The importance of martyrdom to Shi'a Islam can't be overstated. The 1979 revolution was in large paart driven by a cycle of martyrdom; their funerals created bigger public rallies, which led to more deaths, which led to more rallies.

The video above shows the first martyr of this uprising. Already, at the demonstrations in New York in front of the UN, demonstrators are holding up still images of that young woman's bloodied face rather than slogans. Her face is now the face of the protest.

When that video goes viral -- a video showing a young protester gunned down, and the frantic efforts to save her -- the effect on the Shi'a community around the world is going to be traumatic, and devastating.

UPDATE: Her name, it seems, was Neda. And from the comments section on an Al Giordano post, her passing has not gone unmourned:

Today was a big day—Today I was killed

Yesterday on Balatarin I wrote with the title "Tomorrow is a big day. Perhaps I get killed tomorrow." I have come to say I am alive but my sister was killed. . . I came to say that my sister died in my father's arms. . . I came to say that my sister had great hopes. . . I came to say when my sister was killed she was a dear human being . . . who like me wanted one day to let her hair out .. . who like me would read "Forugh" and her heart wanted to live with freedom and equality . . . and wanted to hold her head up and say, "I am an Iranian" . . . And her heart wanted to love a man with disheveled hair. . . . She wanted to have a girl whose hair she would braid and for whom she would sing lullabies.

My sister died for not having a life. . . .My sister died because there is no end to injustice. . . .My sister died for having loved life so much . . . And my sister died because she loved the people like a lover. . .

My dear sister, I wish you had closed your eyes when you died. . . . Your last look is burning my soul . . . Good night, sister. . . . May your sleep be sweet. . . .

UPDATE 2: A different, longer video of Neda's death can be found here.

The Good Kind of Dog Whistle

Quran 4:135:

O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.

Q: Let's move on to news of the day. The Ayatollah Khamenei gave his - speech today and gave his sermon. He said that the election in Iran was, in fact, legitimate. He said, quote/unquote, "the street - street demonstrations are unacceptable." Do you have a message for those people in the street?

A: I absolutely do. Well, first of all, let's understand that this notion that somehow these hundreds of thousands of people who are pouring into the streets in Iran are somehow responding to the West or the United States. that's an old distraction that I think has been trotted out periodically. And that's just not gonna fly.

What you're seeing in Iran are hundreds of thousands of people who believe their voices were not heard and who are peacefully protesting and - and seeking justice. And the world is watching. And we stand behind those who are seeking justice in a peaceful way. And, you know, already we've seen violence out there. I think I've said this throughout the week. I want to repeat it that we stand with those who would look to peaceful resolution of conflict, and we believe that the voices of people have to be heard, that that's a universal value that the American people stand for and this administration stands for.

And I'm very concerned based on some of the tenor and tone of the statements that have been made that the government of Iran recognize that the world is watching. And how they approach and deal with people who are, through peaceful means, trying to be heard will, I think, send a pretty clear signal to the international community about what Iran is - and is not.

But the last point I want to make on this - this is not an issue of the United States or the West versus Iran. This is an issue of the Iranian people. The fact that they are on the streets under pretty severe duress, at great risk to themselves, is a sign that there's something in that society that wants to open up.

And, you know, we respect Iran's sovereignty. And we respect the fact that ultimately the Iranian people have to make these decisions. But I hope that the world understands that this is not something that has to do with the outside world. This has to do with what's happening in Iran. And, I think ultimately the Iranian people, will obtain justice.

Those who rule without justice have fallen from the path of imam, and have no authority, no legitimacy. And today's violence will just prove to everyone in opposition to Khamenei that he, and the government, has fallen from that path.

The 30-year-old Iranian Revolution died today. The only question now is what replaces it.

Bigger Than Mousavi

Scroll down to the Guardian's 3:30 pm update:

An eyewitness in Enghelab square reports around 20,000 riot police, made up of Basiji militiamen and soldiers, and armed with rifles, tear gas and water cannons.

