June 4 is International Tiananmen Square Day

May 29, 2022 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Look here, because the famous photo of a lone individual blocking a column of tanks is copyrighted, and I can’t show it to you.

For the enormous significance of the protests in 1989 at Tiananmen Square, see here, and also see the PBS DVD Tiananmen, The People Versus the Party.

On June 4 – on every June 4 – wear or carry something black, since the demonstrators at Tiananmen Square wore black to identify their support of freedom of thought in China.

An Indispensable Source About Jane Austen’s Family and World

May 29, 2022 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chawton House in the Snow, March 2008, by Raymoseley at the English Wikipedia

Caroline Jane Knight’s book, Jane & Me, My Austen Heritage, is an indispensable source of new information about Jane Austen’s personality, experiences, family life, and family history.

The author is a descendant of Jane’s brother Edward, so she has both Austen and Knight heritage.

She grew up in Chawton House, and has access to internal family lore and records. Most of the information in her book is not contained in any of the other books on Jane Austen.

Here are some examples of what you will find in Caroline Jane Knight’s book:

Why Jane and Cassandra’s brother George was mostly hidden away, and what

became of him.

– What became of Chawton House over the years, and what it was like to live there.

– The game traditionally played at Christmas in Chawton House.

– The Knights were originally really knights.

– Why the Knight’s adopted Edward, and had him change his last name to Knight.

– Jane Austen’s keen insight that when Edward’s adoptive mother turned the Knight

properties over to Edward, she wasn’t doing Edward a favor.

– Why Edward had to delay giving his mother and sisters (and Martha Lloyd) a

permanent place to live, namely Chawton Cottage: there were financial and legal

challenges that Edward had to settle first.

– What became of Godmersham.

– Chawton was the squire’s residence, and what that meant to the community. When the

author visited Chawton after a long time away from it, as soon as a woman in the town

learned the author’s family name, the woman curtseyed deferentially to the author,

astounding the person who had accompanied the author, and who hadn’t known of her

family background.

– On two occasions in the past, the squire of Chawton was a woman. How the first

female squire of Chawton tried to ensure that all future squires would be male.

– Local jealousy and resentment of the imagined “cushy” easy existence of the squire

and of his family.

– Sandy Lerner’s role in preserving Chawton House. How Chawton house became – at

least temporarily – a museum and research institute on early literature written by

women. (Sandy Lerner is familiar to most serious North American fans of Jane Austen.

Sandy had a wonderful museum of carriages from the Regency period.)

The author mentions the great value of Linda Slothuber’s research on Austen’s family. (Linda is familiar to Jane Austen fans in and around Washington DC.)

The author’s life was full of dramatic changes, and is quite instructive.

The author founded The Jane Austen Literacy Foundation (www.janeaustenlf.org).

A Key to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

August 1, 2021 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Title page from the first edition of the first volume of Pride and Prejudice, 1813. Lilly Library, Indiana University..
Title page from the first edition of the first volume of Pride and Prejudice, 1813. Lilly Library, Indiana University.

You have almost certainly read Jane Austen’s most famous novel, Pride & Prejudice, or seen a movie adaption of it. In addition to an enthralling plot, full of unexpected turns, this novel, like her others, is known for its insights into human nature, and the ways we trip ourselves up.

The plot centers on the repercussions of an initial misunderstanding between the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, and the hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy. The misunderstanding arose because Elizabeth, while she was sitting at a ball, waiting to be asked to dance, overheard Darcy say “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”

This incident in her fiction might have been inspired by an aspect of Jane Austen’s own experience.

Jane Austen insisted that none of the characters in her novels were based upon particular people. But the personalities and human interactions in her novels necessarily spring from some combination of the personalities and human interactions she had encountered, along with her imagination. One example is the residential displacement and financial stress experienced by wives and daughters when the male head of household dies. That scenario appears both in Pride & Prejudice and in Sense and Sensibility.

Cassandra Austen (1773–1845), Portrait of Jane Austen in watercolor and pencil, circa 1810, National Portrait Gallery (London): NPG 3630 .

