Senator Inhofe asks UofA’s Malcolm Hughes to not destroy “Climategate” records

Senator Jim InhofeTucson’s Arizona Daily Star reports that Sentor Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma has written a letter to Malcolm Hughes, and the University of Arizona Legal department, asking him to not destroy records regarding what has come to be known as the “Climategate” scandal. Professor Hughes is also one of the developers, along with Michael Mann and Raymond Bradley, of the controversial “hockey stick” graph.

The “Climategate” scandal involves over one thousand emails and other data that was downloaded from a University of East Anglia server by an unknown hacker. Some of the emails appear to show that researchers were manipulating data to achieve results that would support the theory of man-made global warming. Reports and publications based on these data are used by governments to support and shape international treaties, and “Cap and Trade” type legislation.

Here’s an email that suggests an admission that global temperatures have been dropping for the past ten years – and a prediction by at least one scientist that the cooling will continue until the year 2020:


From: Phil Jones

To: Tim Johns , “Folland, Chris”
Subject: Re: FW: Temperatures in 2009
Date: Mon Jan 5 16:18:24 2009
Cc: “Smith, Doug” , Tim Johns

Tim, Chris,
I hope you’re not right about the lack of warming lasting
till about 2020. I’d rather hoped to see the earlier Met Office
press release with Doug’s paper that said something like –
half the years to 2014 would exceed the warmest year currently on record, 1998!
Still a way to go before 2014.
I seem to be getting an email a week from skeptics saying
where’s the warming gone. I know the warming is on the decadal
scale, but it would be nice to wear their smug grins away

.

Here’s a humorous one from Michael Mann in which he diplays the “very thin skin” nature of which he is accused in the quoted text – note that Malcolm Hughes is one of the recipients:

From: “Michael E. Mann”
To: Ray Bradley , “Malcolm Hughes” , Mike MacCracken , Steve Schneider , tom crowley , Tom Wigley , Jonathan Overpeck , asocci@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, Michael Oppenheimer , Keith Briffa , Phil Jones

, Tim Osborn , Tim_Profeta@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, Ben Santer , Gabi Hegerl , Ellen Mosley-Thompson , “Lonnie G. Thompson” , Kevin Trenberth Subject: CONFIDENTIAL Fwd:
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2003 13:47:44 -0500
Cc: mann@xxxxxxxxx.xxx

Dear All,
This has been passed along to me by someone whose identity will remain in confidence.
Who knows what trickery has been pulled or selective use of data made. Its clear that
“Energy and Environment” is being run by the baddies–only a shill for industry would have
republished the original Soon and Baliunas paper as submitted to “Climate Research” without
even editing it. Now apparently they’re at it again…
My suggested response is:
1) to dismiss this as stunt, appearing in a so-called “journal” which is already known to
have defied standard practices of peer-review. It is clear, for example, that nobody we
know has been asked to “review” this so-called paper
2) to point out the claim is nonsense since the same basic result has been obtained by
numerous other researchers, using different data, elementary compositing techniques, etc.
Who knows what sleight of hand the authors of this thing have pulled. Of course, the usual
suspects are going to try to peddle this crap. The important thing is to deny that this has
any intellectual credibility whatsoever and, if contacted by any media, to dismiss this for
the stunt that it is..
Thanks for your help,
mike

two people have a forthcoming ‘Energy & Environment’ paper that’s being unveiled tomoro
(monday) that — in the words of one Cato / Marshall/ CEI type — “will claim that Mann
arbitrarily ignored paleo data within his own record and substituted other data for
missing values that dramatically affected his results.
When his exact analysis is rerun with all the data and with no data
substitutions, two very large warming spikes will appear that are greater than the 20th
century.
Personally, I’d offer that this was known by most people who understand Mann’s
methodology: it can be quite sensitive to the input data in the early centuries.
Anyway, there’s going to be a lot of noise on this one, and knowing Mann’s very thin
skin I am afraid he will react strongly, unless he has learned (as I hope he has) from
the past….”

