Tag Archives: election

Surveillance in Iran

The WSJ reported today on the surveillance infrastructure Iran has deployed over the last year and it explains why Iranians have been complaining about the speed of Internet access. It seems likely that the regime is monitoring (quite comprehensively) the activities of all Iranians. Since the internal network is controlled by the regime, it may be possible for them to identify protesters who are posting information online. This makes it extremely important that the protesters are successful in having the election re-run. If the current administration stays in place, they will most likely resort to a bloody purge, similar to ones in 1989 and 1999, killing another generation of reformist leaders. Ayatollah Montazeri’s fear that “People in the world are getting the idea that our business in Iran is just murdering people” will be realized in horrific fashion.

Meanwhile, the Guardian Council admitted that up to 3 million votes cast may be questionable, at the same time they claim this could not have affected the outcome (it’s 9% of the vote). It seems to me that the Guardian Council (all of whom are directly or indirectly appointed by Khamenei) are trying to reduce the appearance of lying through their teeth, but still trying to avoid another election. NYT’s The Lede blog has an analysis of the vote from a more disinterested organization.

Of course, the story of the day is a video of a young woman being shot in a melee. The videos are online, I’m not going to link to them, some news outlets are identifying her as Neda Soltan. A number of people as young as her have been killed, most likely by security forces using deadly force against largely peaceful protesters as a means of intimidation. Roger Cohen writes in today’s NYT about why these killings are a bad idea for the regime, given the importance of martyrdom in Shia history.

Why you don’t want McCain for a neighbor.

John McCain wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today with a revealing line:

I have a plan to protect the value of homes and get them rising again by refinancing mortgages so your neighbor won’t default and further drag down the value of your house.

I find it amazing that the first thought to come to McCain when he thinks of his neighbor facing foreclosure is how it affect the price of his own home. I certainly wouldn’t want to have him for a neighbor.

Many Americans are worried about the value of their homes, but when their neighbors face foreclosure I believe they’re thinking of a number of other things before they worry about their own home’s value.

  • We care about our neighbors and don’t want this worst of financial stresses on them and their families.
  • We don’t want our kids to worry about whether their friends on the block are going to move away or go hungry.
  • We don’t want the communities we live in, small or large, and our country to be full of people forced to make desperate decisions.
  • We wish our neighbors the best and want to help them if we can.

Thankfully, most Americans will think about these things first and their home values second. They know that in the long-run retaining strong, livable communities is what will help rebuild the value lost in our homes. I think this appeal to selfishness, is what has destroyed the McCain campaign and turned off most of the electorate. I find it utterly distasteful that the campaign has been pitting Americans against each other with the pro and anti-American rhetoric. The promotion of divisiveness at every level, amongst states, amongst races, amongst age groups, amongst gender, amongst faiths is shameful given the circumstances we are confronting.

The biggest risks I see to our economy are people losing trust in the person on the other side of the table or making desperate decisions out of fear. All business is about trust, and a lot of it has been shattered recently. And I know that in the long-run our prosperity is furthered by helping those hurt by this crisis survive it. Not because it’ll preserve the value of my house tomorrow, but because eventually it will create better opportunities for all of us.

I can’t say it as well as Obama did:

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this economic crisis, it’s that we are all in this together. From CEOs to shareholders, from financiers to factory workers, we all have a stake in each other’s success because the more Americans prosper, the more America prospers.

There is a piece in McCain’s op-ed I like and I thought I’d point that out too:

I have devoted my life to safeguarding America. Former Secretary of State George Shultz compares diplomacy to tending a garden — if you want to see relationships flourish, you have to tend them. I have done that, by traveling the world and establishing ties with everyone from dissidents to heads of state. There is great need for American leadership in the world, and I understand that only by exercising that leadership with grace and wisdom can we be successful in safeguarding our interests.

and I think there’s something here that the Obama campaign should also pay attention to. The thing that worries me the most about the Obama campaign is the occassional anti-trade, protectionist rhetoric. One of the civilizing acts we engage in every day is the free exchange of an everyday purchase. This works on the global level as well. I know there is a portion of the left that is adamantly against globalization and I don’t deny that there is exploitation of workers and resources in many parts of the world. But in sum, trade is a civilizing influence for the community of countries, and one of the best way to build trust. Trade and capitalism within the institutional context of strong individual rights have done more to lift people out of poverty than all the well-meaning protectionism in the world. I think Obama recognizes that.

On a personal note, I’m a libertarian, because I believe in the justness and dignity of individual liberty. But that does not mean I am a selfish or self-centered person, I just don’t think anyone else has the standing, contextual information or ability to make good decisions on my behalf. But that doesn’t mean I’m selfish and incapable of empathizing with someone else’s pain. And it certainly does not mean I’m blind to the fact that my life will be miserable if a significant portion of the country begins to suffer from deep insecurity.

Obama’s op-ed published in the WSJ is here. I’ll end with another quote:

You can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo. If you give me your vote, we won’t just win this election — together, we will change this country and change the world.

I hope his presidency lives up to our expectations.

Why Obama-Biden will win, and win HUGE (390).

I’ve heard way too much worrying than warranted from friends and colleagues who lean the right way but fear the election will be lost due to hidden racism or just plain stolen. Well here’s why we’ll win and win HUGE (390 electoral votes)!

Here’s why we’ll win (big picture):

  • The mood in the country is to throw the rascals (republicans) out.
  • The republicans made a huge mistake forcing McCain hard right, pairing him with Rove’s underlings, and making him pick Palin. Not to mention changing the message every other day. I feel sorry for McCain, especially since I supported him in 2000, he didn’t deserve this.
  • The Obama campaign is very enthusiastic and extremely well-run. I volunteered for Kerry and that was amateur hour compared to this one.
  • The polls are underestimating two things, young voter turnout (since many pollsters don’t call cellphones) and many of them are using 2004 stats to figure out how many newly registered voters will vote. Newly registered voters are extremely motivated this year, with high percentages having voted early.
  • The army of lawyers and volunteers that has been dispatched by the campaign will protect voters from disenfranchisement.

A few words about how I get to 390:

  • The media’s claimed Pennsylvania, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada are battlegrounds to look fair. Anyone who’s looked closely at the polls knows Obama will win big here.
  • Florida and North Carolina will break for Obama, the early voting seems to confirm that, people in Florida are worried abou the bad housing bubble there and their investments, Obama is much clearer on these issues.
  • I think Ohio and West Virginia will break for Obama, economics trumps everything else. Obama and McCain both like clean coal, Fox fails!
  • In Missouri folks will vote with their better selves in mind, and vote against the divisiveness of the McCain-Palin campaign.
  • Georgia has seen record early-voting, and record African-American turnout. This will be a surprise and good riddance to Chambliss who ran those despicable ads against Max Cleland.
  • Montana voted for Bill Clinton and will come home. Go Tester! Go Schweitzer!
  • North Dakota, just to round things out. They’re too close to Canada not to have the good sense to vote for Obama-Biden!

Oh and hey Lou. Here’s why we’ll win Montana