for the Islamists.  In Moscow, secular authoritarian governments are seen as the sole realistic alternative to Islamic dominance.

“The continuing struggles in Arab countries are seen as a battle by those who wear neckties against those who do not wear them.  Russians have long suffered from terrorism and extremism at the hands of Islamists in the northern Caucasus, and they are therefore firmly on the side of those who wear neckties.

“To people in Moscow, Mr. Assad appears not so much as ‘a bad dictator’ but as a secular leader struggling with an uprising of Islamist barbarians.”


The Russians are backing Assad for the same reason we backed Mubarak for all those years.  We both fear the Arab Street.  The Russian have their bastards, and we have ours.

The Russians have never been fond of Islam.  Under the Czars, the Russians viewed the Muslims in their empire as a threat to Christianity.  Under the Communists, the Russians viewed the Muslims in their empire as a threat to atheism.

With One Foot in the Grave, Mubarak Still Shakes an Iron Fist

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may have been overthrown, but he’s still exerting power.  He appointed all the current members of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, and that court has effected a bloodless military coup.

The court dissolved the Parliament that assumed power in January, a Parliament where Islamists had 70% of the seats.  The court also struck down a law prohibiting former Mubarak officials from running for president, so Mubarak’s last Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, will run this weekend against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi.

When Mubarak was overthrown, the U. S. concern was that the young people demonstrating in Tahrir Square for a democratic, secular government weren’t organized enough to actually win elections.  It was believed that the only opposition group that was ready to fill a power vacuum was the Muslim Brotherhood, and that has proven to be the case.  They won about 50% of the seats in Parliament and allied with the even more extreme Islamists, the Salafis, who won 20%.

So Egypt is back to military rule.  While the Obama Administration isn’t publicly celebrating, they have to be relieved.  We’d love to see some Jeffersonian types come to power, but that isn’t about to happen.  It’s like Iran in 1979.  Overthrowing the Shah didn’t lead to democracy, it led to the insane Ayatollahs.  The Shah was a torturing, murdering bastard, but he was “our bastard,” as the CIA liked to say.  We’ve got two sets of bastards in Egypt right now, and the military are much more “our bastards” than the Islamists.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has a point when he says that the U. S. is hypocritical when it criticizes Russia for helping Assad in Syria.  We have supported and continue to support our share of bad guys.  Sometimes, as with the Shah of Iran, we even put them in power.  Lavrov referred to our support for the autocratic regime in Bahrain against its protesters seeking more freedom.

For Egyptians who are voting for president this weekend, the only vote against oppression is “none of the above.”




Mitt’s Misguided Russia Stance

From “Romney’s Adversarial View of Russia Stirs Debate,” Richard A. Oppel, Jr., NYT:

“Mitt Romney’s recent declaration that Russia is America’s top geopolitical adversary drew raised eyebrows and worse from many Democrats, some Republicans and the Russians themselves, all of whom suggested that Mr. Romney was misguidedly stuck in a cold war mind-set.

“Some former diplomats and Russia specialists, and some leading Republicans in Congress, have also questioned his characterization of the country as America’s major foe.  Many experts, including some close to his campaign, see a declining power that the United States will need to help manage global challenges.  Some analysts also say Mr. Romney understates the help Russia has provided in dealing with rogue states, like backing a heavy-arms embargo and other sanctions against Iran in 2010.

“‘There’s a whole school of thought that Russia is one you need to work with to solve other problems in the world, rather than being the problem,’ said Thomas de Waal, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.”

I know Mitt looks presidential.  But the substance really isn’t there.  He’s not far above the dismal “I can see Russia from my house” level of expertise and understanding.


Will Israel Wait Till After U. S. Election?

President Obama famously (infamously?) told Russian President Medvedev that he would have more “flexibility” after the election to deal with Russia and missile defense.

Maybe Israel feels the same way about flexibility after the U. S. election.  The Jerusalem Post* reports that senior Israeli defense officials are saying that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities may be postponed till 2013.

*  “Confrontation with Iran may be delayed to 2013,” Yaakov Katz

A Very Different Arab Spring

When the Arab Spring first emerged, Egypt’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood said they would not run a candidate for president to replace Hosni Mubarek.  This promise was a boon to the more secular forces.

What a difference a year makes.  This spring, they’re saying, “Never mind.”  Having taken over Parliament and the group writing the new Constitution,  they are running Khairat el-Shater, a millionaire businessman and former political prisoner, for president.

We’ve all seen this movie before, from Czarist Russia to Iran under the Shah.  The idealistic, non-extreme folks start the revolution, and the fanatics finish it for them.

Palin Stirring Up the Crazies

Sarah Palin was asked on Fox Business if she thought there might be a brokered GOP convention.  Stirring the cauldron pot as usual, she replied:

“Well, for one, I think that it could get to that. … If that’s the case, then, you know, all bets are off as to who it will be willing to offer themselves in the name of service to their country.  I would, I would do whatever I could to help.”

If she wants to help this country, why doesn’t she walk out her front door and head over to Russia?  Let Putin deal with her.