The iPINIONS Journal


  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 … ‘Lost’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Truth be told, I felt certain the technology that enabled deep sea explorers to find the wreck of the RMS Titanic after seven decades would enable them to find the wreck of MH370 after seven hours.

    Not to mention the unprecedented resources they were dedicating to this search:

    The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has spawned the largest-ever multinational air-sea search — involving ships, airplanes from at least 14 countries and requests for radar information from as many as 26.

    The nature of the search, in which such an enormous stretch of the globe is being scoured, is also equally unprecedented, officials say.

    (NPR, March 17, 2014)

    Yet I could not resist positing that its passengers might either meet the real fate of Amelia Earhart, or play out the TV fate of the characters on the popular series, Lost.

    Nobody knows what became of it. …

    My own scenario follows the takeoff for the TV series Lost. All things considered, those on board should be so lucky. …

    There’s no denying my consternation over the fact that, despite all the advances in radar and avionics, this Malaysian jumbo jet disappeared without a trace today just as Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed prop plane did 77 years ago.

    (“Malaysian Airlines MH370 … ‘Lost,’” The iPINIONS Journal, March 14, 2014)

    This is why I am as dumbfounded as I am resigned that it has come to this:

    After nearly three years, the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended in futility and frustration Tuesday, as crews completed their deep-sea search of a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean without finding a trace of the plane or the 239 people aboard it.

    The Joint Agency Coordination Center in Australia, which helped lead the $160 million hunt for the Boeing 777 in remote waters west of Australia, said the search had officially been suspended after crews finished their fruitless sweep of the 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) search zone.

    ‘Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting-edge technology, as well as modeling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft,’ the agency said in a statement, which was a joint communique from the transport ministers of Malaysia, Australia and China.

    (Associated Press, January 17, 2017)

    Good night Malaysian three-seven-zero.

    Farewell.

    Related commentaries:
    MH370

  • Monday, January 16, 2017 at 8:53 AM

    Observing MLK Day…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    mlkcIf Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would be as pleased and proud as anybody that Barack Obama is ending his presidency this Friday on such a high note.

    After all, Obama not only served with dignity and grace that were endearing and enduring in equal measure; he’s also leaving behind a legacy of transformative accomplishments. In fact, the New York Times published a series of interactive graphs yesterday, showing that – by almost every measure – the American people are far better off today than they were eight years ago.

    Of course, the success of his presidency is made all the more remarkable given the unprecedented ways Republicans attempted to obstruct his policies – their lips dripping from day one with words of interposition and de-legitimization.

    It’s a testament to Republican obstructionism that, despite objective measures to the contrary, most Americans believed throughout Obama’s presidency that he was leading the country on “the wrong track.” He expressed regret on 60 Minutes last night that he did not promote his successes more aggressively to counter the Republicans’ contrived narrative about him being a failed president.

    Never mind that the Republicans failed in their declared intent to make him a “failed, one-term president.”

    Yet MLK would be the first to remind us that we are still far from the Promised Land that inspired his famous dream. It speaks volumes in this respect that the man succeeding Obama on Friday seems a reincarnation of the institutional racists MLK marched against.

    Indeed, President-elect Trump demonstrated what little respect he has for MLK by kicking off this weekend of observance with a Twitter tantrum that was replete with racist presumptions and stereotypes.

    Specifically, 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!

    (@realDonaldTrump, 7:50 AM -14 Jan 2017)

    This he said of a man who not only bears well-known scars from marching with MLK for civil rights, but is easily the most revered black man in America today – as Obama himself would concede.

    Not to mention that, far from “falling apart [and being] crime infested,” Atlanta, the district Lewis represents, 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.”

    On the other hand, I disagree with Lewis leading a growing number of Democrats in boycotting Trump’s inauguration. Not least because it smacks of the kind of petty, partisan politics I’ve spent the past eight years denouncing Republicans for orchestrating against Obama; such is hardly becoming of the heir to the moral authority MLK exercised.

    More to the point, no matter the nature and extent of Russia’s interference, there’s no evidence that it affected the outcome of the election. Besides, this boycott will seem utterly irrelevant on Inauguration Day — given that both Obama and Hillary will be participating front and center in this orderly transfer of presidential power, showing due respect for the office, even if not for the man assuming it.

    Meanwhile, Obama appears all too mindful that Trump’s election is an ominous fulfillment of King’s dream deferred. He even insinuated recently that having Trump succeed him amounts to America taking one step forward, two steps back on its march towards a “more perfect Union.” Of course, nothing betrayed the fatuous notion that his election as the first black president ushered in a post-racial era quite like the Selma-like protesters — chanting “Black Lives Matter!” — who dogged his presidency.

    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 repelling 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.

    I’ve read accounts of Free Masons, who were instrumental in building DC, inserting masonic symbols all over the city. Therefore, is it so farfetched to think that this monument, which was built between 1848-84 as a memorial to George Washington, also paid homage to the prevailing symbol of white supremacy…?

    (“Washington Monument’s KKK Imagery,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 11, 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, which 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.

    Related commentaries:
    Washington monument
    Obama inauguration commemorates Lincoln…
    Burris finally sworn in to replace Obama in Senate
    MLK on the Mall at last

  • Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 9:38 AM

    The Gambia’s Jammeh: Will he stay, or will he go…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The African Union has said it will no longer recognise The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh as the country’s leader from next Thursday, when his term ends.

    The bloc warns of ‘serious consequences’ if Mr Jammeh’s refusal to give up power causes a crisis…

    Nigeria’s leader has flown to Banjul to try to broker a deal but the latest talks appear to have failed.

    (BBC, January 13, 2017)

    I feared it would come to this:

    Alas, Jammeh is just the latest African despot attempting to hold on to power by force…

    It eventually took military force to remove Gbagbo. I fear it will take the same to remove Jammeh.

    In fact, I’m willing to bet that it’s only a matter of time before Jammeh ends up either like Gbagbo, in The Hague rotting away in jail, or like Laurent Kabila of the Congo, dead. They never learn.

    (“The Gambia’s Jammeh Using Military Force after Losing Democratic Election,” December 14, 2016)

    Plus ca change….

    Related commentaries:
    Jammeh

  • Friday, January 13, 2017 at 1:21 PM

    Bush Daughters Publish (Another Selfie-Serving) ‘Open Letter’ to Obama Daughters

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President George W. Bush’s twin daughters are offering advice to Malia and Sasha Obama, who are soon to join them in the ranks of former first kids…

    They said they had more advice now that the Obamas are moving into a new chapter of their lives…

    This is not the first time the sisters have written a letter to the Obama children: A similar note of encouragement was published in the Wall Street Journal in 2009.

    (CNN, January 13, 2017)

    I appreciate that nothing is too private for Twitterers, Facebookers, and Instagrammers who crave attention the way junkies crave drugs.

