June 21, 2009

Now They Tell Us: How Many Know That Khamenei Has ‘Virtually Limitless Authority’?

KhameneiIt struck me, in reading this AP dispatch from Tehran by Nasser Karimi and William J. Kole, that the political and media establishment has, in the two decades since the death of the very visible Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni, allowed Ali Hoseyni Khamenei, his successor as the Supreme Leader of Iran, to fade comfortably into the background, while still pulling all the meaningful levers of power in that country.

Only now, with Tehran in turmoil, and of all things during an attempted media blackout, do we directly learn from Karimi and Kole that election winners are in most meaningful ways mere puppets who serve at Khamenei’s pleasure, and that the elections themselves are mere spectacles designed to convince the populace, and perhaps more importantly the West, that Iran, though Islamic fundamentalist to the core, is still somehow a sort-of democratic country.

It is, of course, anything but that. I daresay that most in the West, up to and including many politicians and establishment media elites, and even presidential candidates, haven’t even the faintest appreciation of this fact.

In their report, Karimi and Kole communicated the essence of Iran’s reality in one concise phrase, referring to “the virtually limitless authority of the country’s most powerful figure.” Now they tell us.

Here are some key paragraphs from the read-it-all AP report, time-stamped at just after 10 a.m. Eastern Time on June 21 (bold is mine):

In Tehran, an eerie calm as death toll jumps to 17

An eerie calm settled over the streets of Tehran Sunday as state media reported at least 10 more deaths in post-election unrest and said authorities arrested the daughter and four other relatives of ex-President Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of Iran’s most powerful men.

The reports brought the official death toll for a week of boisterous confrontations to at least 17. State television inside Iran said 10 were killed and 100 injured in clashes Saturday between demonstrators contesting the result of the June 12 election and black-clad police wielding truncheons, tear gas and water cannons.

Police and members of Iran’s Basij militia took up positions Sunday afternoon on major streets and squares, including the site of Saturday’s clashes, but there was no immediate word on whether protesters were gathering.

Iran’s regime continued to impose a blackout on the country’s most serious internal conflict since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

….. But fresh images and allegations of brutality emerged as Iranians at home and abroad sought to shed light on a week of astonishing resistance to hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The New-York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said scores of injured demonstrators who had sought medical treatment after Saturday’s clashes were arrested by security forces at hospitals in the capital.

It said doctors had been ordered to report protest-related injuries to the authorities, and that some seriously injured protesters had sought refuge at foreign embassies in a bid to evade arrest.

….. Thousands of supporters of Mousavi, who claims he won the election, squared off Saturday against security forces in a dramatic show of defiance of Khamenei.

Underscoring how the protesters have become emboldened despite the regime’s repeated and ominous warnings, witnesses said some shouted “Death to Khamenei!” at Saturday’s demonstrations – another sign of once unthinkable challenges to the virtually limitless authority of the country’s most powerful figure.

Khamenei’s out of sight, out of mind “strategy,” which could in fact be a personal preference for reclusiveness, has clearly worked to shape the perception of his country’s political situation and the nature of its “government.” Until this weekend, few even knew who he is.

Intentionally or not, news reports over the years have facilitated this ignorance. A Google News Archive search on “Ali Khamenei” (in quotes) from 1/1/1989 through 12/31/2008 returns about 33,000 items. That might seem like a lot, but it’s less than 1,700 per year. A Google News Archive search on “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad” (also in quotes) from 6/1/2005 (about two months before he became “President”) through 12/31/2008 returns almost 99,000 items — over 27,000 per year during 3-plus years.

At a minimum, Karimi and Kole’s “revelation” unmasks the reality that the very idea of “meeting with Ahmadinejad” accomplishes nothing. It demonstrates that as long as a Supreme Leader is in control in the “Islamic Republic,” an Iranian “President,” whoever he might be, it best seen as the equivalent of a diplomat with no real authority.

Perhaps inadvertently under the stress of current events, the AP writers performed a useful service in reminding us of that. More frequent reminders of that from establishment media reporters would be very useful. If Khamenei and Ahmadinejad politically survive the current turmoil (and I fervently hope they don’t), I recommend that phraseology on the order of “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is subservient to the virtually limitless power of Ali Khamenei” become standard fare.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Joe Biden Explains It All’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:30 am

BidenConfused0609.jpgIt’s here.

