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DaveS
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This will be interesting to follow. There is plenty here for opinions on all sides of the question of internal politics in Iran, as well as international handling of Iran's potential threat to peace. From Asia Times.
quote:
Much is being written in the international media about the twin elections in Iran, which take place on Friday [12/15/06]. Some, like veteran Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, are expecting the "first major political defeat" for Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

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Eric
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quote:
Some, like veteran Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, are expecting the "first major political defeat" for Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
I wonder how they're measuring that. Exit polls? I can see the "impartial" pollsters now..."Excuse me. Who did you just vote for? Oh really? Hold still, please..."
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TommySama
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Heh, I thought it said, "Erections In Iran"

Thought it meant bad news for the US

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Tom Curtis
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For Eric:

quote:
In Tehran, many voters said they were casting ballots for reformers, not out of devotion, but because they wanted more moderate figures to confront Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Sorour Soroush, 44, was one. “I do not think we should take this nuclear program that far,” she said at a polling station near the eastern Imam Hossein square.

But Masoumeh Zoghi, 55, a retired schoolteacher who said her pension had increased to $235 a month from $136, explained that she was voting for candidates for Tehran’s City Council that the president was believed to back.

“Mr. Ahmadinejad has been very efficient since he was elected,” she said. “None of the previous governments had increased our salary so much.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/16/world/middleeast/16iran.html?_r=1&ref=middleeast&oref=slogin
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Eric
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quote:
Heh, I thought it said, "Erections In Iran"
That was for those going off to see their 72 virgins.
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TommySama
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No, we went over this this summer. "virgins' was a mistranslation. It actually said "Grapes" [Big Grin]

But I suppose that might suffice for Ahmadinejad.

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Eric
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TC --

quote:
“Mr. Ahmadinejad has been very efficient since he was elected,” she said. “None of the previous governments had increased our salary so much.”
Heh...I love her definition of "efficiency".
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Eric
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TS --

I've read on another forum where it was actually "raisins". On the whole, I'd rather have the grapes. I'm not a big fan of raisins, and if it actually is virgins, I'm sure there's a good reason they're still in that condition.

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TommySama
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lol

Raisons are grapes.

Imagine the irony, though, if, upon entering heaven after blowing yourself up, you learned that the '72 virgins' were a bunch of dried up old ladies.

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Tom_paines_ghost
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Probably a more honest election than, say, Florida can manage..

Of course, a functioning democracy more or less, right in that there "Axis of evil."

Who woulda thought?

[ December 16, 2006, 09:31 PM: Message edited by: Tom_paines_ghost ]

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flydye45
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Yes, tp. If by functioning democracy you mean having the Shia equivilent of Jimmy Swaggert determine who is allowed to be a candidate from the get go.
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DaveS
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quote:
Shia equivilent of Jimmy Swaggert
That is a pretty insulting characterization (I know I would be insulted if I were a Christian and someone said that Jimmy Swaggert was my moral standard). Not that you can or will, but can you explain what you mean?
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flydye45
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"Blue Staters" hate Swaggert for alledged hypocrisy, but mostly for religious fundamentalism. I was drawing a picture for tp in big bright simple colors to show the flaws in his "functioning democracy" tripe.


Saddam won with a majority of the vote too.

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DaveS
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My problem with the way you outline how this should happen is that you think everyone should be free to elect a democratic government in a way that conforms to our idea of how they should do it and the government they elect should be friendly to us. Fly to emerging democracies: You are now free to do what we want you to do.

BTW, I have no respect for firebreathing TV evangelists who make $MMM off of their flocks, but I wouldn't care about Swaggert ($150M/yr) if it weren't for his hypocrisy. In my mind, preachers like him are more like devils because he is not preaching what he believes, but what he wants you to hear and what serves his interests.