Jane Austen was not considered to be particularly pretty, especially in comparison to her older sister Cassandra.

Jane’s awareness of that general opinion about her appearance is probably why Pride & Prejudice contains Darcy’s initial disparaging statement, and is also why the plot hinges upon Darcy’s remark.

Near the end of Pride & Prejudice there occurs a related instance where Jane’s own experiences probably appear in transmuted form. As noted by Joan Klingel Ray, in Simply Austen, Simply Charly, 2017:

Replying to her question about why he first came to admire and love her, he [Darcy] says that “the liveliness of her mind” attracted him the most.

Jane Austen’s personal experiences might also have contributed to her vivid awareness of the stress noted above on the female survivors of the death of a male head of household. Joan Austen, Cassandra, and her mother experienced those stresses. Recall that all of Jane Austen’s novels appeared only after the death of her father. His failure to prioritize his wife’s and daughters’ future financial security is discussed in Marian Veever’s outstanding dual biography of Jane Austen and Dorothy Wordsworth (Jane and Dorothy, Pegasus Books, 2018). That aspect of Jane’s experience may also have influenced the creation of the paternally-inattentive Mr. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice.

Trump at the Lincoln Memorial on July 4

June 19, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Daniel Chester French's statue at the Lincoln Memorial of Abraham Lincoln; photo by Jeff Kubina.

Daniel Chester French’s statue at the Lincoln Memorial of Abraham Lincoln; photo by Jeff Kubina.

President Chump has inserted himself into this year’s July 4 celebration on the Mall.

That is clever, but evil.

Chump will be there to propagandize and mis-inform, not to elevate and inspire.

The Lincoln Memorial is a memorial to freedom, and July 4 is a date that memorializes freedom, unity, and rigorously thought-out principled choices.

Chump – an enemy of American values and of the free world – will pollute that place and that date by his presence, and by his words, and by his whole cast of mind.

If you will be near the Lincoln Memorial when Chump speaks, you might like to:

Bring a sign:

…………President Chump!

…………The Creepy Clown in the White House

…………Don’t Trumpollute the Lincoln Memorial!

…………President Chump, Enemy of the Free World


…………..President Chump! President Chump!
…………………….Take him to the dump!

………….President Chump! Lock him up!

Each time he lies or advocates evil:

——–Boo loudly

——–shout “Liar!, Liar!”

If any entrepreneur is clever enough to be selling miniature Trump Baby balloons:

——–Jiggle yours, especially if the balloon is where Chump can’t avoid seeing it.

You might want to arrive early, to be close to the Lincoln Memorial,
so that cameras filming from the Memorial will show your balloon and signs.

Bring water!

Eugene Robinson, in an insightful column in the Washington Post, explains well the irony of Chump’s presence at this event. Here is a quote from Robinson’s column:
On Feb. 24, Trump posted this alarming tweet: “HOLD THE DATE!
We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C.,
on July 4th. It will be called ‘A Salute To America’ and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”

Note the signature pretentiousness of Chump’s tweet: “the biggest“, and “your favorite President, me!” Notice also the other characteristic of Chump’s statements: the self-serving attempt to pre-empt the way you think about the importance of his speech, and how you categorize him.

Scary Clown, photographed by Graeme Maclean in 2005.

Scary Clown, photographed by Graeme Maclean in 2005.

Kavanaugh’s Rage Is Not Evidence of His Innocence

October 4, 2018 at 5:54 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Conceited, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Judicial Misjudgment, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Photo in 1887 of the actor Richard Mansfield, by Henry Van der Weyde (1838-1924; London,

Photo in 1887 of the actor Richard Mansfield, by Henry Van der Weyde (1838-1924; London,


There is intense disagreement about Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness to become one of the Justices on the Supreme Court.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on September 27, 2018, the committee and the world tried to decide whether to believe Christine Blasey Ford’s assertion that a drunken Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at a party when she was 15 years old, or whether to believe Kavanaugh’s denial.

