Midnight nears on a Saturday at the Rock and Roll Hotel, a nightclub in northeast Washington, D.C. The front row of the crowd is lined with attractive women. Clad in jeans and a flannel shirt, drummer Jim Arkedis bashes his drums onstage to a cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” Arkedis’s band The Electric 11s is headlining the show. Blue Pinto, the indie opening act, shares little of The 11s’ classic rock sound.
I am not one of those who believes democracy will come soon either to Iraq or to the entity to be called Palestine (when—and if—the Palestinians finally grasp that they cannot have both a state and a warrant to kill Israelis). There is no reason to believe either of these polities will succeed in the democratic experiment that has failed or, to be more precise, has not been seriously tried in the Arab world. But there are improvements short of democracy: police who are not routinely brutal, government that isn't routinely corrupt, and courts that are not satraps of politics.