Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Did the army cast a ballot this morning?

From ABC News:

It was interesting that the special forces - who normally take the side of Ahmadinejad's Basij militia - were there with clubs and sticks in their camouflage trousers and their purity white shirts and on this occasion the Iranian military kept them away from Mousavi's men and women.

In fact at one point, Mousavi's supporters were shouting 'thank you, thank you' to the soldiers.

One woman went up to the special forces men, who normally are very brutal with Mr Mousavi's supporters, and said 'can you protect us from the Basij?' He said 'with God's help'.

It was quite extraordinary because it looked as if the military authorities in Tehran have either taken a decision not to go on supporting the very brutal militia - which is always associated with the presidency here - or individual soldiers have made up their own mind that they're tired of being associated with the kind of brutality that left seven dead yesterday - buried, by the way secretly by the police - and indeed the seven or eight students who were killed on the university campus 24 hours earlier.

Quite a lot of policeman are beginning to smile towards the demonstrators of Mr Mousavi, who are insisting there must be a new election because Mr Ahmadinejad wasn't really elected. Quite an extraordinary scene.

If this is part of a larger trend this is huge news.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

..By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong...

Hard to say exactly what is going on in Iran now. What we know for sure is that the protests are continuing and the militia are continuing to commit and attempt to incite violence.

One of the most interesting rumors going around this evening is coming from Twitter, where people on the streets of Tehran are claiming that the military is refusing orders to shoot protesters.

Case in point:

only baseej militia and Etellaat folowing orders - they cannot contain country without Army

in azadi sq the killing was by baseej ONLY - military did not react

This could be pretty big news if it turns out to be true. If the military decides to back the protesters its game over for the regime. No wonder A-Jad left the country.

Monday, June 15, 2009

If you get into trouble make a sound like a dying regime Pt. 4

What does a dying regime sound like?

It sounds like a man proclaiming twice in two days that the election was ordained by God and then deciding to investigate allegations of voter fraud on the third day. You can have God - you can have Fraud - but you can't have both:

But in a rare break from a long history of cautious moves, he rushed to bless President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for winning the election, calling on Iranians to line up behind the incumbent even before the standard three days required to certify the results had passed.

Then angry crowds swelled in cities around Iran, and he backpedaled, announcing Monday that the 12-member Council of Guardians, which vets elections and new laws, would investigate the vote.

“After congratulating the nation for having a sacred victory, to say now that there is a possibility that it was rigged is a big step backward for him,” said Abbas Milani, the director of Stanford University’s Iranian studies program.
This is how a theocracy dies. Islamic Republic is done - the question remains as to what it will morph into - Islamist State? Secular Republic? Military dictatorship?

It's in the hands of the kids in the streets.

Fear and loathing in the Blogosphere has gone "green"...

..To support these guys:


The para military religious police killed their fellow protestors - so they burned the militia headquarters.

I think the key question that remains is this: where is the rubicon? The point beyond which negotiation becomes futile? The people have three ways to control the government - the ballot box - the jury box and the ammo box - where is Iran right now?

From the looks of things today I'd say they're crossing into ammo box territory.

Why this is not just another protest.....

Great Article from Jim Muir of the BBC on the differences between today demonstrations and the student protests of 1999 and 2003. This is why the regime is fighting so hard to maintain control.

On the face of it, the disturbances currently shaking Tehran in the wake of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial re-election look very similar to the street clashes that erupted there in July 1999 and June 2003.

As happened then, thousands of angry and disillusioned people, their hopes for change frustrated, have taken to the streets, clashing with security forces and hardline vigilantes who roam the city on motorcycles.

Buses and banks have been burnt, and student dormitories raided by police or irregulars, as happened on those earlier occasions.

The 1999 and 2003 disturbances involved thousands of protesters, rather than the millions it would take to shake the Islamic regime seriously.

They petered out after about 10 days, and achieved nothing, in the face of stern repression.

Will that be the fate of the current protests, too?

But these protests include more than just angry students and there is more at stake than just some decisions about administration at Tehran U.

This time it is very different.

The protests are in reaction to specific political grievances involving senior politicians well-embedded in the Iranian system.

On Monday, they led to a peaceful mass demonstration in Tehran - despite an official ban - that by all accounts ran into hundreds of thousands, far bigger than any of the earlier protests, and too big for the authorities to disperse without causing potentially more serious repercussions.

The current protests bring together grassroots sentiment and the political level in a way that the earlier protests did not.

That carries the current dissension into the heart of the Islamic power system.

Heavyweight supporters

The man at the centre of the storm, presidential challenger and runner-up Mir Hossein Mousavi, is not some lightweight outsider.

Ahmadinejad supporters demonstrate outside the British embassy in Tehran on 15/6/09
Ahmadinejad supporters have also rallied in Tehran

He was Iran's prime minister from 1981 until 1989, and was generally given high ratings for running the country through almost all of the eight years of war with neighbouring Iraq.

One of his closest associates and backers, Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is an even weightier figure who has been a major pillar of the Islamic Republic since its foundation.

Twice president, from 1989 to 1997, Mr Rafsanjani is a pragmatic conservative who currently heads two of the regime's most powerful bodies: the Expediency Council (which adjudicates disputes over legislation) and the Assembly of Experts (which appoints, and can theoretically replace, the Supreme Leader).

He also wields huge influence and economic clout behind the scenes.

But in this year's presidential campaign, Mr Rafsanjani was bracketed together with Mr Mousavi and lambasted vitriolically by Mr Ahmadinejad in televised debates.

