Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Foreign Policy

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Foreign Policy magazine is coming down on Obama for failing to create much positive headway in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Israel. “Zero for Four.”

To which I ask, who has made headway with them in the last 30 years? Stephen Walt says he’ll be blamed for “losing” our two wars. We knew they would be lost in 2003. There is no other possible outcome. I suppose Obama could have said “damn the consequences,” fallen on the grenade, gotten us out of the wars post-haste, watched the region go to shit and had a world of bad press kill the Democratic party’s mandate as the Republicans mocked him for being a second Carter while secretly thankful that we were out of that mess, but… seriously now.

That said, what I got out of the article – the indictment – was that, by so much as having that byline, he has insinuated that Obama could use an executive mandate to fundamentally alter America’s antagonistic stance towards Iran and chummy relationship with Israel. Arguably, Obama does have more official power as the executive than anybody in this or the last century thanks to Bush’s policies and party, aside from, perhaps, the mandates of FDR. Whether that translates to real power, however, is up for debate.

The anemic ministrations of this current administration can only mean two things:

a) The Democratic party was unwilling to use the mandate it got in 2009

b) The Democratic party was unable to use the mandate it got in 2009

Just so I don’t go mad, I’m going to assume the latter. At which point we have our most damning indictment of democracy – its utter inability to turn the ship around in any time-line remotely necessary to stave off disaster.

I Spit at You

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The narrative for Obama’s Tuesday press conference has been split between him being an irritable dick and a spineless pussy… like the narrative has been for everything he’s done since entering office.

But either aside, I took issue with Krugman’s interpretation of Obama’s answers as there could be no right answer – and the reason for such is this: Both he and the pundits at the conference were trying to spin Obama’s words instead of listening to his policies.

I watched the thing on Youtube (the only full video transcript being some “watchdog” group called Earth2Obama that recorded C-SPAN) and what struck me was not his answers – he just explained his position four times over the course of an hour with enough dropped hints to drown the room – but the smarmy, baiting questions asked of him.

Asks Fox News and again by CBS, did John McCain influence his words today? “Only I’m the President.” Hint. And both had the audacity to make a snide comment afterwards, too; Fox with the “will you invite Iranian diplomats to the embassy on the Fourth of July?” and CBS with, “aren’t you giving them fodder to blame us for meddling today?” Damned if you do…

Asks AP and again by NBC, will he draw a line in the sand against Iran? “This is the Iranian people’s fight.” Hint – drawing a line is how we got into some other problems.

Asks USA Today and again by ABC, is the health insurance public option non-negotiable? “Who would it harm?” Hint. Retorts USA Today, “won’t that drive private insurers out of business?” “I thought private companies were more efficient than government bureaucracies.” Hint.

Every question was directed towards pinning him to a policy or a number: What’s the upper cap on unemployment? What’s the most we can take before we intervene in Iran? Is the public option sacrosanct? The political fallout from being held to one of those is far more severe than the steady hand at the till of policy-making and diplomacy. There is a time for hard lines, sure, but the questions were not made in good faith.

Sanford, You’re Off the Hook

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(6:42:22 PM) A) MJ and Farrah in one day ????
(6:43:05 PM) B) srsly
(6:43:37 PM) A) this is soooo insane 2 pop icons in one day
(6:44:09 PM) B) and not the right ones.
(6:44:36 PM) A) idk…its like if Marilyn Monroe and Elvis died in the same day back in the 60’s
(6:45:28 PM) B) Only if Elvis was a pederast.
(6:46:17 PM) A) pederast…pill popper…pill popper…pederast
(6:46:36 PM) B) pfft
(6:46:40 PM) B) what pop star isn’t a pill popper?
(6:47:20 PM) A) good point
(6:48:42 PM) B) MJ is practically guaranteed hall of fame status for most awkward eulogy ever
(6:49:10 PM) A) yea thats gonna be awkward…I’ll bet that funeral is gonna be screwy
(6:49:32 PM) B) and not in the “damn, lookit the catfight” like James Brown
(6:49:54 PM) A) yea or who the baby daddy like Anna Nicole’s
(6:50:07 PM) B) we’re so crass, it’s terrible.
(6:51:10 PM) C) Well I heard not too long ago that MJ recorded a ton of albums
(6:51:15 PM) C) to only be released after his death
(6:51:20 PM) C) so that he can basically live on forever
(6:51:38 PM) B) after Billy Jean, what else needs to be said?
(6:51:43 PM) B) or ever mentioned again, for that matter?
(6:52:42 PM) A) this is so crazy
(6:55:11 PM) A) like damn man…damn
(6:57:02 PM) B) and yet, this, for all its unexpectedness, feels so… inconvenient.
(6:57:50 PM) A) yea farrah fawcett I guess because it was so documented was expected Michael in the same day pushes it over the edge
(6:58:40 PM) B) where the only classy thing to do is ignore it. Sorta like how, you could invent a new revolutionary cancer treatment but if a poodle slips off a window ledge and kills you, that’s how you’re remembered.
(6:59:20 PM) A) oh werd
(6:59:32 PM) B) now it’s like, you mention Farrah Fawcett and somebody is guaranteed to mention Michael Jackson
(7:01:25 PM) A) thats so weird because farrah was the top story for half a day
(7:01:38 PM) B) you know who the winner in all this is?
(7:01:41 PM) B) mark sanford
(7:01:48 PM) A) People Magazine

Meanwhile, Tehran still burns…

Firing into the Crowds

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Moussavi has declared that he’s ready to be martyred, and for good reason: The gloves have come off in the crackdowns, with “security” forces and Basijis (pro-regime paramilitary militias) firing into the crowds.

Basijis firing into the crowd

Basijis shooting a student on camera

Security forces firing machine guns at a crowd (BBC Persia)

Protester shot dead by police

Protesters shot by police

The blogosphere

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Word has it that more than 32 have died in the protests in Iran now, with over 500 arrested – including journalists.

Also, the filmmaker of Persepolis claims that he has evidence that Moussavi won with 19 million votes – crushing Ahmadinejad, who came in third (!) with 5.5 million votes, or 12% of the vote.

teh rvluton wil not b tv’zd

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Reporters are being booted outta Tehran and forbidden to do any reporting, a broadcasting station was attacked to help staunch the word coming out, and for this reason the US State Department requested that Twitter (!) withhold their scheduled maintenance so as not to block the flow of news, links, pictures and videos coming out from Iran over their network.


Now, goddamnit, I’ve seen everything.

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