Friday, December 16, 2005

Best of the Web from the other day...

I've started to read BOTWT almost everyday because I figured out how to do gmail on my Treo 600.

This day was particularly juicy.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today:

Ho Hum, an Election
We were up late last night, and just after 1 a.m. EST we tuned in to CNN to see how the Iraqi election was going. Anderson Cooper was on the screen reporting from Iraq, and it looked a little like bad news; there was a caption that promised BREAKING NEWS and said something about a bomb in Ramadi.

But up in the corner of the screen we noted the word RECORDED and also the local Baghdad time was displayed: 7:07 a.m. Baghdad is eight hours ahead of New York, so we were watching "live" coverage that was two hours old. We tried switching to Fox News Channel, which had a rerun of "Your World With Neil Cavuto." We surmised that if news of the bomb in Ramadi was two hours old, it was a safe bet that things were going pretty well. A bloodbath would have merited live coverage for sure.

And, as it turned out, we were right. "Iraqi voters turned out in force countrywide Thursday to elect a parliament to remake their troubled nation, with Sunni-led Iraqi insurgent movements suspending attacks for a day so that Sunni Arabs could vote en masse for the first time," the Washington Post reported late this morning:

Iraqi voters turned out in force countrywide Thursday to elect a parliament to remake their troubled nation, with Sunni-led Iraqi insurgent movements suspending attacks for a day so that Sunni Arabs could vote en masse for the first time.

There were no boycotts this time and insurgents were providing security at some polling places. In Ramadi, for example, guerrillas of the Iraqi Islamic Army movement took up positions in some neighborhoods, promising to protect voters from any attacks by foreign fighters.

Reuters, believe it or not, has an astonishingly upbeat account:

There may not be the same sense of history this time round, but the joy and determination of Iraqi voters emerging from dictatorship is still evident.

Young and old, able-bodied and infirm, they streamed to polls for the third time in 11 months on Thursday, this time to elect a four-year parliament.

While not as novel as the first post-Saddam Hussein election in January, participation was more widespread. Sunni Arabs, who boycotted the earlier poll for an interim assembly, flocked to vote this time, determined not to miss out on power again.

"I'm delighted to be voting for the first time," said 21-year-old driver Jamal Mahmoud in Ramadi, a Sunni Arab city west of Baghdad that has been at the front line of the anti-American insurgency for the past two years.

For much more detailed on-the-ground reporting, see the Pajamas Media site.

There is an interesting disconnect in the U.S. media, and it goes beyond the usual complaints of pessimism or hostility to the American war effort. Go back and look at the transcript of NBC's "Meet the Press" for Nov. 27, which we noted the next day--and in particular the journalist roundtable, which features five senior Washington journalists, all of whom seem to agree that democracy in Iraq is a dead letter. The only mention of Iraq's then-forthcoming election was in a setup quote from the White House press secretary. To hear the journos talk, it was as if they hadn't even heard that Iraqis were going to the polls.

And yet the producers at CNN and Fox appear to have regarded a genuine election in Iraq as such a routine event that it didn't merit continuous live coverage. (Both stations did break into the recorded fare for occasional live updates.) It's quite a striking indication of just how out of touch with the outside world are those within the Beltway media bubble.

'They Can't Do It'
Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania is trash-talking American servicemen again, CNN reports:

"We've got nation building by the U.S. military, and that's not a mission for the U.S. military," Murtha said. "I've said this over and over again: They're not good at nation building. You've given them a mission which they cannot carry out. They do the best they can, but they can't do it."

But he supports the troops!

'God! I Didn't Know What to Say'
New York magazine features a piece on a group called Haven, which organizes volunteers who provide lodging in their homes to women and girls ("including a 10-year-old") who come to New York for late-term abortions:

Most Haven hosts are white, Jewish, well schooled, and political. Some are empty-nesters with beds to spare and memories of the sixties and seventies women's movement; many are young idealists with matchbox apartments and roommates who don't mind an extra body crashing in the living room. Meanwhile, most of the women helped by Haven are black and Latina, with GEDs or less, low literacy skills, and not much civic moxie. . . .

Katha Pollitt, the poet and Nation columnist, buys People magazine when she knows she's about to be called up for Haven duty. "But then I worry: Maybe that's patronizing. Maybe they'd rather read The Nicomachean Ethics." . . .

Late-term abortion is serious, hard-core. At 24 weeks, a fetus is at the same stage of development as those gruesome images shown on pro-lifers' protest placards. "The last woman I hosted showed me her sonogram," says Jennifer, a 26-year-old host who lives in Carroll Gardens. "Then she pointed out that the fetus was a boy. God! I didn't know what to say."

Every once in a while, after hosting a guest, I have bad dreams about sick babies. I have to remind myself that my dreams are just dreams, and that they're less important than my guests' realities.

One Haven hostess tells author Debbie Nathan, "Being pro-choice is a morality that takes you morally out of the picture." This is supposed to be a puff piece rather than an exposé, which makes the Havenites' condescension and depraved moral indifference all the more breathtaking.

This column is moderately pro-abortion--which is to say, we do not think slaying a human embryo is tantamount to murder or that it should be against the law. But after reading this piece, we're a lot more sympathetic to the antiabortion side of the debate.

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