• Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 11:42 AM

    The ceremonial, though not very promising, return of the Israelis and Palestinians to the roadmap to peace

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Yesterday, as I watched the three principals give opening remarks at the Mideast Peace Conference in Annapolis, Maryland, I could not get the prospect of the blind leading the blind out of my mind; and justifiably so.

    After all, the man who convened this conference, US President George W. Bush, is a bona-fide lame duck (i.e., he’s been rendered irrelevant in domestic politics ), and he seems desperate now for any foreign-policy initiative that might vindicate his presidency and distinguish his legacy.

    I don’t think it’s a risk to try for peace….I think that’s an obligation. [President Bush yesterday]

    Of course, if it were truly an obligation, one wonders why he waited until the eleventh hour of his presidency to get to it….

    And it’s even odds either that in-fighting within Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s fragile coalition government will soon cause it to fall, or that ongoing investigations into allegations of corruption against him will force Olmert to resign.

    But most in the dark is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Because nothing is more delusional than him talking about negotiating a peace agreement with Israel while fighting a civil war with Hamas in the Palestinian territory.

    Never mind that, even at the peak of their political influence, these three blind men would’ve found it virtually impossible to reconcile historic grievances between Israelis and Palestinians and navigate the potholes on the roadmap to peace.

    Which begs the question: Why do they think they can negotiate a peace agreement in one year (i.e.,“by the end of 2008”), when this mother of all international agreements has eluded far more accomplished and influential statesmen for over 60 years?

    Because, frankly, beyond conceding that hope springs eternal, it’s simply delusional to think that any substantive steps in this regard will be made within this time frame. And anyone who knows anything about the forces that are arrayed against a peace agreement will appreciate why. For, among other things:

    There’ll be a full-blown civil war between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah in the now-divided Palestinian territory before a peace agreement with Israel is signed;

    Like Rabin, Olmert (or any other Israeli prime minister who dares to make any concession for peace) will probably be assassinated before a peace agreement with the Palestinians is signed; and,

    Despite their rhetoric, most Arab leaders seem, at best, indifferent to the plight of their Palestinian brothers. And the Saudis – whose endorsement of any agreement is almost as critical as that of the Americans – are so interested in peace with Israel that their foreign minister vowed on Sunday that there’s no way he’d even shake PM Olmert’s hand.

    Then, of course, there’s the menacing specter of a nuclear Iran….

    Enough said?!

    (If you’d like a little insight into what informs my cynicism, check out the related articles below.)

    Related Articles:
    Wither the roadmap to peace
    Israel v Hezbollah (and Syria) in Lebanon
    Hamas win legitimate power in Palestine
    “Act of war” in Middle East is self-fulfilling prophecy
    Israel’s plan to bomb Iran

  • Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 11:48 AM

    Neo-colonialism: British women traveling to former colonies…for sex!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The men are young, gorgeous and up for it. No wonder western women see a Third World holiday as a gateway to casual transactional sex. [Tanika Gupta, author of the (female) sex tourism play “Sugar Mammies”]

    After reading my commentary (and related articles) on the queen’s diamond anniversary in Friday’s edition of Caribbean Net News, a reader from Uganda e-mailed a link to an article that she thought I would find “worthy of a comment”. And it only took my reading the first two sentences to appreciate why she thought so:

    Bethan, 56, lives in southern England on the same street as best friend Allie, 64. They are on their first holiday to Kenya, a country they say is ‘just full of big young boys who like us older girls’.

    (Perhaps this explains the rather intimate embrace Uganda’s relatively young 63-year old president, Yoweri Museveni, gave 81-year old Queen Elizabeth when she arrived there last week for the Commonwealth Summit….Just kidding folks!)

    But, truth be told, there’s nothing new about British women being overcome by “jungle fever” and traveling to former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean to be cured – as most islanders my age (45) can readily attest.

    What is new, however, is that there are as many women over 50 as there are under 25 now making this neo-colonial booty call. No doubt unprecedented rates of divorce, growing acceptance of interracial relationships and the financial resources older, single women have these days help facilitate this phenomenon.

    And lest you think the older women are having to settle for leftovers, consider the 50-something sugar mammy who said that she felt like a giddy teenager after “a baby aged 18 insisted ‘Me no want the kitten, me want the cat’…[meowwww!]“.

