Tuesday, June 30, 2009

" Another Marine Reporting, Sir....I've Served My Time In Hell."

Indeed he has. And his life and passing is a lot more worthy of attention than that of some drugged out celebrity.

Retired Marine Corps Colonel Kenneth L. Reusser has finally completed his final mission at the age of 89.

A native of Oregon, this American warrior was the most decorated Marine aviator in history. He earned 59 medals during his service which included two Navy Crosses, four Purple Hearts, and two Legions of Merit. Colonel Reusser flew 253 combat missions in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, was shot down five times in all during his career and walked away each time. The same could not be said for those of his country's enemies he came into contact with:

In 1945, while based in Okinawa, he stripped down his F4U-4 Corsair fighter and intercepted a Japanese observation plane at high altitude. When his guns froze, he flew his fighter into the observation plane, hacking off its tail with his propeller.

In 1950, while serving in the famous "Black Sheep Squadron," the Colonel led an attack on a North Korean tank-repair facility at Inchon, then destroyed an oil tanker, almost blowing himself out of the sky.

In Vietnam, he flew helicopters and was leading a rescue mission when his Huey was shot down. He needed skin grafts over 35 percent of his badly burned body.

Colonel Reusser's friends, family and comrades-in-arms gathered together for a last sendoff at the New Hope Community Church, after which he was laid to rest in Willamette National Cemetery.

Semper Fi and G-d speed, Colonel Reusser. Well done, sir.

Franken To become Democrat Senator #60

The Minnesota State Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Al Franken in the disputed Minnesota Senate election, and Norm Coleman has conceded.

This gives the Democrats a fillibuster proof two thirds majority that eneables them to pass whatever they want.

In the end, it all came down to a few hundred disputed votes.

If you think what the Democrats in Congress have pulled so far was funny, just wait.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Obama And The Honduras Shuffle

To give you an idea of how far to the Left the Obama Administration is, we have the amazing spectacle of this Presdent and his Secretary of State gnashing their teeth and making common cause with Venezuala's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Castro in their disapproval and anger over the removal of a Communist Latin American dictator!

Here's the story in a nutshell. Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, an Hugo chavez wanna-be, tried to unilaterally change the Honduran Constitution to allow him to become in effect president-for-life.To do so, he attempted to run through an illegal referendum.

The Honduran Supreme Court warned him that this was a violation of Honduras law,but Zelaya continued to try to muscle this through.

Since the referendum had been pronounced illegal by both the Supreme Court and the Electoral board the government refused to print the ballots an dno privat eprinter was willing to do so, so Zelaya actually had the ballots printed in Venezuela and flown in.

When the military (who would normally distribute ballots) refused to do so,
Zelaya fired General Vásquez, head of the armed forces and his supporters took the ballots from the warehouse where they were being held and attempted to distribute them anyway in defiance of the Supreme Court, Honduras' electoral law and the Constitution.

In response the Honduran Congress, including members of Zelaya's own party reinstated Vasquez, passed a law against holding referendums 180 days before or after general elections and established a commission, which found Zelaya in gross violation of his country's laws. TheHonduran Attorney General then requested Zelaya's impeachment. After the proceedings, The Honduran Congress and authorized the military to arrest him, remove him from office and put him on a plane bound for Costa Rica.

So this 'coup' was performed by the Supreme court, the Congress, the Attorney general and pretty much every branch of the Honduran government!

So what was Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's response to this? Do you even have to wonder?

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.

It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too.

Mrs. Clinton has piled on as well. Yesterday she accused Honduras of violating "the precepts of the Interamerican Democratic Charter" and said it "should be condemned by all." Fidel Castro did just that. Mr. Chávez pledged to overthrow the new government.

Obama called the so-called 'coup' illegal and "a terrible precedent."

Isn't that just lovely? North Korean nukes? No comment.Iran butchers its citizens in the streets and foments Islamist terrorism world wide? Hey, we still want to extend that outstretched hand and the Mullahs have the right to nukes too, no? Syria murders political opponents, gets caught with an illegal North Korean reactor and supports and finances Hezbollah? Let's just restore full diplomatic relations and not quibble about little things like that.

But Honduras legally ousting a leftist would be dictator? Now that's crossing the red line!

One might almost call Honduras the Israel of Latin America. At least as far as the Barry Zero and Hillary Clinton are concerned.

How Obama Is Bankrupting America - A Simple Video Explanation

Remember PoliticalMath and his excellent video proving in a simple yet striking way that Obama's stimulus program actually cost the US 1.25 milion more jobs than if we had done nothing?

He's back again, with a two and a half minute masterpiece that shows exactly how radical Obama's out of control spending is compared to other presidents, even George W. Bush - and how Obama is bankrupting the country. Sit back and watch it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sharia Rapidly Innundating The UK

Ever since the UK caved in and allowed sharia courts legal jurisdiction in civil matters, the face of used-to-be-Great Britain has changed remarkably, as sharia courts metasize and dispense Islamic justice behind closed doors..

The tribunals, working mainly from mosques, settle financial and family disputes according to religious principles. They lay down judgments which can be given full legal status if approved in national law courts.

However, they operate behind doors that are closed to independent observers and their decisions are likely to be unfair to women and backed by intimidation, a report by independent think-tank Civitas said.

Commentators on the influence of sharia law often count only the five courts in London, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and Nuneaton that are run by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, a body whose rulings are enforced through the state courts under the 1996 Arbitration Act.But the study by academic and Islamic specialist Denis MacEoin estimates there are at least 85 working tribunals. {...}

Mr MacEoin said: 'Among the rulings we find some that advise illegal actions and others that transgress human rights standards as applied by British courts.'

Examples set out in his study include a ruling that no Muslim woman may marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam and that any children of a woman who does should be taken from her until she marries a Muslim.

Further rulings, according to the report, approve polygamous marriage and enforce a woman's duty to have sex with her husband on his demand.

The report added: 'The fact that so many sharia rulings in Britain relate to cases concerning divorce and custody of children is of particular concern, as women are not equal in sharia law, and sharia contains no specific commitment to the best interests of the child that is fundamental to family law in the UK.

'Under sharia, a male child belongs to the father after the age of seven, regardless of circumstances.'

It said: 'Sharia courts operating in Britain may be handing down rulings that are inappropriate to this country because they are linked to elements in Islamic law that are seriously out of step with trends in Western legislation.' {...}

The Civitas study said the Islamic courts should no longer be recognised under British law.

Its director Dr David Green said: 'The reality is that for many Muslims, sharia courts are in practice part of an institutionalised atmosphere of intimidation, backed by the ultimate sanction of a death threat.'

