The iPINIONS Journal


  • Monday, September 29, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Obama: We Are the Indispensable Nation

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In “Demystifying ISIS: Case against Obama’s Bush-lite War on Terrorism,” September 10, 2014, I delineated why it’s a patent folly that the United States is meddling, yet again, in the internecine struggle between Sunnis and Shias. Not least because these two factions of Islam have been waging it for a thousand years, and may continue for a thousand more.

    obama9Nonetheless, I feel obliged to acknowledge the cogent case President Obama presented on last night’s edition of 60 Minutes for America’s leadership on the global stage. He was obliged to do so when correspondent Steve Kroft asked him to explain why the United States is assuming the lion’s share of the burden to combat the global threat Daesh (aka ISIS) poses. Here is how Obama responded:

    That’s always the case … America leads. We are the indispensable nation: we have capacity no one else has, our military is the best in the history of the world, and when trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don’t call Beijing, they don’t call Moscow, they call us…

    When there’s a typhoon in the Philippines, take a look at who’s helping the Philippines deal with that situation; when there’s an earthquake in Haiti, take a look who who’s leading the charge making sure Haiti can rebuild … that’s how we roll.

    As it happens, though, Obama was merely echoing what I’ve been saying about the United States as an indispensable nation for years. Here, for example, is how I commented when the United States was assuming the lion’s share of the burden to help Haiti rebuild:

    I am convinced that all is being done to execute this relief effort as expeditiously as humanly possible. And I trust it is now plain for the world to see that no country is more willing and able to lead this effort than the United States of America…

    China, Brazil, Venezuela, and France have all made politically opportunistic attempts  to lead this effort.  But the Haitian government endorsed America’s exceptional [or indispensable] standing in this respect by granting the United States exclusive and indefinite command and control of the airport, which has become the nerve center of this relief effort.

    (“Haiti’s Three Rs: Relief, Recovery, and Reconstruction,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 15, 2010)

    I appreciate, of course, that the uninitiated among you might find a contradiction in touting my case against Obama’s Bush-lite war on terrorism on the one hand, and supporting his proclamation of the United States as the indispensable nation on the other.

    But I shall suffice to address this apparent contradiction by piggybacking on the reply Obama gave during the 60 Minutes interview referenced above when Kroft pressed him to explain the contradiction in his policy towards Syria. After all, Obama is trying to get rid of President Assad on the one hand, while bombing the Daesh terrorists who are trying to do just that (i.e., get rid of Assad) on the other.

    Here is how he responded:

    I recognize the contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance.

    Fair enough?

    Related commentaries:
    Demystifying ISIS
    Haiti

  • Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Clooney Nuptials Show Saturday Weddings as Segregated as Sunday Services…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    We must face the sad fact that at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning, when we stand to sing ‘In Christ there is no East or West,’ we stand in the most segregated hour of America.

    (UC Berkley’s Oakland North, February 15, 2012)

    This is the famous and widely reported declaration Martin Luther King Jr. made during, what turned out to be, his last Sunday sermon before he was assassinated. He delivered it at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC in 1968.

    Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 2.01.09 PMAlas, it speaks volumes that, almost 50 years later, America not only remains as segregated on Sunday during church services but seems equally so on Saturday during social occasions. This was brought into stark relief today when pictures of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin’s wedding party went viral on social and mainstream media.

    But let me hasten to clarify that I really couldn’t care any less who White folks invite to their nuptials. It’s just that, if a purportedly progressive celebrity like George can have a wedding party as lily-White as his apparently was, then we must face the sad fact that the wedding hour on Saturday might be the second most segregated hour of America.

    After all, from Hollywood to Washington and even throughout Africa, no White celebrity appeared to have nurtured more cross-racial/cultural friendships than he. Yet, while it’s understandable that Barack Obama had far more pressing matters, it strains credulity that every one of his other Black “friends” was otherwise occupied.

    1411823057119_wps_29_26_set_2014_VENICE_ITALY_It would be an entirely different matter, of course, if George and Amal had followed Brad and Angelina’s walk down the aisle by having a more private, family wedding held at their own home.

    Instead:

    More than 150 Hollywood stars and luminaries of the art world will travel down one of the world’s most famous waterways tomorrow (Saturday) for the wedding of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, his British fiancée.

    The guests, who are expected to include Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Matt Damon, Cindy Crawford, Bono from U2, the opera tenor Andrea Bocelli and the singer Lana Del Rey, will be ferried from the Hotel Cipriano, on the island of Giudecca, to the Aman hotel on the Grand Canal, Venice’s only seven-star hotel, where the wedding reception is expected to take place.

    (National Post, September 26, 2014)

    oceans-11Incidentally even though his face does not feature in any of the pictures, I’d be really surprised if Clooney’s Ocean’s Eleven co-star Don Cheadle does not show up at some point to give this three-day affair at least the token appearance of integration. Apropos of pictures, in every one of her, Amal looks like one of those mannequins who strut their skeletal stuff on the catwalks of fashion week. Which I suppose proves that the organ that attracted George is the one between her ears.

    In any event, this lily-White wedding provides spectacular affirmation that MLK’s dream of a country where Blacks and Whites not only work and worship but also socialize together remains deferred….

    New Yorkers generally accept that, even though Whites and Blacks interact as professionals, they rarely socialize as friends. Which, incidentally, is why the belated casting of a Black love interest for one of the male characters on Friends during its final season seemed so woefully contrived.

    (“Just a Little Rant about ‘Desperate Housewives’,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 22, 2005)

    All the same, here’s to George and Amal living happily ever after … as improbable as that prospect might be given the track record of celebrity marriages.

    george-clooney-amal-alamuddin (1)

    NOTE: The occasion would be no less sad if a Black celebrity like Will Smith were having a Jet-Black wedding today.

    Related commentaries:
    Desperate Housewives

  • Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 7:09 AM

    Obama’s death dance…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

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    President Obama is leading a coalition of the willing to fight Ebola that is almost as impressive as the coalition he is leading to fight Daesh (aka ISIS).

    (“Ebola,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 26, 2014)

    Related commentaries:
    Ebola
    Bombing ISIS

  • Friday, September 26, 2014 at 6:45 AM

    Ebola

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 4.52.31 PMWhat is it about the continent of Africa that it suffers the worst not only of man’s inhumanity to man, but also of Mother Nature’s wrath?

    After all, no continent has been more beset by genocidal wars and political corruption on the one hand, and by drought and disease on the other. This led me to coin the alliterative lament (in one of my first commentaries on March 7, 2005) that Africa too often features among the continents of the world as a dark, destitute, diseased, desperate, disenfranchised, dishonest, disorganized, disassociated, dangerous and, ultimately, dysfunctional mess.

    Alas, this latest outbreak of Ebola only affirms the Dark Continent’s dubious distinction in these respects:

    Yet another set of ominous projections about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was released Tuesday, in a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gave worst- and best-case estimates for Liberia and Sierra Leone based on computer modeling.

    In the worst-case scenario, the two countries could have a total of 21,000 cases of Ebola by Sept. 30 and 1.4 million cases by Jan. 20 if the disease keeps spreading without effective methods to contain it. These figures take into account the fact that many cases go undetected, and estimate that there are actually 2.5 times as many as reported.

    (New York Times, September 23, 2014)

    140817175658-01-ebola-0817-story-topIn fact, of all outbreaks of deadly viruses over the past 50 years, including Marburg, MERS, and SARS, Ebola is by far the most deadly: the W.H.O. reports that, to date, more than 2900 deaths have been linked to Ebola; and, perhaps most fateful, its locus just happens to be in Africa. By comparison, 775 deaths were linked to MERS, and its locus was in China.

    All the same, arguably in a show of man’s humanity to man, President Obama is leading a coalition of the willing to fight Ebola that is almost as impressive as the coalition he is leading to fight Daesh (aka ISIS).

    The United States is dispatching 3000 soldiers as well as medical and public health troops to Liberia with an unprecedented mission: Wage war on Ebola by helping the battered Liberian public-health and medical community, including setting up treatment units in each of Liberia’s 15 counties. President Obama called for a ‘campaign for community care.’

    (The Boston Globe, September 24, 2014)

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected.

  • Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Obama More Like Bush than Obama Would Like To Say

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Obama ran for president by highlighting differences between the foreign policies of George W. Bush and those he intended to pursue.

    Except that I annoyed fellow liberals by pointing out the similarities between Bush’s policies and those Obama began pursuing almost from day one of his presidency. In fact, commentaries as early as “Obama Angers Liberals by Governing Just Like Bush,” May 14, 2009, and as recent as “Demystifying ISIS: Case Against Obama’s Bush-lite War on Terrorism,” September 10, 2014, will attest to this.

    Which is why I applaud the internationally acclaimed editors at The Economist for highlighting these similarities in the cover story for their latest issue.

    And how clever of them to honor the adage of a picture being worth a thousand words by gracing this issue with a picture of Obama’s head photo-shopped on perhaps the most famous image of Bush’s presidency. You know, the one of him strutting across an aircraft carrier, dressed in crotch-hugging fighter-pilot garb, to make his ill-fated announcement about destroying al-Qaeda, while standing under a banner blaring “Mission Accomplished.”

    Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 11.53.16 AM

    Related commentaries:
    Obama angers liberals
    Demystifying ISIS

  • Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    Everybody Would Be Better Off If Nobody Lived Beyond 75

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Actually, family and friends would attest that I have long proselytized the belief that we’d all be better off if nobody lived beyond 80. This stems from my very Bible-centric upbringing:

    Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

    (Psalm 90:10)

    largeYet, ironically, family and friends would also attest that I am the least religious person they know. Even more ironic, though, is that the religious people I know are the ones who find my belief in this respect most sacrilegious. But here’s the kicker: I don’t know a single religious person who, despite professing abiding faith, would rely on the word of God, instead of that of a doctor, for peace of mind about his/her health and wellbeing.

    This is why, notwithstanding the Psalm above, I was so heartened on Sunday, when I read an article by renowned physicist Ezekiel Emanuel (57), the brains behind President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, healthcare reform, in which he endorsed my longstanding view on this categorical imperative for dying with dignity.

    Here is the seminal and instructive passage in “Why I hope I Die at 75: An argument that society and families – and you – will be better off if nature takes it course swiftly and promptly,” which Dr. Emanuel wrote for the October issue of The Atlantic:

    [H]ere is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

    1411487928047_wps_17_Ezekiel_Emanuel_special_cIt might be helpful to know that Emanuel is also chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania….