The Wikipedia article about him and his fellow TVE's is pretty funny, actually. I don't think his fundamentalism is the problem [Smile]
quote:
When the PTL scandal destroyed fellow Assemblies of God minister Jim Bakker, Swaggart publicly denounced Bakker's scandal (not Bakker personally) as "a cancer on the body of Christ." Shortly afterward, Swaggart faced his own sex scandal when a private investigator, hired by a rival evangelist Marvin Gorman, documented a series of Swaggart's meetings with prostitutes. (Gorman himself had been fired from the Assemblies of God ministry after Swaggart had reported that Gorman was having an adulterous affair.) In 1987, Swaggart was involved with a prostitute named Debra Murphree in Metairie, Louisiana at the Texas Motel on Airline Highway. Gorman and some associates flattened the tires on Swaggart's car, went to get cameras, and then took photographs of Swaggart exiting the hotel with the prostitute. Gorman confronted Swaggart and told him he would have to come clean. Swaggart said he would but failed to do so.

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Tom Curtis
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Flyedye, I absolutely agree that the Iranian system is less than democratic. On the other hand, it is not readilly apparent that it is less democratic than the Lebonese system, where 1/3 of the population is guaranteed 1/2 of the representatives in parliament; nor that it is significantly less democratic than the Turkish system where the army maintains a watching brief on who can be elected, and what their policies can be (less strict of late, but so have been the mullah's in the past).

It is not even that clear that the system is less democratic than the American system, where the possibility of a realistic run for office depends on the active support of some section of the wealthiest in America. If the control of the Mullah's makes Iran a theocracy, than America is an plutocracy rather than a democracy, in practise if not constitutionaly.

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flydye45
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Yes, Tom, but as Soros, Murdoch, Turner, and Forbes have shown, there is a much wider variation between our plutocrats then is evident between the mullahs, at least at this distance.

Unfortunately, you are incorrect in that many have won office in America despite being outspent by their opponents inside and outside the party. Even party isn't necessarily always a factor, as we have a few independents around.

It certainly helps to have cash and the blessing of a major party. Ask Lieberman. That being said, noone without mullah approval gets on the ticket.

Dave, please excuse me. If you prefer, you can select Pat Robertson as an example.

It's like that Simpsons episode, "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!" Kodos was, of course, the OTHER evil alien running as president. Meanwhile, in something like a real republican democracy, we actually had Dennis (tinfoil hat)Kucinich [LOL] , Dr. YEAARGH!, that French looking fellow who I heard served in Vietnam, Vetman and Bush. Quite a wider variety then Fundementalist A or Fundementalist B.

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DaveS
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quote:
please excuse me. If you prefer, you can select Pat Robertson as an example.
Pat "Nuke" Robertson?!? Fly, I don't know much about the mullahs, but neither do you: "there is a much wider variation between our plutocrats then is evident between the mullahs, at least at this distance". Given your ignorance about them, I'm not sure why you've made it your mission to compare them with crazies.
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flydye45
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The Guardian Council selects who is "electable" as President and in the Assembly of Experts. The Council is selected by the Supreme Leader (another Cleric). The Supreme Leader is selected by the Assembly of Experts (clerics all by law, all vetted by the Guardian Council). They "selected" Mahmoud "Nuke Israel" Ahmadinejad as one of seven acceptable candidates (unfortunately Hitler was already dead, which limited choices). (Quite the democracy, tp. But it passes muster in New Jersey [Razz] )

The other "acceptable" candidate, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stated:

quote:
"If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality
He also thinks exposed women's hair (on their HEADS, KE) corrupts men, but that is less relevent to the discussion.

Please excuse my cultural myopia, but that is dangerous (aka "crazy") talk to this Westerner.

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DaveS
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quote:
Quite the democracy, tp. But it passes muster in New Jersey
I grew up in NJ, so I can vouch for that. In that case, what's the problem?
quote:
Please excuse my cultural myopia, but that is dangerous (aka "crazy") talk to this Westerner.
Of course, it's understandable that your cultural environment has conditioned you to read certain meanings into the words of people who speak for cultures that are alien to you. To your ear, that is crazy talk, and the man who says it might well be crazy, i.e., untrustworthy. It's understandable that you would begin to build defenses against the irrational aggression implied in his message, because you don't know what his words really mean or what he might do.

Try putting yourself in the position of a "normal" Non-westerner who hears these words. Does this guy sound crazy to you?
quote:
"Over time it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity," he said. "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror."

