• Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 7:23 PM

    Rumsfeld decides to cut and run…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In a post-election news conference today, President George W. Bush admitted that the Republicans took “a thumpin”, accepted full responsibility for it and then announced that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had fallen on his sword as a result….

    More on Bush’s stunning about-face on calls for Rumsfeld’s resignation tomorrow….

  • Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 12:38 PM

    Election results: The only news in town (notwithstanding Britney’s divorce)…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    As of this posting, the Democrats have wrested control of the US House of Representatives in convincing fashion (having won 33 instead of the 15 races needed), and are poised to win control of the Senate in a dramatic squeaker (having already won 4 of the 6 races needed, and are leading in the remaining two where votes are still being counted).

    But, despite commentaries to the contrary, Democrats won’t have the power (nor the will) to do anything over the next two years except hold hearings on President Bush’s march of folly into Iraq (including VP Cheney’s alleged war profiteering); And this, notwithstanding their professed “bold new agenda” to pass domestic legislation on immigration, healthcare, global warming, etc.

    Although, it’s ironic that the conservatives now looking to Bush to veto any Democratic legislation they deem too “liberal” are the very ones who prayed for Republicans to lose control of Congress as divine retribution for, inter alia, backsliding into political corruption; abandoning their pledge of fiscal responsibility (i.e. by running up record deficits and exploding the national debt); and ridiculing Evangelicals (as David Kuo chronicled in his book Tempting Faith. Although, given the recent gay-sex, crystal-meth scandal involving Evangelical leader Ted Haggard, this ridicule might have been divinely inspired).

    Meanwhile, apropos Iraq, most Americans voted for Democrats desperately hoping for a change of course in the conduct of this war. Yet any informed voter should have known that Democrats will have even less power to affect Bush’s foreign policy agenda than they do his domestic initiatives. (As I explained in my “NOTE” from yesterday’s column below)

    In fact, the only change worthy of commentary today is that California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (above) will make history in January, when she’ll be sworn in as the first female Speaker of the US House of Representatives! Beyond this, all politics will be designed to position political parties and candidates for the truly seminal 2008 congressional and presidential elections.

    Therefore, until then, enjoy the show….

    NOTE: Because I understood how truly inconsequential these elections were, I vested my political emotions in only a couple races. Accordingly:

    I am happy to report that Joe Lieberman won in Connecticut. (Click here to see why this pleases me so much.)

    I am also happy that Democrat Deval Patrick was elected the first black governor of Massachusetts. (Expect idle speculation to flourish immediately about him challenging Barack Obama to be elected the first black president of the United States.)

    But my happiness is tempered by the fact that Harold Ford lost in Tennessee. (Click here to see what this saddens me.)

  • Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 11:03 AM

    Happy Election Day! And, it’s GOTV stupid!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election. [Bill Vaughan]

    With apologies to Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes, have you ever wondered why Election Day in America is not a national holiday? After all, more than any political machine, this would be the best way to get out the vote (GOTV) and increase participation in national elections to more respectable levels.

    Moreover, since most Americans now observe President’s Day by going to shopping malls, why not have this holiday fall on Election Day so that they could observe it by going to voting polls?

    Nonetheless, for today, get out there and vote! (And ignore celebrities who shout out “vote or die” while they don’t and thrive.)

    But here’s to paying tribute to American presidents, henceforth, by voting, not shopping, on their holiday….

    NOTE: I was stupefied yesterday when an otherwise intelligent associate informed me that he intended to vote for Democrats today because “they’ll bring the troops home”. Alas, I was constrained to disabuse him of this misguided expectation.

    Because even if Democrats win control of the House and Senate, they will have no power to “change course in Iraq”, let alone force President Bush to bring the troops home. Bush has exclusive authority to keep troops deployed in Iraq until the last day of his presidency. And he has vowed to do just that – even if “only his wife and Barney (his dog) support his [stay the course] policy.”

