Iran at the Precipice of Now
The refrain from Republicans like House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) and some others is that Obama is not doing enough to assist the popular forces protesting the re-election of conservative Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was victorious in an apparent landslide over Mir Hossein Mousavi, the candidate Western media have characterized as a reformer.
Grandstanding by the Republicans aside they would be howling for impeachment right now were Obama to be moving destroyers into position Mr. Obama has, in fact, been doing nothing much other than continuing precisely the same policies put into place by his predecessor, George W. Bush. As reported by Steve Weissman for truthout.org, an entire program of funding Iranian "democracy groups" to the tune of $400 million was requested by the Bush Administration and authorized by the Democrat-controlled Congress, whose members were quite interested in being kept in the dark about exactly how that money would be used. According to Seymour Hersh, that money, and possibly other funds, was destined for, among other activities, a systematic program of "black ops" carried out by our Special Forces and by insurgent groups inside Iran. On the agenda was the kidnapping of members of Al Quds (a wing of Iran's Revolutionary Guard), assassinations, and bombings.
That's right: the United States, with funding blessed by the Democratic leadership that controlled Congress in 2007, is sponsoring terrorism in Iran. Note the present tense: Weissman points out that there is no evidence that President Obama has rescinded this program, despite its unspeakable beneficiaries and its dubious record of achievements.
First, a major recipient of money from so-called "democracy" funds (including money from the National Endowment for Democracy) has gone to Abdel Malik Regi, seen at left, a major trafficker in the West Asian heroin trade that is pumping narcotics into Europe so aggressively that street prices on horse have dropped by as much as 90 percent in some places. Mr. Regi is a former member of the Taliban, but is now attached to a radical Sunni group perhaps eerily similar to what would become the group called "al Qa'ida" led by Osama bin Laden almost a generation ago.
Second, as if funding terrorist heroin traffickers leading radical religious separatist movements were not bad enough, the results are once again, as they have in the past, proving contrary to the fantasy-driven expectations of the geniuses at Langley and the Pentagon who dream up these wars by disreputable proxies. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is opposed by the predominantly more urban voters, the young, the intellectuals, the upper-middle class, and a swirl of political opportunists. For support, he appeals to a huge reserve of people less attuned to the call of Western culture and all of its trappings. To some extent, without trying to oversimplify the electorate of Iran, his is the presidency of the rednecks, the simple, the devout, and the disaffected. He is, in some ways, George W. Bush in policies with Sarah Palin's draw. He speaks of standing up to the world, and he looks rough-hewn, more like the men of the countryside and those who frequently (and more willingly) go to the mosque.
When our paid terrorists bomb a mosque far from Tehran, when a shot takes out a local tribal leader, when a local man in Al Quds vanishes, the people out where it happens know what's going on: their leaders make it simple in telling them. It's the Americans, it's the British, it's the insurgents. The hip, with-it crowd doesn't buy it, especially when their chosen people, men like Mir-Hossein Mousavi, directly or indirectly benefit from those very same "democracy" funds.
Make no mistake. The whining Republicans demanding that Obama do something to help the "pro-democracy" forces in Iran have already gotten their wish: Obama most definitely has been doing something, and it is exactly what his predecessor in office, George W. Bush, was doing. To the extent that what Obama and Bush have done has worked, it has very likely worked at least in part to ensure a massive turnout for elections in Iran, with a huge vote in favor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Whether or not the outcome was rigged is anyone's guess. Although we may have intelligence assets able to surmise what really happened, opinions fielded by anyone else, especially outside of Iran, are colored by hope for a more engaged, Western-leaning Iran, despite the fact that Mousavi is no reformer in the sense that most Westerners would like; the Guardian Council in Iran ensures that real reformers rarely, if ever, make it onto a ballot.
Does that mean Obama should pull back and do nothing other than deliver more soaring oratorical flourishes about respecting human rights and all that? Unfortunately, that option would be disastrous, now, but a deft hand is absolutely necessary. Events in Iran are out-pacing blunt, simplistic strategies.
The Revolutionary Guard is too often portrayed in the Western mainstream media as monolithic and thuggish. It is not. It is a professional, modern military force. Its leaders for the most part are not the spinning-eyed crazies that took hostages at the American embassy a generation ago; they are, instead, the hardened survivors of the ungodly Iran-Iraq war. More importantly, although an elite group that is highly disciplined, factions exist within the ranks, both at the top and in the barracks. Already, reports are surfacing that the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, General Ali Fazli, has been arrested for refusing to prosecute Ayatollah Khamenei's vow to crack down on protesters. Contrast the possibility of the head of the Revolutionary Guard being hauled away with a report published June 21 that this same military unit is declaring that it is going to 'crack down' on the protesters.
