20 September 2011

Americans and Taxes

So Obama finally released his jobs plan. Here are the basics. Lots of tax cuts, mostly for small businesses, and a good amount of spending on things like schools and infrastructure. Sure to be gripe-inducing on both sides, but ultimately it looks like a winner. That said, all that matters in this bill is the part at the end indicating it will be fully paid for by whatever fiscal plan results from the debt reduction super committee's meetings and hearings, which Obama says must include revenue increases, which Republicans say they will oppose at any cost. And the American Jobs Act becomes yet another footnote to an issue as old as America itself: taxation.

I know you don't want a history lesson, so suffice it to say our founding fathers were against the idea of taxation without representation. Not taxation of any kind. Sure, some had views from the fringes of the spectrum. Some of whom would probably fit in today. (I'm picturing Joe "You Lie!" Wilson in a powdered wig.) And most saw taxes as strictly a state, not federal, issue. But, as a whole, the framers viewed the ability of a country to determine and carry out its own system of taxation as a noble and necessary component of independence. 

Times have certainly changed. Our founding fathers would probably have a hard time recognizing things like the federal income tax or the power of the Federal Reserve. They also probably wouldn't be familiar with the concept of off-shore accounts or the clout held by modern corporations. But this is the world in which we live and with which we must deal. America's tax policy should reflect these modern realities in order to provide the most effective, efficient, and equitable system of taxation for our citizens and corporations. We need to look forward, not back, in order to make America economically stronger.

As much as I disagree with the Tea Party's message of revisionist history, I also find myself at odds with Obama's partisan tactic of frequently singling out millionaires and private-jet owners. He is above this. While he should try to fire up the base and appear tough, he should also avoid appearing divisive. This approach will offend and alienate those whose contributions our nation's coffers sorely need. However, he is right- the tax code needs to be reformed in part so that more of the wealthiest citizens and corporations in this country truly pay their fair share. Those with the ability to help have the responsibility to help. There is nothing un-American about that. And if certain citizens or corporations try to resist paying their fair share, they should be called out for it. But it should be from a position of civic duty and not as a dictate from the masses.

The tax code is one part of this economic mess that both parties may have some level of agreement on. It is far too complex, indefensibly bogged down with redundancies and unnecessary loopholes. Members of both parties recognize this important fact and it seems like a rare opportunity for compromise, and on the economy no less. This is what Obama should be focusing on. His bill is a step in the right direction, but he needs to actually sink his teeth into something long-term and systemic in order to take down our long term debt and revenue problems.

If Obama truly wants to reach the pantheon of great presidents, he will find a way to bridge the gap between the super-rich and influential and the rest of the country instead of widening it. The help of every American is needed right now. A significant and symbolic way for the president to get this message across is to push for lasting reform of the tax code.

Read my lips: No new (posts about) taxes.

24 August 2011

The Democratic Dilemma

As much as I try to defend President Obama, I would be lying if I said I didn't expect more from him. Not so much in terms of results, but in terms of his approach to the presidency. The DC status quo seems to have lumbered on and Obama either can't or won't seriously confront it. The worse things get, the safer he plays it. This is a common and destructive (both for the country and the party) theme among Democrats when they are in control of things.

The Democratic party is heterogeneous and diverse. This is great, but it also causes problems. Democrats in office today represent a scattered cacophony of voices and as such require a strong (and popular) executive presence in their corner, filtering all the different voices into a singular message. This is necessary, politically speaking, when Democrats are in power. It also helps keep the country stable, if not strong. President Obama is not filling this role as well as he could.

Obama came into office swinging. First, he pushed for and got the stimulus package (which, while huge, history will record should have been much larger, at least large enough to be effective for more than one year and produce sustainable, job-creating results). Then came health care. While he did try to garner bipartisan support at first, once it became clear that wasn't happening he rammed it through, for better or worse.

But then came the 2010 midterm elections. Republicans cleaned house because they had a consistent, resonating message (as they usually do) and Democrats, backs to the wall, fled in different directions (as they usually do.) Since then, Obama has found it necessary to either compromise or capitulate on numerous domestic and economic issues, depending on how you look at it. Instead of standing up to the Tea Party bullies formed by his election and first two years in office, he is appearing to cave to their demands. (He may not think he's caved, and who knows what really happens behind closed doors, but I think it's safe to say this is the public perception.)

