Full Text Obama Presidency September 24, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech to the United Nations General Assembly about Middle East Diplomacy Doctrine

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly

Source: WH, 9-24-13

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at United Nations General Assembly (September 24, 2013) President Barack Obama delivers remarks during his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

United Nations
New York, New York

10:10 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen:  Each year we come together to reaffirm the founding vision of this institution.  For most of recorded history, individual aspirations were subject to the whims of tyrants and empires.  Divisions of race and religion and tribe were settled through the sword and the clash of armies.  The idea that nations and peoples could come together in peace to solve their disputes and advance a common prosperity seemed unimaginable.

It took the awful carnage of two world wars to shift our thinking.  The leaders who built the United Nations were not naïve; they did not think this body could eradicate all wars.  But in the wake of millions dead and continents in rubble, and with the development of nuclear weapons that could annihilate a planet, they understood that humanity could not survive the course it was on.  And so they gave us this institution, believing that it could allow us to resolve conflicts, enforce rules of behavior, and build habits of cooperation that would grow stronger over time.

For decades, the United Nations has in fact made a difference — from helping to eradicate disease, to educating children, to brokering peace.  But like every generation of leaders, we face new and profound challenges, and this body continues to be tested.  The question is whether we possess the wisdom and the courage, as nation-states and members of an international community, to squarely meet those challenges; whether the United Nations can meet the tests of our time.

For much of my tenure as President, some of our most urgent challenges have revolved around an increasingly integrated global economy, and our efforts to recover from the worst economic crisis of our lifetime.  Now, five years after the global economy collapsed, and thanks to coordinated efforts by the countries here today, jobs are being created, global financial systems have stabilized, and people are once again being lifted out of poverty.  But this progress is fragile and unequal, and we still have work to do together to assure that our citizens can access the opportunities that they need to thrive in the 21st century.

Together, we’ve also worked to end a decade of war.  Five years ago, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in harm’s way, and the war in Iraq was the dominant issue in our relationship with the rest of the world.  Today, all of our troops have left Iraq.  Next year, an international coalition will end its war in Afghanistan, having achieved its mission of dismantling the core of al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11.

For the United States, these new circumstances have also meant shifting away from a perpetual war footing.  Beyond bringing our troops home, we have limited the use of drones so they target only those who pose a continuing, imminent threat to the United States where capture is not feasible, and there is a near certainty of no civilian casualties.  We’re transferring detainees to other countries and trying terrorists in courts of law, while working diligently to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.  And just as we reviewed how we deploy our extraordinary military capabilities in a way that lives up to our ideals, we’ve begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.

As a result of this work, and cooperation with allies and partners, the world is more stable than it was five years ago.  But even a glance at today’s headlines indicates that dangers remain.  In Kenya, we’ve seen terrorists target innocent civilians in a crowded shopping mall, and our hearts go out to the families of those who have been affected.  In Pakistan, nearly 100 people were recently killed by suicide bombers outside a church.  In Iraq, killings and car bombs continue to be a terrible part of life.  And meanwhile, al Qaeda has splintered into regional networks and militias, which doesn’t give them the capacity at this point to carry out attacks like 9/11, but does pose serious threats to governments and diplomats, businesses and civilians all across the globe.

Just as significantly, the convulsions in the Middle East and North Africa have laid bare deep divisions within societies, as an old order is upended and people grapple with what comes next.  Peaceful movements have too often been answered by violence — from those resisting change and from extremists trying to hijack change.  Sectarian conflict has reemerged.  And the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction continues to cast a shadow over the pursuit of peace.

Nowhere have we seen these trends converge more powerfully than in Syria.  There, peaceful protests against an authoritarian regime were met with repression and slaughter.  In the face of such carnage, many retreated to their sectarian identity — Alawite and Sunni; Christian and Kurd — and the situation spiraled into civil war.

The international community recognized the stakes early on, but our response has not matched the scale of the challenge.  Aid cannot keep pace with the suffering of the wounded and displaced.  A peace process is stillborn.  America and others have worked to bolster the moderate opposition, but extremist groups have still taken root to exploit the crisis.  Assad’s traditional allies have propped him up, citing principles of sovereignty to shield his regime.  And on August 21st, the regime used chemical weapons in an attack that killed more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of children.

Now, the crisis in Syria, and the destabilization of the region, goes to the heart of broader challenges that the international community must now confront.  How should we respond to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa — conflicts between countries, but also conflicts within them?  How do we address the choice of standing callously by while children are subjected to nerve gas, or embroiling ourselves in someone else’s civil war?  What is the role of force in resolving disputes that threaten the stability of the region and undermine all basic standards of civilized conduct?  What is the role of the United Nations and international law in meeting cries for justice?

Today, I want to outline where the United States of America stands on these issues.  With respect to Syria, we believe that as a starting point, the international community must enforce the ban on chemical weapons.  When I stated my willingness to order a limited strike against the Assad regime in response to the brazen use of chemical weapons, I did not do so lightly.  I did so because I believe it is in the security interest of the United States and in the interest of the world to meaningfully enforce a prohibition whose origins are older than the United Nations itself.  The ban against the use of chemical weapons, even in war, has been agreed to by 98 percent of humanity.  It is strengthened by the searing memories of soldiers suffocating in the trenches; Jews slaughtered in gas chambers; Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands.

The evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st.  U.N. inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians.  These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood, and landed in opposition neighborhoods.  It’s an insult to human reason — and to the legitimacy of this institution — to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.

Now, I know that in the immediate aftermath of the attack there were those who questioned the legitimacy of even a limited strike in the absence of a clear mandate from the Security Council.  But without a credible military threat, the Security Council had demonstrated no inclination to act at all.  However, as I’ve discussed with President Putin for over a year, most recently in St. Petersburg, my preference has always been a diplomatic resolution to this issue.  And in the past several weeks, the United States, Russia and our allies have reached an agreement to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, and then to destroy them.

The Syrian government took a first step by giving an accounting of its stockpiles.  Now there must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so.  If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws.  On the other hand, if we succeed, it will send a powerful message that the use of chemical weapons has no place in the 21st century, and that this body means what it says.

Agreement on chemical weapons should energize a larger diplomatic effort to reach a political settlement within Syria.  I do not believe that military action — by those within Syria, or by external powers — can achieve a lasting peace.  Nor do I believe that America or any nation should determine who will lead Syria; that is for the Syrian people to decide.  Nevertheless, a leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy to lead a badly fractured country.  The notion that Syria can somehow return to a pre-war status quo is a fantasy.

It’s time for Russia and Iran to realize that insisting on Assad’s rule will lead directly to the outcome that they fear:  an increasingly violent space for extremists to operate.  In turn, those of us who continue to support the moderate opposition must persuade them that the Syrian people cannot afford a collapse of state institutions, and that a political settlement cannot be reached without addressing the legitimate fears and concerns of Alawites and other minorities.

We are committed to working this political track.  And as we pursue a settlement, let’s remember this is not a zero-sum endeavor.  We’re no longer in a Cold War.  There’s no Great Game to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the wellbeing of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring that it does not become a safe haven for terrorists.

I welcome the influence of all nations that can help bring about a peaceful resolution of Syria’s civil war.  And as we move the Geneva process forward, I urge all nations here to step up to meet humanitarian needs in Syria and surrounding countries.  America has committed over a billion dollars to this effort, and today I can announce that we will be providing an additional $340 million.  No aid can take the place of a political resolution that gives the Syrian people the chance to rebuild their country, but it can help desperate people to survive.

What broader conclusions can be drawn from America’s policy toward Syria?  I know there are those who have been frustrated by our unwillingness to use our military might to depose Assad, and believe that a failure to do so indicates a weakening of American resolve in the region.  Others have suggested that my willingness to direct even limited military strikes to deter the further use of chemical weapons shows we’ve learned nothing from Iraq, and that America continues to seek control over the Middle East for our own purposes.  In this way, the situation in Syria mirrors a contradiction that has persisted in the region for decades:  the United States is chastised for meddling in the region, accused of having a hand in all manner of conspiracy; at the same time, the United States is blamed for failing to do enough to solve the region’s problems and for showing indifference toward suffering Muslim populations.

I realize some of this is inevitable, given America’s role in the world.  But these contradictory attitudes have a practical impact on the American people’s support for our involvement in the region, and allow leaders in the region — as well as the international community sometimes — to avoid addressing difficult problems themselves.

So let me take this opportunity to outline what has been U.S. policy towards the Middle East and North Africa, and what will be my policy during the remainder of my presidency.

The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region.

We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War.

We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world.  Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends on the region’s energy supply, and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.

We will dismantle terrorist networks that threaten our people.  Wherever possible, we will build the capacity of our partners, respect the sovereignty of nations, and work to address the root causes of terror.  But when it’s necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attack, we will take direct action.

And finally, we will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction.  Just as we consider the use of chemical weapons in Syria to be a threat to our own national security, we reject the development of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, and undermine the global nonproliferation regime.

Now, to say that these are America’s core interests is not to say that they are our only interests.  We deeply believe it is in our interests to see a Middle East and North Africa that is peaceful and prosperous, and will continue to promote democracy and human rights and open markets, because we believe these practices achieve peace and prosperity.  But I also believe that we can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action, particularly through military action.  Iraq shows us that democracy cannot simply be imposed by force.  Rather, these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with the countries and peoples of the region.

So what does this mean going forward?  In the near term, America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues:  Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.  While these issues are not the cause of all the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace.

The United States and Iran have been isolated from one another since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.  This mistrust has deep roots.  Iranians have long complained of a history of U.S. interference in their affairs and of America’s role in overthrowing an Iranian government during the Cold War.  On the other hand, Americans see an Iranian government that has declared the United States an enemy and directly — or through proxies — taken American hostages, killed U.S. troops and civilians, and threatened our ally Israel with destruction.

I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight — the suspicions run too deep.  But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

Since I took office, I’ve made it clear in letters to the Supreme Leader in Iran and more recently to President Rouhani that America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully, although we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  We are not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.  Instead, we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.

So these statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement.  We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful.  But to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.  After all, it’s the Iranian government’s choices that have led to the comprehensive sanctions that are currently in place.  And this is not simply an issue between the United States and Iran.  The world has seen Iran evade its responsibilities in the past and has an abiding interest in making sure that Iran meets its obligations in the future.

But I want to be clear we are encouraged that President Rouhani received from the Iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course.  And given President Rouhani’s stated commitment to reach an agreement, I am directing John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government in close cooperation with the European Union — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.

The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested.  For while the status quo will only deepen Iran’s isolation, Iran’s genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and the world, and will help the Iranian people meet their extraordinary potential — in commerce and culture; in science and education.

We are also determined to resolve a conflict that goes back even further than our differences with Iran, and that is the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.  I’ve made it clear that the United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish state.  Earlier this year, in Jerusalem, I was inspired by young Israelis who stood up for the belief that peace was necessary, just, and possible.  And I believe there’s a growing recognition within Israel that the occupation of the West Bank is tearing at the democratic fabric of the Jewish state.  But the children of Israel have the right to live in a world where the nations assembled in this body fully recognize their country, and where we unequivocally reject those who fire rockets at their homes or incite others to hate them.

Likewise, the United States remains committed to the belief that the Palestinian people have a right to live with security and dignity in their own sovereign state.  On the same trip, I had the opportunity to meet with young Palestinians in Ramallah whose ambition and incredible potential are matched by the pain they feel in having no firm place in the community of nations.  They are understandably cynical that real progress will ever be made, and they’re frustrated by their families enduring the daily indignity of occupation.  But they too recognize that two states is the only real path to peace — because just as the Palestinian people must not be displaced, the state of Israel is here to stay.

So the time is now ripe for the entire international community to get behind the pursuit of peace.  Already, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have demonstrated a willingness to take significant political risks.  President Abbas has put aside efforts to short-cut the pursuit of peace and come to the negotiating table.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has released Palestinian prisoners and reaffirmed his commitment to a Palestinian state.  Current talks are focused on final status issues of borders and security, refugees and Jerusalem.

So now the rest of us must be willing to take risks as well.  Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state, and we should say so clearly.  Arab states, and those who supported the Palestinians, must recognize that stability will only be served through a two-state solution and a secure Israel.

All of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists throughout the region, and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future.  And moreover, ties of trade and commerce between Israelis and Arabs could be an engine of growth and opportunity at a time when too many young people in the region are languishing without work.  So let’s emerge from the familiar corners of blame and prejudice.  Let’s support Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are prepared to walk the difficult road to peace.

Real breakthroughs on these two issues — Iran’s nuclear program, and Israeli-Palestinian peace — would have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa.  But the current convulsions arising out of the Arab Spring remind us that a just and lasting peace cannot be measured only by agreements between nations.  It must also be measured by our ability to resolve conflict and promote justice within nations.  And by that measure, it’s clear that all of us have a lot more work to do.

When peaceful transitions began in Tunisia and Egypt, the entire world was filled with hope.  And although the United States — like others — was struck by the speed of transition, and although we did not — and in fact could not — dictate events, we chose to support those who called for change.  And we did so based on the belief that while these transitions will be hard and take time, societies based upon democracy and openness and the dignity of the individual will ultimately be more stable, more prosperous, and more peaceful.

Over the last few years, particularly in Egypt, we’ve seen just how hard this transition will be.  Mohamed Morsi was democratically elected, but proved unwilling or unable to govern in a way that was fully inclusive.  The interim government that replaced him responded to the desires of millions of Egyptians who believed the revolution had taken a wrong turn, but it, too, has made decisions inconsistent with inclusive democracy — through an emergency law, and restrictions on the press and civil society and opposition parties.

Of course, America has been attacked by all sides of this internal conflict, simultaneously accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and engineering their removal of power.  In fact, the United States has purposely avoided choosing sides.  Our overriding interest throughout these past few years has been to encourage a government that legitimately reflects the will of the Egyptian people, and recognizes true democracy as requiring a respect for minority rights and the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, and a strong civil society.

That remains our interest today.  And so, going forward, the United States will maintain a constructive relationship with the interim government that promotes core interests like the Camp David Accords and counterterrorism.  We’ll continue support in areas like education that directly benefit the Egyptian people.  But we have not proceeded with the delivery of certain military systems, and our support will depend upon Egypt’s progress in pursuing a more democratic path.

And our approach to Egypt reflects a larger point:  The United States will at times work with governments that do not meet, at least in our view, the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests.  Nevertheless, we will not stop asserting principles that are consistent with our ideals, whether that means opposing the use of violence as a means of suppressing dissent, or supporting the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We will reject the notion that these principles are simply Western exports, incompatible with Islam or the Arab World.  We believe they are the birthright of every person.  And while we recognize that our influence will at times be limited, although we will be wary of efforts to impose democracy through military force, and although we will at times be accused of hypocrisy and inconsistency, we will be engaged in the region for the long haul.  For the hard work of forging freedom and democracy is the task of a generation.

And this includes efforts to resolve sectarian tensions that continue to surface in places like Iraq, Bahrain and Syria.  We understand such longstanding issues cannot be solved by outsiders; they must be addressed by Muslim communities themselves.  But we’ve seen grinding conflicts come to an end before — most recently in Northern Ireland, where Catholics and Protestants finally recognized that an endless cycle of conflict was causing both communities to fall behind a fast-moving world.  And so we believe those same sectarian conflicts can be overcome in the Middle East and North Africa.

To summarize, the United States has a hard-earned humility when it comes to our ability to determine events inside other countries.  The notion of American empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn’t borne out by America’s current policy or by public opinion.  Indeed, as recent debates within the United States over Syria clearly show, the danger for the world is not an America that is too eager to immerse itself in the affairs of other countries or to take on every problem in the region as its own.  The danger for the world is that the United States, after a decade of war — rightly concerned about issues back home, aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim world — may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill.

I believe such disengagement would be a mistake.  I believe America must remain engaged for our own security.  But I also believe the world is better for it.  Some may disagree, but I believe America is exceptional — in part because we have shown a willingness through the sacrifice of blood and treasure to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interests, but for the interests of all.

I must be honest, though.  We’re far more likely to invest our energy in those countries that want to work with us, that invest in their people instead of a corrupt few; that embrace a vision of society where everyone can contribute — men and women, Shia or Sunni, Muslim, Christian or Jew.  Because from Europe to Asia, from Africa to the Americas, nations that have persevered on a democratic path have emerged more prosperous, more peaceful, and more invested in upholding our common security and our common humanity.  And I believe that the same will hold true for the Arab world.

This leads me to a final point.  There will be times when the breakdown of societies is so great, the violence against civilians so substantial that the international community will be called upon to act.  This will require new thinking and some very tough choices.  While the United Nations was designed to prevent wars between states, increasingly we face the challenge of preventing slaughter within states.  And these challenges will grow more pronounced as we are confronted with states that are fragile or failing — places where horrendous violence can put innocent men, women and children at risk, with no hope of protection from their national institutions.

I have made it clear that even when America’s core interests are not directly threatened, we stand ready to do our part to prevent mass atrocities and protect basic human rights.  But we cannot and should not bear that burden alone.  In Mali, we supported both the French intervention that successfully pushed back al Qaeda, and the African forces who are keeping the peace.  In Eastern Africa, we are working with partners to bring the Lord’s Resistance Army to an end.  And in Libya, when the Security Council provided a mandate to protect civilians, America joined a coalition that took action.  Because of what we did there, countless lives were saved, and a tyrant could not kill his way back to power.

I know that some now criticize the action in Libya as an object lesson.  They point to the problems that the country now confronts — a democratically elected government struggling to provide security; armed groups, in some places extremists, ruling parts of a fractured land.  And so these critics argue that any intervention to protect civilians is doomed to fail — look at Libya.  No one is more mindful of these problems than I am, for they resulted in the death of four outstanding U.S. citizens who were committed to the Libyan people, including Ambassador Chris Stevens — a man whose courageous efforts helped save the city of Benghazi.  But does anyone truly believe that the situation in Libya would be better if Qaddafi had been allowed to kill, imprison, or brutalize his people into submission?  It’s far more likely that without international action, Libya would now be engulfed in civil war and bloodshed.

We live in a world of imperfect choices.  Different nations will not agree on the need for action in every instance, and the principle of sovereignty is at the center of our international order.  But sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder, or an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye.  While we need to be modest in our belief that we can remedy every evil, while we need to be mindful that the world is full of unintended consequences, should we really accept the notion that the world is powerless in the face of a Rwanda or Srebrenica?  If that’s the world that people want to live in, they should say so and reckon with the cold logic of mass graves.

But I believe we can embrace a different future.  And if we don’t want to choose between inaction and war, we must get better — all of us — at the policies that prevent the breakdown of basic order.  Through respect for the responsibilities of nations and the rights of individuals.  Through meaningful sanctions for those who break the rules.  Through dogged diplomacy that resolves the root causes of conflict, not merely its aftermath.  Through development assistance that brings hope to the marginalized.  And yes, sometimes — although this will not be enough — there are going to be moments where the international community will need to acknowledge that the multilateral use of military force may be required to prevent the very worst from occurring.

Ultimately, this is the international community that America seeks — one where nations do not covet the land or resources of other nations, but one in which we carry out the founding purpose of this institution and where we all take responsibility.  A world in which the rules established out of the horrors of war can help us resolve conflicts peacefully, and prevent the kinds of wars that our forefathers fought.  A world where human beings can live with dignity and meet their basic needs, whether they live in New York or Nairobi; in Peshawar or Damascus.

These are extraordinary times, with extraordinary opportunities.  Thanks to human progress, a child born anywhere on Earth today can do things today that 60 years ago would have been out of reach for the mass of humanity.  I saw this in Africa, where nations moving beyond conflict are now poised to take off.  And America is with them, partnering to feed the hungry and care for the sick, and to bring power to places off the grid.

I see it across the Pacific region, where hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty in a single generation.  I see it in the faces of young people everywhere who can access the entire world with the click of a button, and who are eager to join the cause of eradicating extreme poverty, and combating climate change, starting businesses, expanding freedom, and leaving behind the old ideological battles of the past.  That’s what’s happening in Asia and Africa.  It’s happening in Europe and across the Americas.  That’s the future that the people of the Middle East and North Africa deserve as well — one where they can focus on opportunity, instead of whether they’ll be killed or repressed because of who they are or what they believe.

Time and again, nations and people have shown our capacity to change — to live up to humanity’s highest ideals, to choose our better history.  Last month, I stood where 50 years ago Martin Luther King Jr. told America about his dream, at a time when many people of my race could not even vote for President.  Earlier this year, I stood in the small cell where Nelson Mandela endured decades cut off from his own people and the world.  Who are we to believe that today’s challenges cannot be overcome, when we have seen what changes the human spirit can bring?  Who in this hall can argue that the future belongs to those who seek to repress that spirit, rather than those who seek to liberate it?

I know what side of history I want to the United States of America to be on.  We’re ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges with you — firm in the belief that all men and women are in fact created equal, each individual possessed with a dignity and inalienable rights that cannot be denied.  That is why we look to the future not with fear, but with hope.  And that’s why we remain convinced that this community of nations can deliver a more peaceful, prosperous and just world to the next generation.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
10:52 A.M. EDT

Political Musings August 15, 2013: President Barack Obama condemns Egypt violence, responds by canceling joint military exercises

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama condemns Egypt violence, responds by canceling joint military exercises (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama took time out from his week-long vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, in Chilmark, Massachusetts on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 to speak about the ongoing violence in Egypt that has resulted in over 600 deaths…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 15, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Situation in Egypt

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Situation in Egypt

Source: WH, 8-15-13

Residence
Chilmark, Massachusetts

10:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  I just finished a discussion with my national security team about the situation in Egypt, and I wanted to provide an update about our response to the events of the last several days.

Let me begin by stepping back for a moment.  The relationship between the United States and Egypt goes back decades.  It’s rooted in our respect of Egypt as a nation, an ancient center of civilization, and a cornerstone for peace in the Middle East.  It’s also rooted in our ties to the Egyptian people, forged through a longstanding partnership.

Just over two years ago, America was inspired by the Egyptian people’s desire for change as millions of Egyptians took to the streets to defend their dignity and demand a government that was responsive to their aspirations for political freedom and economic opportunity.  And we said at the time that change would not come quickly or easily, but we did align ourselves with a set of principles:  nonviolence, a respect for universal rights, and a process for political and economic reform.  In doing so, we were guided by values but also by interests, because we believe nations are more stable and more successful when they’re guided by those principles as well.

And that’s why we’re so concerned by recent events.  We appreciate the complexity of the situation.  While Mohamed Morsi was elected President in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians.  We know that many Egyptians, millions of Egyptians, perhaps even a majority of Egyptians were calling for a change in course.  And while we do not believe that force is the way to resolve political differences, after the military’s intervention several weeks ago, there remained a chance for reconciliation and an opportunity to pursue a democratic path.

Instead, we’ve seen a more dangerous path taken through arbitrary arrests, a broad crackdown on Mr. Morsi’s associations and supporters, and now tragically the violence that’s taken the lives of hundreds of people and wounded thousands more.

The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt’s interim government and security forces.  We deplore violence against civilians.  We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest.  We oppose the pursuit of martial law, which denies those rights to citizens under the principle that security trumps individual freedom, or that might makes right.  And today the United States extends its condolences to the families of those who were killed and those who were wounded.

And given the depths of our partnership with Egypt, our national security interests in this pivotal part of the world and our belief that engagement can support a transition back to a democratically elected civilian government, we’ve sustained our commitment to Egypt and its people.  But while we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.

As a result, this morning we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise which was scheduled for next month.  Going forward I’ve asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we may take as necessary with respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship.

Let me say that the Egyptian people deserve better than what we’ve seen over the last several days.  And to the Egyptian people, let me say the cycle of violence and escalation needs to stop.  We call on the Egyptian authorities to respect the universal rights of the people.  We call on those who are protesting to do so peacefully and condemn the attacks that we’ve seen by protesters, including on churches.  We believe that the state of emergency should be lifted, that a process of national reconciliation should begin, that all parties need to have a voice in Egypt’s future, that the rights of women and religious minorities should be respected, and that commitments must be kept to pursue transparent reforms of the constitution and democratic elections of a parliament and a President.

Pursuing that path with help Egypt meet the democratic aspirations of its people while attracting the investment, tourism and international support that can help it deliver opportunities to its citizens.  Violence, on the other hand, will only feed the cycle of polarization that isolates Egyptians from one another and from the world, and that continues to hamper the opportunity for Egypt to get back on the path of economic growth.

Let me make one final point.  America cannot determine the future of Egypt.  That’s a task for the Egyptian people.  We don’t take sides with any particular party or political figure.  I know it’s tempting inside of Egypt to blame the United States or the West or some other outside actor for what’s gone wrong.  We’ve been blamed by supporters of Morsi.  We’ve been blamed by the other side, as if we are supporters of Morsi.  That kind of approach will do nothing to help Egyptians achieve the future that they deserve.

We want Egypt to succeed.  We want a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Egypt.  That’s our interest.  But to achieve that, the Egyptians are going to have to do the work.

We recognize that change takes time, and that a process like this is never guaranteed.  There are examples in recent history of countries that are transitioned out of a military government towards a democratic government, and it did not always go in a straight line, and the process was not always smooth.  There are going to be false starts.  There will be difficult days.  America’s democratic journey took us through some mighty struggles to perfect our union.

From Asia to the Americas, we know that democratic transitions are measured not in months or even years, but sometimes in generations.  So in the spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect, I want to be clear that America wants to be a partner in the Egyptian people’s pursuit of a better future, and we are guided by our national interest in this longstanding relationship.  But our partnership must also advance the principles that we believe in and that so many Egyptians have sacrificed for these last several years — no matter what party or faction they belong to.

So America will work with all those in Egypt and around the world who support a future of stability that rests on a foundation of justice and peace and dignity.

Thank you very much.

END
10:37 A.M. EDT

Political Headlines July 6, 2013: President Barack Obama: US not backing any Egyptian party or group

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: US not backing any Egyptian party or group

Source: USA TODAY, 7-6-13

Hagel also spoke to Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday to discuss Egypt and “matters of mutual security concern in the Middle East,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in the statement….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency September 15, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Honors the Victims of the Libya Attack — Carrying on the Work of Our Fallen Heroes

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Obama’s Address: Honoring the Victims of the Libya Attack

Source: ABC News Radio, 9-15-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

In his weekly address, President Obama pays tribute to the four Americans killed in Libya, saying they “represented the very best of our country.”

“Without people like them, America could not sustain the freedoms we enjoy, the security we demand, and the leadership that the entire world counts on,” he says.

The president honors those killed in the assault on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, memorializing the lives of Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, and US Ambassador Chris Stevens….READ MORE

President Obama speaks about the tragic loss of four of our fellow Americans who were serving in our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address, White House Photo, Sonya N. Hebert, 9/14/12

Weekly Address: Carrying on the Work of Our Fallen Heroes

Source: WH, 9-16-12

President Obama speaks about the tragic loss of four of our fellow Americans who were serving in our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. These Americans represented the best of our country; without people like them, we could not sustain our freedoms or security, or provide the leadership that the entire world depends on. During this time of turmoil in many different countries, the President makes it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths, but as Commander in Chief, he will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans and will ensure that those who attack our people find no escape from justice. Now, we must carry on the work of our fallen heroes by making our country stronger, our citizens safer, and the world a better and more hopeful place.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

Weekly Address: Carrying on the Work of Our Fallen Heroes

This week in Libya, we lost four of our fellow Americans. Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, and Chris Stevens were all killed in an outrageous attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.

These four Americans represented the very best of our country.

Glen and Tyrone had each served America as Navy SEALs for many years, before continuing their service providing security for our diplomats in Libya. They died as they lived their lives – defending their fellow Americans, and advancing the values that all of us hold dear.

Sean also started his service in uniform, in the Air Force. He then spent years at the State Department, on several continents, always answering his country’s call. And Ambassador Chris Stevens died a hero in two countries – here in the United States, where he inspired those of us who knew him; and in Libya, a country that he helped to save, where he ultimately laid down his life.

On Friday, I was able to tell their families how much the American people appreciated their service. Without people like them, America could not sustain the freedoms we enjoy, the security we demand, and the leadership that the entire world counts on.

As we mourn their loss, we must also send a clear and resolute message to the world: those who attack our people will find no escape from justice. We will not waver in their pursuit.  And we will never allow anyone to shake the resolve of the United States of America.

This tragic attack takes place at a time of turmoil and protest in many different countries. I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths. We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion – including Islam.

Yet there is never any justification for violence. There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women. There is no excuse for attacks on our Embassies and Consulates. And so long as I am Commander-in-Chief, the United States will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans.

Right now, we are doing whatever we can to protect Americans who are serving abroad. We are in contact with governments around the globe, to strengthen our cooperation, and underscore that every nation has a responsibility to help us protect our people. We have moved forward with an effort to see that justice is done for those we lost, and we will not rest until that work is done.

Most of all, we must reaffirm that we will carry on the work of our fallen heroes.

I know the images on our televisions are disturbing. But let us never forget that for every angry mob, there are millions who yearn for the freedom, and dignity, and hope that our flag represents. That is the cause of America – the ideals that took root in our founding; the opportunity that drew so many to our shores; and the awesome progress that we have promoted all across the globe.

We are Americans. We know that our spirit cannot be broken, and the foundation of our leadership cannot be shaken. That is the legacy of the four Americans we lost – men who will live on in the hearts of those they loved, and the strength of the country they served.

So with their memory to guide us, we will carry forward the work of making our country stronger, our citizens safer, and the world a better and more hopeful place. Thank you.

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 12, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Remarks on the Attacks on the American Embassy & US Ambassador in Libya ‘American Leadership is Still Sorely Needed’

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Embassy Attacks Fuel Escalation in U.S. Presidential Race

Source: NYT, 9-12-12

Mitt Romney after discussing the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, while speaking in Jacksonville, Fla., on Wednesday.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Mitt Romney after discussing the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, while speaking in Jacksonville, Fla., on Wednesday.

Mitt Romney assailed President Obama while Democrats accused the Republican nominee of politicizing a crisis….READ MORE

ROMNEY: AMERICAN LEADERSHIP IS STILL SORELY NEEDED

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 9-12-12

Mitt Romney delivered the following remarks on yesterday’s attacks on American diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya:

“Americans woke up this morning with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corps were brutally murdered across the world. This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous, it’s disgusting. It breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served, during their lives, the cause of freedom, and justice and honor. We mourn their loss and join together in prayer that the spirit of the Almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so brutally slain.

“Four diplomats lost their life, including the U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya. And, of course, with these words, I extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones, who have left behind, as a result of these who have lost their lives in the service of our nation, and I know that the people across America are grateful for their service and we mourn their sacrifice.

