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June 29, 2009

The June 12 Revolution

Selected stuff on Iran from the last few days...

Claudia Rosett

Marty Peretz

Charles Krauthammer

Amir Taheri

Reuel Marc Gerecht

David Pryce-Jones

Eli Lake

Spiegel Online

Joshua Muravchik

Alicia Colon

Daniel Henninger - WSJ

Anne Bayefsky

UPDATE 6/30: Daily updates at Berman Post (via IP)


Miscellaneous stuff that's been gathering at my delicious page for a couple weeks or more...

Andy McCarthy - Negotiating With Terrorists

Spiegel Online - "Breaking Ranks - How to Become an Accidental Conservative"

George Will on green jobs. More from Joshua Green in The Atlantic.

Joshua Muravchik - The Abandonment of Democracy

Ron Radosh - Eric Alterman- the Left’s Most Dishonest Journalist-and the Controversy over “Spies.”

Robert Stacy McCain - Obama Plays Hardball With Watchdogs

The Truth Rundown - The St. Petersburg Times' revealing investigation of Scientology.


It really is remarkable how Obama has labored to avoid crediting his predecessor for the many anti-terror policies he previously denounced and has subsequently adopted, (let alone allowing Iraq to be defined as a success of any stripe.) The flip-flops themselves are welcome and responsible. The insulting thing is the attitude that there's no need for the least humility....even civility...that might be appropriate now that he has acted on so many fronts in direct contradiction to his previous promises.

It's as if he doesn't think (or care) that people were paying any attention to his campaign, or even his current daily rhetoric. He has gone five months now without so much as a gracious word for the former president, much less an acknowledgment that Bush policies might have been carefully considered, effective, and taken in a good faith effort to protect the country...and that's why they are being replicated in the Obama administration. It smacks of hubris and spite, and it's unbecoming. But that's just to set up two more examples of the current dishonesty...or demonstrations of the naked cynicism of the Obama presidential campaign.....or both.

Here's Ed Morrissey on unlimited detention...

Obama has essentially endorsed the detention policies of George Bush without the courtesy of apologizing for slandering him over the last two and a half years. Obama and his allies screeched endlessly about indefinite detentions, and not just in Gitmo, either. They specifically railed against the holding of terrorists without access to civil courts in military detention facilities around the world, specifically Bagram, but in general as well. Not even six months into his term of office, Obama realized that Bush had it right all along.

Did he even have the grace to admit that? No. Instead, the White House took the cowardly method of a late-Friday leak to let people know that Obama had adopted the Bush policy all over again. Barack Obama just appeared at a press conference this last Tuesday to discuss Iran, energy policy, and ObamaCare, where he could have told the national press that he had changed his mind on indefinite detention. Instead, he kept his mouth shut, and had his media staff whisper it into phones to a couple of White House favorites in the press.

It’s a shameful performance, and the measure of the man in charge.

Jim Geraghty has more on the famed Obama audacity...

Ever since Barack Obama declared his candidacy for president, it’s been easy — and great fun — to spotlight when his promises and statements come with “expiration dates.” The list is long: Public financing. Renegotiating NAFTA. His promise to support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. His inability to disown Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The release of detainee photos. Denouncing Turkey for genocide.

Flip-flops are nothing new in politics, but every once in a while, a president breaks a promise or an important pledge on such an epic level that it defines him, at least in part: “Read my lips: No new taxes.” “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” “We did not — repeat — did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages — nor will we.” Even “I will never lie to you.”

Barack Obama’s sudden about-face on taxing employer-provided health insurance deserves to rank among these classics. Not because it’s as laughable as Bill Clinton’s, or as emphatic as George H. W. Bush’s, but because it takes a certain moral venality to casually adopt, as president, a position that was a dominant theme of your argument for why your opponent should not be president.

read 'em all.

UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson on the "Noble Lies" of Barack Obama

June 25, 2009

Western Swing


The blog has been neglected (even more so than in recent months) owing to a little vacation trip out west to see relatives and friends in Idaho and Montana. It was our first time in Big Sky country, and we were just continuously awed by nature's splendor everywhere we looked. As our friend who left Ohio 30 years ago for Missoula said to us this week, "I don't remember exactly why I came out here, but I sure know why I stayed."

Now, so do we.

June 14, 2009

A Case of Politics Trumping Law

Stuart Taylor thinks there is much to admire about Sonia Sotamayor, and he may well eventually support her confirmation, but the more he looks at her New Haven firefighters decision, the more he finds it indefensible. Firefighters Case: What Really Happened

June 13, 2009

"Divine Assessment"

Hot Air has a roundup of reports and reaction to the apparently rigged election in Iran. Allahpundit wonders why the regime didn't try to make the result appear somewhat convincing....

