Wondering what it would take to get Americans walking like Egyptians these days. According to a report I saw numerous times on Al Jazeera English this weekend, the conditions that led to Egyptians taking to the streets to take control of their government are much like what we are experiencing here in US these days: High unemployment, growing poverty, huge divide between the rich and the poor, too many “businessmen” in government. Seriously.
I had the honor of being a guest on Thom Hartmann‘s TV show, “The Big Picture” Thursday evening to talk about the plight of the 99ers. Interesting, isn’t it, that to uncensored coverage of what’s happening in Egypt, we must turn to RTV (Russian television) and Al Jazeera English (based in Qatar) but difficult to get here in the US.
In fact, Ryan Grim writes in the Huffington Post about the US blackout of Al Jazeera. In fact, there are very few places in the US that carry Al Jazeera English. From their website, here’s where they’re carried here:
Buckeye Cable (Toledo, OH)
Burlington Cable (Burlington, VT)
GlobeCast World TV
Link TV (Direct TV, Channel – 375/Dish Network, Channel – 9410)
Washington Cable (Washington, DC)
MHz Networks (Washington, DC)
However, Link TV -although I’m a big fan of their programming – only carries the feed sporadically.
To get the uncensored coverage, you can watch their stream here. (I’d embed the player, but can’t seem to find that option.)
Unfortunately, most of the cable news channels have been worthless on this issue… most notably Faux News. (See the picture at the top of this post for an actual screen grab from their coverage. Oy.)
This morning, I attempted to get an Al Jazeera journalist on the show. When that didn’t happen, I called the Four Seasons in Cairo, and spoke with an Egyptian citizen. We’ll try another hotel tomorrow morning too.
After a news update from Victoria Jones at the TRNS, it was time for our weekly Fools on the Hill segment with Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars. She watches the Sunday morning talking head shows so you don’t have to. Here’s what she brought us today:
Obviously, the issue of Egypt sort of sucked all the oxygen out of the room for most the Sunday shows. It was very interesting to see what was and wasn’t said. Because our foreign policy has the tragic tendency to be rather myopic, the United States finds itself balancing between supporting a dictator whom we have supported for the last 30 years, both financially and politically and the wave for a democratic reform from the people themselves. Don’t forget that the crux of the Bush Doctrine was that is we showed the Middle East a functioning democracy in Iraq (ha!) and one by one, repressive regimes would fall in favor of democratically elected politicians.
Now that seems sweet in theory, but in reality it hasn’t worked so well for us. The Palestinians giving Hamas seats in their parliament and the Iranians re-electing Ahmadinejad are just a couple examples of democratic elections not necessarily in our national interests (and often in direct reflection of our international interference).
So politicos are treading carefully on exactly what to say. Mitch McConnell, who has made it his priority #1 to get Obama out of office in 2012, can’t bring himself to say anything detracting from Obama or Hillary Clinton. Have no fear, that unified voice dies off when we get to the economy, but for now, McConnell is unwilling to try to take partisan advantage of the Egyptian uprising.
John McCain, too, cautions that we want to be on the right side of history. But you know, it’s hard to talk about how our focus is to argue strenuously for civil rights when the Egyptians know only too well our killing of hundreds of thousands Iraqi civilians and displacement of a million more; our stealth war in Pakistan, killing wedding parties with drone strikes; our refusal to even count how many Afghan casualties we’re responsible for; our blind eye to the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Yemen, etc. Especially since we’ve been using the repressive aspect of Egypt’s government to do our dirty work with rendition and torture, something that is also not unknown to the general citizenry.
But there were non-Egyptian news as well. Speaker of the House John Boehner was Fox News admitting that failure to raise the debt ceiling would mean “financial disaster” but he still wouldn’t rule out holding the debt hostage to force the Democrats to make deep spending cuts, which he insists will create jobs. Boehner claims that he 200 economists that agree with him. I’d love to talk to just one and ask him how he can assert such an easily proven fallacy. Failed stimulus? Are we in the midst of another Great Depression? No? Wasn’t that the purpose of the stimulus, to pull us back from the brink? The only reason it didn’t do better were all the stupid concessions added to get the Republicans to sign off on it. And as far as jobs are concerned, the unemployment rate is still bleak, but to ignore that the Obama administration — even with all the obstruction placed before them by the Republican Party — managed to create more jobs in 2010 than Bush did in all eight years of his term put together is fundamentally disinforming the public. But that’s the plan for the GOP. If you get enough right wing people on traditional media and right wing blogs repeating ad nauseam that the stimulus didn’t work, well, then no one challenges these failed ideas that Boehner advocates.
And then finally, Howie Kurtz took umbrage over Rachel Maddow’s criticism that the only network to give Michele Bachmann’s embarrassingly bad tea party SOTU response was CNN. Problem was, he completely glossed over the thrust of Maddow’s criticism, which was that CNN legitimized the Astroturf organization that set itself apart from the GOP. What happens next year? A Socialist response with Bernie Sanders? A Joe Lieberman response too?