Robert Springborg of Foreign Policy explains why the chance for democracy in Egypt is over. ...
... CW: Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution comments on Springborg's post. I think Bookman gets it exactly right vis-a-vis Obama: "... the Egyptian military wields a lot more power and influence over affairs in Egypt than anybody else on the planet, including the president of the United States, and it has used that power very cleverly. It is very difficult if not impossible for outsiders to overcome that, and it’s not even clear how hard they should try." ...
... Helene Cooper, et al., of the New York Times: "After days of delicate public and private diplomacy, the United States openly broke with its most stalwart ally in the Arab world on Wednesday, as the Obama administration strongly condemned violence by allies of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt against protesters and called on him to speed up his exit from power. Egypt’s government hit back swiftly. The Foreign Ministry released a defiant statement saying the calls from “foreign parties” had been “rejected and aimed to incite the internal situation in Egypt.” ...
... Michael Martinez of CNN: "In Egypt, Vice President Omar Suleiman issued a statement saying that dialogue with opposition forces, as ordered by Mubarak, won't begin until the demonstrations stop. Mubarak had incited another round of protests Tuesday when he said he would wait until the September elections to step down.... Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begun a round of discussions with Suleiman as the Egyptian government has begun defending the pace of change and pushing back against American criticism...."
... CW: if you think the Egyptian army is on the side of the protesters, read Wendell Steavenson of the New Yorker who describes an encounter with a general at a makeshift first aid station in Cairo.
... ** Nicholas Kristof has a compelling and disturbing report from Tahrir Square in Cairo:
This was an organized government crackdown, but it relied on armed hoodlums, not on police or army troops. The pro-Mubarak forces arrived in busloads.... It should be increasingly evident that Mr. Mubarak is not the remedy for the instability in Egypt; he is its cause.
... Kristof interviews pro-Mubarak demonstrators in Cairo:
... George Packer of the New Yorker: "Administration policy in Egypt has allowed Mubarak to crush the few remaining pockets of breathing space for civil society and the political opposition. It’s a policy that goes back decades, one that neither Obama nor George W. Bush did much to change. The dramatic events of the past week have shown it to be an utter failure."
... Say What? Chris McGreal of the Guardian: "Tony Blair has described Hosni Mubarak ... as 'immensely courageous and a force for good' and warned against a rush to elections that could bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power. The former prime minister, now an envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, praised Mubarak over his role in the negotiations and said the west was right to back him despite his authoritarian regime because he had maintained peace with Israel."
... Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "As it braces for the likelihood of a new ruler in Egypt, the U.S. government is rapidly reassessing its tenuous relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition movement whose fundamentalist ideology has long been a source of distrust in Washington." ...
... Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times profiles Amb. Frank Wisner, the diplomat President Obama sent to Egypt to talk with government leaders there. Wisner left Egypt Wednesday.
Diana Henriques of the New York Times: "Senior executives at expressed serious doubts about the legitimacy of ’s investment business more than 18 months before his collapsed but continued to do business with him, according to internal bank documents made public in a lawsuit on Thursday."
Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today on 'The Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act,' President Ronald Reagan’s former Solicitor General — Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried — tore into the reasoning of Judge Roger Vinson’s decision striking down the Affordable Care Act, saying the issue should be a 'no brainer'”:
... AND Neera Tanden & Millhiser write a line-by-line interactive rebuttal to Judge Vinson's declaratory judgment. In their overview, they write:
... we show how he effectively writes an entire provision of the Constitution out of the document. How he butchers history, thumbs his nose at binding Supreme Court precedent, and relies on a constitutional theory that George Washington would find shocking. As we explain, even conservative legal scholars have questioned Vinson’s reasoning. And he wholly misunderstands health care and how it works.
... Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: the "psychology" of the members of the Supreme Court is becoming more important than precedent as right-wing justices pretzel even their own previous opinions to fit their ideology.
Dana Milbank: Rand Paul uses his maiden Senate speech to defame Sen. Henry Clay, known as the Great Compromiser & one of Kentucky's favorite sons. Clay died in 1852 so he wasn't there to defend himself.
