Cup only half empty

Chi Trib’s second-day story on Afghan voting is “Observers say 50% turnout in Afghan election a success,” which is a sort of correction on yesterday.  Trib’s woman in Kabul has been talking around, relying less on Fatima, who got confused and who’s to blame her? 

That was yesterday.  Today she has various experts she calls on or listens in on to tell her what’s happening, namely the “chief election officer,” the U.S. ambassador, Al Qaeda's deputy leader (per Al Jazeera TV), “some people,” the head of “the Afghan Research Evaluation Unit, an independent research group in Kabul” (per AP), someone from “the International Crisis Group think tank,” a 19–yr-old high school student, and an unemployed 53–year-old.

This was a busy day for her, and my guess is she plopped down on a bar stool when her story was filed, for a stiff one, and then to bed. 

May I ask, however,

* Chief election officer of what, appointed by whom? 

* Whence this Afghan Research Evaluation Unit and who are they, and how are they to be characterized?  Objectively, of course.

* Ditto re: the International Crisis Group think tank?

It would be good to know these things, even as one sympathizes with the harried reporter in a foreign land where explosions occur often enough to be noticed.  (And indeed, a little Googling finds the latter two with fine web sites -- http://www.areu.org.af/ and http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm -- that present them as serious operations to be taken seriously.)

Finally, an idea: compare the list of legislators, impossible to sift through for sake of voting responsibly, with our Cook County judges ballot.  No comparison, it would be seem, but she does compare 50% voting with far lower percentages voting here, saying or suspecting that they are not to be compared, because for Afghans it’s brand new and we are inured to it — this, by the way, is a comment she gleaned from above-mentioned “some people.” 

It would be indeed churlish to ask (a) how many and (b) who; so I will pass over these twin questions in silence.

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