This all helps start to paint the picture of the real situation. And, when I combine it with on the ground reports from CNN and trusted voices like Nicholas Kristoff who is talking with folks on the streets in Cairo, I begin to get a sense of what is really happening now.
But using that to predict what will happen next is tricky. Obama is trying to do the same thing, and I suspect he has just a few more direct sources than the rest of us. And even with that, it is hardly predictable. Will Mubarek resign (I think yes) but will the government that replaces him be less repressive and improve the social conditions in any significant way? Will Egypt become more hostile to the US? Will Yemen, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia follow in the Tunisian path and democracy and civil society grow in the region? If Martin Luther King is right, and "the Arc of the Universe is long, but it bends toward justice", then this may happen. Over time. A long time.
My brother and I celebrated my birthday this weekend with 3 days of golf, a massage, and then a rare trip to the local casino for a game of roulette. I won big, taking home an extra $67, (which will go directly into that very large, and very deep black hole we call "Jenny's College Fund" ). Yet, as my financial wizard brother informed me, "the Arc of the roulette wheel is also long, but it bends very predictably towards the House".
The optimist in me wants to say that the organizing in the streets calling for improved social conditions and free expression that is spreading like wildfire now will result in improved living conditions for folks in several more countries in the decade ahead. And the optimist in me also wants to return to the Casino table, now that I am on a roll.
I hope Dr. King is right. I know my brother is right.
*(Actual names in this post not used to ensure confidentiality