“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, January 04, 2016

A diplomatic rupture between the major Sunni and Shia powers in the region will resonate across the Middle East, where they back opposing sides in many destructive wars and simmering conflicts


Here are the latest updates:

Iran-Saudi crisis 'most dangerous for decades'

Iranian protesters hold placards of Nimr al-Nimr at a demonstration near Saudi embassy in Tehran (03/01/16)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionIran-Saudi tensions boiled over with the execution of Nimr al-Nimr

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are at their worst for nearly 30 years.
Tensions have spiralled following the execution of Saudi cleric Nimr al-Nimr, the subsequent setting ablaze of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and Riyadh's expulsion of Iranian diplomats. 
The struggle between Riyadh and Tehran for political and religious influence has geopolitical implications that extend far beyond the placid waters of the Gulf and encompass nearly every major conflict zone in the Middle East. 
Most notably, perhaps, the crisis means prospects for a diplomatic breakthrough in Syria and Yemen now look much more remote, just as international momentum for negotiations seemed to be on the verge of delivering results. 

Years of turbulence

The current standoff is as dangerous as its 1980s predecessor, which first saw diplomatic ties suspended between 1988 and 1991. 
This occurred at the end of the turbulent opening decade after the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the grinding eight-year Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988. 
Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states backed Iraq's Saddam Hussein during the war and suffered Iranian attacks on their shipping, while in 1984 the Saudi air force shot down an Iranian fighter jet that it claimed had entered Saudi airspace. 

Iranian protestors hold a up a poster of Ayatollah Khomeini during a demonstration in Tehran (January 1979)Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran drove a wedge between the two neighbours

Saudi and other Arab Gulf governments also linked Iran's post-revolutionary government with a rise in Shia militancy, an aborted coup in Bahrain in 1981, and a failed attempt to assassinate the emir of Kuwait four years later. 
Meanwhile, the Iranian regime established Hezbollah al-Hejaz in May 1987 as a cleric-based group modelled on Lebanese Hezbollah intent on carrying out military operations inside Saudi Arabia. 
Hezbollah al-Hijaz issued a number of inflammatory statements threatening the Saudi royal family and carried out several attacks in the late 1980s as tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia rose sharply.

Deep distrust

While the current crisis lacks as yet equivalent instances of direct confrontation, tensions are as dangerous as in the 1980s for three reasons. 
The first is the legacy of years of sectarian politics that have done so much to divide the Middle East along Sunni-Shia lines and foster an atmosphere of deep distrust between Iran and its neighbours across the Gulf. 

Aftermath of air strike by Saudi-led coalition in Sanaa, YemenImage copyrightReuters
Image captionIran and Saudi Arabia support opposing sides in conflicts in Yemen and Syria

In such a supercharged atmosphere, the moderate middle ground has been sorely weakened and advocates of a hardline approach to regional affairs now hold sway. 
Second, the Gulf states have followed increasingly assertive foreign policies over the past four years, partly in response to what they see as perennial Iranian "meddling" in regional conflicts, and also because of growing scepticism about the Obama administration's intentions in the Middle East. 
For many in the Gulf, the primary threat from Iran lies not in Tehran's nuclear programme but in Iran's support for militant non-state actors such as Hezbollah and, more recently, the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen. 
Both the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and the multinational coalition against terrorism announced last month by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman show Saudi officials in no mood to compromise on regional security matters.

'Death knell'

Finally, the breakdown in diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran probably sounds the death-knell, at least for now, for regional efforts to end the wars in Yemen and Syria. 
Lost in the furore over the execution of Nimr al-Nimr was an announcement that the fragile ceasefire agreed in Yemen on 15 December had broken down. 
Neither the ceasefire nor the UN-brokered talks that started at the same time had made much headway, and while the UN talks were due to resume on 14 January that is unlikely if the Saudi-led coalition and Iran intensify their involvement in Yemen.
A similar outcome may now await the Syrian peace talks due to begin in Geneva in late January, as weeks of patient behind-the-scenes outreach to align the warring parties will come to nothing if the two most influential external parties to the conflict instead double down and dig in. 
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is the Research Fellow for the Middle East at Rice University's Baker Institute for the Middle East and an Associate Fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House. Follow him on Twitter.


