The Fair & Balanced Election

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The
occupying army manned the polling areas to assure that there would
be no voting irregularities. Meanwhile, the population went to the
polls and voted in unprecedented numbers. When the votes were counted,
to no one's surprise the party in league with the occupying military
won the election and began to run the country – while the foreign
occupying army got a series of military bases and stayed on and
on and on.

Iraq
in 2005?

No,
it was Poland in 1947, and it was over 40 years before the Soviets
left.

But
that was different!

Then
why did you assume I was talking about Iraq?

The
Orgy

I
was traveling on Sunday. So I wasn't able to participate fully in
the 24-hour television orgy celebrating President Bush's great vindication.

Shortly
after I returned home late at night, I tuned into Fox TV News and
watched the late-night reruns of The
O'Reilly Factor
and Hannity & Colmes. According
to the fair & balanced network, there were no shades of gray
concerning the Iraqi election:

  • This was
    an "historic election."
  • Somehow,
    although never explained, the election turnout was proof that
    countries like France and Germany now have to participate in rebuilding
    all the Iraqi infrastructure destroyed by the American military.
  • Somehow,
    although never explained, the election proved that President Bush
    is right in saying that the world is now a safer place with Hussein
    out of power.
  • This was
    a defeat for the far left in the United States.
  • This was
    an "historic election."
  • Somehow,
    although never explained, all the American deaths (the Iraqi deaths
    don't count) have now been justified by the election.
  • Somehow,
    although never explained, the 150,000 American troops in Iraq
    are now much safer.
  • Somehow,
    although never explained, "This is obviously a huge blow
    against worldwide terrorism, which opposes any kind of democracy"
    (O'Reilly's words).
  • This was
    an "historic election."
  • This election
    was unprecedented in a Middle Eastern Muslim country.
  • Failure
    in Iraq would have made our lives more dangerous.
  • This was
    an "historic election."
  • Iraq will
    be the leading democratic reformist state in the Muslim world,
    and other countries will necessarily have to follow suit.
  • The Democrats
    in the U.S. are looking very bad now because of their negative
    statements about Iraq, and they have a "real problem"
    because they're so out of touch with reality and with the American
    people.
  • Did I mention
    that this was an "historic election"? (They mentioned
    it over and over and over.)

All
this was accompanied by a few film clips of Iraqis voting or dancing
– clips that were repeated over and over.

The
Other Side

Both
Fox shows played clips of Senators Kennedy and Kerry making the
following points:

  • The election
    in no way changes the fact that Americans were deceived into supporting
    a war.
  • The election
    won't stop the violence.
  • The election
    won't change the growing perception of an American occupation.
  • We shouldn't
    celebrate the election until we see what it leads to.
  • It is time
    to start withdrawing American troops from Iraq.
  • America
    is less safe as a result of the war in Iraq.

The
Fox hosts were shocked – shocked!
– that the Senators would make statements that were so "irresponsible"
(a word they managed to repeat frequently during the two hours).
The Fox commentators came very close to accusing Senators Kennedy
and Kerry of treason.

Although
they felt it was important to show the American people several times
the film clips of the Senators' statements, no one was invited on
the Fox shows to explain or defend those statements. Instead, the
fair & balanced network interviewed about ten guests who agreed
that such statements were "irresponsible." They even brought
on everyone's favorite "moderate," Senator Joseph Lieberman,
to register his disapproval of his fellow Democrats.

And
they dug up Alexander
Haig
from somewhere, so they could play the clips for him and
ask him whether he thought the statements were "irresponsible."
Big surprise, he did.

He
also mentioned that George Bush took America into war "to protect
our values and our interests." He didn't mention how Saddam
Hussein threatened our values or our interests – or even what
our interests are.

History

If
there's one thing that politicians and TV commentators know a great
deal about, it sure isn't history.

Although
the Fox commentators repeated over and over that the election was
"historic," none of them mentioned that Iran has regular
elections.

