I did not watch the SOTU address last night but from reading commentary provided by people on the left and on the right (more from people on the Right, as you would expect) my impression is that Obama said he was all for cutting spending right before he proposed a mammoth amount of new spending, excuse me, investment. Apparently he managed to dispense with foreign affairs in a few sentences as a nuisance distracting from his domestic agenda. Finally he lauded American exceptionalism (apparently we are able to take people from failed cultures and make them into average Americans within one generation, except that we are failing to do that because our schools don't have enough science teachers, or something along those lines.) If I have short changed his speech, let me know. However, any speech that mentions the need to cut spending without mentioning the need to reform entitlements is a joke. And any speech which discusses foreign policy without mentioning the ascendancy of Iran in Lebanon or the unrest in Egypt is trivial.
The demonstrations in Egypt may mean nothing, but the ruling family apparently is concerned; this may or may not be big news:
The wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and their son Gamal, considered the successor to his father as president, have fled to London with 97 suitcases after unprecedented massive protests in Egypt, an Arab website reported.
The plane also carried Gamal's daughter, the Akhbar Arab website reported. It also said a Twitter account was blocked to prevent a social network campaign to urge the ousting of Mubarak, who is over 80 and is reportedly is suffering from cancer.
Dozens of Twitter messages have been sent sayng that Mubarak’s wife Suzanne was identified at Heathrow Airport in London, where she and her son and granddaughter arrived in a private jet.
In Egypt, calm has returned to the streets. Three people – two of them protesters—were killed in Tuesday’s demonstrations that spread throughout the country.
Despots are a lot like rats when they are in charge and a lot like rats when their power slips; if the family is fleeing it may just be precautionary before the violent suppression or it may be a sign of impending upheaval; time will tell. If Mubarak falls, the primary beneficiary will probably be the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological father of Salafi Jihad terror. KSM was a member before forming al Qaeda with his friend Osama bin Laden. Their disagreement with the Muslim Brotherhood had to do with tactics, not with goals.
Inertia is an under-appreciated aspect of biological systems. People resist change and will prefer to kludge the system rather than risk a collapse, yet eventually any system that resists change must collapse. The beauty of a Democracy is that we encourage collapse and insure partial collapses every few years (as in the 2008 ans 2010 elections.) Despots fear collapse and resist with all their might, becoming more and more ruthless and vicious while less and less efficient in bettering the lives of their subjects. Egypt will change, probably not for the better and possibly not just yet. Once the change occurs, our government will be completely surprised and unprepared. The current administration, run by a President who speaks of change while behaving as if he is a conventional machine politician of the early days of the last century, will be more surprised and unprepared than most.