    Of course, to be fair, I should note that increasing numbers of middle-aged black American women have been seeking sexual healing down in the Caribbean for years – as Terry McMillan chronicled in her bestselling (autobiographical) novel How Stella got her groove back. (And have you seen the new commercial being run by Bermuda’s Ministry of Tourism in America, which feature three middle-aged professional women swooning over the black toyboy one of them brought back home from her island vacation…?)

    But it behooves us to wonder about the implications and consequences of this seemingly-unnatural trend (of these white cougars hunting black stallions) on our society. Although, I can already hear the shouts of judgmental scorn being spewed from church pulpits all over the Caribbean about these casual affairs.

    Yet there’s no denying that it’s a win-win proposition for the parties directly involved:

    They are so wonderfully flattering. They make you feel like a real woman. I don’t mind paying for their drinks and meals if they spend the night. [Jane, 67]

    We both get something we want – where’s the negative? [Allie, 64]

    Indeed; after all, these are consenting adults who assume total responsibility for ensuring not only mutual satisfaction, but also mutual protection. Which should be contrasted with the menace British men pose by traveling to poor countries in Asia to prey on underage girls (and boys).

    Therefore, I’m inclined to agree with Allie. And, yes, I believe prostitution is a victimless vice that should be decriminalized – even when the prostitutes are black men….

    Besides, even if hotel managers (or police officers) have probable cause to suspect that our native beach boys are chatting up matronly-looking tourists as a prelude to an illicit assignation, prohibiting (or, God forbid, prosecuting) such hospitality would be unsustainable and utterly counterproductive.

    On the other hand, there would be a welcome drop in regional crime and a concomitant boost in tourism if we could get more of our delinquent young men to stop fighting each other and start making female visitors “feel like [real women]”.

    So to all of our female visitors, I say don’t worry, be happy and come back soon….

    Related Articles:
    English women who travel to Africa for sex

  • Monday, November 26, 2007 at 11:14 AM

    Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes US – as the “worst imperialist” in history?!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is fighting an insurgency within his Anglican Church that makes the one President Bush is fighting in Iraq seem relatively mundane. In fact, here’s a little of what I wrote in a commentary on Williams’s internecine struggle a year ago:

    …the battle within the Anglican Church over the ordination of gays (and women) as bishops will eventually blow its worldwide communion asunder…. [In fact] some of the most influential dioceses in the United States and overseas – especially in Latin America and Africa where the Anglicans are competing with Catholics to win souls for Christ – have [already seceded over this issue].

    Seven of its parishes – located in my home state of Virginia – defected as well. But, truth be told, what really confounded, if not upset, many Anglicans is the fact that these white Virginians abandoned their white leader, Archbishop Rowan Williams of England, to pledge allegiance to a black leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria – to become a part of his rival and devoutly-homophobic worldwide communion.

    Therefore, it’s understandable that Williams would be anxious to deflect criticism of his leadership of the Anglican Church by sermonizing indignant criticism of Bush’s leadership of the “war on terror”. In so doing, however, I’m afraid he may have undermined what little remained of his moral authority.

    Because, in a recent interview with Muslim lifestyle magazine Emel – published yesterday in The Sunday Times of London, Williams was so zealous in condemning the US, he insinuated that Americans are a greater threat to western civilization than Islamic Jihadists. And to support this antic proposition, he proffered that:

    …the Muslim practice of praying five times a day…allows the remembrance of God to be built in deeply in their daily rhythm.

    Alas, the oxymoronic nature of his condemnation becomes even more egregious when one reads the Times’s editorial lament that Williams made “only mild criticisms of Islamic world”.

    But this was not Williams’s only lapse into the ad absurdum of moral relativism. Because he also waxed nostalgic about British colonialism by arguing that it was salutary compared to “American imperialism”, which he decried as being predicated on:

    …the assumption that a quick burst of violent action [to execute regime change] will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together — Iraq, for example.

    Never mind that I and almost every black person I know who lived under British colonialism would take visceral exception to his paternalistic assessment in this regard.

    The fact of the matter is that the Americans went into Iraq fully committed to the “Pottery Barn principle”, which states that “if you break it you own it”. Moreover, Williams seems oblivious to the fact that they remain mired in Iraq trying desperately “to put it back together”, and that it’s “other people” (invariably non-Iraqis) who are exhorting them to “move on”….

    Of course, it’s probably heretical of me to counter the Archbishop’s sanctimonious homily on American foreign policy with these geopolitical facts. Nevertheless, it would be remiss of me not to make one more salient observation in this respect.

