Two months ago was free democratic voting in Falujah even imaginable?
Political and social observations from two aspiring hedgehogs who love the Isaiah Berlin essay.
the questions I have been asking myself?
When I went with these [American soldiers] to the polling station, they stopped about two blocks away. They would not go. They didn't want it to seem as if it was American military might that was pulling this whole thing off. They stayed two blocks away. We walked up to the polling place, first the Iraqi Army, then the Iraqi cops inside. You had a feeling in there, a kind of almost family feeling in this community....An exciting day, an historic day here in Iraq. It is the dawn of freedom....You folks who live in the United States who are watching this, just be proud. Be proud of this. This is amazing. This was inconceivable, wasn't it, during the days of Saddam Hussein. Look how far this country has come. It will heal its wounds. The terrorists are going to lose.The whole thing is worth reading.
. . . it is significant that there is a vote in Iraq. But no one in the United States or in the world -- and I'm confident of what the world response will be -- no one in the United States should try to overhype this election.
This election is a sort of demarcation point, and what really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation. And it's going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in.
Absent that, we will not be successful in Iraq.
In national elections, black voters began flocking to the Democratic Party in the 1930s, drawn by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs.It's true that the New Deal was the big development that caused black voters to migrate from the GOP to the Democrats, but the way the Democrats came out of Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s represents one of the greatest bits of spinning any political party has been able to achieve.
And the Democrats gained a virtual lock on the black vote in the mid-1960s, as President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed several civil rights bills through Congress while the GOP pursued a "Southern strategy" aimed at courting white voters.
In the years that followed, Republicans led the fights against affirmative action and the creation of a national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
"This is the first time all Iraqis are coming together under one agenda," Newport Coast resident Yousif said. "These are people who have been pushed, crumbled into tiny little pieces, and finally they feel now there is hope for justice, truth and fairness."Thanks to Hugh Hewitt, here's a Belmont Club link to an interview with Chaldean Bishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk. The bishop states:
. . .
Father Gorgis, 38, is pastor of St. Paul Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church in North Hollywood . . . . He plans to vote for the People's Unity Party because he supports one of its leaders, a Chaldean expert in international law, and the party platform calling for a secular constitution.
Asked if he supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he quickly corrected the questioner.
"I don't see it as an invasion; I look at it as liberation," he said. . . .
Shali, 54, is a telecommunications entrepreneur from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah. . . . The elections, he said, may finally usher in the freedom for his homeland that he has marveled at in the United States.
"Americans who live in this country don't treasure this freedom," he said. "Americans take it for granted. If only they came from somewhere that's oppressed."
[T]he current government is provisional but, after the elections, it will be the result of popular vote. Iraqis have the opportunity to choose their leaders, those they prefer. The elections are something immense and new. Nothing of the kind has happened in the past 50 years: first because of clashes and revolts, then due to 35 years of dictatorship. There has never been freedom of expression. But now, anything is possible: If there are people and parties arguing and clashing, that is because they are free to do so. Now, Iraqis must learn to discuss in a civil manner. But the people of Iraq have never been trained for coexistence; they have always lived in the midst of violence: three wars, a dictatorship, 13 years of embargo. This is why freedom is not used in a responsible way and problems arise.Read Hugh generally today; his site is rich with great links. He broadcast from the the old Marine Corps Air Station El Toro Friday as Iraqis from across the western United States travelled there to vote. Alas, I could not listen.
After more than three decades of unspeakable tyranny and a year of terror and intimidation, the very fact of this election will be a triumph for the Iraqi people and a defeat for the terrorists. Instead of exaggerating any imperfections, democrats around the world should celebrate the election as both a milestone in the advance of liberty and a source of profound hope to all the people of Iraq.The Democrats' Scorched-Earth Strategy
Inexplicably, Democrats would appear to discern some other lesson when they look back over recent history. It may be understandable that the most committed members of the Left cannot embrace free market reforms, but that this is the moment the New Democrats would choose to fold up their tent and meekly join with Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi beggars the imagination. The Party looks to be swimming against the tide of history and runs the risk of being swept away. George Bush just became the first Republican to win the presidency with majorities in the House and Senate since Calvin Coolidge and the first re-elected president of either party to gain seats in both chambers since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. Even whatever remains of the New Democrats are still trying to convince themselves this is an aberration, but the evidence suggests that, as Ronald Reagan used to say: "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"
The budget deficit is becoming a knottier problem in the short term and will be a potentially catastrophic one in the future, the Congressional Budget Office reported today.I am not a budget wonk, but I can offer the following:
The near-term deficits pale beside the CBO's admittedly rough projections for 2030, when all the baby boom generation will have reached eligibility for Social Security and Medicare.Hmm. Does that factoid perhaps prove too much? Maybe the Times is unwittingly making the argument for reform in those two programs so that we do not get to that point.
