Monday, January 31, 2005
UPDATE. Stupid poll in The Age asks: “Given an Australian airman has died and free elections have been held, is it time for Australia to pull out of Iraq?�?
Whoever came up with that question is presumably unaware that Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel was serving with Britain’s Royal Air Force. His death is unrelated to Australian involvement.
(The most popular answer, by the way, is: “Yes - if we stay we may get bogged down in a civil war.�?)
IRAQ IN BRIEF
Bush lied! Fingers dyed!
-- Paul Zrimsek
UPDATE. Mark Steyn:
And so the “looming Iraqi election fiasco” joins “the brutal Afghan winter” and “the brutal Iraqi summer” and “the seething Arab street” and all the other junk in the overflowing trash can of post-9/11 Western media fictions. The sight of millions of brave voters emerging from polling stations holding high their purple dye-stained fingers was so inspiring that, from America’s Democratic Party to European protest rallies, opponents of the war waited, oh, all of three minutes before flipping the Iraqis their own fingers, undyed.
VOTE OR DIE
Shiites defy gunmen in hope of freedom
But, writes Paul McGeough in Baghdad, it was only a personal threat of violence that motivated some people to go to the polls.
Many took courage and refused to bow to the gunmen. But in a city of many moods, others came to the polling stations only because of the gun at their backs.
Those “guns�? McGeough mentions; they aren’t exactly abundant throughout his report:
In the Shiite quarter Al-Salam City, Abdul Hussein Abbas, 54, a car dealer, said he was voting for List 169, the coalition of Shiite religious parties. “And then I’m going home to throw a party - we have sweets and chocolates to distribute in the street,” he said.
Guns, sweets ... what’s the difference?
His Shiite neighbours - Satar Jabar, 37, a telecommunications worker, and Mouid Khalid al-Douri, 44, a taxi driver - also voted for the religious parties. Mr Douri declared: “This is a great day for the Shiites - to vote is to be free."
What he really meant to say was: “Ouch! Gun in my back!�?
Despite all the threats and a mortar attack on a polling station that killed four voters, residents of the slums of Sadr City, a Saddam Hussein creation that is home to about 2 million Shiites, said that the turnout was “huge”.
He wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic without the business end of an AK-47 jemmed against his spine, I bet.
As a tribal sheik, 60-year-old Hamid Chiati is a big man. As a Shiite in the ghetto his home is a small house off a small street, but he was filled with the big idea that the Shiites were poised to claim a destiny that slipped through their fingers almost a century ago - control of Iraq.
"Yes, we still face explosions, kidnapping and killing. But already the new Iraq is better even when we don’t have bread.
"We don’t have water, but we are happy. Electricity - no. But we’re better off because under Saddam no one respected us - and today they do. That’s more important than bread or water or electricity."
Or guns, apparently. Where are the guns?
Across town, “white flag” notices were going up in the Shiite mosques of Al-Salam City. Naming people who were Baathists, Shiite and Sunni, they threaten execution unless those named hung a white flag from their homes and voted in the elections.
P.Diddy’s influence is remarkable. Incidentally, according to McGeough, the number of “vote or die�? targets came to ... 16.
The Iraqis, some of them anyway, have voted to elect people to then elect a Prime Minister and draw up a Constitution to put to the people at the end of the year. A few readers have asked me to dash off a comment piece on the election’s success.
For a start, we don’t yet know for sure what percentage of people voted and how many didn’t because the occupiers have not restored order. Offical assessments started at 80 percent and are now down to 60 percent. And we don’t know the results yet, of course, and whether the interim government will or won’t ask the occupiers to leave in accordance with the wishes of a substantial majority of Iraqis, according to the latest Zogby Poll. We also don’t know if the election was substantially free of corruption.
If Margo wrote about things she did know, her columns could fit on a baby’s fingernail. That’s all of her columns, written in longhand, using a paint roller.
JUST SAY NEIGH
There are certain metaphors John Kerry should strive to avoid:
"Many Republicans say we beat their models by four or five points,” he said.
"I won the youth vote. I won the independent vote. I won the moderate vote."
