The iPINIONS Journal


  • Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 8:58 AM

    Trump’s Art of Diplomacy Has Europe Siding with Iran against US

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    A US-led conference in Warsaw this week that was intended to isolate Iran has ended up isolating America instead — highlighting one of the central problems of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. …

    This annoyed European allies, many of whom sent only low-level diplomatic staff — or not representation at all — to attend the meeting. The discord on the issue of Iran dates back most recently to last May, when the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and European allies like France and Britain agreed to remain in the accord.

    (Vox, February 15, 2019)

    Frankly, the only “global officials” who bothered to show up were from

    • Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia, who would like to goad Trump into dealing a decisive blow in their 1400-year internecine battle with Shia states, led by Iran
    • Israel, who would like to goad him into fighting their looming, existential war with Iran
    • Developing countries, who would like to goad him into giving them millions to support any foreign misadventure his crazy little heart desires.

    But anyone who knows anything about the Iran nuclear deal knew this conference would amount to little more than a photo op. Yet, listening to US Vice President Mike Pence hail its success, you’d think he got the other signatories to the deal (namely China, France, Russia, United Kingdom — plus Germany) to join the United States in withdrawing from it too.

    But Trump himself set the precedent for this self-deluding artifice. After all, here is how he hailed the success of his first summit with North Korean President Kim Jong Un:

    Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2018

    Except that here is how the heads of his own intelligence agencies exposed his big lie not only about having success with North Korea but also about having just cause to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal Iran:

    A new American intelligence assessment of global threats has concluded that North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear stockpiles and that Iran is not, for now, taking steps necessary to make a bomb, directly contradicting the rationale of two of President Trump’s foreign policy initiatives.

    (The New York Times, January 29, 2019)

    Despite that, Trump is hyping another summit on North Korea for later this month – hot on the heels of this ill-fated conference on Iran. More to the point, this dangerously deluded dotard is showing no hint of irony or concern that he’s only promising to do at this second summit what he proclaimed he did at the first one.

    Granted, none of this should be surprising. After all, he forced a 35-day government shutdown in a vain attempt to get Congress to pay to begin building a wall on the US-Mexico border, which he (falsely) claims is already mostly built, hence his Orwellian sleight of slogan from “Build the Wall” to “Finish the Wall.” Not to mention that he promised he would get Mexico, not US taxpayers, to pay for it.

    In any event, I explained why racism is motivating his fool’s errand in this case in “Trump Decertifying Iran Nuclear Deal more MALO than MAGA,” October 13, 2017:

    ____________________

    Trump’s my-way-or-the-highway attitude towards international relations is isolating enough. But he’s turning friends into enemies by repeatedly calling all parties to this deal with Iran ‘incompetent fools’ (a.k.a. clinical projection). This is utterly baffling; not least because he’s expecting these same parties to join him in negotiating a new nuclear deal with Iran and a similar one with North Korea. Only his un-diagnosed autism explains Trump thinking that hurling insults is the best way to win friends and influence people. …

    There’s no denying the dark force that is provoking nearly everything Trump does. That force is the enviable legacy of his predecessor, Barack Hussein Obama. Nothing has defined Trump’s beleaguered presidency quite like his unabashed efforts to nullify or undermine Obama’s achievements.

    Frankly, whatever Trump’s ambition to Make America Great Again (MAGA), it is no match for his pathological intent to Make America Loathe Obama (MALO). Only this explains his Mad-Hatter efforts to repeal and replace (or failing that to undermine) Obamacare, President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

    In any case, it’s impossible to overstate the danger inherent in Trump decertifying this Iran nuclear deal, Obama’s signature foreign-policy achievement. …  As it was with healthcare, climate change, international trade, and others:

    Trump’s executive orders seem drafted to either whitewash or undermine Obama’s accomplishments. You could be forgiven for thinking that Trump has predicated his presidency on vindicating his birther conspiracy; you know, the one he peddled about Obama being an illegitimate interloper (a.k.a. an uppity African) who does not belong among the ranks of American presidents, certainly not in the top 10 – as Obama seems destined to be ranked.

    (“Trump’s First 100 Days,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 1, 2017)

    Congressional Republicans have been goading and enabling Trump in his Faustian quest to effectively decertify Obama’s presidency. But no Republican has had anything on Netanyahu with respect to goading and enabling him to rip up the Iran nuclear deal.

    Nonetheless, I am certain that, just like Obamacare, this deal will remain in force.

    ____________________

    Sure enough, all of the other signatories responded to Trump’s withdrawal by declaring their intent to stick with the deal, leaving him even more isolated on the world stage than ever before. It speaks volumes that the joint statement of rebuke his European allies issued is the kind they usually reserve for Russian President Vladimir Putin:

    It is with regret and concern that we, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw. … Together, we emphasise our continuing commitment to the JCPoA [Iran nuclear deal]. …

    We urge the US to ensure that the structures of the JCPoA can remain intact, and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal.

    (Gov.uk, May 8, 2018)

    But at least Trump has just cause to boast that he’s demonstrating the art of diplomacy like nobody has ever seen before. #Idiot!

    Enough said?

    Related commentaries:
    Iran nuclear deal
    Trump’s potemkin nuclear deal with North Korea
    government shutdown
    Trump taking sides in Sunni-Shia conflict
    clinical projection

  • Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 7:35 AM

    Hey Lovers, Valentine’s Day Is for Suckers!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I know it’s hard to believe this unromantic aside coming from no less a romantic than William Shakespeare. But the irony is such that it should compel you to heed this PSA:

    Do not participate in today’s public orgy of spending masquerading as private expressions of love. Spare yourself the embarrassment, to say nothing of the expense. Instead, join me in boycotting this day. Then make a point of giving and saying all you might’ve today when you suspect the one you love would least expect it.

    That said, I pity the narcissistic exhibitionists who think nothing is more romantic than sharing private expressions of love on social media … for all the world to see. For theirs is love which falters when it altercation finds, or unfollows at the first hint of doom.

    Sadly, beyond trending, narcissistic exhibitionism (for viral attention) now defines how nearly everyone with a social-media account expresses everything — from love to grief and all emotions/emojis in between.

  • Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 7:38 AM

    Pelosi Makes It Official: Trump Is the ‘Projector’ in Chief

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) went viral for two things last week:

    1. For the condescending way she clapped at Trump during his State of the Union Address (SOTU).
    2. For the discerning way she characterized Trump’s habitual lies, insults, complaints, and criticisms.

    I am on record dismissing the SOTU as a spectacle. I refer you to commentaries like “State of the Union Address: ‘A Political Spectacle’ … Take 2,” January 29, 2014, and “Obama Delivers Final State of the Union Address. Thank God!” January 14, 2016. Therefore, I won’t dignify Trump’s with any comment.

    On the other hand, I cannot resist commenting on the way the media hailed Pelosi’s characterization of Trump’s logorrhea of lies, insults, complaints, and criticisms. Here is what she said in response to his complaint about Democratic congressional oversight, which he’s now under, amounting to “unlimited presidential harassment”:

    I always think that whatever the president says about us, he’s projecting his own unruliness. He’s a projector and that’s what he’s about.

    (HuffPost, February 8, 2019)

    But here is why, instead of joining the media in hailing Pelosi, I feel obliged to simply acknowledge her:

    The psychopathology afoot here is called projection. It is defined by people attributing to others traits, faults, and blame that inhere in themselves. And it explains almost every insult Trump has hurled at his opponents throughout this presidential campaign.

    So when you hear him calling other people crooked, insecure, weak, beholden to special interests, liars, etc., be mindful that he’s just revealing self-conscious truths about himself, dimwittedly.

    (“Forget the Clinton Foundation. Shut Down the Trump Organization!” The iPINIONS Journal, August 26, 2016)

    For example, nobody complains more about fake news than Trump. Yet nobody is a bigger purveyor of fake news than he.

    Trump is the Pied Piper of a new Age of Ignorance, which manifests in everything from voters blithely eating up fake news to parents willfully buying into anti-vax propaganda. The latter is especially noteworthy because of the deadly consequences it portends for their children, as well as those of other more informed and responsible parents.

    (“Despite Trump, this Migrant Caravan Must Be Stopped!” The iPINIONS Journal, October 22, 2018)

    Of course, I am all too mindful of this:

    Complaining about President Trump’s hypocrisy is rather like complaining about a prostitute’s promiscuity.

    (“Trump’s Hypocrisy on Human Rights: Cuba vs. Qatar,” The iPINIONS Journal, June 16, 2017)

    In fact, the only thing more hypocritical than Trump complaining about presidential harassment is Republican leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell parroting his complaints.

    After all, these very same Republicans spent the eight years of Obama’s presidency trying to tar and feather him with all kinds of trumped-up investigations. But nobody was more harassing in this respect than Trump – who spent much of that time acting as the grand wizard of the Birther movement.

    Meanwhile, Obama was arguably the most honest and honorable person ever elected president of the United States. By contrast, Trump is undeniably the most corrupt and contemptible person ever elected; ergo, the democratic imperative to investigate him like no other president has ever been investigated.

