THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 660 January 31 - February 6, 2011
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January 31, 2011
The January Chaos Manor Reviews Mailbag is posted.
The Iraq war was, in theory, an attempt by the US to establish liberal democracy in the Middle East. It cost the United States more than it would have cost had we invested that money on energy independence and infrastructure in the United States. Of course had "we" invested it, that is, done by use of public money, deficits, and taxation with centralized control, the results would not have been as effective as might have been, but still the results would have been to stimulate the economy. I doubt we would have the Great Recession had we chosen energy independence as a goal rather than establishing liberal democracy in the Middle East.
One needs to remember this when thinking about the riots in the Arab world. One also ought to recall the lessons from Crane Brinton's Anatomy of Revolution.
It's time for my walk, and Niven is coming over later.
CNET reports than Intel has announced a flaw in the Sandy Bridge chipset. The chip itself is not affected. That will delay shipment of Sandy Bridge test units, so we won't be building a Sandy Bridge this month. According to reports the fix has been found, and all will shortly be well although profits will be affected.
The public White House policy seems to be one of wishful thinking. I am not privy to what's really going on. Certainly Gibbs' press conference tells us nothing of substance. No one knows who represents a "broad cross section" of Egyptian Society.
The best outcome would be an announcement of Mubarik's retirement at the next election (next Fall), with the Army cheering that announcement. That isn't impossible.
But the US doesn't have a lot of knobs to twist.
In digging about looking for something else I came across this.
Incompetent Empire in the Mediterranean area did not start with Jimmy
Carter. I had forgotten this story.
I am told that there is a gigabyte of spam and suspected spam at my ISP. I have not time to review any of it. This is stuff that I never see (and I still get hundreds of suspect messages a day) and since I don't have time to look at it at all, I have asked Brian to kill it all.
If you wrote me in the past few weeks and it fell into a black hole, that is probably the black hole. Apologies. I am dancing about as fast as I can.
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|This week:||Tuesday, February
As I expected, the Egyptian Army has persuaded President Mubarak to announce that he will not run for re-election at the regularly scheduled elections in November. Meanwhile the Army has also announced that it will not fire on the crowd so long as it is "peaceful," and the government it taking passive means to starve the mob out by shutting down trains, roads, other transportation, and communications. The Army is guarding national monuments and resources. The mob is allowed to mill about, but it's getting hungry.
I expect the next step will be Army depots distributing food -- out of town, and in daytime hours. The "General Strike" will go through the usual evolutions and the usual results will apply. The Muslim Brotherhood will try various extraordinary measures, including perhaps some suicide bombings, but Egyptians, while they call themselves Arabs, have never been as volatile a people as their cousins to the east. The Muslim Brotherhood will try to keep the mob in the streets. The Army will try to get them to go home and get back to work.
Return of the Mamelukes
The Mamelukes were slave soldiers, hired by caliphs to defend them, but who eventually took over the caliphate in Egypt and ruled through a council of officers. This rule lased centuries. Think of the Egyptian Army as Mamelukes.
The Mamelukes have spoken, and I note that the instant the Army made that announcement in Egypt, the US press began to credit it to Obama's persuasive powers. It may well be that the Mamelukes in Egypt will be happy enough to let Obama take the credit as it draws attention away from them. The officers councils in Egypt want stability: stability and reliability of the Army first, then stability in civil affairs; but keeping the troops loyal to their officers is the first order of business. You may be certain that the colonels are taking the pulse of the sergeant's mess. I do not think they will be hearing any great support for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Mamelukes understand full well what happened to the Shah's army after Carter abandoned the Shah.
For more on that, see "Lessons on Egypt from Carter and the Shah" by Romen Bergman in today's Wall Street Journal (link). Of course the media in the US continue to demonize the Shah and his government, partly as a defense of the indefensible Carter, partly from Liberal mythical thinking about the value of democracy, and party because no one knows any of the actual history. The truth is that the Shah offered a real chance of transition from autocracy to a parliamentary government in the Middle East, perhaps the best chance for a major oil country. Bergman's short essay is worth your attention.