Intimidation? Death threats? Unfair to women? No, really?

I can't imagine what else the British government expected when they allowed British justice and common law to be bypassed in favor of a 7th century barbarism that only contributes to British Muslims being separated from the country's mainstream. It's a green light to Islamist separatists like The Muslim Council Of Britain to essentially create a state within a state.

A prediction: don't be surprised if our Dear Leader, the self-proclaimed Defender of the Islamic Faith makes a push for a similar layer of sharia courts in America. Remember, you heard it here first.

Watcher's Council Results, 6/25/09

The Council has spoken! A complete rundown of the voting tallies is here.

The winning entry in the Council category this week was Wolf Howling for Obama On Iran: A Broken Moral Compass, A Distorted Perception Of Reality, a superb recap of the Obama Administration's non-action on Iran.

In second place was The Provocateur with Too Good To Check: How the Conservative Media Unwittingly Smeared ACORN and Handed Them a Gift, another fine exposure of ACORN by Mike.

Also getting votes were Soccer Dad for The njdc’s ledge, Mere Rhetoric for It’s Official: Obama Policy Triggers “Most Tense Encounter” In Years Between US And Israel (Plus: Can You Guess MR’s Blind Item?) and The Razor for Iran and the Seasons of 1989

In the Non-Council category, the winner was Christopher Badeaux / The New Ledger for his Through the Looking Glass With Andrew Sullivan

In second place, we had a cartoon from my pal Ya'akov at Dry Bones nominated by both Greg over at Rhymes With Right and myself, Obama’s 3 AM Phone Call.

As always, congratulations not only to the winners but to the participants.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cap And Trade - 1200 Page Bill Passed Unread By The House

Bend over, America..you've been bamboozled.

Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel managed to get Obama's Cap and Trade nonsense through the House, 219-212. This is nothing less than a direct assault on the American people.

If any more proof of how bad this bill is was needed, the method the Democrats used to shove it through the House was exactly the same tactic used to shove Obama's phony 'stimulus' bill through - come up with a huge and unwieldy piece of legislation (1,200 hundred pages), add another three hundred pages in amendments at 3 AM the morning before the vote so know one has a chance to read the thing and see what horrors lurked within, and muscle/bribe to get the votes to pass it.The final roll call is here.

Minority Leader John Boehner tried to protest this, and actually spoke for an hour in a vain attempt to hold this off but was unsuccessful:

What the bill does is what Barack Hussein Obama promised during the campaign - bankrupt America's coal industry and severely restrict our drilling for our own oil.The legislation mandates the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by about 80 percent by mid-century.

What that will do is massively raise energy costs, which suits Obama and the Democrats just fine because of the increased Federal and State tax money from higher prices at the pump.They have better places for your money than in your pocket.

The biggest fallacy (and opportunity for theft) are the so-called 'green jobs' provisions of the bill. Barack Hussein Obama envisions us installing solar panels and building windmills to replace high paying jobs in the oil and coal industry. Of course, he ignores the fact that technology really hasn't solved the problem of what to do when the wind doesn't blow (one reason the world abandoned sailing ships for steamships)or the sun doesn't shine, the distance limits on effective energy transference or our existing power grid, which I suppose we're going to simply abandon.

What the bill likely does, like the stimulus, is put money into the right pockets..Obama's supporters. And those green jobs?

Not only will new jobs not be created, as displaced workers from coal and oil simply migrate to the new ones, but it's highly likely that there will be a net job loss!

The socialist government of Spain tried this exact formula at the height of the global warming craze, and the results are a pretty good indication of what we can expect:

Every “green job” created with government money in Spain over the last eight years came at the cost of 2.2 regular jobs, and only one in 10 of the newly created green jobs became a permanent job, says a new study released this month. The study draws parallels with the green jobs programs of the Obama administration.

President Obama, in fact, has used Spain’s green initiative as a blueprint for how the United States should use federal funds to stimulate the economy. Obama’s economic stimulus package,which Congress passed in February, allocates billions of dollars to the green jobs industry.

But the author of the study, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, said the United States should expect results similar to those in Spain:

“Spain’s experience (cited by President Obama as a model) reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created,” wrote Calzada in his report: Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources

Rest assured that China, Russia and India have no plans to go along with this farce -because they need to grow their economies.Putting the kind of stringent regulations on American manufacturers Obama has in mind is a guaranteed recipe for sending what's left of America's manufacturing jobs overseas while putting the rest of us in the poorhouse as we struggle to meet rising energy costs and taxes.

During the debate, Geoff Davis, (R-KY), referred to the bill as the “economic colonization of the heartland” by New York and California. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) called it a “massive transfer of wealth” from the United States to foreign countries. They're both entirely correct.

The bill was passed almost entirely unread by the House. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), who ran the GOP side of what passed for the debate kept asking if there even a copy of the current amended version of the bill anywhere in the House. The Democrats repeatedly dodged the question.

To add salt to the wound, the winning margin was provided by 8 Republicans:

Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, California, 45th District.

Congressman Mike Castle, Delaware.

Congressman Mark Kirk,Illinois,10th District.

Congressman Leonard Lance, New Jersey, 7th District

Congressman Frank A LobiondoNew Jersey, 2nd District.

Congressman John McHugh New York, 23rd District.

Congressman Dave Reichert Washington, 8th District.

Congressman Chris Smith New Jersey, 4th District.

They ought to be ashamed of themselves...almost 50 Democrats had the courage to say no to this sleazy scam and avoid being bribed with special deals to support it. If you live in these districts, please inform the above public servants why you will be contributing and working for their opponents in any primary challenge. And when the RNC calls or writes asking for money, make sure they understand that until you get a written guarantee that none of your money is going to re-elect these people, you're going to hold on to your checkbook.

UPDATE: My pal Laer over at Cheat Seeking Missiles has some fine background on these people that's definitely worth checking out.

Masquerade In Iran

Are Mousavi and his followers in Iran an actual reform movement and a positive democratic change in Iran? The pictures of student demonstrators in Tehran being brutalized by the basij and Iranian security forces present a heart-rending spectacle. But there is very little evidence that the label of "democratic reform," attached to Mousavi and many of his followers, is anything but a masquerade.

Mousavi is not some democracy-minded reformer. All candidates for elective office in Iran are handpicked and only allowed to run for office by the express permission of the Supreme Council of Guardians and its leader Ayatollah Khamenei. All candidates agree to follow orders. On issues that matter to the West -- Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, threats of genocide aimed at Israel, interference in Iraq and Afghanistan, support for Islamist terrorism and any reasonable compromises with the West on these issues -- the two candidates were virtually the same.

