Monday, January 31, 2005

Your Monday Assignment

Being Right on Iraq and Hollywood Endings

Officially, it's Monday morning and I hope I'm not too late getting this idea out to people. The world of the right or should I say "the sane, freedom loving people of America", have come up with an idea to show our solidarity with the Iraqi people. Of course, I already suggested it on Sunday, but some folks have decided we should make it a national idea. I'm for it.

On Monday, find a blue ink pad or blue marker or blue pen (or purple: Indian ink turns purple and then black eventually, take your pick) and color your right index finger (not the whole thing, just up to the first knuckle). This has two parts actually: solidarity with the Iraqi people and giving terrorist the finger. Of course, if you feel the need to paint a different finger blue, I'll understand.

I said I would post some pictures from the elections. I collected a ton of them, but I found someone who had it all put together. I present to you Iraq Elections set to the music of "The Common Man". You need a good speaker for this and some tissues.

Now some closing thoughts as I head off to bed and contemplate the exciting last 28 hours.

I'm sure if I wasn't so tired I would write something brilliant about freedom triumphing again. I would quote some brilliant past thinkers on the subject. Instead, I'll talk about how I felt as I stayed up watching the video of the polls. I know at one point, when the polls first opened up and the voters were slow to trickle in, I was holding my breath some. I'm not afraid to admit it. I've been behind this thing for a long time and have said so. I wanted this moment for the Iraqis like a mother wants to see their child take their first steps, say their first words, ride their first bike, or walk across a stage with their diploma in hand.

I have hardly done a thing here besides some supporting comments to our friendly Iraqi and military blogs, maybe a few dollars donated to one cause or the other and, of course, my vote for the President which I felt was necessary to keep our efforts going in Iraq. I know that I have seen history in the making throughout my life. I saw the first space shuttle go up in my science class, live. I saw the space shuttle Columbia blow up a few years later, live on television in my American history class. I heard Gorbechav declare Glasnost and even have a "glasnost" swatch watch in my jewelry box. I saw the Berlin wall come down. I remember rushing home to watch the start of the first Gulf War on TV and all the little wars in between. I remember the first WTC explosion and I saw 9/11, again, live on TV. I heard the President give his impromptu speech on the smoldering ruins of the WTC and watched the Taliban go down. I saw the Afghanistan people vote for their first free government. I watched "shock and awe" on my TV. I stayed awake for days with little sleep as I watched our military march to downtown Baghdad and tear the statue of Saddam, so like Stalin, down in the square as jubilant Iraqis danced and beat it with their shoes.

I know I have witnessed so many historic moments in my life time, just like my parents and my grandparents before me. But, Saturday night (Sunday morning in Iraq), I watched people vote in a true, free elections in their country for the first time in many of the people's lives. I stayed up all night to watch it because, just like September 11, 2001, October 16, 2001 and April 9, 2003, I knew I was watching history.

I was sad on September 11. I felt satisfaction on October 16, 2001. I felt the excitement on April 9, 2003. On Sunday, January 30, 2005, I felt something more. I felt like I had something invested in this election. I felt just like the way I felt about November 2, 2004. This election meant something. It meant more than just being on the "right" of our political divide these days. It meant being RIGHT, being with the RIGHT. It meant being RIGHTEOUS. Not politically, but ideologically and historically.

Seriously, can there be anything more RIGHT than wanting people to have the same freedom that we have? Is there anything more RIGHT than supporting people against the remnants of a tyrannical regime and putting the RIGHT index finger into the eye of the terrorists and tyrants everywhere? Is there anything more RIGHT than telling the OBLs and Zarqawis of this world that they are wrong, people do not want their fascist ideology, and we are RIGHT about people wanting freedom?

I'm not sure I could have felt any more RIGHT with myself except maybe if I had been there, walked with these people myself and cast my own vote.

By Sunday 2 AM, I had let out the breath I had been holding and a wild pounding was in my chest. I saw thousands of people lining up at the polling stations in Iraq, walking for miles, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, sometimes whole families. The picture that struck me the most was the image of hundreds of people walking together down a long road towards the polling station some where in Iraq. There was a man in front of the group, not exactly alone or leading, but in front. He has on a brown outfit. His black hair was slightly mussed and a slight beard and mustache. He could have been as young as 26 or as old as 40, but, in the picture, he was striding down the road with the others close behind. Striding, not sidling or hesitant in any manner and he was staring at the camera. The look seemed to be one of defiance. Behind him was a crowd of people, so dense you could not really count how many were there, but you knew that "hundreds" might be a light estimate.

The picture could have been straight out of a Hollywood movie where the good guy finally convinces the town's people to stand with him against the gang of bad guys that have been terrorizing the town, shooting it up, molesting the women and forcing the men to either work for them or turn over all their money and valuables. But, it wasn't a Hollywood movie. Not even they could have scripted that moment so well. Not Braveheart nor the Post Man nor the Patriot. Not High Noon nor High Plains Drifter. No, Hollywood could never have matched that moment.

In the picture from Iraq, the bad guys were off camera, but I could picture the looks on their faces. It's the same look that bad men have always had when confronted with the will and force of the good who finally stand up to them. First, they laugh and think that these good people will never have the guts to stand up to them. Then, it's anger because they can't believe that the good people just keep coming. Finally, it's shock when they realize that their days are numbered and they will be lucky to make it to jail before they are lynched or gunned down in the streets like the dogs that they are.

Today, the bad guys were shocked nearly speechless. I think it is only a short period of time before they beg the sheriff to take them to jail so they won't end up lynched on the streets.

The only sad thing about these movies is that there is always some guy, like the mayor of the town or the store owner who thinks they should just appease the bad guys until they leave town. Not because they have faith that the bad guys will change their minds, but because they are cowards or have some property or something invested some where that they are afraid will get damaged and they are willing to sacrifice their fellow citizens to protect that property or investment or their own skin.

On Sunday, these cowards were out in force. I saw them on TV telling people that this didn't mean anything (Sen. Cowardly Kerry). I heard them on the radio saying that these people will not succeed, but are being led to their doom. I read it on many left leaning and DEMOCRAT blogs and news sources saying it was a farce, a sham and that "this democracy is bullshit". Bullshit? Democracy is bullshit? They were claiming that millions of people were duped and that the elections were rigged and that the administration had already picked the people that would win. Which was physically impossible when they were voting for 111 parties and 7200 candidates to fill 275 seats of an assembly. This pretty much tells you people are not in touch with reality. Yet, there they were, like fans for the villains of the piece, booing and hissing when the GOOD GUYS came on the screen.

Why would they do this? Just like the ambivalent mayor or shopkeep in the old movies who are always more worried about saving their own skins or protecting their own property above the safety of their fellow citizens, these people have decided that their position, their investment in their political party, their standing was more important than supporting their fellow citizens of the world against the bad guys. They would prefer to sell them for 30 pieces of silver so long as they continued in their places of power or in control of a few meters of political realestate. They showed their true colors and it was YELLOW through and through.

Kennedy (better known as Baghdad Blob) still insists that it is a quagmire and that we should abandon the Iraqi people as quickly as possible in order for what? To go back to status quo? Stand back and watch them be annihilated under the new boot of tyranny in town? For some fake idea of "stability"? If this position is the position that is supposed to put us back in the good graces of the international community, these folks can take that standing and shove it up their asses. Please.

I'm saying that as politely as I can.

The problem with Kennedy and Kerry and people like them is that they apparently never watched the Hollywood movies to the end. If they did, they would know what happens to that little snitch, little suck up to the bad guys, the yellow dog that sold his friends and fellows for a moment of peace or a piece of the moment.

Do you know what happens to those people? You guessed it. In the end, the bad guys usually kill them first for being worthless, untrustworthy and not delivering on their undeliverable promise of delivering up the town, it's treasures and it's people.

You see, even the bad guys have some standards and they don't tolerate these folks either.

Can we, who stand with the GOOD GUYS, do any less?

It's time to stop tolerating these people.

My message to the Drunken Mayor of Stupidity and the Keeper of the Insane Left Leaning Saloon:

It's that time in the movies where the GOOD GUYS are strolling down main street on their way to confront the BAD GUYS. Every citizen can no longer avoid what has come. It is time to choose sides. There is no straddling the fence anymore. You can't support the GOOD GUYS, but say you don't believe what they are doing is RIGHT when the confrontation is already under way. If you hide behind your doors and wait for the fight to be over, the winner of the fight will remember you. If it's the BAD GUYS, they'll just see you as the coward you are and kick you around even more. If it's the GOOD GUYS, you'll be ostracized and you might as well pack your bags and move out of town because you won't be getting anymore business from them.

