Monday, April 30, 2007 at 10:54 AMAlmost two months ago, I wrote an article about a DC madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who had just been arrested and was threatening to sell “46 pounds of detailed and itemized phone records” – from 13 years of business transactions with over 10,000 “Johns”- to settle IRS tax liabilities and defend herself against an orgy of prostitution-related charges.
If you prosecute me, I can make life miserable for many VIPs….I can state with unequivocal certainty this situation will be a long and unpleasant one. [Madame Jeane (a.k.a. Miz Julia) to federal prosecutors upon her arrest]Well, federal prosecutors have accepted her dare. Accordingly, Miz Julia will be making a very public court appearance in Washington this morning for procedural matters related to her trial. Likewise, however, VIPs are already experiencing the misery she warned about. Because just last Friday, President Bush’s deputy secretary of state, Randall L Tobias, was forced to resign after his desperate solicitations to prevent his name being outed failed.
Of course, Tobias, married with children, is eminently worthy of being caught with his pants down in this respect. After all, when he served as Bush’s AIDS Czar, this hypocrite traveled the world preaching “fidelity and abstinence” over the use of condoms as the best way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
But Tobias insists that he only used Miz Julia’s girls (and he had his pick of 132 “college-educated” masseuses who catered to her DC clientele) for massages to release the stress of his demanding work; that, in fact, “there was no sex”. (Like Bill Clinton did not have sex with that woman…?) Frankly, this patently-fatuous defense makes him not only a hypocrite and but also a fool.
(Although this begs the question: Does a happy ending to his massages qualify as sex? After all, given the Clinton precedent, the therapeutic hand job these working girls gave Tobias might not even qualify as foreplay….)
Meanwhile, Washington is a buzz with speculation (and some trepidation to be sure) about what really big names might be scrolled in Miz Julia’s black book. Indeed, since misery loves company, Tobias should be comforted by the fact that other VIPs will soon be joining him in early retirement after their names are outed this Friday by my favorite investigative reporter, Brian Ross. Because, despite vowing to sell her files to the highest bidder, Miz Julia did the far more honorable thing by giving Ross exclusive access to them, for free, to ensure that equal justice is served upon all participants in her victimless criminal enterprise. So expect many more careers to be ruined as prosecutors attempt to ruin her life.
That said, I shall derive perverse pleasure from seeing Miz Julia deliver on the misery and unpleasantness she promised; notwithstanding my genuine empathy with her indignant cry:
I abhor injustice!
Sunday, April 29, 2007 at 11:39 AMLast week, Sheryl Crow set tongues wagging with her new environmental activism, which included accosting Karl Rove, President Bush’s political “architect”, with her concerns about global warming at a black-tie media event and issuing the following scatological press release a few days later:
I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming….I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting.
But, as part of the solution, I propose Sheryl just shut up and sing! Because that alone would reduce hot air emissions considerably.
Friday, April 27, 2007 at 9:06 PM
Boris Yeltsin died on Monday. Valenti died yesterday. Therefore, I’m sure regular readers of this weblog are wondering if my voodoo hypothesis – namely, that “deaths of famous people come in threes” – will hold true; i.e., with another celebrity death before next Monday….Therefore, imagine my shock (okay – informed resignation) when I read a BBC report – published just hours later – on the death of acclaimed cellist Mstislav Rostropovich today in Moscow after a long bout of illness. He was 80.
Of course, it will be interesting to see how Russian President Vladimir Putin honors Rostropovich – who was renowned, revered and regaled internationally as much for being a brilliant artist as for being a conscientious objector to Soviet totalitarianism. After all, Putin is in the midst of the very kind of totalitarian crackdown on political freedoms that compelled Rostropovich decades ago to write an open letter in support of Russia’s most famous dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. In fact, his political conscience eventually forced him into self-imposed exile in the early 1970s.
The best step was not found in music, but in one page of this letter…Since that moment my conscience was clean and clear.Now matter the irony, however, I suspect Putin will do his best to orchestrate a farewell for Rostropovich that rivals that which he accorded Boris Yeltsin – another dissident Rostropovich was proud to call friend – just days ago.
But if you’ve never heard Rostropovich play, I urge you to buy any one of his many CDs today! And don’t be put off by that classical designation. Because long before Yo-Yo Ma, Rostropovich played classical music that I’m sure would make even Snoop Dogg’s most ardent want to bust-a-move….
NOTE: Though reluctantly, I hereby anoint myself a voodoo priest. Because even Baron Samedi was not this good….
Friday, April 27, 2007 at 9:57 AMToday Washington and Hollywood insiders are mourning the death of Jack Valenti:
…the former White House aide and film industry lobbyist who instituted the modern movie ratings system and guided Hollywood from the censorship era to the digital age.
Valenti died at his Washington, DC home yesterday of complications from a stroke he suffered in March. He was 85.
Notwithstanding his stint as an accidental special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson during one of the most traumatic times in American history (that’s Valenti crouched in the background far left in this historic photo of Johnson’s emergency swearing-in ceremony after the assassination of JFK), Valenti was more renowned, revered and regaled in Washington for the role he played as president of the Motion Picture Association of America from 1966 until he retired in 2004.
Many people cite stars like Angelina Jolie and George Clooney when they talk about the marriage of convenience between Washington and Hollywood. But Valenti personified this symbiotic relationship. And no one provided as much coveted access in Hollywood for star-struck politicians – or as much access in Washington for celebrities with a cause – as he did.
No doubt Valenti was admired and envied in equal measure. After all, he was not only the most famous lobbyist in Washington; the man even had his own star prominently etched on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
NOTE: Boris Yeltsin died on Monday. Valenti died yesterday. Therefore, I’m sure regular readers of this weblog are wondering if my voodoo hypothesis – namely, that “deaths of famous people come in threes” – will hold true; i.e., with another celebrity death before next Monday…?
Deaths of famous people come in threes…?
Thursday, April 26, 2007 at 9:38 AMFor months now, cable TV, tabloid newspapers and Internet-gossip sites have manufactured drama and made cash by fueling idle speculation about who is Anna Nicole’s baby-Daddy and about who would win custody of this purported million-dollar baby. But from the outset, I assured readers of this weblog that, in due course, Larry Birkhead would not only be declared the biological father but also win custody; notwithstanding the maternally-overweening, financially-mercenary and legally-unsustainable claims of her Grandma Virgie Arthur.
