Monday, January 31, 2005

A lesson in freedom

Iraqi woman with purple fingerThis is an AP photograph you have probably all seen by now -- it's of a Shi'ite woman who voted in Sunday's elections in Iraq. She has the purple ink on her finger that shows that she has voted (they did that to prevent people from voting more than once).

The latest I have heard is that they are going to be counting the votes for some time, but I must admit I am floored by the fact that there was not more violence. There were some bombings, and the Sunni Arabs were not largely represented in the vote, but I was looking for conflagration. It wasn't too long ago that a car bomb killed several people in a Shi'a area and U.S. troops have to deal with IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) all the time. But Iraqis were willing to risk all that to go and vote.

It made me wonder if people here in the States would be willing to do the same. Voting is a right we take for granted here. It's like "you're here, you're of age, you're legal, you can vote." And in 2004 a whole lot of us did, but a lot of us stayed home too.

The Center for the Study of the American Electorate said recently that 122,300,000 people voted November 3rd. That was up more than 6 percent over 2000 and the highest turnout since 1968.

But CSAE also reported that 78 million eligible voters did not vote. Considering that George W. Bush received 62,028,719 votes and John Kerry received 59,028,550 votes, the highest vote getter this past time was "I didn't care."
Map of Iraq
I wonder if the Iraqis felt that way what their country would look like. I mean the Sunnis apparently did not vote in large numbers, but the Shi'a -- like the woman in the photo --and the Kurds in Northern Iraq did en mass. Isn't it ironic, that we who wanted to help foster Democracy in Iraq didn't take full advantage of it in our own country? I'm not trying to shame anyone, but it seems kind of strange the pride and resolve in that woman's face as she holds up her purple finger. Can we learn from her to appreciate -- and participate in something that we take for granted? The freedom to vote for whomever we please?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

It's election time ...

Examplein Iraq today (Sunday, 30 January 2005). On Saturday, 17 Iraqis were killed in a wave of attacks, including a suicide attack that killed eight people. An American soldier was also blown up in Baghdad. An attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad's "Green Zone" killed two more Americans.

If Iraqis can overcome the terrorists who want to keep them from voting, they will choose an assembly to draw up a new constitution. The U.S. military people there are on high alert, and the gang that can't shoot straight -- otherwise known as the Iraqi security guys -- are going to see what they can do when it hits the fan.

And it will hit the fan.

I mean, from what I can tell, most of the so-called "insurgents" are former thugs from Saddam Hussein's Baathist party. Some of them are guys whose houses were blown to dust by U-S bombs. Some of them are disenfranchised young men who are unemployed and have nothing better to do than blow stuff up.

But the vote will go forth.

Sad to say, some U.S. guys could get whacked today -- just like they have since President Bush declared the war "over." And what's really outrageous? The death benefits for the survivors. Right now, it's $12,400. That's it. You give them your son, or husband, or father, and they give you $12,000 and a WalMart flag! What are you supposed to do with that?

What if we based the compensation of soldiers' (or sailors' or airmen's or marines') families on their earning potential for the rest of their career. You know, like the 9-11 victims? The average compensation for a victim of 9-11 was more than three million dollars!

And they deserve to get as much as they can -- human lives are irreplaceable. But don't our troops' families deserve more than 12 grand? I mean the families of guys who are out there fighting the war on terror can look forward to getting 12 grand and a flag? Does that make you want to sign up "to defend freedom?" And that without their vehicles being fully armored? Give me a break.

And even with more than 140,000 U.S. guys (and gals) over there, there is no guarantee that there will not be a bloody, costly civil war in Iraq even after the elections. Pray God that is not the case, but it very well could be. And our $12,000 heroes would be right in the middle of it. Congress has introduced legislation to up the benefit to $100,000(, but it is not law yet. Let's pray that lawmakers do the right thing.
USA flag
Rand Corp study on 9-11 victims compensation
Flags courtesy of ITA's
Flags of All Countries used with permission.

Cold as a ....