    Yet Republican leaders are twisting themselves into political pretzels trying to defend him. This, in a vain attempt to deflect from the legitimate reasons Democrats and Trump’s own Justice Department are investigating him up the wazoo. Only the willfully blind cannot see the Nixonian fate that awaits him.

    Therefore, that these banana Republicans continue to defend him is just a small indication of how thoroughly Trump has cuckolded them and taken over their party.

    But you know Trump’s Republican minions have lost all respect when even folks at FOX New are calling out their hypocrisy. Here is what anchor Chris Wallace said last Friday on that network about their Trump-centered whining:

    [I find] it kind of rich that Republicans are so outraged that there would be this kind of a hearing of the other party’s president and administration. You know, it’s not like Republicans sat on their hands when Barack Obama was president. …

    That’s the way it works.

    Alas, Republicans have shown a cult-like willingness not just to countenance Trump projecting lies, insults, complaints, and criticisms but to abet him in doing so. The hypocrisy, if not the illegality, inherent in this is so egregious, it’s unpardonable … and a national disgrace.

    Related commentaries:
    SOTU spectacle
    Projecting
    Despite Trump
    Nixonian
    Trump’s Republican minions

  • Monday, February 11, 2019 at 8:13 AM

    The Grammys Fading into Irrelevance. Even Drake Says So.

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In recent years, the Grammys have continuously proved to be a rapidly fading institution — one that’s struggling to not only connect with audiences, but also with the very artists it recognizes. … That three of the most powerful artists in music are refusing to play and possibly not even attend the show is a crippling blow to the Grammys.

    (Esquire, February 8, 2019)

    Let me state from the outset that Alicia Keys was the best host of any awards show since Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars in 2006. And I’m not even referring to that impressive medley of classic hits, which featured her playing two pianos at once.

    So kudos to her!

    That said, given Esquire’s preview, you have to wonder why anyone bothered to tune in, let alone attend. After all, it was so clear that this year’s show would be little more than a politically correct attempt to redress last year’s.

    I duly commented back then in “Grammys Rapfest Snubs Jay-Z,” January 30, 2018, noting the conspicuous absence of women winners, among other things:

    ____________________

    This, on a night when women were making quite a show of their newly realized empowerment with the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. …

    The telecast featured many women as performers. But Alessia Cara, who won Best New Artist, was the only woman featured as a Grammy winner. …

    For the record, though, hashtag protests like #OscarsSoWhite and #GrammysSoMale are becoming trite. Not least because results will continue to be thus, so long as members of the respective voting academies remain mostly white males. More diversity will preclude such sour-grapes protests.

    Incidentally, I do not recall anyone protesting #GrammysSoFemale after Adele dominated in 2016. Not to mention that I had cause just last year to write “#OscarsSoDiverse…,” January 27, 2017. Just sayin’.

    ____________________

    Sure enough, women ruled. They took home 31 Grammys last night, winning many of the top awards. This, after they won only 17 last year. So, at long last, perhaps we can protest #GrammysSoFemale … too?

    But, apropos of the irrelevance of this show, it speaks volumes that Michelle Obama delivered the best performance of the night:

    [F]ormer First Lady Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the Grammy Awards, standing on the stage with Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and host Alicia Keys.

    The audience lost their collective sh*t.

    (MEDIAite, February 10, 2019)

    She joined the other women to extol the communal power of music. Never mind that each woman seemed limited to 280 characters. But the greater irony is that, after that brief moment near the beginning of the show, Michelle’s celebrity made all the music that followed seem like background noise.

    In any event, rap finally got its due with Childish Gambino becoming the first rapper to win both Song and Record of the Year for “This Is America”.

    Still, one cannot overstate this show’s fading appeal. And it hardly helps that producers persist in making it three and a half hours when two hours would clearly do.

    But you know this show has jumped the shark (or lost its way) when J-Lo is performing a tribute to Motown. What next, Cardi B performing a tribute to Nashville?

    Truth be told, I have been watching the Grammys for years (for commenting purposes) more as rubbernecking fodder than A-list entertainment. After the show four years ago, I published “The Grammys: a Friggin’ Snoozefest!” February 15, 2015. What I wrote back then still obtains – not just for music awards shows but for the music industry as a whole:

    ____________________

    Most performers apparently think the key to success is looking and behaving in a way off stage that makes what they do on stage seem almost irrelevant: Exhibits A and B: [Cardi B] and Nicki Minaj.

    By sterling contrast, Adele not only sings like an angel, she might just be the music industry’s saving grace. Unfortunately, this [industry has] so little to do with musical talent these days that Adele performing [on any music awards show is] rather like Andrea Bocelli performing on So You Think You Can Dance.

    (“2011 MTV Video Music Awards,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 30, 2011)

    But this is just the most glaring reason the Grammys show has finally jumped the shark.

    Alas, in these days of Twitter and Instagram, [mostly female] singers seem more interested in attracting followers than in selling records. In this sense, they aspire to be more the queen of social media than the queen of pop, soul, or hip-hop. Imagine the fate of a culture that celebrates Paris Hilton/Kim Kardashian above Aretha Franklin/Adele.

    ____________________

    This is why, with all due respect to Michelle Obama, Drake resonated most when he said the following upon accepting the Grammy for Best Rap Song:

    Look, if there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending money to buy tickets to your shows, you don’t need this right here.

    (CNN, February 11, 2019)

    Unfortunately, he reeked of hypocrisy not only for accepting an award he says is meaningless, but also for not standing in solidarity with Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and other A-list rappers in boycotting the Grammys for repeatedly snubbing rap artists.

    Frankly, it served Drake right when producers cut off his mic in the midst of his grandstanding. Talk about a drop-the-mic moment. Ha!

    Related commentaries:
    friggin’ snoozefest

    Update

    5:47 p.m. Later same day

    Ratings “an all-time low”

    The final numbers for the 61st annual Grammy Awards are in, and they include an all-time demo low for music’s biggest night.

    (Deadline Hollywood, February 11, 2019)

    Duh.

    Bye, Alicia.

  • Saturday, February 9, 2019 at 8:47 AM

    ‘Bezos Exposes Pecker’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The New York Post is renowned for its pun-riddled headlines. Above is yesterday’s, which became an instant classic. I could do no better today than to simply quote it.

    In an explosive tell-all blog post published Thursday, Jeff Bezos accused the publisher of the National Enquirer of trying to extort him. …

    Bezos, the billionaire founder and CEO of Amazon, alleged that AMI [at the behest of its founder David Pecker] threatened to release compromising photos of him. His post included what he said were emails from AMI detailing what he described as ‘extortion and blackmail.’

    (CNN Business, February 8, 2019)

    For the record, the National Enquirer was threatening to publish lewd texts and dick pics. Evidently, Bezos developed a juvenile habit of sending them to his mistress (eww!).

    The media are hailing him as a hero. Never mind that Bezos is only “exposing” what Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen exposed in court months ago, namely that Pecker uses the National Enquirer to either curry favors or extort them.

    I am also mindful that the only reason Bezos is playing this role is that the National Enquirer caught him cheating on his loyal wife of 25 years. And don’t get me started on his smug assertion that he’s too rich to be blackmailed. I hope his wife squeezes this selfie-taking, ball-baring geek for far more than half of their $137 billion net worth.

    Frankly, Bezos and Pecker deserve each other. Lest you forget, nobody profits more from spying on the private affairs of others than Bezos does through his “Big-Brother” hegemon, Amazon.

    But I’m sure the feds will sort out this sordid mess and provide the happy ending we all want to see. For now, I trust you’ll agree it deserves no further comment.

    Related commentaries:
    complaints about NSA spying misguided

  • Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 8:18 AM

    Priests Who Rape Boys More Forgivable than Those Who Rape Nuns…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I have written many commentaries decrying the institutionalized criminality of Catholic priests raping little boys.

    I cite in this regard such commentaries as “Pope Accused of Harboring Pedophile Priest,” March 16, 2010, “Justice Begins for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church…,” June 23, 2012, “Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Pope’s Adviser Damns Papacy,” June 29, 2017, and “Confirmation! ‘Pedophile Priests’ Is Redundant,” August 15, 2018.

    The point is that I have standing to pose the provocative question that is the title to this commentary.

    But I have a confession: I vowed to write no more on this sordid topic. Except that, like so many Catholic priests, I cannot resist this temptation to break my vow.

    Because the following has to be the most perverse and cynical attempt at deflection in the history of public scandals:

    Nuns have suffered and are still suffering sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and bishops, and have even been held as sexual slaves, Pope Francis confirmed on Tuesday. The abuse was so severe in one case that an entire congregation of nuns was dissolved by former Pope Benedict.

    The scope of the abuse of nuns by clergy members first came to light with the publication at the beginning of February of the monthly Vatican magazine ‘Women Church World.’

    (CBS News, February 5, 2019)

    Think about this: Have you ever heard this (or any) pope decry the systemic sexual abuse of little boys at the hands of Catholic priests as tantamount to the institution of slavery? Not to mention that, unlike real slaves, nuns could be free of their “slavery” by just walking out of their nunnery.