    Namely, if America were such a force for evil (and a pariah nation to all Muslims) – as Williams suggests, I doubt every country in the Muslim world, including Syria, would have accepted its invitation to attend a peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland this week to discuss a host of Mideast issues; most notably, the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Therefore, I urge Williams to focus his religious attention on the schism within his own church over homosexuality, which many Anglicans clearly consider a far greater threat to western civilization than American imperialism.

    And he should leave political criticism of America to those of us who have been hurling informed condemnation at Bush for years – not only for his misadventure in Iraq, but also for the blatant double-standards which govern his worldwide democracy crusade.

    - Amen

    Related Articles:
    Internecine battle for the soul of the Anglican Church
    Bush’s misadventure in Iraq

  • Sunday, November 25, 2007 at 1:01 PM

    After months of teasing – oil will finally reach the self-fulfilling $100-per-barrel price this week…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Friday, November 23, 2007 at 10:32 PM

    Alas, Thanksgiving has become all about giving thanks for food to fuel holiday shopping sprees the day after Thanksgiving…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 12:13 PM

    Today is Thanksgiving Day! So don’t let the Christmas stuff fool ya…)

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    With little thought, most of us would have so much to be thankful for this 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, but for the grace of God, we’re not struggling to recover from the cyclone in Bangladesh, or praying for rain in drought-stricken Ethiopia (and Georgia, USA) or trying to rebuild in earthquake-ravaged Chile. (Did you even know about the series of earthquakes that shattered so many lives in Chile last week…?)

    (Of course, if you happen to be living in any of these places, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you….)

    Moreover, for the more conscientious amongst us, let us pray that God grants us the serenity to accept that we can do little about the natural disasters and pandemic diseases that afflict the poor so disproportionately; courage to speak out against human injustice; and wisdom to know the difference….

    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.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    Bon appétit…

  • Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 9:13 AM

    President Bush pardons two turkeys…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President George W. Bush continued a hallowed presidential tradition yesterday by pardoning two turkeys – named May and Flower – that were primed for Thanksgiving-Day slaughter. And, in so doing, he informed the White House Press Corps that VP Dick Cheney suggested that the pardoned turkeys should have been named “Lunch and Dinner”.

    But, with all due respect to that greedy Dick, the more appropriate names for those “pardoned turkeys” would have been Karl and Scooter….

    Related Articles:
    Bush pardons Scooter Libby
    The resignation of Bush’s architect Karl Rove

  • Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 9:32 AM

    The Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their diamond anniversary!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary on Monday with a jubilant service at Westminster Abbey. The royal couple were married in this same cathedral on 20 November 1947. And I must say, they looked remarkably convincing as a (still) happily-married couple 60 years later….

    Therefore, whatever one thinks of the dysfunction that characterizes almost every other royal marriage in Britain, kudos must be given to this Royal couple for keeping up appearances as a properly married couple for so many years.

    Accordingly, I offer my heartfelt congratulations!!!

    Nevertheless, I fully appreciate that many of you will suggest that it’s hypocritical for an avowed anti-monarchist like me to pay any homage to Queen Elizabeth.

    However, I see no contradiction between my acknowledging this rare connubial milestone and my political view that royalty is wholly anachronistic.

    Moreover, at the risk of being a party pooper, this celebration provides yet another opportunity for me to assert my royal lament that, despite my admiration for her longevity, the Queen embodies an institution that is anathema to all that is democratic and egalitarian in the world today!

    Related Articles:
    More interest in “The Queen” than in HM The Queen
    Happy 80th Birthday Queen Elizabeth II

  • Monday, November 19, 2007 at 11:14 AM

    Canada is no longer a haven for deserters from the US military…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Generals are complaining that they do not have enough troops to execute their missions; volunteers are being forced to endure extended tours of duty; and recruitment is so anemic that the military is lowering its (physical and educational) standards for enlistment to fill its ranks – trying to make lean, mean fighting machines of 42-year-old mothers. [Anthony Hall at the Georgetown University Public Policy Review]

    This was the foreboding I sounded almost a year ago (on 28 November 2006) about unprecedented desertions from the ranks of the US military. Therefore, I was not at all surprised last week when the Army reported that the number of deserters this year showed an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

    The reason I was being called back was to go to another tour in Iraq, and I didn’t agree with that…. [Sgt. Phil McDowell - a deserter now living in Canada]

    Of course, most deserters hide out in America and eventually receive dishonorable discharges. However, a few of them have highlighted this problem by fleeing to Canada and making a cause celebre of their AWOL status.