    In any event, I could not have written a more informed and cogent reason for my professed belief about aging … and dying. Therefore, consistent with my proselytization, I beseech anyone who professes any concern about limited human resources and spiraling healthcare costs to read this article.

    But it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge two apparent contradictions:

    1. Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact.com is the critically acclaimed arbiter of truth in American politics. This is why all reasonable people took as gospel its proclamation in 2009 that Sarah Palin’s claim about Obama proposing “death panels” to decide whether to give or withhold healthcare to old people was the “Lie of the Year.” Except that, given the seemingly macabre revelations in Emanuel’s article, Obama haters could be forgiven for thinking that Palin was right.
    2. I feel very strongly about not living beyond 80, and would even forego five years to comport with Emanuel’s more scientific determination (or, if strength fails me, even 10 years to comport with the word of God). Yet my inconsistency is such that I was prepared to spend my last dime to ensure that illness did not rob my Mummy of one second of 100 years … or more. Which is why I never considered life (and God) so cruel as when, due to natural causes, it (and He?) abandoned her at 64.

    Emanuel might be able to reconcile his apparent contradiction. But I cannot reconcile mine. Not to mention that what I might think is a self-sacrificing view with respect to my own mortality others might think is just a variant strain of Dorian-Gray narcissism, which makes the prospect of not always looking and feeling (relatively) young so unbearable that dying becomes preferable to the ravages of old age.

    But, hey, that’s life.

  • Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    Bombing ISIS (henceforth “Daesh”)…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    American forces took advantage of the airstrikes against the Islamic State extremist group in Syria to try to simultaneously wipe out the leadership of an unrelated cell of veterans of Al Qaeda that the White House said Tuesday was plotting an ‘imminent’ attack against the United States or Europe.

     The barrage of bombs and missiles launched into Syria early Tuesday was aimed primarily at crippling the Islamic State, the formidable Sunni organization that has seized a large piece of territory to form its own radical enclave. But the blitz also targeted a little-known network called Khorasan, in hopes of paralyzing it before it could carry out what American officials feared would be a terrorist attack in the West.

    (New York Times, September 23, 2014)

    Given all of the hype and self-glorification that attended these strikes, you’d never know that American forces spent the past 13 years bombing terrorists to no apparent avail; except, that is, to stir up a veritable hornets nest of other terrorists. In other words, the greatest military the world has ever known now seems engaged in a deadly and costly game of whack-a-mole.

    article-2767283-219BDC6200000578-113_964x594Again, I’m all for bombing specific targets based on actionable intelligence about plots to attack the homeland or American interests abroad. But this Iraq 2.0 mission smacks of a scattershot overreaction to the beheading of two American journalists. It speaks volumes (and should be instructive) that, as the Times reports, the vast majority of these strikes were aimed not at ISIS terrorists, but at those of some heretofore unheard of al-Qaeda spawn called Khorasan.

    Meanwhile, after years of vowing not to arm the ragtag band of rebels trying to topple Syrian President Assad, Obama has secured a $500 million congressional appropriation to do just that. Except that this seems the height of folly in light of the notorious way U.S.-trained Iraqi troops abandoned the billions in arms the United States provided them when confronted by ISIS terrorists. This is why Obama is involved in the self-immolating spectacle of ordering U.S. airstrikes to destroy U.S. military equipment ISIS terrorists commandeered from U.S.-trained Iraqi troops. And chances are very good that, in due course, he (or his successor) will be ordering the same with respect to these U.S.-trained and equipped Syrian rebels.

    eisenhower_speech-00593f9dad5c100c94de59bcf1c88602330a2d48-s3-c85On the other (invisible) hand, it seems America’s war on terrorism has become as much about the metastasizing military industrial complex justifying itself as it is about fighting terrorists. Indeed, the way the Pentagon is raving about the performance of its new F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter and GPS-guided munitions one could be forgiven for thinking that these airstrikes are little more than a real-life testing exercise.

    Not to mention perpetuating crack-like demand for more military hardware — not just for all 40-plus members of the U.S. coalition, but for all police forces throughout the United States. (Remember the shock and awe the police force evoked when it deployed to quell Michael-Brown protests in Ferguson, Missouri looking like an invading army?)

    Of course, President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned it would be thus in his final address to the nation on January 17, 1961:

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist…

    But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.”

    (NPR, January 17, 2011)

    NOTE: According to the French government, Daesh is actually an acronym for Al Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa’al Sham, which refers to terrorists who impose their will on others. The French are right, instead of ISIS/ISIL, Daesh is the only appropriate name for this al-Qaeda spawn and its sham Islamic ideology.

    Related commentaries:
    Demystifying ISIS

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Tiananmen Square 2.0

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    If reports of Gaddafi’s most egregious abuses turn out to be true, I suspect they will still pale in comparison to those Chinese leaders not only committed during their brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, but are committing today in their continual vigilance to attack any sign of democratic expression as if it were the plague…

    Yet, instead of issuing condemnations and imposing sanctions, Western leaders are acting as if the human rights abuses the Chinese commit are pursuant to political and cultural norms that are sacrosanct.

    (“Sanctioning China but Not Libya?” The iPINIONS Journal, March 3, 2011)

    As the above indicates, I had just cause during the Arab Spring to repeatedly invoke the foreboding precedent the Chinese government set in 1989, when it brutally cracked down on student-led protesters for camping out in Tiananmen Square and demanding democratic freedoms.

    _77756889_024009419-1Well, I am constrained to invoke the same precedent now that student-led protesters in Hong Kong are emulating their Arab peers, and honoring their Chinese predecessors, by taking up the embering torch of democratic freedoms in China, and doing so by camping out in their version of Tiananmen Square, Tamar Park.

    Hundreds of students have begun gathering for a protest in a park in Hong Kong’s city centre, on the second day of a week-long boycott of classes.

    The students are protesting against China’s recent decision on how Hong Kong’s leader should be elected.

    Student leaders said 13,000 took part in Monday’s boycott held at a university campus.

    (BBC, September 23, 2014)

    No doubt this was inevitable ever since Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997. Back then, China provided adequate assurances that it would honor the democratic freedoms Hong Kong citizens enjoyed under British rule by touting the principle of “one country, two systems.”

    Except that it began undermining that principle almost immediately by limiting freedom of the press and curbing the free expression of dissident political views. Not to mention its brazen attempts to implement totalitarian measures like an anti-treason law and a patriotic education curriculum.

    This is why it came as no surprise in August, when it made an outright mockery of that principle by ruling that Hong Kong citizens would only be allowed to elect their chief executive (the territory’s top government official) from a list of the chosen few candidates nominated by a committee wholly beholden to Mainland China.

    In other words, Chinese leaders are determined to demonstrate that Hong Kong is not to China what Scotland is to Britain: a truly autonomous region within one state. Instead, notwithstanding the 1984 handover agreement between Britain and China or the Basic Law, which guarantees democratic freedoms for Hong Kong citizens, it’s more the case that Hong Kong is now to China what other regions have always been: subject to China’s de-facto totalitarian rule no matter how much de-jure legal autonomy it purportedly enjoys.

    fg-tankman4Therefore, I fear the only issue here is whether these student protesters will give up their demands and return to classes before Chinese leaders do to them what they did to their predecessors in Tiananmen Square. As sympathetic as I am to their cause, I pray they will be guided – not only by the tragic outcome of Tiananmen Square, but by the boomerang outcome of Tahrir Square as well – to give up their demands and return to classes before the tanks come rolling in … again.

    After all, it would be tantamount to suicide for Chinese leaders to give in. Not to mention the pandora’s box of similar demands that would immediately flow from other regions, including Xinjiang, Uighar … and Tibet, if they do.

    But, if Beijing learned anything from Tiananmen Square, instead of sending in tanks again, its leaders would send in local police to quarantine the protesters in one area and ensure access to vital businesses and public services. They would then just let the protesters vent their spleens until they become too hungry, thirsty, and/or tired to continue and begin begging to go home.  In other words, show that vaunted Chinese patience by simply waiting them out.

    Stay tuned….

    Related commentaries:
    Sanctioning China

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    March to Save the Planet? Get Real!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Almost 10 years ago, on February 16, 2005, I published a commentary titled, “Global Warming or Just Hot Air,” in which I proffered that:

    Global warming (and cooling) are natural phenomena that have occurred in cycles since the beginning of time.

    But, for a more updated and authoritative proffer, consider this from Patrick Moore, PhD, the co-founder of environmental pioneer Greenpeace:

    There is no scientific proof of man-made climate change, a co-founder of Greenpeace told a committee of the U.S. Senate [on February 25, 2014], rebutting claims made by environmental activists, prominent politicians, and a steady stream of media reports of a nearly unanimous ‘consensus’ among scientists about ‘overwhelming’ evidence that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases — mainly carbon dioxide — are responsible for global warming.

    ‘There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,’ Patrick Moore said.

    (The New American, February 27, 2017)

    That said, I’ve written far too many commentaries on this topic to count. Unfortunately, they’ve done little more than lump me together with the heretics trying to temper increasing alarms about climate change with calming facts about environmental protection and conservation.

    Therefore, on behalf of all proud heretics in this respect, let me hasten to clarify that, while acknowledging climate change as a fact but hardly a threat, we have maintained that there are many “Global Priorities Bigger than Climate Change” – as Professor Bjorn Lomborg, critically acclaimed Danish environmentalist, proffered in his now seminal TED talk in 2005.

    Mind you, since the beginning of time, the planet has demonstrated a remarkable ability to save itself – despite natural and man-made catastrophes. This is why we’ve been urging its self-appointed and meddlesome guardians (like Al Gore) to limit their efforts to more sensible and urgent causes, like the fight to end global poverty.

    march22n-17-webUnfortunately, nothing demonstrates what little impact we’ve had quite like the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets of New York City on Sunday for what, according to reports, was the “largest climate change protest in history.”

    More than 300,000 protesters — movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo among them — turned up the heat Sunday on world leaders delaying global action on climate change…

    Scores of celebrities and elected officials joined the huge gathering in advance of Tuesday’s climate summit at the UN. Drums and horns echoed through Midtown, and protesters chanted ‘There’s no planet B!’ and waved colorful signs with messages like ‘Cook organic not the planet’ and ‘Don’t frack with us!’

    (New York Daily News, September 22, 2014)

    The reason we’ve had so little impact is that the alarmists have demonstrated a deft and stubborn ability to defy facts and, failing that, to fudge them.

    MoS2 Template MasterMost notably, they rebranded “global warming” to climate change when the inconvenient truth of re-freezing polar ice caps indicated that, far from global warming, the planet was entering another “cycle” of global cooling. I duly commented on this phenomenon in “Return of the Polar Ice Caps. I Told You So!” September 12, 2013.