Both Ford and Kavanaugh showed strong emotions during the hearing.

This post is about the interpretation of Kavanaugh’s rage, frustration, and dread.

Some Senators and others have interpreted Kavanaugh’s rage as evidence of his innocence. It is not.

About the diverse interpretations, see this article by Lori Rozsa , Brittney Martin and David A. Farenthold.

Kavanaugh’s rage is because the unwritten rules of entitlement that he absorbed as a teenager were violated: he was not allowed to escape being held accountable for acts for which only the less privileged were supposed to be held accountable.

Those rules said that anyone of his social class, of his wealth, with his connections, with his accomplishments and talent, would never suffer the consequences of breaking the rules that apply to lesser mortals.

These unwritten rules are exposed by Shamus Khan, in a revealing article in the Washington Post. Khan explains why Kavanaugh lies so readily, and so self-righteously.  Khan also notes that privilege also makes some kids callous – a notable feature of Kavanaughs judicial rulings, of his work for George W. Bush. It would also lower his internal barriers to sexually abusing others. As noted in an article by Suniyah S. Luthar, those same unwritten rules, combined with greater resources, explain the surprising fact that rich kids are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than are middle class kids or disadvantaged kids. That was another striking feature of the Kavanaugh’s behavior during high school and college.

Parenthetically, similar violations of expectations of special status underlie the rage of white supremicists and of male supremicists.

Kavanaugh also exhibited frustration. Based on media reports and on the current distribution of power between the two political parties, Kavanaugh had become convinced that his bid for a judgeship on the Supreme Court was unstoppable. But now his ascension to the Supreme Court is leaking away, and he doesn’t know how to stop the leak.

At the hearing, Kavanaugh also radiated dread. He knows that his wife and his daughters will no longer look up to him and trust him. He knows that friends and colleagues will re-evaluate him.

It is not just Kavanaugh’s past behavior that is at issue. His present behavior is problematic.

During the Senate hearing, Kavanaugh lied repeatedly, while under oath.

Eugene Robinson and David Ignatius give valuable insights about Kavanaugh’s lies and character.


Molly Roberts shows why it is quite believable that Christine Blasey Ford vividly remembers who attacker was, and who was laughing, while having difficulty remembering other details about the party at which Kavanaugh assaulted her.

Kavanaugh tried to evade answering inconvenient questions by attempting to change the subject (as Trump does). Kavanaugh tries to change a troublesome question about himself into an analogous question about his questioner.

Here is an example of his Kavanaugh’s deflection of an inconvenient question, as quoted from an article in the Washington Post by Sarah L. Kaufman

“He went back to being combative, even at times overly hot, inappropriate and rude. He challenged Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on her questions about whether he’d ever drunk so much his memory was affected. “Have you?” he said.”

A qualified judge would never have put up with a deflecting, topic-changing non-answer like that.

Kavanaugh also tried to claim that the accusations against him were part of a conspiracy. That was another misleading attempt at changing the subject. The time-line of Ford’s accusation refutes Kavanaugh’s claim, as is demonstrated by an editorial in the Washington Post.

Altogether, Kavanaugh’s behavior at the hearing was behavior he would not tolerate from any party who was appearing before him at a trial at which he was the Judge.

Kavanaugh lied repeatedly during the Senate hearing. He lied while under oath. E.J. Dionne Jr. has provided a superb account of Kavanaugh’s lies, and why Kavanaugh is unfit to be a judge. His article has links to extensive compilations of Kavanaugh’s lies. Eugene Robinson also has a penetrating account of Kavanaugh’s lies at the hearing, and how it shows Kavanaugh’s unfitness for serving as a judge.

Kavanaugh’s unjustified sense of entitlement, his lies in the Senate hearing, and his tactic of avoiding answering unwelcome questions by trying to change the subject, are all un-judgelike. They disqualify him from the Supreme Court.

His presence on the Supreme Court would further degrade respect for the Supreme Court’s decisions.

