Saturday, January 29, 2005

Their future in the making

Iyad “Comical” Allawi: “They should take part because this is their future in the making and people have to take their fate in their own hands.” Their own hands? Interesting words, coming from a man put in office by an army of occupation.

After reading Michael Ignatieff in the NYT Magazine (the same piece appears in the Observer), I have to respond to his assertion that “antiwar ideologues can’t support the Iraqis because that would require admitting that positive outcomes can result from bad policies and worse intentions.” He suggests that those of us who denigrate tomorrow’s elections are ivory-tower purists--note the use of the word “ideologues”--to which I answer: damned straight. Even if I personally accepted on pragmatic grounds that these elections were good enough, I would not be able to tell an Iraqi who took the position that elections held under occupation were unfree that she should settle for less-than-free. If the election workers putting up banners at your polling station looked like this

and were dressed in the uniform of a foreign power, would you feel the elections were legitimate? Would you vote in them, and if you did choose to vote rather than lose your say in your country’s future, would you feel at least a little ashamed?

One thing the Americans “forgot” to enact was a McCain-Feingold campaign finance provision, and money became rather important with 111 parties, many with similar names (think People’s Front of Judea/Judean People’s Front on a larger scale) trying to distinguish themselves, and the only people able to practice retail politics being the snipers. Lots of printed matter, lots of tv commercials, lots of money paying for those things coming from the US government, from exiles, various Arab states and Iran and who knows where else.

The Sunday Times of London has an amusing parody of English history, amusing, at any rate, for the minority of you who can follow a joke in which William the Conqueror’s “battle plan hit a snag when his troops became ensnared in an enormous tapestry being woven by the embedded war reporters.” Also describes Henry VIII as the perfect Jerry Springer guest.

Since prostitution is now legal in Germany (plan your vacations accordingly), brothel-owners can advertise in their local (government-run) job centers. And under the new reforms in welfare laws, unemployed people can be sent into the sex industry, on penalty of losing their benefits. A liberalizing policy cross-fertilizes with a conservative policy to create a stupid result; there’s a lesson in that somewhere.

Speaking of stupid results in Germany, the latest reality tv program in that country: Sperm Race. The winner gets a Porsche. A red one.

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