Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 11:33 AMI am stupefied by prominent social commentators who are extrapolating from the hedonistic antics of pop tarts like Britney Spears grave consequences for the future of America. Hellooo! Iraq? Global warming? HIV/AIDS?… Mel Gibson? Michael Richards?
Frankly, I pity not only the idle-minded fools who live for the latest gossip about or sighting of the “3 Bimbos of the Apocalypse” (Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney), but also the enlightened ones who seem to think that these clueless, careless and, too often, pantyless slackers are actually a menace to society.
So what if Britney wants to spend more time cavorting with notorious vice girls than nurturing her two children? At least she has a coven of nannies to pick up her maternal slack. (Although one must wonder what kind of example her mother set as a parent….)
And so what if she thinks it’s cool to exhibit her bald pubis for tabloid fodder? I can think of many less appealing ways others cater to and exploit the public’s insatiable prurient lust.
Therefore, I say let Britney go wasting her life away as she sees fit. After all, it’s not as if we need to worry about her molesting little boys – as we fear the king of pop tarts might….
Meanwhile, I suspect those of you who thought divorcing K-Fed meant that Britney had “finally come to her senses” must feel disappointed, if not betrayed. Because it’s now demonstrably clear that she was probably more of a bad influence on him than vice versa – as generally assumed.
However, for those of you who just yearn to see any (and every) thing Britney has to show, this peep show (headlined by Brit’s new social guru Paris Hilton) is for you.
ABC News: Britney keeps flashing, cameras keep clicking
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 11:26 AMWhen Pope Benedict XVI landed in Turkey yesterday for his daring pastoral visit, Catholics (and moderate Muslims) all over the world began praying with grave concern for his safety; and rightly so.
After all, even before he hurled what many Muslims consider an unforgivable insult at the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, the Pope was already deemed an anti-Muslim bigot. Because when he served as “Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” under Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) opposed Turkey’s admission into the EU by arguing that the union’s underlying foundations are based, culturally and historically, in Christianity; and, that it should be comprised of Christian member states only.
Therefore, last September, after he enquired, philosophically, about the troubling tenets of Islam that are inspiring (and inciting) fanatics all over the world to commit crimes against humanity in the name of Allah, devout Muslims reacted by vowing to kill him for his blasphemy.
Never mind that their reaction justified his enquiry, which he posited by alluding to the following prescient challenge to Islam by 14th Century Christian Emperor Manuel II Paleologos:
Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
And, never mind that, in that same provocative homily, Pope Benedict lamented the equally troubling tenets of Christianity that inspired the Crusades, Slavery and other crimes against humanity.
Because, alas, too many Muslims are as fanatical about avenging any perceived insult to their Faith as the Pope – as Prefect – was zealous about keeping Muslims out of the EU. And, even though Benedict XVI has atoned for his bigotry (he no longer opposes Turkey’s membership) and apologized for any offense his homily may have caused, fanatical Muslims remain as dedicated as ever to executing the fatwa of death against him.
Now, add to this menacing spectre – of a teaming mass of Allah’s willing executioners lying in wait for the Pope – the fact that it was a similarly dedicated Muslim Turk who tried to assassinate his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and only then does one get a sense of the peril he faces.
Nonetheless, I suspect that the regard Turkey’s religious and political leaders have for their enlightened national interests will inspire them to forbid or foil any attempt to harm the Pope on Turkish soil. And, that they will bite their tongues as the Pope lectures them about religious tolerance and the democratic imperative of separation between church and state.
Because the irony is probably not lost on them that this latter-day crusader who once argued to deny their European destiny now embodies the key to it. And the Turks are surely aware that the hospitality with which they greet and treat the Pope may determine the hospitality with which Europeans greet and treat the prospect of their EU accession.
The so-called conviction that the sword is used to expand Islam in the world and growing Islamophobia hurts all Muslims.
Though, as it happened, Benedict XVI did a great deal on the eve of his visit to tame the religious animus his divinely conflicted hosts harbored against him. Specifically, he excommunicated the provocative rhetoric of Emperor Paleologos and, instead, preached the repentant and redemptive message of “dialogue, brotherhood and reconciliation”.
In fact, the Pope’s penitent and conciliatory prelude to this visit was so disarming that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (pictured to the Pope’s right in first photo) not only changed his mind about snubbing him but actually decided to personally greet the Pope at the steps of his plane when it landed.
Therefore, I think the Pope’s interfaith fellowship with the Turks will redound to their mutual benefit: It will benefit the Turks because, despite streaming TV images of bloodthirsty would-be assassins, the overwhelming majority of them desire not only peaceful co-existence, but codified cohabitation with their European neighbors. And it will benefit the Pope because it will demonstrate that his Catholic faith is in fact broadminded and wholly inured to physical threats.
Papal infallibility does not signify infallible Pope. But Pope Benedict committed no sin with his comments on Muhammad, and he should not apologize
UPDATE: The Pope apologizes! Proving he’s not only fallible but also gullible….
Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 11:27 AM
The bastards got me.
Those are the dying words Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko allegedly uttered from his death bed in London last week, which led his loved ones, political pundits and conspiracy buffs to accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his assassination. And they felt vindicated when doctors reported over the weekend that Litvinenko was poisoned by a fatal dose of a radioactive substance called Polonium 210, which Putin’s accusers claim “could only be found in government-controlled institutions” in Russia.
Now British authorities have launched a sensational and politically-provocative investigation ostensibly to find out who murdered Litvinenko. This, despite the fact that everyone – from government ministers to Litvinenko’s fellow defectors from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB, the successor agency to its infamous KGB) – has already fingered Putin, himself a former KGB spy, for this crime.
They claim that Putin targeted him because Litvinenko – who fled Russia in 2000 to save his life after accusing the FSB of killing over 300 Russians in 1999 in a Machiavellian scheme to frame and discredit Chechen rebels – was becoming too public (and credible) in his criticisms of the Kremlin. And, that it was Litvinenko’s high-profile investigation into what many suspect was another FSB hit last month on fellow critic, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, that prompted Putin to silence him now.
Nonetheless, with all due respect to Scotland Yard and Interpol, no matter how probative the circumstantial evidence of Putin’s guilt, neither he nor his putative assassins will ever be held to account for this murder. And everyone knows it….
After all, for years, some of us have been chronicling the egregiously undemocratic, if not unlawful, acts Putin has committed in his Putinization of Russia. These acts include confiscating private companies without compensation and throwing the owners in the gulag; silencing his critics (by curtailing or squashing the freedom of the press) and ordering others to be assassinated – as many suspect he did to stop Politkovskaya’s criticisms of his human rights abuses against the Chechens from reverberating around the world; and extending his totalitarian reach into neighboring countries in a vain attempt to reclaim Soviet-era control over them.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Putin would order the assassination of a spy who, for all intents and purposes, he considered not only an insufferable critic but also traitor. Moreover, notwithstanding all of the accusations and investigations this case warrants, it will result in nothing but terminal frustration for Litvinenko’s loved ones and inevitable futility for British authorities.
However, if one appreciates that Putin seems determined to emulate the power wielded by his predecessor Joseph Stalin – who ordered the assassination of at least one million Russians (at home and abroad) and threw another 18 million in the Gulag for political offenses – then his ordering the assassination of these two journalists would seem relatively benign.
But, since it is in the nature of totalitarian leaders like Stalin and Putin to manage their public image the way they manage sycophantic bureaucrats, it should also come as no surprise that he would do all he could to intimidate those critics he cannot kill. And, in this regard, here’s how Putin warned the British and others against drawing reasonable conclusions about his involvement in Litvinenko’s murder:
I hope the British authorities won’t fuel groundless political scandals….It is a great pity that even such tragic things as human death are used for political provocations. As I know, the medical certificate of British doctors does not indicate that he died a violent death. It does not say that. Hence there is no reason for such talk at all.
Overlooking his unwitting (and perversely proud?) reference to the assassin’s use of a diabolically passive rather than violent method to kill Litvinenko, this, alas, is as plausible a denial as Putin can muster and all that I think he will feel obliged to say about the matter.
Meanwhile, given the frequent reports about how unguarded WMDs (including nerve agents) are in Russia, Putin’s supporters could argue that a number of Litvinenko’s other enemies (and he reportedly had quite a few) had access to polonium 210 as well as the motive and opportunity to administer it. Moreover, given the number of locations where traces of this deadly poison has been found, one gets the impression that the FSB was targeting every Putin critic in London, not just Litvinenko.
By the way, has anybody seen Putin’s most celebrated critic, former Chess champion Garry Kasparov, lately….
NOTE: When it was clear to Litvinenko that he would not survive this poisoning, he allegedly penned his own eulogy, which reads, in part, as follows:
As I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death…You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.
May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.
Monday, November 27, 2006 at 11:09 AM“I don’t see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft….It would ensure a more equitable representation of people making sacrifices….
As long as Americans are being shipped off to war then everyone should be vulnerable. “
[Rep Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Korean War veteran – awarded Purple Heart and Bronze Star for valor]
For years, it was plain for all to see that “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq would be mission impossible unless and until the U.S. significantly increased the number of troops deployed there. Unfortunately, groundhog days of violence have now cowered even war hawks like Henry Kissinger into thinking that the war in Iraq is “unwinnable” – no matter how many more U.S. troops join the fight.
However, it is also plain for all to see that Kissinger’s view does not reflect an assessment of the military’s (in)ability to win. Rather, it reflects the crude calculation of the prohibitive political costs of victory, which no one in Washington has the nerve to incur – just as Osama bin Laden predicted would be the case. Indeed, especially for politicians with presidential ambitions, the Republicans losing control of Congress was but a foreshadowing of the political shock and awe to come if American troops are still in Iraq in 2008.
