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The Daily Journal
Candide’s Latest: December 4, 2006


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Lebanon’s Coming Civil War
The First Death

Hezbollah sent its legions into Beirut again on Sunday, jamming up Martyr Square and bumping up against surreal scenes: “Organizers said 20,000 runners took part in the 4th International Beirut Marathon, scheduled long before the demonstration,” the Post’s Tony Shadid wrote. “One of its advertisements read, ‘Run for life.’” Appropriately so: al-Jazeera later in the evening reported the first death from clashes between Sunnis and Shiites, as well as about 20 injuries. Haaretz reported “it was not clear where the gunfire came from. […] In a separate clash in another West Beirut neighborhood, a fist fight and stone-throwing clash erupted between groups of Shiites and Sunnis, and several shops were set on fire and the windows of at least one car smashed.” “Security forces,” apparently, blunted further escalations.

As Blacksmith of Lebanon asks, United under whose flag, exactly?

How Lebanon Self-Destructs

This was reported by Jamal’s Propaganda Site, a Lebanese blogger with a touch of Art Buchwald. Sukleen is the company contracted to clean the streets of Beirut: “Here's an incident that happened yesterday between 2 men in uniform, an Internal Security Force Officer and a Sukleen Street Sweeper. The Sukleen employee was doing his job sweeping the dirt and trash into a pile that he can then shovel into his collection bin. The officer who is entrusted with law enforcement was manning a security booth facing the residence of a VIP, or VVIP a la Libanaise. The officer suddenly decided to enforce his boot on the pile of dirt, kicked it around, and ordered the Sukleen employee in a very nice manner to sweep it again; all while sharing a hearty laugh with his subordinate. My friend who was appalled by what he witnessed intervened telling the officer to consider that he's dealing with a human being. The officer's disgusting, though expected, response to my friend was: "OK, now we know what color you are." Earning stripes at a record pace....”

George W. Bush
Worst President Ever Chronicles

The Washington Post’s Douglas Brinkley asked Lou Cannon, whom he calls Ronald Reagan’s “best biographer,” whether George W. Bush is the worst U.S. president ever. “Cannon bristled at the idea,” Brinkley wrote. “Bush has two more years to leave his mark, he argued. What if there is a news flash that U.S. Special Forces have killed Osama bin Laden or that North Korea has renounced its nuclear program? What if a decade from now Iraq is a democracy and a statue of Bush is erected on Firdaus Square where that famously toppled one of Saddam Hussein once stood?” This sounds like a new Mattel game getting released in time for Christmas. Play along. What if a year from now Bush bombed Iran, instigated a revolution that toppled the Mullahs, got the new Iranian regime to invite American forces in for good and erected a statue of Bush in a Teheran square? What if, immediately after Castro’s death, his brother phoned Bush and invited him down for a chat, doubled Guantanamo Bay’s American holding to 90 square miles—allowing for sixteen prison camps there instead of eight, thus making it a truly honorable gulag of the tropics—and forewent the $4,085 in annual rent the U.S. government sends the Cuban regime, and what if five years later, Cubans erected a statue of Bush in Havana for restoring democracy to their island while preserving a touch of totalitarianism ay Guantanamo, for old times’ sake? What if the Taliban suddenly saw the light and converted in droves to southern Baptism, and erected statues to George and Laura Bush, unveiled—bushily naked, in fact—in Kabul and Kandahar? What if Mexico became a totalitarian dictatorship East German style, built its own new Iron Curtain along the Mexico-US border, and every Minuteman chapter in Arizona, California and Texas started a campaign top have a statue of Bush erected in every county, every city and border crossing? The possibilities are endless. What if, indeed, over the next two years Bush proves himself one of the one hundred most influential Americans on The Atlantic’s list, even bumping Ronald Reagan down from 17 th place? (You read right, Ronald Reagan, 17 th most influential American, ahead of Andrew Jackson, Thomas Paine John Adams and Earl Warren, among others.) The Brinkley column in the Post’s Outlook section on Sunday was actually one in a package debating the worst-ever question. Here’s the rest:

Grain of Israeli Salt
Syria Smuggling Missiles to Hezbollah

The Jerusalem Post is Israel’s gift to paranoiacs and right-wingers, so what you read there should be taken with a touch of Mediterranean Sea salt, but as with all good humor, no joke is entirely innocent. “Long-range missiles as well as truckloads of advanced anti-tank missiles originating in Iran and Syria have been smuggled to Hizbullah in Lebanon during the past four months since the war ended this summer, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The IDF destroyed most of Hizbullah's long-range missile array during the month-long war, including the Iranian-made Fajr and Zelzal. But according to new intelligence obtained by the defense establishment, Hizbullah has received in the four months since the war, weapon convoys carrying short-range missiles, anti-tank missiles and long-range missiles. Most of the weapon convoys crossed into Lebanon from Syria at night.” The Jerusalem Post alone believes that Hezbollah’s long-range missile capabilities had been destroyed during the war; on the last couple of days of the war Hezbollah rained enough missiles on northern Israel to turn the place into Seattle-on-the-Mediterranean. That’s not to credit Hezbollah; only to add salt to the Post’s reporting. And why is any of this surprising, or why should it be, when Israel’s weaponry pipeline stretching back to the United States has been clanging with resupplies down to cluster bombs?

