Friday, March 30, 2012

Hey America; Take A Look At What Your Tax Dollar Pays For

The Obama administration has okayed funding for Egypt’s military, despite congressional restrictions and objections from human rights and democracy advocates.
For months, the money for Egypt  more than $1.3 billion, with the bulk earmarked for the military has been withheld amid that country’s crackdown on pro-democracy groups, including several U.S.-based organizations with close ties to political parties in Washington.
A law passed by Congress in December forbids funding unless the State Department certifies that Egypt is making progress on basic freedoms and human rights.
Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is close to announcing plans to bypass those restrictions on national security grounds, according to senior administration officials and others who have been briefed on the deliberations but were not authorized to speak publicly. The administration believes failure to provide the funds would risk worsening already fraying ties with Egypt’s leaders, most notably the Egyptian military, which still controls the country.

Here's your bread, Dawg

Under the plan, which was announced last week and was first reported Friday by the New York Times, Egypt would not receive the full $1.3 billion all at once, as has been the practice for decades. The administration would instead dole out the funds in smaller portions to preserve leverage over Egyptian authorities, officials said. The plan would also allow for the continuation of U.S. defense contracts that provide American jobs.
Egypt's Future

With a presidential election coming in Egypt, officials said they are especially hesitant to release the full amount until they see what kind of government will be receiving it. The question is, "What kind of leadership will replace the military?"
The plan comes after weeks of crisis caused by criminal charges filed by Egyptian authorities against a handful of pro-democracy workers from the United States and other countries. The charges were condemned by U.S. leaders and provoked heated anti-American rhetoric in Egypt.
The immediate dilemma was resolved this month when Egypt allowed the foreign workers to leave the country after posting bail. But the criminal charges remain against them as well as Egyptian staff employed by the same nonprofit organizations.
According to administration and congressional officials, representatives of the defense industry, who are eager to keep lucrative contracts attached to the annual aid, have been among those lobbying behind the scenes to resume U.S. funding. The Pentagon, which does not want to risk its ties with the Egyptian military, one of its major allies in the region, also has pressed the case.
Tom Malinowski

There’s been enormous pressure from the Pentagon to unfreeze something before payments to contractors go past due,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch. “But this whole argument that American jobs are at stake just is not appropriate here when we’re talking about human rights. This sends the wrong message that the crisis is over and has been solved.”
This’s not a negligible factor. If contracts can’t be paid, production lines will shut down and jobs will be lost, acknowledged one senior administration official. But those aspects have to be balanced against other factors such as our ability to work with the new government, how much democratic progress has been made and where we still have concerns.
The plan is likely to draw strong criticism from Capitol Hill, which has been highly critical of Egypt’s treatment of nongovernmental organizations and protesters.
Patrick J. Leahy

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the main sponsor of legislation passed last year that tied funding for Egypt to progress on democracy and rights, said he was deeply disappointed. “I believe a waiver would be a mistake,” he said. “The new conditions are intended to put the United States squarely on the side of the Egyptian people who seek a civilian government that respects fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, and to clearly define the terms of our future relations with the Egyptian military.”
Other rights groups, including Amnesty International, also urged Clinton not to resume the aid.
Victoria Nuland

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Clinton has not yet reached an official decision but added: “We want to support a more democratic and a more prosperous Egypt. And we want to see the region stay secure. So those are a lot of things that have to be kept strong and kept in balance.”
The relationship between the United States and Egyptian militaries, Nuland said, “has also enabled us to have influence during this period of transition.”
While Egypt’s generals have lobbied to resume the aid, the country’s new parliament in recent days has discussed the possibility of rejecting it, even though it does not have the authority to do so. “I don’t know that it even makes sense for the U.S. to be pushing aid on Egypt,” said Michele Dunne, an Egypt expert at the Atlantic Council. “Given everything that’s happened of late, we ought to take a fresh look at the whole U.S.-Egypt relationship and the military aid package.”
But just after the United States decided to keep sending $1.3 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian military, a new poll shows that most Egyptians don't want their country to receive American financial assistance. Pollsters say Egyptians suspect that taking money from foreigners will end up impinging on their nation's sovereignty.
More than eight of 10 Egyptians oppose receiving aid from the United States, according to a Gallup poll that finds opposition has grown over the last year. Egyptians are even more strongly opposed to the U.S. sending aid to Egyptian civil society groups, the February poll found.
Protesters in Cairo over US funding