That's if you are lucky and don't end up with the Hollywood ending that usually awaits your type.

What am I saying? It's already too late for you. Never mind. John, Ted, Kos, DU, Susan Estrich, Juan Cole, Jaque Chirac, et al, close your eyes, I don't think you want to see what happens next.

You know what has to be the worst aspect of being that fence sitting, back stabbing character in the movies? When it's all over, the GOOD GUYS have won, the BAD GUYS are dead and the credits are rolling, your character is simply defined as "Drunken Mayor Of Stupidity", "Saloon Keeper", "Muck Raker", "Town Drunks", "Saloon Girl", "Man With No Hat" and "Horse Thief". What's more, no one remembers your name.

I love Hollywood endings.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Purple Finger of Freedom

The purple finger of freedom. If you can, color your right finger purple today in soldarity with the people of Iraq. The sign of liberty. I was at the brothers blog Iraq the Model and a new commenter from Iraq posted these words:

This is the first thing I do something for my country I live in Jordan, I hope I was voting in Iraq but neverless all my family voted in iraq even my grand mother 85 old voted there.

Thanks to all Iraqi brave soldirs and USA soldires and administration ....... USA Guys You Promissed us and you make it REAL.
Raid Mohammed

Now...if that doesn't make you cry, I don't know what will. You'd have to be a hard hearted human, or at least Ted Kennedy, not to appreciate that. The brothers went on to say these things:

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

I still recall the first group of comments that came to this blog 14 months ago when many of the readers asked "The Model?"… "Model for what?"
Take a look today to meet the model of courage and human desire to achieve freedom; people walking across the fire to cast their votes.

Could any model match this one!? Could any bravery match the Iraqis'!?
Let the remaining tyrants of the world learn the lesson from this day.(...)
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.

Make sure you go and read the rest.
 Posted by Hello

Iraq Elections: What I Saw and MSM Coverage

Well, the day came and it is only another hour or so before the polls close. I made my self stay up and watch it all. Before I get going though, on what I witnessed, I wanted to remind everyone that our friends at Friends of Democracy has live coverage and will be on CSPAN at 2pm EST Sunday (later this afternoon) with a panel of people to talk about the elections and what the group is trying to accomplish. Go over to their site because they ask for questions to answer during their interview and have a few questions for us as well. Don't wait and don't hesitate. Great way to get involved.

Now, on to the election. At 10 pm CST, I turned to the cable channels and watched the election unfold. I felt a sense of excitement that I felt when I went to vote myself in November. Maybe more so because that excitement was tempered with worry about whether the insurgents would be able to mount any sort of attacks that could truly disrupt the elections. I lit a candle for the Iraqi people and have kept it burning all night. It will stay lit until the polls close in another hour or so.

I noted that CNN spent most of the pre-election coverage doing an "Iraq Timeline" which they attempted to do as "balanced and objective" but of course, turned out to be rather "biased and subjective". I know, what did I expect? Well, I wanted to see how all three channels were treating it so I watched. There was a particularly disturbing episode where they were blatantly playing the emotion string about civilian casualties. Like a "Human Rights Watch Oprah" episode. Let me describe this a bit before I go on with the election coverage in main. They were talking about the retaking of Samarawa. A US General gave a statement saying there were no Iraqi civilian casualties. The reporter, Jane Arraf and her other female side kick said they were "shocked" because they had just been to the hospital and there were body bags everywhere. They proceeded to show pictures of these body bags. Then one of them states, without showing any video, that she asked a national guard soldier from the US how he felt about civilian deaths and he allegedly comments, "Civilians? Insurgents? Who can tell?" This juxtaposed against film of some body bags.

Of course, what they don't show you is who exactly is in these body bags. As in, what is the gender and condition of the bodies. I'll give you an idea of who was probably in the body bags and that is probably men between the ages of 18 and 40. That is something they wouldn't show you because of our "delicate" sensibilities, but they have no problem telling you what you should believe about them when you can't see them. As for the soldiers out of context supposedly calous remark, I can clearly see that he is talking about insurgents not being in uniform and fighting from civilian positions. That is a no brainer. Secondly, what did they ask him and what was the rest of his comments? This is like bad tabloid TV or Jerry Springer Journalism. Sadly, some nimrod out there probably watched this and got their opinion about the war from it.

For this, CNN gets a big FAT "F" for crappy, activist journalism. They get a big FAT "F" because, contrary to what they believe (ie, that they can help show the horrors of war and maybe make it stop), they have just recruited at least a hundred, if not a thousand, more jihadists somewhere in the Arab/Muslim world who will now run off to Iraq like these "martyrs" to protect their endagered Iraqi brethern. These same men will then engage in terrorist activities that will kill more Iraqis than the entire US army has done since it first Gulf War. Pacifists my ass. These ladies are killers. These are the same people that claim "AMERICA" is the cause of the spreading jihadist/terrorism phenomenom. Well, they are partially correct, but it's not the American administration, it's the American media and they should be charged for their complicity in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and soldiers.

CNN gets a big FAT "F" for showing this piece.

The only thing I can say about CNN now is that they did have a good number of people around at different polling stations in Iraq and showed many good pictures. However, they get a "C-" for this effort because every single one of their reporters opened up their commentary with the words, "despite the violence" or "despite the deaths already this morning" or "Polling stations are opened, BUT 29 people have been killed". However, they get the "C" part for this because they showed the Iraqis lining up at the polls, singing, clapping and dancing although, the same Arraf character was reporting from there and she seemed kind of annoyed that she couldn't hear herself talking to the anchor, whoever the hell that was. But the camera did stay on the people so kudos to the cameraman. Probably a hired Iraqi anyway.

Fox on the other hand, only had a few correspondents in the field, one of which was Geraldo Rivera. However, Geraldo was the man of the hour. He told the insurgents to "go to hell". He was excited for the Iraqis and he only mentioned the violence (so damned limited, 5 attacks when there were 5,600 polling stations) at the end and still said that the violence was a story but it was not the most important story. The important story was the historical vote itself. Geraldo and Fox get a big FAT "A++" for keeping it in perspective and not raining on the Iraqi's parade.

He interviewed a man at the polling station, only a few miles from Baghdad. His name was Ahmed. Geraldo asked him if he was scared of the insurgents. Ahmed replied:

"I don't care what Zarqawi or the terrorists say. They threaten to kill me and my family. I don't care, because I have voted an I am free."

That was pretty much the sentiment of most of the voters.

MSNBC was fairly balanced with a couple of reporters at different polling stations and had good pictures. While they mentioned the violence and did so first in the same sentence with "elections", they did it sparingly enough that I will award the a "B" for their effort. They also did an amazing thing. They had three whole segments on about Iraqi blogs and they plugged the brothers and Iraq the Model, Ali at Free Iraqi, Husayn at Democracy in Iraq, the Neurotic Iraqi Wife and Kurdistan Bloggers Union to name a few. They also have links to all these blogs at the official MSNBC blog on blogs.

Gotta give MSNBC some kudos for being one of the MSM to give blogs their due. Of course, it could be because they are hoping for a little bloggy respect, one citizen journalist to another, just in case they goof and their story gets ripped to shred someday. Just a little advice to them, it won't save them. However, they could open up comments on their blog and it might give them a chance to get a tiny bit of respect if they do goof and people get a chance to tell them. But, that's something for later. Let me add that at 6:55 AM CST they have now plugged the blogs four times.