    Then, of course, there was the notorious “climategate,” which had prominent scientists manipulating their findings to justify their hot air about global warming, um, er, climate change.  I duly commented on this political ploy in “Climate Change: as Much Fraud as Junk Science…?” February 2, 2010.

    Most disturbing of all, however, is the pharisaic sanctimony proselytizing prophets of climate change have exhibited over the years. For, on the one hand, they continually breathe fire of damnation on anyone who refuses to say “Amen” to their alarmist gospel; while on the one hand, they do more to contribute to climate change (with their gas-guzzling private jets and fancy cars, to say nothing of their electricity-hording mansions) than entire populations of some poor countries.

    I could not be more indignant at rich environmentalists who seek absolution for their environmental sins by ‘purchasing carbon credits or offsets’ in the same spirit with which Catholics once sought absolution for their moral sins by purchasing Papal indulgences.

    (“Mother Nature Makes UN report on Global Warming seem like Flaming Hoax,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 12, 2007)

    1411403103665_wps_17_image001_pngThis latter point was brought into comic relief during Sunday’s march, when a reporter cornered celebrated climate-change activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and asked whether he’s prepared to give up his car, phone, private jet and other luxuries – all of which cause him to leave one of the biggest carbon footprints of any human on the planet. His response?

    I do not believe we have to reduce our quality of life in order to … stop the use of carbon … to divorce ourselves from a fuel that’s destroying the planet.

    (Daily Mail, September 22, 2014)

    A little defensive, don’t you think? And rightly so; after all, this is the same guy who preaches to poor people from South America to Africa and Asia about the environmental sins of burning the carbon-emitting fossil fuels they use, in open fires, to cook their food and keep themselves warm. Unbelievable!

    CarbonEmissionsBut don’t get me started on those, like the Rockefellers, who pat themselves on the back for divesting from companies that profit off fossil fuels (think oil and gas) to invest in those now developing renewable ones (think solar and geothermal).

    John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels.

    The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago on college campuses.

    (New York Times, September 21, 2014)

    To put this Saul-of-Tarsus financial conversion into perspective, just imagine the hypocrisy inherent in the Whites-only Augusta National Golf Club of the 1980s making quite a show of announcing that it was heeding calls (from students on college campuses … like mine) to divest from all companies doing business in Apartheid South Africa….

    Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 11.16.48 AMIn any event, apropos of hypocrisy, hundreds of thousands marching in New York, one of the most CO2-emitting cities in the world, to protest climate change, is rather like hundreds of thousands marching in Abu Dhabi, one of the richest cities in the world, to protest the growing gap between the rich and poor.

    More to the point, though, it’s an indication of how thoroughly discredited climate-change alarmists have become that, despite hyping this NYC protest as if the survival of the planet depended on it, the mainstream media completely ignored it as just another stunt by Chicken-Little nutters.

    It seems climate change remains one potentially world-shattering issue that just can’t get any respect on television. No Sunday morning show except MSNBC’s Up so much as mentioned climate change, or the march. NBC Nightly News was the only evening news show to do any segment on it. (ABC devoted about 23 seconds to the topic in its evening show, and CBS [the most climate-change friendly network] spent exactly zero seconds on it.)

    (Huffington Post, September 22, 2014)

    To be fair, social media provided viral coverage of this march to combat the hazy and potential danger posed by man-made climate change. But I referred above to the “radical” notion of prioritizing global problems. Therefore, perhaps this was just a rare occasion when, instead of aping viral trends on social media, the mainstream media thought it was more important to provide coverage of global efforts to combat the clear and present danger posed by man-made terrorism, which is killing tens of thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands more.

    Indeed, it’s noteworthy that the exploits of one al-Qaeda spawn, ISIS, have relegated climate change from the main course to a side dish for this week’s gabfest at the 69th Annual UN General Assembly, which of course is also being held in New York City.

    Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 4.04.43 PMEven so, it’s an indication of how insidious and self-important the prophets of climate-change doom are that they are not only trying to get the UN to cater to their global priority, but have actually gotten the UN to appoint actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a “Messenger of Peace with a focus on climate change.” I kid you not. Perhaps the UN should send him to deliver his first message to ISIS to see how that goes….

    By the way, there’s going to be a lot of talk this week about forging binding agreement among all nations of the General Assembly to combat climate change. But here in a nutshell is why all efforts to do so will amount to, well, hot air:

    The Chinese, whose participation in this cause is indispensable, have no more regard for environmental prophecies about global warming than atheist have for religious prophecies about Armageddon. This is why, even though they’ll talk about combating climate change, as Chinese President Hu Jintao did in Beijing at a joint press performance with Obama yesterday, they will never sign on to any binding global treaty.

    (“Critical Copenhagen Treaty on Climate Change Goes Up in Smoke,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 19, 2009)

    M_Id_482268_Narendra_Modi_ChinaNothing validates my five-year old prescience in this respect quite like the leader not just of China, but of the equally indispensable India too, boycotting today’s UN summit to negotiate terms for that still elusive binding agreement on climate change.

    Finally, I’ve ended a number of commentaries by promising “this is my final word on global warming.” In this respect, I’m rather like smokers who keep promising to quit (emitting their carcinogenic smoke into the atmosphere). What can I say, I’m addicted to the challenge of trying to inject common sense into the irrational debate on climate change – as “Rupert Murdoch Endorses My “Third Way” on Climate Change,” July 22, 2014, will attest.

    Related commentaries:
    Global warming
    Return of polar ice
    Climate change
    Murdoch

  • Monday, September 22, 2014 at 6:45 AM

    Cousins Was Game, but Washington ‘Redskins’ Return to Losing Ways…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Robert Griffin III [RG3] hobbled through the Washington Redskins’ locker room on crutches, the kind of scene that has become so familiar.

    The franchise player was hurt again Sunday, dislocating his left ankle in the first quarter of a 41-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The best-case scenario might have him playing again by Thanksgiving, but there’s more than a decent chance he’s taken his last snap of the season.

    (Associated Press, September 21, 2014)

    5416107a006e8.imageIt speaks volumes that even The Associated Press is now throwing cold water on the prospect of RG3 ever becoming the hot player my hometown team, the Washington Redskins, gave up so much (in terms of future draft picks) to acquire.  But I warned it would be thus:

    I fear that, having been unable to take the Redskins back to the Super Bowl this year, RG3 will end up doing no more for them than Vick did for the Eagles (or the Falcons): provide boundless excitement when he plays, but hardly playing because of chronic injuries.

    (“Redskins Come Up Lame … Again,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 7, 2013)

    r1104_SkinThe only question now is whether backup quarterback Kirk Cousins can do for Washington what former backup quarterback Tom Brady did for New England: win a Super Bowl or two … or three. I don’t think so.

    For, while others were hailing the way he stepped into RG3′s shoes and pulled off that win last week, I was all too mindful that a team (Washington) that won only 3 games last season managing to beat one (Jacksonville) that won only 4 games is nothing to brag about.

    Sure enough, even though Washington showed great promise (you know, the kind RG3 shows … when he’s not coming up lame), it came up … short yesterday (34-37) against Philadelphia – a team that won a more respectable and duly promising 10 games last year.

    Nobody else in Washington will say it, but the irony is not lost on me that, while Cousins looked every bit as impressive as RG3 (especially with his passing game), he also displayed RG3’s knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Only this explains throwing an interception and a really poor pass in the waning moments of yesterday’s game, which made all the difference.

    And so, now at 1-2, a successful season for us might be ending up 4-12 (i.e., one win better than last year).

    Therefore, given my informed cynicism about Washington’s prospect, it should surprise none of you that the best part of the game for me was the characters of South Park teasing their new fall season.

    ByFNeWyCUAEoNmzAfter all, they mocked – with trademark irreverence – the ignorance, arrogance, and hypocrisy inherent in owner Daniel Snyder insisting that he will not change the name, Redskins, because he considers it a way of honoring Native Americans. Yes, the same Native Americans who have been pleading with him for years to stop using it because they consider it an offensive racial slur.

    Can you imagine an NFL team today being called the Washington Niggers; or, given Snyder’s Jewish heritage, the Washington Hymies…?

    Clearly Whites did not enslave Native Americans the way they did Black Africans. But their genocidal killing of Native Americans and confiscatory plundering of their lands were arguably far worse. And granting them licenses to operate casinos on the little reservations Whites deigned to leave them hardly compensates for all that.

    Therefore, the least Whites can do today is show them the same politically correct respect they show Blacks, no?

    (“Why is Washington Redskins Any More Acceptable than Washington Niggers … or Washington Hymies?” The iPINIONS Journal, October 19, 2013)

    Unfortunately, as far as Snyder and his fellow team owners are concerned, the White man still knows best. These, of course, are the same NFL owners who considered their players taking out game-day frustrations and/or roid rage on their wives and girlfriends as just an occupational hazard….

    NOTE: The reason for striking out the name is that I have decided to join the shamefully small number of commentators who have decided to treat it the way we treat all racial slurs.

    Related commentaries:
    Redskins
    Why

  • Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    Apple manufacturing needs … and you ain’t seen nothing yet!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    apple

     

    The way Apple manufactures needs (e.g., compelling millions of people to buy new cell phones every two years) is an abomination

    (“Forget 500-page books, people don’t even read 500-word articles anymore,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 17, 2014)

    Not that this is a source of any corporate shame, mind you. After all, I was stupefied when I heard CEO Tim Cook say – with perverse, self-righteous pride (on the September 14, 2014, edition of Charlie Rose ) – that Apple is in the business of creating needs people don’t even know they have…. Which, I suppose, is not too far removed from God proclaiming to create air for people to breathe, water for them to drink, etc., etc.

    Related commentaries:
    Forget 500-page books

  • Friday, September 19, 2014 at 5:48 AM

    Scotland Votes Resounding “No” to Independence

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 5.39.14 AM

    Scotland spurned independence in a historic referendum that threatened to rip the United Kingdom apart, sow financial turmoil and diminish Britain’s remaining global clout…

    Unionists won 55 percent of the vote while separatists won 45 percent with 31 of 32 constituencies declared.

    (Reuters, September 19, 2014)

    Why?

    afp-celebrities-pick-sides-in-scottish-referendumWell, with due respect to all of the pundits spouting hind-sight wisdom today, Harry Potter author JK Rowling provided the best answer earlier this week, when she restated her abiding support for the “No” with this tweet:

    My head says no and my heart shouts it – but whatever happens, I hope we’re all friends by Saturday.