His defects also disqualify Kavanaugh from serving a a judge on any court, including the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is the court he now serves on.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, why have you so sullied your judicial legacy, by recommending someone as unfit as Brett M. Kavanaugh?

Was David Eisenhauer a Jekyll-Hyde-like psychopath?

February 11, 2016 at 8:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Torrential rain on Thassos island, Greece, photo by Edal Anton Lefterov, 6 July 2011.

Torrential rain on Thassos island, Greece, photo by Edal Anton Lefterov, 6 July 2011.

You probably have heard the horrifying story.  (If not, you can read about its various aspects here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

A sweet, cheerful, friendly, affectionate young girl, Nicole Lovell, in Blacksburg, Virginia, had overcome challenges that most of us will never face. She overcame lymphoma (a type of cancer), had a liver transplant, and a trachoetomy. The tracheotomy left a scar on Nicole’s throat.

Doing so took courage, fortitude, the strength of character to overcome fear, to endure physical pain. It entailed loneliness from being separated from her friends. It caused her unease about falling behind her classmates. What she did was nothing short of heroic. Her parents were subjected to staggering burdens, which they lovingly accepted.

The tracheotomy scar and Nicole’s medical absences from school made her the target of bullying and snubs at her middle school.

That, and her entry into adolescence, made her eager for a boyfriend. She sought one on social media. At 13 years old, in middle school, she thought she had found one, David Eisenhauer, 18 years old, an athlete and accomplished student at nearby Virginia Tech. She was proud and happy: she now had a handsome affectionate defender, and a living proof that she was lovable and attractive. For a girl in middle school, he was a trophy. She dreamt of starting a family with him. She spoke of running away with him.

At some point they had sex. At some point David Eisenhauer decided to kill her. He and a friend of his, Natalie M. Keepers, plotted for a month on where and how to do it. They bought a shovel. He had a knife. They selected a secluded spot on campus.

In November 2015, David arranged for Nichole to sneak out of her house to meet him in secret.

On the night of November 27, 2015, she climbed out of her bedroom window to meet him. She must have been happily excited and eager: she had even told a friend that she was going to run away with him (but not when). At some secluded location David stabbed Nicole to death. He and Natalie took Nicole’s body a little across the border of North Carolina and buried her.

Was David Eisenhauer a Jekyll-Hyde-like psychopath?

No, not according to what his roomate and others say.

Why then did he plot with a friend, for a month, to cold-bloodedly murder a sweet, trusting, affectionate young girl, Nicole Lovell, who adored and trusted him?

Here is a guess.

According to those who knew him, David Eisenhauer is intelligent, and is focused on the future.

He knew he had made a very serious mistake when, probably in a moment of weakness, he had earlier had sex with Nicole Lovell. Since she was a juvenile and he was not, if their sexual activities ever became known, he would be classed as a sex offender who took advantage of an under-age girl. For the rest of his life he would have to declare himself to the local police wherever he lived, and he would have to obey restrictions that barred him from proximity to schools and playgrounds, and even those used by his potential future children. If the sensible proposal to mark the passports of sex-offenders is eventually approved, some countries would thereafter deny him entry. He would be shamed in the eyes of his parents, friends, and classmates. Even his family would be disgusted by him, and would feel let down by him, and would even feel shame at having raised him.

Because of the bullying she had suffered, Nicole Lovell had a pattern of boasting about any evidence that she was lovable and attractive. In particular, she had boasted about him, on social media, and Nicole Lovell’s friends knew about him. David Eisenhauer knew that it was only a matter of time before Nicole boasted to her friends about having sex with him, and then that damning fact would quickly become widely known. All the bad consequences would ensue.

So David Eisenhauer felt that he had no choice but to silence Nicole Lovell by killing her.

He revealed his quandry and his plans to fellow student Natalie M. Keepers, a close and supportive friend, and enlisted her help.

We know what happened next. David Eisenhauer compounded his earlier serious crime of having sex with a minor by the far more serious crime of murder.

