Archive for February, 2011

The Palin Press Hiatus: Over and Done With

February 27, 2011

Sour Sunday.  So I thought, why not perk it up a bit and post about that all-American family, the Palins of Alaska, a dynasty now of the world?  Open throttle, fire on all cylinders, full speed ahead; I have a lot of time to make up for.

During my Palin hiatus, I collected a number of reports on the gems that came out of our Sarah’s mouth.  The majority were childish and laughable.  Her response to the massacre in Tucson was amateurish and her criticism of President Obama, which is the tactic she employs in response to any and all news events, was embarrassing.  Lincoln Mitchell wrote a superb article contrasting the rogue and the President.  I think this article has import mainly because an idiot like Palin could still claim the highest office in the land.  Vigilance, my friends, is always necessary in order to avoid the ever clear and present danger right under our noses.

Then we had the overthrow of Mubarak’s government in Egypt.  Once more, Palin addressed the issue with all the understanding and sensitivity of a rock.  Her take on the Egypt affair was that President Obama was responsible for the decades-long repression in Egypt.  Despite Mubarak’s corrupt reign of 30 years (28 years of which Barack Obama was not the President), during the recent coup not even the Egyptians knew for sure what was happening at any given moment.  However, Palin expected President Obama to be on top of things to the extent that the President should have been publicly narrating, blow-by-blow, each and every development in Egypt.  She has no sense of diplomatic tact and patience nor does she embody any appreciation for the delicate complications of international relations.

She knows only one method of action: hammer away, use the issue to create an even deeper divisiveness and then finally, use that media attention to benefit herself.  Perhaps the most telling example of her preposterous ambition and disregard for reality is her daughter, Bristol, who announced in February that she would like to be President, of the U.S.A. no less, some day.  Imagine: just by wishing something was true is sufficient in some people’s’ minds to make it so.  Aaah —- the effects of our campaign over the last thirty years to make self-esteem the bellwether ideology of our education system.  Whatever happened to reading, writing and arithmetic, not to mention science and history?  When conceit and aplomb replace ability and performance, we are in deep trouble.  Palin is the Queen Dunce spearheading a nation of all too willing, lazy dunces.  But hey —- at least we are happy and self-confident dunces.

This is the part of Palin’s empty platform that is the most offensive to me.  She elevated her own, uneducated self to be Presidential material and then passed on that fantasy to her child.  Self-esteem is wonderful, but if it is not backed up with real knowledge, it is all bravado.  And folks, we are talking about the Presidency of the United States here, not the requirements for a finalist on “Dancing With the Stars.”  Thanks to her publicity savvy mom, Bristol has no clue between her Barbie-and-Ken world and the world to which she aspires to rule someday.

Sarah Palin’s choice of words are routinely crass.  I want to say that she talks like a truck driver, but I do not want to insult truck drivers.  The phrases she uses are not regional idioms nor folksy dialects; they are examples of an idiot.  Haven’t we had enough dumbing-down in America?  Palin’s choice of words demonstrate a glorification of stupidity and her verbal outpourings can be read here and here.  National and global leadership is so much more than just wanting personal exaltation.  Does she really think that going to India, a trip she has scheduled for the near future to give a speech, will qualify her as an expert on that country?  She and her daughter have no clue as to the preparation that is necessary to rise to the heights of leadership and fulfill what the people need and want.  However, their bottom line is they want what they want.

My cousin, Roselie, had some comments of hers published in the Boston Globe today.  Read the letter and then tell me if the likes of Sarah Palin, at every turn she faces, does or does not elevate the most inane, trivial and divisive issues to her conception of leadership.  Then tell me if her interpretation of the important priorities is the correct course for our country to follow.

In closing, let me cite a brief comment from the Washington Post.  This reader, Edmund Conti from Raleigh, wrote in response to the prompt “the moment you knew you were in love”:

There she was next to Senator McCain —- sassy, brash, full of ideas.  That’s when I fell in love.  I turned to my wife and said, “I never really appreciated you before this.