Mr Mousavi was also supported by another two-term former president, the reformist Mohammad Khatami, who withdrew his own candidacy in Mr Mousavi's favour and is now also calling for the vote to be cancelled and re-run.

The same demand has been made by another of the election losers, Mohsen Rezaie, who for 16 years commanded the Revolutionary Guards, another of the regime's main pillars.

In addition to alienating reformist and centrist circles, Mr Ahmadinejad (the first Iranian president not to be a cleric) is also not uniformly backed by hardline conservatives, including the religious establishment in Qom.

Where he is believed to enjoy huge support is among the Revolutionary Guards Corps and its auxiliary basij (volunteer) militia, where he has built up a strong following and patronage.

His support among the military is such that many Iran analysts have portrayed what has happened as a kind of military coup from within the regime.

But Mr Ahmadinejad has also won much support among the poor by pursuing a populist political and economic policy, disbursing funds in rural areas in a manner that his critics say has added to Iran's woes by generating high inflation.

'Burning dilemma'

And so how will it all end?

Much will clearly now depend on whether the street demonstrations escalate, whether the authorities respond violently, and what decision emerges from the Council of Guardians, the highly-conservative oversight body which has 10 days to adjudicate appeals lodged by Mr Mousavi and Mr Rezai.

Ayatollah Khamenei has urged the Council to study the claims closely.

Its decision could provide him with a way out of a dangerous situation and avert an eventuality where Mr Ahmadinejad could emerge in such a powerful position that Ayatollah Khamenei's own standing could be undermined, with traditional balancing power centres eclipsed.

Much must be going on behind the scenes, involving key figures such as Mr Rafsanjani, from whom little has been heard since the results were announced.

If the confrontation remains unresolved, he and others may have to decide whether to throw their weight behind an effort that could tear apart and bring down the system in which they have a big stake, or trim their sails and accept a reduced status.

To avert an escalation, Ayatollah Khamenei may have to find a way either to persuade the losers and their backers and followers that the results were genuine and fair, or to pacify them by other means - perhaps by curbing Mr Ahmadinejad or diluting his policies in some way.

I think a lot depends on what happens tonight in the U.S. and tomorrow in Iran. Tonight president Obama is supposed to make a statement - I think he needs to be careful what he says but we'll see. And tomorrow there is supposed to another huge rally in Tehran, this time accompanied by a national strike of Mousavi's supporters. If Obama treds carefully, and if the strike happens tomorrow, I think it becomes almost impossible to dismiss this as just another protest or just people pissed at the outcome of an election. This may be the beginning of a 2nd Iranian revolution.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Q.What should the U.S. due right now?

A. Nothing. The U.S. and especially president Obama himself should remain as quiet as possible about the unfolding events in Iran. There is no upside to commenting; if he were to say something good about the protesters and they are eventually suppressed then he's left being forced to deal with a government in Tehran that he would have effectively declared illegitimate. On the other hand, if he recognizes the regime's "win" and the government collapses then how would he recognize the (presumably) more reform oriented government that takes its place? And all of this is to say nothing of latent anti-Americanism and suspicion that runs through Iranian society.

All and all, President Obama has so far followed a smart path. In the coming days the temptation to respond in favor of the protesters may grow. There will be intense pressure from Republicans to say or do something, maybe even something as rash as recognizing Mousavi as the winner. President Obama must resist the temptation to do this. Through sub cabinet spokesmen and the V.P., the White House can express concerns about the potential human rights violations against the protesters and also about the silencing of media. But through it all the president must remain silent and resist the temptation to take sides in the power struggle.

If you get into trouble make a sound like a dying regime Pt. 3

What does a dying regime sound like?

Consider this rumor from via Andrew Sullivan - from an Email from one of his readers:

Just got off the phone with my dad. He leaves in northern Tehran, off Afrika Blvd.

He said that most iranians believe that a lot of the "commandos" on the bikes are Hezbollah arabs brought in to do to the citizens what a Persian cop would refuse to do. Accordingly when the protesters knock one of the biker thugs off they are being particularly brutal, believing that the rider is Arab.

Bank storefronts have been smashed all over northern Tehran. Mousavi, Khatami and Rafsanjani are allegedly meeting at Mousavi's house (who is under house arrest) and are planning their next move. People there are waiting for further instructions from Mousavi. In my dad's neighborhood BBC Persia and Voice of America have been knocked off the satellite but not in all parts. Sorry this is rambling I'm getting constant calls from Tehran. Will speak to my father again in two hours and will let you know anything new.

Only a rumor now - but if true it says a lot about what a fake regime looks like.

Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry men...

The regime has two choices - the first is to crack down with extreme prejudice - shoot the opposition and completely crush all signs of resistance.

The second choice is - well - ask the government of East Germany.

For his part Mousavi is seems to believe that regime is hollow, has little support from the people and will collapse with constant, nonviolent preasure.

To that end, he urging his supporters to take to the street and asking for a national strike on Tuesday.

Just in from Tehran (9:32 am EST) Zahra Rahnavard gave a speech at Tehran University today, Sunday, June 14. To a large audience of students, Ms. Rahnavard announced the latest official statement issued by Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has pledged he will not back down from contesting the fraudulent 22 Khordad election results.

Mousavi calls on all Reformist supporters to take part in a PEACEFUL MARCH & MASS DEMONSTRATION in 20 cities across Iran on Monday, June 15 (doshanbeh, 25 Khordad) at 17:00 to denounce the election results as fraud. He has applied for a license to protect the safety of protestors.

