No, not a Republican

This is my response to a friend who assumed that because I am a small business owner with some strong views on personal responsibility and liberty that I was a Republican.

Ha! I’m no Republican. I neither believe in trickle-down, voodoo economics (supply-side stimulus), nor that a bronze-age fairy tale is the literal truth of the universe and the proper basis of a system of morality upon which many laws governing people’s private lives should be passed… the only two solid planks in their platform. Oh yeah, and “Drill Baby, Drill” is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, since the proof of global climate change is extensive and incontrovertible, and the urgency with which we must react by moving as rapidly as possible to carbon-neutral renewable energy doesn’t leave room for the foot dragging of those in the pocket of Big Oil, if we hope to not poison ourselves and our entire planet. And, although I bought my first firearm at 9 years old, and have owned several over my life, I don’t believe the second amendment should be used to justify private citizens owning assault weapons. I also believe we should place limits on handgun ownership. Countries with fewer guns have fewer gun-related homicides. Go figure. The NRA, and the Republicans they control, are way past the line on this issue justifiable by the twin arguments of hunting and home defense. I also think that the only way to fix our obviously broken health care system in this country is to adopt a single-payer model for basic health care, emergency room, check-ups, etcetera. Supplemental commercial health insurance, offered in a competitive national market (like car insurance), and subject to the normal anti-trust laws, should be available to individuals (with no employer obligation) to cover additional, extraordinary, or more extensive health care needs and costs. For-profit health care is directly at odds with patient well-being and since it bears a burden of having a profit margin (which are at record levels currently) at multiple levels (insurance company, medical practice, hospital, private ambulance service) the end costs to the consumer are dramatically inflated. That profit margin is a weight which will bring the whole shaky structure down if we continue on the current Republican-designed model, especially with our rapidly-aging, Baby Boomer-heavy, increasingly obese and diabetic, population. Also, unlike the majority of Republicans, I believe in the evolutionary explanation of the origin of species, even us humans. Why? Because the evidence for the Theory of Evolution is more extensive than that for the Theory of Gravity. They are both, in a non-scientific sense, facts, which is what the scientific word “theory” actually means in a lay sense, a subtlety that the uneducated and downright stupid Republicans don’t seem to be capable of grasping. I don’t believe that humans are somehow “special” in the history of the universe, or even this planet, although our accomplishments (global war, climate change, slavery, pollution, causing the extinction of numerous other species) speak for themselves, and that some Sky Daddy god created us in His image, not the other way around. I also believe that all Americans… Nay!… all humans, deserve to be treated equally under the law, be they black, white, male, female, straight, gay, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, or even, gasp, atheist, and that the best way to accomplish this is via a color-blind, strictly-secular government Of, By, and For the People, which is a belief that the Republicans, with their incessant attempts to destroy public education by injecting Creationism into Science classes, marginalize and disenfranchise gays, blacks, women, and other minorities, and otherwise making Of, By, and For ring hollow (e.g. Citizens United), clearly don’t share with me. I think their “Shining City on a Hill” is populated by selfish shallow greedy racist holier-than-thou misogynist assholes, and overlooks a valley filled with the carcasses of the rest of us whose dead bodies they stepped over to make their fortunes. Basically, I think Reagan, with his outrageous levels of Defense spending (Which is the real root cause of our current economic woes because you can’t run a wartime economy forever. It’s guns or butter, not guns and butter), was a terrible president, and Ayn Rand, with her gratuitously laborious plots and complete disregard for the hard work and sacrifice of everyone in her stories but her protagonists, was neither a good author nor an honest philosopher. Frankly, they were both full of shit. I think Grover Norquist, while well intentioned, has an influence over the Republicans completely disproportionate to the complexity, accuracy, and maturity of the philosophy he promotes through his “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”. I think the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, and that ilk are, in fact, morally bankrupt, and have destroyed our political process and poisoned the national dialog on important issues with straw man arguments, false comparisons, and religion-based manipulation of their weak-minded Republican pawns in Congress. I think that the black-and-white view Republicans form of every issue from health care (“Socialism!”) to foreign policy (“Axis of Evil”, “You’re either with us or against us”) betrays a lack of sophistication of thought necessary to comprehend and deal with the problems facing the world today in a rational and effective way.

