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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Islamic Gulag in Khamenei's Iran - Mind Sucking Prisons

Where Truth is the enemy of the State, torture is put in service of the Big Lie - false confessions and more besides.

Islamic Declaration of Universal Human Rights

IX Right to Asylum

a) Every persecuted or oppressed person has the right to seek refuge and asylum. This right is guaranteed to every human being irrespective of race, religion, colour and sex.

b) Al Masjid Al Haram (the sacred house of Allah) in Mecca is a sanctuary for all Muslims.

VII Right to Protection Against Torture

No person shall be subjected to torture in mind or body, or degraded, or threatened with injury either to himself or to anyone related to or held dear by him, or forcibly made to confess to the commission of a crime, or forced to consent to an act which is injurious to his interests.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The Iranian hardliners are trying the 30 year old prop of blaming foreign elements, Zionists and Americans.

Until this past week, perhaps the judicial tyrants haven't fully realized that, sooner or later, these falsehoods create their own wake ...
But, could you imagine if this tidbit were ever able to be confirmed? Who, now, is using foreign elements (as well as spreading its homegrown troubles abroad)?:

Rumors say 3 Basij captured and being held in basements of homes. They only speak Arabic.

-twitter, via ASullivan

Other nations have used foreign pressure wisely. The Iranian Judicial Tyrants ... appear to have no plan but more of the same drudgery.

Until this past week, perhaps they haven't fully realized that, sooner or later, these falsehoods create their own wake, right? Allah u Akbar.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Khatami Freaks Out - Without the Foil of America-of-Satan, the Islamic State Would Fall

Update: This is Ahmed Khatami who made these comments, NOT the former President Khatami. As such, his alarming comments are seriously countermanded by those made during the week by Montezari, who made a point out of the use plainclothes as enforcers, reflecting badly on the government and its credibility.


When I read the AP story, I thought they had interchanged "Khatami" and "Khamenei"; but it appears that Iran's former President Khatami, a "moderate/reformer", is at the limit of what we can consider to be a cleric's natural leadership abilities. Basically, under pressure, he's freaking out (once again).

...few of the military-political clerics there appear to know how to be persuasive - too many just issue death threats and juridical blame threats
Maybe it is because his idea of 'going shopping' at the bazaar as a way to shut it down and peacefully protest wasn't followed, as people showed up in front of the Parliament instead. *Who knows? But, few of the military-political clerics there appear to know how to be persuasive - too many just issue death threats and juridical blame threats, to some degree, rushing to set-up these show-court trials for the protesters.

Anyway, it's reported that he's sermonized "cruelty", "no mercy", and some despotic, extra-legal concept called 'making an example' out of people. (Crime and punishment are meant to be equal under the law, not influenced by such passions ...).


He's gone along with reviving 'fear of the other' (Israel, America - 'Great Satan', and now adding Britain to their hate parade). Such fear and demonization has been the long-time prop for a regime obviously unable to stand on its own, without a foil. It's a prop with a considerable cost, a waste of the country's considerable resources, and a stalwart of the Guard's ability to self-enrich.

Face it, the system just doesn't "know" how to handle conflict, real conflict, a real contest of ideas, and a truly meaningful, peaceful exchange of power.

It's a very formalized system, at the top, that's fragile because of it, dangerously fragile. It's far too binary: either you live in a narrow row or DEATH.

Consider that Western pluralism, for all its faults, inequities, lethargy, corporate capture, and injustice, is not nearly so punishing as all that.

*Khatami may have been played. One of my suspicions is shared on Lede blog: "Last night Ms. Setrakian said that she had interviewed an analyst “who thinks Iran’s authorities are calling the new protests, bringing out front line of protesters so they pick them off.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another, Gone Too Soon

Michael Jackson sings Gone Too Soon

For Ryan White, but sung also, in 1993. Jackson had a significant social conscience that seems to have not made it much above the glow of his super-stardom, somehow, even despite 'We are the world' and much else besides.

Khamenei Starts His 'Islamic Gulag' In Earnest


via NIAC:

4:05 pm: 70 university professors arrested – According to Kalemeh, 70 university professors were arrested today after meeting with Mousavi Trotsky. According to the report, “there is no information available on where these professors were taken.”

Update: Apparently "the guillotine" will be satisfied with just four (4). The rest will be released (until next time?).

Continuation of Daily Show Series:

The comedic interview with his father is also available.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Ebrahim Yazdi's Arrest
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ali al-Sistani - Islam is calling


The emergence of the wrongful role of Khamenei's young son, both in action and in pretending to something as obscene as a right of succession to "Supreme Leader", may be something that gives older clerics room to do something.

One who could play a significant part is the very elderly Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in Najef but of Iranian ancestry. He could ask that people open up their homes, both in Iraq and Iran, to the politically disenfranchised of Iran.

This would be a humanitarian gesture that fits, that would also send an indirect signal to the hardliners to unclench their fist, presently, that there are limits, that "Islamic" show-trials for protesters with a universal right to express their beliefs will not be accepted.

The Hostile Indifference of the World?

When will the millions come to Western streets, to witness (who cares what Obama is saying, exaclty, parsed in every detail by the media and the political class)?

