Saturday, October 29, 2005

Today's Betting Odds

Which world Capital will be wiped off the map first?

Tokyo 2-1
Damascus 4-1
Tehran 4-1
Tel Aviv 7-1
Baghdad 10-1
Pyongyang 20-1
Beirut 20-1
Washington DC 40-1
Oslo 1,000,000-1

A moment of colorful national Unity

At Wednesday’s Asian Football Cup Final, the VIP section’s political representation featured a sky blue minister, orange and green parliament members, and a yellow former MP, they all cheered for the burgundy.

Can they be that blind?

Absolutely, and you ain’t seen nothing yet.

A month or so ago, the Gazans were idiotically celebrating the “liberation” of that tiny overpopulated parcel of land. The image out of the region was: Israelis agonizing the loss of their homes, Palestinians celebrating the Israelis’ agony, and Jabba being hailed universally as a courageous peace hero. Credit has to be given where it’s due, the PR job by the Israeli government was masterful. Now beyond the fa├žade painted by this PR machine, the Gaza withdrawal was nothing more than a strategic military repositioning. There was 9000 Israelis surrounded by 2 million Palis. That was expensive to maintain and hard to secure. Relocate these settlers to the West Bank, with a nice relocation bonus mind you ($100k-$500k depending on family size). Fortify you positions around this surrounded area. Voila! A prison for 2 million people without having to deal with feeding the prisoners or keeping them from killing each other. More importantly, no Red Cross or Amnesty hippies’ condemnations since it is not a prison but rather a “sovereign territory.” Back to Jabba, he is a blood lusting racist military Hutt. He has killed thousands in his life time and feeling his mortality (since not even industrial strength Drano can clear the clogs in his veins) he wants to go out on the top of his game. His disengagement plan provides him with an engagement zone to work on his master battle. The rehearsal was immediately after the withdrawal/repositioning with some “targeted” air raids on Gaza. This week after a suicide/homicide/martyrdom/crazy-religious-lunatic/desperately-oppressed-confused-soul/terrorist/freedom fighter bomber strikes in northeast Israel, naturally the reprisals come by bombing Gaza (southwest Israel) in addition to hundreds of fake raids just to terrify the liberated citizens of Gaza.
Of course expect more of the same, Zarqawi strikes in Baghdad, bomb Gaza. A terrorist attack in Bali, bomb Gaza. New York Yankees lose, carpet bomb Gaza. Bird Flu, you get the point.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bomb Sniffing Chiens

Today I heard one of the guards at the Hariri Mansion address the bomb sniffing dog in French. I guess it makes sense that the dogs are French; nowhere else can you get dogs with more olfactory experience.

Monday, October 24, 2005

From Lebanon

I was inspired by LBC’s nightly segment that highlights the achievements of people with at least half a Lebanese chromosome. So I’m going to do a similar feature that highlights some Lebanese personalities that aren’t sexy enough for primetime television.

The “Natour”

No one knows where they come from but every building has one. The Natour is always easy to spot, he’s the grumpy middle aged man wearing the wife beater and flip flops. While the moustache is easy to explain, one has to wonder how they always manage to have a five o’clock shadow beard. As soon as ground is broken on a building the Natour appears, and no one has been able to outlive a Natour to know how the succession works. Other than occupying the ground floor apartment, the Natour’s activities include tending to the buildings general needs, looking out for intruders, and watering the sidewalk. He is also the exclusive real estate agent for the building, the pirated cable provider, and for the right price a paparazzo. Once an exclusively Lebanese job, it has over the years attracted cheaper foreign labor. However, the Syrians, Egyptians and Sudanese that have stepped into the field have learned and conformed to the old traditions of the job.

The Natour: a proud tradition from Lebanon.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Truth Behind the Truth

No real surprises in the Mehlis’ report. Pretty much everything in it had been leaked before today.

It is a sad day when the people entrusted with the protection and safety of the citizens of this country carry out an act like this that almost dragged (and could still drag) the country into a bloody mess. These people should be lynched, tried for treason, or whatever would bring the harshest punishment to them. However, this should come as no surprise to anyone. Lebanon, since its creation, has lived a culture of corruption. Corruption is entrenched in the Lebanese way of life at all levels. A kindergarten student would not get a smiley face on his doodle without an under the desk deal.

