• Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 9:31 AM

    New Orleans: The Day After…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    Let us pray….And, please send aid!

    And, I urge more targeted donations to the United Negro College Fund to help black college students from New Orleans continue their education under minimal financial duress.

  • Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 11:13 AM

    SOUTH AFRICA: Support for (principled) President Wanes as it Surges for His (compromised) Deputy…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Thabo Mbeki: South Africa’s principled but unloved President…

    What, pray tell, is going on in South Africa! How have political disputes within its ruling African National Congress (ANC) become such an internecine saga that President Thabo Mbeki felt compelled last week to publish an open letter assuring South Africans that his sacking of Deputy President Jacob Zuma was not part of a “deliberate hostile political persecution”? Indeed, how is it that after being reelected with an overwhelming mandate just last April (2004), Mbeki now finds himself defending his leadership against mutinous ANC supporters who are demanding Zuma’s reinstatement?

    (In fact, the developing dynamics between Mbeki and Zuma evoke all of the intrigue that characterized the relationship between Captain Bligh and Fletch Christian before the Mutiny on the Bounty. And, the inevitable confrontation between these political titans seems destined to rock South Africa’s ship of state.)

    Something’s rotten in the state of South Africa!

    But, for a critical mass of poor South Africans, what stinks is not Zuma’s alleged corrupt business practices (which precipitated his resignation); instead, it is Mbeki’s economic programme for sustainable development.

    Restiveness amongst rank and file supporters of the ANC has been simmering for years. However, disillusionment with Mbeki’s leadership flared into open defiance earlier this year when he cuddled Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe in the face of reports that Mugabe was “politically cleansing” his own people for daring to challenge his iron rule. After all, this gesture undermined, in a notoriously craven fashion, the pledge of solidarity that was offered to Zimbabwe’s oppressed Opposition by leaders of Mbeki’s governing alliance – the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). And, adding insult to disillusionment, Mbeki incited outrage even amongst stalwart ANC members when he announced just weeks ago his plan to pay-off some of Mugabe’s international debt.

    Nevertheless, the root cause of the unfolding mutiny against Mbeki stems from frustrations with his economic policies. Because supporters expected Mbeki to implement programmes, posthaste, to redress social and economic inequities for South Africa’s poor; not to impose upon them austere measures to address financial and business concerns of western banks (like the IMF). But reconciling disaffections in this regard presents Mbeki with a genuine conflict because he seems convinced that his economic agenda harmonizes the expectations of the poor with the imperatives of sustainable development in the best way possible. Unfortunately, the political winds in South Africa today are suffused with impatience. And, they are blowing more towards satisfying immediate expectations than building for the future….

    Enter Comrade (Cde) Jacob Zuma: South Africa’s compromised but beloved (axed) Deputy President…

    Mbeki’s sacking of Cde Zuma served as the catalyst for open revolt against his leadership. But this is hardly surprising because Cde Zuma embodies the aspirations of redistributive justice that so many South Africans relish (and which is the organizing principle that binds the governing ANC, COSATU and SACP alliance). Moreover, it does not bode well for stability in the country when poor South Africans speak of Cde Zuma the way poor Venezuelans venerate their President Hugo Chavez: As a man committed to expending national resources to empower the chronically poor and disenfranchised through government subsidies for education, employment, health and cooperative enterprises – despite the dictates of western bankers.(i.e. Their Robin Hood!)

    Yet, where disaffection and disillusionment with Mbeki’s political priorities are understandable (indeed, he would do well to seek Chavez’s counsel), rallying around Cde Zuma is foolhardy. Because defiant support for him, under these circumstances, also undermines the rule of law and may lead to a national crisis if COSATU and SACP insist on his reinstatement. (In fact, it’s a short step from organizing mobs to boo Cde Zuma’s replacement as Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, off-stage at a recent ANC rally, to inciting street riots and anti-government protests reminiscent of the Anti-Apartheid era.)

    There was clearly probable cause for Cde Zuma’s arrest. And, his supporters would do well to allow the courts to resolve the charges against him than to demand that Mbeki give him political cover. But a public trial cannot possibly address the alienation of (personal) affection between these old political comrades that is being played out so dramatically. But the best way I know how to explain the complex relationship between Mbeki and Cde Zuma is as follows:

    Zuma was Mbeki’s Achilles heel just as Winnie was Nelson Mandela’s! And, just as Mandela had to disassociate from Winnie (by divorcing her) to preserve the viability of his leadership, so too did Mbeki have to disassociate from Zuma (by sacking him) for the sake of his leadership.

    Comrades in Dance (in sync) on the campaign trail a year ago. How sad that today they are marching to the beat of decidedly different drummers…

    Note:Cde Zuma’s supporters might insist on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to allow Cde Zuma and his fellow black oligarchs to explain their shady dealings under a grants of immunity. After all, in post-apartheid South Africa, if such absolution is available to white murderers then it should be equally available to black thieves! (If the shoe fits….)

  • Monday, August 29, 2005 at 10:04 AM

    Run For Your Lives, Katrina’s Coming, Katrina’s Coming!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Tracking Katrina: A clear and present danger!

    TV stations cover natural disasters purportedly as a public service. But there’s no denying that such coverage is a ratings boon for their bottom line – catering as it does to the perverse thrill of suspense that keeps us fixated on the hype of impending doom….

    Therefore, it was no surprise yesterday that programming on almost every channel in America was interrupted, continually, for “breaking news” on Katrina’s location and to warn people in her path that – as Fred Sanford would always say – “[New Orleans], dis is da BIG ONE!”

    Alas, just as Fred’s false alarms became a big joke, so too have annual weather forecasts of the big one become far less foreboding. After all, despite doomsday predictions each year, only 3 out of 22 monster hurricanes (category 5) actually hit America in the 20th Century. And, the last one that was, in fact, worthy of this seasonal hysteria was Hurricane Andrew 13 years ago.