Bush said threats by Osama bin Laden to use weapons of mass destruction must be taken seriously. "This is an evil man that we're dealing with, and I wouldn't put it past him to develop evil weapons to try to harm civilization as we know it," Bush said. " And that's why we must prevail, and that's why we must win."



[ December 18, 2006, 08:16 AM: Message edited by: DaveS ]

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flydye45
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"I grew up in NJ, so I can vouch for that. In that case, what's the problem? "

[LOL] If you are good with that, nothing I say will be sufficient. BTW, I grew up there too.

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DaveS
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[Wink]
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Eric
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DaveS --

Are you really drawing parallels between what Bush said of our response to the murder of 3,000 people and Ahmadinejad's call to have Israel "wiped off the map"?

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DaveS
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No, if you follow the discussion, you'll see that I was responding to FlyDye's characterization of the Iranian clerical screening process. You introduced two things in your question that weren't being discussed at the time. You're asking me if I've stopped beating my wife.

The WTC bombing and Ahmedinejad's call for the destruction of Israel are incomparable. One was a horrific act that Bush has responded to inadequately (where's Bin Laden now?) and inappropriately (war against a country that had nothing to do with the attack). The combination of his aggressiveness and incompetence has polarized ME public opinion against the US. He has alienated exactly the people he was trying to appeal to.

Ahmadinejad's call is absurd rhetoric of a possibly deranged but deeply fundamentalist Islamic elected leader of a generally more moderate Islamic country. I don't believe he will act toward that objective in a big way for two reasons. First, it would cause the destruction of his country and the deaths of millions of Iranians. Second, I don't think the Iranian voting public backs his extreme activist views. I think his power has been weakened in the elections last week, and I don't think he'll be reelected in the next one. In the meantime, Iran doesn't have the military or missile capability to carry out the objective his rhetoric wants.

So, are you really saying that New Jersey doesn't know how to govern itself? I know some guys who would introduce you to the fishes for saying that [Smile] .

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DaveS
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The results are coming in, and it indeed appears that this is not good for Ahmadinejad. From the Guardian:
quote:
The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of Iran faced electoral embarrassment today after the apparent failure of his supporters to win control of key local councils and block the political comeback of his most powerful opponent.

Early results from last Friday's election suggested that his Sweet Scent of Service coalition had won just three out of 15 seats on the symbolically important Tehran city council, foiling Mr Ahmadinejad's plan to oust the mayor and replace him with an ally.

This could prove an interesting wrinkle:
quote:
Reformists hailed the poll - billed by many as Mr Ahmadinejad's first electoral test since taking office - as a "major defeat" for the president, but they also warned that the slowness in declaring returns could indicate an underhand attempt to rig the outcome. The interior ministry, which is in the hands of Mr Ahmadinejad's supporters, oversees the counting of ballots.

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Tom Curtis
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Flyedye:

quote:
Yes, Tom, but as Soros, Murdoch, Turner, and Forbes have shown, there is a much wider variation between our plutocrats then is evident between the mullahs, at least at this distance.
I think "at least from this distance" is the fundamental rider. All of the above are firmly committed to a capitalist market, and none are that strongly committed to social welfare programs. Economically, their positions range from strong right to extreme right.

I can well imagine an Iranian taking the view that the US was less democratic than Iran because of the narrow range of opinions represented in US politics compared to those in Iranian politics.

quote:
Unfortunately, you are incorrect in that many have won office in America despite being outspent by their opponents inside and outside the party. Even party isn't necessarily always a factor, as we have a few independents around.
I am not sure why you think this contradicts my claims. If you win after spending 2 million, while your opponent spent 2.5 million, you still needed to be or know somebody very wealthy to run.
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DaveS
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This is interesting (if you find this sort of thing interesting, that is). Here is a diagram of the Iranian political system, with a summary explanation for each component. Our system is very different, but I wonder if it were drawn like this whether it would be any less complex.
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flydye45
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I offer you Tom, as anecdotal evidence, a news report I watched a few cycles ago in which a fellow drove all across his state, beating the "plutocrat" incumbent with meager fiscal assets. I'd tell you the state if I remembered it, but I can't.

