Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Man Deserves Credit

My expectations for President Obama are limited but I do see hope in actions such as opening America's public records once more. In the words of his newly signed executive order,
The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.... In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies should act properly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.

In his first few days, Obama has fulfilled my highest expectation: he is the anti-Bush. Now comes the hard part.

I wish him well.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Positive Words About Iraq

Anthony Shadid, one of the most knowledgeable correspondents to report from Iraq, writes about political trends in Iraq's south prior to the upcoming provincial elections. A couple lines sound especially positive to me.
Dawa has fashioned itself as political Islam's equivalent of a social democratic party, forgoing ideology for pragmatism and stressing nationalism over religion.

...Sunnis and Shiites who are more nationalist than religious.

I know nationalism creates its own dangers but the question of national identity and purpose are legitimate matters of public debate where religion is not. Still, the two will always mix in certain societies and cultures, so I always take some hope when people leave religious issues off the public table or look past them.

Even if religion remains an important part of a national identity, independent and pragmatic leaders are needed. Listen to one Iraqi:
"We'd like to vote for someone who doesn't have to put blast walls around his house," Tamimi said. Only independent candidates don't, he added -- technocrats and secular candidates, whom he termed intellectuals. Those people should rule, he insisted.

My one hope for Iraq has always been the Iraqi people, whom I have never doubted had the capability for self-government. Everything I've read and learned about Iraqi society in recent years tells me that they do know how to organize and maintain a government. I also know that they have many scores to settle from years of dictatorship and foreign intervention.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Death Notice

Obituaries in a national newspaper are perhaps their most informative articles. Where each day's news follows trends and patterns from previoius days, death is universal and surprising. An obituary tells me something unexpected and new, about a life and a person I've never encountered before.

Today, I learned about Cecilia Rogers, a talented, independent woman.