I can't solely blame Obama, though. He probably had scores of advisers telling him after the midterms that the only path to reelection was to appease the other side, or "a shift to the center." They were wrong.

In times of crisis Americans want their president to be firm and decisive, not unsure and quick to compromise. Moderate voters (the ones that matter) are more likely to overlook your questionable political views if you come off as a decisive leader than they are to overlook your indecisiveness (perceived as weakness) even if you agree with them ideologically. In short, what America seems to want right now is a commander-in-chief, not a negotiator-in-chief. 

When Obama needed to be strong, clear and decisive (Bush tax cuts, debt ceiling, financial reform, etc.) he ceded ground to the other side and got nothing in return. This severely hurt his image, especially with moderates and those of us who agree with his agenda. The public perception of the president's leadership and handling of the economy will be the only thing that matters in 2012. Obama's attempt to pacify the Right has only emboldened it and now he risks losing the credibility of authority heading into an election year. This, coupled with a still-struggling economy, could prove fatal for his reelection chances.

Democrats should take a page from the Republican playbook. Obama needs to speak from the heart, defend his policies, explain himself and his decisions more clearly and reconnect with everyday Americans. The GOP is quite adept at churning out candidates who meet this description (See: Rick Perry.) Americans need to know that the president is in control and he is looking out for us. Obama has it in him to deliver this message before November 2012, but he needs to avoid the classic Democratic pitfalls of the past and stop doing what his handlers tell him is safe.

12 July 2011

Style vs. Substance

I've been sensing a disturbing trend in American politics today, one that I am not the first to notice or discuss. That trend is the rapid disappearance of bipartisanship, cooperation and rationality in our political system. I know, I've said this before. And I'm aware that the same slimy tactics being used today- smear campaigns, harsh rhetoric, stubborn grandstanding, claims of illegitimacy- have been used for centuries. But they seem, at least in the modern era, to have become so much the norm that they have replaced common sense and now threaten the long-term stability of our country.

Maybe it's our 24-hour news cycle that requires every story be a huge one or the economic mess bringing all the freaks out. Maybe it's a changing political climate that rewards sound bites and craziness or conservative fervor colliding with a left-leaning president. No matter how you slice it, the American political environment has seen better days.

The fact that a routine increase in our nation's debt ceiling has become a controversial, explosive issue with undertones of global economic collapse should be evidence enough that things aren't working right in Washington. This is a motion that usually carries with little debate, and literally could not be further from the top of the list of America's immediate priorities. Opposing it vehemently, or requring it be tied to spending cuts, is dangerous and nothing more than a symbolic gesture to voters who don't follow the boring minutia of Washington business- which, up until this year, included raising the debt ceiling. But that's what it takes to make it in American politics these days. All style and no substance.

For all their dysfunction and communicative maladies, Democrats are coming off as much more reasonable and willing to compromise than Republicans these days. (Remember- it was only AFTER Republicans refused any and all tax increases that Democrats began to get stubborn with Medicare and Social Security.) Democrats "caved" on extending the Bush tax cuts, the 2012 budget and now it looks like the debt ceiling. But they don't really have a choice when dealing with hostage-takers.

I have to agree with President Obama- right now the only thing holding back any sort of agreement on raising the debt ceiling, let alone a medium-to-long-term budget deal, is obstructionist Republican posturing.

I guess that's what happens when over 200 members of your incoming congressional delegation ink short-sighted pledges opposing tax increases of ANY kind. (Can't wait to see what this country looks like after ten years of nothing but spending cuts!!) Or when your House Speaker and Majority Leader are basically the heads of two waring factions of your party, one having to constantly appease the other. Or when the stated goal of your party during one of the worst economic collapses in American history isn't creating jobs or stimulating growth but ensuring the defeat of the current president next year by any means necessary. This is not the kind of environment in which nation-saving decisions should or will be made.

There has always been fierce rhetoric in American politics and I suspect there always will be. But there must be reason behind the rhetoric, substance behind the style. Today's Washington is the most partisan and divided in recent memory (albeit mine is not very long), and although both sides fan the flames, one side clearly seems to actively support and benefit from the current climate more than the other. This new crop of Republicans does not view politics as a series of negotiations on behalf of the diverse interests of the American people for the good of the country. They see it as a battle, a struggle between good and evil in which lines must be drawn, principle always comes before prudence and compromise is a sign of weakness. Just what we need.