Right now, I am going to switch to my "recap of live blogging" during the Iraq elections which will include my own observations and some of others during the opening hours of the historic elections:

Today, the blood of patriots is paid back in paper and ink and the ballot box.The price was steep but worth it.God bless all those who fight for freedom. Give them strength to carry on, even in the darkest hour. We have lit a candle for freedom. It is the fire burning in the minds of men. My candle is lit and burning in my window.

kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.29.05 - 11:51 pm |

I'm noticing that most of the men I've seen vote over there are in suits. They take it serious.
Zac | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:01 am

Lydia | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:03 am | #

CNN's Website says "steady stream of voters in Iraq" That translates to: the lines are a mile long. Go Iraq

Sarah | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:07 am |

Iraqi Security forces are voting first apparently, but Mosul actually showed a woman voting.

kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:13 am |

Cnn...Kurds are voting by the hundreds already.Polling center looking very busy. The Kurds know how to do this thing the right way. Of course, they have the peshmerga to protect them. can't ask for more than that.

kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:15 am |

FoxNews justed showed the military tape of the terrorists that fired the rocket today. Spycam showing the scumbags scurrying for cover after they fired the rocket! Way cool!!
thewiz | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:17 am |

As a critic of the war.I sincerely wish the best for elections in Iraq and pray that nobody is harmed.
ponte | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:27 am |

explosion at a couple of polling news
gvmeabrk | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:29 am |

On Ali's blog, he says he is off to vote now - 7:46 posting, so God keep him safe.
Joanne | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:31 am |

MSNBC just said that there were three more explosions in the last five minutes.
thewiz | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:39 am |

Right on time and as noted...midnight our time, 8:00 AM, insurgents blow up a vehicle at a check point. Far away from the polling places of course because they couldn't get near it.One IP killed, 2 ING and 2 civilians injured.
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:45 am |

Friends of Democracy site says they have buses in Kirkuk picking up the voters who are walking toward their polling station. Go Kirkuk
Sarah | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:53 am |

CNN, of all places, just showed some long lines for voting in Sadar city.
Zac | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:56 am | #

CNN just showed a line of people at the downtown baghdad polling're a moron. I'm sure that millions of voters will not please you.Guess what...the line looked like at least 50 people from the camera panning around with more walking up.Go Iraq, go.
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 12:57 am |

CNN showed interview with Iraqi translater from st louis who pulled Saddam from the hole in tikrit. He voted on Saturday in Nashville, TN.He was like a rock star with people shaking his hand and getting autographs. Says he is going back and loves America for giving him the opportunity to get the man that killed his family in the 91 uprising.That is a brave man.
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:00 am | #

Other cable stations are showing long lines at other polling stations..
gvmeabrk | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:04 am |

Its starting..they are coming out yesssss
gvmeabrk | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:06 am |

But Geraldo on Fox says voters are turing out in droves where he is and he is overjoyed. Says they're all heros!
Christina, Montana, USA | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:09 am |

Fox showing east of Baghdad...droves of people walking to the polling stationsGeraldo just interviewed Ahmed, common man on the street, who said "I don't care what Zarqawi or the terrorists say. They threaten to kill me and my family. I don't care, because I have voted an I am free." Damn...I think I'm going to cry. the guy was so happy, he started to cry.go Iraq, go!
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:10 am

Neat picture of Yawer voting in Iraq, he looks like an happy men.Bless Iraq!
Diane | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:10 am |

Geraldo reporting a suicide car bomb did not detonate and the people in town walked up and started beating on the car with their shoes. PRobably beat the guy, too..LOL
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:13 am

My heart swells with pride for the brave people of Iraq who have risked their lives today to make their country a free land. May the terrorists rot in hell for all eternity. What a giant blast you land on each of them with every ballot you cast today. God bless you. I love you. America will not abandon our friends in the Middle East... EVER! ~APP
Andrew P. Peck | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:20 am |

I just realized why so many Iraqis are slow to turn up to the polls. They all had to get dressed in their suits and Friday going to mosque clothes. Not like Americans in jeans and sweatshirts. They are all dressed up like they are going to a wedding.LOL Takes awhile to get your clothes pressed and dressed in your finest.
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:30 am |

Have you seen those big smiles? The thumbs up in celebration while waiting in line?How many Americans would turn out to vote if we had to walk, let alone were threaten. The Iraqi people are taking back their town.I bet the Iraq and coalition forces are beaming.
Sarah | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:33 am |

Long lines in Baquba..they are singing and clapping in the lines. Very joyful still going on.Go Iraq...
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:37 am |

CNN reports heavy turn out in Sadr City.
Bridget | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:41 am |

CNN showing long lines of people..hundreds Sadr city but talking about the "violence" because one guy set off a bomb and a few mortars going off as if that wasn't a daily occurance. They aren't reporting that the guys with the mortars are getting spotted and rounded up almost instantly.Guess these guys didn't watch fox news. LOL
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:41 am |

Allawi is casting his vote!
Sleepless in Chicago | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:46 am |

Today every Arab in the ME is glued to their TV. The people of Iraq are the stars. The event is a superbowl with the lovers of freedom facing off against the Islamofascists. In the early hours the people of Iraq are raining touchdowns on the terrorists. After today the terrorism may not end, but no sane person will still doubt that it is the forces of democracy that will win in the end.
Tilo | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 1:52 am |

iT IS NOW ELECTION DAY!!!! Can you hear the drums of freedom beating loudly? Can you not see the jubliant faces as they vote in a legitimate election for the first time? STAND ON THE ROOF TOPS, AND SHOUT OUT LOUD! Give praises to God For this a new day in the very long history of Iraq! For the first time yourdestiny is in your hands! What you do with this oportunity is your choice. Will you once more go under the fist of tyriny? Or will you take this chance and run with it?
Xerxes | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 2:08 am

Baquba polling station is crazy busy with people. Must have been twenty people in the room talking all at once, pointing to the ballots and getting their fingers inked.
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 2:26 am |

Watching the Iraqi Election commission briefing. Some reporter.. must have been from Al Jaz or affiliate, just asked if "political prisoners" would be allowed to vote.LOLThe commissioner said something like, "We set our rules by the international standards set by the UN which states that prisoners do not have the right to vote."I think the funnies part was "political prisoners". Ummm..wanted to smack the chick. Really, terrorists blowing people up, conspiring to blow people up or kidnapping people or supplying terrorists do not have any rights to jack, not even in the country she comes from I'm sure.Asses everywhere.
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 2:42 am |

Baghdad Mayor Al Tamimi is so excited, he can hardly talk. Says hundreds are coming to the polls.It is for freedom. No more oppressin.He keeps saying "freedom" over and over again.
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 2:53 am |

Dr. Kadhim, advisor to the interior minister says:"Terrorism does not matter. We had terrorism yesterday, we have it today and we will have it tomorrw. The difference is, today we vote and tomorrow we have a new government. That is all that matters."
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 3:04 am |

Showing images of voting in London today. Crowds of people waited until today to vote on the same day as their Iraqi brothers in Iraq.Dancing and singing. Drums are banging. It's beautiful.MSNBC reporting Kurdish in Kirkuk coming dressed up in evening clothes almost ball gowns to vote. It is like a party they say.They report a 90 year old man walked with the help of his friends for 1 mile to the polling station. His son was killed by Saddam in the 90's. He was going to vote even if it killed him. That's the spirit of a patriot boys and girls.
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 3:22 am

Iraqi man in Jordan says "this is the first time that I can change my government with a piece of paper. I don't need a gun. I don't need a tank. Just a piece of paper and some ink. Today, it is my Birthday."
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 3:28 am |

Skynews reporting from Basra...hundreds of people lined up. Whole families and it is very festive.Silly sunni boycotters just messed up on having their day. Fox reporting that one of the suiciders that blew himself was actually stopped outside the polling station in Baghdad by an Iraqi police officer and he set himself off before he could get in. Killed himself and the police officer.All hail to the true martyrs for democracy. Peace be upon the officer's family and hope they love him and his sacrifice for democracy.
kat-in pajamas/missouri | Email | Homepage | 01.30.05 - 3:50 am |

Some final thoughts before I close. A few things made me cry tonight. A few made me laugh. Some made me angry enough to gnash my teeth. Others just seemed bizarre.

For instance, why does the MSM continue to call Zarqawi a "master mind"? What mind is he the master of? Seriously, do you have to be a genius to figure out how to kill people? I could do that by stepping out of my front door. He is no master mind, just a serial killer that hasn't been caught yet.

I have pictures that I will post later of people in sequined gowns and suits showing up to the Iraqi polls. There were pictures of people in wheelchairs and being carried by their friends and family to vote. A picture of a 93 year old woman who walked a mile to vote for the first time in her life. A blind woman being led to the polls by the nice police officer (in Iraq? She was probably shocked back into being able to see).

Can you believe that? Here in America people cry about a little bit of snow and yet old and infirm people walk forever under the threat of death to vote. Who are the true patriots?

There is only one hour of official voting time left as I close this blog. I suspicion that the blogs may remain open for awhile longer as there are many people still lined up to vote. Places like Baghdad are reporting incredible voter turn out while places like Ramadi, the hot bed of insurgents in the Sunni triangle are reporting limited turn out. However, the reporter from Ramadi notes that many have asked for special treatment to be able to vote without being seen by the terrorists. These folks know who it is. Wish they would be a little less afraid and just report them. Unfortunately, it may be half of their neighborhood.

The Sunnis that boycotted the election will find that the only losers are them.

As we say here in America, "If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain."

Going now, but don't forget to visit the Friends of Democracy project and their live interview at 2pm EST.

Long live Iraq.

Freedom is the fire burning in the minds of men. It is a dragon, a friend of mine says and I believe it. Today, the Iraqis rode the dragon to their first Independence Day.