…[I]gnore the legal pundits who suggest that the judge will balance chauvinistic and parochial (i.e., cultural) prejudices that invariably favor granting guardianship to a grandmother instead of the biological father. Because that’s utter rubbish. More to the point, however, there is no evidence to suggest that Birkhead would be an unfit parent; whereas, there is relevant evidence, including Anna Nicole’s own damning (even if drug-induced) words and the documented troubles of her other children, to suggest that Mrs Arthur would not be a very fit parent at all….
[A]s soon as Birkhead obtains a passport for her from the local U.S. consulate, he and she will be free to leave The Bahamas for California, without any legal obligation to ever return.
This brings me to today’s penultimate proceedings which resulted – as I predicted – with the judge granting Birkhead permission to return home with his daughter firmly in hand. And once again, I urge you to ignore the legal pundits because the significance of today’s ruling is as intriguing as it is simple:
This Bahamian judge is acutely aware that once Birkhead returns to America with his daughter, there will be no legal way for him to compel them to return to the The Bahamas for further proceedings. Never mind that by any judicial criteria such an order would constitute an overzealous attempt to meddle in the affairs of this family that borders on fetishistic.
That said, Birkhead would be well-advised to have his local counsel prevail upon the judge to appreciate that – although he has no objection to returning – his parental good sense tells him that it is neither necessary nor in the best interest of his daughter to return to the The Bahamas to resolve any outstanding custody issues with her Grandma. And, moreover, that – to the extent such issues have to be litigated at all – a U.S. court would be a more appropriate forum given the citizenship and permanent residency of all of the parties now involved.
And, trust me, that would be that!
Now, since no court in America would even entertain Virgie’s patently-suspect claims, it behooves Birkhead to enter into no custodial or guardianship agreement, not even for visitation rights, with her. Because she has absolutely no legal standing to demand any rights or privileges with respect to raising Dannielynn or, God forbid, managing her financial affairs. Frankly, one could be forgiven the impression that this woman thinks she’s this child’s only grandparent. Never mind that she does not appear to have been quite so solicitous of being involved in the raising of her own children.
Indeed, it is ironic, if not instructive, that the only credible words Howard K. Stern has uttered during these proceedings was outside court last week when he said – with undisguised contempt – that (and I quote loosely):
Virgie is proving herself to be everything Anna Nicole said she was.
Alas, to that I must also add, it takes one to know one. Because here’s what I wrote in that same article about Stern, which holds even more true today – given the way he seems to have ingratiated himself into Birkhead’s good graces:
I admonish Birkhead to make no deals with Stern and keep him as far away as physically possible (and by a court-ordered TRO if necessary). Because his mercenary interest in Dannielynn is not only unseemly; it’s potentially dangerous (displaying as he has the homicidal pathology of women who cut the fetuses from the wombs of other women, and then fancy themselves birth mothers). Indeed, who, but a psychopath, would hold a little child hostage in the open and notorious way that he has, and then have the balls to show up at a paternity hearing – with as much public interest as this one has generated – knowing full well that there’s no way he could be the Daddy?!
And, incidentally, the notion that Birkhead should retain Stern to continue the Faustian quest for a piece of the Marshall estate is absurd. After all, Stern’s handling of Anna Nicole’s legal affairs makes it plain that he’s almost criminally incompetent. Indeed, chances are good that the next time he steps into a U.S. courtroom, it will be to face disbarment proceedings. Meanwhile, I assure you that there are many more reputable lawyers who would be all too eager to pursue this matter on Birkhead and Dannielynn’s behalf.
Accordingly, it seems fitting to close with this reminder from that same prescient article:
Legal cases in The Bahamas proceed with proper judicial speed, not according to the whimsical dictates of American TV producers. But as I said sometime ago, this should all be over by the end of April….
And with that, I rest my commentaries on the legal mess Anna Nicole left behind in my beloved country, The Bahamas.
Birkhead’s the Daddy…now what?
*Article published originally yesterday 4:16 PM
Larry Birkhead and Dannielynn
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 10:18 AM
It’s got the same climate as Earth, plus water and gravity. A newly discovered planet is the most stunning evidence that life – just like us – might be out there.
Above a calm, dark ocean, a huge, bloated red sun rises in the sky – a full ten times the size of our Sun as seen from Earth. Small waves lap at a sandy shore and on the beach, something stirs…
This is the scene – or may be the scene – on what is possibly the most extraordinary world to have been discovered by astronomers: the first truly Earth-like planet to have been found outside our Solar System.
These are the opening paragraphs of a truly earth-shattering story that was published yesterday by the Associated Press. But, being the Doubting Thomas that I am, I will need to see more concrete evidence than just the giddy apparitions of NASA scientists before I believe that God deceived us by placing twins of Adam and Eve in a Garden of Eden somewhere else in the universe.
But since confirmation of this find is probably light years away, no informed commentary is possible just now. Nevertheless, with all of the crap defiling planet earth and destroying mankind, I cannot resist the humane diversion of fantasizing about a potential escape from it all – at least for some of us.
Moreover, consider this: If we have found another planet out there that is in fact just like ours, will this finally render moot all of the Pentecostal hysteria about a global-warming Armageddon? Indeed, could this be Heaven…?
UN report on global warming rendered a hoax?
Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at 10:17 AMFrankly, given the obvious influence of acute alcoholism that led to many embarrassing, if not compromising, situations during the last days of his presidency, I’m surprised former Russian President Boris Yeltsin did not die until yesterday. He was 76.
But it would be as presumptuous and gratuitous for me to write an obituary about this larger-than-life figure as it would have been for me to have written one about former U.S. President Ronald Reagan after he died. Nevertheless, because of Yeltsin’s pivotal place in the history of the 20th Century (as the first democratically-elected president of Russia), I feel obliged to honor his passing – even if only modestly.
As it happened, it was the force of Yeltsin’s personality as much as the appeal of his democratic reforms that ushered in the end of communist rule in Russia. Although, based on the affable camaraderie he enjoyed with western leaders, it was self-evident that Yeltsin had the soul of an American-style democrat. And, to get a sense of how true this was, all you need to know is that Yeltsin was as determined to bury communism as he was to finally bury its Russian father, Vladimir Lenin.
(Alas, more than 80-plus years after he died, Lenin remains on display in a Mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square – as a far bigger tourist attraction than the planned shrine to Anna Nicole in The Bahamas will ever become. And we thought the nearly-80 days it took to bury James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, was wacky and unseemly….)
At any rate, I hope this pictorial tribute suffices to convey my admiration and respect for Yeltsin – despite his tragic flaws and monumental mistakes: not least of which, of course, was plucking Vladimir Putin from relative obscurity and effectively appointing him his successor as president of Russia, only to see Putin steadfastly undermine his democratic legacy.