The eyewitness saw dozens of people beaten by riot police in an attempt to frighten them into evacuating the square, with one young man being beaten to the ground by four policemen.

The protesters were not wearing the green insignia that signifies support for Mousavi, and were not making victory signs or chanting.


Missing the Forest for the Green

Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Mousavi's film-maker spokesman to the west, says that Mousavi has been "ordered... to stay silent" by the Revolutionary Guard.

Anyone who still views this as Mousavi vs Ahmadinejad -- a group that apparently includes Ahmadi himself, and/or whoever's really in charge of his faction -- is deluding themselves. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people don't take to the streets to support one slightly less authoritarian politician over another. They do it because they want real change.

Makhmalbaf hits the nail on the head:

Some suggest the protests will fade because nobody is leading them. All those close to Mousavi have been arrested, and his contact with the outside world has been restricted. People rely on word of mouth, because their mobile phones and the internet have been closed down. That they continue to gather shows they want something more than an election. They want freedom, and if they are not granted it we will be faced with another revolution.

Thirty years ago we supported each other. When police used tear gas, fires would be lit to neutralise its effects. People would set their own cars on fire to save others. Since then, the government has tried to separate people from one other. What we lost was our togetherness, and in the past month we have found that again. All the armed forces in Iran are only enough to repress one city, not the whole country. The people are like drops of water coming together in a sea.

He caps it off with:

If we gain power through aggression we would have to keep it through aggression. That is why we're having a green revolution, defined by peace and democracy.

And that's why the world is watching, and holding its breath. If Iran throws off its shackles without taking up arms to do so, the rules change not just for them, but for everybody.

Khamenei Goes All-In

Not that he had much choice, really. To me the speech reads like one from a man who knows in his heart that his days are numbered. There are only two options here for him: victory for the protesters, which would mean he gets deposed (at best); or victory for Ahmadinejad, which would mean he'll become nothing but a figurehead, with the security forces really in control of the country.

The guardian council has said that if people have doubts they should prove them. I will not follow false allegations. In all elections some are winners and some are losers. Correct legal procedures should be followed to ensure trust in the process. The candidates should be careful about what they say and do. Some diplomats from the west are showing their real face and that they are enemies. The worst are the British.

The street is the place of living and trading. Why are you taking to the streets? We have had the election. Street demonstrations are a target for terrorist plots. Who would be responsible if something happened?

In threatening a real crackdown, though, he also let a little truth slip in:

Try to forget about politics and remember spirituality. This is the way to gain freedom. From the beginning the revolution was based on the strength of your faith.

Patience, courage and, most importantly, faith are the biggest weapons the protesters have in their arsenal. The will of the regime is fragile, and it will shatter on that rock if they can remain strong.

And, just to put on my rose-coloured glasses for a moment, maybe that was Khamenei's attempt to rationalize what he figures to be the almost inevitable outcome of it all. If the protesters win, won't they be the true heirs of the 1979 revolution? Won't they be saving its ideals from the corrupt path it has taken over the last 30 years?

The Last Wedge?

TNC is once again forced to beat his "black churches are not hotbeds of homophobia" drum.

In a sense, this manufactured divide between the African-American community and the LGBT community is the last relic of the 'divided left' era, when the American political left was a bunch of single-issue voting blocs who couldn't see past the end of their own noses to get their acts together.

Of course, Obama's apparent recalcitrance/apathy/ambivalence (pick your favourite!) on DADT, DOMA, etc etc don't help the process of clearing that relic away.

Stupidest. Tweet. Ever.

I've been trying not to talk too much about left-wing/right-wing reactions to What's Happening In Iran, because they're mostly irrelevant. But this one is too pricelessly idiotic to pass up.

Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House.
Sure, if by 'similar' you mean 'not at all alike, but my ego is more inflated than Ahamdinejad's vote totals so everything in the world must somehow be about ME ME ME ME ME ME ME.'

