Rioting to protest joblessness and other social ills has scarred numerous cities across this tiny country since Dec. 17, after a 26-year-old man with a university degree set himself on fire when police confiscated his fruits and vegetables for selling without a permit.
christ what is wrong with these people? don't they see the necessity for sensible regulation? it's a matter of public health. you can't allow unlicensed fruit. are they rioting in favor of salmonella? not only that, but the police (really, only the police) have to eat. ok so america was propping up yet another corrupt dictator. but at least we brought them some fda and the sort of permitting system that makes the difference between a civilized society and a bag of angry weasels. anyway, i guess the ron paul revolution has reached tunisia.
i guess i'm in mega-blog-mode today, my 51st birthday. hard to believe i've survived, but here i am.
anyway, i might point out that the story everyone has been pursuing is how the iran regime cannot control info in the age of facebook, twitter, youtube. but it's hard not to notice that cnn today just basically does not know what's happening on the streets, other than that perhaps the crackdown has come. but they're not confident even on that. explosion at the tomb of khomeini? what's happening? who knows, exactly? the crackdown on media, in other words, has been basically effective, and we won't know what's happening until it's over, if then. and the people of iran, also, probably are in the regime-generated fog.
one inspiring feature of khamenei's approach is that he insists on the rule of law. if the protesters allege vote fraud, they should pursue the proper legal channels. the fact that the people who made the laws and who enforce them are the very same people who dicked the vote is of course neither here nor there, "the law" being a trans-human truth rather than an instrument of power.
one good thing about clerics as political leaders: having direct access to the will of god, they are free of petty constraints such as rationality or reality.
Speaking in front of an audience of thousands that included President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
he endorsed the president’s policies and insisted that the margin of
victory — 11 million votes — accorded to Mr. Ahmadinejad in the
official tally was so big that it could not have been falsified. “How
can 11 million votes be replaced or changed?” he said.
now you might answer: well, you could burn the ballots. or just throw them in a landfill and announce any result you like, etc. but khamenei understands that, in fact, no election has ever been rigged anywhere, because that would theologically impossible. now that the protestors can get this clever argument - or at any rate, this lobotomized rhetorical question - on board, they will no doubt go home satisfied.
truly, as much as anything, this shows why you don't want to be a mullah, a priest, a rabbi. and why you don't want to be a king, a dictator, a supreme leader. and what you really don't want to be is both, because you undergo this long discipline in which the question is about texts and interpretations, and reasons or even basic ratiocination are entirely irrelevant. add extreme political power to that, in which whatever you might say, people just nod along, and pretty soon you're just spouting bullshit, expecting people to believe you. it's a personal disaster: you lose the ability to think at all. you're wise. but you're smart as a a shrubbery.
see i think this might basically be right. roughly the only voices we get out of iran are western-educated exiles. one huge problem: there is no coverage from inside except from tehran. iran is a big country. what is actually going on? we get an extremely thin, slanted slice.
well, on cnn, christiane amanpour reporting, it was hard not to notice that there really were tens of thousands of people out on the streets for ahmadinejad (ma), while the crowds of protestors looked relatively modest. this could be due to a variety of factors; it's a lot easier to gather 20,000 people if the cops will cooperate. but i wouldn't simply assume the thing was fixed. people who are communicating with us are non-representative. obviously, it smells fishy. but i think we do wrong to think that ma doesn't have serious popular support.
it'd be interesting to know, with regard to the north korean rocket launch whether the japanese and/or americans consciously reached a decision not to try an intercept, or whether they were taken by surprise and couldn't launch, or whether they reached the conclusion that they couldn't effectively intercept.
communist totalitarianism has stacked corpses and broken minds. but one has to admit that all that is compensated for by the hilariousness of its prose. the communist party of china is a kind of ogden nash of oppression. stop it, man, you're killin me!
In a bid to reinforce control in Lhasa, Party authorities have
launched an education drive focused on officials and Party members, the
official Tibet Daily reported on Monday.
