Saturday, March 12, 2005

Pity the Nation

While reading about Lebanon today I run across this poem by the early 20th century Arab American poet Khalil Ghibran:
Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own winepress.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity the nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings and farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings once again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.
The poem can speak to many countries but it certainly I think reflects on Lebanon's situation.

I was going to write more on Lebanon but I this Guardian article really just sums everything up. It is certainly essential reading for any delusional idealist conservative. ( Hahahahaha 'idealist conservative used to be an oxymoron no longer with Bush and his follower many of whom still believe WMDs are waiting to be found). The Neocons are just dying for support over there in the Middle East. Their new pin-up boy Walid Jumblatt glowing quotes on American democracy have been frequenting the right wing blog echo chamber. Unfortunately they forget that it was Syria that engineered Jumblatt’s raise and he did turn against them when politically expedient. And even better he wasn't too impressed when that 'Jew' or Paul Wolfowitz made it out alive of his Baghdad hotel room after it was the subject of a rocket attack.

Jumblatt vision of democracy certainly isn't an open, free or fair one either I'm sure because if it was then he would be asking the Hizbollah to ran Lebanon and ne probably doesn't want that. Man the Shia and Hizbollah must be stoked on more democracy. They were actually represented in government when the first elections were held in the early 1990s.

How it is now the Shiites are allocated 27 seats out of 128 or 15%. Of which Hizbollah has 13 seats and will almost certainly increase that number in the May election reinforcing its position as Lebanon's largest political party representing Lebanon's Shia who are that countries poorest and more historically oppressed citizens. Of course Hizbollah would be biggest if the Shia got a fair number of seats that represented the 40% of Lebanese who are Shiites.

But hey I'll be realist even though American taxpayers paid with their treasure and children's blood for an Islamic Shia state based on Shria law in Iraq they probably will not accept Hizbollah having any role in Lebanon for some reason. My solution this is unrealistic and will not happen but here it is. At absolute minimum Israel pulls out of the Shaba farms area depriving Hizbollah of its main excuse for keeping its weapons. To take that further Israel finally comply with UN resolution 242 and boost out of the Golan taking its illegal settlements with its and finally negotiates peace with Syria and receives official recognition and security guarantees. Nw it is not in Syria interest for Hizbollah to remain at war with Israel.

Syria then leans heavily on Hizbollah to restrain its activities. Iran at this point has more influence with the Hizbollah and has restrained them recently. American security guarantees and full diplomatic relations would easily convince Iran to call on the Nasrallah (Hizbollah leader) to have his militants and impressive rocket force to be absorbed in the Lebanese Army like the other militia had done. Hizbollah's political and social organization is now fully legitimate in the eyes of the West as it is obvious it derives it power from the people it represents not merely from their impressive amount of weaponry.

Of course all highly unlikely as with a full Israeli withdrawal from their bloody occupation in the West Bank and Gaza where a 40 year reign of terrorism and oppression has failed to squash the Palestinians aspirations for freedom and self-determination. But hey I guy can dream eh.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey aiden, great blog, actually usefull. i was wondering if you could do an article on the proposed election reforms in bc? i found this article from my locan newspaper (seems to lean a little right)

VICTORIA - It would be lame to vote against a new way of electing MLAs just because you couldn't understand it.
So here, in a few hundred words, is how the single-transferable-vote system works. The issue of whether it's a good change or not - and I think it would be - can wait for another column.
First, the number of MLAs in the legislature stays the same at 79. No change there.
But the number of ridings would fall to somewhere around 20 larger ridings. Each riding would be represented by two to seven MLAs. Two current sparsely populated northern ridings with 65,000 people, like Skeena and North Coast, might be combined into a riding with two MLAs. Four urban ridings, with 130,000 people, might be combined into a new riding with four MLAs.
Clear enough so far, right?
So the election rolls around.
Each party can nominate any number of candidates, up to the number of seats in a riding.
So in a four-seat riding, expect the Liberals and NDP to nominate four candidates. But the Greens might decide they just want to have one candidate run, or independents may emerge.
On election day you stride into the polling booth.
Al the candidates' names are on the ballot - four Liberals, four New Democrats, Greens, Dr BCers, Marijuana Party, Libertarian.
But you don't have to mark an 'X' beside your single choice, consigning all the others to irrelevance. Instead you rank them - a 1 beside your first choice, 2 beside your next favorite, and so on. You can stop anytime.
If you think one candidate is worthy and the rest are scoundrels, you can place a 1 beside her name and leave. If you want the maximum impact, you can rank everyone on the ballot. You can rank Liberal candidates 1,2,3 and 4, if that party is the most important factor in your decision; you can mix and match if you admire certain individuals, or want broader representation in the legislature.
The polls close. And things do become a little more complicated than the current system when it's time to count the ballots. Right now, whoever gets the most votes wins.
The aim in the STV system is to ensure more faithful representation. The Green Party was supported by one in every eight people who voted in 2001; they ended up with no one speaking for them in the legislature. Many people believe it's a problem for democracy when some voters feel silenced by the system.
Under the new system there's an accepted mathematical formula for determining the number of votes needed to be elected. Elections BC counts the ballots once, and anyone who has that number of first-place choices is elected. Simple.
But all the riding's seats won't be filled, so there's a second count. The candidate who gets the lowest support is dropped, but those ballots aren't tossed away. Now Elections BC counts them again, this time looking at the second choice of those voters.
In the same way, the ballots of people whose first choice was elected aren't tossed, but are counted again. (Remember, four MLAs are being elected and everyone's preference should be reflected in all four choices.)
OK, this next bit is a bit headache-inducing. It would be unfair simply to move to the second choices of all those people. Their views have already been reflected in the legislature with the first candidate elected. So the next count includes their second choices, but on a discounted basis. If Joe Bloggs got twice as many first place votes as he needed to be elected, then all the second place choices of his supporters are counted, but at half their raw value, reflecting the success his supporters have already had in electing him as their MLA.
And so the process continues until four MLAs have been elected. Each has been the first, or second, or third choice of enough people to emerge as their representative.
And that is how the system would work.
Footnote: It's still a bit head-spinning, I know. For more detail, if that is your interest, visit Of if you are simply seeking comfort, know that Ireland and other jurisdictions have successfully used the system for decades.

i seem to recall that it doesn't work so good in ireland but i'm not a 100% sure. and the fuck can't we just get some proportional representation, or is that to logical?

and also do something on china/taiwan, last convo we had about that was awesome

(your hotmail email doesn't work for some reason)

12/3/05 20:35  
Anonymous TS said...

Now I definately like that poem, so much I am going to link to it on my blog. I admire the fact that you have taken the high road on this whole blogging scene, wish I could say the same for mine... Keep up the good work!

13/3/05 09:34  
Blogger weech said...

Thanks for the comments guys.
Taylor I know we already MSN about this but I'll leave a little bit about STV anyway.

What is the short version of what’s wrong with STV? Why should I vote no?

STV is complicated, confusing, prone to errors and delay, it reduces local accountability, increases the size of ridings, allows MLAs to avoid direct accountability for their decisions, increases party control and allows special interests to dominate party nominations.


This site
is all over BC politics including the STV issue.
And use Taylor if you want to send anything with attachments

13/3/05 16:14  
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