It's not yet clear whether this obstructionist effort is a party-wide calculation to set the stage for 2012 or the work of purist Republican elements beyond the control of party leadership. But one thing is clear- the current environment must not become the status quo of American politics. We already spend far too much time focusing on trivial issues (see: The Current State Of American Media.) Our elected officials should know better. Unfortunately, until common sense returns to Washington and party leadership finds a way to keep its fringes from driving the conversation, it looks like we're in for the long haul.

01 July 2011

Ramblings On The Middle East

Told you. I am deeply conflicted about what is currently happening in the Middle East. From Tunisia to across the region and (hopefully) Libya, authoritarian regimes are dropping like flies under the weight of an irrepressible public rage decades in the making. But what is taking their place? In some countries, like Tunisia, it appears as if democracy might actually take hold. But in others, the future is not so clear. Egypt has been rife with continued demonstrations, attacks on women and Coptic Christians and police-on-civilian violence ever since President Mubarak stepped down in February. If elections ever do take place, something tells me the Egyptian military isn't going to happily hand over power to the country's new crop of elected leaders. I hope I'm wrong.

I am certainly overjoyed to see people across the world standing up for their basic rights and freedoms. To be reminded that the arc of history truly does bend toward justice, as Martin Luther King said. But the efforts to gain these rights and freedoms will be wasted if they fail to extend to each and every member of these newborn nations. To replace a dictatorship with a government that does not view all citizens as equals in the eyes of the law, or one that is based on an explicit reading of religious text, or one that allows military control of civilian or political matters, is not true freedom. The people of Egypt and other nations throwing off the shackles of oppression must be ready to accept the good, bad and ugly parts of democracy as the foundation of their new country or its construction is destined to be a shaky one.

It is impossible to think about the implications of the change sweeping across the Middle East without discussing Israel. I understand Israel's hesitation to welcome these movements in Arab countries with open arms, but they should be open to communication and not resort to isolation. To assume that each new government that arises will be hostile to Israel is presumptive, but then again so is assuming they will all be friendly. All that is certain is that times and relationships are changing. Israel must exercise patience and practicality going forward in order to ensure its safety and prosperity. Needless to say, going to Washington, snubbing the President and blasting his plan for reconciliation in front of Congress is not a good start.

I support the state of Israel and the Jewish people's right to live on their historical, ancestral homeland. But I also support the Palestinians' right to live on their historical, ancestral homeland. And in the cases where these two overlap, a realistic, reasonable 21st century compromise must be brokered. Both sides have their flaws- Israel is stubbornly holding on to and building on land it seized when attacked over 40 years ago, while Palestinian leaders actively support a globally recognized terrorist organization. But at the end of the day, I refuse to believe the people of either nation want anything other than lasting peace. Grudges may be harbored, but they should not be impediments to peace. Israel must understand that sometimes concessions are a sign of strength. Palestinians must join together in renouncing terrorism in order to earn full respect as a nation-state. Coexistence is most definitely possible, but not until both sides recognize it is in their mutual self-interest.

10 June 2011

The Current State Of American Media

Ok so I've been really trying not to think or write about anything related to the Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal. But I am 25. So I'll try to keep this as mature as possible. It shouldn't be hard.

Seriously though, by now it should be universally known that this is the kind of stuff that passes as news these days. The fact is that the American media are more likely to cover with full force a story involving a politician's sex life than one detailing his or her policy credentials. Why? Because they think the American public is more interested in this kind of story. And for the most part, they're right.

The news wasn't always like this. There used to be an "understanding" between politicians and reporters of what constituted real news and what constituted gossip. No more. Some of my older readers may correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like the Bill Clinton scandal finally shattered that understanding and opened the door to the modern era of ultra-personalization of public figures by the media. In other words, the country's utter mesmerization with the unfolding story of the blue dress gave the American media a green light to make these types of stories their main area of focus, and the people loved it. I'm not saying there were no political sex scandals before Clinton, but I think their use as fair game for primetime media fodder is a relatively new phenomenon in America.