In the Hariri case, the victim played a part in cultivating the phenomenon. He bought alliances and protections for many years and that kept him on the Don’s good side and out of harm’s way. However, the Godfather died and his death left the each thug working for his own. A clash of interests created divisions and in this culture it often means blood.
Rafic Hariri had a role in his own assassination. The money used in buying the explosives can be probably traced to him.

Some might argue that Hariri had to play this dirty game to get to a position where he can make change happen. Also, Mr. Hariri can not be compared to the cold blooded assassins that murdered him. Well, I am not a big fan of the “lesser of 2 evils” idea. I also believe that you can’t fight evil with evil, or corruption with corruption, or greed with greed. Once you do that you become a part of the problem.

Mr. Hariri did a lot of good in Lebanon. His charity work is unrivaled. He was devoted to his economic plan(with which I have a few problems) for revival of Lebanon. Unfortunately, the “Truth” showed that his ties and his part in the corrupt mafia network that is the Lebanese political class ultimately doomed him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Replacing the Cedar

I like the Cedar on the flag, but it's not representative. A Cedar lives forever, Lebanon is reborn every generation, Lebanese don't care much for nature, and sadly instead of being the one national symbol the Cedar has mutated into a variety of species depicting different warring tribes.
I suggest the Carrot as a replacement. The Lebanese have always fallen for old carrot trick. In the last century alone the Carrot has been dangled by Ottomania, France, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and most recently by France again and "U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A."
Every single time it has been chased by an ASSortment of Lebanese folks.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

PETA Moment

Sniffing for Contraband has got to be a Dog's Dream Career.

Holy Loophole

Some Arab countries rearrange their daily schedules during Ramadan in a way that they can sleep (and amazingly fast too) most of the day and then work at night. God scratches his head as he didn’t see this one coming.

Here’s a tough one

Who wins in a Paranoia match, Arabs or Jews?

Martyr vs. Just Plain Dead

Since there is a lot of dying going on these days, news channels have to spice up the act of dying to differentiate between a death and a death. However it is very confusing to have a standard classification of deaths as each channel categorizes the dead differently. US troops or contractors are always just plain dead, same applies to Israelis whether they are military or civilians. Palestinians and Iraqi civilians are always martyrs, except on LBC. LBC has everyone as just plain dead except May Chidiac who is a Living Martyr. The earthquake dead are neither martyrs nor just plain dead, they are Victims. Now on to the most confusing one, Iraqi insurgents can be both. They are just plain dead when they blow themselves up killing civilians, who I reiterate are always martyrs. However, sometimes they can be martyrs if they die as a result of an Apache attack. This has changed over the course of last year as Iraqi insurgents used to be mostly martyrs, but they have been downgraded gradually to just plain dead. The newest category is when someone “commits suicide”, these deaths are called shredded evidence.

Something Stinks

The Palestinian Authority has commissioned a team to investigate the cause of death of former #1 abuser of the Palestinian cause Yasser Arafat. They suspect foul play. How could someone so young, so healthy, and so handsome die so suddenly?

Meanwhile grieving widow Suha Arafat still hasn’t finished counting the cash her late husband had stashed under his mattress.

Great Head

CNN’s Christianne Amanpour’s scalp should be studied by agricultural engineers. I’m sure their findings will lead to the biggest discovery in the soil fertility industry since manure.

Lost in Translation

Here are some words that you will not find in the Arabic Language:
Accountability
Strategy
Fashion
Decision
Proactive
Creativity
Plan
Thinker
Facts

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Kanaanite Era

I somehow doubt Ghazi Kanaan had a tell all book in the works, but maybe he will somehow expose all the "leaders" of Lebanon. He has plenty of dirt on them. Pretty much everyone in the current political picture was at one time or another a business partner of Ghazi Kanaan (Only Exception is probably Aoun, who was a business partner of Saddam Hussein, but that's a different topic for a different day). Ghazi Kanaan, unlike his successor Rustum Ghazaleh, was a tactful corrupt dictator. He didn't want it all, just 90% of everything, and he shared his loot with the local "leaders". That is why you didn't hear a peep about wanting the Syrians out during the Kanaan Reign. Everyone was happy running their little mafia operations. As a former neighbor of Kanaan I can tell you this, as long as you didn't come in direct competition with him you were left free to do as you wish. Now back to today's event, while I do not know whether or not Kanaan was directly involved in the Hariri Assassination and what it had to do with his mysterious death, I can say this at some point in the not so distant past Hariri and Kanaan were friends and partners in greed.