    But you’d have thought the Bush daughters were still recovering from the overdose of attention they “suffered” during the twelve years their grandfather served as vice president of the United States (1980-88) and president (1988-92), and the eight years their father served as president (2000-08).

    Therefore, it’s surprising, even disheartening, that they would relapse by publishing so-called “heartfelt” notes of encouragement to Malia and Sasha. After all, they knew full well that they would only be drawing media attention to themselves.

    Which is why the only thing that explains this public sharing of their personal advice for the Obama daughters is the social pathology I’ve been decrying for years:

    A selfie is not just about adoring one’s own reflection like Narcissus; it’s also about taking a picture of that reflection to publish for all the world to see. But am I the only one who rues the cognitive dissonance that has turned self-obsessed showoffs from laughingstocks into standard-bearers of what is now not only acceptable but required public behavior?

    You’d never know, for example, that just years ago any self-respecting man would be mortified if he were caught checking himself out in the mirror. Now the Internet is littered with as many selfies of preening men as women. But nothing irritates me in this context quite like the way people convey every private sentiment — from condolences to birthday greetings and romantic love — only by tweeting, facebooking, or instagramming it for everyone to read/see.

    (“Introduction,” The iPINIONS Journal, Vol. IX, p. xxi, 2014)

    Frankly, I’d be shocked if Barbara and Jenna even bothered to share their (selfie) note with Malia and Sasha (in 2009 or this time) before having it published for the world to read (or, to be more precise, to “Like”).

    I’d be even more shocked if the Obama daughters emulate the Bush daughters by publishing similar notes of encouragement to Trump’s son, Barron. For, even if they saw some value in penning such a note, I’d like to think Malia and Sasha are too classy to make it all about them by publishing it.

  • Friday, January 13, 2017 at 6:49 AM

    Obama Ends Discriminatory ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Cuba Policy

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I’ve been decrying this policy for twenty years; not least because:

    [It] stipulates that seafaring Cuban refugees who make it to U.S. shores must be assimilated, unconditionally; whereas seafaring Haitian refugees (fleeing even greater persecution and privations) who make it must be repatriated, summarily.

    (“Compassion Fatigue for Haitian Migrants,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 31, 2009)

    I’ve been denouncing former President Bill Clinton just as long for devising it only to pander to Miami Cubans and their paradise-lost presumptions. After all, this policy was not only discriminatory in its application, but also racist in its impact.

    This is why I called on President Obama (in the commentary quoted above, just six months into his presidency) to either apply this policy to Haitians too … or end it:

    President Obama must reconcile [America’s] unfulfilled obligations [to foster sustainable development in Haiti] with the moral imperative to reform U.S. immigration laws to give Haitians the same protected status Cuban migrants have always enjoyed.

    Incidentally, I called on him to do this in the above-quoted commentary, which I wrote just six months into his presidency.

    I fully understood, of course, that applying the “wet foot, dry foot” policy to Haitians would have invited sympathetic calls to apply it to others in the region, making the policy prohibitive.

    I was also mindful that the politics of implementing any change in policy towards Cuba precluded Obama doing so during his first term; hence my commentary, “Fifth Summit of the Americas: Managing Expectations,” April 17, 2009, which included this prescient note just three months into his presidency:

    I am convinced that, if re-elected, Obama will seal his legacy by normalizing relations with Cuba.

    Sure enough, once re-elected Obama did just that:

    One bitter holdover of the Cold War slipped into the history books at 12:01 a.m. Monday, when the United States and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations. For the first time since severing ties in 1961, they reopened embassies in each other’s capitals.

    Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla traveled to the Cuban Embassy in Washington to raise his country’s flag, an event that Cuban government officials said would be broadcast live on the island’s state-run TV.

    (CNN, July 20, 2015)

    But, even though convinced that, if re-elected, Obama would end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy as well, I never thought he’d wait until the last week of his presidency to do so.

    President Obama, in one of his last foreign policy initiatives, will lift the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy that has allowed Cubans reaching U.S. soil to stay and receive American residency, while sending home those intercepted at sea, according to U.S. officials.

    The policy, put in place by the Clinton administration in 1996, altered the long-standing special immigration status of Cubans in place since the 1960s that had sent hundreds of thousands across the Florida Straits, often in leaky boats or homemade rafts.

    (Washington Post, January 12, 2017)

    But, hey, better late than never!

    That said, Donald Trump will have the authority to reinstate this policy on day one of his presidency – a week from today in fact. And it might seem a certainty given his pledge to “terminate the deal” Obama struck to normalize relations with Cuba.

    But, like his pledge to terminate the deal Obama struck to halt Iran’s nuclear program, it will prove far easier said than done. Remember his pledge to ban all Muslims…? Well, that has already been broken to resemble little more than the “extreme vetting” the Obama administration has had in place for years.

    Frankly, the juxtaposition of building a wall to keep Mexicans out and reinstating a policy to invite Cubans in might prove too contradictory … even for Trump. For there’s no denying that the impact of this policy reversal will be a halt in the kind of illegal immigration from Cuba Trump wants to halt from Mexico.

    Not to mention that, thanks to Obama normalizing relations, Miami Cubans now seem far more interested in traveling to Cuba than in having Cubans escape to Miami. For them, this “wet foot, dry foot” policy is hardly the sacred cow it was twenty (or even eight) years ago.

    Related commentaries:
    Compassion fatigue
    Fifth Summit

  • Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 7:03 AM

    Clemson Tigers Roll Alabama Crimson Tide for CFP Championship

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    How did the Tigers do it? With an indefatigable quarterback and the most thrilling of game-winning touchdown passes; with a host of slinky, stretchy wide receivers and an unbending will; with a goal-line leap from a bull of a running back; and with Swinney in the middle of it all, screaming and shouting and cajoling and inspiring. Over the past six seasons, only one program had won more games than Clemson, and it was Alabama, which also defeated Clemson in last year’s national championship game.

    (New York Times, January 10, 2017)

    Well, turnabout is fair play. So here’s to Clemson for exacting revenge on Monday night, defeating favored Alabama to win this year’s College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship 35-31.

    I feel obliged to disclose that I am not a fan of big-time college Football. No doubt this is because I did not attend one of far too many colleges in America whose reputation is based more on athletics than academics. Therefore, I never have any bragging interest in the outcome of any NCAA championship.

    Nonetheless, I have watched enough championship games to appreciate why so many sports commentators are hailing this one as the best in NCAA history. In fact, there’s no denying the thrill of watching an action-packed fourth quarter, during which Clemson overcame a three-touchdown deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with only one second left on the clock.

    Apropos of this, it speaks volumes that the CFP Championship rivals the NFL Super Bowl – not just in popularity but also in revenue. This is why the primary reason I comment on this annual spectacle is to vent my abiding lament about college Football masquerading as an amateur sport. This excerpt from “Reggie Bush Forfeits Heisman Trophy,” September 16, 2010, crystallizes my concerns.