    But, unfortunately for deserters like Sgt McDowell, Canada just rolled up the welcome mat. Because last week its Supreme Court affirmed the 2005 ruling of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, which held that American deserters do not qualify as refugees in need of protection and, moreover, that they faced no risk of persecution back home.

    Therefore, all of those hiding out in Canada now face deportation and possible court-martial when they return, which, frankly, serves them right.

    After all, it’s untenable for people who volunteer to serve, invariably for the benefits the military doles out in peacetime, to run away like cowards when called upon to fight – no matter their personal feelings about the legality or morality of this war. And, alas, prosecuting those who make a spectacle of their desertion seems a necessary, even if only marginally effective, deterrent.

    Nevertheless, the only hope the US military has of enlisting and retaining enough foot soldiers to fight this unpopular war or, more importantly, to prevent delusional presidents from launching stupid wars in the first place, is to reinstate the Draft!

    Related Articles:
    Reinstate the Draft to prevent stupid wars

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  • Monday, November 19, 2007 at 10:44 AM

    Cyclone Sidr makes Hurricane Katrina look like spring rain…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Reports are that thousands of people were killed and millions more dislocated when Cyclone Sidr devastated Bangladesh last week. And relief agencies fear that thousands remain unaccounted for….

    Rather puts the horrors of Hurricane Katrina and the California fires in perspective doesn’t it…?

    But since it’s not wise to question why, how or where Mother Nature directs her tsunami-like wrath, I shall suffice to extend my condolences to the victims.

    Moreover, thank God for all of the relief agencies, especially the International Red Crescent, for providing such prompt and sustainable assistance to the survivors.

    In renewing my deep condolences to the families and the entire nation, which is very dear to me, I appeal to international solidarity…I encourage all possible efforts to help these brothers who are suffering so much. [Pope Benedict XVI]

    Click here to donate to the Red Crescent.

    Related Articles:
    California fires and Hurricane Katrina

  • Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 12:42 PM

    The US gov’t finally admitted last week that the TSA’s detection capabilities and screening priorities are fatally flawed…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Friday, November 16, 2007 at 11:22 AM

    Baseball’s home-run king, Barry Bonds, is indicted!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The other shoe that finally dropped in the world of sports yesterday was the wholly-anticlimactic announcement that Baseball’s home-run king, Barry bonds, has been indicted. In fact, a federal grand jury in San Francisco has charged him with four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice stemming from his patently false testimony that he thought the steroids his personal trainer was injecting into his butt was flaxseed oil….

    However, because this grand jury had been investigating these charges since 2003, many sports pundits, and even Bonds’s own lawyer, expressed surprise that the jurors ended up indicting him. But I presumed this outcome when I wrote an article over a year ago (on 20 April 2006) in which I protested (in the title) that “The indictment of Barry Bonds would be an error for Baseball”.

    And since I addressed the consequences an indictment would have not only for Barry, but also for the game in that article, I shall suffice to merely republish it today (with links to other related articles) for your edification:

    ____________________

    Nothing defines the American character quite like sports. And no sport is more central to that character than Baseball. Indeed, it seems entirely fitting that it was Baseball (and not schools, churches or places of public accommodation) that led the desegregation of American society.

    Moreover, it probably surprises no one that blacks have dominated this sport from the time Jackie Robinson became the first black to join the major leagues in 1947, through the day Hank Aaron shattered Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record in 1974, to today when Barry Bonds is poised to dethrone Aaron to become Baseball’s new home-run king.

    Of course, when it was revealed last week that a federal grand jury is equally poised to indict Bonds for lying under oath about taking steroids, many blacks expressed the cynical belief that his legal jeopardy has more to do with racist resentment over his preeminence in Baseball than with his lies about steroids. And, despite the unseemly tendency of too many blacks to cry racism whenever a prominent black is the target of a criminal investigation, there’s merit to their cries in this case.

    After all, the entire world witnessed Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire perjure themselves during congressional testimony last year. Yet the Congress gave them both a walk by refusing to indict.

    Nevertheless, I’ve been quite unabashed in proffering my reasonable suspicion that Bonds has become a home-run monster by taking an apothecary of steroids that would make Dr Frankenstein green with envy. And my suspicions were only confirmed when his injection protocol was chronicled in the recently published book Game of Shadows.