Monday, April 23, 2007 at 11:17 AMAs polls predicted, the French turned out in record numbers yesterday to vote in their presidential election (reportedly 84% compared to the relatively apathetic 61% of Americans who voted in their critical “end-the-war-now!” 2004 presidential election). And after all of the votes were counted, ten delusional pretenders to the presidency were eliminated – leaving only two legitimate contenders to fight the real battle in a second and decisive round on 6 May.
They are: Nicolas (Sarko) Sarkozy – the “center-right” candidate of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) [a.k.a. the Conservative Party] that outgoing President Jacques Chirac built – who won 31% of yesterday’s vote (far short of the 50% needed for a first-round knockout) and Segolene (Sego) Royal – the “left” candidate of the Socialist Party (PS) – who won 26%.
Of course, no regular reader of this weblog will be surprised by my fervent wish to see Royal, a former environment minister, elected president of France. After all, based on her ideology and a comparative analysis of their policies, I clearly have more common cause with Royal than with Sarkozy.
(Although, ironically enough, I sympathize with Sarkozy’s pledge to “rupture” France from its encrusted habits (especially of doling out unsustainable welfare benefits and indulging a 35-hour work week) which make the French too complacent as well as devoid of the entrepreneurial vigor that is necessary to survive and compete economically in the 21st Century. Alas, most Frenchmen regard this vow as a symptom of the American-style impudence and recklessness that afflict Sarkozy. In fact, Sarkozy displays a Blairite affinity for America that any self-respecting Frenchman must find particularly galling. And this, more than anything else, is why a majority of them will vote for Royal in the runoff. )
I would like Royal to win also because she would immediately become the most appealing, dynamic and influential member of my “woman-power” club of female heads of state – with all due respect to sehr geehrte Frau Merkel, the first female Chancellor of Germany.
Never mind Royal’s reputation for being almost as gaffe-prone as U.S. President George W. Bush. For example, on one occasion, she expressed solidarity with (terrorist group) Hezbollah’s struggle against Israel, which won her the mortal enmity of all Israelis; and on another, she expressed solidarity with (Francophone) Quebecers’ fight for “sovereignty and liberty” from Canada, which won her the mortal enmity of most Canadians.
(For the record, I firmly believe that the best hope for mankind is for more women like Royal to be elected to my international women’s club. But this does not include women like Hillary Clinton – who compromises her political principles to further her imperial ambitions as readily as her husband comprises his marital vows to feed his pedestrian lust. Indeed, it is noteworthy that Hillary did little to endear herself to her purported soulmates on the French left when – to burnish her “centrist” bona fides – she refused to meet Royal a few months ago, which forced Royal to cancel her highly-touted solidarity tour of the U.S.)
By contrast, Sarkozy left an indelible impression when (as interior minister) he reacted more like a fascist than a potential leader of the French Republic – by declaring “war without mercy” against Muslim youths after they rioted all over France in late-2005 to vent long-simmering political and economic grievances. Indeed, as if to make plain his disdain for these disaffected and disenfranchised kids, the vast majority of whom are French citizens, he dismissed them as “rabble and scum”.
Therefore, Sarkozy hardly seems the best candidate to help assimilate legal and illegal immigrants into French society, which is one of the more pressing challenges the next president will face.
Meanwhile, unlike the keen interest most Europeans show in U.S. presidential elections (some of them even organized a letter-writing campaign in a vain and misguided attempt to defeat Bush), most Americans couldn’t care less who is elected president of France or any of other European country for that matter. And fair enough. After all, regardless of who is elected, there will be no substantive change in Franco-American relations as a result.
Not that any change is necessary. Because, despite the rantings of arrogant Frenchmen who suffer congenital envy of America’s super-power status, and of stupid Americans who think all Frenchmen are effete surrender monkeys, bilateral relations between these mutually-begrudging nations remain as firm and reliable as ever (on everything from sharing intelligence in the “war on terror” to pursuing joint-venture space explorations).
In fact, even though Bush’s war in Iraq became a cause celebre for French and American zealots to hurl jingoistic invectives at each other, Franco-American relations were, substantively, at a lower point during the last years of the Clinton Administration, when French luxury goods figured prominently on a hit-list for retaliatory tariffs to combat the “EU’s 10-year, arbitrary and scientifically unjustified ban on U.S. beef”.
That said, it behooves reflexively anti-French Americans to concede and appreciate that notwithstanding their know-it-all attitude, the French were right in their stern, persistent and “friendly” admonitions about the American-led invasion of Iraq!
Moreover, if Americans were serious about their participatory democracy they would follow French fashion by holding national elections on weekends instead of on weekdays, when few people can be bothered, and even fewer can afford, to take time off from work to vote.
NOTE: The Nigerians voted too…
Nigerians tried to make history of their own on Saturday by voting in a presidential election that would have seen one civilian president transfer power to another in an orderly democratic process for the first time in post-colonial Nigeria. (Instead of losing it to a wannabe despot in a bloody military coup – as had become customary.) Of course, we’d have to overlook the fact the outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo did all he could to “elongate his rule” – as I lamented in this article< /a> last May.
Unfortunately, international and local election observers have already joined the two main opposition candidates, Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, in decrying the results, which declared the candidate of Obasanjo’s ruling party – Umaru Yar’Adua – the winner, as so marred by the pandemic African maladies of prohibitive violence, bureaucratic incompetence and unabashed fraud that they’re “calling for the cancellation of the entire exercise”.
Only in Africa folks…only in Africa!
Merkel’s woman power outlast Schröder
Michelle Bachelet breaks glass ceiling in Latin America
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf becomes Africa’s first female president
BBC Q&A: French presidential vote
Sunday, April 22, 2007 at 12:23 PMAlas, if global-warming prohets of doom are to be believed (and with China and India determined to surpass the U.S. as superpower-CO2 polluters), it would be misleading of me to wish us earthlings another 37 years…no?
Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 10:24 AM
Glorifying Cho, the Va Tech mass murderer, exposed the media’s mercenary and sociopathetic pursuit of their own ratings glory
Notwithstanding the media’s rationalizations, broadcasting his “multimedia manifesto” not only glorified Cho; it also assaulted the families of his grieving victims and made him a role model for alienated youth and an inspiration for idle-minded psychopaths….
Massacre at Virginia Tech
Friday, April 20, 2007 at 11:38 AMPaul Wolfowitz is the neo-conservative visionary who – as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense – was the principal architect of the “domino” plan to democratize the Middle East that misled American soldiers into the current mess in Iraq. Clearly, for this monumental blunder, he should have been thrown into the dustbin of history, if not in jail. Instead, President George W. Bush rewarded Wolfowitz by appointing him president of the World Bank. And, showing an even more egregious lack of judgment, the bank’s Board of Executive Directors unanimously approved his appointment in March 2005.
