When street to street fighting between several sectarian groups in Iraq started to heat up and most of us were thinking of the disastrous quagmire that was predicted, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously quipped democracy is messy. The observation was correct, just not the smug indifference he conveyed as American troops were caught in the cross fire of a half dozen different agendas. Violence is messy. Once it starts, however just its goals, it is difficult to accurately predict outcomes. Conflict can create vacuums in power. What starts out as a movement for democracy and justice turns into the next generation of tyranny. Former International Atomic Energy Agency head and Nobel Peace prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei seems to be a the most well known and visible spokesman for the Egyptian protesters. On the other hand the Muslim Brotherhood or Muslim Brethren or the Ikhwan is the single largest opposition group. Egypt’s branch of the brotherhood has long ago denounced violence and is considered an enemy of Al Qaeda. The Brotherhood recently defended Coptic Christians in Egypt against violence and while the official church leaders have warned them not to, Copts have also joined in the demonstrations ( thus this is not a completely Muslim phenomenon). Bush administration former U.N. ambassador John Bolton ( who thought invading Iraq was a keen idea and has advocated a nuclear strike against Iran) thinks the Brotherhood is too radical and will ultimately hijack any democratic political agenda by the protesters. Taking advice from Bolton is like taking fire safety advice from an arsonist. He was part of the neocon cabal during the Bush era that was going to spread democracy. Iraq was supposed to be an example of that. With over four thousand American dead, tens of thousands wounded or maimed, over two million Iraqis turned into refugees and maybe as many as 1.5 million dead Iraqis, Iraq is now something of a satellite state of Iran. Concerns that a revolution advocating some kind of democratic state can create a need for order, a vacuum which can be filled by any group strong enough to seize the moment, are legitimate concerns. It does not currently look as though this is a bid by fundamentalist Muslims to seize power. Five Things to Understand About the Egyptian Riots
America can’t stop this revolt. Commentators across the political spectrum can’t seem to keep themselves from implying that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, by their choice of adjectives, can “save” President Mubarak. We must disabuse ourselves of the idea that we can determine how this turns out. As Michael Hanna has written on Democracy Arsenal, this is less about the state of our union than “the tattered state of their unions.” We can, however, exert some control over whether we are perceived by the citizenry in Egypt and elsewhere as part of the solution. Our diplomats and spokespeople are now at pains to prove, in real time, that when we talk about stability, we mean it in a way that favors the governed, and not just the governors. As Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution told the Washington Post, our policy options are currently very limited: “The most the U.S. can do in the short run is reorient their rhetoric. … People want moral support; they want to hear words of encouragement. Right now, they don’t have that. They feel the world doesn’t care and the world is working against them.” But, with talk of a negotiated departure for Mubarak shooting around Twitter, there may come a time when the United States has to become even more involved.
One thing is certain. The conservative spin on Egypt will be events happened in a vacuum with no history. As such any and all blame is to be laid at President Obama’s feet. Just because Reagan and both Bushs sent millions in aid and armaments to Egypt’s government does not mean those actions had anything to do with current events. All these past events took place longer ago than two weeks worth of nightly news so will stay down the memory hole. Bush and company preached the gospel of democracy while illegally rendering enemy combatants to Egypt and Uzbekistan. Any authoritarian or totalitarian dictator who cooperated with U.S. policy was exempt from the spread of democracy. No adult should expect a politician to be completely honest, but the neocons pushed utter propaganda to new heights.
Drugged, raped, and pregnant? Too bad. Republicans are pushing to limit rape and incest cases eligible for government abortion funding. Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.
[ ]…For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, with another exemption covering pregnancies that could endanger the life of the mother.
But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to drastically limit the definition of rape and incest in these cases. The bill, with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors, has been dubbed a top priority in the new Congress by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible.
For example, if a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. Rep. Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.
Given that the bill would also forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old’s parents would also not be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn’t be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.
Some pop psychology article I read years ago suggested that sometimes we vehemently hate some people because they remind us of our own worse qualities on some subconscious level. I would not go so far as to make that a universal rule, but I have observed that phenomenon of a personal level. Reality TV frequently features conflicts between people who are eerily similar in personality, intelligence and world view – the Real Housewives and MTV’s Real World are good examples. I’m not the first to notice – American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right – a disconcerting similarity between America’s Christian fundamentalist and and Islamic fundamentalists especially in regards family, women and sex issues. The American Right and the Taliban always blame women for men’s inability to be able to control their behavior. Florynce R. Kennedy once said, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” I’d add that if Conservative men got pregnant as a result of rape they’d demand an abortion and the rapist be hanged immediately. While conservatives are capable of compassion and empathy, both qualities are in short supply in the conservative mentality. Maybe they use their limited allowance on zygotes and have none left for actual human beings. There is some kind of voodoo magic in conservative thinking. Miraculously, a mass of tissue has all the rights in the world, while the rights of the human being carrying the tissue suddenly disappear.