    (Triskaidekaphobes will no doubt bet their lives that the real reason to be worried this time is because Katrina comes in the 13th year since Andrew. But I digress…)

    Indeed, as of this posting, Katrina is a bona-fide category 5 hurricane making a beeline for Louisiana from 50 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. But, as far as natural disasters go, a hurricane passing through America today should not leave the magnitude of devastation in its wake that drought inflicts upon people in Africa every month, or that the Tsunami washed over the unsuspecting people of Indonesia just last year or, indeed, that hurricanes cause for my people in the Caribbean every year (as Hurricane Ivan’s decimation of Grenada demonstrated so poignantly last season).

    Americans are blessed with the technology, escape routes to inland shelters and other emergency management resources to gauge and withstand hurricanes with virtually no loss of life. Nevertheless, how well local authorities enforce evacuation orders and how many daring fools ignore them (and go sight seeing in the eye of the storm) shall determine Katrina’s human casualties.

    On the other hand, wind gusts and biblical floods will probably cause catastrophic damage to property. But, as the building boom following Andrew proved, even such damage presents economic opportunities that some see as the silver lining in the dark clouds on the horizon. (Hurricane season for Home Depot is like Christmas season for Toys R Us. And, if you think I’m being too cynical, please note how often the damage from this hurricane is expressed in terms of dollars as opposed to lives lost….)

    Floridians show Louisianans what to expect the day after Katrina…

    So, notwithstanding the TV coverage, we should maintain some perspective here: A watery Pompeii New Orleans shall not become…for too long at any rate. The waters will recede and clean-up will be a bitch; but thank God for insurance…”ya’ll do have insurance, don’t ya?”

    Note: Let’s hope Katrina’s winds are strong enough to finally blow away one of those wannabe Dan Rather reporters (Anderson Cooper) who seem to think it’s necessary (and heroic) to go out in the hurricane to report the obvious whilst holding on to a pole for dear life….

  • Sunday, August 28, 2005 at 11:56 AM

    Back to School with Little Hope and Less Promise…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, August 27, 2005 at 11:41 AM

    The Politics of GAS: A Lot of Hot Air!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Many Americans blame oil-producing Arab countries for driving up the price of gas to prohibitive levels. But American oil companies (like ExxonMobil) and the politicians whose careers they fuel are really the ones to blame.

    Click here to see why the wrath of Americans who are addicted to gas guzzling vehicles should be directed more at President Bush (for pumping so much hot air into this crisis) than his buddy King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia….

    By the way, things could get even worse if President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela follows through on his threat to cut off his country’s oil supplies to the U.S. (And, I doubt even Bush has the stomach for an Iraqi-style regime change in Venezuela….)

  • Friday, August 26, 2005 at 11:01 AM

    Update: Sen. Warner Accuses Defense Sec. Rumsfeld of Rigging BRAC (Base Closings)…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Armchair BRAC commissioners Sen. John Warner (center), Gov. Mark Warner (right) and Sen. George Allen (left) vowed to fight – all for one and one for all – to save military installations in their state of Virginia from closure, regardless of their military value to America’s national defense!

    Yesterday was D-day for many communities in America that depend on military bases and Pentagon offices to sustain their economies. And, today some of them are facing imminent and potentially devastating disruptions because of final decisions that were rendered by the U.S. Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission.

    Please click here for my previous article explaining the BRAC process and highlighting the myopic arguments politicians have deployed to keep the defense installations in their constituencies off the BRAC hit list. After all, in this zero-sum process, one constituency’s gain is invariably another’s loss. Alas, there’s the rub….

    The BRAC was constituted to be impervious to political pressure and influence. Yet, even Sen. John Warner (R) – arguably the most respected and influential member of the U.S. Senate – showed little regard for its non-partisan mission. Because when the BRAC announced office closures in his state (which would drain over 20,000 jobs from Northern Virginia), Warner accused Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of improperly manipulating the process.

    Now, one might expect such an intemperate and unsubstantiated accusation from a less tenured and politically insecure (Democratic) senator. But Republican Warner has been in the senate for almost 27 years and is now chairman of its powerful Armed Services Committee. Therefore, no one should know better than he the inappropriateness (and utter futility) of reaction with such self-interest and hysteria to BRAC decisions. (Once the BRAC renders final decisions on all defense properties, the president (as Commander-in-Chief) invariably approves them without reservation. And, President Bush has indicated that he intends to do the same.)

    Nevertheless, Sen. Warner was hardly the only politician who cried foul when the BRAC dropped a bomb on his constituency; which is not surprising because such a hit will lead inexorably to many job losses including, quite possibly, his. Indeed, the BRAC process lays bare the fact that America’s military industrial complex has become more about jobs (and lucrative defense contracts) than defending the country from foreign attacks. But, notwithstanding economic and sentimental values (regarding, for example, installations like the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC), it is imperative that politicians either respect the BRAC process as constituted or amend it to give greater weight to the economic and other values some politicians clearly think should be factored into its decisions.

    The BRAC? It’s about J-O-B-S stupid!

  • Thursday, August 25, 2005 at 11:56 AM

    The French Still Trying To Ensnare Cyclist Lance Armstrong In Drugs Scandal…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Is Lance Armstrong a legitimate sports hero or a cycling dope fiend who used his cocktail of cancer drugs to mask the illegal drugs he took to juice his body through 7 consecutive victories in the Tour de France?

    Lance, buddy, say it ain’t so….

    In fact, Armstrong has repeatedly denied doping accusations and has even spewed sanctimonious scorn on those who questioned his sports ethics. Yet, an intriguing subplot of this (did he or didn’t he) mystery has been the nature of Armstrong’s relationship with his perennial accuser, Greg Lemond. Lemond, of course, is heralded as the first American to win the Tour (in 1989). But instead of being a mentor to Armstrong, as one might expect, Lemond has been his principal accuser.