    (4:31 AM – 17 Sep 2014)

    For – in addition to conveying disarming charm with this expelliarmus tweet, which probably caused many saying “Yes” to end up voting “No” – Rowling personified my prediction that:

    … cooler heads will prevail [over wayward hearts], and Scots will vote to preserve [the union].

    As for being “friends by Saturday,” however, I doubt even the best teacher at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry can cast a spell to make that happen … even between Scots. So just imagine the challenge of reconciling Scots – for whom independence was so devoutly to be wished, with Englishmen – who probably think of them now the way a husband might of a wife who files for divorce, but changes her mind because she’s afraid she can’t make it on her own.

    Still, I am convinced that, in due course, old friendships will be renewed and national allegiances to an enduring United Kingdom affirmed.

    In the meantime, though, I feel obliged to comment on the ignorant and cowardly way Wimbledon champion Andy Murray jumped on the independence bandwagon with this last-minute tweet:

    Huge day for Scotland today! no campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. excited to see the outcome. lets do this! (sic)

    (1:08 AM 18 Sep 2014)

    oly-scotland-day12Murray, of course, is probably the most famous Scotsman in the world today, Sean Connery, Sir Chris Hoy, and other notables notwithstanding. Moreover, I actually hinted at his Scottish nationalism over a year ago as follows:

    It’s only a matter of time before the English attempt to co-opt this Scotsman’s national pride by offering him a knighthood.

    But, if Andy wants to make his fellow Scots truly proud, he would make a public show of rejecting it.

    (“Wimbledon: Murray Ends Britain’s 77-Year Drought,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 8, 2013)

    Yet, while hundreds of other celebrities declared their informed intent long before voting day, duly hoping to influence voters for their cause, he remained conspicuously silent. (For example, on August 7, 200 celebrities signed an open letter urging Scots to vote “No”.)

    Then he comes out with this tweet, like a Nicodemus in the night (just hours before voting began), claiming that he was “totally swayed” by “no campaign negativity”?! What an idiot! After all, this makes about as much sense as a Black American claiming, just before voting began for the 2008 presidential election, that Barack Obama’s campaign negativity has swayed him to vote for John McCain….

    Never mind the obvious suspicion that what really swayed Murray were polls showing that the wind was at the back of the “Yes” campaign, and he just wanted to jump on what he thought was the winning bandwagon at the last possible moment.

    Frankly, if I were a “Yes” voter, I would have so resented his tweet that I would’ve tweeted back: thanks, but no thanks, Andy. And, if I were a “No” voter, I’d be damn if anyone even thinks of nominating him for a knighthood.

    Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 5.55.13 AMAnyway, now comes the hard part: deciding how “independent” Scotland (and presumably Wales, Northern Ireland, and other territories) will/can be within the United Kingdom. After all, I reiterate:

    Nothing indicates how desperate England is to preserve the union quite like the fact that it has already conceded (and promised) so many devolutionary powers that Scotland is already, for all intents and purposes, independent.

    This is why, if they’re smart, the Scots would vote “No” – to have their cake and eat it too … as it were.

    Rule, Britannia…?

    (“Should Scotland Become an Independent Country? ‘No Thanks,’” The iPINIONS Journal, September 16, 2014)

    Still, it’s worth noting that Spain probably breathed a sigh of relief as big as England’s. Because Spain clearly hopes that a “No” result will set an instructive precedent for its Catalonia, as well as all other pro-independence regions throughout Europe, to follow.

    Related commentaries:
    Should Scotland become independent...

  • Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 6:27 AM

    Should Scotland Become an Independent Country? ‘No Thanks’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Not only is Catalonia presenting an equally compelling case for independence as Kosovo; it is doing so in a non-violent way that stands in commendable and instructive contrast to the violence that attended Kosovo independence.

    Alas, such is the vested (European) interest in holding Spain together (economically and politically) that, even if Catalonia were to vote ‘Yes,’ Western powers would surely conspire to nullify it; hence the double standard…

    Nevertheless, ‘autonomous’ regions in other countries – among them Iraq’s Kurdistan, Italy’s South Tyrol, Belgium’s Flemish and Walloon, even China’s Uyghur – are bound to tempt fate (for political, cultural and/or economic reasons) by following the pandora’s-box precedent Kosovo set.

    (“Catalonia: Spain’s Kosovo Problem,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 1, 2012)

    140909200252-scotland-no-thanks-button---s037115824-story-topNow the Scottish region of the United Kingdom – presenting an even more compelling case for independence than Catalonia – is tempting fate.

    The vote in Scotland, however, will be binding on England. Not least because Scotland has been negotiating the terms for an independence referendum with successive English governments ever since the Acts of Union created the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. Milestones towards this end over these years included the creation of a Scottish Parliament in 1999 – complete with devolution of ministerial powers.

    All the same, both latter-day English imperialists and their abiding Scottish loyalist are painting such a Dickensian future for an independent Scotland that the ‘Yes’ vote seems unlikely to carry the day when the referendum is held on September 18. And no less a person than Alex Salmond, first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, is on record acknowledging that a ‘No’ vote could spell the end of the SNP as a political force and extinguish any aspiration for independence for at least a generation or two.

    (“Crimea One of Many ‘Distinct Nations’ Within Nation Voting to Breakaway,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 31, 2014)

    The day of reckoning is at hand. Scotland will hold its historic referendum tomorrow to decide whether to preserve the Union or become independent. Polls indicate that it will come down to the wire. But I think cooler heads will prevail, and Scots will vote to preserve it.

    As my opening quote indicates, however, Scotland is just the latest in a string of regions within nations, where yearning for independence has been burning in the hearts, even if not in the minds, of a critical mass of people.

    Interestingly enough, in a recent commentary on the dubious referendum Crimea held to breakaway from Ukraine (admittedly to be annexed by Russia, not to become independent), I felt constrained to cite the unwitting precedent the UK may have set in this respect:

    Britain went to war to reinforce its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. Therefore, it smacks of rank hypocrisy for Britain to be leading the chorus of European countries denouncing Serbia for merely threatening to go to war to reinforce its sovereignty over Kosovo…

    Kosovo embodies as much historical, cultural, and religious significance for Serbs as Mecca holds for Saudis. Moreover, it happens to be situated right within Serbia’s universally recognized borders; not thousands of (imperial) miles away – as the Falklands are from Britain.

    (“Kosovo: Wither Serbia’s Alamo,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 4, 2007)

    Of course, the irony is not lost on me that the United Kingdom, which spearheaded the balkanization of so much of Africa and the Middle East – by arbitrarily drawing borders between peoples – is teetering on the precipice of balkanization from within. (Re balkanization of Middle East, see 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement and 1917 Balfour Declaration; and re balkanization of Africa, see 1884 Berlin Conference)

    _45676313_salmondBut Scottish nationalists are undoubtedly thankful that Mother England is according them this right of self-determination; instead of attempting to impose her will upon them at the barrel of a gun. Granted, “the troubles” that attended her attempt to impose her will upon Irish nationalists/republicans in Northern Ireland might have something to do with this more sensible approach in Scotland….

    Mind you, this is not to say that she has decided to just lie back and think of England without Scotland. For, as indicated in my March 31 commentary cited above, political leaders of every stripe have been framing the consequences of a “Yes” vote in such apocalyptic terms, you could be forgiven for mistaking them for fundamentalist preachers warning about the end of the world as we know it. I’m a believer, but even I was moved on Saturday to title a cartoon mocking their despairing admonitions as follows:

    England warning Scotland about independence is like mother warning child about fire. Each must burn to learn.

    1410802113433_wps_38_epa04401932_British_PrimeStill, here’s how some – who clearly feel they’ve already lost the hearts and minds of far too many Scots – are now appealing to (or making veiled threats towards) their pocketbooks:

    An independent Scotland faces a £14billion black hole in its finances, a prominent think-tank warns in a report today.

    A slump in North Sea oil revenues, an exodus of banks to England and a spike in public sector pensions represent three ‘huge risks’, says the Centre for Policy Studies.

    The dire forecast cast further doubt over Alex Salmond’s economic plan and what critics call his North Sea oil ‘fantasy’.

    (Daily Mail, September 15, 2014)

    Surely that constitutes a bit of piling on, no?

    Yet, on top of all that, it seems every British celebrity worth his salt is chiming in; and most, with the notable exception of a few like Sir Sean Connery, are urging Scots to vote “No”:

    Sir Paul’s signature, alongside Sir Mick Jagger’s and those of tens of thousands of people from all over the country, shows that English, Welsh and Northern Irish people hope passionately that the Scottish vote to renew their bonds of citizenship with us.

    (BBC, September 15, 2015)

    BESTPIX  US President Barack Obama Visits The UK - Day OneWhich makes one wonder why President Obama decided to jump into this marital spat yesterday (even if PM Cameron begged him to) by boldly urging Scotland to stay with England, presumably, if she wants to stay friends with the United States. Especially given that his two cents worth seems all the overbearing juxtaposed with the far more fair-minded way the Queen on Sunday simply urged Scots to, ahem, “think very carefully about the future” before voting.

    To be fair, Obama has greater standing to chime in than one might think, given reports about his genealogy extending back to William the Lion, who ruled Scotland from 1165 to 1214. Reports are that he’s even related to the Queen – as her “9th cousin twice removed.” But, by that stretch, I might be related to Her too.

    All the same, Obama’s interference, if not intimidation, risks inciting a stealth backlash among congenitally proud Scots, which could end up helping the “Yes We Can” nationalists win the day….

    As documented, much is being made of the dire consequences a “Yes” win would portend for Scotland. But similar consequences would portend for England too. For starters, if Scotland goes, its prized and popular (neo-colonial) Overseas Territories, including Bermuda, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands, to say nothing of its neighbor Wales, might exercise their right of self-determination too – as foolhardy as that might be … given their respective circumstances.

    There’s also the humbling contrast that would likely be drawn between England losing yet more of what little remains of its empire, which was once so vast “the sun never set” on it, and Russia expanding (reconstituting) hers via land grabs in the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine.

    EuroscepticismIndeed, if Scotland goes the way of Kosovo and South Sudan (and votes for independence), instead of the way of Quebec (and votes to preserve the union), it might embolden calls for England to lose her permanent seat on the influential UN Security Council. After all, without Scotland (one-third of its current land mass), she would be even more of an island onto herself and fated to wield even less power on the European continent than the little she does today. Not to mention the irony inherent in England pleading for Scotland to preserve their union, while English politics is being dominated by demands for a referendum to allow England to leave the European Union.