Iran's Lessons

Perhaps the most remarkable features of the 'green' movement in Iran has been its discipline and its peacefulness. Sully posted a picture earlier today of a small sign in Farsi, quoting Gandhi:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

I think it's safe to say that they've reached the third stage of Gandhi's formula, and yet the discipline remains. The rallies, the protests, have been almost universally non-violent, and the 'mourning protests' that are beginning to coalesce around the funerals of the slain will almost certainly be peaceful (just as they were in 1979).

This was Gandhi's blueprint, and Dr. King's. And if your opponent is capable of feeling shame and remorse, can empathize with you, it can be your most powerful weapon. If you can't defeat your opponent on the battlefield, get your opponent to lay down his arms.

It is also decidedly not the blueprint of Hamas.

If the green revolution succeeds in not just toppling Ahmadinejad but in transforming the country, and in giving Iranians more freedom than they could have imagined even a year ago, will the Palestinians pay attention?

As Matt Yglesias pointed out,

The bet is that when push comes to shove, people in the Iranian security forces have some humane and patriotic instincts and will recoil from the idea of using mass violence against their fellow citizens. And it’s a terrifying bet. We’ve seen time and again that it’s a bet that often pays off, but as we learned in China 20 years ago there are no guarantees.
The biggest difference between 1989 and 2009, however, is technological. It's that much harder to repress a popular movement in secret when the movement can so easily attract the eyes of the world.

Greening the Net

Do it, Google!

"They Are Just Like Us"

Yes, yes, a million times yes.

The clue lies in a single, almost heartbreaking, detail, tucked inside the reports of Iran's presidential election. Mir Hossein Mousavi - the dry, bureaucratic insider who became the unlikely hero of the reformist protesters - is not a charismatic man. But he did one truly eloquent thing. He held hands with his wife in public. He held his wife's hand. In public.

It makes you weep for a society in which that seems daring. But it turns out that for millions of people it was the hopeful sign they had been awaiting. It was a tiny crack in the dam. It was light in the darkness, a small battery torch of light, but light all the same.

For years we have been told, we neocons, that other cultures don't want our liberty, our American freedom. Yankee go home! But it isn't true. Because millions of Iranians do want it. Yes, they want their sovereignty, and demand respect for their nation and its great history. No, they don't want foreign interference and manipulation. But they still insist upon their rights and their freedom. They know that liberty isn't American or British. It is Iranian, it is human.


But the frustrating truth is that there are limits to what can be achieved by outsiders. Instead we have to wait as national movements, one by one, stand up for their rights. And sometimes, tragically, we even have to stand aside as those movements are crushed by their oppressors.

We may now see that happen in Iran. But at least we know this. The people of Iran might not get what we have. But in their millions, that is what they want. Really, they are just like us.

Iran's Yeltsin?

Sully keeps making the comparison between what is happening in Iran with what happened in the Soviet Union under Gorbachev, where moderate reforms within the system exposed the flaws of that system rather than working to save it. He also wonders, if Mousavi is a potential Gorbachev, then who is a potential Yeltsin?

Why not look at the obvious candidate?

Qalibaf, the current and very popular mayor of Tehran, was a hero of the Iran-Iraq war; reformed the police following the student protests in 1999 (successfully, it would seem, given that the 2003 protests resulted in a fairly surprising lack of violence, not to mention what's been happening in the last week); and he's spoken publicly and approvingly about the idea of real dialogue with the US.

Amusing Poker Discussion

Jeff Goldberg has a post (and a follow-up) outlining a dilemma in his home poker game involving high/low seven-stud, which they still play as a declare game (i.e. rather than cards speaking, you have you declare whether you're going after the low half of the pot, the high half or both.)

As I said in my email to him, explaining why he shouldn't have won any part of that pot, "This is why nobody plays declare games any more..."

It's a reminder that poker, just like anything else involving competitive human interaction, evolves over time. Which also reminds me that at some point I should post up the rules to Council Bluffs, the Omaha spin-off someone in one of my regular games developed. (Council Bluffs, if you don't get the joke, is the smaller city in Iowa across the Missouri River from Omaha -- and when I explain the rules you'll understand why 'crosssing the river' is such an important part of the game...)