Economic Benefits of the Rosemont Mine

The Augusta Mining Company’s plan to build an open pit mine in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson has been controversial from the start. The Rosemont Mine project will cover 4,300 acres, about one third of which is privately owned by Augusta, the rest is U.S. Forest Service land. Many support the plan for economic reasons, while others see it as a bight on the landscape and an ecological disaster.

The Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources
(DMMR) released a describing the economic impact the mine would have. The data are based on a recent assessment conducted by the Arizona State University.

The DMMR included the following in a press release dated November 20, 2009, “During the projected 20-year production/post-production phase, the State of Arizona will see an average annual increase of $907 million per year in economic activity, $214 million in residents’ income, and $32 million in state revenues. The project will support 800 additional jobs for Arizona residents above the 2,100 added in the three-county area.” It also reports that during the twenty year production/post-production phase that “the total gains to the U.S. economy add up to $27 billion in output, $15 billion in gross domestic product, $8 billion in personal income and $3 billion in federal government revenues.”

Along with environmentalists and residents in the area, Pima County has taken an anti-mine position, even though it has no legal authority to participate in the decision process. The U.S. Forest Service has sole authority in that regard.

Ironically, Pima County had an opportunity to purchase the private land (approximately 1,000 acres) prior to Augusta, but turned it down.

Property Rights, Markets, and Feldman’s Fight for Neighborhood Preservation

In the early part of the twentieth century, the University of Arizona occupied a quaint, two story, brick building now referred to as “Old Main”. Meanwhile, not far away, a number of “sanatoriums” were being built for TB patients from across the country. The neighborhood north of Speedway was nicknamed “Lung Hill.” Today the University of Arizona has metastasized into a gigantic sports, research, and educational facility with an international student body that numbers around 38,000. “Lung Hill” is now the Feldman’s Historic District and Neighborhood Association, in which many of the sanatorium buildings, along with homes of the same vintage, still stand. The Feldman’s neighborhood is primarily residential, composed of both owner-occupied and rented houses, with a mix of university employees, students, and others.

As the university student population has ballooned – doubling over the last few decades – the market for student housing has increased concomitantly. Naturally, areas around the university have seen an increase in student residents. Often a parent would lease, or even purchase, a house near the university and the child, along with any number of friends, would occupy it. Eventually, developers began to respond to the market demand by building rental structures designed for the student customer – they were nicknamed “mini-dorms”.

Long established residents of these neighborhoods suddenly realized that they did not live in gated communities, and as Dylan said, “The times they are a-changin'”. The folks in Feldman’s Historic District and Neighborhood Association were on the cutting edge of these changes, and they did not like it one bit. Seeing, or seeking, no alternative, they sought the force of government to freeze time and turn their neighborhood into a preserve.

Of course, a villain was necessary. The obvious one is the University of Arizona. Its inability to provide accommodations for its students is the root of the problem. The behavior of students themselves, not their existence, is the problem itself. One might even blame the residents themselves for not protecting the neighborhood with extreme zoning before now. Somehow, all these parties were overlooked, and the mini-dorm developer, Michael Goodman, became the bad guy.

Look, I would not want affordable student housing in my neighborhood either. However, I find it hard to condemn a developer who is satisfying a need in the community while staying within zoning laws and codes. He also purchased the land he wished to change. He did not seek the help of city government to force a change on other people’s property. A primary function of property rights is to settle the question of land use. If you want to call the shot, you buy the property. The alternative is large protracted fights over land use with some arbiter assigning a solution that pleases nobody. The idea of ownership also tends to direct land to the best use. For example, a couple with children would be willing to pay more for a four bedroom house than a retired couple, so they each end up in suitable houses. In fact, professionals often buy properties on which to build structures to satisfy a local need. Then they become the villain.

