Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Necessity May Have Been The Mother...

windshield defroster

door lock

...but booze was definitely the daddy.

From the perfect little blog, There, I Fixed It.

Because Nobody Watches These Things...

...Air New Zealand made theirs a little more interesting.
(Hint: those aren't uniforms)

via JMG

Sunday, June 28, 2009

As Seen On TV

First, Ed McMahon. Then Farah! Then MJ! But now this?!

When will it end? And who is left to lead us?

Friday, June 26, 2009

The REAL Luckiest Man In The World

Forget Mark Sanford and his boot from the front page. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical corespondent, was officially the luckiest man in the world last night. After spending the entire afternoon sweating about an uncomfortable evening of anal cancer chit chat (ewww), he was given a reprieve and merely had to go on and on about the mundane workings of a bad ticker. He still had to deal with Larry King, but hey, luck only gets you so far.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lucky Break

If anyone imagines Mark Sanford is not moonwalking in ecstacy right now, they have no clue regarding the concept of getting bumped from the front page. That guy got himself one big lucky break.

RIP Michael Jackson

Rest in peace, you troubled fella...

...because for the next week we sure won't. Prepare for the media onslaught.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The New Celebrity Calculus

Levi and Bristol + Octomom = Jon and Kate

What They Keep Getting Wrong

There is a particular brand of nuttiness that has wormed its way into politcal dialog over the last few years. Actually it's been around since the founding of our little nation, it's just that of late there appears to be a concerted effort, through ignorance or deviousness, to misinterpret the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

The latest example comes from everybody's favorite Oklahoma blowhard, State Rep. Sally Kern. You might remember this gasbag as having said last fall that homosexuality was a bigger threat than terrorists to this country. She also got busted twice for trying to bring a loaded gun into the legislative chambers.

So, yesterday Ms. Kern introduced her "Oklahoma Citizens' Proclamation For Morality." She felt compelled to do so because, as she said, "President Obama honors sodomites by proclaiming an entire month as Gay Pride Month, but he won’t acknowledge one day for our National Day of Prayer." She feels that the USA is, and always has been, a Christian nation for Christians only. According to her proclamation the reason the economy has gone belly up has nothing to do with the banks, or subprime mortgages, or 8 years of Bush policies, or even Clinton before him. No, the economy has crashed because of homosexuality. She plans to have a big signing ceremony next Thursday in front of the Oklamoma State House - come one, come all!

In her proclamation she makes use of extensive quotes from the Founding Fathers to make her point, and adds a load of "Whereas" to help her along. To wit:

WHEREAS, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government...but upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God" (James Madison)


WHEREAS, "God who gave us life gave us liberty and can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God" (Thomas Jefferson)

I specifically used her Madison and Jefferson quotations because this is exactly what Kern and her ilk do: they take quotes from men regarding their personal religious beliefs and toss them out there as if those statements were meant to define our system of governance. They, of course, ignore the truth of the matter.

Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence, and third President, felt himself, like most Americans of his time, to be a Christian. But he did not think this nation an inherently Christian one. On the contrary, he fought against any hint of religion entering our government. He is most commonly attributed with setting forth the concept of "separation of Church and State." To that end he refused to set a National Day of Prayer despite a substantial demand that he do so. He also fought efforts to change a Postal Service policy of delivering mail on Sundays. Jefferson wanted no hint of favoring any day of Sabbath over another by the government.

Madison, the author of the Constitution and fourth President, considered himself profoundly Christian. As a young lawyer he defended multiple churches from government interference and helped establish the Episcopalian church in Virgina. Perhaps because of that early experience, Madison knew that "tolerance" of religious views could be entirely arbitrary and to that end he felt that the government had no place in religious matters at all, nor religion in matters of state. He specifically made no mention of God in the Constitution and his original proposal for the First Amendment read:

The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner or on any pretext infringed.

It was later watered down by compromises in Congress.

As President, in addition to following Jefferson's example of not calling a National Day of Prayer and maintaining Sunday mail delivery, he also opposed any governmental chaplains, whether military, university or congressional. He resisted any government involvement with religious charities as well. His thoughts on the subject were clearly set out when he said:

We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society [ie, government] and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.

To imagine that these two men thought of this country as strictly or inherently a Christian one can be written off as a mistake of wishful thinking, but to use them and their words to actually argue that point is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. The Founding Fathers are revered for many things, not least among them their wisdom and forethought. They saw the threat to liberty that comes from theocratical dictates and went out of their way to prevent them.

Despite what she may think, Sally Kern, and her ignorant proclamation, are precisely that which those wise men feared most.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hey, It Was Only 50

The Guardian Council is finally copping to some "irregularities" in the election.

From Iranian State TV (again, no less):

Iran's Guardian Council has admitted that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of those eligible to cast ballot in those areas.

The council's Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei -- a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election.

"Statistics provided by Mohsen Rezaei in which he claims more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said.

Ahhh, it was only 50 cities. Well then, everybody go home now. Nothing to see here.

It's Good To Be The King

The Myth Of Rural Popularity

Chatham House, an independent think tank on international affairs, has just produced a substantial paper titled, "Preliminary Analysis of the Voting Figures in Iran’s 2009 Presidential Election." They, too, find something fishy about the election.