(Purely as a matter of principle, I expected at least one or two symbolic “No” votes on Wolfowitz’s appointment. This notwithstanding informal agreement (in 1944) amongst the founders of the World Bank and its sister bank, the IMF, which granted the U.S. almost exclusive authority to appoint the bank’s president, and the EU similar authority to appoint the managing director of the IMF.)
Alas, even before he began what he calls his life’s most “important work”, Wolfowitz devised another ingenious plan that misled the bank into what is now the most serious leadership crisis in its distinguished history. But, thank God, the consequences of his blunder in this case will not be wanton death and destruction. Rather, it will (or should) be Wolfowitz’s sacking in such ignominious fashion that it more than compensates for Bush’s misguided appointment in the first place.
Moreover, even though he still justifies the troubles he created in Iraq by citing the lofty, if elusive, pursuits of democracy and WMDs, Wolfowitz cannot even rationalize the scandal he has now created at the bank, which is defined by the base and all too accessible pursuits of money and sex. After all, he’s finally being hoisted by his own petard because he used his power and influence to negotiate an employee contract for his girlfriend, Libyan-born Shaha Riza, which members of the bank’s staff association say guaranteed her promotions and pay rises that are “grossly out of line” with bank rules.
In hindsight, I wish I had trusted my original instincts and kept myself out of the negotiations….I made a mistake, for which I am sorry.
[An uncharacteristically contrite Wolfowitz pleading last week to save his job]Of course, it is ironic that this messy bank affair stems from these lovebirds’ attempt to avoid a conflict of interest. Because, to allay concerns of the bank’s Ethics Committee, when Wolfowitz was appointed, Riza was seconded from the bank – where she made stellar advances during her eight years in the bank’s Middle East and North African Social and Economic Development Group, to the U.S. State Department – where Wolfowitz retained so much influence (he once served as under Secretary of State, after all) that he had no difficulty negotiating the terms of her employment there that now reek of insidious conflicts, if not outright corporate corruption.
(NOTE: Reports are that Riza’s salary at the bank was $132,660. But Wolfowitz got her a salary of $193,590 at State. And, to give you a sense of how imperial his thinking is, or perhaps of how much he wanted to please his girlfriend, Wolfowitz had no scruples about the fact that this gave Riza a bigger salary than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s at $183,500….
Meanwhile, as if this were not scandalous enough, Wolfowitz also installed two of his minions (who rode his coattails over from Defense) in executive positions at the bank and gave each of them a salary of $250,000, which equals that of top officials who typically have 25 years of experience….)We stand up for staff being treated equitably. There shouldn’t be favoritism.[Alison Cave, head of the World Bank staff association]
It is understandable therefore that the peers Riza left at the bank would resent the lucrative benefits her boyfriend / their boss arranged for her. But their feelings were incited by more than just money and sex. After all, lingering political resentment made Wolfowitz’s appointment controversial from the outset. Because it was an open secret that many bank staffers felt that – after the mess he created as the architect of the Iraq war – Wolfowitz should not have even been considered for the job as bank president. And, he did not endear himself when he made it perfectly clear that he intended to conduct bank affairs the way Bush conducts foreign affairs: get with my plan, or get out of my way; because, you’re either with me or against me.
Indeed, many politicians, especially in Europe, who opposed Bush’s invasion of Iraq (and even some who were covering their asses for having joined his coalition of the willing), also opposed his appointment of Wolfowitz, and are now leading the calls for his resignation.
I don’t want to hide the fact that I have doubts about his functioning….There is also a lack of trust in the moment in the leadership and in the management, so that is something that has to be resolved.
[Bert Koenders, Dutch development minister]
In fact, the bank’s development and finance ministers issued a communiqué which left no doubt that they think this Wolfowitz-Riza mess constitutes a “substantial crisis for the institution which risks undermining the bank’s credibility and reputation as well as the motivation of its staff”.
Nevertheless, the most serious challenge to Wolfowitz’s tenure came only yesterday when Graeme Wheeler – one of his two deputies and, reportedly, an old friend – stood before all of the bank’s senior officials during an extraordinary session and called on him to resign.
But just as Bush ignored criticisms of Wolfowitz’s appointment, he seems determined to ignore calls for his resignation. Indeed, Bush’s press secretary, Dana Perino, has declared repeatedly that Bush retains “full confidence” in Wolfowitz. And, ironically, in this Bush has the support of many leaders from developing countries who – like Antoinette Sayeh, finance minister of Liberia and himself a former bank official – continue to praise Wolfowitz for his “visionary leadership”. This is understandable, of course, because notwithstanding the irony, if not hypocrisy, Wolfowitz has made fighting corruption (and alleviating poverty) throughout the developing world the core mission of his presidency.
In fact, here’s how he vowed on Sunday to stand and fight for this cause:
I intend to stay… I believe in the mission of this organization and I believe that I can carry it out… particular in Africa…. I have had many expressions of support.
That said, I am acutely mindful of the Rumsfeld precedent, which stands for the proposition that – despite declaring his support – Bush will eventually cave to political pressure and “accept” Wolfowitz’s resignation. But bipartisan opposition to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had reached such a critical mass that Bush risked becoming the most notorious lame-duck president in U.S. history if he did not throw Rummy overboard.
By contrast, I don’t know of a single prominent U.S. politician who is calling for Bush to ditch Wolfowitz. In fact, there seems to be such frenzied (and bipartisan) interest in scalping his attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, that few people in Washington seem even aware of the mess Wolfowitz has created at the bank.
Meanwhile, I’m obliged to disabuse people of the reasoning that Bush will be forced to withdraw his support because almost two thirds of the bank’s directors and staffers now oppose Wolfowitz’s leadership. After all, Bush has blithely led for two thirds of his presidency with almost two thirds of the American people opposed to his presidency.
Never mind that defying the cloistered bankers and European politicians who are calling for Wolfowitz’s head might actually redound to Bush’s political benefit….
NOTE: The editor of CNN has been inundated with so many letters criticizing my articles on global warming that he dedicated an entire series to them and has now prevailed upon me to address a few of them. Click here to see how I obliged, dutifully.
Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 10:24 AMYesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the nationwide ban on late-term (or partial-birth) abortions is, in fact, constitutional. At issue, of course, was the long-debated method of ending a pregnancy which:
…involves partially removing the fetus intact from a woman’s uterus, then crushing or cutting its skull to complete the abortion.