    ___________________

    There’s nothing amateur about college football.  It’s a multibillion-dollar business for Christ’s sake!

    More to the point, the people generating its revenues are not the university presidents, athletics directors, or coaches who, incidentally, make millions of dollars in salary and endorsement deals. Instead, they are the poor, mostly black athletes whose raw talent colleges exploit to pack 100,000 fans into their stadiums on game day.

    I have always felt that it’s tantamount to modern-day slavery for universities to recruit poor and, all too often, uneducated athletes just to play Football and not compensate them for their services, especially considering they rarely get an education…

    But this indentured servitude is made much worse by branding these poor players – who generate tens of millions for their respective universities – as cheaters for accepting a little cash on the side. Mind you, those offering the cash are often boosters just trying to make life easier for the players to enable them to perform better for their universities. Not to mention that, if the NCAA were to penalize all college players who accept such gifts, there would be no college Football (or Basketball) worth watching.

    The hypocrisy inherent in this is beyond shameful. Universities should be required to compensate student athletes in direct proportion to the way owners of professional Football teams compensate their players.

    _________________

    That said, the only redeeming feature in this respect is that most major NCAA teams are now featuring blacks as quarterbacks. They were the exception not so long ago. They are fast becoming the rule, so much so that three of the four starting quarterbacks for this year’s CFP were black, including Deshaun Watson for Clemson and Jalen Hurts for Alabama.

    More importantly, this high-profile position greatly increases the likelihood of these black players making the first round of the NFL draft. This in turn guarantees multimillion-dollar contracts, which provide belated compensation for their years of indentured servitude.

    Related commentaries:
    Reggie Bush
    Student-athletes graduate poor … and dumb

  • Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 7:35 AM

    Obama’s Farewell Address: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Much is being said about the emotion President Obama showed and evoked when he paid tribute to First Lady Michelle and their daughters during his farewell address in Chicago last night. But the following captures the sense of accomplishment and customary admonition he conveyed:

    The work of democracy has always been hard. It has been contentious. Sometimes it has been bloody: for every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.

    (New York Times, January 10, 2017)

    In other words, the phrase “two steps forward” reflects the success of his presidency; “one step back” reflects the foreboding of Trump’s.

    Enough said.

  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 8:33 PM

    Breaking News: US Intel Says Putin Has Compromising Info on Trump

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Here is what I wrote almost a month ago on this topic:

    Frankly, besides Putin manipulating his infantile ego, the only thing that explains Trump’s antic infatuation [with Putin] is the same Russians who hacked the DNC making it clear to him that they have compromising, if not incriminating, information on him and/or his family.

    (“The Issue Is Not Whether Russia Affected Outcome of US Election,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 12, 2016)

    And here is what CNN is reporting right now as Breaking News:

    Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

    Truth be told, we already know so much about the money-grubbing, pussy-grabbing Trump, it’s hard to imagine any information that could compromise him, especially in the eyes of his “basket of deplorables.”

    But the alleged personal information might prove too humiliating for Congressional Republicans to defend:

    Russian authorities tried to ‘exploit Trump’s personal obsessions and sexual perversion’ in order to compromise him.

    The document also referenced Trump’s ‘(perverted) conduct’ at the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow, [where] the President and First Lady Michelle Obama ‘whom he hated’ had stayed.

    It cited ‘Source D’ as saying Trump’s conduct included hiring prostitutes ‘to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.’ It says the hotel was known to be under the control of Russia’s FSB, with hidden cameras and microphones.

    (Daily Mail, January 10, 2016)

    If he had any sense of decency, Trump would resign in shame … assuming this report is true. But I fear he will force Congress to impeach him — as I posited exactly two months ago today:

    Speaker Paul Ryan is leading a chorus of Republican leaders in singing Trump’s praises. But their resentment over his bull-in-a-China-shop run to the White House is palpable.

    Therefore, don’t be surprised if they seize the first opportunity to impeach and replace him with Vice President-elect Mike Pence — who Republicans and Democrats alike consider far more fit to serve as president … for a litany of well-documented reasons. And, given Trump’s Nixonian inclination to punish his enemies, to say nothing of his Clintonian inclination to enrich himself, he is bound to provide all kinds of opportunities for them to do so.

    (“WTF! President-elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” The iPINIONS Journal, November 10, 2016)

    On the other hand, if he were only a little smarter and less egotistical, Trump would admit it. After all, there’s nothing illegal about frolicking with prostitutes, no matter how depraved. I mean, it’s not as if he actually tested his political invincibility by standing in the middle of 5th Avenue and shooting someone.

    What’s more, his wife has already shown that she’s every bit as willing to forgive his infidelities as his supporters are to forgive his lies. Not to mention that admitting the truth of this report would remove Putin’s Damoclean sword of blackmail from over his head, freeing Trump to treat him with even more contempt than he treated “Little Marco.”

    As it happens, though, Trump was quick to dismiss it as “FAKE NEWS.” To which the only appropriate comment is the old Greek proverb:

    Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    But God help us if this report is true. Because, by denying it, Trump is only strengthening Putin’s hand as his puppet master — with all of the nefarious compromises that portends.

    Meanwhile, am I the only one who fears that, if Putin has compromising personal and financial information about Trump, he probably has such information in reams (and in living color) about Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. After all, Tillerson’s bromance with Putin is based on “doing business” in Moscow not just for a weekend but for a decade.

    Stay tuned, folks.

    Related commentaries:
    The issue

  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 9:38 AM

    White House Ruse: Trump and Kushner Forgoing Salaries

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President-elect Donald Trump appointed his influential son-in-law Jared Kushner as a White House senior advisor Monday, putting the young real estate executive in a position to exert broad sway over both domestic and foreign policy, particularly Middle East issues and trade negotiations…

    Kushner will resign as CEO of his family’s real estate company and as publisher of the New York Observer… The lawyer said Kushner would not be taking a salary.

    (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2017)

    First Trump made much ado about forgoing his salary ($400k). Now Kushner is doing the same ($175-200k). Unsurprisingly, Trump’s spinmeisters are asserting that the country should be grateful for their sacrifice. Never mind that public-spirited people are usually grateful for the honor of serving in the White House, especially as president or senior advisor.

    More to the point, though, it’s hardly a sacrifice if they are, on the one hand, forgoing hundreds of thousands in salary, while on the other hand, using their good offices to strike deals that will put hundreds of millions, if not billions, in their pockets.

    Alas, in Trump world, his election as president of the United States proved that the American people are suckers. And he and his courtiers seem intent on playing them as such … for all it’s worth.

    Finally, although exceedingly tempting, I shall refrain from commenting on Trump’s incestuous intent to make his ‘first daughter,” Ivanka, “the most powerful first lady ever” – as no less an authority than the Washington Post heralded in its edition on December 16, 2016.

