Betray the truth, but don’t betray the revolution

Quote for the day:

This is the language and logic of Leninism. There is no truth or falsehood comrades, there is only service to the revolution or betrayal of the revolution.

David Frum:  former George W. Bush speech writer, now a pariah to his neo-conservative ex-colleagues — and, lamentably, a Canadian — lays a beating on a fellow Republican water carrier.

Congressman stabs homeless person, steals shoes

Not really. But Matthew Yglesias plays let’s pretend, in order to make a serious, legitimate point:

I’ve come to be increasingly baffled by the high degree of cynicism and immorality displayed in big-time politics. For example, Senators who genuinely do believe that carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to a global climate crisis seem to think nothing of nevertheless taking actions that endanger the welfare of billions of people on the grounds that acting otherwise would be politically problematic in their state. In other words, they don’t want to do the right thing because their self-interest points them toward doing something bad. But it’s impossible to imagine these same Senators stabbing a homeless person in a dark DC alley to steal his shoes. And what’s more, the entire political class would be (rightly!) shocked and appalled by the specter of a Senator murdering someone for personal gain. Yet it’s actually taken for granted that “my selfish desires dictate that I do x” constitutes a legitimate reason to do the wrong thing on important legislation.

Follow the Constitution, not fear

Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, is currently facing confirmation hearings.

Talking Points Memo has enlisted an appellate litigator to sift through the proceedings. If you enjoy law, as I do, Pincus’s live reporting is very interesting.

I am particularly delighted by an exchange between Sotomayor and Senator Feingold. Feingold asked a question about the Korematsu case,

in which the Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Judge Sotomayor says the decision was wrong, and Feingold asks how Justices can avoid such errors. “A judge should never rule from fear. A judge should rule from law and the Constitution.”

How does a judge resist fears? “By having the wisdom to understand always no matter what the situation that our Constitution has held us in good stead for over 200 years and that our survival depends on upholding it.”

In brief, judges should be guided by the Constitution, not fear. In light of everything that happened during the Bush years (when fear was used as a pretext for executive actions contrary to the Constitution), those are very reassuring words indeed.

Also relevant:  Sotomayor’s reply here:  “In answer to your specific question, Did [9/11] change my view of the Constitution? — No sir.”

The green revolution is still on

Things have been relatively quiet in Iran for a week or so, with the government effectively throttling communications and stifling protest by indiscriminate violence and arrests of leading figures. But yesterday — day 28 — the protests were renewed with a vengeance.

Juan Cole comments:

Hundreds of protesters braved tear gas and even some live fire to march toward Tehran University on Thursday, commemorating a crushed student protest movement of 1999 as well as protesting the allegedly stolen elections of June 12. Police intervened to disperse them. A new and significant feature of this demonstration was that simultaneous rallies also occurred in cities all around the country. Although the crowds were relatively small, this national coordination suggests a national underground organization is emerging. The authorities cut off text messaging capabilities on Thursday in a vain attempt to thwart networking.

Andrew Sullivan posts tweets from inside Iran:

Despite being beaten, general feeling is that we WON today!

fires everywhere in Azadi street

Basidj used a gas that burned our skins its still red and inflamed

Plain clothes r now pulling ppl out of stores attacking ppl in streets around enghelab squar

Riot Police using Plastic Bullets at Enghelab Sq, Clashes spreading to all streets nearby.

Police arresting seemingly at random, throwing tear gas into buses

And this, via email to Lara Setrakian:

One person had his arm shattered in different places, another had a broken skulls. As soon as we came out of the houses they continued to use the tear gas and batons. We ran, but it was no use. A young girl and young man were killed in front of us. […]

After a lot of running away and chasing, we tried to get out of being encircled by police. The only option seemed like suicide — we had to cross them, passing through hundreds of officers. They did not think that any protesters would come toward them, so they didn’t think we were part of the demonstration. […]

We were in the red zone and it was nothing less than war. Pray for us.

A worrisome development

Andrew Sullivan is posting tweets commenting on Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech at Friday prayers. Khamenei is the Supreme Leader — he ranks higher than the President.

He has already declared President Ahmadinejad (the incumbent) the winner of the election, notwithstanding any irregularities:

Khamenei: We can talk about 1K, 100K, 1mil cheating but 11milions is not possible

This tweet is particularly worrisome:

The basij will be at Friday prayers today, their 1st public appearance in large numbers

The Basij are an unofficial police force. Whereas the regular police have been passive in their response to the mass demonstrations, the Basij have been cracking heads, and entering the homes of dissenters to arrest them.

The Basij are a tool of the Ayatollahs, but this appearance at the Friday prayers would seem to formalize their role. It’s an acknowledgement, by the clerics, that they condone the operations of the Basij.

Thus it could portend an escalation of the violent clampdown. Particularly when it is accompanied by statements like this from Khamenei, today:

Khamenei: Those politicians who make the situation chaotic, would be responsible for the bloods.

Power To The (Iranian) People

Day Five of the green revolution:  another day, another mass protest. An observer in Tehran estimated that 500,000 people marched from from Haft-e-Tir Square to Vali Asr Square.

Green Revolution, Iran, mass protest

Here are the Black Eyed Peas, sampling John Lennon’s “Power To The People” and adding their own vocals and music to the mix:

They say we want a revolution
We better get it on right away
You better get on your feet
And into the street
Power to the people …

This video gets rolling a little after the one minute mark. It’s not so dramatic. Just human voices, lifted up in protest. But Lennon would have admired their spirit.

And this video — of injured protesters, with gunfire in the near distance. Paul Wells says, “I just wanted to tip my hat to people who seek democracy in places where it’s harder than here.” My sentiments exactly.

The key to a successful revolution

Note:  i, Pundit has adopted a green header to express solidarity with the green revolution in Iran.
Today’s news from Iran, boiled down to two quotes and a photo.

First, from Michael Ledeen at pajamas media:

What’s going to happen?, you ask. Nobody knows, even the major actors. The regime has the guns, and the opposition has the numbers.

The opposition has the numbers, indeed! A photo via Paul Wells at Macleans:

Green Revolution massive protest

And the second, sobering quote, from the New York Times:

I received this note from an Iranian-American with family here: “The bottom line right now is whose violence threshold is higher? How much are the hard-liners willing to inflict to suppress the population and tell yet another generation to shut up? And how much are Moussavi and his supporters willing to stand to fulfill their dreams?”

How much violence can the regime stomach dishing out? How much violence can the people stomach absorbing? The key to a successful revolution — or a successful repression — may lie right there.


Bonus quote from Michael Ledeen. It’s a bit of a tangent, but a worthy point:

As most people have learned, the basic communiations tool is Twitter, which somehow continues to function. Bigtime Kudos to Twitter, by the way, for postponing its planned maintenance so that the Iranians can continue to Tweet. Would that Google were so solicitous of freedom. (emphasis added)

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