Be happy, rest, savor the victory...

I've decided to rest and be happy. We deserve to savor this moment and be rested for tomorrow. There still is much to be done. I know sometimes I tend to rain on my own parade. That's no way to live. So, tomorrow I'll begin again. I left out the sadness from Hilla today. Next to Ashoura last year, this was the largest death toll by a suicide bomber. So, some very good and some very bad today. Personally, I had an excellent day. And it's time to rest, be stupid, and watch some mindless television. My dad always says to me in that Maslawi matter-of-fact sort of way, "Your problems are going to be there when you wake up." Indeed, so now it's time to rest.

Peace to my peoples in the world,

Limmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmm mmmmmmm

Commentary on the Lebanese situation

I will collate a list of opinions regarding the situation in Lebanon at the moment. Things are moving very quickly indeed, as Angry Arab says. It's hard to take it all in, but I'll try my best to give you several opinions to disseminate for yourself.

It'll take me a while to get this all up. I'll have a Lebanon E-culture link list up soon, too. My fractured identity is slowly rising to the surface in bits and pieces.

It might be several hours before I get this list of commentary up because I'm taking care of my beautiful neice today. ;) liminal


It's impossible, isn't it? Every time I've gotten hopeful about the situation in Lebanon, I've had to check myself for fear of influence from external parties. Now I've got to do the same with regards to internal ones. I'm really freaked out. It almost seems too good to be true in many ways. And young Lebanese who wish to feel free from the clutches of Syria need to watch their front and their back for fear of being taken for a ride.

That's right, I fear now that the sentiment and action of Lebanon's idealistic young people (including myself) will be taken advantage of by certain unsavory characters. If you visit Angry Arab, you'll get an idea of what's on my mind at the moment. His words are extremely cogent and well thought-out, but I'd like to hope there is less of a chance of us being taken advantage of...yet I haven't seen (although I'm sure there are) some young intelligent and strong leaders who are really out for a fluid national identity and for the security and peace of all Lebanese. You've got to feel on certain levels many of the personalities from the 75-90 war still operating today in Lebanese politics are pretty sketchy. They deserve a hard look. Do they have harmful agendas? Are they short-sighted power-grabbers? And of course, there are other matters to take in to hand, but I hope to get to them later.

I've had a great day with my adorable neice. Soon she'll sleep and I'll be able to get to that list I promised.

Let's see. Lebanon's future is still on a knife's edge, but this is a good development. The next step is crucial. What it will be, I don't know. But we need some fresh and clean hands in Lebanese politics today. If there's ever a time for somebody to make a move to enter the political arena in Lebanon, right now's the ripe time to do so.

My best wishes for Lebanon in this very exciting and uncertain time...
And still, I say no to violence and no to being taken advantage of by both external parties and internal old hat sectarian strife.

Peace out,


I'm having way too much fun with my neice! Ok, here goes...

  1. Juan Cole's Lebanese history cliff-notes style - a short summary (20 minutes tops)
  2. The newest addition at LBF, Mana gives you her first-hand experience at the protests in "Freedom Sqaure"
  3. Firas at Thermo-Police gives you perspective with his thoughtful words
  4. My new favorite friend in Lebanon blogger, Unfrozen Caveman Linguist with some fleshed-out posts of wisdom
  5. Ramzi is another gem of blogger with the best for Lebanon on his mind
  6. Mysterious Eve makes mind melt a mode for all that read Arabic
  7. Callipyge quotes a protester's sign on listserv, Assad bi Lubnan, arnab bil Julan. Nuff said, lol, check her out.
  8. Angry Arab is still angry...perhaps too angry for my taste these days. I believe he's putting little faith in my generation. I still love him, though. He has some important points regardless of your thinking.
  9. Roy Saad has a first-hand experience of the protests and some things to think about.
  10. Window in Lebanon for French speaking first-hand essence of the times
  11. The immutable Zounazar with Lebanese activism in a strong Arabic voice
  12. Rampurple for another patriot's view from Kuwait
  13. For more bloggers views check Lebanese Blogger Forum

The entire Lebanese government resigns, now Lahoud and pro-Syrian parlaiment left

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All I know, there's gonna be a party in Ain El Rimaneh tonight.

Ok, the entire Lebanese government has resigned. Of course, that leaves Emile Lahoud as president and the mostly Pro-Syrian parlaiment members in place. Now, Lahoud has to form a new government. The fight isn't over yet, in other words. Will he really be able to form a new government in such conditions? And if he forms it, will it be obvious that it's another Pro-Syrian puppet-regime?

Please do not misunderstand me. I have no quarrel with the Syrian people...none at all, in fact. I have objection with Syrian presence in Lebanon and control over Lebanon's economy and intelligence infrastructure. I am aware Bush will probably count this as a gold star on his harldy used National Guard uniform. This is only to be expected. The free will of Lebanese people is finally shining...and this is the main point here.

Lebanese people are saying Lebanon will not be used as a battlefield for other people's wars. This will be a difficult thing to acheive entirely, though. But we are moving in the right direction to make sure Lebanon really remains for the Lebanese.

Now, I'm going to go celebrate this first of many victories.

How exciting is this?! What will we call this revolution? The Cedars Uprising? Or the Cedars Revolution? I'm going to think about it today and come up with some good ones. Any suggestions?



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VICTORY #1: Prime Minister Omar Karameh Steps Down


I was running around the house trying to get to the computer to post this!

I'm so happy I have eggs on the oven...I will have more later!


Thousands rally in Beirut, Pre-empting the protest ban tomorrow!

Incredible. People have hit the streets before being banned tomorrow!

Thousands of demonstrators shouting "Syria Out!" rallied in downtown Beirut late on Sunday after opposition movements vowed to defy a ban on public demonstrations.

Youngsters carrying the Lebanese flag converged on Martyrs' Square, where the opposition has called for a peaceful sit-in on Monday in defiance of the ban, which comes into force at 0300 GMT.

"We are going to hand out blankets, we are staying here," one of the demonstrators said by loudspeaker.

Hundreds of heavily armed troops deployed with jeeps and trucks at all the main crossroads leading to the square.

And hundreds of protesters stopped from getting to the square blocked nearby crossings, some of them shouting: "We don't want any other army than the Lebanese army!"

Interior Minister Sulaiman Franjieh earlier on Sunday outlawed all public demonstrations.

The minister said the ban was "due to the current circumstances, in the supreme national interest and with a view to the requirements of protecting civil peace".

"Protecting civil peace..." Yea, right. And I'm irreverent because I don't like you personally...not because I wish all peoples to be free and not subjugated to occupations and torture. There's no reason for Syria to be in Lebanon any more. I don't know a single Lebanese person that does not wish they would just leave. Enough! Khallas!


It's poetry to see Lebanese people uniting and helping themselves!

How I wish I was there
With you on FREEDOM Square
I send you my best tonight
My spirit will join the fight


L to the L

Syria Did It

That's my feeling now. I spent the day with our friend. And sure, it's fresh on my mind, but I think they pushed the button that killed Rafiq Hariri plus several others, and badly injured Dr. Fuleihan and many others. It obviously backfired. We must not let the fury over their presence calm down. They have to leave. The government has to resign. Lebanon deserves a fresh start.

Power to the Lebanese in Lebanon.

There'll be demonstrations tomorrow in Beirut. It could get nasty. And if it does, we'll know it's their fault too.


If you get the chance...

If anybody gets the chance, please visit Dr. Basil Fuleihan's site, Praying for Basil. The site is for the family and friends of Dr. Fuleihan who would like to keep updated on his condition.

Thank you,


Max Ehrmann sums it up in Desiderata


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.


A shout out thanks to Johnny Depp for bringing it to my attention.

;) liminal

Who is your daddy, and what does he do?

News emerges Blair was Georgie's female dog as early as April 2002.

How much do you love daddy now?

This much.

The Right Wing Echo Chamber on Video

I know digby had a post about this earlier, but I missed it until now. Here's the video. The exceptions are Zell Miller and Joe Leiberman? And this is TIME magazine's blogger of the year? Woah, the people at powerline are scary.