Corzine spent 5 to 1 versus Franks in NJ and only garnered a meager 4% win*. Mind you, Franks had 12 million, but most of this cash comes from contributions, not deep pockets such as Corzine had. Corzine, devout plutocrat, was a co-author of Sarbane Oxley, a very controversial bit of Plutocrat oppression.

Steve Forbes spent a buttload of cash and couldn't win a primary, twice.

quote:
The untrammeled intensification of laissez-faire capitalism and the spread of market values into all areas of life, is endangering our open and democratic society.
George Soros, Hypercapitalist scum

Warren Buffet, cookie cutter plutocrat villain

quote:
"Tax breaks for corporations -- and their investors, particularly large ones -- were a major part of the administration's 2002 and 2003 initiatives," Buffett said. "If class warfare is being waged in America, my class is clearly winning."

Buffett's personal wealth is closely tied to his company. Forbes magazine last month put Buffett's net worth at $42.9 billion, most of which is in Berkshire stock. His wealth was just behind that of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, whose estimated net worth stood at $46.6 billion.

Buffett's letter, which is 21 pages long this year, is highly anticipated by investors. Unlike most shareholder letters seen as heavy with banalities, Buffett's are considered fun to read and sometimes controversial.

Last May, Buffett wrote a Washington Post opinion article criticizing a key element of Bush's tax package -- a cut in tax rates on corporate dividends. Buffett urged that any tax cuts should go to lower-income people or others "who both need and will spend the money gained."

If being in favor of ownership of something you buy and earn is "Conservative", well, please mail your money to {address deleted}. I'll be more then happy to bolster your Liberal cred loudly and proudly.

quote:
I am not sure why you think this contradicts my claims. If you win after spending 2 million, while your opponent spent 2.5 million, you still needed to be or know somebody very wealthy to run.
No, if you are a Republican, you convince a bunch of people to mail in small sums and amass a sizable warchest. Considering how many Democrats raise money, I can see where you would make this mistake [Razz]


*Busloads of homeless from Philly may have been a factor in the win. Perhaps Franks just didn't invest his money in buses and cigarettes [Wink]

[ December 19, 2006, 12:49 AM: Message edited by: flydye45 ]

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by flydye45:
"Blue Staters" hate Swaggert for alledged hypocrisy, but mostly for religious fundamentalism. I was drawing a picture for tp in big bright simple colors to show the flaws in his "functioning democracy" tripe.


Saddam won with a majority of the vote too.

Comparing Iranian democracy with Saddam's Iraq is like comparing apples and oranges though. Saddam's 'elections' were just part of the man's eccentric dictatorial charm that helped give him a bit of character. Iran actually has a functioning (if limited) democracy intermeshed with the weird autocratic bureaucracy they've got. It goes something like this.

The Assembly of Experts are directly elected by popular vote. They sound like they've got a cushy job, because as far as I can tell all they do is select the Supreme Leader (a post currently held by everyone's favourite Ayatollah), a dude who's got all sorts of wiggy executive and judicial powers, and he in turn gets to select half the Council Of Guardians (I've no idea what the hell they do).

These three bodies have a sort of badly thought out short-circuit of the process of checks and balances happening. The Supreme Leader is hired and fired by the Assembly. A large chunk of the Council is hired and fired by the Supreme Leader. And the Assembly's powers are checked by the Council's constitutional powers to tell the Assembly to go and stick it where the sun don't shine.

Then on the side you've got the president, who's also directly elected by the people (including women), but only candidates approved by the Council of Guardians are allowed to run for president. He gets to appoint the Council of Ministers (ie the bureaucrats who actually run the daily affairs of major government departments).

Then just to make things even more complicated you've got the Expediency Council who advice the Supreme Leader and settle disputes between the Council of Guardians and the Majlis, who we're about to get to. The Expediency Council are directly appointed by the Supreme Leader.

Then we've got the Majlis, who are directly elected and are pretty much the parliament of Iran and do all the legislative stuff and party politicking that those of us in western democracies are familiar with.

