jueves, 27 de agosto de 2009

Typical left-wing version of the CIA/Cheney debate

Peter Bergan, of the left-wing New America Foundation provides the main talking points behind the continued criticism of Bush/Cheney's authorization of so-called torture.
The newly released CIA documents merely rehash the range of anti-American plots cooked up by KSM that the government had already made public three years ago. And though this second wave of attacks all sounded very frightening, there is no indication that these plots, like the plan to attack Heathrow, were ever more than just talk.

These plots were "just talk." Nothing to worry about, then. Let them talk. They're Muslim fanatics and that's what they do. Why worry? Be happy!

This is effectively countered by the WSJ editorial today:

Some will argue that these details could have been elicited without enhanced techniques. We'll never know. The question is whether Attorney General Eric Holder and his new special counsel intend to second-guess the decisions of CIA officials who were operating in the shadow of 9/11 and who, we now know, successfully unraveled terror plots and saved lives...

Left-wingers, like Bergan, will seize upon this argument to salve their own consciences as to the coming witch-hunt against the CIA by Obama. It seems convincing today but it's obviously an argument by hindsight—the worst kind of historical fallacy.

If we're going to debate history, we must put ourselves in the place of those decision-makers who made the decisions at the time they did it. Decision making in the real world takes place under conditions of extreme ambiguity. No one ever has all the facts they need to make the decision. Those facts may be more apparent today than they were back then but people back then did not have them at their disposal to form their opinions and their decisions.

For example, if somehow the Clinton administration had obtained information about the 9/11 plot back in 1999 by "torture" and then go ahead and disrupted the plot on that basis, Bergan would now be arguing that the plot was "just talk." How absurd is it to think that a bunch of Muslim fanatics could hijack airplanes and bomb the WTC, the Pentagon, and the US Congress with them?

Obama, singing a song to himself

To document our pessimism about the Obamoid government, Michael Barone introduces a new slant on analyzing ideologies in the US"lyrical leftism. Leftists of the past were able to mobilize people in the expansion of the state through war"Wilson and Roosevelt used their wars to take control of wide swaths of the economy. Leftists today are "lyrical" when they repudiate the state's use of force and celebrate diversity. It's just singing in the wind.

This is the "basic contradiction in what the party and the liberal movement stand for," according to Barone.

Obama's lyrical Left struggles with liberalism

The problem for Obama and America's lyrical Left is that dovishness abroad and statism at home don't readily go together. Mobilization in a war effort, as Randolph Bourne taught, tends to create a frame of mind that welcomes regimentation under big government at home. Denigration of military discipline and tolerance of cultural diversity tend to create a frame of mind that resists government ukase and standardization. A big government president, Obama is learning, needs to be a war president first.

blog it

miércoles, 26 de agosto de 2009

President Mom

www.jornada.unam.mx Via Navegaciones:

Calderón pide no resaltar más la violencia; hablen de las cosas buenas que tiene el país.
Calderón tells us not to emphasize the violence: "talk about the good things that the nation has."
México avanzará en la medida en que se destaquen las ventajas que ofrece, asegura.
Mexico will progress when its advantages are emphasized, he maintains.
El presidente Felipe Calderón criticó a quienes difunden una imagen negativa de México, de un país donde prevalece el caos y la inseguridad. Hablar mal del país es, para muchos, no sólo un esfuerzo cotidiano, hasta de eso viven, puntualizó.
President Felipe Calderón criticized those who spread a negative image of Mexico, as a nation where chaos and violence prevail. "Talking trash about the country is, for a lot of people, not only a daily task, but they make a living out of it," he said.
Queremos hacer de México un país competitivo, con infraestructura de primera clase que, precisamente, permita competir, insistió Calderón Hinojosa, y destacó que el mejor camino para el crecimiento económico es la inversión y la creación de oportunidades para todos los mexicanos.
We want to make Mexico a competitive country, with a first-class infrastructure, Calderón said. He underlined that the best path towards economic growth is investment and the creation of opportunities for all Mexicans.

martes, 25 de agosto de 2009

Mariguana sets Argentina on fire

Some of the controversy from the BBC Video:
From now on, we're free!

In twenty years, twenty percent of the population will be walking schizophrenics.

La marihuana enciende a Argentina

Por decisión de la Corte Suprema, la tenencia de marihuana para consumo personal ya no será penalizada en Argentina.