But, for the record, here’s how the generals assess the situation in Iraq:
We have enough forces to complete his [President Bush's] primary mission of training Iraqi forces but not enough to defeat the insurgency.
[Marine Maj. Gen. Rick Zilmer, the commander of troops in the region]
Let’s be honest with each other…there are not enough Marines, Iraqi army or police to cover all this ground. And I can’t tell you there will be more Marines coming.
[Marine Brig. Gen. Robert Neller, deputy commanding general of Iraq Multinational Force]Meanwhile…
You’ve probably heard President George W. Bush, the Commander-In-Chief, say a thousand times that the generals in Iraq, not politicians in Washington, will determine the course of this war. Yet it is self-evident that fighting generals like Zilmer and Neller will not decide whether U.S. troops “stay the course” or “cut and run.” Instead, this military decision will be made by politicians like Kissinger and James “Iraq Study Group” Baker (and their military enablers like CentCom commander Gen. John Abizaid who directs the course of this war from his armchair in Florida – as he explained on 60 Minutes last night).
Moreover, those now arguing that the U.S. should withdraw because the Iraqis seem hell-bent on waging a civil war fail to appreciate that it was the Americans who led the Iraqis down this primrose path to sectarian conflagration. And, that using the specter of civil war as a pretext to cut and run is an affront to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s unassailable mandate (a.k.a. the Pottery Barn rule), which holds that “if you break it, you own it.”
The U.S. has broken Iraq. Now it owns Iraq. And the failure of U.S. troops (over the past 3 years) to restore (and maintain) law and order there is the proximate cause of the civil war politicians in Washington are citing as the just cause for them to withdraw.
Alas, whatever the uncertainties about the future course of America’s involvement in Iraq, it is absolutely certain that the Draft will never be reinstated. Because the one issue on which all politicians agree is that a Draft should never be allowed to put their loved ones at risk of being called to arms to fight in Iraq.
(For example, just last week, those joining the chorus in opposition to the Draft included Republican Senators John Warner and John McCain – who, symbiotically and ironically, has stood as alone in calling for more troops as Rangel has stood in calling for the Draft, as well as Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – who is now leading the calls for the U.S. to cut and run.)
Of course, this is precisely why the enlightened Rangel wants the Draft to be reinstated. After all, he is reasonably convinced that if their loved ones were at risk of being shipped to Iraq, or any other battlefield, then politicians would not be so careless about putting any American soldier in harm’s way….
NOTE: To meet basic troop-level requirements, recruiters are lowering (physical and educational) standards to entice any Tom, Dick, and Harry (and Mary too) to sign up “to be all they can be in the Army.” And it is patently disingenuous (if not hypocritical) for politicians to be opposed to the Draft knowing full well that 40-year old mothers are being recruited to fight in Iraq.
The (undeclared) war in Iraq is no WWII; and Bush is no FDR!
The Shotgun Convention of Sunni, Shia & Kurds to Frame an Iraqi Constitution…
Groundhog days in Iraq…and in President Bush’s head!
Sunday, November 26, 2006 at 2:04 PM
Saturday, November 25, 2006 at 11:17 AM
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 1:21 PM
With a little thought, most of us would have so much to give thanks for on Thanksgiving Day that our turkey would become cold and dry by the time we finished gracing our food.
But never mind all we take for granted. Instead, let us be thankful that we’re not living in Darfur, North Korea or Iraq. (Of course, if you happen to be living in any of these places, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you….)
At any rate, let us pray that God grants us the serenity to accept that we can do little about wars, starvation and pandemic diseases; and that he grants courage to those who can….
For your edification, click here to read a brief history of this holiday. And please take note of the pivotal and hospitable role native Indians played in making it possible..
Thanksgiving Day 2007
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 at 10:52 AMBy now, you’ve probably heard that when black hecklers interrupted his performance last Friday, the comedian who played the whacky Kramer character on “Seinfeld” reacted with a sustained racial assault that would have made Mel Gibson blush.
Here’s a sample of the vitriol he spewed (and this was not Johnnie Walker ranting on his behalf. This clown was stone-cold sober):
Shut up! Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass. You can talk, you can talk, you’re brave now motherfucker. Throw his ass out. He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! A nigger, look, there’s a nigger!
What surprised me, however, was not his racist tirade but the socially-indignant reaction to it – especially from the man who made this character a star, Jerry Seinfeld. After all, it was Seinfeld who wrote and produced a show about a group of “Friends” (see Related Articles below) living in New York City, on which so few people of color appeared that one could have been forgiven the impression that NYC was as lily-white as Provo, Utah (which is 96.99% white – with mostly Mexican migrant workers pulling up the slack).
Nonetheless, here’s what the now politically-correct Seinfeld had to say about the behavior of this racist Frankenstein he created:
I’m terribly sick over this….I’m sure Michael [Richards] is also sick over this horrible, horrible mistake. It is so extremely offensive. I feel terrible for all the people who have been hurt.
Of course, following the Hollywood script for acting contrite – after causing such an embarrassing scandal – Richards will soon launch his own media defensive. And, if he has good PR people, he’ll spare us the “I’m-not-a-racist” line.
