Monthly Archives: July 2009

Friday Misc. Roundup

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My temporary full-time teaching position ended in May so I am on the hunt for another f/t gig. I am teaching a political science class this summer and that is going well and I landed something p/t for the fall but would prefer something more meaningful lucrative.

Besides that, I am enjoying spending time with my son and my wife who is off work until the end of the summer on maternity leave. Bro-in-law is coming to meet his nephew next month. Last time we went to Keens Steakhouse in celebration of his passing his architect exam. We will not do anything so extravagant this visit but we always have a nice time.

There are a lot of interesting (and disturbing) events happening right now, but I have not had the time to write about them on my blog. So why don’t you have a read of these bloggers who have:

Max Boot and Ted Bromund at Contentious on Honduras

The ever prolific Bob from Brockley on Green Thursday

The Contentious Centrist has a post on Iranian blogger Selma

Roland Dodds (But, I am a Liberal!) on the Iraq War and Interventionism

Elder of Ziyon on U.N. hack Richard Falk’s support of terrorism

Flesh is Grass on Honduras

Ganselmi explains what the Iranian uprising has accomplished so far

Kellie (Airforce Amazons):  Imprisonment, Torture, Death and Life

Marko Attila Hoare (Greater Surbiton) on Harry’s place and anti-Muslim bigotry

Martin in the Margins continues with his series of excellent posts on Iran

Modernity blog nails The Guardian on antisemitism

Bill Roggio (Long War Journal) reports on the Iranian Quods forces released by the U.S. military

Sultan Knish asks “What is the Two-State Solution Supposed to Solve Anyway?”

ZWord’s Ben Cohen: Lies, Damn Lies, and the Apartheid Analogy

Remembering the Victims of 7-7-05

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Names of the 52 victims (h/t The New Current):

James Adams, 32
Samantha Badham, 36
Lee Baisden, 34
Phil Beer, 22
Ania Brandt, 43
Michael Stanley Brewster, 52
Ciaran Cassidy, 22
Benedetta Ciaccia, 30
Rachelle Chung For Yuen, 27
Elizabeth Daplyn, 26
Jon Downey, 34
Richard James Ellery, 21
Anthony Fatayi-Williams, 25
David Foulkes, 22
Arthur Edlin Frederick, 60
Karolina Gluck, 29
Jamie Gordon, 30
Richard Gray, 41
Gamze Gunoral, 24
Lee Harris, 30
Giles Hart, 55
Marie Joanne Hartley, 34
Miriam Hyman, 32
Slimane Ihab, 19
Ojara Ikeagwu, 55
Shahara Aqhter Islam, 20
Neetu Jain, 36
Emily Jenkins, 24
Adrian Johnson, 37
Helen Jones, 28
Susan Levy, 50
Sam Ly, 28
Shelley Mather, 26
Michael Matsushita, 37
James Stuart Mayes, 28
Anne Moffat, 48
Colin Morley, 52
Behnaz Mozzaka, 47
Jenny Nicholson, 24
Michelle Otto, 46
Shynuja Parathasangary, 30
Philip Stuart Russell, 28
Anat Rosenberg, 29
Atique Sharifi, 24
Christian Small, 28
Fiona Stevenson, 29
Monika Suchoka, 25
Carrie Taylor, 24
Mala Trivedi, 51
Laura Webb, 29
William Wise, 54
Gladys Wundowa, 50

Here are a variety of posts:

I Still Remember 7 July

Jawa Report

Jams (The Poor Mouth)

Normblog

Financial Times

The Independent

Grillin’ and Chillin’ on the 4th of July

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As promised, here are the recipes for what I am cooking this 4th of July.

Tri-Tip tortas, Santa Maria Santa Barbara Style

I grew up eating tri-tip and there is nothing like a plate with some beans, avocado, fresh salsa, and tortillas. But the way I like making it is in a torta. Not the Spanish torta (an omelette) the Mexican version, which is a sandwich. In this case, a grilled roll with salsa, avocado and plenty of tri-tip.

Tri-tip is common on the west coast, especially in the Tri-Counties (Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Louis Obispo) but it is impossible to find here in NY. So how did I get these beauties? My mom flew them out when she came to visit last week. If you know anywhere to get tri-tip in NY, please post a comment.

Ingredients:

One tri-tip roast

The rub/seasonings:

Kosher salt (not the finely ground stuff)

Fresh black pepper (ditto)

Paprika

Achiote Paste (If you can find it. If so, ease up on the salt as there is plenty in the paste.)

Garlic (the more the merrier)

Mix the dry ingredients (not the garlic) and rub both sides of the roast. Wasn’t that easy?

Tri-tip has a layer of fat on one side. Take a sharp knife and puncture through the fat and into the meat but make sure not to go all the way through the roast. You’ll be inserting garlic into these cuts (see pic below, should have used the flash). I usually use a half of clove per cut but if you want to use whole cloves, go for it.