Revolutions do not often turn out well. The Convention of 1787 understood that full well. The United States benefited from the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and well knew that. England learned lessons from the Civil War, the Commonwealth, Restoration, and finally the Glorious Revolution (from absolute monarchy to Whiggism), and the Framers understood that full well. The Constitution was not intended to install "democracy" (literally rule by 'demes' or city wards, but widely understood to mean rule through unrestricted adult suffrage); indeed more than one of the Framers explicitly said that the goal was to install a stable government in which the many did not use the government to despoil the few; a nation in which property was important and property rights would be defended. Just as the United States installed Constitutional Government, France exploded in the French Revolution, which rapidly went from constitutional reform to the Terror. As the United States created a Nation of States, and went from Federalism to Jeffersonian Democracy to the Era of Good Feelings, France went from Terror to Thermidor to Directorate to Consulate to First Empire to First Restoration to First Empire restored to -- Well, you get the idea.
I know of but one liberal republic in the Middle East, and it enjoys the near universal hatred of all those around it. If we were to have genuine democracy in the Middle East, the Navy would have its work cut out evacuating the citizens of Israel to prevent a second Holocaust.
Here is something to contemplate:
Mubarak has said he won't resign, but he will not stand for reelection. He emphasizes that he is a man of the army. He is also advocating what amounts to term limits for Presidents. We will see what happens next.
On another subject, this is worth your attention:
"What is so Special about the 30 Year Mortgage" (link) by Peter Williams in today's Wall Street Journal dispels some myths and raises interesting questions. The United States has for a long time encouraged people to buy their homes. This is a good idea: rule by the middle class, "those who possess the goods of fortune in moderation" (Aristotle) requires that there be a middle class, and that they have property. Alas, the implementation did not leave them much of a property stake. People who owe more than the property is worth not only do not own property, but have a strong motive to shed themselves of the very idea that they ever owned it. The long time mortgages with low down payments do not build property ownerships.
Everyone is excited about Judge Vinson's decision in the Obama Health Care law. I think celebration is premature. The Democratic strategy will be to delay so that people can see what's in the Bill they passed. Or at least see the first part, which is benefits: the costs come later. That's the beauty of it. Like Bevin on National Health Care in Britain -- "There ain't no fund!" It was all to be paid out of general revenue. The goal is socialized medicine. The tactic is to give out benefits that can't be paid for by insurance companies, who will begin to drop out in droves since "insurance" that doesn't let you charge more for pre-existing conditions isn't insurance at all, it's welfare. The only way to pay for welfare is taxation. If everyone has to buy the policy it's about the same as taxes: no choices. No private company can pay for health care for those who wait until they have a dread disease before applying for the policy. It's welfare. The company may be subsidized by the government to keep it from going out of business, but that too is welfare.
The goal of Obama and Pelosi is a national health care system like Britain or Canada, which means eventually that it will have to outlaw private practice, competitors like Kaiser, and everything else. Canada can do that because there, just to the south, is a big private health care system they can get in on if they find the rationing of their own too intolerable. Not sure where the average US middle class citizens will go. Those who own their jet aircraft will have plenty of options.
Scenario: We're not leaving until he leaves. Mubarak continues to say he'll leave when his term expires. Mob stays in city streets. Gets hungry. No food coming in. Prices rise astronomically. Crowd shouts "Gouging!" Looting begins. Army is told to put a stop to that. The beat goes on.
There are of course other scenarios. I do not think anyone is an expert here.
February 2, 2011
. OATH OF FEALTY by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is now available on Kindle and Nook. This was supposed to be our second novel together (after Mote) but part way into it Niven wanted to do INFERNO, (Kindle; note that the price was set by the publisher). We set OATH aside until we got INFERNO out the door. While OATH was written in the early days of the computer revolution, it holds up very well, I think.
In Egypt the Army is still watching, trying to hold things together without alienating the populace. The food will be running out in the cities now. Something will happen in the next week or so; the economy is shut down, and things can't go on like this. The key will be what the Egyptian Army decides. I would not at all be surprised to see a military junta (under another name of course) take over. The return of the Mamelukes.
Al Gore says the scientific community says that increased heavy snow falls are completely consistent with heavier snow storms. Thus the great winter storms are predictable from Global Warming hypothesis.
Now it is true that increased rain and snow are a predictable consequence of Global Warming. I've noted that for twenty years. If you are to have a new Ice Age with glaciation in higher latitudes, something has to get that water vapor into the atmosphere up there.