While Feldman’s may have no choice but to resort to extreme zoning – the approval of the development manual and NPZ overlay – other neighborhoods might take some preemptive action. Imagine a neighborhood that came together and pooled some resources and bought up the properties that came up for sale. Once there was a consensus, the residents could contract with each other to adhere to guidelines regarding the properties that went above and beyond the zoning. They could get the city to give them the streets and public areas, abandon the rights of way, etc. They could limit access, take responsibility for the roads, and be at peace with each other, like a gated community.

I know that gated communities are not at all “cool”, but we’re not posing here. Look, people talk a lot about loving “diversity”, but they don’t mean it. I’m sure many of the residents of Feldman’s Historic District and Neighborhood Association hold “diversity” close to their hearts, until it arrives on their streets. They then clamor for tighter zoning. The point of zoning laws, my friends, is to prevent diversity. No family wants to live by a meat packer, a mini-dorm, or a 24-hour coffee shop.

Hopefully, the example of Feldman’s will lead to securing neighborhoods through co-operative rather than combative methods.

Tucson Elections Wrap-up

The votes have been cast, and Tucsonans sent clear messages regarding the ballot proposals. Council races are now official.

Candidates:

Richard Fimbres won Ward V beating Shaun McCluskey. Karin Uhlich hangs on to Ward III by 195 votes beating Ben Beuhler-Garcia. Steve Kozachick upsets incumbent Nina Trasoff in Ward VI by well over 1,000 votes.

Props 401 and 402, TUSD Overrides:

Both attempts by Tucson Unified School District to exceed its its budgets limits were defeated, both by substantial 20 point margins. The failure reflects a basic distrust among Tucsonans. From the many financial scandals, to the “Post Unitary Status Plan”. Greg Patterson of Espresso Pundit credits the controversial “La Raza” (The Race) program.

Young man with Karin Uhlich tee-shirt holds SEIU generated ant-prop 200 sign at Tea Party


Prop 200, Public Safety:

This ill-conceived proposal would mandate specific police and fire response times, officer/population ratios, etc.The idea was to force the council to fund basic services rather than pet projects, favored charities, and payoffs to supporters. The promotion effort was terrible, and the Left seized on the general anti-tax mood to attack the proposal. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) activists were seen at the last Tucson Tea Party parading around with signs saying that Prop 200 would increase taxes. It lost 70% to 30%

Election Night Republican Party Party

On election night, November 3, 2009, the Democrats met at Club Congress downtown – their usual venue. For whatever reason, the Republicans chose Chuy’s on Tanque Verde. Chuy’s was crowded, noisy, and too poorly lighted outside to take good pictures. The patio was nice, however, and since it was “Bike Night”, there were lots of cool motorcycles to view.

Many Republican activists were there, along with many candidates – not just the three city council candidates, but many state and federal 2010 hopefuls. Mayor Bob Walkup showed up long enough to give a few interviews and leave. Though a Republican, Mayor Walkup is not very popular with members of the party. He did nothing for the Republican city council candidates, and when asked for an endorsement by Steve Kozachick, he refused saying that if Kozachick lost it wold make it harder for him to work with the Democrats. At one point, while Walkup was speaking with Sate Representative Frank Antenori, a Republican activist shook Walkup’s hand and thanked him for all the work he did on behalf of the Republican candidates. When some people began to laugh, Walkup asked Antenori at what were people laughing. Antenori replied, “He was making fun of you, and you deserve it.”

The Republicans stayed til closing with no clear victories. Bob Westerman, Pima County Republican Party Chairman, he would ask for recounts if necessary.

Update: As of Wednesday morning, Democrat Richard Fimbres appears to have won in Ward V over Shaun McCluskey. The other races are still too close to call, though Kozachick has a slight lead over Trasoff in Ward VI and Uhlich has a slight lead over Buehler-Garcia in Ward III.

