Egypt Update: How Long Can Either Side Hold Out?


A million people looking for a Denny's.

It's night in Cairo now, but after a full day of mass gatherings you can take confidence from two things:

* There's a Hardee's in Tahrir Square.

* The looting/lawlessness strategy Hosni Mubarak employed over the weekend has not dimmed enthusiasm for anti-government protests.

The square was jam-packed throughout the day, and still seems to be pretty crowded now that night has fallen. Al Jazeera calls it close to the million organizers were promising. Time says it's more than a million. In any event, it was a lot of people.

If Mubarak had hoped that the absence of police and an outbreak of looting would lead to protest exhaustion, he seems to have bet wrong. The logic of riding out the demonstrations, until people get sick of going hungry and tired of being threatened by looters and escaped criminals, is theoretically sound. Over the weekend there were quotes from some Cairenes regretting the absence of Mubarak's iron rule. But the evidence is not showing up in crowd numbers: When it's the eight day of protests and the crowd is larger than ever, the momentum is clearly against the government. It's hard to imagine what tricks the Egyptian president still has up his sleeve.

News from all over:

The U.S. special envoy conveys President Obama's wish for an "orderly transition."

Nobody likes Omar Suleiman, the torturer-in-chief chosen by Mubarak to succeed him.

Many reporters have noted the catholicity of the crowd, and there are quite a few people holding portraits of Gamal Abdel Nasser. This is a notable irony given that 1) Mubarak stands in direct line of succession to Nasser; 2) there isn't a single area of Egyptian life -- from economics to culture to law to military prowess -- where Nasser was anything less than a total catastrophe; 3) Nasser killed and tortured more members of the Muslim Brotherhood than Mubarak could ever dream of doing, and the Muslim Brotherhood is taking an increasingly visible role in the movement. Maybe it's like the Sharks and the Jets: After 50 years, who can tell the difference?

Jordan's King Abdullah has thrown out his own government.

In Syria, chin-free strongman Bashar al-Assad is hinting at unspecified "reforms" ahead of protests that are reportedly planned for Saturday. Protests in Syria would be truly surprising news, as King Lion the Second has never experienced any substantial internal protest. His father was willing to kill more than 10,000 people and pave over their town to keep dissidents quiet.

And if there's a Hardee's, what of the real crown jewel of American fast food: Arby's? It's not clear there ever was an Arby's franchise in Cairo, and if there was it seems to be out of business.

With political turmoil burning up the Middle East, never forget that nature is the real enemy. Avalanche kills French skier in Lebanon. Shark eats German snorkler in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Update: Mubarak says he won't run again, which presumably means he plans to leave in September.

NEXT: Nanny of the Month (Jan 2011) Drug Testing 11-year-olds! Fining iPod Users!

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  1. The looting/lawlessness strategy Hosni Mubarak employed over the weekend has not dimmed enthusiasm for anti-government protests

    That was only phase one. These protestors are fucked once he releases the Mummies.

    1. Release the mummies!

      1. Hire some Gaza strippers!

        1. Release the strippers!

          1. Strippers? Does Mubarak want to arouse the demonstrators and make them too embarrassed to march?

            1. Release the mummy strippers!

              1. Reminds me of a friend describing a scene from The Mummy where the mummy "sucked a guy's Ka."

                There was an awkward pause for a few seconds before he explained that Ka was the Egyptian idea of life-force.

              2. Mubarek made the mummies run on time.

      2. Honey, these guys don't use doors!

  2. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dr. Ian Malcolm:

    Anybody hear that? It's an... It's an impact tremor, that's what it is... I'm fairly alarmed here.

    1. Based on the late Heinz Pagels, I note parenthetically.

  3. Crowd estimates are notoriously bad. This morning it was 10s of thousands. Then they upped it to 250,000. Now a million. I think they were just embarassed that we can draw as many to an outdoor hockey game.

    1. Perhaps more people showed up as the day went along?

    2. America has over 3 times the population of Egypt, and we've never been near getting a million people to our million man marches. I do doubt that a million Egyptians showed up, but I'll believe a few hundred thousand. Either way, it's impressive.

      1. Probably because the populated area of Egypt is close to 100x smaller than the populated area of the US...

  4. "The U.S. special envoy conveys President Obama's wish for an "orderly transition.""

    That is good news. I was afraid he would convey his wishes for a disorderly one.

