Impressions, views, and steam-blowing by a lonesome cowboy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Israel Retaliates: Saniora Do Your Job

Katyusha's fired over north Israel. Israel bombs Palestinians in Naameh. Palestinian groups and Hezballah deny firing on Israel.

What next? The US, EU and UN will urge caution on all sides? The suspense is killing me.

I just want to focus on one simple aspect, but that aspect pervades the whole (failed) approach to the problem.

Here is what PM Saniora said after the Israeli attack.
From the Daily Star:

Siniora urged the Palestinians in Lebanon to "condemn the rocket attack clearly and strongly and be the more rational party so as to deny the enemies of Lebanon and the Palestinian cause an excuse to harm the interests of Lebanon and those of the Palestinians."

Mr. PM, as a Lebanese citizen, presumably under the protection of your government, I really really don't care what the Palestinians or Hezballah have to say about this matter.

I care to know what happened, who did it, and how YOU SIR are going to stop them NOW and in the FUTURE. I do not believe it is your job to beg or coddle law-breaking foreigners in Lebanon to do the RIGHT thing.

"Condemning" and "urging"? Hell I can do that. Anybody can do that. You, Mr. Saniora, are the head of the government: the executive branch (to execute = to act).

I also believe that if you do not know by now that Palestinians in Lebanon have an agenda different from yours and your constituents', Mr. Saniora your are a helpless romantic who has no place running a government. Of course, this also applies to all others who have and keep uttering similar words in similar circumstances.

I will just note that the events remain the same, the (lame) response remains the same, expect the cycle to remain the same.

How about just applying the LAW for once, and see what happens. No more begging, no more analysis. Why are "they" doing it? Why now? Why seven rockets not five? I dare say most Lebanese do not care. They want security for life and property: the FIRST job of government.

Naameh is not a Palestinian camp. Naameh is not a Hezballah base. Setting aside the legality of weapons in the afore mentioned, why are there non-Lebanese non legal weapons in Naameh? Confiscate those weapons and arrest/deport their carriers. Someone correct me, isn't that the law?

To Saniora and others in the executive: apply the laws, all of them, or go. Applying the law is your only job. Stop deluding yourself and the rest us. What you are saying and (not) doing, we have tried for over 30 years. Trust me, IT DOES NOT WORK.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Daily Star: 3 Worthless Editorials in 3 Days

I am trying to stay away from the Daily Star for a little while, and will do so soon. However the past three days the DS printed three consecutive editorials that were so weak that even I, with my low expectations, was flabbergasted.

Day One: December 26, 2005. The DS editorial talks about the arrest in Egypt of activist/presidential candidate Ayman Nour, chastises the Mubarak government, and reluctantly credits Bush for criticizing the Egyptian government's assault on democracy and freedom. So far so good.

Then, the editorial takes a dramatic turn to tell us of the legal woes of Jose Padilla who was arrested 3 years ago in the US. Padilla, a US citizen, is suspected of planning to blow up residential buildings in New York, as well as of helping al-Qaeda get its hands on a "dirty" (radiological) bomb.

Padilla, who was classified as an "enemy combatant", was afforded less than the usual legal protections US citizens normally get. His case has been in the courts. It is a complicated, long legal tangle which does not concern us here.

My question is: What the hell is the DS thinking or attempting by drawing parallels between:

-the US, a free constitutional republic, dealing with Padilla, a suspected criminal terrorist

-and Egypt, a corrupt dictatorship, dealing with Ayman Nour a political activist turned politician?

Again, this post is not about civil liberties and protections in the US. The US has tons of newspapers criticizing the Bush administration hourly, flanked by all sorts of NGOs. The DS writes in a region where problems are enormous and no one cares two craps about Jose Padilla. So what could the DS' point be?

If it is to equate rare supposed abuses in the US with Egypt's legal and political circus, bad idea. If, like the DS, you are trying to fight Mubarak-like regimes, what is the point of saying: the abuses are the same here and there?

OK, the DS tries to be more subtle but it fails (look at the title of the piece: "What's good for the goose is good for the gander").

Or could it be, the DS wishes to tell their readers that they are as "sophisticated" as the New York Times, and that they can write about these types of "trendy" issues too? Sin of hubris that will backfire.

Is the DS really trying to help Padilla and/or bash Bush? A waste of time and paper, the US has plenty of better-suited outlets, and you have more pressing problems in Lebanon and in Egypt and elsewhere, to say the very least.

I fail to see any purpose to this disjointed piece. It gives ammunition to Mubarak/Arab League/Al-Jazeerah types who argue that "one US abuse and one Egyptian abuse" implies US = Egypt. Idiotic.

PS. I will try to follow-up in the next two days, on the other two pieces, but if I don't:

December 27 editorial wants, as usual, the Arabs to do nothing, and the US to get Israel to free the Shebaa farms. Ask other people to do your work (for free), and then complain that "they" are meddling.

December 28 is "special". The editorial board actually expects (against hope) that the Arab League's Arab parliament will actually work for the good of the region. Hearty Har Har!!! I thought New Year's Eve was around the corner, not April's fool's day.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Daily Star and Reader: Dumb and Dumber

1) Lebanese presidential candidate Chibli Mallat forms a committee of his OWN supporters in the US to back his run for office. (my previous post)

2) The Daily Star publishes the news under the headline: "US backs Mallat on Presidency", making it look like an official endorsement by the Unied States government.

3) One of their gullible readers buys it, writes a letter to the editor, and all but accuses Mallat of being a US agent.

4) PUNCH LINE: The Daily Star finds nothing better than to PUBLISH the letter in the "readers" section (second letter on page).


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Daily Star: "U.S. Backs Mallat on Presidency"

You mean the government of the most powerful country on earth is supporting Chibli Mallat (a fine chap BTW) for the Lebanese presidency?

Not really. If you read the full article by Rym Ghazal, somewhere in the middle you are finally told:

[Mallat] received Thursday full endorsement of his candidacy by the U.S. Support Committee, called "The Mallat for President U.S. Support Committee".

I'm impressed. Mallat is supported by his own committee. However, that is not a Bush Administration endorsement, as implied by the DS' headline. Call it a lie, a white lie, sloppy editing, a mistake, sensationalism. It is still bad and shows, yet again, that Lebanese papers (and their web sites) are in bad need of editors. Even a college junior could improve the quality of these publications, their accuracy, and their English.

Of course Naharnet does this stuff on a daily basis. See Kais' blog for a far more irresponsible violation of writing, and content, standards.

When they get simple things wrong, let alone in instances of bad faith, how can we rely on the press to report on things as complicated as the Mehlis investigation, corruption at EDL, or a new election law?