Hope Yen of the AP: "U.S. racial minorities accounted for roughly 85 percent of the nation's population growth over the last decade — one of the largest shares ever — with Hispanics accounting for much of the gain in many of the states picking up new House seats."
** New York Times: "The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, turning over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military.... Even though Mr. Mubarak has balked..., officials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which, Mr. Suleiman, backed by Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the Defense Minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform."
ABC News: "A group of angry Egyptian men carjacked an ABC News crew and threatened to behead them today in the latest and most menacing attack on foreign reporters trying to cover the anti-government uprising." Time: "Sources have told TIME Magazine that Lara Logan, chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, has been detained along with her crew by Egyptian police outside Cairo's Israeli embassy." ABC News has a list of journalists who have been threatened, attacked or detained by Egyptian security forces. It's a long list. Washington Post: "In multiple incidents, journalists covering Egypt's unrest were pummeled, hit with pepper spray, shouted at and threatened by loyalists to President Hosni Mubarak. The Committee to Protect Journalists described .. a series of deliberate attacks. The New York-based CPJ called on the Egyptian military to provide protection for reporters." ...
... AP: "Protesters and government supporters fought in a second day of rock-throwing battles at a central Cairo square while more lawlessness spread around the city. New looting and arson erupted, and gangs of thugs supporting President Hosni Mubarak attacked reporters, foreigners and rights workers while the army rounded up foreign journalists."
... New York Times: "Security forces and gangs chanting in favor of the Egyptian government hunted down journalists at their offices and in the hotels where many had taken refuge on Thursday in a widespread and overt campaign of intimidation aimed at suppressing reports from the capital.... The cellphone service provider Vodafone acknowledged that the government had invoked emergency powers to force it to send out text messages. Some of the messages appeared to include calls for people to turn out in support of the government, and were sent before the violent clashes." ...
... AP: "President Barack Obama's response to the crisis in Egypt is drawing fierce criticism in Israel, where many view the U.S.leader as a political naif whose pressure on a stalwart ally to hand over power is liable to backfire." ...
... New York Times: "... protesters seeking the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak regrouped at Tahrir Square on Thursday after a night of gunfire and a day of mayhem that left at least five dead and more than 800 wounded in a battle for the Middle East’s most populous nation." ...
... New York Times: "The online group Anonymous said Wednesday that it had paralyzed the Egyptian government’s Web sites in support of the antigovernment protests. Anonymous, a loosely defined group of hackers from all over the world, gathered about 500 supporters in online forums and used software tools to bring down the sites of the Ministry of Information and President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party.... The sites were unavailable Wednesday afternoon." ...
... From the State Department, via Politico: ""Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Egyptian Vice President Omar Soliman today [Wednesday and] ... urged that the Government of Egypt hold accountable those who were responsible for violent acts."
AP: Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), who serves "on the House Financial Services Committee, has filed for personal bankruptcy." Evidently availed himself of a few too many financial services. Update: Politico has more.
Washington Post: "A Senate investigation into the Fort Hood shooting faults the Army and FBI for missing warning signs and failing to exchange information that could have prevented the massacre.... [Sen. Joe] Lieberman said that the report ... indicated that the FBI had compelling evidence of extremism that should have led to [Maj. Nidal] Hasan's military discharge and made him the subject of a counterterrorism investigation."
AP: "Republicans controlling the House promised Thursday to slash domestic agencies' spending by almost 20 percent in their drive to bring it back to levels in place before President Barack Obama took office.House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan announced the move as the first salvo in a battle with Obama as they seek to keep a campaign promise to cut $100 billion from domestic programs."
Politico: GOP backtracks; deletes "forcible" qualifier from its definition of rape in its anti-abortion bill.
New York Times: "Thousands of pro- and antigovernment demonstrators held peaceful protests" in [Sana, Yemen].
New York Times: "Kenneth R. Feinberg, the administrator of the $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, should not claim that he is fully independent of BP, a federal judge overseeing litigation against the company ruled on Wednesday. Judge Carl J. Barbier of Federal District Court in New Orleans ... issued an order in [which he] said [Feinberg] must make clear to potential litigants that he is 'acting for and on behalf of BP in fulfilling its legal obligations.'”