Thank the good Lord above for brave American and Coalition soldiers, the equally brave, if not more heroic Iraqi Police and ING who stood their ground today and told the terrorists to "go to hell" in their own way.

Iraq Elections Questions and Answers


Attention! This is not an official website for the Iraqi Elections. This is a private website where Iraq Election information has been compiled for general consumption.

This post will stay at the top of this blog until January 31, 2005. It will be updated routinely as more information regarding the electoral process in Iraq is made available. If there are any discrepancies, please leave a comment in the comments section provided below or email me by clicking on the red box marked "Dispatches" on the left hand side bar. Be sure to include any URLs or links that support the correction.

For additional postings on this blog, please scroll down or review the list of current postings on the left hand side bar.

To review Iraq Elections Q&A, click on the link below to "the inner sanctum".
Iraq Elections Questions and Answers
Last Update: 01/21/05

There has been a lot of confusion about how the Iraqi election will work. MEMRI (Mid East Media Research) has put together a fairly decent synopsis of the situation and process including some information about the different parties and their associations.

This post will consolidate the information from multiple sources, including the Iraqi Election Commission, MEMRI and information gleaned from the Media and other resources, into a question and answer (FAQ) format.

Iraq Election Chart Jan 2005 Posted by Hello

Q: What Day Are The Elections Scheduled?

A: The Nation Wide Elections will be held Monday, Jan 31, 2005.
Update 01/08/05: the election will be held on Sunday, Jan 30, 2005

Q: Who Is Eligible to Vote?

A: 14 Million Iraqis are eligible to vote. Just over half of the population of 25 million. According to CPA Order 96, Section 5,:

  • Deemed an Iraqi Citizen; eligible to reclaim Iraqi Citizenship, eligible for Iraqi citizenship according to Article 11 of the TAL

  • Born on or before December 31, 1986
  • Be registered to vote according to the procedures issued by the Commission
    • Food for Oil food rationing data base was used to determine eligible voters within Iraq
    • Heads of households were instructed to review information on ration cards and update with corrected addresses, names of family members, dates of birth, etc to insure correct data.

  • TAL, Article 20: Every Iraqi who fulfills the conditions stipulated in the electoral law has the right to stand for election and cast his ballot secretly in free, open, fair, competitive, and periodic elections.
  • No Iraqi may be discriminated against for purposes of voting in elections on the basis of gender, religion, sect, race, belief, ethnic origin, language, wealth, or literacy.

Q: Were the Iraqis issued voter's registration cards?

A: No. The food coupon or ration card database will act as the voters registration list.

Q: How will the eligible voters be identified at the polling stations?

A: Each eligible voter will present a valid identification that will be compared to the voters registration list based on the Food For Oil food coupon or ration card database.

Q: How will poll stations know if a voter has already voted?

A: Similar to Afghanistan, as each voter presents themselves at the polling station, their thumb will be dipped into a pot of indelible ink. This ink will not wash off. Voters with indelible ink on their thumbs will not be allowed to vote again.

Q: Where will the polling stations be located?

A: Information on polling stations' specific locations have not been reported by the media. The polling stations will most likely be at schools, community centers, town halls, hospitals or clinics and mosques. May also include original registration centers for the food ration/voter registration data base. There will be 7000 ballot locations

Q: What time will the polling stations be open?

A: 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Sign urging Iraqis to vote: "To give a chance to our children" Posted by Hello

Q: Will Iraqi Citizens outside of the country be allowed to vote?

A: Yes. The International Migration Office will manage this process.

Q: Who will be eligible to vote from outside of the country?

A: Iraqi citizens with a passport or other specified documentation proving citizenship were directed to report to designated "out of country voting" registration stations to be added to the list of eligible voters.

Q: Where can out of country citizens vote?

A: A mail-in ballot is not possible in the short timeframe available to conduct the Iraq OCV Program; therefore registration and voting will be conducted in person at registration centres established for this purpose in the 14 countries. A person must register and vote in the same location. Visit the Iraq Out of Country Voting website for more information.

Q: What are the Iraqis voting for?

A: In the Nation Wide Elections, Iraqis will be issued two ballots, one for each of the following:

  • Representatives to the National Assembly
    • 275 seats are open

  • Representatives to their provincial governate council.
    • Each council has 41 available seats, except for Baghdad which has a 51 seat council.
    • There are 18 governates in all.

In Kurdistan, a third ballot will be issued for the Kurdish Autonomous Parliament which has 111 seats

Q: What will the ballots look like?

A: Each ballot will contain the following:

  • The name of each approved political party or entity that provided a list of candidates for election
    • Note: some political parties have banned together to form one large unifid list (see questions, "How many registered lists of candidates will be on the list?")

  • A registered logo or insignia of the group next to the name of the political part or entity.
  • A box next to the name and logo for marking the voter's selection
  • The ballot for each election (National Assembly; Provincial Governate; Kurdistan Autonomous Parliament) will be a different color. (colors are still unspecified)
  • The ballots will be provided to the registered voter in the language designated (Arabic, Kurdish, Turkomen, etc) at the time of registration

Unknown party, but this political poster reads: For the sake of a prosperous Iraq. Other pictures on the internet show this poster nearly as prominent as the UIC. The symbol used will most likely be the symbol next to the party's name on the ballot. The UIC uses a candle as it's symbol and that will most likely be what appears on the ballot. The Iraq Election Commision rules prohibited the use of religious symbols, Saddamist symbols, pictures of mass graves and other "emotional" symbols from being depicted by the parties or used on the ballot. Posted by Hello

Q: How many boxes or lists of candidates on the ballot will the Iraqis be allowed to select?

A: Only one box or list of candidates can be checked or selected on the ballot.

Q: Who is eligible to run for election to the National Assembly?

A: A nominee to the National Assembly must fulfill the following conditions, TAL Chapter 4, Article 32:

  • He shall be an Iraqi no less than 30 years of age.
  • He shall not have been a member of the dissolved Ba’ath Party with the rank of Division Member or higher, unless exempted pursuant to the applicable legal rules.
  • If he was once a member of the dissolved Ba’ath Party with the rank of Full Member, he shall:
    • Be required to sign a document renouncing the Ba’ath Party and disavowing all of his past links with it
    • Swear that he no longer has any dealings or connection with Ba’ath Party organizations.
    • If it is established in court that he lied or fabricated on this score, he shall lose his seat in the National Assembly.

  • He shall not have been a member of the former agencies of repression and shall not have contributed to or participated in the persecution of citizens.
  • He shall not have enriched himself in an illegitimate manner at the expense of the homeland and public finance.
  • He shall not have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude and shall have a good reputation.
  • He shall have at least a secondary school diploma, or equivalent
  • He shall not be a member of the armed forces at the time of his nomination.

Q: Will Iraqis be voting for individual candidates to the National Assembly?

A: No. Iraqis will be voting for a list of candidates from registered political parties and entities.

Q: How were the lists of candidates compiled?

A: The registered political parties or entities submitted a list of candidates to the Iraqi Election Commission for review and approval.

  • The list had to contain no less than 12 and no more than 275 (the number of seats in the Assembly) candidates
  • Candidates on the list had to meet the requirements for eligibility under question "Who is eligible to run for election to the National Assembly?".
  • The candidates are ranked numbering 1 through 275 (depending on the number of candidates supplied on the list) by the submitting political party or entity

Q: How many registered lists of candidates will be on the ballot?

A: As of December 3, 2004, 226 political parties or entities were registered with the Iraqi Election Commission. Many of these political parties have banded together to provide "unified" lists, such as the Kurdistan Alliance List which consists of candidates from all of the Kurdish political parties. The Iraqi Election Blog notes 17 known unified lists of candidates. Additional "unified lists" may appear on the ballot.

Update 01/08/05: There are 83 slates or lists of candidates that will appear on the ballot.

Update 01/13/05: The brothers at Iraq The Model informed me that their Iraq Pro-Democracy Party has fronted a list of 12 candidates. Their random party number from the IEC is 319.

Update 01/13/05: Zeyad, an Iraqi Blogger takes a look at some of the parties, their members and their history. The New Iraq also takes a look at some of the parties and their members.

Children play beneath a sign for the United Iraqi Alliance which reads:Voting for the United Iraqi Alliance is voting for a multi-cultural society. The UIC is the major "shia" party in the elections, but has a joint list that includes many secularists and "Sunni" candidates. Posted by Hello

Update 01/13/05:
Q: How will the lists of candidates be ordered on the ballot?