    I suppose one cannot blame Francis for this pontifical artifice. But surely the natural lust that motivates priests to prey on nuns is more forgivable than the unnatural treachery that motivates others to prey on boys. Never mind that both sins make a mockery of the priestly vow of celibacy.

    It is also instructive to note that, in Dante’s Inferno, people who succumb to lust languish in the Second Circle of Hell, whereas those who commit treachery languish in last Ninth Circle of Hell. Therefore, one can only presume that Francis is praying God will have more mercy on him if the sins of Catholic clergy on his watch consign more of them to the former than the latter.

    Whatever the case, like most, if not all, of his predecessors, Francis seems bound for the Sixth Circle of Hell. That’s where leaders who aid and abide heresy languish. And I can think of no greater heresy than lording over a cult for pedophiles masquerading as a church of God. Indeed, it is notable that this is where Pope Anastasius II ended up.

    Frankly, I pray that God will have no mercy on the souls of priests who preyed on boys, or on those of popes and bishops who covered up and even enabled that sexual predation. With all due respect to Francis, however, my Adamic nature is such that I cannot wish eternal damnation on priests who could not resist the natural temptation to fornicate with nuns. Dante got this right – the Second Circle of Hell seems punishment enough for them.

    Related commentaries:
    No more gay priests

  • Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 8:03 AM

    Davos Economic Forum Finally Makes Redeeming News

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is an annual gabfest that attracts A-list heads of state, international financiers, academics, philanthropists, politicians, and celebrities. Therefore, it speaks volumes that the only redeeming news from this year’s gathering (January 22-25) is that someone finally had the balls to tell them what hypocrites they are.

    That daring soul was 30-year-old Dutch historian Rutger Bregman. And he seems bound to become as much a prick to the conscience of rich do-gooders as Bjorn Lomborg has been to that of self-righteous environmentalists. (If you don’t know who Lomborg is, you don’t know much about climate change.)

    Bregman became a viral sensation last month for calling out the rich for using ‘stupid charity schemesto avoid paying taxes.

    I hear people talking the language of participation and justice and equality and transparency, but then, almost no one raises the real issue of tax avoidance, right?

    We can invite Bono once more. … But [t]axes, taxes, taxes! All the rest is bullsh*t in my opinion.

    (The Daily Mail, January 30, 2019)

    My take on Bregman’s tongue lashing is that the rich engage in a perverse form of double-dipping:

    1. They avoid paying millions in taxes.
    2. They use a small percentage of those millions to fund charitable foundations.

    This second ruse is especially insidious because the rich end up reaping more value in reputational goodwill than the millions they avoided paying in taxes in the first place. Simply put, this is like a fat cat dining and dashing out on a $500 bill and then being praised for tipping the valet $50 before driving off in his expensive car.

    As it happens, though, Bregman was only echoing the clarion call liberals like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez were already sounding. Not to mention the compelling way Anand Giridharadas argues — in Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World — that “charity” is just a way for the rich to assuage their tax-avoidance guilt

    Even I preempted Bregman by calling BS on this forum itself in “From Washington to Davos, Calls to Stop Rich Getting Richer Just Hot Air,” January 21, 2015.

    More to the point, I have lamented the Sisyphean nature of our calls in many other commentaries, including “Paradise Papers Outs Elizabeth II as Tax-Dodging Queen,” November 7, 2017, “Leaked Panama Papers Affirm More than Reveal Offshore Banking Secrets,” April 6, 2016, “Obama on Debt and Taxes,” September 19, 2011, and “Only the Little People Pay Taxes,” April 15, 2006.

    Nonetheless, this eminent historian lends greater credibility to enacting fairer tax policies. Collecting more from the rich could help pay for things like universal healthcare, free education, and improved infrastructure. The categorical imperative of doing so has never been more warranted.

    After all, the signature legislative achievement of the Trump presidency to date is “tax reform” that is burdening the poor to give the rich a $1 trillion tax break. This alone justifies the following headline from Monday’s edition of Politico:

    Soak the rich? Americans say go for it. Surveys are showing overwhelming support for raising taxes on top earners.

    The following puts Politico’s headline into greater context:

    Approximately 82 percent of the money generated last year went to the richest 1 percent of the global population, the report said, while the poorest half saw no increase at all.

    Last year, Oxfam said billionaires would have seen an uptick of $762 billion — enough to end extreme poverty seven times over. …

    Just 42 people own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent worldwide, a new study by global charity Oxfam claimed.

    (CNBC, January 22, 2018)

    I am all too mindful, however, that this trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is as old as the common cold. Which is why I fear scientists will find the cure for that cold before politicians enact policies to redress this trend.

    In the meantime, I will settle for folk heroes like Bregman entering the lion’s den that is Davos and calling out the rich.

    I especially like that he echoed one of my pet peeves by noting the “bewildering irony” of attendees flying in on over 1500 private jets to listen to Sir David Attenborough bemoan the environmental damage humans are inflicting on the planet.

    To hear these rich folks lamenting about the depletion of the ozone, the increasing gap between haves and have nots, and the almost criminal waste of non-renewable energy, one would think they jet-pooled to Davos on ethanol-fueled airplanes; whereas they all flew in on gas-guzzling, air-polluting private jets.

    (“Attendees Emit More CO2 than Solutions at Davos World Economic Forum,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 29, 2007)

    I wrote that over a decade ago. But I’ve been writing about Davos attendees/grandees the way Bregman lashed them for even longer. Here, for example, is the contempt I hurled at them in “Why All the Fuss about the World Economic Forum,” January 30, 2006:

    ____________________

    The World Economic Forum … is an annual event at which corporate titans, international bankers, world leaders, and a smattering of celebrity do-gooders gather to bloviate about the impact of worldwide developments on their respective businesses, personal wealth, and collective conscience. Politicians and celebrities change from year to year, but the regulars are invariably the same CEOs, investors, and managers who represent the world’s super rich.

    The forum is promoted as ‘impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.’ But movers and shakers know the reason an invitation to this retreat is so coveted is that it’s a rare (and rarified) opportunity to see, and to be seen amongst, the people who really rule the world. And, the PR value of such images alone is priceless. …

    The wealthiest one percent would have the rest of us believe that Davos is all about addressing world economic problems that affect our lives. That’s why the most talked-about feature of their gathering is not the (main-event) schmooze-fests for business opportunities; rather, it’s the (undercard) gabfests for charitable causes – at which invited guests sit on panels and blow hot air on issues like climate change and the plight of the poor.

     ____________________

    In any event, as disastrous and potentially destructive as the Trump presidency might be, the above shows why it is just a virulent strain of the pandemic of income inequality and unfair taxation. But this did not stop me from lampooning his inaugural visit to this gabfest last year in “Trumpeting Hot Air, Trump Is Perfect Davos Pitchman,” January 26, 2018.

    Related commentaries:
    climate change – Lomborg
    Panama papers
    Paradise papers
    Obama on debt and taxes
    Only little people pay
    Why all the fuss
    More CO2 than solutions
    Trumpeting hot air

  • Monday, February 4, 2019 at 6:03 AM

    Super Bowl LIII: Dynastic Patriots Humble Rams and Seal Their Legacy

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The National Anthem

    I usually comment on this ritual just to pooh-pooh it. Because I invariably measure each performance against the rousing rendition Whitney Houston gave at Super Bowl XXV in 1991. No performer has ever measured up. And I doubt any ever will.

    Which brings me to Gladys Knight. No doubt she posed the most formidable challenge to Whitney yet. And she acquitted her “Midnight-Train-to-Georgia” style well.

    But there was nothing soaring or hair-raising about her rendition. She impressed no more than I suspect Garth Brooks would have.

    Incidentally, do you think this “Empress of Soul” resented the “Queen of Soul” being celebrated and honored in ways she felt more entitled to – as one accorded a higher rank? I mean, forget that Aretha won more than three times as many Grammys.

    Because Aretha was also the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; she was a Kennedy Center Honoree; she won the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Berklee (and too many others to name) awarded her honorary degrees and doctorates; two presidents asked her to perform at their inauguration ceremonies; and NASA even named an Asteroid for her.

    By contrast, the only comparable honors Gladys can cite is that she won the Essence Award for Career Achievement, the BET Inaugural Living Legend Award, and an honorary doctorate from Shaw University.

    In any event, in recent years, the national anthem at NFL games has been more about players kneeling in (Kaepernick-style) protest than singers rising to the occasion. In fact, it became such a spectacle that President Trump thought this was yet another issue on which his habit of inflaming passions would finally redound to his political benefit.

    President Trump on Sunday morning renewed his demand that NFL owners fire or suspend players who kneel during the national anthem in protest, again urging that fans should boycott the sport to force change.

    (The Washington Post, September 24, 2017)

    Unsurprisingly, nobody heeded his call. In fact, the NFL enjoyed record ratings this season:

    So far this season, NFL games have accounted for 19 of the top 20 and 46 of the top 50 most-watched shows on television. …

    The rise in 2018 ratings can be attributed in part to what has been the most prolific stretch of offensive football in the league’s history.

    (ESPN, November 28, 2018)

    Frankly, Americans have shown time and again that they are ultimately impervious to efforts to inject politics or social causes into their favorite sports. And it clearly does not matter if those efforts stem from players kneeling during the anthem or Trump exploiting this for political gain.