"In 2005, as in 2001 and 1997, conservative candidates, and Ahmadinejad in particular, were markedly unpopular in rural areas. That the countryside always votes conservative is a myth. The claim that this year Ahmadinejad swept the board in more rural provinces flies in the face of these trends."

via Sully

NIAC Takes A Stand

In an interesting move, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), an organization made up of ex-patriot Iranians living in the US, that up til now has remained decidedly neutral in the disputed elections, announced on Saturday that it is calling for new elections.

"The only plausible way to end the violence is for new elections to be held with independent monitors ensuring its fairness. Such elections would be consistent with the Iranian constitution."

A Majority Of People

Speaker of the Iranian Parliment, Ari Larijani, said today that a majority of Iranians think the election was a sham.

From Iranian State TV (no less):

"A majority of people are of the opinion that the actual election results are different than what was officially announced." & "The opinion of this majority should be respected..." & "Although the Guardian Council is made up of religious individuals I wish certain members would not side with a certain presidential candidate."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Her Name Was Neda

WARNING - Please be aware, this is very graphic and very disturbingvia NIAC from a Facebook translation describing what happened:

Basij shot to death a young woman in Tehran’s Saturday June 20th protests At 19:05 June 20th Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes.

I just feel sick.

Update: Her name was Neda.

A Pitney reader offered this translation of what is being said by the father in the video:

"Neda, don't be afraid. Neda, don't be afraid. (There is yelling and screaming.) Neda, stay with me. Neda stay with me!"

Friday, June 19, 2009


I had meant to post this yesterday, but got distracted - that's not uncommon anymore.

Last night marked the 25th anniversary of the assassination of radio talk show host, Alan Berg. He was shot 13 times in the driveway of his Denver condo by two gunman who didn't take kindly to Berg's ideas.

I remember it distinctly. RC and I heard the news driving home from a fast food pickup at Quiznos. His condo was a short couple of blocks from our apartment and Berg was a Denver fixture, so we were both shocked.

Berg was irrascible and not terribly likable - a curmudgeon of the first order, rarely qualified with "lovable". Bogosian based his play, and subsequent film, Talk Radio, on Berg and his death. Berg railed against all, but in particular against the far right. He would berate those who not only disagreed with him, but also those who could not develop any coherency of thought.

Despite his cranky reputation, my mother, while out dining alone one night and waiting for a table, was invited by Berg to join him. My mother, gregarious soul that she is, agreed, though she didn't recognize him (he was after all, on radio). She said he was a charming gentleman and witty conversationalist. He paid for her meal and thanked her for the company - he apparently hated eating alone.

In 1987 two white supremacists were convicted of violating Berg's civil rights (the Denver DA refused to prosecute for murder saying the charges would not hold up in court). Both were members of The Order, a splinter group of the Arayan Nation that had targeted Berg after he had ridiculed them. According to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, that ridiculing moved Berg to the top of a hit list that included TV producer Norman Lear; a federal judge from Kansas; and Morris Dees.

One of the men convicted, David Lane, repeatedly denied his involvement, but in a jailhouse interview shortly before his death in 2007 Lane said, "Regardless of who did it, he has not mouthed his hate-whitey propaganda from his 50,000-watt Zionist pulpit for quite a few years...and that's a blessing."

We too, have martyrs to free speech.

RIP Mr. Berg


In far less compelling news, I turned 48 today. Despite the aches and pains that seem to be piling on my aged frame, I, as yet, do not need double hip replacement surgery. Everything else is up for grabs, however.

And So It Goes...

The Mistress responded this morning to my post of yesterday. It seems I did not convince her that the official election results of the Iranian election were impressively suspect. She linked to Robert Fisk of the UK Independent, whose unbiased coverage on the ground in Iran has been a breath of fresh air (yes, we do read something other than USA Today here, and fortunately we don't have to wait on the docks for it to arrive like some Dickens' serial). Mr. Fisk has quoted several sources claiming the election results were legit, though he said this morning in his commentary he himself believes the election results to be "highly dubious."

I commented quickly on her blog, noting that it seems I have failed to sway her. That's that. I did my best. But there was something she said with which I take issue - something that takes a little more time.

Mistress La Spliffe:

"Republicans are frothing at the mouth for some sort of intervention in favour of Moussavi..."

Hmm... That's a bit hyberbolic, and, though tainted with some truth, hardly the end all, be all. Let's take a closer look from here, on the ground, in the U.S. Some Republicans have indeed called for intervention on Moussavi's part. They are saying, those few, that we should step in to help Moussavi in every way possible and one assumes that includes military options. Dana Rohrbacher even called Obama a "cream puff" for his perceived inaction. But most of this is politics. The GOP has very little with which to attack Obama. They see this as their opening - the chink in Obama's armor and are attempting to use it purely for political gain. They don't realistically want to intervene (at least most of them don't). They just have nothing else. And by the way, it's not working. Most Americans, and that includes several GOP leaders like Lugar, think Obama is doing the right thing. Republicans froth regularly, but not about this.

The truly interesting bit? Most of the neocons, those that sit in Cheney's hallowed chambers, believe that the election was totally above the boards. They are actually arguing that Ahmadi won! They are the ones behind articles in mainstream online pubs like Politico saying, "Ahmadinejad won. Get over it." Yes the crazy, hawkish, far right are the ones who think it was fair and square. Why? Because without a dragon there's no need for dragonslaying. Ahmadi is "evil". He is the perfect poster boy for more saber rattling - more conflict. If he didn't win, they lose. When you defend the election results the people in your corner are not exactly the best of associates.

