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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Neda Never Strapped On A Bomb

In Neda in Palestine, Sentenced to Die Alone, Max Blumenthal at Huffington Post compares Israel's self-defense against suicide bombers from the West Bank to the Iranian crackdown on protests against election fraud which resulted in the death of Neda Soltan. Once again, false analogies and a culture of victimhood in the service of the Palestinian war on Israel.

The separation barrier (a wall in some places, fencing and checkpoints in other places) was built as a reaction to relentless Palestinian suicide bombings of restaurants, buses, Passover Sedars, grocery stores, and other civilian targets as part of Yassir Arafat's Second Intifada. Several hundred Israeli civilians died in these attacks, along with even more Palestinians in Israeli retaliatory military operations. The barrier was constructed when all else failed, and it worked:

The Israeli [military] operation and initial construction of the security fence resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of suicide attacks carried out by Palestinian terrorist organizations: in 2002 there were 60 suicide attacks, while in 2003 this number decreased by more than 50% to 26 suicide attacks. There was also a considerable decrease in the number of fatalities: from 452 Israelis killed in 2002 to 214 Israelis killed in 2003....

The Al-Aqsa Intifada never officially ended and it is debatable whether the events after February 2005 should be considered part of the uprising or as independent events. From September 2000 until February 2005, approximately 3,000-3,300 Palestinians were killed and approximately 950-1010 Israelis were killed.

Attempted bombings still take place, but they are stopped almost always on the Palestinian side of the barrier. And because Israel does not need to carry out as many military operations in the West Bank to stop the suicide bombers, fewer Palestinians die.

But to listen to people like Blumenthal, and others on the American left and internationalist movements, one would think Israel built the barrier just to make life difficult for Palestinians and to grab land. If that were the case, why wasn't the security barrier built decades ago, and in a place which gave Israel much more land?

The Palestinians who try to tear down the barrier to clear the way for the suicide bombers are romanticized by people who always find something wrong with Israel. The protests always are violent, by intention, just like the protests by people who trash whatever city has the misfortune of hosting a world economic forum:
Every Friday for the past seven months, the villagers of Nilin [one of the cities mentioned in Blumenthal's post], bolstered by foreign volunteers from the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement and some Israeli far-leftists and anarchists, have protested against the expansion of Israel’s separation barrier here. Now under construction, it is one of the final sections to be completed in this area west of Ramallah in the West Bank.

The protests inevitably end in violent clashes.

Neda should have no place in the phony Palestinian victimhood narrative, and it is a pathetic stretch for Blumenthal to go there. Neda never strapped on a bomb or tried to blow up a bus, didn't support people who did such things, and doesn't deserve to be used as a pawn in the internet Intifada against Israel.

More on Blumenthal: Despicable: Huffington Post Equates Iran Neda Murderers to Israel

Related Posts:
Law Professor Continues His Personal Intifada
Double Standard On Americans Hurt In Israel
Abid Katib - Palestinian Shoe Fauxtographer?

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2012 Campaign Has Started

You know the 2012 campaign has started, because the hatchet-men and women of the media are attacking Sarah Palin based on anonymous sources (including some allegedly from the McCain campaign) and dubious rumors and innuendo.

First there were the mounting attacks on the Palin daughters and son, Trig Palin. Now a complete smear piece in Vanity Fair by a writer Bill Clinton called some not-so-nice words. Despite all the hoopla, the article contains few new verifiable facts.

There is something about Palin that gets deep under the skin of the left and media elites. But they are preaching to their own choir. Attack a one-year old with Down Syndrome, go after Palin's daughters, make things up as you go so long as it is negative.

A telling part of the article is yet another swipe at Trig. The author describes an e-mail birth announcement from Palin signed "Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father." From this, the author suggests that Palin think's she's God.

But the author does not appear to have actually seen the e-mail, and from the description it sounds like nothing more than an expression that we are all God's children, a common theme not only in Christianity but in other religions (and in the Declaration of Independence).

Nonetheless, the author got his intended attention, as Think Progress has seized on this theme for its post "Palin wrote an e-mail to friends pretending to be God: ‘Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father.’"

And some Republicans are just as bad as Democrats. The same Republicans who lost the last presidential election, and the last two congressional elections. I can make excuses (but not justifications) for the Democrats, but not the spineless anonymous Republican sources.

UPDATE: Kudos to No More Mister Nice Blog, which comes from a definitely left-wing perspective, for the honesty to say he was "unimpressed" with the Vanity Fair article, and more importantly, to put the "God" e-mail in proper context:
First of all, this isn't a scoop -- the Anchorage Daily News reported it just after Trig was born, in the spring of '08. And while I fully agree that Palin's a narcissist, I'm not sure this is as megalomaniacal as it seems.

Here's more on the e-mail, from the ADN:

In a letter she e-mailed to relatives and close friends Friday after giving birth, Palin wrote, "Many people will express sympathy, but you don't want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on
this." She wrote it in the voice of and signed it as "Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father.""Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed-up world you live in down there on Earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome," Palin wrote.
Maybe I've just lurked at too many right-wing Web sites, but this seems like garden-variety Christian-right inspirational schmaltz.
Thank you Mister Nice Blog for exposing the Vanity Fair article for a complete piece of trash, starting with the false and misleading reference to Trig Palin's birth announcement. Now maybe you could get the folks at Think Progress to run a retraction. [Added: Mr. Nice Blog apparently doesn't want my thanks, per an update to his post, but that's ok, I'll give it anyway because the substance of his post was correct.]

Related Posts:
Where Is The Video Of NY Times Editors Butchering The News?
Why Do They Hate Sarah Palin So Much? She's Happy
Are Anti-Palin Intellectuals Anti-Intelligence?

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CNN's Misleading Iran Poll

CNN has released a joint CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll on Barack Obama's handling of the Iran uprising. The headline screams Americans don't want to intervene in Iran election crisis, and the write up notes that "nearly three out of four Americans don't want the U.S. directly intervene in the election crisis in Iran."

But the question which gave rise to this headline was exceedingly misleading. You wouldn't know it from the CNN article, only if you went to the actual question and answer data elsewhere. Interestingly, the CNN write-up doesn't even link to the actual data.