El máximo tribunal del país resolvió que la posesión de pequeñas cantidades de cannabis, que sean para uso individual y no representen riesgos para terceros, no tendrá carácter de delito.

Una medida que ha generado opiniones encontradas como se puede ver en el video de BBC Mundo.

The Supreme Court has ruled that possession of marijuana for personal use will no longer be criminalized in Argentina.

The high court ruled that possession of small quantities of cannabis, which are for personal use and do not pose risks to anyone else, will no longer be characterized as a crime.

The ruling has generated controversy, as one can see in the BBC World Video.

The worst has come to worst

Once the US abandons Israel, there's nothing left to do but watch Israelis die by mass murder.
President Obama Getting Ready to Ambush IsraelSeveral sources have informed One Jerusalem that the Obama Administration is planning to significantly step up the pressure on Israel by announcing a comprehensive plan for Israel and the Palestinians at the opening of the United Nations General in September.
Picture this: The anti-Israel nations of the world surrounding President Obama as he demands that Israel give up sovereignty over Jerusalem, abandon settlements, and recognize a terrorist state on the West Bank.
If this happens, Israel will be isolated from the rest of world in a very dramatic manner.
The first sign that something was up came when Egyptian President Mubarak said that the Obama Administration was ready to propose a plan in September and the White House rushed to dampen expectations by declaring that they are nowhere near to readying a plan.
Our sources confirmed that the Obama administration is contemplating this ambush of Israel at the United Nations.

The hard core of Obamoidism

Fouad Ajami, once again, puts his finger on the main point. An elite yuppie so-called constitutional scholar who thinks the constitution can be changed by force of his own yuppiness.

Obama's Summer of Discontent

In contrast, there is joylessness in Mr. Obama. He is a scold, the "Yes we can!" mantra is shallow, and at any rate, it is about the coming to power of a man, and a political class, invested in its own sense of smarts and wisdom, and its right to alter the social contract of the land. In this view, the country had lost its way and the new leader and the political class arrayed around him will bring it back to the right path. online.wsj.com

New drug laws in Mexico raise the cost of bribing the police

In Mexico, Ambivalence on a Drug Law - NYTimes.com

You may have seen this news about the new drug laws in Mexico.

Before, if one was caught with small amounts of drugs, one could pay off the police. Now, under the new law, the cost of the bribe just went up: it will cost more because one will be faced with compulsory "treatment." Like the NYT article says,
Even before the new law went into effect, Mexicans caught with small amounts of drugs were not routinely prosecuted, officials said. But the change takes the discretion of whether to throw drug users in jail away from police officers, who frequently shook down people by threatening them with arrest.
So now, if one refuses to pay the bribe and wants to be remanded to some bogus treatment program, as the law says, then one will be faced with paying even more bribes—to the technocrats staffing the treatment centers so that they will approve one's course of treatment.

viernes, 21 de agosto de 2009

More Euro Anti Semitism and a living example of why Jews need their own state

I'm not a racist. Jag är inte antisemit. I'm not anti-Semite. Aftonbladet är inte en antisemitisk tidning. Aftonbladet is not an anti-Semitic newspaper. Tvärtom tar vi öppet ställning emot främlingsfientlighet. On the contrary, we openly stand against xenophobia.
In other words, some of his best friends are Jews.

This is the sort of politically-correct "polite" anti Semitism that characterized German intellectuals back in the '30s and '40s. One doesn't hate Jews. That would be vulgar and low class. Not our sort of people at all. But, still... Jews are responsible for heinous crimes, etc etc. and are in control of the media, government, finance, etc etc. ... That's political analysis, not racist hatred. Therefore, it's protected speech. Therefore any criticism of this sort of political analysis is an attack on free speech. So, let's hate the Jews all that much more--they want to limit intellectuals' right to freedom of expression.
The ultimate purpose of such libels is to delegitimize the Jewish people and to exculpate the violence committed against them.
This is why they are anti Semitic. It's precisely the political analysis that puts it in that category. It may surprise people, but it's entirely possible for one to hold such beliefs against Jews and Israel and still like and respect individual Jews in one's own life. Nazi Germany was replete with such people. Read Victor Klemperer's Language of the Third Reich for as many examples as you need.