    The Halftime Show

    Like the overhyped and overplayed commercials, this show was just too anticlimactic. This, because it came after the NFL spent months desperately seeking a performer to headline it. Frankly, its PR humiliation was surpassed only by the Academy’s, which is still desperately seeking a comic to host the Oscars.

    The NFL’s unusual predicament stemmed from artists like Jay-Z and Rihanna making a show of not only rejecting invitations to perform but lobbying others to reject them too. Here’s why:

    The controversy around [Colin] Kaepernick began when the then-San Francisco 49ers QB started kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 in protest of racial inequality in the U.S. Kaepernick hasn’t played professionally since March 2017 and he filed a grievance against the league and its owners last fall for conspiring to not hire him.

    (Billboard, October 22, 2018)

    Soon artists the NFL never even solicited were making a show of boycotting this show – such is the zeitgeist of outrage over the way the NFL is blackballing Kaepernick. But the millions of dollars in exposure those rejecting invitations gave up is nothing to sneeze at.

    That said, I am not particularly interested in what possessed Maroon 5 to buck this trend. But I feel compelled to denounce its lead singer, Adam Levine, for his duplicity and cravenness. Because he tried to stem the inevitable backlash by hinting that he would kneel during the band’s performance to “stand with Kap.”

    Except that the whole point of the protest is to kneel during the national anthem because of what that song is supposed to represent. Doing so in the midst of his own performance would have been narcissistic and insulting in equal measure.

    Instead, Levine ended up paying homage to Kaepernick with some moronic message of “one love,” which I suspect only the members of his band got. Yet he seems to think that this, as well as having it announced that he’s donating $500,000 to underprivileged children, will redeem his reputation in the increasingly Afrocentric music industry. Nope. Dope.

    Meanwhile, Maroon 5 sounded like a band that couldn’t even make it to the Battle Round on The Voice? (For you cultural illiterates, this is a singing competition – a la American Idol – on which Levine judges and coaches wannabe stars. But, after this performance, having him continue in those roles would seem like a friggin’ joke.)

    And don’t get me started on all the other performers who used Levine’s stunt as cover to break this boycott. The rappers who performed are especially worthy of dishonor in this context. Because Jay-Z set the right example. He knows that rappers have a special duty to boycott the NFL for blackballing Kaepernick given the way the music industry blackballed rappers for so many years.

    Not to mention the spectacle of the NFL overcompensating for its blackballing backlash by enlisting so many Z-list blacks, their performances came across like Amateur Night at the Apollo.

    As it turned out, Maroon 5’s churchy, folksy songs and the rappers’ profanity-laced raps made for an unwitting juxtaposition of white and black performers … of good and evil forces. But it seems a form of poetic justice that they performed the least exciting halftime show ever!

    Still, A-listers like Cardi B and Chance the Rapper have some splainin’ to do. Because it’s hypocritical to stand with Kap by boycotting the halftime show only to star in commercials during the game. If you’re going to stand with Kap, stand with Kap!

    Finally, apropos of rappers making a spectacle of themselves, there’s this courtesy of 21 Savage:

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested rapper 21 Savage [real name Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph] early Sunday morning [in the midst of Super Bowl day revelry], claiming that he is actually from the United Kingdom and overstayed his visa. …

    Abraham-Joseph, 26, has claimed to be from Atlanta and has long been considered a local act.

    (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 3, 2019)

    If you know you’re an illegal immigrant, it’s probably tempting fate to pursue a career as a gangsta rapper – complete with felony convictions to boost your street cred.

    But, truth be told, this arrest looks a little too selective and spiteful. Even so, I will not spare an ounce of sympathy over the deportation of this wannabe … “savage.”

    The Commercials

    Talk about anticlimactic; I could not have been less interested. Not to mention this abiding lament, which I first sounded in “NFL Conference Championship Sunday: Hail, Broncos! Hail, Panthers!” January 25, 2016:

    ____________________

    I would be remiss not to comment on the annual hype surrounding Super Bowl commercials — for which companies are paying $5 million for a 30-second spot this year. Frankly, we are treated to so many previews that, by game time, they hold about as much interest as those eye-rolling commercials for erectile dysfunction.

    I gather that companies release them early to become trending topics online. Except that, like most topics on social media, people suck them up and spit them out in a viral flash.

    Not so long ago, even die-hard fans waited with bated breath to see them air during the game; and the best ones trended, in real life, for days and weeks thereafter. These days, most people just see them as opportunities to go to the toilet.

    Which raises the question: Why pay millions to run a commercial on TV during the Super Bowl, only to have people ignore it, when you can pay pittance to release it online during Super Bowl week, and generate viral interest? Surely it’s only a matter of time before this fact dawns on companies.

    Then, of course, there’s this: I have watched many funny, even interesting Super Bowl commercials over the years. But none has ever moved me to purchase the product being advertised. You?

    ____________________

    The Game

    This was easily the most boring Super Bowl game in NFL history. The New York Times summed up just how boring it was with this pithy headline:

    How boring was the Super Bowl? The punts got exciting.

    Granted, I probably wouldn’t feel this way if the Rams had won.

    But, hell, not even Tony “Romostradamus” Romo could have predicted that the score would be 3-3 halfway into the fourth quarter. After all, these were two of the top-scoring offenses in the NFL this season. Yet they ended up playing the lowest-scoring game in Super Bowl history.

    But I knew the Rams were fated to lose when the Patriots held possession for nearly 20 of the 30 minutes in the first half. Because this suggested not only that the Rams were completely out of sorts (they managed only 57 total yards in the first half), but that it was only a matter of time before the Patriots’ domineering possession resulted in game-clinching points.

    There was also this prevailing truth from Halftime Report analyst Boomer Esiason:

    The Patriots have always been a second-half team. Always!

    (CBS, February 3, 2019)

    Given all that, this was inevitable:

    For the sixth time since 2001, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady secured a Super Bowl victory for the New England football franchise.

    This one was unlike the others, it defense was the story of the day. But in the end, Tom Brady’s offense did more than Jared Goff’s, and the Patriots won 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII.

    (CBS Boston, February 3, 2019)

    This only makes me hate Brady more. Many are hailing him as the GOAT. But I think he’s just the LOAT (luckiest of all time).

    Congratulations, Patriots!

    [Note: It was self-evident that the hype about him predicting plays gave Romo performance anxiety. Because he spent much of the game hedging. And, when he dared to predict, he was so wrong that Jim Nantz, his co-commentator, rushed to cover up his flub.

    Nothing betrayed Romo’s anxiety quite like his refusal to predict the next play when the Patriots were facing 4th and inches with 1:16 left in the game, and leading 10-3. Even I did not hesitate to predict they would kick a field goal, which they did to seal the victory.]

    Related commentaries:
    Romostradamus

    * This commentary was originally published on Sunday at 10:52 p.m.

  • Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 7:39 AM

    Predicting NFL Plays Makes Romo More Smart Aleck than Nostradamus!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Tony Romo displayed an uncanny knack this season for calling plays from the broadcast booth that teams then played out on the field. This has made him far more popular as a commentator than he ever was as a player.

    Traditionally, in sports broadcasting, a color commentator’s job is to explain to viewers what they just saw. But, during the past few weeks of N.F.L. playoff games, Tony Romo, a former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, who will call the Super Bowl on Sunday as an analyst for CBS, has delighted football fans by doing something else: telling them what they’re about to see.

    On play after play [during the recent A.F.C. championship game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs — fifteen, in all — Romo described what he thought was about to unfold; he guessed correctly thirteen times. (On Twitter, he was dubbed Romostradamus.)

    (The New Yorker, January 28, 2019)

    Except that, frankly, I don’t watch Football to have some wannabe psychic predict plays. Besides, when he’s right, he ruins the suspense; when he’s wrong, he comes off like a carnival barker. In either case, the game becomes more about the calls he makes up in the booth than the plays players make down on the field.

    I am also mindful that, if Romo were so good at predicting plays, he would have the record for leading his team to the most Super Bowl berths. But that record belongs to Tom Brady with nine. More to the point, Romo never led his team to a single berth in 14 years as quarterback.

    That said, here’s my call. And I readily admit it will not be as uncanny (or entertaining) as Romo’s have been. But it’ll be good for you:

    Believing the hype, Romo is going to call a few plays during Sunday’s game, which turn out to be so wrong, he’s going to disappoint, if not piss off, half of the TV audience. And, instead of sealing his reputation as the G.O.A.T. among color commentators, he will live in infamy as the goat who ruined the broadcast of Super Bowl LIII.

    Note: I reiterate my prediction that the Rams are going to hand the Patriots a second-consecutive loss. This will seal New England’s fate as biggest loser in Super Bowl history for coming up short six times.

    Related commentaries:
    Championship Sunday

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 8:12 AM

    ‘Leaving Neverland’ like Xscaping Michael Jackson’s Pedophile Cult

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Die-hard Michael Jackson fans have been trolling me for years. This, because I have continually damned him as a serial pedophile.