Not surprisingly, anti-abortion advocates hailed the ruling as a seminal, and perhaps pivotal, victory in their holy mission to roll back a woman’s right to an abortion, which was established with the Roe -v- Wade decision in 1973. And, true to form, pro-choice advocates condemned it as an egregious and unconscionable restriction on a woman’s ability to exercise this constitutionally-protected right.
As it happens, there’s merit in both praising and condemning this ruling. I’m acutely mindful, however, that even though it’s being played out in courts and legislatures all over America, the abortion debate is really a religious fight over whether it’s moral or not to abort a fetus under any circumstances. And frankly, who knows?
But this is hardly the forum for a dissertation on the morality or immorality of abortions. Instead, I shall suffice to reiterate, for the record, that I am unabashedly pro-choice. Beyond this, I refer you to the Related Article below in which I delineate a little more of my thinking on this very contentious issue.
That said, I feel obliged to note that had the court handed down this ruling last week, it would have commanded as much media coverage as is being dedicated this week to the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech.
Nevertheless, the coincidence of these two events is instructive: Because on the one hand, that massacre is forcing conservatives (most of whom, ironically, are religious fundamentalists) to defend the untenable position of insisting on an individual’s unfettered right to possess any type of gun. And on the other, this ruling is forcing liberals (most of whom, ironically, are secular humanists) to defend the equally-untenable position of insisting on a woman’s unfettered right to any method of abortion…any time.
But just as I support restrictions on an individual’s right to possess guns – like assault weapons, I also support restrictions on a woman’s right to have abortions – like parental notification in the case of minors.
However, no one can deny that this ruling is a triumph of prevailing moral beliefs over sound judicial reasoning. After all, nothing else explains or justifies prohibiting a doctor from performing late-term abortions, or any procedure, that he or she deems is necessary to safeguard a woman’s health. Indeed, other than the patently-moral dictate of acting to “promote respect for life, including the life of the unborn”, the court offered no medical or logical reason for banning partial-birth abortions while permitting other “more acceptable” methods of late-term abortions, including the “dilation and evacuation” procedure.
What is truly significant, however, is that the court’s rationalization of its ruling sets a clear precedent that it is predisposed to consider further restrictions on a woman’s right to an abortion. And all too many state legislatures are already disposed to passing laws to test this predisposition. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the fervent prayers of anti-abortion zealots, neither this court nor any in the foreseeable future will actually reverse Roe.
In fact, for a little perspective, consider this:
An estimated 1.3 million abortions are performed in the United States each year. But this ruling will affect no more than 5000 of them that are classified as partial-birth abortions. Therefore, no one can reasonably claim that banning them places an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to an abortion.
Accordingly, pro-choice advocates raising alarm over this ruling are rather like the pro-gun advocates who threatened (political) civil war when a federal ban on assault weapons was enacted in 1994. (Alas, to my dismay and their pyrrhic relief – this ban was lifted in 2004 when a sunset provision took effect.)
Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at 12:17 PMAs a Virginia resident, I feel obliged to comment immediately on today’s shooting at Virginia Tech – a university with a student population of over 26,000. Because everyone in the Washington Metro Area, including the president of the United States, is in shock after learning that a lone gunman opened fire this morning in a dorm and classroom – killing (at least) 32, wounding dozens more, and then killing himself.This massacre now has the dubious distinction of being the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
But I entreat you to ignore pundits who seize on this tragedy to denounce gun laws which allow so many evidently crazy people to get their hands on all kinds of deadly weapons. And ignore also the reflexive calls by partisan commentators – invariably citing Columbine – for specious security measures, including airport-style metal detectors, to protect students from gun violence.
That said, let me hasten to disclose that I fully support strict gun-control laws. Nevertheless, I am convinced that no laws can prevent these kinds of human tragedies. In fact, incidents like this bring into stark relief that it’s not guns, but insane and troubled people – with motives no one can possibly anticipate or comprehend – who commit murders. And, incidentally, the very notion of outlawing all guns in America is even more (prohibitively) absurd than the notion of repatriating all illegal immigrants living here.
Therefore, let us look to psychologists to help us understand what triggers such psychotic human behavior; not to politicians to legislate against it.
Accordingly, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those affected. Indeed, the sentiments of Virginia Tech president Charles Steger convey almost all that seems appropriate to say under the circumstances:
Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions. The university is shocked and indeed horrified.
NOTE: Reports are that the twenty-something gunman went on this rampage – using two perfectly-legal handguns – after a dispute with his girlfriend. Meanwhile I find it ironic, if not instructive, that legions of Robocops always linger about scenes like this – long after the fact – with their useless big guns cocked and loaded….
*Originally published yesterday at 4:17 pm
Recent history of school shootings in America
Monday, April 16, 2007 at 10:08 AMIn March 2005 I published the first in a series of articles decrying Vladimir Putin’s brazen agenda to amass dictatorial powers as president of Russia. I described his agenda as the Putinization of Russia, and noted that Putin was so shrewd in executing it that Joseph Stalin would be red with envy.
But, back then, Putin was professing his democratic intentions so convincingly that no less a person than democracy’s Cowboy avenger, U.S. President George W. Bush, was moved to testify that when he looked into Putin’s eyes he saw the “soul of a Jeffersonian democrat”.
Notwithstanding Bush’s affection, however, here’s what I wrote in that March 2005 article about Putin’s most notable critic:
As a form of mild consolation, it might be helpful to note that many prominent figures in Russia are decidedly against this Putinization of Russia: Most notable amongst them is… the World champion Chess player, Garry Kasparov, who expressed his concerns as follows:
‘The Soviet Union could not and cannot be a part of modern Europe. It could become a part of Europe only with its conquests. We must distinguish between modern Russia that we need and the Soviet past that Putin is trying to retrieve.’
Indeed, Kasparov has become so disillusioned with Putin’s creeping dictatorship that he shocked the chess world last week with the abrupt announcement of his retirement to pursue his real interest in life now which is ‘toppling Russian President Vladimir Putin’.
But over the following year and a half I saw little evidence of Kasparov’s effort to topple Putin. I was more concerned, however, that I saw even less of Kasparov himself. This, in turn, compelled me to append the following query to a November 2006 article on Putin’s alleged role in the notorious poisoning of a rogue Russian spy in London:
By the way, has anybody seen Putin’s most celebrated critic, former Chess champion Garry Kasparov, lately…?