The Tehran location is Valiasr Avenue, from Valiasr Square to Tajrish Square. The locations in other cities are listed below.

Mousavi has also called for a NATIONAL STRIKE on Tuesday, June 16 (Khordad 26) and asked all those who contest the results to close their shops, businesses, etc. and for employees to not go to work that day.

Communication is critical to success for a large turnout, so please forward this to every Iranian you know. The statement is verified on Ghalam News (, the official site of the Mousavi campaign (site rasmi setad).

If the regime has truly granted permission for these marches it seems they will be electing to go down the East German way.

If you get into trouble make a sound like a dying regime Pt. 2

What does a dying regime sound like?


BERLIN - Several foreign news organisations complained Sunday that Iranian authorities were blocking their reporters from covering protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

German public television channels ZDF and ARD said their reporters were not allowed to broadcast their reports, while the BBC said the signals of its Persian services were being jammed from Iran.

The Dubai-based Arab news channel Al-Arabiya in Tehran was forbidden from working for a week and Dutch broadcaster Nederland 2 said its journalist and cameraman were arrested and ordered to leave the country.

Foreign media converged in Iran to cover Friday’s presidential election, whose official result sparked violent protests in Tehran after Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by a landslide.

Violence erupted for a second day on Sunday as supporters of Ahmadinejad’s closest challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi clashed with riot police. Mousavi denounced the election as a fraud and called for the vote to be annulled.

The editors in chief of German public television channels ZDF and ARD sent a letter to the Iranian ambassador in Berlin accusing Iranian authorities of barring their reporters from doing their work.

ARD correspondent Peter Mezger can no longer leave his hotel while ZDF journalist Halim Hosny and his colleagues have not been allowed to report on the events, their chief editors wrote.

“We see a breach of freedom of the press and democratic principles,” their editors said in their letter.

Iranian authorities had already barred the journalists from filming and broadcasting their images in recent days, the editors said.

ARD and ZDF insisted that they would “continue to report on the events in Iran” in a “critical, fair and independent” manner.

“We would have liked to broadcast the story of our correspondent Halim Hosny, but the Iranian authorities forbade journalists from working,” ZDF said in its nightly news programme.

The British Broadcasting Corporation said the satellites it uses for its Persian television and radio services had been affected since Friday by “heavy electronic jamming” which had become “progressively worse.”

Smooth move guys! It's not anybody is going to notice the BBC going down or anything - and it doesn't look at all suspicious that you're shutting down foreign media at the same time your claiming you just won a fixed election. Real smooth.

..Summer's here and the time is right for fighting....

Great photos from the streets of Tehran.

The Huffington Post is live blogging the revolution. It appears that a large number of faculty from one of Iran's largest universities have resigned in protest:

It has been confirmed that 120 faculty members at Sharif University have resigned in protest of the election, and are gathering in front of the university for a demonstration."

Twitter is full of accounts of violence at Sharif University right now, including riot police firing rubber bullets and storming through dorms. I have not seen independent confirmation of this yet (please email me if you have) but fyi.

And from Roger Cohen, we get a first hand account of just how "free and fair" the Iranian elections were:

He was from the Interior Ministry. He showed his ID card. He said he’d worked there 30 years. He said he hadn’t been allowed in; nor had most other employees. He said the votes never got counted. He said numbers just got affixed to each candidate.

He said he’d demanded of the police why “victory” required such oppression. He said he’d fought in the 1980-88 Iraq war, his brother was a martyr, and now his youth seemed wasted and the nation’s sacrifice in vain.

Quoting Ferdowsi, the epic poet, he said, “If there is no Iran, let me be not.” Poets are the refuge of every wounded nation — just ask the Poles — and nowhere more so than here in this hour.

If you get into trouble make a sound like a dying regime

What does a dying regime sound like?


The situation in the country is in a very good condition. Iran is the most stable country in the world, and there’s the rule of law in this country, and all the people are equal before the law. And the presidential election has witnessed people’s massive turnout. As I said, even in a soccer match, people may become excited and that may lead to a confrontation between them and the police force. This is something natural. A person coming out of a stadium may violate the traffic regulations. He wil be fined by the police no matter who he is, an ordinary person or even a minister. So these are not problems for the people of Iran.

--When the beating of your heart echoes the beating the drum there is a light about to start....

Why this is not just a bunch of hippies in the street:

From the Washington Note:

He conveyed to me things that were mostly obvious -- Iran is now a tinderbox. The right is tenaciously consolidating its control over the state and refuses to yield. There is a split among the mullahs and significant dismay with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. A gaping hole has been ripped open in Iranian society, exposing the contradictions of the regime and everyone now sees that the democracy that they believed that they had in Iranian form is a "charade."

But the scariest point he made to me that I had not heard anywhere else is that this "coup by the right wing" has created pressures that cannot be solved or patted down by the normal institutional arrangements Iran has constructed. The Guardian Council and other power nodes of government can't deal with the current crisis and can't deal with the fact that a civil war has now broken out among Iran's revolutionaries.

My contact predicted serious violence at the highest levels. He said that Ahmadinejad is now genuinely scared of Iranian society and of Mousavi and Rafsanjani. The level of tension between them has gone beyond civil limits -- and my contact said that Ahmadinejad will try to have them imprisoned and killed.

Likewise, he said, Rafsanjani, Khatami, and Mousavi know this -- and thus are using all of the instruments at their control within Iran's government apparatus to fight back -- but given Khamenei's embrace of Ahmadinejad's actions in the election and victory, there is no recourse but to try and remove Khamenei. Some suggest that Rafsanjani will count votes to see if there is a way to formally dislodge Khamenei -- but this source I met said that all of these political giants have resources at their disposal to "do away with" those that get in the way.