Instead, he should explain that, despite his rant, he harbors no malice in his heart towards blacks (“I’m Jewish after all”), and that what that impertinent audience member caught on her mobile phone was him acting out a shock-routine as nothing more than a live comedy workshop….
But since he, unlike Mel Gibson, had no career prospects beyond making blue (color) jokes in comedy clubs around the country, Richards should spare himself the public groveling over this incident and “keep it real” by venting his racist filth – whenever he can – to provide a controlled venue for other closet racists to exorcise their demons….
NOTE: Just in case, do any of you black racists out there have a more caustic retort than “cracker” to being called a nigger?
Racist Kramer caught on tape
Just a little rant of [lily-white] Desperate Housewives (Seinfeld and Friends)
Arrested development of Mel Gibson: Once the sexiest man alive; now the craziest
Monday, November 20, 2006 at 2:36 PMIn May 2005, I wrote an article entitled Celebrity obsessed world has made actors and rock stars the statesmen of our time. And in it, I lauded Angelina Jolie for highlighting the plight of refugees, and Bono for getting rich countries to forgive billions of dollars in onerous debt owed by poor countries in Africa.
Today, I am obliged to cite another actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, and a rap star, Kanye West, for dramatizing (in the movie “Blood Diamond” and song “Diamonds…”, respectively) the exploitation of blacks and horrific violence that attend the mining and trading of diamonds.
Of course, I harbor no illusion about the impact DiCaprio and West will have on the world’s manufactured lust for diamonds. But just as celebrities who serve as spokesmen for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have improved animal rights by making it uncool, if not barbaric, to wear fur; so too I believe DiCaprio and West can improve the human rights by making it uncool, indeed inhumane, to wear diamonds.
Meanwhile, I am acutely aware of the spurious distinction diamond merchants like DeBeers are proffering between blood diamonds, which are mined in places like Sierra Leone as currency to fund civil wars and international terrorism, and “conflict-free” diamonds, which are mined in places like South Africa as gems to display wealth most ostentatiously.
Moreover, I am profoundly disappointed that hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, who has done so much to promote civil rights for blacks in America, has now signed on with DeBeers to promote the self-serving notion that it’s not hip to wear blood diamonds, but just fine to wear conflict-free diamonds. Because there’s no difference in the level of exploitation of blacks laboring under duress to mine diamonds in countries ravaged by civil strife and that suffered by blacks laboring under apartheid-like conditions to mine them in South Africa.
Indeed, just as I think it’s unconscionable to wear fur – no matter how “humanely” the animals are slaughtered, I think it’s unconscionable to wear bling no matter how “humanely” diamonds are mined.
Therefore, I reiterate here the admonition I gave (especially to my hip-hop brothers) in an article I wrote in October 2005 entitled: Diamonds: The crack of the jet-set and wanna-be fools looking to part with their money:
To my nouveau riche black brothers who have taken the pagan worship of diamonds to crass extremes: Please, you are behaving like those freed slaves who wanted nothing more than to own more black slaves than their former masters owned. Wise up, kick your bling-bling habit and use that money that you’re wasting on diamonds to plant seeds of urban development to help supplant the ghetto blight you rap about.
NOTE: If you think my allusion to crack is unfounded or unfair, consider the following lines from Kanye’s song in which he admits his own addiction to diamonds – despite knowing full-well the blood poor blacks sacrifice so that he may “shine”:
See, a part of me say keep shinin’
How? When I know what a “Blood Diamond” is …
Celebrity obsessed world has made actors and rock stars the statesmen of our time
Diamonds: The crack of the jet-set and wanna-be fools looking to part with their money
Black political leadership in America is dead! Thank God for (hip-hop) mogul Russell Simmons?
Sunday, November 19, 2006 at 12:23 PM
Saturday, November 18, 2006 at 12:27 PM
Friday, November 17, 2006 at 11:29 AM
As I did my nightly channel surfing through Cable-News stations last night, there was no escaping the fulminations of moral outrage over a book, ghostwritten by OJ’s conscience, in which he gives a stab by stab account of how he (would have) killed his ex-wife and her friend (if he did it) in the summer of 1994.
But I have no moral compulsion to join the chorus of people damning O.J. to a living hell. Especially since the most outraged amongst them betray their righteous indignation by still watching O.J. (and hanging on his every word) the way rubberneckers gaze at roadside accidents. For the record, however, I feel obliged to declare that I have no doubt that O.J. committed those murders. And, apropos this, no matter its crass commercial purpose (with its must-see TV companion interview), this book will constitute as much of a confession as a psychopathic and narcissistic megalomaniac like O.J. would ever make.