How can you start life at 20, with this? Khamenei - Molech - is eating the young of his Nation:

Update: other footage confirms that Basiji, whether authorized or not, involved in open fire.

Other news:

  • The regime has unlawfully "evacuated" Neda's family, according to neighbor eye-witness reports, no doubt trying to prevent any rally place, any impromptu shrine for veneration. She will be "wiped from the pages of History", as A-Nejad once said of Israel. (They will try...).
  • To deflect the upcoming onslaught of international reprisals and difficulties for an emerging Stalinist like himself, Khamenei has issued a statement with his repeated, all-important message: blame. Guess who? Yes, it is everyone but his divine self. This time, he takes aim at the candidates and their "regional" activities, which he says will have national impact.
  • The clever message(s) to go to the bazaars "to shop" apparently did not go through - reports today are from near the Parliament. *sigh*
  • The "Shah" reportedly behind the descending iron veil? It is the greedy son of the current Supreme Leader, reportedly favored by his father and others to 'inherit' the position from his cancerous dad.
  • Just like the Fedayeen-Saddam, the basiji are reportedly being paid handsomely to beat people, savagely and extra-judicially, which is patently unlawful.
  • There is eye-witness evidence that the regime will not be having the dead testify, so to speak, at the upcoming show trials of those arrested. Evidence is critical in Islamic law too, so bodies are being removed from Hospitals by ... well, by The State's Big Lie, of course.

The Abiding Place for Private Health Insurance ...


The kind of insurance worth buying is catastrophic insurance. That is what the private market should migrate toward providing.

The kind of insurance worth having is catastrophic insurance. That is what the private market should migrate toward providing.
Those formulating legislation, now, should see that as a possible vision of the restructuring of how health care is financed in America.

In the long run, you get your primary care, basic health and dental, from a government or govt-private partnership, unless you are wealthy enough to have super-pamper private access to something else.

American employers, eventually focus on providing salutary preventive care benefits and, possibly, catastrophic coverage, of both pre and post-retirement varieties.

In this way, the vexing problem of how much money is available for heroic treatments is not fully dealt with, until such time as the nation can afford to do so.

One could think of a phasing in and out period for this of seven years, just to pick a number. The government could help a catastrophic insurance market get started in that period, perhaps by underwriting residual risks or using creative ways to bring liquidity to the bonds that would...

Why "Government" Doesn't or Shouldn't Mean Monolithic

McArdle writes:

"So why did Walter Reed suck? And what guarantees that the VA is the system we'll follow, rather than the multiple other dysfunctional government systems everyone hates?"

Well, uh, two things: the voting public. And, uh, hopefully the Congress will be wise enough to leave room for a variety of approaches, within an overall framework.



This year’s atlas focuses on Medicare spending for patients in the last two years of life at the top five teaching hospitals, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. The medical center at the University of California, Los Angeles, was the most extravagant, averaging some $93,000 per patient. Johns Hopkins, at $85,000, and Massachusetts General, at $78,000, came next. The Cleveland Clinic, at $55,000, and the Mayo Clinic, at $53,000, were far more cost-effective.

The reason for the disparities is not that one hospital charges a lot more for a given service than the others. Rather, the high-cost hospitals provide a lot more services for patients than the lower-cost hospitals: keeping patients in the hospital and in intensive care for longer periods, sending them to a slew of specialists and doing a lot more tests and procedures.

Own It America

... as Colbert might say.

An 18 year-old guy, with an IQ of 47 (that's well into the range for the category), gets 100 years in prison, after confessing yet still going to jury.

That's not a typo.

Yes, it's Texas.

Those Iranian Soccer Greenbands

Islamic Declaration of Universal Human Rights

XII Right to Freedom of Belief, Thought and Speech

a) Every person has the right to express his thoughts and beliefs so long as he remains within the limits prescribed by the Law.

What is a society that eats its best? Who but Khamenei has unleashed and fed this ugly Molech?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iran on Precipice of Following Communists, An Iron Veil Descending

Today, in Iran, from Tehran to Shiraz, in every household, there is an iron veil descending across one of the most culturally vibrant parts of the world.

Reading Henry-Levy, I'm thinking about Goebbels and "The Big Lie" again, mostly because of the emerging false confessions and false narrative wrought by the Iranian judicial tyrant's torture and terror.

Let us hope, therefore, that all our leaders learn the lesson that covering the truth, failing to do justice, no matter how good the intentions, eventually does more harm than good and is inimical to a functioning Republic... The Lie creates an insatiable Molech and an infectious attitude that more lying is okay, dutiful.

It's plain.

Bleg - Direct Action


I am appalled that there are just 3,900+ visits to this Neda site.

We don't need more government action. Sanctions. Punishments. Diplomatic statements. Doesn't it seem obvious that it is the voices of the peoples of the world who DEMAND peace, who want their governments to get out of the way, that need to find each other, NOW.
Please send me or post in the comments all the websites that are set-up for her or to show the strength of the international sympathy.

I can spend some free time visiting all these - and so can you!


When we had a Stalinist Soviet Republic, every nuclear missile deployment causes hundreds of thousands to take to the streets to stop the madness.