Yet Another Coward in the Middle East

February 25, 2011

Another tyrant in the Middle East is about to fall.  Muammar al-Gaddafi has vowed to die for Libya in Libya.  Calling on his henchman and toadies, Gaddafi has sworn that he and his supporters will die as martyrs before they ever leave or forfeit their country.

Ha!  Another coward of the Middle East speaks.  Sure, he is encouraging his supporters that Libya is worth dying for.  I will bet my bottom dollar that when the fall comes, there will be many pro- and anti-Gaddafi Libyans dead in the streets.  However, Gaddafi will not be one of them.  His fiery rhetoric is just enough to spur on his troops but in the end, not strong enough to have him risk his own life.  Trust me: Gaddafi will turn tail, with as much of his fortune as he can amass, and split from his beloved Libya.  To carry on the fight and risk death is only for his underlings, not for himself.

Bets, anyone?

Laughter: Soul Food

February 24, 2011

The world is rife with revolts against injustice, the price of oil has once again hit the $100 per barrel mark while the U.S. is as dependent on foreign oil as ever, and our own domestic narrative is looking pretty shaky, with labor pitched against the financial and ruling elite.

However, as I have said repeatedly, actual life experiences are funnier, more entertaining and definitely more ironic that any fiction could ever be.  Besides, laughter is good for the soul.  Here is some soul food for you.

All of a sudden in the smack of the distress and problems afflicting our world and nation, in “mittendrin” (the Yiddish vernacular for WTF), Senator Harry Reid said yesterday that prostitution in his home state of Nevada, should be made illegal.  Good idea, but wrong priority at the wrong time.  Then today, the other august senator from Nevada, John Ensign, chimed in and said that he thought prostitution should remain legal in that state because, true to the GOP dedication to local government versus federal control (oy, is this ever a convoluted belief), it is a local matter and should be locally legislated.   Ensign is laughing all the way to the whorehouse.  Perhaps this entire holiday week, which was awarded at full pay for President’s DAY celebrations to our Congresspeople, has afforded our lawmakers too much damn time on their hands.  Ya think?

Renewal is all around us.  Perhaps the only orderly process of renewal though, is that which is provided by Mother Nature, who is usually so predictable in her annual traditions.  Here in Virginia at the end of February, I am once again awakened by the singing of the birds and enjoy more daylight, both signs of impending Spring.  It is comforting to know that the natural order of things comes and goes despite whatever man has wrought (at least, so far):

Buds are a-bloomin'.

The daffies are doing their thing.

 

As sure as the seasons come and go, springtime means that baseball is back.  And who better than Yogi Berra to mark the annual renewal of America’s favorite pastime in his own inimitable fashion?  Throw in a little Ron Guidry and the combination becomes the ultimate welcome for a new baseball season.  Enjoy this food for the soul.

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And humor in the form of a cautionary tale:

PARENTS OF THE YEAR AWARDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, my moratorium on anything and everything Sarah Palin was up on February 22.  As excited as I was about this self-imposed silence coming to an end, I have actually enjoyed having her out of my life.  Therefore, the items I have collected and saved over the last month will just have to wait until the next time I feel the need for to avenge stupidity.  Right now, I am pretty happy, although I must admit I am tempted to post the scoop on our Sarah’s secret Facebook page.  Nah.  Nice is better.  It’ll keep.

 

Special thanks to Lonben for his contribution.

 

 

 

Fiscal Restraint: An Excuse for Social Injustice

February 23, 2011

A nation does not need a king or dictator for it to be out of step with the population’s needs.  An insensitive, selfish, capitalistic republic can also provide all the necessary fodder for a nation’s breakdown.

Capitalism is a wonderful, liberating ideology, but its dark side can be just as destructive as any oligarchy hell-bent on taking all the spoils for those at the top of the financial and ruling pyramid.  The United States is losing its middle class due to the winner-take-all philosophy of capitalism, and this economic stratification is causing social unrest that could bring the entire American experience to a crashing halt.