The following is the main point. It applies beyond the Swedish intellectual establishment. Anything even resembling this--but not even approaching the crudity of the organ-harvesting libel--would be cause for heads rolling if it was about any other group besides Jews (or perhaps Americans).
What does it say about a country when one of its leading newspapers deems a wild blood libel against Israel and Jews worthy of publication? And what it does it say about a government and its opposition when they view efforts to condemn this vicious lie as itself worthy of condemnation? What must be understood is that this episode would not be possible outside the context of anti-Israel propaganda that permeates Europe.
Via Commentary, there's more on the Swedish report of IDF Palestinian-organ-harvesting. At Commentary, they call it a "blood libel" because of the European tradition of accusing Jews of eating babies, etc etc during the Middle Ages (and later) so as to incite pograms (i.e., holy war/Crusades)against them. Back then, Jews were accused of poisoning the wells, causing the plague, etc etc.
Earlier this week, the Jerusalem Post reported that the popular Swedish daily tabloid Aftonbladet had published a story alleging that Israeli soldiers were not only killing Palestinians but also harvesting their organs for use by sick Jews. The piece by one Donald Bostrom repeated some wild and unsubstantiated tales of atrocities told by Palestinians and then attempted to connect them with a recent story of how some Jews in America were behind the illegal trafficking of organs.

According to Bostrom:

We know that the need for organs in Israel is large, that an extensive illegal organ moving is ongoing and has been for a long time, that it is done with the blessing of the authorities, the senior doctor at the major hospital is involved, as well as officials at various levels. And we know that the Palestinian young men disappeared, they were back five days later in secrecy at night, sewn up.

This is nothing but a modern version of medieval Jewish blood-libel myths. Whereas in the past, the object of these hate-inspired canards were helpless Diaspora Jewish communities, now it’s the state of Israel. Though Bostrom disingenuously claimed that he was not promoting the tale but merely repeating what others had told him, the ultimate purpose of such libels is to delegitimize the Jewish people and to exculpate the violence committed against them.

jueves, 20 de agosto de 2009

Nat Hentoff must be on the McCarthism bandwagon along with Sarah Palin

Nat Hentoff has a long history as a dissident. It's hard to believe that he would be part of any right-wing attack machine or be a follower of anyone--let alone of so-called McCarthyite Sarah Palin. I'd love to see Richard Cohen call him a McCarthyist to his face. That won't happen, though. Cohen and his ilk will never pick on people their own size. And yet, Hentoff echoes her concerns:

Does the following sound like "death panels?"
I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) - as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill - decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.
Hentoff sees a massive bait-and-switch forming on the horizon. Does this sound like "death panels?":
No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama's eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a "very difficult democratic conversation" about how "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care" costs. Emphasis added.
Is this an example of McCarthyism?
A specific end-of-life proposal is in draft Section 1233 of H.R. 3200, a House Democratic health care bill that is echoed in two others that also call for versions of "advance care planning consultation" every five years - or sooner if the patient is diagnosed with a progressive or terminal illness.
Hentoff adds the following, which makes Palin's fearmongering McCarthyism seem placid:
As more Americans became increasingly troubled by this and other fearful elements of Dr. Obama's cost-efficient health care regimen, Smith [Wesley Smith, reporter/researcher into the health industry and author of Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America (Encounter Books)] adds this vital advice, no matter what legislation Obama finally signs into law:

"Remember that legislation itself is only half the problem with Obamacare. Whatever bill passes, hundreds of bureaucrats in the federal agencies will have years to promulgate scores of regulations to govern the details of the law.

"This is where the real mischief could be done because most regulatory actions are effectuated beneath the public radar. It is thus essential, as just one example, that any end-of-life counseling provision in the final bill be specified to be purely voluntary ... and that the counseling be required by law to be neutral as to outcome. Otherwise, even if the legislation doesn't push in a specific direction - for instance, THE GOVERNMENT REFUSING TREATMENT - the regulations could." (Emphasis added.)
The problem isn't the rationing and death panels in themselves. People are used to such things since all goods and services are "rationed" somehow by cost in the free market. The problem is that Obama is proposing government rationing and death panels. In other words, he's proposing socializing health care by taking it away from free market forces and giving it to some group of government wise men who will have the very difficult democratic conversation about what care a person deserves to recieve, or not.

Iran: The Factionalization of the State

I'm copying this article here (subscription only) in case anyone wants an analysis of the situation in Iran:


Iranian politics became increasingly complex in the wake of the country’s June 12 presidential election. Cracks in the establishment have begun to spread as the country’s four top leaders — Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Expediency Council chair Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani — compete for influence.