I continue to fail to see why more people aren't agitated to see the possible stakes in this showdown. We are looking at, potentially, another openly-Stalinist regime, perhaps worse, because it is run by a religious authority.

This will color politics of the next generation and the next, at least. Where are those whose lives are, once again, threatened so directly by the 'nuclear umbrella'? Those people who grew up during the Reagan darkness, who were happily unavailed of the precipice de mudo by their childhood? History is calling to them, right?

We don't need more government action. Sanctions. Punishments. Diplomatic statements. Doesn't it seem obvious that it is the voices of the peoples of the world who DEMAND peace, who want their governments to get out of the way, that need to find each other, NOW.

Netanyahu's "Choice for Peace"


1. More settlements, via Army Radio...:

Israeli Army Radio said on Tuesday that 60 of the 300 homes slated for the Talmon settlement in the West Bank had already been built.

Ehud Barak, the defence minister, who oversees West Bank operations, had approved plans to construct another 240 units there, the radio said.

No idea of whether there are international 'audits' of "natural" growth, but I suspect not.

2. Almost excessively formal demands, that would be hard for any nation-state of the U.N. to meet (can the recognition of sovereignty be conditioned on ... ethnicity...I understand that they are after a formal end of conflict, but c'mon, I'd prefer to focus on day-to-day, hearts-and-minds first, the formal end can come in time, 20 years down the road, if all else goes well):

Israel's defence minister [Ehud Barak] has said that Arabs must recognise his country as a Jewish state before an independent Palestinian state can be created.

al jazeerah

Settlements Issue

Just because the editorial page of the WSJ called for a stop to settlement activity, once upon a time, did Obama's top two or three advisers think that they have all the subtleties covered, when they put him out on the issue so starkly, quite the way they did? (Frankly, I suspect it is why his poll numbers are down, but I have no proof of that, whatsoever...).

Andrew Sullivan writes:

I can't see any conceivable peace in the region without an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and dismantling of the settlements.

Look, "settlements" has a long history in Israel, and the "origin" of settlement has had many different political backdrops, over the course of 30 years. Why and how settlements occurred in the 1960s and 1970s is quite different than what Netanyahu / Sharon did in the 1990s and well into the 2000s, under the reign of George "The Decider" - there is a startling map that shows an almost fantastic relative rate of expansion under Oslo, as best memory serves.

What's more, there is a legal history to how land was "appropriated", that is important to come to grips with, even if it means learning the word "usufruct". (And please don't think I know the half of it!).

To my mind, "settlements" - restricted settlement activities - are best understood as prejudicial to the final peace. The language of "illegality" is ... well, so problematic, it's almost a dead end.

So, hear Judt, when he writes:

...no one seriously believes that these communities — with their half a million residents, their urban installations, their privileged access to fertile land and water — will ever be removed.

Or Mubark, when he writes:

Despite the setbacks of the last few years, it is important to remember that many of the elements of a solution have already been negotiated. After nearly two decades of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since the initiation of the Oslo peace process, many of the details of a final settlement are well known. Furthermore, the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted at the Beirut summit of 2002, provides a regional framework for such a settlement. For the first time in the history of the conflict, the Arab states unanimously committed to full normalization and security for Israel in exchange for a full withdrawal to the 1967 lines and a negotiated resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue.

Civil Disobedience within Islamic Law: "Without wearing green..."


Here is how it is done, by experts, the wheels within wheels to remain within the drudgery of the exhaustive reach of religious "law", religious lawmakers, religious lawmaking, religious "volunteer" police/fedayeen-Khamenei, and religious "Guardians":

Bring your children too and very calmly – without shouting slogans – without wearing green – we will look as though we are going shopping but we won’t buy anything and will think only of shutting down the market, and will not leave any traces of ourselves.

-former Iranian President, Khatami, reportedly

An effort to mobilize the "business class" - very clever.

[This "game" can go on forever, sadly...just use your imagination for the counter-action; but so what, if it reduces the violence, maybe.].

From the Islamic Declaration of Human Rights:

b) Every individual and every people has the inalienable right to freedom in all its forms — physical, cultural, economic and political — and shall be entitled to struggle by all available means against any infringement or abrogation of this right; and every oppressed individual or people has a legitimate claim to the support of other individuals and/or peoples in such a struggle.

Read more, with an eye toward the "special courts" that have been set up to "administer justice" to political prisoners (one of them, a student, snatched at the airport, reportedly, while trying to leave the country...yet another violation, quite possibly).

Senate Doesn't Apologize for Itself

How can the Senate apologize "for slavery", exactly?

Were they supposed to amend the constitution? Challenge the Dred Scott decision? Trample the Federalism that supported Jim Crow?

It would have been interesting, and perhaps timely, if this Senate had the courage to apologize for not doing more to stop lynching, at the Federal level... Too close to home, for that?

In the past 20 years, the Senate has done nothing at the Federal level to stem the tide of physical violence on gay citizens. One day, there will be an apology for that, maybe even in Trent Lott or Orrin Hatch's lifetime (one can hope).

[Special note: it was a voice vote, not a roll call. Make of that what you will. Lions in the Senate, today? Well, it seems there are few current day versions of Senator Sumner...]