  • Monday, November 6, 2006 at 12:17 PM

    Saddam gets the death penalty! But he will never be executed…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Yesterday, political pundits tried in vain to imbue Saddam Hussein’s anticlimactic death sentence with political relevance. And, oddly enough, both Republicans and Democrats seem convinced that it might provide a reprieve for those Republicans whose own political death penalty is scheduled to be executed in elections tomorrow.

    But it’s American soldiers dying in vain, not the fate of Saddam Hussein, that will matter most when voters cast their ballots. And TV scenes showing more Iraqis protesting his sentence than those celebrating it only reinforced the prevailing confusion and disillusionment Americans now feel about launching this war in Iraq.

    As for Saddam, the damned dead man walking, he effectively hid his fear of dying behind more of the defiant outbursts that have become the hallmark of his defense. Nonetheless, he seemed more aware than the judge who sentenced him that he’s the feature player in an indispensable American-mandated judicial farce that will guarantee he dies by natural causes before the hangman’s noose goes around his neck!

    After all, despite reports to the contrary, with appeals and more trials to face (for other crimes against humanity committed during his dictatorship), Saddam has nothing to fear, but terminal boredom in his prison cell. And, further frustrating matters for his would-be American and Iraqi executioners, the Europeans – most notably British PM Tony Blair – have already declared their opposition to seeing Saddam hanged; ironically, because they would consider this itself a crime against humanity….

    But in this previous article, here, entitled Saddam & Slobodan: A tale of two trials and the perfect execution of a dictator’s defense!, I lamented that the Americans and their Iraqi acolytes would rue the day they afforded Saddam this show trial as follows:

    This is clearly a farce, but the Americans have only themselves to blame. After all, their Iraqi surrogates pleaded with them to dispense justice for this former dictator under the “Saddamic” law he keeps invoking to defy the court’s authority. Because, if they had heeded those pleas, Saddam would have been executed within days of his capture and his victims would now be free to tell their stories (see SHOAH), without the horrific indignity of this genocidal maniac staring at them.

    Moreover, in this one, here, entitled Saddam takes over Iraq’s kangaroo court, I synthesized the antic symmetry between Slobodan and Saddam as follows:

    …the Americans are only shooting themselves in the democratic foot with this trial. They should either have sent Saddam off to The Hague to rot in obscurity with former Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic (remember him?) or dispensed summary judgment when they found him in that rat hole. (And, for real PR value, they could have given credit to one of their Iraqi battalions in training for this prized hit! Trust me, the American military has concocted much worse….)

    And in another, here, entitled Of Slobodan Milosevic, many have said: “I hope he rots in jail!”, I predicted that the way Milosevic died with a whimper (in his sleep), not with a bang (from the hangman’s gallows), would set a precedent for Saddam.

    Ultimately, though, nothing demonstrates the surreal absurdity Saddam on trial has become more than the juxtaoposition of insurgents executing innocent Iraqis and American soldiers with impunity with Saddam being allowed to live on in infamy.

    NOTE: To put the above quotes into context, I feel obliged to declare that I oppose the death penalty. I do because I believe it’s barbaric and furthers no redeeming political, social or, God forbid, moral value.

    Moreover, I do not advocate summary executions for dictators accused of crimes against humanity…in all cases. After all, I cited the trial of Slobodan Milosevic as not only a precedent but also a paradigm. Because I think it is far more politically prudent and judicially sound to prosecute such cases in the relatively impartial, austere and obscure confines of The Hague.

    In this case, however, it is patently obvious that the prosecution of Saddam in Iraq was not motivated by a pursuit of justice. Rather, it stemmed from the fatuous and myopic need of the Americans to pretend there was law and order in a country that was beset by abject lawlessness and spiraling into civil war; And from the misguided and jingoistic need of the Iraqis to exact nationalistic, if not sectarian, retribution upon him. Never mind that following this by hanging him would create a martyr who inspires more killing than Osama bin Laden….