He predicted that the so-called reformist camp -- who are not exactly humanists in the Western liberal sense -- may try and animate efforts to decapitate the regime and "do away with" Ahmadinejad and even the Supreme Leader himself.

--It is the music of a people who will not be slaves agian -- Are these real #s?

Again from the Daily Kos:

Meanwhile inside Government Officials are leaking the REAL election numbers.

Unofficial news - reports leaked results from Interior Ministry:
Eligible voters: 49,322,412
Votes cast: 42,026,078
Spoilt votes: 38,716
Mir Hossein Mousavi: 19,075,623
Mehdi Karoubi: 13,387,104
Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad (incumbent): 5,698,417
Mohsen Rezaei (conservative candidate): 3,754,218

Again, I've heard nothing about this on any so-called "news broadcast".

What the hell is going on in Iran? Pt. 2

Is it a civil war? A coup? Brian Ulrich suggests the votes were rigged by the military: 

In other words, the often anti-democratic and militarily inclined forces which have been rising in Iran were threatened by the more traditional establishment, and acted to preserve their interests. We already saw, starting in 2005, how this movement had pushed together reformists and centrist pragmatists, resulting in Mousavi's alliance with the likes of Rafsanjani and Khatami's conservative 1997 opponent Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri. If so, this was not a coup perpetrated by the clerical establishment, but by a rising hard-line counter-establishment that did not want a repeat of the 2006 elections for the Assembly of Experts.
UPDATE: Khamene'i's role in this affair is emerging as a key issue within analysis. Above, I followed Makhbalbaf's account, in which the Leader initially accepted the results. Gary Sick, however, credibly suggests that the Mousavi camp was lied to so as to make them complacent.
UPDATE: Just a quick clarification: "Military" in this case refers to the IRGC and basij militi
This is also supported by the Daily Kos:

Let me bring you up to date. Every single agency, in and outside of Iran, and practically everyone who knows anything about the nation has declared this thing a Sham. The vote wasn't stolen, the vote wasn't EVEN COUNTED. It was invented. This coup has been bought around by the guard, and supported by the Ayatollah. The actions take are indefensible, and a group of hardline radicals are ignoring the will of the Iranian people.
Even now the phone lines and internet connections have gone eerily dead, alongside the electricity for the entire city of Tehran. The police is out looking for Satellites, and communications from Iranians on Twitter, Facebook and through blogs have totally died out.
Make no doubt about it. Tehran is under martial law.
From the streets I have updates, a friend in Iran is a sports journalist for the immensely popular national football team. Due to the nature of his reporting, he has been practically ignored, and free to switch his reporting over to covering these events.
This is what he is telling me about what he has heard.
   * 1. The Green protesters have taken over at least two police stations in north of Tehran, the Guards are trying to take back the buildings.
   * 2. University dormitories across Iran have been attacked by the Revolutionary Guards.
   * 3. The building of the ministry of Industry, and a major telecommunication center, have been set on fire.
   * 4. Sharif University's professors have resigned on mass.
   * 5. Unrest in Rasht, Tabriz, Isfahan, Shiraz and every other major city.

So Tehran is under marital law and there is a possible civil war break out in Iran and all of that leads me to one more question - where is the media? Meet the (de) Pressed just spent 30-60 seconds on Iran and 5 minutes on "reinventing the Republican party". Why are they asleep at the switch? Fox News is talking about cholesterol or some non-sense . FWIW - Meet the (de) Pressed spent more time talking about Tim Russert than a possible civil war breaking out in Iran. These guys don't even want to be relavent anymore, do they?

update - CNN is talking about Healthcare reform. I could have turned the channel on anytime in the last 12 years and seen the same fucking thing.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

If something goes down in Iran - this is why....

These are the elections results - nice strait line we have there.

Andrew Sullivan has it too - from a different source - it may be about to pop offf in Iran

Second source on the opposition under house arrest story.....

What the hell is going on in Iran?

This just in - Daily Kos reporting that there is a coup breaking out in Iran:

Updated V: Rioting Grows Ayatollas Call for New Elections, Telephone Cut Off Teheran, Mousavi Arrest

Digg this! Share this on Twitter - Updated V: Rioting Grows Ayatollas Call for New Elections, Telephone Cut Off Teheran, Mousavi ArrestTweet this submit to reddit Share This

Sat Jun 13, 2009 at 08:26:21 AM PDT

Note: We are simply watching the best Farsi websites. Payman has been reading them for years, so he knows the good ones. I should note that one of those sources did call Mousavi's arrest long before anyone else and it has been since confirmed. Will report that landscape in the am.

Update V: I've lost my translator (Payman) for the night. He promised a birthday dinner to a Bosnian friend. We'll be back at it very early tomorrow. People are finding 'other' ways to get the news out, so we hope to have more news by morning.

Update IV:

Link: A committee of respected Ayatollahs (the spiritual fighters) have requested that the election be invalidated for the purpose of restoring the people’s trust in the Islamic Republic. "We request the people to stay calm and not to provoke the government agents."


Link Telephone communication between Tehran and the rest of Iran has been completely disconnected. This corresponds with the beginnings of the arrests of the opposition. It is suspected that this is being orchestrated by the son of Mojtaba Khamenei son of The Supreme Leader, Ali.

It's true. We are unable to telephone people in Tehran we spoke to an hour ago. No error just silence.