Nicholas Carroll wrote an article that gives some historical perspective to the dwindling middle class.  It seems that when Henry Ford elevated the middle class worker from his previous position of being exploited by the producer class, simply by raising the worker’s salary to a reasonable level, the high-end earners were appalled and very scared that this new distribution of wealth would end their lucky run.  Then with the advent of unions, more fear was injected into the national debate on whether or not this advance of the new middle class would end our democratic republic and lead to a socialistic society.

This is exactly what is happening across our land today —- in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio —- with one huge difference: America, the nation and its states, are broke today.  There is good reason to decrease the pension benefits, employers’ health care contributions and other public funding of personal benefits.  In fact, the teachers and other civil workers in Wisconsin acknowledge the need for the state to cut back on entitlements.  The fly in the ointment, however, is that elections have consequences.  The Wisconsin governor, who was elected with 52% of the vote and quite transparent from the get-go about his intentions, has attached to his proposed legislation the removal of any and all collective bargaining rights for these workers.  This was an affront to and a bastardization of all the underlying history and principles of workers’ rights.  In fact, the protesting workers have agreed to contribute more to their own pensions and health care, but they refuse to give up the more basic right of collective bargaining.   They are correct: to forfeit material advantages is one thing, but to give up an elemental, essential ingredient of their American citizenship is a step that crosses the line and denies them part of their intrinsic worth as Americans.

Here is an interesting article on how the middle class became the underclass.  Times are tough now; our constant borrowing and spending has placed this country on the edge of financial insolvency.  It is time to decrease benefits and tighten our belts.  However, the assault by the haves on the have-nots is despicable.  Consider the following examples of government and financial hypocrisy.  Our members of Congress receive pensions, regardless of how many years they served in the halls of government, equal to their highest salaries for the rest of their lives!  I cannot get my brain around this rule.  If our government kingpins are so eager to eliminate wasteful spending, perhaps they should set the example by structuring their retirement funds based on actual time served within our current framework of a bankrupt economy.  Furthermore, what other public entity gives a whole week off, paid, for our national celebration of President’s Day?  Our Congress receives the entire week off.   Can you imagine the outcry by our elected officials if other government or civil employees received an entire week off, with full pay, for a one-day holiday?  For Heaven’s sakes, why don’t our federal lawmakers set the proper example?  How can they expect Americans to sacrifice in these hard times when their leaders have no such intentions?

My second example of the dark side of capitalism and corrupt government is the general rule that retirement accounts can be borrowed against.  The public sector and the private sector are equally guilty of downright irresponsible and fraudulent practices:  from our national program of Social Security to public pension plans to huge corporate retirement programs to small business 401K plans to individual IRA accounts, too many of them are bankrupt.  When will common sense rule the day?  These funds should not be available for borrowing against, as unsound fiscal policy will never recoup enough to make these funds whole again.  No one, not a government, not a state, not a union, not a corporation and not any individual should be allowed to raid their retirement fund for present uses.  That is precisely why they are named “retirement” accounts.

My third example of this economic inequality is that any entity, i.e. a government, a business concern or an individual, that is truly concerned with fiscal responsibility, must increase revenues while making cuts.  It is a travesty that the top earners are still receiving tax cuts in this time of economic distress.  The wealthy believe that in order for an economy to flourish and be stimulated, it is essential for the top earners to pay less taxes.  How self-serving is that?  Trickle-down policy never worked and will not solve our problems today.  A plus B equals C.  Money in, money out.  Plain and simple.  Along with making deep and stark cuts, America must raise its revenues.  Period.