The question at issue was as follows:

"Do you think the U.S. government should openly support the demonstrators who are protesting the recent election in that country, or do you think the U.S. should not directly intervene in the situation in Iran?"
The choices in answering the question were "Openly Support [24%]," "Not Directly Intervene [74%]," or "Unsure [1%]." These are false choices designed to elicit the resulting response.

By using a positive in the first answer, but a negative in the second, the question suggested that "open support" constituted "direct intervention" even though there are means of open support (such as diplomacy with allies, etc.) which are not necessarily "intervention." Also, after our Iraq experience, it is not surprising that a majority do not want direct intervention, which connotes military steps designed to help the opposition, as a result of election fraud. Indeed, another question in the poll as to whether "the U.S. government should or should not take any military action against Iran" elicits similarly strong opposition [84%] to military action. A question on whether the "U.S. should or should not take any economic or diplomatic action against Iran" yields a much more even response [42% yes, 54% no].

So CNN set up the choice between "open support" and possible military intervention in its headline question, which likely caused many participants to shy away from the first choice. [Added] Despite this obvious deception in the poll, Obama supporters are using the poll as proof that the "U.S. position on Iran enjoys support," that "Obama does what Americans want." and that the "public stands with Obama, not Cons, on Iran." Mission accomplished.

What if the choices were "open non-military support," "direct military intervention" or "do nothing at all?" I suspect the result would have differed substantially, with a clear majority in favor of open non-military support.

This is just one example of how polls can be misleading, particularly when the data is not included or even linked in the write-up.

Related Posts:
"Heads They Win, Tails We Lose" Diplomacy
Remember "Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It."
He Who Cannot Stop Talking, Is Silent On Iran

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"Heads They Win, Tails We Lose" Diplomacy

There is something strange about the Obama administration's diplomacy. We speak softly to our enemies, but use a big stick against our friends.

Protesters take to the streets in Iran in opposition to election fraud, and against a regime which is openly hostile to the U.S., and Obama treads with the greatest of care. First silence, then mixed messages assuring the regime we want to negotiate with it regardless of election fraud. Only after almost two weeks are there strong statements against regime violence.

Fast forward. The President of Honduras, who is aligned with our enemies such as Hugo Chavez, attempts an unlawful referendum giving him a third term. The Honduran legislature and courts rule such a referendum illegal, and put a stop to it when the President moves forward anyway. Acting on a court order, the military removes the President in order to protect Honduran democracy. There are swift and furious denunciations from Obama, who declares the action "not legal." The ultimate meddling, telling Honduras what is or is not legal in Honduras, regardless of what the Honduran courts say.

What is wrong with this picture? Be cautious with our enemies, but come down hard with our friends. Heads our enemies win, tails we lose.

UPDATE: Oh, this is great, Zelaya accused of drug ties (h/t The Rhetorican)

Unrelated Post:
Wonkette Goes After Trig Palin Again

Related Posts:
Remember "Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It."
He Who Cannot Stop Talking, Is Silent On Iran

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Supreme Court Reverses Sotomayor

In a 5-4 ruling authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the ruling by Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor and two other Court of Appeals judges in the case of Ricci v. DeStefano. [Full opinion and analysis below]

In Ricci, white New Haven firefighters claimed that they were the victims of discrimination. The City of New Haven had utilized a racially-neutral officer qualifying exam, prepared by a company which specializes in firefighting tests, specifically designed to avoid inherent or implicit biases which might discriminate against minorities.

New Haven had no intent to discriminate in administering the test, and had an actual intent not to discriminate. To the extent there was a fear of discrimination lawsuits, that fear was sufficient to result in a racially-neutral qualifying exam. The result of the test, however, was that no blacks would be promoted (using New Haven's criteria for appointment in which test scores played an important part), but 17 whites and 1 Hispanic would get promoted. New Haven, fearing a lawsuit claiming racial discrimination under a "disparate impact" theory (meaning the results were racially skewed regardless of intent), nullified the results.

Sotomayor and her co-panelists on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals adopted a lower court opinion finding that New Haven acted within the law. In a brief per curiam opinion, Sotomayor found that New Haven's conduct was "protected" because New Haven was attempting to avoid an unlawful disparate impact. The full Court of Appeals declined to re-hear the case, although several of the Judges criticised the fact that the Sotomayor panel had relied on the lower court opinion and did not examine the issues on its own.

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, rejected the view that fear of disparate impact lawsuits was a sufficient ground upon which to invalidate an otherwise racially-neutral test. The Court held that in order to justify its actions, New Haven would have had to prove that there were a strong baisis for believing that it actually would have been liable for disparate impact liability had it not invalidated the test.

The Court held that since New Haven's decision explicitly was based on race, the decision presumptively was an invalid violation of discrimination laws, unless there was a legally valid justification. The Court held that regardless of New Haven's "well intentioned or benevolent" intent to protect itself against discrimination lawsuits, such conduct constituted discrimination without legal justification. Because the Court found a violation of the discrimination laws, the Court did not reach the issue of whether New Haven violated the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Supreme Court split along the "convervative" vs. "liberal" line, with Kennedy as the decisive vote. Roberts, Scalia, Alito and Thomas joined Kennedy in voting to reverse, and Ginsburg voted to affirm, with Souter, Breyer and Stevens joining her. Scalia and Alito (with Thomas and Scalia joining) also filed separate concurring opinions.

Assuming Sotomayor is confirmed, her presence on the Court would have made no difference in Ricci, since she is replacing Souter. The 5-4 split likely will give Sotomayor's supporters comfort, since while she would have been in the minority, several current Supreme Court Justices agreed with her conclusion in the case. Nonetheless, there is plenty of fodder for Sotomayor's opponents, both in the rejection of her position by the Court and her failure to deal with these issues head on, deferring instead to a lower court's opinion.

