Friday, December 16, 2005

Let the Counting Begin

And strangely enough, the Breitbart front page has the Iraqi elections as a below the fold story. It's the 9th story on the page, below the NYC transit strike and a Chinese police raid on a gay culture festival.

Media criticisms aside, the elections were hugely successful. The Iraqis have much to be proud of this morning. Television reports have indicated that anywhere from 10 to 11 million out of 15 million potential voters have actually cast ballots.
Millions of ballot papers were being counted and recounted on Friday as Iraqis celebrated a peaceful election that saw rebellious Sunni Arabs join in for the first time, pushing turnout close to 70 percent.

Cities were quiet on the final day of a security lockdown that has sealed borders, banned traffic and put tens of thousands of police and soldiers on the streets, backed up discreetly by U.S. troops. After preliminary counting in local centers, ballot forms were being shipped under guard to Baghdad.

Initial results may take days to emerge, and the final tally a couple of weeks, while talks on a coalition government that must bridge ethnic and sectarian divisions could last months.

Electoral Commissioner Farid Ayar told Reuters he was assuming between 10 and 11 million of 15 million eligible Iraqis voted on Thursday, putting turnout between 67 and 73 percent.
Final results may take several weeks as all the ballots are counted.

Meanwhile, peruse the video of the elections on Powerline. Even the Arab News is picking up the election story - and what it really means.

MSNBC on the other hand picks up a Washington Post article that is pessimistic at its core:
For President Bush, the strong turnout for Iraq's election yesterday may represent the best day since the fall of Baghdad 32 months ago because all major factions participated in the political process, according to U.S. and Middle East analysts. But the sobering reality, they added, is that the vote by itself did not resolve Iraq's lingering political disputes.

After weeks of an increasingly divisive debate at home that helped sink the president's approval rating to an all-time low, the Bush administration appeared buoyed by the throngs at the polls and the low violence. Flanked in the Oval Office by six young Iraqis, all with a purple-stained finger signifying they had voted, Bush called the election a "major milestone" on the road to democracy.
Has anyone checked out the US political scene lately? It's a sobering reality that there are lingering political disputes that haven't been settled in decades. Abortion rights, affirmative action, free speech and religion in public spaces are all issues that have been central to US national politics and there's no sign that there's going to be agreement on any of them anytime soon. So Ms. Wright takes items out of context in order to suit her political bent.

Or, perhaps we should look at our own US history from the period of 1776 through 1791, when we had a Declaration of Independence, the War of Independence, an Articles of Confederation that failed to unify the nation, a Constitution was drafted, and shortly followed by the Bill of Rights - amendments to the Constitution, which continues to be amended to this day. Issues that were relevant and debated in 1791 are still being debated today. The right to bear arms. Free speech - in the form of journalists and bloggers writing about political issues, and yet Wright thinks that lingering Iraqi disputes are reason to pou-pou the successful elections.

Michelle Malkin has a thorough roundup, and notices the silence of the Times editorial page. Aaron's cc has photos (and photoshops from the Iraqi elections and supporters).

Iraq the Model has his first hand accounts of yesterday's vote. Iraq Vote writes of his experience with his father voting in Virginia in Iraq's elections.
Yes, I voted today in the Westpark Best Western Hotel in McLean, Virginia. I waited until today for two reasons, first to be in communion with some 10 million Iraqis who voted inside Iraq and secondly to vote with my father who had traveled to Washington to cast his vote.

Indeed it was the best of moments to be standing with my father outside of the polling station. Here was I, a young Iraqi who started opposing Saddam by writing articles in his college newspaper and giving talks at local Boston events in the few years leading up to the liberation. And there was my father, an old Peshmerga who had opposed Saddam by his pen and his gun, in Tehran and in Kurdistan, from ad-hoc offices to snowy mountains. My father spent his entire adult life fighting the injustices of the Baghdad regimes. Today, two anti-Saddam generations of my family stood outside the polling station, thousands of miles away from Iraq and proudly showed their purple index fingers.
Hammorabi notes the historical moment and social implications.

However, Alaa at the Mesopotamian makes the salient point:
One of the most awesome and mystical phenomena in existence is how truth always finds a way to assert and vindicate itself despite all odds, fog and confusion. They said that no valid elections could be held “under occupation”; and when 8 millions went to the polls last time, they dismissed that with the pretext that the other 6 or 7 millions did not, that there was fraud, that the "Shiaas" and "Kurds" were taking advantages etc. etc.; and therefore the thing had no validity. What about it now? Now that the Sunnis had the slightest chance and a little respite from intimidation, we saw them march to the polling stations in their millions. How about that! If the Americans were rigging and faking things and organizing "shows", why would all these people risk their lives and turnout in this fashion, even as many of them may be harboring negative feelings and resentments? Would it not be more logical and appropriate to continue boycotting and shunning such infernal theatricals staged by the wicked Americans and their allies, such “infidel satanic wedding parties” as our eloquent friend Zarqawi called it recently? Does that not demonstrate in the most striking way that everybody in Iraq has come to realize that this is a genuine and real process in which it is worthwhile to risk one’s life to participate?


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Stop the ACLU says give tyranny the purple finger. The Glittering Eye posts comments from Iraqis who voted. And the Moderate Voice notes that the Iraqis love to vote and has a roundup of other blogging views. Compare and contrast the Iraqi joy of voting to voting in the US where we take such things for granted.

UPDATE:
Posted to Basil's Blog, TMH Bacon Bits, Wizbang offers a very special caption contest where you can give the finger to you know who..., and Sister Toldjah. The Shape of Days is overwhelmed by the history of the moment, but still manages to have something profound to say. Ace of Spades notes that the Democrats have no position on events in Iraq. However, even Ace should know that this is the same position that the Democrats have been in since 2003. They've been testing the waters ever since the first US casualties were reported.

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