So of course social unrest will follow on the heels of this unequal distribution of power and wealth.  Paul Krugman wrote about how the events in the Midwest are more a battle of power than money.  Why shouldn’t the middle class be enraged over current policy?  The wealthy get to keep a larger share of their earnings while the middle class suffers from the budget cuts.  Yes.  Our great, democratic country is just as corrupt as any monarchy is in funneling the riches of the nation, mostly made on the backs of the working class, to the wealthy and powerful.  This issue is certainly about power.  Do not let anyone tell you anything different.

Finally, America has just about reached its day of reckoning regarding their spendthrift ways.  However, everyone is going to have to sacrifice.  It is not acceptable for our Congressmen to bestow upon themselves huge pensions, based on their maximum earnings, for life, regardless of their tenure, in one breath and then in their next breath, cry poverty as the basis for slashing the pensions of public workers all the while attaching the removal of basic workers’ rights to those fiscal policies.  It is hypocrisy of the highest order and it understandably infuriates the middle class.  Not only is the middle class being subjected to a decrease in material benefits, but they are also being punished by having their rights to future negotiations rescinded.  This is the power play to which Krugman speaks.

Capitalism is an amazing philosophy.  The free-market system is at the heart of our country’s success and prosperity.  At its best, capitalism allows equal opportunity to all who are seeking a better life.  However, when its principles are misused, corrupted and tailored to favor the haves at the expense of the have-nots, it is a destructive tool that can spread mayhem and havoc to our social structure.

Michael Gerson wrote about this divisive, unfair process taking place in Wisconsin, a microcosm for the nation as a whole.  Yes, everyone needs to tighten their belts.  However, the coupling of fiscal restraints with the denial of individual rights is so much more than economic policy.  The repercussions are spilling over into the lines of social policy and a class war is on the horizon.   Our dire economic situation cannot be used as a means to rein in our citizen’s rights.  This would permit our goal of balancing the budget to be an excuse to violate individual rights.

What you see is what you will get: an explosive social reaction to unjust fiscal policy cannot be disguised as budgetary issues any longer.  Nothing short of an acknowledgement of this convoluted fiscal/social process is necessary, with the appropriate structural changes instituted across all levels of government and economic worth.  If capitalism is really going to work, we need to clean it up.  If we don’t, America’s brand of capitalism is no better than any other empty ism in this world.

The Rape of Lara Logan

February 20, 2011

Excuse me.  Despite my pledge to avoid serious issues this celebratory weekend, I must comment on the horrendous attack on Lara Logan and the equally disgusting reaction to that assault.

The beating and rape of Logan has NOTHING to do with her whiteness, her blonde mane, her career choice as a war journalist, her penchant to place herself in the line of fire, her past romantic history, or her unfortunate reality of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It has EVERYTHING to do with the cowardice of her attackers, bolstered by a situation where the basic structures of morality and civic control have diminished to the point of permitting mayhem to flourish.

Rape is an act of violence.  The perpetrators are weak individuals who, due to failures in their own lives, are forcing themselves on women to give themselves a false sense of success, power and control.  They are the lowest forms of life.  Their victims in no way should be attributed any blame, because this process actually offers solace and rationale to the rapists.  Is this simple enough to understand?  Is there any part of this sick, cowardly, chicken-shit behavior that you do not understand?

It also needs to be said that to condemn the entire male gender for rape is equally wrong.  Rape is not committed by all men; it is committed by a sick, weak minority.

So let Lara Logan be.  Many other horror stories from female journalists have surfaced since Logan made her’s public.  Because these victims are all in the public’s eye, being reporters, many of these accounts are de rigueur for recent editions of just about every media outlet, whether they be print, broadcast or Internet.  One would have to be dead and buried to assume that rape is a rarity and that it hits predominantly those females in journalism.

Just because rape is such a frequent crime all over the globe does not mean we should abide it.  Rapists should be treated with the full force of the world’s justice system.  That is, of course, assuming that a justice system actually exists to punish these crimes.  Until that happens, uniformly and globally, there is a tacit (if not vocal) approval for the rapes to continue.  As if the act of rape is not destructive enough, the common practice of assigning guilt to the victim and the general  acceptance, the dismissal, of this outrage is even more catastrophic than the initial act.