Everyone expected the margin to be close after such a nasty campaign; a close Ahmadinejad win, with Mousavi victorious in the urban areas he was supposed to carry, would have been credible. I guess they figured that a narrow defeat would be treated as even more suspect by Mousavi’s supporters, so they went in the opposite direction and made it a landslide — to an implausible degree, as it turned out. Two: With the regime more illegitimate than ever, where does this leave The One vis-a-vis nuke negotiations? He’s been careful in the past to distinguish Khamenei from the more toxic Ahmadinejad, but Khamenei blessed the results today as a “divine assessment.” His credibility’s shot now, too. If Obama meets with him anyway, it’ll put the U.S. on the side of a sham government against the Iranian people more starkly than ever before.

Michael Ledeen had warned of the illegitimacy of this exercise well before the event, and has a follow-up report in the aftermath.

Ever since the proclamation of Ahmadinezhad’s “triumph,” the streets of the cities have been boiling with anti-regime demonstrations, with the predictable violent crackdown from the security forces. There is hardly a city anywhere in the country where demonstrations are not taking place, and you can gauge the seriousness of the situation by the regime’s response:

- Mousavi and Karrubi, the two “reformist” candidates in Friday’s “elections” are under house arrest, along with dozens of their followers;

- “Reformist” journalists and activists have been rounded up and jailed;

- Cell phones (including, after a day’s delay, international cell phones) have been blocked, access to internet has been filtered, facebook is unreachable, and you can’t tweet (can the silencing of Western reporters be far behind?);

- In Tehran, student dormitories are surrounded by security forces.

Stalin would be proud. But even his Soviet Union eventually succumbed to the dissidents, and while the regime has most all of the guns, the chains, the clubs, the tear gas cannisters, and the torture chambers, there are tens of millions of Iranians who hate the regime. The question is whether they are prepared to face down the Basij, the police, and the Revolutionary Guards.

When the candidates must be pre-approved by the dictators, whatever the result may be, it is not democracy. It's unfortunate that this sham was lauded in advance by the Obama people as a legitimate expression of the will of the Iranian people. Now would be a wonderful time for Obama to make a strong public statement of support for the Iranian people's right to select their own leadership. Or at least something beyond Saturday's statement that..."We continue to monitor the entire situation closely, including reports of irregularities." Stephen Hayes says now would be a good time for some of that "smart power" we've been hearing about.

Don't miss Michael Totten....lots of video and links.

More at FPM

UPDATE 6/15:

From a NYT story:

“I don’t think the middle class is ever going to go out and vote again”

Taranto is noting the good news in the Iranian election story....that erstwhile apologists for the Iranian regime like Roger Cohen and Juan Cole are now chastened by reports of fraud and post-election brutality and oppression. Then there's the bad news...albeit with a silver lining...

The bad news that Iran is still ruled by a vicious, lunatic regime that not only abuses its own people but threatens Israel with annihilation and the entire region with a nuclear arms race. This is very bad, though it's news only to regime apologists like Cohen--and, as we noted Friday, it would have been true even had challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi prevailed in the vote. A Mousavi victory, however, would have made the nature of the regime easier to deny. Clarity is the one unquestionable benefit of the outcome.

Losing Momentum? Obamacare Bringing Hope

Yuval Levin and Bill Kristol make the case to - Dare to Defeat ObamaCare

As long as the health care reform plan envisioned by the Obama administration and congressional Democrats was just a series of slogans, it was easy for the left to build support for it and difficult for the right to imagine how it could be stopped. It is hard, after all, to object to vague promises to cut health care costs and cover the uninsured and improve health outcomes. The brute fact of Democratic domination of Washington gave key health industry players an incentive to look as if they wanted to cooperate with the Obama administration. The whole affair began to assume an air of inevitability.

But as general slogans give way to particular plans, reality is setting in. Outlines and drafts of the key House and Senate bills began to emerge last week, and the grim reality of what the Democrats in fact have in mind has started to exercise an undeniable effect upon the politics of health care.

The AMA bailing out has to count for something. Let the debate begin.

June 10, 2009

Best Ever

An incredible Jim Brown highlight video. We occasionally see brief clips of Brown...whenever they talk on TV about the greatest running backs ever. But this four minutes of all Jim Brown was a treat. Makes my day.

My memory of seeing Brown live several times when I was a 10-12-year old may be a little fuzzy. But what I do remember is that whenever Jim Brown got the hand-off, 80,000 people in the stadium would stand together in excitement....in anticipation of the possibility that he could run for a touchdown on any play. I have never seen anything like this phenomenon at a football game since.