Mousavi is a longtime proponent of Islamist triumphalism and terrorism, a hardliner on Iran's illegal nuclear weapons program and an anti-Semite who has called for Israel to be destroyed. He was a key aide to Ayatollah Khomeini during the Islamic revolution in 1979 and played a part in the decision to overrun our embassy and take American diplomats hostage. As Iran's prime minister between 1981-89, Mousavi was vociferously anti-Western and anti-American. He had a major hand in the creation of Hezbollah in Lebanon. His handpicked interior minister, Ali Akbar Mohtashami, was Mousavi's liaison when the Iranian government formed and funded that terrorist group. One of Mohtashami's first major operations was the murder of 240 US Marines in Lebanon.

The reason Mousavi was on the ballot in the recent Iranian "election" was not because he is a reformer. He was there because of political differences between groups centered on Mousavi's chief patron in the Iranian government, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani -- and loyalists to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. All sides have a long history of political rivalry. Aside from the simple jousting of who's in and who's out, the main point of contention was whether it would be advantageous to dump Ahmadinejad in favor of a new more "moderate" seeming face to buy more time to complete Iran's nuclear weapons program.

After President Obama's self-abasing speech in Cairo and his clear signals that he had no problem with a nuclear Iran, any changes were seen to be simply unnecessary by the Mullahs. Khamenei was able to swing the majority of the Supreme Council in his favor and get his man, Ahmadinejad, back in office.

If Obama's speech had been hard line and Mousavi -- or more accurately Rafsanjani, his patron -- had taken power, absolutely nothing of importance would have changed in Iran.

There is nothing about Mousavi or his supporters that particularly merits being championed by Americans. We simply don't have a dog in this fight. And in any case, Ahmadinejad is in and he will stay in as long as he does what the mullahs tell him to.

If one looks at what actually passes for democracy in the Middle East, it usually consists of one election where tribalism and Islamism always wins. That's been true in the Palestinian territories, in Egypt (where Mubarak had to curtail the vote to stop the Muslim Brotherhood from winning), in Turkey, and everywhere else in the Muslim Middle East that has actually had an election. The exception was in Lebanon -- where Hezbollah was defeated primarily by Christian votes. And Islam still reigns in Iraq, although with some interesting differences I will get to shortly.

While some of Mousavi's followers might actually be pro-democracy, their viewpoint is not likely to be the one that would prevail in the event of a second Iranian revolution. A great many Iranians who supported the ouster of the Shah in 1979 learned that the hard way, when the revolution was co-opted by the Ayatollah Khomeini and his hardliners into something very different than the pro-democracy forces had imagined. Mousavi's supporters, who claim to be for real democratic reform in Iran, may have forgotten that Mousavi and his patron Rafsanjani were a key part of the process that turned the revolt from democratic freedom against the Shah into Khomeini's Villayat-e faqih, a revolutionary Islamic republic.

If Mousavi prevails, would he somehow split Iran's clerical establishment and allow for the ascendance of a more open, less Islamist society? Mousavi's entire history, the views he has openly expressed, and the basic structure of Iranian society as it now stands, say no. Mousavi's followers may be Tehran sophisticates, but they claim the Islamist color green as their emblem and shout "Allahu akbar!" as a battle cry from the rooftops. There are Iranians who yearn for liberty, but their number is dwarfed by the ones that embrace Islamist piety.

Iran is a theocracy, ruled, ultimately, by Allah and his representatives here on earth, the Mullahs. The Islamic revolution is what is important. The holy revolution trumps everything. Hoping for any kind of reform through what passes today for Iran's electoral process is an exercise in futility. True reform will only happen if the Pasdaran and the armed forces either join a revolt against the mullahs or stand aside, as they did in 1979.

The turning point of any revolution comes when the security forces of the regime begin fence sitting and wait to see which way the wind blows. So far, there's no evidence the wind has changed in Iran.

Khameini has spent years cultivating the "young guard" in the security forces, which is how he became Supreme Leader rather than Rafasjani in the first place. Given the continued patronage extended by Khameinei throughout the Iranian security forces and the personal loyalty to the regime of the Pasdaran and the basij, the idea of Iranian internal security abandoning the regime is highly unlikely.

Still, if Iran's genuinely fascist, clerical regime isn't overthrown from within, the whole sorry mess has had some value: the regime's true character has been shown to the world. The election debacle might just give the Obama Administration second thoughts about acquiescing so readily to idea of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Is Iran ready for a truly democratic revolution? One indicator may be to compare what's going on in Iran with what happens next door in Iraq. In fact, the situation in Iraq might be fueling some of the unrest in Iran. Iraq is a Shiite dominated Islamic Republic with a constitution based on Sharia and the same emphasis on tribalism and Islam found throughout the Arab Middle East, but with important differences.

Largely because of the US occupation, the various factions in Iraq were able to conduct relatively open elections. Even though those elections broke down on the normal tribal lines, the US was able to grease the various players with enough money so that America was able to midwife a federation agreement between the various factions. Our money and military presence saw to it that the Sunnis and the Kurds were never pushed to the point of violence and the ensuing break up of the country. In many ways, what the US did in Iraq was similar to what the French did in multi-ethnic Lebanon before they left. The French put together a governmental framework that constitutionally shared power among various ethnic groups. That arrangement worked quite well before Yasir Arafat and the PLO arrived to wreck the system and spark a civil war.

How long the balance between Iraq's factions will survive after we leave is an open question. But what many Iranians see when they look at Iraq is what they might want in Iran: a government that has a huge dose of Islam but is run by secular politicians, has transparent elections, and doesn't require the Iraqis to give up some of their quaint prejudices against Jews, stop persecuting Christians and homosexuals or other "undesirables," and actually be something a little closer to a western style democracy.

President Bush spent over a trillion dollars and over 4,000 American lives to build what exists in Iraq today with the idea of creating a model for Muslim democracy that would spill over into the rest of the region. What happens ultimately in Iran could very well be a referendum on how well his idea actually worked.

(This piece originally ran in American Thinker)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Interesting Trade Off

One of the things Israel has going for it is an incredibly adept arms industry that specializes in military high tech. The US has taken advantage of that more than once in the past.

One place where Israel shines is in unmanned drones and its export models were the undisputed star of the recent Paris arms exhibition.

The Russian military has been drooling over Israel's drones for quite some time now, and has been negotiating to buy them, interesting in itself since Russia never buys foreign arms systems. The deal appears to have finally gone through, but with an interesting trade off involved: the Russians have agreed to put a freeze on their prospective sale of S-300 Pantsyr anti-missile defense systems to Iran.