    I was never sure, however, whether to believe the allegations because Lemond was an indisputable cycling purist who, apparently, resented informed suspicions that illegal drugs instead of natural ability were beginning to determine winners in the sport he loved; or whether to dismiss them because Lemond seemed like a self-righteous and vainglorious jerk who was raining on the parade of a fellow American.

    Nevertheless, whenever these doping charges resurfaced (invariably on the eve of the annual Tour), I always gave Armstrong the benefit of the doubt because, despite Lemond’s integrity, Armstrong never failed a drug test! Or so I thought….

    Michel Dalloni, editor of L’Equipe (and France’s new inspector Javert) shows off a copy of his newspaper which ran the most comprehensive investigative expose on Lance’s alleged doping secret…

    Now comes an accuser who claims to have far more than professional suspicions about Armstrong’s cheating. Indeed, Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc became the lead singer in the chorus of Armstrong myth busters overnight by making the most damning allegation to date. And, it was published on Tuesday – exciting national schadenfreude – below sensational headlines in French newspapers all proclaiming, voila, ‘Le Mensonge Armstrong’ (The Armstrong Lie)!

    In the national sports daily L’Equipe – whose editor has dogged Armstrong with these allegations like inspector Javert chasing Jean Valjean – Leblanc is quoted as saying that he is shocked but now convinced, by the incontrovertible evidence Dalloni discovered, that Armstrong tested positive numerous times for the performance-enhancing drug erythropoietin (EPO) before his first Tour win in 1999.

    Specifically, Leblanc claims that

    For the first time – and these are no longer rumors, or insinuations, these are proven scientific facts – someone has shown me that in 1999, Armstrong had a banned substance called EPO in his body….The ball is now in his court. Why, how, by whom? He owes explanations to us and to everyone who follows the tour. Today, what L’Equipe revealed shows me that I was fooled. We were all fooled.

    Naturally, Armstrong would like his legions of cancer-surviving, yellow-band wearing and Cheryl Crowe-loving fans to dismiss these drug allegations with a chorus of their own: consider the source.

    After all, the French are as notorious for their congenital envy as they are for whining sour grapes. Beyond this, however, j’accuse Dallino of L’Equipe of an obsessive witch hunt and challenge him to examine his journalism ethics by answering the following questions:

    Why all the fuss about results from urine samples taken in 1999, when it’s entirely possible that the drugs prescribed to treat Armstrong’s testicular cancer might have contributed to a false positive outcome? (And, trust me, I can find even a French chemist to testify accordingly.)

    But that was 1999. What about results from urine samples Armstrong provided between 2000 and 2005 – during which time he won an additional 6 consecutive Tours in even more superhuman fashion than he did in the disputed 1999 Tour?

    And, if you have no positive results from any of these subsequent years, don’t you think basic fairness requires you, however begrudgingly, to grant Armstrong the presumption of innocence he has earned?

    Alas, in your guise as a sports writer and not a doping inspector, don’t you think you owe it to your readers to finally celebrate Armstrong’s remarkable athletic performances instead of continuing with this (Les Miserable) pursuit to incriminate him?

    But, as Armstrong lamented during his 7th Tour victory speech last month, some people just refuse to believe that extraordinary sporting feats – such as his – can be achieved by the ordinary means of hard work, organization and iron will. And just yesterday, he felt compelled to reply to Dallino’s latest gotcha publication as follows:

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that they have samples. Clearly they tested all of my samples since then [1999] to the highest degree. But when I gave those samples there was not EPO in those samples. I guarantee that….Obviously this is great business for them [L’Equipe]. Unfortunately, I’m caught in the cross-hairs.

    I believe!

    But, if Armstrong turns out to be another Rafael Palmeiro, then I’m sure his cycle of bad karma will soon render the one testicle he has left utterly useless….

    For now though, he deserves to rest on his laurels and continue his mission as an untarnished role-model for cancer survivors (and living hero for the rest of us). And, it seems that leisurely bike rides with the President of the United States – pictured below leading Armstrong on the Tour de Crawford last weekend on his ranch in Texas – are just a part of that mission:

    LIVESTRONG!

  • Wednesday, August 24, 2005 at 10:42 AM

    Rev. Pat Robertson Says America Should Take Out Pres. Chavez of Venezuela!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? [Jesus Christ from the gospel according to Mark]

    Christian crusader Pat Robertson striking his imperial (Napoleonic) pose…

    Televangelist Pat Robertson is a devout proselytizer of Christian fundamentalist dogma which holds that America should have dominion over the whole world. And, he seems prepared to lose his soul in furtherance of this political mission. Therefore, it came as no surprise on Monday when Rev. Robertson issued a fatwa (religious decree of death) against President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

    Fatwas first entered Western consciousness in 1989 when Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued one against author Salman Rushdie for publishing – what Muslim clerics deemed – blasphemous statements about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad in his book The Satanic Verses. And, back then, most non-Muslims regarded a fatwa as just another rabid feature of the militant religion of Islam (which at the time was most infamous for inspiring the Iranian revolution and the taking of American Hostages).

    But Rev. Robertson’s fatwa proves that Christian fundamentalists are (and always have been) every bit as fanatical as their Islamic counterparts. Moreover, given the terror some of them have perpetrated by blowing up abortion clinics and assassinating doctors who perform abortions, it may be only a matter of time before Christian jihadists start strapping bombs to their bodies and going off on suicide missions in the name of Jesus Christ.

    To justify his decree, Rev. Robertson proffered the specious and cravenly political argument that “Chavez was trying to make Venezuela a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.” He then prayed for America to take out Chavez follows:

    You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it….We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability….It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war…and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.

    It would be comforting if we could dismiss Rev. Robertson as a right-wing nut. Unfortunately, millions of people all over the world listen to his words as if they were divinely inspired. Even more troubling, however, is that America’s $200 billion operation to eliminate Saddam Hussein gives Robertson just cause to believe that – when it comes to getting rid of disagreeable foreign leaders – he has a soul mate in fellow born-again Christian President George W. Bush. (And, why not question wasting all that money when one bullet will do….)