And those that think the election was questionable? That would be the left. Yes, far and away, those that are leading the charge are "liberal". From Daily Kos to Huffington Post, the savaging of the results has been withering. They have piled on. But note: they are not calling for official government intervention. They are following Obama's line and agree, for the most part, that the U.S. should keep clear of this mess, at least in an official capacity.

For his part, Obama has kept the rudder straight and true, attempting to avoid even the hint of U.S. government meddling. Just this week, in a bit of political gamesmanship, he, in essence, said there was little difference between Ahmadi and Moussavi. That statement both lowered expectations here for any substantial changes should Moussavi become president, and allowed Moussavi to distance himself from the good old USA.

Lest those that have not been in this country for the last year forget, this is not the country the world dealt with for the last 8 years, or even the last 50. Obama was not elected by a slim majority. People here want a change - a substantial change - from the past. The GOP did not and does not yet get that, and they are suffering immeasurably as a result. For those that live abroad the images of Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks may be the standard you use to judge American opinion, but let me assure you they are the fringe. They make good copy, just as Ahmadi makes good copy in the west, but Americans, like Iranians, are more substantial than all that. Do not judge American intentions by the nuts.

Regardless of how the election in Iran turns out, regardless of Ahmadi or Moussavi, this country I call home will engage them in a new dialog that one hopes will allow the mainstream thoughts of both countries to find common ground.

Mistress, it just isn't as bad as you seem to think.

Oh, and though I have never been to Kermanshah, Iran, I did use to live in "San Fran-fucking-cisco", and I am fully aware the two are not the same thing. Nonetheless, I maintain it's a useful analogy, at least in a statistical voting sense.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Assumptions

I've been a little preoccupied of late, failing to follow in a timely manner the blogs with which I normally keep up. One of them is La Spliffe, or as she has recently referred to herself, Dread Pirate Jessica. Dread Pirate is one smart cookie - smarter than I, I readily admit. Anyone who has read her posts can immediately tell that when it comes to intellectual discourse, one best tread carefully if one wants to go head to head with the Mistress. From her perch on the continent she gets a more broad-based view of the world than do we here in the colonies. I am not infrequently impressed with her take on world affairs both for its rationality and its withering cynicism.

That said, her post on Tuesday, arguing that perhaps Ahmadi did indeed win the election fair and square and that the protests calling the process in Iran a fraud are little more than sour grapes, has left me willing to risk a little intellectual humiliation to argue the opposite. The Dread Pirate said:

The percentage Ahmadinejad's supposed to have got this time - low 60%'s - is about the same as he was supposed to have got in 2005 without raising eyebrows. That was in the second round, true - but his opponent in the second round wasn't a 'reformist', he was another conservative. A reformist candidate came third in 2005, just topping out 17% of the vote. 'Reformers' performed worse in the last election, without everybody screaming foul.


Based on what we know - why would we assume that now, in 2009, it's impossible for Ahmadinejad to get the votes he got in 2005? Why would we assume there has been a 30% + shift in voting patterns that has been fraudulently covered up, just because the educated urbanites who are sick of the dangerous hick - and yeah, he's a dangerous hick - are bravely and efficiently hitting the streets? Why are we assuming so readily that democracy has failed, instead of asking if the demonstrators are just extremely disappointed about the way democracy has gone? Why are so many Americans assuming that just because they managed to vote for the least embarassing candidate for once last year, every other country is going to start doing the same?

Why should we assume, you ask? Apart from the curious election day results displayed on Iranian TV that were brought into question yesterday, apart from the numerous reports (albeit anecdotal) of unsealed ballot boxes and missing ballot boxes and destroyed ballot boxes, apart from the the fact that there were far more ballots printed than there were registered voters, yet ex-pat Iranians overseas went to the polls and discovered a shortage of ballots, apart from Interior Ministry employees sending a letter saying the election was a fraud, apart from the fact that the Ahmadi was declared the winner before the votes were counted. apart from the fact that by law Khameni is not to receive the certification from the election commission until the third day following the election and only then can he approve and announce the winner, yet he did so within 24 hrs, apart from the remarkable election result graph that shows a preposterously straight line rise in the votes counted for Ahmadi, apart from the fact that some members of the military were ordered by commanding officers to turn in the their national ID cards and thus their ability to vote in the days preceeding the election, apart from the fact that balloting is done by writing in a specific code for your chosen candidate and thus the ballots are counted by hand, not machine, yet the winner was announced soon after the polls closed, apart from the official tallies having Ahmadi winning handily in the other candidates hometowns; apart from all that, I guess we shouldn't assume Ahmadi didn't win it fair and square.

But just in case...

Let's take a look at the province of Kermanshah. Populated primarily by ethnic Kurds, the province has been notorious for not voting in elections as a means of protesting their 2nd class status. Those that do vote rarely do so for the regime, preferring instead to cast their ballots for anything resembling reform. In 2005, with roughly a 35% total turnout, Ahmadi lost the province in the first election. In fact, in that first round of voting he came in 5th out of seven candidates with just 9.8% of the vote. The most liberal candidate, Karroubi, won the province with 35%, 16 points more than his nearest competitor. The three reformist candidates collectively received more than half the vote, and if you include Rafsanjani (who, though listed as conservative, was much closer to a reformer) it jumps to more than 70% of the vote. Yet, in 2009 Kermanshah showed a huge uptick in turnout and Ahmadi took 59% of the vote! Of course, it's certainly possible that the Kurds suddenly found Ahmadi to be the candidate of their dreams - it could happen, I suppose. And, I suppose, John McCain could have won San Francisco in a landslide, as well.