Update II: Pyknet: Mousavi has been place under house arrest. He was arrested on his way to Khamenei's house. All communication has been shut off. Khamenei has issued a statement claiming that HE that he is leading this coup to SAVE the Islamic Government (Nezam)

Update I: Sianat az ara (Protectors of Votes) Iran' Election Commission, have called the result fraud and are calling for new election.

They pointed to the suspension of text messaging Thursday night and the disruption of phone service for the campaigns and others, and ballot shortages.

Sianat az ara is a group of election monitors chosen by the four candidates. Ahmadinejad campaign is rejecting the claim of fraud and dismissed the committee as pro-Mousavi.

It is almost 9:30pm in Iran. In the north (rich part) of Tehran, the curfew is being ignored.

Photos here. Mo' pix here. is reporting;
Translation -

Rafsanjani has resigned all duties in protest to Supreme Leader Khamenei's endorsement of Ahmadinejad as winner of yesterday's election.

This article from Forbes on Thursday provides recent background on Rafsanjani's case.

Rafsanjani, known in many circles as the Godfather, responded in kind with an open letter to the supreme leader demanding punishment for the aggression. That was perhaps the fuel on the fire for the streets. The anti-Ahmadinejad protesters felt more secure and confident after the division among the ruling elite became public and the streets went wild with human chains and slogans demanding Ahmadinejad's resignation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Polemics != Science

Once upon a time, Paul Krugman was serious economist. He did serious research in the area of international trade and eventually won a Noble Prize.

But those days are long past. Paul Krugman has abandoned his roots as a serious social scientist and has devolved into the intellectual equivalent of Rush Limbaugh.

Social Scientists attempt to use basic scientific principals to gain greater understanding of human behavior, be it in the psychological, social, economic or political spheres. A social scientist strives to make testable, positive observations about the phenomena he is studying. For example, in his 2007 book The Conciseness of a Liberal Krugman makes positive claims about the impact of Republican economic policy on the wages of the average worker - specifically, he claims that the so called "Treaty of Detroit" between the UAW and auto manufacturers led to a steady growth in wages of the average worker.

Now, as it happens, Krugman is probably wrong about his claim.

However, social science is a process that is not always only about being "right" or "wrong" - everyone makes mistakes in their conclusions occasionally, but what is important is that the claims must be positive and testable.

Krugman has moved way beyond the bounds of science. Today he makes wild claims about whatever he saw on CNN the night before.

But with the murder of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic, closely followed by a shooting by a white supremacist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the analysis looks prescient.

There is, however, one important thing that the D.H.S. report didn’t say: Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.

The problem with trying to link the work of one crazy person with some sort of supposed "movement" afoot is that crazy people do crazy things whenever they feel like it. Because if a Democrat in the White House "caused" a "crazy right winger" - whatever that mean - to go crazy then how would that explain the murder or a Jewish radio host named Alan Berg during the Reagan administration?

Furthermore, how would that explain a shooting at the White House during the Bush administration?

Beyond the acts of lone gunman, all this recent focus on "Right Wing Terrorism" is nonsense anyway. While acts of "Right Wing Terrorism" seem to spark all sorts of comments from the likes of Paul Krugman there is little concern about the ongoing resource based insurgency going on within our inner cities.

I wrote about one such insurgency in my chapter in the upcoming 5th Generation Warfare Handbook, and occasionally the media reports on it in bits and pieces, but rarely do we get the full story.

Anyone who was truly concerned about "domestic terrorism" and actually knew anything would ignore both the words of idiots like Glen Beck and actions of crazy lone gunman and would instead focus on the need for a concerted grand strategy for Urban COIN in America.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sotomayor Pt. 3: Joe Biden screws up by telling the truth....

There is only one cardinal sin in American politics - NEVER ACCIDENTALLY TELL THE TRUTH.

Joe Biden does not understand this concept - to the benefit of the American people and the U.S. Constitution:

Vice President Joe Biden may have crossed the line when he assured national law enforcement groups Monday that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor "has your back."

The remark quickly stirred criticism in the legal world, since Biden was making a pledge that a fair and objective justice would not necessarily be able to keep.

Biden made the remark at an assembly of eight law enforcement groups after he detailed Sotomayor's tough-on-crime record in the courtroom.

"There's a part of her record that seems to be, up to now, been flying under the radar a bit. And that's her tough stance on criminals and her unyielding commitment to finding justice for the victims of crime," Biden said.

He then repeatedly said, "She gets it," and sought to assure the law enforcement groups that she would be on their side.

"So you all are on the front lines. But as you do your job, know that Judge Sotomayor has your back as well," Biden said. "And throughout this nomination process, I know you'll have her back."

Yes, she will have your back - even if you beat up a stranded motorists and a jury finds you negligent.

As I said before, Sotomayor is not a liberal. Sotomayor is a center-left statist.

A liberal, like judge Souter, at least believes that individuals deserve protection from abusive police tactics, although he does not believe that they should be protected from local governments run amuck.

In any case, I'm glad Joe Biden is telling us the truth about Sotomayor.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Secretary Gates Inadvertently Makes a Really Strong Pro Iranian Argument...

The secretary of defense says that Russia is scared of Iran.

And well they should be.

With a restive Muslim population and a predilection for going tear assing around and invading countries in Iran's neighborhood, a weakening Russia would have much to fear from a strong Iran.