    Nevertheless, Christians who know better have a duty to condemn – as indeed blasphemous – his or any Christian’s call for the murder of another (innocent) human being, no matter how politically unsavory that person may be!

    The defiant ones – Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro: Oye gringos, do we look worried…

    I’ve written a fair amount in recent months about President Chavez. He is a dynamic, provocative and populist leader. And, I actually relish the fact that he gets under the skin of self-righteous Americans. But he’s guilty of nothing that American presidents have not done with impunity for centuries under unilateral proclamations like the Monroe Doctrine, America’s Sphere of Influence and the recently fashioned Bush Doctrine.

    More to the point, however, click here for a little insight into America’s secret legacy of assassinating foreign leaders (which no doubt inspired this fatwa) and to see why Chavez has good reason to fear that Rev. Robertson is not the only Christian who wants to kill him. And click here to see why Chavez thrives on his martyrdom and how he plans to emulate his mentor Fidel Castro as a proverbial pain in the backside of America….

    Note: The devil in me thinks that it would be delightfully Machiavellian for Bush to order CIA operatives to redouble their efforts to assassinate Chavez and, if they succeed, then arrest Rev. Robertson for inciting his followers to murder. After all, the Rev. is recruiting souls in Latin America the way Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is recruiting jihadists in Iraq….

    Whilst on the other shoulder, the repressed Holy Spirit in me thinks that Rev. Robertson just needs a good old fashioned exorcism to get rid of the devil that makes him say so many stupid and unchristian things….

  • Tuesday, August 23, 2005 at 11:32 AM

    Bob Costas and Anderson Cooper Diss Cable News Networks And Their Tabloid Fixation…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    When television is good, nothing–not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers–nothing is better .But when television is bad, nothing is worse….Sit down in front of your television set [and] I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland. [Newton Minnow, May 1961]

    Note: This foreboding message was delivered before the advent of Cable Television when TV programming on only 3 channels – ABC, NBC and CBS – contributed to the dumbing down of America. Just imagine what Minnow would say about the veritable doldrums that constitute TV programming today – on over 500 channels, 24/7 – and contribute to the dumbing down of the entire world….

    Bob Costas is no Newton Minnow but he demonstrated last week that he is prepared to convey Minnow’s message to our generation.

    Unfortunately, with Costas, I am constrained to plead – “don’t hate the messenger”. Because, in so many ways, Costas comes across on TV like a white Bryant Gumbel: as a brilliant, articulate and telegenic broadcaster who, at times, displays such a pip-squeak, holier-than-thou streak that I’m invariably conflicted about complimenting his terrific performances.

    Case in point:

    CNN executives had high hopes for boosting their ratings when they signed Costas earlier this summer to guest host the popular “Larry King Live” show. The contract called for Costas to substitute for King for 20 shows this year. And, he’s done 6 to date. CNN president Jon Klein heralded the prospect of Costas sitting-in by swooning that

    …Bob’s broad range of interests, his quick wit and his deft interview skills will engage viewers in the best King tradition….We are delighted that he will be filling in for Larry from time to time.

    Indeed. And, by all accounts, Costas performed well for the first 3 nights of his 4-night gig. Then last Thursday, when he was scheduled to engage King’s gaggle of regular talking-heads in badinage about Dennis “BTK” Rader and Natalee Holloway, Costas refused!

    Here’s how he explained his unwillingness to add his voice to this Cable Television farce:

    I didn’t think the subject matter of Thursday’s show was the kind of broadcast I should be doing….I suggested some alternatives but the producers preferred the topics they had chosen. I was fine with that, and respectfully declined to participate.

    Now, who can argue with that! In fact, with due respect to Natalee’s Mummy Beth Holloway – who was scheduled to make her regular appearance – Costas should be applauded. Because, any TV personality who has enough integrity to shun the “teenager missing in Aruba” media orgy redeems his profession (ever so slightly) and shames his colleagues quite appropriately.

    But, as I indicated, I can never quite compliment anything Costas does without some degree of conflict. In this case, it stems from the fact that he conveyed the right message but in the wrong manner. After all, as a guest host, he had a duty to respect and perform consistent with the nature of King’s show which – as everyone knows – is to talk any sensational news story to death (OJ, S. Petersen, M. Jackson etc).

    Therefore, Costas should’ve made the show’s producers aware of his principled revulsion to such mindless banter before signing his contract. As it was, in dissing the affable King whilst guest hosting his show, Costas came across like a self-righteous hypocrite. See ya “Later” Bob!

    Apropos self-righteous hypocrites, Anderson Cooper actually outperformed Costas last Tuesday with his assertion on Charlie Rose that

    CNN is all about serious topics…that’s what we do.

    He then added – in true pip-squeak, holier-than-thou fashion – that his rivals on FOX and MSNBC are all about Natalee Holloway fluff, 24/7. (Incidentally, he said this in the context of promoting his heart-wrenching and very informative documentary on starving babies in Niger.)

    Fair enough. Although, given the Costas episode referenced above, one has to wonder what Cooper’s Natalee-obsessed colleagues at CNN (especially Nancy Grace) think about his patently fallacious assertion….

  • Monday, August 22, 2005 at 11:00 AM

    The Shotgun Convention of Sunni, Shia & Kurds to Frame an Iraqi Constitution…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Besides the role of Islam, control of oil production will determine the character and viability of Iraq’s governing authority…

    This evening at midnight, in Baghdad, the arbitrary 7-day extension the National Assembly granted itself to complete Iraq’s contentious draft constitution expires. And, in order to form a more perfect union, Iraqi Shias and Kurds (who together comprise 80% of the assembly) seem prepared to discard the Sunnis and approve a draft that essentially protects their respective interests: For Shias – homage to religion that would make Islam a main source of legislation (thereby empowering authoritarian clerics) and a proportionate share of Iraq’s oil revenues; and for Kurds – homage to federalism that would ensure demarcated boundaries and virtual self-rule under a governing system that protects them from Shia political and religious hegemony (under Islamic Sharia law).