One other interesting aspect of the case is the issue of "empathy." Much has been made about Barack Obama's desire for Justices who show "empathy," and Sotomayor made controversial off-the-bench statements regarding how a "wise Latina" judge would view cases (better or at least differently from white male judges). But in the second paragaraph of her Dissent, Justice Ginsburg noted that "sympathy" for the firefighters played no role in deciding the case. So what exactly is "empathy" as a valid attribute for a Supreme Court Justice? And if Sotomayor lets "empathy" enter into her decision making process, does that set her apart not only from Sandra Day O'Connor but also Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Here is the full set of opinions. Use the Zoom feature within the image box to enlarge the text:

Ricci v DeStefano - US Sup - 07-1428

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wonkette Goes After Trig Palin Again

It really is hard to understand why some adults feel the need to make fun of Trig Palin, a one-year old who has Down Syndrome. Politics alone cannot explain it. If you don't like Sarah Palin, fine, but why go after Trig?

The controversy regarding the Photoshop of Trig by Alaskan blogger Linda Biegel is only the tip of the iceberg. Ever since Sarah's nomination, Trig has been a target. Last fall, the popular DC-based "gossip" website Wonkette joked how Trig must have wished he'd been aborted. Now Wonkette has taken Biegel's Photoshop antics as an excuse to go after Trig anew.

In a recent post, Wonkette promoted and joked about even cruder Photoshops of Trig at the Something Awful web forum, where people can post anonymously (examples below). Wonkette even included one of these photoshops in its post (above right) while mocking Trig as the "New Jesus," "Holy Infant" and "Sacred One."

All the attacks on Trig are Sarah's fault, according to the Wonkette post, since Sarah had the audacity to bring Trig on stage at the Republican National Convention (where the original photo in question was taken), which Wonkette calls using Trig as a "cheap political prop." I guess that makes the Obama kids fair game according to Wonkette since they were brought on stage at the Democratic National Convention.

Sarah is to blame for all the new Photoshops of Trig, according to the Wonkette post, because Sarah complained about Biegel:
The Virgin Palin, Our Lady of Eternal Anger, gave birth to the New Jesus at some point last year — or not, who knows, and now Andrew Sullivan just cares about Iran (which is a good thing!) so we’ll never find out the truth — and ever since it has been both a Cardinal/Venial Sin and Sharia Law that no mortal shall “desecrate” an image of the Sacred One … no one but Sarah Palin herself, because Allah both allows and encourages the use of the Holy Infant as a cheap political prop as long as such cruel hackery is performed by the Virgin Palin herself.

Palin’s fury was such, when she found out some blog “on the Internet” had combined a picture of her cradling one of her Magic Babies together with a picture of her Jedi Master, some dingbat old radio talk-show clown in Alaska, that she did verily send her dumbest disciple, “Brother Meg,” to start a Jihad against the Entire Internet.

But we know what happens when a fear-and-anger crazed Snow Witch starts a vain war she can never hope to win: The Internet Strikes Back.

Which is to say, Palin basically poked a stick in the world’s largest beehive filled with cheap & tireless insanity, and the SomethingAwful.com goons have unleashed a pack of Photoshop Dogs From Hell to make the most incredible collection of Sarah Palin Desecration Images in the History of Time, the end.

General Bullshit > Sarah Palin thinks photoshopping special needs babies is appalling [Something Awful]
Here are two of the milder Photoshops in the Something Awful forum which are Sarah's fault according to Wonkette:

What a riot. It takes small people to stoop this low.

[Note: Accordingly to one of the commenters, the face imposed on the photo immediately above is that of a convicted sex offender, Brian Peppers, which makes that Photoshop particularly sick.]

UPDATE: Huffington Post blogger Jason Linkins has joined Wonkette in blaming Sarah for the crude Photoshops because Sarah complained and used the word "desecrate":

And now, all of these people that you had heretofore never heard of are famous, because Sarah Palin wouldn't let the stuff slide. Even dumber, she said that the photoshopping was a "desecration," which means she believes Trig had been "divested of her sacred character." Now I think Trig Palin is an awesome kid, but COME ON. That's a really pretentious thing for a parent to say.

Can't the Editors at Wonkette or bloggers at HuffPo check the dictionary? Desecrate has more than one meaning, and is not limited to someone being "divested" of "sacred character." The Mirriam-Webster online dictionary includes "to treat disrespectfully, irreverently, or outrageously" in the definition of the term. Sounds right to me. More important, regardless of which words Sarah used, why does that justify attacks on Trig?

UPDATE No. 2: Check out my post It Always Has Been About Trig.

Related Posts:
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Psst...Don't Tell Andrew Sullivan Our Secret
Are Anti-Palin Intellectuals Anti-Intelligence?

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Jewish School Held "Racist" For Preferring Jews

A court in Great Britain has found that a religious Jewish school engaged in racial discrimination by applying the traditional definition of who is a Jew as part of its admissions policy.

Traditionally, whether one is Jewish is determined by maternal lineage. If one's mother is Jewish, one is Jewish. When the mother is a convert to Judaism, Orthodox Jews consider the child Jewish only if the conversion was in accordance with Orthodox conversion practices. Among non-Orthodox Jews, at least in the United States, the test is completely muddled, and among progressive Reform congregations, the standards for conversion are quite lenient.

In the case at issue, reported in The Independent, the Orthodox religious school gave preference in admissions to students who were Jewish using the Orthodox definition and standards for conversion. The school denied admission to a student whose mother had converted at a Progressive synagogue. The Court held that such preferences were discrimination on the basis of race:
In a far-reaching judgment, three judges found the well known JFS (formerly the Jews' Free School) in Brent, north-west London, racially discriminated against a 12-year-old boy by denying him a place at the school because his mother was not a recognised Jew.

The ruling was immediately attacked by the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sachs, who said he supported an appeal to the House of Lords to try to overturn the judgment so that Jews could "be true to the Jewish faith" by upholding the existing criteria for membership of the Jewish religion.

JFS argued that its admissions policy giving preference to Jewish children when the school was oversubscribed was lawful because it was based on religious and not racial criteria.

But the judges said that "the requirement that if a pupil is to qualify for admission his mother must be Jewish, whether by descent or by conversion, is a test of ethnicity which contravenes the Race Relations Act".

The Times of London has further background on the story. The case has become a prominent cause for left-wing activists:
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has announced that it is intervening in the potentially landmark court case against the JFS (formally the Jewish Free School) for alleged racial discrimination which begins today....