A complex metamorphosis is under way in the Islamic republic and has been accelerated by the outcome of the June 12 election. The increasing complexity of the system has undermined the use of ideological labels, such as “pragmatic conservatives” and “ultraconservatives” in keeping track of the political ebb and flow. A more useful method of making sense of this struggle is to examine the political institutions in relation to each faction’s influence. The supreme leader remains at the apex of the maze, and beneath him, Ahmadinejad, Larijani and Rafsanjani are the principal political figures to watch.

Full analysis

Iran’s June 12 presidential election, which granted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term and threatened to rip the clerical establishment apart, illustrated just how complex Iranian politics can become.

The Iranian political system is a labyrinth of competing institutions made up of elected, quasi-elected and appointed officials. It is difficult to brand the Islamic republic as a pure theocracy, democracy or even an oligarchy. In reality, it is a blend of all three, where power traditionally has been concentrated in the hands of the religious elite and the right to rule comes from a mixture of divine right and the people.

Prior to 2005, when Ahmadinejad was elected to his first term as president, the political landscape in the country was roughly divided between reformists (who had risen to power during two-term President Mohammed Khatami’s time in office) and conservatives, who dominated the clerical political establishment. During Ahmadinejad’s presidency, however, a fissure opened up among the conservatives that pitted the so-called pragmatic conservatives, led by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, against an emergent ultraconservative faction led by Ahmadinejad. This split intensified in the final years of Ahmadinejad’s last term but turned vicious after the June presidential vote.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has long attempted to remain above the fray of Iran’s factional politics, preferring to play the various blocs off each other to maintain his own position at the apex of the Iranian political system. But the fallout from the election was so severe that Khamenei had little choice but to directly intervene. The supreme leader took a calculated risk in coming out in support of Ahmadinejad and the hard-liners. This move prompted Rafsanjani’s pragmatic conservative camp to align temporarily with the reformists in a united front against the firebrand president.

Ahmadinejad entered his second term on shaky ground and chose to test his limits by trying to pack his government with loyalists. The president ended up alienating members of his own hard-line camp, including Khamenei, when on July 16 he attempted to appoint his close friend and relative, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, as his first vice president — an extremely controversial move given Mashaie’s past remarks on how the Islamic republic was a “friend” to the Israeli people. Ahmadinejad quickly buckled under pressure from his fellow hard-liners and canceled the appointment. However, he made Mashaie his chief of staff and top adviser, thus drawing attention to a growing unease between the president and the supreme leader.

Khamenei has continued to defend Ahmadinejad against powerful figures like Rafsanjani, but the supreme leader also understands that he needs to place limits on the president’s power. With Rafsanjani already heading up two of Iran’s most powerful institutions, there was a need for a third political front to rise up that would remain loyal to Khamenei’s wishes, but act as a counter to both Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani. This third faction is led by Iran’s current speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, whose clan now controls two of the three branches of the Iranian government — the legislature and the judiciary.

In addition to encouraging the rise of factions within the regime, Khamenei has taken a number of other key steps to protect his position and alter the power balances within the state. A number of non-clerical politicians like Ahmadinejad and technocrats like Larijani have risen up to diffuse the powers of the religious elites. At the same time, the military — though under the control of Khamenei and ideologically subservient to the clerics — has emerged as a powerful stakeholder in the system with a growing say in national security and foreign affairs and control over the Iranian economy.

After the clerics, Iran’s security establishment, dominated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is the strongest force within the Iranian power structure. The IRGC is closely watching how the ongoing political knife fight among the elites plays out and is realizing that figures like Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are going to have to increase their reliance on the security apparatus to remain afloat politically, given the growing splits within the political establishment. The IRGC is already well on its way to exploiting this political fracas to enhance its position within the decision-making process. And should present trends continue, the IRGC could emerge as the lead group calling the shots through figurehead clerical and non-clerical politicians.

martes, 18 de agosto de 2009

Historical ignorance disguised as conventional wisdom

Richard Cohen, NYT pundit, uses his ignorance of history to preach conventional wisdom to the choir. In the end he shoots himself in the foot and ends up showing the opposite of what he purports to show, i.e., that Palin is a nutjob. Try this on for size:

Palinism. What is it? It is an updated version of McCarthyism, which takes it name from the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin liar, demagogue and drunk, and means, according to Wikipedia, "reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries." As far as we know, Sarah Palin is not a drunk.