 

POSTSCRIPT:

It has come to my attention through my readers on my DailyKOS site that Lara Logan was NOT raped based on the specific, medical definition of rape.  May I point out that whether she was raped, groped or otherwise sexually abused is the continuation of depraved thought about the acceptance and judgmental dismissalof the varying degrees of sexual assault.  The dictionary definition of “rape” is only one meaning; the extended sense of the word also includes meanings such as destruction, personal assault and individual attack.

Comments on my DailyKOS site:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/20/947486/-The-Rape-of-Lara-Logan

Weekend Funnies

February 18, 2011

Here are some funnies to start your weekend off right.  This first video was a little unsettling to me, but for those of you who have a higher tolerance for absurdity, go for it:

The next video is just as adorable as it gets:

 

 

Enjoy your weekend!

Postscript:

Special thanks for the above funnies to my super friends from Camp Rhoda-Barrington, Ms. Seven-Striper and Katzy.

Weekend Mixed Bag

February 17, 2011

This upcoming weekend is going to be very special: my kids are coming to visit!  Of course I have a lot to say about various topics in life and politics, but those detailed posts are just going to have to wait and percolate for a while.  In the meantime, I do have some brief comments on the events of the week.

First of all, I am shivering from excitement as my self-imposed, month-long moratorium on commenting on you-know-who is up this coming Tuesday, February 22.  I have plenty of nonsense to report, so stay tuned around the middle of next week for a long-awaited update.  I am shaking in my shoes about the stuff we missed.  Can you believe that I actually honored my pledge?  I can’t.  Oh wait: there is still five days left.

On to my brief review of the week.  What a riot!  Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and the GOP thought that their majority in the House would make their legislative proposals a cake walk.  Ha!  What were they thinking?  For the last two years, not only did the Democrats put one of their own in the Office of the Presidency as a result of a definitive mandate in the 2010 elections, but they also won a majority in the House and the Senate.  In a nutshell, the Dems had the White House and both chambers of Congress in a stunning triple victory.  Were the last two years a cake walk for President Obama?  Hardly.  In fact, it was anything but.  Through much compromise though, the President was able to enact historic legislation.  Cake walk?  More like walking through fire.

Yet the GOP really thought that their majority in the House could reverse the Obama legislation of the last two years.  Their stupidity is outweighed only by their laziness, disregard for political reality and lack of concern for Americans.  The majority whip of the House, Kevin McCarthy, is responsible for securing favorable votes for the GOP proposals.  It is the golden rule of politics that the whip does not allow a vote to come to the House floor unless he knows he has the votes his party wants.  McCarthy never counted votes and lost on two issues last week.  Furthermore, yesterday the GOP also lost the vote on the program to continue funding for a second jet engine that even the top brass at the Pentagon admitted was a total waste of money.  McCarthy is no Pelosi.  It didn’t hinder the defeat of these three proposals that the Tea Party freshman are sticking to their guns on their cost-cutting promises to their constituents.  Thus, the Tea Party is fulfilling my prediction that they would be the downfall of the GOP.  Truth or dare?

The second order of business this week has to do with President Obama’s budget for FY 2012.  Yes, he did include many cuts, often very painful to those is the worst of situations.  However, he did not make the big, significant cuts.  Nor is the GOP talking about making those necessary cuts.  Does social security need to be means tested and have the minimum age of receiving benefits raised?  Yes.  Does Medicare need to be redesigned into a more efficient entitlement program?  Yes.  Is there so much more meat to cut out of the Pentagon’s budget?  You betcha.  Neither party has addressed these areas that would have the greatest impact on trimming the deficit.