“America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We will defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.

“I also believe the Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.  It’s never too early for the United States Government to condemn attacks on Americans, and to defend our values.  The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn’t ‘cleared by Washington.’ That reflects the mixed signals they’re sending to the world.

“The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, America cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don’t spin out of control.  We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests.  Over the last several years, we have stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region, but also poses the potential for peril, if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events.

“We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring does not become an Arab Winter.”

History Buzz: February 2011 Recap: Reagan Centennial — President’s Day — Civil War at 150

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

IN FOCUS:

     

  • Ronald Reagan’s legacy at 100, from 3 very different perspectives: Had he lived just a few years longer, Ronald Reagan would have turned 100 this Sunday. In his memory, the nation will honor his mark on history – and debate his legacy. His widow, Nancy Reagan, will lay a wreath at the Reagan library in California, where the 40th president was buried when he died in 2004 at the age of 93. A group of F-18s from the USS Ronald Reagan will salute him from the air.
    In Washington, the city where he made his greatest impact, politicians will salute his tenure. One of them is President Barack Obama, who, though a liberal who yearns to undo much of Reagan’s domestic record, admires the way Reagan changed the course of history….
    Sean Wilentz is a professor of history at Princeton University and the author of the book “The Age of Reagan.” He wrote there that while he was sometimes critical of Reagan’s leadership, after deep study of his record, “my views have ripened over time.” In an interview, Wilentz said Reagan was the most important political figure of the last 30 years. He includes him in august company. “In American political history, there have been a few leading figures … who for better or worse have put their political stamp indelibly on their time,” Wilentz wrote in his book. “They include Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt – and Ronald Reagan.”… – Kansas City Star, 2-3-11

IN FOCUS:

A House Divided

     

  • A House Divided: News & Views about the 150th anniverary of the American Civil War “A House Divided” is a blog dedicated to news and issues of importance to Civil War enthusiasts across the country and around the world. Blogger Linda Wheeler and a panel of respected Civil War experts will debate and dissect historical issues and explore new concepts. Wheeler will also report on conferences and seminars, find little-known battlefields and sites to explore, keep track of local, national and international stories of interest to readers and provide advice on upcoming events…. – Ongoing Civil War coverageOur Civil War panel of expertsTweeting the War

Tweeting the Civil War: The Washington Post is tweeting the Civil War, in the words of the people who lived it — from journals, letters, official records and newspapers of the day. Follow us.Escape from Ft Sumber

Mary Hadar: Escape from Ft. Sumter: As preparations for war increase, the women and children who have been living at Fort Sumter leave on board the steamer Marion, bound for New York. Their safe passage was negotiated by Maj Anderson, commander of Fort Sumter, with South Carolina’s Gov. Pickens. Follow our tweets of the Civil War day by day in the words of the people who lived it… – WaPo, 2-3-11

  • Gordon Wood: Revolution and its seeds are still defining nations: And it looked as though Virginia would soon join the rush toward abolition. As Gordon S. Wood, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and history professor at Brown University, points out, Virginia had more abolition societies than all of the Northern states combined….
    But Wood, who spoke Friday in Williamsburg, described how a chasm between the North and the South began to widen after the Revolution. Spurning slavery, the North turned into maybe the most commercialized society the world had ever known, one that celebrated labor as none had before.
    At the same time, the South celebrated, well not exactly sloth, but sitting back and letting someone else work for you. It’s true that not everyone in the South owned slaves. Many whites planted and picked their own cotton. But the idea that they might make enough money to buy someone to work for them was almost universal, Wood told me in a phone interview last week.
    “These two societies were going to clash,” he said, “and I think the threat posed by Lincoln’s election was very scary to the Southerners.”… – Hampton Roads, 2-21-11
  • Virtual president’s desk enlivens JFK’s 1800s desk: A new online feature called The President’s Desk is giving people a chance to learn more about John F. Kennedy’s life and administration. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is introducing its latest project on Monday morning at the library’s museum in Boston…. – AP, 2-22-11
  • Elizabeth VanderVen: The Chinese Zodiac Explained: “The purpose of the New Year is to sweep away all the old and anything unpleasant,” Dr. Elizabeth VanderVen, an assistant history professor at Rutgers … – FOX 4 News, 2-4-11

HISTORY NEWS:

     

  • Photos: America’s last WWI vet: He quit school at 16, bluffed his way into the Army, and didn’t gain notoriety until much later in life. These are snapshots from along the way. Frank W. Buckles died early Sunday, sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused…. – WaPo, 2-28-11
  • James N. Gregory: Dust Bowl migration sparks history project: It was once called another name — a negative term of the era. “Olivehurst was known as ‘Little Oklahoma,'” James N. Gregory said. “It was a very poor community of self-built homes.” Gregory, a history professor at the University of Washington and the author of “American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California,” spoke about the subject that the Sutter County Historical Society is researching…. – Appeal-Democrat, 2-19-11
  • Sheldon M. Stern: Report Gives a Majority of States Poor Grades on History Standards: A majority of states received failing or near-failing grades on the quality of their standards for teaching history in K-12 schools, according to the latest review Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader from the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
    In “The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011,” the research and advocacy group says the average grade across all states was barely a D. The majority—28 states—received scores of D or lower and only one state, South Carolina, earned a straight-A score. 

    “If students are not going to get the history in K-12, they’re not going to get it at all,” said Sheldon M. Stern, a historian formerly with the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston and one of the study’s co-authors. “The irony in the whole thing is that it’s not very difficult… – Edweek, 2-16-11

  • Archivist of the US Announces NARA Reorganization Plan: Recently, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero marked his first year in office and many of the initiatives he began since taking the helm are starting to bear fruit. Last summer, Ferriero created a staff task force to draft a plan for the “transformation” of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Ferriero recently unveiled Charting the Course, the reorganization plan for “reinventing” the National Archives…. – Lee White, National Coalition for History, 2-14-11
  • Leslie Harris: Emory examines its ties to slavery University organizes conference for colleges to examine racial past: Emory University history professor Leslie Harris leads the Transforming Community Project, which promotes discussions about race. Emory is confronting its past ties to slavery… – AJC, 2-6-11
  • National Archives have Jacqueline Kennedy’s pink suit, but hat is missing: An expanded collection of Kennedy treasures and trivia was unveiled this month at an exhibit as well as online to coincide with the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration; it includes the fabric of his top hat (beaver fur) down to his shoe size (10C). But missing and hardly mentioned are what could be the two most famous remnants of Kennedy’s last day. The pink suit, bloodstained and perfectly preserved in a vault in Maryland, is banned from public display for 100 years. The pillbox hat – removed at Parkland Hospital while Jacqueline Kennedy waited for doctors to confirm what she knew – is lost, last known to be in the hands of her personal secretary, who won’t discuss its whereabouts…. – WaPo, 2-4-11
  • The Google Art Project Makes Masterpieces Accessible to All: Gone are the days of jet-setting to galleries in Manhattan, Florence, London, or Madrid. As of yesterday, all you need to become a museum maven is an Internet connection. Google Art Project, the brainchild of a small group of art-happy Google employees, brings the Street View technology of Google Earth and Google Maps inside 17 museums around the world. The roster includes The Uffizi, the Tate Britain, The Met, MoMA, and the Van Gogh Museum.
    The Google Art Project collection, as a whole, consists of 1,000 works of art by more than 400 artists, and this is only the beginning. Google hopes to add more museums and works of art to its virtual dossier soon…. – The Atlantic, 2-2-11Google Art Project
  • Bay Area antiquities experts fear Egyptian looters took massive toll on treasures: “Damage to or theft of these pieces is not just tragic for Egypt, but for the whole world,” said Renee Dreyfus, curator of antiquities for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which hosted the traveling Tutankhamun exhibit at the M.H. de Young Museum in 2009.
    “These things are part of our world heritage, where much of what we consider the civilized world began,” she said. “They are part of everyone’s history.”… – Oakland Tribune, 2-1-11

HISTORIANS NEWS:

     

  • Professors to walk out of classrooms Tuesday: According to the TAA, the march could be a turning point in the protest of Gov. Scott Walker’s bill, showing the city and the nation that some of the UW-Madison faculty wants to protect the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers.
    333 UW-Madison faculty members signed a letter addressed to Walker, state legislators and citizens of Wisconsin, which was released Sunday. It states their support for collective bargaining rights for all workers.
    Associate history professor William Jones signed the letter and said he supports the faculty’s march to the Capitol.
    “There are several aims [of the letter],” Jones said. “One is to register our support for the principal of collective bargaining as a right and as a democratic process that’s been established both in the U.S. and around the world, as a fundamental human right.” … – Daily Cardinal, 2-22-11
  • Dominic Sandbrook accused of “recycling” the work of other historians in latest book: …[H]erein lies the most troubling flaw of [Dominic Sandbrook’s “Mad As Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right” one that won’t be apparent to the casual reader. It’s only by consulting the book’s footnotes that one discovers, by looking inside the books he cites, that Mr. Sandbrook shamelessly and repeatedly cannibalizes the work of others, offering what could be generously called a 400-page mash-up of previous histories of the 1970s.
    Take this passage, where Mr. Sandbrook, in vivid prose, describes the 1976 bicentennial celebration in Boston: “As the orchestra reached the climax of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, the church bells pealed, howitzers thundered, fireworks sent shards of color wheeling through the sky, and red, white, and blue geysers burst from a fireboat behind the Hatch shell.”
    These aren’t Mr. Sandbrook’s words but two sentences grafted together—one from a 1976 Time magazine article (“As the orchestra reached the climax of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, howitzers boomed, church bells pealed”), the other from J. Anthony Lukas’s “Common Ground” (“geysers of red, white, and blue water burst from a fireboat behind the band shell”)—with a bit of strategic re-editing. Both sources are named in the book’s footnotes, but in the text the sentence is passed off as the author’s own…. – WSJ, 2-12-11
  • Thomas DiLorenzo: Loyola professor faces questions about ties to pro-secession group: A Loyola University Maryland economics professor is denying ties to a group that endorses a second Southern secession after he came under fire from a Missouri congressman because of the alleged association. Thomas DiLorenzo, a Loyola professor since 1992, was in Washington on Wednesday to testify at a House subcommittee hearing on the Federal Reserve Bank. But Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Democrat from St. Louis, quickly raised questions about DiLorenzo’s ties to the League of the South, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center…. – Baltimore Sun, 2-11-11
  • Jan Gross and Irena Grudzinska Gross: Publisher defends book on Polish plunder of Jews: A Polish publishing house is defending its decision to publish a book that says some Poles actively profited from Jewish suffering during the Holocaust – a claim that challenges a national belief about Polish actions during World War II.
    “Golden Harvest,” by Princeton academics Jan Gross and Irena Grudzinska Gross, argues that rural Poles sometimes sought financial gain from Jewish misfortune in a variety of ways, from plundering Jewish mass graves to ferreting out Jews in hiding for rewards.
    Gross said the starting point of the book is a photograph showing Polish peasants digging up human remains at the Treblinka death camp just after the war in a search for gold or other treasures that Nazi executioners might have overlooked. Scattered in front of the group are skulls and bones…. – WaPo, 2-9-11
  • Scholarly Reportage: Fad or Movement?: Most academics are content to teach their classes and publish their research – usually for a small number of scholars in their subfield. Yet, there have always been academics who want to reach a much larger audience, to have influence beyond their classrooms, scholarly journals and the faculty club. For them, the call to become a public intellectual is strong. But as long as there has been this desire to “cross over,” there has also been a tension between those who do and those who do not.
    Scholars who manage to break beyond the narrow scholarly niche are often derided as mere popularizers, lacking the disciplinary rigor of their more professional colleagues. To some, they are lightweights who jump onto the latest in intellectual fashion and leave no lasting mark on intellectual life or academia. And this is largely because, crossing over, or, as my agent calls it, ‘going trade,’ too often means consciously leaving disciplinary concerns behind, as writing and speaking beyond a narrow academic community requires new skills and a much more interdisciplinary approach…. – Inside Higher Ed, 2-10-11
  • Va. historian denies tampering with Lincoln pardon: An amateur Virginia historian is denying allegations by the National Archives that he changed the date on a presidential pardon issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Seventy-eight-year-old Thomas P. Lowry of Woodbridge, Va., said Monday that he was pressured by federal agents to confess. The Archives says Lowry has confessed to using a fountain pen to change the date on a pardon by Lincoln from 1864 to 1865. The change made it appear that Lowry had discovered a document languishing in the Archives that was likely Lincoln’s final official act before he was assassinated…. – AP, 2-7-11
  • In Arguments on Corporate Speech, the Press Is a Problem: In the year since the Supreme Court handed down its 183-page decision in Citizens United, the liberal objection to it has gradually boiled down to a single sentence: The majority was wrong to grant First Amendment rights to corporations. That critique is incomplete. As Justice John Paul Stevens acknowledged in his dissent, the court had long recognized that “corporations are covered by the First Amendment.” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, listed more than 20 precedents saying that.
    But an old and established rule can still be wrong, and it may be that the liberal critique is correct. If it is, though, it must confront a very hard question. If corporations have no First Amendment rights, what about newspapers and other news organizations, almost all of which are organized as corporations?…
    Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has reviewed the historical evidence. The bottom line, he said, is this: “If ordinary business corporations lack First Amendment rights, so do those business corporations that we call media corporations.”… – NYT, 2-7-11

HISTORY OP-EDs:

     

  • Scott Casper: Rebranding Mount Vernon: Today, of course, Washington is again at the center of the presidential pantheon. For that he can thank an unlikely group of allies: former slaves who worked at Mount Vernon in the late 19th century and who helped shape our modern beliefs about him — but only by hiding his complicated views on slavery behind the illusion of an Old South plantation. Everything about the restored Mount Vernon was designed to render Washington a noble but approachable figure…. – NYT, 2-21-11
  • Diane Ravitch: Why should teachers have unions?: As I write, thousands of teachers are staging a protest in the state capitol in Wisconsin against proposed legislation by Gov. Scott Walker that would destroy their collective bargaining rights. Others stand with them, including members of the Green Bay Packers and other public sector workers, even those not affected by the legislation, namely, firefighters and police. Gov. Walker demanded that the teachers pay more for their health benefits and their pension benefits, and they have agreed to do so. But that’s not all he wants. He wants to destroy the union…. – WaPo, 2-22-11
  • Julian Zelizer: What’s wrong with presidential rankings: Since the late 1940s, it has been an American custom for pollsters and publications to release a ranking of U.S. presidents.
    Usually based on a survey of historians and journalists or of the public, the ranking informs readers about who the “best” and “worst” presidents are. In an age when we are constantly desperate to craft Top 10 lists for every part of our lives, this approach to political history is appealing.
    But rankings don’t tell us much about presidential history. The rankings are weak mechanisms for evaluating what has taken place in the White House…. – CNN, 2-21-11
  • Ravitch: Public schools are not chain stores: Last week, the New York City Department of Education received permission from the city’s Panel on Educational Policy, or PEP, to close an additional two dozen public schools because their scores are too low. The city has now closed more than 100 schools and opened hundreds of new ones. The consent of the PEP was never in doubt…. – WaPo, 2-9-11

HISTORY BOOK NEWS:

     

  • Adam Arenson: The making of America’s most dangerous city: About this blog: St. Louis has earned a dubious distinction again this year – named by U.S. News and World Report as the nation’s most dangerous city. What is it that puts St. Louis in the forefront of American crime? Adam Arenson looks to history for an answer. In his book, “The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War,” recently released by Harvard University Press, Arenson charts the quest of St. Louisans to make their city the cultural and commercial capital. But their efforts ultimately failed and decisions taken as far back as the Civil War have repercussions today, as Arenson, an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso, reveals here…. – 2-24-11
  • New Rumsfeld memoir criticizes Rice, other members of Bush administration: But history professor Jack Rakove warns that Rumsfeld’s writings should be viewed with a cautious eye. “Historians are universally suspicious of memoirs,” Rakove said. “The great danger of memoirs is that they’re inherently self-serving, and they can be selective.”… – Standford Daily, 2-24-11
  • Grace Elizabeth Hale: Why are today’s rebels Republicans?: Now, those standing against the status quo have a decidedly different outlook: they are conservatives, fundamentalists, Tea Partiers. How did this shift come about? Why are today’s rebels Republicans? Grace Elizabeth Hale explores the nature of the outsider in American culture in her book “A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America,” recently released by Oxford University Press. Here, Hale, an associate professor of history and American studies at the University of Virginia, delves into the impulses that drive both conservative and liberal rebels…. – WaPo, 2-8-11
  • Exploring the failures of the Andrew Johnson presidency: Gordon-Reed’s latest book, Andrew Johnson: The American Presidents Series / The 17th President, 1865-1869 (Times Books, $23), touches on issues of race as she examines Johnson’s role in putting the nation back together after the Civil War.
    In one sense, Andrew Johnson’s life was a tale of success. He rose from illiterate tailor’s apprentice to become president of the United States. “One of the things that I wanted to come across in this book was that he was a person of tenacity and perseverance,” Gordon-Reed said in a phone interview from her home in New York. “It’s a very American story. It’s hard to imagine that a person of his standing would rise to the highest office in the land, but he did.”
    But his life was also a story of failure. Focusing on Johnson’s presidency, Gordon-Reed aims to show how ill-suited Johnson was both to succeed Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s greatest presidents, and to heal a nation that the Civil War had torn apart. She argues that by attempting to reconcile with Southern whites, Johnson abandoned millions of newly freed slaves and lost the trust of congressional leaders.
    “Johnson is considered one of the worst presidents,” Gordon-Reed said. “The interesting thing is that he was a talented man.”… – Philly Inquirer, 2-8-11
  • Jan Gross: Book on Holocaust stirs controversy: Mr Gross, a history professor at Princeton University, told the Associated Press that he wished to tell the story of the war as it happened…. – Warsaw Business Journal, 2-9-11

HISTORY REVIEWS:

     

  • HISTORY REVIEW BY KEVIN BOYLE: Lawrence Goldstone’s “Inherently Unequal”: INHERENTLY UNEQUAL The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903 “Constitutional law,” Lawrence Goldstone says toward the end of “Inherently Unequal,” is “simply politics made incomprehensible to the common man.” It’s meant to be a sound bite, a clever coda to a cautionary tale of justice corrupted and denied. But it speaks to a cynical strain that runs through this history of the late 19th-century American struggle to define the boundaries of racial justice – and that makes Goldstone’s story darker than it ought to be…. – WaPo, 2-25-11
  • Douglas Waller: Douglas Waller’s “Wild Bill Donovan,” on the OSS spymaster: WILD BILL DONOVAN The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage The episode, recounted by Douglas Waller in this superb, dramatic yet scholarly biography, tells a great deal about the man who built a far-flung intelligence organization from scratch in the midst of World War II. Courageous but reckless, always itching to be in the center of the action, Donovan was smart, tough and seemingly endowed with boundless energy…. – WaPo, 2-25-11
  • Anabasis Alexandrou: Paths of Glory: THE LANDMARK ARRIAN The Campaigns of Alexander It’s an irresistible story. Certainly Plutarch, who included this description in his masterly biography of Alexander in the second century A.D., couldn’t resist it. But he did scruple to note that not all historians accepted this account of inebriate vandalism. One who didn’t even consider it worthy of mention was Lucius Flavius Arrianus, a younger contemporary of Plutarch better known as Arrian. For him, Alexander’s burning of the palace at Persepolis — then and now a shocking act of destruction — was carefully deliberated public policy, a symbolic seal on an official campaign of vengeance: it was his own idea to pay the Persians back in kind for the burning of the Athenian temples in 479 B.C. and, Arrian wrote, “for all the other wrongs they had committed against the Greeks.”… – NYT, 2-25-11
  • RAYMOND ARSENAULT: Shades of White: THE INVISIBLE LINE Three American Families and the ­Secret Journey From Black to White In an illuminating and aptly titled book, “The Invisible Line,” Daniel J. Sharfstein demonstrates that African- Americans of mixed ancestry have been crossing the boundaries of color and racial identity since the early colonial era. An associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University and an author with a literary flair, Sharfstein documents this persistent racial fluidity by painstakingly reconstructing the history of three families. In a dizzying array of alternating chapters, he presents the personal and racial stories of the Gibsons, the Spencers and the Walls. The result is an astonishingly detailed rendering of the variety and complexity of racial experience in an evolving national culture moving from slavery to segregation to civil rights… – NYT, 2-25-11
  • Jeff Greenfield: With a Few Tweaks, Shaking Up History THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan In his shrewdly written, often riveting new book, “Then Everything Changed,” the veteran political journalist Jeff Greenfield ponders some smaller-scale and more plausible what-ifs: three events, he says, “that came within a whisker of actually happening.” What if an actual attempt on John F. Kennedy’s life, shortly after his election to the White House, had succeeded? What if Sirhan Sirhan had been thwarted in assassinating Robert F. Kennedy in 1968? What if President Gerald R. Ford had corrected a misstep in the 1976 presidential debates and defeated Jimmy Carter?… – NYT, 2-28-11
  • WALTER ISAACSON, Bettany Hughes: Wise Guy: THE HEMLOCK CUP Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life For the most part, Hughes is successful, and even when not, she’s fascinating. What we get in “The Hemlock Cup” is many books interlaced: a biography of Socrates; a gritty description of daily life in Athens; a vivid history of the Peloponnesian War and its aftereffects; and — as an unexpected delight — a guide to museums, archaeological digs and repositories of ancient artifacts, as Hughes takes us by the hand while ferreting out her evidence. At one point we travel with her to the rear of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, to study a scrap of papyrus — Fragment 4807 — in the Sackler Library. It contains some lines, apparently by Sophocles, casting light on what life may have been like during the Peloponnesian War… – NYT, 2-20-11
  • Jonathan Gill: Yardley reviews Jonathan Gill’s “Harlem”: HARLEM The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America Gill, a historian who has taught at Columbia and is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, has done a stupendous amount of research, some of which might best have been left in his files. Though his “Harlem” certainly is authoritative and exhaustive, in addition to being well-written and perceptive, it also is exhausting and would have gained from being cut by at least 50 pages. Many of the details of Harlem’s political life could have been set aside, and some of the portraits of its most notable and familiar figures – Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, Marcus Garvey, Father Divine, Langston Hughes, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. et al. – would have lost nothing by being briefer…. – WaPo, 2-17-11
  • Timothy Beal: “The Rise and Fall of the Bible”: Rethinking the Good Book American Christians buy millions of Bibles they seldom read and don’t understand: In his new book, “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book,” religion professor Timothy Beal describes all the angst and doubt that Bible reading provoked in him during his youth, as well as the frustration many American Christians experience as a result of their own encounters with the book. This doesn’t prevent them from buying truckloads of the things — Beal notes that “the average Christian household owns nine Bibles and purchases at least one new Bible every year” — but actually reading them is another matter. Beal believes that’s because today’s Christians are seeking a certainty in their holy book that simply isn’t there, and shouldn’t be… – Salon, 2-13-11
  • Three books on the gulf oil spill: Just six months after BP stopped the oil that had been flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, a gusher of books about the spill has begun to wash ashore. The first wave includes three very different approaches to the disaster that riveted the nation most of last summer…. – WaPo, 2-11-11
  • Dominic Sandbrook: Carter, Reagan and Freaky Times: MAD AS HELL The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right The cultural politics of the 1970s is irresistible to historians, the way the decade’s dance music is irresistible to D.J.’s at weddings. Thus a book like Dominic Sandbrook’s “Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right” arrives in bookstores every six months or so. Nixon, Ford, Carter: there’s little greatness there, but these presidencies are so familiar that you can hum nostalgically, dismally along…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • Gwen Ifill reviews Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir, “Known and Unknown”: Donald Rumsfeld has chosen all of the above in “Known and Unknown,” a hefty and heavily annotated accounting and defense of his life in public service. But hand-wring he does, in repeated blasts of Rumsfeldian score-settling that come off as a cross between setting the record straight and doggedly knocking enemies off pedestals. The book is full of little nuggets like that, but at its heart, it is a revenge memoir. Most readers who came to know of Rumsfeld during the last stage of his remarkable career as secretary of defense for George W. Bush will not be surprised at the tone that runs through much of the book. Rumsfeld, according to Rumsfeld, was prescient, clear-headed, loyal and almost always right…. – WaPo, 2-6-11
  • BIOGRAPHY REVIEW BY WIL HAYGOOD Peter Firstbrook’s account of Obama’s roots, “The Obamas”: Even at this halfway point in his presidential term, Barack Obama already belongs to the publishing ages. The sweeping and poignant arc of his life – and his race-defying presidency – guarantees that books upon books will be written about him. We’ve already seen a healthy number. There have been tomes, but mostly the books are Teddy White-like riffs by journalists offering behind-the-scenes accounts of campaign intrigue or life in the White House.
    In “The Obamas,” Peter Firstbrook, a British documentary filmmaker turned writer, all but ignores the American side of the Obama story and plows into the Kenyan landscape, and family genealogy, of the Obama clan. The president’s father, Barack Obama Sr., was Kenyan, a member of the Luo tribe.
    Firstbrook has written a strange and well-meaning hybrid of a book. There are long stretches of oral histories, given by close and distant Obama relatives and buttressed with often numbing historical detail on Kenyan wars and tribal political intrigues. You will learn not only about those intrepid explorers Henry Morton Stanley and David Livingstone, but also far more than you need to about the ritual of lower-tooth extraction for Luo boys…. – WaPo, 2-6-11
  • Two books on military-industrial complex: For example, if a 22nd-century citizen were to puzzle over the phrase “military-industrial complex,” which recurs in virtually all political and military histories of the 20th and early 21st centuries, he would be well-advised to examine one of the largest and most powerful participants in this “complex,” Lockheed Martin, subject of William D. Hartung’s careful, meticulously documented book “Prophets of War.” President Dwight Eisenhower, not one celebrated for memorable phrases, coined this one. It refers, of course, to the production of armaments – missiles, drones, submarines, etc. – regardless of whether they may be needed….
    The phrase “military-industrial complex” has stuck. Eisenhower himself remains indistinct in the public memory, framed at different times in his life by the photographer Richard Avedon as an amiable, distrait old duffer and by biographers who portray him as a clever politician. His campaigns and policies represented a form of Republicanism no longer recognizable to his successors: There was a fierce independent streak in him, as James Ledbetter demonstrates in “Unwarranted Influence.” He had always been something of a stealth thinker, even in the Army, when he kept his own counsel on opinions that his superiors might have regarded as unorthodox. Few commentators on the 34th president’s mind and methods have more rigorously considered the evolution of Eisenhower’s preoccupations than Ledbetter has…. – WaPo, 2-6-11
  • Adam Goodheart Reviews: Daniel Rasmussen: Violence and Retribution: AMERICAN UPRISING The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt Early in January 1811, along the same riverbank, a small army of Louisiana slaves had briefly faced a small army of slaveholders. It was, as described in “American Uprising,” Daniel Rasmussen’s chilling and suspenseful account, the culmination of a signal episode in the history of American race relations…. – NYT, 2-6-11Excerpt

HISTORY FEATURES:

     

  • James D. Robenalt: Harding’s defender Ohio’s presidents all underrated, Cleveland history buff contends: History is in the eyes of the beholder, whose point of view might conflict with that of another beholder.
    For example, Cleveland lawyer and historian James D. Robenalt says this about Marion’s Warren G. Harding: “He was a damned good president, and he did a number of things that he’s just not getting credit for.”
    Yet that’s not the record Larry J. Sabato beholds.
    Told of Robenalt’s assertion, Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and one of the nation’s pre-eminent presidential scholars, responded: “Look, I’m sure he’s not really defending Warren Harding. That would be very difficult to make a case for.”
    Yes, Professor Sabato, Robenalt actually is defending Harding…. Columbus Dispath, 2-20-11
  • Top 10 presidents: In 2010, Siena College asked 238 presidential scholars to rank the 43 commanders in chief:
    1. Franklin Roosevelt
    2. Teddy Roosevelt
    3. Abraham Lincoln
    4. George Washington
    5. Thomas Jefferson
    6. James Madison
    7. James Monroe
    8. Woodrow Wilson
    9. Harry Truman
    10. Dwight Eisenhower
  • Pat Nixon portrayed as combative in biography: Pat Nixon was long regarded as the subservient political wife who wanted only to help her husband President Richard Nixon achieve his goals for the nation. But a new biography portrays the first lady as willful and combative in her relationship with her husband and his top advisers. She waged “a battle to retain control over her responsibilities,” writes Mary C. Brennan in “Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady,” due out next month from the University Press of Kansas. “She found herself engaged in almost constant warfare with her husband and some of his advisors . . . and she refused to give up without a fight.”… WaPo, 2-14-11
  • ‘Raw Deal’: Historian makes waves with scathing look at Franklin D. Roosevelt: For more than half a century, biographers have treated Franklin Delano Roosevelt with Rushmore-like reverence, celebrating the nation’s 32nd president as a colossus who eased the agony of the Great Depression and saved democracy from Nazi Germany. Which never sat right with historian Burton Folsom Jr….
    The result was “New Deal or Raw Deal?,” a scathing 300-page counter-narrative that has made Folsom a conservative hero and placed him squarely in the midst of a roiling debate over America’s past, the nature of history and, some say, its manipulation for political ends…. – LA Times, 2-12-11
  • Clashing versions of Lithuania’s history and how to treat it: Since 1991 scholars from all sides have been unravelling the murderous details, meticulously comparing sources and providing a nuanced account of its interlocking causes, including prejudice, outside incitement, revenge and cowardice. But for some campaigners, mostly from abroad, the historical reckoning has been both too slow and too soft. They detect a sinister pattern of neglect of Jewish sites, foot-dragging over restitution, harassment of Holocaust survivors in an investigation of alleged atrocities by Jewish partisans and an ultranationalist approach to history that belittles the Holocaust.
    This discontent led to a public protest and bitter exchanges at a recent academic conference in London sponsored by the Lithuanian embassy (part of a year of official commemoration of the Holocaust). The campaigners read a letter denouncing both the Lithuanian government and international efforts to put Nazi and Soviet crimes on a similar footing.
    That prompted a spirited rebuttal from historians and other conference participants, and not least from Irena Veisaite, a Holocaust survivor and leading member of Lithuania’s small Jewish community. She found herself in the unusual position of being berated by a campaigner against anti-Semitism, a British-born film-maker and academic called Danny Ben-Moshe.
    Ms Veisaite and her allies deplore the glorification of the LAF. They ascribe more blame to clumsiness than to malice in the Lithuanian authorities’ actions. What worries them is hardening attitudes on both sides. Some Lithuanians feel that over-zealous foreign Jewish critics put too little store by reconciliation. “We are squeezed between two Talibans,” says Sarunas Liekis, a Yiddish-studies professor from Vilnius. The same obstinacy that plagues Lithuania’s relations with Poland, he says, lies behind politicians’ refusal to reverse their mistakes on Jewish issues…. – Economist, 2-20-11
  • Anne Midgette reviews ‘Nixon in China,’ finally on stage at the Metropolitan Opera: IN NEW YORK When John Adams’s opera “Nixon in China” had its world premiere in 1987, it was provocative, edgy, audacious. 24 years later, it’s come to the Metropolitan Opera and, along the way, become a Modern Masterpiece. Wednesday night’s premiere was a big event: The crowd was lively, star-studded, and abuzz. It marked not only the Met’s first performance of this opera, but also the company debuts of Adams, who conducted, and Peter Sellars, who came up with the original concept and directed the original production, and who has, incredibly, moved from enfant terrible to veteran maverick without ever before having directed at this venue…. – WaPo, 2-3-11
  • Men, women flip the script in gender expectation according to survey co-designed by Stephanie Coontz: A new portrait of single Americans, drawn from a major new survey, suggests the attitudes and behaviors of today’s singles are quite unlike their counterparts just a few decades ago…. “Men are now expressing some traditionally female attitudes, while women are adopting some of those long attributed to men,” says biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, who helped develop the survey with social historian Stephanie Coontz and Justin Garcia, a doctoral fellow with the Institute for Evolutionary Studies at Binghamton (N.Y.) University. “For me, as a historian, it’s just amazing confirmation about what has changed in the last 40 years,” says Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash…. – USA Today (2-2-11)

