As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Send Help

I'll be away from the Internet the next few days, so come back for more happening hijinks and kooky capers in 2005!

But until then, please give what you can to help the affected regions in South Asia. The death toll has climbed to 114,000 by the latest figures, and will undoubtedly grow through disease and famine if we do nothing. Our President has pledged $35 million so far (after being shamed into doubling his initial pledge), still less that the expected price tag of the inauguration, and less than half of Spain's offer. It's a damn shame, and us citizens have to pick up the slack. Thanks to the Internet it's easy to show your compassion and caring to the world. Here are some links:

Red Cross International Response Fund
AmeriCares South Asia Earthquake Relief Fund
Direct Relief International Assistance Fund
Medecins Sand Frontieres Tsunami Emergency Appeal
Oxfam Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Fund
UNICEF South Asia Tsunami Relief Efforts



Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Obsolete Democracy

So in the last two months, we have had a vote, an investigation, and a revote in the Ukraine, which was held on Sunday, December 26, culminating in what appears to be a 7-point victory for Yushchenko. (It is funny that Yanukovych is claiming he will fight to the Supreme Court to overturn the results, as if that's all he's learned from this debacle, that vote can be nullified if you yell loud enough.) We had the inauguration of Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's first elected President, after he was elected on Saturday, October 9. And of course, we have the Iraqi elections, battered but still scheduled for Sunday, January 30.

Anyone see a pattern?

They're all scheduled for weekends! When the majority of people are not working! What a novel concept, having an election on a day everyone can attend. I know you wouldn't want to break that great "first Tuesday in November" tradition for the sake of democracy and all, but isn't it curious that, for the countries in which we engage in nation-building, we construct the democracy in ways more efficient that we do here, and there's no reason for keeping them the same way in the US other than force of habit? Is it too much to ask to have an accessible election?

And while we're on the Iraqi elections, another issue has emerged; the US, mindful that a Sunni shutout on Election Day could spark a civil war, has floated the idea of guaranteed Sunni representation:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 - The Bush administration is talking to Iraqi leaders about guaranteeing Sunni Arabs a certain number of ministries or high-level jobs in the future Iraqi government if, as is widely predicted, Sunni candidates fail to do well in Iraq's elections.

An even more radical step, one that a Western diplomat said was raised already with an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, is the possibility of adding some of the top vote-getters among the Sunni candidates to the 275-member legislature, even if they lose to non-Sunni candidates.

"There's some flexibility in approaching this problem," said an administration official. "There's a willingness to play with the end result - not changing the numbers, but maybe guaranteeing that a certain number of seats go to Sunni areas even if their candidates did not receive a certain percentage of the vote."

By the way, proportional representation is practiced in several countries all over the world, giving minority parties a voice in their government. It's not technically un-democratic. It's just that we live with this majority-rule, "winner-take-all" model of strict two-party democracy, yet we're so ashamed of it that we won't export it abroad. You think the Administration will ever see the disconnect between promoting democracy abroad that they don't practice at home?

You think my dog will ever get to become a Senator?

I wouldn't be surprised if Iraq got Instant Runoff Voting next.