New titles new prerogatives

So it turns out that the sister of one of the boys assassinated a couple of days ago asked to get a chance to see Hizbulah SG Nasrallah because she is now the sister of a “shahid”. Please can somebody forward this to l’Orient le Jour? or to Ziad Makhoul directly?

By the way, did you notice how Al-Akhbar more than any other Lebanese newspapers (who scream for vengeance) try to show the “nationalist” dimension of this killing by trying to detect a modicum of union between the political protagonists? None of them depicts an accurate description of all aspects of reality, but it is just funny to see the different approaches to the same status-quo.

Meanwhile in Turkey

I see that they have some of that in Turkey too. Good, Lebanon is no exception. ‘Western’ journalists just love it: pick up on the female bourgeoisie of an ‘Eastern’ country as a sign of ‘modernism’, when all there is to it is profound decadence. I will write more on the Turkish question and the misperception of the western media.

Ziad Makhoul should be behind bars

I’m sorry but with a title like this “Va, venge et deviens”, you should be locked and kept away from causing public nuisance. This is a simple call to gratuitous physical violence that involves some transcendental experience. I seriously don’t understand how nobody checks on what this guy writes. Does it mean that no one is averagely sane at French-colonialist-nostalgics L’Orient le jour?

And then, to add insult to injury the guy shows his profound stupidity (so “bête et méchant as we say in French), and quotes high references like… Jumblatt: “L’État est notre unique protection”. Nowhere is ideological construction clearer than when Jumblatt who never had any ‘public’ use of ‘the state’, use the state as a tool to protect his chair, and yet Makhoul really thinks that Jumblatt has in mind a whole set of practices that involves the state as the provider of public interest.

Third, is his horrible romantic narrative style. And when assassinations and killings are involved as is often the case in our lovely piece of paradise called Lebanon, it just creates the lousiest prose:

Est-ce qu’il est possible de reconstruire, de restaurer l’État sur les cadavres mutilés des deux Ziad, sachant que dans le cas contraire, cela équivaudrait non seulement à les assassiner ad vitam, mais surtout à reculer pour, un jour ou l’autre, finalement, mieux sauter, mieux reproduire la barbarie, mieux se dissoudre, mieux faire exploser tout un pays ? Est-ce qu’il est possible d’expliquer à ceux qui, naturellement, légitimement, ne rêvent que de se venger que la plus belle, la plus parfaite des vengeances serait justement la réaffirmation de cet État, son règne, son avènement tous pores ouverts : loi, droit, devoirs ?

These are uselessly loaded terms you can use in all situations. What is the objective of that? Brainwash and reach the audience in their deepest ethical foundations.
And he calls Walid Jumblatt’s erratically schizophrenic (between one glass of whisky and another) statement compounded a “travail éminemment pédagogique”, and a “œuvre civique”…

For this half-brain, the State is just “justice” and “truth”. Well good luck with building a state I guess… I also guess that the idea that an ‘international tribunal’, (i.e. another-worldly settling of accounts) is the only thing that can purify, cleanse (tahir, طهر) the system. This is but one fascist ideal that this guy goes by (he is just one among so many agitators that thinks a ‘tribunal’, or a ‘battle for the truth’ as a priority for all the country’s ills is going to change anything to the situation).

This is what he has to write on the assassinations of PSP officials’ kids:

Ils s’en seraient bien passés, mais les deux Ziad, de là où ils sont, sont désormais devenus la conscience du Liban. Une conscience éternelle, impitoyable, impossible à étouffer, accomplie, plus forte que tous ses probables futurs fossoyeurs – et il y en a(ura)… Maigre mais somptueuse consolation.

Do you think he wrote the same about the kids that died during the Israeli murderous adventure of the summer (he first has to think that they have a conscience)? Do you think he wrote the same about those who were shot cowardly in the back during the Beirut Arab University debacle of this winter? About those who were shot at and killed during the demonstrations against the policies of the State (that is captured by a group of oligarch he cherishes so much), thanks to the careful plans of extremely disturbed LF leader and professional killer Samir Geagea (who he admires so much)? If you do, then think again.