Therefore, I was somewhat heartened yesterday when I read reports out of Russia that Kasparov had resurged on Saturday to lead a “Dissenters March” in Pushkin Square – knowing full well that he would be arrested, and probably beaten, by Putin’s state police.
Alas, it’s a clear indication of what little regard Putin has for Kasparov and other Russian critics that – after harassing the marchers with summary arrests – the police released the vast majority of them, including Kasparov, within hours.
Yet, regardless of his ostensible indifference to Kasparov’s challenge, Putin is surely mindful that – as long as latter-day Thomas Paines like Kasparov are allowed to protest across Russia for true democratic freedoms – severe, perhaps even deadly, consequences loom for his iron-fisted rule. Indeed, he must have found it particularly galling when the harassed but un-intimidated Kasparov said the following on the steps of the courthouse after his brief detention:
It is no longer a country … where the government tries to pretend it is playing by the letter and spirit of the law….We now stand somewhere between Belarus and Zimbabwe – two dictatorships that have cracked down on opposition.
For now though, Putin remains so popular amongst Russia’s (new) oligarchs and proletarians alike that Kasparov’s calls for a democratic revolution make him more analogous to John the Baptist preaching in wilderness than Thomas Paine rallying revolutionaries to fight against tyranny. In fact, how’s this for a little perspective from the Associated Press:
Kasparov and his allies mustered, by their own reckoning, about 2,000 people – far fewer than the 30,000 people who patronize the McDonald’s restaurant at Pushkin Square on an average day.
But, just as it gives me hope for his opposition leadership, perhaps Kasparov can derive inspiration from this quote from noted inventor of the artificial heart, Dr Robert Jarvik:
Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.
Putin orders hit on rogue Russian spy…?
Sunday, April 15, 2007 at 12:28 PMI don’t mind admitting that there is a catalogue of books that I was required to read in college but which I only skimmed, at best.
Nevertheless, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) made such a subliminal impression that I was drawn back to it’s surreal anti-war prose later in life. And I have no doubt that my post-graduate reading imbued me with far greater understanding and appreciation of this book than I could have hoped for as a college student – even if I had bothered to read it.
Cursed fate that Slaughterhouse-Five did not make a similar impression on George W. Bush….
Of course Vonnegut wrote many other novels but he readily acknowledged that – as a writer – he peaked rather early in his career. Alas, it all came to an end last Wednesday when he died from brain injuries he suffered after falling in his home several weeks ago. He was 84.
So it goes indeed…
Saturday, April 14, 2007 at 11:53 AMOn Wednesday U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates finally admitted that U.S. forces are so stretched that the esprit de corps is almost broken. And, he did little to boost military morale or halt plummeting support for the war on terror when he begrudgingly announced that:
… All active-duty army troops now in Iraq or Afghanistan or headed to either country will serve 15-month tours of duty, up from the usual one year, effective immediately.
Alas, given the way this amorphous war is going, the victory Bush seeks is no where in sight. And it is unconscionable for him to cover his ass for the remainder of his presidency by extending the tours of duty of these beleaguered and dispirited troops to execute his inherently-unsustainable” surge” strategy.
After all, that America is fighting a “war on terror” is now an obvious fiction. Because, in fact, America is fighting a guerrilla war in Iraq that is emulating all of the ominous developments of the Vietnam War.
Yet Bush remains determined to lead America back into the crucible of another Vietnam. Indeed, the only uncertainty that remains is whether political forces will compel reinstating the Draft before they compel full-scale retreat from Iraq (never mind that thousands more will die while politicians fiddle over these fateful prospects).
Congressman calls for reinstating the Draft
Friday, April 13, 2007 at 9:41 AMDon Imus created bona fide racial drama last week with his trademark attempt at shock-jock humor. But the bad news is that – though painfully serious – this whole episode has degenerated into a cartoonish (political) farce featuring Al Sharpton.
Meanwhile, does it matter to anyone that those Pontius-Pilates at NBC and CBS were so eager to wash their hands of this racial mess that they deemed it more important to give Rev Sharpton his pound of flesh than to accord the women of Rutgers the respect and satisfaction of meeting with Imus – when the outcome of that meeting still held some public interest and consequence?
It was clearly politically correct to fire Imus. But it was not the morally-correct thing to do. Nor, more significantly, will it do anything to advance the cause of racial understanding and reconciliation in America.
Indeed, when the hysteria, histrionics and scapegoating are all played out, I’m afraid we’ll look back on this as a missed opportunity for Imus to lead the millions of unreformed racists who listened to his show everyday in a national confessional about race. And, I hope the (instructive) cartoon makes clear that blacks have many sins to confess as well.
But, given this Imus precedent: Who’s next?…Who knows? I just know that even George Orwell could not have foreseen the Big-Brother lunacy Al Sharpton has wrought….
Imus feeling white heat for racial remarks
Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 9:53 AMThe global-warming movement is taking on all of the features of a Christian crusade – complete with its own self-appointed pope, Al Gore. Alas, I remain a Doubting Thomas. In fact, I have challenged, if not defied, the gospel of global warming in such open and notorious fashion that if Gore’s judgment day were tomorrow, I would go straight to hell.Nevertheless, after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report last Friday, which zealous environmentalists are now touting as “the final word on global warming”, I felt obliged to respond. And if you know what a Faustian proposition it is to critique the Bible, then you’ll appreciate why this article is a bit long, though hopefully not long-winded:
Frankly, the looming catastrophes outlined in this report make the apocalyptic prophecies in the Book of Revelations seem relatively harmless. And this, notwithstanding complaints by global-warming prophets about the political pressure that forced IPCC panelists to water down the portentous perils in their scientific report.
Here, in essence, are their findings and warnings, which, appropriately enough, are rendered not only anticlimactic but also irrelevant by His Holiness Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth:
The world faces a terrifying apocalypse of hunger, thirst and extreme weather disasters due to climate change….[B]y 2080, between 1.1 billion and 3.2 billion people will face water shortages, and between 200 million and 600 million will face the prospect of extreme hunger.