    Related commentaries:
    Trump for pres? Don’t be a sucker

  • Monday, January 9, 2017 at 3:49 PM

    Black Lives Matter … more to White Cops than Black Thugs

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Arguably, the defining feature of black America in recent years has been the eruption of street protests every time a cop killed a black man. In each case, protesters vented existential angst with chants of: Black Lives Matter!

    In fact, the spectre of white cops killing black men now dominates national consciousness, so much so that no less a venue than the Capitol is featuring (as part of a Congressional Arts Competition) a mural depicting cops as trigger-happy pigs. Truth be told, there have been far too many instances affirming this depiction. Never mind that a mural depicting black men as menacing, rabid dogs would represent a greater and more existential truth.

    Perhaps more telling is how black consciousness led blacks to cheer Colin Kaepernick when he refused to stand for the National Anthem to protest police brutality. Kaepernick of course is the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers – whose teammates even awarded him their “most prestigious award … for inspirational and courageous play.” Never mind that his play was anything but inspirational and courageous as he led them through a feckless 2-14 season.

    Incidentally, I refused to cheer – as “Delusional Kaepernick Standing Up by Sitting Down During National Anthem,” August 30, 2016, attests. I initially delineated my reasons for doing so in “Killing Michael Brown: as much about Resisting Arrest as Police Brutality,” August 12, 2014, and reiterated those reasons in countless commentaries, including most recently in “Five Policemen Murdered: America Beware the Dallas Effect,” July 8, 2016.

    Meanwhile, the proverbial elephant in the room is that black men kill each other at 100 times the rate, to say nothing of the innocent black children they often kill in their crossfire. 

    Apropos of what menacing, rabid dogs they can be, there’s a manhunt underway as I write this for a black thug who killed a black cop in Orlando today; this, as she attempted to arrest him for allegedly murdering a pregnant woman a few weeks ago….

    Unfortunately, far too many blacks refuse to see this proverbial elephant. This prevailing refusal supports my contention that black lives matter more to white cops than black thugs. And those who protest the killing of one black by a white cop, while countenancing the killing of 100 blacks by black thugs, only reinforce it.

    Nothing can be more dismaying in this respect than reports that blacks in Orlando are now harboring that black thug who killed that black (female) cop….

    All of which raises the question: What do these protesters have to show for their protests?

    Alas, the short and all-too-predictable answer is: the killing of an alarming number of black men by black men … with relative impunity.

    Here is how former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called out Black Lives Matter protesters in this respect last week:

    During a radio interview with John Catsimatidis on AM 970 in New York, McCarthy blamed protests against police brutality in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and Charlotte, N.C., for creating a ‘political atmosphere of anti-police sentiment.’

    ‘So what’s happening, and this is ironic, is that a movement with the goal of saving black lives at this point is getting black lives taken, because 80 percent of our murder victims here in Chicago are male blacks,’ McCarthy said. ‘Less than half of 1 percent of all the shootings in this city involve police officers shooting civilians.’

    (Black Christian News Network, January 1, 2017)

    That “less than half of 1 percent of all the shootings” involves police officers cannot be overstated, especially when you consider this:

    Chicago marked 2016 as the deadliest year in nearly two decades, data released by the Chicago Police Department shows.

    The city saw a surge in gun violence in 2016: 762 murders, 3,550 shooting incidents, and 4,331 shooting victims, according to a statement released by the department on Sunday.

    There were 480 murders in 2015, the most in the city since 1997.

    (CNN, January 2, 2017)

    Of course it’s one thing to explain or rationalize crime data. It’s quite another to sound alarms in real time about factors that make up that data. As it happens, I’ve been doing just that for years — sounding alarms not only about too many black men triggering their own deaths by resisting arrest, but also about black thugs being a far greater threat to black lives than white cops.

    Here are excerpts on point from just two of my commentaries:

    ____________________

    • From “Why Chastise the Times for Describing Michael Brown as ‘No Angel’…?” August 26, 2014:

    None of national leaders eulogizing Michael bothered to reinforce the most salient lesson everyone, especially young black men, should learn from his death.

    That lesson is that distrust of the police, no matter how warranted, does not give anyone the right to resist arrest or engage in visceral confrontations with them…

    I fear the lesson too many black men are learning from this tragedy is that they can resist arrest, so long as they shout the new-fangled slogan, ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ while doing so. Clearly, this will only lead to more of them ending up like Michael.

    • From “Tyshawn Lee: Excuse Me, Which Black Lives Matter?” November 5, 2015:

    God help the city where residents fear gang members more than they trust police officers. But, given the scourge of black-on-black crime, the irony is that blacks predominate in areas of far too many cities where this is the case.

    This brings me to the unwitting spectre of the ‘Ferguson effect.’

    Chuck Rosenberg, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, said Wednesday that he agrees with FBI Director James Comey that police officers are reluctant to aggressively enforce laws in the post-Ferguson era of capturing police activity on smartphones and YouTube…

    The comments offer more support for the theory that, faced with increased scrutiny, the nation’s police officers are pulling back.

    (Washington Post, November 4, 2015)

    Unfortunately, black activists and pundits have spent more time this week splitting hairs about the Ferguson effect than condemning the increasing lawlessness that led to Tyshawn’s death.

    Never mind that nothing demonstrated the deadly impact of the Ferguson effect quite like police officers being reluctant to intervene as (black) rioters looted, pillaged, and burned their own areas of Baltimore earlier this year. To say nothing of the fact that no less a paper of record than the New York Times affirmed this effect in a June 15, 2015, report headlined, ‘West Baltimore’s Police Presence Drops, and Murder Soars,’ (the Baltimore effect?)…

    The obvious and understandable truth [is] that police officers (white and black) have always been reluctant to police high-crime areas, like the South Side of Chicago. Only this explains the despairing resonance of Spike Lee’s forthcoming movie, Chiraq, about violence so wanton and unchecked in black areas of Chicago, residents might as well be living in Iraq.

    The more troubling irony, though, is that police officers fear vigilant(e) public scrutiny that could end their careers (a la Darren Wilson) more than gangland violence that could end their lives.

    Such is the seemingly inexorable and irreconcilable breakdown in trust between those who wear blue and those who are black in America today.

    ____________________

    Alas, nothing explains why the killing fields of black America will remain fertile for years to come quite like Chicago’s current police superintendent echoing his predecessor’s dire lament:

    Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson told the AP recently that officers have become more careful, partly because they’re concerned about viral videos [which could cause them to] lose their job…

    The ‘the anti-police rhetoric’ in Chicago and across the country ‘has emboldened and actually empowered these gang members to do what they do.’

    Gang members may believe community residents will take their side instead of the police’s, he added.