A Connoisseuse of Slugs: A Poetic Interlude …

When I was a connoisseuse of slugs
I would part the ivy leaves, and look for the
naked jelly of those gold bodies,
translucent strangers glistening along the
stones, slowly, their gelatinous bodies
at my mercy. Made mostly of water, they would shrivel
to nothing if they were sprinkled with salt,
but I was not interested in that. What I liked
was to draw aside the ivy, breathe the
odor of the wall, and stand there in silence
until the slug forgot I was there
and sent it antennae up out of its
head, the glimmering umber horns
rising like telesopes, until finally the
sensitive knobs would pop out the ends,
delicate and intimate. Years later,
when I first saw a naked man,
I gasped with pleasure to see that quiet

mystery reenacted, the slow
elegant being coming out of hiding and
gleaming in the dark air, eager and so
trusting you could weep.

— Sharon Olds

Ludes, past:

Billy Collins, 1.
Ounsi El Hage, 1.
Henri Michaux, 1, 2.
Marianne Moore, 1.
Pablo Neruda, 1.
Theodore Roethke, 1, 2, 3, 4.
Dylan Thomas, 1.
Richard Wilbur, 1, 2, 3.

They all meet under one roof

Would you believe me if I told you that the Daily Star has written an article on former PM Mikati mother’s death, and who went to give him condolences? The title of the article is no less important: “Leaders mourn late mother of ex-PM Mikati”. Wait, maybe his mother was kind of an important figure in Lebanese or Arab history. Nope. She’s just the mother of Mikati. I mean, isn’t this important enough to write an article about it and list all the officials that went there? And so I would like to do the same here, I want people to realize how fucked up this is. Just try to read the whole list:

Political leaders paid their condolences on Thursday to the family of Souad Ghandour, who passed away on Thursday morning. Ghandour was the mother of former Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Mikati received phone calls from Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Speaker Nabih Berri and President Emile Lahoud.
Former President Amin Gemayel, former Prime Minister Salim Hoss, Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani and Higher Shiite Council vice president Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan also called Mikati, in addition to Saudi Ambassador Abdel-Aziz Khoja, Egyptian Ambassador Hussein Darrar and US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman.
UN special coordinator for Lebanon Geir Pedersen, former Minister Suleiman Franjieh and Lebanese Army Commander General Michel Suleiman were also among the mourners.
Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa, Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammad Raad and MPs Butros Harb, Ali Hassan Khalil and Samir Jisr all visited Mikati in Beirut.

Til Death Do Us Part …

“The relationship between the United States and the Arab regimes is like a Catholic marriage where you can have no divorce.”

Meanwhile, Back at the Faculty Lounge …

Mr. Tenet also directs scorn at the Pentagon intelligence analyses by Douglas J. Feith, then undersecretary of defense for policy. He describes his fury in August 2002 as he watched a slide show by Mr. Feith’s staff at C.I.A. headquarters suggesting “a mature, symbiotic relationship” between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
He said C.I.A. officers came to call such reports, in a play on words, “Feith-based analysis.” In an interview on Friday, Mr. Feith said Mr. Tenet’s account distorts the facts of the Pentagon effort and obscures Mr. Tenet’s own public statements before the war. Mr. Feith noted that Mr. Tenet, in October 2002, sent the Senate intelligence committee a letter that said, “We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade.”

Billboarding the constituency

We have to keep in mind that whatever the choices made by a political organization, they are primarily based on its relation with its constituency (i.e. on being able to stay popular). Erecting billboards of the Israeli prisoners in the south of Lebanon are aimed at keeping a symbolic structures of affiliation alive and well. More interestingly enough is when journalists replicate in a gross and more simplistic way the intended effect produced (judging from the only event he picks up):

Chants in support of Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah rang out from a crowd of local villagers who gathered to watch the billboard being put up. “We will sacrifice ourselves for you, Nasrallah,” the supporters chanted.

These fields of compliance/resistance are replicated by the main producers of knowledge, as being exactly the intended effect by the party. Of course in reality the little crowd that gathered to show support does not exemplify the practices of all the population. But the population finds itself a prisoner of these discursive fields so much so that even if they want to voice discontent, they will have to voice it in the same terms posed by the party. So it is also clear that Israel is not the main target of this billboard.

This burgeoning of billboards related to the latest war of july/august 2006 are one of many examples showing that Hizbullah has been meeting a huge challenge to convince the population that it still made sense to support the party, especially after the huge losses suffered. This shows the extent to which the party is in a constant battle to construct its legitimacy, and that constituencies are not monolithic rigid entities that follow just because they’re “brain-washed” by some ideas that are somehow everlastingly marking.

Abstinence is for Africans …

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias submitted his resignation Friday, one day after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service whose owner has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a prostitution operation.
Tobias, 65, director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), had previously served as the ambassador for the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief.
As the Bush administration’s so-called “AIDS czar,” Tobias was criticized for emphasizing faithfulness and abstinence over condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

These guys are beyond disgusting. The only question is how deep the rot.