Having said that, I see no mechanism whatever by which warmer air generates more cold weather in temperate zones. I don't say there is no possible mechanism, but I am not aware of it. Warm air, I would think, generates more evaporation and more water vapor in the air, which would increase the greenhouse absorption of reradiated insolation. Contrary to most mental pictures of the times of the Ice, temperatures in the temperate zones a couple of hundred miles south of the ice sheets weren't all that much colder on average than they are now. Obviously it is colder where there is ice, and it's somewhat colder everywhere, with shorter growing seasons, but there are still tropics and temperate regions. Ice reflects sunlight back to space so less solar energy stays on the Earth. It gets colder. The northern peoples have to adapt and get smarter and learn to make clothes and fire while those further south continue the good life of hunting and gathering. Meanwhile the reflections have ended the global warming that transported the snow up to make the ice. Then a miracle happens and the ice begins to melt...
I agree that's hardly a scientific explanation, but I am not sure I have a much better one. (Note: I do recall more than one climatologist telling us that Global Warming could increase snow fall. It wasn't a popular position among the alarmists, but it was certainly said.)
More another time. It's time for my walk. Those who know how Global Warming could make winters colder in temperate zones (in a few years, not over long term) are welcome to let us know. The Earth has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. Why suddenly the cold winters in the Northern Temperate Zone?
In Viking times the ice melted up around Greenland and Iceland, The result was warmer climate in northern Europe. Longer growing seasons in Scandinavia (and apparently in China). Grapes in Scotland. Dairy farms in Greenland. Vines in Vineland. Not killer snow storms accompanied by cold weather.
Is there evidence that the Gulf Stream has moved or got weaker recently? It is a testable hypothesis, and my guess is that you would hear cries of triumph from the Gore camp if it turned out that way.
But surely in that case the Viking Warm periods should have been accompanied by colder winters in Scotland and Scandinavia? But all the evidence I know of points to milder winters and longer growing seasons there up to the year around 1325 when it rained all summer and the cold began to return. Fimbulwinter...
[The Great Famine- The beginning of the 14th Century is marked by one of the great disasters of human history. The rain started in 1315, and continued particularly in the summers for 7 years. LINK ]
There is speculation that the legend of Fimbulwinter was generated by the weather of 535-536 AD. Interestingly, there are some legends from about the same year of meteorite strikes, including a blast from heaven that destroyed a French city. This is Dark Age time of course, and there aren't a lot of credible records that survive the time. What we have shows that a warm period ended and Europe got colder, then the warming resumed until we got the Viking period with farms in Greenland. What happened in Greenland at that time isn't known, of course.
If the Gulf Stream is weakening, surely it hasn't got so weak as to cause freezing weather in Oklahoma? The Dallas airport was closed due to snow. Snow is caused by lots of water vapor hitting big pockets of cold. I understand how warming can produce the water vapor laden air. I am not so sure I understand how warming the atmosphere produces freezing weather in Dallas.
Israel gave Sinai back to Egypt after they conquered it fair and square in a Land for Peace deal. The United States was involved in the deal. I do not know what treaty obligations we may have here, but I do know that if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over in Egypt without considerable US effort to prevent that, the Israelis will understand what others have learned about the reliability of long term guarantees to friends of the United States. I do not know how much the Afghani people know of these matters, but I am sure that they will be told if the US fails to keep obligations -- explicit or implied -- to Israel. Score negotiating points for the Taliban...
Krauthammer said last night that Gibbs ought to be put under house arrest during the Egyptian crisis. After listening to him a few minutes ago, I am inclined to agree.
The official US groundhog predicts early spring. It's global warming.
For those who were confused about Joel Rosenberg and mail today, it's a different Joel Rosenberg writing about the Turkish secularists. My apologies to my friend Joel for thinking he could make that mistake. He didn't.
February 3, 2011
Now that I have watched the television reports of the incidents in Cairo today, it's pretty clear to me what happened: the local civil service unions, and the tourist services unions support the government. The camels come from the tourist industry. So did the horses. Those are the camels you hire when you want your picture taken at the pyramid. So are the horses. The "whips" reported are riding crops. I didn't see any machetes or swords. It's no wonder that the civil service supports the government.
If a million people turned out to oppose the government, that is 1/40th of the population or 2.5%; a formidable number, but not a majority. I would presume that at least 5 %, twice that many, are employed by the government and presumably support it. Subtract the army, which is really the regime in that it is the decisive factor. Mubarak was the chairman of the Mameluke junta, but he is easily replacable. He would prefer to live in honorable retirement, but if he has to live in exile, well, the Farouk family still lives well.
Add up what we know about various factions. That still leaves the other 90% of the population unaccounted for. What do they think? Does anyone know?
Escalation continues. I didn't see who started throwing firebombs. News media are saying it was the counter demonstrators, but that was not at all clear from the broadcasts.
