Facing Our Past Folly in Iran

It’s next to impossible to get anyone in this country to face up to it, but Zero Hedge has done it:

As for Iran, the CIA admits that the U.S. overthrew the moderate, suit-and-tie-wearing, Democratically-elected prime minister of Iran in 1953. He was overthrown because he had nationalized Iran’s oil, which had previously been controlled by BP and other Western oil companies. As part of that action, the CIA admits that it hired Iranians to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its prime minister. If the U.S. hadn’t overthrown the moderate Iranian government, the fundamentalist Mullahs would have never taken over.

They’re referring, of course, to Mohammad Mosaddegh, who was overthrown in 1953 by the CIA, egged on by the Brits.  He had nationalised BP as he felt (with good reason) that Iran wasn’t getting its fair share of oil revenues.  You get into a discussion with an Iranian about their history, and sooner or later his name will come up.

And for me, of course, my family business could have sold equipment to an Iranian oil company, just as it did with Aramco, National Petroleum of the UAE, PDVSA, CNOOC, ENAP, Petrobras…and I could have gotten to know then in Tehran and not they having to come to me.

Zero Hedge’s article on the subject of the ban deserves a full reading about all the other countries that were included–and those who weren’t.

We Won't Let Them Vote At All

That’s what Snapchat’s offering to the world:

Investors are furious at Snap’s decision to deny them a say in running the company when the owner of message app Snapchat launches one of the US’s largest tech initial public offerings.

A dozen of the US’s biggest pension funds have sent a letter of objection to Snap, while one investment industry leader predicted its IPO could “open the floodgates” to similar governance arrangements at companies around the world.

I am sure that many in our political system, surveying the result of the last election, quietly rue the day they gave anyone the vote.  Snapchat’s founders, however, are working to make that a reality in the corporate world, something which they are legally in their rights to do.  Whether the financial industry, through its various market organisations, will let them get away with it is another matter altogether.

It’s fair to say that what voting “means” on a corporate level is different from what it is on a political one.  But having voting shares does have an impact on how publicly owned companies are run.  Usually removing voting rights from stock is compensated for by giving those stockholders “first dibs” on the success (and last dibs on the failure) of the company, as is the case with preferred stock.  (Bondholders are even above that if things go belly up.)

Snapchat’s founders, however, have decided to give their common stockholders the worst of both worlds: no voting rights and back of the line treatment in the event Snapchat snaps.

I still find it interesting that a social media company, which (along with its brethren such as Facebook and Twitter) have bred the “online trash fire” that social media has become with the last election, has decided to dispense with voting altogether.

And I am sure that my mother, who was obsessed with the existence (and voting potential) of a non-family minority block in the stock of our family business, is cheering this on.

The Oilman Becomes Secretary of State

The U.S. Senate, however, was unenthusiastic:

The votes against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation were the most in Senate history for a secretary of state, a reflection of Democratic unease with President Trump’s early foreign policy pronouncements that threaten to upend a multilateral approach that has guided United States presidents since World War II.

I’ve said that you can be a great American and you can be good a foreign policy, but you can’t be both.  I think that Tillerson is the best shot we have at proving me wrong.  In addition to the left’s long-standing aversion to the oil industry, he breaks a lot of Cold War legacy conventional wisdom about many things, especially the Russians.

A bigger problem will be his relationship with the department he now heads.  The State Department and the oil industry represent two different approaches to interfacing with the world around us, and the two don’t exactly admire each other.  OTOH I think he will be a steadying influence on the President, who respects his negotiating skills.

One thing he will need to tackle is the vetting process for visas.  In addition to figuring out who is dangerous and who is not, it has been frightfully slow.  An Iranian friend of mine had his wife and newborn (American citizen) go back to Iran; it took eighteen months to get a return visa.  The intervention of our congressman and senator (Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee) were to no avail.  And this was  under the last administration.

The Creation of Men and Angels: Another admirable singularity of the creation of man: God forms him by His fingers, and The most excellent distinction of man's creation in that of his soul

This is one in a series from Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries. The previous post is here. More information on the Bossuet Project is here.

Another admirable singularity of the creation of man: God forms him by His fingers

“Let the earth produce grasses and plants. May the waters produce fish and birds. May the earth produce animals.” All animals are created by command, without saying that God put out his hand. But when he wants to form the human body, “he himself takes mud between his fingers,” and gives him his shape. God has neither fingers nor hands: God has not made the human body more than other animals, but he only shows us in the creation of man a special purpose and attention. This among the animals is the only one who is right: the one turned to the sky: the one which shines by a beautiful and unique situation, the natural inclination of rational nature to high things. It is from there where the singular beauty came to man of the face, eyes, the entire body. The other animals show more strength, more speed, lighter weight, and so forth: the excellence of beauty belongs to man, and that is a wonderful picture of God splashed on His face.

The most excellent distinction of man’s creation in that of his soul

Once more God formed the other animals in this way: “Let the earth, let the waters produce plants and animals,” and thus they received being and life. But God, after taking in his all-powerful hands the mud from which the human body was formed, it is not said that he took his soul from the same place; but it is said “that he breathed on his face a breath of life,” (Genesis 2:7) and that “this is how He was made a living soul.” God made each thing come out according to its principles: he produced from the land grassland and trees with animals who have no other life than a purely earthly and animal one, (Genesis 2:9) but the life of man is taken from another principle, which is God. This is what the breath of life means, which God draws from His mouth to animate the man. This which is made in the likeness of God does not come from material things; and this image is not hidden in these base elements to come out, as does a statue of marble or wood. The man has two principles: according to the body as it comes from the earth, according to the soul as it comes from God alone; and that is why Solomon said “while the body returns to the earth from which it was taken, the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7) It comes from God in this way, not that it is in God in substance, and comes from there as some have imagined; because these ideas are too coarse and tangible; but it is in God as his only principle and his sole cause, which is why one says that he gives it. Everything else is derived from the elements; because everything else is corporeal and earthly; that which one calls the spirits in animals, are only detached parts and a vapor of blood. Thus everything comes from the earth; but the rational soul made in the image of God is given to him, and can only come from this divine mouth.

Alas! alas! “The man who has been placed in such a great honor,” so distinguished from animals by his creation, “was equalled to senseless beasts, and made like them.”