Opposition to outside aid has grown stronger over time, the poll of 1,000 respondents showed.  Egyptian attitudes about assistance from the U.S. soured at the same time the country began accusing Americans working for non-governmental organizations of trying to stir up unrest, Gallup said.
Earlier this year, Egypt sought to prosecute 16 Americans employed by U.S.-funded groups, alleging they were working with Egyptian groups not registered with the government. Authorities claimed the defendants were fomenting unrest and attempting to advance U.S. and Israeli interests.
Most of the U.S. defendants were allowed to leave the country, though they still technically face charges. A lone American has chosen to stay and face charges alongside other defendants.
The murky circumstances and arrangements that resulted in the prosecution, travel limitations and then sudden departure of U.S. citizens facing trial in Egypt has only inflamed Egyptians' sense of distrust and suspicion regarding such organizations and what U.S. funds mean for Egyptian sovereignty.
The case upset many members of the U.S. Congress, leading to calls to stop sending money to the Egyptian military. But the U.S. government decided to continue sending aid despite the ongoing case and restrictions on political rights that ordinarily would bar Egypt from getting the funding.
Besides their wariness of the U.S., Gallup found Egyptians had grown less supportive of aid from international groups or other Arab nations. Only 36% of Egyptians polled were in favor of aid from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund and 57% favored Arab government aid.
To find funding to help Egypt overcome its challenges, its leaders will need to show outside aid "does not come at the cost of Egypt's sovereignty.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Go Ahead, Protest; I Dare Ya!

It is fairly obvious Obama and Congress rushed through H.R. 347 in order to curtail demonstrations that will undoubtedly occur during both Democrat and Republican conventions this summer. Also known as the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011,” the bill makes it a felony to disrupt or protest at any place or event attended by any person with secret service protection.
Justin Amash

Current law makes it illegal to enter or remain in an area where certain government officials (more particularly, those with Secret Service protection) will be visiting temporarily if and only if the person knows it’s illegal to enter the restricted area but does so anyway, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash wrote on his Facebook page. H.R. 347 expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it’s illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it’s illegal.

Amash, Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican, and Ron Paul were the lone dissenting voices opposed to this bill, which is being called the “First Amendment Rights Eradication Act” designed specifically to counter the Occupy movement and other political groups opposed to the bankster regime in control of the Congress and the presidency. Democrats have characterized opposition to the bill as “a whole lot of kerfuffle over nothing.”

Gene Howington, a guest blogger on law professor Jonathan Turley’s blog, contends that the government deliberately made the language of H.R. 347 vague and overly broad. Howington writes that “it seems to be a trend that vague or overly broad language could be fairly described as being purposefully adopted allowing ‘wiggle room’ for Federal authorities to potentially abuse civil and human rights under the color of authority.

While the recently enacted and also vaguely worded NDAA “poses a threat to your 4th, 5th and 6th Amendment rights, the newest attack of vague language is aimed at your 1st Amendment rights of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly and Freedom to Petition,” Howington notes. “As currently worded, it might as well have been called the ‘Federal We’re Too Important To Be Annoyed By Your Protest Act of 2011′ or (as described by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), one of the few Representatives to vote against the bill) the ‘First Amendment Rights Eradication Act’ because it effectively outlaws protests near people who are ‘authorized’ to be protected by the Secret Service.”
In 1998, Bill Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive 62 establishing the National Special Security Events, or NSSE, a directive making the Secret Service responsible for security at designated events, including presidential nominating conventions. 

Other events under NSEE include summits of world leaders, meetings of international organizations, and presidential inaugurations. In other words, with the passage of this bill, it will now be a felony to protest the G20 and globalist “trade” summits and other neoliberal confabs where international banksters and their minions plot our future behind closed doors.
Such a draconian restriction of the First Amendment is another step in an effort to outlaw all protest against the government, especially at events where the controllers discuss and finalize their plans to implement world government and a centralized global banking system.

The global elite have repeatedly demonstrated their animosity toward the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Taking down the First Amendment – in addition to the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and most importantly the Second – under the bogus and contrived aegis of a manufactured war on terror amply reveals what they have a mind: a gulag panopticon where resistance is not only futile, but illegal, and where the slaves are disarmed and powerless to effectuate change.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No second chances

All I Need Is Another Term; to finish you off ; America

As he campaigns for re-election, Barack Obama pursues a profound and uncommon honor denied to nearly two-thirds of his predecessors. Contrary to a widely held popular belief, political history doesn’t anoint incumbent presidents as automatic winners or even presumptive favorites. The numbers show that most presidents fail in their efforts to maintain a long-term hold on the affections of the fickle public and that Obama will face an uphill struggle in attempting to reprise his epic victory of 2008.

