Here – for the first time in two weeks thanks to a hosting problem on the blog and a week off – is the list of best reading material for the weekend:
How Khamenei Took and Asserts Power. Mehdi Khalaji writes in Real Clear World about an aspect of Khamenei I have not previously seen – about how he was able to take such significant power in Iran. As Khalaji writes:
During his twenty years in power, Khamenei has managed to overcome his initial obstacles and transform the conventional house of religious authority into a bureaucratic powerhouse. As a result, Iranian decision-making is no longer shared, as it was in the last years of Khomeini’s life, especially with regard to war. The house of the leader makes the main decisions today, whether political or military, domestic or foreign policy related, and Khamenei is the principal decisionmaker.
Young Palestinians Take to Western Classical Music. Daniel J. Wakin had a fascinating piece in the New York Times this past Sunday about how the younger generation of Palestinians seems to have a strong interest in classical music. Wakin focuses on anecdotes – so I’m not sure if there is a discernible movement of young Palestinians becoming interested in classical music, but there is something beautiful about the idea:
The flute, [Dalia Moukarker, 16] said later, “takes me to another world that is far away from here, a more beautiful world. Because it is not a beautiful place here. It is an ugly place.”
Dalia is one of a new generation of Palestinians who have been swept up in a rising tide of interest in Western classical music in the last several years here in the Palestinian territories, but especially the West Bank. The sounds of trills and arpeggios, Bach minuets and Beethoven sonatas, are rising up amid the economic malaise and restrictions of the Israeli occupation.
Waterboarding Pro-Life Terrorists. Hypocrisy is not confined to any political movement (or even to politics.) But Conor Friedersdorf asks a basic question of those he terms the “War on Terror hawks”:
Would these predominantly conservative officials, commentators and writers be comfortable if President Obama declared two or three extremist pro-lifers as “enemy combatants”? Should Pres. Obama have the prerogative to order the waterboarding of these uncharged, untried detainees? Should he be able to listen in on phone conversations originating from evangelical churches where suspected abortion extremists hang out? The answer is probably that different “War on Terror hawks” — anyone have a better term for this? — would react differently, but as a matter of law, it seems to me that if they’d gotten their way during the Bush Administration, President Obama would have the power to take all those steps and more, a prospect that is terrifying to me, not because I think our Commander in Chief is looking for a pretext to round up innocent pro-lifers, but because it doesn’t take many violent attacks before Americans start clamoring for a strong executive response, a dynamic that tends to erode liberties in previously unthinkable ways and spawn mistakes whereby innocents are made to suffer.
Michelle Malkin tried to make similar charges of hypocrisy against those to her left in a column about the Tiller murder. I almost included her on this reading list – as her claims seemed plausible – that islamist domestic terrorists were identified as “lone shooters” while christianist domestic terrorists were identified with the larger christianist movement – and that in general, the attention paid by the media and politicians to the attacks on military recruiters has been undercover while this Tiller case has been explosive. But after investigating some of the claims she made, I don’t think I can recommend her article be read – except as a representative right-wing propaganda piece. For example, Malkin writes:
Politically and religiously motivated violence, it seems, is only worth lamenting when it demonizes opponents. Which also helps explain why the phrase “lone shooter” is ubiquitous in media coverage of jihadi shooters gone wild…but not in cases involving rare acts of anti-abortion violence.
She lists three specific people: Mohammed Taheri-Azar, Naveed Haq, and Hesham Hedayet. My brief Google searches for all three along with the term “lone shooter” turn up ZERO (0) news results (except for various conservative sites citing Malkin) – which is somewhat less than ubiquitous. Malkin also tries to say that the term “hate fuck” means to rape – which it does not. Urban Dictionary lists 10 definitions of the term – none of which imply it is rape. If the two easiest facts to check in her article are more than misleading – and are actually outright false – it’s hard to trust any of the harder to to fact check statements such as the comparisons between the degrees of media coverage of the events and the degress of administration response.
The Renegade Boy Guru. The Dalai Lama chose Osel Hita Torres “as a reincarnation of a spiritual leader” named Lama Thubten Yeshe when Osel was a baby. He lived his entire life isolated – but now has quite the monastic life. The Guardian story by Dale Fuchs is short and interesting. Here’s one nugget:
At six, he was allowed to socialise only with other reincarnated souls – though for a time he said he lived next to the actor Richard Gere’s cabin.