That is why Iran makes more sense as an ally than as an enemy. Russia and Iran's relationship is one of convenience, with the Iranians willing to make nice with Russia so long as the Ruskies will sell them weapons on a strict "don't ask, don't tell basis" and the Russians willing to do anything for cold hard currency. But a nuclear armed Iran - equipped with missiles that could hit Moscow - would not be in Russia's best interest.

But it would be in America's best interest.

Just one more reason Friday's elections and the Obama administrations reactions to them are very important.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

65 Years ago today......

My grandfather - 20 years old- weighed down with too much gear and wading through water that was both ice cold and deeper than they told him it was going be, was there as a private with the Big Red One. He once explained to me that they'd practiced just about every aspect of the landing, but, as he put it, "We didn't expect them to shoot back!" Still, I don't think I came close to understanding what it meant to charge off the Higgins Boat and up the beach until many years later, when I saw Saving Private Ryan.

I've heard Stephen Ambrose describe D-Day as the ultimate victory of Democracy over Tyranny, because up and down the beach, as units were split apart and as the chain of command fell by the wayside you had men, in ones and twos and small groups - here a private, there an NCO and lieutenant, rise and up and say, "To hell with this, if I'm going to die I'm going to take some of those krauts with me," and organize into pick-up units to assault the pill boxes. Again, there is probably no better understanding of this than Saving Private Ryan.

The war would have been "won" without D-Day. Sooner or later, the Soviets would have worn down the German army. And after the Battle of Kursk, there was very little standing between the Red Army and Berlin, it was only a matter of time, resources and manpower, and Stalin possessed all three in spades.

But had the war gone that way the Soviets would have dominated Europe, and an entire continent would have been plunged into darkness for God knows how many decades to follow.

But as we celebrate the ultimate victory let us try to remember how distant victory must have seemed to those boys on those LCIs on that morning. The distance to Berlin - and to victory - was to be measured a few yards at time; a single beach head; a single hedge row; a street; a bridge. And between Normandy and V.E.Day many of those men would spend a few weeks dug into the frozen ground at the Ardennes forest, freezing and fighting for every inch of ground as a surprise counter offensive threatened to reverse the long months of progess the allies had made. Micheal Benard Eshelmen, my grandfather, would be wounded twice before the war ended, once at the hedge rows in France and once at the Battle of the Bulge - earning two Purple Hearts and perment hearing damage in the process.

So by winning on D-Day those small groups of men won more than a war, they won a peace that followed. They won a transatlantic alliance that survives to this day and they eventually helped win a untied Europe, with former enemies France and Germany anchoring a continent brought together under a common currency and customs union. It was perhaps the single greatest victory in the history of warfare.

And it all began on a cold beach, June 6th, 1944.

Obama's Middle East Endgame: Part II - The June 12th Wildcard

In a previous post I hypothesized that Obama's Middle East End Game was to get the Sunni Arab states and Israel sitting together in a security framework to push back against Iran.

But what if something changes in Iran?

From Andrew Sullivan, earlier this week:

I don't know whether you have been reading the various press accounts of the election campaign in Iran. I know that the candidates' list is fixed, but I can also see democratic spirit when it is bang in front of me. There appears to be a genuine fight for votes; and the images from the Mousavi rallies look more like Obama rallies than assemblies in a totalitarian state. Notice how young these people look, and how unafraid. Does anyone doubt that if this kid of peaceful campaigning were happening in Iraq, it would be regarded as a sign of a nascent democracy? And, for what it's worth, Ahmadinejad increasingly looks desperate - the bribing of Red Iran doesn't seem as powerful right now as the rallying of Blue Iran. Check out the photos of a May Mousavi rally headlined by Khatami on this Iranian photo-blog,

From the New York Times

Mr. Moussavi, a former prime minister, was born in Khameneh, a small town near this northwestern city in East Azerbaijan Province. He was speaking here on Tuesday as part of a two-day tour to win the votes of Turkish speakers, nearly one-third of Iran’s eligible voters.

In his speech, Mr. Moussavi denounced the pressure put on student activists through expulsions and jail terms during Mr. Ahmadinejad’s term and called the president’s policies “old and backward.”

He said the major goal of the 1979 revolution was freedom.

“We wanted to become free and be progressive in the world, not faced with backward ideas and notions today,” he said.

The rally was an unusual event in this northwestern city, where political and social restrictions are enforced more fiercely than in the capital, Tehran.

Young men and women sang together, and even moved their bodies rhythmically to the music. The young men rushed from their side of the segregated auditorium to the women’s side, to take cellphone pictures of girls dancing. The women had green headbands or ribbons in their hair, and had pushed back the black hoods they are required to wear as far back as they could go.

Many in the audience said they were frustrated by four years of economic mismanagement and social and political suppression under Mr. Ahmadinejad. They said they hoped that Mr. Moussavi would reverse those policies.

Nassim, 19, a radiology student, who withheld her family name for fear of retribution, said she had to resign as a member of her university’s Islamic Association, the only pro-reform political association for student activists, because of pressure from university hard-liners.

“I could not even do social or cultural work,” she said. “They accused us of doing political work no matter what we did.”
And beyond simple rallies, this week witnessed a fiery debate between Ahmadinejad and Moussavi in which Moussavi called out the current administration for its anti-semitic remarks and failed foreign polices:

He also took issue with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s constant questioning of the Holocaust, saying that it harmed the country’s standing with the rest of the world and undermined its dignity. “For the past four years you kept saying that the United States is collapsing,” Mr. Moussavi said. “You have said Israel is collapsing. France is collapsing.”

He added, “Your foreign policies have been based on such illusional perceptions.”
So what happens if Moussavi wins?