If William Faulkner were writing on the Bush White House

William Faulkner
February 23, 2005

Down the hall, under the chandelier, I could see them talking. They were walking toward me and Dick's face was white, and he stopped and gave a piece of paper to Rummy, and Rummy looked at the piece of paper and shook his head. He gave the paper back to Dick and Dick shook his head. They disappeared and then they were standing right next to me.

"Georgie's going to walk down to the Oval Office with me," Dick said.

"I just hope you got him all good and ready this time," Rummy said.

"Hush now," Dick said. "This aint no laughing matter. He know lot more than folks think." Dick patted me on the back good and hard. "Come on now, Georgie," Dick said. "Never mind you, Rummy."

The Administration and the Fury - If William Faulkner were writing on the Bush White House. By Sam Apple

Feeling Iraq'd?


Yet another spin-off of Punk'd has been out for some time, yet I've just noticed it.

The New Republic Online presents Iraq'd. They provide the best explanation of its purpose, which I've posted here. But it's a blog you should check out.

WHAT IS IRAQ'D?: If you're a pro-war liberal, chances are you're probably feeling burned right now. The case for the Iraq war rested on three pillars: The danger of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, with the clock ticking on a nuclear capability; the danger of Saddam Hussein's connections to Al Qaeda; and the human rights imperative of deposing one of the world's most despicable regimes and assisting newly-freed Iraqis in building a democracy. Well, it turns out that Saddam didn't have much in the way of WMD, or even ongoing WMD programs. And it also appears that his ties to Al Qaeda were tenuous at best. So all that's left for the war rationale is the human-rights-and-democracy argument, which for liberals is intuitively appealing (or should be). But then along comes the Bush administration's November 15 Agreement to relinquish sovereignty by June 30, which tells the Iraqis that, owing to election-year considerations, the United States can't be bothered right now to midwife a democracy. You might say you've been Iraq'd.

And no one is more Iraq'd right now than the Iraqis themselves. It's no accident that, as soon as the Coalition Provisional Authority announced its withdrawal plan, the various Iraqi factions immediately began pressing for their maximal demands: The Kurds want autonomy, an internal militia, and the oil-rich city of Kirkuk; the Shia want direct elections to the body that will assume sovereignty, in order to guard against their disenfranchisement; the Sunnis are resisting elections because they fear disenfranchisement by the numerically-superior Shia; our handpicked Iraqi Governing Council, distrusted by the broader Shia and Sunni populations, is agitating to keep its hold on power. Each faction is fighting hard to impose facts on the ground because it can no longer count on the United States sticking around to ensure that all segments of Iraqi society are represented in a future Iraqi democracy.

One of the premises of Iraq'd is that the U.S. decision to cease nation-building jeopardizes our own national security as well as Iraq's. After all, if we believe that Iraqi democracy would be a model for the region, then the converse is also true: If we leave behind a failing state in Iraq, then we provide Middle Eastern autocrats with a pretext for cracking down on the reformers and liberals in their midst, since they can point to the chaos in Baghdad as the likely fruit of democracy. And since Islamist terrorism feeds in part on Middle Eastern tyranny, then we're in a lot of trouble. Iraq'd will highlight developments in Iraq and the Middle East to call attention to this danger.

A couple of programming notes: This blog is written from Washington. Readers in Iraq are invited to pass along accounts of what's happening on the ground. Readers at home are invited to disagree with any and all of the arguments featured here.

So, do you feel Iraq'd?

I do. And many in my family do too.


Iraqi women live in fear, Amnesty says

According to an Amnesty International report just released, Iraqi women live in more and more fear as their rights are reduced. Welcome to the newly liberated Iraq.

Asma, a young Baghdad engineer, was shopping with relatives when she was forced into a car by six armed men. They took her to a farmhouse outside the city, raped her repeatedly and dumped her back in her neighbourhood the next day.

The incident, which took place in May, 2003, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq ended, is now commonplace for Iraqi women, says an Amnesty International report titled "Iraq: Decades of suffering, Now women deserve better." "Women and girls in Iraq live in fear of violence as the conflict intensifies and insecurity spirals," it says.

Released yesterday, the report calls on the new Iraqi government to introduce measures that can protect women at a time of escalating crime, religious fanaticism and disorder.

I would support any possible candidate for prime minister in Iraq if they supported measures to protect women. Has any candidate even seriously brought this up? Well we know that women will be seen as half a person in the new Jaafari government in accordance to Islamic law. Sorry, but this is not moving forward for Iraqis. This is moving backwards. If they really go through with this, I'm going to puke all over this screen.

TheStar.com - Iraqi women live in fear, Amnesty says

Egypt announces democratic reform: Nawal Saadawi for President

Egypt announces democratic reform...yea, I'll believe it when I see it. You mean Mubarak's son will not be the only choice for Egypt's future?

I say, Nawal Saadawi for President.

Lets be honest with ourselves...do you think this was done on Mubarak's on accord? Nah, I'm sure Georgie gave him the ol' nod on this one. And if Georgie ends or cuts aid substantially to Egypt, their economy could collapse.

Also, this article suggests that this will now silence his critics. I disagree. I think it should add more voices to the growing list of critics of this autocratic regime that isn't a democracy in any sense of the word.

GRRRRRR...the people are coming to get you.


No votes in Nineveh: We are the new Kurds, a crushed people

Abbas makes me aware to the following article...and it sets me off after speaking with my cousin:

Our people, the Assyrians, the original inhabitants of Iraq - whose empire preceded Babylon, many of whom still speak Aramaic, the language of Christ - have been robbed. Along with other minorities in the north of our country, the Turkmen, the Yezidis and the Shabak, we were promised democracy. But the ballot boxes never arrived. The recent elections simply passed us by, our complaints ignored, our rights trampled, by people who should know better, because we shared their experience of repression under Saddam Hussein. As a result, no Assyrian representatives will be taking their place in the new Iraqi parliament.

Want to know WHY many in my family don't like what's happening in Iraq today?

Does anybody out there care?

Will we be run over by such a cruel fate?

Will we be left completely unrepresented?

Do we even exist now?

Imagine why I am starting to begrudgingly favor Allawi as the prime minister. The only way this is happening is because of the series of unfortunate events that has come to pass. The smaller minorities in Iraq will probably be extinct because of this illegal war and no plan at all by anybody to protect them in the aftermath.

I spoke with a cousin recently. He blew my mind. He said, "We should be ashamed to be Iraqi. Iraq doesn't want the [our family name] family any more. We should all leave." Of course, how I gather, he was referring to the combination of a couple things: 1) the frustration of being mistreated by people outside Iraq (even in a working environment) once they found out he was Iraqi. He said, "People think you have chemical weapons in your pockets. Everything is normal until you tell them you're Iraqi. Then they start to treat you differently." 2) And being a part of a minority left out of the democratic process completely...as have Assyrians, Turkmen, Yezidis, and the Shabak in Iraq.

So, imagine how it feels to be one of us completely disenfranchised people now. All sides are hostile to us. We don't belong inside Iraq because we are a little cared about minority or OUTSIDE Iraq because we are still Iraqi. IT makes me angry. Very angry.

I still don't believe my cousin told me what he did. But maybe he's right. So, not only are members of my family refugees, but now we can be refugees of our own mind--if we choose to be--by simply cutting ourselves from our identities. Sure, many in my family are currently finding homes elsewhere, but we're fortunate. There are so many inside Iraq and that have been forced to leave Iraq that ARE NOT as fortunate. And I'm speaking up for us ALL.

I want to know which Iraqis, in the blogosphere or just wandering around on the internet...I want to know whom of you support us. Please let your voice be heard.



Marine escapes charges over Fallujah shooting because shooting wounded and unarmed Iraqis is even more fun than shooting armed Iraqis

It is reported that a US marine, who was captured on film killing a wounded Iraqi at point blank range during November's assault on Fallujah, will not be formally charged due to lack of evidence and the fact that shooting wounded and unarmed Iraqis is even more fun than shooting armed Iraqis, according to Lt General James Mattis.

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You can't be patriotic if you're gay, it's against God's plan!

Everybody knows that!!! I mean, seriously. We don't need those heathen experts of translation and intelligence analysis, GOD'S on our SIDE!!! As long as President Bush leads us, we're being led right to the promised land! God bless America, and no other country.