    Frankly, regardless of the outcome, Brazil, which wields far more influence on the South American continent, or South Africa, which wields far more on the African continent, seems a far more worthy occupant of that seat on the Security Council than England.

    Meanwhile, nothing indicates how desperate England is to preserve the union quite like the fact that it has already conceded (and promised) so many devolutionary powers that Scotland is already, for all intents and purposes, independent.

    This is why, if they’re smart, the Scots would vote “No” – to have their cake and eat it too … as it were.

    Rule, Britannia…?

    Related commentaries:
    Crimea
    Kosovo
    Catalonia

    * This commentary was originally published on Tuesday, September 16, at 7:49 a.m.

  • Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 6:55 AM

    Facebook: UPDATE YOUR NAME

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I disabled the comments feature on this site years ago because far too many visitors were using it to either publish comments that had nothing to do with my commentaries or hurl insults at other readers (you know, the ignorant and juvenile snark that seems standard fare on Twitter and Facebook). Not to mention those who commented anonymously or under fake names because they didn’t have the balls to stand by, or the brains to defend, their comments.

    Incidentally, anonymity is the lifeblood of Internet trolls. Allowing people to post anonymous comments is like allowing a cancer to metastasize.

    (“More Websites Banning Public Comments,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 23, 2014)

    n-FACEBOOK-large570In fact, social media are so rife with fake names and ‘catfish’ identities that chances are very good you have, or someone you know has, used them.

    This is why I was so heartened to read yesterday that social media hegemon Facebook is trying to put a stop to this insidious practice.

    Several days ago, a large percentage of individuals operating personal profiles on Facebook under pseudonyms, stage names, or any name not matching their legal name received this message when logging onto their Facebook accounts:

    ‘Your account has been temporarily suspended because it looks like you’re not using your real name… We require everyone to provide their full name so you always know who you’re connecting with.’

    (Huffington Post, September 15, 2014)

    Now if only Twitter and other networks would require the same.

    Related commentaries:
    Websites banning

  • Monday, September 15, 2014 at 7:23 AM

    Janay Made Informed and Liberated Choice to Stand by Her Man, Ray. Okay?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    1410187066746_wps_23_MINIMUM_FEE_TO_BE_AGREED_No doubt you’ve seen the video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancé, Janay Palmer, that went viral a week ago today, inciting unprecedented public outrage.

    But I waited until today to comment for two reasons:

    My first reason for waiting is that I did not want to join the visceral, viral vultures rabidly feeding off Ray, purportedly to support Janay. For this struck me as rather like trigger-happy cops shooting the hostage to arrest the hostage taker….

    Moreover, I was already on record with this:

    Conspicuously absent amidst the virtual pillorying Smith is getting – most notably from his ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle - is any criticism of the decision Rice’s fiancée made to marry him less than six weeks after he beat her senseless.

    Clearly the message Smith sends, by insinuating that women provoke the physical abuse they get, is wrong. But the message she sends, by cleaving onto her abuser, is no less so.

    (“NFL: Wife Beating No Worse than Dog Fighting,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 26, 2014)

    bal-ray-rice-marries-janay-palmer-amid-assault-001You can well imagine the criticisms this incited – ranging from clichés about blaming the victim, to threats about doing to me what Ray did to Janay. Except that here, in part, is what Janay herself had to say to all of her self-appointed avengers – who were attacking her husband as if he were King Kong and she the little damsel in distress:

    No one knows the pain [the] media & unwanted [opinions] from the public has caused my family…

    THIS IS OUR LIFE! (sic) What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels.

    (Baltimore Sun, September 9, 2014)

    This statement clearly vindicates my view that Janay marrying Ray is far more troubling than ESPN commentator Steven A. Smith insinuating that she provoked his abuse. After all, we have laws to deal with men who abuse women; we have no laws to deal with women who enable and willfully tolerate their own abuse.

    Why-I-Stayed-jpgMeanwhile, if this sad episode has taught us anything, it is that telling women to just leave abusive relationships is no more helpful than telling kids to just say no to drugs. It’s not as if any victim of domestic violence today is not acutely aware of the potential consequences of staying or, more importantly, of the protections and support available to her from law enforcement and social services if she leaves.

    Interestingly enough, Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School, likened a relationship with an abusive partner to gambling addiction. Here’s how he weighed in on tweets from tens of thousands of women who shared their stories last week under the hashtag #WhyIStayed:

    The person being abused is focused on the positive and waiting for the next positive. There’s a psychological effect like gambling: the moments of tenderness and intimacy are unpredictable, but they are so intense and fulfilling that the victim winds up staying in the hopes that a moment like that will happen again.

    (TIME, September 9, 2014)

    Therein lies the rub/paradox.

    What is truly perplexing, even vexing, about this is that, just as being educated and sophisticated does not make one immune to the spiral of drug addiction, being so does not make one immune to the cycle of domestic violence.

    Many dismissed – as a symptom of “battered woman syndrome” – Janay’s defiant cry to be respected as a college-educated and socially liberated woman quite capable of deciding what’s best for her and her family. But these pop psychologists strike me as the sort who would dismiss – as a legacy of slavery – Blacks who choose to steal and sell drugs instead of going to school and finding a job.

    Terry-ONeill-is-the-president-of-the-National-Organization-for-Women-e1410369315262As a principled feminist, however, I appreciate Janay’s exasperation. This is why I am so dismayed that the self-appointed guardians of women’s liberation at the National Organization for Women (NOW) have turned Janay’s abuse into a political cause celebre.

    What they don’t get is that she made an informed and free choice to stand by her man, and the only thing those presuming to advocate on her behalf have done is to undermine that choice. Not least by putting so much public pressure on his NFL team that it felt compelled to terminate a contract that would have paid her husband in excess of $10 million over the next three years; to say nothing of compelling a number of sponsors to terminate endorsement contracts that would have paid him millions more. The NFL, caving in to the pressure too, suspended him, indefinitely.

    Incidentally, Ray is 27. Reports are that his initial two-game suspension would’ve cost him almost $470,000. If this indefinite suspension forces him to remain out of the game for two or more years (as seems likely to be the case), it could spell the end of his career. And only God knows how a wife beater, thusly embittered, might feel “provoked” to lash out….

    What Janay’s statement makes distressingly clear is that it’s nobody’s business if a woman chooses to stay with her abuser, for whatever reason, but hers. I don’t think any woman should choose to become a prostitute. Yet even NOW endorses a life of prostitution as an informed choice many women make. However, this organization for women would be hard-pressed to explain why it treats women who sell their bodies for a living (with all of the risk and inherent abuse that entails) as liberated free agents, but those who stay in abusive relationships with the men they love as mentally incapacitated and in need of guardians ad litem.

    Screen-shot-2011-05-26-at-10.06.40-AMMore on point, one wonders why NOW isn’t stoking public outrage over no less a woman than Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) making light of the fact that male senators routinely groped and sexually harassed her on Capitol Hill. I watched an obviously incredulous Mika Brezinski ask Gillibrand (on the September 8 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe) why she refuses to name, let alone prosecute, the culprits. She said, in effect, that she didn’t want to because it’s no big deal and they’re her colleagues. I was stupefied.

    Perhaps Janay wanted no further action taken against Ray because she didn’t think it was a big deal and he’s her friggin husband….

    My second reason for waiting is that I was already as outraged as I could possibly be. After all, that first video six weeks ago showed Ray dragging a clearly unconscious Janay out of an elevator … as if she were nothing more than a piece of furniture he was struggling to move.

    I did not need to see Ray actually landing the blow that knocked her out to condemn the NFL for giving him just a slap on the wrist. I’m on record, in the above-cited commentary, in this respect too:

    You probably know about the viral outrage this suspension incited. What you probably don’t know, however, is that Rice’s slap on the wrist actually reflects the prevailing culture – not just of the NFL but of all professional sports.

    For years I’ve been decrying the perverse values that guide the NFL’s code of conduct. Nothing demonstrates this perversity quite like juxtaposing the two-week suspension Commissioner Roger Goodell gave Rice last Thursday for abusing his fiancée with the three-month suspension he gave Miami Dolphins offensive guard Richie Incognito last year for bullying his teammate.

    712523_LSIn fact, that I titled this commentary “NFL: Wife Beating No Worse than Dog Fighting” probably says it all.

    To be fair, though, I feel constrained to note that Goodell took decisive steps to redeem the NFL long before TMZ released this second, more graphic video last week.

    Saying ‘I didn’t get it right’ with Ray Rice, NFL commish Roger Goodell announced a dramatic new domestic violence policy for the league Thursday.

    A first offense under the new domestic violence policy calls for a six-game suspension, while a second offense would result in a lifetime ban.

    The NFL’s new policy applies to all league personnel, not just players.

    (CBS News, August 28, 2014)

    Cardinals Giants FootballThis is why it’s unfair that NOW is leading a chorus of avenging feminists calling on Goodell to resign. Especially when one considers a) that, unlike NOW, Goodell probably bent over backwards to accommodate what Janay thought was in her best interest; and, more importantly, b) that, after examining all the evidence, including this second video, the New Jersey prosecutor ultimately decided that it was in the best interest of justice, in this case, to let Rice enter a pre-trial intervention program, instead of filing criminal charges against him. No doubt he was influenced by the fact that Janay not only supported this alternative but would have been an uncooperative victim/witness.

    All bets are off, however, if it turns out Goodell lied on national TV about what Ray told him about what happened from the outset, or about when he first saw that second, galvanizing video.

    One wonders why NOW and other women’s groups aren’t calling on this prosecutor to resign….

    Then, of course, there’s the media’s complicity in all this. Regular readers know of my abiding and unbridled contempt for the mainstream media. This was only reinforced last week when, as Janay insinuates, they thought nothing of compounding her abuse by airing the video of Ray knocking her out as if it were a GIF on a website for men who get off on abusing women. And nothing betrays what little journalist integrity they have quite like major networks announcing their intent to stop playing this video:

    ESPN, CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox News Channel and Fox Sports all said Thursday they would no longer show the video unless there are compelling news reasons to bring it back.

    (Media Matters, September 11, 2014)

    After all, this came after each of them had already aired it a thousand times for purely prurient purposes (i.e., ratings).

    Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 7.34.49 PMMind you, this is the same media that enforces a policy of not revealing the names, let alone showing the faces, even of alleged victims of rape. Therefore, what are we to make of their regard for victims of domestic violence that they would think nothing of not only revealing their names and showing their faces, but of airing video of that violence being perpetrated against them?

    Utterly contemptible!