Teaching Injustice

Dr. Ben Chavis, a Native American from North Carolina who earned both a bachelor’s degree and doctoral degree in education from the University of Arizona, took over a failing charter school in Oakland, California. He instituted high academic standards, and was a tough disciplinarian who passed out detentions freely. Dr. Chavis’ American Indian Public Charter School (AIPCS) has been consistently rated in the top five of the roughly 1300 junior high schools in California.

Back in the Old Pueblo, I heard Michael Block in a radio interview discuss one of his motivations for starting the Basis charter school here in Tucson and Scottsdale. Basis, you may recall, has been consistently rated one of the best high schools in the country by Newsweek magazine. Anyway, he had two daughters who moved from Europe to the U.S. and entered a Scottsdale public school. They learned English by attending school and watching television. According to Michael Block, they were treated very well, accepted and welcomed, but they were not learning anything academically. He started his own school with high academic standards, and the rest is history.

Meanwhile, Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is preoccupied with “diversity”, and “social justice.”

TUSD’s “Post Unitary Status Plan” (PDF copy available online), adopted in July of 2009, contains the following: “Each school’s plan should specifically address the academic needs of African American and Hispanic students who are not performing at grade level and or meeting the standards as assessed by Terra Nova and AIMS. Each plan should also address the issue of underrepresentation in Honors, AP, and Gifted programs…”

Yikes! Let me break it down for you brothah.

“Each school’s plan should specifically address the academic needs of African American and Hispanic students who are not performing at grade level and or meeting the standards as assessed by Terra Nova and AIMS.” This is a good idea, but how about the Anglos, Asians, or Native Americans who are failing? Is that not a problem too? Now before you question why I included Asians, let’s just say that it is possible that an Asian kid might be failing in some school somewhere, hey, all I’m saying is that it could happen. Anyway, “equality” is repeated throughout the document as an important principal. Are some kids are more equal than others?

“Each plan should also address the issue of underrepresentation in Honors, AP, and Gifted programs.” It’s always been my understanding that these programs are not legislatures with every group having equal representation. Participation is based on individual merit, which makes over or under representation meaningless. Believing that demographic patterns for those in special programs must match the demographic patterns of the school as a whole is like saying that each time the dice are tossed they must add up to seven. The fact is that sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, because they are unrelated. When Ronald Reagan was governor of California, he supported colorblind admissions standards for the state college system. Some tried to frighten him by saying that if there were no affirmative action admission standards the student body would be eighty per cent Asian; to which he replied, “So what?”

If you want to see how deeply destructive this document gets, go to the “Discipline” section. In it you will find the following: “As appropriate, the Department of Student Equity will interact with each school to review suspension data (in-school and out-of-school). School data that show disparities in suspension/expulsion rates will be examined in detail for root causes. Special attention will be dedicated to data regarding African American and Hispanic students.” And, “The Equity Team will ensure that disciplinary policies focus on improving students’ future behavior, rather than inflicting punishment, and that they represent a commitment to social justice for all students.” Finally, the ultimate attack on the individual. Now, not even punishment for breaking the rules relates to behavior. In fact, punishment itself is passe’.

So now we teach children that they are not responsible for what they do. Bad actions do not lead to bad consequences. Everyone is equal, except that some are more equal than others. We are no longer committed to justice for all; rather, we are committed to social justice for all. I don’t know what “social justice” is, but it is not “justice” – hence the addition of “social.”

I understand that TUSD really wants that desegregation money, but if you have to do this to the children, is it really worth it?

President Obama’s Celebrity Turns Creepy

Many people were a bit creeped-out by president Obama’s school lecture to the kiddies. It is important to understand that it was not the fact that the president was speaking to the kiddies, but the “Dear Leader” manner in which it was planned.

It was not broadcast on a Saturday morning, nor was it a clip on the news. It was done as part of the school curriculum, where attendance is compulsory. It also included, originally, a teacher guide that included exercises such as writing a letter to oneself abut how one could help the president, which was then collected to be distributed when appropriate to hold the individual accountable.