Ghazi Kanaan Dead

Lebanon’s former dictator Ghazi Kanaan is dead. Syrian official story claims he committed suicide, but that doesn’t mean much.
One thing is for sure though: the Assad regime is in its final hours. While that might seem like a great idea, the precedent set in Iraq for the fall of a ruthless dictator hasn’t been pretty. I expect the Arab big boys and even the US to step in and bail Assad out because they can’t afford another Iraq.

I still don’t know what Kanaan’s final revelation which he gave to Voice of Lebanon was… but he sure sounded like he knew he’s dead. He said: “Get this message to Pierre Daher (LBC), New TV, and NBN as this will be my final declaration.”

More to come…

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Political Double Talk (Pardon the Redundancy)

Today US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman-Ghazaleh visited Minister of Work Trad Hamade. Feltman-Ghazaleh along with many other US officials including Scott McClellan and Condoleeza Rice have on many occasions said they will not deal with the members of Hezbollah in the cabinet. So what is the US stance on Hezbollah Ministers? Are they really going to stand by the story that Hamade, even though directly named by Hezbollah for the post, is not a card holding member of the party?
Personally, I think it's just about the beard. (Hamade doesn't have one, while the other Hezbollah Minister Mohammad Fneish does.)

Friday, October 07, 2005

God Told me "Yo J, Thou shall post this story", and I did.

'God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan'.'"And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq...' And I did. Link to Story

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Americans Tax Money Wisely Invested

Al Hurra TV, which is how Bush wanted to win over the Middle East’s hearts and minds, is viewed by about 3 people in the region. So if you are an American Tax Payer ask your congressman to close this failed project (they don’t even show college football games) and save the money for some other scam.

We were robbed

The Nobel Prize for Physics this year had to be for Lebanon. Who else was able to accomplish something as impressive as time travel? Look around you, the “leaders” of the country are Michel Aoun, Samir Geagea, Walid Jumblat, Nabih Berri, A bearded guy from Hezbollah, and a newcomer by the name of Hariri. Explosions, sectarian divides are high, we are arguing whether we are an Arab country or not, deciding on who our friends are and who are our foes, a prime minister was assassinated, It’s 1988!!!

Who’s their marketing manager?

Al Jama’a Al Islamiya has posters all over town preaching to young men and women. One of them reads: “ Dear sisters, Do you accept to be a marketing tool and a body that attracts looks.” Who wants to be a tool? Now wouldn’t they get a much more positive response if they rephrase it: “Wanna be a Model?”

Truly Lebanese Products that are Actually World Class.

While Lebanese people like to brag that everything that comes out of Lebanon is the BEST. Most of it is crap. Also we like to take credit for things that aren’t really local products, but there are a few things that come out of here that are Excellent.
Here’s what I have seen so far that this Country can be truly proud of (I will add to this list as I discover more things):

Patchi Chocolates: Patchi sugar-free milk chocolate is the best thing my taste buds ever felt.
Massaya Wines and Arak: These Ghosns sure know their grapes.
Grapes: I’m no expert but I’ve read that Lebanon has the best soil and weather for vineyards.
Hasheesh: see Above.
Conserves Chtaura Products: Excellent Jams, I’m addicted to their strawberry jam.
Haifa Wehbe’s Boobs: Whether surgically enhanced or not these are top notch.
Basketball: with no facilities, money, or support. Back to back World Cup appearances and Second place finishes in Asia are very impressive.
Elie Saab: from local sewing machines to a top name in Hollywood dresses is quite an accomplishment.
Lunch: A Lebanese Lunch is a whole day event, the way it should be. McDonald’s’s evil concept has caused immeasurable damage to society.
Hallab sweets: While there is a wide range of Lebanese sweets, the northern variety is by far the best. Halawet el Jebn, Znoud el Set, and Knafe are my top 3. (Technically Hallab and his Sweets pre-date Lebanon, as a newspaper clipping from the 1880’s on their wall shows. It lists the address as Trablous, Al-Sham)

I miss Cuban Coffee

What people drink as coffee here is known as mud in the rest of the world.