    With that, here are some takeaway points:

    • A snarky tweet or, better still, a viral video is all far too many people think they need these days to vent morally indignant opinions on any issue, including one as complicated as domestic violence.
    • I would have advised Janay against standing by Ray, but I respect her decision to do so.
    • 4689449_GThis case has taught us nothing about domestic violence - not just in the NFL but in society at large – that the O.J. Simpson case did not teach us over two decades ago. Remember that teachable moment? This case has only demonstrated the untenable influence viral mobs have not only on public debate these days, but on public policy. (Only the outrage of viral mobs over the beheading of two American journalists explains why Obama is starting a war against ISIS that seems even more a “march of folly” than Bush’s invasion of Iraq.)
    • You’d never know it, but, because of that O.J. case, law-enforcement authorities are keen to press criminal charges in cases of domestic violence – often against the wishes of the victim.
    • Janay’s statement makes clear that, far from advancing the fight against domestic violence, the public hysteria this case incited might set it back decades – as even more women become loath to report domestic violence for fear of becoming fodder for viral tweets and a cause celebre for crusading, latter-day feminists.
    • While all of her putative supporters turn their attention to the next viral video or social-media outrage, Janay will be struggling to come to terms with Ray’s loss of millions in contracted and future earnings; to say nothing of a domestic life that might prove far more stressful, if not violent, thanks to last week’s tsunami of support.
    • The NFL has taken commendable steps towards meting out more appropriate penalties for incidents of domestic violence. But last week was arguably the worst in its history — from a PR perspective — with reports of even more egregious domestic-violence cases and a child abuse case (involving former league MVP Adrian Peterson disciplining his four-year-old son with a switch … the way many Black parents discipline their children).
    • domestic-violence-nflI know Blacks constitute 66 percent of the players in the NFL. But it is truly disheartening that, according to the U-T San Diego NFL arrest database, all of the 14 players currently playing who have been charged or accused of domestic violence are Black.
    • I appreciate that, according to a November 29, 2013, report in USA Today, Black NFL players are arrested nearly 10 times as often as White ones. But it is truly disheartening that all of the 24 players who have been arrested this year, for one reason other another, are Black.
    • Unsurprisingly, according to the Department of Justice, women of color are far more often than Whites to be the victims of domestic violence (e.g., 50 percent of Native American females have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner; and 30 percent of Black American females have been subjected to domestic abuse). Notwithstanding Janay’s circumstances, there seems to be a direct correlation between social maladies—like unemployment, poverty, education, and violent neighborhoods—and domestic violence.
    • Finally, and this might be the most sobering point of all, as “epidemic” as domestic violence might seem in the NFL, statistics show that it is even worse in society at large.

    Enough.

    Related commentaries:
    NFL: wife beating
    Journalism having pathetic moment

  • Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 6:12 AM

    England warning Scotland about independence is like mother warning child about fire. Each must burn to learn.

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    20140913_WWD000-2

  • Friday, September 12, 2014 at 5:25 AM

    Oscar Pistorius Gets Off on Murder. Manslaughter Looms…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The judge in the Oscar Pistorius trial has ruled out all murder charges, but says he may still be guilty of culpable homicide (manslaughter).

    Judge Thokozile Masipa said the prosecution had failed to prove the Olympic athlete killed his girlfriend deliberately in the toilet after a row, prompting tears from Mr Pistorius.

    He cannot have foreseen killing whoever was behind the toilet door, she said.

    (BBC, September 11, 2014)

    I object!

    For, with all due respect to Milady, it defies logic to find that a reasonable person cannot foresee that firing four bullets into a toilet stall would probably kill whoever is inside. Not to mention that this conduct comports with the textbook definition of depraved indifference for human life. And that’s murder … even in South Africa!

    judge-reads-pistorius-verdictFrankly, there’s no denying that the prosecution presented sufficient evidence to warrant a guilty verdict on at least one of the murder charges. Except that, evidently, Judge Masipa gave Pistorius the benefit not just of a reasonable doubt but of any conceivable doubt. Only this explains her finding of not guilty on all charges related to murder.

    But I shall leave it to legal pundits – who make a living prattling on about sensational cases and second-guessing rulings/verdicts – to elaborate on her judicial errors.

    Truth be told, though, this judge had me thoroughly mesmerized as she read her judgment this morning. Not least because she heightened the suspense inherent in waiting for her verdict by reading so haltingly that it compelled me to hang on her every word.

    In fact, she came across more like a drama queen giving a theatre performance than a judge delivering a courtroom judgment. Nothing affirmed this impression quite like the way she punctuated her reading throughout with dramatic pauses. But I was utterly stupefied when she adjourned proceedings with the words:

    It is clear that his conduct was negligent. I will have to stop here. We’ll proceed tomorrow at half past 9.

    (BBC, September 11, 2014)

    As cliffhangers go, no Hollywood writer could have scripted a better one. After all, this came a mere 15 minutes after a long lunch break.

    Still, ironically, what little she read during those 15 minutes clearly telegraphed her intent to find Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide. Therefore, if she timed her adjournment for dramatic effect, it was anti-climactic at best. But more time center stage for this diva in judicial garb – complete with her deceptively unassuming demeanor….

    Except that her adjournment is now inflicting cruel and unusual anguish not just on Pistorius (who still faces jail time), but also on the victim’s loved ones (who have just cause to fret that Milady might pick up tomorrow by defying her own logic to find him not guilty of culpable homicide too).

    Indeed, with respect to the latter, Judge Masipa gave the impression that her tongue lashing about his unreasonable conduct and evasive testimony is punishment enough for this already crippled Olympian….

    Still, I remain convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s as guilty as sin – as I stated for the record in “Oscar Pistorius Now South Africa’s O.J. Simpson…?” February 15, 2013. What’s more, I fully expect this judge to show more common sense, to say nothing of legal judgment, than the jurors who acquitted O.J. by finding Pistorius guilty of this lesser charge, and sentencing him to seven years in prison (after weighing all mitigating and aggravating factors).

    Of course, apropos of my allusion to O.J., even if, with tortured reasoning, she lets Pistorius off scot-free (or finds him guilty but gives him little or no jail time), I have no doubt that, like O.J., he will get his just desserts … someday, someway.

    Related commentaries:
    Pistorius puts foot in mouth

    * This commentary was originally published yesterday, Thursday, at 12:24 p.m.

  • Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 7:35 AM

    Remembering 9/11: a Moment of Silence Will do

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Adam Zyglis Cartoon

    I applaud NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg for decreeing this week that henceforth the area where the twin towers were destroyed shall no longer be called ‘Ground Zero,’ but shall revert back to its original name, The World Trade Center.

    But in addition to this I urge him to decree that henceforth the city shall no longer mark this day, every year, by wallowing in the plainly contrived ceremony of reading all of the names of those who perished on 9/11. Not least because of the untenable emotional conflict this imposes on kids – who were either very young or still in their mother’s womb on 9/11 – to express public grief for a parent they never even knew without feeling as though they’re betraying the love they have for the person their surviving parent married.

    Instead, the families directly affected should be left alone to grieve in their own way. Of course, I doubt many of them who moved on with their lives long ago will even feel the need to do so.

    This 10th anniversary seems a good time for the rest of the country to move on too….

    (“Time to Move On,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 11, 2011)

    Imagine my disappointment, therefore, when I learned that no less a person than now-former Mayor Bloomberg will be emceeing another elaborate national day of remembrance … at “Ground Zero.”

    After all, even Israel leaves it to individuals to remember the extermination of six million Jews during WWII in their own way, reserving only the sounding of a siren to signal a national moment of silence. Surely the United States can do the same to remember the killing of 3000 on 9/11. No?

    article-2751599-2148A53D00000578-62_964x477

     

    Related commentaries:
    Time to move on

  • Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    Demystifying ISIS: Case against Obama’s Bush-lite War on Terrorism

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    This is a very complicated and convoluted issue; therefore, I shall begin with a few clarifying points:

    • Despite the media inciting hysterical calls for war against them, the jihadists rampaging across the Middle East, who call themselves ISIS/ISIL (hereinafter ISIS), pose no security threat to the United States. They represent little more than the latest surge in the internecine struggle within Islam that Sunni and Shiite factions have been waging for one thousand years. ISIS (comprised of Sunni extremists) certainly has done nothing to warrant President Obama forming a coalition of the willing to “degrade and destroy” it. Never mind the foreboding similarities his talk of coalition bears to the one his predecessor touted for the ill-fated invasion of Iraq. In fact, Obama has less justification to launch strikes against ISIS than President Bush had to invade Iraq.
    • With all due respect to the two American journalists ISIS beheaded in such provocative fashion recently, the barbaric killing of Americans abroad does not constitute just cause for this kind of military response. If it did, Obama would’ve responded accordingly after rampaging thugs killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, at that U.S. Consulate in Benghazi two years ago this week. Mind you, this is not to say that no response is warranted. I just think a few drone strikes — of the kind Obama has launching for years to take out terrorists from Pakistan to Yemen — would deliver appropriate (i.e., proportionate) retribution for such killings.
    • If mere threats to terrorize or destroy this country were sufficient provocation, the United States would be in a permanent state of war. Most notably, JFK would’ve been provoked into launching preemptive strikes against the Soviet Union in the 1960s; and, instead of Iraq, Bush would’ve had far greater justification to invade North Korea – a country whose foreign policy for the past two decades has consisted of little more than threatening to launch nuclear attacks against the United States or its ally, South Korea.
    • Nothing betrays how foolhardy forming this coalition to fight yet another war on terrorism is quite like the United States having nothing to show after 13 years of fighting al-Qaeda: Nothing, this is, except a $1 trillion money pit in Afghanistan, over 2000 dead U.S. troops, and spawns of al-Qaeda (including ISIS) now killing and terrorizing – as much in Africa and South Asia as in the Middle East – in ways that would offend the conscience of no less a terrorist than Osama bin Laden himself. Indeed, given that Boko Haram has been doing in Africa exactly what ISIS is doing in the Middle East, Obama would be hard-pressed to explain why he’s not forming a coalition of the willing to degrade and destroy this al-Qaeda spawn too….
    • Obama has been taking great pains to assure the American people that the only boots on the ground for this war on terrorism will be those of regional allies like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey. Except that nothing betrays how misleading (or misguided) this is quite like Bush taking great pains to do the same with respect to his coalition. After all, despite paying lip service and egging on the United States, not a single Mideast country participated in the invasion of Iraq. What’s more, many of the countries Bush named, like Micronesia, didn’t even have armies from which to draft foot soldiers. More to the point, given the way ISIS has already routed the rag-tag Syrian Free Army, cowardly/disaffected Iraqi Forces, and beleaguered Kurdish Peshmerga, Obama selling them as boots on the ground is even more disingenuous than a used car salesman selling lemons.
    • It should be instructive that the warmongers now scaremongering about ISIS bringing jihad to the United States are the same warmongers who were scaremongering 13 years ago about al-Qaeda doing the same: Not to jinx it, but we’re still waiting. And don’t get me started on their enabling, ratings whores in the media for whom there’s no better John than a calamitous war. Is there really any wonder Americans fear that a bunch of rampaging jihadists in the Middle East pose the biggest threat to the United States since Hitler’s Germany…? Never before has FDR’s admonition, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” been more apt.
    • If there are Americans training with ISIS to do its bidding on the home front, the NSA would be far more likely to foil their plots than Obama’s “core coalition,” which will be waging another unwinnable war over in the Middle East. This is why it behooves Obama to ignore self-professed privacy advocates who complain about NSA spying (at home and abroad) to keep us safe, but think nothing of Google and Amazon doing even more spying just to sell us stuff. Incidentally, you’d think, given Snowden’s revelations about the NSA spying on foreigners, that the Americans would know that the Saudis and other Arabs think of them as nothing more than hired help to protect their countries; not unlike the way they think of the Indonesians they hire to clean their homes.
    • Don’t get me started on pandering politicians citing public opinion polls to support their drumbeat for war. After all, half of the American people probably have no clue who or what ISIS/ISIL is; and, despite more than a decade of war in the region, even more of them probably could not locate Iraq on a map to save their lives.