But, Mr Kerry said, he had faced a difficult task in persuading a country at war “to shift horses in midstream”.
Sure thing, longface. Jim Geraghty has more on everybody’s favourite equine junior senator.
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT PAUL PARDOEL
Australia has suffered its first military casualty in Iraq:
Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel, 35, from Victoria, died when a British C-130 Hercules transport plane crashed north of Baghdad overnight (AEDT), killing up to 15 troops.
Navigator Flight Lieutenant Pardoel was a former member of the RAAF who had enlisted with the RAF, Australian defence officials said tonight.
SILENCE OF THE LEFT
Good news from Iraq? Who’d ever have thought! Arthur Chrenkoff presents a two-week supercompilation of cheery Iraqi news, including vast campaign and election day coverage.
Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis detects a curious lack of celebration among US leftoid sites. What’s up with that? The same tumbleweedy sound can be heard among local lefties. Why, they seem almost as withdrawn as they were the day Saddam was captured.
Well, not all of them. Here, a Democratic Underground funster responds to the view that the elections were “a resounding success�?:
Until Iraqi insurgents deliver a pillow case full of fingers dipped in ink to the nearest American commander because that’s what I would do if I were an insurgent leader
Don’t ever give up your dream, little guy! Another happy fellow finds artistic inspiration in the murder of Iraqi voters; tee hee! Guy got blowed up!
And these people used to complain about “disenfranchised” voters in Florida ...
UPDATE. Lefty Mark Bahnisch speaks for his fellows:
I doubt that I want to say very much about the current situation in Iraq actually
Yeah. It’s too good.
UPDATE II. John Podhoretz:
There are literally millions of Americans who are unhappy today because millions of Iraqis went to the polls yesterday. And why? Because this isn’t just a success for Bush. It’s a huge win. It’s a colossal vindication.
It’s a big fat gigantic winning vindication of the guy that the Moores and Kennedys and millions of others still can’t believe anybody voted for.
And they know it.
And it’s killing them.
UPDATE III. Another instructive guide to left-wing election opinion.
HEADLINE OF THE WEEK
From Saturday’s New York Times:
Shiite Faction Ready to Shun Sunday’s Election in Iraq
Thereafter follows a piece by one Dexter Filkins, helpfully illustrated with images of murdered Iraqi National Guardsmen.
(Via Beege Wellborn, who writes: “The New Yawk Times sure can call ‘em!")
THEY MADE US BELIEVE
A Democratic Underground operative exposes BushCo’s sinister Iraq elections ploy:
All we’ve heard the past few weeks was how bad the violence was going to be, how Iraqi turnout was in question, how much of a disaster this was going to be, et al. In other words, we were lured into believing this was going to be a mess, but the reality is it wasn’t so bad. There was violence, but there was also a huge voter turnout ... These guys are adept at making us believe that all will be a disaster, but when the reality shows itself to be not-that-bad, they look better in the aftermath than they deserve.
Via Rob at SemiSkimmed, who notes: “If predictions of doom were a Bush ploy ... that must mean Robert Fisk works for Karl Rove!”
Sunday, January 30, 2005
NEWSPAPER ATTEMPTS TO READ MINDS
(Via Ted Lapkin)
Mohammed and Omar hug the box:
I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world’s tyrants.
I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn’t hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said “brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn”.
Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!
These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.
And they’ll be written in purple ink.
YES FOR THE FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY!
Our voting is:
No to the terrorists!
No to the dictatorships!
No to hate and racism!
No to the fascists!
No to the Nazis!
No to the mentally retarded tyrants!
No to the ossified, narrow-minded and intolerants!
The Iraqis are voting in few hours time for the new Iraq.
We are going to create our future by ourselves not by dictators.
We are going to say:
Yes for the freedom and democracy!
Yes for the civilized Iraq!
Yes for peace and prosperity!
Yes for coexistence!
Yes for the New Iraq!
Let them bomb and kill us. It will not deter us!
Let them send their dogs to suck our bones. We care not!
Let them bark. It will not frighten us.
