Thursday, November 30, 2006

Unacceptable Behavior

Here's an incident that happened yesterday between 2 men in uniform, an Internal Security Force Officer and a Sukleen Street Sweeper.

The Sukleen employee was doing his job sweeping the dirt and trash into a pile that he can then shovel into his collection bin. The officer who is entrusted with law enforcement was manning a security booth facing the residence of a VIP, or VVIP a la Libanaise. The officer suddenly decided to enforce his boot on the pile of dirt, kicked it around, and ordered the Sukleen employee in a very nice manner to sweep it again; all while sharing a hearty laugh with his subordinate.

My friend who was appalled by what he witnessed intervened telling the officer to consider that he's dealing with a human being. The officer's disgusting, though expected, response to my friend was: "OK, now we know what color you are."

Earning stripes at a record pace....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

No Fear Here

Stop the silly talk of a civil war now. There is no Civil war around here, despite blood being on the trading floor these days. Stop it, I don't want to hear it anymore.

Governmental change does not start war in democracies. The insinuation that possible change might lead to violence is a scare tactic that has no place in a democracy, unless the ruling parties want to prohibit the prospect of change and the concept of opposition. I wonder where they could've learned these democratic practices from? Hmmm....

Anyways, there is no fear of that style of democracy in Lebanon because the team aspiring for eternal rule is a bit, how should I put it nicely, ... clueless and weak. They don't have much power to abuse or the know-how of power abuse, so they resort to demagogic manipulation of people's emotions. But enough already, they are not going to get anywhere with acting tough. They cannot rule against the will of the majority of the Lebanese people. Syria couldn't do it, and neither could Israel with the backing of the world's super best friends; so how the heck is Nayla Mouawad expected to hold up.

So enough talk about Civil war. Abdullah of Jordan is talking about it, if that isn't the ultimate proof that this talk is just plain silly, I don't know what is.

One more thing, if the humble demand of a "National Unity Government" will cause WAR, what will happen (and the time will eventually come) when people ask their Zaeems for more rights or a minimum level of accountability? Armageddon?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Out Sick

On tuesday afternoon I was writing a light hearted post about Lebanese idiosyncrasies when I heard the sickening news of the assassination of Pierre Gemayyel. Then; I literally got sick with a flu, which or might or might not be related to the week's events, that had me in bed the past three days. So I apologize for being missing in action this action filled week.

First of all, the senseless, cowardly assassinations must stop. If you can't confront Pierre Gemayyel peacefully, then you are too incompetent to be in politics. Someone by the name of Salim Salhab got double the votes Pierre got in Metn, so eliminating him as a political foe can be done easily without having to resort to violence.

And if terrorist crime is your domain, then go find yourself somewhere more challenging than Lebanon and its open house policy on security. What satisfaction can you possibly derive from gunning down a father of two who was just leaving a church. Could you find a more vulnerable target? He was in a Kia for God's sake, A Kia.

For the record, I do not condone more challenging assassinations either. Assassinations are so passe. The last appealing assassination was Julius Caesar's; the practice has been losing its luster ever since . They must cease.

Another practice that must cease is the exploitation of blood and grief for political gains. Sadly, every group has spilled blood on this land. And we definitely shouldn't get into blood quality and quantity arguments.

Also some people should shut up for their own sake. These people harm their own cause every single time they open their mouths. (I will not name these people because it is against Lebanese law to insult one of them, and it is against my neighborhood's closed circuit TV surveillance law to critcize the other.)

Speaking of ... about a week ago I was running to get cover on a rainy night and I slipped and fell hard on my back. It was quite a sight and it was surely captured by the above mentioned surveillance cams. Can someone with connections get me a copy of the tape so I can post it here?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Holier Than Thou Alliance

I've been calling for the resignation of this Cabinet since shortly after its formation, or was it shortly before its conception... Anyways, the promised super creative steps (I doubt Saatchi and Saatchi will be involved in these) taken in the coming weeks to topple the Siniora government are long overdue, even at the risk of losing out on another begging opportunity in Paris. Just when the government was about to secure Lebanon's prosperity and erase the massive debt which was inflicted on us by Shahe Barsoumian and the Holy Ghost, here comes change and a start from scratch.

