Lebanese Observations of the 2012 United States Presidential Election


Many may find this hard to believe but I was much more enthusiastic about the US presidential elections in 2008 than I was about the same event in 2012. It was to the extent that an American friend of mine from Kansas sent me McCain bumper stickers which I still have on the car until today. I saw nothing but McCain/Palin back then. It was the only thing that made sense and certainly not Obama. And I lost.

In 2012, I decided to be more cautious. I didn’t like Romney and I didn’t like Obama either. The former had moments of sheer stupidity (“it’s their culture”) while the latter didn’t make sense to me at all. But I decided to back a candidate based on my convictions and I went reluctantly with Romney, fully knowing that any of the candidates winning won’t have a major effect on our situation as Lebanese and of the Middle East as a whole. Both of them will adopt the same color by number American foreign policy: If you’re not Israeli, you don’t matter.

So as I stayed up all night to follow the results of what had promised to be a close election, I had more than a few observations to make.

Who’s running again?

The amount of Americans that panicked when state results started rolling is too high. It seems few understand the electoral college board system and few had actually looked at the polls in different states to know that the early lead Romney got was absolutely meaningless. This conforms with a report that many Americans had absolutely no idea who was running for elections with google searches peaking a few days prior to election day with queries of “who’s running for US president elections?” and “am I registered to vote.” I wonder how they were able to escape the deafening ad campaigns. Personally, I think it’s sad that I understand the American electoral system better than a lot of Americans. How could you expect people who are that disassociated from their country to know how to choose?

All those Godless places! 

Once the results started forming a concrete picture of an Obama advantage, the polarization started. Half of my American Twitter followers and Facebook friends were in absolute outrage whilst the other half was in orgasmic bliss. Some were in hell, others were on cloud nine. And it is then that the level of the discussion started sinking so low it reminded me of our elections of which we’re sure to get a taste in a few months. Many Americans believe Obama is the second coming of Christ, a savior who will ride in to change everything. Others literally think he’s Muslim who was sworn in back in 2008 over the Qoran, not the bible – and they don’t want that to govern them. But be careful, they’re “not being disrespectful to Muslims.” It’s just how can “a Muslim govern God’s country”? When a discussion ensued because of those tweets, those Americans made it known that they believe the US is the only “country of God” in the world. Every other country is a Godless place. Good to know.

Your opinion is invalid

Some of the issues that were voted upon in some states were assisted suicide, such as in the state of Massachusetts. One of the people whose vote had been against such a legislation (it ended up passing) was busy throwing a fit about how “selfish” it was for patients to ask for it. So I personally replied that “it’s not that simple.” The answer I got, which was one of many that night, is: you’re not a US citizen so your opinion is invalid. It seems that assisted suicide and abortion and other humanitarian debates are US-only issues. Because physicians abroad do not face these decisions. Not one bit. My medical education also makes my opinion even more invalid.

Let’s get high! 

Let’s talk about legalizing marijuana. Honestly, I have no idea why this is even an issue. Marijuana should not be legalized. Whether hippie liberals believe it’s of benefit or not is out of the question. Marijuana is a known hallucinogen and it has been associated with other medical conditions as well (check this). The fact that it’s even a question on the ballot is, in my opinion, absolutely silly. And many Americans seem to agree with me on this. Conversely, many seem to disagree. Nothing should come between them and their pot – not even common sense. So now when marijuana-caused adverse incidents increase, who’s to blame?

Hope or lack thereof 

Once the results of the elections were almost certainly pointing to an Obama victory, the rhetoric changed into people who decided that their country is now a hub of communism with Obama being the world’s new version of Hitler. They were no longer proud to be Americans. Their country is such a disgrace. On the other side of the spectrum, you have those whose pride and hope in the US has just been re-established. And I sat wondering: if these citizens of the world’s biggest economy, toughest superpower and leading nation are this weak-minded, what does this say about all of us living in absolute hell-holes? I then realized that Americans need to toughen up. Their convictions regarding their country should not be this weak. They should not waver because of an election, regardless of results – especially not when their country has so much to offer to them. When your country is envied by many, you are not allowed to be this weak towards it and this goes to those who gained back hope and those who lost it.


The absolute majority of Hollywood actors and actresses, even some who hadn’t made their opinion known before, came out in support for Obama as the results were unveiled, which was very much expected. Some, such as Whoopi Goldberg, subtly accused all those who were dissatisfied with Obama’s victory with racism and invited them to get the “crap outta here.” Very smooth.

Trump’s Wig

Donald Trump was absolutely freaking out. He even called for a revolution and was immediately turned into an immediate mashable article. I guess he doesn’t know that revolutions never work for men with wigs. Never, ever.