HISTORY PROFILES:

     

  • Faculty Spotlight: Greg Aldrete, professor of history and humanistic studies: Greg Aldrete, professor of history and humanistic studies, stands with his group of UW-Green Bay students who assisted with his Linothorax project, a project replicating the lightweight linen armor of the ancient Greeks to demonstrate the advantages.
    Award-winning UW-Green Bay Professor of history and humanistic studies Greg Aldrete has landed another prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for the 2012-2013 school year.
    The grant enables Aldrete to spend a year concentrating on research, rather than teaching, and working on his book, “Riots in Ancient Rome.”
    His proposal for the book states that ancient Rome seems to have been a riotous lot. For the 575-year period from 200 B.C. to A.D. 375, there are at least 154 episodes of unruly, collective behavior. The worst of these resulted in pitched battles in the streets, hundreds of deaths, widespread looting, acts of arson and even the lynching of leading magistrates of the state. Due to such incidents, Rome has often been characterized as a lawless and violent place. Its inhabitants, especially the poor, have been portrayed as disorderly and fickle. The reality, according to Aldrete, is considerably more complex…. – Fourth Estate, 2-23-11
  • Richard Gamble: Professor discovers a home, and its personality: Sometimes, the old house groans and the floorboards creak. When it does, Richard Gamble picks up his coffee cup and listens intently. “This house tells me something new about itself everyday,” he said, looking in the direction of the noise. “It is almost as if it is a living personality.”
    In July of 2008, Gamble, an associate professor of history, bought an 1882 Victorian-style house in downtown Hillsdale. Between teaching, traveling and writing he has spent the past two and a half years learning about his new house and working hard to restore and renovate it.
    The project surprised Gamble, who never planned to own an old house like it. Gamble unexpectedly began to look for a home in May of 2008…. – Hillsdale Colegian, 2-17-11
  • Jill Lepore on Writing Current History: Professor Lepore sees herself as a public historian who “has a civic obligation to contribute to the public debate, not just [to] be … entertaining.”… – Harvard Crimson, 2-14-11
  • Niall Ferguson: visionary or crank?: Niall Ferguson is among Britain’s most valuable exports – a feted international academic with seats at Harvard, Stanford, the Harvard Business School and the LSE; he has also had spells at Oxford and Cambridge. His tomes sell in their millions; his TV shows are an engaging mix of self-confidence and charm. It’s a multi-media combination that consistently places him on lists of ‘influential people’ across the globe. Everywhere except for Britain, where he’s seen as a neo-conservative oddity…. – Spectator (UK), 2-22-11

HISTORY QUOTES:

     

  • Gary Nash: The President’s House in Philadelphia tells a story of early U.S. presidents The new President’s House and its exhibit, “Freedom and Slavery in Making a New Nation,” on Independence Mall…. The site honors the location and importance of the original mansion, but it also addresses the subject of slavery in early U.S. history. Gary B. Nash, a professor emeritus of history at UCLA, and the lead historian for the exhibit, said, “A whole cloud of historical amnesia is going to be swept away. This story speaks to the themes of the Liberty Bell … [which] connects to liberty and slavery being conjoined at our nation’s birth.”… – LAT, 2-20-11
  • Yoav Di-Capua: Texas expert: Egypt’s fate key to Mideast: Mubarak’s fate could affect variety range of Mideast issues and US interests, says UT historian. Yoav Di-Capua, an associate professor of history at the University of Texas, specializing in modern Arab intellectual history…. – Austin American-Statesman, 2-13-11
  • Presidential bios have resonance in the press — three historians cited in NRO article on presidency: …No man had a greater influence on the presidency than its original occupant. “The office of the presidency was not only forged by George Washington,” says historian Ron Chernow, who recently published a one-volume biography of the first president. “One can make the argument that the office was forged for George Washington.” At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, most delegates assumed he would be the first executive, and they outlined the president’s responsibilities in the Constitution with him in mind — that is to say, rather vaguely. Unlike the lengthy Article I, which enumerates the legislature’s tasks, Article II is short and vague…. Thomas Jefferson, however, gave the office much more of a populist flavor, says historian Gordon Wood. “He saw himself as speaking for the people; I don’t think Washington saw it that way at all,” Wood observes. Unlike Washington, who held weekly levees reminiscent of those held by European courts, “Jefferson really threw all that out and opened himself to the people” — sometimes answering the White House’s door in his slippers…. By saving the American experiment, Lincoln allowed a future president, Theodore Roosevelt, to turn an agrarian republic into a world power. “Roosevelt made the presidency into the office of an international statesman,” says historian Edmund Morris, who recently released the final installment of his three-volume biography of the 26th president. Roosevelt succeeded in this effort largely because of his cosmopolitan personality. He had four grand tours of Europe before serving as president, spoke German and French fluently, and boasted an enormous range of international acquaintances. “The climax of his presidency was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906, which he got for mediating the end of the Russo–Japanese war,” Morris notes. “To date, he’s the only president who’s ever been asked to mediate a foreign war.”… National Review, 2-19-11
  • Robert Hunter: ISU history prof: U.S. should be flexible with the Middle East: An ISU history professor said the U.S. government should be more flexible with its Middle Eastern policies in the wake of continued unrest in the region.
    “[Our government] is going to have to be more diplomatically nimble and more sophisticated in how we deal with these countries,” said Robert Hunter, who has lived and worked in Egypt. “They’re going to be less willing to do what we want all the time.”… – Indiana Statesman, 2-17-11
  • Douglas Brinkley: Effort to block national monuments may undermine future national parks: “National monuments are usually way stations to national parks, places so popular that they became national parks: They are national treasures and huge economic engines,” said Douglas Brinkley, author of a bestseller on Theodore Roosevelt and a new book, “The Quiet World,” on efforts to control land exploitation in Alaska and stave off species extinction.
    “In an America filled with lobby groups and selfish agendas, you can’t just save a place for one presidency,” Brinkley added…. “Sponsors of efforts to curb Presidential authority under the Antiquties Act are some of the same people in Congress who promote executive power in other realms,” Brinkley notes…. Seattle PI, 2-20-11
  • Simon Schama: cuts will make history preserve of the rich: Schama said he was uneasy that “sciences and subjects, which seem to be on a utilitarian measure useful, have retained their state funding, while the arts and humanities are being stripped of theirs.”…
    In a thinly veiled attack on PM David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg, Schama said: “It behoves those people who were themselves educated at places like Westminster, and Eton – or in my case, Haberdashers’ – to understand the damage that you can do to British culture by making it essentially a wealthy pursuit.”
    He also slammed some fellow academics, adding: “You have to work very hard to make history boring, and there are plenty of people in the institutions who do a brilliant job of making it boring…. – Telegraph (UK), 2-20-11
  • Paula Fass: Ensuring Domestic Tranquillity During Sleepovers: “My impression is that sleepovers are a phenomenon of the suburbs and they started taking off in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Paula Fass, a professor of history…. – NYT, 2-7-11

HISTORY INTERVIEWS:

     

  • H.W. Brands on American Presidents: Today is Presidents Day in the U.S. In honour of the occasion, bestselling historian H W Brands introduces five excellent presidential biographies
    You were among the distinguished historians invited to advise President Obama during his first year in office. Do you believe that the stories of past presidencies contain clues to solving the problems of the present? As a historian, I think that being aware of the what’s occurred in the past—what’s worked in the past, what hasn’t worked in the past—does provide some guidance for the present…. – The Browser, 2-21-11
  • David Driskell: Artist, educator, curator to the stars: David Driskell is a painter, printmaker, collagist, professor emeritus, writer, collector, consultant, curator, art historian and nice guy. This polymath, originally from North Carolina, is a specialist in African-American art and also makes quite a bit of it himself. He is a pre-eminent voice in publicizing African-American artists through history, so much that he has a center named after him at the University of Maryland. He took a break from hanging out with friends Bill Cosby and Oprah to talk to WEEKEND about art and life…. – Yale Daily News, 2-17-11
  • John McMillian: High Times for Wikileaks, Bath Salts and Egyptian Democracy: A Review of Smoking Typewriters — the Sixties Underground Press and Rise of Alternative Media in America: The arrests and office ransackings of journalists in Egypt resonates a little bit more deeply with American history professor John McMillian: the same kind of intimidation and outright sabotage of revolutionary dissent occurred just two generations ago in a more familiar country — the United States…. – East Bay Express, 2-11-11
  • John C. McManus: How Revolutions Go Viral: A Historian’s Perspective on Egypt and Tunisia: As revolt in the Middle East has spread from Tunisia to Egypt, with additional unrest in Jordan and Yemen, the uprising echo past political revolutions, says a historian at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
    Dr. John C. McManus, an associate professor of military history at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), says the recent uprisings are similar to past revolutions. Just as the American Revolution inspired France to win its own independence and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 spread throughout the former Soviet bloc, revolutions can become viral, McManus says… – Newswise, 2-4-11
  • Laurence Reisman: Q&A with historian, presidential biographer Douglas Brinkley: Historian Brinkley uses research to opine on political questions such as did Reagan have Alzheimer’s while in the White House?
    Perhaps it’s sheer coincidence that presidential author and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley will pinch-hit for the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan Saturday night as part of The Emerson Center’s Celebrated Speakers Series. But timeliness is everything. Brinkley, author of two books on late President Ronald Reagan, will speak on the eve of the 40th president’s 100th birthday.
    Brinkley’s interests and expertise are varied. He’s written numerous books on presidents, and about all sorts of other Amertican history, from Rosa Parks and Hurricane Katrina to Hunter S. Thompson and Dean Acheson. He’s even taught college history classes by taking students cross-country on buses…. – TC Palm, 2-1-11

HISTORY AWARDS & APPOINTMENTS:

     

  • Philip Gleason: Honoring the Historian: Philip Gleason, professor emeritus of history at the University of Notre Dame and the country’s pre-eminent historian of American Catholicism, will receive an honorary degree from the University of Dayton this spring…. – University of Dayton – News Home, 2-22-11
  • Prestigious Lincoln Prize goes to Eric Foner: Prominent historian Eric Foner will receive the 2011 $50,000 Lincoln Prize for his book, “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery” according to an announcement this morning by prize sponsors Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. He will receive the award on May 11 at the Union League Club in New York. Foner, the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia University, wrote in Fiery Trial about the evolving attitude of Lincoln toward slavery and slaves as the Civil War unfolded. The 16th President, who always said he abhorred slavery, initially sought to eradicate it by promoting colonization of other countries by former slaves. Later he changed that opinion and sought full citizenship for African Americans in this country…. – WaPo, 2-10-11
  • Steve Hindle: Huntington Library names new research director after world-wide search: Steve Hindle, a history professor at England’s Warwick University, was named Monday to succeed Robert “Roy” Ritchie on July 1 as director of research at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens…. – Pasadena Star-News, 2-7-11
  • Dr. Eric Miller receives 2011 Book Award from Christianity Today: Congratulations to Geneva College Associate Professor of History Dr. Eric Miller for receiving Christianity Today’s 2011 Book Award for History/Biography in honor of his latest book, Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch (Eerdmans, 2010).
    Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch is the first published biography of Christopher Lasch, historian, social critic and author of The Culture of Narcissism. The book has received positive reviews from a number of national sources such as the The Weekly Standard and the Commonweal. Alan Wolfe of The New Republic says, “This is anything but a quickly written effort to explore the relationship between a thinker and his times. Miller has not only dug deeply, he has also pondered carefully…. I never met the man, but thanks to this book I now feel that I have. I could not be more grateful to Miller for facilitating the introduction.”… – Geneva College, 2-7-11
  • Historian Allison Blakely Appointed to Humanities Council: The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced that historian Allison Blakely has been appointed to the National Council on the Humanities. Blakely was nominated by President Barack Obama on August 5 and confirmed by the Senate December 21. Blakely is a professor of European and Comparative History at Boston University and previously taught at Howard University for 30 years. He is the author of Blacks in the Dutch World: The Evolution of Racial Imagery in a Modern Society; Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian History and Thought and numerous scholarly articles on Russian populism and the various European aspects of the Black Diaspora…. – Lee White, National Coalition for History, 2-1-11
  • David L. Preston: Citadel historian wins distinguished book prize: David L. Preston, associate professor of history at The Citadel, won the prestigious Albert B. Corey Prize for 2010 for his recent work, “The Texture of Contact: European and Indian Settler Communities on the Frontiers of Iroquoia, 1667-1783.” The Corey Prize recognizes the best book on Canadian-American relations or on the history of both countries. The prize is awarded every two years by the American Historical Association and the Canadian Historical Association, the two premier professional organizations for historians in the United States and Canada…. – Media Newswire, 2-7-11

HISTORY ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

     

  • Bruce Catton papers now indexed online at the University of Wyoming: An inventory of papers and correspondence of Bruce Catton, widely regarded (along with Shelby Foote) as the most popular of America’s Civil War historians, is now accessible online through the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center. There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes, and the collection is open to the public…. A description and inventory for this collection [is now] accessible at http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=wyu-ah04032.xml/University of Wyoming, 12-20-10
  • Black history catalogued at new U. of C. website: ….On Friday at the University of Chicago’s Joseph Regenstein Library, researchers unveiled a new website intended to make it easy for the public and scholars alike to locate these African-American artifacts as well as a host of others in the city from the same period in history…. The website is the “cutting edge portal into discovering primary source materials to study and know black Chicago’s history from the 1930s to the 1970s,” said Jacqueline Goldsby, a former U. of C. professor who headed up the three-year project…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 12-11-10uncap.lib.uchicago.edu
  • Camelot’s archives, available with the click of a mouse: During a 1962 news conference, a reporter asked President John F. Kennedy if he’d consider locating his presidential library in Washington, D.C., after leaving the White House so scholars and historians would have the broadest possible access to it. No, he replied playfully, “I’m going to put it in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”…
    A four-year, $10 million effort to digitize the JFK Library and Museum’s archives, making hundreds of thousands of documents, photographs, and recordings available online, is nearing completion of its first phase. A formal announcement will come Jan. 13, one week before the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration, at a press conference in the nation’s capitol.
    “Access to a Legacy,” as the project is called, marks the first time a presidential library established in the paper age has fully committed itself to the digital era. The amount of material to be posted online in January is huge — 200,000 pages of text, 1,500 photos, 1,250 files of audio recordings and moving images, and 340 phone conversations totaling 17 1/2 hours — but represents just a small portion of the collection….
    Presidential historian Robert Dallek, who has made liberal use of the Kennedy archives, said the primary payoff is reaching the largest possible international audience. “What this means is, people in Japan or Germany can have access to [JFK’s] office files, and that’s a splendid step forward.” Other presidential libraries will probably follow suit, he added, “because they don’t want to expire, so to speak. Plus, there’s still tremendous interest in subjects like World War II, Vietnam, and the New Deal.”… – Boston Globe (11-28-10)
  • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library’s Manuscript Department….
  • Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,” is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon…. – irancontra.org
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

HISTORIANS SPOTTED:

     

  • Yvonne Haddad: Georgetown professor speaks on Muslim identity, politics: On Wednesday night, Yvonne Haddad, a professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University, presented a public lecture titled “Islamophobia and the Reconstruction of Muslim American Culture” to a group of approximately 50 students and community members in Robertson Hall.
    “What my talk will be about is how we moved from Islamophobia into a coalition of groups in order to find a space for Muslims in North America,” Haddad said at the start of her talk. “What you have is Muslims now engaged in the political process. They feel very comfortable being American and feel very comfortable criticizing American foreign policy. This would not have been possible 10 years ago.”
    Haddad gave an extensive account of the troubled history of Islam’s relations with Christianity, discussing the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Protestant Reformation. Daily Princetonian, 2-24-11
  • Michael Rawson: Environmentalist historian Rawson lectures on Boston’s urban growth: Michael Rawson, an assistant professor of history at City University of New York’s Brooklyn College, spoke at Bowdoin on Wednesday night about his recent book, “Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston.” The lecture took place in Main Lounge in Moulton Union. Rawson is an environmental historian who focuses on the urban environment…. – Bowdoin Orient, 2-18-11
  • Samuel Moyn: Columbia Univ professor lectures on human rightsThe Brandeis Hoot, 2-11-11
  • Emory ‘regrets’ slavery ties, holds conference on topic: The founders of Emory University owned slaves. They used slave labor to build the campus. Their pro-slavery views helped drive the North-South schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church leading up to the Civil War. The university’s slave legacy doesn’t end with the antebellum era. In 1902, the college forced a professor to resign for an article he wrote condemning lynching. Fast forward to 2003 when a professor’s use of a racial slur led to campus-wide debates. That incident spurred self-reflection…. – Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2-3-11

HISTORY ON TV:

HISTORY BEST SELLERS (NYT):

UPCOMING HISTORY BOOK RELEASES:

     

  • Molly Caldwell Crosby: Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries, (Paperback), February 1, 2011
  • Jonathan Gill: Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America, (Hardcover), February 1, 2011
  • Amy Louise Wood: Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940, (Paperback), February 1, 2011
  • David Eisenhower: Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969, (Hardcover), February 2, 2011
  • Frederick Brown: For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
  • Donald Rumsfeld: Known and Unknown: A Memoir, (Hardcover), February 8, 2011
  • Holger H. Herwig: The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
  • Christopher Corbett: The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West (Reprint), (Paperback), February 8, 2011
  • Justin Fox: The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
  • Julia P. Gelardi: From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847–1928, (Hardcover), February 15, 2011
  • Lucy Moore: Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties, (Paperback), February 22, 2011
  • Sarah Rose: For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History, (Paperback), February 22, 2011
  • David Strauss: Setting the Table for Julia Child: Gourmet Dining in America, 1934-1961, (Hardcover), February 26, 2011
  • G.J. Meyer: The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty, (Paperback), March 1, 2011
  • Jack Weatherford: The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire, (Paperback), March 1, 2011
  • Bruce S. Thornton: The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama’s America, (Hardcover), March 1, 2011
  • Miranda Carter: George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, (Paperback), March 8, 2011
  • John D. Plating: The Hump: America’s Strategy for Keeping China in World War II (General), (Hardcover), March 9, 2011
  • David Goldfield: America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation, (Hardcover), March 15, 2011
  • Matt Spruill: Decisions at Gettysburg: The Nineteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Campaign, (Paperback), March 16, 2011
  • Adrienne Mayor: The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy, (Paperback), March 22, 2011
  • Michael O’Brien: Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon, (Paperback), March 29, 2011
  • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Paperback), March 29, 2011
  • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, (Hardcover), March 30, 2011
  • Kim Wilson: Tea with Jane Austen (Second Edition), (Hardcover), April 1, 2011
  • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Paperback), April 5, 2011
  • Nell Irvin Painter: The History of White People, (Paperback), April 18, 2011
  • Christopher I. Beckwith: Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present, (Paperback), April 21, 2011
  • Andrew F. Smith: Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine, (Paperback), April 22, 2011
  • Barbara Frale: The Templars: The Secret History Revealed, (Paperback), May 1, 2011
  • Alison Plowden: The Young Victoria (New), (Paperback), May 1, 2011
  • Bill Morgan: The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation, (Paperback), May 1, 2011
  • Rebecca Skloot: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, (Paperback), May 3, 2011
  • Lynne Olson: Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour, (Paperback), May 3, 2011
  • Jane Ziegelman: 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, (Paperback), May 31, 2011
  • Jonathan R. Dull: The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650-1815, (Paperback), June 1, 2011
  • Jasper Ridley: The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society, (Paperback), June 1, 2011
  • David Howard: Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic, (Paperback), June 8, 2011
  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback), July 1, 2011
  • Christopher Heaney: Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu, (Paperback), July 5, 2011
  • Eric Jay Dolin: Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America, (Paperback), July 5, 2011
  • Edward P. Kohn: Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), July 12, 2011

HISTORIANS REMEMBERED:

     

  • Meiqing Zhang: Prof dies after long illness: Meiqing Zhang, a senior lecturer in East Asian studies who had taught Chinese since 1988, died Saturday after a long illness.
    “It is a huge loss for Brown and especially for East Asian studies,” said Dean of the Faculty Rajiv Vohra P’07. She was a “highly regarded figure in the field of Chinese language pedagogy,” according to a statement on the East Asian studies website…. – Brown Daily Herald, 2-24-11
  • Dame Judith Binney dies: The historian and widely-respected scholar passed away last night. She was Emeritus Professor of History at Auckland University. Dame Judith was a member of the Arts Council and the Historic Places Trust and a pioneer in New Zealand history…. – Newstalk ZB, 2-15-11
  • Michael Harsegor, Israeli medievalist, dies at 87: Tel Aviv University Professor Michael Harsegor, one of Israel’s most-prominent historians, passed away on Thursday at the age of 87. For decades Harsegor taught history at Tel Aviv University and was considered an expert on Late Middle Ages European History. He was most well-known to the Israeli public for hosting the long-running Army Radio program “historical hour”…. – Jerusalem Post, 2-10-11
  • Ernst Presseisen, 82, a Temple professor: Ernst L. Presseisen, 82, of Center City, an emeritus professor of history at Temple University and a Holocaust survivor, died of complications of pneumonia … – Philadelphia Inquirer, 2-9-11

Political Highlights February 21, 2011: Obama Unveils Budget, Wisconsin Budget Crisis & Unions — Unrest in the Middle East Erupts

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

West Wing Week

STATS & POLLS

  • Ratings on Obama’s handling of the deficit: In a new Gallup poll – taken before the president released his budget this week – fully 68 percent of Americans said they disapprove of the way the president is handling the federal budget deficit, by far his worst rating of the eight specific issues in the survey. Pitted against the GOP, however, there’s a roughly even split: in a January Washington Post-ABC News poll, 44 percent of Americans said they put more faith in Obama to handle the deficit; about as many said they trust the GOP on the issue. (CBS-NYT and CNN polls in January showed similar divide.)… – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Obama Ratings Continue to Rise in Approval: President Obama’s ratings of approval continue to rise according to a new poll released this week. The approval rating for Obama increase to 51 percent from 50 percent in January, and his disapproval rating similarly slid to 46 percent from 47 percent — part of an upward trend since October’s 43 percent low.
    Contributing to Obama’s positive rating is the fact that the jobless rate dipped to 9 percent in January from 9.4 percent the month before, completing a 0.8 percentage point drop since November that was the biggest two-month decline since 1958…. – Third Age, 2-11-11
  • Obama’s 2012 Budget Proposal: How $3.7 Trillion is Spent: Explore every nook and cranny of President Obama’s budget proposal. – NYT
  • The Budget: Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012 contains the Budget Message of the President, information on the President’s priorities, budget overviews organized by agency, and summary tables.
    To download “Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012” as a single PDF click here (216 pages, 4.1 MB)
  • Breakdown of budget’s big numbers: There are a lot of big numbers being tossed around in Washington these days: a $3.7 trillion budget proposal, $61 billion in cuts, a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Below is a breakdown of what they represent…. – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Office of Management and Budget: Budget 2012:

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Raouf Mohseni/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Members of Iran’s Parliament clamored on Tuesday for two leaders of the opposition movement, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, to be hanged.