    (ABC News, January 3, 2017)

    This is why my forlorn hope is that black consciousness will compel protests against the unrelenting menace of blacks killing blacks – complete with far greater urgency and outrage than those we’ve seen against the incidental spectre of cops killing blacks.

    As a case in point, I can think of no killing more worthy of such a Black Lives Matter protest than that of the black cop that black thug killed today:

    Orlando police Chief John Mina called Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, a 17-year veteran, a hero who was dedicated to serving her community. She was a Central Florida native, married with one son, who is in college, Mina said.

    ‘Master Sgt. Clayton always had the time to give back to her community, whether it was by mentoring at-risk youth or serving on our law enforcement task force,’ the Central Florida Urban League said on Facebook.

    (News6 Orlando, January 9, 2017)

    Michael Brown died resisting arrest. Master Sgt. Debra Clayton died protecting and serving her community. Black lives matter, but there’s no denying that some matter more than others….

    Related commentaries:
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    Dallas effect
    Why chastise the Times
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  • Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 8:01 AM

    Trump vs. Jong-un: a worthy match in so many respects

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 9:06 AM

    UPDATE: U.S. Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking of Presidential Election

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Yesterday, the Washington Post published what it deemed are the most important lines in the intelligence community’s report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    As it happens, those lines affirm what I inferred from testimony the community’s leaders presented at a congressional hearing on Thursday. I bulleted those inferences in yesterday’s commentary, “Trump Is Trump, and Intelligence Is Intelligence, and Never the Twain Shall Meet,” January 6, 2017.

    Here are three of those lines:

    We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.

    (Washington Post, January 6, 2017)

    There’s no denying the success of that campaign – no matter how many tweets Trump publishes to the contrary.

    More to the point, his continued, Manchurian-like deflection of blame from Putin’s Russia, while imputing it Democrats, constitutes one of many seeds already germinating for impeachment proceedings. And he has yet to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

    Speaker Paul Ryan is leading a chorus of Republican leaders in singing Trump’s praises. But their resentment over his bull-in-a-China-shop run to the White House is palpable.

    Therefore, don’t be surprised if they seize the first opportunity to impeach and replace him with Vice President-elect Mike Pence — who Republicans and Democrats alike consider far more fit to serve as president … for a litany of well-documented reasons. And, given Trump’s Nixonian inclination to punish his enemies, to say nothing of his Clintonian inclination to enrich himself, he is bound to provide all kinds of opportunities for them to do so.

    (“WTF! President-elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” The iPINIONS Journal, November 10, 2016)

    Mind you, Trump would be lucky if his presidency ends with impeachment. After all, he insinuated throughout his presidential campaign that Hillary’s would end with a “Second Amendment remedy” if she were elected.

    In any event, one cannot overstate the significance of Democrats and Republicans venting near unanimous support for the findings in this report, as well as for the categorical imperative of retaliating against Russia. Hence Trump really is “an island” — albeit one that can affect lives, for good or ill, on every continent of the world.

    Stay tuned, folks.

    Related commentaries:
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    WTF! President-elect Donald J. Trump?!
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  • Friday, January 6, 2017 at 11:39 AM

    Trump Is Trump, and Intelligence Is Intelligence, and Never the Twain Shall Meet

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    It has become self-evident that Donald Trump and human intelligence are parallel forces of nature. The obvious reason for this is that Trump’s need to feed his ego — even in the face of brazen hypocrisy or imminent danger — knows no bounds. Hence, any truth that does not make him look good is suspect — no matter how hypocritical or dangerous his refusal to accept it.

    This brings me to the hearing the Senate Armed Services Committee held yesterday on intelligence findings that Russia interfered in last year’s presidential election. It featured Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, and Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Marcel J. Lettre II. The bottom line of their testimony is that there’s agreement across all U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia tried, in a variety of unprecedented and foreboding ways, to influence the outcome of that election.

    These intelligence leaders did not ascribe motives, but one could reasonably infer that Russia was attempting, among other things, to:

    • Undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral process, if not in Western democracy itself.
    • Sow Sunni vs. Shia-like discord between Republicans and Democrats.
    • Exact revenge on Hillary and the Democrats for raising questions about the fairness of Russia’s 2012 presidential election – notwithstanding the legitimacy of those questions.
    • Deflect from its own domestic and international troubles, which include that damning WADA report on its state-sponsored doping program. This report led to practically every Russian Track and Field athlete being banned from the Rio Olympics, and every Russian athlete (in every sport) being banned from the Rio Paralympics.

    No doubt to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dismay, Republican and Democratic senators on the committee holding this hearing demonstrated rare bipartisanship, expressing unanimous support for the intelligence agencies and the testimony of these select leaders. In fact, they are getting similar support from nearly all politicians and pundits alike.

    Yet, despite all this, President-elect Donald Trump is still venting doubts – even disparaging the intelligence findings as part of a political witch hunt orchestrated by the Democrats.

    Trump has now made clear he intends to keep fighting the intelligence community’s findings….

    (Washington Post, January 6, 2017)

    Frankly, only two things explain Trump’s willful suspension of belief:

    1. Russia having compromising information on him.
    2. His narcissistic inability to accept that Russia’s interference hurt Hillary and helped him.

    But don’t get me started on:

    …the irony and hypocrisy inherent in him whining about the intelligence community conspiring with Democrats to de-legitimize his election.

    After all, he’s the conspiracy nut who spent the past eight years trying to de-legitimize Obama’s presidency — variously insinuating that Obama was not born in the USA (aka the ‘birther’ madness) and that his Harvard degree is a fraud. Now he’s adding insult to that offense by making pronouncements, engaging foreign leaders, and strong-arming corporations as if he’s already the president of the United States.

    (“The Issue Is Not Whether Russia Affected the Outcome…,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 10, 2016)

    The point is that, if you are still expressing shock and venting outrage over all of the ignorant, narcissistic, dishonest, puerile, thin-skinned, hypocritical, and dangerous things Trump says and does, the joke’s on you.

    To be fair, though, Trump never missed an opportunity throughout his presidential campaign to warn voters that it’s more important to him to preserve his ego than to “preserve the Union.” Moreover, that he would defend his ego at the expense of the Union even against the most asinine or inconsequential slight.

    God help America.

    Related commentaries:
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  • Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 8:07 AM

    Happy New Year…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Back on Monday, January 9, 2017

  • Saturday, December 31, 2016 at 11:19 AM

    Terminal Humiliation of MMA Golden Goose, Rhonda Rousey

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    You can be forgiven for thinking that Mixed Martial Arts Fighting (MMA) owes its popularity to the testosterone-fuelled fists of fury of fighters like Anderson “The Spider” Silva, George “Rush” St. Pierre, and “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. But that distinction belongs to the glamour-puss promotional antics of Rhonda Rousey.