    But, where it’s quite acceptable to revel in schadenfreude over the public ridicule Bonds has been subjected to (including having steroid-size syringes thrown at him during games), it smacks of prosecutorial abuse to make a federal case out of his dissembling about steroids.

    Because, even though Bonds has relished being the poster boy for the overpaid, self-indulgent, obnoxious, temperamental, whining cry-babies that professional athletes have become, an indictment would make him a scapegoat for the sins not only of Baseball but also of the entire culture of American sports. And, that just ain’t fair.

    Besides, since players like Babe Ruth were not indicted for drinking alcohol during Prohibition, players like Bonds should not be indicted for taking steroids today.

    Former U.S. Senate majority leader George Mitchell (L) and Commissioner Bud Selig announcing their investigation into the use of steroid by players

    Nonetheless, I appreciate that this grand jury investigation and that sensational book have forced Commissioner Bud Selig (right) to act to protect and preserve Baseball’s public goodwill. And I have no doubt that that is all Selig’s appointment of former Sen. George Mitchell to head an inquiry into the use of steroids in Baseball is intended to do.

    Therefore, speculation that Selig will suspend Bonds and strip him of his awards – based solely on Mitchell’s report (no matter what he “discovers”) – is utter rubbish. Because that would then require him to strip awards won by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and too many other major leaguers to list here.

    All bets are off, however, if Bonds is indicted. Because this would provide a convenient pretext for Selig to get rid of the most petulant, troubled and unloved MVP in Baseball history: a pretext, alas, that is openly coveted by many Baseball insiders who dislike Bonds even more than they resent his phenomenal achievements.

    ____________________

    Alas, despite his protestations of innocence, I have no doubt that just as domestic diva Martha Stewart was imprisoned – not for securities fraud, but for lying to a federal grand jury about it, so too will Bonds be imprisoned – not for taking steroids, but for lying to a federal grand jury about it.

    Moreover, I fully expect Commissioner Selig to announce Bonds’ indefinite suspension any day now. And this means that he will effectively end his storied career not with a bang of record-setting home runs on the baseball field, but with a whimper of self-pitying tears behind bars.

    Finally, if convicted on all counts, Bonds could be sentenced to 30 years. But since I think this indictment is arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory, this is one case where I hope an “OJ jury” nullifies his guilt by acquitting him at trial….

    Related Articles:
    The federal indictment
    Bonds dethrones Hank Aaron as home-run king
    Baseball’s MVP is a steroid junkie…duh!
    Baseball is juiced…so what?!
    Bonds the most petulant cry baby in Baseball

  • Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 10:01 AM

    Gov. Sonny Perdue of drought-stricken Georgia leads state in prayer for rain…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    When Gov. Sonny Perdue (pictured here with his wife Mary) led his state in prayer for rain on Tuesday, people around the country reacted with sympathy and ridicule in equal measure.

    Meanwhile, it hasn’t rained in Georgia for months. And things are getting so parched there that water use is being strictly controlled. In fact, Atlanta city officials are even suing federal authorities over the way they’re rationing the flow of water from Lake Lanier, Atlanta’s primary water source.

    Therefore, one can understand why the governor resorted to prayer to lift this plague upon his state.

    It’s just too bad the white man banished the Indians to reservations. Because their tradition of praying for rain, complete with spiritual rain dances, might have guaranteed an answer from the rain gods.

    As it happened, the governor’s prayer vigil stood even less chance of success given that as many Georgians were still praying for a cash windfall as those who were praying for rainfall….

    NOTE: Reports are that Mother Nature will tease Georgia with a drop of rain over the next 24 hours. Alas, this is rather like favoring a starving man with a kernel of corn.

  • Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 9:24 AM

    Rapper Kanye West’s grief made worse by shame, outrage and betrayal…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I’m not a fan of his hip-hop music and think even less of his wannabe gansta persona. But I feel genuine sympathy for Kanye West as he grieves over the sudden and incomprehensible death of his beloved mother on Saturday night. She was only 58.

    Of course, like most people, I knew virtually nothing about Dr Donda West before she died. But what I’ve read over the past 48 hours about her life and relationship with Kanye only makes her death seem more untimely and tragic.

    I was particularly impressed by the fact that, unlike so many parents of celebrities, Dr West was remarkably accomplished in her own right. Most notably, she was an educator for over 30 years until she retired as chairman of the English department at Chicago State University to manage Kanye’s career.