The intervention by the BHA alleges that the admission policy of JFS is not only unlawful under the Race Relations Act but also the Human Rights Act (HRA) on the grounds that the HRA has made such religious discrimination in the provision of state education illegal. The European Convention of Human Rights prohibits discrimination on the grounds of status (whether race or religion) in access to state funded reducation, unless it is a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim.

Andrew Copson, BHA Director of Education and Public Affairs said, ‘Laws designed to protect the exclusive admissions policies of state-funded religious schools do not override the Human Rights Act and there is no evidence that school ethos is damaged by more inclusive admissions policies.

The case is significant in at least two respects. First, the case raises the issue of whether Judaism is a race or a religion, or both. Because Judaism follows a maternal lineage, the argument goes that Judaism is a race. And some studies have found common DNA among Jews from different parts of the world.

But Judaism is not a race in the normal sense of the word, because there are Jews of every racial group, and there is nothing to prevent persons of any race from converting. This ambiguity is exploited not only by left-wing groups such as BHA, but also anti-Israeli groups and academics who claim that preserving Israel as a Jewish state is "racist."

Second, the case shows the danger to traditional religion from potential interference by the state under the guise of anti-discrimination laws. And in that arena, there are hard choices. Few would question that religious schools, particularly if they receive state funding, should not discriminate on the basis of skin color. But at what point do such laws actually intrude on the legitimate practice of religion, such as how a religious group defines its own membership?

To me, the British case goes too far. The alleged discrimination had nothing to do with racial characteristics, such as skin color, but with the traditional use of parentage (regardless of race) as a determinative factor.

We can expect the illogic of the British case to be exploited, nonetheless, as a further excuse for boycotts of Israeli goods and academia which already are taking place in the United States based on charges that preserving the Jewish nature of Israel is "racist."

Related Post: Law Professor Continues His Personal Intifada

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hoisted By His Own Apology

Barack Obama has apologized repeatedly for past U.S. transgressions, real and imagined, although he never demands apologies from others.

So it is only natural that the Iranian Mullahs, whose thugs are beating people with axes in the streets, would demand that Obama apologize to Iran:

“Change means that they should apologize to the Iranian nation and try to make up for their dark background and the crimes they have committed against the Iranian nation,” [Ahmadinejad] said in a speech in the western city of Kermanshah that was broadcast live on Iranian television.
This demand is nothing new. Ahmadinejad has been demanding an apology for months, long before the current turmoil.

So will Obama apologize to Iran, or not? The culture of apology would seem to demand consistency. Obama has started something he cannot logically stop.

UPDATE: Obama says he will not apologize, sort of. The exact quote is as follows, as reportede by AP:

Ahmadinejad told Obama Thursday to "show your repentance" for criticizing Tehran's response.

"I don't take Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements seriously about apologies, particularly given the fact that the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran," Obama responded sternly.

Related Posts:
Remember "Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It."
When Will The Europeans Apologize To Us?
Please Watch The Video -- Bush Didn't "Bow"

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Nail On Health Care Head

I didn't watch the ABC-White House health care special last night because the set up was one-sided. From an ABC report of the program, however, it appears that all did not go as planned for the White House, as two physicians in the audience challenged Obama on the implications of government-run health care, which always involves rationing.

The plans being discussed in Congress, surely with input from the White House, involve severe rationing of health care services so as to cut costs sufficiently to cover everyone. As in Britain and Canada, the proposals envision an unaccountable health board which would make cost-benefit decisions as to which treatments were permitted nationwide, without regard to any particular patient.

The physicians in the audience last night, at least according to the ABC report, asked Obama if he would be willing to limit his family's treatment to whatever such health board determined was cost effective treatment. Needless to say, Obama would not so commit:

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it's not provided by

Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn't seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he's proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.

The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if "it's my family member, if it's my wife, if it's my children, if it's my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.
And therein lies the paradox and fundamental fraud of the Democratic health care proposals. The wealthy, including the President and Congress, always will be able to get whatever care they want, by paying out of their own pocket or purchasing extra private coverage at substantial cost. (Although the government's decisions on procedures and medications may result in such benefits being available to no one, since it would not be cost effective for a company to develop a surgical procedure if the public plan bans the use of such procedure.)

The public, by contrast, will be stuck with what the government decides. Unless the health care plans outlaw such extraordinary private coverage, so that everyone is on a level playing field.

The public plans and government control of health care will result in a greater disparity between rich and poor (with the middle and upper-middle classes being shifted into the "poor" category), unless the government uses its police powers to ban the wealthy from purchasing additional health care benefits.

Greater disparity or a health care police state. At least one person at the ABC-White House television special hit the nail on the health care head.

UPDATE: Yes, this should be Obama’s Michael Dukakis moment if we had an honest mainstream media, but we don't so it won't.

Related Posts:
Deception and Tyranny Key To Health Care Reform
Getting Punked On Health Care Reform

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Did Obama Just Commit A War Crime?

Bombing the funerals of your opponents is a red line in most conflicts. The Israelis don't bomb Hamas or Hizbullah funerals, and vice versa. George Bush refused to bomb Taliban funerals. Al-Qaeda, however, has no such compunctions, as it repeatedly has sent suicide bombers to attack people attending the funerals of relatives killed in prior al-Qaeda attacks.

That is why I was surprised to see a report at Bill Roggio's The Long War Journal that U.S. Predator drones attacked a funeral procession for a Taliban leader killed in a prior U.S. attack:

The US carried out its second Predator airstrike inside South Waziristan today. Unmanned Predator aircraft killed more than 65 Taliban fighters in a follow-on attack near the headquarters for Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

The Predator strike aircraft fired three Hellfire missiles as Taliban fighters gathered for a funeral of Khog Wali, a leader in Baitullah's army in South Waziristan who was among six Taliban fighters killed in the first US airstrike earlier today.

I'm not sure if attacking a funeral is a "war crime." It may depend on whether civilians were killed along with Taliban fighters. Killing civilians as part of a military attack is the justification used for war crimes investigations of Israel in Spain.

Such a high profile and almost unprecedented attack must have been approved at the highest levels, including by Barack Obama himself.

As I predicted long ago, the willingness of many in the U.S. to outsource war crimes investigations of Bush administration officials for the interrogation policies would come back to haunt the Obama administration. In time, Obama may be asking the next President for protection against those who seek political retribution for tough decisions taken in time of war.