Update: Other things the Senate could apologize for include not putting Social Security receipts into a "lock box", at least to some degree... other candidates include failing to get an international agreement on emissions done. The list goes on.

Iran: Thursday, Friday, Saturday


"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

-John F. Kennedy

Wednesday will exhaust the 10-day constitutional period for the Guards to review & certify the election results.

Thursday, the freedom fighters will attempt a public show of solidarity for mourning, ahead of Friday prayers. They will go, reportedly, to the great Imam Kohmenei shrine (!).

Friday, Khamenei will be at prayers, shredding the Iranian constitution and the social pact, once more, no doubt.

That is, he will do so, barring a forced compromise in Qom (it's hard to know why one hasn't emerged already, except that Mullahs talk with the speed of Ents).

Saturday may be the backlash to the tyrant Khamenei, once again.

The threats, today, from the Revolutionary Guard (a.k.a. a religious leader's personal army), look like classic response to, say, prisoners threatening their guards/masters/overlords/captors: escalation of violence, in a desperate effort to maintain "roles" or perceived "control".

After nearly a trillion in unpaid direct costs of Bush's nation building

...I read this, from neocon David Brooks:

"...the country is already careening toward fiscal ruin."

David, it's like we never knew ya! (Especially with that gratuitous whine about not being listened to...).

This blog was on board with a phase out of this tax exemption, for employers who provide health benefits, when the Republican'ts were pressing just the opposite, another exemption, but for insurance bought in the individual market ...

Still, I'm partial to the opinion that a long, drawn out, visible struggle over healthcare might actually bring the best ideas to the forefront. Backroom solutions do improve the chances of action, often, but they also have to be revisited, early, for tweaking...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Khamenei's Lost Game


Why the Iranian Judicial-Tyrant's State, with its considerable might, cannot consolidate its gains, if any:

Whatever happens now, all is changed in Iran. Opacity, a numbing force, has yielded to a transparency in which one side confronts another. The online youth of Iran will not be reconciled to a regime that touts global “justice” while trampling it at home.

That's right. The country could be almost ungovernable, post-Khamenei, except by turning into an overtly Stalinist state.

The criminal mindset, the fraud? The arrogance of absolute power, or absolute partisanship? Al-jazeera takes aim:

According to the Iranian constitution, the Guardians of the Constitution are supposed to monitor and sign off on election results.

After the votes have been counted and the winner announced by the interior ministry, the Guardians have the responsibility to endorse the result within 10 days if there are no complaints from the defeated candidates.

The president-elect is then confirmed and later sworn in by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But last week's election did not follow these procedures.

Despite complaints by Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezaei, the opposition candidates, Ayatollah Khamaenei congratulated Ahmadinejad in a public speech and pointed out that he had got 14 million votes more than the first time he was elected president four years ago.

Senator Grassley Cashes In On Foreclosed Americans

Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) appears to be beating other Senators in taking his vote to the bank:

The senator is hosting a fundraiser on Monday evening with lobbyists and a political action committee representing, among others, key players in the mortgage and private equity industries.

The event will take place at the swank Capitol Hill restaurant, The Monocle, steps away from the U.S. Senate, and is soliciting donations of $2,500 to "host" or $1,000 for PAC or personal contributions.

The organizers of the event include Smith "Smitty" Davis, a lobbyist for the mega-firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, Pace Bradshaw of the Mortgage Bankers Association, Suzanne Hutchinson of the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, and the political action committee for Aflac Insurance.

Yes we can!

Yo Froomkin

A propos of testing my own and Krugman's theory, here are some datapoints, from Open-Left's Paul Rosenberg, that I take to support my own proverbial regression line:

The same sort of fate has befallen some of the best journalists in modern times.

It happened to I.F. Stone, who was remembered this week on Democracy Now! He was so prominent he was on Meet The Press one week in 1949, challenging the editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association, who was leading the charge against national health care, and he was gone in a flash, not to appear on national television for another 18 years.

It happened to famed foreign correspondent George Seldes as well, first subject to repeated censorship by his publisher at the Chicago Tribune, and later almost silenced by the blacklist under McCarthy.

It happened in stages to investigative reporter Robert Parry, who broke the initial story on Iran/Contra, and now runs Consortiumnews.com.

And it happened to Gary Webb, whose 1996 "Dark Alliance" expose of CIA/Contra involvement in the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s was later confirmed by CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz, but that didn't save him from being driven out of journalism.

The overwhelming preponderance of this pattern makes it blindingly clear that (a) there's nothing random or haphazard about it, and (b) the media establishment is not about quality news gathering, it's about ideological conformity, it's about propaganda, it's about hegemony.

To be fair, PK's theory gets a big boost, here.

But, one of the most interesting historical parallels comes from Without Barrister (h/t Crooked-T) who notes the following, in a short and compelling article on the torture lie and secrecy during the French-Algerian lawlessness:

The reason all the government censorship was necessary was that a small but incredibly passionate, intellectually high-powered anti-torture movement developed in France from late 1956.

By any concrete measure, it failed: France continued to torture straight through to the miserable end of the war, and no one was prosecuted then or later specifically for having tortured (or ordered torture).