The Americans that were dissatisfied with the Obama victory suddenly wanted to move to Canada. I found it odd that they wanted to move to a country which employs many of the policy’s they’re hating on: welfare, same gender marriage, etc… regardless of what I personally think of these policies. Canadians commented that this reflects the lack of knowledge they have of their neighbor to the north.  A level-headed discussion with these Canadians, who preferred Obama, showcased the absolute necessity for Americans to learn more about the world in their education system. After all, for many Lebanon is but a city in Ohio and Canada is that very cold place no one wants to visit. Of course, this does not apply to all Americans because many know more about Lebanon and Canada than many of us but, again, these are just observations.

The Lebanese

The Lebanese people who were observing the elections were many. Once an Obama victory became certain, those with Romney immediately disappeared in typical Lebanese fashion. Those with Obama, however, made it known that they were happy. Some were even more enthusiastic about it than the most enthusiastic of Americans with rhetoric that slipped down, again in typical Lebanese fashion, to lower than the lowest tone employed by pissed off Republicans. It seems that the GOP is a bunch of anti-gay, anti-women, pro-rape, anti-science, anti-environment, anti-common sense, anti-all that is good, pro-religion, pro-everything that is bad. Delusional much? You betcha, à la Palin. But you can’t discuss that with them because they’re Lebanese and one does not have a decent discussion with a Lebanese. I bet they’d be interested to know that the pro-rape senate candidates lost their seats with a lot of Republicans not voting for them.

The Bottom Line

For the rest of the world, nothing will change upon Obama getting re-elected, especially not for us with both of them having similar effective foreign policies. Even when it comes to the internal workings of the United States, very few things will change between now and 2014 with the country being as divided as it is today: the House controlled by the Republicans and the Senate controlled by the Democrats. Obama will have to use his executive function, more than his legislative branch, in order to be able to do anything. And what he’ll be able to do is very limited. Which means that those whose candidate lost have no reason to fear their country would turn into Cuba. And those who won shouldn’t be this comfortable regarding the future because it may not be this bright. A few questions though: Obama’s failure, as perceived by his drastically declining numbers compared to 2008, was attributed to Bush. If nothing changes by 2016, will his failure be attributed to Bush as well?

Will the Republicans see the need for a restructuring of their party away from the radicalization of the Tea Party, one which doesn’t represent the core values of the Republican party, and move towards moderates in order to be able to contain the growing disparity between their views and those of mainstream Americans especially with changes in American demographics which may turn them, if not tackled, into a party that isn’t able to win nationally?

Good luck to president Obama and congrats to those who voted for him. Hard luck to Mitt Romney who gave a phenomenal underdog race to give one of the tightest popular vote results in recent history and hard luck to those who voted for him. However, the winner after the American elections was the whole world for being able to observe democracy being applied at its finest and that is something that all Americans should be proud of.

In other news, I really need a crystal ball to choose winners to back next time. This losing streak of mine has been going on for far too long.

Tzipi Livni’s Sex Scandal

Who can forget Tzipi Livni’s face? She was the most highlighted Israeli politician for years and years – even trumping the prime ministers she was serving.

Well, Tzipi Livni is back. And she’s coming loose.

It seems that Livni, being a former Mossad agent, had ways to extract information and blackmail people. And it wasn’t beneath her to use her womanly abilities to their full potential.

Livni is apparently the type of many Arab politicians with who she has had affairs in order to blackmail them later on with the threat of exposing the affair. It seems that Tzipi isn’t against using sex to get information which may benefit Israel. Her behavior was also approved by a rabbi who believes Israeli women should be permitted to use their bodies in order to help their state.

Livni, however, hasn’t revealed any names – sadly. The question to be asked now is: Have any Lebanese politicians gotten in her pants? And if yes, which is not improbable, then who?

If Felix Baumgartner Was Lebanese

To break off from the morbid/depressing/overly serious posts my blog has had over the past few days, I figured I’d post a series of tweets that were collected by Lebanese newspaper Al-Safir. The tweets are jokes about scenarios where Felix Baumgartner, the man who jumped 39 km yesterday, is Lebanese.

They range from him taking tires to space to his mother giving him 100 cartons of food. You should read them in a Lebanese accent and I won’t bother translating them because the joke would be lost in the translation (for the full article, click here):

Flawless Lebanese Anti-Non Smoking Logic

To say I’m excited about a smoking ban in Lebanon would be an understatement. I remember when I got the news via twitter while at a museum in Madrid last summer. I felt the need to share with anyone who’d listen, Lebanese or not.

What I didn’t think, however, was that one year later – as the ban is starting to come into effect – I’d actually see people vehemently against it, complaining about how the law is a violation of their rights, nagging about a state that can’t but feel powerful against those who are weak.