    Meanwhile, the criminal procedures and prejudicial conditions under which this show trial was performed offended all notions of justice and fairness – given the routine intimidation of witnesses and the assassination of others involved, including no less than three of Saddam’s lawyers.

    ENDNOTE: It would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that, even more than Saddam, African dictator Charles Taylor (here) stands to emulate Milosovec’s unheralded death….

  • Sunday, November 5, 2006 at 1:04 PM

    If you think there was confusion at the polls in 2000, wait till Tuesday…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, November 4, 2006 at 1:27 PM

    Limbaugh vs. Fox: Perhaps they’re both terminally ill…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    During a now notorious screed last week, conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh accused actor Michael J Fox of “faking” the effects of his Parkinson’s disease – during a TV-ad – to elicit sympathy and support for stem cell research.

    I readily concede that I am agnostic about:

    Whether stem cell research is just an infanticidal and eugenically-contrived scheme to use the unborn for human experimentation – as Limbaugh and pro-life zealots contend; or

    Whether it could lead to a panacea for innumerable maladies that afflict the human body, most notably Parkinson’s – as Fox and its enlightened advocates (including some pro-lifers) contend.

    However, I have no doubt that for (OxyContin) drug-addict Limbaugh to ridicule Fox’s plea for his life is not only crass but also hypocritical.

    NOTE: Florida prosecutors should investigate to see if Limbaugh’s accusation was the effect of a drug-induced blather; which, of course, would constitute a violation of the probation terms he accepted after copping a plea to avoid jail when he was arrested earlier this year.

    After all, only a person under the influence of some mind-altering drug could make such an outrageous and inhumane accusation.

    ,

  • Friday, November 3, 2006 at 11:17 AM

    Good (news) Friday: Microsoft vows to leave China to save its soul…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Last year, I wrote an article, here, entitled For some, doing business in China means leaving your conscience at the border, in which I lamented the trend of multinational corporations ignoring all regard for universal human rights just to get a piece of the Chinese economic pie. In fact, here’s how I began that article:

    Some companies doing business in China have committed what Pope Benedict XVI condemns as the sin of moral relativism sin proceeds from the conscious decision to make money off a political economy that thrives on human rights abuses – of every kind imaginable.

    And, since that article focused on Microsoft, I felt compelled to condemn Yahoo, here, in one entitled …Yahoo! Becomes China’s most favored national thought police, and Google, here, in another entitled Google adopts the Bush Administration’s motto of moral relativism after they followed Microsoft’s compromised path to China.

    But the good news is that Microsoft’s suppressed conscience has caused it such unbearable headaches that, in a dramatic plea for corporate redemption, it has professed its intent to stop doing business not only in China but also “in all non-democratic countries”.

    And, as one who blogs in solidarity with Chinese bloggers, I was especially gratified that Fred Tipson, Microsoft’s senior policy counsel, explained his company’s conversion to the BBC yesterday, in part, as follows:

    Things are getting bad…and perhaps we have to look again at our presence there….We have to decide if the persecuting of bloggers reaches a point that it’s unacceptable to do business there.

    Now, if only Yahoo, Google and other companies would agree to follow the moral high ground Microsoft proposes to take out of China, that would be good not only for Chinese citizens but also for international business.

    NOTE: Anna Nicole Smith has dominated news in The Bahamas for the past 2 months the way Madonna has dominated news in the US for the past 2 weeks. Click here to see why the birth of Anna Nicole’s child has caused an escalating political row in the nation of my birth, and how I think the matter should be put to rest, now!

    ,

  • Thursday, November 2, 2006 at 11:37 AM

    UPDATE: The Putinization of Russia extends to Georgia…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    For years, I’ve been concerned about the Putinization of Russia; which, in case you haven’t been paying attention, is the determined plan by its neo-Stalinist president, Vladimir Putin, to roll-back the democratic reforms launched by his predecessors: Namely, Mikhail Gorbachev, who introduced glasnost (transparency) in his failed attempt to restructure the Soviet Union’s moribund bureaucracy and economy (under a policy he called Perestroika); and Boris Yelstin, who – as Russia’s first president after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 – initiated the wholesale privatization of Russia’s state-owned enterprises.