This is one more sign that the Israelis realize that they're going to have to deal with Iran's nukes themselves...and soon.

What the Russians have in mind is to re-engineer the Israeli technology to create their own drones. However, there are a number of safeguards the Israelis can implement to neutralize the impact of this, and I'm sure they'll take reasonable precautions.

Watcher's council Nominations, 6/25/09

The Watcher's Council is a group of some of the most incisive blogs in the`sphere. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one of their own and one from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.

So, let's see what we have this week....and do check out the Watcher's fine take on what I suppose we'd call President Obama's predilection for honesty issues...

Joshuapundit - Obama’s Press Conference: The Fiction Starts To Crack- My rather pungent analysis of President Obama's recent press conference. Remember, I gave him a chance....

The Provocateur - Too Good To Check: How the Conservative Media Unwittingly Smeared ACORN and Handed Them a Gift - Mike Volpe continues his fine series on ACORN by showing how an error prone dinosaur media helped them avoid getting hammered..and actually helped them.

The Razor
- Iran and the Seasons of 1989 - Scott compares Obama's handling of Iran to President George HW Bush's handling of Tienanmen Square.I'm not sure I agree with him here.

For one thing, China was a nuclear power that was not directly at war with the US as Iran is ( they have been in an official state of war with the Great Satan since 1979)and an intervention in 1989 would have caused a lot more problems than it would have solved. As ex-Ambassador to China and a former VP, Bush '41 was well aware of that. If one wants to accuse Bush '41 of political cowardice, his encouraging the Shi'ite and Kurds to rise against Saddam Hussein and then doing nothing to support to them as they were slaughtered, or his treatment of Israel during his term are far better examples.

Secondly,the Chinese protest was an actual pro-democracy movement. What's going on in Iran as I see it is a power struggle between two groups of Iranian fascists. There are far better reasons to confront Iran than to put people like Rafsanjani and Mousavi in power.

Rhymes With Right - NY Times Buries Important Detail In Promoting Another Law Limiting Second Amendment Rights - Greg details yet another attempt by the Obama Administration to disarm us peasants - and how the New York Times lied about it.

Wolf Howling - Obama On Iran: A Broken Moral Compass, A Distorted Perception Of Reality - GW likewise has some harsh things to say about President Obama's stance on Iran - particularly his insistence on keeping negotiations open.

The Glittering Eye - Thought Experiment: the Great De-Leveraging How will the US economy react as a whole to the current economic morass? That's Dave Schuler's topic this week.

The Colossus of Rhodey - Why does the Left accept the legitimacy of “elected” dictators so quickly … Hube asks the question....

Right Truth - The Fence Sitter - Debbie Hamilton takes time out from her recovery to delight us with her characterization of President Obama's basic style. Get well soon,Debbie.

Soccer Dad - The njdc’s ledge The 'NJDC' Soccer Dad is talking about is the New Jersey Democratic Coalition, who along with others played a major part in convincing Jews that Barack Obama was pro-Israel and continue to shill for him.

Creeps like Iran Foremen, Robert Wexler and Sylvia Silvermen are going to have a lot to answer for in the future - especially as there are indications that a number of America's Jews who allowed themselves to be bamboozled by these folks are waking up.

Bookworm Room - An Open Letter to the Iranian People - Ms. Bookworm has decided that if the Obama Administration won't stand up for the Iranian people, she's going to. The sentiment does her honor.

Mere Rhetoric - It’s Official: Obama Policy Triggers “Most Tense Encounter” In Years Between US And Israel (Plus: Can You Guess MR’s Blind Item?) Omri also deals with the Obama Administration's attempt to destroy the long standing alliance between America and Israel.


Submitted By: The Provocateur – National Review - Misremembering Reagan

Submitted By: Joshuapundit and Rhymes With Right- Dry Bones - Obama’s 3 AM Phone Call

Submitted By: Wolf Howling – Roger Pielke Jr.’s Blog - Obama’s Phil Cooney And The New CCSP Report

Submitted By: The Glittering Eye – Christopher Badeaux / The New Ledger - Through the Looking Glass With Andrew Sullivan

Submitted By: The Colossus of Rhodey – Oliver Kamm - Reaching out to ‘the Muslim world’

Submitted By: Right Truth – AP – AINA - Unrest could hinder Tehran’s regional goals

Submitted By: Soccer Dad – Instapundit - Why worry about an EMP attack?

Submitted By: Bookworm Room – The Futurist - Eight Ways to Supercharge the US Economy

Submitted By: Mere Rhetoric – Christopher Hitchens - Persian Paranoia

Submitted By: The Watcher – Michelle Malkin - Who’s funding the Obamacare Astroturf campaign?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Blood in Baharestan Square

While Saturday's massive crackdown was probably the key to destroying the pro-Mousavi protests, today's violent confrontation in Baharestan Square described above in North Tehran was probably the finish.

Again hard news is a little rough to come by so I'm relying on a mosaic of my own sources, whatever the dino media can come up with and a live blogger I've been in touch with (and no, I won't be linking to that particular URL, thank you).

Apparently what happened is that there was a pro-Mousavi rally scheduled in Baharestan Square in the same section of Tehran where all the other protests have been occurring, and the regime decided to make a supreme example. They surrounded the area with basij and riot police, let loose a bunch of arrested protesters they already had in custody into the trap and then unleashed the regime forces on them with guns, clubs and axes. There's really no telling at this point how many were killed or critically injured, but it must have been substantial. Some of the demonstrators managed to escape to Sepah Square, about a mile (2 kilometers) to the north.

For the sake of balance, let's remember three things - one, this is CNN, where sensationalism rules rather than anything mundane like journalism or unbiased reporting. Two, there 's a reason this horrific account is presented in English rather than Farsi, just as there was a reason the pro-Mousavi rallies featured signs in English. And three, Mousavi and Rafasjani performed acts just as horrendous towards their political opponents when they were in power after the 1979 revolution, and if they had the power on their side now, they'd do it again without a qualm.

Here's a few clues towards what to expect next.

If the regime felt confident enough in their underlying support to pull this off, then the chances of Mousavi and Rafasjani prevailing in the political struggle against Khamenei and Ahmadinejad is slim and none, as I predicted.

Another sign that Rafasjani and Mousavi are on the losing end of things was the acceptance of the election results by Mohsen Rezaie, a former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards who was one of the presidential candidates.

Rezaie had been fence sitting for awhile,but he obviously smells which way things are going.