Nor
did they mention that Iraq has had plenty of elections already.
During Hussein’s reign, the 220-member National Assembly was elected
by popular vote.

The
only recognition of this came when someone reporting from Iraq quoted
one voter who said something on the order of, "We've had ballots
before, but Saddam marked them for us."

Yes,
it's true that the choices available in previous Iraqi elections
were limited.

But,
then, Donald Rumsfeld made it plain on April 15, 2003, that the
choices to the people in a "liberated" Iraq
would be limited as well
. Rumsfeld said that, no matter what
the will of the Iraqi people:

  • Iraq cannot
    be divided into three separate countries (a plan that many people
    believe is the only way to bring lasting peace and freedom to
    the country).
  • No matter
    what weapons nearby countries such as Israel, Pakistan, or Russia
    might use to threaten it, Iraq will not be allowed to have comparable
    weapons.
  • Iraq cannot
    become a fundamentalist Islamic country like Iran.
  • People who
    are pro-Iran or pro-Syria cannot participate in the elections
    or the government, although anyone who is pro-American is of course
    free to do so.

And speaking of limitations on democracy, the people of California
voted in 1996 to
make medical marijuana legal
, only to have the federal government
tell them that their "historic election" was unacceptable
– and the
Feds convicted Ed Rosenthal
for doing what the voters of California
had authorized him to do. Also the federal government (the same
one bringing democracy to Iraq) decided not to accept the
assisted-suicide law passed by a referendum of Oregon voters

in 1998.

Current
History

Along
with ancient (pre-September-11th) history, the war hawks have little
interest in current history. As a result, the 24-hour "special
edition" orgy on the Iraqi elections acknowledged no facts,
or even potential facts, that would dampen the celebration.

Here
are a few aspects of the election that the Fox TV News boys had
no desire to explore:

  • Many of
    the Shi'ites who voted may have been doing so because they thought
    it would hasten the end of the American occupation.
  • Many Iraqis
    voted because
    they had been told their food rations would be cut
    if they
    didn't vote.
  • Estimates
    of voter turnout started at 72%, and continue to be cited by various
    commentators, but were
    reduced several times
    during the day – and will probably
    turn out to be significantly less than the figures that formed
    the basis for the celebration. But then, it's always more fun
    to celebrate the initial expectation than the final result.
  • The U.S.
    occupying authorities have
    contingency plans
    to adjust the election outcome if they're
    not satisfied with it.
  • Foreign
    monitors were unable to verify any of the claims made for the
    election, because it
    was unsafe for them
    to visit the polling places.
  • Turnout
    was apparently very high in Shi'ite areas because Shi'ites (deprived
    of power during Hussein's Sunni reign) expect to dominate the
    new National Assembly and perhaps impose a religious regime on
    Iraq, while
    fewer than 1%
    of the population in Sunni Samarra bothered
    to vote.
  • The video
    clips they showed of the interim Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi,
    casting his ballot and then issuing a celebratory statement on
    the election were
    filmed in a heavily guarded bunker
    .
  • Most likely,
    the soldiers shown in dispatches by Geraldo Rivera in Iraq
    had been hand-picked
    to assure that no one appeared on TV
    who didn't support the war.
  • Does this
    celebration remind you of "Mission
    Accomplished
    "?
  • Far from
    being a great triumph for George Bush, he
    had to be pressured
    into holding the election by Grand Ayatollah
    Ali Sistani.
  • After the
    U.S. celebrated the
    end of "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo
    and the
    victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan
    – and in each
    case turned its attention elsewhere – all hell broke loose.
    But here we are, once again celebrating before the results are
    in.

Conservatives
seem to be good at only two things: (1) They celebrate victory when
all they've done is start toward some goal; and (2) They never run
out of excuses when the plan fails.

Meanwhile,
back at the Foxy TV News network, we can see that the slogan . . .

We report

You decide

.
. . should be modified to read:

We report
one side
You decide between it.

February
2, 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

Harry
Browne Archives

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