I think its unlikely that Iran would be quick to capitulate on its nuclear program. They live in a bad neighborhood filled with unstable nuclear powers and aggressive, nuclear armed petro-ocracies.

I like to point out that I wouldn't live in my neighborhood if I didn't own a gun, so I shouldn't expect Iran to accept existence in a dangerous area without a nuclear deterrent.

So where does this leave Iran and U.S.? And by extension Iran and the U.S.-Israeli-Sunni Arab partnership?

It's hard to say. For his part, Obama has hinted that the U.S. may be willing to drop preconditions on talks with Iran.

I've often heard that in 1969, when the Soviets were considering attacking China, a Soviet emissary was sent to speak with someone in the White House about what America's reaction would be if the Sovs bombed China's nuclear facilities. Nixon's response was swift and unambiguous: the U.S. would not accept a Soviet attack on China. It seems to me that the Iran-Israel-U.S. situation right now is similar.

Assuming three things are true:
  • a). The Israelis are serious about attacking Iran's nuclear program and the Iranians know that they are serious.
  • b).The Iranians know that the consequences of Israel's attack would be both devastating and difficult completely predict.
  • c). That Iran wants maintain at minimum a strategic nuclear ambiguity for deterrence.

Then the only sensible move for the Iranians to make would be for Moussavi to immediately reach out for formal talks with the Obama administration as soon as possible, assuming he wins.* Obama then has the ability to do to Israel what Nixon did with Iran - declare that an attack on Iran would be absolutely unacceptable. This would serve to weaken Netanyahou's government and probably push back the planned Israeli strike indefinitely.

The Sunni regimes won't be happy about the opening of the relations between Iran and America, but it won't matter. Better relations between the U.S. and Iran, similar to relations between China and the U.S., make everything else a feit accompli.

*All bets are off if Ahmadinejad wins, he benefits from conflict with the west.

Obama's Middle East Endgame: Part I - Israel, Iran and Nukes

Tom Barnett, the eternal optimist, is less than sanguine about the possibility of avoiding an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear program. In a blistering piece in Esquire, Tom looks at three possible scenarios for the near term relationship between Israel, American, the Sunni Arab countries and Tehran. Here is his "ugly" scenario:

Israel decides to act on its own by launching massive (even if they're dubbed "surgical") air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities sometime before the end of the year. Israel and its (re-)new(ed) prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu are clearly not feeling the usual love from the Obama White House, as evidenced by how all the media coverage of their first summit centered on "who had the upper hand?" (Obama on freezing settlements, or Netanyahu on striking Iran?)

In his speech today, Obama slung some loaded words toward Tehran: "My country is ready to move forward," and "we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve," and "we have reached a decisive point."

If that means America isn't going to wait and see about anything when it comes to this increasingly tense triangle of love and hate, we may be reaching that big decision. And pursuing the Saudi-first scenario, however reticent Abdullah now may be to stepping outside the line of the Arab League (they want Israel to make the next concession on settlements), may just be Obama's best chance to beat both Tel Aviv and Tehran to their prospective punches. I mean, whatever Abdullah demands in return, the price will likely be worth it.

Here's why: If Netanyahu were to pull the trigger, Tehran would retaliate with both barrels — as in Hamas and Hezbollah. That would kill any two-state solution right there for Obama's entire first term, something Netanyahu would likely welcome as a two-birds-with-one-stone bonus. Stipulating that any direct kinetic response out of Iran against Israel would be a serious wild card, the more prosaic fall-out (pun intended) would be this: Iran would radically speed up its pursuit of nuclear weaponry, as would both Turkey and Saudi Arabia (who logically are colluding on this goal already). Toss in Egypt and the UAE as likely follow-ups.

In that scary pathway, the Saudis could well choose to reignite a proxy war (Saudi-backed Sunni vs. Iranian-backed Shia) within Iraq as a way of tying down Tehran somewhat (along with a generous buyout of wavering Iranian ally Syria). In this scenario, it really wouldn't matter whether or not Ahmadinejad won re-election next week, because a "righteously" angered Iran would be forced to ratchet up its anti-American efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan, shredding Obama wind-down goals in the process and setting him up for a tough re-election battle in 2012 (He didn't end any wars like he promised!).

You know, when you add it all up, The Ugly scenario seems like such a win-win-win for Netanyahu (bomb Iran, screw the two-state solution, pin down the untrustworthy Obama elsewhere) that it gets hard to see what could really happen in the short term to prevent its unfolding — other than moderate Iranians voting early and often!

Ugly is right. The Center for Strategic and Internarional Studies recently released a report on a possible Israeli strike on Iran and their analysis details what a nasty thing such an attack would be. Highlights include:

  1. It would be nearly impossible for Israel to reach the nuclear sights with conventional aircraft, so they would most likely use Jericho III ballistic missiles.
  2. The fallout would almost certainly kill thousands in the short term, and possibly cause contamination hundreds of miles downwind - including within the Gulf States, that could cause health problems for years to come.
  3. Despite all of that, they would probably only set the program back a few years.
It seems that Israel wants it both ways. They want the the U.S. to sign off on their strike package while they build their settlements and kick the can down the road on making peace with their Sunni neighbors. On the other hand, the Israelis fail to realize that the Sunni Arab regiems are at least as afraid of Iran as the Israelis are.

Interestingly, Jeffery Goldberg suggests that Obama may be attempting an end run around Netanyahu's government to force a new coalition that would be willing to strike a deal with the U.S. and the Sunni Arab regimes.

The end game in all of this is to put Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel on the same side of a security framework to resist Iran.