June 7, 2009

True Believers - The Myers Case

I didn't pay a lot of attention Friday when the news broke of the arrests of long-time State Dept. analyst Walter Kendall Myers and his wife on charges of spying for Cuba for 30 years. So much Internet...so few hours in the day and all.

But tales of Americans driven to treason by the utopian impulse are irresistible to me...such is my curiosity about this alien sentiment, I guess. And this one turns out to be a "truth is stranger than fiction" type of spy story.

In a fascinating piece at AT, Clarice Feldman reveals Myers as a true Washington D.C. blue blood, and a fawning fellow traveler who was identified and recruited by the Cubans early on in his government career.

The circumstances of how he got from Washington DC to South Dakota for a year or two in the late 70's are unclear, but that's where he met his second wife Gwendolyn, who was working there as a staffer for Sen. John Abourezk, a renowned Friend of Fidel, and she had presumably traveled with the senator on his two trips to Cuba in 1977. Feldman speculates that she might have been working with Cuban intelligence even before she met Myers. Maybe it's why she met Myers.

Plenty of intrigue in the man's background...a criminal matter in South Dakota....a tragic incident in his car when he struck and killed a 16-year old girl....but what seems clear is that Myers spied for the Communists because he believed in the cause, and not necessarily because they had something on him. And he's still a true believer. Read the whole thing.

The Washington Post account of the arrest somehow manages to work an anti-Bush quote from a 'neighbor' of the Myers into an article about a man who sold out the United States during the Carter administration 30 years ago. That's not easy.

Also at AT, are there More Cuban Spies?

Is this the Castro brothers reacting?

Hillary's on it.

June 5, 2009

Sorry If You Got Tagged

No, I didn't send photos.

But if you got an email from me saying I sent you photos, I'm sorry. If you haven't already, please delete it...and don't sign up or register for tagged.com, for heaven's sake.

I got taken in by an email "phishing" scam, and I'm afraid I inadvertently sent similar nuisance emails to my entire gmail address book. I should have known better. So, if you're tracking me down to yell at me...or worse, let me apologize up front, and throw myself on the mercy of the court in abject shame and contrition. Did I mention I was sorry?

If Only Israel Were Smaller...

A couple of things on Israel's settlements being at the root of the Arab-Israeli conflict, if not of all Islamic grievance. The new Commentary features several pieces on the theme of "no more peace plans", instead offering essays promoting other ideas, including Caroline Glick's Stabilization Plan (NAWS). Her piece is much broader in scope than the so-called settlements issue, but if I may borrow a slice of subscriber content, here she notes some of the false assumptions that have helped to foil the seven previous attempts at imposing a 'two-state solution' just since 1993...

First, they assume that the Middle East conflict as a whole is a function of the Palestinian conflict with Israel, and consequently, once the Palestinian conflict with Israel is solved, the wider Middle East conflict in all its disparate aspects will be resolved.

Second, they all assume that the root of the Palestinian conflict with Israel is the absence of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River that must include Judea and Samaria (otherwise known as the West Bank), Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip—areas Israel took control over in the 1967 Six Day War.

Third, they presume that it is Israel’s refusal to cede all of these lands to the Palestinians that stands at the root of the Palestinian conflict with Israel and forms the basis of the Arab-Israel conflict and the Islamic-Israel conflict. So long as Israel maintains even a residual presence in any of these areas, it is to blame for the absence of peace in the region. That is, from the Iranian mullahs to al Qaeda, from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to the Saudi-financed mosques in London, Israel’s size is the cause of angst, frustration, violence, and hatred. Stemming from this view, the two-state solution’s fourth assumption is that the internal pathologies of the Palestinians, the Arab world, and the larger Islamic world are largely irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that Israel is too big.

As Glick goes on to point out, Israel has never been unwilling to negotiate on its size, from the Golan to Gaza to the Sinai, and the suggestion that their communities in the West Bank areas are the obstacle to peace rather than the refusal of Palestinians and their patrons and sponsors to recognize Israel's right to exist is, well...a canard.

Krauthammer's The Settlements Canard

The entire "natural growth" issue is a concoction. It's farcical to suggest that the peace process is moribund because a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is making an addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren -- when Gaza is run by Hamas terrorists dedicated to permanent war with Israel and when Mahmoud Abbas, having turned down every one of Ehud Olmert's peace offers, brazenly declares that he is in a waiting mode -- waiting for Hamas to become moderate and for Israel to cave -- before he'll do anything to advance peace.

In his much-heralded "Muslim world" address in Cairo Thursday, Obama declared that the Palestinian people's "situation" is "intolerable." Indeed it is, the result of 60 years of Palestinian leadership that gave its people corruption, tyranny, religious intolerance and forced militarization; leadership that for three generations -- Haj Amin al-Husseini in 1947, Yasser Arafat in 2000, Abbas in December 2008 -- rejected every offer of independence and dignity, choosing destitution and despair rather than accept any settlement not accompanied by the extinction of Israel.