    In fact, MMA paid its latest (and perhaps final) installment on that debt by guaranteeing Rousey $3 million for last night’s fight. By contrast, it guaranteed Amanda Nunes, the reigning champion no less, a mere $200k – thereby disrespecting her professional talent and undermining the integrity of the sport.

    To be fair, no fighter engaged in such promotional antics more than The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Except that, from his days as an amateur Olympic Champion, Ali had long-established that he was much more than just a pretty face….

    Of course, my title gives away the outcome of this Rousey-Nunes fight. But the real story here is how Rousey’s humiliating defeat vindicates my contention that MMA promoted her from day one as more eye candy (the better to attract fans) than bona fide fighter.

    Rousey was all too happy to oblige; never mind the oxymoronic way she sought ring cred with Ali-like boasts and trash talk. I called her out thirteen months ago in “Down Goes Rousey! Down Goes Rousey! Holly Holms Shocks the World!” November 17, 2015. I’ve decided to reprise that commentary in its entirety because it telegraphed in so many respects what happened last night.

    **********

    MMA is arguably even more barbaric than cockfighting or dogfighting – as Michael Vick might contend. Therefore, only the animalistic part of my nature explains why I am such a big fan. (At least Boxing purports to be “the sweet science of bruising.”)

    Because of its barbarity, some might find it ironic that MMA’s biggest star is a woman, Ronda Rousey. In fact, the media hype surrounding her in recent years was such that Homeric tales of her fighting prowess rivaled Lachaisean images of Kim Kardashian’s butt.

    More to the point, one could not help thinking of Rousey as being to MMA what Mike Tyson was to Boxing. For, like Tyson’s in his heyday, the only suspense her fights held was in the amount of time her opponents could survive before tapping out.

    Then came Saturday:

    Holly Holm scored a savage, utterly shocking headkick knockout over Ronda Rousey last night (Sat., Nov. 14, 2015) in the second round of the UFC 193 main event, which took place inside Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.

    It was a jaw-dropping finish…

    Holm handed the unstoppable Rousey — UFC’s most dominant champion and its biggest star — the first professional loss of her fantastic career.

    (MMA Mania, SB Nation, November 15, 2015)

    Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.39.40 AM

    Frankly, shocking is an understatement. But I hasten to note here that, even though her team rushed her to hospital after the fight, the wound to her pride must be the deepest one of all.

    Of course, the reason this knockout was so shocking is that media hype had even MMA analysts spouting nonsense about Rousey being so domineering she could beat any male MMA fighter in her weight class. Remarkably, even Rousey bought into her own hype. I, however, did not – as this excerpt from “Women in Combat: Hail ‘Woman Power’ Rangers,” August 19, 2015, attests.

    ___________________

    I have celebrated every small step women have taken over the years towards integrating professions traditionally reserved for men. And I could not be more pleased to celebrate their latest. Not least because, with all due respect to Tysonesque MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, it demonstrates that women are just as capable of performing in armed combat as men…

    rouseybI reference Rousey in this context because, as reported on the August 12 edition of ESPN’s Sports Center, she’s now claiming that she can beat any man, including reigning boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, in a ‘no-rules fight’ – whatever that means (knives allowed?).

    But this makes a mockery of woman-power aspirations. After all, it’s one thing for a 29-year-old Billie Jean King to challenge a 55-year-old Bobby Riggs to a Tennis match in a ‘Battle of the Sexes.’ It’s quite another for Rousey to challenge Mayweather to a street fight. Especially given that her bull-in-China-shop style of fighting would be no match even for a female MMA fighter with just one half of Mayweather’s ability to stick and move and counterpunch; you know, the tactics journeyman Buster Douglas used to knock out invincible Mike Tyson.

    Rousey clearly thinks she’s invincible too. But this one-trick pony will have to show me a lot more than ‘the armbar submission’ before I buy into her media hype.

    __________________

    Mind you, even though she too was undefeated going into this fight, I had no idea Holly Holm would be Ronda Rousey’s Buster Douglas. I just knew it was only a matter of time before a fighter with bona fide MMA (boxing) skills exposes her obvious weaknesses…

    Meanwhile, Rousey could not have known what karma she triggered when she did this:

    [Rousey], who was defeated for the first time in her career on Saturday, ignored the referee’s call to make the sporting gesture [of touching gloves with Holm] at the beginning of the encounter.

    Instead the 28 year old turned away, put her fists up and prepared to fight.

    (UK Daily Mail, November 16, 2015)

    Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.22.59 AM

    No doubt Rousey thought this opening stunt would enhance the badass image she has tried so hard to cultivate. But it only enhances my glee that Holm proceeded to knock her on her ass.

    By the way, I fully appreciate that many of you probably don’t know your MMA from your HSA. But to get a sense of my schadenfreude over Rousey’s comeuppance, just imagine the glee you, or any sensible person, would feel if Donald Trump suddenly began polling dead last in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

    As it happens, though, wall-to-wall media coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris spared Rousey much of the public humiliation she should have suffered – her deeply wounded pride notwithstanding.

    Congratulations, Holly!

    **********

    Given that, I’m not sure why it surprised anyone last night when this golden goose laid another rotten egg:

    Ronda Rousey’s future in the UFC looked all but over in Las Vegas as the former women’s bantamweight champion was blown away in 48 seconds by incumbent champion Amanda Nunes.

    Fast heavy hands from Brazilian Nunes, a renowned vicious starter, stunned Rousey who was returning to the Octagon for the first time since her defeat 13 months ago against Holly Holm in a bid to reclaim her bantamweight crown.

    Nunes was defending her title for the first time since demolishing Miesha Tate in July, and landed a big right inside 15 seconds, before an onslaught which met little resistance with the American battered to a standstill until referee Herb Dean stepped in to rescue the returning fighter.

    (The Telegraph, December 31, 2016)

    Here’s to Nunes, a fighter with bona fide MMA skills.

    Good riddance, Rhonda!

    Except that she deserves credit for setting herself up with millions to spend while licking her wounds in ignominious retirement….

    Related commentaries:
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  • Thursday, December 29, 2016 at 8:57 AM

    Netanyahu’s a Putz for Branding Obama a Judas over UN Resolution

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Netanyahu will never miss an opportunity to undermine peace with Israel’s enemies — even if that means making enemies of Israel’s friends.

    (“Chutzpah: Israeli PM to Address US Congress,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 23, 2015)

    Bear this quote in mind as you read below.

    A truly stupefying feature of the relationship between Israel and the United States is the way the former presumes that the latter is obligated to support its policies whether they are right or wrong.

    This presumption was thrown into stark relief last year when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a special session of Congress. For he spent most of it chastising President Obama for daring to strike a nuclear deal with Iran, which he falsely claimed poses an existential threat to Israel.

    Not to mention that the leaders of Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany all joined Obama in negotiating this deal pursuant to their shared interest in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Which is why it rang hollow when Netanyahu criticized only Obama in this context as weak and naïve.