But suppose the plot had succeeded, and the murderers had never been identified?

After the murder, the only person who knew David Eisenhauer’s secret was Natalie Keepers. She herself had in the past been bullied, and was somewhat unstable – perhaps as a result of the bullying. So she was the only remaining threat. She was emotionally unstable. She might blurt out the secret during some therapy session in the future, or during some future dispute with David Eisenhauer.

Natalie Keepers was lucky that she and David Eisenhauer were caught.

Most likely, David Eisenhauer still had the knife and the shovel.

The scenario described above is just a guess. But it could explain what had seemed inexplicable.

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Shout It! We Do NOT Love Donald Trump

January 23, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Posted in Conceited, Dysfunctional Politics, Presidential election, Uncategorized | 2 Comments


As explained at the bottom of this post, you can comment on it to show either your agreement or your disagreement with some or all of it.

Trump is insecure. To an abnormal extent, he likes to project strong self-esteem. But the abnormal intensity of his boasting reveals that his self esteem is actually weak. His need for reassurance is why he continually claims that this group and that group loves him. Do you know anyone else who so obsessively boasts that so many groups love him?
Donald Trump, we do NOT love you.

We do not even LIKE you.

We despise Trump because he is an insecure braggart and a bully.

In Atlantic City, Trump tried to bully an elderly widow who just wanted to remain in her own home, rather than have it bulldozed to advance Trump’s plans for a casino. Trump lost. (Despite his inflated claim, Trump does not always win.) Afterwards, instead of expressing remorse and ethical growth, Trump gratuitously and falsely said that she was a nasty person.

We mistrust Trump because he believes in hype as a matter of principle.
An article (by Robert O’Harrow Jr., Alice Crites, Walter Fee) in a recent Washington Post adds detail to what we know about Trump’s spotty business history.
Besides being careless of facts, Trump overstates his assets, overstates what he can accomplish, and spins his failures – as if calling a failure a success makes it so.

As a matter of policy, Trump tells people what he knows they want to hear (voters, casino commissions), without making sure that he can back up what he says.

We despise Trump for his astoundingly incautious handling of large sums of money. Imagine what such an impulsive, feckless investor would do to the US Treasury, and to the financial standing of the US. Alexander Hamilton would have been aghast at the dangers of entrusting any significant aspect of the US economy into the hands of such a gambler and bluffer, especially given Trump’s bumpy track record in business.

We despise Trump for never acknowledging when his claims are proved to be erroneous. Trump’s disinterest in correcting the record shows that he does not care about the truth.
A striking example is his ‘birther’ claims about Obama, which he never retracted despite abundant solid disproof.

We despise Trump because he does not favor an open society, with the time and role it gives to the airing of dissenting views. Instead, Trump likes Putin’s way of doing things, and Putin likes Trump. An open society is the goal of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: witness the separation of powers, and the Bill of Rights. Trump thinks those features are merely impediments to decisive action. As explained in a previous post, Trump’s political beliefs developed as a result of the atypical advantages he had in starting his carreer.

We despise Trump because he allows and enables Corey Lewandowski‘s totalitarian control of access – by reporters and by the public – to Trump’s speaking appearances. Lewandowski’s approach is similar to that of Putin in Russia, to Xi in China, to Kim Jong-un in North Korea: only favorable images and reports may come out. Lewandowsky stomps on freedom of speech. Perhaps for his next job, Lewandowski should interview for a job with one of the dictators named above.
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Luanne Castle’s new book of Poetry: Doll God

January 24, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Golden laurel wreath, probably from Cyprus, 4th/3rd century BC; Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Mannheim, Germany, photographed by Andreas Praefcke in April, 2007.

Golden laurel wreath, probably from Cyprus, 4th/3rd century BC; Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Mannheim, Germany, photographed by Andreas Praefcke in April, 2007.

Luanne Castle, whose very popular blog is at http://writersite.org , has just published a book of poetry, Doll God.

Here is the review I posted on Amazon.