Whatever Wikipedia has to say, McCarthy's "reckless, unsubstantiated accusations" have turned out to be quite substantiated by now. At the time (early 1950s), it was not possible to substantiate them because to do so would have ruined US intelligence sources, etc etc. Take the famous example Cohen cites:
For sheer disregard of the facts, her statement about President Obama's "death panel" has to rank with McCarthy's announcement that "I have here in my hand a list of 205" (or 57 or 72 or whatever) names of communists in the State Department. They were both false -- McCarthy's by commission, Palin's probably by omission. She rarely knows her facts. [...] As with McCarthyism, Palinism is a product of its times. McCarthy exploited the public's fear of communism and communists. Not only were they abroad, but they were here in America -- spies, fellow travelers, pinkos, apologists, intellectuals and short, bespectacled minorities. It was their very ubiquity and invisibility that made them so dangerous.

We don't know if McCarthy had a real list in his hand or if that was just a rhetorical device but the Communists in the State Department accusation has been shown to be quite accurate after ex Soviet/Communist Party archives were opened up to researchers under Yeltsin. See for example, Hayes and Klehr. They document the KGB/GRU status of the most famous cases, including that of Alger Hiss, such that there can no longer be any reasonable debate about it. As for the "fellow travelers, pinkos, apologists, intellectuals and short, bespectacled minorities," that Cohen cites, the Hayes and Klehr book (among others) is full of info about journalists, union leaders, Hollywood types, etc etc, who were on the Communist Party/KGB/GRU payroll. This includes leftist icon IF Stone.

With this in mind, let's deconstruct Cohen's argument: McCarthy was tarred and feathered by the leftist intelligentsia of the day/Palin is being tarred and feathered by the leftist intelligentsia of the day--for example, by Richard Cohen. McCarthy's accusations were accurate according to the latest historical research/Palin's accusations will be shown to have been accurate... etc etc.

Therefore, to anyone aware of the historical debate over "McCarthyism," Cohen's comparison of Palin to McCarthy favors Palin with the "truthteller-to-power" image. Not what he had in mind at all.

lunes, 17 de agosto de 2009

Why is the Obama administration trying to help Hugo Chavez?

Anastasia O'Grady's answer:
Mr. Obama has expressed the same views on Honduras as Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), who holds that the interim government must be forced to reinstate Mr. Zelaya and who has, over more than two decades in office, consistently allied himself with socialist causes in Latin America.

I'm not so sure. Obama may be "tacking to the left, like O'Gragy says, but on the other hand, she asumes some overall plan on his part, like a bait and switch from his pragmatic, post partisan campaign persona. I doubt that there is such a plan. Obama is plainly in over his head and the government is being run by whichever of his advisors he trusts at the moment. Right now, according to press reports, that would be Rahm Emmanuel. Emmanuel wants to allign the US more with Chávez for his own ideological reasons.

Most people in Latin America loathe Chávez and his followers. Most people have some memory of some form of autocratic government, which Chávez and his followers certainly exemplify. Most people in Latin America are therfore looking for the US to stand up to Chávez instead of bending over for him to ram it in like he did last weekend. He was in Ecuador , where :
he launched a virulent assault on the U.S. military, reiterated his commitment to spreading revolution in the region, and threatened the continent with war. Mr. Zelaya was by his side.
O'Grady says thatif Honduras has been able to "neutralize" Chávez, we should be celebrating it, not siding with hin against the people of Honduras and around the region who loathe Chávez-style authoriarianism.

Meanwhile, Chávez accuses the US of planning an invasion of Venezuela (to take its oil, of course) and to meet this threat, he is arming himself with Russian arms and treaties.

So, we have a typical Latin American dictator spewing conspiracy theories about the US while making traties with our enemies--Russia, Iran, Hezbollah--and dealing drugs through the FARC. Then we have our president sucking up to him in public. Even so, Chávez persists in making Obama look like a fool:
“Señor, lea las ‘Venas abiertas de América Latina’ (libro de Alberto Galeano que le regaló), porque creo que anda perdido en la nebulosa de Andrómeda, anda perdido, sin horizonte, creo que están entrando en un laberinto, si le damos el beneficio de la duda. Está confundido, nosotros no le que estamos pidiendo que intervenga en Honduras, le estamos pidiendo que el imperio retire sus manos de Honduras y sus garras de América Latina, ya está bueno”, señaló.

viernes, 14 de agosto de 2009

HRW/Amnesty Int'l won't bother to denounce this

Most people will find this unexceptional. After all, what can one expect from the Muslims, anyway?

