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Obama’s Middle East speech

My sentiments exactly:

Barack Obama listed what he sees as his country’s “core interests” in my country Egypt and my region; his country’s “core principles” governing how it will act towards us, and his policies to promote US interests within the frame of US principles. Let’s translate the US president’s description of his “core interests in the region” into effects on the ground:

“Countering terrorism” has implicated (at least) Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the US’s extraordinary rendition programme, turning our governments into torturers for hire and consolidating a culture of security services supremacy and brutality that is killing Syrian protesters today and manifests itself in Egypt as a serious counter-revolution.

“Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons” highlights consistent US double standards as Arab nuclear scientists are murdered, the US threatens Iran, and Israel happily develops its illicit arsenal.

“Securing the free flow of commerce” has meant shoving crony capitalism down our throats, bribing governments to sell our national assets and blackmailing us into partnerships bad for us.

“Supporting Israel” has led to land, resources and hope being stolen from Palestinians while Egypt becomes their jailer and dishonest broker, losing its credibility and self-respect.

Obama has all the information above; he knows that Hosni Mubarak’s dedication to delivering US “core interests” is why the Egyptian millions demanded his departure, why Tahrir proclaimed him an “agent of America and Israel”, and why he is now under arrest.

‘An accident waiting to happen’

Upper Big Branch Mine in W. Virginia.

Christmas in May

Some of the neighbors near the arts fest yesterday were having yard sales, and I scooped up a box of those porcelain Christmas cottages and accessories for $5.

I showed my neighbor, and she wrinkled her nose. “You like those things?” she said.

“Yeah, I do,” I said. “Plus, I figure sooner or later, I’m going to be a grandmother, and that’s the kind of thing little kids love.”

The guy who sold them told me he and his wife are “really, really into Christmas.”

“So why are you getting rid of these?”

“I replaced them with a complete reproduction of the Wildwood boardwalk,” he said. “I even made the boardwalk out of individual pieces of balsa wood.” (Wildwood is the blue-collar beach town known for a huge boardwalk – “Las Vegas by the sea,” I call it.)

That just tickled me. I love these little enthusiasms that get us through the day, don’t you?

What’s your hobby? Other than smashing the oligarchy, I mean.

Therapy

I was surprised to find that so few men are in the profession. (Two of the best therapists I had were men.)

When I’ve had female therapists, they were a little too “there, there!” for me. Always wanting to soothe and support (I have girlfriends for that) when frankly, I needed someone to kick my ass, challenge me, get me into gear. (This one therapist was much more interested in having me maintain my then-relationship than I was. I realized later that she enjoyed hearing my stories — because I’m such a good storyteller! She wanted to hear more every week, she thought we were a “wonderful” couple. We weren’t. I was there to untangle and disengage, and she insisted I try to adjust instead.)

Anyway, since my communication style is more male than female, I seem to do better with men. I mean, we do get into emotional stuff — but it’s not the main focus. Until I read this article, I didn’t realize that I’d beaten the odds by having a male therapist.

The artist

You may remember that I posted this a few weeks ago? Well, yesterday I met the artist, Robert Phillips. Turns out he’s not only from West Philly, he graduated from my old high school.

I knew as soon as I looked at his display that he’d done the work I pictured here. Nice stuff!

Mitch Daniels

Out of the race, blames his wife. Nice guy!

I’m still convinced it’ll be Huntsman. We’ll see.

The black vote

So not everyone in the community is thrilled with Obama. Are they allowed to say it out loud?

Suite: Judy blue eyes

CS&N:

5000 rally in Michigan

Oddly, not on the local news!

Driving the debt

From Chad Stone of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a rather eye-popping chart:

As we’ve noted, my colleagues Kathy Ruffing and Jim Horney have updated CBPP’s analysis showing that the economic downturn, President Bush’s tax cuts, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire federal budget deficit over the next ten years. So, what about the public debt, which is basically the sum of annual budget deficits, minus annual surpluses, over the nation’s entire history?

The complementary chart, below, shows that the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — including their associated interest costs — account for almost half of the projected public debt in 2019 (measured as a share of the economy) if we continue current policies.

Altogether, the economic downturn, the measures enacted to combat it (including the 2009 Recovery Act), and the financial rescue legislation play a smaller role in the projected debt increase over the next decade. Public debt due to all other factors fell from over 30 percent of GDP in 2001 to 20 percent of GDP in 2019.

We focus here on debt held by the public, which reflects funds that the federal government borrows in credit markets to finance deficits and other cash needs. That’s the proper measure on which to focus because it’s what really affects the economy. We compare it to GDP because stabilizing the debt-to-GDP ratio is a key test of fiscal sustainability.

As Kathy and Jim note, simply letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule (or paying for any portions that policymakers decide to extend) would stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio for the next decade. While we’d have to do much more to keep the debt stable over the longer run, that would be a huge accomplishment.

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