• Everyone watched on television, but it was a defensive, low-scoring affair. The Super Bowl was kind of boring, too.
• President Trump’s latest State of the Union address had four components: a celebration of (and some credit-taking for) good economic news; a defense of the administration’s policies on a broad range of issues; a call for new legislation, some of it bipartisan and mostly misguided (controls on drug prices, big infrastructure projects) and some of it conservative (a ban on late-term abortions, a cause on which Trump was rousing); and a civic ritual honoring great American heroes. The political impact of these speeches seems to be fading over time, in a trend that predates Trump. Perhaps the civic ritual is the part of the tradition that will survive.
• It’s the yearbook page seen round the world. A photo of a man in blackface standing next to a man in Ku Klux Klan garb appears on Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s page in his medical-school yearbook. Its revelation caused almost every prominent Democrat in the country to disavow Northam and call on him to resign. Northam initially admitted he was in the image; then, in a bizarre and widely mocked press conference, he said he wasn’t and didn’t know how the picture got on his page. (He did confess to once putting black shoe polish on his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.) We have no use for Northam, who in the 2017 gubernatorial campaign slimed his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie, as a racist. It’d be a kind of justice for him to get undone by the same charge. But we are uncomfortable with the new practice of defining people by their decades-old lapses, especially when those lapses aren’t part of any larger pattern of conduct. It’s Ralph Northam today; it will be someone more admirable and worthy tomorrow.
• Roger Stone, who has long prided himself on his “outlaw” politics, may have lived down to his self-image. Robert Mueller indicted the flamboyant Republican operative for lying to Congress and witness tampering. Stone was trying to cover up his efforts to find out what WikiLeaks was going to release in the 2016 campaign and when. Notably, there was nothing illegal about the underlying conduct, and Stone didn’t have any direct relationship with WikiLeaks — he tried to use as intermediaries other C-list players, the conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi and an obscure talk-radio host named Randy Credico. Stone wasn’t charged in any broader conspiracy, and the fact that the Trump campaign tried to find out through Stone what WikiLeaks was doing suggests that there wasn’t one. Stone’s conduct throughout was characteristically sleazy, and worse (he threatened to kidnap Credico’s dog to try to bully him into silence), and it speaks poorly of Trump that he’s been associated with the disreputable operative for so long. But there isn’t much smoke coming out of this gun.
• Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) has, as expected, entered the 2020 Democratic presidential race. He is running on the “Green New Deal” agenda that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is too young to take into the presidential contest this time around; he also calls it “climate justice.” His “baby bonds” program would simply transfer an initial $1,000 (rising to as much as $50,000 in total) to certain families based on a formula designed to . . . well, to make Cory Booker president, obviously. Booker’s adviser on the “baby bonds” program describes it as a “birthright to capital” and “racial-conscious [sic] economic justice.” Once upon a time Booker was a relative moderate, but that interesting senator has disappeared along with Booker’s famous imaginary friend, the drug-dealer “T-Bone.”
• Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass) issued a quiet and private apology to the leaders of the Cherokee Nation — and not just for that goofy “Pow Wow Chow” cookbook she helped author back when her ambitions were more literary than political. A week later, the Washington Post reported that in the 1980s she had applied to the Texas bar while describing herself as a Native American. President Donald Trump has been merciless in his ridicule of the senator, who also faced criticism — much more significant for her 2020 presidential ambitions — from the Left, which accused her of “cultural appropriation” and insulting Indian sovereignty. Bill John Baker, the leader of the Cherokee Nation, diplomatically accepted her apology, but other Indian leaders and activists remain unsatisfied. Forgiveness is hard to come by in 2019, and it is tempting to conclude that Senator Warren should be treated as charitably as she’d treat a Republican in the same situation.
• Warren proposed a federal “wealth tax” on physical and financial assets above $50 million. These would be subject to a blanket tax of 2 percent, while assets above $1 billion would be taxed at 3 percent. Warren says the policy is necessary because the “system” is “rigged for the top.” Better to say that the Constitution, which forbids direct taxes that aren’t apportioned by state and makes an exception only for the income tax, is rigged against it. Our system, that is, wasn’t designed for radical egalitarianism, and a good thing too.