If they keep growing at current rates, those two programs plus Medicaid for the poor will be nearly as large a share of the national economy as the entire budget is now, the CBO said.
I am pressed for time, so can comment only briefly on this interesting thought, which is based on faulty, intellectually lazy assumptions and (not surprisingly) comes to the wrong conclusion.
On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.
"adopted Moore for a short while to make a point which is now fading even for them. Most people in Hollywood now see, although maybe they won't admit it, that democracy in Iraq is extremely important. For Moore, it's over."Read Simon's entire piece.
Rauch uses religious conservative as an example, implying that by including them in the process we reduce the incidents of abortion clinic bombings. He may have a valid point. From 1995 to 2003, there were over 700,000 reported cases of arson and bombings with abortion clinics being the target of only 49 cases of arson and 11 bombings. Since that accounts for .00008 of all arsons during that eight-year period, the “religious conservatives” must have felt included enough not to react with violence.
During that same period, however, there were over 2,400 attacks on churches, synagogues, and temples. Compared to abortion clinics, religious facilities were forty times more likely to be attacked. Perhaps then its time to start marginalizing “religious conservatives” and engaging those who are intolerant of religion.
This may even explain the Democratic Party’s marginalization of religious Americans. It’s not that they don’t want to include us, it's just that they’re applying the logic of Rauch.
Hollywood royalty wishes to maintain an adversarial relationship with its fan base. Many stars sought fame and fortune to escape their bourgeois upbringings. By fetishizing the poor and oppressed, and in honoring Fidel [Castro]'s revolution, this substantive celebrity subgroup advocates an unachievable egalitarian ideal while creating a wedge between themselves and their fellow countrymen in the wretched middle class.Hat tip to a friend, a secret Hollywood liberal. The entire article is a great read, especially if (like me) you are forced to pay attention to the entertainment industry.
It goes without saying that Leo DiCaprio would rather be seen in Havana than caught dead at Wal-Mart. . . .
It is a very emotional situation from a very emotional group of people. These are not the type of people you would want next to you in a bunker during war. . . .
To my surprise I am finding that there are a lot more non-liberals in Hollywood than I had once suspected. It's just that they live in the closet. Until things change I still can't recommend they come out either.
Conservatives exist in the closet in Hollywood because they know the nature of hiring out here. People hire people they are comfortable with. And most liberals in Hollywood detest conservatives.
Although anyone who knows me knows I am a religious person, my blog is not overtly religious, and I seldom post religious material here. But the following tugged at my heart-strings and comes from a very trusted source, and I feel compelled to post it here. Please link to this and pass it on to others as you see fit.
From Captain Lyle Shackleford, a U.S. Army Battalion Chaplain in Iraq:
As a transportation battalion, my unit will be delivering the voting machines and the ballots to villages and cities throughout Iraq during the upcoming elections. (January 30/31).
Our convoys are prime targets for the insurgents because they do not want the equipment to arrive at the polling stations nor do they want the local Iraqi citizens to have the chance to vote; timely delivery must occur so that the elections occur.
Encourage your friends and family members and those within our churches to pray specifically for the electoral process.
Historically, the previous totalitarian regime would not allow individual citizens to vote. Democracy will not be realized in Iraq if intelligent and competent officials are not elected to those strategic leadership positions within the emerging government; freedom will not have an opportunity to ring throughout this country if the voting process fails.