Meant to blog about this yesterday, but it slipped my mind and now Sully's beaten me to it.

Pletka's op-ed was right out of the same playbook we saw during the Bush administration: ideology before reality. Regardless of what's actually happening in the world, the neocon worldview demands certain events and outcomes so that's what will be reported, regardless of the facts.

Which is not to say that she might not be correct that the entire election was cover for an attempted coup by Ahmadinejad and his cronies. But to leap from that to the assumption that the coup is a success, in the face of such an obviously powerful and (as the history of Iran shows) persistent popular counter-revolution is willful ignorance.

The "elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps" hasn't crushed anything yet, Danielle, and my money's on them failing every time they try. This isn't just some local disgruntlement, some fit of pique by spoiled students. This is an entire country waking up to the fact that their government has only as much power and legitimacy as the people give them.

I can see why that wouldn't compute to someone wiith a neocon worldview.

Now, if Ahmadinejad loses this struggle and gets tossed, does that mean the resulting government will be to America's liking? Perhaps not. And my response to that is: Too fucking bad.

Someone else phrased that a little more eloquantly recently:

Obviously all of us have been watching the news from Iran... and I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be

Bill Keller Demonstrates His Irrelevance

Al Giordano exposes Bill Keller, executive editor of the Senile Old Lady, for the coward and con artist that he (and far too many 'journalists' today) really is:

As one who has reported from dangerous conflict zones again and again, I can say that you can safely ignore Keller's "concern" for Iranians that might be endangered by his presence. Shouldn't that really be the decision of the unnamed Iranians that want accurate news about the events in their country reported to the world and are risking their lives to get the word out with or without shepherding NY Timesmen around?

Somebody has to say it. Might as well be me. It's Bill Keller who is the coward here. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out of Iran, Bill!

Can you imagine John Reed or Webb Miller or George Orwell or Oriana Fallaci or Andrew Kopkind or Mario Menendez or any of the other great journalists of their times using local people as an excuse to flee the scene of the crime? Hell, I've worked over the past dozen years throughout Latin America with journalists that know exactly how to embed with social movements without placing greater dangers on them. We do it all the time. Maybe Keller needs to attend our School of Authentic Journalism to learn that. Nobody apparently ever taught him. And he's the Ayatollah of the New York Fucking Times!

And yet I welcome Keller's flight and that of all the others. Because this week they are proving, finally, that all their claims of recent months about why "real newspapers" and "real journalists" are needed to cover the affairs of the world more than Internet or citizen journalists are a great big self-serving lie. They're completely impotent before the events in Iran. They're reduced to posting YouTube videos, and quoting Twitter tweets, made by people who will risk their lives with or without them tagging along.

The events in Iran this week, in addition to all the very important matters at stake, are also demonstrating for the world why the profit-driven media is incapable of serving society during these times and why it has become so very obsolete.

And for that, too, we owe a debt of gratitude to the people in the streets, especially the citizen journalists, more "real journalist" than Bill Keller and his generation of corporate clone-warriors that destroyed journalism in the United States have ever been.

Iran's World Cup Hopes on Life Support

Iran drew 1-1 with South Korea this morning, meaning they need help just to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

First, they need Saudi Arabia to lose to North Korea this afternoon -- that would give Iran third place in their group over the Saudis based on goal differential.

That would then get them into a playoff against the third place finisher in the other Asian group, which will likely be Bahrain.

If they can win that home-and-home playoff in September, that would then get them to another playoff against New Zealand (the playoff winner from Oceania) in October. If they win that, they're South Africa-bound.

My New Favorite Baseball Player

In the 14th round of the draft, the Marlins selected a junior college outfielder named Sequoyah Stonecipher.

For reals.

Greening the Chronicles

JC pokes some fun at Sully for greening his site. Sully responds.

Here's my take, and why the Chronicles are now green: I live in a city, Toronto, with a fairly large Iranian population. And if the last few days have shown anything, it's how wired the kids at the heart of this movement are.