BACKGROUND : Shia sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr

2008 August 23, 05:31 (Saturday)
-- Not Assigned --
-- Not Assigned --
-- Not Assigned --
TE - Telegram (cable)
-- N/A or Blank --

-- N/A or Blank --
-- Not Assigned --
-- Not Assigned --

B. 08 RIYADH 1070 Classified By: CG JOHN KINCANNON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: In an August 13 meeting with PolOff, controversial Shi'a sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr sought to distance himself from previously reported pro-Iranian and anti-American statements, instead adopting a less radical tone on topics such as the relationship between Iran and the Saudi Shi'a, and American foreign policy. Arguing that he is portrayed publicly as much more radical than the true content of his words and beliefs, the Sheikh also espoused other conciliatory ideas such as fair political decision-making over identity-based politics, the positive impact of elections, and strong "American ideals" such as liberty and justice. Despite this more moderate tone, Al-Nimr reasserted his ardent opposition to what he described as the authoritarianism of the reactionary al-Saud regime, stating he would always support "the people" in any conflict with the government. He also continued to argue for the right of the Saudi Shi'a community to seek external assistance if it were to become embroiled in a conflict. The Sheikh was also cognizant of the increased profile that his strong language has earned him, saying that his fiery words continue to attract interest from an increasing percentage of the Shia community, particularly young people.  
END SUMMARY. --------------------- Background on al-Nimr --------------------- 2. (S/NF) On August 13, PolOff met with Shi'a sheikh Nimr al-Nimr at the Sheikh's Awamiyya home in the Qatif area. The always controversial sheikh has gained extra attention over the past months by calling in bolder-than-usual terms for an end to anti-Shi'a discrimination in Saudi Arabia, and by seemingly endorsing the Iranian regime, its nuclear ambitions, and its increasingly active role in the region. Al-Nimr is typically regarded as a second-tier political player in the Eastern Province (EP), in large part because he is not directly affiliated with either the Islahiyyah movement (often called the Shirazis) or Saudi Hizbollah, the two largest political blocs in the EP Shi'a community. Despite this secondary status, al-Nimr is currently gaining popularity locally, particularly with young people, as his words appeal to those disaffected by the general economic malaise experienced by Saudi Arabia's lower classes and a perceived lack of sufficient SAG reform in relations with the Shi'a community. Meanwhile, at a national and international level, with everyone from Salafi sheikhs to regional intelligence agencies, al-Nimr's words have gained him increased notoriety due to fears that his words will spark unrest and perhaps point to an Iranian hand in Saudi Arabia (Reftel A). 3. (S/NF) Al-Nimr, a former follower of the late Ayatollah Mohammad al-Husseini al-Shirazi, now follows the religious leadership of Iraqi Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Mudarrasi, the Karbala-based spiritual leader of the Islamic Action Organization. In the meeting with PolOff, al-Nimr complimented both Ayatollahs for being leaders in combining the power of the mind with the power of the Quran in determining guidance for public life. Al-Nimr described his and al-Mudarrasi's attitude towards Islamic governance as being something between "wilayet al-faqih," in which a country is led by a single religious leader, and "shura al-fuqaha," in which a council of religious leaders should lead the state. Al-Nimr, who conducted religious studies for approximately ten years in Tehran and "a few" years in Syria, stated that all governance should be done through consultation, but the amount of official power vested in the hands of a single official should be determined based on the relative quality of the religious leaders and the political situation at the time. ------------------------ Al-Nimr on his Loyalties ------------------------ 4. (S/NF) When asked by PolOff as to whether his tough talk promoted violence or simply warned of it as a possible repercussion of continued discontent in the Shi'a community, al-Nimr responded that if a conflict were to occur he would side with the people, never with the government." RIYADH 00001283 002 OF 004 He continued by saying that though he will always choose the side of the people, this does not necessarily mean that he will always support all of the people's actions, for example, violence. Religiously, al-Nimr said that he is first a Shi'a, then a Muslim, then a member of the Ahl al-Bayt (literally People of the House; the phrase refers to Muslims, Christians and Jews), and finally a member of humanity. He quickly followed by saying that politically, he is on the side of justice, wherever or with whomever it may preside. He provided the example of Iraqi politics, saying that he does not support the aspirations of any Arabs - be they Sunni or Shi'a - or Turkomen