February 14, 2007

Lebanonís Non-existent Center Somehow Holds

Valentine’s Day isn’t a romantic occasion in Lebanon. It’s the anniversary of the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated February 14, 2005, with a 600 pound bomb in downtown Beirut. A large crater still exists in the middle of the street, which is blocked to traffic. Pedestrians are kept away by strips of yellow police tape. The St. George Hotel, which was refurbished after the civil war, stands ruined once more by the explosion.

Yesterday hundreds of thousands of Lebanese gathered in Martyr’s Square to memorialize Hariri and to demonstrate against his Syrian assassins and their Lebanese Hezbollah proxies – who have also been demonstrating downtown without letup since December 1 of last year. Sectarian and political tensions haven’t been higher in Lebanon since the civil war ended. Violent street clashes have already broken out. Yet activists from both the pro- and anti-Syrian camps co-existed in downtown Beirut peacefully and, apparently, without incident.

Very nearly no one in Lebanon wants civil war. Beirut is a tinderbox ready to blow. Lebanese might get war anyway. But it’s telling that the most militantly opposed factions in the country can still co-exist in the same physical space – albeit separated from each other by fencing, rows of razor wire, and the army – without fighting.

Separated by Army Beirut.JPG
Photo courtesy of Ya Libnan

A small group of violent fanatics from either side easily could have sparked a major conflagration if that’s what they wanted, even if the overwhelming majority of even the militant activists didn’t want conflict. It really wouldn’t take much. One guy with a machine gun could possibly do it. Weapons sales have tripled in Lebanon over the past couple of weeks. It looks, though, like everyone in the now-thriving gun market is thinking of defense rather than offsense.

The Syrian regime, however, does want civil war. Civil war in Lebanon has been a part of the Syrian strategy since the 70s. After 15 years of chaos and mayhem from 1975 to 1990, Lebanese were willing to surrender to Syrian overlordship as long as Damascus could bring some measure of peace, even if it was the cold-hearted and brutal peace of the soldier. People grow tired of fighting, especially in a place like Lebanon where no single faction is strong enough to dominate all the others and impose a local peace of their own.

Syria’s ruler Bashar Assad promised to break Lebanon if he were forced to withdraw from the country, and he has been trying to do it now for two years. If the civil war were to resume with a Syrian military departure – or so goes the theory – the Lebanese government might ask for Syria to come back.

Immediately after the March 14 movement demanded Syria’s ouster, car bombs began exploding at night on quiet side streets in Christian areas. These were small car bombs and they didn’t kill anyone. They seemed deliberately planted and timed in such a way to frighten people rather than kill them.

The Syrians hoped Christians would retaliate against Lebanese Muslims and re-spark the war. The Christians, though, knew what was up and refused to take the sinister bait. The car bombs stopped after that strategy was shown not to work. Only prominent anti-Syrian politicians and journalists were targeted after that.

All that changed two days ago, the day before Hariri’s memorial in downtown Beirut. Two bombs simultaneously exploded – Palestinian style – on public commuter busses in Beirut’s mountainous suburbs – once again in a Christian area. This time civilians were killed. The original civil war was sparked in 1975 in part because of a bus massacre. This was an ugly reminder of Beirut’s horrible past, and appears to be a stepped up version of the original, more timid, car bomb campaign to restart the war.

Photo copyright New York Times

It’s hard to say what, exactly, was the effect of this week’s bus massacre on Lebanon’s collective psyche. It could have been a disturbing enough warning of how high the stakes are that everyone was extra careful to avoid confrontation the following day. Either way, it failed to spark another round of sectarian and political clashes. Try as he might, Bashar Assad is having a hell of a time breaking Lebanon. The only thing that seems to work is using Hezbollah to provoke the Israelis, which is one reason among many to think he’ll do it again.

The Lebanese civil war is one of the most ridiculous wars I have ever studied. It was World War I writ small. Everyone lost. As a result, everyone is more restrained and mature since the end of the war, even Hezbollah.

Hezbollah no longer kidnaps anyone inside Lebanon (not Lebanese, and not foreigners either), and they have apparently given up – at least on paper – their dream of conquering all of Lebanon and imposing a Shia Islamist theocracy. They may yet topple the government, but they cannot replace that government with themselves. And they know it. Besides, Hezbollah is adored in much of the Arab world outside Lebanon where no one has to suffer the consequences of living with them. All that would be lost if Hezbollah were to become the Shia butcher of Sunnis.

What if they declared a war and nobody came? It’s a silly old hippie slogan from the 1960s. That’s how it’s playing out now, though, in the Middle East of all places. Bashar Assad has called a civil war, and no one is coming.

Shove Your Civil War.jpg

Anything can happen in Lebanon. I may have to eat crow tomorrow. But today, for now, even under extraordinary and malevolent pressure from the same foreign dictatorships stirring up hatred and strife in Baghdad, Lebanon isn’t Iraq.

I wrote the following during the war last July: "I spent a total of seven months in Lebanon recently, and I never could quite figure out what prevented the country from flying apart into pieces. It barely held together like unstable chemicals in a nitro glycerin vat." There is no center to hold. But somehow, amazingly, and seemingly against the laws of political physics, it manages to hold all the same.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 14, 2007 06:49 PM

Makes you all that more ashamed of Diane Sawyer.

I hope everyone sends that bitch a billion updates about every crime Syria commits from now on. That interview was a blatant attempt to pull the wool over America's eyes, because ABC no longer believes in reporting the news, they believe in manipulating the opinion of a public they have nothing but contempt for.

Got to convince the American idiot public that Bashar is a beautiful, democracy loving saint, otherwise us idiot voters might want to do something about him. And A fucking B fucking C knows better than us.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at February 14, 2007 07:21 PM

Beautifully written column, Michael. Thanks.

Posted by: Pam at February 14, 2007 08:27 PM

ABC? What ABC?

Posted by: leo at February 14, 2007 08:35 PM

The answer you're looking for, Michael, is "Duct tape". :)

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at February 14, 2007 10:09 PM

I am glad to eat crow today; I am constantly fearing a civil war, but I am glad to be consistently proven wrong.

So far.

Thank God for Duct Tape!

Posted by: Jeha at February 15, 2007 03:05 AM

The St. George Hotel wasn't refurbished after the war. It was damaged by the Hariri explosion, but the majority of the damage was caused by the civil war.

Posted by: Charles Malik at February 15, 2007 04:04 AM

Josh Scholar,

Thank you.

Posted by: leo at February 15, 2007 06:03 AM

Soviets left small sections of Stalingrad cleaned up but unrestored to commemorate important event.