  • Qaddafi’s Son Warns of Civil War as Libyan Protests Widen: A five-day-old uprising in Libya took control of its second-largest city of Benghazi and spread for the first time to the capital of Tripoli late on Sunday as the heir-apparent son of its strongman, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, warned Libyans in a televised speech that their oil-rich country would fall into civil war and even renewed Western “colonization” if they threw off his father’s 40-year-long rule…. – NYT, 2-21-11
  • Clinton: Gadhafi must stop bloodshed: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the violence against anti-government protesters in Libya on Monday and called on the government of Moammar Gadhafi to “stop this unacceptable bloodshed.” Clinton said the world is watching event unfold in Libya “with alarm.”… At least 233 people have been killed so far, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
    “Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed,” Clinton said in what amounted to the toughest denunciation of the crackdown in Libya by the Obama administration yet…. – AP, 2-21-11
  • Libya Death Toll Surges in Crackdown: Libya Regime Fires on Protesters in Capital; Nation Fractures; Diplomats Break Ties… Violent clashes between protesters and security forces snowballed in cities throughout eastern Libya Sunday, as the country’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi, struggled to crush an uprising aimed at ending … WSJ, 2-20-11
  • US condemns crackdowns on Mideast protests: A senior U.S. diplomat on Sunday condemned the brutal crackdown on opposition protesters in Libya, saying Arab leaders facing pro-democracy protests need to lead the way rather than resist reform. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Obama administration was “very concerned” about reported armed attacks by Libyan security forces on peaceful protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi.
    “We’ve condemned that violence,” Rice told “Meet the Press” on NBC. “Our view is that in Libya as throughout the region peaceful protests need to be respected.”… – AP, 2-20-11
  • 1 killed as Yemeni police fire on marchers: Antigovernment protesters shouted slogans and raised their shoes in Sana, Yemen, yesterday. It was the 10th day of protests….. – Boston Globe, 2-20-11
  • Bahrain’s gov’t says dialogue begins with opposition: Bahrain’s government says it has begun what it calls a dialogue, with opposition groups demanding reform…. – Xinhuanet, 2-20-11
  • Cycle of Suppression Rises in Libya and Elsewhere: Libyan security forces moved against protesters Saturday in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city and the epicenter of the most serious challenge to four decades of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s rule, opposition leaders and residents said. The death toll rose to at least 104 people, most of them in Benghazi, Human Rights Watch reported…. – NYT, 2-19-11
  • After 42 years, Libya’s controversial ruler faces new threats: Moammar Gadhafi’s first grab at power occurred 42 years ago in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, when he led a crew of fellow military officers in taking over key government institutions…. – CNN International, 2-19-11
  • Egypt women stand for equality in the square: Women think as differently as they dress here, but they have emerged from the barricades agreeing on one thing: This is their moment in history, and they cannot afford to lose it. During 18 days of demonstrating for freedom and democracy, Egyptian men and women walked into Tahrir Square separate and unequal, divided by gender as they passed through checkpoints. Men were scrutinized by men, and women had their bags and person searched by other women. There were several lines of men to every one for the fewer numbers of women…. – WaPO, 2-19-11
  • Libya, Yemen crack down; Bahrain pulls back tanks: Security forces in Libya and Yemen fired on pro-democracy demonstrators Saturday as the two hard-line regimes struck back against the wave of protests that has already toppled autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia. At least 15 died when police shot into crowds of mourners in Libya’s second-largest city, a hospital official said.
    Even as Bahrain’s king bowed to international pressure and withdrew tanks to allow demonstrators to retake a symbolic square in the capital, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh made clear they plan to stamp out opposition and not be dragged down by the reform movements that have grown in nations from Algeria to Djibouti to Jordan.
    Libyans returned to the street for a fifth straight day of protests against Gadhafi, the most serious uprising in his 42-year reign, despite estimates by human rights groups of 84 deaths in the North African country — with 35 on Friday alone…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Police kill 4 during protests on Yemen’s ‘Friday of Rage’: Antigovernment demonstrators clashed with supporters of Yemen’s longtime ruler and riot police, who fired guns and tear gas to disperse the crowd on what organizers called a nationwide “Friday of rage”…. – Boston Globe, 2-19-11
  • Over 50 injured as troops open fire in Bahrain: Bahraini troops have fired on anti-government demonstrators, just a day after several people were killed when a protest camp was forcibly removed in the capital, Manama…. – Xinhuanet, 2-19-11
  • Bahrain’s king seeks dialogue after another crackdown on protesters: The widened unrest in the Middle East took a more violent turn Friday as US-allied governments in Yemen and Bahrain opened fire on their citizens, prompting Britain and France to announce a halt in arms sales. WaPo, 2-19-11
  • Rights group estimates 84 killed in Libya protests: Libyan security forces have killed 84 people in a harsh crackdown on three days of protests, said the New York- based Human Rights Watch, even as the government shut off Internet in the North African country early on Saturday…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • Bahrain opposition plots strategy before talks: Bahrain’s opposition wants the nation’s rulers to guarantee they will back up their conciliatory words with actions, a Shiite leader said Sunday as he and other activists weighed the regime’s offer for talks after nearly a week of protests and deadly clashes that have divided the Gulf nation. The streets in the tiny but strategically important island kingdom were calmer as efforts shifted toward political haggling over demands the monarchy give up its near-absolute control over key policies and positions…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Egypt to allow Iranian vessels through Suez Canal: Egypt has agreed to allow two Iranian naval vessels to transit the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, a military official said Friday, ending several days of confusion over their planned passage, which Israel’s foreign minister has labeled a provocation.
    The movement of Iranian naval ships past Israeli shores is of concern there because Israel considers Iran an existential threat. Those fears stem from Iran’s disputed nuclear program, ballistic missile development, support for militants in the region and its threats to destroy Israel.
    The White House said the U.S. was also closely monitoring the progress of the ships, now in the Red Sea. Their passage comes as the region is being swept by anti-government unrest, including the protests that toppled Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak a week ago and left the military in charge of the country…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • Obama condemns violence in Middle East: President Barack Obama on Friday condemned reports of violent reprisals against protesters in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, and called for government restraint as unrest swept the volatile Middle East in the wake of Egypt’s uprising.
    “I am deeply concerned about reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur,” Obama said. “The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people.”… – 2-18-11
  • Opposition figure says Libya uprisings ignored: TANYA NOLAN: As we’ve mentioned media bans and intermittent phone and internet connections have made it very difficult to verify events unfolding in Libya…. – ABC Online, 2-18-11
  • In Yemen, Arab unrest takes a violent turn: Several thousand Yemeni protesters defied appeals for calm and marched through the capital on Thursday, pressing on with their campaign to oust the country’s president… – WaPo, 2-18-11
  • Bahrain’s Crackdown Wins Neighbors’ Support: WSJ’s Joe Parkinson reports from the midst of ongoing protests in Bahrain in which at least three people have died.
    Bahrain’s military sent tanks and armored personnel carriers into the streets Thursday to extend its control after a government crackdown on protests, while neighboring monarchies of the Persian Gulf endorsed the country’s violent response…. – WSJ, 2-18-11
  • Bahrain Turmoil Poses Fresh Test for White House: Hundreds gathered outside a hospital emergency room in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, on Thursday afternoon to wait for news about the injured…. – NYT, 2-17-11
  • Bahrain Main Opposition Group says 2 Dead in Crackdown: Bahrain’s leading opposition party says at least two protesters were killed early Thursday when riot police stormed the main square of the capital, Manama, driving out thousands of demonstrators who had set up camp, demanding sweeping political change…. – Voice of America, 2-17-11
  • Libya protests: Activists call for ‘day of anger’: Anti-government activists in Libya have been using social networking sites to rally support for protests on what they are describing as a “day of anger”…. – BBC News, 2-17-11
  • Protests Spread to Libya as Unrest Roils Bahrain, Yemen: A Bahraini anti-government protester waves his national flag during a protest calling for regime change at Pearl Square in Manama…. – Bloomberg, 2-16-11
  • Bahrain Takes the Stage With a Raucous ProtestNYT, 2-16-11
  • Obama careful in criticism of Iranian crackdown on protestsWaPo, 2-15-11
  • Iran’s Leader Derides Protests; Lawmakers Urge Death for Opposition Leaders: A day after the largest antigovernment protests in Iran in more than a year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday dismissed opposition attempts to revive mass demonstrations as certain to fail, while members of the Iranian Parliament clamored for the two most prominent leaders of the protest movement to be executed…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • Tehran Beats Back New Protests: Iranian police used tear gas and electric prods to crack down on the country’s biggest antigovernment protests in at least a year, as demonstrators buoyed by activism across the Middle East returned to the country’s streets… – WSJ, 2-15-11
  • CBS News’ Lara Logan Assaulted During Egypt Protests: CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Separated From Her Crew And Brutally Assaulted on Day Mubarak Stepped Down… – CBS News, 2-15-11
  • ‘Egypt is free’ after Mubarak quits; celebrations continue into the nightCNN, 2-11-11
  • Egypt unrest: Mubarak’s speech leaves nation, world wondering who’s in chargeCNN, 2-10-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Arrested US official is actually CIA contractor: An American jailed in Pakistan for the fatal shooting of two armed men was secretly working for the CIA and scouting a neighborhood when he was arrested, a disclosure likely to further frustrate U.S. government efforts to free the man and strain relations between two countries partnered in a fragile alliance in the war on terror.
    Raymond Allen Davis, 36, had been working as a CIA security contractor and living in a Lahore safe house, according to former and current U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the incident…. – AP, 2-21-11
  • G-20 Deal Reached, but Outcome Open to Interpretation: Negotiators from the world’s leading economies haggled all night over seemingly technical details regarding how to measure global economic imbalances. WSJ, 2-20-11
  • National Institute for Civil Discourse to open at University of Arizona: Colleagues pay tribute to wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during the president’s address as the Arizona lawmaker is set to begin the next phase of her recovery at a rehab facility in Houston…. – WaPo, 2-20-11
  • Hot air on both sides in budget deficit debate: When Shakespeare’s Macbeth mentions a tale “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” he could be talking about the US budget process…. – St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2-20-11
  • Obama wades into budget battle in US states: The budget battle embroiling Washington is heating up in US states as newly elected Republican lawmakers move to bust public workers unions and slash services in the face of big deficits. President Barack Obama, who earlier this week threatened to veto the Republican federal budget plan, has also stepped into the fray at the state level as his Democratic party engages in a deeply ideological fight over budget priorities…. – AFP, 2-18-11
  • Obama coaches Sasha’s team, but without Sasha: President Barack Obama stepped in to help coach his younger daughter’s basketball team even when she wasn’t there. White House officials said Obama helped coach 9-year-old Sasha’s team Saturday in suburban Maryland because a regular parent-coach was unable to attend…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Obama: US needs better math, science education: President Barack Obama says improving math and science education is essential to helping the U.S. compete globally, and he wants the private sector to get involved in making it happen. Obama recorded his weekly radio and Internet address during a visit this past week to Intel Corp. outside of Portland, Ore. He praised the company for making a 10-year, $200 million commitment to promote math and science education — and held it up as an example of how corporate America can make money at the same time it builds the country.
    “Companies like Intel are proving that we can compete — that instead of just being a nation that buys what’s made overseas, we can make things in America and sell them around the globe,” Obama said. “Winning this competition depends on the ingenuity and creativity of our private sector. . But it’s also going to depend on what we do as a nation to make America the best place on earth to do business.”… – AP, 2-19-11
  • Obama urges Bahrain’s king to show restraint: President Barack Obama condemned the violence in Bahrain and urged the country’s king in a phone call Friday night to show restraint after a series of bloody protests. Obama discussed the situation with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, asking the king to hold those responsible for the violence accountable. Obama says Bahrain must respect the “universal rights” of its people and embrace “meaningful reform.”… – AP, 2-19-11
  • Obama says companies can help bottom line & nation: Pushing his jobs agenda, President Barack Obama made the case Friday that companies can make money and build up the country at the same time, citing the giant Intel Corp. chip maker as his model of smart investing in education.
    “We know what works. We know how to succeed,” the president told employees here after getting an eye-opening tour of Intel’s manufacturing facility. “We know how to do big things. And all across this nation, in places just like this one, we have students and teachers, local leaders and companies who are working together to make it happen.”… – AP, 2-18-11
  • US vetoes UN resolution on Israeli settlements: The United States vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements as “illegal” and called for an immediate halt to all settlement building.
    The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution in Friday’s vote. The Obama administration’s veto is certain to anger Arab countries and Palestinian supporters around the world…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • HI lawmaker: Obama birth certificate bill tabled: A proposal to sell copies of President Barack Obama’s birth records to anyone for $100 is going nowhere in the Hawaii Legislature…. – AP, 2-17-11
  • Obama seeks support from GOP on schools: President Obama is hoping the GOP will help him overhaul the No Child Left Behind law in time for the new school year this fall, but it may prove a tall order for a divided Congress that’s preoccupied with talk of cutting spending…. – Washington Times, 2-17-11
  • New White House press secretary takes stage: Jay Carney the journalist once commented that it’s a “tricky job” to be White House press secretary. “I’m sure I wouldn’t be any good at it,” he told C-SPAN in 2006 when he was Washington bureau … – USA Today, 2-17-11
  • California Supreme Court reenters Proposition 8 fray: The California Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday to take up a key question in the fight over Proposition 8 places the court once again at the forefront of the legal battle over same-sex marriage…. – LAT, 2-17-11
  • Obama awards Medal of Freedom to George H.W. Bush, Maya Angelou and 13 others: Presenting the nation’s highest civilian honor is ‘one of the things I most look forward to every year,’ President Obama says…. – LAT, 2-16-11
  • Clinton: How the Internet can save the world: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Internet can allow people to achieve great things, but also do great harm. She says now is the time to discuss what if any rules should be in place concerning the Web…. – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Obama sends Congress $3.73 trillion budget: President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion budget Monday that holds out the prospect of eventually bringing deficits under control through spending cuts and tax increases. But the fiscal blueprint largely ignores his own deficit commission’s plea to slash huge entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
    Obama called his new budget one of “tough choices and sacrifices,” but most of those cuts would be held off until after the end of his first term…. – AP, 2-14-11
  • Obama calls for investments in education, r&d: President Barack Obama says the U.S. must invest in research and development, science, and especially education — or risk seeing the technological breakthroughs of the future happen in some other country. Obama says he wants to focus “like a laser” on improving education. He said the quality of a nation’s education is one of the biggest predictors of a nation’s success…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • Madoff: Banks ‘Had to Know’ of Multi-Billion Dollar Fraud: Convicted fraudster Bernard L. Madoff believes banks and hedge funds were complicit in his elaborate multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, The New York Times reported Tuesday…. – AP, 2-16-11
  • Obama budget fails to curb entitlements, GOP says: Republicans yesterday accused President Obama and Democrats in Congress of failing to rein in entitlement programs that make up the bulk of federal spending – but said they weren’t ready to lay out their own proposed cuts to the budget… – Boston Globe, 2-16-11
  • Obama’s Budget Focuses on Path to Rein in Deficit: With President Obama’s release on Monday of a budget for next year and House action this week on a Republican plan for immediate deep spending cuts, the nation is getting its clearest view since the president took office of the parties’ competing visions of the role of government, the urgency of addressing the deficit and the best path to long-term economic success.
    Mr. Obama used his budget for the fiscal year 2012 and beyond to make the case for selectively cutting spending while increasing resources in areas like education and clean energy initiatives that hold the potential for long- term payoffs in economic growth. With this year’s deficit projected to hit a record, $1.6 trillion, he laid out a path for bringing down annual deficits to more sustainable levels over the rest of the decade…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • Obama budget: Some cuts, not the slashes GOP asks: Putting on the brakes after two years of big spending increases, President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion budget plan Monday that would freeze or reduce some safety-net programs for the nation’s poor but turn aside Republican demands for more drastic cuts to shrink the government to where it was before he took office….. – AP, 2-15-11
  • Highlights of Obama’s 2012 spending plan: Obama sends plan to Capitol Hill; goal is to get funding in place by start of 2012 fiscal year… Plan includes a significant increase in education funding… Plan decreases discretionary resources for the Department of Transportation…. It trims funding for African Development and Inter-American Foundations by nearly 20%
    President Obama’s spending plan is just the first step in a process that will involve no less than 40 congressional committees, 24 subcommittees, countless hearings and a number of floor votes in the House and Senate, with the aim of getting funding in place for the federal government by the beginning of the 2012 fiscal year October 1.
    Congress never passed a budget for the current fiscal year, and the government has been running on a “continuing resolution,” which expires March 4. House Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet over cuts to current programs and threaten to shut down the government if they don’t get their way.
    After Obama sends his 2012 plan to Capitol Hill, House and Senate budget committees each pass their own budget resolutions, which set caps on spending and establish revenue targets and generally serve as five- to 10-year blueprints for congressional priorities…. – CNN, 2-14-19
  • Obama budget resurrects rejected tax increases: President Barack Obama’s budget proposal resurrects a series of tax increases on certain corporations and the wealthy that were largely ignored by Congress when Democrats controlled both chambers. Republicans, who now control the House, are signaling they will be even less receptive.
    The plan unveiled Monday includes tax increases for oil, gas and coal producers, investment managers and U.S.- based multinational corporations. The plan would allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012 for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000. Wealthy taxpayers would have their itemized deductions limited starting in 2012, including deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes…. – AP, 2-14-11
  • Showtime for House Republican spending cuts: One day after President Barack Obama presented Congress with his $3.7 trillion budget, the focus shifts on Tuesday to Washington’s more immediate spending needs and a controversial spending-cut bill that Republicans hope to pass in the House of Representatives.
    The House legislation, cobbled together by Republicans after weeks of intraparty fighting, would cut about $61 billion from current spending in a bill to fund government activities through the rest of this fiscal year that ends on September 30.
    The spending being proposed would be equal to a 14 percent cut from last year…. – Reuters, 2-15-10
  • House Republicans counter Obama budget plan with much deeper cuts: On Monday, President Obama made his statement about how the government ought to change its spending habits: a gradual plan that minimizes immediate pain by phasing in cuts over a decade.
    Starting Tuesday, House Republicans will move forward with a very different approach, one intended to be viewed as radical and painful. Their proposal deals not with theoretical deficit targets set far in the future but with the final seven months of this year’s budget, a period left in flux by congressional inaction.
    House Republicans want to cut $61 billion from the budget, which would amount to the most significant government contraction since the end of World War II. Decried as “dire” and “disturbing” by Democrats, the plan has become a test for how far Republicans are willing to go in order to deliver on the promise of fiscal austerity that GOP candidates pledged to voters last year.
    “It’s big, and it’s real and it can impact people’s lives,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Monday of the House legislation. “But we have a budget deficit right now of nearly $1.5 trillion. We have a lot of work to do.”… – WaPo, 2-15-11
  • Obama budget: $3.7 trillion FY ‘12 blueprint calls for key ‘investments’; red ink surges: Trying to balance the need to rein in deficits with his belief that spending now on education and other priorities will pay off in the long term, President Obama on Monday sent Congress a $3.7 trillion budget blueprint for 2012 that makes some short-term fixes but puts off heavy lifting on Social Security and Medicare.
    The budget acts as an update on the current fiscal year, as well as a plan for the future, and it shows the federal government will run a record $1.645 trillion deficit in 2011, slimming down to $1.101 trillion in 2012 and continuing the red ink for the foreseeable future, though at lower levels.
    After massive spending during his first two years in office, Mr. Obama proposed some tax increases and strategic spending cuts for 2012, such as in low-income energy assistance and student aid. But he also called for boosting spending on transportation and education – needs the president said cannot be sacrificed even in the face of the deficit…. – Washington Times, 2-14-11
  • Obama budget sets up spending fight Proposed cuts too small for GOP’s fiscal hawks: President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion 2012 budget that would boost spending in Michigan on items like education and energy, while cutting things like heating assistance for the poor and Great Lakes cleanup in an effort to bring the federal deficit under control. White House officials said Obama’s budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins in October would trim the federal deficit by $1.1 trillion over a decade, and produce about a $1.6 trillion budget hole for this year. The plan now goes to Congress, where it’s likely to encounter stiff opposition from Republicans who have said they want deeper cuts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who will fight for programs and tax breaks benefiting their districts… – The Detroit News, 2-15-11
  • Editorial: The Obama Budget: On paper, President Obama’s new $3.7 trillion budget is encouraging. It makes a number of tough choices to cut the deficit by a projected $1.1 trillion over 10 years, which is enough to prevent an uncontrolled explosion of debt in the next decade and, as a result, reduce the risk of a fiscal crisis.
    The questions are whether its tough choices are also wise choices and whether it stands a chance in a Congress in which Republicans, who now dominate the House, are obsessed with making indiscriminate short-term cuts in programs they never liked anyway. The Republican cuts would eviscerate vital government functions while not having any lasting impact on the deficit.
    What Mr. Obama’s budget is most definitely not is a blueprint for dealing with the real long-term problems that feed the budget deficit: rising health care costs, an aging population and a refusal by lawmakers to face the inescapable need to raise taxes at some point. Rather, it defers those critical issues, in hopes, we assume, that both the economy and the political environment will improve in the future…. – NYT, 2-15-11
  • President Obama’s budget kicks the hard choices further down the road: THE PRESIDENT PUNTED. Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck. To duck, and to mask some of the ducking with the sort of budgetary gimmicks he once derided. “The fiscal realities we face require hard choices,” the president said in his budget message. “A decade of deficits, compounded by the effects of the recession and the steps we had to take to break it, as well as the chronic failure to confront difficult decisions, has put us on an unsustainable course.” His budget would keep the country on that course…. – WaPo, 2-15-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • As Republicans See a Mandate on Budget Cuts, Others See Risk: In Congress and in statehouses, Republican lawmakers and governors are claiming a broad mandate from last year’s elections as they embark on an aggressive campaign of cutting government spending taking on public unions. Their agenda echoes in its ambition what President Obama and Democrats tried after winning office in their own electoral wave in 2008…. – NYT, 2-21-11
  • Schumer: In recess, Senate working on budget issue: A leading Democrat says Senate officials are working behind the scenes on a budget proposal to keep the government running. Even with the budget crisis looming, both houses of Congress are in recess this week. But Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York says that lawmakers and aides are poring over the massive budget document passed by the House in the wee hours of Saturday morning. It proposes cutting $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs…. – AP, 2-20-11
  • Memories of 1995 haunt GOP as shutdown talk grows: Few memories haunt Republicans more deeply than the 1995-96 partial shutdown of the federal government, which helped President Bill Clinton reverse his falling fortunes and recast House Republicans as stubborn partisans, not savvy insurgents.
    Now, as Congress careens toward a budget impasse, government insiders wonder if another shutdown is imminent — and whether Republicans again would suffer the most blame. Leaders of both parties say they are determined to avoid a shutdown. But they have not yielded on the amount of spending cuts they will demand or accept. Meanwhile, shutdown talk is rippling through Washington and beyond…. – AP, 2-20-11
  • The Fix: Sen. Jeff Bingaman to retire: New Mexico Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman is expected to announce his retirement today, according to a source close to the decision, a move that further complicates his party’s efforts to hold their Senate majority in 2012…. – WaPo, 2-18-11
  • NM’s Bingaman becomes 3rd Dem senator to retire: As U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman shook hands of those congratulating him on his years of service, he turned to the crowd and said: “Sure seems like a wake in here, doesn’t it?” The 67-year-old Democrat announced Friday that he would retire after the end of his current term, which ends in two years. The decision was the latest in a string of departures to hit congressional Democrats as they head to the 2012 elections…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • House passes sweeping cuts to domestic programs: Jolted to action by deficit-conscious newcomers, the Republican-controlled House passed sweeping legislation early Saturday to cut $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs and shelter coal companies, oil refiners and farmers from new government regulations. The 235-189 vote to send the bill to the Senate was largely along party lines and defied a veto threat from President Barack Obama. It marked the most striking victory to date for the 87-member class of freshmen Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government. Three Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • GOP bill pairs budget cuts, regulatory rollbacks: The GOP-controlled House is using a catchall spending bill not just to cut President Barack Obama’s budget but to assault his health care overhaul, global warming policy and efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • House effort to restrict labor wage law fails: The House early Saturday turned back an effort to suspend a Depression-era law that requires federal contractors to pay locally prevailing wage rates. The vote came amid heightened clashes between the two parties over labor rights.
    Lawmakers voted 233-189 against barring spending on Davis-Bacon wage requirements on federal work projects for the remainder of this budget year. The measure was offered by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, as an amendment to a massive spending bill to keep the government running through Sept. 30…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • GOP newcomers test mandate to shrink government: Asked how long the House would need to finish legislation cutting $61 billion in government spending, the most powerful Republican in the land responded wryly. “I don’t know, I’m only the speaker.” It was a candid acknowledgement from Ohio Rep. John Boehner that the 87 Republican first-term lawmakers who swept the party into power in the House are moving on a path — and at a pace — of their own choosing…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • Freshmen spur GOP-run House on big spending cuts: Jolted to action by deficit-conscious newcomers, the Republican-controlled House agreed early Saturday to cut $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs and shelter coal companies, oil refiners and farmers from new government regulations.
    By a 235-189 vote, largely along party lines, the House sent the bill to the Senate, where it faces longer odds, and defied a veto threat from President Barack Obama. Passage of the legislation was the most striking victory to date for the 87 freshman Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government. Three Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure…. – AP, 2-19-11
  • House votes to block EPA’s global warming power: The Republican-controlled House has voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases that scientists say cause global warming. The 249-177 vote added the regulation ban to a sweeping spending bill that would fund the government through Sept. 30. The restriction is opposed by the Obama administration, which is using its regulatory powers to curb greenhouse gases after global warming legislation collapsed last year. The administration also says the ban would cost thousands of construction jobs…. – AP, 2-18-11
  • US House poised to pass Republican spending cuts: The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives on Thursday was poised to approve deep spending cuts for this year, setting the stage for a battle with the Democratic-run Senate…. – Reuters, 2-18-11
  • House votes to curb regulators, cut spending: The Republican-controlled House voted to shield greenhouse-gas polluters and privately owned colleges from federal regulators on Friday, strengthening the pro-business emphasis of legislation that also would chop $61 billion from government spending. But as a final vote neared on the sweeping measure, newly elected conservatives suffered a rare setback when a split among rank-and-file Republicans sank a move to cut an additional $22 billion.
    “The American people have spoken. They demand that Washington stop its out-of-control spending now, not some time in the future,” declared Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., one of the 87 newly elected Republicans who have moved aggressively to attack federal deficits and reduce government’s reach. In a victory for social conservatives, the House voted 240-185 to block federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who proposed the move, said, “It is morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortion.”… – AP, 2-18-11
  • Deficit Plan Details Emerge: A bipartisan group of senators is considering legislation that would trigger new taxes and budget cuts if Congress fails to meet a set of mandatory spending targets and other fiscal goals aimed at reducing federal deficits…. – WSJ, 2-17-11
  • House axes funds for jet engine to be built in Lynn: The House rejected funding for a second engine for the Pentagon’s new jet fighter yesterday, dealing a major blow to a program that had promised to create more than 400 jobs at a General Electric plant in Lynn…. – Boston Globe, 2-17-11
  • Brown describes beatings, sexual abuse in childhood: Senator Scott Brown, describing a childhood of family violence and strife, reveals in his new autobiography that he was sexually assaulted as a 10-year-old by a summer camp counselor on Cape Cod…. – Boston Globe, 2-17-11
  • Senate to vote on patent reform after breakReuters, 2-16-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • PAUL KRUGMAN: Wisconsin Power Play: Last week, in the face of protest demonstrations against Wisconsin’s new union-busting governor, Scott Walker — demonstrations that continued through the weekend, with huge crowds on Saturday — Representative Paul Ryan made an unintentionally apt comparison: “It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison.”
    It wasn’t the smartest thing for Mr. Ryan to say, since he probably didn’t mean to compare Mr. Walker, a fellow Republican, to Hosni Mubarak. Or maybe he did — after all, quite a few prominent conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, denounced the uprising in Egypt and insist that President Obama should have helped the Mubarak regime suppress it…. – NYT, 2-20-11
  • Wis. governor predicts Democrats will return to debate union rights: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose bid to reduce public employees’ collective-bargaining power has triggered public protests, said Sunday that he expects Democrats who oppose his plan to return to the state and debate…. – WaPO, 2-20-11
  • Bachmann defends Wisconsin moves on collective bargaining: US Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) at the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, February 10, 2011. Tea Party activist and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann on Saturday defended moves by fellow Republicans in Wisconsin to reduce state union bargaining power…. – Reuters, 2-19-11
  • Thousands surround Capitol in Wisconsin: A state Capitol thrown into chaos swelled for a fifth day Saturday with thousands of protesters, as supporters of Republican efforts to scrap the union rights of state workers added their voices to the debate…. – NewsOK.com, 2-19-11
  • Protests Continue In Wisconsin As Budget Fight Rages: Protests continued Friday at the Wisconsin state Capitol building, as several missing Democratic state senators hold up action on a plan to reduce union bargaining rights of government employees…. – NPR, 2-18-11
  • Wisconsin in near-chaos over anti-union bill: Protestors swarm Wisconsin’s Capitol and Democratic lawmakers flee the state to stall the new Republican governor’s anti-union bill…. – LAT, 2-18-11
  • Wisconsin Public Workers Protest Governor’s ProposalWSJ, 2-17-11
  • Gov. Brown freezes statewide hiring: Before the announcement, he quietly drops a suit to lower California state workers’ checks to the federal minimum wage during a budget impasse…. – LAT, 2-15-11
  • Flake 1st candidate to run for Kyl’s seat: U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake wasted no time Monday in becoming the first official candidate for the U.S. Senate seat that will open in 2012, moving fast to get a jump-start on campaign fundraising and to discourage potential Republican rivals from entering the GOP race.
    Flake, 49, the libertarian-leaning senior Republican member of Arizona’s U.S. House delegation, launched his campaign four days after three-term U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said he would not seek re-election next year.
    The speed of Flake’s entry into the 2012 competition could crowd out some of the other Republicans whose names have been floated, although Flake said he looks forward to “a spirited campaign.”… – The Arizona Republic, 2-14-11

CHICAGO MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

  • Emanuel beats rivals to become next Chicago mayor: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation’s third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley. Emanuel trounced all opponents with 55 percent of the vote — a margin that allowed him to avoid an April runoff. He needed more than 50 percent to win outright.
    It was the city’s first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.
    Emanuel called the victory “humbling” and said the outgoing mayor had “earned a special place in our hearts and our history.” But he added: “We have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety. Until the parent of that child is thinking about their work and not where they are going to find work, we have not won anything.”… – AP, 2-22-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • GOP 2012: Do Early Polls Matter?: A look at when potential GOP candidates may announce their candidacy… – Neon Tommy, 2-17-11
  • The idea of President Palin hits a granite wallWaPo, 2-17-11
  • Obama wants to know Kaine’s intentions on Senate race: President Barack Obama told a television interviewer Wednesday that he wants to hear former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s intentions regarding a possible run for Jim Webb’s US Senate seat…. – Richmond Times Dispatch, 2-16-11
  • Twelve for ’12: A Dozen Republicans Who Could Be the Next President: With the GOP’s presidential primary fight fast approaching, TIME takes a look at the prospective contenders to take on Barack Obama…
    Candidates of the Conservatives: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, John Thune, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint… – Time
  • Romney reaches out to business, but isn’t ready to show hand: Mitt Romney sought yesterday to distinguish himself from President Obama, his potential 2012 election opponent, by casting himself as a friend to the nation’s business community…. – Boston Globe, 2-14-11
  • Romney tops Obama in NH poll: In a WMUR Granite State Poll released today, Mitt Romney garnered 49 percent of the vote to 41 percent for the president, who took the state in his 2008 win over Republican John McCain…. – Boston Globe, 2-14-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/18/11
  • Weekly Address: To Win the Future, America Must Win the Global Competition in Education: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery February 19, 2011 Hillsboro, Oregon: I’m speaking to you from just outside Portland, Oregon where I’m visiting Intel, a company that helped pioneer the digital age. I just came from a tour of an assembly line where highly-skilled technicians are building microprocessors that run everything from desktop computers to smartphones.
    But these workers aren’t just manufacturing high-tech computer chips. They’re showing us how America will win the future….
    If we want to win the global competition for new jobs and industries, we’ve got to win the global competition to educate our people. We’ve got to have the best trained, best skilled workforce in the world. That’s how we’ll ensure that the next Intel, the next Google, or the next Microsoft is created in America, and hires American workers.
    This is why, over the past two years, my administration has made education a top priority. We’ve launched a competition called “Race to the Top” – a reform that is lifting academic standards and getting results; not because Washington dictated the answers, but because states and local schools pursued innovative solutions. We’re also making college more affordable for millions of students, and revitalizing our community colleges, so that folks can get the training they need for the careers they want. And as part of this effort, we’ve launched a nationwide initiative to connect graduates that need jobs with businesses that need their skills.
    Intel understands how important these partnerships can be – recognizing that their company’s success depends on a pipeline of skilled people ready to fill high-wage, high-tech jobs. Intel often pays for workers to continue their education at nearby Portland State University. As a result, one out of every fifteen of Intel’s Oregon employees has a degree from Portland State.
    In fact, Intel’s commitment to education begins at an even younger age. The company is providing training to help 100,000 math and science teachers improve their skills in the classroom. And today, I’m also meeting a few students from Oregon who impressed the judges in the high school science and engineering competitions that Intel sponsors across America….
    So these have been a tough few years for our country. And in tough times, it’s natural to question what the future holds. But when you meet young people like Laurie and Yushi, it’s hard not to be inspired. And it’s impossible not to be confident about America.
    We are poised to lead in this new century – and not just because of the good work that large companies like Intel are doing. All across America, there are innovators and entrepreneurs who are trying to start the next Intel, or just get a small business of their own off the ground. I’ll be meeting with some of these men and women next week in Cleveland, to get ideas about what we can do to help their companies grow and create jobs.
    The truth is, we have everything we need to compete: bold entrepreneurs, bright new ideas, and world-class colleges and universities. And, most of all, we have young people just brimming with promise and ready to help us succeed. All we have to do is tap that potential.
    That’s the lesson on display at Intel. And that’s how America will win the future. – WH, 2-19-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • The President Unveils a Budget to Win the Future for Our Kids: And I just came to Parkville on a day where we are unveiling our budget, and I’m doing so for a reason. But before I do that I just want to thank Principal Buddy Parker, who is showing us around, as well as Susan Yoder, the eighth grade science teacher who we just visited with in her classroom.
    Over the last few weeks I’ve traveled the country, talking about what we need to do to win the future; talked about the need to invest in innovation, so that the next big idea is discovered here in the United States of America. I’ve talked about the need to invest in high-speed rail and high-speed Internet, so that companies can move goods and information faster than ever. And this week, I’ll be talking about the need to invest in education -– in places like Parkville -– so that every American is equipped to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world.
    These investments are an essential part of the budget my administration is sending to Congress. Because I’m convinced that if we out-build and out-innovate and out-educate, as well as out-hustle the rest of the world, the jobs and industries of our time will take root here in the United States. Our people will prosper and our country will succeed.
    But I’m also convinced that the only way we can make these investments in our future is if our government starts living within its means, if we start taking responsibility for our deficits. That’s why, when I was sworn in as President, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. The budget I’m proposing today meets that pledge -– and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade. We do this in part by eliminating waste and cutting whatever spending we can do without.
    As I start — as a start, I’ve called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years. This freeze would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending — domestic discretionary spending — to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let me repeat that. Because of our budget, this share of spending will be at its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President. That level of spending is lower than it was under the last three administrations, and it will be lower than it was under Ronald Reagan.
    Now, some of the savings will come through less waste and more efficiency. To take just one example, by getting rid of 14,000 office buildings, lots and government-owned properties we no longer need, we can save taxpayers billions of dollars. And when it comes to programs we do need, we’re making them work better by demanding accountability. Instead of spending first, and asking questions later, we’re rewarding folks inside and outside government who deliver results. And to make sure that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, I’ve pledged to veto any bill that contains earmarks.
    Still, even as we cut waste and inefficiency, this budget freeze will require some tough choices. It will mean cutting things that I care deeply about — for example, community action programs in low-income neighborhoods and towns, and community development block grants that so many of our cities and states rely on. But if we’re going to walk the walk when it comes to fiscal discipline, these kinds of cuts will be necessary…. – WH, 2-14-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Jack Lew: The 2012 Budget: Today, the President sent to Congress his budget for the 2012 fiscal year. This document is built around the simple idea that we have to live within our means so we can invest in the future. Only by making tough choices to both cut spending and deficits and invest in what we need to win the future can we out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world.
    This is the seventh Budget that I have worked on at OMB, and it may be the most difficult. It includes more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction – two-thirds from spending cuts — and puts the nation on a path toward fiscal sustainability so that by the middle of the decade, the government will no longer be adding to our national debt as a share of the economy and will be paying for what it spends – and will be able to sustain that for many years afterwards.
    The President has called this budget a down payment because we will still have work to do to pay down the debt and address our long-term challenges. But it is a necessary and critical step for we cannot start to move toward balance and to cutting into the size of our debt until we first stop adding to it – and that is what this Budget does…. – WH, 2-14-11
  • Barack Obama: “The fiscal realities we face require hard choices. A decade of deficits, compounded by the effects of the recession and the steps we had to take to break it, as well as the chronic failure to confront difficult decisions, has put us on an unsustainable course.”
  • Barack Obama: “As we move to rein in our deficits, we must do so in a way that does not cut back on those investments that have the biggest impact on our economic growth, because the best antidote to a growing deficit is a growing economy. So even as we pursue cuts and savings in the months ahead, we must fund those investments that will help America win the race for the jobs and industries of the future – investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure.”
  • Eric Cantor: This week, the House will consider H.R. 1 – historic legislation that will reduce spending by at least $100 billion over the next seven months. This is the largest spending cut in modern history. These are not easy cuts, but we are finally doing what every American has to do both at home and at work – begin a path towards living within our means.
  • John Boehner: President Obama’s latest budget will destroy jobs by spending too much, borrowing too much, & taxing too much. The American people have made it clear they want Washington’s job-crushing spending binge to end. To help our economy get back to creating jobs, we need to liberate it from the shackles of Big Government and out-of-control spending. H.R. 1, on the House floor this week, will help do this.
  • Mitch McConnell: Senator McConnell comments on the President’s Budget: After two years of failed Stimulus programs and Democrats in Washington competing to outspend each other, we just can’t afford to do all the things the administration wants to do. The President has said he wants us to ‘Win the Future.’ But this budget abdicates the future. It simply spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.
  • Sarah Palin: The Truth Behind the White House’s Budget Spin: Today the White House finally produced its proposal for the 2012 budget. Beware of the left’s attempt to sell this as “getting tough on the deficit,” because as an analysis from Americans for Tax Reform shows, the White House’s plans are more about raising taxes and growing more government than reducing budget shortfalls.
    The fine print reveals a White House proposal to increase taxes by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade. If you want to know how minuscule their proposed $775 million-a-year budget “cuts” really are, please look at this chart. The proposed cuts are so insignificant – less than 1/10 of 1% of this year’s $1.65 trillion budget deficit – that they are essentially invisible on the pie chart. That speaks volumes about today’s budget.
    UPDATE: As J.D. Foster of the Heritage Foundation points out: “…the President proposes a budget that keeps the federal government on a thoroughly irresponsible and unsustainable course.” Please read the Heritage Foundation article and understand the $775 million in proposed cuts noted above are what the White House’s budget director Jacob Lew identified as reflecting what they perceive as some “tough calls.” Yet, as noted, they are a drop in the bucket; and the White House’s total proposed cuts for this year are still not at all enough to make us solvent.