Mousavi and his stylish wife are likely headed to a well-funded exile in the west,where they will likely be toasted as symbols of democracy and freedom. That's almost as unjust as what occurred in Baharestan Square today.

From the West's point of view, the main thing that ought to matter is that the Iranian regime has once again given a clear sign of exactly how barbarous they really are. Will that prompt President Hope n' Change to take a good look and realize exactly what the Mullahs are going to be like once they have nukes?

I wouldn't bet on it.

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad already know that Iran armed with nuclear weapons isn't going to be able to co-exist with the West at all. President Obama apparently hasn't a clue.

Two Posts For Your Morning Reading At American Thinker

My latest is up at American Thinker, and by coincidence, so is an excellent piece by my friend and fellow Council member Ms. Bookworm.As a matter of fact, we're right next to each other.

Bookworm's fine piece entitled How much information can the government demand from us? deals with a question that's going to come increasingly to the fore as Barack Obama's unabashedly socialist big government administration starts following its natural inclinations. And being a crackerjack lawyer among her other accomplishments, what she has to say about it bears reading:

I first became aware of this problem in connection with jury questionnaires. I've never been a juror, but I've certainly prepared such questionnaires and I've reviewed those prepared by other council. If you've been on the receiving end of such a questionnaire, it's a true horror. In theory, their purpose is to ask questions closely tailored to the case, so as to screen out true bias. For example, in a murder case, the questionnaire could logically ask whether anyone in the juror's family has been murdered or whether anyone in the family was convicted for murder. A positive answer to either question could hint at a bone-deep bias that might interview with a juror's duty to review the facts impartially.

The problem, though, is that jury questionnaires don't stop there. Each lawyer, fancying himself an amateur psychologist, includes dozens of questions aimed at determining just who you are. The questionnaires ask about your upbringing, your education, your lifestyle, your hobbies, your interests, your religious beliefs, your political beliefs, and on and on.

Nor do you have the choice, as you do in a commercial transaction, to say no to answering these questions. If the questionnaire is in front of you, it means that the judge has already put his imprimatur on the questionnaire. You are required to answer the questions or risk being in contempt of court. In a "heads I win, tails you lose" formulation, there's no benefit to you in answering the questions, but you can go to jail if you refuse to do so. (Although to be honest, I haven't heard of jurors being jailed for contempt. Either, sheep-like, they all answer those intrusive questions or, if a few object, the judge hears the matter in camera and just makes it go away.)

Jury questionnaires are a rather narrow, arcane example of governments demanding that people give them private information. Under the Obama administration, however, two much more serious issues are arising that place the government in a position in which it is demanding deeply private information, and in which the punishment for withholding that information can be severe.

The first situation is Obama's health care plan. We know that, not only will it be unbelievably expensive, it will also destroy private medicine for all but the wealthiest. Because the government will be the largest pot of money, that's where the care will go. And once it's in charge of health care for all Americans, the government will also be in charge of health data for all Americans. It will know if you're sick or well, if you have an "embarrassing" illness, if you're fertile or infertile, if you're vain, if you're stoic or weak, and anything else that used to be between you and your doctor, or between you and the insurance provider of your choice.

Under ObamaCare, you name it an area of physical or mental privacy, and the government will have huge databases with that information. And you can't opt out because there's nowhere else to go. The marketplace is gone. Your choices are bad and worse: Either be treated and give up your privacy, or give up treatment entirely.

She goes on to explore another Obama- fostered tool to invade American's privacy, the upcoming ACORN run census. I urge you to read it all.

My piece, "Masquerade In Iran" expands ideas I've mentioned that will be familiar to memebers of Joshua's Army..that the label of "democratic reform," attached to Mousavi and many of his followers is just a masquerade, and a revolt against Khameinei and Ahmadinejad would just put a new and possibly worse group in power.

It's practically guaranteed to upset people espousing a lot of the conventional views on this subject:

Mousavi is not some democracy-minded reformer. All candidates for elective office in Iran are handpicked and only allowed to run for office by the express permission of the Supreme Council of Guardians and its leader Ayatollah Khamenei. All candidates agree to follow orders. On issues that matter to the West -- Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, threats of genocide aimed at Israel, interference in Iraq and Afghanistan, support for Islamist terrorism and any reasonable compromises with the West on these issues -- the two candidates were virtually the same.

Mousavi is a longtime proponent of Islamist triumphalism and terrorism, a hardliner on Iran's illegal nuclear weapons program and an anti-Semite who has called for Israel to be destroyed. He was a key aide to Ayatollah Khomeini during the Islamic revolution in 1979 and played a part in the decision to overrun our embassy and take American diplomats hostage. As Iran's prime minister between 1981-89, Mousavi was vociferously anti-Western and anti-American. He had a major hand in the creation of Hezbollah in Lebanon. His handpicked interior minister, Ali Akbar Mohtashami, was Mousavi's liaison when the Iranian government formed and funded that terrorist group. One of Mohtashami's first major operations was the murder of 240 US Marines in Lebanon. {...}

There is nothing about Mousavi or his supporters that particularly merits being championed by Americans. We simply don't have a dog in this fight. And in any case, Ahmadinejad is in and he will stay in as long as he does what the mullahs tell him to.

If one looks at what actually passes for democracy in the Middle East, it usually consists of one election where tribalism and Islamism always wins. That's been true in the Palestinian territories, in Egypt (where Mubarak had to curtail the vote to stop the Muslim Brotherhood from winning), in Turkey, and everywhere else in the Muslim Middle East that has actually had an election. The exception was in Lebanon -- where Hezbollah was defeated primarily by Christian votes. And Islam still reigns in Iraq, although with some interesting differences I will get to shortly.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama's Press Conference: The Fiction Starts To Crack

About what I expected, but with a few unintentionally humorous twists.Apparently even some of the press has begun to realize that there isn't any there there, and the tone of today's press conference was somewhat more contentious and a tad less obsequious than usual for Obama.

Barry Zero and his handlers apparently realize that the wind has shifted a bit. They've gone beyond just relying on feeding answers to Obama via teleprompter. Now They're apparently coreographing the questions in advance! And from HuffPo, no less!

Obama made the predictable noises about the world being 'appalled' by the Iranian violence, which he of course condemned ( at least as of last Saturday).After which Major Garrett of FOX asked him how long it took for him to be concerned, and whether Senators McCain and Lindsay Graham's remarks on the subject had maybe prodded him a little bit. Obama fluffed that off with a kind of Kerry-esque 'I was appalled before I was appalled' non-answer, and again reiterated that this was an Iranian matter that the US could not interfere in. We can't really make any demands of Iran...who do you think these people are, Israel? And of course, we're still going to have the mullah's diplomatic hirelings over for Fourth of July barbecue.

