Inside information from Egypt
Feb. 6, 2011
COLUMBUS: With twenty inches of snow at Claremore and Oologah, a lot of the Oklahoma home folks wish they still had a horse. Ford cars and ATVs got stuck in the drifts, but an old horse had no trouble at all. More snow coming.
That snow was from the same winter storm that froze Dallas during Super Bowl week, making Green Bay and Pittsburgh fans feel right at home. At least they played the game inside. The Packers beat the Steelers 31 to 25, and Aaron Rodgers escaped Brett Favre’s shadow.
My friend in Egypt sent me a first-rate report and analysis on the protest, including a couple of details you haven’t heard on the networks: "The present violence is the result of the damned dictatorship. The regime is so corrupt. Mubarak’s party netted all except 6 of the 498 Parliament seats in the elections last October!
"Many TV stations put the wealth of the president, his wife and his two sons at $52 Billion. The UN says 40% of all 85 million Egyptians live below the poverty line on $1 a day. The government claims only 20%, or17 million Egyptians, are in poverty. [Folks, can you imagine the uproar if one of our Presidents amassed even $1 Billion while in office?]
"Party officials use the secret police and hired thugs to make us feel unsafe and force the protestors to return to their homes to defend them. They want us to choose between safety (and no democracy) under the present regime, or party-sponsored terrorism under any other regime. It is the classical birth pains of a new order in Egypt, painful but necessary!
"The protest focuses on the Tahreer (Liberation) Square in front of the Egyptian Museum, the Nile Hilton and the massive government office building. Protestors overflow into the square between the Museum and the Ramses Hilton, near the entrance and exit ramps of the October Bridge in the TV coverage. There are also many major demonstrations in other parts of Cairo and in other cities and towns around Egypt.
"Egyptians are safe as long as the army does not take the side of the government. This might have changed, however, after the army failed to protect the unarmed protestors from being massacred in the Tahreer Square (Feb 2) by government thugs and secret police.
"Our city, about 20 miles from Cairo, has been relatively quiet during the current uprising. There were scattered serious incidents, however, in several other towns. When the national police vanished on Friday night, January 28, the country was terrorized by lawless bands that ran wild and unchecked, stealing, terrorizing and killing. It was no accident. The regime that withdrew the police most probably planned and organized the bands, consisting of undercover police, government-paid thugs, thousands of convicts who broke out (or were forced to break out), and criminals who simply took advantage of the situation.
"On January 29, our village owners association put in place an emergency protection plan using armed security groups during the curfew hours, 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. No serious incidents occurred to the village, except perhaps a couple. The armed guards were let go 4 days later."
"The guards were placed inside and along the 3-mile long village fence about 100 yards apart. Each could see the groups on either side. They consisted of volunteer male residents and the village security, cleaning and landscape employees. Volunteer female residents stood watch high in their homes. The association also hired additional security guards, 10 with handguns and shotguns and 4 with automatic weapons; they started the following day and were posted outside the fence (not trusted inside the village!). A command center coordinated the groups by walkie-talkies, cell phones and the village land phones. I volunteered to patrol in my car inside the fence at least once a night around 3 a.m. I stopped often to talk to various fence groups. The tour took me some 90 minutes.
"The army appears now in force around the city. American-made tanks are stationed at the corners of the village and at nearby squares. Armored troop carriers are also present. We appreciate the army presence, stop often to visit with the troops and offer them refreshments. And the police started to appear gradually and reluctantly on the streets. Things are quieting down security-wise, maybe getting back to normal. We already let the hired armed guards go since Tuesday. I no longer have to patrol at night!"
President Obama is limited in what he can suggest or do with Egypt. We want democracy and elections, but not if the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood is likely to win. If we had supported the Iranian protesters last year, maybe the current situation would be more predictable.
In Egypt, half of all income for the average family is spent on food. By comparison, in the U.S. we only spend 10% for food, and half of that is in restaurants. If Mubarak’s $52 Billion were returned from Swiss banks and spread around, Egyptians could be well fed for a while.
Today was Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday celebration. He seems to have picked up a few more friends since he died, which offers eternal hope for the rest of us.
Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
"Hurry up planes and start leaving here. I can't walk in these snowshoes. Been run over by two sleighs today. Taxicabs are being pulled by dog teams and the weather man says there will be a blizzard tonight." DT #2361, Feb. 26, 1934
"There’ll never be a time when the old horse is not superior to any auto ever made." WA# 507, Sept. 11, 1932
"Just passed thru Chicago. It's not a boast, it's an achievement. The snow was so deep today the crooks could only hit a tall man." DT #1079, Jan. 9, 1930