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Birth of a Democracy - Part II

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 1:25 am
by Bill Glasheen
The insurgents and the Iraq policy critics seem to get all the press. But somehow that pesky democratic process just keeps marching on. Go figure...

Iraqis Vote on New Constitution

Early Estimates Show Turnout
Was Strong, Even Among Sunnis

By FARNAZ FASSIHI in Baghdad and PHILIP SHISHKIN in Fallujah

October 15, 2005 5:59 p.m.

Iraqis turned out in large numbers today to cast a ballot in a national referendum on the country's new constitution. Voter turnout was estimated at 66%, with more Sunni Muslims in the provinces turning out to vote.


The capital was calm despite preparations by Iraqi and American military officials for widespread attacks.

Is the situation "perfect?" Hmm... Is democracy every pretty?
The country's Shiite majority -- some 60% of its estimated 27 million people -- and the Kurds -- another 20% -- support the approximately 140-article charter, which provides them with autonomy in the northern and southern regions where they are concentrated.

Last-minute amendments to the constitution, adopted Wednesday, promise Sunnis the chance to try to change the charter more deeply later, prompting one Sunni Arab group -- the Iraqi Islamic Party -- to support the draft. Most others reject it.

Wow... So I guess we don't get 100% of the population voting for something - just like back in the good-old-days with Saddam. :P

We shall see...

I love looking at the headlines of the New York Times and Washington Post in my neck of the woods. There's always a top page story about the failure of it all in Iraq. This morning the Washington Post was wringing their hands about the poor, disenfranchised minority Sunnis whose views may not be properly represented. You know...those nice former Baathists who raped, tortured, gassed, and murdered Shia and Kurds for a few decades.

It's good to know someone is out there siding with "the underdog." :roll:

Meanwhile, remember when Jordanian born al Zarqawi threatened to cut the fingers off of voters? you think these Iraqis give a damn?


Maybe the insurgents were a little intimidated by the big, burly guys showing up to vote...



Truth be told, I think they had a hard time killing Americans on voting days, what with all the IRAQI soldiers around...


And it's a little tough getting the Baathist any momentum, what with Sadr City residents such as these protesting against them.


Looks like politics as usual to me. DEMOCRATIC politics... 8)

Eat your heart out, France! Protest this, UN!!!

- Bill

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 2:55 am
by Gene DeMambro
And to think we bitch that we gotta spend 15 minutes in line when we vote....

While somehow the pesky march of democracy seems to be finding its way, there are well noted problems with the draft Iraqi Constitution.

And if the Iraqi leaders were trully interested in starting anew....white page in Iraq parlance, they would have found aw ay to ensure the Sunni minority's concerns were addressed somehow. That is one of the essences of a true Republic - equal rights for all (yes, the abuses of power by the Sunni leaders notwithstanding). Otherwise we get tyranny of the masses, as has been discussed before.


PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 4:21 am
by Bill Glasheen
I believe we had a few problems with our own constitution at its inception, like no voting rights for women and the support of this nasty institution called slavery. All men created equal? It took a least a century to get it right. It even took a civil war to get some of it straightened out.
The residents of the embattled city of Fallujah in Iraq's Sunni heartland turned out in large numbers to reject the country's draft constitution, which they fear will lead to Iraq's break-up and to further marginalization of the Sunnis from the political process. The turnout, projected to reach into tens of thousands by local election officials, signals a change of strategy by the Sunni voters who largely boycotted January's parliamentary elections only to see themselves sidelined from the country's political process. "I didn't vote in January and I consider that a mistake," says Abed Gafour, 55, who voted "no." "We should be brave enough to express our opinions."

The Fallujah vote is a good barometer for the political attitudes in the Sunni community, which feels ignored and squeezed out of the political process by the Shiites and the Kurds dominating the National Assembly and the top rungs of central government. Some of that sentiment is channeled toward the insurgency. If the constitution passes despite the expected Sunni rejection -- a very likely scenario because of the backing by the majority Shiites and Kurds -- it could lead to even more frustration in the Sunni community and energize Sunnis into greater participation in December's vote for the new national assembly.