For Reasons That Are (Not Yet) Clear…

For reasons that are not yet clear, America’s general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq’s government and security forces, and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq,” Lt. Col. Paul Yingling said in the article published Friday in the Armed Forces Journal.

Those stateside like me have had to endure an endless amount of blather — legal and otherwise — about what role the US Congress should play in the government’s war-making powers. Those who argue for an expansive reading of Article II’s CinC powers often suggest that the legislature should not be involved in battlefield decisions, lest the military be compromised by vissicitudes of politics. This is utter bullshit. Having abandoned its constitutional role in matters of war and peace by deferring to the Executive, the US Congress has only futher politicized the ranks of the US military leadership. Instead of our elected representatives making such decisions, we have generals deciding whether we are at war or peace. One can witness this phenomenon in the fetish over the Pentagon’s IED presentation or in the revolving door of the Iraq command structure.

I will edit and elaborate when I get the chance.

Sonnet XI: A Poetic Interlude …

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

— Pablo Neruda

Ludes, past:

Billy Collins, 1.
Ounsi El Hage, 1.
Henri Michaux, 1, 2.
Marianne Moore, 1.
Theodore Roethke, 1, 2, 3, 4.
Dylan Thomas, 1.
Richard Wilbur, 1, 2, 3.

Your Love Is Better Than Chocolate …?

Accompanying a 35-page petition signed by a diverse set of culinary groups — juice producers, meat canners and the chocolate lobby — the appendix charts proposed changes to food standard definitions set by the Food and Drug Administration, including this one: “use a vegetable fat in place of another vegetable fat named in the standard (e.g., cacao fat).”

The “chocolate lobby”? Yet another sign of imperial (tooth) decay …

Correction …

Brooks worships the status quo because he has no penis and wants to spend the rest of his life buying periwinkle bath towels without troubling interruptions of conscience.

It seems I do like this Matt Taibbi fellow.

Cash Cow …

Much of the rest was taken by the UN compensation commission, entrusted in handling claims of damages made by those allegedly harmed by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. According to von Sponeck, the Iraqi oil pie was so large, there was plenty for everyone: Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, and all the rest. But most ironically, the commission awarded a large sum of money to two Israeli kibbutzim in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights, for allegedly losing some of their income due to the fact that the war damaged the tourism industry in Israel.

Photo Editor of the Year: Al-Akhbar …

See Matt Taibbi’s funny post on Yeltsin. I am not sure yet if I like the guy (Taibbi), but he is quite sharp with the elbows.

Other vassals and an interesting information

Apart from the despicable attitude of Egypt prevalent in this information, notice something else in this lead:

Egypt has imposed severe restrictions on Hamas officials crossing into the country, sources close to Hamas told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

I wonder who are the sources close to Hamas that speak to the right wing Israeli rag.

Syria is more pro-Hizballah than Hizballah is pro-Syria

With this insightful formula Emile Hokayem introduce the thorny topic of Hizballah-Syrian relations of which he reviews and analyzes the various changes undergone since the early 80s up till today. His article is really worth reading and being discussed. I may add comments on his text later on.

The overzealous vassal

So when you wake up in the morning and you read something like this,

Jordan’s King Abdullah II yesterday told a delegation of Knesset members that “we are in the same boat, we have the same problem. We have the same enemies.” The king reiterated the comments a number of times, which those at the meeting said referred to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Abdullah also emphasized that he spoke not only for Jordan but for a group of states in the region. The king asked at one point: “Do you want Iran on the banks of the Jordan?”

You seriously start wondering how come we arrived at having to read such radical statements. Saudi officials are anti-imperialist militants compared to this guy!

That is not it. Aparently King II has also suggested (he likes to give intelligent advices) that Palestinians refugee should settle in host countries (specifically Lebanon) against remuneration. Fortunately for us, he informed Israel of his plan. You seriously don’t need americans in the area with this guy around. He can just do the job for them and keep things tidy enough while they’re out conquering new spaces.

The show must go on

A Holocaust survivor gunned down trying to save his students from the Virginia Tech shooting rampage was buried in Israel Friday to the sobs of his grieving family.
Engineering Professor Liviu Librescu’s body was wrapped in a prayer shawl according to Jewish tradition, and his two sons intoned the Kaddish, the Hebrew prayer for the dead.

Even more freaky:

A representative of the Romanian government posthumously awarded the Romanian-born Librescu the country’s highest medal for his scientific accomplishments and heroism. Romanian officials laid a wreath at the grave.