    1. "Hope and change"

    2. The guy is the son of a CIA officer who helped get the Iranian Shah into power, what could go wrong?

  5. a few people holding portraits of Gamal Abdel Nasser.

    There's still a few goofs in the US with nostalgia for Dubya.

    1. Restore the Ptolemies!

      1. Caesarion is dead, dude.

        1. No. There is another. . .Ptolemy.

          1. Cleopatra 2525?

  6. Screw Hardee's

    1. You know, they had a decent hamburger a few years back. It was something you had to order and wait a few minutes for. No idea if they're still doing that (they've mostly vanished from Tampa).

      1. Lot's of Hardee's in the midwest. They market to 20-something frat boys that want eat big burgers and to avoid little kids.

        The burgers aren't bad for chain fast food joints.

        1. The mushroom and Swiss burger is quite tasty.

          1. Their breakfast sandwiches are probably the best of the bunch as well.

            1. Beef. It's what's for dinner.

        2. RE: Hardee's burgers

          The Charbroiled Chicken Club is damn good for fast food.

      2. They're called Carl's Jr in California, and are all over the place.

        1. Hardee's was acquired by the family that owns/operates Carl's Jr. The family has imposed a realitively light hand on Hardee's, but they do use the big star as a part of their marketing.

    2. Hardee's has a big presence in Abu Dhabi. It's the 2nd most popular place in the food court at Abu Dhabi Mall, right behind KFC.

      This is in a place with a (really tasty) Japanese place, a Greek place, an Indian place, a French/cafe sandwich place, an Iranian place, McDonalds, Subway, a decent pizza/pasta place, 2 Lebanese/Arab places, a Mexican place, and a Popeye's.

      Somehow, Hardee's and KFC rule all.

      1. a Mexican place

        I've had "mexican food" outside of the boundaries of New Mexico. I wouldn't recommend it.

        ... "red or green?" Hobbit

        1. Don't confuse "Mexican Food" with New Mexican cuisine. That's like confusing Italian and Sicilian cooking. Both are good, when done right, but they are distinct.

          For the worst Mexican, New Mexican, Southwestern food on the planet...come to Seattle.

          1. Excellent point.

            BTW, fine NEW Mexican food can be found in Eureka, MT at a small cafe. Fellow married a girl from Chama and she brought her cooking talents with her.

            ... Hobbit

            1. Arabian Mexican food is scary.

  7. First a post with Mary Worth strips and then the use of "catholic" in the small-c sense. The old Tim is back!

    1. Mary Worth strips

      Never use that phrase. Never.

      1. You know, I know, we all know that there is, somewhere, a website dedicated to precisely that proposition.

        I believe it was Stevo Darkly who revealed to me that there is such a thing as Velma porn. I mean, come on humanity! Alien superbeings are watching us. Waiting. Judging.

        1. Who else is Daphne going to lez it up with?

      2. What's wrong with Mary Worth? You just got to remember to bring lube, 'cause her cooch gets hella dry.

        1. Paging Rex Morgan, MD.

        2. This is why "Should we ban SugarFree?" is a permanent agenda item during the weekly Reason editorial staff meeting.

          1. That's going in the testimonials.

            1. As well it should.

  8. "Maybe it's like the Sharks and the Jets"

    Sharks and Jets? Is this a Winnipeg Jets old school hockey reference?

    1. Clearly he's not referring to any confrontation that occurred in the postseason.

    2. Sarcasm, how the fuck does it work?

  9. There's a Hardee's in Tahrir Square.

    And we wonder why they hate America.

    1. It could have been worse; it could have been an Arby's. Or (shudder) a Roy Rogers.

      1. Or a Grandy's. Ever eat at Grandy's? It's what self-loathing tastes like.

        1. No, I haven't, but I would guarantee that Warty has. Shit, I'd never had Jack in the Box in my life until I tried a burger a few months ago for kicks. I won't be doing that again.

          1. We don't have those around here. The last time I had a fast-food hamburger was about a year ago. I had a Triple Baconator at Wendy's It was pretty good, a little heavy on the mayo.

            1. If we wanted them to really hate us we could set up an Applebee's. I'd say Olive Garden, but now we're getting into war crime territory.

              1. I like Olive Garden and Taco Bell. What's the problem?

                1. Oh....but the BEST is In and Out Burger. Yummy.

                  1. I had a burger at Five Guys last month. Not bad. They gave me more fries than four people could eat. Well, maybe should eat would be a better phrasing.