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

Political Highlights February 14, 2011: Budget Battles: Obama Unveils Valentine’s Day 2012 Budget

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The President Discusses the Situation in Egypt

 

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 2/11/11

 

STATS & POLLS

  • New poll shows Obama ahead of four major potential GOP candidates: A new poll commissioned by the NHJournal.com web site shows that President Barack Obama would defeat Republicans Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich in head-to-head matchups in New Hampshire if the election were held today. The poll also shows Granite Staters have a generally favorable view of Obama, are split on Romney and Huckabee, but have unfavorable views of Palin and Gingrich. The poll also shows Granite Staters oppose repeal of the state’s same-sex marriage law but support repeal of “Obamacare.”
    For details of the poll, click here. – Union Leader, 2-11-11
  • Most Americans say Obama is handling Egypt about right, Pew poll says: According to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 57% say the Obama administration is handling the situation in Egypt about right. Republicans are less likely than Democrats or independents to give the president high marks…. – LAT, 2-8-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama’s Valentine’s Day budget: No roses or bon-bons for the GOP: President Obama’s FY 2012 budget lands on congressional desks Monday. Republicans are unimpressed, which sets the scene for a long fight over spending, taxing, and deficit reduction….
    It’s only by coincidence that President Obama’s federal budget for FY 2012 arrives on congressional desks on Valentine’s Day – a weighty tome far heavier than a box of chocolates.
    It’s more challenge than gift, though, especially now that the tea party-tinged House is run by Republicans. They’re already ripping through the contents, pronouncing them unacceptable.
    Obama’s budget, House Speaker John Boehner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, “will continue to destroy jobs by spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much.” – CS Monitor, 2-13-11
  • Budget Forecasts Bigger 2011 Deficit: President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget proposal projects this year’s deficit will reach $1.6 trillion, the largest on record, as December’s tax-cut deal begins to reduce federal revenues, a senior Democrat said Sunday. The new forecast is larger than the $1.48 trillion deficit projected last month by the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper, and up from last year’s $1.3 trillion shortfall. The tax deal extended tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration while adding others, such as a temporary cut to the payroll tax. The prospect of a record deficit is likely to intensify the debate over federal spending and cost controls, which has gripped Washington in recent weeks. Conservative Republicans, many elected with tea-party support, are demanding deep budget cuts for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30…. – WSJ, 2-14-11
  • Republicans, White House Brace for Twin Budget Battles: Republicans looking to make deep spending cuts are girding for twin budget battles in Washington starting this week — a fiscal fight one lawmaker said will define the rest of President Obama’s term. The president plans to unveil his 2012 spending plan Monday, a $3.5 trillion-plus budget which, according to officials, will outline $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. At the same time, Republicans are still trying to cut back this year’s spending. They want to bring a bill to the floor Tuesday that they claim would cut $100 billion out of the budget for the seven months remaining in the 2011 fiscal year.
    Top GOP lawmakers said Sunday they were hopeful the Obama administration would play along, and endorse a plan to sharply reduce short- and long-term spending. But they said the snippets of information out about the upcoming budget plan suggest the president’s not being ambitious enough in tackling what they describe as a fiscal “crisis.” They said the proposals on the table so far will not reverse the “unsustainable” rise in the national debt…. – Fox News, 2-13-11
  • Obama spending plan criticized for avoiding deficit commission’s major proposals: President Obama drew fire Sunday from congressional Republicans and independent budget experts for his reluctance to advance a plan that would tackle the nation’s biggest budget problems in the spending blueprint he will submit to Congress on Monday.
    In the first statement of his budget priorities since Republicans regained control of the House, Obama will avoid politically dangerous recommendations to wipe out cherished tax breaks and to restrain safety-net programs for the elderly, put forward last year by his own bipartisan fiscal commission as a strategy for reining in a soaring national debt.
    White House budget director Jacob J. Lew has told advocates of reform that the White House thinks any significant plan offered by the president would simply become a target for partisan attack. Key Democrats, including Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (N.D.), said they accept that rationale. Republicans argued that Obama was abdicating a responsibility to chart a path to solvency.
    “The country’s biggest challenge, domestically speaking, no doubt about it, is a debt crisis. . . . It looks like the debt is going to continue rising under this budget,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Presidents are elected to lead, not to punt. And this president has been punting.”… – WaPo, 2-13-11
  • Obama’s ‘White Paper’ and Reforming Housing Finance: The Obama administration came out on Friday afternoon with its highly anticipated ‘white paper’ proposing solutions to revamping the nation’s broken mortgage system. The plan entitled “Reforming America’s Housing Finance Market” addresses the adverse incentives created by the pre-2008 mortgage institutions. As anticipated on Monday, the Wall Street Journal’s prediction that the Obama administration would advocate gradually eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was confirmed in this report. However, now the question becomes: what is going to replace these lending institutions?… – Financial Advisory, 2-12-11
  • Republicans take a $100 billion whack at Obama budget: Bending to party conservatives – notably tea partiers – House GOP leaders propose steep cuts in many popular programs for the rest of the fiscal year. Will it lead to a government shut-down?
    In a move that has “tea party” written all over it, Republicans in the House of Representative propose to cut spending for the rest of this fiscal year by what they claim is “the largest single discretionary spending reduction in the history of Congress.”
    Will it pass? That’s unlikely, given Democratic control of the Senate and President Obama’s authority to veto what’s called a “continuing resolution.”
    Still, the action sets the scene for what could be a knock-down-drag-out political fight. And while the amount in question is just a fraction of overall government spending, it wallops many popular programs – including some highly favored by the Obama administration….. – CS Monitor, 2-12-11
  • The Donald and Sarah Palin hair: a CPAC carnival of conservatism: Day 1 of the Conservative Political Action Conference – or CPAC – included Donald Trump touting himself, Michele Bachmann slamming ‘Obamacare,’ and Rand Paul talking about massive budget cuts. In other words, a classic CPAC day…. – CS Monitor, 2-11-11
  • Obama bids farewell to faithful press flack: President Barack Obama bade farewell to his spokesman Robert Gibbs Friday, joking that after President Hosni Mubarak’s exit, his flack’s departure was not the most important exit of the day.
    Gibbs is stepping down from the high-pressure role as White House press secretary after more than 250 on-camera briefings, but is expected to play a big role in Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
    “Gibbs’ departure is not the biggest one today,” Obama said in the White House briefing room.
    A sometimes acerbic former college goalkeeper from Alabama, has been with Obama since the beginning of his big- time political career, when he made an unlikely run for Senate in 2004 that turned into a presidency.
    “Robert started very early with me on this wild ride that I’ve been on,” Obama said. “When I won the Democratic primary in Illinois, I realized that I was going to have to start staffing up a little bit.” “I still didn’t have a lot of money, so all I could afford was Gibbs,” Obama joked, then turned serious, saying that Gibbs had been an “extraordinary” spokesman and a great friend.
    “You could not ask for somebody better in the foxhole with you during all the twists and turns of my candidacy, and then the incredible challenges that we faced over the last two years.”… – AFP, 2-11-11
  • Obama to Gibbs on last day: Here’s your tie back: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs got a gift from his boss Friday before giving his last press briefing. President Obama gave him his tie back.
    It was Gibbs’ light blue tie that Obama wore to give his famous keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston — the speech that ignited his career. On Friday, Obama presented it in a glass frame with photos and a note reading, in part: “I thought that I could finally give your tie back.”
    There were hugs from the president and congratulations from the press corps for Gibbs, who is resigning after more than two years in one of the toughest jobs in Washington; six years with Obama; and 17 in the political communications business…. – USA Today, 2-10-11
  • CPAC gets underway on wave of 2010 midterm momentum: The largest conservative gathering of the year began in Washington on Thursday with a parade of possible Republican presidential candidates determined to show that they have what it takes to defeat President Obama in 2012. More than 11,000 activists and politicians convened for the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference to take stock of the contenders and of the conservative movement after Republicans’ major gains in the 2010 midterm elections. The three-day meeting is part celebration of those victories and part an effort to remind the party’s new leaders to live up to the promises of last year’s campaign.
    The opening-day roster of potential presidential hopefuls included former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.). Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty will speak on Friday, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will appear on Saturday. Two prominent potential candidates, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, decided not to attend…. – WaPo, 2-10-11
  • Arizona sues US government over illegal immigrants: Arizona is counter-suing the US government, charging that Washington has failed to protect it from an invasion of illegal immigrants and related violent crime, its governor has said. The lawsuit, which seeks federal compensation, is in response to a federal lawsuit filed by President Barack Obama’s administration last year challenging Arizona’s enforcement of a new immigration law along the US-Mexican border.
    “Our citizens have lived with this dark cloud for too long .. It’s time for the federal government to do its job and secure the border,” said Governor Jan Brewer, announcing the lawsuit outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix…. – AFP, 2-10-11
  • High-speed wireless access for entire US will spark innovation, Obama says: President Obama aims for 98 percent of Americans to be able to go online using high-speed wireless access within five years….. – CS Monitor, 2-10-11
  • Swedish minister to Assange: turn yourself in: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should turn himself in for questioning in a Swedish rape investigation and has no reason to worry about not getting a fair trial, Sweden’s justice minister said Thursday. Beatrice Ask’s comments to The Associated Press reveal the irritation among senior Swedish officials at the arguments used by Assange’s lawyers in fighting his extradition in a British court, where closing arguments are set for Friday. The lawyers defending Assange, who is accused of sexual misconduct against two Swedish women, say a closed-door trial in Sweden would represent “a flagrant denial of justice.”… – AP, 2-10-11
  • U.S. terrorism threat at ‘heightened’ state: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the terrorism threat is the highest it has been since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
    Senior Homeland Security Department officials warned Wednesday that the threat to the United States is the highest it has been since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, citing the emergence of more foreign terrorist groups, a sharp increase in extremists in this country and the “lone wolf” operator whom authorities worry they may not be able to stop.
    “The terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “In some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since those attacks.”… – LAT, 2-9-11
  • Why Michelle Obama is talking about her husband’s gray hair: As First Lady Michelle Obama publicizes her chosen issue, childhood obesity, she keeps dropping in humanizing details about her husband. Yes, he has gray hair. And boring fashion sense…. – CS Monitor, 2-9-11
  • Obama says businesses must hire, invest to grow economy: President Obama on Monday pledged to make government an ally of companies as they emerge from the bleak downturn of recent years, even as he challenged executives to do their part to help resurrect the economy.
    “We can, and we must, work together,” Obama told an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, his most overt effort yet to mend ties with the nation’s business community. “Whatever differences we may have, I know that all of us share a deep, abiding belief in this country, a belief in our people, a belief in the principles that have made America’s economy the envy of the world.”
    His administration will “help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate,” Obama said, vowing new investment in infrastructure and education and a focus on removing “barriers that make it harder for you to compete – from the tax code to the regulatory system.”… – WaPo, 2-7-11
  • Terrorism sponsor no more? Obama hints at taking Sudan from the list: US says it holds the door open for Sudan to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism if it meets its ‘obligations,’ including recognition of an independent South Sudan… – CS Monitor, 2-7-11
  • Health-care law supporters tap Democratic strategist to defend it: Supporters of the new health-care law have tapped a top Democratic strategist to help defend it against Republican criticism as they settle in for what many expect will be a protracted battle to shape the public’s view of the law through the 2012 elections and beyond.
    “There’s a growing recognition that with respect to this big health-care reform legislation there’s no such thing as a final victory or a final defeat,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of the consumer lobby Families USA, one of the groups behind the effort. “The Republicans are intent on making this a multi-year effort and those of us who strongly support the legislation must meet that challenge. . . . We feel we’ve got to come together in a much more systematic fashion.”
    The initiative is being headed by Paul Tewes, a political consultant who directed field operations in key states for President Obama’s campaign…. – WaPo, 2-7-11
  • Word and Lyric, Giffords Labors to Speak Again: Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an eloquent speaker before she was shot in the head last month, is relearning the skill — progressing from mouthing words and lip syncing songs to talking briefly by telephone to her brother-in- law in space. With a group of friends and family members acting as a backup chorus, Ms. Giffords has been mouthing the lyrics to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby.” And as a surprise for her husband, who is celebrating his birthday this month, a longtime friend who has been helping her through her rehabilitation videotaped her mouthing the words to “Happy Birthday to You.”… – NYT, 2-13-11
  • Rep. Giffords speaks for first time since shooting: Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords spoke for the first time since she was shot in the forehead, her spokesman said Wednesday, yet another significant milestone in her recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Giffords spoke first several days ago and is speaking “more and more,” spokesman C.J. Karamargin said Wednesday. He didn’t know what her first words were, but said at breakfast one morning she asked for toast.
    “She’s working very hard and it’s paying off,” he told The Associated Press. “We’re elated at this. We always knew Gabby is a fighter and that she’s not going to let this thing win. And you know, every day is proof of that.”… – AP, 2-9-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Freshmen Republicans claim victory on spending: First-term Republican conservatives claimed victory Friday after forcing their own leadership to expand a package of spending cuts headed for debate on the House floor next week. “$100 billion is $100 billion is $100 billion,” said Rep. Tim Scott R-S.C., referring to amount the revised package would cut from President Barack Obama’s budget request of a year ago.
    That was the amount contained in the Republican “Pledge to America” in last fall’s campaign, and when party leaders initially suggested a smaller package of cuts this week, many of the 87-member freshman class who have links to the tea party rebelled. In fact, even some Republicans acknowledged privately the legislation will cut about $61 billion from current spending on domestic spending…. – AP, 2-11-11
  • Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl won’t run for reelection: The minority whip, who has been a vocal critic of Obama’s agenda on immigration and healthcare, says it is time for him to do something else. Republicans are confident they can hold on to his seat…. – LAT, 2-10-11
  • House GOP fumbles on Patriot Act renewal: Conservative and ‘tea party’ Republicans join many Democrats to vote against renewal of the terrorist surveillance law, key provisions of which are to expire Feb. 28…. – LAT, 2-9-11
  • Patriot Act extension fails in the House by seven votes: More than two-dozen House Republicans bucked their party to oppose the measure that would extend three key provisions in the counterterrorism law.
    House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party’s tea-party bloc.
    The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures.
    But it fell short of the required two-thirds after 26 Republicans bucked their leadership, eight of them freshman lawmakers elected in November’s midterm elections. With most Democrats opposing the extension, the final tally was 277 members in favor of extension, and 148 opposed…. –
  • New York Congressman Resigns Over E-Mails: Representative Christopher Lee of New York abruptly resigned on Wednesday night after a shirtless photo of himself, which he had e-mailed to a woman, was published on the Internet. Mr. Lee, a two-term Republican from western New York, notified the House speaker, John A. Boehner, of his decision in a letter on Wednesday afternoon, after the scandal had erupted, according to senior Congressional officials.
    Mr. Lee’s office released a statement in which he asked for forgiveness. “I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents,” he wrote. “I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.”… – NYT, 2-9-11
  • NY Rep. Lee resigns after shirtless photo story: A married New York congressman accused of sending a shirtless photo of himself to a woman abruptly resigned his seat Wednesday, saying he was quitting because he regretted actions that had hurt his family and others. The gossip website Gawker reported Wednesday that Rep. Christopher Lee, a two-term Republican, had e-mailed the photo to a woman he met on the Craigslist classified-ads website.
    Lee said in an e-mailed statement that his resignation was effective immediately. The statement offered no confirmation or details of a Craigslist posting. “I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents,” Lee said in a statement posted on his congressional website. “I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.”… – AP, 2-9-11
  • With Jim Webb retiring, 2012 Senate prospects get harder for Democrats Sen. Jim Webb (D) of Virginia won’t seek reelection next year. But Virginia’s Democratic bench isn’t very deep: The freshman senator surprised few people Wednesday with his announcement that he will not seek reelection next year. Senator Webb had not raised much money and was not an enthusiastic campaigner. But it’s usually easier for an incumbent to win than a newcomer – especially in a state where the Republicans rebounded in 2009 and 2010. Plus, Virginia Democrats don’t have a big bench. Their best hope – former Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee – has said in the past he’s not interested in running for the Senate. Now that the seat is open, there’s speculation President Obama may twist his arm. For Mr. Obama to win Virginia again in 2012, it will be less difficult if a strong Democrat is on the Senate line…. – CS Monitor, 2-9-11
  • Harman resignation reduces ranks of House Democratic centrists: Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said Monday that she will resign from Congress, a announcement that came as a surprise to many in her party and served as the latest blow to the diminished ranks of the centrist wing of the Democratic caucus.
    Harman added in an e-mail sent to supporters that she was “in discussions” to take over the presidency of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The think tank is currently run by former representative Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), who like Harman believes in a muscular foreign policy that has at times run afoul of the liberal wing of the Democratic party. The center is expected to name a new president Tuesday.
    “This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed – nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress,” Harman wrote…. – WaPo, 2-7-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Florida governor cuts spending and taxes in budget: Florida’s Tea Party-backed Governor Rick Scott proposed cutting more than $5 billion from state spending on Monday while also slashing taxes as he laid out his first budget proposal aimed at closing a deficit of nearly $4 billion.
    The Republican, a former healthcare executive, proposed saving nearly $4 billion over two years by reforming Medicaid, the health insurance program for poor people. He also saw savings of $2.8 billion over two years through an overhaul of Florida’s relatively healthy state pension system. Scott also proposed cutting taxes by more than $4 billion over two years. This would include a roll-back of corporate income taxes from 5 percent to 3.5 percent and reductions in property taxes…. – Reuters, 2-7-11

CHICAGO MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Boehner sees wide-open field for GOP in 2012: House Speaker John Boehner says he doesn’t see a front-runner so far in the large field of potential GOP candidates for the White House in 2012. He says he’s never seen a more wide-open race for his party’s nomination. He tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Republicans need to find someone who can paint a vision of the future that includes a smaller, less costly and more accountable government…. – AP, 2-13-11
  • Ron Paul wins CPAC straw poll again: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) won the always-anticipated, rarely predictive presidential straw poll Saturday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, but he did so with less than a third of the vote – a result that suggested the energy of conservative activists at the gathering has not coalesced behind a single candidate. Winning for the second year in a row, Paul carried about 30 percent of the 3,742 votes cast. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came in second with about 23 percent. Beyond that the vote splintered, with no potential candidate rising above the single digits…. – WaPo, 2-12-11
  • T-Paw gets religion in Iowa: Pawlenty is working hard to court evangelical Christian voters. A devout evangelical himself, Pawlenty made three stops around Iowa Monday in an effort to win over the influential voting bloc that helped put Ronald Reagan in the White House and later gave George W. Bush two terms.
    “It’s important that we acknowledge and begin with the notion that this was a country and is a country that is founded under God,” he declared on the final stop on the Family Leader lecture series at Dordt College in Sioux City. “This not the rhetoric of a politician passing through town. This is a foundational concept for our nation.”

    But Pawlenty, who was the first would-be 2012 candidate to address the social conservative advocacy group, is just one of several prospective Republican presidential candidates vying for evangelicals’ support…. – Politico, 2-7-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address

 

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 2/11/11

 

  • White House White Board: OMB Director Jack Lew on the President’s Budget: In this White House White Board, Jack Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, explains how the President’s Budget will help then government live within its means, while still investing in America’s future. Look for much more detail here at WhiteHouse.gov Monday afternoon…. – WH, 2-13-11
  • McConnell: Obama Agenda Is ‘Over’: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Saturday that President Obama’s legislative agenda is “over,” but said GOP lawmakers are willing to work with the White House to do what they “think is right for America.” In a speech Saturday night to a GOP crowd in his hometown, the Kentucky Republican derided Obama for performing “Clintonian back flips” to portray himself as a moderate, but said it’s yet to be seen whether the new tone is “rhetoric or reality.”…
    “And to the extent that the president wants to do what we think is right for America, we won’t say ‘no’ simply because there’s an election coming along,” said McConnell….
    Still, McConnell drew cheers from the partisan crowd when he declared: “The legislative agenda of Barack Obama is over.”
    McConnell also laid out the strategy of Senate Republicans, saying, “Whatever the House can get out of the House with a majority vote is the goal of the Senate.”
    “We’ll see how many of them come over and join us and begin to tackle our annual deficit,” he said…. – Fox News, 2-12-11
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: “It’s Time Washington Acted as Responsibly as Our Families Do” Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery, February 12, 2011, Washington, DC: A few months ago, I received a letter from a woman named Brenda Breece. I wanted to share her story because it speaks to what a lot of families are going through – and it offers a good example of the kind of responsibility that’s needed in Washington right now….
    Families across this country understand what it takes to manage a budget. They understand what it takes to make ends meet without forgoing important investments like education. Well, it’s time Washington acted as responsibly as our families do. And on Monday, I’m proposing a new budget that will help us live within our means while investing in our future.
    My budget freezes annual domestic spending for the next five years – even on programs I care deeply about – which will reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade. This freeze will bring this type of spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president. We’ve stripped down the budget by getting rid of waste. For example, we’re getting rid of thousands of government-owned buildings that sit empty because they aren’t needed. I’ve also proposed freezing salaries for hardworking government employees, because everyone has to do their part. And I’m going to make sure politics doesn’t add to our deficit, by vetoing any bill that contains earmarks.
    And yet, just as the Breece family is making difficult sacrifices while still investing in the future – by helping their daughter pay her tuition – my budget does the same. I’m proposing that we invest in what will do the most to grow the economy in the years to come. This means job-creating investments in roads, high-speed speed trains, and broadband. This means cutting-edge research that holds the promise of creating countless jobs and whole new industries, like clean energy and biotechnology. And it means improving our schools and making college more affordable – to give every young person the chance to fulfill his or her potential, and receive the job training they need to succeed. Because it would be a mistake to balance the budget by sacrificing our children’s education.
    So, after a decade of rising deficits, this budget asks Washington to live within its means, while at the same time investing in our future. It cuts what we can’t afford to pay for what we cannot do without. That’s what families do in hard times. And that’s what our country has to do too. WH, 2-12-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Remarks by the President on Egypt: THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.
    By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt’s transition. It’s a beginning. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.
    The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table. For the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.
    The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary — and asked for — to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I’m also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity — jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.
    Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years. But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.
    We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.
    We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”
    We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” — “We are peaceful” — again and again.
    We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.
    And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.
    We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.
    And above all, we saw a new generation emerge — a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.
    This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.
    And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history — echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.
    As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.
    Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.
    The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people — of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world. – WH, 2-11-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gingrich: Obama is no Ronald Reagan: A recent Time magazine cover featuring an image of Ronald Reagan with his arm around President Obama has been the subject of much fodder at today’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
    “I knew Ronald Reagan,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich said. “… I hate to tell this to our friends at MSNBC: Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan.” Reagan, the 40th president, is an icon in conservative GOP circles and addressed CPAC at the first conference in 1973…. – USA Today, 2-10-11
  • Ed Rollins: Can Obama be beaten in 2012?: And then of course we have the story of our president. Certainly he was never viewed as a serious threat until he won Iowa.
    One of the great things about American politics is that the early primaries and Iowa caucus are retail politics. Voters want to meet you, shake your hand and look you in the eye and hear what you’re all about. They take their politics very seriously. They have seen many presidential contenders — and they aren’t intimated by any of them.
    A year from now we will know the winner of the Iowa caucus, who will be a front-runner at least until the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. If someone wins two out of those first three, he or she will be on their way to being the nominee. And before it’s over, we will know whether the Republicans will have a candidate who is up to the task of defeating Obama…. – CNN, 2-10-11

Egypt in Crisis: Hosni Mubarak Steps Downs, Cedes Power to Military — US & Obama Reacts

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

CRISIS IN EGYPT & MIDDLE EAST:

Ed Ou for The New York Times

Demonstrators in Cairo rejoiced Friday upon hearing that President Hosni Mubarak had been toppled after 18 days of protests against his government.

IN FOCUS

  • Egypt News— The ProtestsNYT
  • Hosni MubarakNYT
  • Latest Updates on EgyptNYT

THE HEADLINES….