Are Lebanese doing the same with Hariri assassination spot?

Posted by: leo at February 15, 2007 06:07 AM

Michael, lots of great articles I haven't had time to comment on.
This was one of the most wonder - filled.

The Sunni terror killings in Iraq did, eventually, produce a Shia death squad response. If "somebody" doesn't stop Hez and the bombing killers, I'd expect some Christian/ Sunni (?Druze) anti-Hez bombers in return.

Yet your interviews don't seem to show any movement on that.

I note that if Hez was the only militia before that was armed, and there is a big increase in small arms sales, that means the Hez advantage in small arms will be decreasing. Their relative power is getting smaller over time.

"Justice" is almost always claimed as the justification for violence, from war down to tax collection.

Perhaps Lebanon will become fully gun-toting, gun-polite. Any insult might cause retaliation, so everybody is very polite.

I wish the Lebanese well, but the problem won't end until Tehran has a more human rights respecting gov't.

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 15, 2007 07:50 AM

"Israel fought three arab armies and beat them in six days. Israel has been unable to defeat Hizbollah for longer than a decade." MJT

^This is exactly why Israel and America and West can not accept a strong force such as Hizbollah. Not because they are 'patrons' of anyone or 'terrorists'.

This is also why SOME christians, druze and SOME sunnis don't want hizbollah. Their ideology is, they are strong, we are week. That is not allowed in lebanon. In lebanon everyone has to be as week as eachother. Notice i don't say as strong as each other. They see Hizbollah as being an exclusively shia military force. What they don't notice is that they should be grateful more than upset because therefore the shia are paying the price in lives for the country. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has offered all the ex-militia leaders to contribute with experienced and trained men, finance, weapons, intelligence etc to contribute to the struggle for the sheba farms. His calls continue to be unanswered.

Final note to MJT: You must be really pissed off about yesterday. You kept on talking about how the hizbollah 'putsch' was much smaller than that of 14 march forces one. Yesterday the security services in lebanon, which are headed by a pro-government minister, estimated 300,000 people had turned out to the event. On 10 December they estimated it to be 1.5-2 million, new york times and cnn put figures at 1.5 million and reffered to them as being 'hundreds of thousands'. Read their stories about yesterday, it's 'tens of thousands'. Even robert fisk who is staunchly anti-hizbollah because the war made him miss out on much needed bronzage (sun-tans), estimated the number at 2million.

10 december filled riyad solh, dowar ostrad beirut and martyr square as well as surrounding roads and bridges and highways with more not able to make it.

14 feb 07 - half of martyrs square was made available for the rally and nearly half of that still was unfilled as shown by NBN yesterday. (martyr square at full capacity could hold up to 600,000 people).

Who's lost popular support now? The sunni population alone is more than 300,000.

Posted by: the truth? at February 15, 2007 08:12 AM

10 december filled riyad solh, dowar ostrad beirut and martyr square as well as surrounding roads and bridges and highways with more not able to make it.

Do you have pictures of crowds filling those areas on December 10th?

Posted by: mary at February 15, 2007 08:51 AM

give me a break...nobody can accept that the hezbollah is strong? that is like bush saying the fanatics are killing americans because they are jealous. just rediculous. hezbollah is operating a state within a state. they dragged an entire country into a war that the MAJORITY did not want. and the estimation of 2 million people during the dec 10 demo is laughable. you are telling half the population showed up to demo against the govt? half? the overwhelming majority of sunnis and christians and druze DO NOT support nazirallah and his hooligans.....and by the way, all the demonstrators yesterday were lebanese, unlike the dec 10 demo...where you had syrians and palis taking part. this was caught on tape, thank you very much. plus, more people would have showed up but the bus bombs put a damper on that, or did you forget about that?
nazirallah did not want the govt to interfere with his "govt" and refused to let the lebanese army be deployed in the south and now he is crying that he is not represented in the govt, (although the shia are represented but they chose to resign),and wants to inflict the country to his bully mentality. the fact is the biggest demo came on 2-14-05. there has not been anything bigger since. please stop living in your fantasy world and own up to the truth. perhaps the opposition took some lessons on how a peaceful demo is supposed to take place.
the fact is that nazirallah only has majority support among shia. even aoun's rag tag support is miniscule.
and josh,
the first time you have posted something that i agree with you on, but perhaps we should take what that snake bashar is saying and learn and try to understand what he is REALLY saying, which is basically this: ok america, i will stop smuggling weapons to the hez, stop letting fighters in iraq, and help with the peace, in return you give me the golans (which is not the top priority) and lebanon back (the number one priority).
i hope the opposition gets their heads out of their asses and really learn what they really want instead of being brainwashed.

Posted by: buckeye at February 15, 2007 09:10 AM


Believe what you want. The fact is that Hezb overstepped and lost big, and Aoun is politically dead.

Facts are stubborn things.

Posted by: Jeha at February 15, 2007 09:36 AM

Charles Malik: The St. George Hotel wasn't refurbished after the war.

Have you seen that book (I forget what it's called) that shows all the before and after pictures, of the war and the reconstruction? The St. George Hotel is in that book looking pristine in the "after" picture. Now it's ruined again.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 15, 2007 10:37 AM

"The truth,"

You are just making shit up. Riad al Solh and Martyr's Square were blockaded by the army when Hezbollah protested. I took photos of the blockades. No one protested there. You are blatanly lying, and you are banned for doing so. You can't post here any more.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 15, 2007 10:43 AM

Truth is banned for lying.

How diabolical.

Posted by: leo at February 15, 2007 10:55 AM

I love how people (like truth) do a great job defeating their own logic in their own arguments. They save people the trouble of proving them wrong when they go around making ridiculous statements that everyone can read straight through.

The fallacies in the comment above are so glaring and obvious:

Sunnis and Christians should be grateful that more Shia are dying for their country? Hah! They are not dying "for their country". They are dying for a turbanned fat man in a hole and some guy in Tehran. No one in their country asked them to die for the country.

And don't you just love how the very basic tenet of it all: the rule of law, goes right out the window every single time in Lebanese politics?
People justify all sorts of stuff based on this or that, without once bringing up the very basic of issues: An illegal militia holding weapons. An illegal state within a state. ILLEGAL. ILLEGAL. ILLEGAL.

Lebanese leaders and people need to get aquainted with that word. As of today, it has NO MEANING.

Posted by: BadVilbel at February 15, 2007 11:26 AM

I always said that knowledge and reason (logic) are critical tools in assessing what's going on.
The sad thing is that even though the islamists do not believe in evidence/logic -- there is no such thing as causality, everything is willed by allah -- and can be readily refuted, the west's educational collapse makes it incapable of seeing through it. There are individual exceptions, but that's all they are, exceptions, not the rule.