    But, as a proud Mama’s boy who lost his own Mummy not so long ago, I can well imagine the shame that would have polluted my grief if she had died a day after “undergoing cosmetic surgery for a tummy tuck and breast reduction”. (Never mind the fact that I would have insisted that she lose weight the old fashioned way instead of taking this vain short cut…no pun intended.)

    I have no doubt, however, that this shame would have paled in comparison to the outrage I would have felt upon learning that the doctor who performed the surgery is little more than a fame-seeking quack. Because that appears to be the well-documented reputation of the man who operated on Kanye’s Mom, Dr Jan Adams.

    In fact, it seems Dr Adams is more known for playing a black “Dr McDreamy” on TV talk shows and hanging out at Hollywood night spots than for his surgical skills. Moreover, he’s been sued for malpractice and arrested for DUI so many times that California authorities were in the process of revoking his medical license.

    Not to mention the restraining order an ex-girlfriend obtained against him in 2002 based on her allegation that:

    [Dr Adams] has an unfortunate drinking problem and unless restrained immediately, will assert the worst side of his ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality….

    Yet nothing compares to the betrayal of holding himself out as a board certified plastic surgeon when, in fact, he is not! And this deception alone is sufficient for Kanye to sue the medical scrubs off his ass once and for all – to ensure that he doesn’t injure, or kill, any other unsuspecting patients.

    Then, of course, there’s the undeniable sense of shame, outrage and betrayal that every black person in America must feel at having this celebrated, Harvard-educated black doctor turn out to be such an incompetent, irresponsible and fraudulent drunk.

    Meanwhile, reports are that Kanye intends to resume his European tour on Monday – after attending his mother’s funeral on Saturday. But, if true, I’m not sure whether this makes him an emotionally-evolved, or an emotionally-retarded, person.

    NOTE: It seems not only trite but also inappropriate to harp on the extraordinary lengths people go to nowadays to indulge their vanity. Talk about the assumption of well-known risks….

    ,

  • Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 10:12 AM

    A dead EU Constitution resurrected as a “new treaty” is still a dead EU Constitution!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I take admittedly perverse delight in the public exasperation European leaders have been expressing lately over the failure of their former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) to sign adhesive Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Never mind that these agreements – as drafted – smack of little more than neo-colonial mercantilism.
    But, notwithstanding many substantive reasons, my delight is informed by the ironical fact that ACP leaders are refusing to sign these EPAs for the same nationalistic reasons that European leaders are refusing to sign a comprehensive (and binding) EU Constitution.
    Of course, one can be forgiven for having no clue that the heads of the 27 countries that comprise the European Union (EU) met in Portugal a few weeks ago, where they resurrected the constitution that European citizens voted DOA in 2005. After all, this political summit was arranged and executed with all of the stealth and feint one normally associates with a covert military operation.
    But since then, instead of heralding this political miracle, EU leaders have been torturing language to assure their respective citizens that this constitution “is a very different document” from the one they summarily rejected.
    At any rate, here’s the Eurosceptical tone I took in a June 2005 article entitled The EU Constitution is dead:
    As I predicted…the French and now the Dutch have rejected the EU Constitution in resounding fashion. And even the most committed Europhile has to concede that this document will never come into force in Europe.
    Therefore, reasonable minds want to know why the putative Co-Presidents of Europe, Monsieur Chirac of France and Herr Schroeder of Germany, insist on issuing desperate pleas for other member states to “ratify” this dead turkey? (Sorry Turkey…)
    And nothing justifies my scepticism quite like the Sisyphean attempts by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, reputedly the most anti-European leader in Europe, to reconcile the contradictions inherent in this treaty. Because, according to the BBC, he proffered in recent parliamentary debates – without any hint of irony – that he had:
    …secured “special treatment for the UK in a range of areas” at the European summit and that Britain would keep opt-outs on foreign policy, labour rights, tax and social security.
    But if Britain has already established the untenable precedent that it can “opt-out” of all of the key provisions of the treaty, then what is the legal and substantive effect of this ersatz constitution?! And, apropos the impudence of its former colonies, is there any difference between Britain taking this approach to the EU Constitution and The Bahamas insisting that it will join the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME) only if it can opt out of key provisions of that regional treaty…?
    Although, given the European pathology of dealing with conflicts by pretending they don’t exist, it is not surprising that all of the disagreements that doomed the original constitution remain extant. And most notable amongst these are issues concerning national farm subsidies, separation of powers between member states and the federal authorities in Brussels (i.e., the Council of the EU and the EU Commission); the power of Brussels to impose taxes (which fund the EU’s bloated budget) and the relative power of member states to affect EU legislation.