Meanwhile, it behooves all of those expressing incredulity that he would intentionally inflict emotional distress upon his two children in this manner to appreciate that if O.J. had no paternal scruples about the trauma his killing their mother would inflict when they were mere adolescents, then he’s probably inured to any such concerns in this respect today. Indeed, far more troubling (and perhaps newsworthy) is how his publisher rationalizes her unconscionable decision to publish this book:
I made the decision to publish this book, and to sit face to face with the killer, because I wanted him, and the men who broke my heart and your hearts, to tell the truth, to confess their sins, to do penance and to amend their lives.
[Judith Regan, Publisher of Regan books and OJ’s Mother Confesser offering her patently specious and self-indulgent rationalization for profiting off OJ’s murderous notoriety]
NOTE: Incidentally, if, like one of my friends, you’re wondering why OJ doesn’t sue some of the high-profile people calling him a murderer for defamation, it’s because he knows the truth gives them an absolute defense. Moreover, since a civil court has already established as truth that he is a murderer (by holding him responsible to the tune of $33 million for killing his wife and her friend), he would probably be charged with abuse of process for even filing a claim for defamation under these circumstances.
ENDNOTE: For a variety of reasons, many of my fellow Caribbean natives are besieged with fear that a series of recently enacted and pending US legislation portend doom for our tourist economy. In fact, their fears have become so irrational that one government minister has just proposed that we engage in whaling to forestall this cursed fate.
But click here to see why I think rubbish is the sum of all their fears.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 12:21 PM
It’s not that I’m not going….It’s that they had a limited number of people that they could invite. I was not one of the invitees. That’s fine.
[Oprah trying in vain to rationalize why Tom did not invite her to his wedding]Poor Oprah…first Hermes, now Tom: Despite all her power and influence, being denied access to a Parisian boutique or not receiving an invitation to the celebrity event of the year must make Oprah think that some (white) people still see her as nothing more than a poor nappy-headed black girl from Kosciusko, Mississippi (notwithstanding the best perms, weaves and hair extensions money can buy).
To her credit, however, Oprah showed her authentic self by refusing to cite the PR canard of “a scheduling conflict” to save face. Rather, she made it painfully clear that Tom’s diss was made even more devastating by the fact that she really wanted to be invited to his wedding in Italy this weekend.
Which begs the question:
Given her exalted and revered position in the Hollywood firmament and how contrived (and opportunistic) celebrity friendships invariably are (Brooke Shields and Katie are now “best friends”?), why did Tom risk alienating Oprah by refusing to invite her?
Let me hasten to clarify that, unlike the Hermes people, I do not think Tom’s motivation was racist…. Instead:
Perhaps Tom considers Oprah such a superstar that he did not want her to outshine his bride on her wedding day; or
Perhaps it’s payback because, unlike other celebrities (especially black invitees like Will Smith and Jamie Foxx), Oprah was not sufficiently receptive to his invitation to explore the wonders of Scientology; or
Perhaps Tom’s movie-star ego has grown so much since he was given his own movie studio (United Artist) that he now considers Oprah – with her Harpo Studios – more a rival than a “friend” whose ego he needs to stroke to market his movies; or
Perhaps Tom is still recovering from the public ridicule he suffered after prancing on Oprah’s couch – like a Cocker Spaniel, and pledging his love for the nubile Katie – like a pussy-whipped teenager. And, fair or not, he probably fears that Oprah’s presence would only trigger flashbacks of that humiliating episode in people’s minds.
But, whatever Tom’s reason for dissing her, Oprah should not compound her embarrassment by suggesting that he did not have room on his 1500-perons guest list to include her….
Hermes French Boutique: Oprah Just Looked Too African to Shop Here…
Cruise shares Scientology with black celebrity friends
War of the Stars: Top Gun Tom Cruise strikes Pretty Baby Brooke Shields!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 11:33 AMAlas, I’m obliged to complain once again about the shoddy, irresponsible and intentionally-hyped-to-boost-ratings reporting that the mainstream media (MSM) in America routinely broadcasts as news. And, for the record, included amongst those I indict in this respect are the major network stations (ABC, NBC, CBS and pot-calling-kettle-black FOX) as well as the 24-hour McNews cable stations the networks treat like their white-trash second cousins.Like me, you probably heard MSM reporting yesterday that UK Prime Minister Tony Blair had finally cut his Lilliputian cord of allegiance to US President George W. Bush by declaring that he, unlike Bush, is prepared to partner with Iran to negotiate not only the future of its nuclear program, but also the fate of Iraq. And, based on what I heard, if I were any less informed, I would have thought that this was a truly seminal split in their beleaguered alliance.
Therefore, let me hasten to disabuse you of any impression that what was reported yesterday was even remotely newsworthy. Because here, in fact, is how Blair reiterated his long-standing (and unchanged) policy towards Iran in a speech on Monday, which launched this latest round of MSM tabloid fodder:
If they [Iran] help the Middle East peace process, not hinder it; they stop supporting terrorism in Lebanon or Iraq and they abide by, not flout, their international obligations. In that case, a new partnership is possible. Or, alternatively, they face the consequence of not doing so: isolation.
