Uprising in Iran

Elections in Iran on Friday returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a second term as president. Supporters of challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a conservative reformer, have taken to the streets in protest. Violence has broken out, and people have been shot to death by police. Remarkably, the Islamic republic’s leading cleric, Ali Khamenei, has called for an investigation of the election results. So have other members of the Iranian ruling class.

Regardless of the outcome, the United States needs to stay out of this. Mousavi’s supporters and Iran experts are clear about this. Given the history of U.S. intervention in Iranian affairs since World War II, and the anti-Americanism that was a theme of the 1979 revolution, any effort by our government to promote the opposition is guaranteed to backfire and to help unify and expand Ahmadinejad’s support. This is why Mitt Romney’s remarks this weekend have been self-serving and irresponsible. Obama’s balancing act — expressing doubt about the election’s fairness without taking sides — is the right move for this moment in the chess game. Continue reading “Uprising in Iran”


Yet another Siegelman update

The “Free Don Siegelman” lobby has been active, but Obama’s Justice Department seems unimpressed. In April the dismissal of the Ted Stevens case raised hopes that Siegelman’s prosecution might also be found improper. And in May, a federal judge in Alabama sent a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on behalf of Siegelman.

Siegelman fans are enthusiastic, but I remain unmoved. (In the past I disclosed my own bias here and criticized Siegelman’s case here.) Continue reading “Yet another Siegelman update”

The future of journalism


Birmingham writer Wade Kwon just used Twitter to ask about the future of journalism. He’s getting ready for a panel discussion in front of J-school students at the University of Alabama.

For some reason I tweeted back (with exactly 140 characters): @WadeOnTweets Future of journalism is Waffle House: It’ll be Scattered, Smothered, Covered, Chunked, Topped & Diced. Figure out what I mean.

I wasn’t sure what I meant myself, when I wrote that, or why Waffle House hash browns should come to mind. For a brief, chilling moment I thought I might be channeling former governor Fob James, who famously proposed the Waffle House chain as a model for good gummint.

But no worries. All I was really doing was grabbing a random meme to use in thinking about a large, chaotic topic. So here we go. Continue reading “The future of journalism”

Capitalism + Democracy = Friction

There’s no question that capitalism would run much more efficiently if people would shut up and take their medicine. Outside the G20 summit in London yesterday, though, people were numerous and fed up. Police tried to contain the situation with a controversial “kettling” technique, keeping people penned into a prescribed area in what amounted to false imprisonment. Continue reading “Capitalism + Democracy = Friction”

Don’t call it PACT if it isn’t one

The State of Alabama is in trouble with parents of college-bound students. Like seventeen other states, Alabama created a tuition savings program designed to cover the cost of tuition to a state college or university. The Alabama program, called PACT (Prepaid Affordable College Tuition), bears the state’s implicit guarantee that participants will save enough to […]

‘New media’ circumvent gag order on ‘old media’

Over in Britain they’re having bailout issues as well. The Guardian newspaper just published a series of leaked memos showing how Barclays Bank conspired to evade taxes — while receiving huge sums of public money to avoid bankruptcy. A whistleblower at the bank leaked seven memos describing the tax avoidance schemes. The Guardian posted them […]