who would aspire to power in northern Iraq. In al-Nimr's view, as the Kurds are an undoubted majority in the region, it would be unjust if they did not exercise a majority of power. ---------------------------------- Al-Nimr on Iran, the United States ---------------------------------- 5. (S/NF) Much of the attention recently received by al-Nimr is due to his comments in sermons and an interview with IslamOnline website perceived as supporting Iran, including defending Iran's nuclear aspirations and complimenting the people and government of Iran on their piety. In a July 26 follow-up letter to IslamOnline, Al-Nimr attempted to distance himself from Iran, saying that piety is only God alone, and that all nations act in their own interests. It was this sentiment that continued in the meeting with PolOff, as al-Nimr stated that his fundamental view of foreign powers - including Iran - is that they act out of self-interest, not out of piety or religious commonality. Al-Nimr said he was against the idea that Saudi Shi'a should expect Iranian support based on some idea of sectarian unity that supersedes national politics. 6. (S/NF) In addition to supporting Iran, al-Nimr's recent sermons have been laced with anti-American rhetoric, for example that America "wants to humiliate the world." In this meeting, the sheikh distanced himself from these ideas, saying that he has great affection for the American people. Al-Nimr stated that in his view, when compared with the actions of nations such as Britain, the European colonial powers, or the Soviet Union, the "imperialism" of the United States has been considerably more benign, with better treatment of people and more successful independent states. Al-Nimr said that this was evident in comparing the fortunes of West and East Germany, where the American-supported West was clearly more successful than the Soviet-supported East. The Sheikh also cited Japan as another case of America properly compensating and building a nation. The Sheikh believes that U.S. efforts in the Middle East are also better intentioned than previous imperial powers in the region, but that the U.S. has made tremendous mistakes in Iraq. 7. (S/NF) Al-Nimr also stated that Shi'a Muslims, even more than Sunnis, are natural allies for America as Shi'a thought, as reflected by the Imam Ali, is based on justice and liberty, ideas central to the United States. Al-Nimr cited as proof of his logic the fact that Sunni sheikhs regularly issue fatwas calling for violence and defending murder in the name of God. Meanwhile, in his view, proper Shi'a religious leaders would never advocate such tactics, as they directly contradict the spirit of Shi'ism. In addition to giving his comparison Shi'a and American ideals, al-Nimr showed significant historical knowledge of U.S. foreign policy - for example, speaking positively of the spirit of Middle Eastern initiatives during the Carter administration - and was well-informed regarding the state of the U.S. Presidential campaign. 8. (S/NF) Though al-Nimr moved away from Iran and spoke somewhat positively of America in the meeting with PolOff, he did not change course regarding his previously stated conviction that it is the right of the Shi'a people of Saudi Arabia to avail themselves of help from a foreign power should they become involved in a conflict. Citing Kuwait and Saudi Arabia employing the U.S. military to defend themselves against a fellow Arab force from Iraq, and the people of Darfur relying on foreign intervention to stop their countrymen in the Sudan, al-Nimr stated that the Shi'a community had the right to search for foreign assistance in the case of conflict against other Saudis. Al-Nimr did not invoke Iran in detailing where this foreign assistance might come from, and did not delineate regarding at what point in RIYADH 00001283 003 OF 004 hostilities foreign intervention would be justified. ------------------ Al-Nimr on the SAG ------------------ 9. (S/NF) In addition to his unswerving belief in the right of the Shi'a community to receive foreign assistance, al-Nimr also unflinchingly continued to denounce the Saudi government and its actions. One of the al-Nimr's overriding messages in this meeting was his view of governments as reactionary institutions. For example, al-Nimr stated that Eastern European countries gained their independence through agitation and Soviet failure, not due to any plan by the Russians to offer greater liberty. This fundamental belief affects his thinking generally and is at the foundation of why he advocates tough talk and is not averse to tough action. The Sheikh believes that the SAG is particularly reactionary and has been throughout its history. Al-Nimr stated that whether it is the Holy Mosque takeover, Iranian Revolution and EP Shi'a uprising of 1979; the realities of external pressure after September 11, 2001 and internal panic after the Saudi Arabia attacks of 2003 and 2004; or the advent of satellite television and the Internet, the Saudi government has never introduced change but has instead always been forced to change. 