Okay so you finish the sentence. Here in the Chocolate City (and the Vanilla Suburbs) the weather illuminati are calling for snow and ice this weekend. In keeping with that, here's some cold-weather sports stuff.

First off, Bode Miller.
Bode MillerThis guy scorched the men's field at the world skiing championships in Bormio, Italy. He's already got the lead in the World Cup alpine standings, no small feat for an American skier. And then Saturday he beats the best in the men's Super-G, finishing in 1:27.55. The Austrian automatons -- Michael Walchhofer, Benjamin Raich, and Hermann "the Hermanator" Maier -- could only watch.

Walchhofer finished second, Raich third and Maier fourth. Miller won six of the first 10 races this year, and then failed to finish in his last five events. Saturday, he showed 'em what fer and on a hill that humbles even the best. The Winter Olympics are a year away, and all I can say is It's Miller Time.

FIS-Ski Homepage

Speaking of the Winter Olympics ....

Irina Slutskaya and her Russian teammates have shown that Michelle Kwan and any other American skater better spend some real ice time before next year. Slutskaya won her sixth European figure skating championship in Turin this week,(Euro FS Championships : Home) and joined Sonja Henie and Katarina Witt (still smokin' after all these years) as the only women to win the crown six times.

Also, Evgeni Plushenko took the men's crown and looked like he would rather be somewhere else. Have you checked this guy out? I mean he dusts the floor with the competition but looks like he'd rather be home playing his Game Boy or driving his car or something. But much respect, the man can skate, and any hopes of anyone beating him -- including Timothy Goebel or any other American -- have a dewdrop's chance in hell. Russians also took the pairs and the ice dance titles in Turin.
Much respect to Serena Williams! Girlfriend won the Australian Open for the second time by beating Lindsay Davenport in three sets Saturday. Serena won 10 of the last 11 games to beat Davenport, 2-6 6-3 6-0 in 89 minutes. Serena did pull the changeover walk out for back treatment, but still much respect. She took advantage of Lindsay's mistakes, with Davenport converting only two of eight break point chances. Serena also had 12 service aces to Lindsay's 7 and the final set was over in 20 minutes.

And what about the getup? Serena looks like a hip-hop dream out there with the tight hot pants and the boots. I mean I know she wants to do fashion design but that outfit -- I mean the other day against Sharapova when she crouched down at the net and flexed and screamed, she looked like a tigress ready to eat that skinny blonde Russian. But hey man, girlfriend's got game. No doubt.

Take time to Pray!

When life gets really hectic, and really crappy, and I feel like taking an automatic weapon to the guy tailgating me in traffic, the best thing I can do is PRAY.

I don't pray enough.

As a Christian, I believe that prayer should come as natural as breathing, but it doesn't. That's why I have found the British-based website re:Jesus helpful. It has a daily prayer that walks you through settling in, a brief reading from the Bible, and gives some practical tips on what to do after you pray. Check it out if you get the chance.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Midnight Musings

Welcome to the first edition of DavzRaves.

I guess the first thing I want to talk about is the Super Bowl.

Eagle and Patriot Helmets Are you tired of seeing the Patriots play football? < span class="fullpost">I mean, back after 9-11 when the nation was still reeling from the terrorist attacks, having a team called the Patriots win the Super Bowl was a great thing. But this will be New England's third appearance in the Big Dance in four years. And I'm tired of seeing them.

The fact that Philly hasn't won a championship since 1983 (When the Sixers took the NBA title) and the fact that the Boston Red Sox won the World Series last year makes it someone else's turn. And what's up with Tom Brady's beard? He looks like he has a beaver attached to his face and it's not happy to be there.

So maybe The Eagles can pull it off. And they might have to do it without T-O. The latest is that his doctors are advising against him playing? Yeah I would think so considering he broke his leg. But who knows. Maybe he will get to play. And maybe he will actually have the courage to go across the middle. And then Teddy Bruschi can knock the taste out of his mouth. I would like to see Donovan McNabb win a title though. He's taken enough grief the past few years from the "City of Brotherly Love.".