    I did so in many commentaries, including “Revealed: Michael Jackson’s Pedophile File,” June 27, 2016, “Xscape! More Pedophile Charges Prove Michael Was Not ‘Gone Too Soon,’” May 13, 2014, and “Michael Jackson Cops a Sick Plea,” March 11, 2005.

    The last of these includes this verdict:

    It is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that Jackson is a pathological corrupter and abuser of little boys. What’s more, he fascinates today far more as a walking freak show than he ever did as the ‘King of Pop.’

    Now the media that once sang his praises are damning him too. Only this explains headlines like “Michael Jackson doc Leaving Neverland is ‘disturbing and devastating,’” BBC, January 26, 2019, “Leaving Neverland Could Forever Ruin Michael Jackson’s Legacy,” Out Magazine, January 26, 2019, “Michael Jackson, Child Molester,” National Review, January 28, 2019, and “A documentary exposé offers devastatingly powerful and convincing testimony that Michael Jackson was guilty of child sexual abuse,” Variety, January 25, 2019.

    The last of these includes this overview of reviews of this HBO documentary:

    One reason it’s more powerful than anything we’ve previously encountered on the subject … is that [#MeToo victims Wade Robson and James Safechuck] don’t just describe the sexual activities that Jackson subjected them to (oral sex, mutual masturbation, the viewing of porn). They describe, in abundantly articulate and deeply emotional detail, how the abuse took place within the context of what appeared (to them) to be a relationship of hypnotic warmth and trust.

    Perhaps now the media will publish more reports on this diabolical reason for his nickname “Sicko Wacko Jacko.” Because, heretofore, they used it primarily as fleeting funny fodder when reporting on his cosmetic surgery or costume attire.

    To be fair, Jackson fans cite his infamous acquittal to dismiss the molestation documented in Leaving Neverland. But this only means that they are just as willfully ignorant as O.J. Simpson fans who cite his infamous acquittal to dismiss the murders documented in O.J.: Made in America. Not to mention the hypocrisy of the ignoramuses who scoff at O.J.’s acquittal but hail Michael’s.

    As a lawyer, I respect the jury system. And that includes the adversarial jousting that often sees defense attorneys like Johnny Cochran running circles around prosecutors to spin their client’s patent guilt into tainted innocence.

    But I’m on record calling for professional juries as the only way to prevent such blatant miscarriages of justice. Never mind my abiding belief that, had Jackson not killed himself, he would have ended up just like O.J., serving time for some other (pedophile) crime as a form of poetic justice. Of course, if there is a God, escaping justice on earth only meant that Jackson would spend more time burning in Hell.

    That said, I appreciate the transformation of consciousness Leaving Neverland is having on so many with respect to his guilt. But I urge these Johnnies-come-lately to reserve a little of their belated condemnation for the parents who blithely pimped out their kids to him.

    Some parents clearly wanted to exploit Jackson’s largesse and bask in his reflected glow more than their kids did. This blinded the parents to the textbook way he was grooming and abusing their kids – complete with sleepovers to have his pedophile way with them.

    I mean, this predatory freak even performed mock weddings – presumably to consecrate and then consummate his relationships with these adolescent boys. He vowed them to secrecy. But you have to think these boys told their pimps, er, parents about the ceremony – even if they did not go into details about what happened on their wedding night.

    Meanwhile, Jackson did little to hide his pedophile proclivities. In fact, he proudly proclaimed his man-child form of love as the most natural thing imaginable during a December 28, 2003, interview on 60 Minutes, the most popular news program in the history of television.

    Unsurprisingly, this finally forced the Los Angeles county department of children and family services to launch an investigation. It led inexorably to criminal charges. But Jackson’s spell was still such that his alleged victims, including the two featured in Leaving Neverland, insisted he never molested them.

    Incidentally, it’s also worth noting that, for every victim who finally comes forward to accuse a celebrity predator, there are probably ten or more who remain in the woodwork – too wary of the public scrutiny or too content with the private payoff.

    Enough!

    Except that I would be remiss not to add that Jackson’s sexual abuse of little boys was matched by his psychological abuse of his own children. This black man spent his lifetime trying to turn himself into a white one. Yet he brainwashed the lilly-white kids he adopted into thinking they were black. Think about how twisted that is …

    The damage he caused is immeasurable. Nothing betrays this quite like the way his daughter Paris is spending more time in rehab these days than on tour, trying in vain to show that she inherited his musical talents.

    Paris Jackson is ‘utterly distraught’ following the release of a documentary about her dad Michael Jackson.

    It’s been claimed that the 20-year-old has ‘suffered a complete meltdown’ after the harrowing film Leaving Neverland aired at Sundance Film Festival this weekend.

    (London Mirror, January 27, 2019)

    I would also be remiss not to note that Jackson’s siblings stood by as he molested children right under their cosmetic noses. But I suspect they bargained early on that they’d rather treat Michael like a cash cow than force him to get the treatment he so clearly needed.

    I have damned The Jacksons in many commentaries, including “Proof Michael Jackson Was a Serial Pedophile; His Brothers Venal Parasites,” July 1, 2013, and “52nd Annual Grammy Awards,” February 1, 2010.

    The latter includes this heads-up for Paris:

    Nothing is more pathetic than watching his siblings on TV going on about how these kids look just like Michael — seemingly unaware that surgically or cosmetically altered features like his pointed nose, bleached skin, and long wig cannot be inherited. [Naturally, an adopted child cannot inherit the genes that made her adopted parent a musical genius.]

    Again, to be fair, their sister LaToya was a notable exception.

    Thanks to her, we know that their mother routinely slurred Michael in private as “That damn f****t.” What’s more, LaToya showed that not everyone in her family is utterly devoid of basic morals and common sense. She did so in a 1993 interview on the Today Show, which presaged Michael’s on 60 Minutes 10 years later:

    What 35-year-old man sleeps with little boys and stays with them for a week or two weeks or whatever? And sleep in the same bed. Most people would say, ‘that’s totally wrong.’

    Indeed, no amount of Peter-Pan, Hollywood weirdness could or should excuse this feature of Michael’s behavior. It’s a shame that, like her other siblings, chronic financial woes – stemming from failed professional pursuits – forced LaToya back into fold. She soon retracted her public condemnations of Michael and began singing the family hymn for her bread.

    The Jacksons are blasting Leaving Neverland as fiction conjured up by perjurers and culture vultures.  Yet I’d bet my life savings that neither they nor the executors of Michael’s estate will dare sue to protect his reputation. That they are not doing so betrays the venality and hollowness of their protestations.

    Enough! For real this time.

    [Note: It can only be a matter of time before corporations like Capital One stop playing his music in their commercials.]

    Related commentaries:
    MJ file
    OJ Made
    Justice for OJ
    professional juries
    proof…serial pedophile
    Grammys

  • Monday, January 28, 2019 at 7:37 AM

    At ICC Gbagbo Walks Free

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I have been railing for years against the unfairness and incompetence of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    I can cite such commentaries as “Alas, the ICC Charging Bashir of Sudan with Genocide Means Nothing!” July 15, 2008, “ICC Double Standards…,” June 29, 2011, “No Equitable Justice in ICC Prosecuting Kenya’s Kenyatta,” March 25, 2013, and “International Criminal Court Lost All Credibility,” June 5, 2013. But most notable is “ICC Decides Not to Prosecute Kenya’s Kenyatta. Duh,” December 8, 2014. It includes this instructive, precedent-setting observation:

    ____________________

    Last week the International Criminal Court in The Hague decided not to prosecute the president of Kenya for inciting ethnic violence that killed 1200 Black men, women, and children, and displaced 600,000. …

    As my headline indicates, I was not surprised by the ICC’s decision. I have written a series of commentaries foreshadowing it and delineating why the ICC is such a hopelessly discredited institution.

    In fact, this case was as much about the ICC’s credibility as it was about Kenyatta’s guilt. [My commentaries] explain not only why this case failed, but also why the ICC should be abolished.

    ____________________

    Given that, this comes as no surprise:

    Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo — who was charged with crimes against humanity in connection with violence that left 3000 dead — has been acquitted. … The violence in 2010 in Ivory Coast came after Gbagbo refused to accept that he had lost a disputed election to his rival, Alassane Ouattara.

    (The Daily Beast, January 15, 2019)

    Mind you, I was convinced that, like Kenyatta, Gbagbo was guilty as charged. I indicted him accordingly in “Noose Tightens on Gbagbo in Ivory Coast,” April 11, 2011. Any leader who incites people to protest the outcome of a democratic election should be held responsible for the mayhem and death that ensue.

    It’s just that the ICC is guilty of such selective prosecution, it operates as little more than a paternal tool of neo-colonialism. What’s particularly damning is that it has yet to prosecute a non-black strongman like Erdogan of Turkey, Sisi of Egypt, Salman of Saudi Arabia, or Putin of Russia. After all, Kenyatta and Gbagbo incited family squabbles compared to the massacres those men incited.

    13 years, 1 billion dollars, 2 convictions: Is the International Criminal Court worth it? …

    23 cases in 9 situations have been brought before the ICC thus far – all from Africa. … ‘Where is a white man convicted by the ICC?’ John Mahama, President of Ghana, acknowledged that while the ICC has relevance in his view, Africa ‘feels targeted’ by it.