Related Post: The American Left Outsources The Spanish Inquisition

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Negotiations Preconditioned On Mullah Rule

During the campaign and after assuming the presidency, Barack Obama repeatedly stated his willingness to engage in negotiations with Iran without any preconditions. But that was and is not true.

The events of the past two weeks, including the revelation that Obama sent a letter in May to "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reveal that there is one precondition to negotiations which Obama willingly embraces: United States acceptance of Mullah rule in Iran in perpetuity.

Acceptance of Mullah rule, notwithstanding what the people of Iran may want or basic human rights, is the key to the Grand Bargain the Obama administration seeks to strike with Iran. In fact, U.S. help to perpetuate the Mullahtocracy appears to be the ONLY precondition.

Making continued Mullah rule the only precondition to negotiations has two negative effects. First, it demonstrates the falsity of the notion that Obama stands for positive change in the Muslim world, particularly for women. Second, it takes off the table the only issue which really matters to the Mullahs, and thereby makes negotiations over Iran's nuclear weapons program less, not more, likely to succeed.

Only someone who never has had to negotiate anything of significance in his life would pursue a policy of conceding his best negotiating point as a precondition to negotiations. Only someone who is supremely cynical would make a "historic" speech to the Muslim world promising to work for fundamental human rights, yet concede that issue before negotiations with Iran have started.

We all know what you call someone who can look you in the eye and say that he is on the side of the Iranian people, yet be willing to sell out the Iranian people as part of a Grand Bargain.

Related Posts:
Remember "Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It."
Iran Election Fraud Truthers Emerge
He Who Cannot Stop Talking, Is Silent On Iran

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Monday, June 22, 2009

For Crying Out Loud: "Barack Obama Deficit-Slayer"

Want to laugh out loud? Read "Barack Obama, Deficit-Slayer" by Matthew Yglesias:
As the economy recovers, tax revenues will rise, social safety net outlays will fall, and stimulus measures will begin to tamp down. If we can assume further growth in 2011, the complete expiry of Recovery Act provisions, and the winding down of the Iraq War, that’ll be further deficit reduction. On the merits, people would still do well to be concerned about the deficit further out when, in the absence of structural reform of the health care sector, Medicare costs will bury us all. But in the short term, things are going to look worse than they really are in 2009 and then look better than they really are in 2010. And of course people vote in the even-numbered years.
Now back to reality:
The likelihood of severe unemployment extending into the 2010 midterm elections and beyond poses a significant political hurdle to President Obama and congressional Democrats, who are already under fire for what critics label profligate spending. Continuing high unemployment rates would undercut the fundamental argument behind much of that spending: the promise that it will create new jobs and improve the prospects of working Americans, which Obama has called the ultimate measure of a healthy economy.
Reality doesn't care about the 2010 elections:
Those of you (who can still afford the luxury of) a trusty Bloomberg will note the ‘exhaustion rate’ for jobless benefits - EXHTRATE – reveals that people are not leaving the pool of continuing unemployment claims because they are getting new jobs; Rather, they are leaving because they have exhausted their benefits.

They are now unemployed AND broke. That is hardly a green shoot ...
Even liberal think-tanks are not buying the administration's rosy projections:
The budget outlook at every horizon is troubling: the fiscal-year 2009 budget is enormous; the ten-year projection is clearly unsustainable; and the long-term outlook is dire and increasingly urgent. These general trends are punctuated by a number of specific highlights that illustrate the United States fiscal problem. The Medicare Trust Fund is now projected to be exhausted by 2017. Credit default swap markets now imply a non-negligible probability of default on senior U.S. Treasury debt in the next five years. A top Chinese official has publicly questioned the security of U.S. Treasury obligations.
Maybe laugh out loud is wrong. Try cry out loud. Or for crying out loud.

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Remember "Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It."

Flynt and Hillary Leverett of the New America Foundation are two of the main proponents of the "Grand Bargain" approach to Iran which has been adopted by the Obama administration. The Grand Bargain approach seeks to have the current Iranian regime promise to cease nuclear weapons development and exporting terror, in exchange for U.S. security guarantees. In other words, ensuring the permanence of Iranian mullah rule.

On June 13, 2009, the day after the Iranian election, there were widespread complaints in Iran and internationally of election fraud, but Flynt Leverett reacted by immediately defending the integrity of the vote:
Flynt Leverett, a senior fellow at the New American Foundation and a professor at Pennsylvania State University, says he believes this is a real victory for Ahmadinejad. "I think he's won big," Leverett says. "It's going to be interesting to see if Mousavi really persists in his line about election irregularities. You can't explain a margin this big with the kind of irregularities he's citing."

Leverett says Iran watchers in the West were indulging in "an extraordinary amount of wishful thinking" about the chances for a pro-reform vote.
Two days later, on June 15, as protests in the streets of Iran mounted in reaction to claims of election fraud, the Leveretts again backed the regime, in an article titled "Get over it. Ahmadinijad Won." The Leveretts claimed the Iranian election was no worse than Florida 2000 (italics mine):
With regard to electoral irregularities, the specific criticisms made by Mousavi — such as running out of ballot paper in some precincts and not keeping polls open long enough (even though polls stayed open for at least three hours after the announced closing time) — could not, in themselves, have tipped the outcome so clearly in Ahmadinejad’s favor.

Moreover, these irregularities do not, in themselves, amount to electoral fraud even by American legal standards. And, compared with the U.S. presidential election in Florida in 2000, the flaws in Iran’s electoral process seem less significant.

Flynt Leverett took the regime-apologist tour on the road, in an interview with the German Spiegel magazine:
Fact is: Ahmadinejad won. He is even prepared for a dialogue with Washington under the right circumstances, as he stated earlier. But he is empowered now. The other leaders would support him to strike a deal with the US on the nuclear issue as long as it is in Iran's interest.
The Leveretts' position on the Iranian election is losing steam with each passing day. Even the Iranian regime admits that there were 3 million fraudulent votes, and the analyses by independent academics and non-governmental organizations reflects widespread vote fraud.

In "Get over it. Ahmadinijad Won." the Leveretts cautioned repeatedly about how "American 'Iran Experts'" didn't understand Iran. How ironic, because the Leveretts are American Iran Experts. And it is these experts' Grand Bargain theory which is driving the Obama administration.