Most of the footage slipping out of Iran shows police and paramilitary Basij personnel, not Revolutionary Guard soldiers, dealing with protesters. Although Basiji may be under nominal control of the Guard, they ultimately take their orders, as all Iranian military personnel do, from Khamenei, who is the supreme authority. Although probably more complicated than an article like this can describe, the story goes that the Basij is seen by the Revolutionary Guard in much the same way as lower, paramilitary, and part-time, "weekend warriors" are seen by any professional armed forces service people. Basiji are portrayed in the Western media as head-knocking, brutish brawlers hot-rodding on motorcycles and running in packs. The perspective on them by elite Iranian troops is not much more charitable.
Those thuggish sorts of the Basij type are quite useful to entrenched autocrats and dictators, though. The story goes that, during the 1989 student protests in Beijing that led to the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the ruling communist leadership came to realize that the regular army soldiers did not have the stomach to resolutely stop the protests, and so a much more brutish, more violent class of soldiers was brought in, compliments of the modern Chinese equivalent of the old-fashioned warlords who still control the field divisions far from the cities and their more urbane ways of living and thinking. The Basij are carrying on in old tradition, much praised by those for whom they do their dirty work; but the consequences can occasionally be pretty bad for the knuckle-draggers. In the case of Iran, if push comes to shove and Ayatollah Khameini is kicked out by the only Iranian council that might be able pull it off, the Assembly of Experts, although the Revolutionary Guard takes its work as seriously as any professional army, from its guns might come the necessary task of clearing the streets not just of the protesters, but also of Basiji.
And that brings us to the next complication. The Assembly of Experts is influenced by those who have most decidedly not benefited from Ayatollah Khameini's ambitions and mastery of the power politics of the clergy. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose daughter and other family members were detained for having vocally supported Mousavi, and who lost to Ahmadinejad in the presidential election of 2005, may now take the matter of ending Khameini's continued supreme leadership quite personally. The same goes for Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who has been taken down more than once by none other than Khameini. And just to point out how precarious the Supreme Leader's position really is, right now, the Majlis (Parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani is calling into question the accuracy of the vote tally that gave Ahmadinejad such a sweeping victory that a much-anticipated second round of voting was not required.
With all of this intrigue, both that from the United States with its black ops program that has now spanned two presidencies and that from inside the complex and nuanced halls of power in Iran, itself, calls from American Right-wingers for some new, high-handed action are the very epitome of simplistic, opportunistic thinking. Playing the proverbial bull in the china shop would do nothing to save the dinnerware for America's feast of Middle Eastern interests.
Unfortunately, sitting back and doing nothing at all is an equally bad idea, too. Pretending that what happens in Iran stays in Iran ignores the regional problems that could become decidedly worse if events continue to head the way they are.
If Ahmadinejad stays as President, Ayatollah Khameini will get his "Islamic bomb." Only the utterly clueless believe that Iran's nuclear enrichment program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. The country is surrounded by a matrix of difficult, if not downright problematic, neighbors of all kinds: the Americans; the Israelis; the Kurds; several fundamentalist Sunni groups with ambitions to keep their drugs-and-arms trade going without interference from holier-than-thou mullahs; imbecile clerics like Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq with his Mehdi Army of idiots with rusty AK-47s; gutless wonders like Syria's President Bashar al-Assad for friends and Lebanon's Hezbollah welfare case Hassan Nasrallah for permanent child support payments; and neighboring backwater hicks with unbelievably sharp knives like the Taliban, who qualify as proxies you'd really rather not have sitting on your porch where Google Earth might photograph them for your better relatives to see.
Of immediate concern is Israel, which has recently conducted two massive military exercises in preparation for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The idea that President Obama can talk Israel down from an attack is sheer folly: Israel does not do what U.S. Presidents want unless those American leaders happen to want what Israel wants. Notwithstanding a few accommodations Tel Aviv made in accordance with protocols from the Oslo Accord, Israel has lots of problems and several good opportunities. Among its looming difficulties are a burgeoning population, Palestinian trouble-makers in its occupied territories who have human rights issues, and fresh water availability; and among its opportunities are the chance to get into the game of oil distribution and go further into the wildly lucrative international arms trade. The last thing Israel needs is an Islamic state with discernible ambitions of a pan-Arabic caliphate backed by fissile cooking utensils.