Now we see this video that apparently preceded the speech to schoolchildren:

Anybody care to deny the pattern here?

In the Graffiti Colony

Graffiti is the bane of Tucson residents. It is generally ugly, costly, and is an indicator (like broken windows) of a crime-ridden neighborhood. I’ll take it a step further, and claim that it is bad for the perpetrators. It is a tool for minors to develop their ant-social, even solipsistic tendencies.

No part of Tucson, certainly no part of mid-town, is untouched by graffiti. Individuals and neighborhood groups are engaged in an endless campaign to clean up after these proto-vandals. The City of Tucson assists residents in this effort by offering classes in graffiti abatement, and providing removal services. In fact, before the City of Tucson started experiencing budget constraints, it used to hire a contractor with two paint trucks to professionally color-match and paint over graffiti. A telephone call would dispatch a team to the scene of the crime.

Meanwhile, in another part of the municipal government, a how-to-do-graffiti class was both facilitated and subsidized. You may recall the mural spray painted on the side of a Tucson Water building downtown. It was the product of a class taught by “graffiti artist” Rocky Martinez. Mr. Martinez teaches a graffiti-art program for the City of Tucson called Arts in Reality. Accorfing to the Red Star, the program is funded in part by $8,000.00 from Regina Romero’s discretionary youth fund.

Here’s a money saving idea: the City of Tucson should decide if it wants to discourage graffiti, or promote it; then it could discontinue either the abatement efforts, or the how-to classes. Does that make sense, or am I missing something? The reaction of the public, particularly those who live in the vicinity of the “mural’, might have provided some direction to the City, but no, it went directly into silk-purse-from-sow’s-ear mode.

Everybody got together and talked with everybody else and decided to repaint the wall with more pleasing imagery. Everybody spoke of the community coming together and about what a great learning experience it was for the kids. However, all of this wishful thinking pablum pointedly avoided the problem – the kids were still being taught how to deface buildings. I know, they were told that it must not be done illegally, and a bunch of other cover-your-keester crap, but the promoters of that line are only fooling themselves. The new “mural” was unveiled in a ceremony on August 25.

The situation is Kafkaesque. It reminds me of his short story, “In the Penal Colony.” As you may recall, the story tells of a traveler who visits a penal colony where he witnesses an execution. The method is brutal. The prisoner is put in a machine that carves the name of his offense in his back, repeatedly, until he dies. It is an all day affair. The traveler sees this as barbaric, while the operator of the machine sees it as a good thing that brings the community together (there was a large gallery), and it really is art, you see, since the offense is written in beautiful swirling caligraphy. The prisoner himself figures out the message about ten to twelve hours into it, and seems to achieve a certain peace, according to the operator. If you guessed that the traveler is the people, the prisoner the kids, and the operator Regina Romero, move to the head of the class. At this point I must say that it is important to understand that the operator was not bad or evil, he just missed the larger point.

Everybody needs a hobby, especially kids, especially kids with too much time on their hands. There are lots of private groups and organizations that provide positive activities for children. I know of none that teach “graffiti art.” What do they know that the City does not?

Bumper Stickers

I have always been fascinated by bumper stickers. They are sort of a pre-electronic Twitter – which I also find fascinating. Bumper stickers are more provocative because you don’t choose to “follow” them. They are in your face.

My wife often chides me when I squint through the windshield to read a sticker, or pause i the parking lot of a restaurant to study one of those cars with stickers plastered all over the back of it – a sort of self-inflicted graffiti.

While I am fascinated by them, bumper stickers offend my sense of propriety. My parents believed it undignified to “advertise” stuff with your car or clothing. My grandfather on my mother’s side would chisel-off the name plates of appliances he bought. “It’s not Frigidaire’s refrigerator, I paid for it, and I’m not going to advertise for them!”, he would say. My parents never had a bumper sticker on a car, nor did they have own any garments with more than a discreet logo. This aversion was passed on to me.