My overall point is that as trivial as all these stories of tawdry sexual affairs may be, they fact that they are so prevalent is not necessarily a bad thing. We know infinitely more about how the world actually works than any generation before us. The average American of the 19th century knew next to nothing about his or her elected representative except what they were force fed; today we know more than we'd like to. In 21st century America, we are over-informed to the point of possible spontaneous human combustion. From Breitbart to Wikileaks, mainstream society has recognized and accepted the efforts of those who go after any person, institution or story no matter who they are or what it is. No one is safe from the prying eye of the public. Maybe this power isn't always used for good, but it exists and thrives and that in itself is remarkable.

There have always been crooked and creepy politicians, they just got away with it more in the past because they used to have more sway in crafting their public image than they do today. (Largely due to a culture of almost unquestioned reverence for elected office and a complicit and irresponsible media. Sounds familiar, non?) These men and women may have highly important jobs and extraordinary lives, but at the end of the day, they are simply human. And some have major flaws. While our society once suppressed this fact, we are now free to view public figures as people first and titles second. Because that's what they are. For better or worse, at least no one can say we aren't realistic.

My next post will be on the Middle East, I swear.

03 May 2011

The End Of An Era

If there ever were a time for me to be less than verbose, it would be now: Osama bin Laden is dead. We finally got him. (And by we, I mean an elite team of Navy SEALS under the direction of President Obama called the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, aka DevGru, aka Team Six. These men will more than likely go down in American history as the bravest group of soldiers the country will never know.) I think it is extremely difficult to argue that the world is not a safer place with bin Laden gone; the man was the personification of evil. He espoused and acted upon views that called for the wholesale slaughter of innocent men, women and children of all races and creeds. It would be morally unjust NOT to want an individual such as this stopped by any means necessary.

That said, there is something morbid and weird about celebrating the death of another human being. I can't see myself doing it at any other time, unless I had been around when news of Hitler's death spread. And bin Laden being gone certainly doesn't bring back the almost 3,000 who died on 9/11, nor will any future killing. In this sense, hearing of Osama bin Laden's death doesn't really bring any closure in my mind.

But damn, it feels good. Public Enemy Number One is no more. One of the greatest threats in American history, hunted down and taken out. At a time when faith and confidence in government is at an all time low, we as Americans just got a powerful reminder that this country can still work for us. Getting bin Laden was not a political maneuver by a vote-hungry politician, nor a boost to any special interest's bottom line, nor a calculated distraction on the part of some secret shadowy group. This was an act carried out by a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, on behalf of the people. I can't help but feel good when that happens, apparently even in the case of a death.

And what an easy death to celebrate. Besides his obvious, bloody credentials, bin Laden was a complete and utter fraud. Here he was, portraying himself as a pious and noble pilgrim of Islam who shunned the decadence of modern society in order to live a pure and simple life in the mountains. In reality, he was relaxing with his wives in a heavily guarded, posh three-story mansion in a suburban Pakistani town 40 miles outside of Islamabad. While he manipulated others into blowing themselves up for him. What a guy.

(Speaking of Pakistan, I find it impossible to believe not one person in the upper chambers of government knew where bin Laden was. He was literally right under their noses, just outside the capitol, surrounded by retired military officers, within the only guarded compound in town. And they couldn't find him? Clearly, the Pakistani government is dangerously rife with either incompetence or corruption or both. It seems to me the only reason this operation went off without a hitch is because we didn't tell them about it.)

Like I said, killing bin Laden doesn't bring back those who died on 9/11. But I really do believe it makes the word safer. Not only that, it's symbolic. It shows the victims and their families that we never forgot their pain. It shows the American people that our government is still on our side. It shows the world that we are still a nation committed to justice, pursuing it with determination and heart. And like President Obama said, it has the potential to bring back that fleeting sense of unity that comforted us on that terrible day ten years ago. At a time when good news seems hard to find, I know I will be celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden and looking forward to the day when America has no enemies to fear.

15 April 2011

Quick Thoughts On The 2012 Budget

First things first: AmeriCorps made it into this year's budget. To anyone who reached out to a member of Congress, thank you. It's good to know effective and efficient programs are still appreciated in Washington.

Second, it's eight o'clock on a Friday night in New York City, so you better believe I'm not spending it here on a longwinded post. But I do want to share my thoughts on the president's budget proposal before they become stale or influenced.

