Al Jazeera Calls Out Obama
President Obama, say the 'D-Word'
The most depressing and even frightening part of the tepid US response to the protests across the region is the lack of appreciation of what kind of gift the US, and West more broadly, are being handed by these movements. Their very existence is bringing unprecedented levels of hope and productive activism to a region and as such constitutes a direct rebuttal to the power and prestige of al-Qaeda.
Obama doesn't seem to understand that the US doesn't need to "take the fight" to al-Qaeda, or even fire a single shot, to score its greatest victory in the "war on terror". Supporting real democratisation will do more to downgrade al-Qaeda's capabilities than any number of military attacks. He had better gain this understanding quickly because in the next hours or days the Egypt's revolution will likely face its moment of truth. And right behind Egypt are Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, and who knows what other countries, all looking to free themselves of governments that the US and its European allies have uncritically supported for decades.
The despotic regimes that emerged from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire have probably done more to fuel the rise of militant Islam than any other single factor. A few years ago, neo-con policy wonks talked about a democratic Iraq serving tocatalyze democracy in other countries of the region.
That future may well be now.
What She Said
Me? I have no strong opinions one way or another on choo-choo trains, whatever their speed. If someone wants to build a railroad and drive their trains really fast on it, more power to them. If they have reasonable rates and are going somewhere I want to go and they promise to treat me like a paying customer or even just a dignified human being and not like livestock or an airline passenger, I might even purchase their services.
I think that about sums up my feelings on the matter. If Union Pacific or BNSF wants to build super-fast trains from A to B, I say go for it. Just don't ask for any of my tax money (either direct spending or tax breaks) to build it. And no loan guarantees or acres of .gov land to sell, either. That goes for light rail, slow heavy rail, and things like the DC Metro, MARTA, and BART as well. (FWIW, this also applies to things like stem cell research. You want to play with stem cells? Go right ahead. Just use your own damn money. If it was as promising was you promise, you should have no shortage of willing investors.)
My favorite saying about mass transit: "Two-thirds of those surveyed supported mass transit for other people."
I Actually Agree with Frances Fox Piven
at least, on a small point.
I found this quote in a Power Line blog post on how Piven and her fellow travelers have their panties in a bunch because Glenn Beck has been quoting her.
But here's the quote:
[T]he out-of-work have to stop blaming themselves for their hard times and turn their anger on the bosses, the bureaucrats or the politicians who are in fact responsible.
Except I think we differ slightly on which set of "bosses, bureaucrats, and politicians" are responsible. My list includes the bosses of the Fed, Fannie, Freddie, and .gov unions, the bureaucrats like the clowns at the EPA who call the product of exhaling a controllable pollutant and the FDA jerks who add years and tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of developing new drugs, and politicians like FDR, LBJ, Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, and His Oneness who built the mammoth edifices of the welfare state that are crushing us under a mountain of government spending.
I kind of doubt that withered old Marxist bats like Piven want us to hold them responsible for the problems they created.