Dozens of media crappola like the abc interview are done and gotten away with precisely because of this. The western media does the "he said, she said" on the sides, without any attempt to assess them.

Another example is what the media does with the Temple Mount issue: they keep repeating the muslim claims without one attempt to actually go to the site and validate them.

Posted by: fp at February 15, 2007 04:58 PM

FP, if you really are a "political scientist by training", you are not a scientist. A political studies specialist, perhaps, but not a scientist.

Your rants, misplaced certitude and extraordinary biased opinions are inept and irritating. Was discerning "media crappola" part of your "scientific" training?

Logic is a nebulous term even within one social group, let alone between various cultures or time periods.

With apologies for the somewhat ad hominem criticism; sometimes my weakness overcomes me, especially when I think that you may be in academia spouting your polarizing propaganda.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at February 15, 2007 05:54 PM


Nice try, but wrong. I AM a scientist, because I studied science at the Technion and my specialization was in the philosophy and methodology of science. What's yours?

Wrong again: I am not in academia. I left when I discerned that it does not educate anymore, and ignores knowledge and reason.

You are entitled to your opinions, no matter how wrong they are. But unless you provide evidence and reasoning to justify them, you are guilty of doing exactly what you accuse me of doing: ranting nonsense. Logic nebulous in social groups?
Give me a break.

Posted by: fp at February 15, 2007 06:13 PM

Michael Coren in Canada's National Post did write an article arguing against the Muslim propaganda on the Temple Mount reconstruction. I find when people -- not just practicing Christians -- understand that more and more Arab textbooks deny not only the Jewish claims to Israel, but put Jesus somewhere in Indonesia or Central Africa, their attitude on this issue changes a bit. You always have to make the shoe pinch personally for people to take it seriously.

Posted by: Pam at February 15, 2007 06:47 PM


What happened during Jordanian rule in Jerusalem -- were jews allowed anywhere near the wall? What happened when Israel took over -- was the waqf eliminated? Did muslim access to the Temple Mound continue or not? And they have the nerve to complain, let alone for no cause whatsover?

As an atheist I don't particularly care about the wall. But neither do the "outraged" out there -- that is a purely political manifestation.

But you gotta have some knowledge and ability to reason to put all this in context, and that is precisely the west and its media cannot do.


Posted by: fp at February 15, 2007 07:00 PM

FYI - as long as you are all talking about the Temple Mount, I have been following this issue of Orwellian revision of Jewish history for several years, and I just took the occasion of the ramp brouhaha to write a humungous post about it.

Posted by: Yehudit at February 15, 2007 10:16 PM


The whole arab/palestinian narrative is a rewriting of history, part. the jewish one, it's nothing new. There are both arab and israeli academics who shamelessly promote it. Let's call the former dhimmis :). Just recently Toaff had to stop the presses on his book on blood libel and apologize.

Posted by: fp at February 15, 2007 10:47 PM

fp: Just recently Toaff had to stop the presses on his book on blood libel and apologize.

He apologized to Jews, not to Arabs.

This "dhimmi" hobbyhorse of yours is over the top. If you are going to say journalists and people like Toaff are dhimmis then you have nothing left to say about people like the Christians of Egypt who are actually oppressed by a police state. Some of my friends are real actual second class citizens in Egypt because of their religion, which happens to also be the religion I was born into.

As if my oppressed Egyptian friends only have it as bad as a New York Times reporter. Come on, man. If you're really the political scientist you say you are then you are surely capable of moving beyond a cartoon view of this problem and seeing things as they are.

You remind me of people who accuse Bush of being a Nazi, which is a sort of Holocaust denial, as if Germany in 1940 were only as bad as America in 2007.

I am tired of it and I'm not the only one. This isn't Little Green Footballs.

You are posting more comments here than anyone else lately, and if you're going to continue doing that I need to ask you to tone it down now. I am hearing complaints from people who have been around longer than you have, some of whom are my friends in the real world.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 15, 2007 11:09 PM

Seeing that FP is in the doghouse, I feel compelled to pipe up and say that I appreciate his postings, and find myself more often in agreement with him than not. Even if you don't agree with him, his tone is always calm and reasonable, even when responding to insults. He is never rabid, or mendacious, or incoherent, things that would normally justify banning. I don't think he should be threatened with a ban.

By the way, I don't think he was calling Toaff a dhimmi, which in any case wouldn't be accurate. Probably more like a third rate academic looking for attention.

Statements like "logic is a nebulous concept" on the other hand, is worthy of censure. What a load of crap. I guess morality is too, right? That poster unwittingly proves FP's point one hundred times over. With a credo like that, I recommend a career as a criminal defense attorney. Or a propagandist.

Posted by: MarkC at February 16, 2007 12:05 AM

I didn't threaten to ban anyone.

I'm not going to ban someone over word choice. But I would like to see the hyperbole toned down because I don't like my comments section resembling Little Green Footballs.

Look, I read Little Green Footballs. Charles provides a useful service by linking to important stories. The comments, though, are atrocious. Charles doesn't seem to mind, but lots of other people do and stay out because of it. I quit posting there a long time ago.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2007 12:18 AM

Well, I am on record in this section stating that the comments on LGF are indeed infantile, but I would not disagree with atrocious too).

I am referrin to LGF in exactly the same manner as you, Michael; what is more, I am very selective about which posts I relate to and which I ignore. In any case, my use of the posts does not include the comments and they can easily be ignored. They should not be used a reason to disregard or dismiss LGF.

Those who favor bans simply prefer consensus/harmony to disagreement; and it is disagreement which makes one think.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 12:50 AM

Hey, Mark,

Nice to encounter thinking, in contradistinction to emotions, which are the rule.

But I realized a long time ago not to expect knowledge and reason in the absence of the pertinent education. How many university graduates and undergraduates undergo one course in logic these days? So why should they know what it is, let alone how to use it?

The consequence is that inability to sustain an intellectual argument natuarally ends up in emotional response. A great deal of patience is required not to give up.

But don't worry, if anybody is in the doghouse, it's not me. And if I am, I prefer to be where I am to some commenters here.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 12:58 AM

I don't disregard LGF. Like I said, I read it. I read it all the time. It's on my blog roll. Charles Johnson is a friend of mine. I don't care for his tone or his attitude sometimes, but he provides a useful service and it's his blog.

I don't mind disagreement in my comments section. Echo chambers are boring. I'm asking you to please rein in the hyperbole because it annoys me and others.

