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

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ziads Case: Appoint ONE spokesperson

PM Seniora/Saniora just said the authorities are “close” to finding the killers of the two Ziads (Ziad Ghandour and Ziad Qabalan). Two days ago, his own Defense Minister said that the killers are “known”.

OK, maybe they “know” but have yet to “find” them. Nevertheless, this is the kind of crap that keeps the worst rumors afloat, and does not gain the government badly needed respect.

Furthermore, Saniora and other officials express themselves via leaks, private interviews and press releases. For stupid leaks by the police, see my previous post on this horrible crime. It is high time we adopted, on vital matters, western/anglo style press conferences.

We need a high ranking official, in this case the PM himself, or a Minister (Justice Rizk or Interior Sabeh), to be the point man on the case.

This senior point man needs to be out in public, live, in prime time every day to update us OFFICIALLY AND CREDIBLY on what is known and what is not, and to ANSWER questions from the press.

There is no better confidence/respect builder than a high level official looking the camera/people in the eye and being forward. Unreadable/unread press statements from different offices is useless, if not counterproductive.

To repeat, when 2 (or more) government people say different things, the rumormongers have a filed day.

Furthermore, people need to know exactly what progress is being made. The we’ll-tell-you-when-it’s-all-solved thing, after 56244 sterile investigations, does not work any more.

Well, that’s my easy way for officials to gain credibility and respect, calm spirits, and offer more accountability.

It’s simple and the benefits are huge compared to current practice. There is no downfall, and no one will argue its constitutionality, and no UN resolution required. Think they’ll do it?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Two Ziads Horror: A Few Thoughts

I pray the horror stops. I hope people, low and high, come to their senses.

We all know the big things/reasons for the open ended crisis: incompetent and/or criminal leaders supported by a lame citizenry, no rule of law etc.

Before any of that changes, the little things underneath need to change, the attitudes and the culture need to start moving. I see no signs.

--The Press

The nation is shocked, according to As-Safir. Yes it is. But what will the nation do with this shock and outrage?

Al Balad titled: "Lebanon unites around the blood of the two martyrs"

These are the little things I am talking about. Stop already with this martyr bullshit. Did the young man Ziad Qabalan (RIP), and the 12-year old child Ziad Ghandour (RIP) die willingly in the furtherance of a cause? Do we know that? What cause? Has the recent version of "martyrdom" a la Hezbo, Hamas, and al-Qaeda been a positive in the Arab/Lebanese culture? (Al Balad also irresponsibly published horrible pictures of the 2 bodies on page-one)

At best, that is a sick way to say that people who died horribly and in vain, did not. At worst, it perpetuates a sick culture of misplaced sacrifice and death that is dangled before the eyes of the young and the gullible.

--Police Work Standards (from Naharnet)

Police officers, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said their preliminary suspects were Shiites.
The police are NOT supposed to talk to the media. However, when the police idiots decide to break their rule and reveal something, they reveal only one thing: NOT the motive, NOT the name, NOT the age of the suspects. No, only that they were Shiites/Shia. Is the police plain stupid or is the police trying to stir up sectarian strife? (Or is it both?)

--Defense Minister Murr (also Naharnet)
Defense Minister Elias Murr said suspects in the crime "are known. We are chasing them and we hope to arrest them."
You "hope"? Here we go again, a top official says the authorities "know", and "are chasing" but only "hope" to arrest them. Oops sorry Elias, I forgot. That's right, we have all these neighborhoods where the mighty Lebanese army won't go. Hell, even the guys who tried to kill YOU are vacationing there. A real confidence booster to the nation and to a threatened people.

Murr said that the two may have been killed in revenge for the death of Shamas.

Murr said Shamas' relatives had fled their homes, reinforcing suspicions they may be behind the killings.
If all of that is clear (big if), why not have a press conference right now?

Announce who the suspects are and declare out loud that any leader, family, mosque, church, clan, tribe or bordello that will stand in the way of the arrests will be leveled to the ground. This is a national security threat of the highest degree and people know it. And if the stupid army cannot handle a frigging family clan or won't enter some camp, let them all go shoot themselves, starting with their commander in chief Lahoud.