Nuclear Security: Georgey's gotta prop Putin up

Since getting elected for the first time, Georgey has an air of opulent self-righteousness. But going so far as pretending to talk about democracy with Vlado is humorous. The truth is America needs Russia and Vlado has leverage on when and if he will implement real democratic reform in Russia. Once again, what wonderful theatre we've had the privilege to witness! Both of them are going in an anti-democratic direction. I argue, they need each other for PR. Sure, press freedom is worse in Russia...but after "Jeff Gannon", how much worse is it? Torture's o.k., The Patriot Act has got to stay, and recruiting in churches is the only way to get enough soldiers to save the day. I could go on and on. But if Georgey doesn't prop Putin up, the chances for a nuclear weapon getting into the hands of terrorists become greater. Can anybody say Catch-22?

Georgey pimpin' Putin? Or is it the other way around?
Even more probable, they're pimpin' each other.

Convincing one moo'lah at a time,

:) liminal


Andrew Osborn reports from Bratislava. The drift I got from the BBC was that they were all smiles. It appears as though that's not the case from Osborn's perspective. -lim.

update: Maureen Dowd goes brilliant again. A must read about the hypocrisy of Georgie telling Putin about the checks and balances of democracy.

This just in: Jaafari chosen as Iraq's next Prime Minister...essentially

I have no reaction. The pressure is on. Is the end of secular Iraq upon us?

Mr Jaafari is soft spoken and popular in Iraq, but an Iraqi observer wondered how effective he would be as prime minister. "So far he has been all things to all men. He was against the assault on Fallujah, but he also opposes setting a timetable for American withdrawal."
Let's see his true colors, then make a decision whether he'll be good for Iraq or not. Unfortunately, if he's not...it will be too late to change it. I am not thrilled in any way with the idea of how women will have a different position in Iraqi society because of the constitution to be written by the group that will be in this parlaiment. And I'm sure Iraqi women, especially urban Iraqi women, are not thrilled about this coming reality either.

Juan Cole has a mouthful to ponder about the possible parity in position between Chalabi and Jaafari. I agree with his sentiment that the playing up of his possible votes was some more political maneuvering by the parasite. I have the feeling some blackmailing is going on because he stole all those intelligence files...remember? I'll try to find a link. Putting him in charge of security or economy inside Iraq would be a great mistake.

Professor Cole also reports about some drama between Hilary and Jaafari. I remember when I saw Hilary and John McCain sitting in an outside studio in the Green Zone on one of thos Sunday political talk shows. It had this pastoral feel to it. Very eerie stuff. I was imagining how most Americans would perceive this interview, "Oh, it looks fine in Baghdad honey. They're sitting outside in the open. Look at that great non-partisan cooperation!"

All I can say is somebody better fix my friends HNK and Najma's school in Mosul. Are they still spending money on schools in Iraq, or have they shifted that account to security too?

The students of Iraq deserve much better than this. Don't you agree?


Update: This frightening update about Chalabi's role in the next Iraqi interim government from Jeanne at Body and Soul [via the Christian Science Monitor]
Over the weekend, SCIRI leader Abdel-Aziz Hakim met with Chalabi and offered to make him the top financial overseer in Iraq, responsible for the oil, trade, and finance ministries in exchange for him withdrawing, according to the SCIRI official.
Chalabi's assertiveness... may be rewarded with control of billions of dollars of oil revenue and trading contracts.
I have nothing to add about this scumbag who could actually be ruining Iraq's economy and embezzling even more money directly into his family's bank account thanks to this illegal war. This is or was the Pentagon's boy? Now is he Iran's boy? Or is he a double-agent? Real smooth.

How can they let him get away with this?


Resume: GWBoosh

Here's the resume Georgy boy has taken with him to Europe. I almost bought what he said today in Brussels. Psyche! Just Kiddin'...

Today, as in 1972, the international system has a triangular shape. Then it was the US that outwitted the Soviet Union by making overtures to China. Perhaps it is now Europe's turn to outwit the US by doing the same. Or has George Bush already booked his flight to Beijing?

Kulluna lil-watan, lil'ula lil-'alam...

Read Lebanese Blogs!!!

.wav & .mid & .mp3

Nietzsche and Ahmed

Ahmed reflects on some quotes in his latest post:

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. -Nietzsche

America and any new Iraqi government, please be careful.
I do fear that when any new Iraqi government tries to follow up and catch terrorists or any of those whom it thinks are a source of threat, the government will reach a point where it will follow the same techniques that Saddam did in stopping those opposing him.

Amen Bob, amen...

Hunter S. Thompson rest in peace

What? I'm not quite sure I understand yet. Hunter S. Thompson shot himself tonight. This is terrible. Why O why?
  • His article on Bush in the run-up to the elections.
  • A video with Tim Russert [via crooks and liars].

50 Questions for Alberto Gonzales

Sen. Leahy said he likes Gonzales and lauded Bush for naming him attorney general. Not so fast, please. Ask him these questions first. [via Nieman Foundation]

Slavoj Zizek: The empty wheelbarrow

The danger the west is courting in its "war on terror" was clearly perceived by GK Chesterton who - in the very last pages of his Orthodoxy, the ultimate Catholic propaganda piece - exposed the deadlock of the pseudo-revolutionary critics of religion: they start by denouncing religion as the force of oppression that threatens human freedom; but in fighting religion, they are compelled to forsake freedom itself, thus sacrificing precisely what they wanted to defend: the atheist radical universe, deprived of religious reference, is the grey universe of egalitarian terror. Today the same holds for advocates of religion themselves: how many fanatical defenders of religion started by ferociously attacking secular culture and ended up forsaking religion itself, losing any meaningful religious experience?

And is it not that, in a strictly homologous way, the liberal warriors against terror are so eager to fight anti-democratic fundamentalism that they will end by flinging away freedom and democracy? They have such a passion for proving that non-Christian fundamentalism is the main threat to freedom that they are ready to limit our own freedom here and now, in our allegedly Christian societies. If the "terrorists" are ready to wreck this world for love of the other, our warriors on terror are ready to wreck their own democratic world out of hatred for the Muslim other. Thus the American commentators Jonathan Alter and Alan Derschowitz love human dignity so much that they are ready to legalise torture - the ultimate degradation of human dignity - to defend it.

Does the same not hold for the postmodern disdain for great ideological causes and the notion that, in our post-ideological era, instead of trying to change the world, we should reinvent ourselves by engaging in new forms of (sexual, spiritual, aesthetic) subjective practices? Confronted with arguments like this, one cannot but recall the old lesson of critical theory: when we try to preserve the authentic intimate sphere of privacy against the onslaught of "alienated" public exchange, it is privacy itself that gets lost. Withdrawal into privacy means today adopting formulas of private authenticity propagated by the contemporary cultural industry - from taking lessons in spiritual enlightenment a to engaging in body building. The ultimate truth of withdrawal into privacy is public confessions of intimate secrets on TV shows. Against this kind of privacy, the only way to break out of the constraints of "alienated" public life is to invent a new collectivity.

Recall the old story about a worker suspected of stealing. Every evening, when he was leaving the factory, the wheelbarrow he was rolling in front of him was carefully inspected, but it was always empty - till, finally, the guards got the point: what the worker was stealing were the wheel-barrows themselves. This is the trick that those who claim today "But the world is none the less better off without Saddam!" try to pull on us: they forget to include in the account the effects of the very military intervention against Saddam. Yes, the world is better without Saddam - but it is not better with the military occupation of Iraq, with the rise of Islamist fundamentalism provoked by this very occupation. The guy who first got this point about the wheelbarrow was an arch-intellectual.

Read Zizek's piece in full

Nick Kilroy rest in peace

Before I go, I've just found out that Nick Kilroy of Zabriskie Point has passed away. Please visit his most amazing photo blog. He will be missed. out, lim.
I got pepper in my eye. Don't ask how...So, I haven't been able to work on the computer. Hopefully I'll be better by tomorrow or Monday. And, yes, it hurts like hell. I know, it's ridiculous. Peace, lim.

Classic - Rainbow TV

Hilarious via memepool.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner: Attacking Iran would bring disaster, not freedom

Shirin Ebadi speaks strongly and speaks well in today's London Independent,

It is hard not to see America's focus on human rights in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests.