I also suggest you dial it down when you post elsewhere. You make some good points, but you sometimes sound like a crazy person when you do it. I mean this as constructive criticism, not as an insult.

"Dhimmi," for instance, means something very specific. It's a real problem that real people have to live with. Save the ammo for them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2007 01:02 AM


There are dhimmis and westerners who behave as if they were dhimmis. No reasonable person would equate the two and it is silly to claim that is what I do.

The use of the term is intended to provoke thinking about the phenomenon. The sheer fact that we are having an exchange on this here helps, and is much better than just letting the MSM get away with it.

My comments are nothing like LGF and equating me with Bush-Nazi does not merit a response.
I am not going to censor myself in order to satisfy your friends or others here. You will have to choose between them and me, as this is your prerogative. But if you do ban me, it will say more about you than about me.

BTW, sometimes I am tired about other comments here, but it would never occur to me to ask them to tone themselves down.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 01:09 AM

I am not threatening to ban you, but I frequently have to ask people to tone themselves down. Otherwise this place turns into a circus. You haven't been here very long. Trust me. It gets absolutely ridiculous even while I do try to moderate.

Other times I have to summarily ban people, which I did earlier today. See above.

You and Nouri should have been able to have a decent conversation. Your "Amerabia" hysteria made that impossible. He is an American from Algeria and I don't blame him one bit for thinking what you say is often ridiculous.

I'm going to bed now, but even if I weren't I've spent too much time arguing with you about this.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2007 01:26 AM

Re: Egypt's Christians:
The Christians of Islamist Egypt, are the political equivalent of the Jews in ancient Egypt. They are the political equivalent of Jews in Nazi Europe, just prior to Hitler's Final Solution. But in Egypt, every neighborhood is teeming with thousands of sadistic little Hitlers, dreaming and acting on fantasies of Kuranic bloodlust for the infidel: muhmud's own little humanitarian contribution to an islamo nazi Final Solution.

Re: MSM Dhimmitude:
Dhimmitude is as much a psychological state of mind as it is a physical political condition. Michael, the MSM feels it's ok to trample all over Christian and Jewish political sensibilities, but they tippy toe about not to offend Islamist political sensibilities. Can one explain this other than calling dhimmitude? I don't think so.

Posted by: redaktor at February 16, 2007 07:39 AM

Hyperbolic overuse of real terminology weakens not only the argument, but the power of the word. Fuck used to be a powerful word, for example. Now it's impotent.

Dhimmi is a real Islamic concept and fact, and it should have serious impact when it is explained to people who didn't know about it (like anyone who watched the PBS three-parter on the history of Islam... and tells me Islam protects 'People of the Book') but if is thrown around constantly in screeds and rants it will become as useless -- and as powerless to inform -- as say, 'fascist' or 'Nazi' or 'Commie' have all become. Catch-phrases, soundbites -- they can no longer teach.

I AM the beneficiary of a classical education, and precision and care with choice and use of words was a significant part of that. Why someone who professes to love logic and learning would dismiss the importance of the words used to express ideas or experiences, or would encourage the careless application of concepts and terms confuses me.

Call the MSM what it is -- corrupt, jihad apologists, intellectually bankrupt, compromised, self-serving flunkies, mercenary, co-opted, unprincipled sops, neo-Vichy Media. In the same way Baker, Cheney, Rice, Chirac are collaborators, quislings, or stoolies, not Dhimmis. Well, Condi is a Dhimmi, OK, I'll give you that.

Posted by: Pam at February 16, 2007 08:50 AM

Redaktor: Can one explain this other than calling dhimmitude?

Political correctness. It is a very different thing than oppression. There are not little Hitlers with their boots on the necks of journalists, unless those journalists write in Arabic in Lebanon.

Americans journalists just do not have these problems.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2007 09:50 AM

Pam: Well, Condi is a Dhimmi, OK, I'll give you that.

Why? Seriously? You just explained very well why one should not degrade meaningful words in the way that "fascism" has become degraded.

I actually use words like fascist once in a while, and I'm always told I'm using it incorrectly even though I only use it to describe murderous totalitarians. That's because idiots keep overusing it to describe Bush, Blair, Sharon, etc.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2007 09:54 AM

Re: Political Correctness

Michael, isn't that a form of psychological dhimmitude?

Posted by: redaktor at February 16, 2007 10:25 AM


Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2007 10:42 AM

I think Condi is a submissive flak who does as she's told to preserve a safe and valued position on the edge of the corridors of power. She pays, as it were, to have a protected status, and I assume she's intellectually sharp enough to know that she is advancing certain Arab interests in the process.

Baker, Cheney, the Bush family, Carter actually are paid, and well, in grants, awards, investments, tips, to cover and apologize for and advance certain Arab interests. They are mercs. She executes their plans, albeit incompetently. OK, I stand corrected -- Maybe she's a vassal, or a serf, not a Dhimmi.

Posted by: Pam at February 16, 2007 10:45 AM


Ok, Michael. Have it your way. But I for one am sick and tired of being treated as second class, because for some unexplained reason the dhimmi MSM has a fetish of kowtowing to an Islamist agenda.

Posted by: redaktor at February 16, 2007 10:52 AM


The fact that you or others deem my comments hysteria does not mean that they are; neither are they ridiculous just because Nouri says so.

I stand behind Amerabia and dhimmi MSM, I know what I mean when I say it -- it is a warning between a worrisome trend -- and so do others who follow what's going on in US politics. If you choose to ignore that it's not my problem.

Yes, I know about things out of hand. But let me point out to you that it was Nouri and others who turned to ad-hominem attacks, not me. I did not see you admonish them or tone them down.

If Nouri wants to have a decent exchange, it is up to him, I am game. It was he who bolted out and it's his prerogative.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 11:14 AM


I think redaktor explained why the term dhimmi fits. I also provided a long explanation justifying the use of the term. For somebody trained as a psychologist, you of all people should appreciate that.

The fact that you call it hyperbola does not make it so. In fact, I could equally claim that Michael calling it hysteria is the real hyperbola. We must agree to disagree once in a while.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 11:22 AM

No, fascism has not become degraded.

What has degraded is the ability and willingness to recognize it and call a spade a spade.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 11:24 AM

fp: We must agree to disagree once in a while.

There we are then.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2007 11:30 AM

All people who reach that level of power are serving the interests of those who own the country, as well as their own. Otherwise, they would not get to where they are.

Both Condi and Bush are more incompetent than they are dhimmis. I just read the other day what Bush told Sharon he'll do to bin-Laden: "I will screw him in the ass". Yeah, right. Bring it on. Who did what to whom, now?