But in another sense, its triumphs were enormous: people like Pierre Vidal-Naquet (read the Guardian's obit of him here), carrying on despite constant government harassment, prosecution, journal seizures -- and, eventually, despite death threats and bombings from hard-line supporters of France's presence in Algeria -- told the truth about what France was doing. Relentlessly. They laid the groundwork for France's eventual reckoning with its past, which is still going on today.

Yes, Freddie at WaPo just cut his rag out of the first-draft of history, in a way ...

Prince Harry

Greg Mitchell at HuffPo is wondering ... well, in a sense, why the big mouth Drudge didn't seize the day to put someone else in grave danger.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Your Freedom for a Photo

"Do not be afraid!"

CNN is reporting that the photographer who snapped this shot has had to give up his freedom to the Iranian tyrant, who has put him under arrest.

Is there enough room in all the jails?

After Prayers, Saturday/Sunday in Iran


The two sides tested each other's mettle, for the most part.

They will each fight with powerful weapons.

It would end swiftly, only, if there were a concession by Khamenei, which is unlikely, because he may be complicit in the fraud; but possible, if he 'makes a deal'. Based on initial outcomes, it looks unlikely the the fight at the very top is really close enough to force one.

Otherwise, the "opposition" will fight with strikes, mourning marches, and with other "creative" ways to stage civil "disobedience within the law".

The state actors? What choices do they have? They appear to be taking names. They might try to pre-empt by trying to kill the opposition, or its active leadership, in order to consolidate "the law" behind the lies of this election. Disinformation is powerful, but seldom a conclusive force.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Excuse for action?

The makings of an international incident open up:

12.05 pm. Confirmed: European embassies are giving care for injured! They help care for acid burns. Hospitals are traps!

RT RT Australian Embassy accepting injured: No 13, 23rd Street, Khalid Islambuli Ave - Telephone+98 21 8872 4456

Hospitals are traps? God is great!

'Islamic Revolutionary' Dictators Unleash State Power: Riot Gear, Tear Gas, extra-legal police, Mind-sucking political prisons...


Kahmenei enters the abyss of rubbing obvious injustices deep with tear gas. It will be a Pyrrhic victory, if his personal, nuclear-wanting army does stop public assembly and vocal dissent. No one will believe that they talk for anyone but themselves and those on their payroll. Dialog will become almost impossible, under the weight of neocon carping. The odds will move decidedly in favor of war with the West, yes? (March now, in sympathy, later it will be too late...).

Two notes:

I am sympathetic to the interpretation that the reported explosion at the holy shrine of Kohmenei is a way to cut off another form of legal civil disobedience under law, a way to try to keep Mousavi from taking sanctuary. Saddam's army was smart and so is the puppet dictator Ahmedi-Nejad's. This fight is going on at many levels.

Holding the Qu'ran is not so much a reclaiming of faith, as some commentators would have it. It's as much a practical shield as a symbol, a textual way to try to keep from being beaten, a way to at least try to continue civil disobedience, within the context of the law.

Maine Marriage Equality


The race to write out the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples in the Maine constitution is well on its way.

Myself, I continue to be perplexed why an effort to put a gay friendly amendment onto the same November ballot is not launched.

Is it the cost? The manpower? I don't know what is involved, but I'm keenly interested ...

Friday, June 19, 2009

People of the World



Forget the government, including whether Obama's statements are well calibrated or whether John McCain, who hired a former lobbyist for the Burmese generals, is in some kind of compromised position to posture on 'freedom'...

The people have the power, in a democracy:

US demonstrations will be held in Los Angeles, DC, Amherst, San Diego, Houston, Orlando, Denver, San Francisco, and more.

Global rallies will be held in London, Liverpool, Italy, Copenhagen/Denmark, Melbourne, Bulgaria, Spain, and Brussels. For a list of all rallies check out Moussavi’s event page on facebook, which you can find here.

There is not a day, not an hour to waste.

The tea leaves suggest that Rafsanjani ... well, he doesn't have the votes to get rid of his padawan of sorts, Khamenei, whose endorsement of such an obviously bizarre election result puts him deep in the dark....

As likely as not, Iran is bracing for a bloody, counter-revolutionary purge, with nearly every "opposition" figurehead already under arrest and the media at bay.

Too Big To Fail

The most conspicuous absence from the invigorating debate about too-big-too-fail is Ben Bernanke. After pushing that issue on Congress hard these past months, the Federal Reserve Board seems to have no ideas of its own on the table (did I miss them?).

There is much to take issue with in Alan Greenspan's WSJ Op-Ed today.

I reject the notion that boom-bust, of this variety at least, is just as 'normal' as apple-pie, that, every 100-years, competition lowers quality to the point that the system breaks. Rather, it was about unmitigated greed, ...
We do NOT need "forecasting" of systemic breakdown. All we need to know, for regulation, is that "breaks" will occur, even when least expected, perhaps.

The idea that less (or more) moral hazard is a solution, or spur to self-regulation, is laughable. Wall Street has proven time and again it is invincible. There is no hazard big enough, moral or otherwise, right?

I reject the notion that boom-bust, of this variety at least, is just as 'normal' as apple-pie, that, every 100-years, competition lowers quality to the point that the system breaks. Rather, it was about unmitigated greed, that was easily recognizable from prior patterns (cf. Greentree Financial). It was about poor management structure - Lehman's board got near failing grades - and unworldly, unchecked pay packages.