Pipo* Award Nominee: Neemetallah Abi Nasr

I know I couldn’t stand this guy for more than just his Fran Dresher voice.
Member of Parliament Neemetallah Abi Nasr (Free Patriotic Movement Bloc) was on Al Arabiya TV discussing the Sexist Lebanese law that denies citizenship to the sons and husbands of Lebanese women who marry foreigners. The fact that Abi Nasr was defending this indefensible law is bad enough but his sexist, racist, and hypocritical arguments were just too much.
We’ll start with the sexist part, he said what if the woman marries someone who’s an enemy to Lebanon, he used an Israeli as an example, and then this person got the citizenship and married again and gave this citizenship to his wives and kids. Then what happens when they reproduce further he wondered. (I’m dead serious he actually said all this absurdity.)
Then he went on to say what if a woman marries someone that doesn’t speak Arabic. OH NO!!! I guess he came up with this one specially for Al Arabiya TV. Mind you, Abi Nasr is a huge proponent of giving citizenships to 3rd generation Lebanese migrants who neither they nor their parents have set foot in Lebanon, speak a word of Arabic, or even consider themselves remotely Lebanese. No one seems to have a problem with Joe Vogel getting the Lebanese nationality, but 7 foot tall basketball players have a special law.

Enough with Abi Nasr silly tales, the real issue here is and has always been the demographical balance of powers in this tribal country. The Lebanese people do everything possible (legally and illegally) to get a foreign citizenship (any citizenship), yet when it comes to giving the sacred Lebanese citizenship to people who want and deserve it, they have all these absurd laws and rules that are nothing more than masks for racism. This is not about the Israeli, French, or Finnish Men getting the Lebanese Citizenship. What the heck would they want it for? This is about those who need the Lebanese citizenship because it’s better than what they got now.

How do politicians in the New and Best Lebanon yet get away with this blatant hatred? They don’t get away with it. They get rewarded for it. The remarks of this award’s namesake won him a seat in the cabinet as Minister of Industry. Gibran Tuweini (another Pipo Finalist) calling a group of people sheep shepherded him into the Parliament.


* pronounced (pee po):Racism Award named after Pierre Gemayel for his infamous Quality and Quantity speech.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ronaldinho a terrorist?

Aside from his Un-American act of playing Football; his Champions League games are aired here on Al Manar TV(probably the station's most viewed and thus most income producing programs). That TV channel happens to be on Washington's Terrorist Exclusion List.

Assad: “Mistakes were made in Lebanon”

A mistake is when you use Salt instead of Sugar. I think what the Syrian Mukhabarat did in Lebanon was slightly more than “mistakes”.

UN Security Council Resolution #1559

Jabba The Hutt Sharon wants UNSCR 1559 fully implemented. First of all, it is hilarious that he is asking for the implementation of a UN resolution when there are 700 of those pending Israeli compliance. But I googled this resolution to see first hand what it calls for. Here’s the Legalese-/Political double talk-free version:
a.) To Bashar Assad, ARIEL SHARON, and the Icelandians for that matter: Leave Lebanon the fuck Alone.

Sounds good , but here’s the second part.

b.) My Grandfather and his fellow backgammon playing retirees in the villages of South Lebanon should expose their surgically reconstructed hips, bend over, and hand the Vaseline to Sharon.

There are some sick people in the UN.

Deja Vu

Again this year Muslims couldn’t agree on when the new moon that marks the start of Ramadan was. Why they don’t just google it beats the hell out of me.

George Omnipresent W. Bush

I find it amazing how this man can always know what is best for the people of Ukraine, Lebanon (or Lebanom as he prefers to call it), Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Fallujah all at once. You can also see the pain he feels when he talks about the suffering of the people in different parts of the world. His ability to put himself in the shoes of the oppressed (if they can afford shoes) from his golf cart in Crawford is more miraculous than anything Mother Theresa ever did; therefore, I call for Pope Former Nazius XVI to do the thing he does to canonize this great humanitarian

Is now the time to point fingers?

George Bush mentioned at a news conference, in New Orleans in response to a question that was critical of FEMA, that then was not the time to point fingers. Is it time yet?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Taxi Driver Conspiracy du Jour

The Government never arrested the former security chiefs as suspects in the Hariri assassination. His argument: " Have I seen them in Jail?" Well, he has a point.