And aaaaall of that comprises the weird and wonderful (but largely open and almost fair) mix of democracy, theocracy, and autocracy that is Iran's national government. It makes absolutely no sense and I've got no idea what the framers of Iran's constitution were trying to achieve, but I think in practice it turns out to work more or less as a democracy, just with a bunch of clerics on the side who can't pass legislation but can exercise veto power on pretty much everything and who are far more enthusiastic about exercising this power than the only western counterpart I can think of, the Queen of England (or her Governor Generals) in Commonwealth nations.

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flydye45
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I read wiki too. Here are my problem. To belong to the Assembly of Experts, you need to be a cleric with expertise. Who decides that expertise? Other highly placed clerics.

Meanwhile the old boy club of the Supreme Leader (with veto power over the Majilis) and the Guardian Council get to select who is valid as a candidate for the Majilis. Reformer? Sorry, you are not on the ticket.

Even in NJ, there was a mechanism for change (ask Florio about suddenly having to face a Republican majority, or Bush a Democratic one). There is little such fears among the Mullahs. Revolt, yes. The electoral system is almost all sewn up, however.

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DaveS
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wuddevuh. Try running here without the party machine behind you.
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Tom Curtis
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quote:
I offer you Tom, as anecdotal evidence, a news report I watched a few cycles ago in which a fellow drove all across his state, beating the "plutocrat" incumbent with meager fiscal assets. I'd tell you the state if I remembered it, but I can't.

Corzine spent 5 to 1 versus Franks in NJ and only garnered a meager 4% win*. Mind you, Franks had 12 million, but most of this cash comes from contributions, not deep pockets such as Corzine had. Corzine, devout plutocrat, was a co-author of Sarbane Oxley, a very controversial bit of Plutocrat oppression.

I am not sure how quoting somebody who raised six and half million in campaign donations, 89.1% from large individual donations or PACs, is intended to demonstrate that money is not king in American politics. Especially seeing he lost to the better his better funded opponent.
http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.asp?CID=N00000810&cycle=2000

Bear in mind that the average congressional candidate in 2006 raised and spent just over 650 thousand dollars, while the average senate candidate raised and spent just over 3.3 million. Now what chance has the average citizen of raising these sorts of funds without major party endorsement? Or winning without substantial funds in the kitty?

quote:
Steve Forbes spent a buttload of cash and couldn't win a primary, twice.


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The untrammeled intensification of laissez-faire capitalism and the spread of market values into all areas of life, is endangering our open and democratic society.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

George Soros, Hypercapitalist scum

Warren Buffet, cookie cutter plutocrat villain

The question is not how great are the various differences from our perspective, but from theirs. From an Iranian POV, particularly from a Shi'ite Iranian POV, the difference between Ahmadinejad and Khatami are likely to be as great, or greater than the differences between Clinton and Bush.
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DaveS
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That reminds me of something that happened to me at work about 20 years ago. The software company where I was the Engineering Director was considering laying off some staff. The CEO, a very non-technically savvy man asked what I thought of having the administrative assistant take over some script writing and such. She knew as little about programming as he did, but she had a computer terminal on her desk, as did the programmers. He commented that he didn't see why she couldn't do it, since from a distance, she seemed to be doing about the same thing as the programmers did.
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DaveS
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It may be that nature is taking its course in Iran. Ahmadinejad's domestic problems are getting worse (heh, heh, heh) (NYT):
quote:
...The student movement, which planned the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy from the same university, Amir Kabir, is reawakening from its recent slumber and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against Mr. Ahmadinejad. This time the catalysts were academic and personal freedom.

...The protest, punctuated by shouts of “Death to the dictator,” was the first widely publicized outcry against Mr. Ahmadinejad, one that was reflected Friday in local elections, where voters turned out in droves to vote for his opponents.

The students’ complaints largely mirrored public frustrations over the president’s crackdown on civil liberties, his blundering economic policies and his harsh oratory against the West, which they fear will isolate the country.

[Edit: Added NYT link]

[ December 21, 2006, 09:08 AM: Message edited by: DaveS ]

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Jesse
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Bear in mind, the student movement was mostly a bunch of pro-Democratic Socialism nationalists [Wink]
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