Friday, July 30, 2004

Ayad Returns from a Trip to Iraq

You can now go to Ayad's blog, Live from Baghdad, and read about his recent trip to Iraq. Scroll to the bottom and ride along with Ayad.

I just watched an hour on Al-Hurra about the differences between Iraqis and Arabs vis à vis Saddam, and in particular, the matter of Arab lawyers offering to defend him in court. For the defense was an Egyptian lawyer who has volunteered to defend Saddam. He had the unfortunate name Nabeel al-WaHish, waHish meaning beast, monster or wild animal, a word often used to describe Saddam and aggressive violent people. It was used against the Egyptian by the Iraqis on the program, even the host, Saleem Mashkoor, an Iraqi, as they went a bit out of their way to say his last name. The program started out nicely, as they insterspersed survivors' testimonies with commentary from three main panelists -- the Egyptian lawyer, an Iraqi lawyer in London, Fayiq Shaykh Ali, and an Iraqi journalist in Baghdad, Ibrahim Zubaydi, who was a childhood friend of Saddam. The Egyptian's main line of defense, and he was sticking to it, was that he was defending Arab dignity and honor, against "the United States of Terrorism" and "the Zionist entity." The discussion went along fine, for a bit, with the Iraqis wondering what dignity and honor Saddam represented, and how nobody stood up for Iraqis' dignity, honor and lives when Saddam was slaughtering them. It then descended into name-calling between the two lawyers, with the Egyptian calling the Iraqi(s) mercenaries and traitors, a description he applied to the Iraqi court and those who worked for it, as they were illegitimate, not representative of an elected Iraqi government and agents of the UST and the ZE, who had raped Iraq and put it under brutal occupation. He also questioned the manner in which Saddam had been "repressed," referring, I suppose, to his removal. The Iraqis defended American involvement as legitimate, and accused the Egyptian -- meaning Egypt -- of regulary taking billions from the United States and visiting Tel Aviv, etc. The Egyptian brought up the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib and asked if that was democracy, referring to the United States. The Iraqi lawyer, upset at the Egyptian for interrupting him, wondered aside, "What kind of animal is this?" and later described the Egyptian as "illiterate" in matters of the law. Well, this program, called "Kelimett al-Nahrayn" (Word from the Two Rivers), was all good and well.



Andrew Sullivan announced a few weeks back that he would be voting for Kerry. Then came the speech last night.

THE CANDIDATE: Well, I guess there was always going to be a reality check. The first and most obvious thing to say about Kerry's speech was that it was far too long. You have to believe that this was a conscious decision, and not an accident. The man couldn't edit it, or his advisers couldn't decide whose soaring rhetoric was better, or no one had the authority to remove the third that should have been removed to give the rest of it time to breathe, and the audience to respond. But perhaps the result was, in some ways, beneficial. Kerry rushed through this speech and so lost some of the deeply ponderous boredom of his usual speaking style. But the effect was still hurried, breathless and because he kept having to calm the crowd down, condescending. There were passages toward the end when he picked up and seemed to do better. But it was a B - performance, not as disastrous as Al Gore's rant in 2000, but nowhere near the level of the best. I mean, even Dole was better eight years ago. Some of it was so pompous and self-congratulatory I almost gagged. Can you believe he said this:

I was born in Colorado, in Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, when my dad was a pilot in World War II. Now, I'm not one to read into things, but guess which wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in? I'm not making this up. I was born in the West Wing!

One thought sprang into my mind immediately: what an arrogant jerk.


Michael J. Totten has called himself an "undecided swing-voter." Here's his reaction to Kerry's speech.

John Kerry hurts me. I yelled at him on the TV tonight. (I mean I yelled at my TV, not that my yelling was broadcast on the…oh, you know what I mean.) It annoyed my wife tremendously, but I yell at Bush, Kerry, and hack pundits on the TV so I don’t have to do it here and annoy all of you. (Sorry, Shelly. You hear it so everyone else doesn’t have to.)

John Kerry is a Politician. I’d give him a 50-50 grade on the content of his speech. Only trouble is he’s such a self-contradictory phony parsing his speech isn't worth any effort. He says he won’t let any nation veto our foreign policy. Excellent. Glad to hear it, John! So what, exactly, was the point of your 18-month whine-fest because Bush more or less stuck to your promise?

Ah, why bother even wading into it that far? It’s only worth arguing with somebody if I have at least a flickering notion they take their own words seriously. Maybe Kerry is serious about not letting Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin veto our foreign policy. I certainly hope so. But how am I supposed to know? I was the intended audience for that line, and of course I know he could be trying to sucker me. Then again, maybe his 18-month whine-fest was a way to sucker the left and maybe it worked.

I do not know. But I do know that I do not like him. It’s a good thing for Kerry he’s running against George W. Bush. Because I can think of plenty of other Republicans who could easily mop the floor with his head.


FUNNIEST GAFFE: When Kerry complained about "hair pollution."


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