Chronicles of the Teflon President: The Secret Tapes, Vol. 178

David Kirkpatrick reports for the NY Times tomorrow.

As George W. Bush was first moving onto the national political stage, he often turned for advice to an old friend who secretly taped some of their private conversations, creating a rare record of the future president as a politician and a personality.

Read rest if you care. Bush didn't really have a friend in Wade, did he? What a mean thing to do...that aside, the tapes are public now. And so, it seems to me if any of these scandals (war and occupation in Iraq on false pretences, Robert Novak/Valerie Plame/forged Niger docs affair, condoning torture/Abu Graib, being a prick about almost every topic under the sun on some tapes a "friend" recorded, et al) were happening during a democratic presidency, there would be ultimate consequences for the standing president. For some reason, however, nobody seems to have to be held to account for a single mistake in the Bush administration. When will the bow break? [via Buzzflash]

UPDATE: Hear an excerpt of one of the tapes thanks to Norm at onegoodmove!

Government Accountability Office Warns Federal Agencies, Bush Administration

This is news. Anne E. Kornblut reports from the NY Times,

The comptroller general has issued a blanket warning that reminds federal agencies they may not produce newscasts promoting administration policies without clearly stating that the government itself is the source.

Twice in the last two years, agencies of the federal government have been caught distributing prepackaged television programs that used paid spokesmen acting as newscasters and, in violation of federal law, failed to disclose the administration's role in developing and financing them.

And those were not isolated incidents, David M. Walker, the comptroller general, said in a letter dated Thursday that put all agency heads on notice about the practice.

In fact, it has become increasingly common for federal agencies to adopt the public relations tactic of producing "video news releases" that look indistinguishable from authentic newscasts and, as ready-made and cost-free reports, are sometimes picked up by local news programs. It is illegal for the government to produce or distribute such publicity material domestically without disclosing its own role.

Mr. Walker, who as comptroller general is chief of the Government Accountability Office, Congress's investigative arm, said in his letter: "While agencies generally have the right to disseminate information about their policies and activities, agencies may not use appropriated funds to produce or distribute prepackaged news stories intended to be viewed by television audiences that conceal or do not clearly identify for the television viewing audience that the agency was the source of those materials."


"The G.A.O. is sending a clear message to the Bush administration: shut down the propaganda mill," Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey said in a statement on Friday. "The G.A.O. is simply telling the White House to stop manipulating media, stop paying journalists and be straight with the American people."

The White House has ties to gay prostitution

Yes, indeed, it does. I watched the season premier of Real Time with Bill Maher last night featuring Senator Joe Biden, Tommy Thompson (outgoing Sec. of Health), and Robin Williams. Transcripts for previous shows can be found here.

Anyhow, GannonGate continued on the show with Senator Biden asking, "Why isn't every major network in the country investigating a security breach?" in reference to "Jeff Gannon" or James Guckart of GOP run Talon News (formerly GOP USA- not a news agency, mind you), hotmilitarystud.com, militaryescorts.com, and conservativeguy.com. He had a fake name and nobody in the press core or White House knew about it. That means security needs overhaul or there was collusion with somebody letting it happen in the WH.

For more information on this disturbing and under-reported scandal check out one of my posts from earlier that has links to videos showing said "Jeff Gannon". Crooks and Liars does the most exhaustive reportage on the matter in videos encoded online.

And quoting Stahl of 60 minutes, "How did he get a Secret Service clearance for his press pass at the White House?"

Maher suggested that "Gannon" or Guckart had a boyfriend in the White House. Funny show.

Of course, what's really bothersome is that "Gannon"/Guckart was essentially revealed as a part of the President's propaganda mill. It seems pretty obvious there was an "inside job" going on here. Karl? His lifestyle choices are his own business. [vid via onegoodmove]


Frontline causes controversy...again.

I remember long ago, when I started blogging, I freaked out about a Frontline that didn't get aired. Well, this just serves to remind me I wasn't in the wrong place when I made such a big deal about it. People are still not getting real information out of Iraq. The message is still being molded to fit whatever needs this ugly administration wishes to serve up to the people. And at this point, it's beyond mind-numbing. It's pure censorship. It is preventing people from seeing the reality of violence and suffering in Iraq. It's criminal. Los Angeles Times: PBS Under Fire for Editing Iraq War Documentary

Most Americans Don't Know..

...the information in this article.

U.S. Soldiers Taking Ecstasy

Hear about it here on Democracy Now later today:

U.S. Soldiers to Be Given Ecstasy

Back in this country, the Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for soldiers traumatized by their time in Iraq and Afghanistan to be offered the party drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares. The soldiers would take the drug as part of an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

New advert for the Army shall read:

Join the Army today! So you can get high tomorrow!

Or it will be the converse, an advert for Ecstasy:

Be all that you can be, by taking Ecs-tA-Sy!

Which do you prefer?

update: Guardian article, Treating Agony With Ecstasy

Pentagon Prepares To Build $130bn Robot Army

Um, yea...sounds grrrrrreat!

Look how positive and constructive techonology brings great things to humanity.
I can't wait for the age of no accountability.
Who needs the ICC?
Oh, but we're already living that nightmare aren't we?

The Pentagon is spending £70 billion [$130 billion] on a programme to build heavily-armed robots for the battlefield in the hope that future wars will be fought without the loss of its soldiers' lives.

The scheme, known as Future Combat Systems, is the largest military contract in American history and will help to drive the defence budget up by almost 20 per cent to just over £265 billion [$500 billion] in five years' time.

[via OMEGAPROJEKTET, via The Telegraph]

Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Bloggers 02/16/05

Norm offers up this fresh morsel.

Friedman is lying about meeting Hariri in the 70s: Angry Arab

This coming via Angry Arab.

Thomas Friedman, it seems, not only produces silly and superficial commentaries on world affairs, but he also produces lies. Today, he talks about meeting Hariri in Lebanon in the 1970s when Friedman was covering Lebanon as a foreign correspondent. Friedman forgot to remember that Hariri was in Saudi Arabia at the time, and did not start coming to Lebanon until after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. And the Empire of Principle (US) is now saying this: that Syria should not interfere in Lebanese affairs, and that Lebanon should hold elections without Syrian troops. That was exactly my position on Iraq: And notice that when US officials say those words, no reporters (certainly not in the US media) point the ironies and hypocrisies of the US position.

It's a great post if you have the time to read, go for it. I forgot the dear doctor is perhaps the most famous Lebanese blogger! Doh! I will add him promptly. He gives a rich review of events...and it would behoove us all to go read his commentary. Go Angry Arab GO!

DNI = Subservient Yes Man That Turns Blind Eye to Human Rights Abuses

This is a very frightening appointment. Negroponte, Dr. Death Squad himself, will be the Director of National Intelligence. It's some guy with no intelligence experience. He's somebody that Dubya can control, which is the most important thing to this administration. Rumsfeld is the real intelligence czar, and everybody knows that now. He's got 80% of the budget under his thumb. So, appointing Mr. Green Zone to this post proves the post means nothing. That's my interpretation. Negroponte VS Rumsfeld ? Well, I don't see the point really. When you've got two yes men battling for power, it doesn't really matter does it?

update: Daily Kos' Armando and Billmon give some further context.

Lebanese Blogger Forum

The time to act in solidarity is upon us. We shall not allow our dear Lebanon fall into the abyss of violence as it once did. Let it remain a memory for some fresher than others. Let us unite and reject any form of violence as we continue to live in peace in our beloved Lebanon. So, I dedicate this blog to great Lebanon and all the beautiful Lebanese living throughout all the world in great numbers. Our fate is peace. Wouldn't you agree?

Hello! How is everybody doing? I hope better and better. It's been an emotional time.

Here is Lebanese Blogger Forum. I will start out by listing as many Lebanese blogs I can find...a la Emigre and all my fabulous brothers and sisters at Iraq Blog Count. I would like to invite all Lebanese out there that are interested in blogging to help me. Please write me an email if you'd like to participate in spreading some Lebanese Love through this blog. Also, I urge you to send me an email [ liminalsymbol[at]hotmail[dot]com ] if you have a recommendation or want me to post a picture and/or tell a story. Of course, I hope that it's all Lebanon-related. I don't know how much time I can devote to LBF, but I hope to stimulate more interest in reading Lebanese blogs. As with the situation in Iraq, it is sometimes better to get the information directly from people from the place and culture. All expats and 1st gen'rs are absolutely welcome and needed. Right on, Lebanon.