• Senator Kamala Harris, one of the many Democrats trying to out-radical one another in pursuit of their party’s 2020 presidential nomination, has endorsed a British-style state-health-care-monopoly system — and the abolition of private insurance, a step beyond what’s been done even under other so-called single-payer arrangements. In making her case, she cites the “paperwork” and “delay” characteristic of the current system. It is not exactly obvious that the cure for paperwork and delay is a new federal bureaucracy and regulatory regime, and the trends in the countries usually cited in support of the case for single-payer point in precisely the opposite direction: In the United Kingdom, some 85 percent of National Health Service patients complain that the system is overburdened; in Canada, the delay between referral to a specialist for treatment and the treatment itself has reached almost three months — more than double what it was in the 1990s. The estimated expense of the Medicare-for-all model endorsed by Senator Harris runs into trillions of dollars per year: more than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and defense combined, a sum that would represent a near doubling of federal expenditures. But even if we could pay for such a thing, the monopoly model is deficient for reasons that are manifest everywhere it is in place.
• At a CNN Town Hall event with Jake Tapper, Harris said she believed that gun control would have been possible if lawmakers had been placed in “a locked room, no press, no one, nobody else” and required to examine “the autopsy photographs of those babies. And then you vote your conscience.” Some people apparently believe that gun owners are not only ignorant about the lethality of their firearms but indifferent to the suffering of their fellow citizens. Most gun owners know well what their guns can do, and zealously protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns largely because they want to prevent or stop tragedies like Parkland or Sandy Hook. A law-abiding gun owner won’t look at autopsy photos and think, “I have to give up my weapon.” He’s more likely to grieve that he wasn’t there with it.
• Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist, Vermont) is proposing a radical expansion of the hated death tax, which he would see applied to much smaller estates ($3.5 million vs. the current $11 million) and at much higher rates: up to 77 percent (from 40 percent). Senator Sanders’s own estimate projects only $32 billion in new annual revenue: less than 1 percent of the cost of the monopoly health-care scheme he is proposing. This isn’t about balancing the budget. In today’s Democratic party, taxes on the rich are their own reward.
• Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO, is a lifelong Democrat who is thinking of running for president as an independent. He is a liberal but looks askance at proposals for a top tax rate of 70 percent and free college tuition for all. Democrats are apoplectic about the prospect of his running, arguing simultaneously that very few people favor his brand of socially liberal, economically moderate politics and that he could swing the election to Trump by winning enough of them. The Democrats want these people’s votes but do not want to have to compete for those voters with someone who represents their views. The screeching you’re hearing is the sound of entitlement.
• Sean Duffy, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, has proposed a bill to give the president more power to raise tariffs. Whenever another country has a higher tariff on an American product than we have on its identical product, the president could match the higher rate. The president could not, however, unilaterally lower an American tariff to match another country’s. Duffy uses the example of Europe and cars: The EU has a 10 percent tariff on our exports, we have a 2.5 percent tariff on theirs. But we have a 25 percent tariff on their trucks, while they have only a 10 percent tariff on ours. A negotiation to lower both sides’ vehicle tariffs seems like a more promising path than hiking one set of ours, especially since the latter course would involve severely weakening the World Trade Organization, a body we have used with some success to pursue our trade objectives. And presidents already have all the negotiating authority they need.
• A new study of California’s Medicaid expansion — which, like all of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansions, is funded overwhelmingly with federal rather than state dollars — makes one thing clear: It’s awfully nice to get “free” money from the national government. These dollars replaced money that county governments had already been spending on health care for the poor, and they made hospitals more profitable. They also, it must be said, made it easier for the poor to access care and to go to private instead of government-run hospitals. But any reduction to in-hospital mortality was small enough that it couldn’t be measured reliably, which is consistent with other studies showing that the health benefits of receiving Medicaid are, at best, small and inconsistent. The system we have today, in which states can choose to expand a poorly functioning health-care program and federal taxpayers are stuck with 90 percent of the tab or more, is insane. But the GOP failed to overhaul it when it had the reins of power the past two years, so we are stuck with it for at least two more.
