Obama Care

February 9, 2011

At the Guardian’s Comment Is Free website, Joshua Trevino has a must-red right-on piece on the abject failure of Obama’s foreign policy.

The real tragedy of the president’s epic mishandling of Egypt is not merely the sceptical-at-best Egypt that will emerge. It’s that Egypt is merely the latest episode in a pattern laid down by Barack Obama in the first two years of his presidency. In just two years, he has faced multiple crises of liberty, democracy and the American national interest abroad – and he has failed each test. Even rhetorical support for those seeking freedom, the bare minimum a president can do, is strikingly absent except under duress.

The plain and pathetic reality is that Barack Obama chooses the existing regime over any alternative, and/or against the American ally, every time. Ask the Hondurans who ejected their Chavista president. Ask the Falkland islanders sold out by the Secretary of State Clinton intoning on the “Malvinas”. Ask the east European Nato members stripped of a full American deterrent in the name of a Russia “reset”. Ask the Tunisians who received not a word of endorsement as they ejected Ben Ali. Ask the Iranians who fought and died for their freedom in the hot summer of 2009.

And now, ask the Egyptians who gather, once again, in Tahrir Square as you read this.

To shout “Shame!” seems hardly enough.

Yet Another Beatles Anniversary

February 9, 2011

Three years before they went to America for the first time, and 50 years ago today, the Beatles (with Pete Best, not Ringo Starr, on drums) played the first of their 292 gigs at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.

One of the lucky few at their first performance was Alex McKechnie, then a 16-year-old message boy in a printing factory. “It was atmospheric though not very crowded,” said McKechnie, now a director of the annual Mathew Street festival. “They were sarcastic, always acting the goat and cracking jokes.”   Unlike other bands at that time, they wore leather bomber jackets and Cuban heels.  McKechnie added: “They would count in the songs by banging their heels on the hollow stage – they created a lot of excitement in the room. They weren’t like any other band on the circuit.”

The locals are throwing a party today.

The Beatles’ First US Tour

February 7, 2011

On February 7, 1964 — exactly fifty years to the day after Charlie Chaplin unleashed the Little Tramp to conquer the world — the Beatles arrived in New York and the next British Invasion was officially launched.

Their first appearance was on the “Ed Sullivan Show” two days later, and their first US concert, at the Coliseum in Washington DC was on the 11th. A few more shows and they were back in England on the 22nd; just two weeks and the Beatle’s first US tour was over. But it sure left its mark.

Publicly Supporting Torturers

February 7, 2011

The US has always tended to the strong-man theory of governance outside the US itself. Let “democracy” be a useful but distant aim, but let’s have stability before freedom.  That’s how Mubarak, as the present example, has survived for so long.

But now, with Suleiman, the US is publicly supporting a person who’s only known background — and well-know at that — is as a torturer and a willing assistant to the US’s illegal rendition program where terrorism “suspects” were herded on CIA flights from one torturing regime to another.

With Suleiman there are no peace treaties to hide behind, no stable borders with Israel. Just torture.

Perhaps we should welcome this new transparency in American foreign policy?


February 3, 2011

I got to speak with my old friend yesterday — first time for far too long.

The Day The Music Died

February 3, 2011

It is 52 years now since that terrible day, that dangerous blizzard, that fatal plane ride.