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1) Sear the meaty side of the tri-tip first to trap the juices inside. A minute or two on a hot grill is good.

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2) Most of the cooking will be with the fat side down, on the cool side of the grill*. If you put it over direct heat the fat will drip into the fire and your roast will burn.

3) Leave it on the fat side until cooked to your liking and then finish with another minute or two on the meat side. I prefer a medium rare center with medium well on the ends. This one took about and hour and fifteen minutes to cook. The fat looks burned but when you slice into the tri-tip it is moist and juicy.

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Grilled Oysters

Sometimes referred to as bbq oysters but this is incorrect as bbq is slow cooking with indirect heat. Grilling is with direct heat.

First time I ever had these was at a 4th of July BBQ at Bolinas Beach, CA (another pic here). Been hooked ever since.

Ingredients

Oysters, loads of them. I like kumamotos best, but they are a bit hard to find on the east coast.

The sauce:

Sweet butter

White wine or beer (your choice, don’t use both)

Shallots

Italian (also called flat leaf) parsley. It has more flavor than the other stuff.

Crystal hot sauce

Fresh squeezed lemon juice

1) Put the butter, wine, etc. in a sauce pan or small iron skillet and place on the grill to melt butter and combine the ingredients.

2) Place the oysters (make sure they are cleaned off) on the direct heat. They only need to be on for a few minutes. Some people say to wait until they pop open but I find them to be too dry at that point.

3) Shuck the oyster and move over to the cool side of the grill. Spoon in some sauce and let it cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. Delicioso!

*Whenever you grill you should have one half set up with coals (I use mesquite) and the other half coal free. This allows you to move things over to the “cold side” of the grill when things get too hot. It also allows for a more indirect (slow) cooking method.

I was going to make some ceviche too, but this should be enough for our small group (with sides like grilled corn, salad, etc.) and you already have the recipe for ceviche.

Last but not least, here are a few tunes in my play list for the afternoon (make sure to hit the “HQ” button. the sound is much better):

All the People: Cramp Your Style (Classic funk jam)

Black Sugar: Walkin’ (Rare Groove loveliness)

Blue Mitchell: Asso-Kam (From the Graffiti Blues LP)

dZihan and Kamien: After (On the jazz-funk deep house tip)

Artemis: Elysian Fields (Atmospheric d’n’b)

I’ll send you off with Peshay’s: 3rd Party, Fire and Theft (Massive…)

Social Research Journal: Letter in Support of Iranian Dissident Akbar Ganji

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[If you want to add your name to this letter, please send an email to Social Research at socres@newschool.edu. Social Research website here.]
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Dear friends of Social Research,

Because you have joined us in protesting abuses of human rights in the past, we hope you will be willing to add your signature to the letter below. This is a letter from Akbar Ganji, an Iranian dissident who spent five years in jail in Iran, to the United Nations in response to the brutal assault on the Iranian citizens protesting the illegality of Ahmadinejad’s election. If you sign this letter, your signature will be included on the document presented to the United Nations. Time is of the essence here, so we hope you will get back to us right away. If you would like to join in signing Ganji’s letter, please reply to this e-mail with your name and affiliation, and we will pass your signature along.

Thank you,

Arien Mack
Alfred and Monette Marrow Professor of Psychology
Editor, Social Research
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To: Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki Moon
From: Akbar Ganji, journalist and political dissident
June 23, 2009

Dear Mr. Ban Ki Moon,

Evidence shows that in the Islamic Republic of Iran elections are not free, competitive or fair, and they never lead to a real transformation in the country’s political structure. Several reasons exist for this:

Article 110 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran (http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/ir00000_.html) places most of the power in the hands of the Supreme Leader (rahbar) and institutions that are directly under his control. Article 57 of the Constitution places all three branches of the government – namely the executive, legislative and the judicial branches – “under the purview of the absolute [divine] rule and [divine] leadership” of the Supreme Leader. The people of Iran only have a say in voting for the presidency, the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majles), and local councils. Even if the people’s representatives were to be elected on fair and competitive grounds, they would be unable to bring about any real reforms in the affairs of the state. Non-elective institutions, such as the Guardian Council, the Exigency Assembly, and the High Council of Cultural Revolution, often thwart and nullify the action of elected institutions.

In practice, the real power in Iran lies in the hands of the Supreme Leader (rahbar) and it goes beyond the letter of the law as written in the Constitution. According to Article 98 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Guardian Council has the authority to interpret the Constitution, and members of this Council are directly appointed by the Supreme Leader (rahbar). The Guardian Council holds that the power of the Supreme Leader is not limited by the letter of Constitution, rendering the powers of the rahbar of the Islamic Republic virtually limitless.