A lazy rich kid deserter bully -- just what America needed. But hey, it deserves it: he was elected after he was selected.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 11:33 AM


You better watch your mouth when talking about Bush, or I'll personally kick your zionazi ass. Kapish?!

Posted by: redaktor at February 16, 2007 11:42 AM

No need for alarm, Michael. Just using a little Tony Soprano irony. ;)

fp rails about MSM propaganda, and then turns around and parrots it.

Posted by: redaktor at February 16, 2007 11:49 AM

Well, I'll have to rely on Michael's toning you down :).

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 11:49 AM


I'm afraid that you bought some rightwing propaganda yourself. I do not fashion myself after what others say. I look at the evidence and judge for myself.

In the case of Bush, I came to the conclusion that he is an idiot (like Reagan) when MSM were singing his praises and accepting his grab of power. I have nothing to do with the fact that they now realized it.

Sometimes they say the right thing for the wrong agenda.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 11:56 AM

Here's a good MSM example:


Now, tell me this is PC and not dhimmitude.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 12:00 PM

A lazy rich kid deserter bully..


lazy: Bush has accomplished more in one lifetime than you will accomplish in ten.

deserter: Bush was training as fighter pilot, at a time when US fighter jets were falling to Soviet Migs at an alarming rate. If you have proof he's a deserter, I'd like to see it.

bully: If you think Bush is a bully, then you suffer from brain dead Leftist moral equivocally. Beating up on jihadi thugs does not make you a bully; it makes you righteous.

Posted by: redaktor at February 16, 2007 12:13 PM

fp: Now, tell me this is PC and not dhimmitude.

It is neither.

Have you ever met a dhimmi? Do you know what they are like, what they have to put up with? There is no resemblance whatsover between, say, an Egyptian Copt and an anti-American anti-Israeli conspiracy theorist nutcase like the one you just cited.

Most actual dhimmis are pro-American. All are anti-terrorist and anti-jihad.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 16, 2007 12:16 PM

Most actual dhimmis are pro-American. All are anti-terrorist and anti-jihad.

Not if you get them in a room full of Jihadis. The point being, they will say and do the Jihadist's bidding, out of an overwhelming sense of psychological terror.

Posted by: redaktor at February 16, 2007 12:26 PM

Well, now, you seem to focus entirely on the dhimmis of today.

I, on the other hand, prefer to think of the dhimmis in history. And they were pretty much quite subservient to their muslim masters and paid their protection money quite regularly to avoid being converted or killed.

Now, they may have had no choice. But the MSM does have a choice, as you yourself claimed. And yet, they so blatantly and thoroughly adopt the arab/muslim positions at their most eggregious and absurd.

Referring to this as psychological dhimmitude is quite accurate, but you don't have to accept it.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 12:26 PM

oops: equivocally -> equivalency
(auto spell check got the better of me)

Posted by: redaktor at February 16, 2007 12:29 PM


Where is the evidence?

1. Other than getting selected/elected president, what exactly has he achieved, that is not negative? Had it not been for the sad state of the US public, who would have eleceted him?

Is your criterion for a successful president that he achieved more than me? What do you know about what I achieved?

2. Yeah, we know all about his pilot days. Relative to piloting a fighter in Vietnam, piloting over TX is not very impressive, and even that he did not manage very well.

But what is galling is that while he relied on papa to keep him from the war, he is quite easy with sending others to fight a war to prove something to his father. Chickenhawk.

3. Bullying is not enough to win over the jihadists. You gotta have smarts and competence. Bush is all mouth and no action -- at least no action that achieves anything.

A righteous ignorant/incompetent.

You are projecting on him your wishful thinking on what you would like him to be. I sympathise for not having a decent alternative, but if he is the best of what the US has to win the war on jihadim, we're in deep shit.

I repeat, don't judge entirely by the source, judge by the content.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 01:45 PM


When you're selected/elected Governor of Texas, twice; when you're selected/elected President of the United States, twice; when you fight two major wars and suffer terrorist disasters as well as natural disasters that cause economic havoc, but yet manage the economy to an almost historic record low unemployment with low inflation and a booming stock market, then will can have a serious conversation. Until then, you're just blowing smoke. Oh yeah, and for doing that, I fart in your general direction.

Posted by: redaktor at February 16, 2007 03:00 PM

This is so absurd that it does not even warrant a response. But then, what else, other than farts, can one expect from a Bush supporter. That's their substitute for thinking.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 03:34 PM

fp - these are all warmed-over cliches about Bush, with no evidence. Redaktor is citing inconvenient facts, and all you can do is it doesn't warrant a response.

And Bush's daddy didn't get him into the TANG. There aren't lines around the block waiting to become fighter pilots (which he got high marks for) - the qualifications are so rigorous they were looking for people. And they don't give you a multimiliion dollar plane to fly which you could potentially crash into civilians, just for being a Senator's son. The person who claims he was asked to help Bush Jr is a longtime TX Dem operative, not exactly an unbiased source. And after 5 years and the enormous resources of CBS News, Dan Rather and Mary Mapes could not dig up anything, so they had to resort to fake documents. So there's no there there.

Sorry to go on about this, but since these lies still circulate they still need to be refuted. Criticize Bush for real things, not this bogus TANG story.

Also per the economy, the deficit is being paid down from increased tax revenues, from cutting taxes, which fuels growth because people have more to spend, then you impose lower taxes on more income, you still have more revenue. And this is mostly in the upper brackets. All this under Bush's watch, as redaktor said, through major terorist attack and war and recession and hurricane.

Posted by: Yehudit at February 16, 2007 09:02 PM

I don't have your patience to spend lines and lines to dispell what is obviously nonsense. If you interpret that as my inability to refute these absurdities, so be it. There are ample of sources which do that and I don't intend to repeat them.

It seems to me that because the other side -- liberals, leftists and dhimmicrats, are so bad, people (particularly those dependent on the US) prefer to project their wishful desires on the other game in town, ignoring the ample evidence of how full of shit the Bush side is. If you want to believe what you say, be my guest.

As far as I am concerned both sides are pitiful, which is one reason the US is in decline, and why I see little chance of reversal. Just watch.

Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 10:04 PM

Here is one real problem (at the end) -- now what is Bush & co. doing about it? After all, they should have some influence with their good friends to stop it.


Posted by: fp at February 16, 2007 10:09 PM

Ask not whether Bush is good or bad, but whether he is better or worst than alternative.

FP is correct. Choices on both sides were lousy. I skipped 2000 vote all together and voted against Kerry in 2004.

I have higher hopes for 2008.

In the mean time Bush is to stay for the duration. No one can change anything. So, just relax and wait him out.