Let's see now...

* Sunnis boycott the original vote for a national assembly because they lost their tyrannical stranglehold on the government. (Never mind that they were a minority, but held power via murder and terror.)

* The vote happens in spite of Sunni boycott and threats.

* The assembly is put together.

* Insurgency increases its pressure, hoping the government would fold. It doesn't

* What goes around comes around...

* Sunnis finally learn (the hard way) that they need to engage in a peaceful process if they want proper representation.

I find nothing wrong here. They're lucky they got any "last minute" concessions. It isn't the responsibility of those elected to represent those who chose not to participate.

Think what happened to the South after the civil war, Gene. A whole generation had its voting rights taken away from them. That, sir, was tyranny. And if you think The South didn't give a damn, you should come take a walk down Monument Avenue in Richmond some time. It's the most artistic flipping of the bird I've seen in my life - one that will be preserved forever.

Stonewall Jackson monument

Statue of JEB Stuart

Monument in honor of Jefferson Davis

Robert E Lee statue

And don't give me any sanctimonious hoohah about the North sticking to whomever. My ancestors fought in The Union Army - only to face "Irish need not apply" for several generations.

How easy it is to find fault in another process, when our own was pretty abysmal in comparison.


- Bill

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 2:23 am
by Gene DeMambro
Black soldiers coming home from WW II still had to disembark from troop ships separate from the white soldiers. White soldiers injured durign D-Day didn't want black medics attending to them. I hear you, Bill.

But one would think that after growing pains from our own Constitution, and after successfully writing post-war Constitutions of Germany and Japan after WW II , that the draft Iraqi document would have been a bit better.

I have no sympathy for the Sunnis who still want to control power through murder. But we should welcome as friends those Sunni who have rejected the old ways, or never even participated in them in the first place.

And I still have no sympathy for the South during Reconstruction, Virginia's monuments to the treasonists not withstanding. That's just me.


PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 4:36 am
by Bill Glasheen
Gene wrote:I have no sympathy for the Sunnis who still want to control power through murder. But we should welcome as friends those Sunni who have rejected the old ways, or never even participated in them in the first place.

Why on earth do you think we haven't? I don't understand this comment.

One Sunni political party made peace with the political process after concessions were made concerning the constitution. And their reward? The insurgents sent suicide bombers over to their headquarters and killed as many as they could.

These are the Baathists remnants, Gene, combined with the ouside terrorists coming across the Syrian border. Like many of the Palestinians for years and years, they don't want peace.
Gene wrote:And I still have no sympathy for the South during Reconstruction, Virginia's monuments to the treasonists not withstanding. That's just me.

And this proves my point, Gene. You can't even see the errors of the post-war period after The Civil War, and yet you find problems with the way the Iraqis are putting their constitution together because they aren't addressing the need of the Sunnis (who wouldn't participate until they saw they haven't been able to derail the political process). You probably find "no taxation without representation" a wonderful battle cry, and yet you can't find fault with a government that told The South they couldn't vote after the war. You contradict yourself.

Just today I saw an interesting PBS special on Jack Johnson. It talked about how The United States fell through on its promises of reconstruction after the war, leaving many blacks in Johnson's home town of Galveston without a means of making a living. One screwed up policy after the next left everyone - especially blacks - to the ravages of a decimated economy.

And just what was Lincoln trying to do, anyhow??

The kind of blindness you show, Gene, is the very reason why "the blue states" are left so baffled after these elections. They just don't get the cultural divide. Why can't the rest of the country be "progressive" and "right thinking" like them?

It's obviously a bunch of southern rednecks and bible thumpers... Problem is, these areas are where all the population growth has been. Oops!!!

Better go back and read your history, Gene. When Lincoln was killed, the a$$holes with revenge and exploitation on their minds got control. What goes around comes around.

