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

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In the Name of Idiocy and Secrecy

Lebanese blogging is down, here and elsewhere. It’s not surprising. As the suspense builds in Lebanon over the selection of a new president in the next few days, the newspapers have become unreadable. It’s all: X met Y, progress was achieved, but it’s all very secret.

On a lucky day, one of X or Y is Lebanese. Usually it’s a non-Lebanese Arab talking to some EU or UN guy and both are saying: hands off Lebanon. And, of course, our locals are bending over backwards to talk to these foreigners, while refusing to talk to one another, yet at the same time yelling “NO” to foreign interference.

The beauty of it is that, not only not much happens, it’s all very hush-hush. God forbid the populace finds out about its own future, or lack thereof.

From a recent Naharnet story (full story here, excerpts below):

Christian Committee Refers Recommendations to Patriarch Sfeir

A four-member committee grouping Christian representatives of the majority and opposition said Saturday that it did not review names of presidential candidates, stressing that the mission is "the leaders' responsibility."
“Not naming names” has become the new national mantra. The committee assigned the task of finding an “agreement” or ‘consensus” (i.e. insipid) candidate did not review names, and if they did they would not tell you the names. They were assigned by their, ahem, “leaders” to do nothing and report back to their, ahem, “leaders”.

The announcement was made by Bishop Samir Mazloum who announced to reporters at Bkirki that the committee has concluded its assignment and would refer its recommendations to Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, who has the liberty of announcing them or not.
The patriarch will decide whether or not we, lowly bastards, get to know what’s going on. Save it your Eminence, we already know: very little is going on.

We have agreed on specifications and assignment of the new president and Patriarch Sfeir would decide what to do with our recommendations, Mazloum stressed.
Now I have ideas about what the committee can do with its recommendations, but they’re certainly better off with Sfeir telling them what to do.

He [Mazloum] refused to answer repeated questions about nature of the committee's recommendations.
It’s all TOP SECRET, you lowly peons. Move on, it’s only the future of your country.

Referring the recommendations to Patriarch Sfeir apparently settled a reported dispute among committee members on the authority to which its final report would be referred.
Thanks to the great writing at Naharnet, I have no idea what the above means but I think I can guess from previous experience.

When 128 MPs in parliament could not agree, we went to the “dialogue table”. When the dialogue table (some 20 people) could not agree, we went to the Committee of (Christian) Four. Now the four cannot agree, the patriarch will apparently do something. What? Pick a name and keep it to himself? Or maybe, if the patriarch fails to make up his mind, we can CAT scan his brains to come up with the magic qualities of the new prez (but, please, NO name). Jeez, can it be this tough finding a replacement for Emile Lahoud?

It [an-Nahar] also reported in its Saturday morning edition that the Christian committee has agreed that all MPs should attend the presidential elections session, which puts an end to the traditional dispute on quorum, be it two thirds of legislators or just simple majority.
All right, a teeny weeny piece of news here IF (huge if) it actually means that all Christian MPs, read Aounists, will show up on election day, regardless of agreement on a candidate. I have my doubts, see next line below.

However, committee members have not reached agreement on the authority to which its recommendations would be referred, an-Nahar reported.

It said representatives of the March 14 majority want the recommendations referred to Patriarch Sfeir, while opposition representatives want them referred to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Parliamentary Majority leader Saad Hariri who are involved in talks to agree on a consensus presidential candidate.

Referring the recommendations to Berri-Hariri, the report noted, puts them under possible veto by Berri, who represents the Hizbullah-led opposition in the talks.
Refer what to whom? Does any of that sound like they even agreed on the color of the sky?

Hizbullah has noted that it backs consensus among Christians on a presidential candidate conditional to nationwide consensus, leaving the door open to veto by the pro-Syrian opposition.
The above is the crown jewel of the piece. It highlights the supreme futility of all those meetings and talks. TRANSLATION: Hezbo will accept what the Christians say. Unless they don’t like it.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman on Friday dealt a blow to President Emile Lahoud's alleged hope of remaining in office after his extended term expires on Nov. 24.
Even with the word “alleged” before the word “hope”, the fact that the above needs to be said tells you that Lebanon is living in the Twilight Zone cubed.

Washington would not deal with Lahoud after Nov. 24, the U.S. ambassador stressed in a statement.
Ditto for that statement. In fact, recent polls show 78.2% in favor of a constitutional amendment mandating the summary execution for anyone caught talking to the son of a thousand bitches after November 24.

Meanwhile, MP Michel Murr told LBC Friday evening that Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun does not enjoy enough parliamentary backing to win a presidential vote.

Aha! That old fox Michel Murr breaking the code of silence and blessing all of us with a truth only known to every ass in Lebanon.

"He knows that if he goes to parliament he cannot win," Murr said of Aoun.
Thanks Abou'l Mich Murr. We all know that. However, it’s reassuring to know that some truths are within the shaky grasp of Abou’l Mich Aoun.

By Nov. 11, one day before the date set by Berri for Parliament to elect a president, "we will tell him (Aoun) that vacuum (in the presidential office) is not an option," Murr added.

"I say that we will not accept vacuum, we will not ruin the country if consensus was not reached on him (Aoun)," Murr added.
Yeah, that's leadership. Let’s wait until the end of the world to tell Aoun what every cretin knows to be in the country’s interest. Can we now, at least, suspect that MPs of the worst kind, like you, will step back from the brink one day before Armageddon? Couldn’t you have spared the country months of anguish and economic ruin? (And please don’t change your mind when your buddy Bashar calls.)

