Monday, January 31, 2005

Iraqis celebrateIraqis danced in the streets on Sunday, celebrating the votes they had cast in the country's first free election. It's believed that over sixty percent of Iraq's 13 million registered voters turned out to vote.

- Stephen Schwartz: We won!
- Ryan Sager: The blue-finger revolution
- Millions voted; 'Resounding success,' Bush says
- AP: Photo gallery: Election day in Iraq
- AP: Iraq finishes first-phase ballot count
- Jay Bryant: First olive
- Arab-Muslim media largely positive about Iraqi poll
- National Review: The finger
- W. Thomas Smith, Jr.: "It's our duty"
- FDD: Iraqi Election Watch


No one in the United States should try to overhype this election. - John unFreakinbelievable Kerry

"[I]t is significant that there is a vote in Iraq. But no one in the United States or in the world -- and I'm confident of what the world response will be. No one in the United States should try to overhype this election. This election is a sort of demarcation point, and what really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation, and it's going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in. Absent that, we will not be successful in Iraq. ...

And I will say unequivocally today that what the administration does in these next few days will decide the outcome of Iraq, and this is --not maybe -- this is the last chance for the president to get it right. ...

I agree with Senator Kennedy that we have become the target and part of the problem today, if not the problem. Now, obviously, you've got to provide security and stability in order to be able to turn this over to the Iraqis and to be able to withdraw our troops, so I wouldn't do a specific timetable, but I certainly agree with him in principle that the goal must be to withdraw American troops."

--John Kerry


INK STAINED FINGERS - THE MARK OF FREEDOM,,SB110713906141940778,00.htmlmod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
For the flavor of events in Iraq unmediated by Western reporters, check some of the local Weblogs., (is) compiled by a pair of brothers (Omar and Mohammed) in Baghdad. Here's a sample of how they described yesterday's election:

"We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear. We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue-tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center. I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that.

From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turnout was higher by the way. And by 11 a.m. the boxes where I live were almost full! Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren't hearing these sounds at all.

I saw an old woman that I thought would get startled by the loud sound of a close explosion but she didn't seem to care, instead she was busy verifying her voting station's location as she found out that her name wasn't listed in this center.

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."
The New Iraq
So much for the argument that Arabs don't want democracy.
Monday, January 31, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

The world won't know for a week or longer which candidates won yesterday's historic Iraq elections, but we already know the losers: The insurgents. The millions of Iraqis who defied threats and suicide bombers to cast a ballot yesterday showed once and for all that the killers do not represent some broad "nationalist" resistance. ...

... As a certain American President said recently, the spread of freedom is essential to winning the war against terrorism. Some of America's leading lights scowled and said that Mr. Bush was "over-reaching"; yesterday, millions of Iraqis offered a more eloquent rebuttal.
Happy Birthday
A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq.
Monday, January 31, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST


Readers must've felt as if they'd gone through a time warp if they picked up their paper Sunday morning after watching the news on television. In scenes unimaginable only two years ago--and unimaginable to the press's professional pessimists two days ago--millions of ordinary Iraqi men and women braved terrorist violence and came out to vote in their first free election.

Kassim Abood, a senior adviser to the out-of-country voting program, told journalists outside a polling station in Sydney, "I think a lot of Iraqis are very proud today. People coming to me, shake [my] hand, hug me, kissing me and tell me 'congratulations,' it's wonderful." London's Daily Telegraph reported that "exiles danced in the street as they cast their ballots at nine polling stations in Australia. Turnout was high and some proudly displayed the blue ink on their fingers which proved that they had cast their ballots, calling it 'a mark of freedom.' "

Turnout in Iraq itself was considerably higher. Millions came out to vote, despite well-advertised threats of Election Day violence. Some three dozen people around the country died in suicide, grenade and mortar attacks, but vastly more Iraqis were stained with ink than with blood.

Some rode on donkey-carts. Others piled into buses laid on for voters. Most came on foot, steadying the elderly and pushing the disabled in wheelchairs to the ballot box. Voters in Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Najaf turned out in force on Sunday, many walking for kilometres through filthy streets, to cast their ballots in Iraq's first multi-party election in half a century. . . .

Some began trickling in as soon as the region's 240 polling centres opened at 7 a.m. By mid-morning queues of voters snaked around schools used as voting places, everyone holding their documents at the ready. "It is a good feeling to experience democracy for the first time," said Isra Mohammed, a housewife in the black Islamic robe traditionally worn by women in southern Iraq.

To sample some of the joy of average Iraqis undiluted by the media, read Iraqi bloggers. Mohammed and Omar write in the aftermath of the vote:
We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center. [We] couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that.

Read also blogger Ali's journey to the polling station.

Blogger Zeyad writes: "My mother was in tears watching the scenes from all over the country."

Aala wrote about "suicide bombers versus suicide voters"; the latter have won the day.

Hammorabi reported on crowds demonstrating when some polling stations failed to open on time in Mosul.