    Never mind the wonder that his well-documented record of crying wolf about Iran’s nuclear program did not cause him to bite his tongue.

    A SERIOUS [sic] threat of nuclear war hangs over Israel, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset plenum yesterday…

    ‘Within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb, without having to import either the technology or the material,’ Netanyahu said. ‘[The nuclear threat] must be uprooted by an international front headed by the US.’

    (Jerusalem Post, January 12, 1995)

    At the very least, this record should have compelled even the Republican-controlled Congress to deny him such an authoritative forum to pose presumptuous and plainly disingenuous challenges to a sitting president. Arguably, his collusion with Republicans for this occasion constituted an unprecedented act of political mutiny. I duly chastised him and them in “Republicans Send ‘Mutinous’ Letter to Iran,” March 17, 2015.

    Incidentally, it is noteworthy that, despite his doctrinaire opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu never offered any credible alternative. Which is even more irresponsible than the fact that, despite their doctrinaire opposition to Obamacare, Republicans never offered any credible alternative.

    In any event:

    Netanyahu seems to think Israel can get by with a little help from its friends — even if those friends comprise just a small faction of Christian fundamentalists and neo-cons within the U.S. Republican Party.

    (“Netanyahu’s Call for Jewish Exodus more Sharpton than Moses,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 23, 2015)

    Only that explains this:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out Saturday at what he called the ‘old-world bias against Israel,’ attacking President Obama and the United Nations over a resolution that criticized Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem…

    The resolution, which was brought for a vote Friday in the U.N. Security Council, declared that settlements built on land Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war have ‘no legal validity’ and are a threat to the possibility of creating two states — one for Israelis and one for Palestinians…

    In a statement after the vote, Netanyahu said the Obama administration had ‘not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the U.N., it has colluded with it behind the scenes.’

    (Washington Post, December 24, 2016)

    It clearly does not matter one iota to Netanyahu that, by abstaining on this resolution, the Obama administration spared Israel a unanimous condemnation. After all, every other member of the Security Council voted to support it.

    Granted, even as she abstained, Obama’s UN ambassador, Samantha Power, vented in unison with those condemning Israel on one critical point.

    Ms. Power said the United States chose not to veto the resolution, as it had done to a similar measure under Mr. Obama in 2011, because settlement building had accelerated so much that it had put the two-state solution in jeopardy, and because the peace process had gone nowhere.

    ‘Today the Security Council reaffirmed its established consensus that settlements have no legal validity. The United States has been sending a message that settlements must stop privately and publicly for nearly five decades.’

    (New York Times, December 23, 2016)

    Moreover there’s this:

    The International Court of Justice … ruled that Jewish settlements in what it calls occupied Palestinian territory are illegal. The U.S. has deemed settlements an obstacle to peace. The Arab world considers them occupation of land that belongs in an independent Palestinian state.

    (Bloomberg, December 23, 2016)

    Yet successive Israeli governments have not only defied international law but made successive U.S. governments complicit in expanding Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories; so much so that the population of Jewish settlers has grown from just over 10,000 in the 1970s to well over 700,000 today.

    This, in fairness to Netanyahu, compels me to stress that every prime minister has acted as if Israel’s you-and-me-against-the-world approach to foreign policy means that the United States should have its back – come what may, no matter what.

    Hence U.S. presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower have been obliged to do on many occasions what Netanyahu is accusing Obama of doing this one and only time, namely, abstaining from voting on a UN resolution critical of Israel. But some presidents have done far more, namely, voting to condemn Israel. Ronald Reagan did so three times; George H.W. Bush, nine.

    This is why Netanyahu’s crocodile wailing since last week’s vote  – that “friends don’t take friends to the Security Council” – is as disingenuous as it is mischievous. Not to mention that the elder Bush became so frustrated with Israel’s defiance in this respect, he had his secretary of state, James Baker, rebuke Israel during congressional testimony with this now-famous message:

    Everybody over there should know that the telephone number for the White House is (202) 456-1414.  When you’re serious about peace, call us!

    (New York Times, June 14, 1990)

    That was over 25 years ago, folks. And there’s clear and convincing evidence that Israel is still not serious about peace. Israel can be forgiven its persecution complex, but its imperious treatment not only of Palestinians but of U.S. presidents militates against forgiveness.

    All of which raises the following questions:

    • Why is Netanyahu denouncing Obama as a proverbial betrayer for merely abstaining on this one resolution, given that no Israeli prime minister has ever denounced any other U.S. president as such for repeatedly abstaining on similar resolutions?
    • Why is Netanyahu accusing Obama of colluding with the international community to draft this resolution, given that other U.S. presidents have openly led the international community in drafting similar resolutions?

    This prime minister doth protest too much, methinks. After all, Obama has done more for Israel than any other president with respect to protecting it against UN resolutions and providing security guarantees. Here, for example, is what no less a person than Ehud Barak, former Israeli prime minister (1999 to 2001) and defense minister (2007 to 2013), said about Obama’s commitment to and support of Israel:

    ‘I am saying very clearly that this administration in regard to Israel’s security – and we are traditionally supported by each and every American president in our generation – but under this administration we went even further into a clear, deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel.’

    (Charlie Rose, March 24, 2010)

    And that commendation did not include this unprecedented demonstration of support to bookend his presidency:

    The United States and Israel signed a defense aid agreement on Wednesday that promises Israel $38 billion over 10 years, from 2019 through 2028…

    ‘Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and I are confident that the new MOU will make a significant contribution to Israel’s security in what remains a dangerous neighborhood,’ Obama said… ‘As I have emphasized previously, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.’

    (Haaretz, September 14, 2016)

    Given this, one could be forgiven the impression that the more Obama did for Israel the more Netanyahu resented him. Alas, one could also be forgiven the suspicion that a key factor animating Netanyahu’s presumptuous behavior towards Obama, is the same key factor that animated Republican efforts to make him a failed president, as well as Donald Trump’s birther crusade to delegitimize his presidency: racism.

    As it happens, Netanyahu reinforced this suspicion in recent days by acting as if President-elect Trump – whom he hails as “a true friend of the state of Israel” – is already the president of the United States.

    Incidentally, I’ve decried this antic disposition towards Obama in many commentaries over the years, including “2014 Midterm Elections: Republicans and the Triumph of Irrational Exuberance,” November 5, 2014, “Super-Rich Irony,” October 5, 2012, and “Delusions of Despair Undermining Obama’s Presidency?” June 21, 2012.

    Enough said?

    Except that I feel constrained to add that Netanyahu seems hell-bent on emulating South Africa’s Apartheid leaders by turning Israel into a pariah state. No less a person than former President Jimmy Carter is on record lamenting this – not only in his authoritative book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, but also during his frequent visits to the Middle East.