The Iranian Government’s choices are clear. The negative choice is for the regime to maintain its current course, pursuing nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community and its international obligations. If the regime does so, it will incur only great costs. We and our European partners agree that path will lead to international isolation and progressively stronger political and economic sanctions.
The positive and constructive choice is for the Iranian regime to alter its present course and cooperate in resolving the nuclear issue, beginning by immediately resuming suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, as well as full cooperation with the IAEA and returning to implementation of the Additional Protocol which would provide greater access for the IAEA. This path would lead to the real benefit and longer-term security of the Iranian people, the region, and the world as a whole.
Now I ask you, where’s the split?
We need America. That is a fact. Britain’s partnership with the United States [is] crucial to the country’s future strength.
[PM Blair reaffirming the US-UK “special relationship on Monday]
Meanwhile, as I’ve proffered in “Related Articles” listed below, Iran is entirely impervious to any diplomatic effort to cajole or induce it to abandon its nuclear program. And, I maintain that Israel will ultimately be compelled to take military action against Iran: not to enforce Bush’s edict (ie. that “Iran shall not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons!”), but to prevent Iran from wiping it off the map – as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared is his final solution for Israel….
NOTE: As it happened, on Monday Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave the clearest indication yet that Israel is preparing for a day of reckoning with Iran when he declared that:
“Iran must start to fear Israel if it fails to halt nuclear plan.”
Although, given the way Israel’s once-feared military was humiliated by a rag-tag band of Hezbollah fighters in Southern Lebanon recently, it may be that the only thing Iran has to fear is fear itself.
Moreover, with Iran announcing just yesterday that its nuclear program is near complete, the time for Israel (and, indeed, the US) to put up or shut up might come much sooner than later….
ENDNOTE: MSM reported that the cause for this alleged split between Bush and Blair stemmed also from Blair’s suggestion that, if Iran and Syria agreed to stop fomenting terrorist activities in Iraq, the US should engage them in dialogue to help stabilize it.
However, James Baker, the man Bush appointed to head his Iraq Study Group, which he tasked with a Faustian search for “a strategy to win”, is on record stating that dialogue with Iran and Syria is precisely what he considers (and will presumably recommend to Bush as) the most prudent diplomatic course the US can take towards solving the mess Iraq has become.
Time to put up or shut up about Iran’s nuclear program!
Act of war” in the Middle East is a self-fulfilling (or fulfilling of ) prophecy…
Israel vs. Hezbollah: hardly good fighting evil…
Nuclear weapons showdown: Today is a day of reckoning for the West, not Iran…
Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 11:54 AMAlthough dark clouds made the occasion seem more funereal than joyful, President George W. Bush headlined a Who’s Who from the Civil Rights Movement on the Washington Mall yesterday for the groundbreaking of the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Memorial.
But the overcast skies did not dampen anyone’s spirits. Because, being so acutely aware that MLK’s legacy represents the heroic struggle and triumph of black Americans, we were simply overjoyed by the historic significance of this occasion.
Indeed, as I tuned out the racial and political platitudes being recited by dignitaries like former President Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, I became awestruck by the juxtaposition of the civil strife that attended the desegregation of schools and places of public accommodation 50 years ago, with the civil harmony that attended the desegregation of this most coveted place of honor in America yesterday.
Yet I suspect my friends who have seen the place of honor MLK occupies in my home will be surprised to learn that I am actually conflicted about this dedication. Because as much as I admire MLK, I believe the life, political activism, and legacy of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) make him more worthy of being the first black to be memorialised in this American Pantheon – alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.
- Douglass was born in slavery; MLK was born in freedom.
- Douglass spent his formative years on a plantation scrapping with his master’s dogs for food to eat; MLK spent his in relative luxury dining with America’s Black elite.
- Douglass effectively taught himself to read and write; MLK was educated at America’s best schools, including Morehouse College and Boston University.
- Douglass escaped from slavery, settled in the North, and began his political activism by personally challenging Jim Crow segregation laws that were as strictly enforced in the Antebellum North as they were in the Deep South; MLK graduated from university, settled in the South, and began his political activism by accepting the call to lead Blacks who had already begun the now-seminal Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- Douglass was the undisputed Black leader agitating for the abolition of slavery; MLK was challenged by Malcolm X and Stokeley Carmichael – whose message of self-defense and Black nationalism resonated more with Black youths (for whom ‘by any means necessary’ was more liberating and empowering than ‘I have a dream’).
- Douglass, who died aged 77, lived long enough not only to see his dream of the abolition of slavery fulfilled, but also to become a professional man (as a U.S. Marshall and recorder of deeds), an international statesman (as U.S. Ambassador to Santo Domingo and Haiti), and a political champion for yet another cause (Women’s Rights); MLK, who died aged 39, saw his dream of racial equality deferred so long that he did not live long enough to see it fulfilled to any significant degree.
