Egypt could throw a gigantic wrecking ball into the machinery of our rebounding economy

With Egypt now a torsion spring-loaded device that still is being wound until it explodes, it’s time to worry about how all this is going to mess with our serenity.

With change swinging like a knockwurst pendulum and about to knock out President Hosni Mubarak, the repercussions of tearing up the old Egyptian government manual and distributing a new one could profoundly do a lawn job on our recovering economy.

Our economy could be churned up like a World War I battlefield if Egypt, possibly our most vital Arab ally, is swept into a radical and anti-West Islamic frenzy.

Imagine the impact of having a government hostile to the U.S. and its interests controlling the Suez Canal, a vital shipping lane for oil coming from the Middle East and to the West.

Try the doubling and even tripling of oil prices. In the wake of that, we all could wind up riding bicycles to work.

Much worse, the Egyptian fallout could trigger an economic doomsday known as stagflation — a one-two destructive punch in which our economy suffers from both high unemployment and high inflation.

No wonder my wallet is suffering twinges of pain today.

Party animal Charlie Sheen wrapped in a cloak of dread complete with porn stars and coke

So what’s up with Charlie Sheen? His swashbuckling dalliances with hookers and drugs are becoming the stuff of legend.

Man, this dude is more messed up than my sock drawer.

Speaking of socks, the Two and a Half Men star and television’s highest-paid actor should have spent Thursday straightening out his sock drawer.

Instead, according to multiple reports, Sheen spent the day and night hard-partying with porn stars — including Kacey Jordan and Melanie Rios.

Jordan told TMZ.com that Sheen was guzzling vodka, freebasing cocaine that arrived in a Gucci briefcase and watching adult movies during his bender. Talk about an epic blowout. Talk about burning the candle at both ends. Hell, Sheen’s antics were enough to melt a 65-ton Abrams tank.

God, all that sounds more energy-sapping than slowly bleeding to death.

As you probably know by now, all good things must come to an end. Sheen was rushed from his $8 million Beverly Hills home on a stretcher. He reportedly had severe abdominal pains after aggravating — get this, mind you — a hiatal hernia by laughing too hard at the TV.

Well, one of these days all the laughter will die in sorrow. Sheen survived this time and slipped quietly out of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center today, with plans to rejoin shooting of his comedy hit Tuesday.

But Bad Boy Charlie is gonna have to free himself from the immense, violent wave of self-destruction in which he seems soaked up to his gills.

Otherwise he soon will look old enough to be in a painting hanging on the wall of some posh Manhattan duplex. And be out of work.

Or worse. He’ll be dead.

They may scrawl across his tombstone that Charlie Sheen squeezed life until the juice ran down his arms.

Shades of Transformers: Obama retools his insider machinery

Jimmy Carter was a one-term president because he never acquired the dimension of sophistication required to navigate the shark-infested Beltway hallways.
Then again, it was hard for him to act sophisticated while his brother Billy was eating peanuts and drinking beer (in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve done both a few times at The Peanut Bar over the years).
Barack Obama has been compared to Jimmy Carter. But the current president emphatically is disproving the analogy.
Unlike Carter, Obama no longer is playing rehashed chords. During his first two years in the White House Obama’s team of D.C. outsiders tried to make up with energy for what it lacked in wisdom and polish. Eventually, however, enthusiasm burns down to everyday ash.
While Carter never widened his circle beyond his “Georgians” entourage, Obama dramatically has changed posses. Perhaps you can make a rooster bark after all.
Obama has dispatched David Axelrod and his original White House gang back to Chicago to run his reelection campaign and has retooled his administration to play hardball in the D.C. League, as Howard Fineman cleverly puts it.
The White House now is run run by a Chicagoan-cum-Washingtonian — Bill Daley — and a cadre of the best and the brightest who stood fast with Bill Clinton in the trenches.

In so doing, Obama has morphed from outsider to insider, surrounding himself with the elite troops necessary to do political battle with the crusading Tea Partiers and Republican kneecappers (another great Fineman phrase).

An incumbent president who is an adaptable survivor can be difficult to unseat because he’ll do whatever is necessary to keep his butt glued to the chair.

With Egypt shakier than a belly dancer on amphetamines, Obama may have to be Jim Dandy to the rescue in postponing Armageddon

Foreign affairs are not the soup du jour, not with a crummy economy and Mother Nature’s hyperactive snowmaking machine torturing the domestic tranquility of Americans.

Nevertheless, we can’t ignore Egypt, where all hell is breaking loose.

Granted, nobody in the United States has paid much attention to Egypt, other than discovering that the Great Sphinx of Giza and those sumptuous Pharaoh tombs are wonderful photo ops for vacationers, ever since Baby Moses stopped cruising the Nile to march the Israelites home.