And the Friends of Democracy site is running firsthand reporting from around the country.
"Today the people of Iraq have spoken to the world, and the world is hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East. In great numbers, and under great risk, Iraqis have shown their commitment to democracy. By participating in free elections, the Iraqi people have firmly rejected the anti-democratic ideology of the terrorists. They have refused to be intimidated by thugs and assassins. And they have demonstrated the kind of courage that is always the foundation of self-government.

Some Iraqis were killed while exercising their rights as citizens. We also mourn the American and British military personnel who lost their lives today. Their sacrifices were made in a vital cause of freedom, peace in a troubled region, and a more secure future for us all.

The Iraqi people, themselves, made this election a resounding success. Brave patriots stepped forward as candidates. Many citizens volunteered as poll workers. More than 100,000 Iraqi security force personnel guarded polling places and conducted operations against terrorist groups.

... Across Iraq today, men and women have taken rightful control of their country's destiny, and they have chosen a future of freedom and peace.

... There's more distance to travel on the road to democracy. Yet Iraqis are proving they're equal to the challenge. On behalf of the American people, I congratulate the people of Iraq on this great and historic achievement."

--President George W. Bush

Tuesday, January 25, 2005



Reversing FDR:
by Kin Masugi

President Bush's Second Inaugural Address is the most fascinating one since Lincoln's. It projects grand ambitions for the nation, domestic and foreign. Its greatness as a speech comes from its Lincolnian themes, not its Wilsonian ones, which commentators have been emphasizing.
Bush's 'Conservative' Vision
By Duane D. Freese

Margaret Thatcher once said, "Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy."
Liberty for the captives
Chuck Colson

The presidential inauguration, no matter who is being sworn in, is a glorious moment, showing the world how freely elected governments work. But to my mind, the second inaugural address of George W. Bush was not only beautifully written and delivered, but also historic and memorable, for two major reasons.

First, the president’s address focused on liberty and what it means to the world. This was the most idealistic and moralistic presidential message since Franklin Roosevelt summoned us to the heroic task of saving the world from tyranny in World War II.

Second, the address marked an extraordinary moment for the conservative movement. One White House insider told me this week that, in his opinion, Bush is seizing the mantle of idealism from contemporary liberalism
Same man, different president
Jeff Jacoby

What a difference a day made. When George W. Bush took the oath of office four years ago, it was as a moderate Republican anxious to get beyond the unpleasantness of Florida and reclaim his reputation for easygoing bipartisanship. ...

Then came Sept. 11.

It was always an overstatement to say that 9/11 changed "everything," but it certainly changed George W. Bush.
Fighting tyranny, a revolutionary idea
Jonah Goldberg

President Bush's historic second inaugural address will no doubt occasion endless amounts of insta-analysis (as opposed to the thoughtful and careful deliberation of this column). Much of that commentary will center around the alleged "radicalism" of President Bush's "freedom" agenda. Indeed, Time magazine already dubbed him an "American Revolutionary" in its 2004 Person of the Year issue.

In what may well be remembered as the most important inaugural in a half-century, the president declared:

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world. All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

That really is the stuff of an American Revolutionary.

What conservatives understood then and what President Bush understands now is that America itself is a radical nation, founded on the revolutionary principle that self-government is simultaneously the best form of government and the most moral. And that lovers of liberty in all parties should seek to conserve that legacy.

The circumstances we face today are new, but the principles are eternal. So, yes, George W. Bush is a revolutionary, but he is merely the latest in a long line of American Revolutionaries.
No lack of vision thing
Mona Charen

George W. Bush is, above all, an idealist. We saw it during his first term in his passionate advocacy of faith-based charity and in his ardent desire to reform education. This is not a leader who thinks small. ...

Freedom, the president argues, is the only solution to this grim threat. The more places liberty takes root, the safer the world, and we ourselves will be.
There is no problem with the "vision thing" in the administration of George W. Bush.
Doubters will scold that the task the president has undertaken is impossibly ambitious, that we cannot even confidently predict a benevolent outcome in Iraq, far less the whole teeming world. But the president's speech -- with its sweeping scope -- demands that critics at least provide an alternative.

Promoting and nurturing freedom in darker corners of the world is difficult. But not doing so, the president argues, is dangerous.
Jay Nordlinger

Amazing how Bush got right into it — no introductory chaff, no folderol — just right into the challenge of our times. Marvelous.

... Here was the nub of it: "America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one." Connecting freedom and democracy to our security is realism.

Perhaps my favorite line: "America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause." No, let me identify my favorite clause: "fortunately for the oppressed."

... Of course the Left would disrupt the speech. That's what it does; it has certainly done it all of my life, on college campuses and beyond. For them, freedom of speech means the freedom to shut you up. They, naturally, are never shut up.