• The Trump administration gave formal notice that the U.S. intends to withdraw in six months from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. It’s the right policy to counter Russian cheating and to ensure that the U.S. can adapt to the changing strategic environment in the Pacific. For a time, both the U.S. and Russia followed the INF treaty, which was negotiated by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 and ended the tense buildup of Pershing II and SS-20 missiles in Europe and Russia. But in recent years, Russia has built and deployed the SSC-8 missile in brazen violation of the treaty. Meanwhile, China is unbound by it — meaning that, in practice, the treaty constrains only the United States. Barack Obama’s gentle efforts to coax the Russians back into compliance failed. Trump, to his credit, has taken a different tack.
• Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell defied President Trump by backing an amendment to a Middle East security bill that warns against “precipitous withdrawal” of American troops from Syria and Afghanistan. The measure gained overwhelming bipartisan support, 43 Republicans and 25 Democrats dissenting from the president’s announced withdrawal plans. These 68 senators are correct. Precipitous withdrawal from either theater of conflict would repeat the mistakes of the past, grant jihadist enemies safe havens to plan and launch terror strikes, and create power vacuums that American enemies such as Russia and Iran will exploit. The Democratic-led House should add its own measure, so that the White House is confronted not just with the united (though nonbinding) sense of Congress but also — for the first time — a clear congressional authorization to be in Syria.
• The Justice Department unsealed indictments against Chinese telecom company Huawei and its CFO. The company is accused of fraud, bypassing American sanctions against Iran, stealing trade secrets from American company T-Mobile, and obstructing justice. The indictments are part of a growing backlash against Huawei’s nefarious practices: One employee was arrested in Poland on espionage charges, the CFO — who is also its founder’s daughter — was arrested in Canada in December, and several American allies have banned companies from partnering with Huawei to build critical 5G infrastructure. Huawei is one of many Chinese companies that don’t play by the rules, and the U.S. is right to fight back.
• Kim Jong-un, like his father and grandfather before him, is the dictator of a monstrous state — a gulag state, a “psychotic state,” as Jeane Kirkpatrick said, a Communist state that is probably the worst, least free place on earth. On the CBS program Face the Nation, President Trump said the following of Kim Jong-un: “I like him. I get along with him great. We have a fantastic chemistry. We have had tremendous correspondence that some people have seen and can’t even believe it.” It may well be necessary to deal with the North Korean regime. But the U.S. president, whoever he is, should bear in mind the nature of the regime. He should also remember that, to people all over the world, the United States stands for freedom and human rights: unalienable rights, among which are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
• Journalists like to ask U.S. officials about Montenegro, the newest member of NATO. Last summer, Tucker Carlson of Fox News raised Montenegro with President Trump. The president replied, “Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. . . . They have very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III.” More recently, Martha MacCallum, also of Fox News, asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Montenegro: If this nation came under attack, would the United States defend it? Pompeo dodged the question. MacCallum asked again. Then Pompeo said, “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals.” It seems that the United States now has a policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward fellow NATO countries, as we have long had toward Taiwan. But the point of NATO is collective security: An attack on one is an attack on all. It’s the fact that we have made that promise credible that has made attacks on NATO countries so easy to dismiss as “hypothetical.”
• Egypt is a big country, an important country, and one that must be engaged with. French president Emmanuel Macron recognized this on a visit to Cairo. Egypt is also a country with 60,000 political prisoners. Macron recognized this, too. Under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, civil society has been virtually abolished. Sisi has been more brutal than the former strongman, Hosni Mubarak. Macron said, “Stability and lasting peace go along with respect for personal freedoms.” He also said, “We have values that are universal. They aren’t only French values.” Sisi, of course, bristled, saying, “We are not Europe or the United States. Don’t forget that we are speaking about a troubled region.” Yes, very. And a big part of its troubles is dictatorship.