So, without further adieu, get your Lebanon-On through the voice of its people!

I hope you enjoy and join me.

Peace ;)


Laura Rozen provides an interesting linkhere that shows Hariri had been meeting with Nasrallah on a weekly basis. Hm...I'm sure the plot will thicken even more.


First, there is no way you could convince me that this horrific bombing was carried out by some rag-tag fundamentalist Islamic group.

I saw these terrifying images because of a comment Highlander made. And they're shocking. I tend to avoid such images. My imagination is good enough, believe me. ...similar is the fact that I cannot possibly even begin to think about seeing one of those terrible beheading videos from Iraq. No thank you. I'm not interested. I know most of what I say is against all of that...I'm just not willing to lose my lunch over such matters, you know?

So, there's no word yet from the friend that was injured in the explosion. I'll try to ask my sister about him soon. I hope he is fine, though. Otherwise...jury is still out about who did it. I came strong with an opinion when it first happened. And yea, I still hold to it, but I have more doubt. One reason is I think, "WHY would Syria do such a thing?" Besides obviously wanting to maintain economic control of Lebanon...Another thing is many people could have predicted the intense anti-Syria reaction to such an event. So, it could have been done as a political ploy by many different parties. I'm going to hold off a bit more and try to chill-out about conclusions for a bit longer. I'll come back with a more refined opinion soon. Peace, LIM

Lebanese Blogs

Ok...I've decided to create a blog dedicated to Lebanon. Something good must come from this terrible event. If I cannot see something good at the moment, there's no reason to not make something. Right? Here and here are some blogs from Lebanon to begin with that I found on globe of blogs and blogwise.

There are not too many Lebanese blogs out there. Lets try to change that somehow.

Who wants to help?


Attending to the Fly of the Emperor

H i g HcULTure
romano prodi prods gently beneath the flap of jack-et
as sweden's minister of prime stands just behind
little bush with a kind smile and wishes to smack it

Un Regard Moderne - Edition du mardi 15 fevrier 2005

Yea, turn your speakers up and check it out. Speak French? Un Regard Moderne - Edition du mardi 15 fevrier 2005

US Accused of Plan to Muzzle al-Jazeera Through Privatisation

London Independent: US Accused of Plan to Muzzle al-Jazeera through Privatisation - I think this headline speaks for itself.

America and its key ally Saudi Arabia are being accused of quietly seeking to muzzle al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite news station that has often incurred Washington's ire for its coverage of Iraq and President George Bush's "war on terror".

And in related stories:

Media Held Guilty of Deception
, by Dahr Jamail

How to get straight to the people, control the message, stage the event, Cox News Service

Bene Diction Blogs On: Accountability: Church Recruiting Update

This is Bene Diction Blogs On. As far as I can tell it's a topic blog...and that topic as you can probably guess is Religion/Christianity. The first link is to a post addressing the accountability issue with regard to the church recruiting. I believe it will be a blog to go back to for more information.

Pop-up Windows?

Just a quick note: I am getting some complaints about Pop-Up windows on this site. If you are getting them, let me know. I will solve the problem if so. I would just ask you to leave a comment about it below.

Thank you,

The End of Blogging? Google Pulls The Plug

It appears as though this is a significant development. Why did Google do it?

Fables of the reconstruction: The End of Blogging? Google Pulls The Plug

Military Mission

Please read this entry from Bartholomew's notes on religion. It explains how Porter Memorial went for missionary work in Iraq in 2003. It's thorough and sourced...and it provides more disturbing feelings about the entire matter.


Especially since what happened in Beirut yesterday, I have zero tolerance for comments directed against me personally. If you do not put an email address, your comment can be erased. I don't want to have to require registration, but I will if I feel it will contribute to my mental well-being. The last thing I need right now is somebody coming in here anonymously, claiming to be somebody, and directing personal attacks against me. I will put up my policy with regards to comments in the sidebar so everybody knows.


Israeli spies, Syrian obsession and a peace that had to break

And I also just read Robert Fisk's other article. It's again a perfect transfusion of my thoughts. And, yes, I felt something was coming as well.

We knew something was coming. I had met an old journalist colleague for coffee on Saturday and we both said we felt there was a new, menacing atmosphere about Beirut. We didn't mean the sky-high prices and the usual corruption stories, but the incendiary language in which Lebanese politics was now being conducted.


Forthcoming elections - and an attempt to change electoral boundaries that might have deprived anti-Syrian factions of parliamentary seats - contrived to heat up the controversy already begun by UN Security Council resolution 1559, principally supported by the Americans and French, which demands the withdrawal of all Syrian troops from Lebanon.


The Lebanese have no more appetite for war. The conflict which ended in 1990 destroyed their families and their homes and drained their lives of meaning. A new generation has returned from overseas educations, ambitious, irritated by the continuing sectarianism of official life as much as Syria’s much reduced military presence. But the Syrian intelligence service remains - its headquarters are in the eastern town of Aanjar - and its pursuit of Israeli spies and treachery has become an obsession.

Into this darkening scenario, Mr Hariri cast a wistful eye, seeing no evil and claiming to hear no evil. So what was his real role in the opposition? Was he merely a disinterested onlooker, gazing down from his palace walls at the small men of Lebanese politics as they bickered about gerrymandered political boundaries? Or did he have other ambitions? Yesterday proved that someone believed he did.

Again, Fisk captures everything so perfectly. He describes the situation very well. If you're curious, read the rest.

Israeli spies, Syrian obsession and a peace that had to break - Robert Fisk: 15 February 2005

The killing of 'Mr Lebanon': Rafik Hariri assassinated in Beirut bomb blast

My gosh, Robert Fisk captures to-the-T exactly how I feel about former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. You must read it. While I did not particularly like the guy, I did respect him . And I cannot say so much for the President Emile Lahoud when I think about it. Yes, Hariri was a person to be respected. It is both a shame and a tragedy that he and many others close to him had to die in this manner.

Lebanon is built on institutions that enshrine sectarianism as a creed, in which the president must always be a Christian Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim - like Hariri - and the speaker of parliament a Shia Muslim. Anyone setting out to murder Hariri would know how this could re-open all the fissures of the civil war from 1975 to 1990.

Thousands of weeping followers of Hariri gathered outside his palace at Koreitem last night, demanding to know who had killed their leader. Hariri men toured the streets, ordering shopkeepers to pull down their shutters. Were the ghosts of the civil war to be reawoken from their 15 years of slumber? I do not know the answer. But that black cloud that drifted for more than an hour over Beirut yesterday afternoon darkened the people beneath with more than its shadow.

The killing of 'Mr Lebanon': Rafik Hariri assassinated in Beirut bomb blast - Robert Fisk: 15 February 2005

What did I tell you about the Security Council?

And in the first sentence of the report from the NY Times: "The Bush administration, condemning the assassination of the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in Lebanon, suggested Monday that Syria was to blame and moved to get a new condemnation of Syria's domination of Lebanon at the United Nations Security Council."

This is the sign, I think. Whether or not it will lead to an invasion of Syria...well, it could. I think it could. Now, some may be surprised at my position about Lebanon. Because of my family and I's experience there it is nuanced. And because I have family from practically all angles of the conflict, it is confusing for me. One thing is clear to me, though. My family has bled and suffered for Lebanon. And we wish for Lebanese independence from Syria...for a Lebanon without Syrian influence. So, you see how difficult it is for me??? I am for Palestinian self-determination, yet...YES...I think Syria needs to remove it's troops from all Lebanese lands. (Those of you who know the situation well will understand how schizophrenic this may sound...but) GET OUT, please. Of course I know this will not happen without some either careful diplomacy or all-out war. I certainly don't want another war to break out. I have tons of family in Lebanon and we're sick from war. It's a society psychically damaged from the insanity that took place during the fighting. And the sort of fighting that went on and could go on again in Lebanon is a different breed of violence. One where a brother (and I speak literally here) kills his brother.