They don’t give us electricity, they don’t give us security, they don’t give us proper transportation, they don’t give us water, they don’t give us social security, they don’t provide decent healthcare…. What gives them the right to take smoking away from me?

That is literally what I heard yesterday by more than one Lebanese smokers. The sad part? A few non-smokers agreed with them as well. I’m fairly certain they are not the only ones. Some people are already proud about smoking in places covered by the ban. I literally just saw a few doing so.
And as I’m typing this, MTV is reporting that some restaurant owners have decided to close their places in protest on the smoking ban.

Yes, let’s complain about losing money if the ban goes into effect. Then let’s close down, lose the money and tell them all: ta-daaa!

And that is my friends impeccable Lebanese logic where A, despite it having absolutely nothing to do with B, somehow becomes perfectly correlated with it.

Why would anyone mix together the issues of electricity, the arms of Hezbollah, the Mekdad military wing, burning tires and people not admitted into hospitals with a smoking ban?

I, for one, have no idea. And as I tried to explain exactly how non-sequitur this sounded, the conversation volume was raised by more than a few notches. When you don’t make sense, start shouting. Oddly enough, this reminds me of more than a few Lebanese politician. It seems to be genetic.

And then you have those “panicking” about the sector losing 2600 jobs because smokers will somehow, in another piece of flawless logic, stop going out to eat and party and drink. Of course the syndicate of Lebanese restaurant owners doesn’t really care about people losing their jobs. It cares about its business decreasing because they can’t make easy money off selling overpriced shisha.

And when you try to tell people exactly how silly that sounds, they reply that non-smokers can go to non-smoking places. Which non-smoking places are they talking about? I have absolutely no idea whatsoever. In a country like Lebanon, no business dares to be solely no smoking. And those who do are in a different league of competition. Why? Because smokers will refuse to go there. But when all restaurants are non-smoking, either the entirety of Lebanon’s smokers will become isolationists who don’t venture out of their homes as the syndicate is suggesting or the syndicate of Lebanese restaurant owners is only worried about its bottom line losing one of its sources.
I’m sure it’s the latter. They want you to think it’s the former. And to that effect, they’ve made fancy infographics and whatnot.

What their logic is obviously lacking is simply looking at countries that have enforced smoking bans and noticing how their restaurant sectors didn’t suddenly go bankrupt and didn’t suffer. People get used to it. But they don’t want change. They love the status quo where your food is served mixed with cigarette ash.

No. One simply doesn’t take smoking from Lebanese smokers peacefully. One doesn’t simply start a law with the country having any other problem whatsoever. Today they nag about the electricity. If the electricity gets fixed, they’ll nag about Beirut lacking a subway system. When/if we end up getting a subway system, they’ll nag about our lack of nuclear energy. And the excuses will keep coming.

Simply put, some smokers and restaurant owners have one thing to say to you: f*ck you and your overly sensitive lungs.

There Are No More Lebanese Prisoners in Syrian Jails

For years, some Lebanese politicians have been bombarding us with the same phrase: we have gotten word from Bashar el Assad, and his father before him, that there are no more Lebanese prisoners in Syrian jails.

Some of those politicians were squarely in Bashar’s camp. Others had defected “recently” and left behind them all their non-existent dignity. But one thing these politicians have in common is that they got fed the lies of Bashar and threw them up on families seeking closure to a tragic chapter of their lives that never seemed to find its way to conclusion.

An estimated 600 Lebanese were kidnapped and thrown in Syrian jail – dead or alive, we had no way of knowing. 600 with families behind them still clinging to every bit of hope they could get of their loved ones returning alive. Boutros Khawad, Elias al Habr, Ali Abdallah… the list goes on and on.

There are no prisoners left, they said. You need to get over it, they said. You need to forget them, they said.

But how can you ask of families to forget their fathers and brothers? Well, that’s exactly what some Lebanese politicians, in their quest to kiss up to the Syrian regime, have been doing for years.

For years, these families had to withstand their sons getting turned into traitors. They had to withstand hearing their fathers bad-mouthed, turned into filth. And they couldn’t do anything about it. With each passing day, they persevered – even as their struggle was ridiculed. Even as they set up protests that were never heard.

Those families did not block roads to bring back their children. They didn’t ask citizens to wreck havoc to a nation. They suffered silently and hoped their calls would some day be answered.

With each passing day, these families lost hope too.

And then there was Yaacoub Shamoun. There was hope for those families again. And all those lies those Lebanese politicians have been spoon-feeding their followers came crumbling down around them.

There are still prisoners left, it seems.

I’m not sure if hope is the best thing for the families of those prisoners. But if there’s any time to feel ever so slightly optimistic that they could see their loved ones again, it is now. And if I could choose one good thing to come out of the Assad regime falling, it would be for these families to get closure.

It’s been a long time coming.