    (Deutsche Welle, January 27, 2016)

    Meanwhile, the ICC’s failed attempts to convict so many high-profile defendants – who had blood still dripping from their hands – does not inspire confidence.

    For an institution dreamt up to hold the world’s most powerful to account, the former Ivorian president’s extradition to The Hague was a signal the ICC was up to the challenge.

    Great expectations make the failure even more bitter for a prosecution still reeling from the dramatic collapse of the case of Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former DR Congo vice-president whose conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity was overturned.

    (BBC, January 15, 2019)

    If they felt they needed judicial overlords, Kenya and Ivory Coast would have been far better served by a “shoestring special court” under the auspices of the United Nations.

    Other countries have used such courts to prosecute local leaders for similar crimes. Most notable were International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Rwanda (ICTR) and Sierra Leone (SCSL), which resulted in the notorious conviction of no less a person than Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia.

    More to the point, though, I hope this acquittal finally forces African countries to do what I’ve been urging Caribbean countries to in commentaries like “For Independence Sake, Caribbean, Abolish the Privy Council!” February 1, 2016, and “No More Privy Council; Take Care of Your Own Judicial Mess,” October 8, 2009. The latter includes the following:

    ____________________

    In an interview published in the September 20, 2009, edition of The Financial Times, Lord Phillips complained that the five British judges who sit on the Privy Council spend 40 percent of their time adjudicating cases from the former colonies. He indicated – with forlorn hope – that he wished these now-independent countries

    would stop using the Privy Council and set up their own final courts of appeal instead.

    You’d think Lord Phillips’s admonition would chasten any self-respecting Caribbean leader. And, that this in turn would compel that leader to relieve Britain of this ‘white man’s burden,’ which is plainly anachronistic, untenable, and unfair. Not to mention that Lord Phillips is only admonishing Caribbean leaders to do what they have known for nearly 40 years they should, indeed must, do.

    Yet I fear it will take far more than paternal rebukes to get our leaders to do the right thing.

    ____________________

    Nearly 70 years after decolonialization, I hope African countries will finally help Caribbean countries see the categorical imperative of handling their own judicial affairs.

    As it happens, Ivory Coast ended up prosecuting Gbagbo in absentia. This alone threw into stark relief the self-abnegating folly of relying on the ICC to prosecute crooked or genocidal local leaders:

    Gbagbo still faces a 20-year jail term for ‘economic crimes’ imposed by a local court last year.

    (France24, January 17, 2019)

    What’s more, this poses the ironic and seemingly unfair prospect of subjecting him to double jeopardy. That is, assuming ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda fails in her face-saving bid to keep Gbagbo in The Hague for life by appealing his acquittal.

    What a farce!

    Related commentaries:
    ICC decides not to prosecute
    noose tightens on Gbagbo
    For independence sake

  • Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 8:09 AM

    Well, at least it’s clear why the Saints got robbed…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Related commentaries:
    NFL conf championships

  • Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 7:56 AM

    Chris Christie’s Book Shows He’s Just a Blowhard Coward

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The then President-elect Donald J. Trump tapped former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to head his transition team. Echoing Trump’s campaign promise, Christie pledged to hire the “best of the best” to staff Trump’s cabinet and senior members of his administration.

    Then all of a sudden Jared Kushner prevailed upon Trump to fire him. And Christie’s binders full of A-list candidates ended up “in the trash.”

    According to reliable reports, this firing was Kushner’s way of serving revenge cold for Christie prosecuting his daddy in the early 2000s. Back then, Christie was a headline-seeking US attorney. And he undoubtedly saw that prosecuting Jared’s daddy would generate very favorable headlines, which in turn would help his climb up the political ladder (into the New Jersey governor’s mansion).

    After Charles Kushner pleaded guilty to 16 counts of tax evasion, one count of retaliating against a federal witness – his brother-in-law (more on that below) – and another count of lying to the Federal Election Commission, Christie put out a statement calling the deal a ‘great victory for the people of New Jersey.’

    Months later, Christie went a step further, expressing his pleasure in triumphant terms when Kushner was sentenced to two years in prison.

    (CNN, November 17, 2016)

    Given this background, one would expect Christie to retaliate, serving his own revenge cold for that firing. And foremost, one would expect him to make a correlation between his firing and Trump ending up with a cabinet of incompetent misfits.

    What one would not expect, however, is that he would target every incompetent except the most obvious of them all, namely Trump himself.

    Yet, according to reports on his forthcoming book, Let Me Finish, that’s precisely what Christie has done.

    Christie tore strips off the ‘riffraff’ he said Trump saddled himself. …

    They are ‘amateurs, grifters, weaklings, convicted and unconvicted felons’ who ‘were hustled into jobs they were never suited for, sometimes seemingly without so much as a background check via Google or Wikipedia,’ he added.

    (CNN, January 22. 2019)

    Except that it says far more about Trump that he saddled himself with riffraff than it says about them.

    This is why there’s nothing heroic or even newsworthy about Christie taking potshots at them. Frankly, Trump is the biggest “amateur, grifter, weakling … and unconvicted felon” in his administration.

    In words he can relate to, he’s the biggest loser. Which makes Christie sparing him the brunt of his potshots tantamount to ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room.

    The question is why?  Especially given that it appears Trump did nothing more than hire the same kinds of riffraff to run our government that he hired to run his hotels and casinos into bankruptcy … six times. Forget potshots, this warranted a barrage of full-throated condemnation and derision.

    Yet reports are that Christie chose instead to damn Trump with faint praise – no doubt expecting this narcissistic ignoramus to welcome the praise no matter how faint. Of course, the reason for Christie’s cowering is that, like every other Republican with anything to lose, he fears the wrath of Trump.

    Christie knows that our tribal politics is such that only Republicans will be interested in buying his book. More to the point, he knows Trump has them all so spellbound that one negative tweet about his book would doom sales.

    Never before in the history of politics have so many sacrificed so much for so little. And I cannot overstate the shock of so many evangelical Christians sacrificing their souls at the altar of this two-legged golden calf.

    (“Everything Trump Praises Fails. Airline Safety Just the Latest Thing,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 21, 2018)

    Incidentally, the title to Christie’s book unwittingly betrays his hapless cowardice. Because it suggests a man being ignored as he’s trying to say or do something important (like head the transition team for a new administration). Of course, given that Trump was the person ignoring him, perhaps the title should have been, Let Me Finish Please.

    Even worse, his title is actually a rip-off from a children’s book. Let Me Finish (2016) by Minh Lê is about a boy who keeps trying to read thrilling books only to have exotic animals interrupt each time with spoilers from their favorite parts. It’s an indication of how much Christie has infantilized himself for Trump that the title he plagiarized was aimed at 5-year-olds.

    In any event, this book will ensure Christie’s climb up the trash heap of history. There he will rot in infamy along with other notable Republicans like former Speaker Paul Ryan and current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. For this will surely be the fate of putative leaders who willfully sacrificed their principles and swallowed their pride to further the venal, racist, and regressive agenda of President Donald J. Trump.

    Meanwhile, we’ve already been treated to more objective accounts of Trump’s kakistocratic administration in many books, including Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, and Michael Lewis’s The Fifth Risk.

    Hell, we’ve already been treated even to more gossipy accounts like Christie’s in many books, including Cliff Sims’s Team of Vipers, Katy Tur’s Unbelievable, and Omarosa Manigault Newman’s Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.

    Related commentaries:
    Tribalism in American politics
    Everything Trump praises
    Fear
    Fire and fury

  • Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 7:27 AM

    NFL Conference Championship Sunday: Hail, Rams! Hail, Patriots (Again)!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Casual Football fans think Super Bowl Sunday is the most exciting day of the NFL season. But real fans know that day is conference championship Sunday.

    (“NFL’s Historic Conference Championship Sunday,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 22, 2007)

    Sure enough, this conference championship Sunday lived up to the hype. In fact, it might suffice to know that it took overtime for both games to settle scores.

    NFC

    The Los Angeles Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints 26-23 to win the first of these championship games, continuing one of the most improbable turnarounds in sports history.

    The Rams are going to the Super Bowl. This is the same outfit that finished 4-12 in 2016, Jeff Fisher’s last season with the team, and has gone 24-8 under Sean McVay. (If you haven’t heard, he’s 32 years old and already has a coaching tree that has his assistants landing head-coaching gigs.)

    (CBS News, January 20, 2019)

    In other words, they’re already comparing McVay to legendary coaches like Mike Holmgren, Bill Parcells, and Marty Schottenheimer. Which is every bit as presumptuous as comparing the influence Barack Obama is having on politics to the influence Ronald Reagan has had.

    In any event, I was more interested in seeing the Saints lose than in seeing the Rams win. And it hardly mattered that the “worst missed call in NFL history” (pass interference against the Rams near the goal line) robbed the Saints of certain victory.

    I just wanted the Rams to avenge the loss the Saints handed my team, the Philadelphia Eagles. They played on January 13 for a berth to this championship.

    As it happens, this sophomoric resentment had everything to do with my disappointment over the outcome of the second championship game.