A: Each party was assigned a random three digit number. This became their party registration number and will appear on the ballot beside their party name. A lottery was held and each party's number was placed in the lottery bin. The numbers were then drawn and the order of the drawing is the order that they will appear on the ballot, regardless of the size or prominance of the party or the random three digit number assigned to them by the Iraq Election Commission.

Police officer stands in front of a billboard urging Iraqis to vote. On his ak47 magazine is the number "179" which is the random three digit number given to the United Iraqi Alliance, the major "Shia" party. Posted by Hello

Q: Are women allowed to stand for election?

A: Yes. According to the TAL, Chapter 4, Article 31, women must make up no less than 1/4, or one quarter, of the National Assembly. To achieve this goal, every 3rd (third) candidate on the list of candidates must be a woman.

  • Since the lists are "ranked", this means that, out of candidates ranked 1, 2, or 3, one of the candidates must be a woman. Out of candidates ranked 4, 5 and 6, one of the candidates must be a woman. And, so on and so forth.
  • Update 01/13/05: To insure that the law requiring the assembly to be 25% women is adhered to, women lower on the list of candidates provided by the party will be given precedence over any men listed above them on the list.

Q: How will the 275 seats of the National Assembly be allocated?

A: The seats on the National Assembly will be allocated on a proportional scale, based on the percentage of votes received.

  • There are 14 million registered voters and 275 seats
  • Each seat is worth 43,636 votes
  • If party A received 10% of the votes or 1.4 million, party A will have 10% or 28 seats on the national assembly.
  • Party A's seats will be filled from the list of candidates provided.
  • Since the lists of candidates are ranked 1 through 275, the first 28 candidates on the list, or ranked 1 through 28, will be given a seat on the Assembly

British soldier stands beneath a political poster in Iraq. Unknown party, but I wanted to post it to show that there are different parties posting election posters. The symbol here is a date tree I believe and, again, is probably the symbol that will appear for this party on the ballot. Posted by Hello

Q: Will the Iraqis be voting for the position of President?

A: No. This election is strictly for the open seats in the National Assembly and local councils.

Q: How is the President Elected?

A: The National Assembly elects the Presidency Council, TAL Chapter 5, Article 36.

  • The Presidency Council consists of the President and two deputies or Vice Presidents.
  • A single list of candidates who are eligible to fill any position on the council will be presented to the National Assembly.
  • The National Assembly will elect a President and his two deputies from this list.
  • The candidate for President must receive a majority vote of 2/3 or two thirds of the Assembly.

Q: Does this mean that President Gazi al-Yawar may be replaced after the election of the National Assembly on January 30, 2005?

A: Yes. After the National Assembly is elected, they (the National Assembly) will elect a new Presidency Council which will include a President and two deputies or Vice Presidents.

Updated 01/13/05
Q: Can President Gazi al-Yawar run for election to the National Assembly or as President?

A: Yes. There are no rules prohibiting currently serving members of the Transitional Government from running in the elections. The only rules of prohibition are listed under "Who is eligible to become a member of the Presidency Council?" and he or she cannot be holding another position in the government at the same time. If they are elected as President, they have to resign their position. They must also not be a serving/active member of the armed services and must have resigned their position twelve (12) months in advance of the election.

Q: Who is eligible to become a member of the Presidency Council?

A: A nominee for the Presidency Council must fulfill all of the conditions for an Assembly member AND, TAL Chapter 5, Article 36:

  • He must be at least forty years of age.
  • He must possess a good reputation, integrity, and rectitude.
  • If he was a member of the dissolved Ba’ath Party, he must have left the dissolved Party at least ten years before its fall.
  • He must not have participated in repressing the intifada of 1991 or the Anfal campaign and must not have committed a crime against the Iraqi people.

Q: Will the Iraqis be voting for the position of Prime Minister?

A: No. This election is strictly for the open seats in the National Assembly and local councils.

Q: How is the Prime Minister elected?

A: After the President is elected by the National Assembly, the President will nominate an eligible person for the position, TAL Chapter 5, Article 38.

  • The nominee for Prime Minister will be presented to the National Assembly.
  • The Prime Minister must obtain a vote of confidence from the National Assembly by a simple majority.
    • This means, of the 275 seats on the assembly, the Prime Minister must receive 138 affirmative (Yea/Yes) votes from the National Assembly

Q: Does this mean that Prime Minister Iyad Allawi may be replaced after the election of the National Assembly on January 30, 2005?

A: Yes. After the National Assembly is elected, they will elect a new Presidency Council. The new Presidency Council will nominate a candidate for a new Prime Minister. (see question, "How is the Prime Minister elected?")

Updated 01/13/05
Q: Can Prime Minister Allawi run for election to the National Assembly or as President or Prime Minister?

A: Yes. There are no rules prohibiting currently serving members of the Transitional Government from running in the elections. The only rules of prohibition are listed under "Who is eligible to for nomination as Prime Minister?" and he or she cannot be holding another position in the government at the same time. If they are elected as Prime Minister, they have to resign their position. They must also not be a serving/active member of the armed services and must have resigned their position twelve (12) months in advance of the election.

Q: Who is eligible for nomination as Prime Minister?

A: The qualifications for Prime Minister must be the same as for the members of the Presidency Council except that his age must not be less than 35 years upon his taking office, TAL Chapter 5, Article 38

Q: What is the responsibility of the National Assembly that will be elected January 31?

A: The National Assembly will be responsible for writing the new Iraqi Constitution which will take the place of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) signed into law by special ambassador L. Paul Bremer. TAL Chapter 9, Article 60

A man walks by political posters in Baghdad. I can't make out the words, but the picture is of al-Husayn, head of the Iraq Constitutional Monarchy Party. Iraq Constitutional Monarch Posted by Hello

Q: Will the average Iraqi citizen have input for the constitution or will it be written solely by the assembly?

A: During the period that the constitution is being developed and written, the National Assembly will present regular reports through the media, news briefings, public meetings throughout Iraq and other devices on the progress and the laws under consideration. These presentations are to encourage debate and feedback from the citizens. TAL, Chapter 9, Article 60.

Q: How will the new Constitution become the law of the land?

A: The National Assembly will have until August 15, 2005 to write the new Iraqi Constitution. TAL, Chapter 9, Article 61

  • The final version will be presented to the people after that date through public distribution and the media.
  • A general referendum will be held on or before October 15, 2005.
    • Definition of referendum: The submission of a proposed public measure or actual statute to a direct popular vote

Billboard reads: "To give a chance to our children". Urging Iraqis to vote. Plastered on the bottom are signs for the United Iraqi Alliance, the main "Shia" party which also has a number of secular and "Sunni" smaller parties that joined it on it's list of candidates. Posted by Hello

Q: What happens if the National Assembly does not have a constitution written and ready for the general referendum by August 15, 2005?

A: The president of the National Assembly (not to be confused with the Presidency Council; similar to the Speaker of the House or President of the Senate in the US), no later than August 1, 2005, must inform the Presidency Council that the Assembly requires more time.

    • This can only be done if 2/3, or two thirds, of the National Assembly votes or agrees that more time is needed.

  • The time to create the constitution can be extended for another six months but no longer
    • This means a constitution must be presented by April 15, 2006

  • The TAL or Transitional Administrative Law will remain the law of the land until the constitution is written

Q: What if the National Assembly is still unable to write the new Consitution after the date was extended?

A: The National Assembly will be disolved and a new National Assembly will be elected by the people of Iraq.

Q: How many votes in the general referendum must be received for the constitution to be ratified or voted into law?

A: The constitution must receive a simple majority of the popular vote AND not be rejected by the people in three or more provinces, TAL Chapter 9, Article 61C

  • To determine simple majority, the total number of votes cast will be tallied.
  • If the total number of votes on the constitution are 12,500,000, then 6,251,000 or more voters must have answered or voted affirmative (Yea/Yes)
  • The votes will also be broken down by governates. There are 18 governates in Iraq.
    • If governate A has 800,000 voters and 400,000 or more vote negative (Nay/No),
    • governate B has 500,000 voters and 250,000 or more vote negative (Nay/No) and
    • governate C has 1 million voters and 500,000 or more vote negative (Nay/No),
    • even though the total votes across the country may equal the popular majority (6,251,000) required to ratify the constitution, it will still be considered "rejected".