    This is the mockery politicians – who have become little more than ‘perfectly lubricated weather vanes’ – have made of representative government. For the record, the American people elect (and pay) congressional representatives to make ‘informed’ decisions on issues of national importance. We have representative government, instead of literal democracy, precisely to avoid the spectacle of governing based on prevailing, and invariably uninformed, passions.

    (“On Syria and Almost Every Other Issue, the American People Are Insolent, Ignorant Idiots … and Their Congressional Representatives Are Pandering, Pusillanimous Pussies,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 10, 2013)

    • To say nothing, alas, of so-called analysts who have been all over the media schilling for the military industrial complex (and earning exorbitant fees), instead of explaining what national security interest is being served by launching a war against ISIS.

    ___________________

    That said (and I know I’m really testing your Twitterized patience here), what follows is more lamentation than commentary. It highlights the abiding flaws in American foreign policy that give rise to wars like the one Obama will attempt to make the case for tonight in a special address to the nation.

    I urge you to listen carefully for anything that convinces you that his war on terrorism (against ISIS) will be any more successful than Bush’s ill-fated war on terrorism (against al-Qaeda). Just be mindful that JFK convinced the American people that his war on communism (in Vietnam) would be more successful than his predecessor Truman’s war on communism (in Korea). And beware that a stupid war by any other name (like “a counterterrorism operation”) would still prove as stupid….

    I’m on record predicting – in such commentaries as “Fifth Summit of the Americas: Managing Expectations,” April 17, 2009 – that Obama’s “transformative” presidency will be defined as much by reforming healthcare, the signature legislative achievement of his first term, as by lifting the embargo against Cuba, which should be the signature foreign policy achievement of his second.

    Political Posters in Castillo de San Cristobal - 06The reason for the latter, of course, is that this embargo represents the most enduring example of the double standards, mixed messages, and brazen hypocrisy that have bedeviled U.S. foreign policies for over 50 years. For example, apropos of double standards, only insidious political pandering (to Miami Cubans) explains why the United States nurtured diplomatic and economic relations with communist sharks like China and the Soviet Union, while enforcing an embargo against a communist minnow like Cuba.

    Alas, the double standards, mixed messages, and brazen hypocrisy that have bedeviled America’s dealings with communist countries are beginning to bedevil its dealings with state sponsors of terrorism, most notably Iran and Syria.

    Rouhani-ObamaApropos of double standards, here’s how I commented on the way Obama bent over backwards last year to woo the president of Iran:

    Who can blame [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] for becoming a little unnerved by Obama’s solicitous pursuit of [Iranian President Hassan Rouhani] for just a photo-op handshake at the UN last week; to say nothing of the blushing way Obama trumpeted their ‘15-minute talk on the phone,’ which he initiated from the White House as Rouhani was being chauffeured to JFK airport.

    (“Netanyahu, Obama’s Iago; Iran, His Desdemona,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 2, 2013)

    Bear in mind that Iran is a country the United States still designates as a state sponsor of terrorism. Not to mention one that remains hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons, which presumably would make the terrorism it sponsors (and executes) positively genocidal. Ominously, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that: “Iran failed to meet a deadline to provide information on its past nuclear work.”

    booooomaNow here’s how I commented on the way Obama proclaimed two years go that the time had come for the president of Syria “to go:”

    One can be forgiven for thinking that [with this proclamation] President Obama sealed [President Bashir al-Assad’s] fate as surely as, with a thumb down, a Roman emperor sealed that of a gladiator…

    This raises the question: How on earth has Assad managed not only to survive, but to massacre tens of thousands of the people Obama seemed so concerned about? The answer, frankly, can be summed up in one name: Vladimir Putin.

    (“Why Putin, Not Obama, Is Master of Assad’s Fate,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 14, 2012)

    Bear in mind that, even though a country the United States still designates as a state sponsor of terrorism, Syria has demonstrated its good-faith interest in normalizing relations. It did so by foreswearing WMDs — complete with UN experts overseeing the dismantling of labs and destruction of stockpiles. Not to mention demonstrating its bona fides as a “moderate” Muslim state. It did so by waging an existential battle against ISIS for over a year before the United States recognized this al-Qaeda spawn as its enemy too.

    Apropos of mixed messages, just contrast my account above on the solicitous way Obama sought a handshake with Iran’s president last year with this report below on the visceral way he raised a clenched fist to Iran’s supreme leader last week:

    The U.S. rejects the offer of the spiritual leader of the Islamic republic, Ali Khamenei, to cooperate in action against the Jihad ISIS group (‘Islamic State’) in northern Iraq. ‘The US doesn’t share intelligence information nor acts in military cooperation with Iran’, said the State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, in a press conference.

    (Jerusalem Online, September 6, 2014)

    In a similar vein, Obama rejected any prospect of cooperating with Syria. Here’s how French President Francois Hollande rejected (on behalf of Obama and other NATO leaders) Assad’s offer to cooperate with the international community to fight ISIS terrorists in his country, where they’ve based their operations and claimed vast territories as part of their new jihadist Caliphate.

    Assad cannot be a partner in the fight against terrorism. He is the de facto ally of jihadists… There is no choice to be made between two barbarisms.

    (Al Jazeera, August 28, 2014)

    But, trust me, the only reason Obama is not accepting Assad’s offer is that Republican warmongers, like Sen. John McCain, and Democratic hawks, like wannabe president Hillary Clinton, have goaded him into thinking he must do to Assad and Syria (after he decapitates ISIS in Iraq) exactly what Bush did to Saddam and Iraq (after he decapitated the Taliban in Afghanistan). Unbelievable? Well, so is the fact that these warmongers and hawks have already goaded Obama into a Vietnam-style mission creep – given that the 300 troops he said in June were sufficient to protect embassy personnel in Iraq have already mushroomed to over 1000, not including an untold number of military “advisers.”

    NATOApropos of brazen hypocrisy, just bear these protestations in mind when wire services begin publishing reports in the coming weeks about NATO “coordinating” with Iran and Syria in the fight against ISIS.

    After all, nothing indicates that it will be thus quite like the State Department spokeswoman, who is quoted above pooh-poohing any prospect of such coordination, proceeding to speak out of both sides of her mouth as follows:

    We are open to engaging them, as we have in the past, but we are not interested in military cooperation with the Iranian leadership.

    Perhaps even more telling, though, is that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did the same when he ended a harangue against Obama for rejecting the Ayatollah’s offer as follows:

    This danger threatens the entire region and requires international cooperation.

    (Agence France-Presse, September 7, 2014)

    Indeed, it speaks volumes about the (regional) menace ISIS poses that the Arab League voted at an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to join Obama’s international coalition of the willing to degrade and destroy it. Except that, here again, its members showed no willingness to do anything more than serve as IAGO-like cheerleaders to an Othello-like Obama

    460xMeanwhile, Obama readily concedes that major regional countries – that can deploy ground troops – are indispensable to the success of this international fight. Which can only mean that, despite his public protestations, he knows full well that Iran and Syria (and Russia as their superpower patron) will be de facto allies.

    Not least because a) Iran and Syria have the region’s most effective fighters; b) Obama insists that the United States will not deploy any troops on the ground; c) U.S. airstrikes alone cannot “shrink the territory” ISIS controls; and d) Iraq has demonstrated that, despite 10 years of training by the United States, it has no ability to govern itself, let alone defend itself, against ISIS.

    What’s more, ISIS has just given Putin a reason to join the fight:

    Earlier this week, the Islamic State issued a video challenging a powerful global leader. But this time, it was not President Obama … it was Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    In the video, fighters pose atop Russian military equipment, including a fighter jet, captured from the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    (Washington Post, September 6, 2014)

    Of course the irony is that, just weeks ago, the Russians were hurling undisguised expressions of schadenfreude at the sight of ISIS/ISIL terrorists parading the military hardware they wrested from Iraqis the mighty Americans trained. Now Americans can do (and are doing) the same at the sight of ISIS terrorists parading the military hardware they wrested from Syrians the mighty Russians trained.

    All of the above clearly puts a new wrinkle on the adage: the enemy of my enemy is my friend/ally. Especially when one considers that the United States will be drawn into these strange military alliances, while it’s ratcheting up against Russia the same kinds of economic sanctions it has been imposing against Iran and Syria for years. How’s that for strange bedfellows?!

    China's President Xi speaks during his meeting with U.S. President Obama, on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit, in The HagueIncidentally, if you’re wondering why China is the only world power that has remained deaf, dumb, and mute in the face of this menace, consider this:

    China acts like a parent who seems to think her only duty is to feed and clothe her child – all guidance about and regard for right and wrong be damned. The latest example of this is China’s refusal to even voice disapproval of the brutal crackdown Syria is now carrying out against pro-democracy protesters. (More than 3500 people have been killed and thousands more injured since March.)