Announce this prayer request to your contacts throughout your churches, neighborhoods, and places of business. Those with leadership roles within the local church post this message in as many newsletters and bulletins as possible.
There is unlimited potential for God's presence in this process but if we do not pray then our enemy will prevail (See Ephesians 6:10-17).
A prayer vigil prior to the end of the month may be an innovative opportunity for those within your sphere of influence to pray. This is a political battle that needs spiritual intervention.
A powerful story about God's intervention in the lives of David's mighty men is recorded in 2 Samuel 23:8-33. David and his warriors were victorious because of God's intervention. We want to overcome those who would stand in the way of freedom.
David's mighty men triumphed over incredible odds and stood their ground and were victorious over the enemies of Israel. (Iraqi insurgents vs God's praying people). They don't stand a chance.
I will pray with my soldiers before they leave on their convoys and move outside our installation gates here at Tallil. My soldiers are at the nerve center of the logistic operation to deliver the voting machines and election ballots. They will be driving to and entering the arena of the enemy. This is not a game for them; it is a historical mission that is extremely dangerous. No voting machines or ballots, no elections.
Your prayer support and God's intervention are needed to give democracy a chance in this war torn country.
Thank you for reading this e-mail. Please give this e-mail a wide dissemination.
Thank you for your prayer support for me and my family. Stand firm in your battles.
CH (CPT) Lyle Shackelford
HHD, 57th Transportation Battalion
"We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it," the speaker says. Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for many bombings and beheadings in Iraq. The US has put a $25m (£13m) reward on his head. Correspondents say the voice on the latest recording sounded similar to that on other messages attributed to the fugitive, whose group is linked to al-Qaeda. It attacked democracy as a springboard for "un-Islamic" practices, claiming that its emphasis on majority rule violated the principle that all laws must come from a divine source. "Candidates in elections are seeking to become demi-gods, while those who vote for them are infidels," it said.So Zarqawi has come out against democracy, huh? Not a big surprise but it's nice to hear him come clean about it. What a cockroach.
Reactionaries have more time than radicals to polish their prose. Democrats have had plenty of time to work the bugs out of their speeches; they've been saying the same damned things, more or less, for 30 years. But I'd choose a George W. Bush pronouncement over an exquisitely polished reactionary-liberal utterance any day. I'm proud of the president's speech and what it says about him, about Progressive Conservatism, and about America.
Bloody days are in store. These elections will be like nothing before witnessed. In most areas of the country all will be well, but elsewhere a shredded remnant of the anti-Iraqi forces will make their presence known. Their efforts are nearly impotent; on a recent day five separate car bomb attacks failed to reach their intended targets. Yet even as their failures mount, even as their ranks are diminished and their slaughterhouses are shut down they know one thing that brings them a glimmer of hope: their allies in the world media will not let them down. Whether to simply sell papers, lure advertisers, or to support a cause they firmly believe in, many in the media are the insurgent’s final hope.It's compelling reading. Watch that space!
Lines are drawn. On one side, the people of Iraq, the majority of Americans, the freedom loving people of the world. On another are those who would behead them all in the street. A more well-defined definition of good vs evil has not been seen in modern times. The final days approach.
The second plane opens its cargo ramp. The forklifts roll. Elsewhere a convoy exits a gate, moves to a highway, drivers and gunners scanning ahead, left right...Elsewhere another driver waits, his vehicle sitting low on its axels, 500 pounds of explosives weighing it down...
"We want freedom everywhere, not because we're crazy dreamers, but because governments held accountable to their people don't launch wars against each other. In the good old days, we could sit back and watch as tyrants tortured the helpless and fortified their arsenals. A rifle in the Middle East, or Asia, was no threat to our shores. Today, a man carrying a briefcase could wipe out millions of Americans in a single afternoon. We can't eliminate the sinful urges of crazed men, but we can help oppressed people to dump their dictators. Kill the snake by cutting off its head."Read the whole thing here. You'll be glad you did.