    Of course, such a pyrrhic outcome would only mean that the Iraqi drafters have successfully emulated the framers of the Constitution of the United States. After all, the American founding fathers compromised their political (and moral) principles to approve a draft constitution that not only protected their respective interests but also discarded Blacks and women, counting blacks as only three fifths of a person and denying women the right to vote.

    But, just as this compromise led inexorably to a bloody American civil war, so too will running rough shod over Sunnis lead to civil war – if the Iraqi founding fathers do not take whatever time is necessary to vest the respective interests of all major constituent groups in their draft constitution in some equitable fashion.

    The Iraqi National Assembly: Voting to bide time or build a nation?

    Indeed, the timetable being imposed by the Americans for drafting and ratifying the Iraqi Constitution is not only untenable but also hypocritical. After all, it took the American framers over 6 years to draft their constitution (1781-1787). And, so far, the Iraqis have had only 6 months to contend with even more intractable concerns than the Americans faced (i.e., concerns for which rights are not so self-evident).

    By the same token, it’s myopic and foolhardy for the Bush Administration to force the Iraqis to approve a document that holds together like oil and water just to quell political opposition at home. Yet the Americans seem prepared to do just that despite pleas from the Sunni for President Bush to block any draft that does not have their express consent.

    Clearly, the words of the prescient and war-wary former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell are coming back to haunt Bush and his armchair generals at the Pentagon. Powell warned them that the pottery barn rule would be in effect if America invaded Iraq: you break it, you own it. His counsel meant that America’s obligation would extend not only to “standing up Iraqi security forces” but also to building government institutions and infrastructure to make Iraq a fully viable country – just as it did for Japan after “breaking it” during World War II.

    Therefore, instead of planning to pullout, the Bush Administration should be drawing up plans to deploy more troops to Iraq – for a mission that will likely last 40 years, not the 4 being proffered by the military. After all, when President Clinton deployed U.S. troops in 1995 to enforce peace in Bosnia, he promised they would be home within one year. But almost 10 years later, those troops are still engaged and show no signs of pulling out anytime soon. And, by comparison, the mission of enforcing peace and building democratic institutions in Iraq seems at least four times greater….

    Alas, even if the Iraqis gloss over fractious differences to announce agreement on a new draft constitution today (or after another capricious delay), Iraq shall remain a nation divided against itself until those differences are settled – just as America was until a civil war settled the most contentions issues (like slavery and states rights under federalism) almost 100 years after the drafting of its constitution.

    So, hunker down soldiers. Because many of you will be speaking Arabic before your mission’s done!

  • Sunday, August 21, 2005 at 12:32 PM

    Latest Sex Scandal Improves Image of Catholic Church…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Last week, New Yorkers were treated to sensational details about a contentious love triangle that make the titillation manufactured by TV soap operas seem relatively tame. The stars of this reality melodrama were the rector of the largest Catholic Church in America, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, his married secretary and her cuckolded husband.

    Click here to read about the sex, lies and videotape that entertained New York, ended a marriage and compelled the rector, Monsignor Eugene Clark, to resign.

    Perhaps hypocrisy is more tenable to the Pope than fallibility. Nevertheless, in the spirit of “the emperor wears no clothes”, a critical mass of Catholics is calling on the Pontiff to decree, at long last, that celibacy is a fallacy. After all, this self-abnegation is the most perverse form of sexual deviancy – complete with its illusory moral rectitude. Moreover, it frustrates human nature and makes liars and hypocrites of too many well-intentioned men of God!

    Note: Does anyone know what Catholic dogma says about Onanism (and not the part about bonking thy brother’s wife)? And, is anyone aware of documented disclosures about just how intimate the fellowship amongst nuns becomes – especially when the Lord commands cute little nubile things to “Get thee to a nunnery”?

  • Saturday, August 20, 2005 at 12:53 PM

    Update: Remains of Pregnant Philadelphia Woman Found…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Almost a month ago, I participated in a blogosphere campaign to compel American law enforcement officials to dedicate half the resources to find a black woman in Philadelphia, Latoyia Figueroa who was 5-months pregnant when she went missing, as they were dedicating to find Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

    The good news is that they finally found Latoyia. The bad news is that she and her baby are dead.

    The police have Latoyia’s boyfriend Stephen Poaches - who fathered her baby – in custody and he is the prime suspect in their murders: The black Scott Petersen?

    Stay tuned…

  • Saturday, August 20, 2005 at 11:45 AM

    Jewish Settlers To President Bush: Deal With Your Indians Before Telling Us How To Deal With Our Palestinians!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    ***Coming Soon: The GAZA RESORT AND CASINO***

  • Friday, August 19, 2005 at 10:55 AM

    Update: Dennis Radar (a.k.a. BTK Killer) Gets Life…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Dennis Radar displayed the jitters of an actor more than the remorse of a killer at his sentencing yesterday…

    Evil, like beauty, is [often] in the eye of the beholder. And, the moral relativism that now governs our lives makes what is deemed evil invariably debatable. For example, President Bush described Saddam Hussein as evil primarily because he used chemical weapons against the Iranians and Kurds. But, by that standard, it is arguable that U.S. President Harry Truman was evil because he dropped 2 atomic bombs on innocent Japanese civilians.