Whether or not Iran now or ever will try to expand militarily is irrelevant: Israel does not want it to have nuclear weapons, and Israel will ensure that it never does. That is the reality of the situation. The United States does not want Iran to have nukes, either, but ours is a strategic interest: with even a modest nuclear arsenal, the Persian state would be in a position to project regional influence more effectively; and, more importantly, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization comprising China, Russia, and a handful of smaller nations would be hard-pressed to keep Iran's application for full membership on the back burner. Iran's location would then put the oil transport route out of the Persian Gulf squarely in the hands of the SCO, a situation decidedly to the disadvantage of the United States, Western Europe, and our nominally allied nations in Asia.
Israel's military and political leaders could easily see the instability in Iran as a wide-open opportunity to take their shot, especially if it looks like Khameini and Ahmadinejad are going to come out on top. The pair would deal with their political enemies roughly, and any hope of improved relations with the West would be off the table for a long time to come. The stage would be set for using claims of Western meddling as a pretext to block further International Atomic Energy Agency inspections; angry street demonstrations in Tehran and elsewhere would be choreographed to show "support" for Ahmadinejad and whatever he would say and do; gruesome public hangings of former student demonstrators would be must-see TV; and the U.S. would have few policy options other than to continue pouring money into the hands of bad people just because they are the kind of bad people who cause trouble for Iran and its leadership. Following that, an attack by Israel to destroy the nuclear materials refinement facilities in Iran would turn the Persian nation into a basket case, with shards of violent military units going in every direction to control the internal population and foment ramped-up war in Iraq; environmental catastrophe billowing out on a regional scale; and a shattered infrastructure howling for the rest of the world to repair, given the way Israel simply departed Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and left the mess it had created by its bombings in those places for everyone else to pay for.
The current political strife in Iran needs to be resolved quickly, and it is in the interest of the United States to help ensure that the resolution is to the favor of Mousavi, whether or not he actually won the election, which we might never know. For us to claim that we cannot interfere in the democratic processes of another country, flawed as an election might have been, is simply ridiculous. Both George W. Bush and his successor, the supposedly liberal, more worldly Barack H. Obama, have been using the tools of war by proxy, disinformation, and terrorism to destabilize the regime in power in Tehran. This is definitely not the moment to feign belief in the right of Iran to resolve its internal political battles on its own, considering we have been responsible, at least to some extent, for setting in motion the events now playing out in the streets and at the Assembly of Experts, and especially since our sloth right now could easily lead to an Israeli resolution.
Mr. Obama is a bright man. Around him are men and women of considerable experience, if rather less noteworthy intelligence. Options are available, but they must be of the kind that encourages the Assembly of Experts to move toward a government by committee as an interim step to a more modern, transparently democratic process of electing political leaders without as much control from the ayatollahs, whose counsel must remain respected, but whose presence in political life must be subordinated to the trusted officials who will promote Iran's interests in accordance with the tenets of Islam.
We have ways to provide assistance without appearing to meddle any more than we have already. If we can be so willing to deliver brute destruction and willful mayhem to a nation we want to change, we can certainly find the thoughtful, unobtrusive means to offer worthwhile encouragement and quiet help to that same nation on the verge of change so many of its own people want.
President Obama must ignore the all-too-public calls of his political opponents who want him to do more about the Iranian political crisis; he must, instead, first resolve the crisis of thinking we have about how to remain a world leader in an age of competition from other nations that want to take our place and citizens of nations who want to have their voices heard.
At the end of the day, if America cannot find the means by which to lead while protecting those who want freedom, the future will belong to nations that are even less likely than we to craft policy that considers democracy other than a mere rhetorical flourish.
The Curtain Drawn, the Revolution Begun
Twitter by cthalupa: RT from Iran - all foreign satellite tv news has been stopped in Iran - they think a blinded man cannot see in the darkness - #Iranelection - 06/21/09-4:37:pm:Tehran
Self-Immolation, British Style
From the Press Gazette article: "From January 2010, the licence charges will also apply to PR practitioners and 'other organisations forwarding links to newspaper websites as part of their commercial activity'." Even more disturbing, the new NLA policy seems to include back charging, as well, although comprehensively tracking down old hyperlinks and collecting fees on them, especially from non-UK sources, would undoubtedly prove daunting.