As they say, read the whole thing.

Glick's says the Palestinians must be made to pay a price for their ongoing intransigence, or it will never end. As long as institutions like UNRWA thrive, she says, they will continue to radicalize Palestinians (like this?), and make stability impossible.

Peter Wehner says Obama's words will soon be forgotten, but what he said about Israeli settlements will survive...

....to insist that Israel do what Obama wants even before negotiations begin will have unintended consequences. It will reinforce Arab intransigence. Arab nations will (understandably, from their perspective) wait for America to force concessions from Israel on a range of issues rather than give up anything to win them. Good feelings mean very little unless they can be translated into tangible, concrete progress. In this case, the results of Obama’s speech will, in my estimation, take us further down the wrong path.

Jonathan Tobin comments on Obama's interview with Tom Brokaw in Dresden

June 4, 2009

June 4, 1989


Radley Balko posts the iconic photo of 20 years ago today, and throws out a call to action...

Today ought to be a day to celebrate and promote human liberty, and to remember the abuses governments have heaped upon their subjects over the centuries.

So go find your own metaphor for the government tank pictured above.

Then put yourself in front of it.

Claudia Rosett was there. So was Nicholas Kristof

More from Ms. Rosett here.

Jeff Jacoby - "China's 'socialist road' to misery"

Samuel Chi - "Deng Xiaoping's Bloody Tiananmen Power Play"

June 2, 2009

Genetic Similarities

Jonah Goldberg is interviewed by NRO on the occasion of the release of Liberal Fascism in paperback. It's all good reading, including links to TNR and NYT reviews of the book, and Jonah's response. Most interesting to me was his noting of the book's coincidental timeliness...

LOPEZ: Speaking of Liberal Fascism’s endurance, what do you make of events since the book came out, specifically the election of The One?

GOLDBERG: Well, first of all I think I have to thank Barack Obama. Here I wrote a book, working on the assumption that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee (hardly a harebrained assumption at the time), about how contemporary progressivism is a political religion with its roots in German state theory, sharing a close family resemblance to fascism. Among the anatomical and genetic similarities: cult of unity, sacralization of politics, philosophical pragmatism, corporatism, relativism, Romanticism, hero-worship, collectivism, and so on. And out of nowhere comes a guy who campaigns as a secular messiah, spouting deeply spiritualized political rhetoric, claims the Progressives as his inspiration, and proudly sees himself as carrying out FDR’s mission. I haven’t counted them, but I’d guess I’ve received a couple hundred e-mails from readers telling me how they thought the whole book was written with Obama in mind, even though I finished it before he was even ahead in the Democratic primaries.

After the election, sales of the book spiked through the roof for a reason. I used to joke that the same people loading up on bottled water and handguns were buying extra copies of the book as a field guide or something.


If you look at how most liberals think about economics, they want big corporations and big government working in tandem with labor, universities (think industrial policy), and progressive organizations to come up with “inclusive” policies set at the national or international level. That’s not necessarily socialism — it’s corporatism. When you listen to how Obama is making economic policy with “everyone at the table,” he’s describing corporatism, the economic philosophy of fascism. Government is the senior partner, but all of the other institutions are on board — so long as they agree with the government’s agenda. The people left out of this coordinated effort — the Nazis called it the Gleichschaltung — are the small businessmen, the entrepreneurs, the ideological, social, or economic mavericks who don’t want to play along. When you listen to Obama demonize Chrysler’s bondholders simply because they want their contracts enforced and the rule of law sustained, you get a sense of what I’m talking about.

I don’t think Obama wants a brutal tyranny any more than Hillary Clinton does (which is to say I don’t think he wants anything of the sort). But I do think they honestly believe that progress is best served if everyone falls in line with a national agenda, a unifying purpose, a “village” mentality expanded to include all of society. That sentiment drips from almost every liberal exhortation about everything from global warming to national service. But to point it out earns you the label of crank. As I said a minute ago about that “We’re All Fascists Now” chapter, I think people fail to understand that tyrannies — including soft, Huxleyan tyrannies — aren’t born from criminal conspiracies by evil men; they’re born by progressive groupthink. I have an abiding faith in the liberty-loving nature of the American people. But I think we are laying down the foundation for a challenge to that nature the likes of which we haven’t seen since Wilson was in office.

June 1, 2009


In his speech today on cybersecurity, President Obama said

And this is also a matter of public safety and national security. We count on computer networks to deliver our oil and gas, our power and our water. We rely on them for public transportation and air traffic control. Yet we know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness.

Taranto has a few questions. Like...Really?.... When?.... Where?