Let them see how civilised to be free and democratic!
Let them die by our vote tomorrow! It is the magic bullet which will kill them!
Welcome New Iraq.
Welcome freedom and democracy.
Welcome peace and prosperity for all nations with out exception but terrorists!
What he said. Jeff Jarvis has a comprehensive roundup of other Iraqi views, and Friends of Democracy—edited by Michael Totten, with contributors all over Iraq—is seeking reader input for upcoming C-SPAN election coverage (among guests who’ll field your questions: Christopher Hitchens). Head over there now.
UPDATE. The first several hours of election TV, as viewed by Roger L. Simon. Sharp, funny, and opinionated, just the way you like it.
At least 20 people have been killed in eight separate suicide attacks on polling stations in Iraq but voters are defying insurgents’ bombs and casting their ballots in an historic poll.
UPDATE III. Egad! Positive news from the ABC:
The chief United Nations electoral official in Iraq says the turnout of voters in some parts of the country is exceeding expectations, despite the violence and intimidation.
UPDATE IV. Mohammed’s inspiring pre-election post has drawn 797 comments.
UPDATE V. Mixed reports from BBC correspondents throughout Iraq:
Roaa Al-Zarari: There’s been a problem in Hamdiya, just outside Mosul. This town is inhabited by Christians and Chaldeans.
But no ballot boxes have been sent there. Residents shouted at the local district officers demanding boxes to be sent.
Fadel al Badrani: A number of polling stations have opened in [Falluja] in the north, north-east, and inside the public park. The turnout to all these stations is very low.
Paul Wood: So far there have been nine suicide bombings in Baghdad, including two car bombs ... We have seen voting here in the capital, and in the streets close to the BBC office the atmosphere was almost euphoric.
Christian Fraser: We were told the Shia would turn out in big numbers and so it has proved. From Basra to Al Amarah, to the northern most sections of the British zone, thousands of people are lined up on the streets.
Mohammad Hussein: A lot of women turned out and their numbers dwarf those of the men. I have seen very old people unable to walk, I have seen blind people being led to the polling stations.
Caroline Hawley: Iraqi authorities have told us there have now been seven suicide bombings carried out by men with explosives strapped around their bodies. There has also been a mortar attack in Sadr City in Baghdad which killed four voters.
Ben Brown: Turnout [in Basra] has been extraordinary. We’ve been to a few polling stations in the city centre and we’ve seen huge queues of men and women who were searched separately. Some have had to wait for an hour before casting their ballot.
Jim Muir: There are very big crowds starting to form at the polling station in the centre of Arbil.
(Via Arthur Chrenkoff, who has many more useful links.)
UPDATE VI. Inky goodness!
UPDATE VII. The Guardian describes murderous assaults as retaliation:
Iraqis voted in nationwide elections today and insurgents retaliated with attacks on polling stations.
Iraqi officials reported a turnout of 72%, but at least 22 people were killed in attacks across the country.
As usual, a guest appearance from the Damning But. (Via J.F. Beck)
UPDATE VIII. Robert Fisk is soooooo cynical:
Yes, I know how it’s all going to be played out. Iraqis bravely vote despite the bloodcurdling threats of the enemies of democracy. At last, the US and British policies have reached fruition. A real and functioning democracy will be in place so the occupiers can leave soon. Or next year. Or in a decade or so. Merely to hold these elections - an act of folly in the eyes of so many Iraqis - will be a “success”.
Happy No Thanks Day, Bobby.
UPDATE IX. The BBC’s Mohammad Hussein mentioned above that he’d seen old people being helped to polling stations. Here’s one fellow in Suleimaniya being carried to the polls.
UPDATE X. CNN examines turnout numbers and reports:
In the northeastern town of Baquba, CNN’s Jane Arraf found a polling station where a long line of Iraqi voters chanted and clapped their hands in front of the camera.
One voter told Arraf that Sunday’s vote was a “bullet in the heart of the enemy."
Further north in the Kurdistan town of Salamanca, CNN’s Nic Robertson reported seeing a 90-year-old woman being taken to a booth in a wheelbarrow. Others came on crutches to cast their ballot.