So if I wear green for the next however long as I walk around my city, and someone notices and asks me why, there is a chance -- however small -- that word will get back to Iran that "people in Toronto are with you." And if someone stumbles across this blog at random, there is again that small chance of my tiny, insignificant act of solidarity reaching a set of eyes or ears that needs to know they are not alone in this world.

It makes no difference to my life, and it might make a difference in someone else's, even if the odds of it doing so are somewhere south of 1% of 1%. If that makes me narcissistic, so be it.

Of course the real problem is the majority of my wardrobe is along the black/grey/white/blue spectrum... heck, I had to bust out an old Pinky & the Brain t-shirt today (ironically featuring a timely "Your Candidate for World Ruler" slogan) to wear something green.

When I start a 'Shopping for Allah' segment here, then you can accuse me of narcissism.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds hops on the green bandwagon. Green the 'net!

1979, or 1989?

A letter Sully posted tonight makes it clear why the situation in Iran is going to get worse before it gets better:

Even the person we voted for [Musavi, Karroubi] told us to “be silent because this government has no fear to tear your breasts and spill your blood in all of Persia’s rivers”.

The person we voted for asked us to be silent. To forget.

He said these people are not Muslim. They are liars. The police here are like wolves. Religious people in neighbourhoods laugh at and disrespect us as non-Iranian.

"...these people are not Muslim." The righteous do not forget, and they do not surrender.

This will end in either another revolution, a la 1979, or another massacre, a la Tienanmen Square in 1989. There doesn't seem to be a third way forward at this point, not even a new election.

Bigger Than the Election

After security forces raided the student dorms last night, the faculty of Tehran University appear to have resigned en masse in protest.

This is far beyond being about Mousavi vs Ahmadinejad. This is about the system, and the people in charge trying desperately to hold it together by force rather than populat support.

Al Giordano speculated that it might take five to ten weeks for events to reach their resolution, much as they did in the Ukraine in 2004.

I can't decide whether that's pessimistic, in the sense that I can't imagine this trajectory can possibly sutain itself for even five weeks without a climax, or optimistic in the sense that it assumes things won't disintegrate into a full-blown civil war.

Mound Musings

A little somethin' somethin' I wrote for Rotowire last week is up at Foxsports.

Feel free to start a flame war in the comments because I mis-identified Giants first round pick Zack Wheeler as an outfielder instead of a pitcher (I got him mixed up with Tim Wheeler, taken much later in the first round. Things were so much easier last season when the two Beckhams, Tim and Gordon, had the decency to play the same position...)

Your Corporate Media At Work

I turned on the news this morning, hoping against hope someone might have something to say about what was happening in Iran.

Fox? Nothing.
MSNBC? Nope.
ABC? Nada.
NBC? Zilch.
CBS? Pshaw.

CNN was actually acknowledging that the country existed, but their coverage is pretty much exclusively a recap of what was said on the Sunday bloviatothons, and all through the dual cracked lenses of "were the elections legit?" and "how does this affect America/Obama?" Really, what Mike Pence has to say about Obama's foreign policy is fucking irrelevant right now.

Nothing about what was actually happening on the ground in Iran. Nothing about the afternoon protests. No mention of the fact that the elections were just a facade anyway, whether they were rigged or not.

Oh, wait, I stand corrected. Christiane Amanpour just called in from Iran and talked for five minutes.

The first truly major event of 2009 is happening, one with massive implications for the world and for the prospect (or lack thereof) of peace in the Middle East, and the collective might of the American television media can't stop checking out their own asses.

It's disgusting.

What Happened in Iran?

Gordon Robison presents three scenarios.

Summing Up the Corporate Media in One Sentence

Howie Kurtz on Sunday morning: "It's hard for reporters on the ground to figure out the central question in Iran -- whether the election actually was rigged or not. And now, let's talk about Sarah Palin versus David Letterman!"

Yes, I realize Howie's job is in theory to report on reporting. His entire raison d'etre is to gaze at media navels on the rare occasions when the owners of the navels in question are busy looking at something else.

It's still pathetic. And it highlights what the corporate media's priorities are.