I particularly liked the first question: "Your administration has said that the offer to talk to Iran's leaders remains open. Can you say if that's still so even with all the violence that has been committed by the government against the peaceful protesters? And if it is, is there any red line that your administration won't cross where that offer will be shut off?


Obama's non-answer basically was 'uhh, we'll have to wait and see.'

As in 'We might have to rethink this if London, New York or Tel Aviv end up with a mushroom cloud hanging over them.'

No questions on North Korea, by the way...

Obama hit all the expected talking points about health care, again calling it a necessity, not a luxury.And he took the opportunity to do some marvelous Clinton-esque parsing.

Originally, the One has sought to calm the waters by repeating something he keeps saying over and over again:. “There’s no doubt that we must preserve what’s best about our health care system, and that means allowing Americans who like their doctors and their health care plans to keep them,” he said.

Except, like almost everything else with this president, that's a flat out lie, and they're barely willing to make the effort to hide it anymore

Obama almost admitted that to ABC's Jake Tapper when Tapper asked him whether Americans would lose their insurance if their employers decided to dump them into a new government-run plan.

“When I say if you have your plan and you like it… and you have a doctor and you like your doctor, you don’t have to change plans, what I’m saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform,” Obama said.

I swear, Barry Zero does Clinton better than Clinton, even. No, the government won't force people to change plans. They'll just come up with legislation that 'encourages' private employers to do it for them by making employer provided care more expensive and problematic to maintain as private care tries to compete with the government subsidized product, and they'll make it expensive for employees to stay private by taxing those private health care benefits as income.

Just for the record, the non-partisan analysts from the Congressional Budget Office have estimated that anywhere from 23 million to 119 million workers would lose their current health care, depending on the end result of the legislation as employers drop health care coverage and point their employees towards the government funded option. Eventually, that will be the only option, if this particular crack peddler has his way.

Oh and by the way, Obama was outright lying again when he stated that healthcare is "the primary driver of federal deficits."

In 2008, according to the CBO figures the feds spent a total of $600,121,000,000 on healthcare, including Medicare and Medicaid. That's 20.4% of the $2.93 trillion the government spent last year, slightly less than we spent on social security ( $615,256,000,000 or about 20.9%) or on national defense ( about $607,863,000,000). The real engine driving the deficit is Obama's ridiculous 'stimulus' plan. Although the estimated $1.2 trillion cost for his healthcare scam will likely be a close second.

On the economy, we finally got a clear look at what the Obama Administration is all about - making it up as they go along.

Here's the One on the economy:

I think it's fair to say that, keep in mind the stimulus package was the first thing we did, and we did it a couple of weeks after inauguration.

At that point, nobody understood what the depths of this recession were going to look like. If you recall, it was only significantly later that we suddenly get a report that the economy had tanked. And so it's not surprising, then, that we missed the mark in terms of our estimates of where unemployment would go.

I think it's pretty clear now that unemployment will end up going over 10 percent, if you just look at the pattern, because of the fact that even after employers and businesses start investing again and start hiring again, typically it takes a while for that employment number to catch up with economic recovery. And we're still not at actual recovery yet.

So I anticipate that this is going to be a -- a difficult -- difficult year, a difficult period. I ..I am not suggesting that I have a crystal ball, since I -- since you just threw back at us our last prognosis, let's not -- let's not engage in another one.

In other words, the country was placed in massive debt and the deficit was ballooned up to the stratosphere just as something they thought they'd try without really looking at things too carefully. It's as if the guiding principle here was 'hey, let's throw it our there and if it doesn't work, stuff happens. Besides we can always blame it on Bush.'

To get the 'stimulus' done, Obama and his disciples rushed the bill through Congress so fast nobody could actually read it, locked the GOP out of conference so they couldn't debate on what was in the bill and ignored countless economic experts that accurately foretold that the bill would cost more jobs than if we had just done nothing.

Of course, the fact that most of the money was earmarked to go to Obama's political allies is a just another one of those funny coincidences that seem to be so much a part of this administration.

All in all, a stellar performance by the Prevaricator-In-Chief.One has to wonder how long he's going to be able to keep the act going over.

Obama Administration Wants Settlement Freeze To Include Jerusalem

The US State Department confirmed to day what I've been telling you from day one.Obama is not just invested in prohibiting Jews from building homes in Judea and Samaria (AKA the West Bank. He's including Jerusalem in the area he wants to see judenrein:

Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem are included in the US demand that Israel halt "settlement" construction, including for natural growth, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told The Jerusalem Post during a press briefing on Monday.

"We're talking about all settlement activity, yes, in the area across the line," he said, referring to neighborhoods in Jerusalem over the Green Line, or pre-1967 armistice line, in response to a question on where America's calls to halt construction in the settlements would be applied.

Even so, Kelly had no immediate reaction to the Ministry of Housing and Construction's inclusion in the draft 2009-10 state budget of funds for the capital's Jewish Har Homa neighborhood or for one in the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim. {....)

The Obama administration had not officially clarified its position on Jewish neighborhoods over the Green Line but within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, but the Netanyahu government had been working under the assumption that US officials' call to halt even natural growth in the settlements did not refer to neighborhoods in the city, according to high-placed government officials.

Kelly's comments Monday, however, made clear that Jerusalem was included, suggesting that efforts to finesse the disagreement could be further complicated.

"Complicated" isn't the word. It should be clear to the Israelis that the Obama Administration is looking for a confrontation with Israel. I use the old Nazi term 'judenrein' ( clean of Jews) deliberately, because that's just what the disciple of Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farakhan is advocating. He's not saying a word about stopping illegal Arab construction in these areas. Our supposedly 'post-racial' president essentially seeks to make all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem restricted neighborhoods...no Jews allowed

Obama is seeking this confrontation with Israel deliberately. Aside from his opposition to Israel on ideological grounds, Barry Zero sees the Jews of Israel as an easy target, compared with dealing with actual threats to the US like Iran or North Korea.

The Israelis ought to understand if they don't already that Obama has decided to throw them under the bus in favor of allying the US to the Muslim world and pandering to Islamist anti-Semitism.

America's Jews should wake up from their stupor and realize this too. Some of them may not realize it, but the Obama administration's animus towards Israel directly affects them too, in ways they can't even imagine.