     

  • Egypt’s generals impose martial law — Egypt day 20: Aftermath of a regime change: Ruling council says it will run the country for six months or until elections are held; tensions flare as military evicts protesters in Tahrir Square.
    Egypt’s generals imposed martial law on Sunday, dissolving parliament and suspending the constitution, moves that many of the protesters who helped topple President Hosni Mubarak said were necessary to excise a rotten form of government.
    The sweeping actions appeared to have their desired effect of calming the national mood. Under a celebratory facade, Egypt has remained on edge since Mubarak was forced to abdicate Friday, as uncertainty grew over the revolution’s next stages…. – WaPo, 2-13-11
  • Middle East nations scramble to contain unrest: Governments step up political concessions, dole out benefits or prepare the riot police in attempts to keep order after the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, which showed people that strongmen may not be needed to protect against sectarian violence or Islamic extremism…. – LAT, 2-13-11
  • Revolutionary art gives expression to Egyptians’ hopes: In the midst of the protests, a small group of artists, playwrights and poets in Tahrir Square helped give expression to Egyptians’ angers and frustrations. Now they focus on their victory and hopes for the future…. – LAT, 2-13-11
  • As Egypt Calms Down, So Do Israeli Nerves: As Israelis began to adjust to the departure of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, their staunchest and longest- standing regional ally, the alarm and anxiety that Israel has been projecting seemed to give way on Sunday to more nuanced tones, as well as some hints of admiration for the Egyptian people and sympathy for their cause.
    “It is difficult not to be awed by the new spirit, the hope and the optimism that gushed forth out of Egypt,” wrote Ben Caspit, a prominent Israeli commentator, in the newspaper Maariv on Sunday. “By the courage of the masses. By the wisdom of the army, by the fight that Mubarak gave (many would have broken before he did). By the comparatively dignified way in which the Egyptian people swept out one of its greatest heroes, who became one of the strongest and most-hated rulers in the modern history of this ancient people.”
    The front page of the popular newspaper Yediot Aharonot was taken up entirely by a picture of Egyptians celebrating, with the headline “A New Egypt.”… – NYT, 2-12-11
  • U.S. seeks to maintain stability in Egyptian power vacuum: The Obama Administration’s standing in the Middle East is largely dependent now on Egypt’s success in transforming its toppled government into a secular democracy. As throngs of Egyptians celebrated the resignation of embattled President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday, Western officials wondered whether the transfer of power would help — or hurt — the U.S.
    “The hard part begins now,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution. Egypt has been one of America’s strongest allies in the Middle East and Mubarak has played a major role in maintaining peace with Israel. The army said it would respect Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel until a new government is established. Riedel said the U.S. must maintain a strong presence in Egypt’s transition by “building a broad coalition that includes the army and the politicians that can prepare for elections and reboot the economy while avoiding quarreling with Israel.”… – Washington Examiner, 2-12-11
  • 18 days of protest culminate in Mubarak’s ouster: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down Friday and handed over power to the military, his nearly three decades of iron rule ended by a groundswell of popular protests that began January 25. In a somber one-minute announcement on state television, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak’s resignation and said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will “run the affairs of the country.”
    As Suleiman spoke, deafening cheers erupted among tens of thousands of Egyptians who thronged the streets of Cairo. It was a moment they had sought throughout long, often tense days of demonstrations — some of them violent — that demanded Mubarak’s departure.
    It was also a moment that many in the Arab world’s powerhouse nation had not dared contemplate. Chants of “Egypt is free!” and “God is great!” rose from the crowds, dizzy in the honeymoon of their success. Some waved Egyptian flags; others honked horns; still others set off fireworks as they savored the scene…. – CNN, 2-11-11
  • ‘Egypt is Free’ chants Tahrir after Mubarak quits: Cries of “Egypt is free” rang out and fireworks lit up the sky over Cairo’s Tahrir Square where hundreds of thousands danced, wept and prayed in joyful pandemonium Friday after 18 days of peaceful pro-democracy protests forced President Hosni Mubarak to hand over power to the military, ending three decades of authoritarian rule.
    Ecstatic protesters hoisted soldiers onto their shoulders and families posed for pictures in front of tanks in streets flooded with people streaming out to celebrate. Strangers hugged each other, some fell to kiss the ground, and others stood stunned in disbelief. Chants of “Hold your heads high, you’re Egyptian” roared with each burst of fireworks overhead.
    “I’m 21 years old and this is the first time in my life I feel free,” an ebullient Abdul-Rahman Ayyash, born eight years after Mubarak came to power, said as he hugged fellow protesters in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square…. – AP, 2-11-11
  • Egypt Erupts in Jubilation as Mubarak Steps Down: Egypt erupted in a joyous celebration of the power of a long repressed people on Friday as President Hosni Mubarak resigned his post and ceded control to the military, ending his nearly 30 years of autocratic rule.
    Shouts of “God is Great” competed with fireworks and car horns around Cairo after Mr. Mubarak’s vice president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, announced during evening prayers that Mr. Mubarak had passed all authority to a council of military leaders, bowing to a historic popular uprising that has transformed politics in Egypt and around the Arab world.
    Protesters hugged and cheered and shouted, “Egypt is free!” and “You’re an Egyptian, lift your head.”… – NYT, 2-11-11
  • As Mubarak resigns, Yemenis call for a revolution of their own: Thousands of secessionists protested in Yemen today in an example of how disparate movements across the Middle East are tapping the anti-regime fervor for their own disparate aims…. – CS Monitor, 2-11-11
  • Obama Presses Egypt’s Military on Democracy: President Obama declared on Friday that “Egypt will never be the same” after the street revolution that deposed President Hosni Mubarak, but warned the military council taking over the country that it will now have to “ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people.”
    He also offered Egypt “whatever assistance is necessary” to pursue changes that would lead to democracy. Saying that the protesters have “bent the arc of history,” he likened their accomplishments to those of the Germans who tore down the Berlin Wall and the Indonesians who led an uprising that brought democracy to their country.
    Mr. Obama barely mentioned Mr. Mubarak, a longtime ally of the United States, and did not offer thanks for his efforts to help carry out United States policy in the region…. – NYT, 2-11-11
  • Boehner credits Obama for handling of Egypt crisis: House Speaker John Boehner says on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that he thinks the president responded to the ‘very difficult situation’ in Egypt about as well as possible. Potential GOP presidential candidates believe otherwise.
    House Speaker John A. Boehner said Sunday he thought the Obama administration handled “a very difficult situation” in Egypt about as well as possible, undercutting potential Republican presidential candidates who have charged that President Obama botched the U.S. response to a popular revolt against a key ally…. – LAT, 2-13-11
  • Israel fears loss of a crucial ally with Mubarak’s fall: Israel is concerned that the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will give rise to the Muslim Brotherhood and create an ‘encirclement’ of hostile states.
    For Israelis, Mubarak has been absolutely crucial to their sense of regional stability. Through wars and uprisings, Mubarak adhered to the peace treaty with Israel, chastising DON’T CHASTISE THAT… Arab radicals that the days of Egypt warring with Israel were over. Egypt joined Israel in blockading the Gaza Strip in a bid to undermine its Hamas rulers and was a de facto ally against the spread of Iranian influence in the region.
    Unlike the US, Israel did not turn against Mubarak during the crisis. In fact, according to a Haaretz report, Israel called on the US and Europe to curb their criticism of Mubarak ”in a bid to preserve stability in Egypt” and the wider Middle East…. – CS Monitor, 2-11-11
  • Quiet Worries as Israel Watches an Ally Depart: As the streets of Gaza exploded with celebration on Friday night with masked Hamas militants marching defiantly to cheer the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Israelis reacted with quiet and deep concern because the regional leader on whom they had relied most was suddenly gone. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintained the same studied silence it has sustained for more than two weeks on the assumption that nothing it said could serve its interests: if it praised the pro- democracy movement, it would be seen as disloyal to its ally, Mr. Mubarak. If it favored Mr. Mubarak, it would be dismissed as a supporter of dictatorships.
    But behind the scenes, officials willing to share their thoughts anonymously expressed worry because they believed that whoever followed Mr. Mubarak would be less friendly to Israel. “We don’t know who will be running things in the coming months in Egypt, but we have to keep two things in mind,” one top official said. “The first is that the only example we have of this kind of thing in the region is Iran in 1979. You can’t take that out of your mind. The second is that if Egypt pulls back in any way from its peace with Israel, it will discourage anyone else in the region, including the Palestinians, from stepping forward. So the regional implications for us are significant.”… – NYT, 2-11-11
  • Biden calls Mubarak resignation ‘pivotal moment’: Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that the Egyptian people will shape their country’s future following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
    Speaking at the University of Louisville, Biden called Mubarak’s decision to relinquish power an “historic day for the people of Egypt” and a “pivotal moment in history.”
    Biden’s midday speech was delayed about a half-hour after Mubarak’s sudden decision to shift authority to the military following waves of mass protests demanding his resignation. Near the start of his 50-minute talk, Biden said the aspirations of the Egyptian protesters must be met. “The transition that’s taking place must be an irreversible change in a negotiated path toward democracy,” he said…. – AP, 2-11-11
  • Military Caught Between Mubarak and Protesters: Even as pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo have riveted the world’s attention for 17 days, the Egyptian military has managed the crisis with seeming finesse, winning over street protesters, quietly consolidating its domination of top government posts and sidelining potential rivals for leadership, notably President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal.
    Then came Thursday, a roller coaster of a day on which the military at first appeared to be moving to usher Mr. Mubarak from the scene — and then watched with the world as Mr. Mubarak clung to his title, delegating some powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice president and former longtime intelligence chief.
    The standoff between the protest leaders and Mr. Mubarak, hours before major demonstrations set for Friday, could pose a new dilemma for military commanders. Mr. Suleiman called for an end to demonstrations, and Human Rights Watch said this week that some military units had been involved in detaining and abusing protesters. But by most accounts, army units deployed in Cairo and other cities have shown little appetite for using force to clear the streets…. – NYT, 2-10-11
  • Mubarak speaks, but little changes: Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak addressed his country Thursday night amid rumors that he might step down, sparking dramatic change. He did not, and in the end, what had changed was little more than the belief that Mubarak would relinquish power.
    — Mubarak stood firm, sweeping away hours of speculation that his resignation was imminent. “I am going to adhere … to the decision of shouldering the responsibility in defending the constitution and the national interest of the people until the transfer of power and the transfer of responsibility, which is going to be to the one that the people will choose as their leader in transparent and free elections where guarantees are going to be there for full transparency and for freedom,” he said.
    — The “dialogue” begun last week will continue until a “peaceful transfer of power” is completed after the September elections…. – CNN, 2-10-11
  • Obama’s advisors split on when and how Mubarak should go: White House aides acknowledge that the differing views among Obama’s team of advisors has resulted in a mixed message on Egypt. The Obama administration’s shifting response to the crisis in Egypt reflects a sharp debate over how and when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should leave office, a policy decision that could have long-term implications for America’s image in the Middle East.
    After sending mixed signals, the administration has appeared to settle on supporting a measured transition for easing Mubarak out of power. That strategy, which remains the subject of vigorous debate inside the administration, calls for a Mubarak crony, Vice President Omar Suleiman, to lead the reform process…. – LAT, 2-9-11
  • More Egypt protesters turn out, drawn by Google’s Wael Ghonim: Released Google executive Wael Ghonim emerges as an impassioned but reluctant symbol of resistance.
    Wael Ghonim stood on a tiny stage in a corner of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a spindly figure in a sea of tens of thousands of anti-government protesters, his shouts of “Long live Egypt!” rippling out before evaporating in the noisy squall.
    As the head of Google marketing operations in the Middle East, the gaunt 30-year-old seemed an unlikely figure to command special attention Tuesday, a day when the movement to topple President Hosni Mubarak drew one of its biggest crowds yet. But his role in organizing online opposition to Mubarak, and his highly publicized release after 12 days in the custody of Egypt’s security services, had turned Ghonim, temporarily at least, into an icon of Egyptian resistance…. – LAT, 2-9-11
  • Despite retreats, Egypt regime’s core stands firm: Egypt’s regime has offered a string of concessions in the face of the strongest threat yet to its rule, but so far nothing that uproots its entrenched monopoly on power.
    The power elite has ruled for six decades, backed by a constitution it wrote, state media it controls and millions of Egyptians who depend on its patronage. In the face of a popular uprising, it has shown dogged resilience in what opponents say is a campaign to break anti-government protests and preserve the regime’s authority after President Hosni Mubarak leaves the stage.
    In an example of the levers it can pull, the government announced a 15 percent raise Monday for some 6 million public employees — a potent message to almost a quarter of Egypt’s labor force about where their loyalties should lie. Leading the effort is Vice President Omar Suleiman, a canny former intelligence chief with vast experience in international negotiations, who has promised to carry out change…. – AP, 2-7-11
  • West Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition: The United States and leading European nations on Saturday threw their weight behind Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, backing his attempt to defuse a popular uprising without immediately removing President Hosni Mubarak from power. American officials said Mr. Suleiman had promised them an “orderly transition” that would include constitutional reform and outreach to opposition groups. “That takes some time,” Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton said, speaking at a Munich security conference. “There are certain things that have to be done in order to prepare.”… – NYT, 2-5-11
  • Egypt feels the cost of protest: A report released Friday estimates that Egypt is losing $310 million daily from the protests. On Cairo streets, Concerns range from tomato prices to the future of tourism and jobs…. – CS Monitor, 2-5-11
  • To ensure order, Obama officials back slow-motion change in Egypt: The Obama administration joined other Western nations Saturday in endorsing embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s gradual exit from power and, in a shift, urged Egyptians to back the power transition Mubarak and his closest advisers have set in motion.
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a security conference, touted the transition concept, a strategy that tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters in Cairo appear to reject in favor Mubarak’s immediate ouster. “I think it’s important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by now-Vice President Omar Suleiman,” Clinton said. “That is what we are supporting, and hope to see it move as orderly but as expeditiously as possible, under the circumstances.”… – Miami Herald, 2-5-11
  • Does the US really want Mubarak to go?: The dramatic events in Egypt and the wider Middle East have inevitably overshadowed the meeting of policy-makers gathered at the annual Security Conference here in Munich. This was the first face-to-face opportunity for key figures like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to exchange views on the upheavals in the Arab world. Only one prominent speaker at the conference – former Republican US presidential candidate John McCain – was ready to state in explicit terms that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must go now.
    By and large though it is the Obama administration’s more nuanced line that represents the consensus here. The emphasis is upon process rather than personality – the need for an orderly transition towards a truly democratic society…. – BBC, 2-5-11
  • Egypt: Secretary of State Clinton warns of ‘perfect storm’: Secretary of State Clinton warns of a “perfect storm of powerful trends” across the region, including a young population, political repression, economic disparity, and dwindling supplies of oil and water….
    Speaking from a security conference in Munich, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned of a “perfect storm of powerful trends” across the region, including a young population, political repression, economic disparity, and dwindling supplies of oil and water.
    “This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region,” Clinton said in her speech Saturday. “Some leaders may believe that their country is an exception – that their people will not demand greater political or economic opportunities, or that they can be placated with half-measures,” she said. “In the short term, that may be true; but in the long term that is untenable.”… – CS Monitor, 2-5-11
  • Egypt crisis: Death toll at 11, health ministry says; 916 injured: Demonstrators continued to gather in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Saturday morning in defiance of a government- imposed curfew.
    Read full coverage of the unrest in Egypt updated continually by CNN reporters worldwide.
    See also this strong roundup of timely, insightful views on the wave of upheaval in the Arab world…. – CNN, 2-4-11
  • Mubarak hangs on after mass protests in Egypt: Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians marched peacefully in Cairo on Friday to demand an immediate end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, but there was no sign of the army or the president’s U.S. allies forcing him out just yet.
    With the unrest entering its 12th day, protesters camped out in Tahrir Square, the hub of demonstrations in the heart of Cairo, prepared on Saturday to wait him out.
    “Mubarak must go, Mubarak must go” and “Hold your ground, God is with us,” someone shouted over a loud speaker, after a brief burst of heavy gunfire shortly before 2 a.m. local time…. – Reuters, 2-4-11
  • White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak’s Exit: 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, administration officials and Arab diplomats said Thursday.
    Even though Mr. Mubarak has balked, so far, at leaving now, officials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which Mr. Suleiman, backed by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the defense minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform.
    The proposal also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the officials said.
    Senior administration officials said that the proposal was one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mr. Mubarak in an effort to persuade the president to step down now…. – NYT, 2-3-11
  • Israel ponders border security, enlarged military amid Egypt unrest: Israelis are looking fearfully beyond the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, expecting it will force them to stiffen security across an extensive southwestern border and perhaps reoccupy a strategic corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
    In the long term, it may require Israel to expand its military force and budget if a new Egyptian government comes under the sway of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, or otherwise casts into doubt the long-standing peace accord between the two nations.
    Israel has relied for three decades on the assumption that it would never again fight a land war against the Arab world’s most populous state, or worry about Egypt openly supporting militants in the Gaza Strip or elsewhere…. – WaPo, 2-4-11
  • Canada’s cautious position on Egypt linked to support for Israel: On the surface, the Conservative government’s statements on the crisis in Egypt might seem a carbon copy of those churned out by the White House. But there has been one major difference — and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s staunch support for Israel and strong backing within Canada’s Jewish community could offer clues about why.
    President Barack Obama’s administration, along with major European countries, have called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step aside now and allow for a transition of power. But the Canadian government has markedly refrained from asking for Mubarak’s ouster. Instead, it has spoken in broad terms about the need to respect human rights and a peaceful transition to democracy.
    Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon on Thursday condemned the detention of Canadian journalists in Cairo, but did not wade into the question of Mubarak’s presidency.
    During an emergency House of Commons debate late Wednesday night, Conservative MPs repeatedly noted their concerns about Israeli security and the need to uphold the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace accord. “In order for us, here in Canada, to recognize and support the future Egyptian government, it must meet four basic conditions: first, it must respect freedom, democracy and human rights, particularly the rights of women; second, it must recognize the State of Israel; third, it must adhere to existing peace treaties; and fourth, it must respect international law,” Cannon said…. – Canadian Press, 2-2-11
  • Kerry-McCain resolution calls on Mubarak to step down: Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain are calling on embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a new democratic government. The two former presidential candidates, Kerry in 2004 and McCain in 2008, have been among the leading voices of their parties on international affairs in general and the violent unraveling of Egypt’s power structure specifically. The two co-wrote a resolution, passed by the Senate on a voice vote tonight, that calls on Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government…. – Boston Globe, 2-3-11Resolution Copy
  • Yemen’s President Is Latest To Vow Exit: President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he won’t run for re-election when his term ends in 2013, and that he won’t attempt to pass on the presidency to his son, abruptly ending his bid to change the constitution to erase all term limits on the post. Opposition leaders called the president’s concessions insufficient and urged their supporters to join renewed mass protests Thursday. Ahead of that rally, most major commercial banks in the capital, San’a, reported large withdrawals from thousands of citizens, as fears grow that the protest will turn violent.
    Separately, Jordan’s largest political group, the Islamic Action Front, said it plans mass protests Friday over the appointment of a new prime minister, Maruf Bakhit, who started talks Wednesday on the formation of a new government…. – WSJ, 2-3-11
  • Obama Continues to Monitor Tense Egypt Situation: President Obama returned to the White House after a brief trip to Pennsylvania on Thursday, and has been holding more consultations with his advisers on the situation in Egypt. The United States pressed harder on the Egyptian government and military to stop a wave of violence.
    The president moved quickly past members of the press corps without comment, and into the Oval Office where over the past few days of the Egyptian crisis he has met with advisers and spoken twice by telephone with President Hosni Mubarak.
    In an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr. Mubarak referred to those conversations and said, according to excerpts, while he is a “very good man” Mr. Obama didn’t understand the culture of Egypt. In the same interview, Mr. Mubarak said he was “very unhappy” with violence in Egypt, which he blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, but said he could not step down and risk the chaos he says would ensue…. – VOA, 2-3-11
  • US, UK condemn attacks on journalists in Egypt: The United States and Britain condemned the intimidation of foreign reporters covering protests against President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday and said the Egyptian government must not target journalists.
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned assaults on American journalists in Cairo as concern rose about the possibility of an intensified round of rioting on Friday.
    “This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and it is unacceptable under any circumstances,” she said, reading a statement…. – Reuters, 2-3-11
  • Tens of thousands turn out for rival rallies in Yemen: Anti-government protesters in Sana are met with a competing rally across town by the president’s supporters, who get logistical support from the army…. – LAT, 2-3-11
  • Egypt’s VP uses state TV to blame unrest on ‘foreign agendas’: Egypt’s new Vice President Omar Suleiman took to state TV Thursday night to make a play for Mubarak to hang on until presidential elections in September…. – CS Monitor, 2-3-11
  • The Arab reform dodge: Cosmetic concessions aren’t enough: LIKE EGYPTIAN President Hosni Mubarak, Arab rulers around the Middle East are trying to head off the swelling popular discontent in their countries while retaining political control…. – WaPo, 2-3-11
  • GOP divided over Obama response to Egypt: As chaos roils Egypt, Republican lawmakers and the GOP’s potential presidential candidates are divided over President Barack Obama’s response though united in concern that an Islamic regime could rise to power in a nation that is an important U.S. ally in the precarious Middle East.
    Compared with recent verbal sparring on domestic issues, the debate between Democrats and Republicans on Egypt is somewhat muted. That’s perhaps because the two parties differ little over U.S. policy toward Egypt. Both view the country as a linchpin to a peaceful Middle East. And while supportive of democracy there, both also express concern about the influence of extremists in a post-Mubarak government, a particular worry of Israel.
    Trying to set the tone for their party, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the country’s two top elected Republicans, have deferred to the Democratic president. They are signaling an unwillingness among the GOP leadership in Congress to pick a fight, in line, at least on this issue, with the tradition that politics stops at the waters’ edge in the midst of foreign crises. “America ought to speak with one voice,” said McConnell…. –
  • The Pentagon View of Egypt: What the Uprising Means for the U.S. MilitaryABC News, 2-3-1
  • Why Obama’s position on Egypt’s Mubarak was too little, too late: The images that have come out of Egypt over the past week are stunning: tens of thousands of largely unarmed protestors facing tanks, teargas, and live ammunition and who are still demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down. But throughout the upheaval, the United States response has been guarded, if not inadequate. After days of tepid statements and measured acknowledgements of the Egyptian people’s “legitimate grievances,” even an eventual call for “free and fair elections,” the Obama administration would still not publicly call for Mr. Mubarak’s departure…. – CS Monitor, 2-2-11
  • Journalists Are Targets of Violence in Cairo: As chaos gripped central Tahrir Square in Cairo on Wednesday, journalists covering the scene on the ground found themselves the targets of violence and intimidation by demonstrators chanting slogans in favor of President Hosni Mubarak. One prominent American television correspondent, Anderson Cooper of CNN, was struck in the head repeatedly.
    Reporters Without Borders said it had received dozens of confirmed reports of violence against local and international journalists in Egypt. Tala Dowlatshahi, a spokeswoman for the group, said to “expect more foreign journalists to be targeted.” The attacks were reported by Al Jazeera, CNN and Twitter users almost as soon as violent clashes began in the square, also known as Liberation Square, eliciting a strong condemnation from the White House and the State Department…. – NYT, 2-2-11
  • Uprising in Egypt Splits U.S Conservatives: Glenn Beck blasts the uprising in Cairo as a threat to our way of life. Michelle Goldberg on how the rebellion is splitting U.S. conservatives—and the fallout for the 2012 presidential campaign. Plus, full coverage of Egypt’s protests…. – The Daily Beast, 2-1-11
  • Obama Urges Quick Transition in Egypt: President Obama declared on Tuesday night that an “orderly transition” in Egypt “must begin now,” but he stopped short of demanding that President Hosni Mubarak leave office immediately. Mr. Obama used his four-and-a-half minute speech from the Cross Hall of the White House to embrace the cause of the protestors in Egypt far more fully than he has at any previous moment since the uprising against Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year-rule began.
    He praised the Egyptian military for refusing to fire on the protestors. And by declaring that Mr. Mubarak had to begin the process of transition immediately, he seemed to be signaling that the United States would not stand by if Mr. Mubarak tried to slow-walk the process, or manipulate its results.
    But if he pushed Mr. Mubarak, he did not shove him. Mr. Obama said there would be “difficult days ahead,” a clear signal of recognition that the transition period could be messy. Only a few hours before, Mr. Mubarak had declared he would not run for re-election, but planned to stay in office through September. Mr. Obama never discussed that timetable in his public response, and he did not declare exactly what steps he wants the Egyptian leader to take to start the process of transition.
    But he made clear that the process started by the protestors could not be reversed. “We’ve born witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country,” Mr. Obama said, casting it as a natural successor to other moments of transition in a society that goes back thousands of years…. – NYT, 2-1-11
  • Israel wary of transition in Egypt, concerned about regional stability: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s quickening collapse and increasing political turmoil in Jordan have prompted concerns in Israel that its historic peace treaties with those countries may not withstand the convulsion sweeping the region.
    A change of power in Egypt and instability in Jordan could have profound consequences for Israel, which depends on the peace accords – its only two with Arab countries – as a cornerstone of its security. The treaties struck by Israel with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994 remain unpopular among the residents of the two Arab nations, and Israel has relied on the strength of Mubarak’s regime and the Jordanian monarchy to keep them intact.
    Not all of the recent developments have been bad from the Israelis’ perspective: Newly appointed Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman has become a trusted interlocutor on regional security issues, and the United States will push to ensure that the peace accords remain in place. But the fast pace of events may change how Israel perceives its position, and make it less willing to offer territorial concessions as part of any peace deal with the Palestinians. The country is still digesting the rise in Lebanon of a new government chosen by the Shiite Hezbollah, one of its chief antagonists, and may now sense instability on all sides.
    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened top intelligence analysts and senior cabinet members in Tel Aviv for a day of urgent consultations Tuesday to weigh the changes underway in Egypt and assess the strength of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, an Israeli official said. Abdullah sacked his cabinet Tuesday amid clamors for more economic and political reform. After the meetings, Netanyahu said the international community “must demand that any Egyptian government preserve the peace accord with Israel.”… – WaPo, 2-1-11
  • Quiet Acts of Protest on a Noisy DayNYT, 2-1-11
  • Israel shocked by Obama’s “betrayal” of Mubarak: If Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is toppled, Israel will lose one of its very few friends in a hostile neighborhood and President Barack Obama will bear a large share of the blame, Israeli pundits said on Monday. Political commentators expressed shock at how the United States as well as its major European allies appeared to be ready to dump a staunch strategic ally of three decades, simply to conform to the current ideology of political correctness.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told ministers of the Jewish state to make no comment on the political cliffhanger in Cairo, to avoid inflaming an already explosive situation. But Israel’s President Shimon Peres is not a minister.
    “We always have had and still have great respect for President Mubarak,” he said on Monday. He then switched to the past tense. “I don’t say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing which all of us are thankful to him for: he kept the peace in the Middle East.”… – Reuters, 1-31-11
  • Turbulence Rocks an Israeli Ally: The street revolt in Egypt has thrown the Israeli government and military into turmoil, with top officials closeted in round-the-clock strategy sessions aimed at rethinking their most significant regional relationship. Israel’s military planning relies on peace with Egypt; nearly half the natural gas it uses is imported from Egypt; and the principle of trading conquered land for diplomatic ties began with its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt more than with any other foreign leader, except President Obama. If Mr. Mubarak were driven from power, the effect on Israel could be profound. “For the United States, Egypt is the keystone of its Middle East policy,” a senior official said. “For Israel, it’s the whole arch.”… – NYT, 1-30-11
  • Clinton Calls for ‘Orderly Transition’ in Egypt: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, stopping short of telling its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down but clearly laying the groundwork for his departure. Mrs. Clinton, making a round of Sunday talk shows, insisted that Mr. Mubarak’s future was up to the Egyptian people. But she said on “State of the Union” on CNN that the United States stood “ready to help with the kind of transition that will lead to greater political and economic freedom.” And she emphasized that elections scheduled for this fall must be free and fair. President Obama reinforced that message in phone calls on Saturday and Sunday to other leaders in the region, including King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, as the administration tried to contain the regional reverberations…. – NYT, 1-30-11
  • U.S. cautiously prepares for post-Mubarak era: Mindful of other allies in the region, U.S. officials have been careful not to abandon the Egyptian leader, urging him to implement a transition to democracy. But they are also preparing for the possibility of his ouster…. – LAT, 1-30-11
  • What impact will the uprising in Egypt have on the Middle East, the U.S., Canada, China, and the EU? The Mark’s experts weigh in.The Mark News, 2-2-11

QUOTES

     

  • Obama’s Remarks on the Resignation of Mubarak: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s remarks on Friday, after President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt announced his resignation, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 2-11-11
  • Remarks by the President on Egypt: THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.
    By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt’s transition. It’s a beginning. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.
    The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table. For the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.
    The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary — and asked for — to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I’m also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity — jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.
    Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years. But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.
    We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.
    We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”
    We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” — “We are peaceful” — again and again.
    We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.
    And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.
    We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.
    And above all, we saw a new generation emerge — a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.
    This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.
    And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history — echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.
    As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.
    Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.
    The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people — of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world. – WH, 2-11-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • LIEBERMAN STATEMENT ON PRESIDENT MUBARAK’S RESIGNATION: Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) today issued the following statement in response to the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak:
    “President Mubarak’s decision to step down today marks the beginning of an extraordinary new chapter in the history of a great and ancient nation – a hopeful chapter that the people of Egypt, through peaceful and courageous protest, have secured the freedom and opportunity to write for themselves. The United States has had a longstanding friendship and partnership with Egypt; now that partnership must be applied to support the successful, orderly transition to genuine democracy that the Egyptian people desire. I hope that the Egyptian army – which has displayed such admirable professionalism and restraint during the historic events of recent days – will seize the opportunity to reach out to the opposition and make them a full partner in jointly developing a roadmap and timetable for transition, which should include the immediate suspension of the emergency law, legal enshrinement of the right to free speech and other fundamental freedoms, and preparations for free, fair, and inclusive elections that are internationally- monitored and meet international standards.”… – Lieberman Senate
  • SENATOR JOHN McCAIN APPLAUDS PRESIDENT MUBARAK FOR STEPPING DOWN: “I applaud President Mubarak’s decision to step down. This was obviously a very difficult decision for President Mubarak, but it is the right decision for Egypt. History will note that President Mubarak’s last action in office was in the best interest of the country he loves.
    While this is a welcomed event, the Egyptian people are clearly saying that President Mubarak’s resignation should be the beginning, not the end, of their country’s transition to democracy. I completely agree. For the Egyptian people to achieve the legitimate and enduring democratic change they seek, representatives from Egypt’s pro-democracy parties and movements must be included in the transition government. In advance of elections later this year, Egyptians must be free to exercise their universal rights peacefully – to speak and express themselves without interference, including over the internet; to organize independent political parties; to register candidates of their choosing for office; and to participate in elections that are free and fair by international standards.
    In the days ahead, the Egyptian military will continue to have a critical role in maintaining order and stability while allowing their fellow Egyptians to exercise their universal rights in peace. The Egyptian people are demanding a meaningful and irreversible transition to democracy, and I urge the Egyptian military to faithfully support and secure the coming process of political change in Egypt.
    The United States stands fully ready to assist the Egyptian people and government as they begin the hard work of democratic reform.” – McCain Senate
  • Press Secretary Gibbs on Egypt, Violence & Journalists: During his gaggle with the press aboard Air Force One, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opens the session with pointed remarks about recent developments in Egypt…. – WH, 2-3-11
  • Remarks by the President on the Situation in Egypt: Good evening, everybody. Over the past few days, the American people have watched the situation unfolding in Egypt. We’ve seen enormous demonstrations by the Egyptian people. We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country, and a long-time partner of the United States.
    And my administration has been in close contact with our Egyptian counterparts and a broad range of the Egyptian people, as well as others across the region and across the globe. And throughout this period, we’ve stood for a set of core principles.
    First, we oppose violence. And I want to commend the Egyptian military for the professionalism and patriotism that it has shown thus far in allowing peaceful protests while protecting the Egyptian people. We’ve seen tanks covered with banners, and soldiers and protesters embracing in the streets. And going forward, I urge the military to continue its efforts to help ensure that this time of change is peaceful.
    Second, we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we’ve seen the incredible potential for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. And going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.
    Third, we have spoken out on behalf of the need for change. After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.
    Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear — and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak — is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.
    Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
    Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt. And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.
    Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.
    To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt.
    There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt’s future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers. That truth can be seen in the sense of community in the streets. It can be seen in the mothers and fathers embracing soldiers. And it can be seen in the Egyptians who linked arms to protect the national museum — a new generation protecting the treasures of antiquity; a human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day. – WH, 2-1-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Time for Mubarak to ‘step down’: US Senator McCain: Top US Senator John McCain, shortly after talks with President Barack Obama, urged embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to “step down and relinquish power.” “Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres Mubarak 2 step down (and) relinquish power,” McCain said in a post on the microblogging site Twitter roughly an hour after discussing the bloody political crisis in Egypt with Obama. “It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people (and) its military,” said the lawmaker, Obama’s rival for the US presidency in 2008 and the top Republican on the US Senate Armed Services Committee…. – AFP, 2-2-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

     