So, it's not that a residual risk has to be left with the firm (as notes Krugman) - you could argue that happened, because the firms, Merrill, Lehman, Bear, did end up with toxic inventory. Instead, it suggests that a residual risk has to be left with specific managers of the firm, perhaps including a more thorough-going shareholder right-of-action against the firm principals, especially in terms of disgorging compensation and/or going to jail.

There is a lot more, including the role of massive off-balance sheet risk (including extended trade-floor operations call "prime brokerage"), Soros, and Group30, firewalls, but that's a broad sweep.

Health Care


Am I the only one who cannot keep up with the healthcare debate, to the extent that Rham and others are allowing a public one?

The President seems stretched so thin - any President would be. It's extraordinary, almost crippling, the amount they have to handle.

If resistance is what it appears, perhaps they need a longer time and/or smaller problems to solve. Afterall, it took months and months for the Civil Rights Act, right? Why should healthcare get done quickly?

After that, it's not clear whether or when the President will refuse what is on offer, saying that no deal is better than a bad deal. He'll need to go to the country on that.

The "Free War" Continues

The unpaid for "supplemental" went up $13 billion in the space of one month, from $93 billion to $106 billion.

So much for getting violent, prolonged nation-building more 'on budget'.

Next year! Next year!


The Regional Republican Party is voting for it...

Firing Froomkin, A Meme for Our Times?

Amidst the general perplexity about it, Paul Krugman offers a theory of why Froomkin was fired from his blogologalog at the WaPo. (It strikes me as analogous to a theory of cost-irrelevancy under regime change.)

Here's another. In a way, but not completely, it has to do with how deep Krauthammer's bowl of depravity reaches (remember, Charles is the one who believes -or writes- that torture is a duty, not a mere right or prerogative of the state; and that failure to embrace it, even in the absence of results, is a disqualification from leadership).

The truth is that people don't like freedom of speech, especially of the kind Froomkin was offering on torture, the kind that bucks up against a "consensus lie" in Washington.

Sooner or later, in polite society, someone walks by someone and asks, "Are you really paying that guy?"

Now, you might ask why that doesn't happen to Rush Limbaugh.

We've already explored that oddity and discovered The Economics of Rush Limbaugh. He's a giveaway, and that's the kind of "free" speech, apparently, worth having ... (Of course there is even more to that story, given the way the CEO backstopped Rush on apologies that were owing, at one time ...).

Good Night and Good Luck

It's 4:20 a.m. and Ayatollah Khamenei is just starting his address, according to BBC. [My bet is for a hardline position - he wants the nuclear weapons (they think it will 'secure' the 'revolution' forever).]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Leon Panetta: Don't Bother With the Bureaucratic Motions...

As the CIA rallies, again, to protect itself from accountability...you know, just don't bother. We know that American intelligence is a crap shoot:

President Jimmy Carter recalls an August 1978 CIA memo, drafted five months before the Shah took flight, firmly concluding that Iran "is not in a revolutionary or even a pre-revolutionary situation".

I wonder what the pre-election CIA briefing said in 2009 ...

Feckless Liberals, Unite!

Joe Sudbay, telling it like it is, giving them the hard steel, as the Democratic Senators test the waters with excuses for weaseling out of real health care reform:

Listen to Jed.

Democrats were elected to deliver on issues. The American people want real solutions.

But, something happens on Capitol Hill, especially on the Senate side. They get wrapped up in their own little world and lose touch with reality.

Momentum in Iran


A million peaceful people at the vanguard? The mullahs are not Stalinist enough to withstand such a force.

Meanwhile, one wonders how shamed some Palestinians are that they resort to extreme violence, except on rare occasion. One wonders how odd it is that the remains of liberal democracy in the West, say in America, have yet to fashion any sympathy protests - folks seem focused on the government response for unclear reasons (McCain, Obama, Clinton, etc.).

Exciting as is the prospect for real change in Iran, the historical odds-on bet is for ... violence down the road, either way it goes. Let's hope that the entrenched political class spares its country that outcome, by making enormous, even face-losing, concessions.


You know, it is hard to put a spin on an event so large, so potentially seismic, as this one; but I'd like to think it has something to do with what Eisenhower hoped for so long ago:

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.

—Dwight D. Eisenhower

Iraq, in Statistics

Central electricity supply at record for this summer (temp is already circa 105 degrees in Baghdad...):

Stock market has finally shown a (fleeting?) inkling of what "peace" can mean for Iraq's wealth (h/t Omar, Iraq the Model):

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Revolutionary Islamic" Iran welcomes Its New Shah

I am away, but the events in Iran cannot be ignored, long.

It is the height of historic irony that, in the same week that the American President is publicly apologizing (or recognizing) the cold-war ugliness of Mossadeq, the current "Revelutionary Guards" of self-preservation are ... doing about the same as what was requiring apology.

The "Islamic Revolution" has come full circle with this ridiculous election, upending now almost any pretense to rule of law, let alone apt consultation of the governed.