There is no evidence of who ordered what; who approved union members trying to protect their jobs with counter=demonstrations, or how much of the population prefers the government to something else. The Muslim Brotherhood is small but its support is estimated at about 20% of the population; clearly that many didn't turn out. Meanwhile, food is getting short in Cairo. Prices escalate people get hungry. Tempers flare. At some point the Army will have to take sides.
I presume that most of my readers know that Newt Gingrich is an old friend. I first met him when my phone rang and a voice announced that he was Newt Gingrich, a Congressman from Georgia, and he had just read A Step Farther Out and wanted to discuss it with me. He had got my phone number from the publisher. I had never had a cold call from a Congressman who didn't want money. Newt and I became friends, and I used to see him when I went to Washington. When he was Minority Whip I took another friend, Dan Goldin, then Administrator of NASA, over to Newt's office because I thought they ought to meet.
I haven't seen Newt since my recovery from brain cancer, but I still consider him a friend. I was a bit dismayed by his Iowa speech emphasizing biofuels.
Newt Gingrich explains his biofuels speech in Iowa in a letter to the editor of today's Wall Street Journal. "I've Always Supported an 'All of the above'' Energy Policy", (link). I wish he had consulted me before he made the speech, but his explanation does give his reasoning on the subject; and of course if you're speaking in Iowa and you're in favor of biofuels, it's pretty certain you'll say so.
I am not a lobbyist for ethanol, not for anyone. My support of increased domestic energy production of all forms, including biofuels and domestic drilling, is born out of our urgent national security and economic needs. It is in this country's long-term best interest to stop the flow of $1 billion a day overseas, in particular to countries hostile to America. Think of what $1 billion a day kept in the U.S. economy creating jobs, especially energy jobs which cannot be outsourced, could do. Hence, I have supported measures to increase domestic energy production throughout my career in public life.
I am very much for an eclectic approach to energy, and I suspect that some of Newt's views on biofuels are based on some of the hopeful essays in my A Step Farther Out; as part of an overall policy of energy independence, use of biofuels for some levels of energy generation makes sense, but only as part of an overall policy, and not as a high priority item. Biofuel energy recovery is certainly useful as part of a waste disposal program. There are other uses. Today’s crazy set of subsidies and the requirement that we add alcohol to gasoline was never part of any program I supported, and I continue to believe it is not a good solution to the $billion a day exported to countries hostile to America; but then I am not a politician. Politics is the art of the possible. Newt knows this far better than I do.
Were I Emperor I would be inclined to end government involvement in adding alcohol to fuels; if it makes economic sense, let private enterprise do it, but if it needs subsidies and government mandates, then let it end. Burning food raises food prices. It also makes internal combustion engines less efficient and engine life shorter. It doesn't look cost effective to me, and the side effect of raising food prices has a potential for disaster. I'd rather export that food to the oil producing countries. They have to eat, and rising food prices were one of the motivating factors for the unrest in the Middle East.
Newt is certainly correct: we must expand domestic energy production, and we ought not a priori rule out any of the methods: coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, and yes, wind, solar, and biofuels. However, we need to have some priorities here. The urgent need is massive amounts of energy now, both for static installations -- factories, homes, street lights, and so forth -- and transportation. For static installations the primary fuel now is coal, followed by oil (for heating homes). For transportation we burn oil, much of which must be imported. We don't import coal.
The first order of business, then, is to increase domestic oil production and refining, but that's a temporary measure, and has environmental consequences. We can tolerate some smog better than we can tolerate bankruptcy, but we'd prefer to avoid both. Over time we can phase in natural gas, which is also a good source for electric generation. Note that it takes energy to develop and produce sustainable energy sources: with cheap enough energy, the price of solar cells will fall. Solar cells produce low voltage energy, good for supplementing central power grids. Solar electric is very useful for home lighting and air conditioning and other on-site uses, and leaving out the conversion systems for putting that trickle into the grid makes the initial installation cheaper as well. If the overall cost of solar cells is low enough, there will be more such uses.
And of course when we mention electric power, the gorilla in the parlor is nuclear: we have the technology, and we ran the most expensive destructive test in history at Three Mile Island, where we learned that even when everything goes wrong the costs are economic, not a public health disaster. France and Japan have demonstrated nuclear’s long term cost effectiveness.