The recent Iranian elections were carried out under these same limiting circumstances. Moreover, political dissidents are excluded from the pool of candidates, and a pre-condition for being considered as a candidate is to express their belief in and adherence to Islam, the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, and the absolute authority of the Supreme Leader. In the latest parliamentary elections, the Council of Guardians disqualified some two thousand potential candidates and excluded them from the candidates’ pool. Again, in the most recent presidential elections, the Council of Guardians disqualified four-hundred-seventy-one applicants for candidacy and only allowed four candidates into the competition, all of whom had previously been top official positions in the Islamic Republic over the past three decades. During the Friday Prayer congregation on June 19th, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic publically divulged that the one candidate who came closest to his own personal views was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In the election held on June 12th 2009 more than eighty percent of eligible voters participated under these very restrictive and pre-screened conditions. Sadly, their free choice was rejected even in this latest election, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced as the winner.

Most Iranians concur that their vote has not been truthfully accounted for. All across the country, the people have come out and held peaceful rallies to protest electoral violations that amount to a drastic violation of their right to shape their future. Sadly, the government of the Islamic Republic has faced off these peaceful and civil protests harshly, and several innocent people, including students in the nation’s universities have been barbarically assaulted by the state police. Numerous political and civil activists have been imprisoned without due process and, and at the same time, communication networks have been widely disrupted and severe restrictions have been placed on the activities of reporters and international observers.

We, intellectuals, political activists, and defenders of democratic rights and liberties beseech you to heed the widespread protests of the Iranian people and to take immediate and urgent action by:

1)    Forming an international truth-finding commission to examine the electoral process, vote counting and the fraudulent manipulation of the people’s vote in Iran

2)    Pressuring the government in Iran to annul fraudulent election results and hold democratic, competitive and fair elections under the auspices of the UN

3)    Pressuring the government of the Islamic Republic to release all those detained in the course of recent protests

4)    Pressuring the government of the Islamic Republic to free the media that have been banned in recent days and to recognize and respect the right of the people to free expression of ideas and the nonviolent protesting the results of the recent elections

5)    Pressuring the government of the Islamic Republic to stop its harsh and barbaric treatment of the people of Iran

6)    Refuse to recognize Ahmadinejad’s illegitimate government that has staged an electoral coup, and curtailing any and all forms of cooperation with it from all nations and international organizations

Sincerely,

Democracy Promotion and the Obama Doctrine

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Democracy-We-Deliver

[The radical left view of democracy promotion]

I am writing in response to and in effort to engage in dialogue with some of my favorite blogs and bloggers who I think are too supportive of president Obama. I am particularly concerned about Obama’s dismissal of democracy promotion as a goal of U.S. foreign policy. I will provide three examples.

Obama has abandoned democracy promotion. The ostensible reason is the previous president, George W. Bush, is so closely associated with this concept and has irretrievably damaged it. As Joshua Muravchik points out in the recent Commentary (“The Abandonment of Democracy” July/August 2009), this perspective, while certainly common on the liberal (and radical) left, is historically inaccurate.

It was actually Jimmy Carter who placed democracy promotion at, if not the center, at least the periphery, of his foreign policy under the rubric of human rights. When Regan came to power in 1980, he was reluctant to continue Carter’s efforts. As Muravchik writes:

At first, Reagan was inclined to eschew human rights as just another part of Jimmy Carter’s wooly-minded liberalism. In an early interview, Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that the Reagan administration would promote human rights mostly by combating terrorism. But soon Reagan had second thoughts: instead of jettisoning the issue, he put his own distinctive spin on it by shifting the rhetoric and the program to focus more on fostering democracy.

George H.W. Bush followed in the footsteps of Reagan. President Clinton also made democracy promotion a centerpiece of his foreign policy. Liberal pundits often conveniently forget that Clinton was a steadfast advocate of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, a U.S. law that called for regime change in that county.

Obama has made it clear that he values diplomacy and discussion over the promotion of, well, just about anything. On the topic of democracy promotion he is noticeably silent if not opposed to the concept. Example One, witness his vacillation regarding the recent events in Iran.

As Martin Peretz (TNR) notes:

[T]he American people must learn this lesson from the winning “yes, we can” candidate. And this lesson is that we won’t even try when the stakes are as obvious as other people’s decent freedoms. We won’t even cut off trade with Tehran. The smug and cool Brent Scowcroft is now enthroned as the foreign affairs sage of Washington, D.C. Here is what he had to say late last week: U.S. government support for those Iranians who are protesting against electoral results would provoke a more intense crackdown by the government in Tehran. I think he gave the good news to the mullahs over Al Jazeera.