Without urgent measures…the Earth will face increasing heatwaves, floods, storm, fires and droughts, causing deaths and the displacement of hundreds of millions of people….there must be swift action on carbon dioxide emissions to prevent catastrophes all over the world.But, as indicated above, the way this report is being proselytized makes references to the Bible inescapable. And the irony is not lost on me that many renowned members of the scientific community (including Dr Tim Ball – Chairman of the Natural Resources Stewardship and Dr Richard Lindzen – Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) are dismissing it with the same intellectual derision with which IPCC panelists probably dismiss the Holy Bible.In fact it is doubly ironic that the leading critic of this report is Dr. William Gray. Because even though Gray is widely known as America’s most reliable hurricane forecaster and the man environmentalists invariably cite when preaching their gospel, here’s how he condemned Gore’s crusade – after the IPCC report was published on Friday:
Al Gore is a gross alarmist….He’s one of these guys that preaches the end of the world type of things. I think he’s doing a great disservice and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.It was particularly instructive, however, that Gray issued this condemnation during a keynote speech at the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans. After all, global-warming scientists predicate much of their findings on predictions about the rise in ocean temperatures and increasing ferocity of hurricanes. But here’s how the Associated Press reported Gray’s scientific pronouncements in these respects:
Gray believes a recent uptick in strong hurricanes is part of a multi-decade trend of alternating busy and slow periods related to ocean circulation patterns. Contrary to mainstream thinking, Gray believes ocean temperatures are going to drop in the next five to 10 years.But never mind Gray, because I am just as qualified as Gore is to preach about global warming. After all, despite convincing appearances, he’s not a climatologist; he just plays one in his movie. And for years now I’ve been proffering a positivistic interpretation of global-warming data as an antidote to Gore’s holier-than-thou message: For example, here’s a sample of what I’ve written over the years that informs my own derision of this IPCC report today:
Eminent scientists doubt that the Kyoto Protocol [intended to limit emission of green house gases (CO2) that allegedly cause global warming] is worth the paper it’s written on; not because few countries will actually comply, but because the science that gave rise to it is so patently flawed….
[G]lobal warming and cooling are natural phenomena that have occurred in (30 to 40 thousand-year) cycles since the beginning of time…believers in global warming [are] uninformed, fad-obsessed herds being led by a cadre of myopic media and political elite. [February 2005]
I am convinced that most of the preaching about global warming is just hot air. Moreover, I have no doubt that the planet is getting warmer; that humans (particularly Americans) are marginally to blame; and that it’s going to get even warmer. But I also have no doubt that this warming is simply due to natural climate variations (i.e. a cyclical phenomenon). [August 2006]
What I suspect will prove even more inconvenient for [the prophets of global-warming doom], however, is the documentary being aired tonight in London on Channel 4, which features “leading scientists” debunking the myth that carbon dioxide (CO2) released by human activity is the primary cause of global warming. [March 2007]Nevertheless, if Gray’s informed condemnation and my uppity cynicism are not sufficient enough to imbue you with reasonable doubt about the presumptive gospel of global warming, perhaps Mother Nature’s own rebuke of this UN decree might suffice. After all, nothing exposes the utter fatuousness of global-warming prophecies quite like the sight of snow blanketing spring flowers in such perennially warm places as Georgia and Texas – as was the case on Friday.Moreover, I suspect the hundreds of thousands who made the pilgrimage to Washington, DC last weekend for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival – only to be greeted by trees sprouting icicles – may now give global-warming preachers a chilly reception. But this might seem devotional compared to the reception they’re likely
to get from the multitudes who flocked to see the rites of spring played out on Baseball fields all over America – only to be greeted by fields sprouting snowflakes.
Ultimately though, that Mother Nature made a mockery of the IPCC report in such chilling and phenomenal fashion, and on the very day it was released, is divinely inspired and makes global warming seem like a flaming hoax.
That said, it behooves us in the Caribbean to appreciate that we are God’s “Chosen People” when it comes to preaching about global warming. And, moreover, that the privileges we enjoy from living in this “Promised Land” comes with the responsibility to harmonize economic development with our stewardship of the most precious natural resources on planet earth. Indeed, no one has been more vigilant over the years than I have been in admonishing our regional leaders against despoiling of our beaches with strips of condos and resort hotels for short-sighted and short-term gain.
But I take umbrage at rich Americans and Europeans lecturing us about the uses of what little energy resources we (and others throughout the developing world) have to fuel our economic growth. Because try as we might, even the most profligate amongst us cannot emit as much CO2 in a year as Al Gore emits in a week from fueling everything from his Tennessee mansion to the private jets he travels in to spread his “convenient truth” all over the world.
And, incidentally, I could not be more indignant at rich environmentalists who seek absolution for their environmental sins by “purchasing carbon credits or offsets” in the same spirit with which Catholics once sought absolution for their moral sins by purchasing Papal indulgences. And their hypocrisy in this respect is only compounded by the fact that these rich environmentalists are getting even richer from investments in China and India – where the amount of CO2 emissions being spewed from coal burned for electricity and coal-fired or natural-gas power plants is rapidly approaching the levels emitted by the world’s worst polluter, the United States….
(Talk about the pot calling the kettle black….Never mind the almost-criminal (political) aversion these self-righteous environmentalists have to the cleanest and most efficient source of energy known to mankind: nuclear energy!)
Meanwhile, Christians especially should find the threat that high seas will flood our islands if we do not heed this global-warming gospel not only vacuous but also blasphemous. After all, with His Rainbow Covenant, God promised that He shall never destroy us by water again:
I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. [Genesis 9:11]
Therefore, instead of parroting Gore’s hot air about the pollution industrial companies emit in the air, regional environmentalists should join me in complaining about the waste cruise ships dump in our Caribbean Sea….
NOTE: Earlier this year, Prince Charles traveled to New York City to receive a Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. And during his acceptance speech, Charles recounted for a rapt audience – comprised of the world’s top environmental celebrities – how, when they first met, Gore helped him on a documentary he was filming for the BBC entitled Earth in Balance. Then, with more than a little imperial derision, Charles looked right at Gore – who was sitting front and center – and added:
And he was equally articulate and thoughtful in his own book Earth in [the] Balance, which appeared…just a little later.Clearly, this proves that Gore is not only an environmental hypocrite but also an intellectual thief!Related Articles:
Hearing on global warming cancelled due to unusually cold weather
Rich folks talk global warming at Davos Economic summit
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at 12:00 PMAccording to ABC News, the North Carolina Attorney General will announce later today that all charges against the Duke Lacrosse players will be dropped. And, it’s about time. Because here’s what I admonished Mike Nifong, the Durham District Attorney who filed these bogus charges, to do exactly a year ago today:
…Durham DA Mike Nifong owes it to the players, the alleged victim and a very anxious and confused public to state, unequivocally and without further delay, what these results portend for the prosecution of this case. Because, despite vowing to continue the case even absent DNA evidence, I suspect he will find it legally and politically prudent to make the anticlimactic announcement, within days, that the case will be dropped and the alleged victim prosecuted for making a false claim.