And then there's this curious statistic: In 2005, in the first round of balloting, all three conservative candidates received a collective total from the entire country of only 41% of the vote. Yet in 2009, Ahmadi amassed a total of 63%. Where did all those votes come from?

Mistress, you seem to concede that Ahmadi was less popular in urban areas than in rural ones; that his constituency was not based in the cities in this election. The interesting aspect of this is that Ahmadi got most of his votes in 2005 from urban areas - he won because city-dwellers voted for him. If that's the case, and if he lost a substantial number of those voters this time around to Mousavi, how did he manage to increase his totals when rural voters only comprise 32% of the electorate? If the official tallies are to be believed he gained a good number of those voters at the expense of Karroubi, the most liberal of all the candidates. How a does a conservative candidate siphon votes from the most liberal?

Though I'm no expert in statistical analysis, those that are find this election more than a little suspect. Dr. Walter Mebane, a University of Michigan political science and statistics professor who specializes in statistical tools "for detecting anomalies and diagnosing fraud in election results," says, after looking at the data, he sees "moderately strong support for a diagnosis that the 2009 election was afflicted by significant fraud." Certainly no smoking gun, but there are some real statistical anomalies present.

You ask why we should assume that there could be a shift towards reform. Perhaps it is a generational shift. Young voters - and Iran is a young country having experienced an enormous baby boom between 83 and 86 as a result of the Iran/Iraq war - are just attaining their majority. They have the vote now. They have contact with the west (this is not North Korea, after all). Those young people suffer an unemployment rate of 40%. They want what all young people want - a voice in their future. And without sounding utterly pedestrian, they want peace.

When the U.S. elected Obama the door was opened. With the Bush/Cheney party going on saber rattling was the rule of the day. Iran was threatened, literally. Any external threat tends to entrench conservative attitudes (witness the U.S. immediately post-9/11). Ahmadi rattled back and succeeded in winning in 2005 because the population of Iran was rightly frightened. Obama changed the game. He offered during his campaign to change the tone. He is in many ways the Americans' peace offering - a way of saying we are going to change our way of doing business. With an offer like that on the table, maybe - just maybe - Iran and other countries are willing to do the same. Even after the Shah, and the CIA, and the hostages, perhaps the Iranian people want it enough as well.

The desire for reform in Iran, for a move away from the strict theocracy they have lived under for the last thirty years, seems to be genuine, if the street scenes we have witnessed the last week are any evidence. The chance to make a change seems too great for them to pass up. Make no mistake, Mousavi is a shrewd political animal. He has been around for a long time and is no fool, but I believe he is less in control of this now than we think. He is merely a vehicle for the Iranians to step forward and demand the change they desire.

Ahmadi may have honestly won. The entire thing may have been on the up and up. We may be in the process of being stupendously duped by a bunch of sore losers. You ask why we would assume otherwise. I do not assume, but I question what I have been told when common sense suggests otherwise - when the story gets fishier and fishier the more it's told. When the people who have the most to lose from reform are also the people that are charged with determining irregularities in the election - when those people use truncheons and threats to put a stop to legitimate questions from their own population - I get very suspicious, indeed.

The Guardian Council of Iran, currently charged with looking into problems with the election, determined yesterday they will not recount the votes in that curious Kurdish province of Kermanshah, because "there has been no irregularity."

So, what, if anything, should we assume from that?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sign O' The Times

Prince needs double hip replacement surgery.

Keep up with this story on the Official Prince Hip Replacement Thread.

Burn, Baby Burn

A group identified as the Christian Civil Liberities Union has filed a suit in West Bend, WI seeking "the right to publicly burn or destroy by another means the library’s copy of Baby Be-Bop." Seems four elderly readers "claim their mental and emotional well-being was damaged by this book at the library,” which tells the story of a young teen coping with his homosexuality and suffering an attack of a homophobic gang.

That's right, even as the people of Iran march for freedom we have folks that literally want to burn books.

And in order to have suffered didn't they have to read the book?

A Proxy War?

While the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador for a meeting today to bitch that all these protests are the result of U.S. "meddling" (the swiss act as U.S. representatives since we have no formal relations with Iran), something else interesting has popped up.

Iranian film director,Mohsen Makhmalbaf, went on the BBC as a representative of Moussavi to say that Ahmadi is in cohoots with the Russians. He said Ahmadi had given the Russians many rights to the Caspian Sea over the last four years and that two high level Russian advisors were working with Ahmadi to teach the Basij thugs better oppression techniques.

via Sully

The Real Legacy Of Ghandi And King

Moussavi called for a day of mourning for those killed in the previous few days. Half a million by latest counts marched.

Note the lack of chanting. Also note the arrival of paramilitaries prompts the simple act of sitting.

There is no going back.

The GOP Are Just Like The Iranians

Wonkette points to twitters by Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Rep. John Culberson that recognize their common cause with the Iranians and their fight against their facist oppressors or the Democrats or, you know, whatever.