On the home page of the NLA Website comes its mission statement: "Operating on behalf of the UK's national and regional newspapers the NLA licenses organisations to take legal copies of newspaper articles"
[Publisher's note: If the NLA charges me for that quote, its billing department will get a brief response of disproportionately hurtful magnitude, and the copy editor for the Website will get a brief lecture on proper comma usage.]
Hyperlinks to content from newspapers in the United Kingdom will now be prohibited at online properties of Dark Wraith Publishing. When making reference to articles from British newspapers, writers at DWP group news sites like Big Brass Blog and The UnCapitalist Journal are being asked to henceforth cite the name of the Website from which news content is derived, provide the exact title of the article from which the content is drawn or a quoted passage is reproduced, and the name of the author and the date of publication for the content used if available.
The new NLA business model for member publishers has not been embraced elsewhere, particularly in the United States, but even a small degree of success in extracting a revenue stream from hyperlinks could trigger a similar effort here in an attempt to stop the spiral of information content toward the status of a public good commodity for which no positive price can be charged (because the cost of one more user is virtually zero), but for which substantial fixed costs must be incurred.
Should American newspapers start charging for hyperlinking to their articles, and they are trying to figure out a way around antitrust laws to do just that, Dark Wraith Publishing will issue a call for the cash-starved newspapers trying to pull the stunt to burn in unrelenting agony forever and ever in the fires of Hell's hottest roaster oven.
Only after the incident and the appearance of the video did police field a story about an officer being hospitalized because of actions by the victim before the video was shot, and only after the video hit YouTube, CNN, and other media outlets did the police refer the incident to official inquiry.
This kind of violence will end only when bleeding-heart conservatives and criminal-coddling judges start dealing effectively with violent thugs acting individually and in gangs under color of law. Only when supposedly civilized nations fully apply the rule of law to their law enforcement personnel will fear of extreme violence at the hands of police be replaced with volitional respect for the law and those who enforce it.
A generation ago, Right-wing and conservative forces screamed for minimum sentencing guidelines, harsh sentences, and restrictions on the rights of accused. They got their way, and now, one in every 31 citizens in the United States is either imprisoned or otherwise at some level of oversight or confinement in the federal or a state penal system. The welfare queens of state and municipal governments beg endlessly for more money to be thrown at their "law enforcement" needs, and towns across America vie like starved wolves for one prison after another to be built in their area to create jobs their elected leaders and business people cannot create on their own using entrepreneurial skill and local encouragement.
It is time for society to take the same rightful, harsh, retributive means of dealing with crime and apply it to the thugs who hide behind badges, and no amount of bleeding-heart excuses from the conservatives should be tolerated.
Lock them up and throw away the key. That's what we did a generation ago over the cries of liberals and Leftists, and that's what we should do now over the bleating of conservative and Right-wing apologists simpering about "circumstances" and "up-bringing" and "how hard it is" to be a law enforcement officer despite being armed to the teeth. Use a search engine and type in "Taser"; you'll find incident after incident of over-the-top violence by police using these weapons to degrade and injure people.
Just like a generation ago when society finally understood that weakness in punishment encouraged more crime by the dregs of society, we must now turn our attention to the weakness with which we deal with men and women who use their official status to pursue their brutish, violent ways.
No more. The three pillars of an effective system of punitive justice are certainty, severity, and celerity (swiftness). In other words, the criminal is definitely going to get punished, the punishment is going to hurt terribly, and it's going to happen right away. More bluntly, you're going to get it, it's going to hurt like Hell, and it's coming now.
And the punishment must extend to the bleeding heart coddlers, too. A State Supreme Court judge in New York let three killers go Scot free: they were police officers who butchered an innocent man and badly wounded his two companions in a hail of hysterical gunfire. After the judge rendered his verdict, police surrounded his house and even had a helicopter overhead to ensure that he remained safe.
In the Bay Area, a transit policeman acting in concert with other transit officers shot a man straight through the back as he lay face down on the ground. The bullet went through him, ricocheted off the pavement, and went back up through his chest. He died slowly from drowning in his own blood that soaked his lungs. Without video taken by by-standers who uploaded their captures to the Web, nothing would have been done. As it is, the former officer firing the shot is the subject of a weak-kneed prosecution (with the alleged killer claiming he intended to use his Taser), but only one other transit police person there at the time has been subject to anything remotely approaching serious backlash, despite separate video showing that other officer minutes before punching or slapping (depending upon who is interpreting the scene) the same victim and thereby escalating the spiraling ugliness of the police before the shooting, and despite the statement of the young woman who shot the video of the killing on her cell phone that yet another officer at the scene tried to confiscate her phone with the incriminating evidence.