Iraqi actors perform at a Baghdad theater. The program urged Iraqis to vote and warned them about the dangers facing Iraq. If I had to interpret this image, the man in front is throwing off his "chains" and the people are being "freed" from their cages. Posted by Hello

Update 01/21/05:

To see televised broadcasts of Iraqi election campaign ads, go to MemriTV

For daily updates on the progress of elections and the situation in the many provinces of Iraq, go to Friends of Democracy: Iraq

Saturday, January 29, 2005

My First Vote and Dreams of Freedom

I remember my first vote. When I was 19, I voted in my first election. I voted for the guy that lost actually. But, I never forgot how it felt. I was nervous. I was afraid I would make a mistake. But, I was excited, too. I was getting to do what I had learned about in civics classes and history. Vote. A privilege given to me and protected for me by the blood of many who came before me.

I didn't really know that much about politics or domestic policies or foreign policies. I didn't know much, though I thought I knew plenty. Yet, the most important part for me was going to the polling station and showing them my identification and signing the book saying it was me voting.

When I cast my ballot, I felt euphoria. It was beautiful because I felt for the first time that I was an adult and capable of making decisions and shaping the destiny of my country and ultimately the destiny of the world.

I have voted many times since then in both national and local elections. Each time, I learned more about politics and agendas and "platforms" and how the government really worked and each time I made better and better decisions, I think. In 2004, when I cast my vote, I felt just like when I was 19 again. I felt like, for the first time in a long time, that I was shaping the future of the world again.

And I was.

This is what holds true for Iraqis. On Sunday, January 30, the people of Iraq will shape the future of not only their country, but the world. They will say with their vote, "Here I am and I matter. I have a voice and it will be heard."

I am 10 thousand or more miles away and yet, I can feel it. I can feel the excitement like a current in the air, circulating the globe. There are 25 million free people in Iraq and 14 million have the right to vote and shape the country, the world that they will live in.

It might seem like a lot of pressure for a newly liberated country, but it is so simple really. To walk into a place, tell them who you are, dip your finger in the ink, check a space on a piece of paper and drop it into a ballot box, is the simplest thing to do. The hard part was getting there and the hardest will be in leaving it until the next time and learning how to truly govern themselves.

I would like the Iraqi people to know, when they walk into the polling station, that they not only carry the hopes and dreams of millions around the world, those in dark places with no voice yet they can see and hear, the Iraqi people have millions of free people standing with them, beside them and around them.

We cannot all be there physically, though many wish that they could, but in spirit, in hopes and in dreams, we are there with them. We cannot protect them physically, yet with our will, with our strength and our beliefs, with our young men and women, we stand ready to defend them as brothers and sisters in democracy.

God bless the people of Iraq and give them the strength, the will and the dream to carry on in the path of freedom and democracy.

Freedom is a fire burning in the minds of men. On Sunday, January 30, it will be a conflageration that will be seen around the world in a blinding flash of light.

Let it burn so brightly that the lowest man in the poorest country in the meanest of situations feels its warmth and is given hope. Let the roar of that fire be the voice for those millions who cannot speak for fear of their oppressors. Let the light from that fire burn away the blinders of the oppressed and oppressors alike so that they can see what freedom will someday mean for them.

Someday, not long from now, Iraqi children will read about the first constitution of Iraq written for and by the people. They will read about it in classes where no bomb nor bullet has touched the walls or broken the glass. They will not remember or know what it was like to live in these times. It will be only words on a page in a book. Yet, those words will mean something, the lessons will mean something, just like they do in every democracy. A reminder of how they came to be there and of their civic duties as citizens of a free country.

Every few years the people of Iraq will go to polling stations as if they had done it a thousand times before, because, of course, they will have. They will not fear standing in line nor bombs nor snipers. They will not remember, except maybe a few, what it was like in these first elections, the danger, the pride, the will to move forward. They might even wonder what all the fuss was about.

On January 30, 2005, there will be a grand swelling of pride in Iraqis for having participated in this moment, in shaping the world. In 2025, this moment will echo across history and be only a feint feeling as many cast their votes again. There will be no grand celebrations in the streets, just quiet celebrations behind closed doors or by invitation only as many such ordeals are today in "established" democracies. Still, when I think about it, it is not this vote that will be a grand celebration of liberty, as raucus as it is likely to get and as many, smiles, songs or dances of joy may be seen. It will be in that quiet moment, twenty years from now, when a 19 year old girl votes for her first time, standing in line quietly after spending the whole year debating with friends about politics that she thinks she knows something about, with ideas and ideals in her mind about how "it ought to be". When she walks to the polling station, unafraid and with a joyous feeling of finally becoming "an adult", walking home with her first "I voted" sticker or button on her lapel, that will be the grandest celebration of all.

Strangely, I have this feeling that day, in the year 2025, will pass with barely a flicker of a mention on the news. Just a quick flip of statistics and candidates, winning or losing with maybe a brief mention, in thirty seconds or less, about the war in 2003 and Iraqis obtaining their freedom some 22 years ago. That's it. Nothing else.

Very few will recognize it or think about, not even in Iraq, because that is the true celebration, when it becomes common place and not the exception.

My hope is, by then, many more places will have freedom, democracy and voting privileges, that this thing will be common place for many more of our brothers and sisters oppressed by tyrannical leaders and governments around the world. My dream, like those patriots before me, those that dreamed of freedom's eternal light every time they fought against tyranny whether in small actions or in world wars, is that I will only have a memory of what it was like to live in a world where tyrants still had a say and people feared their power. If not in the year 2025, then, in the year, 2055, when I am old and gray and telling my great grandchildren, nieces and nephews stories about "how it used to be". I dream it will only be a story then and that they will look at me with wonder and disbelief that any such time existed when the flame of freedom had to be continuously stoked with the blood of patriots when it was a question of "if" instead of "when".

I think this is a dream that the Iraqis and I have in common.

I dream that this fire never goes out, never dims, but is carried forward forever more on the shoulders of our children and their children and their children after them.

But, I know, that a dream of a world without tyranny is just that, a dream. Because, of course, in reality, I know there will always be another that will want power for themselves or for a few who will want to control the many. It is but man's ever lasting curse. Yet, we have the cure forever if we want it, if we keep it, if we feed it.

It is the fire that will continue burning in the minds of men, long after I am gone to ashes and barely remembered by those that come after me.

Today, though, it is less than 24 hours before the next step in history begins. The passing of the torch commences at 10 PM CST.

Long live Iraq and long may the fire of freedom burn in the minds of men.

********* DON't FORGET ***********

Don't forget to catch Friends of Democracy on CSPAN, Sunday around 2pm EST. They will have interviews with Iraqis and cover the elections and their new program for the Arabic Blogging tool.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I just learned that this is a political poster (previously posted in "elections questions and answers") for the Assyrian National Assembly. Assyrian's are a Christian minority in Iraq. Posted by Hello

Iraq: Election Perfection and Other Myths

Well, it's been weeks leading up to the elections and we have heard all sorts of balderdash (to put it politely) about the Iraq elections. Things like "it's not legitimate nor free under 'occupation'" or "if a majority of Sunni don't participate it won't be seen as illegitimate" or "low voter turn out will make it illegitimate" or "violence during the election will make low turn out or intimidate voters and make it illegitimate", or, or, or...

I think I could go on all night and write down the foolish things people say. It's as if people were expecting some sort of perfection in this election. Perfection in an emerging democracy that has only known repression, violence and definitely never had an election where more than one party or one man stood for office. Those can't even be counted as elections by sane people.

I was thinking back historically about "elections in emerging democracies" and I am wondering if anyone can point to an emerging democracy that did not emerge from or through violence? Anyone? Please ask your left friends to name some because I can't think of one.

Yet, here they are, demanding some sort of perfection in Iraq. It reminds me of a song from my club days: "Things that make you go...hmmmmm?"

Look, I'm not going to go google every election figure known to man and available to any person with half a brain, a keyboard, monitor and internet access, but I will give you an idea of why I laugh at all this "election perfection projection".

Let's start with...oh...I don't know...the United States, maybe? Let's did we gain our freedom? Anybody? Somebody? If I recall my history lessons correctly, I believe it was because a bunch of guys from the cities and farms grabbed their muskets and marched into histroy, fighting the British, killing and dying? Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's how it went. A whole hell of a lot of people died in that war. Yet, when we think about it, we always think about it in grand terms and refer to these same people in grand terms. Our forefathers. Revolutionaries. Minutemen. (Yeah, I know, some fat wannabe movie maker tried to mess that word up by mixing it up with the terrorists, but it's still ours). We say they fought for our freedom. We talk about the battles, the grand orators, the men like Paul Revere who rode off into the night to warn the neighboring towns that the British were coming. We talk about people like Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Their thoughts, their beliefs, their ideas that still fuel our way of life and thinking today. We talk about the men who signed the declaration, wrote the constitution.