Nancy Pelosi sweeps from the upper right corner in stealth and drops seven buckets of napalm on Pete Hoekstra, a martyr. But just before Pete passes, as the fire consumes his eyes, he grabs Texas Rep. John Culberson by his tattered lapels. “I… I want you to take this back, to my family,” Hoekstra whispers to Culberson — his comrade, his Brother — and hands him a BlackBerry. “It is… locked… you have to press… star + send… what?… no no no…. ’send,’ I said… the little green telephone button… no, you have to press… press them simultaneously… there you go… now you must Twitt…” He dies. But Culberson knows.

Yeah, This Is Today

I don't think they're going away, Mr Khameni.

In Cyber Counter-Attack News

Curry believes the Iranian government has attacked his cell-phone, as his texting and internet functions have failed...

"Txt/internet down on cell. Iran govt jamming my cell reception."

...or his "reconditioned" new phone is as screwed up as his old one.

Either way, I'm sure it's Khameni's fault.

Curry adds,

"Basij broke my thumbs. Can not tweet. Revolution over."

Collateral Damage?

Mark Leon Goldberg over at UN Dispatch puts up a post arguing that no one has thought through the collateral damage brought on by the continuing DDoS attacks on Iranian government websites. He thinks the internet structure in Iran may be too fragile to handle it and the whole thing may come crashing down.

"Not unlike a coordinated bombing campaign against duel-use infrastructure like bridges and roadways, an organized DDOS attack campaign raises a number of moral and ethical questions. DDOS attacks are, after all, attacks. They are real and can be as destructive as conventional attacks on a country’s bridges or roadways. "

Nonsense. The Government there is already denying access to citizens and it is those very citizens that are coordinating and requesting the attacks.

Find a new moral dilemma - this one won't keep me up at nights.

A Tally Of Deaths So Far

From: Human Rights Activists in Iran
[Farsi: Majmu‘e-ye fa‘âlân-e hoquq-e bashar dar irân]

Numbers of dead in recent violence in Iran reach 32
Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 11:29

The Association of Human Rights Activists in Iran can confirm the
deaths of 32 Iranian citizens connected to the events of June 14 and
June 15, based on its own fieldwork and despite numerous other reports.

Most of these citizens lost their lives in the attack on Tehran
University dormitories on June 14 and the opening of fire by the
paramilitary Basij forces on June 15. The violence started after
Iranian citizens protested against the results of the tenth
presidential elections, and the interference of security and
paramilitary forces connected to the government.

In a statement, the public relations office of The Office to
Consolidate Unity [Iran’s biggest student organization] yesterday
reported the killing of at least seven students during the attack on
dormitories of Tehran University and other universities around the
country (Amnesty International said on June 15 there had been five

According to numerous and confirmed reports, the morgue at the Rasul Akram Hospital in Tehran has also stored eight people, who lost their lives during the shooting at defenseless people on Monday June 15.

In addition, Azerbaijani human rights activists have reported the
killing of two citizens of Orumiyeh during fights in that city on
June 15.

Finally, sources among the doctors at Erfan Hospital (which contains
ICU, CCU, NICU and 14 emergency operation rooms) in Western Tehran reported that 15 people were dead in the hospital, all connected to the shooting on June 15.

Reports of civilian deaths across the country received by the
Association are very high. However, it is impossible to confirm these
because of the highly militarized atmosphere and widespread arrests,
so the Association can only vouch for the deaths detailed above but
will continue the process of documentation and reporting.

via NIAC

Best Means Available

StopAhmadi reports that Iranians are writing messages on the money (bills) - "Where's My Vote?" & "Death to Dictator!"

How Badly Rigged Was The Election?

This badly.

From Iranian TV on Friday. Notice that at 9:47 am Karroubi had 633,048 votes, but later in the day at 1:53 pm he had 587,914. Somehow he lost votes as the day went on.

Um, how does that work exactly?

via StopAhmadi

Making More Crowds

The Iranian government's official media is making crowds. The Victory rallies for Ahmadi have been photoshopped. It's not enough that they are ordering state employees to go to the rallies and trucking them in by bus. Now they are just making them up.

No wonder they booted foreign media.

via Daily Kos

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pity The Nation

"In Brecht’s 'Life of Galileo,' Galileo’s students condemn him at the end of the court proceedings with these words: 'Pity the nation that doesn’t have a hero.'

'Pity the nation that needs a hero,' he responds wisely.

My generation is tired of being disillusioned. We refuse to accept the status quo and we have risen up in defiance. I am not sure how long it will take for the totalitarians to crush our resistance. For now though, we’re holding up just fine. We’re holding up fine even though our brothers at Basij and the police are murdering their dear fellow Iranians. We’re holding up even though you bash us with clubs and batons and try to suffocate us with your tear gas."

- A 25 year old Iranian man writing today on Tehranbureau.com.


Dorm room at Tehran University after militia attacks Sunday night.

Here's a photo catalog of the destruction.

A Note

A note from female medical student. Translated from farsi by a Pitney reader.


It's painful to watch what's happening.

I don't want anything to do with what has been said this far, as I neither have the strength nor the resilience to face all these unfathomable events.