Of the 42 men who served as president before the current incumbent, only 15 won two consecutive elections.
Theodore Roosevelt

Among the others, 5 died during their first terms, 7 incumbents declined to run, 5 tried but failed to win their party’s nomination, and 10 won the nomination but lost their bids for re-election. What’s more, three former presidents (Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore and Theodore Roosevelt) attempted to make comebacks and roared out of retirement as third party candidates; all three of them failed miserably in November, winning between 10 and 27 percent of the popular vote.

The numbers look even worse for second terms if you remove the early “cocked hat” presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe) who easily won re-election before the emergence of the modern two-party system. Washington and Monroe, for instance, both eased into second terms without campaigning and without facing even token opposition. With these early chief executives withdrawn from the equation, 70 percent of those who have served as president since 1825 (26 of 37) failed to win two consecutive terms.

Some of these one-termers counted as obvious failures, rejected by big majorities of their contemporaries and winning scant respect from historians. Even at the time, no one expected John Tyler, James Buchanan or Andrew Johnson to renew their leases on the White House. But other presidents who lost bids for a second term played big roles in history and have earned many admirers throughout the generations. 

If Barack Obama fails in his bid for re-election, he will join such estimable predecessors as John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Grover Cleveland (who came back from his second-term loss to win a non-consecutive victory), William Howard Taft (who returned to Washington as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) and George H W Bush.
Harry Truman

Moreover, two powerful presidents generally labeled “great” or “near great” by historians found themselves nonetheless thwarted in their ambitions to win re-election. Both Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson served as Vice Presidents who succeeded to the presidency upon the death of wildly popular incumbents (Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy), then won a full term in their own right. Widely expected to seek re-election, both men fared poorly in early primaries (Truman actually lost in New Hampshire to the little known Tennessee Senator Estes Keefauver) before withdrawing as candidates—and insisting that they’d intended to withdraw all along.

Of the fifteen presidents who prevailed in winning two consecutive terms (or four, in the case of FDR) nearly all of them count as historical giants and successful, significant chief executives. The only two arguable exceptions would be Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77) and George W. Bush (2001-09), and prominent academics have recently led a major resurgence in Grant’s historical reputation while Bush admirers await a similar re-evaluation for that undeservedly reviled war leader.

In considering the chances for Obama’s re-election, it’s obvious that he doesn’t count as either a sure loser with a thin or non-existent list of accomplishments, nor does he qualify as an obvious winner with a Rushmore-ready profile and a resume of immortal achievements. In other words, President Obama won’t experience the resounding rejection that doomed the re-election hopes of Franklin Pierce, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter, nor will he register the inspiring vote of confidence that gave Jackson, Lincoln, FDR, Ike and Reagan back-to-back victories.

Despite the attempt at apotheosis by the glowing new, Tom Hanks-narrated documentary “The Road We Have Traveled,” Barack Obama can’t run as that sort of triumphant titan; nor need he hide as the feckless, dreary disgrace of conservative propaganda. He clearly occupies some middle ground among first termers, suggesting a fierce, closely contested battle against his all-but-certain opponent, Mitt Romney.
Good Luck GOP

The long, sour, discouraging GOP primary battle has produced soaring Democratic hopes that the public will overcome all doubts and embrace Obama due to fear and loathing of the Republican alternative. But the inevitable course of the re-election struggle will make the race a referendum on whether the public wants another four years like those they’ve just experienced. Clearly, this particular race could go either way, but history shows that whenever once-elected presidents seek a second chance, more often than not the people say no.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Don't Have VOTER ID; Can I Still Vote?

Obama administration has “launched an all-out war on voter ID laws” to bolster the president’s re-election chances. 

Ken Blackwell
A Republican activist, Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, asserts that voter ID laws offer a “reasonable safeguard” to protect against voter fraud and ballot-box stuffing.

Blackwell, who was secretary of state in Ohio from 1999 to 2007, also has been mayor of Cincinnati, undersecretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the George H.W. Bush administration, and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. He now is vice chairman of the Republican National Committee's Platform Committee and a senior fellow with the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU). 

The ACRU has launched a new campaign called Protect Your Vote, an effort to protect states’ rights to require voters to present ID cards at the polling place.