I listened to President Obama explain why he had to make the cuts he did.  I was very pleased that he maintained a dedication to the future by actually adding funds for science education, infrastructure and climate control measures.  He just makes so much sense in his balancing act between lowering our debt but still enabling our country to be innovative and thus, competitive.  Without such a pledge, backed up by budgetary funds, our country will lose in the long run.

Nevertheless, both parties are loath to hit those areas for budget-cutting that will truly make a difference.  Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, is not one of my favorite guys.  However, as ever trying to have an open mind, I respected him for his comments regarding this budget impasse.  Please read the highlighted link.  Glory be!  Should a politician go to bat for what the American people really need, he will NOT disappear into thin air!

Thirdly, I am enamored of the pro-union protests in Wisconsin and Ohio.  I am not necessarily in favor of across-the-boards union demands, but these demonstrations are important mainly because they are demanding the the continuance of collective bargaining.  That right must remain.  In these hard economic times, it is one thing to require public employees to cough up a larger percentage of their health insurance and pension costs.  It is, however, totally another thing to eradicate their right to collective bargaining.  Fine: reduce the amount the state has to pay toward these benefits, but do not cover-up an attempt at union-busting as a means to lowering the deficit.  No wonder the people are so furious.

Finally, a tribute to Uncle Leo of “Seinfeld”, who passed away this week.  We all had an Uncle Leo in our lives and he will be sorely missed.

Have a great, long weekend.  I have so much more to say but it is going to have to be put on the back burner because this weekend has me occupied, very occupied!  I am tickled pink in anticipation.

Yo Mama’s Speech

February 15, 2011

I went to see “The King’s Speech” a few weeks ago.  At the end of the movie, while the credits were rolling and the audience was applauding, I sat there sobbing.  Why?  Because I was once a stutterer.

When I was in junior and senior high school, I had such a debilitating stutter.  The phrase “tongue-tied” describes this handicap perfectly.  You feel as if your jaw and throat are paralyzed, all the while searching your mind, fast and furiously, for a word that can be used as a substitute for the word you really wanted to use but could not get out of your mouth.  The intended meaning of what you wanted to say was always compromised and the sheer physical process of being “locked up” was exhausting, not to mention humiliating.  However, blocked speech in no way means a blocked mind.

I will never forget an incident in Spanish class when I was in high school.  I attended a small, single-sex private school.  The teacher’s name was Mr. Fernandez and he was an exterminator when he was not teaching.  Totally appropriate: he was a rat, a cockroach, of the highest order.  Even back then, in my confused adolescence, I knew that the real problem was not my stuttering but Mr. Fernandez’s cruelty and lack of sensitivity.  Anyway, he asked me a question, I stood, and then nothing would come out of my mouth.  I stuttered, and after my third try, Mr. Fernandez said that if I did not answer on my next try, he would send me to the principal’s office.  Of the ten or so other girls in my class, no one said anything …… except for a girl named Marsha Gildin.  She spoke up and said, “Come on, Mr. Fernandez.  She (me) has trouble talking.  She is not doing this on purpose.”  Mr. Fernandez did not back down, and while Marsha’s comment gave me a minute to regain my composure, I was able to utter the correct answer.

Case closed?  Absolutely not.  As I sat in the movie theater I realized why “The King’s Speech” hit me right in my gut.   Back then in school, Marsha was the only person to feel compassion for my plight and go to bat for me.  Stuttering was a physical ailment but carried with it overwhelming social and psychological effects.  Even those closest to me would write off  my disability by simply saying, “You have brain damage.”  It was more important for these observers to be dismissively right than compassionate.  As I have aged, I see that selfish tendency more frequently and amplified in those that demonstrated it in their earlier years.

As the years passed, my stuttering faded.  Was that due to my growing self-confidence or was there a “lifting” of some unknown physical malady?  Who knows?  Occasionally now, when I get fired up about something, I will stutter.  But I simply stop speaking, verbalize that I am stuttering and move on.  Most important, this momentary debility does not bother me because I couldn’t care less what the others  think of me.  My stuttering is not the all-encompassing diagnosis of brain damage nor is it an indication of myself as a lesser person.  That’s what maturity will do for you.