                    1. A co-worker has said that Five Guys is a chain to keep an eye on, because the burgers were pretty good. He also mentioned that the large fries was insanely huge; always get the smallest one they have.

                    2. Five Guys is pretty good, at least the new one in Lynnwood. They're asking for a lawsuit though, because even on a dry day the floor in that joint is slicker than oiled teflon.

                    3. I got a cup of fries. The cup is about the size of a fast food medium drink. But they didn't just fill the cup. They filled the whole bag.

                      Not used to unlimited portions, I ate far more than I normally would and felt quite bloated afterward. I took them home, and my wife and 18-year old son couldn't finish them. Okay, my wife couldn't eat them all, big deal. But a teenage boy?

                      That's a lot of fries.

                    4. 5 guys used to be local to the DC area. just a couple of shops. not nearly as good since they franchised it.

                  2. Oh....but the BEST is In and Out Burger. Yummy.

                    Shut the fuck up, Donny!

                2. As far as fast food places go, Taco Bell and the other Mexican ones (Taco Del Mar, Q'doba, Chipotle, Taco Time) are better than the burger joints because they tend to be ok and have fresh vegetables and such.

                  Olive Garden is an abomination against Mediterranean cuisine and should be firebombed by the Italian Army. Or the mob; same thing pretty much.

                  1. Hey, it's a step above Chef Boyardee. Credit where credit is due.

                    1. At least when you throw out the Chef Boyardee, you're only wasting $1.29.

                    2. I'll confess to eating my share of that in my younger days, but I was always intrigued by the orange tomato sauce. Why orange? Why not fake some sort of red color? And what is that meat paste in the ravioli?

                    3. I had Chef Boyardee for lunch.

                    4. Chef Boyardee pizza kits are good. Just use less water in the dough, kneed more and let it rise for about a half hour. Cook the crust alone at 500 degrees for 2 or 3 minutes before adding the sauce and toppings. Just before it is done pop the pie off the pan and finish it on the oven rack for 2 minutes. Beats the shit out of any frozen pizza. Do your prep work on the toppings and preheat the oven while the dough rises. If you can find the big cans of Chef Boyardee sauce sold seperately from the kits use it on your own scratch-made dough. It is the best canned pizza sauce.

                    5. Boboli ready made crust; a couple of tablespoon of Paul Newman's ready-made pesto sauce; Italian-blend white cheeses; & pepperoni. In the oven in less than 5 minutes. Pretty damn good too.

                  2. The mob is far more effective than the Italian army.

                    Fight an Italian one on one, you'll lose; fight a war against the Italian army, you'll win.

                    Fight a Jew one on one, you'll win; go to war with Israel, you'll lose.

                3. I order linguini and clam sauce at an Olive Garden. It arrived smelling like a methane-rich swamp. I was really hungary, so I decide to eat only the pasta.

                  Big mistake.

                4. I have nothing against Taco Bell, I just don't think humans should eat it. Buy it, take it home, and throw it straight in the toilet. It's going to be there is about 20 minutes anyway; give your colon a break.

                  1. Foolish mortals. I get around this problem by not having a colon. Suckers.

              2. I have to say, if forced to eat at one or the other, I'd go to Rafferty's.

                1. For chain Italian, if one must do it, I'm okay with Macaroni Grill. But only just.

                  1. For chain Italian, if one must do it, I'm okay with Macaroni Grill. But only just.

                    Agreed. Of the 3 I mentioned below, I prefer it. But still dont see the point. Also Buca is okay (and located on the same street as the 3 others, but a few miles away).

                2. The Triple Dipper at Chili's is good.

                3. is the Fudrucker love?

              3. I havent been to Olive Garden in about a decade. What I cant figure out is why in a city with a number of good local italian restaurants with virtually no wait, the OG* always has a multi-hour wait.

                In a tiny stretch of the same road there is an Olive Garden, a Macaraoni Grill and a Carabbas, all 3 of which are always crowded. Oh well, filling the chains prevents me from having a longer wait.

                *Dont know that this is still true, but still looks crowded when I drive by.

              4. Friday's is pretty popular in the Gulf. I don't know why. Chili's is huge. Again, no idea.

            2. My vote goes to:

              Red Robin, when you have time to actually sit down and eat lunch.