Ahmadi-Nejad has de facto ascended to the peacock thrown, yes? I mean Iran is, once again, a openly military state, complete with locking up of political dissent, trampling of free speech, and secret / plain clothes police beating people in the streets (let alone what is going on behind closed doors). Islam? Sold out for the proverbial rice-bowl, among the Guard elites, mainly...

Update: Photos of Mossadeq appear ...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Angela and The History Boys

The History Boys:

Well, we got the mainline version of History today ... from the boys.

Patron State of Shootin' Things Up

Phrase of the week, "Open Carry Sunday".

A Louisville [KY] church is encouraging people to wear unloaded guns in their holsters to an "Open Carry Church Service" later this month, our sister paper, The Courier-Journal, reports. Participants will be able to enter a raffle to win a free handgun, hear patriotic music and listen to talks by operators of gun stores and firing ranges.


Is that a gun in your pocket, or are ... why, yes it is. Praise be.

[Mitt Romney will be carrying his varmit gun. What? That's what I heard!]

Friday, June 5, 2009

Paragraph 175, Will Obama Hear About Gays At Buchen-Wald?


Here is a 1958 TIME Magazine article.

Gerhard Martin Sommer, the man in the wheelchair, had indeed been at Buchenwald—but not as a prisoner. As the master of the punishment cellblock between 1938 and 1943, Sommer was the broad-shouldered bullyboy who, in the words of West German Prosecutor Helmut Paulik, perpetrated "probably the most hideous group of sadistic atrocities unearthed since the war."

Of course, the 'singing forest' (gesang wald) is something anyone will remember from Paragraph 175...not beech forest, which is what the name means.

This Week in American Torture


This week is still being written, but ...

  1. AG Eric Holder did nothing more, for another week, while we await the next inert report from Washington, the OPR review. Bybee did nothing more, for another week. Yoo didn't publish more, yet.
  2. The interwebs published a spectacular cheat-sheet for general use, but it could help CNN and other network anchors get their bearings amidst the creativity of indicted minds. (h.t Sullivan)
  3. Full disclosure filled out scant CIA records, showing that Cheney gave either "policy" or program briefings (of the non-legal variety?) to Congress in 2005, as part of the Administration's effort to ... er, keep one-step ahead, I'd guess (until retroactive immunity passed the Congress, at least).
  4. Cheney appeared on TV alongside his non-gay daughter, in a savvy PR attempt, no doubt, to soften his image and make him appear less fearsome and isolated. He threw in a non-ogre nugget on 'gay marriage', too, during this week's National Press Club Victory Lap.
  5. Perplexedly, pundits continued to ask why Cheney is talking, sometimes unaware of the (criminal?) mindset to simply show off that you got away with it, given that there is nothing anyone will do, least of all the blamed, Dick Clark and George Tenant.
  6. Congressional Republicans broke the national secrets act with gusto, in the name of 'terrorist-related program activities' and a bogus concept called 'enhanced interrogation'.
  7. For reasons unknown, a Gitmo detainee committed apparent suicide. Seven years, reportedly, without any charges and no trial.
  8. An NYT article makes it likely that General McCrystal will get public questions about detainee abuse, at some point.
  9. Petreaus washed the hand that fed him on photo suppression, putting up an interview on Radio-free Europe that included a nod on closing Gitmo.
  10. GG unearthed that Congress (Graham-Lieberman) was set to take the courts out of the photo question. The speculation that the photos show rape was raised (Horton), then retracted, again. The assertion that all in the photos had faced sufficient military justice was made, again (Sanchez).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Hamas Dead End

This is the kind of bent viewpoint that I hope has no traction, still.

Gaza is NOT "occupied", in any thorough-going sense of the term, including Qu'ranic. The ugly Hamas there live in a jew-free zone (by choice / sacrifice of the Israelis, not by right), with security safeguards that are consistent with their poor choices, to "resist", instead of growing and building, quite frankly.

"Palestinian actions are reactions. What Palestinians do is to resist the occupation," he said. "It is self-defense. Why did the Americans support the Mujaheddin against the Soviets in Afghanistan? Why did the British support the French agains the Nazis? Why did you have a revolution against the British? Self-defense."

-Hamas die-hard, via Swampland (h/t Sullivan)

The Cairo Juncture


The Cairo speech has come and gone, an American president preaching the Golden Rule to the Muslim world, trying to walk a fine line between faith and reason through murderous beliefs and irrational hatreds.

Parsing what Barack Obama said today will keep "experts" busy for some time, but the words were less exceptional than the act, an American leader presenting himself as both the product of and the bridge between two seemingly irreconcilable cultures.

-Robert Stein

The first question has to be, how quickly can Netanyahu orchestrate a provocation to screw it all up?

What? Too cynical?

Obama tried to make the black/white of the Islamic-rejectionist world into grey, a melting pot of humanity, while drawing red lines on 'violent extremists', in the name of what is right.

He raised the prospects of "progress", against a regional conception of history that can mostly or only conceptualize "progress" through the lens of the past. I liked it, but we'll see ...


One can estimate it will take a day or two for Krauthammer to lambaste the "Alliance for Civilizations", again, undermining his country during what Romney called, as he suspended his campaign, "this time of war".
He put his foot into the thorny settlements issue and into the Holocaust in connection with Zionism. Phones are ringing off the hook, now, no doubt .... Later on, he openly Hellenized, with full New World rapture, paradoxically drawn on his own experience abroad. (A different phone, not his, will ring for that).