    AFC

    F*cking Tom Brady!

    Anyone familiar with my NFL commentaries knows that I think the Patriots are cheaters who too often prosper. This explains the unbridled relish I displayed on the rare occasions when they got their comeuppance. I refer you, for examples, to “Giants Stomp Patriots to Win Super Bowl XLVI 21-17,” February 6, 2012, and “NFL Sacks Brady as Court Reinstates Deflategate Suspension,” April 27, 2017.

    I hasten to note that I am not alone in my visceral disdain for Brady and the Patriots. Nothing demonstrates this quite like The New York Post greeting their win on Monday with a front page featuring a picture of a triumphant Brady facing this bold headline:

    Public Enemy No. 1

    Therefore, to say I wanted the Chiefs to win would be the understatement of the season. Unfortunately, those damned “Deflategate” cheaters prospered … again:

    Tom Brady added another chapter to his Hall of Fame legacy Sunday night, leading the New England Patriots to a dramatic 37-31 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. …

    The Patriots advanced to their ninth Super Bowl with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as the coach and their 11th in franchise history, extending their NFL-record mark. Brady, 41, will also break his own record as the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl.

    (FOX News, January 20, 2019)

    Truth be told, just as I did last year, I couldn’t bear to watch the end of this game. I had no doubt about the outcome, especially after the Patriots won the overtime coin toss.

    I switched to C-SPAN and watched Brian Lamb interview Patricia Miller about her book, Bringing Down the Colonel: A Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age, and the Powerless Woman Who Took On Washington. Much to my delight, watching Miller regale viewers with tales about 19th century sexual politics turned out to be almost as riveting as I imagine watching Brady thrill fans with that game-winning drive was.

    It just so happened that I switched to Alpine Skiing to avoid watching the Patriots march to last year’s AFC championship and a berth to Super Bowl LII. Therefore, it is a noteworthy coincidence that, after watching Lamb and Miller, I watched Lindsey Vonn effectively cede her reign as Alpine queen to Mikaela Shiffrin, citing lingering injuries that make it too difficult to compete. But I digress …

    Meanwhile, Brady’s reflexive celebrations were such that he missed the customary midfield handshake with the Chiefs’ quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. But it speaks volumes that he held off locker-room celebrations with his teammates to visit the Chiefs’ locker room. He wanted to make a point of shaking hands and sharing words of wisdom with the 23-year-old Mahomes.

    In doing so, Brady showed the kind of sportsmanship I fear will retire (from all professional sports) when he finally does. But young athletes like Mahomes would do well to emulate him – not just on the field but off it too, in this and other ways (e.g., his monastic dedication to health and fitness).

    Super Bowl LIII

    Needless to say, I am rooting for the Rams to win. I am conflicted, however. Because, as a middle-aged man, I wouldn’t mind seeing the old Patriots (led by 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady and 66-year-old coach Bill Belichick) humble the young Rams (led by 24-year-old quarterback Jared Goff and 32-year-old coach Sean McVay).

    It’s an indication of my abiding hatred for the Patriots that I am still reveling in the defeat my Eagles handed them in last year’s Super Bowl. Therefore, it would be like icing on the cake if the Rams hand them their second-consecutive defeat in the most important game, on the biggest stage in sports.

    Go Rams!

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  • Monday, January 21, 2019 at 7:37 AM

    Observing MLK Day 2019

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would bemoan that America remains so far from the Promised Land of his famous dream. It speaks volumes in this respect that President-elect Trump marked observations of this holiday two years ago with a racist rant against MLK protégé John Lewis.

    I commented in “Observing MLK Day 2017,” January 16, 2017.

    ____________________

    After Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said that Russian interference undermined the legitimacy of his election, the preternaturally thin-skinned Trump reacted by impugning Lewis’s character and life’s work:

    Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to…mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017

    This he said of a man who bears well-known scars from marching with MLK for civil rights. Lewis also happens to be the most revered black man in America today – as Obama himself would concede.

    As for his district, far from ‘falling apart [and being] crime infested,’ Atlanta is the very manifestation of that ‘shining city upon a hill’ former President Ronald Reagan envisioned in his farewell address. Moreover, no less a Republican bible than Forbes named his district ‘the ninth best place in America for businesses and career development, and among the best for job growth and education.’

    ____________________

    Yet, remarkably, then President Trump marked observations last year with a racist rant against “shithole countries” like Haiti and all those in Africa.

    Evidently, when it comes to immigration, he wants people to be judged by the color of their skin, not by the content of their character. This is why he reportedly huffed that too many are coming from those black countries and not enough from white ones … “like Norway.”

    I commented in “Only an Asshole like Trump Would Call Caribbean and African Countries ‘Shitholes,” January 12, 2018. But I see no point in elaborating.

    The point is that, given the way he marked previous ones, it should come as no surprise that Trump is marking observations this year with more racism. After all, he triggered a government shutdown 31 days ago in a temper tantrum because Democrats refused to appropriate the billions he wants to build a wall to keep brown migrants from “invading” the country.

    And he’s only compounding his racist huff by insisting that those migrants, who number in the thousands, are creating a humanitarian crisis (in Mexico) that only his wall can solve. After all, he’s blithely ignoring that the furloughed government workers, who number in the hundreds of thousands, are facing a humanitarian crisis of his making.

    Like most Americans, the vast majority of those workers live paycheck to paycheck. And not receiving that paycheck is forcing many of them to stand in Soviet-style breadlines, miss mortgage and rent payments, and withdraw children from after-school activities. (Russian President Vladimir Putin could not have scripted a more gleeful turnabout of events for his Manchurian president to trigger.)

    Not to mention the danger Trump is imposing upon airline passengers. This, because many TSA agents are saying they can’t afford to show up to screen them for no pay.

    Incidentally, Trump’s racist antics forced Lewis to lead boycotts of his State of the Union Address in 2017 and 2018. And Trump has given him just cause to do the same this year. Except that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have spared him the effort. Because she has informed Trump that she’s rescinding the invitation for him to deliver it this year until he comes to his senses and ends the shutdown.

    But, hey, this is MLK’s day.

    It is most noteworthy that he is the only private citizen (black or white) to have a federal holiday declared in his honor.

    Hell, even Washington and Lincoln have to share one holiday on Presidents’ Day. And, with the August 2013 dedication of his memorial, MLK is now perched on the Mall alongside them in perpetuity. All of which might explain why Washington’s monument is glaring down on MLK’s …

    Seriously, though, am I the only one who thinks the Washington Monument looks eerily like a stonemason’s homage to the KKK …?

    There was considerable media coverage last week of workers rappelling down the Washington Monument to inspect damage caused by the recent earthquake. However, while most people seemed mesmerized by the acrobatic feat this entailed, I could not help noticing how much up-close images of the cone of the Monument resemble the hood of a Klansman.

    Is it not a curious thing that this everlasting monument to the slave-holding Washington pays unwitting homage to this everlasting symbol of white supremacy?

    (“Washington Monument’s KKK Imagery,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 2, 2011)

    Whatever the case, this holiday is not just a testament to MLK’s greatness. It’s a symbolic down payment on the promissory note that represents the unpaid, if not unpayable, debt America owes descendants of the blacks it enslaved.

    That said:

    This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

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  • Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 8:49 AM

    Gillette: When Subliminal Message Trumps Supraliminal Priming

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    UPDATE

    I stand with Gillette

    January 20

    Evidently, I disappointed many of you by not making clear which side I support in this viral debate.

    The recent commercial from Gillette, titled ‘Toxic Masculinity,’ has sparked a great deal of discussion and controversy.

    On its face, the ad, which is ostensibly targeted at the typical male Gillette user, is quite simply beseeching men to be ‘better’ and to work toward the goal of being their best. …

    Those who have expressed negative reactions to the spot seem to feel that the brand is pointing to the most negative stereotypes of men in an accusatory fashion, which seems at odds with the goal of winning them over as customers.

    (The Hill, January 20, 2019)

    In fact, I accept the ad on its face. I appreciate its supraliminal message, namely that “Time’s Up” for men to man up! And I intend to continue using Gillette razors.

    Regrettably, many men are getting a subliminal message that is causing them to express negative reactions. But they fail to appreciate that not all ads are aimed at winning over or even retaining customers.

    If that were the case, Nike would never have featured Colin Kaepernick in its new ad campaign:

    Time’s Up! Man up! Just Do It!

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  • Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 7:38 AM

    Shutdown: Republicans Calling on Democrats to Embrace Compromise…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Is like Klansmen calling on blacks to embrace diversity.

    No doubt you’ve heard President Trump leading Republicans in calling on Democrats to compromise to end this government shutdown.

    They would have you believe they’re compromising by insisting on $5.7 billion in funding for a wall as part of broader border security. For Democrats, though, this amounts to little more than Republicans insisting it’s their wall or this shutdown.

    Trump rejected the idea of reopening the government while continuing negotiations with Congress.

    The [Democrat-controlled] House has voted on bills to reopen more shuttered government departments, but that legislation has already been declared dead-on-arrival in the [Republican-controlled] Senate because of a veto threat from Trump.