But I don't wish to end my inaugural — particularly my inaugural-address — remarks on a gripe: That speech, my friends, should be chiseled on a wall. It is magnificent, because magnificently true and right. If ever anything deserved the adjective Lincolnesque, this is it.
Bush's Breakthrough
The president's second inaugural address smashes the wall between the idealists and the realists.
by Fred Barnes

WHAT WAS SO GREAT about President Bush's inaugural address? First, it was eloquent, noting that freedom lights "a fire in the minds of men" and represents both "the hunger in dark places [and] the longing of the soul." More important, the speech laid out an extraordinarily sweeping and ambitious foreign policy for the nation. In doing so, Bush broke down the barrier between the foreign policy idealists, of which he and President Reagan are the most notable, and the realists, who include his father and his father's two chief advisers on foreign affairs, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker.

The most significant statement in the speech was simple and not lyrical at all: "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." That's quite a declaration, one likely to unnerve tyrants and autocrats and even a few allies around the world. But Bush wasn't kidding or just riffing.
President Bush Celebrates Liberty

What we saw on Inauguration Day was a President who has the strength of his convictions and the heart to fight back.
Of faith and freedom
Oliver North

It is precisely his "at least from my perspective" stipulation that separates George Bush from those who would impose their religion -- or lack of it -- on others by decree or the sword. In a recent interview with the editors of the Washington Times, Bush made it clear that "the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit. That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban."

For those of us tired of hiding our beliefs lest we "offend" anyone, President Bush is an example of how to live one's faith in the public square: with respect, enthusiasm, openness and, above all, humility.
Humility, though, is not timidity. It is not a subservient disposition that quiets all assertions of strength or conviction. Humility is recognition of the simplicity of truth and a willful, joyful submission of any self-importance or ego to the cause of promoting truth.

After President Bush made it clear that he believes in the right of every person to worship or not according to their conscience, Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, responded, "He just doesn't get it ... and he seems to ignore the fact that in our Constitution we do not have a religious test for those seeking public office ... he does not respect the diversity of the country."

Johnson apparently missed the "at least from my perspective" caveat. She demands to be heard and stresses the importance of diversity -- yet she seems to have difficulty granting such consideration to others.

Like his 42 predecessors, Bush invoked the protection and blessing of the Almighty on the nation in his inaugural address. He stands for what he believes is right and supports the rights of others to disagree. He is unashamed to pray for wisdom, peace, and the spread of freedom and justice. And above all, he maintains humility. We're blessed to have such a man as our president.


Way Too Much God; Was the President's Speech a Case of "Mission Inebriation"?
By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal (Opinion Journal)
January 21, 2005

...the ending of the speech. "Renewed in our strength--tested, but not weary--we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom."

This is--how else to put it?--over the top. It is the kind of sentence that makes you wonder if this White House did not, in the preparation period, have a case of what I have called in the past "mission inebriation." A sense that there are few legitimate boundaries to the desires born in the goodness of their good hearts.

One wonders if they shouldn't ease up, calm down, breathe deep, get more securely grounded. The most moving speeches summon us to the cause of what is actually possible. Perfection in the life of man on earth is not.

Has Peggy Noonan become so inebriated with political cynicism that she no longer recognizes a most statesmen-like idealism tempered by realism?

Larry Kudlow gives his take on just how wrong Peggy Noonan was...

Freedom over cynicismLarry Kudlow
January 30, 2005

When you read that Jordan's King Abdullah is taking steps to organize new elections in his country, with regional election districts that look a lot like Iraq's, you realize just how wrong my friend Peggy Noonan is when she writes that President Bush's inaugural speech "forgot context."

When you read the latest fatwa from the murdering terrorist Zarqawi, that it is our democratic, freedom-embracing way of life that makes us the enemy, you realize how wrong Noonan is in calling Bush's vision of eradicating tyranny worldwide "rhetorical and emotional overreach of the most embarrassing sort."
When you recall FDR's famous address of more than 60 years ago, when he talked about a world founded upon four essential human freedoms (to speak and worship freely, as well as the freedom from want and fear), you realize how mistaken Noonan is when she tries to restrain Bush's vision.

Go back and reread Bush's second inaugural speech. He says, "There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment ... the force of human freedom." He declares, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands." He states that supporting democratic movements with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world "is not primarily the task of arms." Read all this, and you know how wrong Noonan truly is. ...


One wonders if Noonan would have called Edmund Burke, Winston Churchill, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Eisenhower or Ronald Reagan "mission inebriated" after listening to their various speeches declaring that Great Britain's darkest days would be her finest hour... or talking about a day that would live in infamy or demanding that a wall representing tyranny be torn down?

Inaugral speeches should be visionary ones that celebrate and encourage great causes and ideals... the one given by George W Bush was historical and stirring and nothing short of statesmanlike genius... it espoused incredible idealism well-grounded with realism and properly-ordered priorities... We fight tyranny, because it is in our interest to do so. We are morally justified in doing so, because the fight against tyranny is a noble cause.

You have a right to your own opinions - You do not have a right to your own facts!