Saturday, October 09, 2004


Afghan women (one presumes) on line to vote.

It’s bad enough to see the word election applied to the event that just took place in Afghanistan, but to use the word democracy is to strip the word of 90% of its meaning, to turn it into a signifier without a signified (that’s my little homage to the late Jacques Derrida; don’t worry, I won’t do it again.)

First, democracy is a SYSTEM of government. But there won’t be elections for a legislative body for another 6 months. Even if you accept this election as legitimate, it was only for a single branch of government. There are no checks and balances, unless of course you count the fact that the only power he really has grows out of the barrel of an American gun. If he weren’t a puppet, he’d be an absolute dictator.

As for the elections, there seems to be an unspoken agreement in the media to pretend that the mere fact that a lot of people voted, without too many casualties, legitimizes the election, no matter how little the final vote count will correspond to the votes actually cast by the people who voted who were actually qualified to vote. We all know that more people registered than were eligible to register (one of my readers has pointed out that population figures for Afghanistan are just estimates, which is true but the over-registration was highly uneven geographically, with some regions reaching more than 140%). Given that, you’d think the failure today of the procedures that were supposed to prevent multiple voting would be considered serious, but when 15 candidates have the presumption to complain, the WaPo dismissively describes them as “posturing,” which is as childishly insulting as those “Sore Loserman” placards in 2000.

And then there’s the absence of newspapers or national media of any kind, or any other form of political infrastructure, the fact that the country is occupied by a foreign power and too unsafe for the candidates to campaign (I doubt whether the majority of voters could have named more than 2 of the candidates), the attempts by the US ambassador to force candidates to quit, little stuff like that. This is not to denigrate the brave Afghans who went to the polls, some of them children, some of them repeatedly, some enthusiastic at the thought of rejecting warlordism and embracing democracy. But the majority of countries have elections, and the majority of those countries are not democracies.

Moving on alphabetically, I’d also like to reject the results of Australia’s elections. Just because I don’t like John Howard, a liar and racist douchebag.

In 1941 Americans were deeply affected by the diary of a little Dutch boy (Dirk van der Heide, My Sister and I), whose mother had been killed by German bombing during the invasion of Rotterdam and who had fled with his sister to safety in America. Turns out, the whole thing was manufactured by the British Secret Service to help convince the US to join the war.

I haven’t yet mentioned the warning issued, and then retracted, that Al Qaida intended to attack schools in Florida, Oregon, NJ and Michigan. All of which are swing states.

The story about Bush possibly having worn an earpiece in the 1st debate, which was originally just one of those “rumors on the Internets,” has now received play in the WaPo, NYT & Independent. This may not contribute anything, but in Marlon Brando’s last film, the not-very-good “The Score,” Brando refused to memorize lines, which were fed to him through an earpiece.

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