And remember - my early U.S. roots are in the north, and my ancestors fought for The Union Army. And still... The WASPs in control treated the ethnics who fought their war for them as badly as the Vietnam vets were treated when they came home. What jobs? You're the wrong ethnic lineage, religion, accent, etc., etc.

That's why I see so much hipocracy in these know-it-alls in the NYT, the Washington Post, and the LA Times who whine about there being no proper democracy in Iraq just a little over a year after the end of the overthrow of Saddam. These are the same papers, by the way, quoted as saying some obscenely racist things in the Jack Johnson PBS special. They contributed to the divisiveness in this country that made democracy for all just theory for generations. But don't support their political candidate and suddenly they know everything about McDemocracy.

I have no tolerance for any of it.

As far as I am concerned, I am impressed with what the Iraqis have done so far - especially with it being a magnet for all the whacko Middle East terrorist groups these days. And I have absolutely no patience for our own citizens and other governments of the world rooting for the U.S. to fail in its mission to prove God knows what kind of nonsense. Europe has everything to gain for a successful Iraqi democracy, and the UK is the only government with any substantive involvement in the process. It doesn't matter what started all this; failure would be a disaster for Europe well before it would be for the U.S. But you'd never know it...

But given the history of a few world wars, I am not surprised.

Think how devisive the last presidential election was here. And this supposedly is a successful democracy. I don't see where the Sunnis in Iraq are doing any worse than they would be if they tried to be part of any politcal process in this country. They're better off at the hands of a majority who they beat up on for a generation. As far as I can see, the Shia clerics have been preaching much more tolerance than you would have seen in this country.

- Bill

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:20 am
by Bill Glasheen
So much for the Sunnis getting left out...

Sunnis' Turnout
Points to Role
In Iraqi Politics

After Constitutional Poll,
Minority Group Targets
National Assembly Vote

By FARNAZ FASSIHI in Baghdad, PHILIP SHISHKIN in Fallujah and GREG JAFFE in Mosul

October 17, 2005; Page A1

The strong turnout by Sunni Muslim voters in Iraq's constitutional referendum Saturday marked a return to the political arena that could well reshape Iraqi politics, beginning with a new National Assembly in December elections.

Unlike in January's parliamentary vote, which Sunnis largely boycotted, Sunnis flocked to polling stations. And while the referendum underscored deep divisions between Iraq's religious and ethnic communities, insurgency violence was minimal compared with the last poll.

U.S. officials described the Sunni turnout as a major political victory that will help undermine the violent Sunni insurgency. "The Sunnis are now invested in this process," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on "Fox News Sunday." "There is no political base any longer for this insurgency."


PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 12:16 pm
by MikeK
You left out the Arthur Ashe monument Bill.

I was laughing at the coverage because most of it was about Bush's approval ratings being so low.

Coincidence Corner: The movie Berlin Express was on this Saturday morning on TCM. It was filmed right after the WWII in war ravaged Berlin (that alone is worth watching it for) and it's about an assasination attempt of a pro-democracy German by Nazis. Or as George Galloway would call them, heroic freedom fighters.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 2:34 pm
by Bill Glasheen
Mike wrote:You left out the Arthur Ashe monument Bill.

The Arthur Ashe monument was conceived from a different mindset. This is less a response to those in the North who showed so much contempt for people they claimed to want as U.S. citizens, and much more a private celebration of one of Richmond's own.

I personally think they did a crappy job on this piece of art (in comparison). But it's the thought that counts.

Richmond paid $400,000 for this. My father has been responsible for comissioning half a dozen sculptures with much better quality - at 1/10th the price.