    This stands in instructive contrast to the coalition of the willing the U.S. is amassing to impose even stiffer sanctions against Syria. The Arab League – which has a history of blithely countenancing the human-rights abuses of member states – so disapproves of the crackdown that it voted this week to expel Syria…

    Of course, in a rather perverse way, at least China is being consistent. For the one thing every brutal dictator who fell during the Arab Spring could count on was China’s tacit, and sometimes overt, support. Indeed, it behooves the black countries of Africa and the Caribbean that are sucking up to China these days as a more generous Sugar Daddy than the U.S. to appreciate that, if the Apartheid government of South Africa were still in power, China would have no qualms about doing business with it too.

    Hell, just yesterday, in an unwitting, or perhaps telling, bit of timing, the China International Peace Research Center announced that the neo-Stalinist prime minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, is this year’s recipient of its Confucius Peace Prize, which was established ‘to promote world peace from an eastern perspective.’

    (“China’s Deficit? No Moral Authority to Lead,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 16, 2011)

    In other words, if by some diabolical miracle it succeeded in setting up a jihadist Caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, ISIS would be able to count on China not only to establish diplomatic relations, but also to help it build its infrastructure in exchange for sweetheart business deals (especially for cheap oil). And this would be the case even if, to achieve its ends, ISIS (comprised of Sunni Muslims) killed more Yazidi Christians and Shiite Muslims than the number of Jews the Nazis killed during WWII. But I digress….

    IranTo be fair to Obama, no less a revered president than Ronald Reagan conducted a similar foreign policy of double standards, mixed messages, and brazen hypocrisy with respect to Iran. After all, Reagan regarded Iran as such a state sponsor of terrorism that he famously damned it as “murder incorporated” and, more to the point, vowed to have no dealings with it.

    Yet, while damning Iran, Reagan dispatched an emissary to open backchannels to negotiate selling arms to help Iran in its war against Iraq, in exchange for Iran’s help in securing the release of four American hostages being held by Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. What unfolded – as the Iran-Contra and arms-for-hostages fiasco – was as scandalous, not to mention illegal, as Watergate. Such was Reagan’s popularity, however, that he was not even impeached, let alone kicked out of office.

    It’s debatable whether Obama should consider this a guiding or foreboding precedent. But it might be helpful to know that he’s on record declaring his ambition to be more transformative like Reagan than effective like Clinton….

    In a similar vein, I would be remiss not to acknowledge another ominous precedent that is probably troubling Obama. It’s the one Woodrow Wilson set when he won re-election in 1916 by pledging to keep America out of WWI. Alas, Wilson soon felt that geopolitical developments left him no choice but to enter the “Great War” in Europe “to end all wars and make the world safe for democracy.” Unfortunately, all the United States did was reinforce old enmities and spawn new rivalries, which led inexorably to WWII.

    Now recall that Obama won re-election in 2012 by pledging to end wars, not to start them. Alas, he too clearly feels that similar developments leave him no choice but to enter this truly bedeviling fray – of shifting alliances in what, at its core, is a nearly 1000-year-old sectarian/fraternal conflict. Unfortunately, there seems little doubt that all the United States will do is reinforce old enmities and spawn new rivalries, which presumably will lead inexorably to yet another president declaring yet another war on terrorism….

    Finally, I’ve been lamenting – in commentaries as far back as “The Shotgun Convention of Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds to Frame an Iraqi Constitution,” August 22, 2005 and as recently as “Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds Fighting for Control of Iraq. Stay Out, America” June 19, 2014 – the folly of the United States acting as if it can either “win” a war on terrorism or build a Jeffersonian democracy in the Middle East:

    With respect to the former, I’ve maintained that the best the United States can do is deny terrorists safe havens and disrupt their training and planning with vigilant drone surveillance and preemptive targeted strikes. After all, as it has demonstrated by doing this everywhere from Pakistan to Yemen, the United States does not need a coalition of the willing to do so.

    140711-isis-raqqa-syria-1703_6d46cbee7ca0ae44ff1270f38afd6961With respect to the latter, I’ve maintained that it’s best to leave warring factions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria to their own devices, sufficing only to warn whichever one emerges as the governing authority that it will suffer a Taliban-like fate too if it harbors terrorists within its borders.

    I proffered this strategy because, if the Afghans and Iraqis Americans spent over a decade training to govern themselves, defend themselves and sustain themselves can’t stand on their own against a rag-tag bunch of Taliban fighters and rampaging ISIS/ISIL terrorists, respectively, then they deserve whatever fate befalls them. To say nothing of the dreadful spectacle of so many of those the U.S. trained either turning their guns directly on U.S. troops – in now notorious “green-on-blue” killings, or using that training to professionalize the ranks of terrorist groups like ISIS.

    Incidentally, Obama is making quite a show of seeking congressional authorization to train “moderate” Syrian fighters as part of his war on terrorism strategy. But, consistent with the foregoing, nothing betrays the wishful thinking inherent in this quite like the shameful (and ultimately sacrificial) way thousands of U.S.-trained Iraqi fighters threw down their U.S.-made weapons, abandoned their U.S.-made military vehicles, and hightailed it from just a few hundred poorly equipped ISIS/ISIL fighters.

    More to the point, though, it smacks of a delusional mix of paternalism, narcissism, and sadomasochism for the United States to keep trying to impose Jeffersonian democracy on countries in the Middle East. The irony, of course, is that, left to their own devices, those countries might develop into thriving democracies after all … just like the United States.

    Indeed, perhaps the most galling feature of U.S. foreign policy is that Americans act as if they developed their beacon of democracy overnight. Whereas, in fact, the barbarism ISIS is displaying with its land grab and ethnic cleansing across the Middle East, which Obama is citing as the cause for war, pales in comparison to the barbarism Whites displayed with their land grab and institutionalized slavery across the United States. Not to mention that Americans hurling self-righteous indignation at the barbaric sectarian war between Sunni, Shia, and Kurds for control of Iraq would do well to remember the barbaric Civil War between Yankees, Confederates … and Blacks for control of the United States of America.

    With that I rest my case against Obama’s war on terrorism.

    Related commentaries:
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    Fifth summit
    Netanyahu, Obama’s Iago
    Why Putin
    Killing with gas
    China
    Support the Draft to prevent stupid wars

  • Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 2:32 AM

    ‘Shocked, Shocked!” Another NBA Owner Caught Making Racist Remarks

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 10.39.30 PMTo quote Yogi Berra, “it’s deja vu all over again:”

    For the second time this year, the owner of a professional basketball team will sell his controlling interest of a franchise after his racially insensitive views were made public.

    Bruce Levenson, who has led the ownership group of the Atlanta Hawks since 2004, informed N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver on Saturday that he intended to sell the team, effectively cutting short a league investigation into an email that Mr. Levenson sent two years ago to fellow Hawks executives detailing his thoughts on how the team could attract more white fans…

    ‘I think Southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority,’ Mr. Levenson said in his email, pointing out that he had earlier told the executive team that he wanted ‘some white cheerleaders’ and ‘music familiar to a 40-year-old white guy,’ and that he thought ‘the kiss cam is too black.’

    (New York Times, September 7, 2014)

    Donald Sterling, V. StivianoAs it happened, I was so convinced this would be the case that I wrote the following in my original commentary on the first owner of a professional Basketball team who was forced to sell his franchise after his racially insensitive views were made public:

    Let me hasten to clarify that the takeaway from this story should not be Sterling’s pathetic, hypocritical, misogynistic, chauvinistic, and racist admonition to his girlfriend. It should be what his admonition betrays about the insidious strain of covert racism that runs so blithely through this ostensibly non-racist White man … and others like him (We have to wonder now, don’t we?).

    (“NBA Owner to GF: Your Photos with Blacks, Including Magic, Embarrass Me,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 27, 2014)

    Well, now we know.

    To be fair, though, Levenson is really “angry” about all this:

    ‘If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be,’ he said. ‘I’m angry at myself, too… It was inflammatory nonsense. We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to race, but my role as a leader is to challenge them, not to validate or accommodate those who might hold them.’

    (New York Times, September 7, 2014)

    0907-bruce-levenson-getty-41Nonetheless, like Sterling, Levenson will reinforce the legacy of Whites profiting off their racist misdeeds by selling his team now for, well, a king’s ransom.

    Except that, as plainly racist and disqualifying as Sterling’s remarks were, I got the impression that he genuinely loved being an NBA owner and, more to the point, that he would have turned down $4 billion if it meant he could keep his team.

    By contrast, even though Levenson might be less racist, which granted is rather like being less pregnant, I get the impression that he’s quite eager to sell – even if his “racist” email becomes the de facto pretext for his windfall:

    When (emotional) bidding inflates the value of the Clippers to well over $1 billion, all owners will be guided by their vested interest in ensuring that the sale goes through. After all, if the Clippers were sold for $1 billion, even the Mavericks would have to be valued at $1.5 billion … at least.

    (“NBA Commissioner Gives Racist Sterling the Death Penalty,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 30, 2014)

    Clearly there’s no way of knowing what truly motivated Levenson to “self-report.” But this is very telling:

    The deal to sell the Atlanta Hawks to California businessman Alex Meruelo died its eventual death in a quiet press release on Friday afternoon…

    ‘The Atlanta Hawks are no longer for sale,’ Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson said in the 4:53 p.m. press release shortly after Meruelo and the Spirit terminated their sale agreement…

    [T]ry as they might, the city of Atlanta just can’t rid itself of the least honest ownership group in North American professional sports that has been a model of how not to own a professional sports team since buying the Hawks…

    (The Examiner, November 4, 2011)

    What’s more, in its January 22, 2014 edition, Forbes valued the Clippers at $575 million. Sterling sold for $2 billion. Therefore, Levenson could be forgiven for calculating – given that Forbes valued his team at $425 million – that he could sell for at least $1.5 billion.

    In any event, it’ll be interesting to see what additional “punishment” the NBA metes out to Levenson (e.g., Will he receive a lifetime ban from the NBA too?). But the real challenge will come if/when an NBA owner is exposed not as the kind of Sterling racist everybody finds reprehensible, but as the kind of Levenson racist many people find sympathetic and who, like Sterling, does not want to sell.

    After all, no less a person than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar defended Levenson in TIME yesterday by pleading that, even though his remarks are “cringeworthy,” he clearly made them only to facilitate an entirely “reasonable” discussion on ways to grow/diversify his franchise.

    Meanwhile, the irony is that both of these NBA owners are Jews who you’d think would be more sensitized about racial matters. But, when jealousy (in Sterling’s case) and greed (in Levenson’s) are involved, I suppose there’s no place for sensitivity … about anything.

    Related commentaries:
    NBA owner to GF
    Sterling gets death penalty
    NBA closes sale

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