Mixed Messages

by lizard

Boy, it sure is difficult to figure out what’s going on with our state/nation/world when there is such a clusterfuck of confusion perpetuated by mixed messages.

At the state level, I’d like to send a big THANK YOU to my fellow b-birders and Pogie at Intelligent Discontent for highlighting some of the absurdity being generated by the state legislature. Procrastinating the budget showdown in order to force ultrasounds on women and run scared from the UN is disturbingly ridiculous. It’s also great to find out there are some good things happening too. j-girl’s latest, looking at Ellie Hill’s initial legislative action, is a welcome reprieve from the madness.

(on edit: j-girl posted a new post during the writing of this one)

At the national level, the GOP have had an abysmal week, and it’s not even over yet (attendees at CPAC will need to drink heavily to dull the pain). The infighting can only mean good things, like certain Patriot Act provisions failing to get the votes for an extension. from the link:

On Tuesday, the House failed to approve the extension of three provisions of the Patriot Act, the controversial legislation designed post-9/11 to foil terrorists. A two-thirds majority was required to extend the provisions, but with 277 votes for and 148 against, the threshold wasn’t reached. The worst part for the GOP: 26 Republicans broke ranks to vote against the extension, including eight members of Congress just elected. That, said AOL News’ Andrea Stone, was a “rude surprise.”

Thank you, Michele Bachmann, for being you. If keeping the crazy train teabag express going choo-choo produces these kind of results, then I’m all for it. Maybe the mixed nuts on the right will keep the GOP impotent.

When it comes to what’s happening in the world, mixed messages are much more dangerous, and that is exactly what we’ve heard from the Obama administration as the Egyptian uprising matures toward a full-blown revolution.

From Counterpunch today, Frank Gray had this to say:

President Barack Obama needs to stop being two-faced on Egypt.

On one side of his public face he gives the impression of pressing Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak to consider his legacy and “leave power in a way that would give his country the best chance for peace and democracy.”

But then he sent presidential envoy Frank Wisner to Cairo, who later publicly urged Mubarak to remain in power, saying, “President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical.”

In the realpolitik world of Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton it made sense to send someone Mubarak knew to deliver their message. Wisner’s Washington-based law firm, Patton Boggs works for the dictator’s government.

After being called out on the Egyptian streets for Wisner’s comments the Administration put out that his comments “were his own” as though Wisner were some “disavowed” member of the mythical “IMF” – Impossible Missions Force.

Yet tossing Wisner into the fray is consistent with Clinton’s initial expression of “confidence in the stability of his [Mubarak] regime” and Vice-President Joe Biden saying, “I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

Even so, it leaves Obama (and the rest of world) where we started out – what’s the United States’ response to the unraveling of neo-colonialism?

Mixed messages are everywhere, and it seems every fact is fungible. But there are moments when I find something that cuts through the bullshit and shines. That’s what happened when I watched Asmaa Mahfouz, a 26 year old Egyptian women, making this call to action one week before the uprising took off:

No mixed message there. She did what she said she was going to do. And all across Egypt, the people heeded the call.


  1. Kptrng

    Kind of hard to read the captions, as it is only partially visible on the screen, but I get her drift. I was reminded of the line by Michael Corleone in Godfather II when he saw the young men fighting Cuban secret police and dying … “They might win.”

    I don’t think the message are mixed due to any confusion within the administration. They are simply intended for different audiences. The US has supported a dictator for thirty years there – nothing new there, and no accident. Now that Mubarak is in trouble, Obama has to do two things: One, maintain “stability”, meaning keeping the Egyptian government that we want in place; and two, to give the appearance of supporting democratic governance.

    The latter is meant for low-information people, like a typical American citizen. Anyone attune to our history and non-American media sees right through it.

  2. I think Obama accomplished exactly what he wanted – get Mubarak out, because it’s what the people want, while not allowing power for anyone likely to upset peace with Israel. Obama ought to be pleased with his performance – he got the outcome he wanted without having to directly subvert the will of the people.

    • Kptrng

      It’s hard to know as we don’t get much information over here. (AlJazeeera says that 300 or so protesters have been killed.) CNN is playing it like jubilation as in the celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi. But I don’t see much change in tone from the camera views I see.

      What has changed? Mubarak has gone, but Omar Suleima and the military are still in charge. That’s a sideways maneuver. So I doubt that troubles are over, though if world attention shifts, there might be a bloodbath. Anyway, for thirty years the US had the government it wanted, and it appears as though it still does.

      Your Israel is always good attitude is typically American, but doesn’t play well – that is the force that has sizzed land from its neighbors, and is trying to force Palestinians out and into Jordan to own the West Bank for itself. It runs a concentration camp at Gaza. No sooner had the ink at Camp David dried than Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon. (That was the true outcome of CD – to free Israel to turn its aggression north.)

      So yes, you have your peace, but if Egypt is shorted again in the process, you won’t have it for long. As with Suharto, as with Marcos, as with Pol Pot … the US might well end up supplying the arms that carry out the massacres.

  3. Maybe we as a people didn’t get a clear message, but it seems that Mubarak did.

  4. lizard19

    Asmaa Mahfouz

    26 years old

    she looks straight at the camera

    the beauty of her face an insurrection in the making

    the force of her words feed the spark

    Asmaa Mahfouz

    you are courageous

    and you are dangerous

    the West is scared of you

    and fundamentalists are scared of you

    because you have helped your brothers and sisters

    abandon their fear to fill Tahrir Square

    and without fear their grip on power

    sputters and flashes its belly

    and without fear

    the iron fist trained in the dark arts of torture

    can be overwhelmed

    and pried free from the necks of the people

    Asmaa Mahfouz

    they call the flames your words are fanning a virus

    as they yank the imperial fist from the rump of Mubarak

    and quickly jam it in Suleiman

    Asmaa Mahfouz

    it is your hour

    the clock of old men is winding down

    their scrotums, comfortably sheathed in expensive fabrics,

    are suffering sweat stains

    and forced retirements

    in the emirates?

    now is the time for caution

    the wolves of empire won’t let their influence wane

    for the wolves of empire are insane for global dominance

    but for now your template of resistance has won the day

    so let the empire scramble and connive

    trying to figure out why

    the dignity of human life they seek always to subjugate

    is, today, victorious




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