Image Image Image

The Artist-Proactive Origin of This Project:
Sculptor Paul DiPasquale of Richmond, met Arthur Ashe in 1992. He later wrote the world champion and proposed creating an authorized and approved monumental statue. The sculptor asked Mr. Ashe for his input regarding the monument's presentation and message. Mr. Ashe called DiPasquale in early 1993 with his authorization and agreement to participate and his preference on clothes, demeanor, age, and subject.
Arthur Ashe died before approval of the sculpture. His wife Jeanne Moutoussamy Ashe followed up on the project. She loaned the sculptor photographs and clothing of Mr. Ashe, she approved drawings and the full scale 12 foot high model, and she directed DiPasquale to the mentoring non profit organization, Virginia Heroes Incorporated for possible fund raising. Ashe's mother, Lorene Ashe, his Aunt, Dorothy Cunningham and his brother, Captain Johnnie Ashe as well as other family members also approved the sculpture within the year following Ashe's death.

The Private Funding:
Mrs. Marty Dummett President of Virginia Heroes and their Board Directors voted in December of 1993 to fund raise the $400,000 to complete the bronze and granite fabrication and installation of the 24 foot high monument. Mrs. Dummett became Executive Director of the project and later, Thomas Chewning, President of Dominion Resources, with Senator Benjamin Lambert became fund raising co-chairmen.

City Approval and Site Selection:
The Project was presented to Richmond's city council appointed Arthur Ashe Memorial Committee in February of 1994 with unanimous approval. The project then moved several times through the following city councils, committees and commissions over the following year and a half: City Council under Mayor Kinney, City council under Mayor Young, Urban Design Committee, City Planning Commission and the City Public Art Commission. Mayor Young appointed two council representatives to the 12 member Site Selection Committee, chaired by Virginia Hero Member, Leonard Lambert, Esquire. Ashe's cousin Randy Ashe served as the family representative. Monument Avenue was the site selected. This site selection was debated in a five hour internationally televised City Council Public Hearing in July 1995. Monument Avenue was selected as a site with one dissenting vote.
Installation was completed and the Monument unveiled at the rotary site at Monument Avenue and Roseneath Road on Arthur Ashe's Birthday, July 10, 1996.

The Virginia Historical Society Ashe Model Presentation:
This Museum at Boulevard and Park Avenue in Richmond, acquired the full scale model from Virginia Heroes Incorporate in June of 1996. It and several working drawings are scheduled to be on permanent display in the new $8 million wing that opened in September, 1998.

- Bill

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 2:57 pm
by MikeK
I always thought it would look great and be more appropriate in front of the very tennis courts that he was banned from. A nice finger in the eye to the old racists that are still around. A more serious work focused on his accomplishments off the tennis courts would look better on Monument. Or at least give him a horse to sit on.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 3:02 pm
by Bill Glasheen
Yea, a horse. That's the ticket! 8)

As you recall, the Maury and Jefferson Davis statues are more reflective and less bellicose.

I just think the sculptor blew it when trying to capture the essense of Arthur Ashe.


He didn't even get the racket in the right hand. (And I don't buy the message or the artistic license.)

Image Image

- Bill

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 3:06 pm
by MikeK
Me too Bill. I thought Ashe was a good guy with a lot of class. I think it was silly to depict him in that damned jogging suit.

I'm wishing the Iraqi's well. Did you read how Syria said we messed up in Iraq?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 4:51 pm
by Bill Glasheen
Mike wrote:Did you read how Syria said we messed up in Iraq?

What, you mean we didn't allow their endless supply of foreign insurgents to take over the country by force? :P You mean we didn't let them turn the country over into their terrorist factory?

Yea, Syria. Now there's a shining example of representational government...

Provide me a link to the comedy...

- Bill

Here you go Bill

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:07 pm
by MikeK ... interview/

Regarding Syria's eastern neighbor, Iraq, Al-Assad said the United States should re-examine its policy there because of the negative consequences of the war.

"We should re-evaluate what's going on in Iraq," he said.

"What did we achieve, what did they achieve from that war in Iraq," he asked. "It's a very simple question. What did they achieve economically, politically, fighting terrorism? (Watch Al-Assad tell Amanpour why he disagrees with U.S. policy -- 1:51)

"We didn't achieve anything. This is one example."