Obama's 'Emergency' Press Conference

The One is scheduled to do an 'emergency' press conference at about 12:30PM EST today. The scare quotes around 'emergency' are because I doubt Barry Zero planned this one too far in advance. His poll numbers on things like ObamaCare and a few other items are slipping badly, so he's likely going to try to shore things up before the big ABC infomercial tomorrow night.

What we'll hear will likely be a stew, containing:

  • healthcare is in crisis, need for comprehensive action, blah blah.

  • It's time to take action on global warming ( and pass cap n' trade, which will skyrocket energy prices and destroy another huge chunk of America's economy..umm, I don't think he'll say that last part).

  • I support peaceful protest in Iran, but I condemn the violence, just like I said ( well, as of Saturday, anyway).

  • The economy is turning around, but you gotta give me a little more time because this was all Bush's fault. Pay no attention to the teleprompter behind the podium...I am Obama, the wise and powerful Wizard of Oz!

I think that will pretty much cover it.

More later...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Iran Update, 06/22/09

There are indisputable signs that the protests are dying down,at least for now.

While there were demonstrations today, they were limited to that same section of Tehran near the university and were much smaller in scope. Only about 200 protesters gathered in Haft-e-Tir Square before they were dispersed by the usual methods. Apparently the regime's crackdown on Saturday had an effect.

The Iranian regime admitted that there was overvoting - in other words, more ballots than registered voters - in some areas, but came up with what actually could be a plausible excuse:

The spokesman, Abbas Ali Kadkhodai, said Monday that the discrepancy did not necessarily signify a problem, because people are not required to vote in the district where they are registered.

"Some districts are intertwined geographically and population-wise, so people vote in different districts," Kadkhodai told the semi-official IRNA news agency. "Our preliminary follow-up shows that there hasn't been any major fraud. In fact, maybe it's better to say there has been no fraud at all."

The Supreme Council of Guardians is obviously going along with Khamenei so far.The most they're willing to offer Mousavi is a partial recount, rather than the new election he's demanding.

Mousavi is also coming under increasing criticism for what is seen in some quarters as encouraging violence and interference from abroad damaging Iran's reputation abroad.In an honor/shame culture like Iran's, that sort of accusation has legs.

Even more ominous for Mousavi, the Pasdaran ( Republican Guard) remains solidly behind the regime, warning that 'saboteurs' will be treated harshly.In any revolt, a clear sign it's succeeding is when the regime's security forces begin fence sitting as they wait to see which way the wind blows. That isn't happening here.

Mousavi's next gambit is a general strike, called for tomorrow.His followers are urging Iranians to wear black and carry black candles with green ribbons, symbolizing Islamist green, Mousavi's campaign color.

In a country that admits to a 12% unemployment rate ( it's likely closer to 18%) the idea of a general strike that might lead to people losing their jobs may have an appeal limited to students, who mostly don't have jobs to lose.

We'll see what develops. Anything can happen, but I think this is winding down, and Mousavi is on his way to exile or prison.

ObamaCare For You - but Not For Congress

President Obama's new health care debacle has an interesting little glitch...while ordinary citizens will have to put up with rationing, taxes on employer-provided benefits and long waits for care, Congress, Federal employees and their families are going to be exempted and keep the sweet deal they have now! Pam at Atlas has the story..

ObamaCare specifically exempts members of Congress along with federal employees; the exemptions are in section 3116. If nationalized medicine is good enough for us then they have have to suffer as well.

What makes this scam on the American people all the more Obama-disgusting? Who could forget when Obama was telling everyone he wanted the people to have a health care program just like Congress has? Remember that? But Congress knows it's crap: it exempts itself and federal employees from it.

The US is becoming more like the old USSR, where the only good jobs are government jobs and the only way to get something done is to have a "friend" in the government. The USSR or Chicagoland gangsta politics.

ObamaCare? It's for the little people.Our Democrat overlords wouldn't be caught dead with it - literally.

Sarkozy: Burqas Not Welcome In France

In sharp contrast to our president, France's Nicholas Sarkozy has called for banning the Islamic full body burqa in public.

"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause in a speech at the Chateau of Versailles southwest of Paris.

"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement—I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."

The French parliament has responded to Sarkozy's remarks by commissioning a commission to come up with a plan to implement the ban for France's 5 million Muslims.

Sarkozy understands, (as our president apparently either does not or doesn't want to ) that the head-to-toe burqa and even the hijab are frequently not a matter of choice but are enforced. In heavily Muslim areas in Europe, many non-Muslim women are forced to don Islamic gear to avoid being harassed and raped.

In Saudi Arabia, there was the well known case recently where the mutawadeen ( religious police) kept a number of young girls from escaping a burning school to the street because they weren't wearing burqas. I doubt that they made a 'choice' to burn to death.

Burqas are also a security risk since the wearer's face is hidden. And the enforcement of burqa wearing contributes to the sense of Islamist separatism, the idea that Muslims are part of the umma first and citizens of the country second.

I fully support the idea of freedom of choice in this area. Should some Muslims find this and other aspects of sharia that don't mesh with the West essential to their spiritual well-being, there are certainly plenty of other places in the world like Saudi Arabia where the Islamist 7th Century dream is alive and well.

I would certainly urge them to honor their principles and vote with their feet.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Update: Action And Reaction In Iran

According to my sources, things are somewhat quiet in Tehran today, although there are still sporadic outbreaks. Protests in other areas outside Tehran and the cooperation or non-interference of the security forces, the two indicators I suggested you watch for signs of a more wide spread effort against the regime have not materialized so far.

The regime required doctors and hospitals to report all protest-related injuries to the authorities, and the hospitals are reporting on at least 19 dead. I personally would be surprised if the actual number didn't have a zero after it.There are reliable reports that the Pasdaran and the basij used automatic weapons on the crowds. Most of the wounded can expect to be arrested and treated fairly harshly.

In all fairness, had Mousavi and his patron, ex-President Hashemi Rafsanjani prevailed, their retaliation against allies of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei would have undoubtedly been just as harsh. While some of the protesters might be pro-democracy, Mousavi is not and he proved it during the 1979 Iranian revolution and during his subsequent term as Prime Minister, when he was Ayatollah Khomeni's right hand man in repressing the Iranian people.

Revolutions in Iran have an unfortunate history of being co-opted. Ask any Iranian now residing in the West who backed the Shah's ouster and then escaped abroad once the regime made its true nature known.

In a related development, the regime arrested arrested the daughter and four other relatives of Rafasjani, the axis of the attempted overthrow of Ayatollah Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This can be taken as a thinly veiled and very traditional Iranian signal to Rafasjani that as rich and powerful as he is, he's not untouchable.