Protests against President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-rule are rocking Egypt. Inspired by the recent coup in Tunisia, protestors are hissed off because widespread unemployment and poverty are afflicting the younger generation.

The protestors, sick of being smacked down into the trough, want to split Mubarak’s reign like a cantaloupe that has been too long in the sun.

Making matters even hotter for Mubarak is the return from Vienna of democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian Nobel laureate who has called for Mubarak to retire.

Mubarak’s ruling party said today that it is ready to open a dialogue with youths who have staged three days of anti-government protests, but likely won’t offer any meaningful concessions.

So why do we care? Because the Egyptian strongman has been our strongest ally in the powder keg that is the Mideast.

President Obama has put private pressure on Mubarak but apparently now is ready to step up public criticism of the ruling Middle Eastern regime if a government crackdown in that country is not eased. Privately, Obama has told Mubarak that Egypt needs to seize the moment and increase reform, not to expand the security state.

For decades the U.S. gave Mubarak all-out support. But at the risk of losing a good ally in Mubarak, the Americans might be better off to get on the right side of history since corrupt, inept and inefficient Arab strongmen can’t retain power forever.

But the administration is sliding toward the unknown. Senior officials have no idea of exactly who these street protesters are, whether the protesters are simply a mob force incapable of organized political action and rule, or if more sinister groups hover in the shadows, waiting to grab power and turn Egypt into an anti-Western, anti-Israeli bastion.

For now, nobody but perhaps Nostradamus can divine what will happen to power within Egypt if the protesters compel concessions from Mubarak or burrow in and take him apart piece by piece.

Meanwhile, all this turmoil is not going unnoticed in Israel, where pacifism never has been locked in the linen closet.

Guess we all had better do some light reading and brush up on the apocalyptic verses from the Bible.

Dow Jones cracks 12,000! Will the dunes of the recession soon look like the hills of heaven?

Perhaps it wasn’t as transcendent as Caesar crossing the Rubicon in January 49 BC, but the the Dow Jones crossed the 12,000 Rubicon today for the first time since June 2008.

Shares on Wall Street broke through that psychologically significant level shortly after the market opened, hardly giving Egg McMuffins a chance to digest, and reached as high as 12,020.44 before noon.

But it was unable to sustain that level over the course of the day, and dropped above and below the threshold several times. If the Dow closes above 12,000, it would be the first time since June 19, 2008, before the financial crisis threw markets into turmoil.

Financial wizards not moonlighting as tax preparers at H&R Block attributed the milestone uptick to several factors, including Obama’s State of the Union address, Michele Bachmann’s tepid Tea Party rebuttal, the fact that more porn stars are using Twitter and the spike in snow blower sales in Berks County today.

Obama dares America to step toward greatness; leaving nothing left but to take his bows

The State of the Union address is a president’s bully pulpit. He is the focal point. The singular concentration and concern of multitudes is all his, all of it blowing across a squared patch of light like a relentless wind.
It is his hour, his moment; one of the great stages of our time. The president had better break through the shell of substance, like a baby chick. Otherwise the pundits will be tapping him on the forehead as though testing for termites.

It always has been such, even before smoking and drinking were capital offenses.
I realize that the less enlightened on the right likely missed the moment, but Barack Obama nailed his State of the Union address Tuesday night. Nailed it with a 5-iron or a hammer — whatever is your tool of choice.
He reached for the center and he got there, even if the prom night seating chart of Congress led to a civil, if subdued, reception.
He also reached for higher things than the mere center. He reached for a new level of greatness, adroitly pointing out that as Americans “we do big things” and “the future is ours to win.”
Of course, he hit all the VIP talking points — the economy, job creation, infrastructure, health care, energy, education, earmarks (he’s against them), bipartisanship and social security.

Calling for unity from a newly divided government, Obama asked Democratic and Republican lawmakers to rally behind his vision of economic revival for an anxious nation, declaring, “We will move forward together or not at all.”
Amen.

Shocker in Chicago: Rahm Emanuel booted off the ballot by appellate court

Rahm Emanuel got some bad news today that undoubtedly raised his voice an octave and had his notoriously salty tongue launching more F-bombs than Rex Ryan in Hard Knocks.
An Illinois appellate court threw the former White House chief of staff off the ballot for Chicago mayor because he didn’t live in the city in the year before the election.
Perhaps the appellate court was in a nasty mood because Jay Cutler and the Bears wimped out against the dreaded Packers in their NFC title tussle Sunday.
The decision cast doubt over Emanuel’s candidacy just a month before the election. He had been considered the front-runner and had raised more money than any other candidate.
C’mon, man. The guy was too dumb to do his homework … or to find a loophole somewhere. After all, this is Chicago politics we’re talking about.
Granted, it was no secret that Emanuel was working in the White House for a couple years. He had to show up in the Oval Office. He wasn’t telecommuting from Chicago.
Guess some guys just can’t free themselves from the quicksand of their own mind.
Whatever, Emanuel plans to appeal. If that doesn’t work, he could simply take over the town. have Chicago secede from the union, and declare himself dictator.