Anne Bayefsky (Forbes) concurs:

This is a man who embodies the opposite of the courage to act. His appalling ignorance of history prompted him to claim at his press conference that “the Iranian people … aren’t paying a lot of attention to what’s being said … here.” On the contrary, from their jail cells in the Gulag, Soviet dissidents took heart from what was being said here–as all dissidents dream that the leader of the free world will be prepared to speak and act in their defense.

The president’s storyline that we don’t know what has transpired in Iran is an insult to the intelligence of both Americans and Iranians. Our absence from the polling booths doesn’t mean the results are a mystery. The rules of the election were quite clear. Candidates for president must be approved by the 12-member Council of Guardians. As reported by the BBC, more than 450 Iranians registered as prospective candidates while four contenders were accepted. All 42 women who attempted to run were rejected. So exactly what part of rigged does President Obama not understand?

Instead of denouncing the fake election, President Obama now tells Iranians who are dying for the real thing “the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Whose sovereignty is that? The Hobbesian sovereign thugs running the place? Sovereignty to do what? To deny rights and freedoms to their own people? In a state so bereft of minimal protections for human dignity, why should the sovereignty of such a government be paramount?

Example Two, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) recently gave its annual Democracy Award to a group of Cuban activists, primarily Afro-Cuban dissidents. Obama refused to meet with their representatives in the U.S., instead preferring to profess his desire to transcend the barriers of ideology between the two countries.

From the NED website:

For fifty years the people of Cuba have been denied basic political, social, and economic freedoms. Today we recognize the courage and sacrifice of five activists who are determined to reclaim those freedoms for their country. Our honorees represent the broad and vibrant spectrum of opinion and activism in Cuba today. All five are relatively young, in their 30s and 40s; three are Afro-Cuban; one is a Christian Democrat and another is a Social Democrat; one is a trade unionist and another is a women’s leader. They are united in their commitment to democratic values, a philosophy of non-violence, and the goal of a free Cuba.

Their personal sacrifices are humbling: Ferrer, Linares, and Carrillo are in prison, arrested in the 2003 “Black Spring” crackdown on democratic activists. Their combined sentences total 70 years. Antúnez himself was imprisoned for 17 years until his release in 2007.

Perez has lived under constant harassment and now, with her husband Antúnez, is under house arrest, separated from her 14 year-old son. Despite solitary confinement, beatings, the denial of medical care, and separation from family, all five have persisted in their cause, countering their oppressors with hunger strikes and organizing for the support of other political prisoners.

Antúnez has written, “Peaceful action disarms oppressors in a moral sense. They may impede some action, but never the spirit or the goal that propels these activities.” Today we proudly stand in solidarity with these five in their struggle, confident that their dream of Cuba Libre will be realized.

Another telling glimpse of the Obama doctrine concerns the so-called “coup” in Honduras, my third example. In that country, President Manuel Zelaya was attempting to push a presidential referendum that would have allowed him to run for another term. Honduran specialists note that Zelaya was attempting to move the country down the path that was blazed by Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chavez i.e. weaken and subvert the constitution and rule of law so that he could attempt to become president for life.

When Zelaya tried to unilaterally call for a referendum, he was informed by the legislative branch that they would have to approve such a referendum before the public was able to vote one way or another. This is part of the country’s constitution. Zelaya attempted to circumvent the congress and take it straight to the voters but the Supreme Court informed him this was illegal under Honduran law.

Zelaya flaunted the legislative and judicial branch and had ballots, printed in Venezuela, flown into Honduras. At that point, the Supreme Court said “enough is enough” and requested the military take action. So this was not a coup d’état, at least not in the sense that I know the term. In a typical coup d’état, especially the Latin American variety, the military seizes the institutions of government (legislative, executive, judicial) or abolishes one or more. In this case, the president was calling for a subversion of the institutions of democratic government while the military defended those institutions.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady (WSJ) writes:

That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court’s order.

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.

Rather than side with democratic institutions and the rule of law in Honduras, our president declared the state’s actions “illegal” and had Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claim, “We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue”.

These statements were made less than a day after the so-called coup. Compare that to the long week of violence it took for Obama’s administration to condemn what was happening in Iran.

What these three examples show, a mere six months into Obama’s first term, is a severe break with the continuity in foreign policy of the past two decades,  a break with democracy promotion as a foreign policy goal of the United States. This is the change many Americans voted for. But is it the sort of change you really believe in?

MORE:

Roland (But, I am a Liberal!) Dodds: Miller and Kagan on the Obama Doctrine

Excellent roundup of the events in Honduras at Fausta’s blog.

Rick Richman:  Zelaya, Honduras and Obama

Sultan Knish: Obama, a Profile in Cowardice

Ken Timmerman: Obama Erases Pro-Democracy Money for Iran

Paul Wolfowitz: Obama and the Freedom Agenda (h/t to Roland)