Tuesday, January 04, 2005


New Year, Same Shit, More Democracy

2005 is going to be the year of elections, right? We're going to have elections in Iraq on the 30th! Everybody is pumped, right? Everyone will be extra super duper liberated! I've started to notice that even quite large acts of violence in Iraq (car bombs, etc.) are starting to move off the front pages and away from the top of the hour on cable news unless there are large numbers of Americans killed. Maybe the assassination of the governor of Baghdad will make it, too. Well, I'm sure when there's an elected governor of Baghdad it's going to be a whole different story.

Also elections coming up in Palestine on the 9th. Interesting, the Palestinians (whose undemocratic nature is the greatest obstacle to peace according to our George W. Bush) have tried to register voters and have meaningful campaigns. You can read an open letter from the Palestinian Peace Coalition signed by PA officials (such as Yasser Abd Rabbo), prominent Palestinians such as Hanan Ashrawi and Mahmoud Darwish, Salim Tamari and Nabil Kassis (the president of Bir Zeit University), leading Palestinian businessmen, and on and on (559 signatures in all). The open letter calls for such crazy undemocratic ideas as international law, internal rule of law and reform, enhancing the role and status of women in public life, separating the PA and state institutions from the leading faction (Fatah), economic development, and educational reform.

Meanwhile, the Israeli administration is getting a little bit worried that this whole democracy thing isn't working out like they were hoping. First, Islamists were doing a bit better than they should be in municipal elections. The solution? Arrest the candidates! The justifications:
"We arrested those people as part of our war on terror. These are not political arrests," Israeli army spokesman Eitan Arusi said.

He told Aljazeera.net the detainees were involved in "harmful political activities" and that the "interests of the Israeli defence forces necessitated their arrests."
No no no, you see, they aren't political arrests. The detainees were simply involved in "harmful political activities." Glad we got that straightened out. Also, it turns out that Abu Mazin isn't quite running his campaign as planned by the US and Israeli administrations. On the front page of Ha'aretz today, quite a hubbub over the fact that Abu Mazin recently referred to Israel as "the Zionist enemy." Whoopsie daisy! B-b-b-b-but Abu Mazin was supposed to be the savior, the anti-Arafat descending from Amman in a peanut butter and jelly helicopter with gumdrops for all the Palestinian children and a mighty smiting sword to bring down on Hamas.

Looks like these people just don't get democracy at all, do they. I thought it was all supposed to be about capitulation and snuggling up to the people with the big guns. Hmmm.....

Kick-ass post! Hope you had a good holiday.
Hey Alex, Uncle Pitzer brought me this thing from the Foreign Policy Research Institute to read the other week -- "Taking Democracy Seriously in Iraq" by somebody named Eric Davis. I read it with some interest, in part because I thought the title was so bizarre. (It isn't very good and it is clearly tilted by some obsession of the writer that isn't revealed except by the elisions he makes in his recap of Iraqi history and society.) But then, I started thinking about the reports that NPR has been doing on the upcoming Palestinian elections -- you know, the ones where Linda Gradstein gives you the lowdown, the skinny, the tell-all. And I think that if we were to take anything done by foreigners seriously, we would start by letting them speak for themselves, directly, to us. No more mediated 'news'. Just let the people who have something real at stake talk.

What American news people should be taking seriously is torture, the AIPAC investigation, torture, voting process reform, torture. You get my drift. Then maybe we wouldn't take our own idea of taking things seriously so seriously. And that would be a good thing.
Thanks James. And Aunt Deb, you are right as usual. Yknow I was reading a story in the Washington Post Express today about Richard Gere recording messages to play to the Palestinians encouraging them to get out there and vote. I was just struck by the fact that Richard Gere just needs to shut the fuck up. Or he needs to be talking to people here in the US who might give a goddamn what he has to say. Voter turnout, I don't think, is going to be the issue in the Palestinian elections. Although if it is, I think we know who to blame: John Travolta!
Alex, it's simply astounding how many people should really just shut the fuck up, isn't it! Indeed, today while I was at the dentist, the hygienist told me a wonderful story which revolved around one of these many. She and I had realized that we were birds of a feather, so our conversation had moved toward the sorta political and we had been wondering just when it was that so many people developed this self-righteous selfishness. She told me that recently she had been cleaning a guy's teeth (now, you KNOW this guy had an entitlement attitude if he was talking down to the person who was cleaning his teeth, right?!) and he had started in bitching about all the stuff that was wrong with Lewes and how he'd gone to the public meetings and told them this and that and they didn't do it. Finally she asked him "What DO you like about Delaware??" and he said "Lower taxes." We both just howled with laughter.

Poor Palestine. And you know, I also feel pity on Israel, too. I always worry about knowing when your country has slipped over some very real yet somehow unclear line in terms of being monstrous, so it would be heartbreaking, I think, to be a committed Israeli. But, I also think, Americans surely could help by not being such practicing assholes.
right on. also, i didn't actually quote from what richard gere said earlier, but (and this is really just too amazing for words) he starts off saying "Hi, I'm Richard Gere, and I'm speaking for the entire world..."!!!!! Incroiable.
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