In England, where the incident in the video presented at the outset of this article took place, special law enforcement officers slaughtered an innocent Brazilian man on the pretext that he might have been a "terrorist" (the guy had brown skin, so that makes him an Arab, which makes him a terrorist suspect); then came the lies about how the homicide took place. In the end, it turned out the victim was shot repeatedly in the back. That's right: in the back.
Did the killers go to prison to rot and get sexually brutalized the way our ugly citizens and entertainment shows like to sneer about? Of course not.
Anecdotes of state-sponsored violence aside, to my Leftist and liberal friends in the reading audience I offer this: the age of mercy is over. It never really got started, but any nascent shards of an understanding society that sought accommodation, help, and tolerance have long passed, and it is now time to get with the program. Chanting, "Hey ho! Fascists must go!" and holding hands to sing Kumbaya will not stop the freight train of authoritarianism and the shadow of the iron fist now darkening the landscape of nations.
The Age of the Authoritarians is here to stay.
The fist will come down on you, so make the fist work for you. Demand equal justice not merely for everyone, but also against everyone, including those who work under the color of law enforcement authority. They are no better than you.
They just happen to be better armed.
The Dark Wraith trusts that readers take this post seriously (and note the category under which it is posted).
Can't Pimp That Log
This little episode might force me to change my mind about the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, which I have been characterizing as "Authoritarianism without the Incompetence": it seems that incompetence is rather more of an embedded principle of authoritarianism than I had thought.
Oh, and by the way, as I've pointed out in the past and herewith repeat just for the record: "Hope 'n change," my ass.
A Letter to Peter of Lone Tree
Good evening, Peter of Lone Tree.
Although I greatly enjoy the writings Chris Hedges has published on American religious extremism, his apocalyptic vision of the future of the American economy is generous to a fault and parochial to a rather unexemplary era and its uninspired citizens.
We have received what essayist Jonathan Schell describes as "An Invitation to a Degraded World," and we have accepted it. The acceptance has come in each election from 2000 to the present, and that includes the presidential election last year.
We cannot help ourselves: we embrace the folly of reactionism, and Brand X of the Left is seen as a viable substitute for Brand X of the Right. In the end, the candidates of one company are pretty much the same as those of the other. Duopolies offer choice only to those who have forgotten that choice includes the option, "No."
On we trod, though, into a future not as good as that of our parents.
But not really. I lived through bad times when I was growing up. The death of my father at the end of the '60s was a metaphor for a world and a nation on the precipice of upheavals I did not understand; but, then again, hardly anyone else did either, and the particulars of my circumstances of a degraded world were not the cause of the plight in which my mother and I found ourselves. The truth of the matter is that life was becoming a changed thing for many people way back then.
And before my time, life was becoming a changed thing for the people who had lived to see the turn of the last century, too.
And before their time, life was becoming a changed thing for the people who had lived to see the time after that war between the states.
And before their time, life was becoming a changed thing for the people who had lived to see the dawn of the 19th Century.
And before their time...
You get the picture.
The future is an invitation to a degraded world, a lesser thing, always packaged in the new, the better, the not-old-and-worn-out. Our walk to that place has become a breath-taking sprint, even as we curse the landscape as it becomes more ominous, more barren, more foreboding.
We look back and cannot help but imagine in the time before now a sun higher in the sky, a world less confusing because we know how the story went. The future is a story not told and, therefore, not known. We are never ready for it; and now, as we run at full speed into its maw, we have no means by which to prepare ourselves, much less to prepare that place in which we shall spend the remainder of our days.
If it is of any comfort, though, we do know the part about how bad it's going to be there in that future. It is the place where the ones we love die, the ways we once lived are gone, and the joys we had are faded to the stuff of sadly fleeting dreams about which we can tell no one because no one cares.
The past is about ghosts we knew: they speak through our individual and collective memories.
The future is about ghosts we can only imagine: mostly, they speak through our individual and collective fears.