The changing feelings and conditions
Of a person,
Of two people,
Of an animal,
Of an object,
Over an hour or a lifetime,
Each captured in a concise slide-show,
Each snap-shot taken
With empathy
And insight.



Not included in that review were lines that particularly struck me.

‘Calculating Loss’ (on p.51) included the wise observation,
“Every day the world subtracts from itself and nothing
is immune”.

‘Between the Art and the Muse’ (p.17) contains the phrase
“… yearning
out the window to his rightfulness”. Replace ‘his’ by ‘her’ when appropriate, and you have a phrase that captures the innermost thought of everyone who has experienced unrequited love.



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Proselytise Chief Justice Roberts, and thy Neighbor?

January 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Posted in Privacy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Controversy, a sculpture "Auseinandersetzung", by Karl-Henning Seemann, 1979 in Lammhof, Tübingen, photographed by Собственное фото .

Controversy, a sculpture “Auseinandersetzung”, by Karl-Henning Seemann, 1979 in Lammhof, Tübingen, photographed by Собственное фото .

According to a recent article by Robert Barnes in the Washington Post, the Supreme Court is presently deciding the size of the buffer zone around abortion clinics.  At issue is whether a person entering an abortion clinic can choose to avoid hearing the arguments of protesters, and not be forced to have a discussion with them, by staying within a wide-enough buffer zone.

More broadly, the issue is about the tensions between freedom of speech and privacy, including the right to choose not to engage in a discussion – the right not to be subjected to another’s attempt to persuade.

The Justices of the Supreme Court should remember that the existence and size of the buffer zone that results from their decision in this case will, by logic, apply also to the Supreme Court itself, as well as to the Justices’ own homes, and to their persons, when shopping or traveling or strolling.  If the buffer is thin, anyone will be able to approach Justice John Roberts, or any of the other Justices, when the Justice seeks to return or to leave home, or any time and place when the Justice is outside home, to convince the Justice of the errors in his or her judgement, or of the rightness or wrongness of either side in any case that is before the Court.

The outcome of the decision will also apply to all lower Federal courts, and to the dwelling places and sojourns of their judges, as well as to the workplaces, dwelling places and sojourns of all Federal civil servants, regardless of whether their work is classified or not, and to those of all members of Congress.  They will apply also to every house of worship in the land, and to the NRA, and to the Koch brothers.

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An Historic Opportunity for Egypt’s Military

July 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Mohamed Morsi, photographed at on May 8, 2013 by Wilson Dias for Agência Brasil, during Morsi's reception by President Dilma Rousseff, of Brazil. The original image has been turned upside down.

Mohamed Morsi, photographed at on May 8, 2013 by Wilson Dias for Agência Brasil, during Morsi’s reception by President Dilma Rousseff, of Brazil.
The original image has been turned upside down.

Until this week, Egypt’s military seemed fated to appear in the history books as being blind to the benefits of democracy and of an open society, and as interested only in its own welfare and power.

Its removal of the undemocratic, autocratic, coercive Morsi regime and the Islamic Brotherhood from power suddenly offers the prospect that Egypt’s military can now end up being recognized as truly patriotic, as the friend and defender of democracy and of an open society, and therefore as the defender of the true interests of Egypt.

Although Morsi and the Islamicists were elected, they were elected because the majority that opposes their policies did not understand what was at stake in the election, nor the need for political organization.  Many did not vote.  The secularist opposition was fragmented.  This is well described in an article by Abigail Hauslohner in the Washington Post.

That was because during that election, democracy was new to Egypt.  The results of the election were not the results of a functioning democracy.  The overthrow of Morsi and the Islamicists was not an assault on democracy.  Jack H. G. Darrant, whose blog The Political Idealist is noted for its rigorous analyses, came to the same conclusion.

Egypt has learned a lot as a result of seeing Morsi and the Islamicists in action.  Morsi and the Islamicists do not understand and value democracy and an open society, do not want to understand, and never will understand.  They are autocrats at heart.

Egypt’s military has given Egypt a new chance to build a thriving, open society.

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