• Stepping off the plane in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, Pope Francis made history, again. He became the first pope ever to visit the Arabian Peninsula. The United Arab Emirates has declared 2019 a “Year of Tolerance,” which is now vividly illustrated by images of the world’s most visible Christian leader celebrating Mass before some 120,000 people at an outdoor sports arena in the heart of the Muslim world. Applaud the progress, but with eyes wide open to the UAE’s ongoing repression of religions other than Islam. Nearly a million Catholic foreign workers are expected to squeeze into only nine churches, whose number is limited by the government. It forbids crosses, bells, and other Christian imagery on their exterior. Religious literature is restricted. Evangelization is forbidden. The UAE’s neighbor Saudi Arabia has promised but failed to deliver greater religious freedom, and Emirati officials are showing only a modicum of it. Westerners should commend the UAE for its new tolerance as far as it goes, but let’s keep it in perspective.
• Jonathan Martin, formerly of NR, now of the New York Times, had an interesting report. It began, “Several prominent veteran Democrats, alarmed by the party’s drift from its longstanding alignment with Israel, are starting a new political group that will try to counter the rising skepticism on the left toward the Jewish state.” That group is called “Democratic Majority for Israel.” Its board includes a couple of formers: Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, and Henry Cisneros, the former HUD secretary (under Clinton). The group’s president and CEO is Mark Mellman, an old Democratic hand. He said, “Israel was once seen as much more of the David in the struggle,” meaning the Arab–Israeli conflict. “Now Palestinians are seen as the more put-upon group.” A better description of the folly of much Democratic thinking about foreign policy can scarcely be found.
• In the 1960s, American rock bands adopted British-sounding names (“Sir Douglas Quintet,” “The Buckinghams”) because they sounded cool. But it’s been decades since the U.S. borrowed hipness from the U.K.; these days it’s mostly the other way around. Case in point: the rapper 21 Savage. His résumé was crowded with sterling credentials — grew up on Atlanta’s mean streets without a father; kicked out of grade school for gun charges; high-school dropout; Bloods member; drug dealing and assorted other crimes; anti-Semitic-lyrics controversy; shot during a robbery. Yet buried in his past lurked a deep, shameful secret: He’s actually English. Born and raised in London, he came to Atlanta with his mother at the age of twelve. So when the feds took him into custody earlier this month, the charge was not murder or burglary or aggravated assault or possession with intent to distribute, but overstaying a tourist visa. If ICE goes through with the rapper’s threatened extradition back to England, perhaps he can change his stage name to “21 Slightly Miffed.”
• “I’m pretty numb right now,” said Sean McVay, head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, after his team’s loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. “I got outcoached.” His counterpart, Bill Belichick, had just completed a masterpiece of defensive play-calling in collaboration with the Patriots’ linebackers coach, Brian Flores, a protégé now headed to Detroit to help turn around the struggling Lions. The final score, 13–3, was the lowest in Super Bowl history and unsatisfying for many viewers. Tom Brady — remember him? — spent most of the game floundering and then, in the fourth quarter, a few minutes connecting with Rob Gronkowski on a drive that ended in the game’s only touchdown. As Brady’s brilliance wanes, Belichick’s grows more conspicuous. Sometimes the MVP is the coach.
• If Bud Light was planning to run for president, it can give those dreams a beery goodbye kiss. The watery brew’s maker, Anheuser-Busch, ran a Super Bowl commercial that slammed two competing beers for being made with corn syrup — and in Iowa, insulting corn is almost as offensive as calling someone’s mother a Wolverines fan. In the days following the Super Bowl, ag-school scientists pointed out that nearly all the sugar that goes into beer gets fermented into alcohol, and if it doesn’t come from corn syrup it will come from somewhere else; politicians fulminated; journalists proposed a boycott; and farmers across the Corn Belt posted videos of themselves angrily pouring Bud Light down the drain. If only they’d had reason to get that excited about the game itself . . .