Obama's Middle East Endgame: Prolouge -The Cario Speech: Nice Hat - Awaiting the Arival of Cattle

Unlike his misguided appointment of Judge Sotomayor, President Obama's Cairo speech was a good early step towards moving America's policies in a positive direction. Frankly, it's times like this that I'm glad I voted for the guy, there is simply no other American politician who could go to Egypt and approach this topic with such earnestness:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning; and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. And together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I'm grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. And I'm also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalaamu alaykum. (Applause.)

We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world -- tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

President Bush often made the statement that America was not at war with Islam per Se, but he was never able to articulate the point so eloquently and holistically, acknowledging a complex history while calling for a brighter future.
Was it long on rhetoric and short on specifics? Yep. Sometimes that's OK, however, because words do matter. So long as this is an early step and not the whole plan its a very good start.

Perhaps his most controversial (at least in the mainstream media) statement was directed at a country that is, at least ostensibly, an ally:

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.) This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. (Applause.)

And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.


There was quit a bit of State Department boilerplate, of course. For example, Obama continued his silliness on nukes, calling for nuclear free world, telling Iran to halt production of nukes, etc. Nonsense really, but it's ok as long he really doesn't take it that sort of thing too seriously.

All and all the speech was a good begining.

Sotomayor Pt.2: Destroying the Bill of Rights One Decision At a Time

In a previous post, I explained that Judge Sotomayor is a statist who does not believe in the existence of individual or natural rights.

Today in the Atlantic we find more evidence that Sotomayor is in favor of, not states' rights, but the States's Rights - meaning the right of government to repress dissent.

For example, Sotomayor opposes people speaking out against corrupt government officials or speaking in favor of opposition candidates. She also favors abusive police tactics, presumably so long as they do not disenfranchise any politically correct interest groups.

A very smart young senator once gave a powerful speech opposing the appointment of a justice who used "formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak."

The senator's point is good one; we should be weary of those who seem to consitstently back the strong against the weak. For example, we should be weary of a judge who opposes both the 1st and 2nd amendments, sides with corrupt school administrators and favors police officers who beat up on stranded motorists.

It's too bad that that idealistic young senator didn't hold such a high standard when it came time for him to make an appointment to the bench.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sotomayor: Voted Change, Got More of Same.....

Let me start out by saying that I do not believe that Judge Sotomayor is a racist.

I also do not believe she is an impressive pick by Obama.

Barrack Obama was elected to bring Change. Sotomayor does not represent Change - she represents more of the same statist, center-left identity politics that we've been dealing with in America for the past 60 years.

Like most center-left statists*, Sotomayor does not believe in individual rights. In Sotomayor's America, rights belong to politically constructed groups rather than to individuals. Had Obama wished to bring about Change, he would have nominated a justice who believed that the law should treat each person as an individual, as opposed to viewing each person only as a cog in the wheel of a politically correct interest group. For example, had Obama wished to create Change, he might have done what George W. Bush did - appoint a justice who believes that the Constitution protects the rights of citizens from the tyranny of the majority and the caprice of oppressive local governments.

Unsurprising, Sotomayor does not care when citizens have their rights violated by the state, so long as it is done in a politically correct manner - which is to say so long as the status quo which has existed since the Johnson administration is preserved.

Also, had Obama wished to bring about Change, he might have considered someone who holds 21st century views on affirmative action. After all, the President has professed a belief in a 21st century view of affirmative action:

In an interview last May on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos, he was asked whether his own daughters should someday receive preferences in college admissions. His response was unexpected: "I think that my daughters should probably be treated by any admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged." He added, "I think that we should take into account white kids who have been disadvantaged and have grown up in poverty and shown themselves to have what it takes to succeed."

But rather than go for Change, Obama decided to pick someone who holds a very mid 20th century view of affirmative action. I would imagine that Sotomayor types her opinions on an electric typewriter rather than using MS Office, because all her other beliefs and habits appear to be stuck somewhere around 1965.

The unfortunate reality is that Sotomayor will be confirmed by the Senate. Crazy justices were just one of the reasons that I qualified my endorsement of Obama for president by recommending people vote for Republicans in the House and Senate. I continue to hope we get a divided government soon. In the meantime, I endorse Charles Krauthammer's suggestion that:

When the hearings begin, Republicans should call Frank Ricci as their first witness. Democrats want justice rooted in empathy? Let Ricci tell his story and let the American people judge whether his promotion should have been denied because of his skin color in a procedure Sotomayor joined in calling "facially race-neutral."

Make the case for individual vs. group rights, for justice vs. empathy. Then vote to confirm Sotomayor solely on the grounds -- consistently violated by the Democrats, including Sen. Obama -- that a president is entitled to deference on his Supreme Court nominees, particularly one who so thoroughly reflects the mainstream views of the winning party. Elections have consequences.

Vote Democratic and you get mainstream liberalism: A judicially mandated racial spoils system and a jurisprudence of empathy that hinges on which litigant is less "advantaged."

A teaching moment, as liberals like to say. Clarifying and politically potent. Seize it.

* Sotomayor is NOT a liberal. To be liberal is to believe in liberty - Sotomayor does NOT believe in liberty - she believes in the preservation of status quo that has existed since the 1960s.

Third Eye Blind is the worst band in the world....

Seriously, this is trash.

3EB was town recently and I heard Stephen Jenkins being interviewed on the local alternative radio station (in this context I guess alternative means alternative to good) and that guy is as much a jackass as these lyrics make him sound.

A truely horrible band.