Posted by: leo at February 16, 2007 11:13 PM

fp - "...which is one reason the US is in decline, and why I see little chance of reversal..."

Uh, okay. The economy is strong and growing. Unemployment is low. Tax revenues are up but my taxes are lower.

It may be where you hang out and with whom, they are in decline, but me and my redneck friends are doing just fine. Their friends are doing just fine and on down the line. I get really tired of hearing self defeating folks berating their fates. Should those doing all the complaining get off their butts and get to work, they would find their personal situations improving. The Great Society as a concept is long ago disproven and discredited. The real answer to poverty in the US is to get people off their dead ends and have them get to work.

I think the same is valid in Lebanon. Give the people a chance to work to put something together and they will have a great place in a few years. But, should the outside actors continue to wreak their havoc, then only disaster will be the result. That is what I take from what Michael writes.

Okay, the naysayers can start in 3...2...1...

Posted by: robohobo at February 16, 2007 11:51 PM

"Government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the Earth?"
Abraham Lincoln, 1863.

Posted by: hella wallah at February 17, 2007 08:53 AM

Most americans won't see the decline of the US if it bit them in the ass. They believe their own propaganda that there is nothing like it, and don't have an education that gives them a sense what happened in history to all dominating empires. Evidence countering their faith usually does not work on them, they're immune.

So I will reiterate: let's talk in 10-15 years, shall we?

Posted by: fp at February 17, 2007 10:33 AM


The politicians are bad alright. But they are the consequence, not the root of the problem.

The combination of the collapse of the educational system, the corruption of the system by corporate money, the extension of the empire abroad, and the becoming of the only superpower without competition, peak oil and the Islamization of Europe are all dooming the US. The decline will take a very long time, but the direction is clear. Katrina, Iraq, the DHS are all pretty clear indications of the trend. I doubt that americans, who are indoctrinated with the absolute superiority of the US will see it coming before it's too late.

So americans can continue to beat their chests about how great they are, but they cannot escape the laws of history. I recommend the following:


Posted by: fp at February 17, 2007 10:50 AM

FP Said:
"Most americans won't see the decline of the US if it bit them in the ass. They believe their own propaganda that there is nothing like it, and don't have an education that gives them a sense what happened in history to all dominating empires. Evidence countering their faith usually does not work on them, they're immune.

So I will reiterate: let's talk in 10-15 years, shall we?"

I'm not American, but that is absurd. How can you claim most American don't have an education.

Also, America is the continuation of an Empire. It started with the Greeks, Romans, Brits etc. Those empires never ended, they just transformed. America is the continuation of that culture. The empire never died. It is as big and as poweful as it ever was.

Don't believe your own propaganda about the US completely falling apart. It won't happen. It will just transform into something else. The USA is diverse and represents many different nationalities and cultures. It is the most logical place for human advancement and prosperity, not decline like you said.

What do you expect will happen in 10-15 years in the USA??? You tell me how it will happen??

Posted by: CharlieFF at February 17, 2007 01:57 PM

It depends on whether you understand what an education is, and know what the americans get as one these days.

They are SCHOOLED, but they don't get an education. What they do get is socialization, job training and indoctrination with their own superiority. Therefore, their intellect and critical faculties do not get developed, aside from business, law, journalism, etc. and leisure. And in universities they often than they get radicalized by leftism/islamism.

What they don't get is classics, history, logic, science, literature etc. hence huge gaps in knowledge and ability to reason. They are more likely to believe anything than question anything.
(Like all generalizations, this one has exceptions too, but they are not the rule).

This is true not only for the US, but the west in general. To get an idea of a consequence of all this, see the comments by the Bush supporter who judges the status of the US by his own circumstances -- he has no other frame of reference.

It is a known technique to try and dismiss an argument by taking it to a laughable extreme which has not been claimed. I did NOT say the US is falling apart. What I said was that the american empire is declining. Part of it is the inherent dynamic over time of every dominant empire to date. It can either slow the decline or exacerbate the process, not reverse it. The US is doing the latter, one of the main factors being that it believes itw own propaganda that it is superior and will never fail. That propaganda would have never taken with a proper education system.

Nobody can predict specific details and timing and what I said is that only the trend is clear. An idea is given in the article I linked to. There are other sources -- try james kunstler at clusterfuck nation. Some readings on the history of empires would also help.

If you follow the collection of -- not individual--of links at my blog, you can also get an idea, depending on your educational background and intellect.

Posted by: fp at February 17, 2007 03:39 PM

What do you expect will happen in 10-15 years in the USA??? You tell me how it will happen??

The world economy (i.e. the US economy) will crash, Gold will go through the roof, thus allowing our gloom and doom hero to actually get a life by making a small fortune selling the gold cap on his maxillary central incisor.

Posted by: redaktor at February 17, 2007 03:59 PM

It's this kind of comments to which Michael's characterization as atrocious most likely referred; alas, it CAN get like LGF here.

Alas, they do not come from me, so let's see if toning down is what they'll get. Somehow, I doubt it.

Posted by: fp at February 17, 2007 04:11 PM


"Shank: How is the political deadlock in Lebanon impacting the U.S. government’s decision to potentially go to war with Iran? Is there a relationship at all?

Chomsky: There’s a relationship. I presume part of the reason for the U.S.-Israel invasion of Lebanon in July—and it is US-Israeli, the Lebanese are correct in calling it that—part of the reason I suppose was that Hezbollah is considered a deterrent to a potential U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran. It had a deterrent capacity, i.e. rockets. And the goal I presume was to wipe out the deterrent so as to free up the United States and Israel for an eventual attack on Iran. That’s at least part of the reason. The official reason given for the invasion can’t be taken seriously for a moment. That’s the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of a couple others. For decades Israel has been capturing, and kidnapping Lebanese and Palestinian refugees on the high seas, from Cyprus to Lebanon, killing them in Lebanon, bringing them to Israel, holding them as hostages. It’s been going on for decades, has anybody called for an invasion of Israel?"


Posted by: hella wallah at February 17, 2007 05:50 PM

When it comes to foreign policy and part. the ME Chomsky ia an utter idiot. He hasn't a clue. Islamism and religious fundamentalism does not exist in his worldview, even though he is an atheist.

I guess Hezbollah planned the kidnapping, killing and shelling to give the Israelis a pretext to invade at exactly the time when the US needed to eliminate Hezbollah as an Iranian deterrent. What a perfect coordination between Hezbollah and the US to self-destruct!

And how eager were the Israelis to invade -- it took them several weeks to do it, just about when the UN imposed a cease-fire.