    Notwithstanding his rhetoric to the contrary (and US President George W. Bush’s gullible praise for his democratic values), Putin has been unabashed in his systematic efforts to reclaim totalitarian power in Russia: a power grab which I chronicled here in a 25 March 2005 article entitled President Putin reforming Russia in his own image, here in a 1 June 2005 article entitled Vladimir Putin sends political dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky [the richest man in Russia] off to the Gulag!, and here in an 18 May 2006 article entitled Putin’s wife reveals his (old-fashioned) philosophy on domestic affairs….

    Moreover, he has been no less zealous in his efforts to exert Soviet-era influence over the newly-independent states of the former Soviet Union, which I chronicled here in a 3 January 2006 article entitled Putin fires first salvo in new Cold War in Europe (when he strongarmed and extorted higher prices from the Ukraine by cutting off the country’s gas supplies that are pumped in by pipelines from Russia).

    Therefore, recent reports that Putin has turned his Stalinist wrath on Georgia came as no surprise. After all, since he overthrew pro-Russian leaders in the Rose Revolution of 2003, Georgia’s pro-Western president, Mikhail Saakashvili, has made no secret of his disdain for Putin’s Russia or of his determined plan for his country to join the EU and NATO.

    “I know what it is to try to build your own nation when danger is knocking on the door.” [Georgian President Saakashvili]

    Of course, no one expected Putin to allow Saakashvili to show such public contempt for Russia with impunity. And, given his penchant for old KGB tactics, it was entirely predictable that Putin would dispatch spies to undermine Saakashvili’s democratically-elected government.

    Hence, in recent months, bilateral relations between these erstwhile comrade-nation states have resemebled the Cold-War tensions that characterized relations between the United States and Soviet Union. For example:

    In late September, Georgian authorities arrested 5 Russian military officers accused of spying. This, in turn, prompted Putin to accuse Saakashvili of “terrorist and hostage-taking activities” and of being a puppet of Western goverments (i.e. the US).”

    Then, demonstrating how truly jingoistic the enmity between the two countries has become, Putin not only recalled his ambassordor but also ordered the evacuation of all Russian citizens from Georgia. In addition, emulating the choke hold he put on the unruly Ukrainians earlier this year, he ordered an economic blockade of Georgia by suspending all transport and mail communications. And the UK’s Guardian Unlimited reports today that he’s now executing his patented squeeze for higher gas prices.

    Then, according to a Pravda report, just weeks ago, the Russian police requested schools to provide a list of all schoolchildren with Georgian names to deport them under the pretext of cracking down on illegal immigration. This, in turn, prompted Saakashvili to accuse Putin of:

    …singling out Georgians for discrimination and deportation [in a way] reminiscent of czarist policies dispossessing Jews.

    Stay tuned….

    NOTE: I suspect Jews whose families were expelled from Russia by the czars and Stalin would probably take issue with Saakashvili’s opportunistic analogy. Nonetheless, Putin’s Putinization of Russia and bullying of his neighbors certainly conjure up those unseemly practices.

    ,

  • Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 11:18 AM

    Listening to Kerry, one might think he got stuck in Vietnam because he’s dumb, and got his foot stuck in his mouth because he’s even dumber. But…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    BREAKING NEWS: Transcripts prove that George W. Bush is smarter than John F. Kerry!

    This is the title of a commentary, here, dated 8 June 2005, in which I lampooned the truly stunning revelation that the seemingly-dumb George Bush graduated with a better GPA from Yale University than the seemingly-smart John Kerry. But, notwithstanding his inferior grades, I felt then, as I do now, that Kerry was far more qualified than Bush to be president of the United States.