10. (S/NF) The examples given by al-Nimr were numerous: increased laxity in prohibiting the entrance ofreligious materials into the Kingdom is only due to current technology making it impossible to stop access to religious information; minor freedoms recently gained by the Shi'a of Qatif - for example, greater ability to celebrate Ashura - are a result of tensions building due to rising Shi'ism in both Iraq and Iran; municipal councils are a response to America's talk of supporting democracy and liberty over stability in the Middle East. Al-Nimr also cited a very personal story, saying that when he was detained in 2006 by the Saudi Mabahith, he was beaten by authorities and treated quite poorly. The people of Awamiyya, per the Sheikh's account, received no response to letters and formal pleas to the EP Governor for leniency. It was only when citizens began to advocate community demonstrations and a "no fear" attitude toward the SAG that al-Nimr says the authorities' abuse ended, and he was eventually released from detention. 11. (S/NF) With regards to specific SAG policies, the Sheikh believes that the Interfaith Dialogue initiative is a sham, a public relations exercise for audiences external to the Kingdom. He cited as evidence the crackdown against EP Shi'a that accompanied the high-level talk of dialogue (Reftel B). Additionally, he believes that the early June anti-Shi'a statement issued by 22 Salafi sheikhs was published with the consent of SAG officials. In the opinion of al-Nimr, many of the 22 are too close to the SAG for the statement to have been issued without government knowledge or approval. When asked by PolOff if he considered some members of the royal family to be truly committed to greater tolerance, al-Nimr responded that he does not distinguish between different members of the al-Saud, but only judges the government by its actions within the Kingdom, which he feels belie any sign of greater moderation or openness. He did, however, mention that there is a small amount of hope that younger generations, as they continue to study abroad in larger numbers and are exposed to more tolerant societies, will bring more tolerant attitudes back to the Kingdom. 12. (S/NF) While supportive of the idea of elections as a positive development in Saudi society, al-Nimr dismissed municipal councils as non-political, ineffective institutions with purview over only basic functions, and an inability to exercise authority over even those issues. He cited the fact (unconfirmed by post) that Diriyah, the ancestral home of the al-Saud, receives a larger municipal budget than Qatif despite Qatif having several times the population of Diriyah, as proof that municipal governance is simply another area in which the regime's discriminatory policies manifest themselves. ------- COMMENT ------- 13. (S/NF) Al-Nimr's private remarks were consistent with his previous public statements in their disregard for the SAG, RIYADH 00001283 004 OF 004 their support of foreign intervention on behalf of the Saudi Shi'a, and their inferences that the Sheikh at the very least will not denounce the idea of violent uprising. On the sensitive topic of Iran, however, the Sheikh eagerly attempted to divorce himself from the image of being an Iranian agent. Likewise, the Sheikh was much more complimentary of the U.S. - perhaps even somewhat disarming in his recounting of U.S. foreign policy in World War II, the Cold War, and the Carter administration - than he has been previously portrayed. Though it is certainly possible that al-Nimr changed his tune on these issues for the company of a U.S. diplomat, the pace, passion and certainty with which he spoke seemed to reflect true belief, and not cold political calculation or manipulation. In any case, his ideas seem to be internally contradictory. While it might be possible at a theoretical level to distance himself from Iran while also arguing the right of Saudi Shi'a to seek foreign assistance, at the de facto level Iran is certainly the only country at this time that might work with the Saudi Shi'a to undermine SAG control - a future Shi'a Iraq being the only other actor of any possibility. It is perhaps this reality that leads some local analysts to believe that al-Nimr would not hesitate to join Iranian agents in a possible uprising. 14. (S/NF) Also notable for the purpose of predicting al-Nimr's future behavior was his recognition of his own growing popularity, an observation supported by many in the community. Post contacts have described al-Nimr as someone who in previous years was largely an apolitical religious figure, and is still a secondary player in local politics. These contacts point to the death of Ayatollah Shirazi as the moment when al-Nimr began to take more political stances, his politicization a product of desire for greater community influence. Assuming al-Nimr's primary goals are greater rights for Shi'a and greater personal influence, it would seem his plan will be to continue forcefully calling for reform and creating unrest, endearing him to the disaffected, and fitting with his vision of instability as being the only catalyst for real change in the Kingdom. (APPROVED:JKINCANNON) GFOELLER