  • Egypt protests: US conservatives divided on how to view them: Egypt’s street revolution represents a threat to the US and the capitalist system, some tea party icons say, while in the GOP establishment others see it as the spread of freedom to the Arab world.
    “The newer voices in the Republican Party – the Becks and Palins – have been the most vocal in warning about this [Egyptian] revolution,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University. Their attack is not just on Mr. Obama, he says, but on Mr. Bush’s foreign policy aims to promote freedom in the Arab world. “Beck says that’s not going to happen,” Mr. Zelizer says. “It’s just going to be fundamentalism.”… – CS Monitor, 2-9-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Should top U.S. goal be democracy?: When the Egyptian people took to the streets of Cairo to protest the oppressive government of President Hosni Mubarak, they instantly challenged one of the most powerful strains of U.S. foreign policy thinking.
    In American diplomatic circles, the “realists” have long argued that the U.S. must be primarily focused on national self-interest, rather than concentrating on trying to promote democracy and human rights in other countries….
    The realists have been highly skeptical about Egypt. They warn that revolution in Egypt could open the door to Islamic fundamentalism, as in Iran in 1979, and cost the U.S. and Israel one of their most loyal allies.
    Should the Egyptians be able to withstand the response of the Mubarak government and be able to establish a truly democratic and secular government, the results would be dramatic. These turbulent weeks could be remembered in the same way the nation remembers the late 1980s and early 1990s, when conditions that seemed inevitable in the Soviet empire suddenly were not.
    However, if Mubarak stifles the revolution, or fundamentalism takes hold, realists will, for a long time, point to Egypt as the prime example of why we cannot hope for much better than the status quo when it comes to the Middle East. – CNN, 2-7-11
  • New York Times: Room For Debate: Mubarak’s Role and Mideast Peace: What does the crisis in Egypt mean for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?… – NYT, 2-1-11
  • Gil Troy: Anxiety and Skepticism: Egypt’s uprising has already undermined most Israelis’ sense of security and their willingness to take risks for peace with the Palestinians. Israelis now worry about the biggest risk they ever took for peace: the withdrawal from Sinai in 1982.
    A radical Egypt downgrading or abrogating its peace treaty with Israel would top the litany of failed peace-making attempts and reinforce the argument of right-wing skeptics against trading land for peace with the Palestinians. Moreover, a hostile Egypt would reinforce the sense of betrayal so many Israelis have felt since 2000, as the failure of the Oslo peace process triggered a wave of Palestinian terror, the withdrawal from Lebanon boosted Hezbollah, and disengagement from Gaza brought Hamas to power.
    Israelis have longed for greater intimacy with the Egyptian people, always speaking of “peace with Egypt” not with Mubarak. Yet this “cold peace” has been government to government not people to people. Israelis have accepted the limits, given their alternatives.
    Mubarak’s Egypt has served as an important counterweight to Ahmadinejad’s Iran. The recent Wikileaks documents suggested some of the benefits Israel enjoyed from its alliance with Mubarak, including diplomatic support, intelligence sharing and military cooperation. Most important have been decades of non-belligerency. With the loss of that sense of security on its southern border, Israelis will be much more reluctant to cede control of their eastern border to an independent Palestine.
    This week’s hysterical headlines in the Israeli press about the potential loss of Egypt, the dip in Tel Aviv stocks, the debate about whether President Obama can be trusted to support American allies, all suggest that Israel’s strategic doctrine is being hastily rewritten.
    The prospects of peace become even more unlikely if Egypt turns Islamist. Israel’s safest border will suddenly look menacing. Hamas will look stronger in Gaza with an Islamist Egyptian regime not even pretending to try to stop the flow of arms. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will look like a less viable peace partner with fundamentalism ascendant, and any pro-peace or pro-Western Palestinians demonized as collaborators. Moreover, Israeli policymakers will feel caught, doubting Mahmoud Abbas as another unelected autocrat while fearing the popular Palestinian street more than ever.
    Israelis find themselves once again in dissonance with the international community. Many Israelis wish they could wholeheartedly support this popular move against an aging dictator. But the bitter experience of the last ten years suggests that skepticism is in order. – NYT, 2-1-11
  • Niall Ferguson Explains Why Egypt Is More Like Iran Than Berlin: This revolution in Egypt is more likely to result in something like Iran, than it is to be like the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, according to Niall Ferguson. Speaking to the German daily Handesblatt, Ferguson says that because the forces for democracy in Egypt are not well organized, Islamic fundamentalism will have a chance at success… – Business Insider, 1-31-11
  • How did the U.S. get in bed with Mubarak? Q&A with Joel Beinin: Salon.com interview with Joel Beinin, a Middle East history professor at Stanford who studies Egypt and who spent several years at the American University in Cairo in the 2000s.
    How far back can the roots of the current alliance be traced?
    It goes back to the aftermath of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war when, following the near-victory of Syria and Egypt, Henry Kissinger engaged in many rounds of shuttle diplomacy, which resulted in a separation of forces agreement between Israel and Egypt. Those were the first steps which led ultimately to the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty, which was signed in 1979. That was not at first what the Carter administration wanted to have happen. They wanted at first for something to be included on the Palestinian issue, but it wasn’t, so they just said, “OK, this is what we can get.”… – Salon, 1-29-11
  • Khaled Fahmy: Mubarak Fails to Quell Protests as Turmoil Spreads to Yemen: “I expect the demonstrations to continue,” said Khaled Fahmy, professor of history at American University in Cairo, in a telephone interview. “He really hasn’t offered much. What I’ve seen is that he has burned bridges. There is no trust between him and the people.” SF Chronicle/Blomberg, 2-2-11
  • Yale History prof sign letter to Obama regarding Egypt: As protests against the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak continue in Egypt, three Yale professors joined over 150 academics in signing an open letter to President Barack Obama yesterday, calling on Obama to support Egypt’s democratic movement. The letter reads:
    For thirty years, our government has spent billions of dollars to help build and sustain the system the Egyptian people are now trying to dismantle. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Egypt and around the world have spoken. We believe their message is bold and clear: Mubarak should resign from office and allow Egyptians to establish a new government free of his and his family’s influence. It is also clear to us that if you seek, as you said Friday ‘political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people,’ your administration should publicly acknowledge those reforms will not be advanced by Mubarak or any of his adjutants.
    Alan Mikhail, an assistant professor of history who researches Egypt during the Ottoman period, said he saw the letter as a “small gesture” academics could make, regardless of whether it sways Obama’s opinion.
    “It seems like a small gesture that I as a historian could do, to show support for the people in Egypt who are protesting, and sometimes putting their lives on the line, for a better society and a better government,” Mikhail said. “Is [Obama] going to read it? I have no idea. He’s a very busy guy.”… – Yale Daily News, 2-2-11
  • Kent Schull: Professor to students: Write your members of Congress about Egypt: In an effort to support the millions of Egyptians protesting their authoritarian government, one University of Memphis professor is asking students to flock to their keyboards. Kent Schull, assistant history professor, has expertise in modern Middle East history and said he thinks students should write to their state and U.S. representatives.
    “These people are really trying to get a better life for themselves, and that resonates with all of us,” he said. “We all want basic freedoms that we all feel we have a right to, and this is what the Egyptian people want, and I think the United States has to put the Egyptian people’s interest ahead of our own international interest.”
    “You have a huge gap between the rich and poor,” he said. “Egypt has a lot of its money coming from tourism and from small manufacturing depths from agricultural production, and the people that control that — they have a lot of money, but the vast majority of the population is very poor.”
    Schull said that the U.S.-Egypt alliance is based, in part, on geography and natural resources. “Egypt has been a very close trade partner with the United States,” he said. “(It’s) a very close political partner for trying to keep stability within the Middle East. Without Egypt as an ally, then it would be very tough to get Saudi Arabia’s oil to us.”
    The U.S. doesn’t want Egyptian people viewing it as a country that funds a dictator, Schull said. “The U.S. has been walking this fine line and probably needs to throw its support very squarely behind the Egyptian people going for democratic change,” he said. Schull said that the more representatives and senators hear from Americans about supporting these Egyptian protests, the more likely it is that “maybe they’ll listen.”… – Daily Helmsman, 2-2-11
  • Charles Wilkins: Wake Forest Professor: Economy Plays Role In Egyptian Protests: The violence is escalating in Cairo. Protestors for and against President Hosni Mubarak are clashing, surrounded by burning buildings and gun fire. Hundreds have been hurt since Wednesday when the protests turned violent. So what’s causing the un-rest in Egypt? Wake Forest University Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History, Charles Wilkins, says it started with pent up anger and the resentment of Egypt’s government
    The economy also plays a role. “Economics of it are very important. We have high unemployment, we have low wages and high cost of living. We have basically a housing shortage,” says Charles Wilkins. “It’s a young generation that’s actual rebeling. This is a politically active and aware population that want to see change.”
    Wilkins also credits the internet with helping protestors coordinate their efforts and making them more powerful. He says the protests in Tunisia a few weeks ago gave Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians the courage to question their governments…. – WFMY News 2, CBS Newspath, CNN Newsource, 2-3-11
  • Historians worry about Egyptian antiquities: The fighting has intensified in Tahrir Square. It has become a battle field. That is where the Egyptian Museum is located, filled with antiquities and the history of Egypt. There are concerns among historians about the fate of the museum and its huge collection.
    “In a situation like this where anything could happen you are always worried,” Professor Carol Redmount director of Near East Studies at UC Berkeley said.
    “On the one hand in a situation like this you are always concerned, these things are irreplaceable, they’re national treasure, international treasures, they tell is about our human history,” Redmount said. “But the Egyptian people will do whatever they can to protect it.”
    Redmount has reason to be concerned. Earlier this week vandals broke into a museum and smashed statues and glass. It is likely the next wave will steal items.
    “You can try to sell it on the antiquities market, now everyone is going to be looking for these things on the antiquities market,” Redmount said. “They’ve been looting the site with shovels, which is better than bulldozers, at the same time we don’t know how much damage has been done,” Redmount said… – ABC Local SF, 2-2-11

Political Highlights February 7, 2010: Obama Addresses on Egypt, Prayer & Commerce

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama Addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

President Barack Obama addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., February 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

STATS & POLLS

  • Obama or George W Bush — who is more polarizing?: Is President Obama or predecessor George W. Bush the more polarizing president? It depends on how you look at the numbers from Gallup. Over the past year, Obama had an 81% approval rating from Democrats and a 13% approval rating from Republicans — a 68-point gap that is easily the largest of any second-year president in the modern year.
    This gap comes 12 months after Obama’s 65% gap set a record for first year presidents. But Bush — whose approval ratings from both parties went up in the aftermath of 9/11 during his first year in office — had polarizing gaps of 70% or more in three different years: 2004, 2005 and 2006.
    In fact, four of the five most polarized modern presidential years, according to Gallup, were led by George W. Bush; Obama had the other one…. – USA Today, 2-4-11

CRISIS IN EGYPT & MIDDLE EAST

 

The President Discusses the Situation in Egypt
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/1/11

 

  • Egypt News— The ProtestsNYT
  • Hosni MubarakNYT
  • Latest Updates on Day 10 of Egypt ProtestsNYT
  • White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak’s Exit: 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, administration officials and Arab diplomats said Thursday.
    Even though Mr. Mubarak has balked, so far, at leaving now, officials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which Mr. Suleiman, backed by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the defense minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform.
    The proposal also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the officials said.
    Senior administration officials said that the proposal was one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mr. Mubarak in an effort to persuade the president to step down now…. – NYT, 2-3-11
  • Kerry-McCain resolution calls on Mubarak to step down: Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain are calling on embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a new democratic government. The two former presidential candidates, Kerry in 2004 and McCain in 2008, have been among the leading voices of their parties on international affairs in general and the violent unraveling of Egypt’s power structure specifically. The two co-wrote a resolution, passed by the Senate on a voice vote tonight, that calls on Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government…. – Boston Globe, 2-3-11Resolution Copy
  • Obama Continues to Monitor Tense Egypt Situation: President Obama returned to the White House after a brief trip to Pennsylvania on Thursday, and has been holding more consultations with his advisers on the situation in Egypt. The United States pressed harder on the Egyptian government and military to stop a wave of violence.
    The president moved quickly past members of the press corps without comment, and into the Oval Office where over the past few days of the Egyptian crisis he has met with advisers and spoken twice by telephone with President Hosni Mubarak.
    In an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr. Mubarak referred to those conversations and said, according to excerpts, while he is a “very good man” Mr. Obama didn’t understand the culture of Egypt. In the same interview, Mr. Mubarak said he was “very unhappy” with violence in Egypt, which he blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, but said he could not step down and risk the chaos he says would ensue…. – VOA, 2-3-11
  • US, UK condemn attacks on journalists in Egypt: The United States and Britain condemned the intimidation of foreign reporters covering protests against President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday and said the Egyptian government must not target journalists.
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned assaults on American journalists in Cairo as concern rose about the possibility of an intensified round of rioting on Friday.
    “This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and it is unacceptable under any circumstances,” she said, reading a statement…. – Reuters, 2-3-11
  • GOP divided over Obama response to Egypt: As chaos roils Egypt, Republican lawmakers and the GOP’s potential presidential candidates are divided over President Barack Obama’s response though united in concern that an Islamic regime could rise to power in a nation that is an important U.S. ally in the precarious Middle East.
    Trying to set the tone for their party, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the country’s two top elected Republicans, have deferred to the Democratic president. They are signaling an unwillingness among the GOP leadership in Congress to pick a fight, in line, at least on this issue, with the tradition that politics stops at the waters’ edge in the midst of foreign crises. “America ought to speak with one voice,” said McConnell…. –
  • The Pentagon View of Egypt: What the Uprising Means for the U.S. MilitaryABC News, 2-3-1
  • Why Obama’s position on Egypt’s Mubarak was too little, too late: The images that have come out of Egypt over the past week are stunning: tens of thousands of largely unarmed protestors facing tanks, teargas, and live ammunition and who are still demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down. But throughout the upheaval, the United States response has been guarded, if not inadequate. After days of tepid statements and measured acknowledgements of the Egyptian people’s “legitimate grievances,” even an eventual call for “free and fair elections,” the Obama administration would still not publicly call for Mr. Mubarak’s departure…. – CS Monitor, 2-2-11
  • Uprising in Egypt Splits U.S Conservatives: Glenn Beck blasts the uprising in Cairo as a threat to our way of life. Michelle Goldberg on how the rebellion is splitting U.S. conservatives—and the fallout for the 2012 presidential campaign. Plus, full coverage of Egypt’s protests…. – The Daily Beast, 2-1-11
  • Obama Urges Quick Transition in Egypt: President Obama declared on Tuesday night that an “orderly transition” in Egypt “must begin now,” but he stopped short of demanding that President Hosni Mubarak leave office immediately. Mr. Obama used his four-and-a-half minute speech from the Cross Hall of the White House to embrace the cause of the protestors in Egypt far more fully than he has at any previous moment since the uprising against Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year-rule began.
    He praised the Egyptian military for refusing to fire on the protestors. And by declaring that Mr. Mubarak had to begin the process of transition immediately, he seemed to be signaling that the United States would not stand by if Mr. Mubarak tried to slow-walk the process, or manipulate its results.
    But if he pushed Mr. Mubarak, he did not shove him. Mr. Obama said there would be “difficult days ahead,” a clear signal of recognition that the transition period could be messy. Only a few hours before, Mr. Mubarak had declared he would not run for re-election, but planned to stay in office through September. Mr. Obama never discussed that timetable in his public response, and he did not declare exactly what steps he wants the Egyptian leader to take to start the process of transition.
    But he made clear that the process started by the protestors could not be reversed. “We’ve born witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country,” Mr. Obama said, casting it as a natural successor to other moments of transition in a society that goes back thousands of years…. – NYT, 2-1-11
  • Clinton Calls for ‘Orderly Transition’ in Egypt: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, stopping short of telling its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down but clearly laying the groundwork for his departure. Mrs. Clinton, making a round of Sunday talk shows, insisted that Mr. Mubarak’s future was up to the Egyptian people. But she said on “State of the Union” on CNN that the United States stood “ready to help with the kind of transition that will lead to greater political and economic freedom.” And she emphasized that elections scheduled for this fall must be free and fair. President Obama reinforced that message in phone calls on Saturday and Sunday to other leaders in the region, including King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, as the administration tried to contain the regional reverberations…. – NYT, 1-30-11
  • U.S. cautiously prepares for post-Mubarak era: Mindful of other allies in the region, U.S. officials have been careful not to abandon the Egyptian leader, urging him to implement a transition to democracy. But they are also preparing for the possibility of his ouster…. – LAT, 1-30-11

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Pete Souza, 2/7/11
  • Obama and business community seek to ease tensions: When President Barack Obama named Gene Sperling as his chief economic adviser, two of Sperling’s early calls went to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue. Known for his pugilistic style, Donohue wasted no time. Come on over, he said. When Sperling crossed Lafayette Square, the park that separates the White House from the business lobby’s headquarters, Donohue welcomed him with characteristic bluntness:
    “Glad to have someone over there I’m comfortable sparring with at 10 a.m. and sitting down with at 2 p.m. to work on policy.” The story, confirmed by White House and Chamber officials, helps illustrate the 2011 version of this relationship.
    After two years of vociferous conflict over health care and financial regulations, the two have entered into something of a détente. President Barack Obama has scheduled a speech Monday at the Chamber, a first for him. Not four months ago, he had attacked the huge, Republican-leaning trade organization for failing to disclose donors to its $32 million congressional political campaign, “Their lips are sealed,” Obama said at the time, “but the floodgates are open.”… – AP, 2-6-11
  • Obama to address U.S. Chamber of Commerce: When President Obama addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the first time today, he will face hundreds of business leaders happier about his recent rhetoric but still dissatisfied with his record. The business community that felt burned during Obama’s first two years in office is now divided over several policy and personnel changes, from tax cuts and a major trade agreement to the appointments of business leaders to key posts. Big business is warming to the president; small business, not so much…. – USA Today, 2-6-11
  • Palin & the press: Learn from Reagan’s playbook: Sarah Palin offered an extended tribute to Ronald Reagan in Santa Barbara Friday night, praising him specifically for not being bothered by criticism. Then, in an interview the CBN’s David Brody following the speech, she said that if she ran for president she’d follow the same course of ignoring the naysayers.
    But she couldn’t help but get in a jab at the press in the same interview, telling Brody that “much of the mainstream media is already becoming irrelevant.”
    Such shots have, of course, become staples of Palin’s repertoire. They illustrate that, despite her claims, criticism plainly does get to her…. – Politico, 2-6-11
  • Obama’s jobs plan: On a collision course with GOP budget cuts?: The Obama administration outlined an ‘innovation strategy’ Friday. But GOP plans for budget cuts would fall in some of the same general categories that Obama hopes to target for investment…. – CS Monitor, 2-4-11
  • White House pushes innovation agenda: President Obama has five basic ideas for spurring a new American revolution in innovation, according to a new White House report: Following up on proposals Obama made in last month’s State of the Union address and trips he made since then to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to promote green energy initiatives, the report promotes… – USA Today, 2-4-11
  • Rites for Gen. Vang Pao a crossroads of Hmong tradition and modern U.S.: Hmong who immigrated to the Central Valley give leader a somber funeral that recalls his days heading forces that gave clandestine aid to the U.S. during the Vietnam War…. – LAT, 2-4-11
  • Loughner to be tried first in federal court: State and federal prosecutors agreed that the suspect in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others will be tried first in federal court before any prosecution begins on state charges. The agreement reached in the case of suspect Jared Loughner was announced Friday by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona. In a written statement, the prosecutors say federal law requires all state prosecutions to be suspended while a federal case is pending…. – AP, 2-4-11
  • Obama provides insights into his faith at National Prayer Breakfast: President Obama tells lawmakers and religious leaders gathered at the National Prayer Breakfast that his faith sustains him during the trials of his job. He also offers prayers for the nation and the people of Egypt…. – LAT, 2-3-11
  • Leaders pray for nation’s, Giffords’ recovery: Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, closed the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday and offered a few words about the Arizona lawmaker’s recovery from a gunshot wound…. – USA Today, 2-3-11
  • Obama tells prayer breakfast of deeper faith — Washington Times, 2-3-11
  • Obama’s prayers: charity, humility, and longer skirts for Malia: At the National Prayer Breakfast, he admitted that his ‘faith journey has had its twists and turns,’ but he also said a frequent prayer is that he ‘might walk closer with God.’
    Obama said the call of civil rights leaders “to fix what was broken in our world, a call rooted in faith, is what led me just a few years out of college to sign up as a community organizer for a group of churches on the south side of Chicago.” He went on, “It was through that experience – working with pastors and lay people, trying to heal the wounds of hurting neighborhoods – that I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and embrace him as my lord and savior.”
    There was fatherly humor when Obama said that one subject for prayer was his 12-year-old daughter Malia. “Lord, give me patience as I watch Malia go to her first dance. Where there will be boys. Lord, have that skirt get longer as she travels – to that dance,” he said to widespread audience laughter… – CS Monitor, 2-3-11
  • Bernanke warns of catastrophe if debt limit not raised: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday issued a stern warning to Republican lawmakers that delays in raising the United States’ $14.3 trillion debt limit could have “catastrophic” consequences.
    “Beyond a certain point … the United States would be forced into a position of defaulting on its debt. And the implications of that on our financial system, our fiscal policy and our economy would be catastrophic,” he told the National Press Club…. – Reuters, 2-3-11
  • Did bill try to redefine rape? GOP backs down after public outcry: A GOP-backed House bill aimed at limiting federal funding of abortions used the phrase ‘forcible rape,’ suggesting that abortions for other kinds of rape would not be covered… – CS Monitor, 2-3-11
  • Virginia to seek expedited Supreme Court review of suit over health-care law: Virginia will ask that the U.S. Supreme Court immediately review the state’s constitutional challenge to the federal health-care overhaul, a rare legal request to bypass appeals and ask for early intervention from the nation’s highest court, Attorney General Ken T. Cuccinelli II said Thursday.
    Cuccinelli (R) said that conflicting court decisions about the law’s constitutionality have created sufficient uncertainty about implementation of the sweeping law to justify speeding Supreme Court review.
    The Justice Department will oppose the motion, saying that the case should be fully heard by lower courts before the Supreme Court takes action.
    The high court has granted such requests infrequently, and many experts said they think Cuccinelli’s filing is a longshot. Supporters of the law said that the provision at the heart of the legal dispute – a requirement that individuals buy health insurance – will not go into effect until 2014…. – WaPo, 2-3-11
  • Senators criticize FBI and Pentagon in Ft. Hood shooting case: Senators say the agencies failed to act on warning signs about Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 in the Ft. Hood shooting rampage…. – LAT, 2-3-11
  • The long (and rocky) relationship of Barack Obama and John McCain: President Obama will meet with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at the White House today, their first one-on-one summit since the immediate aftermath of the 2008 election. Obama reached out to McCain after the senator penned an editorial praising the president for his speech in Arizona, which came in the wake of the shootings in Tucson.
    The stated topics of discussion will be the Egypt uprising, trade, earmark reform, the economy and immigration, according to a source familiar with the agenda.
    But, the real focus of the meeting will almost certainly be repairing a relationship between the two men that has fallen on hard times in the wake of the 2008 presidential campaign. That relationship has never been easy and its rockiness has often played out in public — before, during, and after the 2008 election. A brief history of the highlights — and lowlights — of Obama/McCain (or McCain/Obama)… – WaPo, 2-2-11
  • US judge: oil claims official not independent of BP: The administrator of BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund has been influenced by the British oil giant and must stop telling victims he is independent, a US federal judge said. US District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans ordered BP to refrain from referring to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) — a fund set up by the oil firm at the White House’s urging — or its administrator Ken Feinberg as independent.
    The firm must also inform those filing claims for compensation from the disastrous spill that they have the right to consult with an attorney of their choice and can join some of the hundreds of lawsuits pending against BP if they do not accept a final payment, according to the ruling. “After reviewing the facts and submissions by the parties, the court finds that BP has created a hybrid entity, rather than one that is fully independent of BP,” Barbier wrote in his ruling… – AFP, 2-2-11 AFP, 2-2-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Meant to Be Broken? Maybe Not This Time: The mechanics of legislating should be simple: bring a bill to the floor, fight over amendments, vote the measure up or down and move on to the next one. But that by-the-civics-book approach has been largely nonexistent in the Senate as Democrats and Republicans instead engaged in partisan procedural brawls that tied the place in knots and left lawmakers in both parties frustrated and fuming. Now, though, it appears the Senate may be turning over a new leaf by going back to the basics, an approach that a very preliminary review indicates might have merit. NYT, 2-5-11
  • House Republicans move to slash domestic programs: Republicans now controlling the House promised Thursday to slash domestic agencies’ budgets by almost 20 percent for the coming year, the first salvo in what’s sure to be a bruising battle over their drive to cut spending to where it was before President Barack Obama took office.
    “Washington’s spending spree is over,” declared Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman who announced the plan. “The spending limits will restore sanity to a broken budget process,” he said, returning “to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels.”
    Republicans won’t get everything they want. Democrats are in charge of the White House and the Senate, and even House Republicans may have second thoughts when the magnitude of the cuts sinks in… – AP, 2-3-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • It’s official Rehberg tells crowd he’ll better represent state of Montana 2012 US senate race is on: Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg made it official Saturday night, telling a packed GOP dinner he is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Jon Tester in 2012. A crowd of 400 people stood and cheered loudly when Rehberg declared he would run for the Senate. Rehberg, a six-term congressman, said he is challenging Tester for several reasons, including the Montana Democrat’s steadfast support for President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
    “The truth is that Jon Tester has been a reliable ‘yes man’ for Barack Obama and Harry Reid – and he’s voted for the Obama administration 97 percent of the time,” Rehberg told a crowd at the Lewis and Clark County Republican Party Lincoln/Reagan Day dinner… – 2-6-11
  • Mont. Senate Race Could Ignite Debate Over Natural Resources: Montana Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg’s expected announcement tomorrow that he will run for Senate in 2012 promises to shine a spotlight on wilderness in a state known for fiery debates over natural resource policy. Rehberg, a six-term congressman, has firmly opposed a proposal by incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) to create new wilderness in the state while boosting the timber industry and promoting motorized recreation…. – NYT, 2-4-11
  • Alaska House GOP wants to ditch ‘uneconomic’ AGIA: House GOP leaders submitted a measure this morning placing the state’s contract with TransCanada, the firm preparing plans for a long-discussed natural gas pipeline, under a tough microscope. The proposed pipeline would, as envisioned, be the largest construction project ever in North America. But many say it faces severe hurdles. The bill, from House Speaker Mike Chenault and three colleagues, suggests it is “uneconomic” unless the developers prove otherwise by mid-July. The state is nonetheless locked into reimbursing TransCanada for 90 percent of its preparatory work. The contract places a $500 million ceiling on those reimbursements and the House Republicans’ bill could serve as a vehicle to halt the flow of money…. – Fairbanks Daily News Miner, 2-4-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • A crowded (but empty) 2012 Republican presidential field: The Iowa caucuses are 364 days away. (But who’s counting?) And yet there is only one candidate – pizza magnate Herman Cain – who has gone so far as to even form an exploratory committee to begin raising money for the Republican primary race.
    While there is considerable agreement among the Republican professional class that the 2012 race is late-starting, there’s little consensus on why things are slow to form or who the first candidate to break the silence will be. In conversations with a number of Republican operatives – those working for would-be candidates and those staying on the sidelines (for now) – a few major reasons emerge for the slow start…. – WaPo, 2-6-11
  • Democratic National Committee: No corporate cash at Charlotte convention: For the first time ever, the Democratic National Convention will not accept donations from corporations, PACs or federal lobbyists in 2012. Individual contributions also will be capped — another first — at $100,000, according to the contract governing the convention.
    Democrats say the policy is in keeping with the fundraising focus that powered President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. “From the very beginning, President Obama has placed a high priority on increasing the influence of grassroots and individual donors, and this convention will go further in that direction than any convention ever,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said…. – Politico, 2-5-11
  • George Will serenades Santorum: George Will sprinkles some fairy dust on Rick Santorum in his Thursday Washington Post column. The influential conservative pundit says that there’s a big opening in the field for someone who can appeal to social conservatives, especially after Mike Pence opted not to run and if Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin don’t jump in. “Social conservatives are much of that base, are feeling neglected and are looking for someone like Santorum,” Will writes….. – Politico, 2-2-11
  • George Will: Rick Santorum’s appeal to the GOP base: In 1994, when Rick Santorum was a second-term Pennsylvania congressman seeking a U.S. Senate seat, a columnist asked him how he was going to win. “Guns,” he replied serenely. Pennsylvania’s legions of deer hunters do not use assault weapons, which President Bill Clinton was trying to ban, but the hunters suspected that this, like Clinton’s wife’s health-care plan, reflected a pattern of assaults on liberty. Santorum, then 36, won by 87,210 votes – 87,210 hunters? – out of 3,384,172 cast, becoming the first conservative elected senator from Pennsylvania since 1952. “Never,” he says today, “underestimate the power of the social issues.” He probably will test that power – and the theory, which he rejects, that economic anxieties have marginalized those issues – by seeking the Republicans’ 2012 presidential nomination…. – WaPo, 2-2-11
  • 2012 Convention Pick Charlotte Gave Obama $1.4 Million Charlotte locals gave Obama $2 for $1 they gave John McCain in 2008: So was it just Charlotte, N.C.’s barbecue, sweet people, friendly mayor, and status as the nation’s emerging big city that won the Democrats over in the competition to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention? Or did the area’s generosity to Barack Obama in 2008 donations push it over the line?….
    But there are no guarantees that Obama will even win the state in which he’ll almost assuredly be renominated: he barely won North Carolina in 2008, and the state has generally trended Republican in recent election cycles…. – US News, 2-2-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/4/11
  • President Obama to Business: “Now is the Time to Invest in America”: So if I’ve got one message, my message is now is the time to invest in America. Now is the time to invest in America. (Applause.) Today, American companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets. And I know that many of you have told me that you’re waiting for demand to rise before you get off the sidelines and expand, and that with millions of Americans out of work, demand has risen more slowly than any of us would like.
    We’re in this together, but many of your own economists and salespeople are now forecasting a healthy increase in demand. So I just want to encourage you to get in the game. As part of the bipartisan tax deal we negotiated, with the support of the Chamber, businesses can immediately expense 100 percent of their capital investments. And as all of you know, it’s investments made now that will pay off as the economy rebounds. And as you hire, you know that more Americans working will mean more sales for your companies. It will mean more demand for your products and services. It will mean higher profits for your companies. We can create a virtuous circle…. – WH, 2-7-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Weekly Address: If Business and Government Fulfill Their Responsibilities, America Will Win the Future Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address, Washington DC, Saturday, February 5, 2011: This week, we received a report on jobs and unemployment that told us we’re continuing to move in the right direction. But we need to get there faster. In the short-term, the bipartisan tax cut we passed in December will give an added boost to job creation and economic growth. This is a tax cut that is already making Americans’ paychecks a little bigger and giving businesses more incentive to invest and hire.
    But ultimately, our true measure of progress has to be whether every American who wants a job can find one; whether the jobs available pay well and offer good benefits; whether people in this country can still achieve the American Dream for themselves and their children. That’s the progress we’re after.
    To get there, we have to realize that in today’s global, competitive economy, the best jobs and newest industries will take root in the countries with the most skilled workers, the strongest commitment to research and technology, and the fastest ways to move people, goods, and information. To win the future, America needs to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world.
    On Thursday, I went to Penn State University, whose students and researchers are poised to lead the way on innovation and job creation. They’re taking up the challenge we’ve issued to scientists and engineers all across the country: if you assemble teams of the best minds in your field, and focus on tackling the biggest obstacles to providing America with clean, affordable energy, we’ll get behind your work. Your government will support your research.
    The folks in Pennsylvania have decided to focus on designing buildings that save more energy – everything from more efficient lighting and windows to heating and cooling. This won’t just cut down on energy pollution, it can save us billions of dollars on our energy bills.
    Most of all, discovering new ways to make buildings more energy-efficient will lead to new jobs and new businesses. Over the last two years, we’ve seen a window manufacturer in Maryland boost business by 55%. A lighting company in North Carolina hired hundreds of workers. A manufacturer in Pennsylvania saw business increase by $1 million.
    All we did for these companies was provide some tax credits and financing opportunities. And that’s what we want to do going forward, so that it’s profitable for American businesses to sell the discoveries made by the scientists at Penn State and other hubs of innovation. If businesses sell these discoveries – if they start making windows and insulation and buildings that save more energy – they will hire more workers. And that’s how Americans will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future.
    Our government has an obligation to make sure that America is the best place on Earth to do business – that we have the best schools, the best incentives to innovate, and the best infrastructure. Next week, I’ll see that kind of infrastructure when I visit Marquette, Michigan – a place where high-speed broadband is connecting a small town to the larger world.
    Supporting businesses with this kind of 21st century infrastructure and cutting-edge innovation is our responsibility. But businesses have a responsibility, too. If we make America the best place to do business, businesses should make their mark in America. They should set up shop here, and hire our workers, and pay decent wages, and invest in the future of this nation. That’s their obligation. And that’s the message I’ll be bringing to American business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce on Monday – that government and businesses have mutual responsibilities; and that if we fulfill these obligations together, it benefits us all. Our workers will succeed. Our nation will prosper. And America will win the future in this century just like we did in the last. – WH, 2-5-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • White House Releases New Report on American Innovation Report outlines importance of investing in innovation to promote growth, create jobs and win the future: Today, the White House released “A Strategy for American Innovation: Securing Our Economic Growth and Prosperity,” an update to the administration’s innovation report from September 2009. The report outlines the importance of investing in innovation to grow our economy, create jobs and win the future. The full report onlineA fact sheet on the report’s findingsWH, 2-4-11
  • Remarks by the President on the Situation in Egypt: Good evening, everybody. Over the past few days, the American people have watched the situation unfolding in Egypt. We’ve seen enormous demonstrations by the Egyptian people. We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country, and a long-time partner of the United States.
    And my administration has been in close contact with our Egyptian counterparts and a broad range of the Egyptian people, as well as others across the region and across the globe. And throughout this period, we’ve stood for a set of core principles.
    First, we oppose violence. And I want to commend the Egyptian military for the professionalism and patriotism that it has shown thus far in allowing peaceful protests while protecting the Egyptian people. We’ve seen tanks covered with banners, and soldiers and protesters embracing in the streets. And going forward, I urge the military to continue its efforts to help ensure that this time of change is peaceful.
    Second, we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we’ve seen the incredible potential for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. And going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.
    Third, we have spoken out on behalf of the need for change. After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.
    Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear — and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak — is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.
    Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
    Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt. And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.
    Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.
    To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt.
    There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt’s future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers. That truth can be seen in the sense of community in the streets. It can be seen in the mothers and fathers embracing soldiers. And it can be seen in the Egyptians who linked arms to protect the national museum — a new generation protecting the treasures of antiquity; a human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day. – WH, 2-1-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Time for Mubarak to ‘step down’: US Senator McCain: Top US Senator John McCain, shortly after talks with President Barack Obama, urged embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to “step down and relinquish power.” “Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres Mubarak 2 step down (and) relinquish power,” McCain said in a post on the microblogging site Twitter roughly an hour after discussing the bloody political crisis in Egypt with Obama. “It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people (and) its military,” said the lawmaker, Obama’s rival for the US presidency in 2008 and the top Republican on the US Senate Armed Services Committee…. – AFP, 2-2-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • The Role Model: What Obama Sees in Reagan: In May 2010, Barack Obama invited a small group of presidential historians to the White House for a working supper in the Family Dining Room. It was the second time he’d had the group in since taking office, and as he sat down across the table from his wife Michelle, the President pressed his guests for lessons from his predecessors. But as the conversation progressed, it became clear to several in the room that Obama seemed less interested in talking about Lincoln’s team of rivals or Kennedy’s Camelot than the accomplishments of an amiable conservative named Ronald Reagan, who had sparked a revolution three decades earlier when he arrived in the Oval Office. Obama and Reagan share a number of gifts but virtually no priorities. And yet Obama was clearly impressed by the way Reagan had transformed Americans’ attitude about government. The 44th President regarded the 40th, said one participant, as a vital “point of reference.” Douglas Brinkley, who edited Reagan’s diaries and attended the May dinner, left with a clear impression that Obama had found a role model. “There are policies, and there is persona, and a lot can be told by persona,” he says. “Obama is approaching the job in a Reaganesque fashion.”… – Time, 1-27-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Can Republicans cut defense spending?”: Republicans are divided over what to do about the defense budget. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants to reduce it by $78 billion over the next five years.
    In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama reminded Congress that Gates had agreed to cut out billions that “he and his generals believe our military can do without.”
    Some Republicans have acted reflexively, insisting on no cuts to the military budget. Howard McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and an establishment Republican, said: “I cannot say it strongly enough: I will not support any measures that stress our forces and jeopardize the lives of our men and women in uniform.”…
    While Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson called Sputnik a disaster “comparable to Pearl Harbor,” Eisenhower insisted limits must be put on how much the country spent on weapons. A frustrated Eisenhower privately said to legislators that the nation could “choke itself to death with military force as well as protect itself.” He warned, “There is no defense of any country that busts its own economy.” The president feared that the United States faced the risk of “destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.” – CNN, 2-1-11
  • ObamaCare’s Repeal Has Begun This week’s Senate vote to scrap an IRS reporting requirement is the start of a piece by piece approach: Mark this date: On Feb. 2, 2011, a Democratic Senate killed the first piece of the health-care law it passed less than a year ago. Bowing (finally) to reality, 34 Democrats rushed to be among the 81 senators who axed the bill’s odious 1099 tax reporting requirement. Let the ObamaCare dismantling begin.
    The White House and Democrats have worked hard in recent weeks to suggest that this first casualty of their signature legislative achievement was no big deal. President Obama went so far as to make the idea his own in his State of the Union address, offering up the end of 1099 as an example of his willingness to “improve” his health legislation. And the death of 1099 was indeed overshadowed by this week’s headlines that the Senate GOP had failed to repeal the larger bill.
    It is nonetheless worth recalling the 1099 saga. The entire arc of this tale—from Democrats’ initial defense of the provision, to this week’s full-scale rout—is an example of how dramatically politics has shifted. It has also starkly laid out the real threat that the White House faces over ObamaCare in the coming year. It’s not full repeal. With 1099, Republicans have shown they intend to rip it up piece by piece…. – WSJ, 2-2-11
  • Bush daughter adds to Obama’s problems: Now, I’m not so cynical as to believe Barbara Bush does not believe in the words she said in her PSA supporting marriage equality in New York. Maybe George W. Bush’s daughter has always supported marriage equality and finally feels strong enough to say it; maybe she has gay friends; maybe she downloaded the first season of “Modern Family” and decided gay people are not as scary as she thought. Who knows? I’m just happy to see her use her platform to introduce civility and fairness. But I am also aware that her little revelation follows roughly 18 months of gay rights support coming from the mouths of some fairly surprising sources. People such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, former first lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain. I also see that despite Obama doing more for the GLBT community than any other president in this country’s history, it only took a 22-second PSA to suggest he is still somehow behind the eight ball when it comes to gay rights. After all, if Bush’s daughter supports gay marriage, what’s Obama’s problem? If Cheney supports gay marriage, what’s Obama’s problem?… – CNN, 2-2-11

