A Wave of the Ink-Stained Hand

Ben P at MyDD:

Iraqi Election: A Success. . . if only contigently so. Its late (1:30 AM West Coast) – and as such this might be a bit of a disorganized rant – but I feel compelled to write an essay saying why I am disappointed that more liberals have not recognized that the Iraqi elections were successful. Indeed, they were more successful than I imagined they would be. Really, just because Bush believes something or says something to be so doesn’t make it not so. Remember, a broken clock is right twice a day. I have hardly been a strong advocate of this war (you might remember some of my posts to this effect), and would most certainly not support an invasion of say, Iran, because of one succesful election in Iraq. (and I’m sure I’ll blog more in the future about issues such as these) But for most of Iraq’s population, this election was a success – and is certainly a step in a positive direction.

Ted Barlow at Crooked Timber:

– The biggest news today, the election in Iraq, seems to have gone better than I would have dreamed. It’s no secret that I don’t think that the Bush administration has much to be proud of. But they deserve credit, along with the courageous Iraqi voters, for the first real elections in half a century. When Bush said that the terrorist hostility to the elections showed the emptiness of their vision, he was exactly right.

Laura Rozen approvingly quotes Fred Kaplan:

… And yet, is it too romantic to see signs of real hope in today’s election? One thing is clear: The day marked a terrible defeat for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had declared democracy to be an “infidel” belief. He and his goons passed out leaflets threatening to kill anyone and everyone who dared to vote; they dramatized their threat by killing dozens of police and poll workers in the days leading up to the election. And yet millions of Iraqis—including a fairly large number of Sunnis who live in Shiite areas—defied their fears and voted. Whatever mayhem they inflict in the coming days, it will be hard for anyone to interpret their actions as reflecting the beliefs of “the street.”

All three are fervent opponents of Bush and of the war in Iraq. And yet all three could look beyond their partisan advantage and see the value in what happened yesterday. I can only hope to be as honest and classy when the tables are turned.

It’s Not Saddam’s Country Any More

Logistics meant that I couldn’t be in front of a computer until tonight, but the reality is that it wouldn’t have mattered because I have been speechless in the face of events in Iraq.

I don’t for a moment believe that today’s vote means that things are over, peace has come, and Starbucks’ will start setting up in Fallouja any time soon. But I do believe – strongly – that it shows the strength of the average Iraqi who wants, more than anything, a decent peaceful future for themselves and their children and were willing to brave incredible (and really, unfulfilled) threats of violence to make that happen.

It’s their country now, not Saddam’s.I’ve been betting on the existence of the ‘silent middle’ in Iraq and throughout the Muslim world, and I’ll take a stand here and say that what this election proves, conclusively, is that such a middle exists. Now we’d damn well better do a good job of reaching out to them.

Today also, I think, demonstrated something that I’ve been arguing for a while – the shallowness of the violent opposition in Iraq.

Today’s violent acts (listed at Counterterrorism Blog) were:

Al-Qaida’s Committee in Iraq–led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi–has claimed responsibility for the following incidents on election day:

* At least four coordinated attacks on election centers in and around Baghdad
* A rocket barrage fired at the protected Green Zone in Baghdad
* The destruction of a U.S. armored vehicle in Mosul
* The destruction of an Iraqi army Humvee with a large roadside bomb in Mosul
* Two separate mortar attacks on the same election center in the Wahdah neighborhood of Mosul
* A mortar and small arms attack on an election center in the Al*Nahrwan neighborhood of Mosul
* A small arms attack on the election center in the Andalusia neighborhood of Mosul
* A mortar attack on the election center in the Palestine neighborhood of Mosul.
* Various other alleged operations in Tel Afar, Ar*Ramadi, and the Diyala province

I count a total of 12 events…nationwide.

CNN has a list of 14 attacks.

Is this the best that Al-Zarqawi can do? In the face of the single event that would permanently set back the legitimacy of his cause?

I think it probably is, and that means something – it means that what we are facing is not a deeply rooted national revolt against an occupying power, but a thinly spread, well organized and skilled group of increasingly isolated fanatics.

We stayed the night at a friend’s – who has a TV set and cable – and watched CNN all morning. Christina Amanapour mentioned (and I can’t find it on the CNN site) that an ambulance full of terrorists was driving through a neighborhood in Baghdad tossing grenades – and that a group of neighbors encircled it and captured the terrorists inside.

I hope it’s true, because when the Iraqis realize that it’s their country, meybe they’ll have something to say to Al-Zarqawi and his kin about it.

Winds of Discovery: 2005-01-28

Welcome! This is the 5th edition of “Winds of Discovery”, a report by Larry Ice of Correct-Amundo! that will take you on a wild ride across the spectrum of science and discovery.