The liberal war on voter integrity has now morphed from partisan hypocrisy to parody. It is bad enough for the Obama administration and its cheerleaders in the media to falsely brand the effort by various states to require citizens to present a picture ID when they go to vote as a revival of Jim Crow laws. But the NAACP has reduced that controversy to satire by asking the United Nations Human Rights Council to weigh in on the matter at an upcoming conference on minority rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

This is the same UN Council that is comprised of some of the worst human rights abusers in the world, which includes China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. The idea that Americans would ask a group whose members are countries that not only restrict voting rights but lack even the façade of democratic rule to take a stand on U.S. laws is beyond absurd. It seems never to have occurred to the partisans at the NAACP that there is something humorous about regimes that deny all of their citizens any say in governance standing in judgment on an actual working democracy. The arguments arrayed against voter ID laws by the Obama administration and those seeking to create a race issue where none exists are already weak. But by involving the UN, the NAACP has exposed itself to some well-earned scorn.

Laws requiring voters to show identification at the polls are common-sense measures to prevent fraud and corruption and to ensure that each year’s election returns accurately reflect the will of the people. With the attack led by the Obama Justice Department on voter ID laws across this country, ACRU has decided to mount a counteroffensive to protect the integrity of ballot boxes all across our country.

Although Attorney General Eric Holder’s actions are purportedly to prevent minorities from being disenfranchised, the reality is that these actions are nothing more than a crass political move with the purpose of ensuring that President Obama gets re-elected. The Justice Department recently blocked a new photo ID law in Texas and halted South Carolina’s law in December. 

Egyptians voter ID card
More than 30 states have tried to put in place a common-sense measure of voter ID so that people are assured that voters are who they purport to be, and voter IDs are commonplace in our culture. After all, you need an ID for a driver’s license, for boarding an airplane, receiving a passport, purchasing alcohol or checking out a library book. So to use it to safeguard the integrity of the voting process at the voting station is  a common-sense measure . 

We've just witnessed voting in Egypt at the end of January. I watched as Egyptians offered voter ID cards to say, I am who I purport to be. 
This is not a matter of saying there is voter fraud that’s run rampant, but we do have enough anecdotal evidence. We all know the horror stories of ACORN in 2008 and 2010. So there is enough evidence to suggest that we need to put things in place to protect this from going crazy.

The UN Human Rights Council is itself a standing mockery of the entire cause of human rights not just because it is comprised of tyrannies who routinely practice the atrocities the council is supposed to combat, but also because it devotes the vast majority of its time and effort to attacking Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The UN’s obsession with delegitimizing Israel has long since crossed the line into anti-Semitism. But the world body’s lack of interest in doing something about China’s abuses in Tibet, the plight of women in the Arab world or the suppression of dissent in Cuba and China is just as outrageous.

The internationalization of the voter ID issue is also particularly inane because most developed countries, including the democracies, require citizens to have ID cards as a matter of law.

It should also be remembered that the argument that voter ID laws disenfranchise minorities is a thinly veiled attempt to incite racial distrust at the expense of a good government measure. The notion that there is something discriminatory about requiring voters to properly identify themselves in a nation when such photo IDS are already required for all airline travel and many other routine measures is absurd. The best that Attorney General Holder could do when overruling Texas’ voter ID law last week was to cite the fact that approximately 94 percent of Hispanics have such documentation as opposed to about 96 percent of non-Hispanics. Interestingly, there was no mention in the complaint about any disparity between African-Americans and other citizens even though we are told voter ID laws target the poor.
Justice John Paul Stevens

The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that voter ID laws were legal. That 6-3-majority opinion was written by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens who wrote, “there is no question about the legitimacy or importance of the State’s interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters.” Stevens also noted “we cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters.” That is especially true because the states that have passed or considered voter ID laws have made provisions to give such cards free of charge to the tiny minority of citizens who don’t already have them.