So no, we won't "get over it."

Related Post: Iran Election Fraud Truthers Emerge

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Iran Election Fraud Truthers Emerge

The claims of election fraud in Iran and resulting civil unrest have given rise to a conspiracy theory which is making its way through the internet: The claims of Iranian election fraud are an Israeli-created hoax spread by manipulating Twitter.

The first reference to this conspiracy theory that I can find, and a driving force behind its spread, is a website called Charting Stocks.

On June 15, 2009, Charting Stocks ran a post titled Proof: Israeli Effort to Destabilize Iran Via Twitter:

The core of the theory is that soon after the Iranian election, Twitter was filled with allegations of fraud and calls to contest the election. The author asserts that three Twitter accounts were responsible for thousands of tweets (although the author does not state what percentage of total Iran-related tweets were by these three accounts). The conspiracy is revealed, according to the author, by his discovery that all three Twitter accounts were mentioned in a Jerusalem Post Blog post on June 14 about how Twitter, Facebook and bloggers were posting minute-by-minute updates about the situation in Iran. The Post mentioned the three Twitter accounts as being from Iran.

But Charting Stocks discovered, it says, that the three Twitter accounts were not Iranian. From this discovery, the author reached the conclusion that there was proof that "Right-wing Israeli interests are engaged in an all out Twitter attack with hopes of delegitimizing the Iranian election and causing political instability within Iran."
Were these legitimate Iranian people or the works of a propaganda machine? I became curious and decided to investigate the origins of the information. In doing so, I narrowed it down to a handful of people who have accounted for 30,000 Iran related tweets in the past few days. Each of them had some striking similarities -
1. They each created their twitter accounts on Saturday June 13th.
2. Each had extremely high number of Tweets since creating their profiles.
3. “IranElection” was each of their most popular keyword.
4. With some very small exceptions, each were posting in ENGLISH.
5. Half of them had the exact same profile photo.
6. Each had thousands of followers, with only a few friends. Most of their friends were EACH OTHER.

Why were these tweets in English? Why were all of these profiles OBSESSED with Iran? It became obvious that this was the work of a team of people with an interest in destabilizing Iran. The profiles are phonies and were created with the sole intention of destabilizing Iran and effecting public opinion as to the legitimacy of Iran’s election.
This line of reasoning, as others have pointed out, makes no sense. Of course anyone concerned with election fraud in Iran likely would open a Twitter account devoted to that subject the day after the election. Such Twitterers were obsessed with Iran just like everyone else on the internet, so they were not unique.

The author makes it seem that the three Twitter accounts dominated the internet, but does not state what percentage these three accounts constituted of all Twitterers or tweets (my guess, a tiny percentage, if even measurable). Why in English, if they were Iranian? Well, if they were Israeli, why not in Hebrew? If Israelis can use English to tweet, why can't Iranians?

The common use of "IranElection" as a keyword (Tag in Twitter parlance) is not surprising; that keyword is the most common on Twitter (at least as of yesterday). The author also demonstrates nothing posted by these three accounts that differed in any significant manner from the information being spread by the Iranian opposition itself about the elections, or by major newspapers and non-Israeli blogs.

But the conspiracy theory really falls down when one considers the necessary conclusions from the theory. The allegations of election fraud by hundreds of thousands of Iranians, including by Mir Hussein Musavi, would have to be a creation of supposed Israeli tweets. But allegations of election "irregularities" were made by Musavi on the day of the election, June 12, before these Twitter accounts were created. That night and into June 13, the entire blogosphere and mainstream media erupted with reports of election fraud, so if there were a conspiracy, everyone was in on it. And so on, and so on.

None of this, however, will detract from the conspiracy theory, anymore so than the proof that al-Qaeda carried out the 9/11 hijackings distracts from claims that Israel was behind 9/11. These conspiracies are, in this sense, incapable of disproof because every contrary fact is used as evidence that the conspiracy was really, really good.

If this conspiracy theory were limited to Charting Stocks, it would not be a big deal. But someone has been spreading the Charting Stocks conspiracy theory by posting links and re-prints throughout the internet and blogosphere. This effort includes posting links in the Comments section of widely-read blogs such as Huffington Post. Charting Stocks Twitter account has tweeted about the conspiracy repeatedly to its 800+ followers, and the original post was retweeted over 200 times. Like any good conspiracy theory, others are talking up the conspiracy as proving what they already knew about Jewish control.

Are social networking sources subject to suspicion? Of course, as almost every report citing such sources states. Do or could governments pose as someone else? Sure, and there are such allegations against the government of Iran for using Twitter to spread false information. (Ironically, one source lists Charting Stocks as being a suspected Iranian government disinformation affiliate, something I have no way of verifying or not.)

But why single out three accounts just because they were linked in a single Jerusalem Post Blog post? Why the "obsession" with proving something (the three accounts were fake) which even if true had no impact on any facts on the ground in Iran, and were mere drops in an ocean of information about Iran? It surely isn't anti-Semitism, as the author of Charting Stocks insists he is "half Jewish":
Disclaimer: Before I get attacked as being an Anti-Semite, you should know that I am half Jewish. Alternatively, I hope that people do not misinterpret this as some “JEWISH” conspiracy. It isn’t. These are the workings of the extreme right wing of Israeli politics. They have their own Bush’s and Cheney’s there too.

Conspiracy theorists don't need any other reasons. The conspiracy is enough.

Update: For interesting statistics on the surge in Twitter use in Iran check out A Look at Twitter in Iran and Tweets coming out of Iran are retweeted an average of 57.8 times.

Related Posts:
Remember "Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It."
He Who Cannot Stop Talking, Is Silent On Iran

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father of Nuclear Program Turns Dissident, Again

Many, including Barack Obama, have dismissed the notion that Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leader of the opposition in Iran, would make any difference to the policy of Iran since Mousavi, among other things, is considered the father of the Iranian nuclear program, and is steeped in the ideology of the Iranian revolution. I don't have enough specific knowledge of Mousavi to make that judgment, but people do change as a result of changed circumstances.