Germany Patriot Act

From German Expatica: “ Germany's parliament Friday approved a law setting up a terrorism database allowing access to information on suspects for both police and the intelligence services. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble dismissed opposition charges the law would turn Germany into a police state and said it was needed to strengthen security in view of the threat posed by terrorists. Giving both police and intelligence services equal access to personal information about suspects is a sensitive issue in Germany, given abuses under both the Nazis and by communist East Germany. Parliament also extended for five years a series of anti-terrorism laws passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. The planned terrorist data-bank will allow police and intelligence easier access to a host of information on suspects. This includes Membership in terrorist groups, firearms registration information, telecommunications and internet data, bank account and safety deposit box information, school, university and apprenticeship data, family status and religious affiliation.”

Nuclear Fallout
Speaking of “Nigger”

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “In a conversation with friends on a recent Muni bus ride, 14-year-old Remy Marks uses the six-letter word in nearly every sentence. "Nigger, you crazy," he says repeatedly to the teen next to him, who is dancing to hip-hop coming through his headphones. Remy knows about the renewed call by some of the nation's influential black leaders to abandon what is often referred to as the "n-word," but has no plans to stop using it. He says people should understand that the meaning has changed over the years and its impact depends on whether a white or black person is saying it. "It's not a bad word," says Remy, who is black. "It don't mean to me what it means to my mom." But many people, of all races, still consider it the most offensive racial slur in the English language. Debate over the word reignited recently after white comedian Michael Richards used it repeatedly along with a lynching reference and general putdowns to lash out at two black hecklers during an appearance at an L.A. comedy club. Racist remarks by celebrities and prominent politicians aren't uncommon. But Richards' tirade, recorded on a clubgoer's cell phone and posted on the Internet, struck an especially dissonant chord with viewers across the country.” See the full story…

Supreme Policing
“Bong Hits 4 Jesus” Gets Robes’ Attention

From McClatchy: “It was a high school prank that surely got laughs but quickly drew the ire of a Juneau, Alaska, principal. Joseph Frederick's "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner also inspired a constitutional argument, however, and the Supreme Court will decide whether the school's principal violated his rights when she suspended him for two weeks after he unfurled the message at a school-sponsored event. It's a case that plunges the justices back into a familiar exercise in careful line-drawing, one that asks them to define the boundaries between student free speech and educational order. The principal "was enforcing a school policy against displaying messages that promote illegal substances," lawyers for the Juneau school district wrote in their brief to the high court. The district's lead lawyer is Kenneth Starr, the former federal judge who investigated President Clinton during the Whitewater scandal. "For that entirely appropriate action, she faces the potential for ruinous liability," the brief continued. A federal appeals court in California ruled earlier this year that Frederick was entitled to go ahead with his suit, reversing a lower-court decision that had dismissed his complaint. The National School Boards Association and several anti-drug advocates are backing the principal, Deborah Morse, and the Juneau school district. They want Frederick's suit dismissed.” The full story…

Le Point Litteraire
The Year’s 20 Greatest Books

They still take books seriously in France , where Le Point has released its end-of-year tally of the 20 best books of the year, world-wide (but in French translation). Topping the list: Mario Vargas Llosa’s rewriting of Madame Bovary, or Tours et detours de la vilaine fille , or Mischiefs of the Bad Girl (not yet available in English). Tom Wolfe’s I am Charlotte Simmons (Moi, Charlotte Simmons) inexplicably clocks in at Number 4 (it’s a fair enough novel for a plane trip or for the can, but it brings to mind the old feud between Wolfe and Updike, who once called Wolfe’s book adequate enough, but not literature). Marguerite Duras is below Wolfe with her Cahiers de la guerre et autres texts. Julien Greene makes yet another posthumous an appearance, and Jonathan Littell’s Le Bienveillantes, first-ever American to win the Prix Goncourt, is somewhere in there as well, as is, in last place, the Truman Capote novel written when Truman was 19.

Blogs

QUOTE OF THE DAY Blogging the Middle East

“One thing is for sure, Siniora is toast. And toast does not go well with hummus. You might disagree but I beg to differ.”

 

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