So, like the old joke where a guy is looking for his contact lens under the light instead of where he lost it because the light is better there, people will denounce the US/Israel because the light is better there even though there is nothing to be gained from it. Unless one wants points for moral posturing, like the Obamoids...

Debka File

Until the defeated Iranian presidential contender Mehdi Karroubi broke the wall of silence surrounding the Islamic Republic's prisons to demand an investigation into allegations of rape, little attention was paid to the abuses meted out to protestors who dared to claim that the June 12 election was rigged.

These abuses are inflicted routinely and systematically in seven secret prisons where political detainees are held at the behest of the revolutionary Islamic regime. Those prisons are described DEBKAfile's Iranian sources as inhuman hellholes:


This is the jail which supreme leader Ayatallah Ali Khamenei wanted razed to the ground to conceal the outrages committed there against scores of reform-seeking protesters who had the cruel fortune to be dumped there. Kahrizak on the southern outskirts of Tehran was notorious as the penal facility for Iran's most violent thugs and gangsters. Those inmates were let loose on the political prisoners who were incarcerated in cells ten meters square. An unknown number suffered rape and bloody beatings, which not all survived.

The commander of Iran's internal security forces Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam said Sunday, Aug. 9, that he would not deny his share in the blame for the "terrible things that took place in Kahrizak" where two protesters were admittedly found dead. He claimed that two of the security officials responsible for "widespread prisoner abuse" had been fired and awaited trial.

The prison remains open and our sources doubt those responsible for the outrages will be brought to trial.

Six more jails and detentions centers operate in the Tehran area.

Ghamar prison

A low, inconspicuous door behind the Ghamar Bani Hashem Hospital on Resaalat Street near the security ministry leads into a top-secret holding facility for interrogating political prisoners. It is closely guarded by Iran's intelligence ministry.

It has two floors and a yard, containing four interrogation rooms, eight isolation cells and eight holding cells in which dozens of detainees are crammed, allowed access to showers once a week and toilets three times a day . Here, the detainees undergo their first inquisition and beatings before they are transferred to other prisons. Their eyes and mouths are bound with leather straps to prevent them from identifying their tormentors. Their agony ends when they sign written confessions.

Most of the victims' families do not know their whereabouts.

Esharat-Abad prison

Several hundred political prisoners are crowded into this facility for drug offenders which is designed for 250 to 350 inmates. It is situated in the Narcotic Unit's headquarters in central Tehran.

The building consists of three large units broken up into cells of 1.5 x 2 meters, into each of which up to five detainees are squeezed for an agonizing three to seven days. Under interrogation, their arms and legs are broken to make them confess and give up information. Accustomed to beating and humiliating dope traffickers, the wardens carry on abusing the political detainees.

Sanitary conditions are appalling and the inmates are fed scraps from the prison staff canteens. The stench of vomit and sweat in the unventilated cells is unbearable. Whenever a detainee dies of torture or disease, prison authorities file a fictitious report. After the questioning finishes, those who survive are transferred to the central prison at Evin. No one has been brought to book for their deaths.

The Revolutionary Guards Prison 59

This penal complex in the cellar of the Revolutionary Guards Corps base Esharat-Abad suburb of Tehran is the most terrible of all seven secret jails. It is so secret that even the head of the justice department for the Tehran district has never been granted permission for a visit.

Run by the field security unit of the IRGC, this is where suspected spies and people accused of grave security offenses are questioned by officials who are not bound by any laws or regulations. They have sole discretion to determine the degree of abuse their victims deserve.

Most of the cells are made for solitary confinement, although around ten large chambers hold a number of detainees. None have light or ventilation; sanitary conditions are appalling and food scanty. Detainees are allowed one telephone call during the period of their detention subject to permission from the security guards, which means depending on how well they cooperate.

Inmates are completely cut off from the outside world so that when it is important for the regime to extract confessions to crimes they never committed, they are susceptible to psychological manipulation, such as fake newspaper front pages or fabricated news bulletins.

These detainees may disappear into this top-secret prison for long stretches of time of up to a year or two without their families knowing where they are.