. . . those who fault Bush for an excess of idealism, or an insufficiency of realism, are not grappling with the conceptual breakthrough of his speech, which is to declare the idealism-realism dichotomy a false choice. A key passage:Stones Cry Out collects some fine commentary and divergent points of view.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
The lesson Bush drew from Sept. 11 is that "realism" is unrealistic--that the "stability" that results from an accommodation with tyranny is illusory. To Bush, there is no fundamental conflict between American ideals and American interests; by promoting the former, we secure the latter. Maybe he'll turn out to be wrong, but for now the burden ought to be on those who, in the wake of Sept. 11, hold to a pre-9/11 view of what is "realistic."
Noonan is right that "ending tyranny in the world" is a fantastically ambitious aspiration, one that isn't going to be realized anytime soon. But Bush didn't promise to do it in the next four years or even in our lifetimes. He said it was "the ultimate goal" and "the concentrated work of generations."
Fellow-Countrymen:Four weeks later, the Civil War was over and Lincoln was dead. But the speech lives on.
AT this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. 1
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.We may not fairly expect GWB to make such utterances today, but what the president says today will have lasting impact. No matter who is elected, Inauguration Day is a celebration of America.
"I understand there are many who say 'Bush is wrong.' I assume I'm right. It's exciting to be part of stimulating a debate of such significance. It really is the philosophical argument of the age."Lindberg comments:
I don't know which is the more remarkable: An American president who thinks in terms of "the philosophical argument of the age." Or that, well, yes, Mr. Bush is right, the question of the spread of democracy really is the philosophical argument of the age.Not much posting today-- I have two days of traveling ahead. But read Lindberg's piece and, as you contemplate GWB's second inaugural address this Thursday, listen for the President's comments about democracy. We're watching history unfold. Borrowing from Shakespeare's Henry V:
He that outlives this day and comes safe homeWe're alive and taking part in such a day.
Will stand a-tiptoe when this day is named . . . .
Republican partisans viewed such statements as evidence of political bias. They joined some independent analysts in faulting the review panel for not concluding whether liberal political sentiments tainted CBS' story. But a review of months of provocative internal CBS e-mails uncovered no messages that attacked Bush directly.Let's see: If there is not a message attacking Bush directly, there is no bias? The term non sequitur comes to mind. Well, why should we be surprised? The "60 Minutes II" crew found what it wanted to find in the Burkett memos. It appears that here, the Times writers failed to find what they did not want to find in the CBS story. Clearly irony did not take the weekend off!
I am deeply flattered to have been invited to speak to the next meeting of the La Cañada Flintridge Republican Committee. I'll be presenting at the Committee’s January gathering . My topic: "Blogging the 2004 Election: Why Electoral Politics Will Never Be the Same.”
If you live nearby and are inclined to listen to me ramble on, the related press release tells you how:
The meeting will take place at DISH Restaurant, located at
734 Foothill Boulevardin La Cañada Flintridge, on Monday, January 24, at Potential members and member guests are cordially invited to attend. Please RSVP to Sandra Richardson, at (818) 790-1326, before on Monday, January 24.
This is going to be one heck of a lot of fun.
This is going to be one heck of a lot of fun.
In this situation, the last thing the AMMP needed was to aim wildly at the president—and not only miss, but be seen as having a political motivation in attacking in the first place. Were Dan Rather and Mary Mapes after the truth or victory when they broadcast their egregiously sloppy story about Bush's National Guard Service? The moment it made air it began to fall apart, and eventually was shredded by factions within the AMMP itself, conservative national outlets and by the new opposition party that is emerging: The Blogger Nation. It's hard to know now who, if anyone, in the "media" has any credibility.It is a must-read.
Meanwhile, Williams' printed apology appeared today on Townhall.com. As a non-Williams fan I found it persuasive. I still won't listen to him, but I didn't listen to him before either.
The stated goal of CBS News is to have a reputation for journalism of the highest quality and unimpeachable integrity. To meet this objective, CBS News expects its personnel to adhere to published internal standards based on two core principles: accuracy and fairness. The Panel finds that both the September 8 segment itself and news reports by CBS News that followed the Segment failed to meet either of these core principles.Really?
These problems were caused primarily by a myopic zeal to be the first news organization to broadcast what was believed to be a news story about President Bush's [Texas Air National Guard] service, and the rigid and blind defense of the Segment after it aired despite numerous indications of its shortcomings.Ouch!