I believe Obama's proposal, however imperfect, is a much more realistic and reasonable approach to fiscal sanity than Paul Ryan and the Republicans' mathematically enigmatic monstrosity- almost $5 trillion in spending cuts, Medicare as we know it eliminated, trillions more lost in tax breaks, AND 3.5% unemployment in ten years??? It's a political nightmare to admit, but any sensible long term budget solution is going to have to include tax increases in one form or another. Democrats seem to recognize this fact despite its potential for electoral volatility, while Republicans seem intent on pursuing a dangerously flawed financial roadmap in order to appease (and reward) their clamoring base.

Obviously, Obama's plan should and will be debated in Congress and more cuts will inevitably be drawn from Medicare and non-defense discretionary spending. The President's version of the budget never looks like the one he ends up signing. But it's more than just a fiscal proposal, it's a statement, a declaration, and in this case more of a reminder, that despite his willingness to negotiate with (capitulate to, some would say) Republicans, inside President Obama's chest beats the heart of a liberal.

Time will tell if this partisan yet practical (it's pretty much in line with the Debt Panel's recommendations) vision of America's financial future will pass muster in Congress. It probably won't. But then again, neither will Ryan's. The final cut will be somewhere inbetween. Personally, I think Obama's budget is solid and should be the framework for congressional negotiations. Although it's a blatant shout out to the Democratic base, the proposal offers numerous constructive ideas and also serves to define the conversation, something Obama has struggled with in the past, as we head into 2012. Let the games begin.

Ok so that was kind of longwinded...Happy Birthday Dad!

31 March 2011

Please Help Save AmeriCorps

I created this blog as an outlet for my political opinions. Before I did, these opinions were usually relegated to my thoughts or loudly forced upon sometimes willing, sometimes frightened conversational participants. Now that I think about it, they still are. But as I've been watching Congress debate the budget, I've found another, greater use for it: to bring attention to a program very close to my heart, AmeriCorps, that is facing a very serious threat. The funding for this program, which is not only beneficial to the public but also fiscally responsible, has been set to be eliminated in the most recent budget resolution passed by the House of Representatives.

In short, AmeriCorps is the domestic version of the PeaceCorps. Its members engage in community and public service projects all around the country, from job training in Baltimore to redevelopment in New Orleans to environmental conservation in California. AmeriCorps members at the state and national level give back to their communities in countless ways for the purpose of improving this country and helping its people.

But House Republicans want to completely eliminate funding for the AmeriCorps program. They say it's costing American taxpayers too much money. Instead of getting into the logic behind that train of thought, I'm just going to share some facts.

From 2008-2009, I worked as an AmeriCorps member helping provide the homeless with health services in Boston, Massachusetts. I received a little over $13,000 (which is higher than the national average AmeriCorps stipend) and an educational award to perform 1,700 hours of public health-related community service in one year. That sounds like a good deal for the American taxpayer to me. This program isn't just cost-effective, it's actually effective: Since its creation in 1993 under President Clinton (and expansion under President Bush) more than 600,000 AmeriCorps members have performed almost one billion hours of service in thousands of American communities. And studies continue to show the program's positive effects on poverty statistics, community involvement, quality of life, the environment, public health, civic education, the list goes on. Plus, it partners with everything from faith-based charitable organizations to the Boy Scouts. Keeping it around is the definition of a no-brainer.

Although AmeriCorps has a staunch supporter in President Obama, Congress has made it clear they are willing to do away with it. This would deny future young Americans the chance to serve and future struggling communities the resources they need. Please don't let AmeriCorps disappear. Regardless of your political views, this is an amazing program that benefits everyone, relies on federal funding and MUST be included in the budget. 

If you want to help, here's what you can do:

1. Contact your local congressman/woman. It's cliche, but it works. As I assume the bulk of my reader(s) reside in the Northeast area, I have provided lists of representatives from Massachusetts and New York. They probably won't need much convincing. So for you and everyone else, go to Govtrack.us and email some reps in your area or across the country. Tell them to vote against defunding AmeriCorps.

2. Sign the Stand For AmeriCorps petition at Change.org. This petition was started by an AmeriCorps alum in Cambridge, Mass, has over 115,000 signatures and is garnering national attention. It's free, it takes two seconds. And it goes straight to the U.S. Senate.

3. Educate yourself about AmeriCorps. It's done a lot for this country yet somehow still remains under the radar. I think that if the program were better known, Congress wouldn't have even tried to get rid of it. The more people understand what programs like AmeriCorps, City Year, Teach For America, etc really do, the more they will recognize how vital they are.

That's all, thanks for reading my pitch and for your help!

