Ten Reasons Tunisia Matters

The revolution is not over. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has fled.  But his departure is only the first baby step to meaningful democratic representation and to a better life for Tunisian people everywhere in the country, and not just for the city elites. Tunisia has experienced a hundred years of uprisings.  Will this one be different? We do not know, at this point.

Will the promise of reform be merely a stalking horse for a new consolidation of control?  Tunisian history for more than a century suggests that this revolution will follow a pattern of surface change but no substance to reform.  Therefore, we should be holding our breath and checking reports weekly.  “Reform” has been a lever by which Tunisian leaders, first Habib Bourguiba and then Ben Ali, increased consolidation of authority; therefore, the Tunisian people, particularly outside Tunis, have been skeptical. And they still are.  Their new interim president, Fouad Mebazaa, has the power to make laws by decree.  Whatever evolves in Tunisia could be predictive of the path of reform elsewhere in the Arab world. (more…)

Friday Fomenter: Money-Egypt & Libya-Uprisings-Arianna Huffington

I don’t care about the fucking money.  And neither should you. Whatever AOL and The Huffington Post do with their lucre, it’s their business.  Their decision.  These Internet sites and the people who run them will live and die by the consequences from the choices they make.  Just as we all do.

On the other hand, as winter turns into spring, we are witness to one of the truly momentous events since World War II: the rippling of uprisings across the Middle East, into Africa and beyond.  This is an entirely new kind of revolution.  Just as religious schism was peripheral to the American and French revolutions, for the first time in centuries of western war–so nationalism is tangential to what’s happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Morocco, and Mauretania. (more…)

The Friday Fomenter

If you’ve stumbled across me here, you’re reading the very first ever number one edition of what I hope to make a regular weekly column.  A round-up of thought fragments on a few recent events.  A challenge to myself to move beyond (or back from) the well-considered piece.

Fomenter week of February 18.  Women in the News. (Okay, so this week there is a theme. Yes, it’s kinda tidy-so don’t expect shape every time.) (more…)

From Suez to Cairo: Obama Ends an Era

On returning to the White House from Cairo in June, 2009, after giving a speech that he surely hoped would be a historic marker for his presidency, what did Barack Obama talk about to the nation in his weekly Saturday radio address?  He took up the issue of health care reform.  He made only fleeting mention of his outreach to the Muslim world.  The contrast between the two actions captures one of the reasons for Obama’s failure to get any traction in the realm of foreign policy, two years into his first term.

Returning to Obama’s Inaugural Address of January 20, 2009, let’s take a minute to reflect upon his view of that reset button with the world. (more…)

A Few Thoughts on the AOL Huff Love Fest

Can The Huffington Post as we know it now survive its merger with AOL?

No.

Why?

Any answer begins with a rephrasing, for accuracy, of my first question.  The Huffington Post has not merged with AOL.  Arianna Huffington’s and Ken Lerer’s left-leaning news/blogger platform has been acquired by AOL.  There can be a world of difference in verbs.

When I read last night about the AOL Huffington Post deal, immediately I thought about my husband’s old law firm, where he practiced from before he passed the Bar exam until he went to Apple not quite three years ago.  His firm–McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen–quipped about in the trades as “always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” because the partners backed away from various mergers over the years, finally joined forces with Boston’s Bingham law firm.  This “merger” gave the San Francisco-based McCutchen firm financial stability and a business-savvy East Coast leadership.  Well and good.  But along with the money came a new balance of power. A bigger entity (Bingham) had swallowed a smaller (McCutchen).  It did not matter that McCutchen had the preponderance of Ivy League-trained attorneys and the better reputation.  What mattered was that Bingham wanted McCutchen for one thing:  its top-ranked litigation practice.  Other pieces of the firm were expendable. (more…)

Egypt’s Sputnik Moment

With all due respect to President Obama, and to Doc Searls, writing in his weblog and much retweeted on Twitter, neither this moment for America nor Egypt for Al Jazeera is “a Sputnik moment.”  I excuse Obama for not being able to identify such a time.  He had not been born in 1957 when the Soviets launched their tiny, crude satellite.  From his photo, Searls looks old enough to remember; but I excuse him, too.

Both of you, let me define a Sputnik moment.  It is a moment of national humiliation.  Shared by citizens young and old. (more…)

 
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