We must avoid such a situation at ALL COSTS. THIS IS DEAD SERIOUS MY FRIENDS. I CANNOT EXPRESS TO YOU HOW FREAKED OUT I AM RIGHT NOW. DID I ever expect it to happen like this? NO, I didn't. But here we are...

You think I had a severe case of cognitive dissonance before...oh, just wait.


Reactions from Lebanon after Hariri's Assassination

These opinions are from The Daily Star story, Beirut bombing draws sorrow, fear and anger from the people

"What do all those civilians who died have to do with it? The country is collapsing for sure; those in charge in this government just want to rip each other's heads off." --Linda, 24 year old housewife

I second Linda's exact words. This is a horrific tragedy that will have serious ramifications for Lebanon. I shudder to think what will happen next.

Here are some more voices:

"This is a complete shock to me and to all of Lebanon."--Mohammed Hout, local merchant

"All of Lebanon died with Hariri." --Abdullah Shaar, 52, Palestinian/Lebanese

"It is an obvious Israeli blow to Lebanon. [The assassination] hit two birds with one stone, killing tourism in Lebanon by scaring away the tourists, and at the same time creating a political loss to the country by assassinating an elite politician like Hariri."--Issam Suleiman, 50, hairdresser

"At first I thought it was the Israelis bombing Lebanon, but after I heard of Hariri's assassination, it came to me directly that it was the Syrians. All the media has been talking about it." --Ali, medical student

"I really don't feel like talking. This is utterly disgusting. I don't care who did it, it's just disgusting. This country is definitely going into a dark tunnel.--Mohammed, 20

"They wanted to reduce his achievements, now he is reduced to nothing. They put him in a box, but he will always be alive. He will never die; we will always be faithful to his memory and his beliefs." --Mohammed Eter, doctor

"This is a total disaster for the country. He was a man of justice; a man of peace. He was the country's defense wall. Now the wall is broken, and the country's lost.--Mohammed Gholayel, local resident

"He is a Sunni and they killed him. Why are you doing this to us? What will we do now? Why don't they want us?" --Jinan Ahmad
Incompetence in the Wild West Why Allawi, the CPA, and the IGC before failed to do anything good for Iraq.

Ereli Impressed...

Another thing about watching the Jazeera earlier today...

We were all pleasantly surprised with Adam Ereli. We've seen this deputy spokesman from the Department of State come on many times before, but never has he spoke Arabic. This time he did. I wrote a poem about it, but I have it scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere. I'll put it up once I find it. I think it's called "An Ode to State Department Deputies that Speak Arabic."

He spoke kind of broken and simple Arabic, but it was proper and almost completely understandable. Ereli really impressed us, though, with his knowledge of Egyptian, Jordanian, and even Iraqi Arabic.

Good job DoS. Next time put somebody else. Disarm us with your sweet words. Speak to impress and there'll be peace in the Near East.


Teez'oh Sol'iff l'oh

Earlier today when we were watching al Jazeerah we saw a ticker-tape saying Ahmad Chalabi said that people told him that they're giving him their support to be prime minister of Iraq. Everybody bursted out laughing. That's it. It sums up Chalabi for us all.

Lebanon Bomb

Car bomb kills former Lebanese Prime Minister. Ignoble fate...my oh my. Where do I possibly begin about Rafik Hariri and the situation that could arise?


I wasn't going to get into it all, but here's my armchair expert-analysis:

First, let's not kid ourselves. This is serious. And before I get to that, apparently a friend of a good friend of ours was injured very badly and is in critical condition in the hospital right now. I hope he gets better. update: It turns out that this friend of our close friend is Dr. Basil Fleyhan who was Hariri's minister of finance. They went to high school together. Here's a website you may visit to pay your gratitude to the Fleyhan family and their loved ones. I just found this out. I had no idea until now. My family's thoughts go out to him in this very difficult time. We hope and pray for him.

This is the situation: Everybody knows Rafik Hariri is both a Sunnah and basically works for the Saudis buying up tracts upon tracts of land and essentially at war with his Christian counter-part, President Emile Lahoud. This basically means Hariri works for Americans (in a sense). Now, one of the possible situations and what people around me are talking about at the present time is that when all is said and done, because of the mess caused by this bombing the US will now tell Syria to keep Lebanon in order.

Let me explain: The current American administration has bigger fish to fry now. We expect a big Christian opponent of Hariri's to be hit next. And this could spark another cycle of violence in Lebanon. Let me be frank by saying this was an extremely sophisticated attack. And it was not a mere coincidence, personal vendetta, or the fact that this guy was basically the most powerful man in Lebanon. Hariri travels in convoy with armored vehicles everywhere. Without a doubt, then, this is a carefully orchestrated plot to change things in Lebanon.

I sense, at the moment, the US is frightened at the fact they didn't get what they wanted in the Iraqi elections. The prospect of Hizbollah allying with a new axis of power, Baghdad-Tehran, is a bit too much. Imagine a Baghdad-Tehran-Damascus axis. How would America handle this? The US wants to attack a secular regime in Syria and a theocratic regime in Iran at the same time. How is that going to work?

And it could also be that Syria is forcing America's hand. Remember, Syria is controlled by the secular Baath party and President al'Assad does not want Islamic law or any sort of clerical rule in Syria. Meaning, Hariri is the opposition to the Lebanese government and Syria. So, they wanted to take him out before he could get back into power next time. (There's also some change in election law being discussed in Lebanon. Currently, a Maronite Christian must be president now. And a Sunni Muslim must be prime minister. I'll try to get more on the proposed changes at some point.)

Also, I have just heard Paris wants an international investigation in the incident because they don't trust either the Lebanese government or the Syrians. This story is developing, but it's a sign that the Lebanese government is not to be trusted for the most obvious reasons. Funny how logic works. We'll see what happens with it.

Back to the micro: Anyhow, we know Lahoud's in Syria's pocket. And we know that Hariri was a sworn enemy of Lahoud. And we know that these two were destroying Lebanon. It was almost as if they were carrying out some sick ego-game by battling one another through economic means...leaving the Lebanese populace to the wolves. And...(from comments)...Nobody wants to go back to Lebanon. It was one of the most vicious wars to ever take place. But Lebanon could be the reasoning to invade Syria by the US. Honestly, right now, I'm afraid of Lebanon burning to the ground again over external politics.

We have no idea what we could be on the cusp of. The power of the Shia is already being felt across the region. And this will only lead to more blood-shed and possible war. These are extremely disheartening times.

Could this be the return of Michel Aoun? Or will Syria be redeploying forces into Beirut at the muffled behest of America?

More later perhaps...


update redux: I just read what JC--Juan Cole--had to say about the bombing today after frantically speaking about it with friends and family for hours. And he mentions it could be related to the fact he is worth billions and because he's mafia-sketchy. In other words, something could have happpened that we have no knowledge of at all. Absolutely. This is a possibility. But, personally, I doubt it.

And it's also true that Hariri "worked" for the Syrians too. I didn't mention that before. But, yea...the reason why I said he works for America now is because he essentially rejected the way things were going in the Lebanese government last year and aligned himself more clearly with American interests. It was the case of the town wasn't big enoug for both Lahoud and Hariri. One of them had to go. And it was Hariri that resigned, yet maintained his powerful stature in Lebanon. Meanwhile Lahoud remained the president and "Syria's good boy".

I must state that my opinion as far as Lebanon goes is biased, but I've tried to remain as unbiased as possible when explaining it to you. I'm serious when I say this. It's also complicated beyond belief being from the family I'm from...so, excuse me while I try and decipher things for you. I have trouble deciphering them myself. But I know what my gut tells me. And that's all I've included here.

So, Hariri was one corrupt leader...yet Lahoud was just as bad. In ways, there is NO WAY one could come to this conclusion unless you had my experiences. No matter what way you look at it...this is a terrible thing to happen for Lebanon's peace and security and in general. I PRAY to GOD this will not get violent. It would completely destroy my heart.

We have this sort of saying..."In the Arab world when you close one hole, it opens up in a different place."

Lets hope things turn out ok. Wow...I don't believe this. I feel like the whole world is playing a terrible joke on me.