Yet, we have some how white washed it, drilled it down to a few basics, a few moments, made it into a story fit for a Disney production and completely forgot some of the reality. The men who were selected to go to the National Congress, were elected by their local councils, elected DURING a time of war. At the most desperate of times, there were certainly calls for reconciliation between the rebels and Britain. Calls to lay down arms and stop the killing. Certainly, many people wondered if the National Congress could even be considered a legitimate representative body of the people. Men were dying daily of wounds, starvation and disease.

When the Declaration of Independence was written, signed and presented, the Thirteen Colonies had already been at war for a year.

The Articles of Confederation, loosely allying the thirteen colonies, was written in 1777. Maybe somebody on the far left can correct me and tell me if 1777 was a particularly peaceful year or were the rebels running from place to place trying to stay alive, fighting whenever they could against a larger, well armed and well trained military. People were being arrested and sent to prison barges in the bays, executed, imprisoned. The Contintental Army spent a cold and frustrating winter of 1777 in the barracks at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. They were not even sure if they would have enough men to fight come spring.

Yet, during this whole time, the operations of government continued. Men were elected to represent their states and districts, sent to New York to the National Congress, to conduct the business of the colonies. Men risked their lives to be free, much less vote or be a representative of the new government. Every man who signed his name to the Declaration of Independence was a marked man.

Strangely, these men continued on, doing what they believed, even in the middle of this crisis.

Maybe, somebody on the left would now like to say that, because a war was going on, these men were not legitimate representatives of the government and nothing they did or wrote was legitimate, because, you know, there were probably plenty of farmers and people in outlying towns who didn't get their voices heard, who were afraid to vote because they might be targeted, because they might die or be imprisoned.

If we go by the reasoning of our friendly (and not so friendly) naysayers, then we must declare ourselves illegitimate because our beginnings were, you know, inauspicious at best.

What's that you say? We've had many "legitimate" elections since then?

Well, now, you'd be right. Eight and a half years of war and we finally got our freedom, wrote another constitution and had "peaceful" elections. Still not perfect by any means. Yet, here we are, a sovreign and legitimate country with regularly elected representatives to our government.

Do I have to list every inauspicious moment in our history to make you understand that "legitimacy" is in the people, the laws and continuation of a functioning government not in numbers nor times. Let's think about this now:

1) Civil War - recall that half the states of the union "seceded" and did not vote in the last elections and that 25% of the actual population of the United States were slaves. Slaves that were unable to vote yet somehow represented 3/5 a person for representation in the government bodies. Go figure.

2) Women's Suffrage - 19th Amendment 1920. Fully half of the population of the United States was denied the right to vote in many states and in federal elections until 1920. Thank God no one thought we were illegitimate back then. Who would have saved the Brits and the French from the dirty huns in 1917?

3) Jim Crow Laws and Segregation - Men and women were not allowed to vote withoiut taking tests, without separate facilities, you name it, there was voter suppression and general degredation of minorities in this country BY LAW from 1870 through the 1950's. Good thing we were still considered "legitimate" by our European friends. The good Lord knows what would have happened to them if they had decried us as "illegitimate" and some how disdained our assistance in Europe in 1941. Of course, let us not forget that starting in 1939, our money and armaments and even some of our men were apparently still good enough for them. "Legitimate" government by their current standards or not.

Do I need to go on? Cries of "illegitimacy" are the weakest arguments yet. My favorite cries are from people, particularly government agents or politicos, in countries where the words "freedom" and "democracy" will get you 10-20 in prison if not your head cut off for even thinking it.

News flash for AP, AFP, BBC and all the rest of you nimrods, men who are not free nor have ever participated in a democratic election are not considered a good judge on the legitimacy of an emerging democracy. Mullah Farid Aziz Abdullah Muhammed al Islamiya Suicide who is preaching that democracy is a sin has...oh..I don't legitimacy himself.

On any other day, our liberal friends wouldn't give a rats ass what this guy had to say and yet, they will interview him on whether elections in Iraq under the current circumstances is legitimate. If anyone is looking to this guy to declare the legtimacy of the Iraqi elections, all I've got to say is..."here's your sign".


Let's go by sheer numbers. These folks are claiming that if only 50% or 60% (somewhere around those numbers) are the only ones to show up and vote in Iraq, this will make the new assembly "illegitimate". In the US 57% of eligible voters turned out in 2004 to vote. We called it a "record". That was somewhere around 117 million people. Which means 70 million (give or take a few million) stayed home and did not vote. Were they threatened with guns and bombs, death and destruction? Nope. Some were too old and infirm. Some were just lazy. Some just didn't care. Some didn't because it was cold or raining or snowing or whatever the excuse was.

France had 60.32% voter turnout in their last elections (2002). That's 22 mil out of a possible 36 mil.

Germany had a whopping 79% voter turnout in 2002. That's 48 mil out of a possible 61 mil registered voters.

I don't see any reports on the web regarding the disenfranchisement of minorities in their political processes. Who knows? By their standards, they may be illegitimate, too and we just don't know it.

Speaking of violence around the ballot box and imperfection, let us not forget the French Revolution, so well represented by the words "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite". I think those would be "democrats" had the corner on beheading people in the name of ideologies. It was quite a fashion for people to wear a little red ribbon around their throats to signify they were relatives of a victim. Some 25k victims of the "terror" by the French "Committee for Public Safety" were murdured and another 300k were imprisoned, many without even evidence.

Robespierre ring a bell?

So, all of those who cannot recall history, or somehow think that their lofty place in democracies around the world came to them through some magical moment of peace and perfection, should take a long look in the mirror. Freedom was never free nor perfect. Men and women have bled for it since the first time the word "democracy" was even thought in a Greek philosophy forum much less put in to practice.

On January 30th, the most perfect thing will happen in Iraq. It is the perfection that comes the first time someone of their own free will and standing against the forces of tyranny and terror, will vote in Iraq for the first time in over 50 years in a free election.

It doesn't matter how many vote, from what group or what city. The first to vote will have won the title "perfection" for the election, even if some crazy guy with a bomb or a gun storms another polling station. It is not about a single moment nor a single man. Men will muck it up as is their want because that is man: imperfect. Yet, it will be perfect because it is the idea that is perfection.

I have no illusions about who will or won't participate. None regarding numbers nor potential deaths from those that would try to shut the process down. No, the perfection is in the moment. After that first ballot is cast, there is nothing that can mar it.

Make sure that you continue to read Friends of Democracy. Also see their blog ad to the left.

Who needs perfection when we have elections? That is all the perfection one could ever need after 30 years of oppression. I'm pretty sure, based on the history of some of the more "upstanding" democracies of our time, that Iraq has more than a fighting chance at reaching this mythical perfection.

Wouldn't you agree?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Update: Still Here

I'm sorry for the lack of posting. I am on a trip to San Diego this week and the hotel I am staying at only offers the dreaded "dial up". Which means, of course, that I am unable to post a damned thing because it keeps cutting me off. Right now, I am at the office squeezing out this little paragraph in about 5 mins because that's about all I have before the next meeting and it is almost 5pm here on the west coast.

But, I hate to lose regular readers just because of my own technical difficulties. Don't despair, I'm still here.

In the meantime, please make sure you are hitting the Friends of Democracy website for daily updates on the progress in Iraq and make sure you are encouraging them. They also have a "donate" button and I am very sure that we should be helping these people get the word out. Just so you know where you're money goes, I have it from the Spirit of America folks that the dollars go right to the production and buying of product. There are no "administration" costs paid with your donations. That is all funded through different means. So, unlike many other charities, you are putting your money right where their mouth is. And, we need that mouth because it is going out in Arabic to the Arab world, too.

Help my friends out, please. This is the big dream and we need this big dream for a future world where peace and democracy and freedom are the norm and not war, tyrants and slavery.

Freedom is a fire burning in the minds of men.

Burn, baby, burn.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Two posters here. The one closest to the camera is The Iraqiyun party, headed by current Interim President, Gahzi al Yawar. Which according to our intrepid reporter Chrenchoff includes Shia and Sunni, partiuclarly a number of high ranking techno crats in the current ministries. The poster with the turbaned man being hung beside it, represents the Islamic Da'awa party. The man on the poster is the "martyred" Mohammed al Sadr (al Sadr's father). Da'awa is a form of preaching or missionary work to convert the non-believers. Interesting term to use for a political party. Posted by Hello

This is a political poster for the United Iraqi Alliance. Very ice composition and trying to appeal to the secularist as well as the pious. You will note the candle in the background (their symbol) and the number 179 which is their list number.  Posted by Hello

Friday, January 21, 2005

Freedom: A Fire In the Minds of Men

Friends of Democracy: Iraq

On Thursday, January 20, 2005, I watched President George W. Bush take the oath of office as President of the United States. He gave a speech, not unlike that of many Presidents before him, but unlike any I thought to hear again in my lifetime. The theme that has been often missing from our discourse in over a decade since the fall of Communist Russia. I'm not sure about everyone else, but I remember, after the fall of the USSR, I had a dream, to quote another great lover and fighter for freedom. I had a dream that this thing that had been hanging over us since before I was born, now gone, signaled the beginning of a new freedom throughout the world. A time for peace and prosperity. A time when men would bare witness to their common humanity, their common dignity, their common value as men and, recognizing these things, would begin to unlock the shackles of oppression and open up to one another. Sharing ideas and advancing the cause of humanity, not only here, bound as we are to this earth, but to the possibility of reaching beyond even our own solar system and into the unknown galaxy.