It was in the 1990’s when I put a bumper sticker on my old Honda sedan. I forget what the sticker said, but the capital “C” in “Clinton” was a hammer and sickle. I continue to go back and forth, putting them on, then taking them off. Right now I am sticker free – mostly because I don’t want my late-model vehicle to get key striped.

In the early days, bumper stickers were used to advertised some sort business from the low end of the tourism industry. Older residents will recall the green on yellow, “The THING? Mystery of the desert” sticker that seemed to be everywhere in southern Arizona. Decades ago, when the City of Tucson wanted to straighten River Road and make it an east-west highway, the residents along River Road campaigned strongly against the plan and sported bumper stickers that said, “Keep it Kinky.” This was the local bellwether to the shift from business to politics.

Politics now seem to dominate bumper sticker messages. Stands on every imaginable issue, from abortion to medicine to taxes, are thrust upon the unsuspecting driver. There is always an uptick in an election year, but the last cycle blossomed with a plethora of Obama promotional images and slogans – including the “O” logo which was the best, most adaptable logo since the Sumerians started poking clay with sticks.

Ologo

There are far more Democrats than Republicans in Pima County, so Obama stickers were everywhere. After the election, the stickers remained, even seemed to grow in number, or maybe I just find them more irritating. I have a friend who came to town for the Gem and Mineral Show last February, and was shocked to see Obama bumper stickers on Arizona cars. He, being from New Jersey, assumed all of Arizona was McCain country. I explained that Pima County was “Commie Central” in Arizona, and was actually carried by Obama.

Here it is, the dead of summer, and the virulent plague of “O” stickers still persist. I even saw a new mutation, “Yes We Did!”

Speaking of McCain, people on Obama’s presidential campaign admitted that McCain was their candidate of choice for the Republican nomination. They also admitted that they were scared witless by Romney. They were afraid that Romney would make Obama look clueless in the area of business and economics. Actually, you do not need a Mitt Romney to make president Obama look clueless regarding economics, but that is for another time. This insight does explain why McCain, held in generally low esteem by the Republican base, won the nomination. He was selected by Democrats and “Independents”. That’s why states have “open primaries”. Open primaries allow, in this case, Democrats to affect the outcome of Republican primaries.

I should probably save this for the next “Get Out of Town” issue, but I am really tired of Obama bumper stickers being worn like some kind of badge. It has always been considered poor taste for the winner to strut around rubbing everyone’s nose in his victory. Most parents teach their children this at an early age. My parents were no different. Remember, “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.”

On second thought, keep it up. The way things are going, those stickers may become a source of embarrassment. In fact, the Republicans may recycle the theme of an old 70’s Democrat sticker – “Don’t Blame Me, I voted for McCain.”

Iranian Election – Stratfor’s Perspective

While many of us in the West, perhaps I should say “here in the U.S.A.”, imagine the Iranian citizenry on the verge of toppling the Iranian theocracy, we may be engaging in a little wishful thinking.

The following is an interesting take on the Iranian election from private intelligence firm Stratfor (www.stratfor.com)

Western Misconceptions Meet Iranian Reality
June 15, 2009

Graphic for Geopolitical Intelligence Report

By George Friedman
Related Link

* The Geopolitics of Iran: Holding the Center of a Mountain Fortress

Related Special Topic Page

* The Iranian Presidential Elections

In 1979, when we were still young and starry-eyed, a revolution took place in Iran. When I asked experts what would happen, they divided into two camps.

The first group of Iran experts argued that the Shah of Iran would certainly survive, that the unrest was simply a cyclical event readily manageable by his security, and that the Iranian people were united behind the Iranian monarch’s modernization program. These experts developed this view by talking to the same Iranian officials and businessmen they had been talking to for years — Iranians who had grown wealthy and powerful under the shah and who spoke English, since Iran experts frequently didn’t speak Farsi all that well.