01 March 2011

Wisconsin Power Grab

Collective bargaining is the essence of what we in post-Gilded Age America call unionization. Republicans, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, know this better than anyone. (Walker should better than most, as he is backed politically and financially by some of the strongest anti-labor forces in the country.) The fights in Wisconsin and Indiana and soon to be Ohio and elsewhere have little to do with budgetary prudence. They can best be described as a naked power grab by an aggressive, newly empowered class of Republicans aimed at destroying a Democratic political monster, public sector unions, by going straight for the jugular.

The 1800s showed us that an unorganized workforce with no ability to collectively bargain is antithetical to a strong middle class. I would hope no one, Republican or Democrat, wants to go back to those days of economic disparity. Even though we're almost there. But in today's political reality, public sector unions represent the largest and most powerful Democratic ally come election season. Republicans like Walker understand this and want to diminish, if not dismantle, the influence of unions. But in attempting to do so, these Republicans threaten to swing the pendulum too far once again and ultimately strip the average worker of his or her voice in the name of political posturing. This must not be allowed to happen.

Unions, while still a necessary bulwark against the abuses of unchecked power, are currently controlled by a leadership that has amassed too much influence in American politics. Democratic politicians live and die by their decree, and in return for massive voter turnout, reward unions with an invincible aura and benefits the American taxpayer cannot afford. This is a troubling reality and in response to it, unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere have agreed to take cuts in benefits, pay more for healthcare and even accept pay cuts. This is a rare overture from a major political player and should be a relevant factor at the negotiating table. If only there was one.

Supporters of Governor Walker's effort say that unions are spoiled and should be willing to sacrifice like the rest of us. Unions under fire in Wisconsin have shown they ARE willing to sacrifice, and are only asking the Governor if he is willing to negotiate. He has shown he is not. Walker's sights are clearly set on crushing public sector unions at the expense of Wisconsinites and their budget. This seems to be a recurring theme in 21st century America: a Republican hell bent on pursuing a dangerously narrow-minded agenda with a twisted sense of stubborn principle that would make even Reagan cringe. What has happened to the party of Lincoln?

14 February 2011

The Egyptian Revolution

What is currently happening in Egypt is nothing short of history in the making. It seems as if the Egyptian people have managed to oust a well-entrenched, autocratic ruler (relatively) peacefully using little more than the internet and people power. At its core, a story as old as civilization itself: chaos breeds dictator, people support dictator, dictator takes power, dictator abuses power, people overthrow dictator. But this one has a 21st century twist. Facebook, Twitter and the like helped connect oppressed individuals who in the past would have been forcibly kept from joining hands, allowing them to come together in such a way and at speeds that would make our Founding Fathers' collective head spin.

These events apparently blindsided the Obama administration and the rest of the world, which is kind of scary but also weirdly comforting in an age of rampant over-connectedness that something this huge can still just happen seemingly without warning. But the cynic in me says there's always the chance this was all a carefully staged, backroom production aimed at toppling the strongest pro-western government in the Middle East outside of Israel. Doesn't look like it though. By my count, this was a legitimate and justified grassroots uprising. Regardless, Obama and his crew were put in a difficult situation and they handled it as best they could on such short notice and with the whole word watching. Live in HD.

Obama's support for the Egyptian people was pretty obvious from the start, but he toned it down out of necessity. To emphatically side with the protestors and all but abandon a longtime strategic ally (who receives billions annually in US aid) would have been a dangerous precedent for Obama to set. He needed to show at least some support for Mubarak in the days when it seemed like he really might stick it out. It just wasn't clear what was going to happen. Until he resigned, Obama (unlike some of his underlings) managed to carefully walk a middle line of mutual support without clinging to a bygone era or stepping on too many toes, all while pushing toward democracy. And in the end, he came out on the right side.

What happens next in Egypt is the most important part. The pro-democracy wave must not break yet. Or ever, really. The people of Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and the military are both actively pledging a reformed constitution and the institutionalizaion of secular democracy. For their sake and ours, I hope this is what becomes of these historic events. Only time will tell. A government by the people, for the people will be the only true sign that this was in fact a people's revolution and not a coup by some nefarious group in the shadows with a hostile agenda. The only thing clear at this point is that Egypt, and by extension the Middle East, will never be the same. Let's hope it's due to progress and not decline.

Now for Mugabe...