I guess Chomsky is getting more and more senile in his old age. Or too much affected by kissing Nasrallah.

Posted by: fp at February 17, 2007 06:07 PM


Posted by: fp at February 17, 2007 08:14 PM

Charles Malik: The St. George Hotel wasn't refurbished after the war.

Charles, I go swimming at the St George every time I go to Lebanon and I know it very well. I even have a family member of mine, a manager there who was killed by the same bomb that killed Hariri. He was working in his office and probably never saw it coming. I can assure you that you are misinformed on that. It was completely renovated after the civil war.

Posted by: Maya at February 17, 2007 08:43 PM


Excellent article as usual. I keep trying to forward your link to everone I know who works at the State department or is involved in policy making. You have a better understanding of Lebanese politics than anyone I know.
Your efforts are greatly appreciated and your love for Lebanon and Lebanese culture seeps through your columns.
Can't thank you enough.

Posted by: Maya at February 17, 2007 08:51 PM


I checked the link you suggested: http://energybulletin.net/23259.html

Given that this opus is very big I will concentrate only on small portion of it - 'similarities'.

Especially because author bases his entire argument on that fact?.

First of all on subject of what is 'empire' and what is not.

If we are to talk about SU proper and US proper. SU was an empire, while US is not.

With exception of Belarus and perhaps Ukraine and Kazahstan all other republics wanted to succeed from USSR rather badly from very beginning (even pre 1917).

If you can argue that there is the same trade among US states than I will have to agree that US is an empire.

Now if we will expand our definition of an empire to cover entire Warsaw Pact countries on one side and NATO countries on another than perhaps we might be able to say that both were empires.

Even then I would have some reservations because, to my knowledge, there is nothing similar to Hungarian (1956), Czechoslovakian (1968), and Polish (1980) events on the 'West' side to support theory of 'empire' similarity.

I do not think that only empires are prone to collapse so for me the argument whether state is an empire or not does not have that much of importance.

Now about other similarities between SU and US, which author mentions.

"Two post-WW2 military industrial empires" - True although I'd use term 'powers' instead of 'empires' but let it be so.

"Predicated on technological progress and economic growth" - True for almost each country in the World.

"Tried to spread their ideology over entire planet." - True but I am willing to say that because US is more successful I would not call it a similarity. Besides, I would even say that measure of success is the biggest difference between two.

"Exercised political and economical control over many countries" - True. That is what powers do. EX: As far as Lebanon is concerned Syria is power.

"Remained evenly matched for several decades" - What is meant by 'match'? In simplest of terms for me it would mean many different categories like science and technology (matched), military (matched), political system (not even close), economy (far from it). So, again, what is 'match'?

Judging by name author is 'Russian', so he could not possibly not realize that 15 new countries (former SU) in order to get back on their feet are trying to adapt the very ideology they were trying to defeat while they were whole?

About collapse itself. I am still trying to understand what constitutes collapse in case of US. If I could get better definition of it may be I would be able to see it coming. Until then all this talk about collapse is just another Y2K talk for me.

Posted by: leo at February 17, 2007 09:49 PM


"Charles, I go swimming at the St George every time I go to Lebanon and I know it very well. I even have a family member of mine, a manager there who was killed by the same bomb that killed Hariri. He was working in his office and probably never saw it coming. I can assure you that you are misinformed on that. It was completely renovated after the civil war."

I am sorry for your lose, but factually, you are entirely mistaken.

I don't deny that you swim at the St. George. I do as well, as do many Lebanese given that the St. George beach is the best place to swim in Beirut.

However, it's entirely false that the St. George Hotel was refurbished. The building had no windows, bullet holes, no paint, and had no vacationers watching BBC International in rooms with minibars. There was an office and a few rooms that were being used by the owners next to the St. George beach, but the building as a whole was not at all functioning. The Hariri assassination did not do the damage to that building. The clips from the HSBC security cameras of the moments immediately before the assassination (available for viewing on the web) show that the building was not intact.

The spat between the owner of the St. George and Rafiq al Hariri is well documented. For a number of reasons, Hariri did not want the Christian owner to refurbish the building, and used his governmental power to block the project.

Posted by: Charles Malik at February 18, 2007 08:39 AM

So much for re-building lebanon.
I hate it when people fail to criticise the actions of someone because it might be sensitive or hurts the fealings of others.

Yes, I know harriri did some good things in his life-time, but he did do many bad things. I mean, he put lebanon into public debt of 45billion dollars when he was a billionaire himself. He stole 15-17 billion dollars from that 45billion, and ofcourse, his 'friends' didn't miss out i.e. seniora and fatfa'r't.

I mean, a child can borrow 45billion dollars and make a country into a heaven, but harriri made everything but a heaven. Nearly everything he built, he called it after himself and was privately owned, or at least made it a company with the majority of the shares owned by himself, that way, with public money, he made projects that would gain him personal profit - for personal use.

There is the airport, you guessed it, it's called 'Martyr Harriri Airport', and the blue domed 'Harriri mosque' are among the many self named projects. I wouldn't be surprised if they called downtown harriri town tomorrow, just because he spend billions of dollars to set the time on the clock properly after the civil war.

A lot of people are decieved into thinking that he rebuilt lebanon and beirut and downtown. Look at every single video or pictures of any demonstration, you will see a number of large cranes in nearly every picture or scene. If harriri already rebuilt these places, why are there cranes there? You guessed it, the 'rebuilding' hasn't finished yet even with 45billion dollars.

Take dubai as an example, they are building the tallest building, and nicest looking one at that, for 3 billion dollars. That itself could attract a million tourists. What did harriri achieve for 3billion dollars? All he did is rebuild his constituency o he's re-elected again, and on top of that he gave them 100$ each to re-elect him. The money that was borrowed from the internation community, which was accounted for as public debt, was used by harriri for personal uses and for his political agenda rather than anything else.

He didn't rebuild lebanon, because if you go to the suburbs of beirut, and baalbeck and the south, they still look like they used to look like 25 years ago. Go to central beirut, his constituency, you will see he has rebuilt that area only, as a matter of fact, he had started to rebuild the area and still didn't finish the job 45billion dollars later. Now they took another 8billion.

I swear to god, if i had been in his place, for god sakes, if SADDAM was in his place, he would've made a much better job than that theif, and now his dirty son comes to sell us the story of his 'martydrom' whn all he did is steal and get richer, and then hizbollah comes to sell us another story, that we should all miss harriri and that all lost something when harriri deparchered. Damn right we lost something, we lost the same person who should've solely repayed the debt to lebanon and been put up on an internation tribunal for corruption and stealing public money, along with his fatfart and seniora friends.