    (Moreover, Bush himself has been described as evil for attacking Iraq under false pretenses, making the lives of most Iraqis far worse than it was under Saddam’s rule and refusing to withdraw American troops who are being picked off by Islamic insurgents like sitting ducks. Indeed, Cindy Sheehan - the fiendishly celebrated anti-war protester whose son was killed in Iraq – called him the “biggest terrorist in the world”. But I digress…)

    Clearly, there is a probative correlation between one’s political orientation and who or what one describes as evil. But some people commit acts of such depravity (unrelated to any cause – however flawed or misguided) that they incite universal condemnation as personifications of “pure” evil. Dennis Radar’s ambition was to become one of them. In fact, he often lamented in his taunting (catch me if you can) letters to police that he was not getting the notoriety for his killings that his murdering peers like Ted Bundy, David (Son of Sam) Berkowitz and Jeffrey Dahmer got for their crimes. Alas, Radar must now consider himself a glorified success.

    Radar, of course, is the self-described “BTK” serial killer who took great pride in methodically “hunting” human prey to [B]ind, [T]orture and [K]ill. (Please click here for my original article on his arrest.) And, he seemed to take perverse pleasure in confessing every detail of his crimes for which he was sentenced yesterday to 10 life terms (1 for each of his 10 victims).

    Even though no reasonable person would deny that the things he did to his victims were pure evil, Radar’s evil nature became eerily manifest during his allocution to the court about his criminal acts. Lawyers sometimes use a Latin term called res ipsa loquitur to argue that “the thing speaks for itself”. Well, that term seems very apt to describe the evil that reeked from every word Radar uttered to explain and apologize for his crimes.

    Click here and here for an instructive glimpse into the mind of a truly evil man. And, try to contain your disgust at the way he describes masturbating after each kill the way some people smoke cigarettes after sex. After all, it is important to be aware of this evil because – as Radar proves – it could be living next door….

  • Thursday, August 18, 2005 at 10:39 AM

    Iraq War Veteran Returns Home to Hero’s Welcome!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Private Johnson Gideon Beharry: War Hero!

    Given the Vietnamization of the war in Iraq, it now seems doubtful that the soldiers fighting there will return home to a hero’s welcome – if they’re lucky enough to return alive. An extraordinary exception, however, is Pvt Johnson Beharry. But then, this is no ordinary soldier:

    Last April, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded Beharry Britain’s Victoria Cross (VC). The VC is

    the highest award for valour that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces of any rank in any service and civilians under military command. And, it is only awarded for bravery in the face of the enemy.

    According to his commendation, Beharry earned his VC for leading fellow soldiers to safety under enemy fire on two separate occasions in Basra, Iraq in May 2004. In the first incident he sustained a bullet wound but in the second, just weeks later, he suffered serious head wounds during an assault by rocket propelled grenades that left him in a coma.

    The VC has a hallowed pedigree dating back to 1856. It is so revered because, since then, only 1,355 VCs have been awarded. Indeed, Beharry claims that HM The Queen remarked on this fact by telling him that

    You’re very special. [I don’t] get to present the Victoria Cross very often.

    In fact, Beharry is the first living recipient of the VC since 1965. And, he’s the first Caribbean native to be so honored.

    It is ironic, however, that if Beharry were English, Prime Minister Tony Blair would not have dared to organize a ticker-tape parade in his honour – considering how unpopular the Iraq war has become in England. But, as fate would have it, Beharry was born in Grenada where such anti-war sentiments pale in comparison to the pride Grenadians feel for Beharry’s heroic accomplishments.

    Therefore, Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell will preside over activities to welcome Beharry as a national hero when he returns home today.

    Well done soldier!

  • Wednesday, August 17, 2005 at 11:27 AM

    Beth Holloway and Cindy Sheehan: Turning Sympathy into Scorn…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    When Beth Holloway rushed down to Aruba upon learning that her daughter Natalee had gone missing, she inspired almost universal sympathy as a naturally concerned mother. Moreover, some of us even cheered when she challenged local authorities to either mount a more aggressive campaign to find Natalee or give a more credible report on her disappearance. But then Mrs Holloway began exhibiting all of the stereotypical traits of “the ugly American”: disrespectful, overwrought, arrogant, impudent, unreasonable, demanding, self-centered, etc. And, she soon turned that sympathy into scorn.

    Click here to see what I mean….

    Now comes Cindy Sheehan whose son Casey was killed in Iraq over a year ago (April 2004). At the time of his military funeral, Casey’s father expressed pride that his son died fighting for his country and a cause he believed in. And, Mrs Sheehan expressed great appreciation that President Bush met with them to convey his regrets for their loss and the nation’s thanks for their son’s sacrifice. In her own words she said

    I now know he’s sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis. I know he’s sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he’s a man of faith.

    (It is noteworthy that many families of fallen soldiers complain that Bush has yet to meet with them. Of course, given the daily roll of American casualties in Iraq, if he took time to meet with each grieving family he would end up serving more as national undertaker than as president of the United States.)

    So why is Mrs Sheehan now making a nuisance of herself down there in Texas (especially when good manners should’ve led her to set up her protest outside the White House in Washington, DC)?

    Well, it seems that over time, Mrs Sheehan’s grief transformed into rabid and, evidently, misguided political activism that alienated the affection not only of her husband who, coincidentally, filed for divorce just last Friday, but also of her family who felt compelled to issue the following instructive statement:

    The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son’s good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan family supports the troops, our country, and our president, silently, with prayer and respect.

    No one knows better than her own family why Mrs Sheehan has turned her private grief into a public spectacle. (But for the record, no matter her political or personal motivations, Bush should’ve invited her in to appease her as soon as she showed up at his ranch weeks ago; i.e., before her sit-in became the media circus it is now.) What is clear, however, is that, for many, the sympathy she once inspired has turned into scorn. After all, most of us (including those who have grave misgivings about Bush’s leadership) are already fed up with paid political hacks on TV spewing propaganda for or against the war in Iraq. Therefore, we don’t need to see Mrs Sheehan everyday wiping away her dry tears and lecturing us on American policy (declaring that her son died in an illegal war, that Bush is a liar, that he needs to withdraw American troops from Iraq – now!…and that Israel needs to get out of Palestine to stop terrorism? Puh-leeeeeze!)

