Shia, Sunnis, and Kurds ... oh my! The people of Iraq are skipping down that yellow brick road toward a democratic Iraq as voting takes place over the next two days. Even though the U.S. military already landed their house on the wicked witch Saddam Hussein very early on in this story, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is still rubbing his hands together and still has his legions of flying monkey terrorists to thwart the journey toward democracy. More importantly, military service members are meanwhile clicking their ruby combat boots together while silently remembering the famously appropriate and poignant Dorothy supplication, "there's no place like home."
It's difficult enough for most Americans to understand the politics in the United States, let alone have any grasp or informed opinion for the Wizard of Oz cast of political characters in Iraq. While I am no expert in this matter, I hope to give you enough information on the subject so you won't sound like an idiot in front of your friends. One can hope, anyway.
First of all, it's helpful to have a rudimentary understanding of the political situation in Iraq. BBC news has a helpful Q&A page for the Iraq election process. Another good BBC reference page describes the Iraqi political entities and who they represent. It is entitled "Iraq election: Who is running?" with a breakdown of the following sections:
With a majority of Iraqi citizens being Shia, it's a fair assumption that they will be the majority winners in the Iraqi election. Sunni Iraqis, previously in power, but only representing about 20% of the population, likely will not even vote in the election. Al-Zarqawi and Iraqi insurgent groups have focussed on the fears of Sunnis losing power and have pursued a strategy of declaring the election a total sham.
Meanwhile, Kurds in the northern region established a regional government during the long years following the first Gulf War when the country was divided into thirds, sanctioned, and the Kurdish north was partially peaceful as one of two No-fly Zones. While not in the majority, Kurds are participating in the election and will have representation.
For a good analysis of the political situation in Iraq and other Middle-Eastern foreign policy matters, check out Informed Comment, by University of Michigan professor, Juan Cole. For more personal accounts of the Iraqi election, check out the daily comments on the BBC Iraqi Election Log.
Whatever your opinion is of the BushWorld decision to invade Iraq in the first place, and whatever the outcome of the Iraqi election will be, you and I should be able to easily agree in the hopes for the Iraqi people to be able to move forward toward full autonomy and that our MNF troops can come home safely. The potential for the shit-to-hit-the-fan still exists in Iraq. A prolonged post-election civil war is the nightmare scenario for everyone concerned.
Keep Toto close to you, click your heels, and repeat after me: "There's no place like home ... there's no place like home ... there's no place like home."
This is a big week for films, flicks, movies, aka motion pictures. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their nominees for the 77th Annual Academy Awards show being broadcast next month, commonly known as the Oscars.
Click on the above links to view trailers/clips. If you think yourself a film expert, are just the betting type, or really want a 37" Plasma TV, go ahead and play the Oscar Prediction Game.
Sadly, I have not seen any of these films yet. However, since they were nominated for an academy award, I'm sure they'll be in theaters around the country long enough to squeeze a few more final bucks from the film-going public for some time. Have you seen any of these films? Which one would you like to see win an Oscar?
Even if I don't get an opportunity to see any academy award nominated films in the next month, I'm fairly certain I'm going to bookmark my calendar to watch the award show. Chris Rock is to be the Oscars host. While I may be a stupid cracker from Detroit, Chris Rock is one of my all-time comedy heroes. Chris is funny. He rocks.
Since this is likely going to be my only ummy oreo cookie filling or fluffy bunny entry sandwiched in between two more serious topics of politix in Iraq and America this week, I'd also like to point out some fluffy bunny stuff around Thunderstorms.
Speaking of friends, I'd like everyone to head over to Scott Kennedy's blog and wish him happy birthday on Friday. And, speaking of films, I am hopeful that we'll see Skennedy (who I usually refer to as Xavier, from the Imajica BBS daze back in the d-a-y) someday getting high recognition in the film industry. He's very talented. A little more than a year ago, Scott received the Lou Wolf Memorial Scholarship award from the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers. So, go show him some birthday love.
Also, Friday is Sci-Fi channel TV night for me. I'll be glued to the TV for about 4 hours getting my fix of Andromeda, Stargate SG-1, Atlantis, and BSG. I may have to watch BSG late into the night, as Monk is usually fresh.
Despite George W. Bush's post-election pronouncement of a historic mandate, serious people who don't use Creationist Mathematics to enable a delusional sense of pride (like you and me) understand that the cumulative majority of the people in the United States did not vote to re-elect Bush. This 70 percent majority of so-called citizens either voted for Kerry or another candidate like Nader; voted, but their vote was never counted; or sadly, the tragic majority-within-the-majority of people who did not listen to me to Blog the Vote, get off their apathetic asses and vote for anyone at all.
"But, Bush won the election. I just saw a big $40 million celebration and parade on TV about it," you say, "and I listened to his speech outlining his big plans for all of us."
