This is about basic human rights. Regardless of your view on the election in Iran, the people, the citizens should be able to voice their disapproval without repercussions of severe and deadly violence. Two weeks ago I tweeted that I would hoist a beer with the world if Ahmadinejad lost and then earlier this week I changed my avatar on twitter to green. At the time, I stated that it was completely non-consequential support for the protesters in Iran. I was wrong.
In the past day, we have witnessed a cyber protest that is unprecedented in the history of media. People across the globe are not only communicating with the protesters risking their lives on the ground but actively helping. For in the age of instant communication, a government cannot stop a message, just as the music industry will never stop file sharing, the masses are too great, too strong. And while I first thought my support was immaterial, I have come to realize that the simple act of spreading the word, helping to keep the world's eye on the events, merely showing that we care, is enough to make a difference however small. I urge you to do the same.
A solid article from one of the few reporters on the scene.
The long-standing Middle East correspondent for The Independent, Robert Fisk, is defying the government crackdown on foreign media reporting in Iran.
As he explains, he has been travelling around the streets of Tehran all day and most of the night and things are far from quiet:
I've just been witnessing a confrontation, in dusk and into the night, between about 15,000 supporters of Ahmadinejad - supposedly the president of Iran - who are desperate to down the supporters of Mr Mousavi, who thinks he should be the president of Iran.
There were about 10,000 Mousavi men and women on the streets, with approximately 500 Iranian special forces, trying to keep them apart.
It was interesting that the special forces - who normally take the side of Ahmadinejad's Basij militia - were there with clubs and sticks in their camouflage trousers and their purity white shirts and on this occasion the Iranian military kept them away from Mousavi's men and women.
In fact at one point, Mousavi's supporters were shouting 'thank you, thank you' to the soldiers.
One woman went up to the special forces men, who normally are very brutal with Mr Mousavi's supporters, and said 'can you protect us from the Basij?' He said 'with God's help'.
It was quite extraordinary because it looked as if the military authorities in Tehran have either taken a decision not to go on supporting the very brutal militia - which is always associated with the presidency here - or individual soldiers have made up their own mind that they're tired of being associated with the kind of brutality that left seven dead yesterday - buried, by the way secretly by the police - and indeed the seven or eight students who were killed on the university campus 24 hours earlier.
Full Article at abc.net.au
Now that it is over, we can look back in amazement.
Dan Bartlett, White House communications director and later counselor to the president:
It was a bitterly cold day. They got back to the residence from the inauguration. The president was going over to have his first moment in the Oval Office as president of the United States. And he called for his father because he wanted his father to be there when it happened. If I recall correctly, George H. W. Bush was soaking in the tub trying to warm up, because it had been so cold on the viewing stand. Not only did the former president quickly get out of the tub, but he put his suit back on, because he was not going to enter the Oval Office without a suit. His hair was still kind of wet.
Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.
Our commitment to openness means more than simply informing the American people about how decisions are made. It means recognizing that government does not have all the answers, and that public officials need to draw on what citizens know. And that's why, as of today, I'm directing members of my administration to find new ways of tapping the knowledge and experience of ordinary Americans -- scientists and civic leaders, educators and entrepreneurs -- because the way to solve the problem of our time is -- the way to solve the problems of our time, as one nation, is by involving the American people in shaping the policies that affect their lives.
The executive orders and directives I'm issuing today will not by themselves make government as honest and transparent as it needs to be. And they do not go as far as we need to go towards restoring accountability and fiscal restraint in Washington. But these historic measures do mark the beginning of a new era of openness in our country. And I will, I hope, do something to make government trustworthy in the eyes of the American people in the days and weeks, months and years to come. That's a pretty good place to start.
President Obama - 01.21.09 sets the tone
Mulling over the address yesterday, I felt in retrospect that the restraint and classical tropes of the speech were deliberate and wise. From the moment he gave his election night victory speech, Obama has been signaling great caution in the face of immense challenges. The tone is humble. We know he can rally vast crowds to heights of emotion; which is why his decision to calm those feelings and to engage his opponents and to warn of impending challenges is all the more impressive. He's a man, it seems to me, who knows the difference between bravado and strength, between an adolescent "decider" and a mature president, between an insecure brittleness masquerading as power, and the genuine authority a real president commands. He presides. He can set a direction and a mood, but he invites the rest of us to move the ball forward: in a constitutional democracy, we are always the ones we've been waiting for.
That, I think, is what the-18 minute speech came down to. Are we in a difficult moment? Yes, it is a time of "gathering clouds and raging storms." There is "a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights." We face great challenges, but "know this, America—they will be met." How? We will meet them by being who we are. Our success depends on the American "values" of "hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism." He said, "These things are old. These things are true." Like those who've long fought in our armed forces, Americans have shown "a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves."
It was a moderate speech both in tone and content, a serious and solid speech. The young Democrat often used language with which traditional Republicans would be thoroughly at home: The American story has never been one of "shortcuts or settling for less," the journey "has not been . . . for the fainthearted—for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasure of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things" who have created the best of our enduring history.
I don't know what the networks will use as the sound bite, that rather ugly word, now some 35 years old, that speaks of the short piece of audio- or videotape they will use to show the highlight of the speech, or capture its essence. This is not all bad. When a speech is so calm and cool that you have to read it to absorb it fully, the speech just may get read.
This was not the sound of candidate Barack Obama but President Obama, not the sound of the man who appealed to the left wing of his party but one attempting to appeal to the center of the nation. It was not a joyous, audacious document, not a call to arms, but a reasoned statement by a Young Sobersides.
For a few days, bad colonies will resume its heavy political coverage, lucky you.
1) More on the speech itself tomorrow, but here is a point to bear in mind. Several of Barack Obama's big rhetorical performances have been recognized as hits from the minute he stepped off the stage. His 2004 Democratic convention speech is one example. His Philadelphia speech on race, which quelled the Rev. Wright controversy last spring, is another.
In many other cases, especially late in the campaign, the red-hots among his supporters thought he had "underperformed" or been "just so-so" immediately after an event, only to see the days-later and weeks-later reaction to the performance turn much more positive. The clearest example was his first debate with John McCain, where supporters thought he had missed chances to go in for the kill -- but over time it was clear that he had established his steady, gravitas-worthy persona.
I think his inaugural speech will be in this second category. Now that I have a chance to look at some blog-world commentary, I see that some is underwhelmed, as after the first debate. I think that the speech was in fact very well-pitched to this moment in history and the messages Obama wants and needs to send. That is, both artful and useful. More detail tomorrow.