The Obama administration isn't really this stupid, they really know that to get government services and access requires these very same IDs and they understand that these States also have instituted free of cost IDs. This is merely an extension of Critical Race Theory that we have heard so much about lately. Critical Race Theory claims that since racism is embedded with the core structure of society and cannot be expunged through any means racism must be addressed by punitive counter-racism for the benefit of the discriminated parties. So therefore, the administration is pursuing a goal of allowing Blacks and Hispanics to commit voter fraud in an effort to "equalize" the political playing field. The same thinking is behind the DOJ prosecution of "White" perpetrated voter intimidation and their pass when Blacks are accused of the same. This is merely the tip of the iceberg, the most visible. This mindset is filtering down to every level of the Justice bureaucracy and to every sort of crime. Expect to see more excuses for crimes perpetrated by minorities and more prosecutions for vaguely defined "hate" crimes by "Whites.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Despot Love

The middle eastern despots that we all love to hate have, for nearly fifty years intrigued, appalled, threatened and entertained us have come and gone, but by far the two that stand alone at the top of the list of "World Class Despots" are Bashar al Assad and Mahmoud Amadinejad, So in this editorial I'm going to marry these guys to one another and show case their accomplishments.
President Bashar al Assad 

President Assad; You're up first, So step up and do your father proud.

In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak's long-trusted military helped force him from office. In Libya, top officials scrambled to distance themselves from Moammar Gadhafi almost from the start. Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled his country within weeks, while in Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh took his time. But he, too, prodded by neighboring countries, is now in exile.
Hafez ai-Assad

Syria's President Bashar al Assad, on the other hand, shows no signs of going anywhere. As his military routs rebel forces in Homs and Idlib, intercepted emails appear to reveal his wife furniture shopping for their Damascus home. Assad may derive some of his confidence from a system built by his father, Hafez al-Assad,  that has let the family stay in power for the past 40 years.

This regime came about as a result of a coup in 1970 and was designed from the beginning to resist rebellion, to resist coups, the elder Assad established an intricate web of often overlapping intelligence services, and separate entities that means even the watchers are being watched. Like his son, he staffed key positions with members of his Alawite minority, warning them, as well as minority Christians and Druze, of the perils of an unleashed Sunni majority.

The result, so far, has been a coherent center, with the highest civilian defection being a deputy oil minister this month, nearly a year into the uprising. Its internal intelligence service keeps an eye on officers and officials that might defect, and tries to prevent them or to block that from happening. So, indeed, the defections are still quite minor.
The Free Syrian Army
composed of defectors from the government  

Where there have been defections is from the lower ranks of the military, often Sunni conscripts unwilling to shoot civilians in villages and cities much like their own. These defectors make up the bulk of the rebels' Free Syrian Army, a group that leading opposition member Haitham al-Maleh said is the only one capable of taking on the government.

They want to defend themselves and there is no way Assad's regime will not stop by politics, by peaceful means. He must be stopped by force. With the international community at odds about even political condemnations of the Assad regime, the chances of a U.N.-backed intervention as in Libya appear slim. The least the international community can do is give the Free Syrian Army weapons.

Abdul Aziz Saqr, head of the Gulf Research Council, said weapons are important, but are only part of the equation. "You can't fight an organized military with a Kalashnikov [Russian rifle, AK-47] or a pistol. You need to have anti-tank missiles, you need to have real reconnaissance and intelligence information," says Saqr. "If the Russian satellite reconnaissance has been supplying the Syrian military with a lot of reconnaissance, the Free Army needs to have real intelligence information to be able to help them organize their movements."

The role of Russia, a major arms supplier to the Syrian government, highlights what is likely one of the biggest differences in Syria's uprising - the heightened stakes of players both regionally and globally. Syria is one of Russia's last allies in the region, and is loathe to let the U.S. or Western powers take the lead again as they did in Libya.

Washington, while supporting the opposition with words, has been slow to act, warning of the complexities of intervention, including the lack even of front lines. The conflict also comes as the U.S. tries to deal with nuclear and other issues with Iran, which supports Syria as a linchpin of non-Sunni influence in the region and a gateway to Iranian proxy Hezbollah.

Vested interests in the status quo can be found in other nations in the region, including Israel, which fears a fundamentalist takeover in Syria should Assad go. 

“Syria is a strong military domestic security regime with a neighborhood that is not willing to take a position against it, like Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey. So the geopolitics and the relations with the neighborhood have also played a significant role for not making it easy for any military or external effort.

Last year, predictions that Assad's government would go the way of his counterparts in Egypt and elsewhere were common: “inevitable” and “imminent” were words often bandied about. Inevitable is still used by many, but imminent has all but disappeared.

Mahmoud Amadinejad
The Iranian president has declared that Israel is a "hotbed for cancerous cells".
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad marked International Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, with a speech at Tehran University, in which he said there would be no room for Israel in the Middle East after a Palestinian state was established.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, who previously called for Israel to be "wiped off the map", repeated his denial of the Holocaust during the speech and said the goal of all "believers" should be "the disappearance of the Zionist regime".