    (The New York Times, January 15, 2019)

    In fact, Democrats have offered myriad compromises to reopen the government. What’s more, the bills they passed include $1.3 billion in funding for border fencing – the term Trump says they should feel free to use when referring to his wall. Not to mention this clarifying but damning fact:

    Over the last two years, [the Republican-controlled] Congress has provided nearly $1.7 billion to build or replace fencing on the southern border, but the Administration has hardly spent any of that money, and the projects it has undertaken have ballooned in cost. So far, only six percent of those funds have been spent. Six.

    (The Washington Post, January 3, 2019)

    More to the point, though, someone should ask these Republican grand compromisers when utterly rejecting compromise stopped being an article of their political faith. After all, here – from “The Will of the American People? Really?” July 11, 2012 – is what they were saying about it not so long ago:

    ____________________

    No less a person than Speaker John Boehner betrayed their new jihadist approach to politics just weeks after Republicans won control of the House in November 2010.

    He did so during the December 12, 2010, edition of 60 Minutes, when Leslie Stahl stated that ‘surely governing means compromising,’ and then asked why he was so unwilling to say that he and the Republicans would be willing to compromise with Obama and the Democrats. Boehner replied:

    We are doing the will of the American people. As for compromise, I utterly reject the word.

    This, in a nutshell, explains why we’ve been treated over the past two years to the spectacle of Washington gridlock over every piece of legislation, including those merely extending policies Republicans once supported.

    ____________________

    Of course, that also explains why we’re suffering through this longest government shutdown in US history – at 27 days and counting. But it’s debatable which is worse in this case: the brazen hypocrisy of congressional Republicans or the craven support they’re showing for Trump’s (latest) dictatorial tantrum.

    Meanwhile, nothing exposes what a fraud Trump’s Art of the Deal is quite like him already negotiating his administration into three government shutdowns. Frankly, one can fairly decry his leadership as an unprecedented spree of incompetence and blame-shifting projections.

    I did just that with respect to this mess in “Trump’s First Year Ends with Government Shutdown,” January 20, 2018, and “Trump’s Second Year Ends with Government Shutdown,” December 24, 2018; and, with respect to his pathological habit of projecting all his faults and misdeeds onto others, in “Forget the Clinton Foundation. Shut Down the Trump Organization!” August 26, 2016.

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  • Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 4:38 PM

    Exit Brexit … Stage Right?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I am on record dismissing Brexit as just a sham sold by shysters, full of lies and presumptions signifying no deal.

    I refer you to such commentaries as “EU: Britain Trying to Have Cake and Eat It Too,” January 29, 2013, “Brexit: Forget Leaving, Britain a Greater EU Contagion If It Remains,” June 22, 2016, and “On Brexit Plan, EU to UK, No Way! September 24, 2018.

    More to the point, I warned that Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to execute Brexit was a non-starter – not only in the EU but even in the UK. Here is the foreshadowing I offered in “Brexit: Having Cake and Eating It Too,” July 24, 2018.

    ____________________

    Her [Chequers] White Paper is just a formal version of the idea May floated earlier this year for a ‘managed divergence’ from EU rules. But it should have been instructive that, according to the March 8 edition of The Economist, the EU dismissed it back then as cherry-picking that would undermine the single market.

    To be fair, though, in proposing her managed divergence, May was just doing what her predecessors did. …

    I’ve been decrying Britain’s ill-fated efforts to negotiate one-foot-in/one-foot-out deals with the EU for years. Therefore, I see no point in delving too deep into Brexit’s murky waters here.

    It should suffice to know that at least half of the Britons who voted for Brexit can’t even name the EU’s four ‘indivisible’ freedoms, namely the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. This, despite the fact that Britain’s attempt to divvy up these freedoms (e.g., by cherry picking to allow goods but restrict people) has been the most animating feature of the Brexit debate.

    More to the point, this prevailing ignorance is why so many Britons, across the political spectrum, have been calling for a second referendum (a.k.a. a mulligan) before any UK-EU divorce settlement is executed. …

    Britain is fated to end up an island unto itself … marooned in the global sea by the foolish, ignorant pride Brexit reflects. Even worse, as Obama famously warned (and Trump hinted), it will find itself at the back of the line of weak and relatively poor countries trying to strike trade deals with the world’s biggest trading blocs, including the American-led NAFTA, the Chinese-led ACFTA, and yes, ironically enough, the German-led EU.

    ____________________

    Given that, this came as no surprise yesterday:

    Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been rejected by 230 votes – the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a vote of no confidence in the government, which could trigger a general election.

    (BBC, January 15, 2019)

    May is now a dead PM walking. The only question is whether a vote to end Brexit (viz. another referendum) passes before a vote to end her career (viz. another leadership challenge or general election).

    Mind you, the only honorable thing to do after such a humiliating defeat is to resign. No doubt every previous prime minister would have done just that. Exhibit A is David Cameron, her predecessor who resigned after triggering this Brexit mess with his ill-fated referendum in June 2016.

    Therefore, it speaks volumes about how far Brexit-crazed Britain has lost its way that resigning seems to have not even occurred to May. Remarkably, even the members of her own Conservative party – who voted for her historic humiliation – seem perfectly happy to sit and watch her wither away … stage right.

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  • Monday, January 14, 2019 at 8:19 AM

    Biden-Harris 2020: That’s the Ticket!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Joe Biden is easily the most qualified American to be president of the United States. Moreover, to recover from this Trump presidency, we will need to inaugurate a president with the experience and character to restore competence to and respect for the office of the leader of the free world.

    Like me, you probably thought no president could be worse than George W. Bush. Then along came Trump. And he has inflicted so many lies, embarrassments, and absurdities upon us over the past two years, it’s easy to forget all we suffered during Bush’s eight years. At least Bush had character, which proved a very redeeming trait.

    But only a president with Biden’s unassailable gravitas can complete the restoration of normalcy, which Democrats began in midterm elections last November. That, of course, is when they wrested control of the House of Representatives from Trump’s enabling Republicans.

    In any event, the last thing we need is another clueless narcissist interested only in vainglory, personal enrichment, and entertaining the rabid ignoramuses who compose his base. We face the categorical imperative of completely exorcising Trump and everything he represents from politics.

    I hasten to note that, but for his nightmare presidency, I would have picked Kamala Harris to head a ticket with Beto O’Rourke. Here’s why:

    • She is even more accomplished and appealing than Barack Obama was when he launched his presidential campaign.
    • He exudes all the personal charisma and progressive convictions that made Robert F. Kennedy such a formidable presidential candidate. (And, yes, he even looks like RFK.)
    • They could have emulated the young guns who upset George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle in 1992, namely Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

    It might seem way too soon to be speculating about the 2020 presidential election. And, given that Putin’s influence will be even more insidious than it was in 2016, it might seem foolhardy to pick any candidate who does not have his blessing.

    Incidentally, despite pronouncements and presumptions to the contrary, Trump has been an epic disappointment to Russian President Vladimir Putin, so much so that this puppet master might be trolling for another puppet this go-round.

    Indeed, you may have noticed how panicky Trump seems lately. It’s clearly dawning on him just how much America’s system of Constitutional checks and balances will limit his power to do Putin’s bidding. And he must fear that it’s only a matter of time before Putin cuts his strings.

    After all, Trump was supposed to be Putin’s Manchurian president, not some ordinary useful idiot like Paul Manafort or Carter Page. And the only way for Putin to save face for the disappointment Trump is turning out to be is to tar and feather him with WikiLeaks of all of the compromising information he has on this hopelessly compromised president of the United States.

    All of this just reinforces my contention that Trump will resign as part of a plea bargain to avoid impeachment and keep his equally venal kids out of jail. But I digress …

    Apropos of too soon, at this point in the 2008 cycle, Obama was putting the final edits on the speech to announce his candidacy on February 10, 2007. Therefore, you can bet your life savings that every Democrat who wants to be president in 2020 is doing the same right now.

    In fact, several of the more than twenty who were just lying in wait have already declared their intent to run. And, whether or not Trump resigns, I suspect more than one Republican will run to replace him.

    As I did last election cycle, I will not be commenting on the horse race. This, notwithstanding that it will dominate public discourse over the next 18 months; that is, on the odd day when news of Trump’s impeaching doom is not breaking.

    That said, I’m all too mindful that Trump fluttered in like a black-swan in 2016 and pooped all over Hillary – who was my pick. But it would take an even rarer phenomenon either for him to get re-elected or for any Republican to win in 2020. Such is the reputational damage Trump has done to that party’s (and to this country’s) brand.

    [Note: Pete Buttigeig is my second VP choice. Never mind that, like Harris, he is running for top billing. The point is that, like Harris, his background and experience are so impressive, he has more presidential potential today than Obama had when he announced his candidacy in February 2007.

    Buttigeig is a Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar; he is 37; he is gay; he is a military veteran; and he is serving his second term as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Oh, he is married (not that that’s a requirement, mind you).

    Yet chances are that you have never heard of him. For America’s sake, I hope that changes soon.]

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  • Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 6:12 AM

    Is this the perverse way you ‘save leftover food’…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    “I freeze all my leftovers until I feel less guilty about throwing
    them away.”

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