"I'll support any candidate accepted by Berri, Hariri and Bkirki," Murr added.
And I’ll accept any candidate supported by Bush, Castro, Assad, Shaker Absi and Pinochet. I just sent Murr one of those new controversial tee shirts with the picture of 2 boobs on it, Hariri and Berri. And it says: Who needs brains when you got these?


  • At 10/28/07, 3:59 AM, Blogger R said…

    Wow man, I am impressed you have the energy to put together a blogpost. I barely have the energy to read the paper these days.

    In any case, well said.

  • At 10/28/07, 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anytime someone puts Aoun's candidacy in doubt, particularly when it is his amigos, I am delighted! As for the secrecy and stupidity of the mass and their leaders.... akhhhh ya allah! Thanks for another rare, but enlightning as always, posting.

  • At 10/28/07, 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Dude, you make me laugh more than watching my wife try to make tabouleh!


  • At 10/29/07, 1:31 AM, Anonymous ghassan karam said…

    I am afraid that the real joke is on us, those who are expecting these jokers to form a modern government and run a country.That expectation is as hopeless as the expectation that a hundred chimps hammering at the keyboards of a hundred computers will wind up writing Hamlet.

  • At 10/29/07, 9:03 AM, Anonymous Super Dude said…

    Made my day.

    Shunkleash, for your sake, I hope your other half does not read these blogs.

  • At 10/29/07, 3:39 PM, Blogger Bad Vilbel said…

    I have to agree with Ghassan here. The joke's on us. Until the Lebanese people at large wake up and stop letting these clowns tell us (or in this case, keep it all hush-hush) what to think and what not to think, there is no hope for Lebanon.

    And we have but ourselves to blame for this charade. After all, there are what, 3 million of us (if not more), puttering around while a handful of idiots dictate this idiocy...

  • At 10/29/07, 6:00 PM, Blogger JoseyWales said…

    Thanks Everyone.

    Gus and BV,

    I agree with you. The baffling thing is that no journalist/commentator in Lebanon, for all their unhappiness, ever says this behavior or that practice is unacceptable. I mean by naming names, being specific and consistent and fitting things in some kind of framework.

    Criticism is all of the garden variety: "pols should put the country first", duh! "If only the pols would get a conscience". Duh again.

    The system and culture are broken and no amount of "be nice for a time or a week" is going to fix it, let alone that the shallowness and stupidity of the arguments clash with these people's views of themselves as "sophisticated, well read, cultured" (my ass) thinkers.

    Someone should analyze Leb editorials and comments in major papers and TVs. The results would be telling and useful.

  • At 10/30/07, 2:05 AM, Blogger Bad Vilbel said…


    Exactly. There is absolutely no critical think from the populace or the media.

    What they consider "analysis" is a joke. Mostly rumors, hearsay, and conspiracy theories.

    Before there can be any hope of change, or of getting a new generation of pols, we're gonna have to see a shift in the culture and mentality, from the currentl childish immaturity (let's call it what it is), to a more civlized and mature level of discourse (and I'm not talking about the pols here, I'm talking about the people).

    Until them, I have zero hope for the country to be anything more than the failed state it's been since 1943.

  • At 10/30/07, 2:07 AM, Blogger Bad Vilbel said…

    Sorry for the typos back there. It's late.

    That should've been "critical thinking" and "until then".


  • At 10/30/07, 4:15 PM, Blogger Solomon2 said…

    First, Lebanese really are peons. Lebanon only has a democracy if the major sectarian groups are in agreement; the prez or pm or Speaker decide to do nothing, you're up the creek. So you're really a power-sharing oligarchy subject to occasional democratic validation by the selection of your deputies - voters don't have the right to remove leaders for not doing their duty.

    Second, I suspect that everyone's positions have hardened considerably. However, no one wants to be the target of yet another bomb. So I guess that folks are going through the motions, but aren't really producing anything of substance - that keeps the bombers at bay, because they hope M14 might despair and give in.

    And maybe deputies are collecting bribes. I know what I would do if I was in the M14 camp was offerred a substantial and immediate bribe to switch sides: I'd accept. Could I still expect to be a terrorist target if the terror-supporting party had just handsomely bribed me to switch sides? Accepting the bribe, I now have effective immunity.

    However, when Parliament actually meets and the decisive moment comes, I'll betray whoever bribed me, describe the entire incident in detail, and publicly cite my fear as the reason for my actions. Thus I'll encourage others to do the same. (Jailed Soviet dissident Anatoly Sharansky unintentionally penetrated a KGB cell of informers by encouraging one to squeal in just this fashion. The remaining informers started reporting to him instead. The Soviet Union eventually responded by expelling Sharansky from the U.S.S.R. entirely.)

    If bribery is exposed as ineffective, what threat is left for Syria/Hezbollah/Iran to wield? Threaten to kill the deputies who betrayed their paymaster? They already felt that threat before they were bribed; they probably wonder if they'd be any safer if they kept to their word and essentially allowed Lebanon to become subject to foreign dominatation.

  • At 10/31/07, 7:41 AM, Anonymous Louis-Noel Harfouche said…

    We're finished! The energy, momentum, and national guts and clarity that drove the Syrians out is ancient history and a spent force. It used to be an issue of "who's givin' up first; the whip or the back?" It's over folks! The whip is still being cracked, and the "peons" are on crack; ushering in another 100-years of insignificance.


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