He said Israel had no place in the region and added: "The Zionist regime is the hotbed for germs and cancerous cells. "If they persist even in a very small parcel of the Palestinian land, they will move again... and harm everyone in the region." He went even further with his usual rhetoric, "Death to Israel" and "Death to America."

Ahmadinejad has a record of hurling insults at Israel when he addresses world leaders at the UN General Assembly. The Jewish state has reason to expect more of the sameAhmadinejad referred to Israel as a “fake regime” whose “oppressive preconditions” to peace talks would doom that nation, then added he said it is a “dreadful party, a feared party, the party that was behind the first World War and the second World War.”

The Iranian regime has been deeply divided ever since the disputed 2008 elections and the rise of the Green Movement. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used to be Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s protégé. The two are now clearly at odds. One could clearly sense that there were two rival centers of power with Khamenei's clearly being the more powerful one.

The result of the external pressure - sanctions, rhetoric against Iran, and threats of military strikes - has been to shift power to the hardliners. You can see Ahmadinejad’s power has weakened. It’s weird to call Ahmadinejad the moderate but in this context he is. Khamenei is far less willing to strike any deals with the West. Ahmadinejad, in contrast, has wanted to be the man who delivered some kind of negotiated settlement to Iran’s problems.

Today, Ahmadinejad is weak and getting weaker. Ayatollah Khamenei is strong and getting stronger. The people who have been most empowered the past few years have been the Revolutionary Guard - the military. Iran is in the process of morphing from a theocracy to a military dictatorship. It’s not clear what impact this will have on foreign policy - but it is an interesting consequence of all the external pressure on Iran, not to mention Iran's hope of developing nuclear weapons.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced demands for his impeachment after delivering a caustic defense of his record during an unprecedented public interrogation by Iran's parliament. The Iranian president outraged MPs with a theatrically abrasive display in which he made light of becoming the first leader in the country's post-revolutionary history to be subjected to an official summons by the legislature. Mr. Ahmadinejad's ordeal, broadcast live on state radio, offered a rare public glimpse into his increasingly bitter feud with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 

The president has undoubtedly come off worse in the power struggle, with his power base significantly weakened by a parliamentary election this month that resulted in a decisive victory for the supreme leader's acolytes, known as "principalists". With just over a year to go before his final term in office expires, Mr. Ahmadinejad has been left increasingly isolated and weak. 

His hopes of handpicking a successor have also been dented after Ayatollah Khamenei announced that the post of president would be abolished at the end of his rival's term and replaced with a figurehead appointed by parliament.

Although the interrogation was designed to be humiliating, Mr. Ahmadinejad chose to fight back by belittling his questioners with a series of mocking responses. He was questioned by the outgoing parliament over a series of economic policy issues, in particular his drive to end costly food and fuel subsidies, and a banking fraud that implicated some of his closest allies, further weakening his position.
Intelligence minister, Heidar Moslehi

There were questions too about his decisions to sack the country's foreign and intelligence ministers in defiance of the supreme leader. The dismissals, seen as part of an attempt to wrest control of security and foreign affairs from Ayatollah Khamenei, initiated the feud with the supreme leader.

After making a series of jokes, Mr. Ahmadinejad berated MPs for not making their questions tough enough before making a sneering reference to new rules requiring MPs to have a master's degree."It was not a very difficult quiz," he said, adding that he expected to be given top marks for it."Any grade of less than 20 (out of 20) would be rude."After the session, MPs said they were furious with the president's casual manner.

Ahmadinejad's answers to lawmakers' questions were illogical, illegal and an attempt to avoid answering them," Mohammad Taqi Rahbar was quoted as saying. "With an insulting tone, Ahmadinejad made fun of lawmakers' questions and insulted parliament."A number of legislators said they would now seek the president's impeachment, a step they are entitled to take if they found his answers unsatisfactory.

For the moment, however, Ayatollah Khamenei is unlikely to go that far for fear of provoking an open rift that would be mutually damaging.

Though weakened, Mr. Ahmadinejad retains support among more moderate conservatives, who back his lack of diligence in imposing Islamic strictures on women. He also remains popular with the rural poor and could seek to forge an alliance in the new parliament with independent MPs representing countryside constituencies, which could make any attempt to remove him a protracted and unseemly affair.