DoS/International Information Programs: Foreign Commentary on the US

There are "Issue Focus Reports" giving summaries of newspapers around the globe to assess the POV of different readerships. Here is the one about Iraqi elections. Yea, diplomats and staffers at the Department of State do not tend to read much news. They absorb it in the abridged version most times. The following is from the 1 Feb. edition about the Iraqi elections.


** Global media more positive about elections than any development since fall of Baghdad.

** Dailies praise voters for their "courage and determination," term poll "auspicious."

** Still, "a rough road" lies ahead; some fret about possible rise of "Iran-style theocracy."

** Critics label elections "neither free nor fair," say only U.S. withdrawal can lead to peace.

Paranoia Grips US

If you couple Eric Margolis' story, Paranoia Grips the US Capital, with those images from Kentucky...you get an uneasy feeling. And if you're me, you expect Boykin's God-fearing, cross-bearing, special-ops teams to come dropping through your ceiling with a message from Jesus' General. Ufff ya ufff. It's funny because I have family swearing to hand me over to the FBI if they come for me. Great. I feel so alone. Somebody help me please. [via spitting image]

The CIA has been sent to the doghouse. Too many CIA veterans criticized or contradicted Bush's and Cheney's phony claims over Iraq and terrorism. So Bush has imposed a new, yes-man director on the agency, slashed its budgets, purged its senior officers, and downgraded CIA to third-class status.
Rumsfeld's new, massively funded SSB will become the Pentagon's CIA, complete with commando units, spies, mercenary forces, intelligence gathering and analysis, and a direct line to the White House. The Pentagon has just effectively taken over the spy business.

The Pentagon's new spy arm will be largely excluded from Congressional oversight or media examination. Its special operations teams will roam the globe, all under cover of "deep black" missions of which no records will be kept, and no questions asked.
Equally worrying, the Pentagon's new special-ops units are headed up by notorious religious fanatic, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who calls the U.S. Army "the house of God" and Islamic insurgents "agents of Satan." He warned Muslims, "my God is bigger than your god, which is an idol."
Boykin's command will now dispatch post-modern Christian crusaders to cleanse the world of Satanic Muslims and other miscreants...

O brother where art thou faith in man?


Chomsky: Budget attacks America's majority

The wise man speaketh.

If you were poor, a Native American, a small farmer or an ecologist, you probably did not vote for George Bush.

It is therefore not so surprising to find that all these sectors of society have come under attack, from the Republican administration's new fiscal budget.

However, if you were an army veteran you may have expected to escape spending cuts. But even this slice of American society, one that largely voted for Bush, finds itself the subject of financial "rollback".


"There is a very simple principle that goes a long way towards explaining decisions of the Bush administration. If some policy is beneficial to wealth, privilege and power, it should be promoted.

"If some policy is beneficial to the large majority of the population but of no particular concern (or even marginally costly) to wealth, privilege and power, it should be undermined."


Chomsky sees the budget not as a series of cuts but rather "to reorient (spending), so that it is even more focused on the interests of extreme wealth and power than before".

Before these spending hikes the United States already spent more on its military than the next 15 biggest national armies combined together. Even nuclear weaponry is set to get a boost to defend the US against "new threats, terrorism, failed states" as outlined by Condoleezza Rice in her Paris speech.


But perhaps most surprising are the cuts in assistance to US military veterans. Some of whom will who see a 114% increase in their long term drug bills, plus a one-off $250 subscription fee.

As well as a reduction in the number of nursing home places held for them. Do these cuts fit with the idea of opponents coming under fiscal attack?

"The administration's opponents are the large majority of the US population," says Chomsky. "The general 'starve the beast' strategy is hardly concealed, though few are willing to tell the truth. Namely, that the 'beast' they have in mind is the "great beast", to borrow the phrase of the Founding Fathers, the dangerous public."

Will anybody hear the screams ?

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
-Albert Einstein

Discussions and Posts about the Creepy church recruiting in Kentucky

Here I'm going to put a list devoted to the discussion that's been going on about the post causing a bit of a stir. I'll also include posts specific people have taken an effort to make about the matter. I think it will be useful. I'd like to get as many people sounding-off about this in one place.

1. Metafilter: "incredibly weird military recruitment drive/sermon/men's night out thing in a Baptist Church." One of my favorite link-aggregator sites has over 70 comments. What a treat.

2. Daily Kos: Here are all the pages associated with the story on dK. My diary (40), another, open thread, Alan S's diary

3. Jesus' General: My favorite new satire blog. There are 35 comments, but you'll have to go to the original post because they're haloscan comments. Nice.

4. The All Spin Zone: One of the cool things about this happening is that I've read a number of blogs I never would have otherwise. Here's a Koufax finalist. Go to the original post for 27 comments.

5. Robust McManlyPants has a post: God's Army.

6. Apostropher:
Triumph des Willens II

7. Syzygy has 30.

8. Spitting Image: an awesome blog.

9. Zentastic: Another great site I would have never known about probably. Charity Solutions and the Rapture

10. Killoggs: There's a link to a Rapture Ready discussion board. Yikes!

11. dunneiv: another cool blog. ah'riginal post

12. The infamous Billmon at The Whiskey Bar gets comparative. How cool...

13. Bilo Boffin's post

14. Bouillabaisse's post

15. Pourquoi Pas?'s post: What would fascist Jesus do? and its 15 comments.

16. Jesus loves dropping bombs on brown people. BB post.

17. Yay Hooray's BB exchange, many comments.

18. Yella Dog post and comments

19. Chaos Digest's post and comments: a good summary of my role, too

20. Nothing New Under The Sun - post and comments(22)

21. Bartholomew's Notes on Religion - Commentary, Comments, Related Stories***good one

22. What will the neighbors say? - Commentary(via Alabama!)

23. Digital Warfighter - Commentary/Comments

24. Liberal Street Fighter - Commentary&Posts

25. Rigorous Intuition - post and comments

26. Bene Diction Blogs On: Commentary, Comments, Related Stories: Very Good Post

I'll try to put more soon. I'm juggling a million things at the moment. Some life-changing things are going to happen soon. See you l8r!

Juan Cole gives an election roundup that's worth checking out for sure.
The London Independent reveals,

Training of Iraq's security forces, crucial to any exit strategy for Britain and the US, is going so badly that the Pentagon has stopped giving figures for the number of combat-ready indigenous troops

Maybe there isn't an exit strategy.

The sleight of hand over troop numbers provoked a sharp clash during Condoleezza Rice's Senate confirmation hearings to become Secretary of State. After she quoted Pentagon figures claiming 122,000 Iraqis had been trained, she was told by Democratic Senator Joseph Biden: "Time and again this administration has tried to leave the American people with the impression that Iraq has well over 100,000 fully trained, fully competent military police and personnel. And that is simply not true. We're months, probably years, away from reaching our target goal.

Oh, great.

Pentagon covers up failure to train and recruit local security forces

5,500 US Troops flee the war in Iraq

An excerpt of Keld's post:

Approximately 5,500 US Troops have deserted, gone into hiding, sent to jail and some have escaped to Canada. What if the funnel to Iraq, called Shannon Airport, were to be transformed into a sanctuary for US Troops resisting the Iraq War by requesting asylum in Ireland? asks the Indymedia Ireland:

Damien Moran of the Dublin Catholic Worker said “We encourage members of the US Military refusing to participate in this illegal war to seek asylum in Ireland. We encourage members of the US Military landing at Shannon Airport to refuse to reboard the planes bound for Iraq.

I'm sure it's only a developing story. And I'm sure it will be squashed and squashed over and over again. These snippets of the reality developing are welcome signs. Let's spread such information around always.

Thanks Keld!

EFFICIENT VERSION: Holy S**t! It's fascist picture story time!!

First, I appreciate everybody's interest in locomono's images and explanation of his experience of the "Men's Night Out." As steward of the story and images I've definitely felt it was necessary to create a more efficient version of the post. Everybody doesn't have broadband, you know. Sorry it took me so long. I changed nothing besides the picture sizes and I fixed the levels on several of the images so you can see them better. Also, I've made smaller JPG versions of the screen shots I took, so click away on the numbers below if you like. There's one other screen shot (#15) of the original posting location on fark.com that I forgot to include.

ps: Here's the original version.

ppssst: Also check out a short animation, with sound effects of machine guns even, advertising this "Men's Night Out" from the Porter Memorial Baptist Church website.