    In fact, there seems to have been only one reform measure on the agenda when European leaders met in Portugal. And that was their strategic plan to eradicate the “democratic mandate to ratify the constitution by a referendum of the people” in favor of the more expedient process of pro forma ratification by national parliaments.
    But, to be fair, not all of them are being as disingenuous as Prime Minister Brown has been about their intent to break what British Opposition Leader David Cameron claims is “one of the most important manifesto commitments of all [namely] to let the people decide”.
    Indeed, it’s worth noting that former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who headed the committee that drafted the original constitution, declared rather proudly that this reform treaty differs from that rejected constitution only “in approach rather than content”….
    More to the point, however, d’Estaing betrayed the ostensible intent and undermined the practical value of the treaty by boasting that it was drafted by legal experts and is simply too “impenetrable for the public”. After all, it is patently absurd to ratify a constitution that only lawyers can relate to….
    Meanwhile, member states have until 2009 to ratify this (re)incarnation of the EU Constitution. But I predict that it too will be rejected in resounding fashion - even by national parliaments.
    Because I fully expect a popular backlash against this craven attempt by European leaders to finagle this document – full of legal and political jargon signifying nothing – into force. Not to mention that the Commission will probably be compelled to declare it null and void after member states follow the British precedent by systematically opting out of all provisions that do not suit their national interests.
  • Monday, November 12, 2007 at 11:13 AM

    Veterans Day! Alas, for many of them, the mother of all battles really began when they returned home…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    NOTE: Today is the Veterans Day holiday, but the official day of remembrance was yesterday, 11/11.

    Related Articles:
    Veterans Day 2006

  • Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 12:57 PM

    Rev Pat Robertson endorses Giuliani for president?! Talk about politics making strange bedfellows…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Which begs the obvious question: Why not pray for an avenger of Judeo-Christian dogma instead of looking to an infidel like Giuliani to do the Lord’s work?

    Although, perhaps Robertson is calling upon the “Judeo” part of his Christian faith, which proselytizes the code of Lex Talionis, namely: an eye for an eye, fight fire with fire, etc. And, accordingly, he sees no contradiction in resorting to devilish deeds to fight the devil herself….

    And the Church says, Amen!

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  • Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 11:49 AM

    I’m going on strike (until Sunday) in support of the Writers Guild of America!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Most writers depend on residuals from television reruns and DVD sales to survive between full-time jobs. [Carlton Cuse, writer and executive producer of ABC's “Lost”]

    Hollywood went dark yesterday after the studios refused to grant writers a more equitable share of revenues from DVD sales and shows viewed over the Internet and mobile phones, which will soon surpass shows viewed on TV.

    But frankly, I have no personal interest in lamenting the daytime soap operas, prime-time programs and late-night talk shows that will be forced into reruns because of this strike.

    Instead, I shall suffice to declare my solidarity with the members of the Writers Guild of America – three of whom are personal friends.

    Accordingly, please be advised that – as a gesture of my support – I shall be on strike as well for the remainder of this week.

    In the meantime, let’s hope those greedy studio bosses come to their senses soon – as opposed to allowing this strike to fester for months like the most recent one did in 1988.

    That’s a wrap!

  • Monday, November 5, 2007 at 10:57 AM

    Crocodile tears in the West as Musharraf imposes martial law in Pakistan

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Last Tuesday Pakistan’s Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, issued a ruling which could only be regarded as an untenable challenge to the authority of General Pervaz Musharraf – who appointed himself president in 2002, after seizing power in a military coup in 1999.

    Because the court ruled that Gen Musharraf had no legal authority to summarily deport his political arch enemy, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, when Sharif attempted to end his seven-year exile on 10 September to challenge Musharraf in forthcoming presidential elections.

    Yet Gen Musharraf had to have been far more troubled by the court’s pending ruling on the validity of his 6 October reelection. Because there was growing consensus in Pakistan that the court was poised to deem his presidency null and void.

    Indeed, credible rumors are rife that Gen Musharraf devised an emergency plan to preempt publication of the court’s ruling. And, that he was prompted to do this after his secret police intercepted a call from CJ Chaudhry to a personal friend – in which he confirmed that the court had in fact decided 8 to 3 that Gen Musharraf’s reelection was unconstitutional.