Times really are going to get rough. I have written many articles about what is coming, and I have now lived long enough to note with a degree of satisfaction that my predictions, economic and otherwise, are being proved accurate. A quite general article of mine about the future is one entitled, "The 21st Century, Epilogue." I took a more metaphorical approach in my story, "The End of Time."
So many people do not listen, though. They have to hear ghosts for themselves. That means they'll have to wait, just like they have for generation after generation; and when they see the future in all its ugliness, they'll wonder why it had to be that way.
Perhaps a few people in that time will notice something particularly awful about those ghosts to come, as terrible as they'll be as they stand before us in the plain sight of that degraded world out there just after tomorrow's sunset: those ghosts of the future will look an awful lot like us.
Right now, as we stand here on the edge of tomorrow accepting that invitation to which we just cannot say, "No," we ensure that ours will be the grave from which will usher that sullen place that awful, degraded world of apocalypse and misery otherwise called the future.
We never learn, do we?
The Dark Wraith has spoken.
Fiery Winds and the Streets Below
Without even the slightest hint of appreciation for the irony, both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs have told reporters that the United States is closely watching the situation in Iran, where street riots continue in the aftermath of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stunning victory over his popular opponent, Mir Hossein Moussavi, who was favored by progressive voters that included the young, the educated, and the more urban.
In eerie parallel to the highly disputed 2000 presidential election in the United States, when the highest court in the land suspended the vote recount in the pivotal state of Florida and handed the victory to the Right-wing candidate, George W. Bush, Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has endorsed the official vote count in Iran, effectively shutting down any avenue by which Moussavi and his forces could seek meaningful legal remedy within the Persian nation's constitutional framework, other than through a perfunctory investigation by the so-called Guardian Council, which will rule on the matter next week, no doubt in favor of Ahmadinejad.
Just as former President Bush found his hard-core support through two controversial elections by appealing to rural, ignorant, backward, conservative voters, so too does Mr. Ahmadinejad rely on this same complex demographic/psychographic pool for his backing, with both men buttressing the supposed moral legitimacy of their position and means of acquiring it by way of backward-looking religious leaders Iran's being officially recognized as pre-eminent, America's being less so.
Despite the imprimatur of legitimacy Ahmadinejad has now obtained from the supreme leader of Iran, street riots continue across Iran, with the government retaliating with arrests of opposition leaders and shows of force against public demonstrations.
While many of the demonstrators are young, the outrage in Iran seems to be widespread. Unlike in the United States, where protests against the suspect elections of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 were minimal, at best, Iranians are taking to the streets in noticeable numbers despite the violent crackdown being chronicled by foreign journalists stationed there. Amid the thunder of stun grenades fired by riot police, one elderly woman shouted to a reporter for the The Times (UK), "We hate this government. It's my generation’s fault to have let them come in 1979 [when the shah was ousted]. These children are doing what we were not brave enough to do."
Those glib words could as easily have been spoken by an older person in the United States in both 2000 and 2004, except that here in this country, the preference is to allow suspect elections to go largely unchallenged in the streets. Far preferable for Americans is waiting for enough young people to come of age to make election fraud infeasible and, more importantly, inadvisable: the Republicans previously so desperate for the reins of power in Washington have found, after eight long years of progressive economic, military, and social degradation at their hands, that governance at the behest of the ignorant and reactionary is most inopportune, even when in league of convenience with the consent of supreme councils firmly ensconced in the technicalities of legal pronouncements that need and have no moral legitimacy.
The losers in Iran's elections this week will not be answered with justice, and the nation will plunge into a period of violent retribution against them and their leaders.
The Ayatollah Khamenei and his fellow reactionary mullahs will continue to have their chosen people in political power to press forward with the development of nuclear weapons and a concomitantly robust, forward-leaning posture in dealing with other nations, including the United States; but the disastrous end of this hubris in making a mockery of democratic elections will come soon enough, nonetheless.
The Right-wing forces in Iran may then wish they had dealt more generously with the reformist opposition now taking to the streets, which in retrospect will seem altogether peaceful, reasonable, and patient compared to the fiery winds of change from the skies as a much more violent, less patient, considerably better armed foe delivers its own version of reform for the intransigent.
Dark Voices Radio for June 11, 2009
Mounting upward pressure on U.S. Treasury yields that might kill an economic recovery even as the Federal Reserve dumps more and more liquidity into the economy;
The Huffington Post article by Professor Lincoln Mitchell alleging that bloggers who criticize the AIPAC are partly responsible for the neo-Nazi's shooting spree at a Holocaust memorial;
John McCain's advice to President Obama to classify the detainee abuse photos so courts can't force their public release;
and anything else that you want to discuss or that comes to my mind as I rant.