    Unfortunately, Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign revealed his political Achilles heel: He’s a good man, but a lousy politician. And, nothing dramatized this point more than watching the otherwise honorable Kerry dissemble on the most important issue of his career: Namely, the now notorious occasion when he could not figure out whether political conviction led him to vote for the war in Iraq or whether political expediency misled him to claim he “voted for it before he voted against it”.

    Now he would have us believe that he was trying to make a joke about Bush when he said the following on Monday night about the troops serving in Iraq:

    …you know, education…if you make the most of it and study hard, do your homework and make an effort to be smart you can do well. If you don’t you get stuck in Iraq.

    Lawyers are fond of uttering the Latin phrase res ipsa loquitur to argue that – no matter what a person says – the fact of his negligence is clear for all to see (i.e. “the thing speaks for itself”). In this case, no matter Kerry’s subsequent explanation(s), it was clear – in writing and on video – to see why many people found his remark upsetting.

    I submit, however, that people were upset, not because his remark was so offensive. Rather, they were upset because, though true, it was so politically incorrect.

    On the other hand, I understand why Kerry was so defensive. And, regrettably, it had nothing to do with defending the truth of his remark. Instead, he reacted hysterically in a vain attempt to prevent the Republicans from exploiting his words for partisan political gain – against HIM…again.

    But here’s what a smart politician would have done:

    Admit that the joke was, not “botched”, but simply in poor taste. Apologise to anyone who may have been offended. Then remind people of his military bona fides (a dumb but decorated war veteran) and ridicule Republican critics who have never served.

    As it happens, Kerry did a masterful job of ridiculing Bush, his political guru Karl Rove and US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during a televised news conference yesterday. Unfortunately, all of this was undermined because he began this opportunistic conference by declaring – with contrived and fatuous bravado – that “I apologize to no one….”

    He then insulted everyone’s intelligence by asserting that his remark about uneducated kids getting stuck in Iraq constituted nothing more than a “botched joke…about the president and the president’s people, not the troops”. An assertion which, of course, is about as credible as claiming that he voted for the war in Iraq before he voted against it.

    Meanwhile, one of the few things Democrats and Republicans in Washington agree on is that Sen John McCain (R-AZ) is the most non-partisan and respected politician in America. Therefore, his take on Kerry’s remark should be instructive:

    Senator Kerry owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country’s call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education….

    They all deserve our respect and deepest gratitude for their service. The suggestion that only the
    least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq, is an insult to every soldier serving in combat, and should deeply offend any American with an ounce of appreciation for what they suffer and risk so that the rest of us can sleep more comfortably at night.

    That said, here’s the “But…”:

    The self-evident truth is that Kerry’s remark about uneducated kids getting stuck in the military is no joke. Instead, it is a sad fact of life for many poor (especially Black and Hispanic) kids in America. And everyone knows it!

    NOTE: Listening to Kerry yesterday, one might also think that next week’s pivotal elections are all about him (and Bush). And, if you think I’m being too harsh on Kerry, here’s a little inside Washington gossip for you:

    His fellow Democrats are livid because they think Kerry is just grandstanding for his own political gain; i.e., trying to show Party leaders that he really can stand up to Bush & Co to compensate for his failure to do so in 2004.

    But most Democratic operatives now scoff at Kerry the way their Republican counterparts scoff at useful idiots like Rev Pat Robinson. Moreover, Democrats hoping to wrest control of Congress from Republicans next week regard his pissing match with the White House as the kiss of death, and wish he’d just shut up and go away! Indeed, here’s how John King of CNN quoted one Democratic congressman’s regard for Kerry:

    I guess Kerry wasn’t content blowing 2004, now he wants to blow 2006, too.

    ENDNOTE: Mostly uneducated kids are dying in record numbers fighting a losing war in Iraq while the politicians who sent them there (including Kerry and McCain) are spewing moral indignation in a war of words back home….

    Only in America folks!

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