Saturday, April 17, 2010

Songs about America: The great Son House, American Defense

Recorded by Alan Lomax in 1942.

Songs about America: Electric Light Orchestra, Calling America

The first in a series of songs about America, sometimes tangentially so... but wouldn't this song make a heck of a campaign rally theme song for 2010 and beyond??


Are ya' listening?

Saturday Cosmic Music Selection: ELO Ordinary Dream

Far out man...

Michael J. Totten interviews an Iranian ex CIA agent who was the agency's man inside the Revolutionary Guard

A most unsettling interview. Read the whole thing. The man goes by the pseudonym Reza Kahlili , and is author of the recently released book, A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran

He discusses the apocolyptic belief system of the Iranian elite, the popular uprising of late, Persian feelings toward Arab influence in Iran, Israel, Nukes.. Like I said, Read the whole thing.

Key portions:

MJT: Let's say President Barack Obama invites you to the White House and says, "Reza, I need your advice. What should I do?" What would you tell him?

Reza Kahlili: I would tell him that he needs to do the following, and this is just my opinion, obviously. Immediately, the Western countries should cut off all shipping lines and air lines, and deport all Iranians who work in offices connected to the Iranian government. They're Quds Force members. They're intelligence guys. Deport them. And stop sending refined oil to Iran. They rely on that. Corner the country and give them a deadline. And if the Iranian government doesn't give up its program, take it out. Do not allow this country to become nuclear armed. Sanctions are not going to work.

In the worst case scenario, if there is a military confrontation, do not invade the country. Do not destroy the country. Take the Revolutionary Guards out. If you take the Revolutionary Guards out, this government can't last 24 hours. We know all their bases. We know all their officers. We know all their buildings. If they move in convoys, take them out. And that will be the end of this government.

MJT: [Long silence.]

Reza Kahlili: It needs a lot of courage and understanding of what we're facing right now. All this talk of sanctions and ultimatums is not going to change anything.

MJT: The administration does not want to hear this. Nobody wants to hear this. And I have a hard time imagining anything like it happening.

Reza Kahlili: Yes. But the advantage of this government not being in the Middle East will be huge. It will weaken Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Venezuela [laughs], and bring benefits to many parts of the world. It will weaken China and Russia and their foreign policies. It would be huge. If we are able to achieve this, not only would it be fantastic for the people of Iran, it would benefit the whole world. You've read my book. You know where my heart is.

MJT: Yes.

Reza Kahlili: I'm in pain because of my people. I'm in pain because of what I've seen. I'm in pain because the West doesn't get it. I didn't have to come out, Michael. I was living under the radar. Nobody even knew I existed. I'm putting myself out there to get this message across, to sound an alarm, and hoping that somebody will listen.


Reza Kahlili: Every opinion put out by the Western analysts over the years has been wrong. Just last year Newsweek came out and said everything we know about Iran is wrong, but they found out a month later that they were wrong about everything they said. The same with the New York Times reporter, I forget his name.

The idea that this government is a dictatorship that wants to sustain power and therefore won't do anything like use a nuclear bomb is incorrect, I think. They have shown through their behavior over the past three decades that they have one goal, and that's to confront the West.

If you look more deeply into the thought processes of the people controlling the government, these are people who strongly believe Islam will conquer the world. Every act they commit is in that direction. They don't just want a nuclear bomb to make them untouchable. They think it will be the trigger for Islam conquering the world.

If all they wanted was to protect their government, as many are saying, they have the best opportunity right now. They can negotiate with the West, join the global economy, be respected and all that, but they refuse to do so.

MJT: So do you think if they acquire nuclear weapons they will actually use them?

Reza Kahlili: They will.

MJT: Against Israel?

Reza Kahlili: You have to look at the parallel projects that they're working on, the missile delivery system and the nuclear project. Currently they cover part of Europe. Their goal is to cover all of Europe. They're not going to announce they have a bomb unless they have overcome the glitches of putting together a nuclear bomb and a nuclear warhead. But once they do that, they will make enough bombs so that all of Europe is under their coverage. Then they will begin their most aggressive behavior in trying to control the Middle East, moving toward the goal of destroying Israel, bringing the imperialistic system of economics to a halt, creating chaos, and waiting for the Mahdi to appear. It's all right out in the open. Just look at their Mahdi philosophy.