I only want to speak about what I have witnessed. I am a medical student. There was chaos last night at the trauma section in one of our main hospitals. Although by decree, all riot-related injuries were supposed to be sent to military hospitals, all other hospitals were filled to the rim. Last night, nine people died at our hospital and another 28 had gunshot wounds. All hospital employees were crying till dawn. They (government) removed the dead bodies on back of trucks, before we were even able to get their names or other information. What can you even say to the people who don't even respect the dead. No one was allowed to speak to the wounded or get any information from them. This morning the faculty and the students protested by gathering at the lobby of the hospital where they were confronted by plain cloths anti-riot militia, who in turn closed off the hospital and imprisoned the staff. The extent of injuries are so grave, that despite being one of the most staffed emergency rooms, they've asked everyone to stay and help--I'm sure it will even be worst tonight.

What can anyone say in face of all these atrocities? What can you say to the family of the 13 year old boy who died from gunshots and whose dead body then disappeared?

This issue is not about cheating(election) anymore. This is not about stealing votes anymore. The issue is about a vast injustice inflected on the people. They've put a baton in the hand of every 13-14 year old to smash the faces of "the bunches who are less than dirt" (government is calling the people who are uprising dried-up torn and weeds).

This is what sickens me from dealing with these issues. And from those who shut their eyes and close their ears and claim the riots are in opposition of the government and presidency!! No! The people's complaint is against the egregious injustices committed against the people.

via Nico Pitney (who is liveblogging like a beast)

The Demands

The groovy cyber-warrior, StopAhmadi, has been leading and coordinating distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against Iranian government websites for a couple of days. He just listed the demands to the govenment:

"Give us back our internet/SMS/phones and we'll stop DDoS your sites"

Amusement Interlude

Got a hit on my blog a few moments ago.

Search words were:

"fix my spouse des moines"

They're At It Again

Twitter Maintenance

Twitter, which had scheduled a 90 minute outage for maintenance yesterday but then relented after twitter users argued it would put lives in danger, rescheduled it for today. The U.S State Department had formally requested that Twitter postpone the maintenance so people could access "this important means of communication."


Voice of America, it's signal now jammed in Iran, has opened a Twitter account.

Death In Esfahan

I hesitate to post these images. They are terribly unpleasant. But if you want pleasant watch Fox or CNN - maybe they're talking about Palin/Letterman or showing footage of water-skiing squirrels.

Shock Troopers

Bad News

Reports that there are 2000 Basij surrounding the dorms at Tehran University. The feeling is they are preparing for an attack. Students have nowhere to go.

Good News

StopAhmadi is back up on twitter.

And Now The Arrests

Reuters is reporting that former Vice President of Iran, Abtahi, has been arrested for "seditious acts."

He had spoken up in recent days regarding the validity of the election.

The Hood Comes Down

Twitter feeds from within Iran have not been updated in several hours. Reports say the internet is now completely shut down in Iran. With the press stifle in place there is now nothing coming out of Iran.

When it is completely dark the blood will flow like rivers. This is very bad.

"Batshit Insane"

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The Cyberwar Election Guide

For beginners... via Esko Reinikainen

The purpose of this guide is to help you participate constructively in the Iranian election protests through twitter.

1.Do NOT publicise proxy IP’s over twitter, and especially not using the #iranelection hashtag. Security forces are monitoring this hashtag, and the moment they identify a proxy IP they will block it in Iran. If you are creating new proxies for the Iranian bloggers, DM them to @stopAhmadi or @iran09 and they will distributed them discretely to bloggers in Iran.

2.Hashtags, the only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88, other hashtag ideas run the risk of diluting the conversation.

3.Keep you bull$hit filter up! Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters. Please don’t retweet impetuosly, try to confirm information with reliable sources before retweeting. The legitimate sources are not hard to find and follow.

4.Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become ‘Iranians’ it becomes much harder to find them.

5.Don’t blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don’t publicise their name or location on a website. These bloggers are in REAL danger. Spread the word discretely through your own networks but don’t signpost them to the security forces. People are dying there, for real, please keep that in mind.

6.Denial of Service attacks. If you don’t know what you are doing, stay out of this game. Only target those sites the legitimate Iranian bloggers are designating. Be aware that these attacks can have detrimental effects to the network the protesters are relying on. Keep monitoring their traffic to note when you should turn the taps on or off.

7.Do spread the (legitimate) word, it works! When the bloggers asked for twitter maintenance to be postponed using the #nomaintenance tag, it had the desired effect. As long as we spread good information, provide moral support to the protesters, and take our lead from the legitimate bloggers, we can make a constructive contribution.
Please remember that this is about the future of the Iranian people, while it might be exciting to get caught up in the flow of participating in a new meme, do not lose sight of what this is really about.

Eek, A Mouse

It's Going To Be Really Bad

The Culture Ministry for Iran has ordered all foreign press out of the country. They have forbidden journalists from reporting on any demonstrations. They have announced that anyone, citizen or press, seen with a camera on the streets will be arrested.

The last thing you want when you go ballistic on your own citizens is photographic evidence. This will be a very bloody day and night for Iran.

Ahmadi is in Russia today and I suspect the intent is to have a brutal crush of the uprising and then he can return as a saviour, untainted by the blood.

But the world knows...

Monday, June 15, 2009

When War Is Fought With Technology...

A student's computer following a militia raid Sunday night on the Tehran University dormitories

...they will try to destroy your weapons.

Iranians have been forced to use proxie servers outside the country to communicate. The authorities have now started monitoring Twitter feeds (took them long enough) and are geo-locating them in order to punish the users. They have also begun zeroing in on specific cellphone users and arresting them.