Time to push the mute button on wingnuts, left and right

You can spread the butter on Keith Olbermann because he’s toast at MSBC.
And now there’s speculation that his exit signals the impending extinction of the wingnuts.
Granted, Olbermann and MSNBC management were at each other’s throats like vampires for years. But his ratings were slipping.
And with Glenn Beck’s ratings plummeting like a Mexican cliff diver and Sarah Palin’s popularity waning after her plunge into reality TV, the whirligig of partisanship extravagance may be disappearing like morning dew.
A good thing, if this truly is an evolution. Lightning rods on both the left and the right have imprisoned us in a time of meanness and darkness. Grumping and glowering dissonance and division are cancers to discourse and progress.
Perhaps a popgun doesn’t have the same bang as dynamite. But it can get your attention without blowing everything up.

Don't run over your toes with your snow blowers but there's a blizzard of reasons why Obama should win in 2012

I know some of you likely will suffer orbital fractures to both eyes reading this. But I ran across an interesting piece today detailing why President Obama has a good shot at being reelected next year.
Granted, 2012 remains light years away in political terms. A sitting president, even a standing president, can suffer evocative highs and cavernous lows — depending on what blows up here at home or abroad.
Still, if you plumb a number of factors as of this writing, the planets seem aligned for Obama next year.
Here’s why:
The economy’s rebounding, and that should stop despair from raining on voters.
Obama’s approval ratings are ticking up.
The Republican field could be a landmine. With no obvious frontrunner at this point, the Republican primary season may drag on and be messier than a truck-stop diner kitchen. The Tea Party could be divisive to the point that Republicans spit more bicuspids than West Virginians. While Republicans try to see who best mimics Reagan, Obama can stay above the babble, looking presidential.

The power of incumbency. In the last 56 presidential elections, 31 have involved incumbents; 21 of those candidates have won more than one term. Like the home team or the casino, the incumbent has a big advantage. Challengers just don’t pack the same punch.
The mainstream media continues to treat Obama with kid gloves.
Obama has an experienced and well-greased campaign organization. Synchronization is not something you just wing. And his reelection effort could be the first campaign to raise $1 billion. That should top-off his fuel tank.
Obama sprinkles stardust on the campaign trail. OK, he may use a teleprompter. But the guy can win over crowds with his oratory.
The 2010 midterm voters that swept Republicans into control of the House, governorships and state legislatures were older, whiter, and more conservative than those who went to the polls in 2008. Young voters, more minorities, more women and generally more liberals should be back in 2012. The Hispanic vote is growing, and Obama resonates with Hispanics. The Hispanic Institute is working hard to increase Hispanic voter participation in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Colorado. Winning those five states could seal the deal for Obama.
And I know some of you will scream a decibel-busting puh-leeze at this, but more Americans now view Obama as a moderate. Forty percent see the president as a moderate, up 10 percentage points from a year ago. More importantly, 44 percent of independents now call Obama a moderate, up from 28 percent a year ago.
My apologies for bringing a firehouse-red alarm and a bright-lime nausea to those of you on the right.

Fountain Girl's criminal problems ripple troubled waters deeper than you'll find in a mall fountain

I must say at this juncture the tale of Cathy Cruz Marrero is becoming a tad more compelling than discussing the lifecycle of a rhododendron.

In fact, her story is swelling like a blowfish. Oops. Excuse the aquatic reference. Her big splash of fame all started with her plunge into a Berkshire Mall fountain while texting.

Of course, you already knew that. Everybody in the world knows that because her fall went more viral than swine flu, putting her at the center of a vortex of hilarity. Never again doubt that the Internet is a synchronous, steamrollering force.

The Reading woman even wound up on ABC’s “Good Morning America” this morning to talk about her soggy pratfall. Guess what? She may even sue the mall.

Marrero had a busy morning. She also was in Berks County Court today for a status hearing on theft-by-deception and related charges. She was charged in October 2009 for using a co-worker’s credit cards to make more than $5,000 in purchases at two local stores. She also has several theft cases and a hit-and-run charge on her record.

Suddenly this lady is defined by more than a couple seconds of catastrophe.

Her plunge had set eyes fluttering when posted on YouTube. Now her criminal issues have tongues fluttering as well.

Suspicion now is racing to replace all the laughter. Suddenly her story could be mined more for pathos than chuckles.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to wonder if her swan dive into the fountain was all that accidental.

Zat is zee question preying on more than one mind, I’m sure.