Change is imminent. There is no point in wasting any time on the futile attempts to avert it. Trying to instill fear in people has been overdone (you know the boy who cried Wolf). If you really want to rally people behind your cause, you need to have more tricks in your repertoire or maybe cosider having ... a cause.

So I will move ahead.

Let me be the first to call for the resignation of the Hezbollah-Free Patriotic Movement government. Not immediately since they have earned a shot at ruling the country with their democratic presence, but eventually they must go... They claim to be Clean and Divine, and they might very well be just that. But how long will this country continue to live on a diet of pure rhetoric? What is Hezbollah and FPM's plan to put the governmental instituions on the right track, reduce the debt, improve educations and medical care, and create jobs? All the successive government have had these goals, but where is the progress on these issues? Granted no one can be as inept as the current government, but still the people deserve to know what they are getting themselves into.

Trusting Abu Hadi and Abu El Meesh blindly isn't enough to build a country; Lebanon has trusted other Abus before and look where that has gotten the country. They'll get their chance and I wish them luck for the sake of Lebanon, but I want something better.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Practicing My Rusty Arabic

إذا أردتَ أن تعرف ماذا يحصل في بنت جبيل، عليك أن تعرف ماذا يحصل في فرجينيا. حكمة بورازانية ليست محكومة بزمنٍ ما. ها نحن وبينما ابن بنت جبيل يلتحف سماء الشّتاء النائلة منه ستّين نيلة تدور على بعد مسافة غير قصيرة من جبل عامل معركة انتخابية ضارية من أبرز عناوينها حظر الزّواج المثليّ.

المقاوم الجبيلي خاض معركته دفاعاً عن أرضه، فضحّى بأغلى ما عنده، وخسر بيته من أجل حياةٍ حرّة كريمة.

معركة فرجينيا مختلفة ، فمثليّو فرجينيا يعيشون حياتهم الحرّة الكريمة وإن لم تلتزم باسم الولاية التي يقطنون . لكنّهم يريدون الاعتراف الرّسمي بقرانهم وما يرافق هذا الاعتراف من امتيازاتٍ في نظامهم الضّرائبيّ. لكنّ معركتهم شرسة إذ أنّ عدوّهم في البيت الأبيض يجيّش أنصاره المحافظين لممارسة إرادة الله بمنع المثليّين من هذه الامتيازات الضريبيّة.ذلك بعد أن سَلَّموا بأن ليس في إمكان لا وزارة أمنهم القومي ولا الباتريوت آكت ان يمنع ما يجري خلف الأبواب المغلقة. طبعاَ هناك رغبة لدى الأخ الاكبر الجمهوري بتغيير هذا الواقع في المستقبل.

أمّا مستقبل ابن بنت جبيل، فمرتبطٌ بهذه المعركة( وبباريس 3 كما يقال له) نتيجة تبسيط وتقليص برنامجٍ انتخابيّ طويل عريض بما فيه من قضايا في السياسة داخلية وخارجيّة واقتصاد وتعليم و ... و… إلى قضية واحدة سهلة التّرويج في مجتمعٍ عمق إطّلاعه السياسيّ مقتصر على ما يراه في البريك الإعلاني لبرنامج أوبراه

اليوم يتلاهف جيش بوش الوفي على مراكز الاقتراع بهدف منع الزّواج المثليّ. هذا هو الأمر الأهمّ بل الأوحد الذي يجذب محافظي فرجينيا إلى الدّيمقراطية. الصّورة نفسها تتكرّر في الولايات الأربع الأخرى المتأرجحة القرار. مصير أكثريّة بوش في مجلس الشّيوخ تتّكل على مدى الحماسة الانتخابيّة يوم الاقتراع لمدّعي العلاء الأخلاقي. أكثريّةٌ قد تعني أنّ مشروع الشّرق الأوسط الجديد (الأخلاقي بامتياز) ماضٍ ماضٍ ماضٍ على أنقاض بنت جبيل. هكذا يجد ابن بنت جبيل نفسه في الخندق ذاته مع مثليّي فرجينيا.