    Carter, who served as U.S. president from 1977 to 1981, said he believes that Netanyahu has no intention of pursuing peace, and lamented that ‘They [Palestinians] will never get equal rights [to Israeli Jews, in a one-state solution].’

    Netanyahu ‘does not now and has never sincerely believed in a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine,’ Carter added.

    (Times of Israel, August 13, 2013)

    Netanyahu is clearly playing the antisemite card by complaining about Obama and the UN ganging up on Israel throughout the peace process. But this as factually and morally bankrupt as Trump playing the woe-is-me card by complaining about Hillary and the media ganging up on him throughout the election process.

    Frankly, even in Trump’s “post-fact, post-truth” world, there’s no denying that Netanyahu and his settlement policy have been the greatest obstacles to peace. Worse still, by expanding and fortifying this apartheid policy, Israel is rendering specious its clarion boast about being the only democracy in the Middle East. Indeed, with all due respect to Reagan, peace through strength to Netanyahu amounts to might makes right.

    And it does not bode well that Trump seems determined to parrot everything Netanyahu says and support everything he does, making a mockery of the role U.S. presidents have traditionally played as honest broker in the Sisyphean Mideast peace process.

    As my title indicates, Netanyahu is casting Obama as a Judas the betrayer of Israel’s biblical efforts to occupy Palestinian territories. Trump is buying into this by casting himself as a Christ the redeemer of those efforts.

    But he will realize soon enough that brokering a peace deal in the Middle East is a far cry from opening a hotel or running a casino, especially given his infamous record of failure with respect to the latter. More to the point, the vexing feature of that realization will undoubtedly be Netanyahu’s manifest determination to impose a neo-apartheid peace deal on the Palestinian people.

    Apropos of which, Israel is as isolated on the world stage today as South Africa was at the height of Apartheid.

    Frankly, instead of trying in vain to rally the world to maintain crippling sanctions against Iran for fomenting terrorism, Netanyahu should be worried about former president Jimmy Carter rallying the world to impose sanctions against Israel for building (what Carter has decried as) an apartheid state, where Jews treat Palestinians the way whites treated blacks in Apartheid South Africa.

    (“Obama Leads World to Historic Nuclear Deal with Iran,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 15, 2015)

    And Netanyahu is only compounding Israel’s isolation with petty, spiteful gestures purporting to punish members of the Security Council who voted for this resolution:

    In a further response to a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reportedly ordered the Foreign Ministry to suspend all working ties with 12 of the countries that voted in favor of the decision…

    Of the 15 countries on the UN Security Council, 14 voted in favor of Resolution 2334, which demands a halt to all Israeli settlement activity, with one abstention, that of the U.S.

    Activities involving the embassies of Britain, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Angola, Egypt, Uruguay, Spain, Senegal and New Zealand will be suspended, and the ambassadors of those countries will not be received at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, an official said.

    (Times of Israel, December 25, 2016)

    Unsurprisingly, congressional Republicans are aiding Netanyahu in his foolhardy and unsustainable attempts to exact retribution. These, of course, are the same Republicans who misled him to think he could derail the nuclear deal with Iran by damning it in that ill-fated address to a joint session of Congress.

    In fact, Senator Lindsey Graham is leading the chorus of those resuming calls for the United States to defund the United Nations. Never mind that these calls are no more practicable than their calls to defund Obamacare.

    More importantly, it behooves these Israel-can-do-no-wrong Republicans to appreciate that China would be all too willing to not only pick up the slack in funding but move its headquarters from New York to Beijing to boot.

    As it happens, in their partisan and myopic efforts to make Obama a failed president, Republicans have so undermined America’s global influence and appeal that I suspect a majority of member countries would be happy to move. What’s more, this development would be entirely consistent with China’s geopolitical strategy of using cash to buy the kind of global influence the United States fought wars to attain.

    Except that there’s a Trump card, which makes talk of defunding the UN under a Trump administration all hot air. After all, Trump relies on far too many UN diplomats for rental and other income. And let’s face it, he has already telegraphed that his presidency will be all about doing what’s best for Trump.

    NOTE: A few enlightened Republicans are calling for sanctions against Vladimir Putin because they realize that Putin can hack them the way he hacked Democrats. These Republicans would do well to demand an apology from Netanyahu because they should realize that Netanyahu can show the same kind of contempt for President Trump that he has shown for President Obama (the current bromance between Netanyahu and Trump notwithstanding).

    Not to mention the contempt he’s showing for the American taxpayer by, on the one hand, taking $38 billion for Israel’s security, while on the other hand, declaring that “no foreign government” has any right to lecture his government on what it takes for peace.

    Related commentaries:
    Chutzpah
    Netanyahu condemns nuclear deal
    Republicans send mutinous letter
    Triumph of irrational exuberance
    Super-rich irony
    Delusions of despair

    *  This commentary was originally published yesterday, Wednesday, at 9:39 a.m.

  • Tuesday, December 27, 2016 at 7:09 AM

    Happy Kwanzaa!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Traditional Kwanzaa BookIt’s a curious thing that so many black Americans – who insist on calling themselves African Americans – know so little about their American heritage, and even less about their African ancestry. But this is probably because “black pride” is about as ethereal and subjective as religious faith….

    Martin Luther King Jr. taught us the objective value of judging people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. In a similar vein, I humbly suggest that racial pride should be based not on the assumption of things unseen but on substance of deeds done.

    It is in this spirit of racial enlightenment that I celebrate Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1).

    In so doing, I pay homage to the Afrocentric Dr Maulana Kerenga who founded this holiday in 1966 “not to substitute for Christmas” but to reaffirm what it is to be of African ancestry.

    Family Celebrating KwanzaaMore important, though, if all black people endeavored to live according to the seven guiding principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa, then having black pride would entail far more than spouting off hollow rhetoric:

    1. Umoja: (oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, “I am We” or “I am because We are.”

    2. Kujichagulia: (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.

    3. Ujima: (oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility remind us of our obligation to the past, present, and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.

    4. Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.

    5. Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.

    6. Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.

    7. Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

    In fact, with these guiding principles, blacks should come to celebrate Kwanzaa the way Jews celebrate Hanukkah….

    Happy Kwanzaa!

  • Monday, December 26, 2016 at 8:07 AM

    Happy Boxing Day!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    Boxing Day is a Christmas-hangover holiday that is observed throughout the British Commonwealth on December 26. However, like most British (“bank”) holidays, it has no modern significance beyond providing lazy Englishmen (and the people they “colonized”) a pretext for another day off from work.

    Nonetheless, if you’re interested in Boxing Day folklore, including how it relates to boxes that contained Christmas Day presents, click here.

  • Sunday, December 25, 2016 at 8:50 AM

    Pope celebrates Christmas with a kiss that is wrong in so many symbolic ways

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    WTF, Francis!

    (Granted, the Baby Jesus seems ecstatic!)

  • Sunday, December 25, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    Merry Christmas

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

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