As to the question: what should Lebanon do with its shock and outrage? I think every parent/citizen in the country should demand answers in 5 days or less. Barring that, everyone who knows a child should march on the offices/homes of Lahoud, Berri, and Seniora to rip their freaking hearts out, before turning on lower-level officials.

12-year old Ziad Ghandour is every innocent child who died since 1975, and every child who will die if civil war is rekindled. If real fear of civil war and child murder cannot motivate the Lebanese to action, nothing ever will.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Election: The 2/3 Berri/Aoun Lie

Speaker Berri/Berry: I will convene parliament on September 25 to elect a new president. (Daily Star)

Berri minion Bazzi, Hezbo’s Raad, Aoun and his minions: the election requires 2/3 of the 128 MPs to be held (a lie or legal ignorance, you choose). (Naharnet)

This transparent good-cop/bad-cop routine is what passes for brilliant maneuvering in moronic Lebanese politics. And it may well look brilliant given the continued haplessness of M14, Seniora/Sanioura and Saad Hariri. Yes, there is the occasional repartee (Joumblatt, Geagea etc) but that is nowhere near enough. The opposition* is in the driver seat and M14 keeps playing catch-up.

Speaker Berri is taking flak and pressure for paralyzing parliament. The real goal of course is to sink the presidential election (after the tribunal). And while the opposition managed to taint the legality of the current government, there is no excuse whatsoever for delegitimizing the duly elected parliament. Nabih Berri knows it too well.

So Berri comes out and says the above, which:

a) changes the subject from his appalling dereliction of duty

b) makes him look like he’s impartial and doing his job

Then 5 minutes later, if not before, Amal/Hezbo/Aoun flunkies come out to tell us that the constitution requires a 2/3 quorum to hold the presidential election. I.e. 85 MPs out of 128. Of course the “opposition” has 1/3 of the MPs and therefore could block the election by not showing up. Or so they claim.

Amal MP Bazzi:

Bazzi said the legislative will convene based on a quorum of two-thirds of MPs to elect a new head of state to replace President Emile Lahoud [….]
Amal MP Ali Hassan Khalil:

"The text [of the Constitution] is clear concerning the need for a two-thirds majority in order to convene the session [of Parliament]," Khalil added.
MP Michel Aoun is on record with the same gibberish.

IANAL** but here’s Article 49 of the constitution (in translation):

The President of the Republic shall be elected by secret ballot and by a two-thirds majority of the Chamber of Deputies. After a first ballot, an absolute majority shall be sufficient.
Clearly “2/3 majority” and “absolute majority” in sentence one and two refer to the same THING: the margin needed to ELECT. Not a margin needed to HOLD the election.

Furthermore, the original Article 49, prior to 1927 said:

The President of the Republic shall be elected by secret ballot and a two-thirds majority of the total votes of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies joined in a Parliamentary Assembly. After the first ballot, an absolute majority shall be sufficient. (Bold mine)
Hear that? 2/3 of the votes. Yes, everything was better in the 20’s and they knew how to write a constitution back then. It seems the constitution got worse with every revision (thanks Syria, Saudi and our own idiots).

First amendment to Article 49, in 1927 read:

The President of the Republic shall be elected by secret ballot and a two-thirds majority of the total votes of the Chamber of Deputies. After the first ballot, an absolute majority shall be sufficient.

Amended in 1929, the part in question stated the same. (The presidential term was changed from 3 years to 6 years.)

Call me crazy but for those who want to see, Article 49 and its history are crystal clear, even to people with no legal background. As for liars, cheats and plain idiots, I cannot vouch.

M14 needs to stop this 2/3 baloney in its tracks, right now.

Everyone should be in on this, 24/7 and until after the election, to win the PR battle. By everyone, I mean MPs, legal and constitutional experts, the constitutional council, the religious heads, the chamber of commerce etc.

Pressure and ridicule should be heaped non-stop on the naysayers and on their dubious legal experts. The presidential election is in November and again M8 is grabbing the initiative and is ahead in the PR battle.

In the meantime Seniora is releasing accounting reports to prove to Hezbo that his government is sending Dahieh more money than Hezbo says, or some such nonsense. Fouad, that's not not going to sway Nasrallah and his lunatics. Focus on the ball.

*Opposition is a misnomer. Oppositions play by the rules. M8 is an insurgency.

**IANAL: Net lingo, could not resist, for “I am not a lawyer”