February 4, 2011: Crisis & Protest in Egypt; President Obama, U.S. and the World React

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

CRISIS IN EGYPT & THE MIDDLE EAST:

The President Discusses the Situation in Egypt
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/1/11

IN FOCUS

  • Egypt News— The ProtestsNYT
  • Hosni MubarakNYT
  • Latest Updates on Day 10 of Egypt ProtestsNYT

THE HEADLINES….

  • White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak’s Exit: 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, administration officials and Arab diplomats said Thursday.
    Even though Mr. Mubarak has balked, so far, at leaving now, officials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which Mr. Suleiman, backed by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the defense minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform.
    The proposal also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the officials said.
    Senior administration officials said that the proposal was one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mr. Mubarak in an effort to persuade the president to step down now…. – NYT, 2-3-11
  • Israel ponders border security, enlarged military amid Egypt unrest: Israelis are looking fearfully beyond the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, expecting it will force them to stiffen security across an extensive southwestern border and perhaps reoccupy a strategic corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
    In the long term, it may require Israel to expand its military force and budget if a new Egyptian government comes under the sway of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, or otherwise casts into doubt the long-standing peace accord between the two nations.
    Israel has relied for three decades on the assumption that it would never again fight a land war against the Arab world’s most populous state, or worry about Egypt openly supporting militants in the Gaza Strip or elsewhere…. – WaPo, 2-4-11
  • Canada’s cautious position on Egypt linked to support for Israel: On the surface, the Conservative government’s statements on the crisis in Egypt might seem a carbon copy of those churned out by the White House. But there has been one major difference — and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s staunch support for Israel and strong backing within Canada’s Jewish community could offer clues about why.
    President Barack Obama’s administration, along with major European countries, have called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step aside now and allow for a transition of power. But the Canadian government has markedly refrained from asking for Mubarak’s ouster. Instead, it has spoken in broad terms about the need to respect human rights and a peaceful transition to democracy.
    Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon on Thursday condemned the detention of Canadian journalists in Cairo, but did not wade into the question of Mubarak’s presidency.
    During an emergency House of Commons debate late Wednesday night, Conservative MPs repeatedly noted their concerns about Israeli security and the need to uphold the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace accord. “In order for us, here in Canada, to recognize and support the future Egyptian government, it must meet four basic conditions: first, it must respect freedom, democracy and human rights, particularly the rights of women; second, it must recognize the State of Israel; third, it must adhere to existing peace treaties; and fourth, it must respect international law,” Cannon said…. – Canadian Press, 2-2-11
  • Kerry-McCain resolution calls on Mubarak to step down: Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain are calling on embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a new democratic government. The two former presidential candidates, Kerry in 2004 and McCain in 2008, have been among the leading voices of their parties on international affairs in general and the violent unraveling of Egypt’s power structure specifically. The two co-wrote a resolution, passed by the Senate on a voice vote tonight, that calls on Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government…. – Boston Globe, 2-3-11Resolution Copy
  • Yemen’s President Is Latest To Vow Exit: President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he won’t run for re-election when his term ends in 2013, and that he won’t attempt to pass on the presidency to his son, abruptly ending his bid to change the constitution to erase all term limits on the post. Opposition leaders called the president’s concessions insufficient and urged their supporters to join renewed mass protests Thursday. Ahead of that rally, most major commercial banks in the capital, San’a, reported large withdrawals from thousands of citizens, as fears grow that the protest will turn violent.
    Separately, Jordan’s largest political group, the Islamic Action Front, said it plans mass protests Friday over the appointment of a new prime minister, Maruf Bakhit, who started talks Wednesday on the formation of a new government…. – WSJ, 2-3-11
  • Obama Continues to Monitor Tense Egypt Situation: President Obama returned to the White House after a brief trip to Pennsylvania on Thursday, and has been holding more consultations with his advisers on the situation in Egypt. The United States pressed harder on the Egyptian government and military to stop a wave of violence.
    The president moved quickly past members of the press corps without comment, and into the Oval Office where over the past few days of the Egyptian crisis he has met with advisers and spoken twice by telephone with President Hosni Mubarak.
    In an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr. Mubarak referred to those conversations and said, according to excerpts, while he is a “very good man” Mr. Obama didn’t understand the culture of Egypt. In the same interview, Mr. Mubarak said he was “very unhappy” with violence in Egypt, which he blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, but said he could not step down and risk the chaos he says would ensue…. – VOA, 2-3-11
  • US, UK condemn attacks on journalists in Egypt: The United States and Britain condemned the intimidation of foreign reporters covering protests against President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday and said the Egyptian government must not target journalists.
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned assaults on American journalists in Cairo as concern rose about the possibility of an intensified round of rioting on Friday.
    “This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and it is unacceptable under any circumstances,” she said, reading a statement…. – Reuters, 2-3-11
  • Tens of thousands turn out for rival rallies in Yemen: Anti-government protesters in Sana are met with a competing rally across town by the president’s supporters, who get logistical support from the army…. – LAT, 2-3-11
  • Egypt’s VP uses state TV to blame unrest on ‘foreign agendas’: Egypt’s new Vice President Omar Suleiman took to state TV Thursday night to make a play for Mubarak to hang on until presidential elections in September…. – CS Monitor, 2-3-11
  • The Arab reform dodge: Cosmetic concessions aren’t enough: LIKE EGYPTIAN President Hosni Mubarak, Arab rulers around the Middle East are trying to head off the swelling popular discontent in their countries while retaining political control…. – WaPo, 2-3-11
  • GOP divided over Obama response to Egypt: As chaos roils Egypt, Republican lawmakers and the GOP’s potential presidential candidates are divided over President Barack Obama’s response though united in concern that an Islamic regime could rise to power in a nation that is an important U.S. ally in the precarious Middle East.
    Compared with recent verbal sparring on domestic issues, the debate between Democrats and Republicans on Egypt is somewhat muted. That’s perhaps because the two parties differ little over U.S. policy toward Egypt. Both view the country as a linchpin to a peaceful Middle East. And while supportive of democracy there, both also express concern about the influence of extremists in a post-Mubarak government, a particular worry of Israel.
    Trying to set the tone for their party, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the country’s two top elected Republicans, have deferred to the Democratic president. They are signaling an unwillingness among the GOP leadership in Congress to pick a fight, in line, at least on this issue, with the tradition that politics stops at the waters’ edge in the midst of foreign crises. “America ought to speak with one voice,” said McConnell…. –
  • The Pentagon View of Egypt: What the Uprising Means for the U.S. MilitaryABC News, 2-3-1
  • Why Obama’s position on Egypt’s Mubarak was too little, too late: The images that have come out of Egypt over the past week are stunning: tens of thousands of largely unarmed protestors facing tanks, teargas, and live ammunition and who are still demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down. But throughout the upheaval, the United States response has been guarded, if not inadequate. After days of tepid statements and measured acknowledgements of the Egyptian people’s “legitimate grievances,” even an eventual call for “free and fair elections,” the Obama administration would still not publicly call for Mr. Mubarak’s departure…. – CS Monitor, 2-2-11
  • Journalists Are Targets of Violence in Cairo: As chaos gripped central Tahrir Square in Cairo on Wednesday, journalists covering the scene on the ground found themselves the targets of violence and intimidation by demonstrators chanting slogans in favor of President Hosni Mubarak. One prominent American television correspondent, Anderson Cooper of CNN, was struck in the head repeatedly.
    Reporters Without Borders said it had received dozens of confirmed reports of violence against local and international journalists in Egypt. Tala Dowlatshahi, a spokeswoman for the group, said to “expect more foreign journalists to be targeted.” The attacks were reported by Al Jazeera, CNN and Twitter users almost as soon as violent clashes began in the square, also known as Liberation Square, eliciting a strong condemnation from the White House and the State Department…. – NYT, 2-2-11
  • Uprising in Egypt Splits U.S Conservatives: Glenn Beck blasts the uprising in Cairo as a threat to our way of life. Michelle Goldberg on how the rebellion is splitting U.S. conservatives—and the fallout for the 2012 presidential campaign. Plus, full coverage of Egypt’s protests…. – The Daily Beast, 2-1-11
  • Obama Urges Quick Transition in Egypt: President Obama declared on Tuesday night that an “orderly transition” in Egypt “must begin now,” but he stopped short of demanding that President Hosni Mubarak leave office immediately. Mr. Obama used his four-and-a-half minute speech from the Cross Hall of the White House to embrace the cause of the protestors in Egypt far more fully than he has at any previous moment since the uprising against Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year-rule began.
    He praised the Egyptian military for refusing to fire on the protestors. And by declaring that Mr. Mubarak had to begin the process of transition immediately, he seemed to be signaling that the United States would not stand by if Mr. Mubarak tried to slow-walk the process, or manipulate its results.
    But if he pushed Mr. Mubarak, he did not shove him. Mr. Obama said there would be “difficult days ahead,” a clear signal of recognition that the transition period could be messy. Only a few hours before, Mr. Mubarak had declared he would not run for re-election, but planned to stay in office through September. Mr. Obama never discussed that timetable in his public response, and he did not declare exactly what steps he wants the Egyptian leader to take to start the process of transition.
    But he made clear that the process started by the protestors could not be reversed. “We’ve born witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country,” Mr. Obama said, casting it as a natural successor to other moments of transition in a society that goes back thousands of years…. – NYT, 2-1-11
Netanyahu and Mubarak
Reuters Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, left, and President Hosni Mubarak at a meeting in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on Jan. 6.
  • Israel wary of transition in Egypt, concerned about regional stability: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s quickening collapse and increasing political turmoil in Jordan have prompted concerns in Israel that its historic peace treaties with those countries may not withstand the convulsion sweeping the region.
    A change of power in Egypt and instability in Jordan could have profound consequences for Israel, which depends on the peace accords – its only two with Arab countries – as a cornerstone of its security. The treaties struck by Israel with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994 remain unpopular among the residents of the two Arab nations, and Israel has relied on the strength of Mubarak’s regime and the Jordanian monarchy to keep them intact.
    Not all of the recent developments have been bad from the Israelis’ perspective: Newly appointed Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman has become a trusted interlocutor on regional security issues, and the United States will push to ensure that the peace accords remain in place. But the fast pace of events may change how Israel perceives its position, and make it less willing to offer territorial concessions as part of any peace deal with the Palestinians. The country is still digesting the rise in Lebanon of a new government chosen by the Shiite Hezbollah, one of its chief antagonists, and may now sense instability on all sides.
    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened top intelligence analysts and senior cabinet members in Tel Aviv for a day of urgent consultations Tuesday to weigh the changes underway in Egypt and assess the strength of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, an Israeli official said. Abdullah sacked his cabinet Tuesday amid clamors for more economic and political reform. After the meetings, Netanyahu said the international community “must demand that any Egyptian government preserve the peace accord with Israel.”… – WaPo, 2-1-11
  • Quiet Acts of Protest on a Noisy DayNYT, 2-1-11
  • Israel shocked by Obama’s “betrayal” of Mubarak: If Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is toppled, Israel will lose one of its very few friends in a hostile neighborhood and President Barack Obama will bear a large share of the blame, Israeli pundits said on Monday. Political commentators expressed shock at how the United States as well as its major European allies appeared to be ready to dump a staunch strategic ally of three decades, simply to conform to the current ideology of political correctness.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told ministers of the Jewish state to make no comment on the political cliffhanger in Cairo, to avoid inflaming an already explosive situation. But Israel’s President Shimon Peres is not a minister.
    “We always have had and still have great respect for President Mubarak,” he said on Monday. He then switched to the past tense. “I don’t say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing which all of us are thankful to him for: he kept the peace in the Middle East.”… – Reuters, 1-31-11
  • Turbulence Rocks an Israeli Ally: The street revolt in Egypt has thrown the Israeli government and military into turmoil, with top officials closeted in round-the-clock strategy sessions aimed at rethinking their most significant regional relationship. Israel’s military planning relies on peace with Egypt; nearly half the natural gas it uses is imported from Egypt; and the principle of trading conquered land for diplomatic ties began with its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt more than with any other foreign leader, except President Obama. If Mr. Mubarak were driven from power, the effect on Israel could be profound. “For the United States, Egypt is the keystone of its Middle East policy,” a senior official said. “For Israel, it’s the whole arch.”… – NYT, 1-30-11
  • Clinton Calls for ‘Orderly Transition’ in Egypt: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, stopping short of telling its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down but clearly laying the groundwork for his departure. Mrs. Clinton, making a round of Sunday talk shows, insisted that Mr. Mubarak’s future was up to the Egyptian people. But she said on “State of the Union” on CNN that the United States stood “ready to help with the kind of transition that will lead to greater political and economic freedom.” And she emphasized that elections scheduled for this fall must be free and fair. President Obama reinforced that message in phone calls on Saturday and Sunday to other leaders in the region, including King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, as the administration tried to contain the regional reverberations…. – NYT, 1-30-11
  • U.S. cautiously prepares for post-Mubarak era: Mindful of other allies in the region, U.S. officials have been careful not to abandon the Egyptian leader, urging him to implement a transition to democracy. But they are also preparing for the possibility of his ouster…. – LAT, 1-30-11
  • What impact will the uprising in Egypt have on the Middle East, the U.S., Canada, China, and the EU? The Mark’s experts weigh in.The Mark News, 2-2-11

QUOTES

Anti-government protestors gather in Cairo's central Tahrir Square on Thursday. New clashes erupted as anti-government protesters came face-to-face with Egyptian President Hosni Mubaraka's supporters. 

Anti-government protestors gather in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square on Thursday. New clashes erupted as anti-government protesters came face-to-face with Egyptian President Hosni Mubaraka’s supporters.
  • Press Secretary Gibbs on Egypt, Violence & Journalists: During his gaggle with the press aboard Air Force One, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opens the session with pointed remarks about recent developments in Egypt…. – WH, 2-3-11
  • Remarks by the President on the Situation in Egypt: Good evening, everybody. Over the past few days, the American people have watched the situation unfolding in Egypt. We’ve seen enormous demonstrations by the Egyptian people. We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country, and a long-time partner of the United States.
    And my administration has been in close contact with our Egyptian counterparts and a broad range of the Egyptian people, as well as others across the region and across the globe. And throughout this period, we’ve stood for a set of core principles.
    First, we oppose violence. And I want to commend the Egyptian military for the professionalism and patriotism that it has shown thus far in allowing peaceful protests while protecting the Egyptian people. We’ve seen tanks covered with banners, and soldiers and protesters embracing in the streets. And going forward, I urge the military to continue its efforts to help ensure that this time of change is peaceful.
    Second, we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we’ve seen the incredible potential for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. And going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.
    Third, we have spoken out on behalf of the need for change. After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.
    Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear — and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak — is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.
    Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
    Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt. And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.
    Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.
    To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt.
    There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt’s future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers. That truth can be seen in the sense of community in the streets. It can be seen in the mothers and fathers embracing soldiers. And it can be seen in the Egyptians who linked arms to protect the national museum — a new generation protecting the treasures of antiquity; a human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day. – WH, 2-1-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Time for Mubarak to ‘step down’: US Senator McCain: Top US Senator John McCain, shortly after talks with President Barack Obama, urged embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to “step down and relinquish power.” “Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres Mubarak 2 step down (and) relinquish power,” McCain said in a post on the microblogging site Twitter roughly an hour after discussing the bloody political crisis in Egypt with Obama. “It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people (and) its military,” said the lawmaker, Obama’s rival for the US presidency in 2008 and the top Republican on the US Senate Armed Services Committee…. – AFP, 2-2-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • New York Times: Room For Debate: Mubarak’s Role and Mideast Peace: What does the crisis in Egypt mean for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?… – NYT, 2-1-11
  • Gil Troy: Anxiety and Skepticism: Egypt’s uprising has already undermined most Israelis’ sense of security and their willingness to take risks for peace with the Palestinians. Israelis now worry about the biggest risk they ever took for peace: the withdrawal from Sinai in 1982.
    A radical Egypt downgrading or abrogating its peace treaty with Israel would top the litany of failed peace-making attempts and reinforce the argument of right-wing skeptics against trading land for peace with the Palestinians. Moreover, a hostile Egypt would reinforce the sense of betrayal so many Israelis have felt since 2000, as the failure of the Oslo peace process triggered a wave of Palestinian terror, the withdrawal from Lebanon boosted Hezbollah, and disengagement from Gaza brought Hamas to power.
    Israelis have longed for greater intimacy with the Egyptian people, always speaking of “peace with Egypt” not with Mubarak. Yet this “cold peace” has been government to government not people to people. Israelis have accepted the limits, given their alternatives.
    Mubarak’s Egypt has served as an important counterweight to Ahmadinejad’s Iran. The recent Wikileaks documents suggested some of the benefits Israel enjoyed from its alliance with Mubarak, including diplomatic support, intelligence sharing and military cooperation. Most important have been decades of non-belligerency. With the loss of that sense of security on its southern border, Israelis will be much more reluctant to cede control of their eastern border to an independent Palestine.
    This week’s hysterical headlines in the Israeli press about the potential loss of Egypt, the dip in Tel Aviv stocks, the debate about whether President Obama can be trusted to support American allies, all suggest that Israel’s strategic doctrine is being hastily rewritten.
    The prospects of peace become even more unlikely if Egypt turns Islamist. Israel’s safest border will suddenly look menacing. Hamas will look stronger in Gaza with an Islamist Egyptian regime not even pretending to try to stop the flow of arms. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will look like a less viable peace partner with fundamentalism ascendant, and any pro-peace or pro-Western Palestinians demonized as collaborators. Moreover, Israeli policymakers will feel caught, doubting Mahmoud Abbas as another unelected autocrat while fearing the popular Palestinian street more than ever.
    Israelis find themselves once again in dissonance with the international community. Many Israelis wish they could wholeheartedly support this popular move against an aging dictator. But the bitter experience of the last ten years suggests that skepticism is in order. – NYT, 2-1-11
  • Khaled Fahmy: Mubarak Fails to Quell Protests as Turmoil Spreads to Yemen: “I expect the demonstrations to continue,” said Khaled Fahmy, professor of history at American University in Cairo, in a telephone interview. “He really hasn’t offered much. What I’ve seen is that he has burned bridges. There is no trust between him and the people.” SF Chronicle/Blomberg, 2-2-11
  • Yale History prof sign letter to Obama regarding Egypt: As protests against the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak continue in Egypt, three Yale professors joined over 150 academics in signing an open letter to President Barack Obama yesterday, calling on Obama to support Egypt’s democratic movement. The letter reads:
    For thirty years, our government has spent billions of dollars to help build and sustain the system the Egyptian people are now trying to dismantle. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Egypt and around the world have spoken. We believe their message is bold and clear: Mubarak should resign from office and allow Egyptians to establish a new government free of his and his family’s influence. It is also clear to us that if you seek, as you said Friday ‘political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people,’ your administration should publicly acknowledge those reforms will not be advanced by Mubarak or any of his adjutants.
    Alan Mikhail, an assistant professor of history who researches Egypt during the Ottoman period, said he saw the letter as a “small gesture” academics could make, regardless of whether it sways Obama’s opinion.
    “It seems like a small gesture that I as a historian could do, to show support for the people in Egypt who are protesting, and sometimes putting their lives on the line, for a better society and a better government,” Mikhail said. “Is [Obama] going to read it? I have no idea. He’s a very busy guy.”… – Yale Daily News, 2-2-11
  • Kent Schull: Professor to students: Write your members of Congress about Egypt: In an effort to support the millions of Egyptians protesting their authoritarian government, one University of Memphis professor is asking students to flock to their keyboards. Kent Schull, assistant history professor, has expertise in modern Middle East history and said he thinks students should write to their state and U.S. representatives.
    “These people are really trying to get a better life for themselves, and that resonates with all of us,” he said. “We all want basic freedoms that we all feel we have a right to, and this is what the Egyptian people want, and I think the United States has to put the Egyptian people’s interest ahead of our own international interest.”
    “You have a huge gap between the rich and poor,” he said. “Egypt has a lot of its money coming from tourism and from small manufacturing depths from agricultural production, and the people that control that — they have a lot of money, but the vast majority of the population is very poor.”
    Schull said that the U.S.-Egypt alliance is based, in part, on geography and natural resources. “Egypt has been a very close trade partner with the United States,” he said. “(It’s) a very close political partner for trying to keep stability within the Middle East. Without Egypt as an ally, then it would be very tough to get Saudi Arabia’s oil to us.”
    The U.S. doesn’t want Egyptian people viewing it as a country that funds a dictator, Schull said. “The U.S. has been walking this fine line and probably needs to throw its support very squarely behind the Egyptian people going for democratic change,” he said. Schull said that the more representatives and senators hear from Americans about supporting these Egyptian protests, the more likely it is that “maybe they’ll listen.”… – Daily Helmsman, 2-2-11
  • Charles Wilkins: Wake Forest Professor: Economy Plays Role In Egyptian Protests: The violence is escalating in Cairo. Protestors for and against President Hosni Mubarak are clashing, surrounded by burning buildings and gun fire. Hundreds have been hurt since Wednesday when the protests turned violent. So what’s causing the un-rest in Egypt? Wake Forest University Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History, Charles Wilkins, says it started with pent up anger and the resentment of Egypt’s government
    The economy also plays a role. “Economics of it are very important. We have high unemployment, we have low wages and high cost of living. We have basically a housing shortage,” says Charles Wilkins. “It’s a young generation that’s actual rebeling. This is a politically active and aware population that want to see change.”
    Wilkins also credits the internet with helping protestors coordinate their efforts and making them more powerful. He says the protests in Tunisia a few weeks ago gave Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians the courage to question their governments…. – WFMY News 2, CBS Newspath, CNN Newsource, 2-3-11
  • Historians worry about Egyptian antiquities: The fighting has intensified in Tahrir Square. It has become a battle field. That is where the Egyptian Museum is located, filled with antiquities and the history of Egypt. There are concerns among historians about the fate of the museum and its huge collection.
    “In a situation like this where anything could happen you are always worried,” Professor Carol Redmount director of Near East Studies at UC Berkeley said.
    “On the one hand in a situation like this you are always concerned, these things are irreplaceable, they’re national treasure, international treasures, they tell is about our human history,” Redmount said. “But the Egyptian people will do whatever they can to protect it.”
    Redmount has reason to be concerned. Earlier this week vandals broke into a museum and smashed statues and glass. It is likely the next wave will steal items.
    “You can try to sell it on the antiquities market, now everyone is going to be looking for these things on the antiquities market,” Redmount said. “They’ve been looting the site with shovels, which is better than bulldozers, at the same time we don’t know how much damage has been done,” Redmount said… – ABC Local SF, 2-2-11
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