The second group of Iran experts regarded the shah as a repressive brute, and saw the revolution as aimed at liberalizing the country. Their sources were the professionals and academics who supported the uprising — Iranians who knew what former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini believed, but didn’t think he had much popular support. They thought the revolution would result in an increase in human rights and liberty. The experts in this group spoke even less Farsi than the those in the first group.
Misreading Sentiment in Iran

Limited to information on Iran from English-speaking opponents of the regime, both groups of Iran experts got a very misleading vision of where the revolution was heading — because the Iranian revolution was not brought about by the people who spoke English. It was made by merchants in city bazaars, by rural peasants, by the clergy — people Americans didn’t speak to because they couldn’t. This demographic was unsure of the virtues of modernization and not at all clear on the virtues of liberalism. From the time they were born, its members knew the virtue of Islam, and that the Iranian state must be an Islamic state.

Americans and Europeans have been misreading Iran for 30 years. Even after the shah fell, the myth has survived that a mass movement of people exists demanding liberalization — a movement that if encouraged by the West eventually would form a majority and rule the country. We call this outlook “iPod liberalism,” the idea that anyone who listens to rock ‘n’ roll on an iPod, writes blogs and knows what it means to Twitter must be an enthusiastic supporter of Western liberalism. Even more significantly, this outlook fails to recognize that iPod owners represent a small minority in Iran — a country that is poor, pious and content on the whole with the revolution forged 30 years ago.

There are undoubtedly people who want to liberalize the Iranian regime. They are to be found among the professional classes in Tehran, as well as among students. Many speak English, making them accessible to the touring journalists, diplomats and intelligence people who pass through. They are the ones who can speak to Westerners, and they are the ones willing to speak to Westerners. And these people give Westerners a wildly distorted view of Iran. They can create the impression that a fantastic liberalization is at hand — but not when you realize that iPod-owning Anglophones are not exactly the majority in Iran.

Last Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected with about two-thirds of the vote. Supporters of his opponent, both inside and outside Iran, were stunned. A poll revealed that former Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi was beating Ahmadinejad. It is, of course, interesting to meditate on how you could conduct a poll in a country where phones are not universal, and making a call once you have found a phone can be a trial. A poll therefore would probably reach people who had phones and lived in Tehran and other urban areas. Among those, Mousavi probably did win. But outside Tehran, and beyond persons easy to poll, the numbers turned out quite different.

Some still charge that Ahmadinejad cheated. That is certainly a possibility, but it is difficult to see how he could have stolen the election by such a large margin. Doing so would have required the involvement of an incredible number of people, and would have risked creating numbers that quite plainly did not jibe with sentiment in each precinct. Widespread fraud would mean that Ahmadinejad manufactured numbers in Tehran without any regard for the vote. But he has many powerful enemies who would quickly have spotted this and would have called him on it. Mousavi still insists he was robbed, and we must remain open to the possibility that he was, although it is hard to see the mechanics of this.
Ahmadinejad’s Popularity

It also misses a crucial point: Ahmadinejad enjoys widespread popularity. He doesn’t speak to the issues that matter to the urban professionals, namely, the economy and liberalization. But Ahmadinejad speaks to three fundamental issues that accord with the rest of the country.

First, Ahmadinejad speaks of piety. Among vast swathes of Iranian society, the willingness to speak unaffectedly about religion is crucial. Though it may be difficult for Americans and Europeans to believe, there are people in the world to whom economic progress is not of the essence; people who want to maintain their communities as they are and live the way their grandparents lived. These are people who see modernization — whether from the shah or Mousavi — as unattractive. They forgive Ahmadinejad his economic failures.