Our first order of business ought to be to reverse Jimmy Carter's disastrous stoppage of spent fuel recycling, and start building nuclear power plants. Cheap electricity won't free us from the billion a day we export to buy oil, but it will go a long way toward letting us develop the means to use natural gas and domestic oil to make us North America energy independent. Once we're on that path we can have a good look at how biofuels fit into the pattern of sustainable energy; but that, I would say, is nowhere near the top of the priority list. In A Step Farther Out I showed that biofuels can be useful. I fear I didn't make it clear enough that it wasn't the top priority. Of course when I wrote that I didn't know just how much energy trouble we would be in, although I should have: After all, those were the times when I wrote my major series "Our Looming Energy Crisis."
Newt is correct in saying that the crisis is real and we need to do everything we can to staunch the bleeding. His Iowa speech in my judgment over emphasized the importance and priority of biofuels. I believe Newt needs to reexamine the negative features of the current biofuels policies. But I am in complete agreement with him that energy policy is perhaps the most important task of the United States today. We're in deep trouble, and until we staunch the bleeding, we won't solve our economic problems. We can't spend our way to prosperity, but we can divert a lot of our spending toward sensible energy policies. Some of that spending can be diverted from what we spend to implement a bad biofuels policy.
The situation in Cairo continues, with the Egyptian wearying of ham handed US attempts publicly to treat our Egyptian allies as a puppet kingdom. The White House and Department of State have roles to play in this crisis, but making condescending public statements are not part of them.
I do not always agree with Krauthammer, but his suggestion that Gibbs be put under house arrest for the duration of this crisis would be a good start. I will say that the Honorable Hillary Clinton has done much better than her master.
What the press is calling 'pro regime thugs' look to me like public service union workers. We see them in action in Los Angeles, where the media seems to favor them. Apparently they are not so popular with our media when they are in Cairo.
And the food supplies get lower and lower.
Holey Moley. Now the EPA out of the blue claims that they must regulate
drinking water because it causes autism. I haven't seen the science that's
based on, but surely there must be some heavy duty NSF funded studies
proving it. A cure for autism! Found by government! The remedy is to
regulate drinking water! Astonishing. I can't wait for the science reports.
I wonder where they will appear?
The cold continues. I am still waiting for an explanation of how Global Warming has caused cold weather in Texas and New Mexico. I can understand that melting ice in the polar regions might affect the Gulf Stream and thus cause England and Scandinavia to be colder, although I haven't seen much evidence that this is happening now, and logically it ought to have happened during the Viking Warm when Greenland supported dairy farms -- but in actuality England and Scotland were warmer in those times. But even assuming that mechanism, I do not understand how Global Warming caused the Dallas airport to be shut down.
Do understand: I don't know why Dallas airport was closed by snow and cold. If asked I will say "weather" and have done with it. We understand the weather better than we did when I was young, but we still can't predict it very far in advance. I only raise the question because Al Gore claimed a predictive triumph.
My position is that we don't know a lot about climate prediction. Our models don't seem to be corroborated by successful predictions. We do know that CO2 levels are increasing, and we rightly ought to be concerned about the possibility of runaway CO2 levels, but there aren't really any signs of that happening, and the remedy, it seems to me, would be to develop ways to extract CO2 from the atmosphere; reversible biological means being the proper approach and we ought to be developing them. CO2 levels have risen during the Great Recession so it's not likely that crippling the economy will do much to slow that rise. Bankrupting ourselves does not seem a useful way to expand our options.
This generation knows a very great deal more than was known when I was growing up; but we don't know everything, we can't fix everything, and there are priorities on what we ought to be studying. What we mustn't do is wreck the economy so that we don't have any choices at all.
So now we know. It's cold in Los Angeles. Below 70 degrees.
We have mail including a long analysis of the Egyptian situation.
February 4, 2011
What there is not is any way to determine who is telling the truth, or even if they know any truths to tell. The facts are that a few hundred thousand people have shut down Egypt, and some of them appear to be normal middle class. A smaller number, probably civil servants and (normally) employed union workers, joined by security forces (also unionized civil servants) have turned to in an attempt to disperse the protestors. Everyone tries to take advantage of the situation.
The result has been stalemate as the Army watches without decisive action. The Army is now apparently trying to stop both protestors and counter protestors from reaching the city center. I have heard little about logistics operations: the Army has to feed its troops. Who is feeding the -- people, crowds, mobs, gangs, goons, protestors, choose a noun -- in the public squares? Supplying those manning the barricades has always been the major problem when revolutionaries try to take over a country by barricading the city streets. Napoleon III thought to end Parisian revolutions by rebuilding Paris, tearing down buildings and widening major boulevards, paving them without the cobblestones which Parisians had used to barricade the narrow streets of Paris in more than a dozen uprisings. That didn't save the Second Empire, but it did change the course of the revolt after France's defeat by the German Second Reich. But the Third Republic is another story for another time.