    Of course, this would explain why, channeling former US President Abraham Lincoln rather shrewdly, Musharraf defied American (and British) leaders by declaring a state of emergency on Saturday – under which he suspended the constitution, imposed martial law, replaced the gloating chief justice, and postponed parliamentary elections scheduled for January, indefinitely. After all, this was, at long last, the only way to preserve his de facto dictatorship.

    Nevertheless, Musharraf defended his declaration in a televised address – as much to Americans as to his fellow Pakistanis – by insisting that he took this action because:

    Pakistan is on the verge of destabilization if not arrested in time. . . . Inaction at the moment is suicide for Pakistan, and I cannot allow this country to commit suicide.

    Never mind that he betrayed no hint of deception or irony in casting the judges of the Supreme Court as terrorists when he cited “judicial activism…extremism…[and] terrorism” as the destabilising forces that compelled his action.

    Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that Musharraf wasted no time arresting, or putting under house arrest, all judicial and political opponents who he suspects might be inclined to oppose his declaration of emergency.

    Meanwhile, I admonish you to ignore all of the shock and outrage being expressed by Western leaders – especially by President George W. Bush and others in the United States.

    After all, it is self-evident that they do not really want democracy in Pakistan any more than they want it in Saudi Arabia. Because they have an entirely rational fear that popular elections would inevitably result in the rise to power of Islamic fundamentalists who harbor nothing but jihadist enmity toward the West – especially the US.

    Not to mention that no Muslim leader has been more zealous than Musharraf has in helping the West fight Islamic terrorists; and, moreover, that no sane leader, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, would ever countenance allowing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal to fall into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists….

    That said, Musharraf has clearly calculated that, notwithstanding their public protestations and threats about “reviewing the billions in military aid” they give to Pakistan annually, all Western leaders will ultimately abide whatever he does to remain in power. And he’s correct; not least because they’ve overlooked all of his broken promises to implement democratic reforms since executing his first military coup eight years ago. Which, of course, makes patently disingenuous all of their calls for Musharraf to “restore democracy” that Pakistan has never had under his leadership.

    Finally, the far more intriguing and instructive reaction to this development is that of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

    After all, despite her American-style rebuke of Musharraf’s “second coup”, there’s reason to suspect that she may have actually given tacit approval for his emergency decree. And this suspicion stems from the fact that the man Musharraf tapped to replace Chaudhry as chief justice is none other than the one Bhutto first appointed as a judge in 1995 – Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.

    More to the point, however, Bhutto must be acutely aware that, but for Musharraf’s military regime, al-Qaeda sympathizers would probably have little difficulty perfecting their attempts to assassinate her. And, no doubt this fact is fresh in her mind – given the attempt they bungled so spectacularly on 18 October as she was parading through one million Pakistanis who were celebrating her triumphal return after eight years in exile.

    But one wonders about the nature of their political collaboration today – since their grand alliance to fend off Islamic extremists in the parliamentary elections is, presumably, now null and void.

    Whatever the case, there’s no denying that both Musharraf and Bhutto will enjoy far greater personal safety in a Pakistan under martial law than in one where the free movement and association of would-be assassins – who want to kill him as much as they want to kill her – remained unchecked.

    NOTE: Unlike most Western politicians, I feel no need to proffer sanctimonious platitudes about “democracy”. However, I do feel constrained to point out that the US government – purportedly the paragon of democratic governance – has committed so many democratic abuses in recent years that even the Americans have no moral authority to criticize Gen Musharraf.

    Besides, given that the world accepts both Putin governing Russia as a police state and Hu Jintao governing China as a totalitarian state, why shouldn’t Gen Musharraf infer that it would accept him governing Pakistan as a military dictatorship…?

    I just hope he has the foresight to establish a line of succession that would invariably produce military leaders who, like him, have
    unabashedly pro-Western sympathies!

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    *Published originally yesterday, Sunday, at 3:31 PM

  • Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 1:11 PM

    Saudi king proves to be too imperious and impudent – even for the British

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Saudi King Abdullah created quite a furor on the eve of his state visit to Britain this week. Because, to the utter consternation of his hosts, he decreed that the British were largely to blame for the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London two years ago because they failed to heed clear warnings from his government about their impending doom.

    Of course, given the confusion the simple word “vote” caused during his press conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, one can see how these alleged warnings could have been lost in translation….

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