Monday, June 22, 2009

Has Iran Stopped Beating Its Women Yet?


Paul Krugman
Asif Ali Zardari
Fareed Zakaria

"The West, most notably the United States, has been all too willing to dance with dictators in pursuit of perceived short-term goals." - Asif Ali Zardari

"We are watching the failure of the ideology that lay at the basis of the Iranian government." - Fareed Zakaria


People have resumed going out onto the streets in protest, they are being met with watercannons, tear gas, and baton wielding Revolutionary Guards, who have vowed to crush all terrorist activities. Today is being called a day of mourning for Neda, a young woman who was shot to death, which was captured on a cell phone video and sent to CNN. The whole world watched her die over and over again; now she is called a martyr.

Some election fraud has been admitted to by the government, but they are sticking to the limited sample and will not look to see if there was fraud throughout the whole country. Duh. al Jazeera reports: "Iran's Guardian Council, the country's highest legislative body, meanwhile, has admitted some irregularities occurred during the election.

Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, a spokesman for the council, told state-funded broadcaster IRIB on Monday that up to three million votes were under scrutiny, after it was found that the number of votes exceeded the number of eligible voters in 50 cities.
User-supplied images are the chief source of information from Iran for the world's media However, he said it was a normal discrepancy because people are allowed to travel to other areas to vote, and that it was "yet to be determined whether the amount is decisive in the election results".
A normal discrepancy also means that it has been done before...

Fareed Zakaria has this to say on what the future of Iran will look like after the citizens have been beaten down enough to make the protests stop: "The Islamic Republic might endure but would be devoid of legitimacy. The regime could certainly prevail in this struggle; in fact, that would have to be the most likely outcome. But it will do so by using drastic means—banning all protests, arresting students, punishing senior leaders and shutting down civil society. No matter how things turn out—crackdown, co-optation—it is clear that millions in Iran no longer believe in the regime's governing ideology. If it holds on to power, it will do so like the Soviet Union in the late Brezhnev era, surviving only through military intimidation. "Iran will turn into Egypt," says the Iranian-born intellectual Reza Aslan, meaning a regime in which guns, rather than ideas, hold things together behind a fa├žade of politics."

The huge amount of media coverage of Iran is spurring another wave of gun sales here in the US, as people realize what can happen to an unarmed populace. Unfortunately, our violent crime rate will soar, also. It's also illegal to drink alcohol, sing, and dance in Iran, which has one of the most vibrant musical traditions and wonderful musicians in all of the Middle East. Sufism has always been at odds against too serious clerics, recognizing that music, song, and dance can be inspired through religion, often incorporating them into their rituals.

There has been a lot of debate in the media over the tactic that Obama is taking, not giving the government any ammunition in saying that the protests are supported by the West. It's bad enough that we sold them their police riot gear... Headlines are saying that his ratings in the recent polls have gone down to 63%. If our economy doesn't turn around and people are still losing jobs, his popularity will go down further, though I doubt that it will reach the 18% that the Republican Party got...

The big debates raging now is over health care reform, should a public option run by the government be part of the package. Everyone agrees that some kind of reform is needed. Conservatives say that the insurance industry should lead the way, while everyone else says dear God, please no... We have this tendency to let the ones who got us into the mess try and lead us out because of the amounts of money they spend lobbying Congress, like the banking industry...

One argument going around is saying, do you want a politician between you and seeing a doctor, as opposed to the HMO administrators. They are saying that a government-run program would be wasteful and inefficient, you would have to wait longer to see a specialist, like what happens in Canada and Britain. Which may or may not happen here. We have Medicare and the Veteran's Administration hospitals, both have good and bad stories over how they are administered. But it's all smoke and mirrors because Congress is ignoring the best run government health plan - the one that Congress has for themselves. I see no problem growing their existing plan for the rest of the population, unless you want to admit to a ruling elite that lives and eats better than you do, and has better health and retirement benefits than the rest of us.

The real losers in the outcome of this debate will be the small business owners. Already the burden of having to provide health insurance is a major factor between solvency and going bankrupt, or out of business. They don't have the economic clout that large pension funds have, and end up getting ripped off by limited coverage offered by the insurance industry. Which creates bad feelings all around. Thank you, Blue Cross...

Just like the real winners among the recipients of TARP money are the Wall Street firms that sell financial products and are not banks, like Goldman Sachs, which just paid back the money it took last week. Reuters is reporting: "Goldman staff in London were briefed on the outlook and told they could look forward to the bonus hikes if the company registers its most profitable year ever, the report said.

The surge in projected profit can be attributed to a lack of competition and increased revenue from trading foreign currency, bonds and fixed-income products, the newspaper said, citing insiders at the firm.

Bonuses have been a point of contention between the Obama administration and Wall Street, which last fall endured a credit crisis that paralyzed the financial markets. The U.S. Treasury responded with the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which made $700 billion in loans available to banks."
So only if you pay the government back can you then thumb your noses at them, remember this simple formula...

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