I can tell everyone here, nobody gives a shit about harriri, not even his own son. Maybe if they did, they wouldn't be using and abusing his death for their political gain. Harriri and corp use it for political affiliation, and opposition use it for political gain. No body wants to find out the truth, they just blatantly hate syria, which im not surprised at, and use harriri as a pretext for an international tribunal that will guarantee the conviction of syria as the criminal.

How surprising is it that the politians, especially the ones that are known as being the biggest liers, have made themselves judges and convicted syria as being guilty for every assasination thats happened in lebanon before an investigation has even started yet.

I blame every single assasination on the lebanese government at the time of the assasination for failing to protect their own people, and guess whose been in government for the past 32 years? harriri senior, harriri junior, nayla mu3awad, seniora, fatfat (fat'fart') and co. They have failed us economicaly, financially, security wise, trust-wise and even patriotically.

In the UK and US, people that don't support the wars in iraq and afghanistan still have support and backing for the troops there and support them financially, politically and psycologicaly. Whereas in lebanon the government has proved to be a failure even patriotically. In the middle of a war on ones country, they support whoever is fighting the aggressor, but no, the lebanese government stopped arms shipments from reaching the brave fighters of the south and east.

Take Amal for example. Everyone knows they used to be one of the most brutal and corrupt militias in lebanon. The summer war started and they fought israel with hezbollah, i supported them just for that. Same applied to FPM (helped the displaced) and hizbollah (main fighting force).

Posted by: hella wallah at February 18, 2007 10:28 AM


The american public does not see the US as an empire and does not really know what its government does in its name abroad. It does not much care, as long as they feel OK in the US (witness the "analyst" here who judges US's status based on his own economic circumstances. This is why the govt manages to mess up so much of its foreign policy and doe not pay for it. But the public does.

When you have so many legions abroad, you are an empire. And projection of economic and cultural influence also contributes.

I will grant you that the US is not exactly like the SU; and in fact the article describes differences in the two in how they will handle decline. But no two empires in history are exactly the same, but that does not mean there aren't any similarities.

I can, for example discern the following similarities between Rome on its last legs and the US (After all they say Pax Romana and Pax Americana, no?): military and economic over-exertion abroad, exploitation of slave labor there, decline of science and industry, obsession with entertainment (including gladiator games on tv) and food (witness obesity and related diseases epidemic), inability to control borders, endemic corruption of public and economic institutions, health and environmental problems, barbarians at the gates, and so on. They are hard to miss.

If you know Roman history, you should remember how the empire burned and the politicians fooled around in the senate. Sounds familiar?

Posted by: fp at February 18, 2007 11:03 AM


"exploitation of slave labor" Who and where?

"decline of science and industry" Is it American decline or others stepping up their production and research?

"obsession with food and entertainment(including gladiator games on T.V.)" Welcome to America where the poor people are fat and the rich people are skinny. What gladiator games are you talking about fp? Football isn't new and neither are boxing or other martial arts.

The open borders and corruption are pretty much the same as when we started. I don't know who you consider barbarians at the gate, but I hope it isn't our friends to the south. Americans are lucky to have a system and immigrants that are benificial to the host society and the immigrant. Not counting the criminals, immigration is a blessing for America, Americans and Immigrants.

Posted by: mikek at February 18, 2007 11:55 AM


Looks like you have rose glasses on. But that's OK, americans usually don't see any problems with their society. My guess is that the romans did not either.

1. china, mexico, india et.al. (I used the term literally for china, symbolically for others).

2. Both; but while the latter was to be expected, the former could have been avoided (see my description of education collapse earlier).

3. That's a rather questionable generalization, but even if one accepts it, it does not negate my point. Last I look there were many more poor than rich, and the gap has become humongoud -- yet another indicator and exacerbator of decline. Anyway, the rich are obsessed with organics and diets.

4. I detect a difference in the level and spread of corruption. It is now utterly blatant and no consequences are paid for it. It is now institutionalized in the private sector by the govt. There is now symbiosis between the two.

5. The barbarians at the gates and border lack of control are distinct, not related issues.

a. Open borders are not the same as lack of control over them. And my guess is that the benefits are mostly to corporate interests, not the public which supports just the costs.

b. The barbarians are the jihadis. I used the term symbolically.

But with so much indoctrination, and without a sense of history, undeveloped critical faculties , these are hard to detect. Which is exactly the intention of the powers that be.

Posted by: fp at February 18, 2007 12:19 PM

Here's another callapsed US system, where privatizing profit and socializing costs exacerbates decline:


Posted by: fp at February 18, 2007 05:01 PM

fp, I don't wear glasses. Please stop claiming that you are a scientist, you make science a joke. Are you a scientologist?

1. Bullshit. Prove your point.
2. Meh. This isn't significant.
3. Your point was questionable. U Ahh We tad it.
4. Meh. Nothing new.
5. Meh.

fp, you make morons cool.

Posted by: mikek at February 18, 2007 11:03 PM

mormons not morons. dammit.

Posted by: mikek at February 18, 2007 11:05 PM

To have an exchange requires a minimum of intellect. You don't possess it.

You are validating my points to a tee.

Posted by: fp at February 18, 2007 11:16 PM

like a golf tee or something?

Posted by: mikek at February 18, 2007 11:55 PM

Gosh, I just found this Blog. I'm taken away by it. Mr. Totten, I'm so glad that I did! I'm a young, liberal (yeah, I said it) Jew, married to a Lebanese Sunni. Happily married for (almost) five years now, actually... I was catching up on the events (news-wise) in Lebanon since the memorial (?) for Mr. Hariri last week and by a link - within - a - link, I believe, I happened across you. Obviously, I'm torn in my loyalties to either Lebanon, entirely (not Hezbollah, mind you, I know just where I stand with them bastards) or Israel, especially last summer... I felt nothing but the deepest sympathy for the Innocents lost there, and frustration and disappointment for what I felt was Israel's overreaction and demonstration of power. (No, I'm not the clichéd, self-loathing Jew; I'm in love with someone who helps me to widen my perspective.) My loyalty to Israel is unquestionable, however I feel you must kill the serpent by the head, rather than its tail.

I digress.

Thank you so much for the reading material and alternate perspective. I enjoyed the banter here immensely, as well; and though the jury may still be out on whether or not "fp" is a scientist, and though I don't always agree with his choice in vocabulary, I do very much enjoy his contribution as well.

All the best to the room (board?) and especially to Mr. Totten. You've just, single - handedly, replaced my former favorite Blog.

See ya'll 'round, now.

Austin, Texas - (an oasis of "blue" in a sea of "red)

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