To review… Yahweh, American Exceptionalism, John Galt, Constitutionally-protected individual rights of corporations, “clean” coal, God-given index-beating profit margins, and supply-side stimulus are completely fictional, and a group of people like the Republicans, who display such a complete inability to differentiate fact from fiction, much like small children or the mentally retarded (clinical usage of the term), should not be considered as serious candidates for the post of County Dog Catcher, much less U.S. Congress and President of These United States.

No, not a Republican.

Nor a Democrat, although I think that Democratic policies in general cause far less damage to the Republic, and the people living in it, primarily because while there are legitimate arguments on both sides of most issues, the Democratic Party is today a centrist party, while the Republicans have been dragged further and further to the right by the loudest and most obnoxious among them, such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News (ha! “Journalists”, forsooth), and other buffoons with little knowledge, understanding, or intelligence, no compassion for their fellow humans, and an iron-clad belief in the absolute evil of all things socialist, and the absolute good of all things profitable.

Assisted suicide poll

As I mentioned in the post regarding the passing of our family dog I’m surprised that there isn’t more discussion in our society regarding the morality of assisted suicide. That’s why I was surprised to see this poll on CNN’s home page.

Assisted suicide quick poll

I’m even more surprised that these poll results are so lopsided. Of course, just as it says on it, “This is not a scientific poll.” But still, I think this may be indicative of the popular sentiments on this issue. Very encouraging.

Tim Minchin – Pope Song (Mirror)

Here are the lyrics, in case you don’t speak Austraaaalian:
Fuck the motherfucker, fuck the motherfucker,
Fuck the motherfucker hes a fucking motherfucker.
Fuck the motherfucker, fuck the fucking fucker,
Fuck the motherfucker hes a total fucking fucker
Fuck the motherfucker, fuck the motherfucker,
Fuck the mother fucker, fuck him, fuck the motherfucker.
Fuck the motherfucker, fuck the motherfucking pope.

Fuck the motherfucker, and fuck you motherfucker
If you think that motherfucker is sacred.
If you cover for another motherfucker who’s a kiddie-fucker,
Fuck you, you’re no better than the motherfucking rapist.
And if you don’t like the swearing that this motherfucker forced from me
And reckon it shows moral or intellectual paucity
Then fuck you motherfucker, this is language one employs
When one is fucking cross about fuckers fucking boys

I don’t give a fuck if calling the pope a motherfucker
Means you unthinkingly brand me an unthinking apostate.
This has naught to do with other fucking godly motherfuckers
I’m not interested right now in fucking scriptural debate.
There are other fucking songs and there are other fucking ways,
Ill be a religious apologist on other fucking days,
But the fact remains if you protect a SINGLE kiddie fucker
Then Pope or Prince or Plumber, you’re a fucking mother fucker.

See I don’t give a fuck what any other motherfucker
Believes about Jesus and his motherfucking mother.
Ive no problem with the spiritual beliefs of all these fuckers
While those beliefs don’t impact on the happiness of others,
But if you build your church on claims of fucking moral authority
And with threats of hell impose it on others in society,
Then you, you motherfuckers, can expect some fucking wrath
When it turns out you’ve been fucking us in our motherfucking asses.

So fuck the motherfucker, and fuck you motherfucker
If you’re still a motherfucking papist.
If he covered for a single motherfucker who’s a kiddie-fucker,
Fuck the motherfucker, hes as evil as the rapist.
And if you look into your motherfucking heart and tell me true
If this motherfucking stupid fucking song offended you,
With its filthy fucking language and its fucking disrespect,
If it made you feel angry, go ahead and write a letter,
But if you find me more offensive than the fucking possibility
The pope protected priests when they were getting fucking fiddly
Then listen to me motherfucker – this here is a fact,
You are just as morally misguided as that motherfucking,
Power-hungry, self-aggrandized bigot in the stupid fucking hat.

I think this video by Tim Minchin and Fraser Davidson is the most eloquent commentary on the Catholic Church’s ongoing child abuse scandal that I have heard to date. I found it posted on YouTube after it was featured on Pharyngula, PZ Myers blog. If you’re unfamiliar with Tim Minchin prepare to cancel your schedule for tomorrow so that you can watch all of his videos on YouTube. Has has two channels, TimMinchin and TimMinchinLive. There’s enough content out there to keep you occupied for a good while so get some popcorn and a drink before you settle in. Tim is a comedian and musician originally from Perth, Australia who is now living in London. I’m a big fan of how he can wittily point out the irrationality of some of humanity’s strangest beliefs. The combination of humor, music, and percipient social commentary that he consistently turns out is just sublime. Tim, please put Albuquerque on your list for your next U.S. tour.