There was another father of a nuclear program who became a dissident against a repressive regime. His name was Andrei Sakharov, considered one of the fathers of the Soviet nuclear program, and a winner of the Soviet Hero of Socialist Labor in the 1950s. By the 1960s, Sakharov was a campaigner for the nuclear test ban treaty and human rights in the Soviet Union, and in 1975 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Different career paths, for sure. One a politician, one a scientist. But people do change, sometimes because they want change, sometimes because times change. Don't discount how the change of circumstances may change Mousavi.

Related Posts:
The Soviet Analogy and Iran
Now Iran Plays The Zionist-Plot Card

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Margaret Thatcher: Free Society Speech (1975)

(h/t MAinfo)

Take a look at Remember "Ahmadinejad Won. Get Over It." and Iran Election Fraud Truthers Emerge

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Friday, June 19, 2009

NeoCon Derangement Syndrome On Steroids

To read Andrew Sullivan's posts on the suppression of the opposition in Iran, you would think American "NeoCons" (whoever they may be) were in the streets swinging batons from the backs of motorcycles, trashing the library at Tehran University, and breaking into homes in pursuit of demonstrators.

Sullivan's post, The Khamenei-NeoCon Agreement, is the latest in his recurring conspiracy theory that supporters of freedom for Iranians are actually against freedom for Iranians.

Sullivan is not alone, as many other bloggers have been affected by NeoCon Derangement Syndrome, but Sullivan by far is the most depraved, as the screen shot to the right demonstrates.

The election fraud, the demonstrations, the crack down, the shouts of Death to America, the beatings, the green banners carried in the streets, the millions on the march ... it's all an American NeoCon conspiracy.

And Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, he just got off the phone taking orders from Dick Cheney. Or was it Karl Rove? Or the Head of the Mormon church?

Related Post: Iran Election Fraud Truthers Emerge

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The Soviet Analogy and Iran

Is the collapse of the Soviet Union a reasonable analogy for what may happen in Iran? There are certain parallels, including repressive regimes bent on imposing ideology to perpetuate their own rule. In each case, it is hard to imagine how the repression could end, since the regime has support from economic and political constituencies which benefit from perpetuation of the regime. Powerful and violent elites never give up power easily.

Joe Klein writes at Swampland (h/t Peter Wehner) that analogies between Iran in 2009 and the Soviet Union in the 1980s are "completely ridiculous":
I visited Russia back in the day and I've now visited Iran twice. There is no comparison. The Soviet Union was the most repressive place I've ever been; its residents lived in constant terror. I'll never forget my first translator in Moscow telling me that his parents had trained him never to smile in public--it could easily be misinterpreted and then he'd be off to the Gulag. There was no internet in those days, no cellphones, no facebook or twitter.

Iran, by contrast, is breezy with freedom. It is certainly freer now, despite Ahmadinejad, than it was when I first visited in 2001. There are satellites dishes all over the place, which bring accurate news via BBC Persia and the Voice of America.

Joe Klein doesn't know what he is talking about. While Klein may have visited the Soviet Union with a translator, my extensive experience in the Soviet Union differed sharply.

As a student in the 1970s and 1980s, I studied Russian language, including at a Russian language institute in Moscow. I didn't need a translator, which may explain why I saw a different Soviet Union than Klein. I travelled extensively throughout the country on three different trips (including not only the Russian Republic, but also the Soviet Republics in Central Asia, the Caucuses, and the Baltics). On the last of my trips I travelled without a tour guide, which was permitted by the government subject to sticking to a predetermined itinerary, although almost no one took advantage of the opportunity.

I was not in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, when Perestroika took hold, and there was an opening to the West. I was there during the height of the Cold War. On one of my trips in 1980, I shared the last Aeroflot flight out of the U.S. with the staff of the Soviet Consulate in New York, who were being ejected in retaliation for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The plane was only half-full with people, with the remaining seats stocked high with televisions, record players and other western electronics the diplomats were taking back to Moscow.

Being in the Soviet Union during the start of the Soviet Afghan war and when the U.S. announced its boycott of the Moscow Olympics, I would have witnessed the fear of which Klein writes. But fear did not exist to the extent Klein supposes. A fear to smile on the street? Maybe in the 1930s, but not in the late 1970s and 1980s. Klein either received bogus information, which he believed, or he is exaggerating.

There was fear in the Soviet Union, and foreigners were followed. But the fear was subverted by the normal human desire for knowledge and freedom, not any particular piece of information technology. I commented then (yes, I have witnesses!) that I could not see how the Soviet Union could survive, although intellectually it was hard to see how it could fall apart given the military and Communist Party rule.

What surprised me most is how informed people were in the Soviet Union. While I met people who bought the party line hook, line and sinker, I met far more people who understood that the official line was a lie. They may not have known precisely what the lie was, but they knew the regime lied.

There was no internet or Twitter or e-mail in the Soviet Union, or anywhere else for that matter. But there were the short-wave broadcasts of Voice of America and the BBC World Service. Short-wave radio, while unidirectional, was the internet of the 1970s and 1980s for people behind the Iron Curtain (wow, I haven't mentioned that phrase in a long time).

Perhaps my most striking memory of the Soviet Union is the absolutely warm welcome from people who never had met a foreigner, much less an American, before. The welcome from ordinary citizens stood in stark contrast to the official hostility from the government. People came up to me and other students on the street or in a restaurant to strike up a conversation, to ask if we had western magazines, and to find out what we thought about the world. More than anything, people expressed a lust for knowledge.

From the various blog accounts I read from people who have travelled to Iran, the contrast between the warmth of the people versus the hostility of the government appears strikingly similar to what I witnessed first hand in the Soviet Union several decades ago. The policy question is whether we will support the Iranian people without equivocation, as we did for the people of the Soviet Union, or will we help perpetuate the regime. While we were negogiating nuclear arms treaties with the Soviet leadership, we were undermining their rule through an unyielding refusal to accept communist rule as inevitable or justified.

Was there fear in the Soviet Union, and is there fear in Iran now? Of course. But fear did not suppress the desire of people in the Soviet Union to be free. And fear will not work forever in Iran. Not because of modern technology, but because of human nature.

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Will It Be Hope Or Realpolitik For Obama In Iran?