UPDATE XI. Positive news from—wait for it— Reuters:
There was quiet determination in the air as voters turned out in force in Basra, a relatively peaceful region compared with Baghdad and the Sunni Arab heartlands of central Iraq.
“We are very happy for this day. It’s like Eid—a celebration,” said Jassim Mohammed Jassim, an election observer from the Islamic Daawa Party.
With cars banned from the city center, people strolled from their neighborhoods in groups or with their families. Children played football in the middle of a normally busy highway.
It’s kind of like Michael Moore’s version of Iraq, as shown in Fahrenheit 9/11. Except without the dictator killing people and his son dragging women away to rape.
UPDATE XIII. Yet more positive news from Reuters (via J.F. Beck, reeling in astonishment):
Millions of Iraqis turned out to vote Sunday, defying anti-U.S. insurgents determined to drown the historic poll in blood.
Even in Falluja, the devastated Sunni city west of Baghdad that was a militant stronghold until a U.S. assault in November, a slow stream of people turned out, confounding expectations.
"We want to be like other Iraqis, we don’t want to always be in opposition,” said Ahmed Jassim, smiling after voting.
UPDATE XIV. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough performs the rare Reverse Damning But:
Voting in Iraq’s first attempt at democratic elections in half a century opened to a deadly barrage of explosions across the capital. But even before it closed early today, Sydney time, the ballot had prevailed over the bullets and the bombs.
McGeough also notes: “The provisional figures will be seen as a stunning victory for Washington’s policy of democratising the Middle East and will cause great anxiety among the region’s unelected leaders.”
UPDATE XV. To hell with you, McGruder.
FISKIER THAN FISK HIMSELF
I think I was probably wrong in saying there would be a civil war.
The only people who are talking about civil war at the moment in Iraq are the Americans and the British and the Western journalists who suck up their lines and push it back out as their own analysis.
I haven’t actually met an Iraqi who wants a civil war or who’s talked about a civil war.
There’s never been a civil war in Iraq.
I rather suspect that this danger of civil war - and I’m guilty before the war quite rightly predicting there might be - is being pushed out by the Americans and the British in order to frighten the Iraqis into obedience.
So that’s McGeough’s plan! No wonder he’s been talking up Iyad Allawi’s murder spree.
(Via Brian in comments)
REVERSE PREDICTION ATTEMPTED
Having realised that every anti-Bush, anti-Republican prediction he makes fails to come true, Michael Moore switches tactics:
The Democrats are going to have a very hard time winning the next election - the Republicans have a number of star players and the Democrats have a lot of wimps and losers.
That’s from a webchat with Mike’s fans, one of whom wants to know if Moore is Washington-bound:
matt: hey micheal. Have you ever thought of running for President?
Michael Moore: No - there’s a weight limit at the White House ;)
Bastard is stealing my material.
The World Economic Forum is turning out to be good for a laugh:
With Iran’s vice-president and foreign minister in the room, the organizers began by announcing they had disinvited Swiss cartoonist Patrick Chappatte, one of the listed panelists, because the issues were too serious.
The star guest, U.S. Senator Joe Biden, ranking Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, was missing. The organizers kept saying he was on his way.
Moderator David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist, apologized for the fact that wine had been served, upsetting the Muslim guests. Waiters cleared the offending glasses.
Biden eventually turned up 80 minutes late, after going to the wrong hotel. Or maybe he just wanted a drink.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
It’s as though he never existed. Drop by Mark Latham’s Parliamentary website and you’ll discover this grim note:
Error: There is no Member ID K26
Even worse, since Latham last year scrubbed the content of his personal site and re-directed it to the main Labor page, visitors to marklatham.com.au are these days confronted by Kim Beazley’s usurping presence. Another Latham site, thirdway-aust.com, is dead; his book is out of print and has sunk to 2,218,944 in Amazon’s rankings, down from 1,083,113 last October.
Which reminds me: Kim Beazley thinks tensions within the Liberal Party will help Labor win in 2007.