My only reply to you is, "What are you going to do about it?"
If you need some ideas -- besides faithfully following every link I lovingly code into my thoughtfully written entries and actually reading the off-blog information -- you can also check out the new book of essays now available by 24 different progressive, highly qualified and experienced authors called What We Do Now. Here are some of the authors:
· Howard Dean, Donna Brazile, and Greg Palast on voting reform ... · Lewis Lapham and Nicholas Kristof on how to re-organize the Democratic Party ... · Harper's Magazine publisher John R. MacArthur on supporting labor by fighting free trade · Tax attorney Maud Newton (famous, by the way, for her literary website) on tax reform... · Biologist Sandra Steingraber on renewing the fight for the environment... · Martha Nussbaum on improving international relations... · Cass Sunstein and Jamin Raskin on court reform... · Columbia history professor Eric Foner on keeping a historical perspective ... · Feminist Robin Morgan and Esther Kaplan on countering the rise of fundamentalism in our schools and courts ... · Danny Schechter and feminst Jennifer Pozner on media reform... · Earl Ofari Hutchinson on winning back the black fundamentalist vote... · Leslie Cagan, who organized the giant 500,000 person demonstration during the RNC in August, and Medea Benjamin, who disrupted President Bush's RNC speech, on what activists can do now... · Fiction writers Percival Everett, George Saunders, and Steve Almond, and poet Alicia Ostriker, on the cultural implications, and how to respond... · Billionaires for Bush on how really rich people can work to keep their money... · and more. . .
Shawn Carkonen describes what this book is about for us.
The topics covered include the direction and potential of the Democratic Party (with emphasis on formulating a coherent message), voting and election reform, the role and uses of the media, environmental issues, economic policy, international relations, and tax and fiscal policies. Though the book emerged in the wake of a defeat for the Left, there is much optimism here, signaling that the 2004 election may have brought about not the end of a movement, but a beginning.
However, I offer my own Hot Stove Metaphor to answer the more important question of the reasons why you should get this book and read it. Every citizen in the United States, no matter what their political idealogy, can be placed somewhere within the Hot Stove Metaphor. Growing up, we all learned at a very early age about the Hot Stove in our childhood home one way or another. Politics is very much like that.
First of all, if you did not vote in this last election, you are a person that does not care what manner of life-giving nourishment or life-draining poison the grown-ups in the rest of the country are cooking on the stove. The busy cook could be boiling up a huge steaming pile of shit in a pot large enough for you to bathe in, but you don't pay attention or care because you'll eat anything that is set in front of you.
I know this may come as a terrible surprise to some of you, but I have to say it because I care and I have grown fond of some of you. It's time to for you to friggin' grow up now. Right now is the time for you to act like a big boy or a big girl. It's time for you to learn to cook for yourself by paying attention, learning the issues and the political process in your country, and putting a stop to your steady, apathetic diet of cold shit sandwiches. Luckily for you and sadly for some, you have nearly four years to mature beyond your political puberty.
I describe that one large boiling pot on the Hot Stove as sad -- because while the rest of us in the country may have to eat from it again for the next four years -- more tragically, the brave men and women of our armed services are courageously swimming in that steaming Iraqi pot of shit, trying to keep their heads up, and trying to come back home without any physical or mental disabilities.
I won't bore you with more examples and descriptions of the Hot Stove Metaphor. You know that there are more Bush Administration dishes cooking on the All-American stove. The newly-appointed cabinet members of Bushworld 2 (theatrical aside: I'm tempted to call this Dubya Deux, by the way) will be busy creating their own misguided meals on the stove, whether you like it or not. I'm predicting that our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights will continue to burn in spirit until we can restore the forefather-like name of Ben Franklin on it after removing the name of George W. Bush from the Hot Stove of U.S. politics.
I haven't burdened you with very manyserioustopics for a while. Traditional conservatives, not the cultural/moral/social conservatives so recently accused of the culpable outcome of the last election, are already starting to taste some bitter regret. This book of essays will have a progressive voice for any conservative whose political opinion is bolstered by negative corporate cable news meta tags of anything not fashionably conservative, but it's still worth two fivers to hear all 24 voices.
Often, a conservative person of any stripe hears progressive and thinks liberal. I have patience, though, because it took me quite a while to differentiate between a stereotypical neo-con and a social conservative. Sometimes, a person can display the identifiable traits of both segments from the same conservative vector of political ideology.
Without advancing any dreaded moral relativism, not only should a conservative read these essays, but also any progressive who is currently twiddling their thumbs or being politically active. No matter what you think your self-actualized political meta tag really happens to be, I hope you get What We Do Now and read the essays. Should some of the issues discussed in it matter to you and yours, I hope you can use it as part of your own recipe book for change in the post 1102 era.