Everything's on the table for discussion with callers tonight, starting at 10:30 p.m. EDT on Dark Voices Radio.
(Okay, not quite "everything," for Heaven's sake; I don't want the FCC shutting me down for broadcasting immoral content.)
Hope? Sure. Change? Meh.
Although the First Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed Pietrangelo's lawsuit, a separate ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a parallel case gave Pietrangelo a foundation for appeal to the nation's high court, based upon the Ninth Circuit's reasoning that a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law opened the door for review of other cases where laws effectively target homosexuals.
In Pietrangelo v. Gates, however, the nation's highest court chose not to review the First Circuit Court decision against Pietrangelo, deferring to the will of the Pentagon, which is resistant to any erosion of its anti-gay policy. Perhaps more surprising to those who still believe that Barack Obama is a progressive, the White House, itself, prevailed upon the Supreme Court in the case, despite its public claim that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is under review.
From CNN.com comes this note from the Associated Press on the Supreme Court's decision in Pietrangelo v. Gates:
"The Obama administration had asked the high court not to take the case, and White House officials had said they would not object to homosexuals being kicked out of the armed services."
The President who has described the standing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as "abhorrent" and "counter-productive" is at the same time prevailing upon the United States Supreme Court to protect that policy from judicial review, citing the well-worn argument that the armed forces need "group cohesion" and "discipline," neither of which, according to the White House, now, can be accomplished by the best military in the world if gays and lesbians are soldiers.
The gap between Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's high-minded, progressive rhetoric and President Obama's operational policies is becoming a veritable chasm that only the most ardent of his supporters can deny. In matters ranging from his fight to prevent release of detainee abuse photos to his penchant for appointing indisputably incompetent insiders like former New York Fed Bank President Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, Mr. Obama has displayed a willingness to play by the rules of the Beltway establishment many who voted for him specifically and earnestly expected him to vanquish.
It remains to be seen whether or not the new friends and supporters Mr. Obama is courting with his non-progressive, authoritarian, and conservative appointments, decisions, and policies will be sufficient to replace those among his previous supporters who finally, before the next general election, come to figure out the difference between soaring rhetoric and concrete actions.
For his own part, the President may very well find that currying favor with entrenched, conservative, establishment forces within the military, economic, and political communities yields only a meager cache of new friends among those who have run Washington for too long. His far greater chance of a second term will be from the prospect that the liberals and progressives he is now ignoring and thereby alienating will have become too accustomed to the abuse of their trust to think they have any option other than to continue supporting the man in whom they placed so much hope and got in return only so much facile lip service. On the other hand, perhaps by 2012 the progressive community will be able to appreciate that a deep shadow cast by bad governance is not remedied by bad governance of a shadow made lighter by the false sunshine of unfulfilled assurances.
The Dark Wraith will surely mince no words in persistent reporting on the difference between a good President and an establishment authoritarian cloaked in the fineries of empty rhetoric.
Dark Wraith Photography Portfolio Two
Once the gallery window opens, the slideshow will run automatically.
The pictures were all taken with an AF-S Nikkor DX 18-135mm ED-IS f/3.5-5.4 lens mounted on a Nikon D60. Scaling and minor touch-ups on the photographs were done in Adobe Photoshop CS4. The gallery you will see was created in Adobe Fireworks CS4. You can click on photos in the gallery to see somewhat larger images. For those wanting to see even larger pictures (although still not even close to the scale of the originals), click here and here for a couple of dramatic images.
These are photographs I took of a prairie "wind farm" in the Midwest. The wind farm is quite extensive: it takes about half an hour to pass the entire complex, which cost a considerable amount of money when it was built and still costs a fair amount in terms of maintenance and the opportunity cost of the land used for the purpose. Although it does not contribute a particularly notable amount of electricity to the grid, neither does a more traditional generator, in and of itself, and this wind farm does not represent a continuing source of pollution like a coal-fired plant would.
It is a start, and it shows what can be done when the will and means to change technology are combined with support from taxpayers and politicians.
Aesthetically, this way of generating electricity is most pleasing, too. The windmills individually and in their collective grandeur are almost enough to make a cynic like me optimistic about the future.
The Dark Wraith hopes readers enjoy this photo gallery.