The campaign to "fight separatism, protect stability and promote
development" would focus on "unifying the thinking and cohesive
strength of officials and the masses, deepening the struggle against
separatism and counter-attacking the separatist plots of the Dalai
clique," said the paper.
have y'all thought about the cyber-rape of estonia? i'm telling you, we're going to wake up one day and realize we've got a monster regime in our midst with a nuclear arsenal: vlad, arrchitect of the chechen genocide, a program of covert murder around the world, etc. and each time he is not called to account, it gets worse. one problem: there's no actual way to call him to account. but people had better at least start calling murder murder. and check this.
one thing i like about the current berezovsky brouhaha: berezovsky's argument is that putin's is "an illegeal regime" and thus that calling for the use of "force" in putin's ouster is "legal." meanwhile, the kremlin says that berezovsky's call to overthrow the russian government is "illegal." as if: these were the interesting questions, or even really make any sense in this context, or as if either of the parties really care what's legal and what's not. it's as if we've just learned to construct an argument in these terms, mechanically, even when law obviously has nothing to do with anything.
this is a pretty hilarious piece, though the idea of the leader of a country where people are starving spending "a million dollars per year on cognac" is of course unbelievably repulsive. however, if you think you can keep someone with untold millions and nuclear technology from getting any of these items, with ease, you've lost your mind.
this may in the end seem an amazingly bad call, but i think you do actually have to mobilize against iran. exploring these options and increasing intelligence etc are the bare minimal responsibility. it's sad but true: it's not only theocrats, but theocrats who are trying to be as provocative as humanly possible, parading an explosive irrationality. now on the other hand i don't see coming out in public and saying you're supporting resistance groups. this is typical tin ear: you've just discredited every opposition group in the country by hinting that they're all cia fronts.
overall this piece is deeply silly. bayle's argument that our popular culture is ubiquitous and interpreted as disgusting all over the world is of course more or less right, and a serious factor in a religious backlash against modernity, abroad but also here. on the other hand the idea that you address this by beefing up government propaganda stations is just asinine: first because of course this does not stem the tide of the real stuff, and second because only idiots don't know that radio sawa or whatever is the merest american propaganda campaign. it's like addressing the rot of the soviet economy with a positive article in tass.
i think, as is usual with such things, the way the iranian run-off is being portrayed in the american press is pretty simplistic. it's just reformer (rafsanjani) vs hard-liner (ahmadinejad). of course reformer=good, islamist=bad, and perhaps the only way the reformer loses is by fraud. but by all accounts rafsanjani is corrupt and out of touch, ahmadinejad incorruptible and of admirable character and connection to his constituents as mayor of tehran. it's a mild version of the way the taliban was portrayed. you too might be surprisingly susceptible to rule by incorruptible religious fanatics after a few decades of money-grubbing warlords and narcolords etc. anyway the la times has a good story this morning.
very nice to see a leftist like alexander cockburn understand that the rejection of the european constitution in france (and the netherlands) is sensible. if you want an every-growing regulatory regime imposed on top of the current ever-growing regulatory regimes etc then by all means.
Mr. Karimov, an inaccessible and aloof autocrat, has long been
criticized for persecution of opponents, intolerance of freedom of
religion and expression, and the use of the police and torture,
including the sexual assault and boiling of suspects.
no doubt it sucks to be boiled. but being boiled by someone who is "aloof" is perhaps the ultimate insult.
"I am prepared to rip off the heads of 200 people, to sacrifice
their lives, in order to save peace and calm in the republic," he told
reporters in 1999, after a bus hijacking ended with a shootout that
left nine people dead. "If my child chose such a path, I myself would
rip off his head."
There has also been evidence that the United States has used the
country for interrogations of terrorist suspects seized elsewhere.
only the truly vicious and self-deluded little green footballs would be rooting for karimov, in virtue of the fact that the people he's killing are moslems. the footballs object to the headline u.s. ally fires on its people. what headline do they want? maybe "freedom-loving democrat reasons with terrorists"? surely you can't object to a flat statement of fact.
here are two typical itar-tass stories. all they do is quote pro-russian authorities (in ukraine and belarus) in a way that strongly implies they're making sense. the statements themselves are oracular a la politburo, and there is no attempt to get any comment on them by anyone or even to accompany them by any facts. the press in russia is, in short, a mere congeries of propaganda.