    In fact, just as Mrs Holloway’s indiscriminate courting of the media has become an annoying comical farce (with daily reports on “new leads” that lead nowhere), so too has Mrs Sheehan’s media campaign begun to resemble the spectacle of a tragic comedy (with gun wielding Texans shouting at her to take her war protest and go back where she came from).

    Besides creating this public spectacle, however, Mrs Sheehan is also inciting polarizing resentment within the ranks of grieving military parents because she’s acting as if her son is the only soldier to die in Iraq and as if she speaks for all parents affected.

    Finally, it seems more than a little ungracious, gauche and arrogant for Mrs Sheehan to use and abuse our sympathies as seed emotion (and PR) for her new career as the female Michael Moore. And, if you don’t think the media attention has gotten to her head, consider how she characterizes those who seek to comfort her in person for the loss of her son:

    I couldn’t walk through Camp Casey today without hugging people and getting my picture taken. Now I know how Mickey Mouse feels at Disneyland.

    Indeed!

    Mrs Sheehan may be a misguided, attention-seeking political activist or just a useful idiot to Bush-haters (like those at MoveOn.org who are funding her protest). But, either way, she now appears utterly devoid of the emotions of a grieving mother…(as her own family can readily attest).

  • Tuesday, August 16, 2005 at 12:03 PM

    Violence Looms as Israel Withdraws from the Gaza Strip…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    We were not born to govern another people against their will, and we want them to be free so we shall be free in our own beliefs and principles. We agreed to see a Palestinian state living in peace, in freedom as our neighbor, and wish them really well from the depths of our heart. [Israel Vice Premier Shimon Peres to CNN on Sunday]

    Emulating Saul of Tarsus, PM Ariel Sharon’s conversion on the road to peace with the Palestinians is nothing short of a miracle!

    When Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister in 2001, no one could have anticipated that this Zionist military veteran would take bolder steps for peace with the Palestinians than any other leader in the history of modern Israel. After all, in 1983 an Israeli tribunal (the Kahan Commission) found that he was “personally responsible” (as Minister of Defense) for the worst massacres of Palestinians (at Sabra and Shatila) in the Middle East.

    Yet on Sunday, he gave notice that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) will forcibly evict all Jews remaining in the occupied territory of the Gaza Strip after midnight tonight “as an olive branch” for peace with the Palestinians.

    However, many Jewish settlers there have vowed to defy Sharon in the name of their God (despite generous resettlement packages which, in material terms, make this exercise of eminent domain seem like a very charitable gesture indeed). And, so looms the ironic spectacle of Jews fighting Jews for the sake of honoring “Promised Land” to Palestinian Arabs.

    How did the Jews come to this fate?

    Thousands of years ago, according to the bible (upon which many settlers base their defiance), God commanded Moses to go into Egypt and tell Pharaoh to “Let my people go!” And thus began the tortured, conflicted and itinerant pilgrimage of the Jews to settle in their own Promised Land where today defiant settlers in Gaza believe they reside by the divine ordination of the Almighty God.

    But even settlers who are motivated more by nationalism than divine right feel entitled to remain there because successive Israeli governments encouraged them to settle the territory as pioneers forming the front lines of defense for their besieged state. Therefore, to be fair, it is important to keep in mind this biblical / historical context as the confrontation between die-hard settlers and the IDF unfolds over their refusal to obey Sharon’s eviction notice.

    The Jews seem to have been chosen by God to endure unrelenting hardships and fanatical challenges to their very existence (from bondage in Egypt to the Holocaust to self-inflicted strife – all of which are well documented). Yet they have not only survived but actually thrived under these adversities.

    Indeed, after ending the 1967 Arab-Israeli (Six-Day) War in control of Gaza (as well as the Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights), Israel declared it a matter of national security for Jews to occupy as much of these conquered territories as possible. And during the decades that followed, precious national resources were deployed to ensure the welfare of Jewish settlers (like the 8500 Jews who lived amongst 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza). (It is noteworthy that Israeli leaders implemented this national policy in defiance of UN resolutions which condemned the occupation and called for Israel’s immediate withdrawal.)

    Therefore, notwithstanding the return of the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords with Egypt (which, incidentally, did not require evicting settled Jews), the very notion of exchanging “land for peace” with the Palestinians was considered by most Israelis an apostasy…until the 1993 Oslo Accords.

    The Oslo Accords were negotiated to quell the unending cycle of violence that greeted Israel’s 1980 declaration that the whole of Jerusalem was its “eternal and indivisible” capital. This declaration ignited simmering resentment over the occupation and prompted Arabs throughout the region to fund a series of Intifadas (riots) – organized by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and affiliate groups – to undermine Israel’s control in the territories. And, there can be no doubt that this cycle of violence (featuring Palestinian suicide bombers and targeted assassinations by the IDF) led to a cognitive dissonance amongst an increasing number of Israelis on the security benefits of occupying Palestinian territories.

    Therefore, by 1993, when President Bill Clinton pushed Israeli leaders to reconsider the viability of their policy of refusing to trade land for peace, there was considerable sympathy amongst a critical mass of Jews for such concessions. Consequently, the Oslo Accords established a framework for peace which called for mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, limited self-rule for the Palestinians in the occupied territories and the promise of a Palestinian state. And, this pullout from Gaza comes pursuant to those Accords (as amended by the Roadmap for Peace drawn up by the U.S., Russia, EU and the U.N. in 2003).

    It is profoundly ironic, however, that Yitzhak Rabin was not only the general who led Israeli forces when they captured the Gaza Strip but also the Prime Minister who negotiated the Oslo Accords (with Clinton and PLO Chairman Yassar Arafat) to cede it back to the Palestinians. Unfortunately, Rabin also became the most prominent casualty on this road to peace when he was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish settler who, like those defying Sharon today, considered him a traitor for merely negotiating terms for Israel’s withdrawal from some of the occupied territories.