The "Supreme Leader" of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, staked out the hardest of lines today, demanding that Iran's opposition accept the official election results and stop street protests, or else. He blamed the violence on "ill-wishers, mercenaries and elements working for the espionage machines of Zionism and western powers" as the crowd chanted death to Britain, the U.S. and Israel. An unofficial transcript is Twitter-like form is here, and also here.

Now Obama needs to make a choice. Straddling the fence, with a mixed embrace of the protesters and the regime, no longer is an option. Will Obama side with the students and moderate protesters, or with the regime in the hope that the regime will make nice in negotiations over its nuclear weapons program?

Choose hope and change, or realpolitik. We'll see.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Now Iran Plays The Zionist-Plot Card

There is a lot more to the turmoil in Iran than meets the eye. I think the threat to the regime is more serious than people let on, if the world keeps watching and Iran is not permitted to pull a North Korea and seal off the country from the flow of information.

Not an overthrow of Islamic-based government, but the removal of this economically and politically corrupt Islamic-based government. The speeches and complaints go beyond the election, and include the theft of Iranian national assets by the ruling elite, the lack of economic opportunity for the young, and the decline in Iran's international standing. [See Update below]

The reaction of the current regime is beginning to show signs of this concern. First, the "U.S. is meddling" card was played yesterday. Today, it is the "Zionist-plot" card. Per Reuters:

Iran's Intelligence Ministry said on Thursday it had uncovered a foreign-linked terrorist plot to plant bombs in mosques and other crowded places in Tehran during the country's June 12 presidential election.

State broadcaster IRIB quoted a ministry statement as saying several terrorist groups had been discovered, adding they were linked to Iran's foreign enemies, including Israel.

"Members of one of the uncovered networks were planning to plant bombs on election day at various crowded Tehran spots, including Ershad and Al-Nabi mosques," the statement said, referring to two prominent mosques in the capital.

It said this plot was uncovered on election day.
The Jerusalem Post adds:
State broadcaster IRIB quoted a ministry statement as saying several terrorist groups had been discovered, adding they were "in contact with Iran's foreign enemies, including the Zionist entity."
The attempt to portray this home-grown movement as a U.S. and Israeli plot is not surprising, but it does show the political bankruptcy of the regime. The question is, will it work?

UPDATE: Here is the reported text of Mousavi's speech today, which confirms what I had seen elsewhere about the focus on the corruption of the current regime and other issues beyond the election:
I have come due to concerns of current political and social conditions - to defend the rights of the nation. I have come to improve Iran’s international relations. I have come to tell the world and get back Iran’s pride, our dignity and our future. I have come to bring to Iran a future of freedom, of hope and of fulfillment.

I have come to represent the poor, the helpless, and the hungry. I have come to be accountable to you, my people, and to this world. Iran must participate in fair elections. It is a matter of national importance. I have come to you because of the corruption in Iran. 25% inflation means ignorance, thieving and corruption.

Where is the wealth of my nation? What have you done with the $300 billion in the last four years? The next Government of Iran will be chosen by the people. Why do all our young want to leave this country? I know of nobody else who places himself ahead of 20 million other of a nation.
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He Who Cannot Stop Talking, Is Silent On Iran

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iran Plays The Meddle Card

You knew this was inevitable. Regardless of what Barack Obama said or did, the Iranian regime would accuse the U.S. of meddling in Iran's internal affairs:
Iran accused the United States on Wednesday of "intolerable" meddling in its internal affairs, alleging for the first time that Washington has fueled a bitter post election dispute. Opposition supporters marched in Tehran's streets for a third straight day to protest the outcome of the balloting.

The Iranian government summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in Iran, to complain about American interference, state-run Press TV reported.

The English-language channel quoted the government as calling Western interference "intolerable."
Obama's near silence achieved nothing, as regards the Iranian regime. Which proves the foolishness of those who argue that comments in support of the right of Iranians to free and fair elections somehow would provoke the Iranian regime.

Obama's statement yesterday that he did not want “to be seen as meddling" all but invited an accusation of meddling.

These accusations appear to be a precurser to, and excuse for, a violent crackdown by the regime, which could start as early as Thursday:
Wednesday afternoon, June 17, armored convoys of Revolutionary Guard forces began rolling into Tehran from three directions to prevent supporters of the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi assembling on the fifth day after the disputed presidential election, DEBKAfile's Iranian sources report.

Special IRGC forces and police units are being flown in. Hundreds of opposition activities have been arrested, including some economic experts who criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policies in recent months, after three reformist politicians, including a former Vice President and adviser to former president Mohammed Khatami, were detained Tuesday.
Rather than placating the regime, weakness by the West and Obama may actually embolden the regime to resort to more violence. In the same breath that Obama voice tepid support for the Iranian people, he also voiced an intent to commence negotiations with the current regime. This mixed message was unnecessary, and counter-productive.

As Robert Kagan aptly points out in The Washington Post, Obama has embraced the regime with his mixed messages:
One of the great innovations in the Obama administration's approach to Iran, after all, was supposed to be its deliberate embrace of the Tehran rulers' legitimacy. In his opening diplomatic gambit, his statement to Iran on the Persian new year in March, Obama went out of his way to speak directly to Iran's rulers, a notable departure from George W. Bush's habit of speaking to the Iranian people over their leaders' heads. As former Clinton official Martin Indyk put it at the time, the wording was carefully designed "to demonstrate acceptance of the government of Iran."

This approach had always been a key element of a "grand bargain" with Iran. The United States had to provide some guarantee to the regime that it would no longer support opposition forces or in any way seek its removal....

Whatever his personal sympathies may be, if he is intent on sticking to his original strategy, then he can have no interest in helping the opposition. His strategy toward Iran places him objectively on the side of the government's efforts to return to normalcy as quickly as possible, not in league with the opposition's efforts to prolong the crisis.
Obama's approach to Iran seems to be in sync with the Arabist/balanced approach to Israel, on which I have posted earlier. It will not bring peace, but encourage rejectionist regimes, such as the current Iranian regime.

If as appears likely, tomorrow brings a new level of regime violence, will Obama remain silent, or straddle the fence once again? Obama's 3 a.m. test is here.

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He Who Cannot Stop Talking, Is Silent On Iran

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