Play by the discursive rules allowed and you will be rewarded.

Un interlude Poétique: Ma vie

Tu t’en vas sans moi, ma vie.
Tu roules.
Et moi j’attends encore de faire un pas.
Tu portes ailleurs la bataille.
Tu me désertes ainsi.
Je ne t’ai jamais suivie.
Je ne vois pas clair dans tes offres.
Le petit peu que je veux, jamais tu ne l’apportes.
A cause de ce manque, j’aspire à tant.
A tant de choses, à presque l’infini…
A cause de ce peu qui manque, que jamais tu n’apportes.

— Henri Michaux, La nuit remue, 1935

Autres interludes:

Henri Michaux, 1.
Ounsi El Hage, 1.
Billy Collins, 1.

Marianne Moore, 1.
Theodore Roethke, 1, 2, 3, 4.
Dylan Thomas, 1.
Richard Wilbur, 1, 2, 3.

Crack Kills …

A traveler who moves between Baghdad and Washington is struck by the gloomy despair in Washington and the cautious sense of optimism in Baghdad.

The prosecution rests.

Oh, My!

A “WOMAN town” where females make all decisions and punish naughty men is being built in mid-China.
The 1.5 square mile Shuangqiao district in Chongqing will have the slogan: “A woman never makes a mistake. A man can never reject a woman’s request.”
It is expected to be a Mecca for women tourists.
Tourism chief Li Jigang said: “A disobedient man will be punished by kneeling on a board or doing dishes.”

By the Numbers …

There were almost 500 acts of terrorism across the European Union in 2006 — but only one, the foiled suitcase bomb plot in Germany, was related to Islamist terror, a new EU report reveals.

I guess Bernard Lewis did not get this report.

The Wild West …

I want to kill somebody today,” Washbourne said, according to the three other men in the vehicle, who later recalled it as an offhand remark.

This Should Be Fun …

Giving the Callaghan lecture in Cardiff, the prime minister admitted he had been “lurching into total frankness” in the final weeks of his premiership.

Poodles, however, don’t lurch, they scurry …

Welcome to Kurdistan …

It was, in other words, a story about influence-building, buying, and profit, albeit with subplots that were equal parts John le Carre and Keystone Kops, and a cast of characters ranging from ex-Mossad head Yatom to a former German superspy, with Israeli counterterrorism commandos, Kurdish political dynasties, powerful American lobbyists, Turkish business tycoons thrown in—not to mention millions of dollars stashed in Swiss bank accounts.

The Follicle Follies: A Happy Ending …

Although my literary career remains on pause while I attend to more profane matters, I continue to collect materials, rather unwittingly, for my all-but ordained collection of short stories, Barbershops of the World: My Life with Hair.
Today’s adventure was priceless and had me thinking of the fires of Hatay and Brooklyn’s missing scissors (don’t ask, the shit is proprietary).
Let me just say this: If you have not had a Phillipina woman softly hum Patsy Cline’s Crazy (kwazee for twying, kwazee for cwying, cwazie for luving ooo) while she massages your scalp and her coworkers, mouths full of lasagna, debate whether the same dirty joke sounds better in Spanish or Italian, you do not know the meaning of “happy ending.”
God, let me never go bald. You have made me the anti-Sampson, and without my shearings, I am powerless against the horrible dullness.

The Politics of Intelligence …

A special group at the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center, very similar to the group that tracked the activity of al-Qaeda through the 1990s, has been working on the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah over the past three years. In the wake of the failed Israeli incursion into Lebanon last summer, the White House asked these Hezbollah analysts to provide a comprehensive assessment of the organization, its tactics, and its leaders. A team of analysts headed by an experienced senior officer completed the report over a month ago and concluded, surprisingly, that Hezbollah is actually a collection of diverse interest groups, and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, far from being a fanatic controlled by Tehran, is a fairly nuanced and astute politician who has maintained his independence from the Mullahs. It also indicated that Hezbollah’s threat to American interests has been seriously overstated. The report recommended that the U.S. government make an effort to establish a dialogue with Nasrallah in an attempt to moderate his organization’s more extreme policies; it suggested strongly that Nasrallah would likely be receptive to such an approach. The more politically sensitized senior managers of the CIA analytical division took one look at the report, were shocked by its conclusions, and sent it back to the Counter Terrorism Center for reconsideration and redrafting in a form that would be more politically acceptable to the White House.

The CIA knows, but the White House does not care …