Category Archives: Elections

Fourth ‘I’ of American Politics: Season of the Yarmulke, no Lederhosen for Christie…….

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Election season is nearing in America, and all the birds are flying to warmer climates. Everybody from governors to senators to bored former politicians. They all suddenly get religious, get the urge to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (no not that one, the other one, the original Holy Land where it all started). For some reason they all insist on wearing a yarmulke and be photographed in it. I am not sure what the point is: everybody knows they are wearing it as a photo-op, even the confused voters know that. Can you imagine one of them in Lederhosen while visiting Germany or Austria? Yikes…..

I wonder if there is a photo of Chris Christie with a yarmulke. Okay, I just found one (no, I could not find one of him in Lederhosen, not him….. Gott Sei Dank):

What do you think he is thinking of? God? Yahweh? Allah? Adelson?

Or Marco Rubio. Or, ridiculously, Rick Perry of Texas. Or the single regulation schwartze who seems to be running for the Republican nomination. Actually I found photos of most leaders of the last quarter century in yarmulke. None of JFK or Ike or……… sorry, faux pas alert, never mind. I even found one of a youngish Fidel Castro in yarmulke, although it might be a fake, since he never ran for office in the USA.

Hillary Clinton does not have to do it. She is a woman: a lady’s prerogative. Maybe  a babushka headscarf would be more appropriate, or a drindl. But she is more of a babushka type nowadays than a drindl type anyway.

Anyway, they used to make three pilgrimages in the old days. To the three “I“s of American politics: Israel, Italy, Ireland. Now increasingly there seems to be one “I” they focus on. By necessity, in conjunction with that one “I”, they also all threaten to pay special unwelcome attention to that other fourth big “I” in the room: Iran.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Ebola and American Sectarianism: the Politicization of Everything……..

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“We buy shit we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like….” George Carlin

In these divisive and divided times there is hardly anything, any event, or any phenomenon that is not politicized in America. It is almost like the country is reliving the 1860 campaign of Lincoln: it is deeply divided along political, economic,and cultural lines. That makes the politics venomous in election years, almost sectarian, to use a Middle Eastern reality that many Americans have discovered in the past decade or so. It continues in other years which are not election years but have become pre-election and post-election years. There is so much fuel, so much money to spend on politics: buying candidates, buying expensive airtime on the Boob Tube, and effectively buying voters by financing their favorite television shows.

People here are so busy defeating the terrorists by overworking in order to keep up and to buy more goods and gadgets (some call it more stuff, others call it more shit). That was how George W. Bush succinctly expressed one part of his strategy to defeat terrorism after September 2001: go shopping. So between work and other distractions the people have no time to think politically. They emulate corporations that have outsourced their jobs, factories and customer services, mostly to Asia. Many American voters have now outsourced their political thinking to the television sound-bite industry. I suspect that in many cases the last catchy sound bite on the last weekend before the election wins it all.

As per a decision of the Supreme Court of the USA, money has more than equal freedom of speech and political expression (Citizens United). “Corporations are people, my friend” intoned the Least Interesting Man in the World during the 2012 presidential campaign. So, the politics go viral, more than ever before: the country is divided and money is not a constraint anymore.
Some state governors, ambitious and/or terrified of looming elections, decide that Ebola suspects should be completely quarantined in their states. Other politicians, many from the party that is out of the White House, talk of banning flights from West Africa. Then they wait for their rivals to supply the wrong sound bite and provide a political edge.

In this era, nothing is sacred: from God to National Security to Death. Everything is being politicized: first God, then War, then health care, and now Ebola. Even the HIV/AIDS scare was never so politicized in its heyday. Only sports seem to have stayed above the fray, so far………

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Caliph Abu Al-Baghdadi and Dukakis and a Foxy Zombie in Kentucky……….

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Election time in the United States has become silly time. The discourse in recent years has focused on the candidates distorting and trying to trap each other. In trying to do so, they show what they truly think of their constituents: that the voters are too stupid for clean debate.

U.S. media Tuesday was full of excerpts and reports and soundbites and video clips of a senate race debate in Kentucky (hmm, a race in Kentucky, get it?). I watched some excerpts on Morning Joe and another news program. Alison Grimes, the challenger to Senator McConnell was asked several times who she voted for in the last presidential election. It was a silly, meaningless, gotcha question since everybody ‘knows’ who she voted for. She is a Clinton Democrat who almost certainly voted for Obama, if that matters. The moderator was trying to trap her into an embarrassing answer (embarrassing by Kentucky standards), or maybe he wanted his Bernard Shaw and Dukakis moment of glory. Very likely both.

Anyway, the lady candidate almost squirmed, hemming and hawing, and avoided a direct answer. She rightly pointed out that the country has secret ballots for a reason, but nobody was paying attention. McConnell looked waxen but also poised to strike, almost like a ‘foxy zombie‘, if there is such a thing.

Which made me think of ersatz Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi Al Samarrai. I mean they were talking about the elected president of the United States, not the Caliph of ISIS. From the debate and the media reaction later on, you’d think she may have voted for the silly but murderous gang-banging Wahhabi Caliph of Mosul and Al Raqqa. Or maybe Satan himself.