- Douglass’s published essential writings and speeches on the fight for freedom from slavery are far more voluminous than MLK’s on the struggle for Black civil rights (see articles from one of Douglass’s many newspapers North Star, as well as his autobiographies Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave and Life and Times of Frederic Douglass. And eyewitness accounts by the likes of notorious abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison suggest that Douglass was every bit the orator MLK was. Having read the text, I suspect that his ‘What to the slave is the 4th of July?’ speech, which he delivered on July 5, 1852, was even more provocative and inspiring than MLK’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.
Clearly this is not the forum for an exhaustive comparative analysis of the legacies of these two great black Americans. But I trust this rudimentary sketch suffices to show why I think Douglass – who fought for blacks to be free from slavery, is more worthy of being the first one memorialised on the Mall than MLK – who preached for them to be free to go to school and socialize with whites.
NOTE: King’s legacy has not been enhanced by the squabbling amongst his four children – pitting two of them who regard it as their inheritance to use for their personal benefit against the other two who regard it as a public trust for them to manage as zealous trustees.
In fact, here’s how Martin Luther King III who – along with his sister Bernice – argued against the sale of MLK’s papers, writings, and recorded speeches:
Tearing the center’s unique and essential elements apart — its physical memorial and its living legacy — only diminishes them both, thereby weakening, not strengthening, the cause to which my father and mother gave so much.
Unfortunately, he was overruled by Dexter King, Chairman of the King Center in Atlanta where these national treasures were archived, who – along with the other sister Yolanda – betrayed their father’s legacy for a reported $30 million last June. Dexter was conspicuously absent from yesterday’s dedication.
Of course, if Dexter had one scintilla of appreciation for MLK’s familiar Biblical allusions, he would have settled for $29 million just to avoid fated comparisons to Judas who betrayed Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver….
Monday, November 13, 2006 at 10:47 AMIn April 2005, I began article ( here) entitled “…10 more women accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault…rape!” as follows:
…Bill Cosby – America’s favorite TV Dad (and faithful husband) – escaped prison when prosecutors investigating allegations of sexual assault concluded that they did not have sufficient evidence to convict him, beyond a reasonable doubt, at trial.
But no one thought that was the end of the story. Indeed, just over a month later – after losing any chance to take away his freedom – Cosby’s lone accuser filed a civil lawsuit to take away his money instead.
Many court observers assumed this suit would be settled with financial dispatch in the same way that Kobe Bryant paid-off his accuser (for what ultimately proved to be a $5 million romp!). But a few days ago, the allegations against Cosby became 10-times worse and, potentially, 10-times more costly. Because lawyers for his accuser filed motion in court for 10 more women to give evidence of similar sexual assaults that were allegedly perpetrated against them by Cosby.
Therefore, it was not surprising that, instead of allowing Andrea Constand – the 32-year old who regarded Cosby as a mentor – to testify in open court about how he drugged and raped her, Cosby, 69, settled her lawsuit last Wednesday for an amount sufficient enough to buy her silence.
Meanwhile, Cosby’s legal woes have not caused him to retreat from his self-appointed role as a latter-day John the Baptist, preaching to a generally unreceptive Black audience that the lack of individual responsibility, more than “systemic racism”, is the root cause of crime, poor education and high unemployment in Black America. And for this I commend him wholeheartedly!
But, given the recent fall from grace of Evangelist Ted Haggard (after a male prostitute outed him as a tartuffe who likes to fuel his gay sex with crystal meth), this Cosby update serves as just another reminder that the best of us are often as flawed as the worst of us….
NOTE: If Cosby thought that settling this lawsuit would keep the lid on his past sexual exploits, he was sadly mistaken. Because a popular online magazine, Media Take Out, reports today that – although not preparing to sue him – another woman wants the world to know that Cosby used and abused her sexually, and even infected her with herpes.
And, this woman scorned expresses her motivation for coming forward now as follows:
…when I knew him, he was sleeping with every woman in sight – and that was right in front of his “loving” wife….
He knows what it means to be a lousy Black man, because he was a dirty dog in his day. But now that he’s old I guess he feels he can talk down to people. I had to expose him for the hypocrite that he is.
Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 1:09 PM
Saturday, November 11, 2006 at 12:03 PMIn America, Veterans Day has become as much about honoring those who risked (and sacrificed) their lives “to defend our freedoms” as Christmas Day has become about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. (And we all know how politically incorrect it is these days to display nativity scenes or even inscribe the name of Christ in Christmas….)
Hence, for anyone who thinks the march to war in Iraq was sheer folly (or politically contrived), the Veterans Day Speech President Bush delivered yesterday – at the dedication of a new Marine Corps Museum – must have been especially galling. Because he did not honor veterans so much as recite his patently discredited talking points to justify why over 3000 more dead and tens of thousands of walking wounded have been added to the ranks of America’s war veterans under his leadership. Or, indeed, and why so many others are being called-up to follow.
Meanwhile, more Americans will be concerned today about the prospect of holiday sales than about the fate of American soldiers serving in Iraq….