              What-A-Burger, when you are pressed for time.

              1. Oh, and for Italian, I have eaten some fine meals at Carraba's, although that was a few years ago, when there weren't very many of them.

              2. Red Robin is good, but for that price you should get a happy ending.

              3. Was at Red Robin two weeks ago for my grandsons's birthday.

                Good burgers and the prices weren't unreasonable (important when you're picking up the check for a party of 6).

              4. We've got a Whataburger in Tampa now. We used to go there when we lived in Tallahassee (when I was a wee lad), and I really liked it then. I keep meaning to try it, but I'm not as big a burger eater as I once was.

                That's a Texas chain, right?

                1. Whataburger is from Corpus Christi. Throw a rock in any direction and you'll hit one

            3. Five guys is very good, and has realistic vegetarian options if your like me or Jules from Pulp fiction, and shackled to a vegetarian.

              Interesting interview with the entrepeneur here:

              1. 5 Guys FTW! Smashburger is pretty good too.

                1. Five Guys does have great burgers, but the calorie count is astronomical! 700 calories for a regular burger. 1474 for the large fries. Yikes! The link

                  1. That's not that bad--that's like one calorie per fry.

                    1. And no love for Fuddruckers. What a bunch of barbarians.

                    2. Is it still around? We used to have it in Tampa, and I lived right next to one in Columbus. I always liked it.

                    3. Are you all fucking daft? No mention of White Castle?

                    4. There's one in Pittsburgh at the Waterfront. I believe there are still several in Chicagoland too...they closed down the one near my brother's place last year, unfortunately.

          2. Shit, I'd never had Jack in the Box in my life...

            This sentence would have worked equally as well: "Jack, I'd never had Shit in the Box in my life..."

        2. Hey, I like Grandy's! The taste is meh, but the thrill of wondering if you were going to keel over with a massive coronary while consuming the chicken fried steak is a rush.

          1. It's their hideous biscuits that got to me. It tasted like instead of shortening, they made them with the fryer grease it was time to throw away.

          2. I'd like to open an Italian place and call it Ecoli's.

                1. Fine, then I'll come up with a place for magicians and hypnotists. I'll call it Trick-A-Nosis.

                  Unless you want to try to tell me that's been done, too.

                    1. Worst chat room ever.

      2. Or a Sarpino's.

        1. Oh wait, Sarpino's has to be blamed on Canada.

      3. I've become rather partial to Arby's chicken, bacon, swiss sandwich. If I am forced to consider fast food, I'll take that over any fast food burger.

        1. I use to eat those all the time when I lived in the midwest and Arby's was readily available. Out here in NoVA though, they are a rarity. I'm sure my switch to Chick-fil-a as my standard for fast food is probably an improvement, health-wise.

          I miss Long John Silvers, though.

  10. Am I the only person here who thinks the Arab world in 2011 is starting to look like eastern Europe in 1989? Yes or no?

    1. No. Because the Mideast today has something Eastern Europe didn't: well established radical Muslim organizations with (semi-)covert state backing.

      Egypt has basically two futures right now: The Muslim Brotherhood makes it Iran West, or the army makes it Turkey South.

      It ain't gonna turn into Poland.

      1. It's going to turn into a bunch of Czech Republics, man.

        1. I support the Democratic Repubic of Nubia!

      2. Turkey South is not a bad result at all.

      3. Darn, I was hoping for an Egyptian pope.

      4. When you say "(semi-)covert state backing". I hope you are not leaving out the USA.

    2. No you're not. I had the exact same discussion with a buddy of mine. Recently went back and watched an old Frontline doc about the '89 revolutions.

  11. "Egypt Update: How Long Can Either Side Hold Out?"

    Quite awhile.

  12. Is there something going on in Egypt?

    I've been so busy laying in provisions to survive the coming apocalyptic midwest weather that I haven't been able to keep up with things.

    1. Snowlocaust!

    2. "Bearing down on us like a shotgun filled with snow!"

      1. Shotgun full of snow, you philistine.

        1. Is that like the military leader in feudal Japan, the Snowgun?

    3. Something about a mosque or a grocery store shooting, I think.

  13. I'm hearing that Mubarak has offered to step Septmeber.

    1. He's 82! He shouldn't even be buying green bananas, let alone planning 8 months ahead.

    2. Yes, he promised not to run for reelection in his Tuesday night speech. This is the best case scenario. It gives Egypt a chance to replace him through elections instead of through brokered agreements. Brokered agreements would favor the radicals to much.