Meanwhile activist hackers are swamping official Iranian government websites and crashing them from abroad.

Welcome to the Revolution.

Their Only Escape Route

People attempt to escape beatings by the police after today's rally. Note the route the women are forced to choose - that's rushing water

Here's a link to a pic of a shooting victim (warning - very graphic)

After The Shooting

Cellphone pic taken after shooting at rally.

Unconfirmed reports say four dead, many wounded, and the shooter, a member of the militia, was beaten to death by the crowd.

People running from tear gas at rally in Esfehan


From NIAC:

“Dr. Jebhe Dar Maralani, the president of Tehran University’s College of Electronics resigned in protest to last night’s killing of five students.”

119 other faculty have tendered their resignations as well

The Muffle

The BBC has had their Farsi language satellite service jammed - the jamming source pinpointed to Iran. The BBC Persia's phone lines have been jammed too - "The number is not in our network", says the recording. Tehranbureau.com has been brought down by Denial of Service attacks. And now Andrew Sullivan's blog is under attack as well. The desperate attempts by the powers that be in Iran to muffle any news are becoming more substantial as their hold on power becomes more tenuous.

update: Sullivan says now they've determined his blog is not being attacked - merely swamped by readers trying to get updates.

A Good Day Turns Tragic

URGENT -- A photographer with AP says at least 1 person dead after pro-government militia open fire at opposition protesters in Tehran.

Reuters: Witness says "many" people have been wounded after the shootings in Tehran.

Because It Matters

Hundreds of thousands rally in defiance of a Iranian government ban to hear Mousavi, Khatami & Karoubi demand new elections today in Tehran

Recently twittered:

  • @persiankiwi Tehran streets are a sea of GREEN - many many hundreds of thousands. ... Militia still attacking people in sidestreets but main roads are peaceful marchers."

Mousavi: "These masses were not brought by bus or by threat. They were not brought for potatoes. They came themselves"

All these marchers are officially breaking the law.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

MSM Finally Gets It But Then Gets The Boot

NBC has reports that their offices in Tehran have been raided and their gear confiscated. ABC says the same thing about their equipment and that they have been reduced to shooting video on cellphones. The BBC (who have been on this story from the beginning) have been told to leave Iran immediately, after they published an editorial criticizing Iran for jamming their Farsi language satellite service.

The poor MSM can't catch a break.

Ironically, they inform us of all this by way of... you guessed it... Twitter.

From The Rooftops

Revolutionary Guardsmen enter the dormitories at Shiraz University, beating students and using rubber bullets. One student was beaten to death for wearing a green shirt.

They're at it again in Tehran. The deafening chant for tonight is "Marg bar Diktator!" (Death to the Dictator!). Once again the word went out on twitter - this time for a 9:00 PM start time. They were prompt.

Mousavi has called for a general strike on Tuesday thoughout the country.

In news of twittered disinformation, a previously unheard from twitterer, Change_for _Iran, called for a protest during the day today on a major Tehran boulevard. However, word soon went out that no one should go - it had not been arranged with Mousavi's backers and was suspected of being a trap. Sadly the warnings arrived too late and sure enough, many protest leaders were immediately arrested when they arrived.

The hazards of deceptive tweets.

How We Get Our News, or, #CNNfail

20 years ago, during a period that began at Tianamen Square, ran through the fall of the Berlin Wall, and culminated with the first Gulf War there was a great cultural shift. The dinosaurs of news gathering and dissemination - the Big Three Networks - slowly slipped into the tar pits of history, their massive bodies straining and flailing against the sticky ooze that was slowly encasing them. The young, more fluid, upstart CNN didn't even offer condolences as it raced by them, delivering news 24 hours a day to an audience that demanded it. Others followed and the big networks became a sad anachronism. Such are the vagaries of evolution.

This weekend we are seeing the next stage.

Those once young upstarts, CNN, FOX, MSNBC and a host of others are showing just how long they are in the tooth (despite a mere 30 or so years of age). Events in Iran have outpaced the news channels' abilities to keep up. They have been left in the dust by the new, swifter, more agile means of news dissemination. Hell, the old boys didn't even know there was news! While updates on the situation were twittered and blogged, facebooked and flickred, youtubed and texted across the globe, CNN was talking about an insult to the First Lady (and apparently airing hilarious video of a water-skiing squirrel... really). MSNBC was re-running their abysmal behind bars crapola. Fox was talking about Iran, but as if it was all over - "We shouldn't expect Israel to stand for this."

That there is actually a top-trending twitter hashtag, #CNNFAIL, speaks volumes. CNN, which beat the old networks down 20 years ago, is now the whipping boy for this backlash. Considering CNN didn't get a story up on its website until Saturday night, and then it was titled "Ahmadinejad plans rally after winning second presidential term," they actually deserve abuse. They missed the boat. The once swift and informative has become the dull and distracted. They bask in their own Le Brea stickiness. And they don't even know it.

They actually think they are on top of things - that this new technology is their servant rather than their deathknell. Rick Sanchez can tweet all he wants. Steve Doocy can read all the emails his heart desires. Keith Olbermann can play all the youtube videos he can get his hands on. None of it matters. They are just at that classic death stage - denial. Mainstream Media has clogged arteries and the only bypass being discussed is the one where the public bypasses them completely. They are on their way to the hospice now, loaded up with morphine (which might explain the water-skiing squirrel). Make your goodbyes.