  1. If you have a chance, read the secret cable exposed by Wikileaks.

    Another trillion dollar year of US military spending has made us less safe because we have no business being involved in any of this. This year’s trillion will only make our domestic security worse still. You can bet on it.

  2. The video of the speech by sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, with English subtitles, is an argument for freedom against the corrupt government of Saudi Arabia. It is a brilliant speech. The Saudis had no argument and thus they did what tyrants always do, they killed him.

    How did the US Government and ruling elite get on the side of the corruption without itself being corrupt?

    The question answers itself.

  3. Fucking middle east.

    It's enough to make one give some credence to the idea that the Fall of Man began with writing.

    After due consideration, sometimes I believe I'm with Uncle Ed out at the Casino.

    A military retired with a son in, he is of the considered opinion that they should all be allowed/urged to kill one anther.

    You'd think they'd get a light bulb one of these centuries.

    1400 years is a long run of the same old play.

    1. The Sheiks come and ago
      Oblivious to Michaelangelo...
      The memes renewed remain
      Fresh blood swirls the drain....

      T.S. Eliot, modified

      From the 'let them all kill one another' foreign policy point of view, O'bozo, Hilda, and droopy K. can't be called a total failure.

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. Take your religious snot somewhere else.

    4. You are disgusting.

      That was simply about modes of prayer.

      Things you don't know a goddamned thing about.

      You need to learn some things.

    5. Modes of prayer, 'talking' with God, Michaelangelo.....religious snot ?

      Je...SUS CHRIST !!

    6. It is all shit and nonsense. All of it. All of them . None is better than the others. They are all one big fabricated lie. Getting people killed for snot.

  4. I doubt any of The US Conga Line or any of the line of fools running to be POTUS ever read this cable nor any of the other millions of cables that would give them at least a smidgeon of what we are involved in. Never mind, they all do love the flag and the foreign legions. What could possibly go wrong?

  5. I doubt that civilization, as we know it, will make it to the 22nd. Century.

    Religious nutjobs, Christian, as well as Muslim, and Nukes can't coexist, forever. In fact, 100 years seems unlikely, to me.

    I sure hope I'm wrong, but . . . . . . . .

  6. Looks like Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson is losing it.
    Unable to express a coherent thought.
    Probably because he has no experience with being coherent.

    1. Considering the subjects are Religion, and the Middle East, one can almost sympathize. :)

  7. The terrorist spokesman says ...

    "It's important that we stand and people know that we're serious,"
    Bundy, 40, said on “Good Morning America.”

    Robert will not want you to read this, he thinks that the Federals should "instruct" the media not to report on this situation.

  8. Small Businesses Get Big Tax Break

    Hidden in the back of the big omnibus bill that passed just days before Congress broke for the holidays was an important new change in the tax laws. It gives a boost to small and mid-sized businesses, and might help stimulate the economy.

    The change applies to something called the Section 179 deduction ( and this tax calculator for the specifics) and it establishes a permanent deduction for purchases of qualifying equipment.

    I know — taxes and depreciation schedules put you into a coma. Before your eyes glaze over, follow what this means. Before, when a business bought or leased a piece of equipment, some of the costs were written off each year through depreciation. This offered businesses some incentive to invest in equipment, but it made their accounting and taxes more complex than necessary.

    The change to Section 179 eliminates that depreciation schedule. Small companies can simply purchase as much as $500,000 in business-related equipment and write it off that year. It’s a much simpler approach to making and accounting for capital expenditures.