Friday, November 10, 2006 at 1:19 PMI’m sure regular readers of this weblog will understand my suspending the “Good (news) Friday” feature, which – following my niece’s request – would have been subtitled “Britney comes to her senses”, to comment on the historically-significant bad news of Ed Bradley’s death.
Truth be told, when I saw Bradley on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago, I remarked aloud that he did not look well. Therefore, when I heard that he died of complications from chronic lymphocytic leukemia yesterday, I was not terribly surprised.
Bradley was cool. And his race, left earring and love of jazz were only incidental to this fact. Because Bradley exuded that rare appeal of being intelligent without being condescending, confident without being arrogant, affable without being ingratiating, elegant without being pretentious…you get the idea.
But since I find it unseemly when people prattle on about dead celebrities they knew nothing about, I shall suffice to recommend Bradley’s official CBS obituary, here, for readers who are genuinely interested in knowing more about him…
Nonetheless, I shall pay my respects by linking, here, to a recent commentary I wrote on what turned out to be Bradley’s final report. Because it’s a tribute to his journalistic relevance and integrity that, in this report, Bradley exposed the lies and inconsistencies that misled a district attorney to charge three white students of gang-raping a black stripper in the sensational Duke University rape case.
Thanks Ed. RIP…
NOTE: Apropos news not coming as a surprise, I read recently that Haiti has been rated the most corrupt country in the World. Click here to read my CNN article on yet another dubious acclaim for this God-forsaken country.
Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 12:10 PMBy all accounts, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is as informed, articulate and bright as his boss, President Bush, is uninformed, inarticulate and dumb. Yet these men were reputedly bonded by self-righteousness and mutual confidence in the probity of their respective leadership.But even they could not remain unaffected by the growing crescendo of doubts about their leadership being expressed by the soldiers they misled to war in Iraq. And this chorus of doubts led inexorable to the alienation of affection between them that was consummated yesterday.
It was disingenuous, however, for Bush to offer the need for a “fresh perspective” (from a “fresh pair of eyes”) as his rationale for firing Rumsfeld. Because calls for his head were sounded almost three years ago, when Rumsfeld arrogantly and ill-advisedly dismissed Iraqi insurgents – who have since killed over 2,500 American soldiers – as no more than a few “dead-enders”.
Moreover, in fairness to him, it is a matter of public record that Rumsfeld tendered his resignation over two years ago (in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal) to enable Bush to get a fresh perspective after his re-election in 2004. But Bush rejected it and expressed born-gain faith in Rumsfeld’s leadership.
Therefore, since Bush seems determined to avoid the question, it shall fall to historians to explain why he chose “the day after” to fire Rumsfeld. After all, he vowed not to do so (as late as last week) no matter how many politicians and generals urged him to, and no matter how stagnant and costly (in terms of lives and money) Rumsfeld’s Iraq strategy became. And never mind that had he done so before Tuesday’s elections, he might have spared his Party that “thumpin”.
Meanwhile, rumor has it that Rumsfeld did not want to cut and run. Therefore, one can only imagine the blow to his ego at being fired.
In fact, he must curse the irony of being heralded when he arrived at the Department of Defense as the man who would transform the military into a lean fighting machine “to meet the asymmetric challenges of the 21st Century”. (Then vindicating his visionary military strategy by planning the shocking and awesome ouster of the Taliban from Afghanistan.) Only to be scapegoated as he’s forced to leave as the man who was fired for leading that military down a primrose path – back to the future – into a quagmire where it’s fighting a decidedly 20th Century (Vietnam-style) war in Iraq.
Nonetheless, I fail to understand (not that Bush’s critics have even bothered to explain) how changing control of Congress or firing Rumsfeld will improve conditions on the ground in Iraq. And it’s probably too late to execute what I thought was the only way to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure and form a viable federal government: Namely, to implement a Marshall Plan (a la post WWII Japan) under martial law enforced by the “several hundred thousand US troops” the truly visionary Gen. Eric Shinseki said would be needed in postwar Iraq.
Now I fear the only hope is to partition the country into Kurd, Shiite and Sunni zones and leave them to defend their own boarders and barter (or fight) for a share Iraq’s oil wealth. (A last resort which the BBC reported on in this article here last summer.)
So, here’s to the triumph of opportunistic politics over failed military strategies….
But, just for the record, what’s the new course Nancy?
NOTE: In his book Bush at War, Washington Post reporter/author Bob Woodward made headlines by chronicling Bush’s antic disposition to shun his father’s advice. But this would seem belied by the fact that he has filled key positions in his administration with people who advised his father as president. And these include Colin Powell – his former Secretary of State, James Baker – co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group he clearly hopes will offer guidance to salvage his Iraq policy, and now Bob Gates – the man he nominated yesterday to replace Rumsfeld.
Indeed, the nature of this father-son relationship is far more complex (at once Oedipal and appropriately filial) than many people seem to appreciate. For example, there’s good reason to suspect that Bush the son got America into this mess in Iraq in a misguided attempt to upstage and avenge his father – who was called a wimp for not invading Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and was targeted by Saddam Hussein to be assassinated.