Surprisingly one of the dinos we thought was surely dead has proven itself revitalized this weekend. The New York Times, written off without even a word of condolence, kept up with all of it this weekend. They used their formidable skills and capable writing to keep pace with the blazing speed with which information flowed. Frequently updating, they became an aggregator of all the various streams and tributaries. They finally got it. If a major news organization wants to survive they must learn to collect and edit on the fly the immense amount of info available. They must become even more agile and nimble. They must accept the fact that the consumer is now the producer. They must evolve.

Marshall Kirkpatrick pointed out this morning that the new calculus is: Tianamen + Twitter = Tehran. As clever (scores for alliteration and historical reference), pointed and altogether accurate as it is, it should be read as a last will and testament because, ironically enough, he wrote it for that old dinosaur, Time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Revolution Will Be Twitterized

How did all those Iranians know to get up on their roofs at 4:00 AM local time in order to chant at a deafening roar? How did they do it when all traditional means of communication had been shut down? When all the opposition candidates had been arrested and the government had performed a surgical coup d'etat against the people's will?

Welcome to our brave new world.

However it turns out in Tehran, world governments, you are now on notice - your shit no longer flies.

addendum: the twitter from Mousavi's camp was partially correct. Cell phone nets were down, texting was down, and much of the internet was blocked (including Mousavi's Facebook page), but satellite phones were up and some net access remained available. Thus Iranians could see this and other messages throughout the day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Ahh, The sound of jackhammers in the morning. The patio is being demolished - all 1100 sq ft of 6 inch thick concrete - to make way for a bio-barrier for the mulberry tree and then new pavers and benches and whatnot. If the mulberry roots weren't destroying the house we would not be doing this... or spending the fortune it's costing us.

This is day two of the jackhammering and my ears are ringing. The whole house shakes when it goes off as the concrete is attached to the foundation of the house. The Boy is perturbed and has had enough. I've had to prevent him from venting at the construction guys for drowning out his episodes of Wonderpets.

We're hopeful this will all be completed by July.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Best Beer Ad Ever

Where in the world does this thing air?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Creeping (And I Mean Really Creeping) Socialism

For all those out there fretting that Obama's gonna make us all socialist and stuff.

At this rate, it might take a while.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Brain (Not) At Work

Having three kids has its effects on you. There is the sleep depravation. There is the constant running from appointment to appointment. There is the sense of working as a short-order cook as hunger in them wanes and waxes with no real harmony. There is the mismatch between the number of hands you have and the number of children that need handling. There is the constant picking up. There is the overwhelming sense of general disorder. And there is the brain - confused, overstretched, approaching its limit - that, unable to cope with it all, begins to fail. This, in short, is my life now.

To wit:

Ever since the birth of number three I have been calling her by her sister's name. It's habit and I can't help it. I absentmindedly use the names interchangably - Flyn for Greer and Greer for Flyn. The kids, bless them, don't seem to mind. I had hoped it would pass. This weekend however, it got worse. Instead of calling them by the wrong names, my brain opted for another approach to ease its exhaustion. I began, unconsciously, to refer to the Girls as Fleer and Grin.

Fleer and Grin.

It keeps happening now, and because it slips so easily off the tongue I can't seem to stop.

Thankfully the Boy remains Arlo... but for how long?

Pot Meet Kettle

Hey, I have been politically silent for a while. All good things come to an end.

Everybody get a chance to hear Representative (and former Republican presidential candidate), Tom Tancredo's remarks last week regarding Obama's choice for Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor? Let's refresh, shall we?

"If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino — it’s a counterpart — a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that in a way that’s going to convince me and a lot of other people that it’s got nothing to do with race. Even though the logo of La Raza is 'All for the race. Nothing for the rest.' What does that tell you?"

That's right, he called her a racist.

Now let's just ignore for the moment whether what Tancredo is saying has any substance at all. Instead let's see if he knows racism - real racism - when it looks him in the eye, writes his speeches, staffs his office and acts as Co-Executive Director of his PAC, Team America.

Marcus Epstein, Tancredo's speechwriter, staffer, and, yes, Co-Executive Director of Tancredo's Team America has pled guilty to attacking a random African-American woman on a street in Washington DC in 2007. He was witnessed walking down the street muttering offensive remarks when he suddenly jumped at the woman who was passing by, karate-chopped her in the head, and shouted the N-word. He fled the scene but was apprehended by an off-duty Secret Service agent who witnessed the attack. Mr. Epstein is to be sentenced on July the 8th.

Even better than that, Mr. Epstein is also the founder of YWC, Youth for Western Civilization, a known white supremacist group. This is all rather bizarre since Mr. Epstein is half Jewish and half Korean, and that ethnicity has usually been used by folks on the right to defend him. But his actions are rather indefensible. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the One People's Project have followed Mr. Epstein for quite some time and their feeling is that Marcus is the real deal in racism.

From an essay by Epstein:

“Diversity can be good in moderation — if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don’t mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers — as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture.”

Referring to Howard Dean's comment that the GOP was becoming the "White Party", Epstein said:

Were it not for massive Third World immigration, being the “White Party” would mean being “The Winning Party”.

So there you have it. Rep Tancredo's proclaimed abhorence for anything that might appear racist does not seem to include those closest to him. Mr. Epstein remains in his postition at Team America.