      1. Did he promise that the election wouldn't be rigged to favor his heir apparent?

        1. B-U-Y-I-N-G T-I-M-E.

        2. His heir apparent is his son, who fled the country. I think Mubarak won't be able to pick a successor. The military might be able to, or they might have a competitive election.

  14. Allah Allah the oxen are free!

  15. I've seen multiple unsubstantiated news rePorts that Mubarak has promised to not run again. CNBC has sent multiple push notices to my phone.

  16. Looks like they had to shut down the Hardee's because of the rioting. No Monster thickburgers for hungry protesters.

  17. Has Mubarak has been pushed to the point where he's gonna shoot lightning from his hands?

    " Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design. Your facebook friends, up there on the internet, are walking into a trap, as is your Rebel fleet. It was *I* who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the internet off switch. It is quite safe from your pitiful little band. An entire legion of my best troops awaits them.

  18. From USA Today:

    An effigy of Mubarak hung from a traffic light with a Star of David painted on its chest.

    I hope it's an isolated incident.

  19. I don't see any Porta-Potties there, and the mob says it isn't leaving. Something's gotta give.

    1. Do they even have porta-johns in Egypt, I thought thats what copper pots were for?

      1. Gonna be a million-poop march very soon.

        1. "Gonna be a million-poop march very soon."
          And you don't feed or provide water to 250K people from one Hardee's either.
          There is some form of support here that is not yet being reported.

          1. Don't Egyptians typically get like 750 calories a day? I think they can hold out.

  20. I'm watching Beck, Glenn - he is telling us that coalition building is a tactic of revolutionary marxists - Beware Liberaltarians! Beware Tory-Liberal Democrats!

    1. Do you usually take political cues from children?

  21. There was an Arby's in Ma'adi once upon a time - just off Road 9. Used to eat there on occasion.

  22. Craniums elevate - excellent background and info piece on state of play in Egypt.

    Egyptian backgrouner

    Interesting bits -

    - El Baradai's main talent remains that of jumping in front of Western MSM TV Cameras and feigning relevance

    - Overall, MSM performing to usual Katrina-esque levels of competence

    - Most of the DC brain trust has missed the ball just about totally (surprise!)

    1. Oh, and the Egyptian local that authored most of it isn't real optimistic about how this is gonna turn out. . .mostly a 'two steps back' kinda vibe.

  23. Some comments from some of my very lefty friends following Obama's speech:

    "Wow, that was pretty meaningless, President Obama."

    "Many words, very little meaning."

    "*sigh* DAMMIT Obama"

    "He was slippery. He's learned political doublespeak, sadly."

    "Obama: just more of the same."

    I sip of the tears as I would a fine barleywine.

    1. "He was slippery. He's learned political doublespeak, sadly."

      Obviously, the speaker is, shall we say, a bit slow on the uptake.
      WIH did s/he think Obama's campaign was?!

      1. Keep in mind they are lefties who believed to their core in what O was selling them back in '08. However another (a veritable Communist from the UK) did say this:

        "He's "learned" doublespeak? Where have you been for the last 3 years? Which president Obama have you been watching that XX's statement couldn't effectively apply to everything he's said?"

  24. "Update: Mubarak says he won't run again, which presumably means he plans to leave in September."

    If I were the people of Egypt, I wouldn't pull my troops off the border just 'cause the tyrant let the WMD inspectors in--if you know what I mean.

    P.S. Has anyone heard any indication that the people of Iran may be getting ready to rise up and chase the Mullahs out of town?

    1. Not until Mubarak actually leaves.

      Then the Persians might get jealous that the Arabs did what they could not.

      1. I used to argue in the threads of this very esteemed website that the Iraq War had done to the pro-democracy movement in Iran what the Mullahs could never do--marginalize it into the shadows.

        I suspect being a pro-American, pro-democracy Iranian today is a bit like being a real live communist was in America during the worst of the Red Scare.

        There does seem to be a divide between counties with oil and countries without--and I still think that it's food inflation that's driven these movements from the periphery to the center, but...

        Whatever added impetus there is to these movements to get rid of your dictator because he's beholden to the Americans? The Mullahs don't have to worry about that. They could hardly be any more anti-American, could they?

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