I was unfamiliar with the work of Fraser Davidson before this video but he is clearly a very talented “motion graphics” artist and I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future. Mr. Davidson has a YouTube channel called fraserdavidson which showcases some of his other work. Be sure to check out their channels and support these artists who I believe are very effective voices for the Rationalist perspective.

As of this writing this video is still available on YouTube, and I believe Vimeo, but I’m a little concerned that those sites will receive enough pressure to remove it because it could be very offensive to people who are fans of Pope Palpatine, er, Benedict XVI. That’s why I have downloaded the video and am hosting it locally here, just in case. My server can’t really handle the volume of traffic that YouTube can though so check there before trying to watch it here please. I’m just hosting it here so that this very important message isn’t lost to censorship. If the embedded version from YouTube at the top of this post isn’t working you can download the video as MP4 from the link after the jump.

Also, you’ll notice that I included this post in the category Angry Voter. That’s because the Catholic Church, which now it seems has institutionalized the practice of protecting naughty priests from the law, is a tax-exempt organization in my country. This is just as ludicrous as the Italian mafia being granted tax-exempt status. I can’t think of any rational, constitutionally-valid reason for churches to be tax-exempt, especially when they so flaunt their apparent immunity to the laws of the countries in which they operate. This must end.

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Oh Arizona! You crazy!

Americans I meet that aren’t from the Southwest often seem to conflate Arizona and New Mexico and, for example, compliment me on the beauty of the Grand Canyon, when they learn I’m from New Mexico. Not surprising, they’re immediately adjacent, roughly squarish, similar in climate, sparsely populated, etc. To tell the truth, I do the same thing with Vermont and New Hampshire. The two states though have very different cultures, but in ways that are sometimes difficult to explain to people who know little of the history of this corner of the world. And then Arizona goes and does something crazy and makes the difference crystal clear. The law that the Arizona legislature just passed that requires police in that state to ask for documents proving a person’s right to be in this country when they have a “reasonable” suspicion that person may be in the country illegally would never, ever, ever, be passed in New Mexico.

For starters, our largest ethnic group is Hispanics. Last I checked Hispanics and Caucasians were around 40% each with Hispanics having a slight edge, and Native Americans with around 15%, with some room left over for “Other”. A law like this that is just a civil rights violation waiting to happen would be unthinkable in New Mexico, especially one that targets Hispanics. It’s actually quite helpful, when running for office around here, to be Hispanic. At the very least, in most precincts, you have to demonstrate a knowledge of and concern for the Hispanic community to get a nomination in either of the big two political parties. We do have some counties bordering Texas and Arizona that are a little more redneck than the rest of us would like, but for the most part we’re quite different culturally from our neighbors on either side. The joke that is the Texas School Board is lunacy we are fortunately spared here as well.

We’re a poor state with a lot of social issues ourselves but Arizona makes us look really good. Thanks Arizona! By the way, if you’re looking to boycott Arizona and still want a Southwestern vacation, I can’t think of a better place than here. We have terrific mountain resorts, art communities, shopping, excellent but inexpensive golf, casinos… and a very tolerant and welcoming population. Come on, spend your tourist dollars here instead! Arizona doesn’t want them, especially if you’re Hispanic!

Constellation Cancelled?

Orion crew capsule

Unfortunately, due to the horribly managed Federal budget the Constellation program is on the chopping block. President Obama, in an effort to decrease costs by refocusing NASA and trimming fat, has proposed cutting the entire Constellation program but appears now to have been talked down to just the crew launch vehicle, Ares I. This sounds horrible but I’m not sure it’s the death knell for manned space exploration that it sounds.

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Collateral Murder

If you haven’t seen this yet you need to watch it. Very NSFW, or kids.

The U.S. military claims the Apache pilots in this massacre were following the appropriate rules of engagement. Holy cow, wait…what?! I can’t see how that can be true. If they were the rules of engagement governing our troops in Iraq need to be changed immediately. Firing on unarmed civilians who appeared in no way threatening is unacceptable. There’s no other way to say it. Simply unacceptable. Go to the WikiLeaks site for details, the full length video, and analysis.

