Soldiering On

Iran falls into national paralysis as the nation reels from apparently-corrupted elections. Initially, there’s little way for us in the West to tell if the elections were less democratic than expected, but over time we learn that the returns came in way too fast and many cities reported more votes counted than there were people registered to vote, and that pretty much can’t help but look suspicious. The candidate who officially lost the election, Mousavi, issues statement after statement denouncing the election and the government of the Islamic Republic. Ahmadinejad sends out thugs to break up the resulting street protests. Mousavi’s denouncements continue, the protests continue. Then, Supreme Leader Khameni tells Mousavi, “Toe the line, bitch.”* Mousavi replies, in effect, “Or what? You gonna kill me? Dude — you think I’m more dangerous to you alive… or dead?” Just then, a young woman is shot to death by one of Ahmadinejad’s thugs and the event is captured on a cell phone’s camera and tweeted all over the world. Gasoline, meet fire.

All this has been a little bit overwhelming to see. I’m not entirely sure that the importance of this youth revolution in Iran is of such surpassing importance. The young voters are not protesting the institutions of the Islamic Republic. They are not protesting against theocracy, at least not yet. They are mad because they thought their guy was going to win and it looks like they got the election stolen from underneath them. So far the clerics who ultimately run the show there haven’t given them any reason to be worthy of trust. If the kids were out in the streets demanding a secular democracy, I’d be very excited. Until then, this really looks to me like election violence as we’d see pretty much anywhere. It would be really cool if Iran stopped being a theocracy but at this point it doesn’t look to me like that’s in the cards.

President Obama, meanwhile, takes his daughters out for ice cream on Father’s Day, and seems to be concentrating on a health care reform package of at-best questionable wisdom and at-most dubious affordability — so much so that even Democrats are starting to be concerned about the price tag.

Well, what’s he supposed to do? The U.S. and its leaders have been demonized for more than a generation in Iran. Whatever we say or do, Iranians reflexively want to do the opposite. And we’re a huge political bogeyman against whom the worst of the bad guys over there rally their minions. Silence is about the best possible policy imaginable from the White House. I may not be real fond of the health care reforms coming down the pike, but give the President the credit he’s due when he’s making the right call and keeping his mouth shut on this one. Maybe he should be concentrating on…

As the nation sinks further into crushing debt, a preview of what’s to come appears to be playing out in Sacramento. The nation’s largest state is still far away from making the additional cuts and tax hikes needed to solve what has now grown to a $23 billion budget deficit. That’s a deficit on the order of what the United States had to deal with as deficits — within living memory. Ultimate cuts are clearly going to be made in law enforcement, education, social welfare, and infrastructure. There is talk of a constitutional convention to re-structure the state government from the ground up.

Well, I’ve been saying for a long time that we need to make cuts and that they’re going to be painful. I’m of two minds about the idea of a constitutional convention — on the one hand, yeah, we clearly need something radically different than what we’ve got right now, but on the other hand, what evidence is there for the proposition that a convention be any better-equipped to solve the problems of the state than the Legislature is right now? Who gets to pick the delegates to the Convention, anyway, and if it’s going to happen, where do I sign up?

Oh, and the mayor of Los Angeles will not be running for Governor in 2010. Not that I blame him; I wouldn’t want the job, either. Tom Campbell and Meg Whitman have both got to be insane if they think they stand a snowball’s chance in Death Valley of winning the general election. It’ll either be San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom or Attorney General (and former Governor) Jerry Brown.

What? Didn’t I say a year and a half ago that it was the 1970’s all over again? Huge budget deficits, revolutions in Iran, disco music, a popular Demcoratic President unable to rein in a runaway liberal Democratic Congress, teenagers with really bad shaggy haircuts and strange clothing, inflation, politicians arguing about abortion and gun control, massive pop-culture resentment to the previous Republican Administration, John Travolta a major star falling into obscurity, unemployment, and tiny unattractive cars — and it looks like Jerry Brown is going to be the Governor of California. Anything I miss? Oh, yeah, this time around no one’s talking about the metric system, other than now everyone knows how much soda you get in a two-liter bottle.

South Carolina’s governor, a widely-touted Presidential candidate in 2012, vanishes. No one’s seen or heard from him since Thursday. His wife has no idea where he is, but she says she’s “not concerned,” he’s just “recharging” after a tough political battle. His political enemies are ready to start drawing blood. His bodyguards have, well, some egg on their face. And his Presidential prospects are at serious risk.

If the guy is sane, he’s looking out at world events and looking ahead to the debt the country will be saddled with from 2013-2016, and the bizarrely high level of popularity President Obama enjoys despite the Carter Administration-like problems that are emerging during his Presidency. I’d be on a flight to Vegas, saying “F*@% that noise. You want it in ’12, Sarah Palin? It’s all yours. I try and do the right thing and get stabbed in the back by my own party? No thanks, I’ll take wall-to-wall hookers and desktops full of blow instead of dealing with this government crap. Oh, what, my future? Shit, even Elliot Freaking Spitzer‘s making a comeback, so maybe I’ll just grab me a room at the Venetian, have them send up a baseball steak medium rare, a fifth of Jimmy Beam, and a brunette. I’ll come back when I’m good and damn ready to.”

…Oh, wait, he’s hiking the Appalachian Trail? Damn, that’s not nearly as interesting as what I wrote. It’s not even in South Carolina at all.

Pat Buchanan was the keynote speaker at an English-only event. The banner misspelled the word “conference.”

Sometimes these things just write themselves. In fact, no one would have paid much attention to the English-only conference if it hadn’t been for the amusing mistake.

So that’s my news roundup from the past four days or so.

Truth be told, it’s exhausting keeping up with current events. I’ve considered putting the blog on hiatus for a week or two because I need to recharge my creative batteries and focus on some other projects instead. Hell, if Mike Reynolds can go for three months doing nothing but a squib bragging about referring to “sport peppers” in a British newspaper, then damnit, I can take a week off, too. You don’ t owe us anything, but we miss you, M. Takhallus.

* An admittedly loose translation from the original Farsi.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.