Amr Bargisi: An Egyptian Democrat Gives Up (MUST READ)
The first free presidential election in Egypt begins today. No matter the winner, liberal democracy has lost.
FP: One of, if not, the best article on Egypt elections, Islamism and the cluelessness and delusions of the West. Bargisi provides offers some advice for action but I’m afraid that (1) it’s not feasible (2) it won’t be done (3) even if it is attempted, it won’t be effective for reasons that Bargisi himself specifies in the article.
The New York Times presents a view of the Egyptian elections which makes them sound very western except for the assertion that the poll numbers are unreliable (which perhaps explains this Gallup poll). The reality, writes Raymond Ibrahim, is far different.
Despite the fact that some in the West portray Islam and democracy as being perfectly compatible, evidence continues to emerge that many countries in the Middle East, democracy and elections are various means to one end: the establishment of a decidedly undemocratic form of law—Islamic, or Sharia Law.
An Egyptian cleric, Dr. Talat Zahran, proclaimed that it is "obligatory to cheat at elections, a beautiful thing" -- meaning that voting is a tool, an instrument, the only value of which is to empower Sharia.
Another cleric, Hazim Shuman, who has his own TV program, issued a fatwa that likened voting for Islamist candidates to a "jihad," or a holy war, adding that paradise awaits whoever is "martyred" during the electoral campaign.
FP: As if we needed more evidence that the Western media and punditocracy is clueless and delusional about the Muslim world. Now name me one other religion which raises cheating to a moral imperative.
BTW, in EU's Ashton declares 'Palestinian' stone throwing 'non-violent' Israel Matzav also writes that
Something tells me that Baroness Catherine Ashton has never had a stone thrown at her while she was driving or otherwise. If she'd had the experience, she wouldn't be making stupid statements like this one.
I must make a few corrections to this statement. It is likely that she didn’t have a stone thrown at her, but there is evidence hypocrisy can also result in such stupid statements. If memory serves me, Thomas Friedman made recently a similar comment, but expressed the opposite position in an earlier book when a stone was thrown at and hurt him.
Be that as it may, Ashton constantly makes stupid statements because she is stupid. Iran and the Arabs could not have a better counterpart in negotiations.
Roger Kimball: Who Is Barack Obama? The Question that Won’t Go Away (h/t Israel Matzav)
Since 2008, the meticulous Stanley Kurtz has patiently been sifting through what materials are publicly available to answer the question Who Is Barack Obama? His book Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism is essential reading for anyone the least bit curious about the political history and ideological commitments of the most powerful man in the world.
But not everyone shares Mr. Kurtz’s curiosity. At the beginning of the Metaphysics, Aristotle observes than human beings are by nature curious animals: they ask questions and want to know the truth about the world around them. But not all men. One of the great oddnesses of the 2008 campaign was the code of omerta enforced by the the legacy media about anything having to do with Obama’s past. Where was he born? Don’t know, don’t care. What were his college years like? Can’t you move on to something important, like the time Mitt Romney ragged some hippie in high school? Why did Obama say that former Weatherman Bill Ayers was “just a guy in the neighborhood” when he was plainly an important political mentor, if not also the ghostwriter, for the future president?
And on and on and on. There are a lot of questions to be asked about Barack Obama. Why are his college records sealed? Why can’t we see a certified copy of his birth certificate? Why are his medical records sealed? I’ve been told that his Social Security registration was issued by Connecticut, which would be odd, but cannot check because that too is sealed. Obama worked as a lawyer, but we don’t know who he worked for because his client list is sealed. Why is it that Michelle Obama can no longer practice as an attorney? We know the fact but not the reason.
As a first, preliminary spur to curiosity, I share the following image just sent to me by a friend.
The serious problem here is not Obama’s sealed life, it’s the portion of the public who elected him. And that portion still votes.
Adrian Chen: The Facebook IPO Was an Inside Joke
Even without secret tips from their banker buddies, the whole game was rigged in favor of insiders from the start—even more than usual for Wall Street. In the New Yorker, John Cassady explains how major investors had already made huge profits trading Facebook for months on secondary markets before the company went public, rendering the IPO a farce. These investors had already slurped up Facebook's value and moved on before the shit-show began. "Ordinary investors were largely cut out of the wealth-creation process, and well-connected investment firms took their place," writes Cassady.
(Incidentally, now that Facebook's tanking, Morgan Stanley and the other banks that underwrote the deal have a good shot at making a profit by short selling millions of Facebook shares that had been created just for them under an arcane financial move known as the "Greenshoe option." Nice deal, if you can get it.)
These maneuvers show once again that Facebook's lofty ideals are at odds with how it functions in reality. For a company built on sharing and transparency, Facebook's IPO was uniquely private and opaque. For a company which Mark Zuckerberg boasted in a letter to investors "was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission," Facebook sure as hell acted like a company in helping to enrich insiders at the expense of public investors.
So, Mark Zuckerberg screwed Facebook investors in the IPO like he's screwed Facebook users on privacy. (Hours before the IPO, Facebook was hit with a $15 billion lawsuit over privacy violations.) This would be just a hilarious coincidence, except for the vast amounts of money he's made doing both.
FP: I already commented on Matt Taibbi’s take on the subject. If you read the history of the company and Zuckerberg, you notice how quickly the VC and financial sharks wound their arms around him when there were initial signs that his software was popular in colleges. At that time Zuckerberg was a naive young man, without any experience, knowledge or understanding of finance, the markets, business, etc. In such circumstances the outcome is predictable and fixed.