Topics this week include: Cleveland; Brain Function; Stroke Effects; Tiny Propellors; Photovoltaic Film; Photovoltaic Polymers; Extreme Memory; Sun Patents; Humane Interface; Lab Silk; Dark Matter; Methane Rain; Hubble Scrapped; Titan Life; Smart-1; Douglas Adams; Petrified Wood; Global Warming; and 2 new ways to generate Hydrogen

If YOU have a link suggestion send it to discovery, here @windsofchange.net. Regular topics include:

* Biotech & Medical
* Nanotech
* Invention & Discovery
* Space
* The EnvironmentBIOTECH & MEDICAL

* Cleveland has the upper hand in a bid to secure funding from the National Cancer Institute for a five year study of nanotechnology and its uses to diagnose and treat cancer.

* Scientists have discovered the specific regions of the brain that determine whether someone will look you in the eye or look away.

* Scientists discover that it’s not so much the Calcium ions that get into cells during a stroke, it’s the ones that don’t get out of the cell that cause the most damage.


* Scientists have created a chemically powered nano-propellor.

* This company is using the nanotechnology to develop large sheets of photovoltaic film.


* Scientists in Canada are developing a spray on polymer based film that they claim will convert 30 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity. Current solar cells can only convert 6 percent of the suns energy into electricity.

* Rambus is pushing a new eXtreme Data Rate Memory into the market. Will it repeat the strategic mistakes it made with the introduction of RDRAM a few years ago?

* Sun Microsystems has place 1600 patents related to Open Solaris in the Public Domain. This follows their opeing up the their source code earlier in the week.

* Jef Raskin has recieved funding for work on the Humane Interface, a way for computers to work with people, not the other way around. Expect something good from one of the original Apple employees who helped design the Mac.

* Hate spiders? Stay out of this lab – Scientists have spun the first lab-made spider silk/a>.


* A new study suggests that Dark Matter may have played an important role in the formation of the cosmos.

* It doesn’t quite have the ring of the Weather Girls song, but it’s raining Methane onTitan.

* The BBC is reporting that the federal budget does not include funding for the Hubble Rescue Mission.

* Scientists are studying the results of a Gas Chromatography Experiment on the Huygens Probe to determine the source of all that methane on Titan.

* Europe’s Smart-1 probe has started snapping some incredible pictures using its “Arnie” camera. Yeah, I know, we’ve seen pictures of the moon before. But that was with 35 year old technology, not the latest digital technology. Check them out.

* Astronomers have named an asteroid for Douglas Adams, the author who penned “The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy”.


* Scientists have successfully created Petrified Wood in the lab. Thank god, I was worried we’d run out.

* Scientists running a global climate model using shared time on volunteers PC’s have seen some alarming results.

* Scientists have found a way to use half the energy previously used in high temperature electrolisis, a breakthrough in hydrogen production for fuel cells. Too bad it’ll take new nuclear plant construction to supply the electricity we’re going to need to make all that hydrogen.

* Fortunately, other scientists are working on ways to use sunlight to generate Hydrogen. If successful, this is a lot less expensive way to do it.

Please check back soon for another exciting edition of Winds of Discovery!

D – 3 and Counting

Michael Totten is over coordinating blogging at the new English & Arabic “Friends of Democracy” website.

This week is history being made, and like most history it’s not very pleasant to live through.

I’m thinking about all the brave Iraqis a lot, and hoping that things go better for them in the next month than I fear (and others hope) they may. And admiring them for pushing their way forward to a decent future in the face of those who would instead chain them to an indecent one.

At The Movies

Gunner Palace, a documentary about the troops is premiering on March 4 around the country (sadly, not in L.A. yet). Check out the trailer, and if it’s playing close to you – along with the rest of the Blogosphere, I’ll be posting more details as they come. And when they get a venue in Los Angeles, you bet I’ll be there.

OK., here’s an interesting fact…

From Jim Flanigan’s column in the L.A. Times today:

On top of that, these public pension plans are quite generous compared with their private-sector counterparts.

But the unions’ case is weak. Traditionally, the rationale was that public employees were entitled to sweet pensions because they weren’t paid all that well. Today, however, public employees are more than holding their own.

The average weekly pay in state government is $966 — well above the private-industry average in California of $805. (Local government workers pull down an average of $850 a week.)

Meanwhile, concern about the future of CalPERS, as well as the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, is mounting. At present, the funds have only enough money to meet 88% of their future obligations because the municipalities that pay into them, beset by their own budget woes in recent years, have deferred their annual contributions.

…emphasis added.

See, this is a problem for me.

I’m a liberal; I believe that government has a vitally necessary role in aiding the weak, feeding the poor, and defending workers.


This is a great indicator of a serious problem. We’re told that we have to raise taxes to keep government from abandoning the poor – and there’s some truth to that.

But while we haven’t been looking, we’ve bought labor peace with the public employees by offering them – not only job security, superior benefits, a great pension plan – but higher wages as well.

And so the middle-class state employees soak up the money that ought to be going to the poor.

Does anyone see why a liberal might have a problem with that?


We’ve got MilBloggers and LawBloggers…

…but I’m looking for one or more LEO bloggers in response to a request from a friend. If anyone can point me to one or more, I’d be grateful.