The Spectacle Blog

The Election Begins

By on 12.13.05 | 3:24PM

Iraqis began voting yesterday to choose their first permanent government since Saddam's fall. A couple of hours ago, I was on a conference call with a senior Defense Department official speaking from Baghdad. He said that yesterday, about 140,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces voted, as did 90% of the detainees. (No word on if Saddam voted, though he will be allowed to.) The other Iraqi Security Forces will vote today and tomorrow, enabling them to be on duty on Thursday.

Long lines at polling places are anticipated. In the constitutional referendum in September, it was a simple up or down vote. The ballot this time is four pages long, with a huge variety of combinations of candidates and coalitions. I've seen it: to me it looks like an IRS form (that statement is not impeached by the fact the ballot is printed in Arabic). It will take a long time for people to vote. Security at the polls is a very big concern, as is voter fraud.

American forces anticipate some big move by Zarqawi and al-Qaeda. They can't let this pass without some action or they will be seen as irrelevant. Stay tuned.

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Re: Iraq Pullout Planned

By on 12.13.05 | 3:17PM

Jed, Thanks for the clarification. It appears the confusion afflicts more folks than just the Times. The U.K. Spectator's link to the story reads, "UK & USA Plan To Leave Iraq From March, Iraq Foreign Minister Warns Of Chaos." Indeed, the actual information in the article is a drawdown. The foreign minister's quote applies to a withdrawal.

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Re: Iraq Pullout Planned

By on 12.13.05 | 3:06PM

Guys: The Times report confuses -- like most of the rest of the media -- a drawdown with a pullout. The military has always said that it would reduce the size of our force there after the election this week. The senior commanders I spoke with in Iraq said that we may indeed draw down to a force of about 90,000 by the end of next year. If the events allow it, that's what we'll do. Our strategy is event-driven, not media-driven. There is no plan -- none, zero, zip -- to withdraw. The terms are important, and the rhetoric misleading.

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Defending Happy-Pills

By on 12.13.05 | 2:47PM

Regarding James G. Poulos's silly anti-Paxil rant: Paxil is not a "serotonin-bomb." It contains no serotonin; rather, like all Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, it affects the way the body processes the serotonin that it creates. And no one on Paxil would be "staggering around hiccuping" with "discolored skin, enlarged breasts, and [a] demented gait," because as anyone with an iota of experience with psychotropic medication knows, adverse side-effects lead patients and their doctors to discontinue a drug. There are several SSRIs that work in somewhat different ways, and it often takes a few tries to find the one that works best for a given person.

These drugs change lives dramatically for the better (it is not "normal" to live in paralyzing fear of social gatherings, and it's much more pleasant not to). In many cases they save lives that would otherwise be lost to suicide. Discouraging people who suffer from debilitating emotional problems from taking medication makes as much sense as telling diabetics to be leery of insulin.

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One Man, One Illegal Vote

By on 12.13.05 | 1:33PM

We know how dependent liberal opinion has been on the courts to come through for its causes and politics whenever voters will not. A sign of its current desperation are reactions to news that the Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging the DeLay-led remapping of Texas's congressional districts in 2003. The justice to watch, according to the New York Times, is Anthony Kennedy, who in an earlier case left open the possibility he'd be open to more precise arguments about constitutional violations in such highly charged partisan disputes.

One likely argument is that redistricting weakened minority voting power. One set of plaintiffs is pointing to the 2003 redrawing being based on the 2000 census, which they see as a violation of one-man, one-vote. Here's where the Washington Post report has a Freudian slip moment:

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Looks Like a Liberal, Talks Like a Liberal

By on 12.13.05 | 12:28PM

Mea culpa: I missed Pat Toomey's op-ed on Linc Chafee in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. It's a must-read for those fed up with Republican "moderates."

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Re: Iraq Pullout Planned

By on 12.13.05 | 11:52AM

You know, Dave, I'm a little disappointed. Nowhere in your post do you mention whether "ides" ought to make one wary. What a throw-away.

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Iraq Pullout Planned

By on 12.13.05 | 11:22AM

The Times of London reports today that U.S. and British forces plan to begin a phased withdrawal after the permanent Iraqi government is installed, as early as March.

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More on the Wiki Debate

By on 12.13.05 | 9:59AM

Though we didn't know it at the time, there was more consternation over Wikipedia's veracity yesterday. John Seigenthaler, a former administrative assistant to Bobby Kennedy, was implicated in his Wikipedia bio as a part of JFK's assassination. The libeler recanted the post and admitted he made up all the claims, but only after Seigenthaler found out. The Register takes Wikipedia to task, fairly dramatically, but well enough, and here are a few of their stronger points:

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Berger vs Keyser: A Double Standard?

By on 12.13.05 | 8:21AM

The Washington Times' Jerry Seper reports this morning on the guilty plea entered by former top State Department official Donald Keyser for "unlawfully removing classified U.S. government documents, including some 'top secret' material, and to making false official statements." Keyser, former principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, faces eight years in prison, disqualification from holding any public office and $250,000 in fines. According to reports, Keyser was a highly regarded career employee whose counsel was valued by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. $250K. 8 years in the slammer.

Last year, former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemenor for what several news agencies reported as the following: stealing from the National Archives -- by stuffing in his pants and socks -- several copies of some of the most highly guarded national security

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