One can estimate it will take a day or two for Krauthammer to lambaste the "Alliance for Civilizations", again (?), undermining his country during what Romney called "this time of war", as he suspended his campaign to the sounds of unintentional laughter. Betting is even on whether CK will tritely remind us that "peace" is not a goal of the dogged Palestinians, no matter how much we wish it were -- *sigh* -- raveling the whole conceptualization up in "a blame", once again, so it is fathomable in his one-way worldview.

President Obama sidestepped or downplayed the fact that a history of mistrust is informative on how policy on nuclear Iran is to be formed.
President Obama sidestepped or downplayed the fact that a history of mistrust is informative on how policy on nuclear Iran is to be formed. First, it is more than just mistrust. The Iranian regime, out of fear of discrediting their own dangerously insular Ayatollah, perhaps, has been unwilling to disclose to the IAEA that they did, in fact, secretly pursue stuff they denied publicly. Second, they cannot simply just have the whole fuel cycle for the asking - it's a small concession to the 'history of mistrust' for them to allow for protocols that reinforce or build trust, like the Russian option(s), or others that the IAEA might come up for a more general, global, lawful control of fissile material(s).

He might have taken time to take the Ayatollahs to task for never getting out of Qom, to actually see and listen to the world over which they make such disastrous pronouncements, at missile-parade time and otherwise... He might have cast the implication of proliferation larger than the middle east.

Still, I think it will make a big impact. How many Egyptians, today, may wish they had their own Barack, so to speak, eh?
Women and education are sensible keystones. However, the problem of government corruption looms as large as the backward-looking religious-social hierarchies. Basically, a lot of money still doesn't make it to its rightful destination, in Pakistan, say, and there is no audit.

America doesn't do enough on political asylum for gays and lesbians who are "convicted" in many of the countries in the region, by courts or otherwise.

As an aside, his speech doesn't look easy to translate ... Still, I think it will make a big impact. How many Egyptians, today, may wish they had their own Barack, so to speak, eh?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Economy Derails Stock Market

Is this the dumbest headline-page in a long time, or a brilliant simplification, an Onion-like classic ...?:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ending Discrimination in Uniform

It's bad enough that the military have developed such an openly rightwing bias, yes?

But, when Obama appoints HRC = 0 candidates to high-level positions, what is he thinking he is achieving?

He better hope that his back court strategy, whatever it is, works; or this is going to blow up in the Democratic Party's face.

Dangling Qualifiers ...

Thank God for Obama's gay pride month proclamation, calling "upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists."

Except for the fine print:

and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security.

"In a why that"? Yeah, that looks like an escape clause to me. I've worried about this aloud, already.

Let's just hope it is posturing, because there are a dozen ways to water-down a full repeal of DADT.

Bad posturing, that is. Afterall, since when were civil rights the province of 'national security', except in the most ignominious of triangulations?

Spin Around Ninjas

I see your Mary Poppins and The Saint At Large (sort of, because nothing could, really), and meta-raise you (!!!):

The Cost of Conscience, Rightwing Edition

Here's an interesting snippet from Andrew Sullivan, who cannot, as a matter of conscience, accept any late-term abortion logic (not unlike many others):

As a physician who specializes in taking care of children with these problems, I can categorically say that their care has improved immeasurably in the last decade.

-AS blogolog

This is a costless decision?

Everyone else, these days, is inveighed by the Right, especially, to weigh their health against Kling's purported "iron triangle", against our purported inability to make "hard choices" (the unproven, key driver of health cost inflation), etc., etc.

Why the tipping of the scale for life so much, here, accepted, as it appears to be, on faith, as the "right" thing to do?

Is it too late for America, yet?


With some important exception, the Taliban are just James Dobson, et. al., with guns, yes? Such a realization always renders perplexing those who shout, "Why aren't the Pakistanis doing more?". What would we do?

There are people hoping that maybe some introspection or change will come out of Tiller's death.

And, even while the Evangelical movement has tried mightily to come out from its disfiguring Reagan-era co-opting, there is still too much power and money at stake to suspect that these psychically charged issues will dissolve into neat compromises. Heck, we have one of the founders of the movement, or close to it, repudiating his own work, laying bare the manipulative aspects of it. We have Ralph Reed, during the Abramhoff period, speaking as frankly about his money grubbing disdain for his clientele as an Enron trader. Yet, the misled movement and indoctrination of the children to sing-out "Righteous Judges!" appears to have taken on its own life.

What's more, "abortion", like sexual ethics, is just too good an issue for 'fundamentalists', for vexious - venal? - pie-throwers like O'Reilly. Why? Because there are no self-evident proofs, little utility to inform policy, so it can be milked ad infinitum, for that and for the reason that it is costless - taking a stand on the issue means no sacrifice of your own, really, no hard work, nothing so demanding as helping the poor, the needy, the sick, or tending to the ravages on the environment.

So, now we have murder. In church.

The question may well not be whether this is a one-off lunatic; but whether it is, indeed, too late for America ...