MJT: They do say all this stuff out in the open. It's just a bit hard for some of us to believe that they actually believe it. I take Iran more seriously than most Americans, and it's still a bit hard for me to believe this.

Reza Kahlili: Look. It is hard for Westerners to believe this kind of philosophy. The problem is that everyone here has been raised with freedom and democracy. You are free to conduct your own research and have your own opinions. So this philosophy immediately sounds to you like nonsense. I mean, why would they want to do such things? I can argue both sides of the coin. If you don't believe they're going to do it—and a lot of people don't—the least that's going to happen if they become a nuclear power is that they'll become more aggressive and hold the world hostage. Just look at the past thirty years of behavior. They arm Hezbollah, Hamas. The defense minister is on Interpol's Most Wanted list. They're providing arms to the Taliban. They've gone to Venezuela, Mexico, they're spreading their forces. The least that will happen is they'll become the power in the Middle East and they'll control the energy resources of the world. This is a logical argument, based just on previous behavior, if they become a nuclear power. The other side of the coin is the crazy talk. They believe what they say. I know they do. I know Khamenei has private prayers with the Mahdi. It's all crazy talk, but they take it seriously. Thirty years ago they were told the Mahdi wants them to proceed with the nuclear project, and that's why they're not bending. They think they're untouchable and that the Mahdi wants it. It would be a disaster for the world. They should not be allowed to become a nuclear armed power. It should be totally unacceptable.

Elie Wiesel's missive: To Whom is this letter addressed?


As published in The International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on April 16, 2010 and in The New York Times on April 18, 2010:

It was inevitable: Jerusalem once again is at the center of political debates and international storms. New and old tensions surface at a disturbing pace. Seventeen times destroyed and seventeen times rebuilt, it is still in the middle of diplomatic confrontations that could lead to armed conflict. Neither Athens nor Rome has aroused that many passions.

For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture—and not a single time in the Koran. Its presence in Jewish history is overwhelming. There is no more moving prayer in Jewish history than the one expressing our yearning to return to Jerusalem. To many theologians, it IS Jewish history, to many poets, a source of inspiration. It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain. When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time; it is a homecoming. The first song I heard was my mother’s lullaby about and for Jerusalem. Its sadness and its joy are part of our collective memory.

Since King David took Jerusalem as his capital, Jews have dwelled inside its walls with only two interruptions; when Roman invaders forbade them access to the city and again, when under Jordanian occupation, Jews, regardless of nationality, were refused entry into the old Jewish quarter to meditate and pray at the Wall, the last vestige of Solomon’s temple. It is important to remember: had Jordan not joined Egypt and Syria in the war against Israel, the old city of Jerusalem would still be Arab. Clearly, while Jews were ready to die for Jerusalem they would not kill for Jerusalem.

Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims all may freely worship at their shrines. And, contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims ARE allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city. The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory.

What is the solution? Pressure will not produce a solution. Is there a solution? There must be, there will be. Why tackle the most complex and sensitive problem prematurely? Why not first take steps which will allow the Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security. Why not leave the most difficult, the most sensitive issue, for such a time?

Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital, not a symbol of anguish and bitterness, but a symbol of trust and hope. As the Hasidic master Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav said, “Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart.”

Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.

- Elie Wiesel

VDH in rare form: Why are we adding to the hemorrhaging national debt?

How Could We Be So Stupid? Let Us Count the Ways

The opener:

We are going to pile up another $3 trillion in national debt in just the first two years of the Obama administration. If the annual deficit should sink below $1.5 trillion, it will be called fiscal sobriety.
Why, when we owe $12 trillion, would the Obama administration set out budgets that will ensure our collective debt climbs to $20 trillion? Why are we borrowing more money, when Medicare, Social Security, the Postal Service, Amtrak, etc. are all insolvent as it is?
What is the logic behind something so clearly unhinged?
I present seven alternative reasons — some overlapping — why the present government is hell-bent on doubling the national debt in eight years. Either one, or all, or some, or none, of the below explain Obama’s peculiar frenzied spending.