    Defiant Jewish settlers demonstrating little faith that Sharon’s withdrawal method will give birth to peace.

    Therefore, even though Sharon has declared the pullout from Gaza “painful but vital” to the long term security of Israel, he must be mindful of the extremes to which some settlers will go to express their holy disagreement with his policies. And, even though his Vice Premier Simon Peres says he’s “sure that history will justify our choice”, Sharon can only hope that aggrieved settlers will wait on history (or the Lord) to pass judgment instead of taking justice into their own hands by doing to him what they did to Rabin….

    Peres is right, of course (in this and his sage quote that opened this article). Therefore, may God bless and protect Ariel Sharon. And may God grant leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians the wisdom to seize this peace offering to build the democratic institutions and infrastructure that will sustain the forthcoming independent state of Palestine.

    Note: Hedging his bets (just in case Sharon is assassinated), former PM Benjamin Netanyahu – that incorrigible political opportunist – resigned from Sharon’s coalition government last week – ostensibly to protest his principled opposition to the pullout (even though he voted for it as finance minister in Sharon’s cabinet). But this is clearly a Machiavellian ploy to appease Zionists who comprise a very critical faction of the Israel electorate. After all, they facilitated Netanyahu’s election as Prime Minister after Rabin was assassinated and may prove equally instrumental if Sharon meets a similar fate….

  • Monday, August 15, 2005 at 11:12 AM

    Another Columbus Fallacy: White Man “Discovers Hidden Waterfall” on Indian Territory…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Last week, nouveau environmentalists rejoiced with wanderlust over the “discovery of a 400-foot waterfall” in Whiskeytown National Park in Northern California. And, as with other so-called discoveries, those celebrating this find seemed completely oblivious to the patent flaw in their claim that, even though (white)men had explored the area surrounding the falls for more than 100 years, “no one” knew of the existence of this natural wonder.

    Indeed, as if to substantiate their historically fallacious claim, park officials presented a 92-year old prospector, Dick McDermott, who testified that he lived in the area for more than 70 years and confirmed his amazement as follows:

    Sure, I was surprised…I’ve been all around that place, I never seen ‘em.

    Well, that settles it then!

    But for the history books (and to complete this past is prologue analogy), park rangers announced that the “Dr Livingstone” who shall be credited with this find is Russ Weatherbee, a wildlife biologist. Indeed, with the help of 21st Century communications, the folklore of Weatherbee’s discovery was circulated worldwide within hours. According to the Associate Press release

    Weatherbee was cleaning out a cabinet of old maps when he stumbled across one from the 1960s marked with a note reading “Whiskeytown falls” near Crystal Creek. [He] just decided to go looking for it….He was looking at global imaging system maps on his computer when he saw a stretch in the creek that dropped in altitude quickly with a sliver of white leading through it [and thought] ‘That looks like white water to me’.

    Eureka?

    Of course, Hollywood could not have cast a better protagonist for this story than a “wildlife biologist”. And, only a politically correct jerk would wonder about the Indians who may have bathed in the Crystal Creek below these falls centuries before Weatherbee’s arrival. (Besides, if they wanted credit for the find, they should’ve contacted CNN or National Geographic themselves….No?)

    Nevertheless, may I mention The Wintu and other Indians tribes who are natives to this area and should be kept in mind as white men draw up plans to commercialize their find by grazing a path for eco-tourists to have easy access to commune with this new wonder of nature.

    So, come on by and let the cash flow like the mighty Whiskytown falls…

  • Monday, August 15, 2005 at 10:29 AM

    Update: Celebrity Justice Prevails for Paula Abdul…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Several months ago, I presented a commercial and ethical case for Paula Abdul to be fired from her role as a Judge on the FOX TV show American Idol. I argued that to maintain the credibility of the talent program, FOX had to implement a zero tolerance policy for any judge engaged in any kind fraternization with any contestant.

    Alas, FOX thought otherwise. Because it announced last week that the “independent” firm it retained to investigate contestant Corey Clark’s allegations – of a series of secret rendezvous for sex and other performance tips from Abdul – found that they could not be “substantiated by any corroborating evidence or witnesses”. No kidding…

    In the PR statement she issued after on being “cleared”, Abdul said that

    I’m grateful this ordeal is over, and I’m so looking forward to getting back to the job I love.

    Too bad Corey did not have Linda Tripp to advise him – as she did Monica Lewinsky - to store some evidence of their coming together (for these private rehersals) to back up his claim. And witnesses? As if either one of them would have brought along a dutiful voyeur to witness their assignations?

    But, I suppose, if OJ Simpson and Robert (Beretta) Blake can get away with murder, then Paul really should be allowed to get off with a little sex!

    America who’s next? Well, enquiring minds want to know who will be the next lucky idol to enter Paula’s boudoir to make music with her after hours…

    That’s show business folks!

  • Sunday, August 14, 2005 at 12:12 PM

    Iran Challenges West to a Game of Nuclear Chicken: Who do you think will Win?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In a dramatic change of course, Iran declared last week that it will defy restrictions and warnings by Western powers and proceed with its nuclear program on its own terms.

    The Iranians were then emboldened in their defiance by immediate retreat on the Western front when President Gerhardt Schroeder publicly disassociated Germany from any (U.S. led) coalition of the willing to use force to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. And, it’s only a matter of time before other quislings in Europe (France, Spain et.al.) are exposed as nothing more than a gaggle of dithering chatterers when it comes to enforcing their own rules and backing up their warnings with commensurate action.

    Therefore, unless America acts unilaterally (or in covert alliance with Israel), the Ayatollah and his Mullahs in Iran will soon have nuclear weapons to help execute their Islamic Jihad throughout the Middle East (and around the world). Allah’u akbar!

    Stay tuned…

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