It also must have resonated with Mousavi. Earlier, in true Shi'ite fashion, he was proclaiming his willingness to be martyred. Now that he sees which way the wind is blowing, things have changed:

"Mousavi has never said this," his close ally, Qorban Behzadiannejad, told the AP. Mousavi's Web site also said statements that Mousavi was preparing for death were inaccurate.

No, martyrdom is for the little people. Mousavi and his stylish wife are no doubt on their way to a well funded exile ala' Banisadr, as I predicted before.

Even if Iran's genuinely fascist, clerical regime isn't going to be overthrown, the whole sorry mess has had some value in that it's true character has been shown to the world. Even the UN and the Clintons will find it difficult to make excuses for them...

Congress Democrats Dodge Ban On Lobbyist Cash

Yes, the Most Ethical Congress Evah...

President Barack Obama’s strict ban on lobbyist contributions will limit the haul from Thursday night’s fundraising dinner for congressional Democrats, but organizers have found a way around it: a morning-after event at the same hotel where lobbyists — and their money — will be welcomed with open arms.

Invitations for the $5,000-per-person Issues Conference don’t say it’s an effort to skirt Obama’s lobbying ban, but they walk right up to the edge.

“Please note that the Friday Issues Conference is NOT subject to lobbyist restrictions, though the event is intended for personal contributions only,” a finance official from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wrote in an e-mail sent to lobbyists Tuesday and obtained by POLITICO, bolding the entire sentence to underscore the clarification. “The Issues Conference is separate from the DSCC/DCCC events with President Obama.”

One prominent Democratic lobbyist unhappy with the situation described it vividly: “It’s almost like the ugly girl that you want to call late at night — but don’t want to be seen with on a date.”

Yeah, Squeezle...just make sure you write 'personal' in big letters on the check. Don't worry, we'll know who it's really from..

Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrat stalwarts will be attending to make sure everyone makes their proper contribution.Think of it as a Mafia wedding, with the cash gifts that go into the bride and groom's money bag carefully calculated as a sign of respect and the basis of future business.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Action And Reaction In Iran

Khamenei laid down the law Friday, and when the unrest in Tehran didn't end, the protesters, in Khamenei's words, became "responsible for the consequences and chaos."

In simple English, Mousavi's followers - and please, let's not call them 'pro-democracy or pro-reform' - are being bloodily beaten into submission by Iran's security forces.

CNN is talking about at least 19 dead, which is probably low, since the basij and the Pasderan have obviously been instructed to break this violently and quickly. Hundreds have been arrested and beaten.

Most of the unrest is occurring in the area above, at and adjacent to Tehran University. Two major areas for the protests, Enghelab and Azadi squares have reportedly been blocked off by the basij and Iranian riot police, which has had the effect of splitting Mousavi's followers into smaller groups in the surrounding streets that can be more readily dealt with.

Mousavi himself has said he's 'ready to be martyred', which tells us that he and his patron Rafsanjani are going for all the marbles of power here and have declined Khamenei's offer to live and let live. Essentially, this has become a mini-civil war but with the guns all on one side.

Hard news is difficult to come by, since foreign reporters are under strict controls and forbidden to leave their offices.

It's worth mentioning that virtually all of the protesting is centered in Tehran, and almost all of that is in the upper crust areas around the university. My sources tell me that the rest of the country is relatively quiet. Key indicators as to how things will end is whether the protests spread outside of Tehran to the countryside and whetehr the security forces get involved or simply stand aside, as they did in 1979. The indications I have from my sources so far indicate that the protests are still largely confined to Tehran, and the Pasdaran and basij are still firmly in the Khameneist camp.

President Obama was obviously under some pressure to say something, and he finally did:

The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.

This was an absolutely silly move on Obama's part, but par for the course. it's backed up by no concrete action except the president's cutting off funds to actual Iranian dissidents.

What the One has accomplished is to set up a no-win situation for America. If the current Iranian regime hangs on, as is likely, he's seen as meddling and encouraging unrest so they're going to be even less likely to want to deal with him, and he's provided Khamenei and Ahmadinejad with the spectre of the Great Satan to use to excite the always hyperactive Iranian conspiracy mentality in their followers. If the regime fails and Rafsanjani and Mousavi take over, he did nothing to help the winners. Simply brilliant.

At the risk of being seen as heartless, I have to emphasize that right now, this is a battle between two factions for power, and not a war between a ruthless dictatorship and some democracy loving protesters. There are no 'good guys' here to root for.

Don't be deceived. This is the same sort of scam used to justify 'moderate' Fatah versus 'hardline' Hamas, even though both of them essentially have the same goals and ideology.

Both Rafasjani and Mousavi are hardliners from way back, and both played decisive parts in Khomeni's 1979 Islamic Revolution and the US hostage crisis. Mousavi was instrumental in creating Hezbollah when he was Prime Minister, and one of the first acts of Hezbollah under his patronage was the murder of 240 American Marines in Lebanon. The fact that the protesters color is green, the color of militant Islam( it's the color of the Hamas flag and the Saudi flag, among others) is one clue. And Mousavi's followers are not howling `Allahu Akbar' from their rooftops in North Tehran because it sounds nifty.

On issues that actually matter to the West like Iran's nukes, Iran's interference in Iraq and Afghanistan, genocidal threats against Israel or supporting Islamist terrorism, there is virtually no difference on any issues that matter to the West between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Khamenei and Rafasjani have political enmity going back decades, when Rafasjani was bypassed by Khomeini as his successor as Supreme Leader in favor of Khamenei. It's simply a matter of who's out and who's in.

While some of Mousavi's followers might actually be pro-Democracy, their viewpoint is not likely to be the one that prevails. A great many Iranians who supported the ouster of the Shah in 1979 learned that the hard way, when the revolution was co-opted by the Ayatollah Khomeini and his hardliners into something very different than they imagined. And Rafasjani and Mousavi were a willing part of that.

One group that isn't fooled, of course, is the Israelis. They've known who Mousavi is for quite some time.

While any protest movement against the regime is a positive step, this particular oneis unlikely to end up as something beneficials to American ideals of freedom and justice or to world peace. That kind of democratic revolt is a long way off, if it's even possible given the current state of Iranian society.

The end to this could come pretty quickly. If Khamenei and Ahmadinejad win, as they likely will, Rafsanjani, the head of one of the wealthiest clans in Iran and an ex-president is probably too big for them to dispose of outright. But I predict that Mousavi, far from being 'martyred' will likely make his way into exile in Europe like others who've fallen out with the regime, like Banisadr, the Iranian president the Mullahs 'impeached'.