I dreamed what I once called "the big dream".

In more than a decade of growing, maturing and learning, I have come to recognize that Communist Russia was only one form, one place of tyranny, oppression and slavery. Throughout the world, there are many other places that have suffered this evil force. I'm not afraid to call it evil because, regardless of religion or creed, anything that holds man back, holds him in slavery, denies him this dream, is evil. Now, like Martin Luther King, Jr, I look out on the world and see that my brothers and sisters are still languishing under the lash of slavery. Sometimes it is the slavery that we think of, the manacled man, beaten and whipped, forced to work for a master and, some times, it is the slavery of men to unjust governments, to tyranny where the only voice they have is the low moaning of men held in the darkest of dungeons who think that they will never see the light of day, the light of freedom, again.

We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Some would like us to think of this slavery as "cultural differences". I call it as I see it: slavery. Until men are free to choose how to live, to choose their government, to have the right to speak freely, to live freely, to worship as they will, to strive as much as they can for their own benefit and not for a corrupt government or authoritarian master, it is slavery.

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

As long as one man is a slave, we are all slaves.

Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. (...)

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.”

That is why I have supported the President and supported the war in Iraq. I undertand many things about global resources, politics, economies and security. How these things are all inter-twined. But those alone are missing the essential ingredient: Freedom.

I don't believe I am the only person who believes that. I know I am not. And, yesterday, as I listened to the President give his inaugural address, one of the phrases stuck in my mind: "a fire in the minds of men".

Freedom is a fire burning in the minds of men.

Here, in this post, I wrote several paragraphs explaining the dream of freedom, yet the President summed it up in one sentence: "a fire in the minds of men".

I might have explained once how I came to be blogging. It was simple really, yet I didn't understand how it would impact me or my life. My brother was preparing to go to Iraq and I was trying to get more information on the situation than what was being printed or shown by the news agencies I had available to me. My local paper printed an opinion piece about Iraq and the author pointed me to several Iraqi bloggers. One of them was Iraq The Model, run by three brothers in Iraq. One of them wrote, "I did not live until April 9, 2003." The day that the United States military drove into Baghdad and tore down the statue of Saddam Hussein. Another blogger wrote similar words, "I was born on April 9, 2003."

All my life I have lived in freedom. Yet, I knew it not until I read these men and many like them, telling me, telling the world, what it was like to live in fear, live under the boot of tyranny and what it was like to finally breath the sweet air of freedom. Everything I had thought I knew about freedom, and it was so little, came crashing down. It was like an epiphany, like being reborn through them. I had taken my freedom for granted and these men reminded me, "but for the grace of God, go I". I realized that my freedom could be gone in an instant, taken out from under my very nose or yanked away from an outside force and it was my responsibility to safe guard it and insure that it was here for the ones who came after me.

That idea grew in me until it came to full bloom. Not only did I need to safe guard my own freedom and that of the citizens of my country, but it was my responsibility to insure that freedom for my brothers and sisters, even in lands far away. That's not a new thought for many people, but it was new to me. It was like the President said in his address, "we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men."

I think that is why that phrase resonates with me. A fire was lit in my mind and I could not put it out. I did not want to put it out. I wanted to feed it, so I kept reading, kept listening. All the things I had to study in civics class, in social studies and history, I went back and read again. Teenagers might be the most impressionable for ideas, but, as a teenager, the idea could not take full form because I was not fully formed. So I re-read the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Locke and many more. I re-read the speech by President John F. Kennedy and his words meant something that they had not meant when I was young. The fire of freedom is burning like a great bonfire now and I want to feed it more until it is "an untamed fire".

That's why I took up blogging. I wanted to express my ideas, formulate them, formalize them and share them with others, just like the brothers did for me. I can only hope that my words have even a modicum of the impact on another person as their words had on me.

Not long ago, I posted to another's blog during a hot debate about the legitimacy of the Iraq war, "I was asleep until September 11, 2001. I am awake now and I refuse to go back to sleep." Well, I'm on fire for freedom now and the fire will not be put out nor smothered by those that proclaim themselves "realists". "Realists" are people who have stopped dreaming, who have let the fire go dim. I say, "burn, baby, burn".

On the same day of the President's inauguration, I received an email from the people at Spirit of America asking me if I would help spread the news and support their project Friends of Democracy, a project that the brothers from Iraq the Model were working on with Spirit of America to bring information, the exchange of free ideas and education about democracy to Iraq and the Arab world in general. I am waiting for contact, but I have also responded to their request to host a free advertisement on my blog for the project.

In short and to sum up my rather long winded response to them, I said, "Hell, yeah, I'll be happy to help out in anyway I can." We need to get the word out, feed the fire, fan the flames of freedom. I'm hoping my other blog friends will help in this endeavor and, believe me, if your reading this and your a true friend of democracy, a lover of freedom, you should help get the word out, too. Those of you on my mailing list, you'll be getting this message soon.

Here's what the good people at Spirit of America and Friends of Democracy had to say in their email:

This is a message sent to bloggers that participated in the Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge.

We’ve been helping the team at Friends of Democracy with their project to provide countrywide, ground-level news and information on Iraq’s upcoming elections. The goal is to provide a more complete picture of Iraq’s elections from the perspective of the Iraqi people. This effort is a direct result of the funds you helped raise in December.

Friends of Democracy is creating a grassroots correspondent network that they expect will provide information about the elections from Iraq’s 18 provinces. Friends of Democracy is also seeking information from the people of Iraq via blogs and email. This part of the project is described here.

The information coming from Iraq will be gathered and published in Arabic using the Arabic blogging tool Spirit of America developed and provided to Friends of Democracy. More on that here.

The election information from Iraq – reports, photos and hopefully some video - will be available on the Web and will be presented at the National Press Club in Washington on Sunday, January 30 after the polls close in Iraq. We hope C-SPAN will cover the conference. This part of the project is described here.

We all expect that the major newspapers and networks in the U.S. and elsewhere will focus on the expected violence in certain areas of the country. Friends of Democracy seeks to provide more complete picture. The elections are an historic event. Many Iraqis, Americans, Brits, Aussies and others have died to make them a reality. We think that people deserve more than the standard “if it bleeds it leads” approach.

We’d appreciate your help with this project. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Blog about this project when the English and Arabic websites are ready (soon, message to follow.
  • If C-SPAN covers the Jan. 30 Washington, blog about the broadcast and encourage your readers to tune in.
  • Provide a pro bono blog ad for the next two weeks.
  • Help us find people we need (see below):
      We need an site editor/producer for the English language Web site. That position is described

And, we are looking for people who can develop election coverage graphics for the FoD website and Jan 30th event. People with experience developing graphics for the web and for broadcast would be especially helpful.

Please let us know if you can provide a BlogAd for this project. Tell people you think can help to contact us at

If you have any questions or ideas, let us know.

Thank you.
Jim Hake and the Spirit of America team.

So, there's the challenge to my friends and general readers of this blog. Get involved. Contact Spirit of America and offer to host an ad for their project.

Tell people about the project. Tell them to head over to Friends of Democracy and read what is happening with the Iraq elections.

If you can help with graphics design or other assistance, get in there and do it.

Because, this is the fire I've been talking about. This is the fire that will burn away the lies of oppressors everywhere. This is the fire that will keep us free in the end.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it.

If you are like me and you've been wanting to get into this fight, but didn't know how, here's your chance. Let's throw some fuel on this fire and make it burn brighter now in the 21st century than it has burned in more than 60 years. This is our chance to be like the generations of our parents and grandparents. This is our fight. I don't know about you, but I don't intend to sit this one out. I'm gonna take it to the enemies of freedom even if it's only one word, one post, one man, one yard of land, one country at a time.

"By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men."

Let's make it the "untamed fire of freedom" that "will reach the darkest corners of our world."