However, wherever you are, Marsha Gildin, I thank you for your courage to speak up and defend me when I could not do it for myself.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day, one and all!

To thank my honey of  36 years and show my affection, I painted him a bowl.  He can use it for his cereal or his ice cream, both of which he likes very much:

Heart and soul, I fell in love with you.

Tulips, birds, whatever.......

After you've finished your granola, there's a surprise waiting for you at the bottom of the bowl!

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A VALENTINE’S STORY

 

This has to be one of the best singles ads ever printed.

It is reported to have been listed in the Cornish Guardian.

SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I’m a very good girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire.Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. I’ll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me…Call 01272-6420 and ask for Annie, I’ll be waiting…..

 

Over 150 men found themselves talking to the Truro RSPCA

“Freedom” is the New “War”: Take It and Run!

February 13, 2011

There is nothing more beautiful than an idea, an action that works.  Such were the events in Egypt over the last 18 days.  Soft power worked, was almost perfectly orchestrated and thus, has provided a momentous, admirable example for other nations to ride on Egypt’s coattails to freedom and justice.  The leaders of many nations are quaking in their boots over the possibility that their citizenry will demand the same changes in their countries that have transpired in Egypt.  Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, Libya, Palestine and maybe, just maybe, Iran, all want what Egypt now has.

In a nutshell, for 18 days the Egyptians peacefully protested the three-decade long dictatorship that ruled them.  They strictly adhered to non-violent, although unrelenting, demonstrations.  Their own volunteers searched citizens entering the downtown squares for any arms.  Medical personnel from their own ranks tended to those needing attention.  The people, all during the siege and now at its conclusion, are all chipping in to clean up the public squares.  The Egyptians are taking good care of themselves and great care of their country.

Politically, now that their nemesis, Mubarak, is gone, they continue their trust in the military.   This is one of the most atypical yet interesting aspects of this revolution, i.e. the fact that it was the army whom the people trusted.  In return, the army has vowed to lead the transitional government and to cede power once a civilian government is in place.  Additionally, the armed forces have promised to adhere to all the international commitments and treaties that were in place during Mubarak’s reign, thus giving allies such as Israel and America hope that peace will prevail.  But make no bones about it: this was a coup, although a “soft” coup that so far, has had the blessings of the masses.  While we hope for the best, vigilance of democratic principles must be ongoing.

Perhaps the biggest fear for Egypt’s foreign relationships was that the Muslim Brotherhood would step in and usurp power, replacing a civilian dictatorship with an extremist theocracy.  Before the last elections, the Muslim Brotherhood held about 80 seats in the approximate 500- seat Egyptian Parliament.  That is, until Mubarak fixed the elections and threw out the Muslim Brotherhood completely from the Parliament.  Nevertheless, the Brotherhood also seems to want to participate in the democratic love fest that is currently going on in Egypt and has, though not convincingly to me (actions speak louder than words and only time will tell), promised to abide by free and fair elections.  Will reason and goodwill prevail, or will some faction, tempted by this void of power in Egypt, use the temporary and fluid situation to assert their ambitions?

All of the good feeling seems too good to be true.  However, the real value of soft power, the reinforcement of doing the right thing, the euphoria of uniting on the side of freedom and justice, are very contagious.  Magnify that satisfaction ten times over when the world throws accolades at such a process.  Yes:  we could do a lot worse than want what just transpired in Egypt.  With patience, foresight and a longer-term view for the future, soft power works.

The basic principle of soft power is smart, sane and safe.  As if that weren’t sufficient to make the world a better place, the contagion, produced by the success of soft power, is the clincher.  “We want what they have” could just be the new mantra of Spaceship Earth.  Led by Egypt and now coveted and imitated by other nations throughout our planet, peace, freedom and justice could be the new “war.”  Let’s run with that for a while.