And, again, so people don't think I'm independently inventing anything: I still had the window of the thread open when I noticed the whole thing went down on FARK. I, then, took the screen shots you'll find below as proof. Again, the pictures/words originate via LOCOMONO's post on FARK, not from me -- Liminal.

Here are the small versions of the screen shots I took of the original post by locomono on fark.com:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,16(original post view on fark)

I did repost them to FARK, but they seemed to have gone to TOTALFARK (the membership part of the site). I'd just like to clear that up. Thanks!

Peace to all my habbibis,

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I'm just going to post two pictures first and the story. I'll comment more later; one thing though: What is the difference between Muslims trying to defend their homeland by recruiting from mosques and Christians trying to defend their homeland by recruiting from churches? And this is coming from an old-school Iraqi Assyrian Orthodox Christian. In plain speak, I think both are wrong any way you cut it. This absolutely blows my mind. This is another one of those whatever-happened-to-the-separation-of-church-and-state moments. Onward Christian soldier.

This first picture is the American flag clearly covering up the cross.

This picture apparently shows banners of the various branches of American Armed Forces hanging from the pews.

Now here's the story told by a self-proclaimed Republican, remember...locomono, whom I completely agree with besides the fact he supports the war:

First off, this is absolutely true and only happened about an hour ago. I am a Christian, a republican and support the war in Iraq, but this pisses me off in ways I cannot explain even to myself. This is not a debate thread, after you read this and look at the pictures, if you post anything it will be reactions, advice, or simple opinion. I know there are a lot of military personal in this forum and I would love to here what you have to say about this but if this turns into a flame war I will be extremely upset with whoever's involved. Now on to the story

The other day my dad tells me we're going to a "guy's night out" banquet. Innocent enough sounding, right? Well I haven't done anything that could be considered a favor for him in a long time, and it seems important to him if incredibly boring so, what the hell I'll go. He picks me up at the house around six. I nearly walk out the door about 5 times each time remembering something I've left behind, the last thing I go back for is my camera.
In the car conversation goes as awkwardly as it usually does with my dad,
"What is this thing anyway? Just sitting around card tables talking about good ‘ol days?"
"Probably not they've got one of the guys from the battle in black hawk down to talk about his time there"
Thinking to myself, at least that doesn't sound too bad, "Cool enough. Where is it, are we gonna get there on time?"
"Oh, it's right up the street at porter memorial"
So, that's kinda weird that it's at a church, but whatever. Churches are relatively cheap to rent out during the week.

When we get there traffic is crazy, there must be two thousand people coming to this one church. It's kind of odd that there are three squad cars just to stop traffic and let us all in, but you know what they say, "when enough people gather together in harmony, the fuzz come to break it up"

There's a humvey and black hawk helicopter sitting outside with corresponding units, half the people that are walking in with us are wearing service shirts. Whether air force, army, marines, coastguard, ambulance driver or fireman, all these guys get a check from Uncle Sam. Ok, I don't have any problems with men in uniform, unless I'm drunk outside and they're cops. A door opens and we're headed into the basement for pork barbeque sandwiches, chicken quarters, refried beans and slaw. On the way I glance guardsmen setting things up with that military motion you don't lose in civilian life until about a year out of boot camp. We tell old war stories full of gore and glory and times we almost bought the farm, as we eat. Without any of that kind of story of my own I told him about a PI named John Landrith killing three armed kidnappers with a rusty old meat cleaver to save a seven year old. It's well received in the basement of a church while we eat our Oreo minis. When our meal is done the mass is herded to the sanctuary were we watch the history channel's documentary on the events of black hawk down. When the lights come up my earlier discomfort is redoubled. I realize something is very ********ed up, and start taking pictures. What I see reminds me of footage from the third right the way patriotic imagery is thrown around bugger all. What you’re looking at is government mesh thrown over the steps to the balcony, and a huge flag covering up all but the tip of a huge cross in the first picture, and the huge amount of people sitting below various armed forces banners in the second. There was a nice POW one behind me. I apologize for the poor quality but it’s a new camera, and I’m still learning how to use it, especially in low & mixed light conditions

So, I can't help myself. I'd like to share locomono's utter disbelief and completely repost the thread in this discussion forum.

They were ready to start the show, so after a raffle for all five branches of the military t-shirts, UK basketball tickets, and Famous Dave’s BBQ coupons(the caterer), we were subjected to a really shitty Rockapella group wearing camo with cackies, and singing mixed Christian rock and patriotic numbers.

About then I was given a bulletin. Roughly the same time they had all active members of the armed forces stand up for aplause, then all former members, then the fathers of active members (Remember this is supposed to be a father son thing, guilt trip anyone?)

Then our state National Guard ceremonially presented colors, i.e. this is now a military function. I think they were the only ones that didn’t say that pledge of allegiance, but maybe their lips moved and I didn’t hear it. I was way back. This was the first time in my life I said the pledge of allegiance with any hesitation at all. I guess I don’t like doing it in a place of greater allegiance, especially when it only barely has “under god" in it anymore. Right after when the shity Rockapella group sang the national anthem a couple people shouted “Amen!” at the end. I started to get sick right then.

After that, they had guys wearing the traditional US uniforms over time walk out in order while scenes from a Jesus movie I cant recall played. I was never aware of voodoo style witch doctors, or Indiana Jones being members of our military (far left and second from right respectively in the first pic). I think it’s kinda funny that unless I’m wrong that fellow on the far left of the second pic is wearing a confederate uniform. I know it’s ridiculously bad taste but yes, that really is Jesus on the cross in the first picture…in behind our troops. When the final modern troop stepped out too the front and center he thrust his rifle one handed into the air to shouts of approval, the Jesus footage was still playing, and at that particular point even my dad was uncomfortable.

At this point Captain Sturecker preached to us in full dress uniform about his early faith was based in fear of going to hell, but now he doesn’t need to fear death, and about his experiences in the black hawk afair. In particular he prayed after his first drive back to base (If you‘ve seen the movie, he was the humvee driver with the injured man on strecher in the back. He was also the guy that said, “The difference in between heroes and cowards isn‘t the fear it‘s what they do with it”), and after that even though the vehicle was shot to hell, he had no casualties. He even watched an RPG barely miss its’ mark and deflect off his hood. Every word of this might be true, but it was also part of a “The lord will protect you in the military” themed sermon. I have never had both respect and disgust for a single individual with such volume in my life. When I asked him for a picture with him holding the same bible he is in the sermon picture I think my attitude came off as “fan boy”.

Here’s a close-up of the Marine donated supplies they made such a big deal about. They were effectively his pulpit.

Mike could you do me a favor and open a thread where-ever we do debates these days, and link it. I would really apreciate it. I mean this as more of an informational, and reation thread, but it should be discussed

BTW no, I'm not done. It still gets worse

Even as I had already taken these photographs of something that I clearly know is wrong, hell we ended with “I‘m proud to be an American”, after a sermon and a combined rendition of all the services anthems. I was conflicted. I knew, and know that almost all of the people I’m depending on to bring this to light disagree with me on virtually every issue. I wasn’t going to release this unless they were recruiting. They were.
Jesus himself only got mad once. It was because merchants were using the church to sell their wares, he flipped their tables, seized a whip, and attacked them. This day the answer to “what would Jesus do?” is grab one of the m-16s laying around and start kneecapping.

This is a close up of strucer's nametag just to make sure I got the name right, and the tag on the recruitment dummy, as they both attach at least two people involved with this mess.

As I leave you with the final images I plan to of two of the ancient flags that surrounded the stage, and The banner at the front door I have to express regret that even a very small portion of my country is as religiously militaristic as the whole world already believes it to be. I myself think of this as a huge fuster cluck of the balances that are already there being missed.

If you have any questions feel free to IM or PM me. I have huge 5 mega pixel raws to prove it was me.

[enter ME, Liminal, once again]

And if you still try to tell me this administration will not attack Iran, there is no way I would remotely believe you. And I even question how they will manage to do such an insane thing. Instead of a draft (at least for the mean time), we have such sick invasion of places of worship? I am not sure which is worse. Wow...wow...wow.

I'm truly speechless. This is very significant. This has to be illegal. How can this be?


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