This detention center on Schrevardi street in central Tehran is shared by the intelligence ministry and Revolutionary Guards. It is located on the top floors of a shopping center and hidden behind a secret door. It is used for political detainees whose incarceration is too secret for them to be held in other prisons. For many it is also the end of the line for few survive the questioning practices at this place

Abu Ghoraib prison

This jail administered by the internal security services, named for the notorious American prison in Iraq, is located on Seoul Street in the Fatemieh suburb of Tehran, a residential district where few are aware that Abu Ghoraib is used to torture security personnel accused of grave offences or crimes against the regime. Prison No. 66

This jail is also run by the Revolutionary Guards behind the Allameh Tabatabai military base on the Asfarieh highway north of Tehran. Here former Guards members accused of serious offenses or subversion against the state are subjected to extreme torture. At least two inmates have died in recent weeks.

More bad news for the Obamoid "engagement" policy

We haven't read about this in the MSM. Wonder why? www.debka.com

Assad slams the door on Obama and on talks with Israel

Syrian president Bashar Assad like the leopard has not changed his spots. After Washington opened the door wide to reconciliation, lavishing goodwill gestures and a procession of emissaries over several months, Assad has abruptly slammed it shut.

Wednesday, Aug. 12, he announced he was off to Tehran next week to congratulate his good friend Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his reelection as president and further cement their ties.

He left behind him a trail of dashed hopes in Washington. The Obama administration had made a serious bid to detach Assad from his strategic bonds with Iran and make him the keystone for the president's comprehensive Middle East program.

jueves, 13 de agosto de 2009

Further refutation of the Obamoid "settlement freeze" formula

Michael Oren is Israel's ambassador to the US. He is also an IDF veteran and a historian of some note. His book, Power, Faith, and Fantasy covers the two-hundred-years US history of relations with Arab/Muslim nations.

His article here of course is in support of Netanyahu's policy towards the West Bank. That's to be expected since Oren is Netanyahu's ambassador. But the point is that Oren/Netanyahu have some facts on their side while the Obamoids only have Power, Faith, and Fantasy.

West Bank Success Story

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the West Bank economy is flourishing. Devastated by the violence and corruption fomented by its former leadership, the West Bank has rebounded and today represents a most promising success story. Among the improvements of the last year cited by the IMF and other financial observers are an 18% increase in the local stock exchange, a 94% growth of tourism to Bethlehem—generating 6,000 new jobs—and an 82% rise in trade with Israel.

Israel, too, has contributed to the West Bank's financial boom. Tony Blair recently stated that Israel had not been given sufficient credit for efforts such as removing dozens of checkpoints and road blocks, withdrawing Israeli troops from population centers, and facilitating transportation into both Israel and Jordan. Long prohibited by terrorist threats from entering the West Bank, Israeli Arabs are now allowed to shop in most Palestinian cities. online.wsj.com

The irrationality of realpolitick

Is it ironic that the latest proponents of realpolitick--the Obamoid masses--are so irrational as to expect rationality from a fanatic religious regime?

Is Iran’s regime rational?

Was it rational for the “Supreme Guide” to jettison all pretense of electoral probity, and of a “Republic” supported by the people, for such a small gain? Was the loss of legitimacy both at home and abroad worth it? Was driving the populace, seeking small measures of personal freedom and economic stability, to a new understanding that the Islamic Republic regime was their enemy, a reasonable price for the small gain of choosing one among the selected candidates? I would suggest that it was not rational, but rather an expression of fanatical religious motivation. And that would make the Islamic Republic regime a non-rational player. blogs.law.harvard.edu

miércoles, 12 de agosto de 2009

More people pile on against Obama's settlement freeze

This time it's by a Palestinian and US advocate for the Palestinian cause.

Strangely, both sides seem to agree that Palestinian rejection of the state of Israel is the root of the conflict. How can Obama et al then show that that the settlements are the key to resolving the conflict?

They can't. The "settlement freeze" is only supposed to be a "first step," which Israel has to take, since the Arabs/Palestinians won't. Something like that.

The Two-State Solution Doesn’t Solve Anythingwww.nytimes.com

Over the past two decades, the origins of the conflict were swept under the carpet, gradually repressed as the struggle assumed the narrower shape of the post-1967 territorial tug-of-war over the West Bank and Gaza.
In their eyes, to accept Israel as a Jewish state would legitimize the Zionist enterprise that brought about their tragedy. It would render the Palestinian national struggle at best meaningless, at worst criminal. Their firmness on the principle of their right of return flows from the belief that the 1948 war led to unjust displacement and that, whether or not refugees choose or are allowed to return to their homes, they can never be deprived of that natural right. The modern Palestinian national movement, embodied in the Palestine Liberation Organization, has been, above all, a refugee movement — led by refugees and focused on their plight.