To Massachusetts Swing Voters

As an independent voter who agrees with that portion of the Progressive agenda that seems well supported by facts I appeal to the undecided and independent voters of The Commonwealth to not fill Teddy’s seat with a Republican. If you are considering voting for the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, allow me to point out that as reasonable as he may seem now he will surely be subsumed into the national Republican madness. Republicans serving at the state level are allowed the freedom to vote their consciences and make decisions based on facts, at least part of the time. For this reason it may be tempting to those who favor conservative economic policies, and still believe that Republicans have any interest in delivering on this part of their platform, to vote for Mr. Brown. Aside from his comments which show him to be appealing to the worst in voters by toeing the national Republican party line regarding health care reform, I believe you should most seriously consider the condition of national politics before voting for any Republican. In the current situation there is only one Republican senator who dares vote against the party line if she decides that the facts don’t support it, Olympia Snowe of Maine. Every other Republican senator votes with the party line every time regardless of the facts involved in any individual vote. This behavior by Republican senators is reprehensible in the extreme. They have ceased to represent their constituents and now solely represent their campaign donors.

Regardless of how reasonable Mr. Brown’s decisions may have been (I have no idea not living there or knowing anything about him) while serving in the state senate he will quickly be absorbed into the senate Republican caucus and that will be the end of him representing your interests. From that point forward he will vote with the increasingly more extreme platform of the national republican party as represented by such luminaries as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Michael Steele. I’m not appealing to those voters who believe that Bill O’Reilly, Glen Beck, and Ann Coulter have more than two brain cells between them. If you can’t see through their transparent selfishness, fear, greed, and paranoia… well I can’t help you. Try a psychiatrist. If however, you’re not a Fox News fan and just would really like to see this country turn away from debt spending, I’m talking to you. I’ll not debate which party is more likely to reduce the national debt in this article; it deserves a whole post, or ten, of its own. Just know that a vote for Mr. Brown would be a vote for the politics of fear, mis-aimed preemptive military strikes, trading hard won civil liberties in exchange for the appearances of security, theocratic tendencies, and denial of existence of empirical facts. Martha Coakley may not be an adequate replacement for Teddy Kennedy but your interests are a damn sight more likely to be represented by her than they are by Scott Brown who has sold his soul to the RNC.

Empirical Facts Do Exist (Global Warming Edition)

They really do. At least during my lifetime many people seem to have gotten out of the habit of basing their opinions on good solid evidence, but that doesn’t mean that facts themselves no longer exist. There has been an unfortunate trend, particularly in politics, of choosing a desired course of action first and then editing or modifying the facts that support it. One example of this that has received a lot of attention is the Bush Administration’s efforts to build a case for invading Iraq culminating in Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN General Assembly. At the time the evidence seemed compelling to many of us and it wasn’t until well after the fact that we discovered just how spurious many of the allegations against Iraq were. Many of the facts that their case was built on were distorted or had previously been researched and rejected by the CIA. In the end it turns out that very little of what the Bush Administration asserted regarding Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and connections to Al-Qaeda was true. Most of it was blatantly falsified.

Another example from the Bush years was the manipulation of Federal government produced scientific reports regarding the environment by the Bush Administration to neuter their conclusions regarding climate change. In several well documented cases the Bush Administration earned the condemnation of scientists for manipulating the results of research indicating the existence of anthropogenic global warming. Evidence indicating that action must be taken to curb the use of fossil fuels was systematically suppressed by Bushies. Indeed, ignoring facts and basing decisions purely on political gain became a hallmark of his administration.

Recently the anti-science crowd (read: Conservatives) has been energized by the release of e-mails from East Anglia University in England in which climate scientists discuss whether or not to include data points which don’t fit the anthropogenic climate change conclusions held by climatologists worldwide. David Frum, a Conservative commentator, wrote this opinion piece for CNN regarding it. Leaving the clearly fabricated unattributed quotes, such as the one at the beginning referencing Abu Ghraib, to one side for a moment, you can easily see the elation he feels at having something to legitimately criticize his opponents for.