Second, Ahmadinejad speaks of corruption. There is a sense in the countryside that the ayatollahs — who enjoy enormous wealth and power, and often have lifestyles that reflect this — have corrupted the Islamic Revolution. Ahmadinejad is disliked by many of the religious elite precisely because he has systematically raised the corruption issue, which resonates in the countryside.

Third, Ahmadinejad is a spokesman for Iranian national security, a tremendously popular stance. It must always be remembered that Iran fought a war with Iraq in the 1980s that lasted eight years, cost untold lives and suffering, and effectively ended in its defeat. Iranians, particularly the poor, experienced this war on an intimate level. They fought in the war, and lost husbands and sons in it. As in other countries, memories of a lost war don’t necessarily delegitimize the regime. Rather, they can generate hopes for a resurgent Iran, thus validating the sacrifices made in that war — something Ahmadinejad taps into. By arguing that Iran should not back down but become a major power, he speaks to the veterans and their families, who want something positive to emerge from all their sacrifices in the war.

Perhaps the greatest factor in Ahmadinejad’s favor is that Mousavi spoke for the better districts of Tehran — something akin to running a U.S. presidential election as a spokesman for Georgetown and the Lower East Side. Such a base will get you hammered, and Mousavi got hammered. Fraud or not, Ahmadinejad won and he won significantly. That he won is not the mystery; the mystery is why others thought he wouldn’t win.

For a time on Friday, it seemed that Mousavi might be able to call for an uprising in Tehran. But the moment passed when Ahmadinejad’s security forces on motorcycles intervened. And that leaves the West with its worst-case scenario: a democratically elected anti-liberal.

Western democracies assume that publics will elect liberals who will protect their rights. In reality, it’s a more complicated world. Hitler is the classic example of someone who came to power constitutionally, and then preceded to gut the constitution. Similarly, Ahmadinejad’s victory is a triumph of both democracy and repression.
The Road Ahead: More of the Same

The question now is what will happen next. Internally, we can expect Ahmadinejad to consolidate his position under the cover of anti-corruption. He wants to clean up the ayatollahs, many of whom are his enemies. He will need the support of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This election has made Ahmadinejad a powerful president, perhaps the most powerful in Iran since the revolution. Ahmadinejad does not want to challenge Khamenei, and we suspect that Khamenei will not want to challenge Ahmadinejad. A forced marriage is emerging, one which may place many other religious leaders in a difficult position.

Certainly, hopes that a new political leadership would cut back on Iran’s nuclear program have been dashed. The champion of that program has won, in part because he championed the program. We still see Iran as far from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon, but certainly the Obama administration’s hopes that Ahmadinejad would either be replaced — or at least weakened and forced to be more conciliatory — have been crushed. Interestingly, Ahmadinejad sent congratulations to U.S. President Barack Obama on his inauguration. We would expect Obama to reciprocate under his opening policy, which U.S. Vice President Joe Biden appears to have affirmed, assuming he was speaking for Obama. Once the vote fraud issue settles, we will have a better idea of whether Obama’s policies will continue. (We expect they will.)

What we have now are two presidents in a politically secure position, something that normally forms a basis for negotiations. The problem is that it is not clear what the Iranians are prepared to negotiate on, nor is it clear what the Americans are prepared to give the Iranians to induce them to negotiate. Iran wants greater influence in Iraq and its role as a regional leader acknowledged, something the United States doesn’t want to give them. The United States wants an end to the Iranian nuclear program, which Iran doesn’t want to give.

On the surface, this would seem to open the door for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Former U.S. President George W. Bush did not — and Obama does not — have any appetite for such an attack. Both presidents blocked the Israelis from attacking, assuming the Israelis ever actually wanted to attack.

For the moment, the election appears to have frozen the status quo in place. Neither the United States nor Iran seem prepared to move significantly, and there are no third parties that want to get involved in the issue beyond the occasional European diplomatic mission or Russian threat to sell something to Iran. In the end, this shows what we have long known: This game is locked in place, and goes on.