[from “DNA results exculpate Duke lacrosse players in rape case….Now what?” The iPINIONS Journal 11 April 2006]It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the uncanny coincidence between the dropping of these racially-motivated charges, which DA Nifong clearly filed to exploit racial tensions to further his own career, and the racist (and sexist) remarks Don Imus made about the Rutgers women’s Basketball team that has the entire country now in the throes of yet another reflexive harangue (complete with Imus’ truth and reconciliation tour) about racism in America.
But since today’s announcement will be almost as anticlimactic as yesterday’s announcement that Larry Birkhead, not Howard K. Stern, is Anna Nicole’s baby Daddy, I shall suffice to republish my 14 December 2006 article. Because it and related articles I’ve written explain not only why the rape charges had to be dropped, but also why Nifong has to be disbarred and face federal charges for this wilful violation of the civil rights of these (white) men. After all, his persecution of them constitutes a prima-facie case of egregious and unconscionable prosecutorial misconduct.
___________________________I think it was fitting, despite the obvious irony, that the last report Ed Bradley presented on 60 Minutes before he died a month ago was an exposé on the miscarriage of justice in the racially-charged Duke University rape case.
To recap: Last March, a black stripper accused several members of the all-white (except for one) Duke lacrosse team of gang-raping her. She claimed that they perpetrated this crime during a party at which her strip tease was supposed to be the feature entertainment.
And, despite glaring inconsistencies in her complaint and the absence of any forensic evidence linking anyone at the party to this alleged crime, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong misled a grand jury to indict three of them based on her spurious eye witness selection.
However, months before Bradley reported facts which indicted Nifong for professional misconduct beyond all reasonable doubt, here’s what I wrote as a public appeal for justice in this case:
…I hereby reiterate my plea for DA Nifong to drop these charges, post-haste! Because proceeding would only exacerbate the irreparable harm these men have already suffered (financially and by the infliction of emotional distress); especially since a trial would surely result in a “not guilty” verdict given all of the well-documented flaws in the case for the prosecution.But, never mind my plea, Nifong seemed impervious even to Bradley’s damning report and persisted in his wanton persecution of these players.However, the Associated Press reported this week that, in the early days of his investigation last Spring, Nifong retained a private lab to run DNA tests on the forensic evidence collected in this case. And, according to this truly shocking and scandalous AP report:
…the lab found genetic material from several males in the accuser’s body and her underwear, but none from any team member.This, notwithstanding the fact that the accuser swore she did not have sex with anyone within days before she claims she was raped. Now lawyers for the accused players have filed an official complaint alleging that Nifong neglected to disclose this clearly exculpatory evidence immediately – in violation of his professional ethics and generally recognized criminal law.
Moreover, it seems this report also provoked U.S. Congressman Walter Jones – who hails from North Carolina where Duke is located – to ask U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Department to conduct federal investigations to determine whether Nifong’s actions in this case constitute a violation of the players’s civil rights.
Therefore, expect this to become a federal case now whether or not Nifong comes to his senses and drops the charges – post haste….
60 Minutes did more to further justice in this case than either Mike Nifong – the zealous District Attorney prosecuting it, or black activists – who have made it a badge of racial pride to insist that there shall be “no justice, no peace” unless these presumed (and evidently) innocent white men are found guilty.
[“Duke rape case…closed” The iPINIONS Journal 17 October 2006]
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at 9:43 AM
[N]otwithstanding cultural biases and legal precedents that favor mothers and grandmothers in custody cases, I submit that, under these circumstances, if Birkhead were found to be the father, it would be in the best interest of the child to award him, not Anna Nicole’s estranged mother, Vergie Arthur, legal custody. [from “Resolving the legal mess Anna Nicole left behind”, The iPINIONS Journal, 29 March 2007]As suspenseful reports go, today’s revelation that Larry Birkhead, not Howard K. Stern, fathered the late Anna Nicole’s “million-dollar” baby was, at best, anticlimactic – as my opening quote makes patently clear.
But, despite shameless efforts by American TV producers to manufacture drama to boost ratings, you could (and should) also infer from this quote that it’s only a matter of time before our Bahamian courts award Birkhead sole custody of his daughter.
Therefore, ignore the legal pundits who suggest that the judge will balance chauvinistic and parochial (i.e., cultural) prejudices that invariably favor granting guardianship to a grandmother instead of the biological father. Because that’s utter rubbish. More to the point, however, there is no evidence to suggest that Birkhead would be an unfit parent; whereas, there is relevant evidence, including Anna Nicole’s own damning (even if drug-induced) words and the documented troubles of her other children, to suggest that Mrs Arthur would not be a very fit parent at all.
Moreover, the suggestion that Mrs Arthur might be favored because she has set up an expedient home in The Bahamas insults the intelligence of Bahamian authorities almost as much as it betrays the ignorance of the person making this suggestion. However, for the record, The Bahamas has no long-term interest in Dannielynn. She’s not a Bahamian citizen, notwithstanding ostensibly-informed assertions to the contrary. In fact, she’s a U.S. citizen. And can only become a Bahamian citizen by taking prescribed legal steps once she’s 18 years old.
Meanwhile, as soon as Birkhead obtains a passport for her from the local U.S. consulate, he and she will be free to leave The Bahamas for California, without any legal obligation to ever return. But I admonish Birkhead to make no deals with Stern and keep him as far away as physically possible (and by a court-ordered TRO if necessary). Because his mercenary interest in Dannielynn is not only unseemly; it’s potentially dangerous (displaying as he has the homicidal pathology of women who cut the fetuses from the wombs of other women, and then fancy themselves birth mothers). Indeed, who, but a psychopath, would hold a little child hostage in the open and notorious way that he has, and then have the balls to show up at a paternity hearing – with as much public interest as this one has generated – knowing full well that there’s no way he could be the Daddy?!
So, simmer down folks. Legal cases in The Bahamas proceed with proper judicial speed, not according to the whimsical dictates of American TV producers. But as I said sometime ago, this should all be over by the end of April….
NOTE: I imagine a few enquiring minds would like to know what has or will become of Anna Nicole’s alleged Last Will and Testament, which Stern presented in evidence in the Florida court to assert his authority – as executor – to have her buried in Nassau. But whatever its validity and provisions, it will never be probated in The Bahamas. And this is so because it was not drafted there and nothing in Anna Nicole’s estate, such as might exist, is situated in The Bahamas….
The Will was drafted in California and it will be probated there. But I would not be at all surprised if Stern accepts a nuisance pay off from Birkhead to forfeit any role in settling Anna Nicole’s estate. After all, Stern knows that if he ever shows his face in any California court, it would be to face summary disbarment.
*Article published originally yesterday at 3:41 pm