قد يخسروا الانتخابات التّي لا تعنيهم أصلاَ، لكنّهم لن يُهزَموا أبداَ في معركة حقّهم. واحد ينتصر بمقاومة بطوليّة، أمّا الآخرون فلهم مقاومتهم و إن وُصِفَت بِلوطيَّة.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lebanese Sausage Fest , The Re-erection

As our esteemed leaders are slated to reconvene Monday, many are wondering what their plans are for this round of round table chit chat. I will tell you what each of them wants, what they really really want.

I'll start with the godfather of the parliament who has successfully combined the characteristics of super glue and teflon in his persona. Nabih Berri loves the status quo and would love for it to continue forever. His natural fit is as the third side in unholy trinity of war criminals along with Geagea and Jumblatt. However, his popular base is enamored with the most Holy of men which puts him in a tough position that he skillfully transformed into a position of strength, way too much strength. He was able to place himself as the only bridge between the rival currents and thus the savior of the nation. If either camp was to gain full control of the government Mr. X would be reduced to second tier under the big kahunas of each camp.

The Bristol Team has one goal and they must work together to attain it. They want to weather the storm and hold ground. If they must give up the veto power in the cabinet, they can't do it for free. Ideally that would be one of theirs in Baabda, but realistically a compromise candidate in Baabda would be the best they can get. Judging by their performance over the last 18 months though, they will probably come out empty handed yet again.

The Orange team wants to go all out; new elections and a new cabinet (and in 10 months a new Prez) where they'd get the king's share. They know that Hezbollah would defer to them the leading role in a new cabinet because they would look sexier to the west, in spite of the Bristol media (nothing to do with ESPN) attempts at Syrianizing them.

Hezbollah would love to get their National Unity government by tweaking the current ministerial line up. They do not want to lose the perfect scapegoat in the person of Siniora. That way they would get their veto power without being burdened with more responsibilities at a time when they can buy time and just watch the Bristol team self-destruct. However, if that best case scenario fails to materialize, they will not hesitate to go all out and appease their allies.

Of course none of this would be possible without the presence of my boy Elie Skaff on the table without whom there would be no quorum.

Allah ykhallilna sale3tak ya iben Zahleh el bar.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

From Lebanon 21


The new world brought us Coca Cola; a hydrating concoction of phosphoric acid, sugar, and coloring. I must admit it is a quite refreshing beverage; in an ulcer inducing kind of way.

In Lebanon, well in the Middle East to be more precise, the ultimate thirst quencher is Jallab.

Jallab is two parts. The chilled liquid part is made from a syrup concocted (yes I love the verb concoct and all of its concoctions) from dates, grapes, and rose water. Part two is best described by the waiter at the Phoenicia Hotel that approached me last week and offered me in a heavily accented English, "Would you like nuts in your Jallab, Sir?" I am not ashamed to say that I gladly accepted his proposition for a Jallab is incomplete without a handful of fresh fine nuts. Actually the nut mix will reveal the quality of the Jallab in most cases. If all that's floating in your drink are pistachios and unidentifiable living organisms, then you are a cheap bastard who doesn't want to spend more than a thou on his drink. Pine nuts are a must, so are almonds. Cashew nuts are a bonus, but some raisins should be there for an extra oomph.


There you have Lebanon's most popular drink (after Coke, Pepsi, Coca Cola Light, Diet 7 up, Mirinda, and Starbucks' Grande Mocha Frappo Latte of course).