When Amanpour suggested the U.S.-led war ousted Saddam Hussein, Al-Assad replied, "Yeah, but what did you lose as a return? The hope of the people, the stability, no better democracy, no better economy, no services, no stability in the region, more terrorism -- so is that the prize you've won for getting rid of a dictator? That's not a goal."

Al-Assad's regime has faced sharp criticism from the United States, which has alleged the country shelters terrorist organizations and has failed to take measures to prevent fighters from crossing the border into Iraq.

On Wednesday, President Bush called on Syria to be a "good neighbor" in the Middle East, warning Damascus against interfering in Lebanon and allowing insurgents to cross into Iraq.

"We're making good progress toward peace in the Holy Land, but one of the areas of concern is that foreign countries such as Syria might try to disrupt the peace process by encouraging terrorist activities," Bush said. (Full story)

"We expect Syria to do everything in her power to shut down the transshipment of suiciders and killers into Iraq."

Al-Assad said that the United States cannot control its border with Mexico so Syria cannot be expected to keep people from sneaking into Iraq.

He said his country does not support people who kill Iraqis but he thinks there is a difference between terrorists and those who fight against American and British troops.

He added that his country has asked Washington for technical support to monitor the Iraqi border better but ended its security cooperation with the United States recently because of repeated verbal attacks from the Bush administration.

Meanwhile, back in this hemishpere...
Next up on the dictator overthrow list?

Booga, booga.
Old David Steinberg reference

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 6:34 pm
by Bill Glasheen
That's a good one. The world is on his case already for murdering a major political figure in Lebanon.
He said his country does not support people who kill Iraqis but he thinks there is a difference between terrorists and those who fight against American and British troops.

Uh huh! And I'm sure he lets all "the right people" across his border. Only the good guys, you know.

Last I check, these insurgents are killing Iraqis 10 to 1 (plus or minus) over Americans and Brits. And they seem quite happy to kill women and children, and to blow up Shia mosques.

They don't want to kill Americans; they want to foment civil war so they can impose the dictator of their choice in the chaos. After all, many Iraqi Baathists and Saddam family members are hanging out in Syria. I'm sure they swim along quite well with the Syrian Baathists.

The thing this guy fears the worst is democracy being "contagious." 8O

- Bill

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 6:44 pm
by Bill Glasheen
This is exactly the kind of crap you expect from rag sheets like The New York Times and The Washington Post. They can't help themselves. No matter what the result, it MUST be bad (because "their boy" isn't in office).
"The fundamental problem is this is not a consensus constitution, and one part of the country has massively rejected it," Larry Diamond, senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and a former adviser to the U.S.-led Iraqi provisional government, tells the Washington Post.

That's absolutely remarkable. This guy knows the result of the election before the Iraqis do. What a smart man.... NOT!

Idiot... Yea, and Dewey was president!!! :wink:

You know it's horse manure when he's stating something as fact which is clearly unknowable.
The Post says some experts believe that "Saturday's result -- demonstrating anew that Sunni Arab concerns will be outvoted -- could actually do little to encourage the Sunnis." Senior Bush administration officials tell the New York Times that recent intelligence reports argue that even if democratic institutions take hold in Iraq, the insurgency may strengthen. "And that possibility has created a quandary for an administration that desperately wants to equate democracy-building with winning the war, but so far has not been able to match the two," the Times says.

The paper says that struggle is evident in a "subtle but significant change in recent weeks" in public statements by President Bush, who has warned that the insurgency is already metastasizing into a far broader struggle to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia." While he still predicts victory, he appears to be preparing the country for a struggle of Cold-War proportions, the Times says.

Oh my God!!! Osama and his merry A-holes want to take over the world?


This would be funny if it weren't for the fact that a good number of people read this crap and take it as gospel.

I wish I could remember the racist NYT quotes about Jack Johnson on that PBS special. You know, the ones about Negros being lazy and shiftless, about JJ's evasive style being typical Negro behavior, about how Jeffries could kick his bootie if he ever came out of retirement (he did come out, and got his a$$ handed to him).


- Bill