Silly season for nearly another month, but then it will continue for two more years. Oy vey, as we say in the Middle East………..

Arab Nursery Rhyme Transition to Democracy: Mary Mary Quite Contrary…….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15  DennyCreek Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.

“Deputy spokesperson of the United States State Department Marie Harf said in a press briefing on Monday that Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is leading the country’s democratic transition, despite recent criticism by the US of Egypt’s human rights record and the US holding some of its aid to Egypt pending democratic reform……….”

Also sprach U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf. But in fairness what else can the lady say?
Transitioning to democracy is a gentrified term to use now for Arab dictatorships and absolute tribal family rule. Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi is transitioning Egypt to democracy, hence he is still part of an axis of goodness, almost certified by Good Housekeeping. In the process he has overthrown a freely-elected president, the man who promoted him to defense minister, and thrown him in prison with a dozen or so trumped up charges. In the process his security forces and his soldiers have massacred a few thousand civilian protesters, the largest such massacre in modern Egyptian history. In the process his security have arrested and thrown in prison tens of thousands of people who disagree with him. In the process he has got himself “elected” against a hapless tool, with more than 97% of the vote (in a very low turnout election). In the process his courts have sentenced almost two thousand protesters to death, and the toll keeps rising.

By the same standards we can also argue that the Al Saud absolute tribal princes are transitioning the Arabian Peninsula toward democracy. We can also say that the vile absolute tribal rulers of Bahrain are transitioning the captive island of imported mercenaries and teargas toward democracy. We could have said the same about Mu’ammar Gaddafi and we can say it abut Bashar Al Assad. Etc , etc, etc………
Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, they will still be transitioning their peoples toward democracy. With a lot of help from their soldiers and their security agents, and in some cases with their imported mercenaries.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

La Vache Qui Rit 2.0: Egypt Leaps Forward to the Past………


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                                          Les Vaches Qui Rient

before Hosni Mubarak took over in 1981, many Arabs had started calling him “La Vache Qui Rit”, the Laughing Cow, after a popular French cheese spread that advertised a lot on Arab television.
The idea was that when he was vice president under Anwar Sadat, all he did was grin during cabinet meetings. Grin and nod approval at whatever Sadat said. That was the plausible claim.
Enter Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi. Now Al Sisi also grins and nods a lot, but mainly in the presence of Saudi princes and Gulf potentates. I fully expect him to be considered the newest version of the old one. La Vache Qui Rit 2.0.

for military-appointed interim president Adly Mansour Al Zombie, it is back to the cellars for him. Back to the dusty judicial bureaucracy from whence he was plucked to play pretend president.


Egypt Votes, Barely: the 7.5 Percent Election? the 98 Percent Election?……..


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“The overall turnout of the Egyptian voters in the initial two days of presidential election 2014 reached only 7.5 percent of the total number of people listed in the electoral rolls, according to The Egyptian Center for Media and Public Opinion Studies, known as Takamol Masr……………”

You can call it the 7.5% election based on this estimated voter turnout (or participation). Or you ca call it the 98% election, based on early estimates of the margin of ‘victory’ of Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi


Brecht Joins Sisi in Egypt: What if they Gave an Election and Nobody Came?……..


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“What if they gave a war and nobody came? Why, then, the war would come to you” Bertolt Brecht
“What if they gave an election and nobody came?  Why, then, the election would come to you” I, Moi, ich

“Egypt’s election commission on Tuesday extended voting in the presidential election for a third day amid reported low turnout. Meanwhile government officials, media and the military — worried that turnout was weaker than expected — harangued voters to go to the polls. The front-runner, former army chief Abdel Fattah El Sisi, is trying to garner an overwhelming show of support. Monitoring groups and Sisi’s rival candidate reported low turnout by early Tuesday. Closer to sunset, numbers appeared to be increasing. The election commission said it was extending the vote through Wednesday, citing complaints that migrant workers have been unable to vote where they reside because of laws making it difficult to do so. Election commission officials warned that they would implement a rarely applied rule imposing fines on all able-bodied voters who do not cast ballots. The fine, $72, is a hefty sum for most Egyptians…………..”

If this Aljazeera report is true about the fine, it is a first in the Arab world. Normally Arab rulers go to gruesome lengths to keep people from voting freely: just look at the ‘secret’ numbers of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Syria, etc, etc. Punishing people for not voting in Field Marshal Sisi’s republic (not voting for Sisi of course: they cretainly would not want Morsi voters to vote). Imagine, some day it is possible that we may see Arab citizens get punished for not engaging in politics. That would be quite a switch.

any case, whatever official figures claim, turnout has been dismal for these controlled sham elections. It looks like mostly Egypt’s middle-aged and elderly have gone out and voted. Especially elderly women many of whom reportedly see Al Sisi as some kind of a sex symbol. Others are still basking in the glow of his great medical achievements, like recent cures for Hepatitis and HIV. The young Egyptians, who staged one uprising in 2011 for freedom then supported a military coup in 2013, have largely stayed home.