Food supplies are running low. The Army has the logistics to feed crowds. Which crowds will it feed? Without food and water, big protest crowds have a limited existence.
The Voice of America has chosen the protestors. This will not be remembered fondly by the Army, which would be far happier with an orderly change from Mubarak to another government with a President of the Army's choosing. Note that an instant departure by Mubarak is likely to benefit organized political groups -- such as the Muslim Brotherhood, read Hamas -- since Mubarak has not allowed much in the way of an organized opposition. If Egypt is to have an orderly successor with some voice for the opposition -- about the best anyone can hope for -- then the opposition needs some time to organize. If Mubarak goes tomorrow, they will not have that, and if that is followed by a "fair" election, it is likely to look a bit like Gaza when it ends. That is known as one man, one vote, once, and has been the fate of many African nations. We can endure chaos in the Congo; Egypt is a different story.
If Egypt democratically elects a pro-Hamas government, the "land for peace" deal under which Israel gave back Sinai and let Egypt have a border with Gaza will be remembered with contempt and fear.
The United States should not rejoice at the precipitate fall of an ally who has maintained the peace. Egypt needs reforms; but the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are not the answer. The Mamelukes know this. They also know that if the President -- their President and Commander in Chief -- flees from a Cairo mob. the world will be a different place. The Hashemites and Saudis know this also.
It is not yet time for the American people to dance in the streets as much of the Arab world did on September 12, 2001.
I note that the crowd is now described as "tens of thousands." If governments have to fall because 100,000 people turn out to barricade the capital, we are in the kind of world envisioned by the Framers, who built Washington DC with the Capitol in the center, and broad open streets and malls radiating from it -- designed so that one regiment of Federal soldiers could defend it with a battery of cannon. The crowds would have been smaller in those times, of course, but rule by a capital city mob was one of the options rejected by those who designed DC. The Convention was held two years before the French Revolution, but the evolution of the Federal government came simultaneously with the turmoil that followed 1789.
Plebiscitary democracy is no friend of good order or the American republic. An instant election in Egypt will reflect the abilities of the organized against the disorganized.
President Obama sounded imperial in his last speech on the Middle East. This must happen, that must happen, it must be peaceful, it must be now. He did not sound as if he knew what he wanted.
He is coming on the air now. He seems to be dancing as fast as he can.
"Going back to the old ways is not going to work. For Egypt to have a bright future is moving an orderly transition to fair and free elections."
Such as they have now in Iraq?
February 5, 2011
I took the day off.
February 6, 2011
It's getting more clear: the Egyptian Army is waiting things out. The US official policy is idealism: the US supports democracy and freedom, and opposes oppression, and --
The realistic appraisal is a bit different. And exactly what is democracy? The Egyptian middle class doesn't think that a modern country chases a President into exile at the demands of a mob. Neither does the Army. The Army doesn't want to fire on the populace. The silly test of crowd resolve, a bunch of civil servants and tourist guide union people "armed" with riding corps riding into the square, showed that the crowd wouldn't disperse without serious action by the Army. Having the cops shoot people wasn't in the cards. The Army told Mubarak to retire, with honor, and he has agreed to; luckily for all his term ends shortly anyway. The mob refuses to disperse; the Army waits. It hasn't yet said it is time to go home, but many Egyptians would like to have an economy again. The feeling among many of the middle class is "He will retire, his son won't run for office, well have a technocrat as the next President. What more do we want? We don't like the Jews, but we don't want another war either."
There will be elements who want to provoke the Army, and there are reports of shooting at the bridges.
The Al Jazeera footage shows night fighting with night sights on weapons; that's probably the police. It wasn't indiscriminate firing. Unlikely to be the Army.
Assuming that things don't boil, Mubarak will leave in the fall. With military honors, and he will take up residence somewhere near government house, probably with a role much like Clinton has.
That will be in Fall. There is enough time to have some organization of a "loyal opposition" and that will probably happen. Meanwhile there are food riots across the Arab world, and the US continues to subsidize burning corn in automobiles so we can avoid importing oil from countries that pay for wheat and maize.
And it is time for Superbowl, and although I don't generally watch football I thought I'd watch this one.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 5,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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