viernes, 7 de agosto de 2009

Saudis also reject Obamoid engagement

The indispensable Debka File gives us one more reason why the Obamoid insistence on the settlement freeze as the key to Mideast peace is a red herring.
clipped from www.debka.com

Saudis reject Obama's plan for ties with Israel: Top urgency is Iran threat

Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal's rejection of the Obama administration's Middle East approach was a lot more comprehensive than a blunt refusal to improve relations with Israel to help restart peace talks. DEBKAfile's Washington sources report that in closed-door talks with US leaders, including secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the Saudi prince urged the US to get off their backs on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and deal more seriously and effectively with top-urgency action for stopping Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb.
The Saudis maintain that Obama and his Middle East envoy George Mitchell have been sidetracked by minor regional issues from dealing with the primary concern of the Gulf and Middle East region, the looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Until that cloud is lifted, they say, no other initiatives have a chance.

jueves, 6 de agosto de 2009

Michael Barone

Michael Barone is more a scholar than a pundit/commentator. It's impossible to argue with him since he has all in the info at his fingertips.

Here, he points out the benefits of US-style free enterprise in medicine. He also shows how other nations free-ride on US creativity and investment even as they call us right-wing morons.

Obama Would Stifle Military and Medical Creativity

We also may be at risk of squandering our high-tech advantage in medicine. As Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution points out, the top five American hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in all other developed countries. America has outpointed all other countries combined in Nobel Prizes for medical and physiology since 1970.

American theoretical health research financed by the National Institutes of Health and by American market-oriented pharmaceutical companies outshines the rest of the world combined. And the rest of the world tends to get the benefits at cut rates. American taxpayers finance NIH, which reports results publicly to the whole world.

The Democratic health care bills threaten to undermine innovation in pharmaceuticals and medical technologies by sending those with private insurance into a government insurance plan that would be in a position to ration treatment and delay or squelch innovation. The

Have a nice atomic 6 August

It's the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. It's another chance for people to call the US a terror state and Truman a war criminal. Or it's another chance for a lot of people to realize that they're alive today because of the A-bomb"not just the millions of US troops who were slated to invade the Japanese home islands, either. There are their descendants as well. Then there are the millions of Japanese who survived because of the A-bomb, and their descendants. And"as this article makes clear"there are many more millions of Chinese and other Asians who survived once the Japanese surrendered"and their descendants. But…who really cares about so many Asians anyway if the point is to blame the US?

As for the Japanese themselves, they have always blamed the correct person for the A-bomb: the emperor. His policies brought this destruction down on their heads, nothing else.

Then again, the bomb also saved lived in Europe since it prevented Stalin from taking over nations in Western
clipped from online.wsj.com

The Hiroshima Rorschach Test

The fact that the quick end to the war allowed the U.S. to avoid a land invasion of the Japanese mainland, thus saving many more lives, is quickly tossed aside by some critics. They say there is no basis for the estimates of large numbers of casualties. But then there is the appalling number of Asians who were dying at the hands of the Japanese. Upwards of a quarter-of-a-million were dying each month. The fact that this orgy of death—17 million died in all—came to an abrupt halt when the Imperial Army was finally forced to go home is rarely mentioned.

Perhaps the simplest and most compelling argument for the bombs is the main reason President Truman decided to drop them in the first place: He hoped it would rattle Japan enough to force it to surrender. That is exactly what happened.

Fouad Ajami strikes again

Ajami is one of the "truth-tellers," as he calls the authors of the UNDP Arab Human Development Reports. He pulls no punches. Must read if you're interested in US policy i the Arab world.
clipped from online.wsj.com

Autocracy and the Decline of the Arabs

The Arab world is plagued by despots. But don’t expect the U.N. to give President Bush any credit for challenging this order.

We are now in the midst of one of those periodic autopsies of the Arab condition. The trigger is the publication last month of the Arab Human Development Report 2009, the fifth of a series of reports by the by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the state of the contemporary Arab world.

The first of these reports, published in 2002, was treated with deference. A group of Arab truth-tellers, it was believed, had broken with the evasions and the apologetics to tell of the sordid condition of Arab society—the autocratic political culture, the economic stagnation, the cultural decay.
Little has altered in the years separating the first of these reports from the most recent.
It is no mystery, this sorrowful decline of the Arabs. They have invested their hopes in states, and the states have failed
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