    Big Break for Small Business

    1. That's a good move I think. I wish they'd do something like that in Canada.

    2. In Canada, though, dividend and salary income are treated the same.

  9. I added some interesting updates to this pending disaster.

  10. I don't think that this is the same one I put up, yesterday:

    US special force carries out air landing operation in Sharqat

    ( Salahuddin – On Monday, spokesman of al-Hashd al-Watani Mahmoud al-Sorgui announced, that an American force has carried out an air landing operation on al-Zab area in Sharqat District.

    Sorgui said in a statement obtained by, “Last night, an American special force had carried out an air landing operation on al-Zab area in Sharqat District north of Salahuddin,” adding that, “The operation was carried out to destroy the sites of the ISIS organization in the area, while its results are still unidentified.”

    Noteworthy, a joint security forces had carried out an air landing operation on the headquarters of the ISIS organization in Hawija District and were able to kill a number of the organization’s elements, while detained other elements.


    1. SOUTHWEST ASIA, January 4, 2016 — U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

      Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

      Strike in Syria

      An attack aircraft conducted a strike near Ayn Isa, which destroyed five ISIL buildings.

      Strikes in Iraq

      Coalition military forces conducted 25 strikes in Iraq using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

      -- Near Baghdadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, cratered an ISIL-used road, wounded three ISIL fighters, denied ISIL access to terrain, suppressed two ISIL mortar positions and an ISIL vehicle bomb, and destroyed an ISIL machine gun, an ISIL fighting position, five ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL vehicle bomb, and five ISIL rocket rails.

      -- Near Fallujah, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bunker.

      -- Near Haditha, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb, four ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

      -- Near Kisik, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.

      -- Near Mosul, 12 strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL excavator, four ISIL weapons caches, ISIL engineering equipment, three ISIL heavy machine guns, and 12 ISIL assembly areas.

      -- Near Qayyarah, a strike struck an ISIL-used bridge.

      -- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and four buildings.

      -- Near Sinjar, two strikes destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and suppressed two ISIL machine gun positions.

      -- Near Tal Afar, a strike destroyed 10 ISIL bunkers.


  11. Supreme Court Justice Scalia: 'There's no place' for claims that the Constitution protects atheists

    [Scalia] told the audience at Archbishop Rummel High School that there is "no place" in the country's constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence.
    "To tell you the truth there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from?" he said. "To be sure, you can't favor one denomination over another but can't favor religion over non-religion?"

    . . . . . . .

    The asshole has gone completely, motherfucking looney-tunes.

    looney-tunes motherfucker

    1. More from the crazed sonofabitch:

      “God has been very good to us. That we won the revolution was extraordinary. The Battle of Midway was extraordinary. I think one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor. Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name we do him honor. In presidential addresses, in Thanksgiving proclamations and in many other ways,” Scalia said.

      You may not personally see the link between the Battle of Midway and how often our presidents have invoked God during Thanksgiving addresses, but you are not Antonin Scalia and so your opinion means not a damn thing here. That, too, is one of the perks of being on the Supreme Court.

      Just for the record, we are not the only nation on Earth whose top government authorities are constantly making pronouncements about how our nation is uniquely blessed by a God who grants us military victories in exchange for incessant proselytizing. We consider those other countries to be run by lunatics, of course, and spend hundreds of cable television hours wondering what sort of global insanity they might be capable of.

    2. Best argument ever for either term limits or a 2/3 State Governor overrule on any Supreme Court decision.

  12. “What group here in Iran benefits politically from storming an embassy?” a former member of the Iranian National Security Council, Aziz Shahmohammadi, asked rhetorically. He was suggesting the answer lay with the hard-liners – a loose alliance of clerics, ideologues and military commanders.


    The act of cutting ties seems a simple one, but the consequences can be far-reaching. “We are moving increasingly towards conflict,” Shahmohammadi said.

    “This is bad for the entire region – in Syria, in Yemen, and to a lesser extend in Lebanon and Iraq as well,” he added. “Cutting ties is fanning the flames in a region already on fire.”