• Morton Sobell was a Communist schoolmate of Julius Rosenberg and recruited by him to be a Soviet agent. An engineer, Sobell passed along classified documents concerning radar and artillery that he obtained from military and naval sources. About to be exposed, he fled to Mexico. In a strong-arm response, the authorities had him abducted and handed over to the FBI. At the trial of the Rosenbergs, Sobell was a co-defendant. Found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison but released after serving 18 of them. In Sobell’s writing and lecturing about his case, his defense consisted of telling unbelievable lies to those desperate to believe them. For many years he liked to claim that he was the innocent victim of an unjust government. Post–Cold War evidence from former KGB officers and decrypted cables from the Soviet embassy in Washington proved he had been a Soviet agent. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, call it that,” he finally admitted in an interview in 2008. “I never thought of it as that.” Unrepentant, he still pleaded that he’d had good intentions and therefore couldn’t have done wrong. His death at the age of 101 brings a curtain down on the McCarthy era. R.I.P.
Failure at the Border
President Trump signed a bill to resume the full operation of the government without funding for a border wall, but to resume it only temporarily. Democrats remain obstinately against any augmentation of physical barriers at the border, and several missteps by the president — suddenly raising his budget request for a wall, saying he would fund the government without a wall and then refusing to do it, saying the shutdown was his responsibility and then disclaiming it, toggling between the slogan of “a wall” and the actual request for several discrete improvements to border security — have made it easier for them to dig in.
There is no reason to think that another partial government shutdown would yield any progress on border security: The last shutdown yielded none and hurt Trump’s Republican allies more than his Democratic opponents. The president is openly considering declaring an emergency to achieve his border-security goals, but that course would be an abuse of his power — one that could force him into a veto fight in which he would be in the wrong.
The president has unfortunately maneuvered himself into a position where he has few good options. The best one at this point is to offer the Democrats a deal that gives legal protections to those illegal immigrants who came here as minors in return for improvements in immigration enforcement, improvements that should include some physical barriers at the border and, ideally, a requirement that businesses verify the legal status of all new hires. That deal would have to be carefully designed so that no amnesty took place while the enforcement provisions were tied up in court.
Senate Democrats offered a version of that deal last year, and Trump turned them down in the mistaken belief that he could get a bigger victory. During the shutdown, he offered his own version. Tying a deal to a shutdown turned out to make it harder to reach, however, and made it harder as well to convey the message that the Democrats were being extreme on immigration. But the truth is that they are being extreme and irrational — Nancy Pelosi calls the wall immoral, which logically implies that we ought to tear down the barriers we already have — and we are not going to get anywhere until they have a reason to think it is costing them votes. Make them pay for a wall, or pay politically for its absence.
Explicit support for abortion “all the way up to 40 weeks” is increasingly becoming a mainstream Democratic position. The quote is from Kathy Tran, a Virginia state legislator; but her bill has the support of the state’s supposedly moderate governor, Ralph Northam, who in defending it suggested that in some circumstances a full-term child should be delivered and then allowed to die, or worse.
Most Democrats still would not go as far as Northam rhetorically. But Senate Democrats have blocked legislation to grant legal protections to infants who survive abortions. And Tran’s position — her initial, candid position, that is, rather than the more politic one she embraced a few days later — is shared by New York Democrats, who have passed a law stipulating that abortion at any stage of pregnancy is legal so long as an abortionist says it is necessary to protect a pregnant woman’s health. The law does not claim that the pregnancy itself has to threaten her health and does not limit health to physical health. It is a restriction designed to be unenforceable, and thus also to be deceptive.
Many of the leading Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed similar federal legislation: It would wipe away any state laws that protected unborn children even late in pregnancy. Bans could remain on the books only if they included health exceptions rendering them, too, unenforceable.
These Democrats are aware that the public does not share their enthusiasm for abortion late in pregnancy, and so they are explaining that it is only ever done for the most compelling medical reasons. Northam says that it is done only in cases of severe fetal abnormality or unviability. The available evidence does not bear out this contention, but the laws these Democrats support do not require such reasons anyway. Northam wants to deny any legal protections even for children who are viable and suffer no abnormalities. So do those presidential candidates.
Killing a two-month-old infant is rightly prohibited and punished. Unborn children late in pregnancy differ from two-month-olds in no way that could plausibly justify this radical difference in treatment. To allow them to be killed, to expose them to lethal violence, to treat them as nonpersons, is manifestly unjust. It is unjust to do these things even if one does not directly participate in the killing. And that injustice lays moral obligations on all of us.