I’ve read several articles from different sources regarding these leaked e-mails, but not seen them myself, and it’s still unclear to me how damaging they really are. In the end that’s immaterial because they are clearly perceived to be damaging enough to create the controversy. For the sake of analyzing this situation let’s assume that they were what they are purported to be, evidence of scientists fudging data in order to fit the anthropogenic climate change conclusion when it otherwise wouldn’t have supported such a conclusion. That’s bad… real bad. In the pro-science community that’s worthy of excommunication.

Scientists working in academia can lose tenure for such an offense, and they know it. The way that the peer-review system works at academic institutions and other research organizations ensures that such shenanigans will be exposed eventually though, and they know that too. There are many scientists studying climate change at universities and government research facilities around the world. Each and every one of them is well motivated by the terms of their employment and the prospects of community prestige to identify and debunk the mistakes of others. In a hot field like climate research every single paper that is released is getting thoroughly scrutinized by many people with the requisite education and skills to identify mistakes, whether they be inadvertent or deliberate. Therefore, if these East Anglian researchers had released any papers based on fudged data I am entirely confident that it would have been discovered and exposed, at least within the climate research community, if not the general public.

In many situations it is difficult to identify what the facts really are. Media outlets who blur the lines between news and commentary are largely to blame. Also earning blame however are commentators, like David Frum, who form and espouse opinions on subjects which they are unqualified in every way to evaluate. Ask him why he is skeptical of climate change and you probably won’t get an answer with many facts in it. He’ll say, “Well, I just don’t think it’s been sufficiently proven,” or some such. That sounds reasonable, right? Consider, however, that with a History undergrad and Masters degree, and then a Juris Doctorate, that he cannot be expected to have a clue regarding anything of a scientific nature. For example, it is unreasonable to expect him to recognize the photographs of shrinking glaciers worldwide for what they are, incontrovertible evidence of global warming. Nor is he qualified to assess, or probably even aware of, the vast quantity of data regarding ocean current and temperature shifts that also indicate that the Earth is getting warmer. As an historian he should be aware of the significance of the Northwest Passage, the search for which was one of the great exploration endeavors of the last couple of centuries, but he is probably unaware that due to arctic shrinkage it is now regularly navigable. He is probably equally unaware of the extensive data regarding coral die-off from excessive ocean temperatures. I’m sure he hasn’t spent any time researching the vast quantity of evidence indicating a global warming trend. I doubt that that he would even understand it if he did.

But, no matter, he’s out there spouting his opinion regarding it as though he were an expert, and even worse he is challenging the very existence of empirical fact in general. That’s just criminally delusional. Thanks to CNN his delusions get wide circulation and the opportunity to convince many other under-educated voters. If you really wanna’ lose your lunch read the comment thread on his article. Many of the comments indicate that people are convinced by such arguments questioning the existence of empirical evidence. I’d like to see a study conducted regarding empiricism and voting record. I’m betting that there would be a strong correlation between Conservatism and disbelief in empiricism. After all, there’s no other way to justify most of the Republican agenda except to just make shit up. “Death panels” anyone?

Neil deGrasse Tyson said what?!

I love the work Neil deGrasse Tyson, Doctor of Astrophysics and the Director of the Hayden Planetarium, does popularizing Science. I agree 100% with him that raising the profile of Science and making it more accessible to the masses is needed in our society and I think he does a fantastic job of this. His NOVA scienceNow show and many public appearances do a great deal to advance the cause of science in our society, and for that I am extremely grateful to him. Indeed, I’ll go so far as to hail him as the heir apparent to Carl Sagan. They are big shoes to fill, but I think he can do it. In short, I’m a big admirer of him, but…

Here’s is a recent interview he did on the Colbert Report on June 29th, 2009. In this interview he defends the Bush Administration as not being as anti-science as many people have claimed it was. The whole interview is worth watching but you can jump to 4 minutes in for this part.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Jeff Goldblum

I have to disagree most emphatically with him on this. I think that the Bush Administration, and Republicans in general since Reagan for that matter, have had a terrible record regarding the support of Science. Their consistent denial of climate change comes immediately to mind. Destroying ecosystems indiscriminately in order to access petroleum is one of the Republican party planks. Ever hear of “Drill Baby, Drill!”? It’s one of their campaign slogans for crissake! For a thorough treatment of this subject I recommend “The Republican War on Science” by Chris Mooney. Also, don’t forget that Bush moved to quash stem-cell research, one of the most promising areas of medical science, on the basis of his religious convictions.