The panel believes a turning point came on Sept. 10, when CBS News President Andrew Heyward ordered Betsy West to review the opinions of document examiners who had seen the disputed documents and the confidential sources supporting the story.I am wondering why Heyward did not follow up and make sure West did the review immediately, especially on a matter that was as intensely controversial as this one, in the final weeks of a presidential election campaign. Otherwise, I am not seeing much whitewash here. Sorry, Hugh!
But no such investigation was undertaken.
"Had this directive been followed promptly, the panel does not believe that 60 Minutes Wednesday would have publicly defended the segment for another 10 days," the report said.
Unfortunately the rest of the piece seems devoted to listing the differences between Iraq and El Salvador, quoting "experts" on why the Salvadoran experience is not likely to be duplicated in Iraq. Eleven of 15 substantive paragraphs are devoted to that point. The concluding, somewhat nervous final paragraph:
What can the U.S. and Iraq learn from El Salvador?
Senior U.S. officials point to the small Central American nation's 1982 election, in which voters had to take cover from gunfire as they waited in line to cast their ballots, as a reason to believe even imperfect elections can help propel a war-torn nation toward democracy. In El Salvador, the vote helped reduce support for an insurgency and, they argue, the election slated for Jan. 30 in Iraq can do the same there.
"In El Salvador you had the image of old farmers lined up to vote, crouching to get out of the line of fire, and then getting back into line. It was about as graphic a demonstration of the desire for democracy as you can have," says Mr. Aronson, who recently served as an election observer in Afghanistan. "Hopefully, the same thing will happen in Iraq. But if the process turns into a debacle, it might send the opposite message: that things are out of control."The mainstream news media does love that idea of things being out of control in Iraq.
Letter from Iraq
Editor's note: The following letter was sent by a Marine in Iraq, Gunnery Sgt. Mark J. Francis, to his wife, Colleen Francis. It was reprinted at the request of Milpitan Ben Ford, a retired military man.
Just wanted to write to you and tell you another story about an experience we had over here.
As you know, I asked for toys for the Iraqi children over here and several people (Americans that support us) sent them over by the box. On each patrol we take through the city, we take as many toys as will fit in our pockets and hand them out as we can. The kids take the toys and run to show them off as if they were worth a million bucks. We are as friendly as we can be to everyone we see, but especially so with the kids. Most of them don't have any idea what is going on and are completely innocent in all of this.
On one such patrol, our lead security vehicle stopped in the middle of the street. This is not normal and is very unsafe, so the following began to inquire over the radio. The lead vehicle reported a little girl sitting in the road and said she just would not budge. The command vehicle told the lead to simply go around her and to be kind as they did. The street was wide enough to allow this maneuver and so they waved to her as they drove around.
As the vehicles went around her, I soon saw her sitting there and in her arms she was clutching a little bear that we had handed her a few patrols back. Feeling an immediate connection to the girl, I radioed that we were going to stop. The rest of the convoy stopped and I got out to make sure she was OK. The little girl looked scared and concerned, but there was a warmth in her eyes toward me. As I knelt down to talk to her, she moved over and pointed to a mine in the road.
Immediately, a cordon was set as the Marine convoy assumed a defensive posture around the site. The mine was destroyed in place.
It was the heart of an American that sent that toy. It was the heart of an American that gave that toy to that little girl. It was the heart of an American that protected that convoy from that mine. Sure, she was a little Iraqi girl and she had no knowledge of purple mountain's majesty or fruited plains. It was a heart of acceptance, of tolerance, of peace and grace, even through the inconveniences of conflict that saved that convoy from hitting that mine. Those attributes are what keep Americans' hearts beating. She may have no affiliation at all with the United States, but she knows what it is to be brave and if we can continue to support her and her new government, she will know what it is to be free. Isn't that what Americans are, the free and the brave?
If you sent over a toy or a Marine (U.S. service member) you took part in this. You are a reason that Iraq has to believe in a better future. Thank you so much for supporting us and for supporting our cause over here. Semper Fi.
Mark J. Francis
Gunnery sergeant, USMC