The subheadline is:

The VP in effect admits that his party risked the economy to pander for votes.

It hasn’t taken too long to generate quite a few comments.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

Free Pass: Obama’s Strident ‘Vow’ To AMA ‘Shouldn’t Be Taken Literally’; AP Yawns

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:42 am

ObamaAtAMA061509Imagine, if you can, that George W. Bush made a clearly and deliberately false statement (by the way, what the left claims are his five major lies weren’t, and still aren’t).

Now further imagine if the Bush administration’s response to criticism of the statement, if not true, had been, “Oh, the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken literally.” The press uproar over such a dismissive response would have been justifiably immediate and furious.

In his address to the American Medical Association this past Monday, President Barack Obama promised that:

…. no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.

Well, Richard Alonzo-Zaldivar at the Associated Press at least noticed that Dear Leader’s promises can’t possibly be kept. But wait until you see his nonchalant reaction to what a conscientious press would immediately decry as a series of obvious falsehoods.

Here are key paragraphs from the AP report (bolds are mine):

Promises, Promises: Obama’s health plan claims

President Barack Obama seems to leave little room for doubt when he promises that his health care plan will let people keep the coverage they have. His vow sounds reassuring and gets applause, but no president could guarantee such a pledge.

….. “No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people,” Obama said Monday, addressing the American Medical Association. “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

He didn’t let up.

“If you like what you’re getting, keep it,” Obama said. “Nobody is forcing you to shift.”

Yet the legislation the Obama administration is working on with the Democratic-controlled Congress would make major changes in how Americans pay for health care. The goal is to slow cost increases and bring in nearly 50 million uninsured, and the consequences are bound to affect how employers design benefit plans.

….. Earlier this week, a preliminary analysis by Congressional Budget Office estimated that 10 million people would have to seek new insurance under a Democratic plan that a Senate committee is working on, because their employers would no longer offer coverage. Those workers and their families would shop for a plan through new insurance purchasing pools called exchanges. About 160 million to 170 million people now get employer coverage.

Neutral observers are also skeptical. Dallas Salisbury, head of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, called Obama’s promise “an aspirational statement.”

“If he was a king, he would deliver that, but he’s not king,” said Salisbury. His group is a nonpartisan information clearinghouse on health and pension benefits.

White House officials suggest the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken literally: What Obama really means is that government isn’t about to barge in and force people to change insurance.

Oh, so I guess it’s all okay, and no big deal. “Just words,” if you will.

It’s just fine that the President of the United States makes a false “vow” (not an “aspirational statement”) that really “shouldn’t be taken literally” before the nation’s assembled doctors. It’s just fine, thanks to sanitized and gullible news coverage, that the “vow” gets disseminated to the American people initially unquestioned. It’s just fine that after being correctly challenged by outfits like the CBO and the Heritage Foundation, obsequious reporters like Alonzo-Zaldivar let the administration get away with a pathetic “never mind.” And it’s just fine that even watered-down pablum such as Alonzo-Zalivar’s, published on a Saturday, gets ridiculously light distribution, while the AP can risibly claim that they did their journalistic job.

No, it’s not fine.

It’s not fine because the mendacious seed has been planted in the minds of millions of Americans that Dear Leader is the hero and savior who will lower health care costs while not affecting anyone’s coverage or choice of doctor. The White House, for all its feigned irritation, is likely quietly crowing, “Mission Accomplished.”

If Obama and his party get their way — thanks in no small part to “journalists” who initially let blatantly false propaganda slide, excuse it when found, and even decide to serve as prime-time spokesmouths — we will look back and say that “Obama lied; the best health care system in the world died.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: U.S. Bishops approve Mass to celebrate gift of life

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 8:24 am

From San Antonio, Texas:

Jun 18, 2009 / 06:07 pm

The U.S. Catholic Bishops voted today at their annual Spring meeting to approve a text for thanking God for the gift of human life.

The idea to have a Mass that celebrates the gift of life was first proposed by Cardinal John O’Connor almost 20 years ago.

….. The consensus for having such a text was revealed by today’s vote on the “Mass in Thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life.” ….

Go here for the full story.