Those Democrats who have taken this extreme position should reconsider it. Those who have not should repudiate it. Republicans should expose the Democrats’ indefensible position to the light. So should journalists, by reporting on the Democrats’ stance rather than simply repeating their spin. Catholic bishops should stir themselves to do real pastoral work on those Catholic politicians who have fallen into this grievous moral error, which includes reminding them that those who obstinately persist in it have broken communion with the Church.
And the Supreme Court — which believes, or pretends to believe, that the Constitution requires this policy of abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy, a contention as absurd as it is outrageous — should find the earliest occasion possible to reverse its mistake.
The agony of Venezuela is great. Something like 4 million people have fled the country. They are fleeing crime, poverty, and outright starvation. People have died falling from trees, having climbed them to try to pick fruit. They have died after eating roots and weeds that turned out to be poisonous.
In recent memory, Venezuela was a model of democracy and prosperity in South America. The country is still rich in natural reserves. Worldwide, it is No. 1 in oil — yes, even ahead of Saudi Arabia. It is No. 6 in gas. It is No. 10 in water. Yet Venezuelans, in their everyday lives, lack all of those things.
Hugo Chávez, a tragically gifted demagogue, started this regime in 1999. After he died in 2013, Nicolás Maduro continued it. Chavista Venezuela is a narco-tyranny, tied to Communist Cuba.
Danger to the chavistas came when the military, along with the rest of Venezuela, started to go hungry. In an article published in our December 3 issue, Jay Nordlinger quoted the exiled mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma: “There is nothing more subversive in a military than hunger.”
Some soldiers, undoubtedly hungry, have now turned mutinous. And Venezuelans have massed in the streets, demanding that Maduro and his gang go. (Some have massed in their favor as well.) The leader of the opposition is Juan Guaidó, 35 years old. On January 3, he became the president of the national assembly, i.e., Venezuela’s legislature, albeit a nominal one. On January 23, he took an oath as interim president of the country at large.
In staking his claim, he cited the Venezuelan constitution — which says that the assembly president assumes the office of the president of the republic, if that office becomes vacant. In ignoring the constitution, by the reasoning of Guaidó and his allies, Maduro has in effect vacated the office.
Furthering his cause, Guaidó had a special message for the armed forces: “None of you can live in a dignified manner on your military paycheck. You can’t meet the basic needs of your children and relatives.” In other words, Enough. Back me. It will get better.
The U.S. government recognized Guaidó as the sole and legitimate president of Venezuela. Since then, many other governments have followed suit: in Latin America, Europe, and elsewhere. President Trump demonstrated leadership on the issue.
In response, Maduro cut ties with the U.S. and demanded the departure of our diplomats. He also turned to his tried-and-true populism — the stuff that won Chávez election in the first place, those years ago. “Don’t trust the gringos,” Maduro told a crowd of his supporters, gathered in their red shirts. “They don’t have friends or loyalties.” They only want to “take Venezuela’s oil, gas, and gold.” For good measure, he tweeted, “Let’s defend our sovereignty. . . . The streets belong to the people!”
The U.S. has now imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. It has promised humanitarian aid to the suffering Venezuelans. It has applied an array of diplomatic and economic pressures. This is to the good. Russia, China, and other bad actors are doing all they can to prop up the dictatorship. Guaidó and the opposition need all the help they can get.
Elliott Abrams, our old friend and contributor, has been appointed special envoy for Venezuela. This is further good news. Best known for Middle East diplomacy, Abrams is also a crack Latin Americanist. In the second Reagan term, he was assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs.
At this juncture, certainly, we would not recommend U.S. military intervention. For one thing, it is not necessary. The chavista regime can be shoved out by other means. And Maduro can live out his years in Havana, at least until freedom comes to Cuba, too.
In a report from Caracas, the New York Times quoted ordinary Venezuelans saying such things as “You can feel hope in the air” and “This new leader has become our biggest hope.” Hope is often disappointed — but Venezuelans have the best opportunity they have had in a very long time to overthrow the dictatorship that has oppressed and starved them.