Dr. Tyson puts an emphasis on the fact that President Bush put science in his speeches, and therefore created some amount of science awareness that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred. In the same sentence he downplays the importance of whether or not President Bush actually acted on the science in question. This is the point at which I diverge from Tyson. I believe that it matters very very much whether or not he acts on the science.

Talking about something but then not taking any action regarding it is called “paying lip service”. Talking about something and then actively working to undermine it is called “hypocrisy”. The former would be bad enough but it is the latter of which I accuse the Bush Administration. Suppressing reports from Federal Government agencies (NASA, NOAA) regarding climate change, and even going so far as to change the conclusions from “climate change is happening and humans are responsible” to “we’re not sure climate change is even occurring” has got to be considered undermining Science. There are countless other examples. Every science-related Federal Government agency had their budget reduced or was otherwise meddled with during the Bush Administration as far as I can tell.

I think President Bush did great harm to Science by teaching people that it doesn’t really matter. He may have raised it’s profile, but it was only so he could then dash it to the ground. In his defense he did add many many acres to wildlife refuges and national forests… but only in areas that didn’t have any oil. His administration consistently pushed the idea of drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge and making many other concessions to petroleum companies at the expense of the health of the planet.

I respectfully urge Dr. Tyson to reevaluate his position on this because I believe that the Bush Administration deserves to be vilified for undermining Science, and that it is dangerous for pro-Science personalities, such as himself, to give tacit approval of the kinds of behavior that they engaged in. As rational people, interested in the welfare of the entire planet and the advancement of human knowledge, we cannot accept, and must vehemently speak out against, dismissing scientific evidence in order to protect or further the cause of particular industries or religions. In this way the Bush Administration repeatedly showed themselves to be enemies of Science, and as the unofficial spokesperson for said “rational people” I expect Dr. Tyson to say so!

Thank You Ayatollah Khamenei

I don’t find myself agreeing with Republicans very often these days, and I’ve never agreed much with Texans, but I’m in complete agreement with Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) right now. Today he was the only U.S. Congressman to vote against a resolution condemning the Iranian government and supporting the dissenters. In his statement he said:

I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little.

I agree with him that all too often American politicians rush to grandstand without bothering to study anything but the surface of an issue. What is going on in Iran right now is very dramatic, and very complex, and America has played several parts in the story, not all of them good. Indeed, our government has a pretty poor record over the last 30 plus years of meddling with Iranian internal affairs. Just to mention a few, we replaced their last democratically elected government with a monarchy and supplied their enemies (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) with weapons. If the United States wishes to promote democracy in Iran we would do better to not make “official” statements in opposition to the current Iranian government. Doing so just gives this admittedly corrupt and brutal theocracy the excuse they need in order to quash the dissent. If that happens the flickering candle of democracy in Iran will be put out before it can become a bonfire and it may be many years before it can flicker to life again.

While I am against the sort of usless non-binding resolution grandstanding that the House engaged in today I’m all for the stated purpose of the resolution. It just wasn’t something that needed to be said. The people of Iran who yearn for the freedoms of a Western-style democracy know very well that we stand with them in principal. It is uncomfortable to see friends in peril and not being able to do anything to help them. It’s a natural human reaction, I think, to want to at least speak out in their defense. This is all admirable and correct, but in this particular complex case the best way to help Iran towards freedom is to keep our official mouthpieces shut.

At least we can all be grateful for one thing, there is little doubt who has the moral high ground in Iran right now. Yesterday Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for an end to the demonstrations protesting the election results and even threatened the protesters saying, “If there is any bloodshed, leaders of the protests will be held directly responsible.” Be clear that this is a serious threat to use violence against peaceful protesters. By all reports the protesters in Iran have been entirely peaceful and non-violent. These are not wild looters run amok. In a truly civilized country using violence to crush peaceful dissent is simply unthinkable. It hasn’t happened in the U.S. since the 1968 Democratic Convention “police riot” in Chicago and the “Kent State Massacre” in 1970. Yes that’s sarcasm. Sometimes Americans annoyingly think their republic is perfect and not susceptible to the failings of other governments.

In any case, I’d like to thank Ayatollah Khamenei for making perfectly clear to everyone inside and outside of Iran what the source of Iran’s problems really is… himself. I desperately hope that the good people of Iran will one day break their chains and replace their primitive theocracy with a government that respects them and their basic human rights.