Tuesday, July 31, 2007 at 11:46 AMI received an intriguing e-mail yesterday from a reader who described herself as “an investment banker and card-carrying member of the NYC literati”. (Her return address gave at least apparent confirmation of the former….)
What I found intriguing was the way she gloated about how the doyenne of New York publishing, Nan Talese, reportedly berated Oprah Winfrey (at a literary convention in Texas on Saturday) as a “sanctimonious…mean and self-serving” bitch who doesn’t even know the difference between a memoir and the “New Testament”….Meow!!!
I gathered that this reader wanted me to know about this unprecedented public dissing of Oprah because she thinks the articles I wrote on Oprah’s notorious book club scandal in January 2006 actually goaded the talk-show host into betraying Talese and author James Frey.
Never mind that it was really articles by people like Frank Rich of the New York Times that inspired Oprah’s “betrayal”. But here’s what incited Talese’s cold revenge:
It might be helpful to know that Talese is as revered in publishing as Oprah is envied in television. More to the point, however, she is the indignant publisher of James Frey’s bestselling memoir A Million Little Pieces. And Oprah fans will no doubt recall her incredulous appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show to defend the literary merit of his book – even after investigators from The Smoking Gun exposed Frey as a craven literary fraud.
But, according to the TIME article on her convention diatribe, which this reader referred me to, Talese assumed that Oprah shared her unshakable faith in Frey’s book. And why not; after all, here’s how I criticized Oprah’s (reflexive) attempt to quiet the crescendo of outrage against Frey for peddling figments of his heroin-chic imagination as the “gut-wrenching facts” of his life:
…This scandal brought out a side in Oprah that none of her devoted fans had ever seen before. After all, given her patented mantra about embracing one’s true self and living a blissful life of open confessions, they reasonably assumed that she would be the most outraged by Frey’s spectacular betrayal. Instead, she not only seemed blithely unbothered by it, but actually blessed Frey’s fatuous plea about taking creative license with the truth to make his memoir more “compelling”. Never mind the emotional toil his lies will have on her millions of fans whose lives were “impacted” by his book.
Oprah gave Frey this curious literary absolution on Wednesday’s edition of CNN’s Larry King Live [i.e. on 11 January 2006], when, as Frey was drowning under a tidal wave of backlash, she threw him a life raft by calling-in to comfort him and assure the millions of fans she exhorted to by this book that The Smoking Gun’s exposé amounts to ‘much ado about nothing’.
Therefore, I am constrained to ask Oprah the following questions:
Why are you still defending this book? Is it not irresponsible for you to counsel your deceived fans to “keep holding on” to the professed inspiration they got from a pack of lies? And why would you – who admonish people almost daily to be true to themselves and to live their own lives – now enable Frey to gloss over the pathological (and mercenary) lies he sold about his life?
Within days, however, Oprah had a miraculous literary conversion. And this is what led to the show on which Talese and Frey appeared. But here’s where it gets interesting:
Talese insisted on Saturday that Oprah completely misled her about the nature of this show; that she gave no indication beforehand about her conversion; and, that she and Frey were completely blindsided when Oprah unleashed her “holier-than-thou” wrath upon Frey.
And, no doubt, Talese intended the following to strike at the heart of Oprah’s saintly public image. Because she claimed that:
After the show, Frey told her Oprah pulled him aside and said, ‘I know it was rough, but it’s just business’.
Now, given the way Oprah converted almost overnight from being Frey’s avenging angel on Larry King Live to serving as his literary executioner on her own show, Talese’s account of this janus-faced Oprah seems credible.
Except, however, that Talese insists to this day that Frey’s book of lies “has great value for anyone who must deal with a loved one who is an addict.” Therefore, her credibility and judgment seem terminally impaired.
Moreover, she’s hopelessly misguided if she thinks the word of a pathological liar, like Frey, will impeach Oprah’s character in the eyes of her devoted audience, which Talese ridiculed as “reminiscent of a Roman circus”.
Therefore, as much as I took Oprah to task for initially defending this book and suffering no apparent consequence for her egregious lapse in judgment, I think Talese’s harangue amounts to little more than a hissy fit, which Oprah would do well to not even dignify with a comment….
NOTE: Enquiring minds would like to know why Talese chose some backwater venue down in Texas to launch this attack? After all, surely she knows better than anyone else that a catfight between her and Oprah is worthy of no less a venue than the media capital of the world, New York City….
Monday, July 30, 2007 at 10:06 AMSports have always been the continuation of politics by other means – as everyone from the ancient Greeks to Adolf Hitler (and even US President Jimmy Carter) demonstrated.
Therefore, instead of resorting to the Clausewitzian paradigm of using war to further his democratic agenda for the Middle East, perhaps US President George W Bush should have tried sports. And nothing dramatized this missed opportunity more than the way victory in a soccer match yesterday had Shias, Kurds and Sunnis all dancing in the streets – despite the ubiquitous danger of suicide bombings.
The victory of our Iraqi soccer team is a wonderful gift to Iraqis who have been suffering from the killing, car bombs, abductions and other violent acts. [Falah Ibrahim, a Shia]
Meanwhile, there seems no way now that any victory in battle against the insurgents can ever evoke expressions of such national pride and joy amongst Iraqis – notwithstanding VP Dick Cheney’s predictions to the contrary.
We are celebrating because this team represents all Iraqi sects. [Awas Khalid, a Kurd]
Nevertheless, here’s to Iraq’s national soccer team for winning the AFC Asian Cup 2007 tournament in Jakarta. And, since it’s far more likely that they’ll win the even more prestigious World Cup before the Americans win their war, let’s hope that there are many more moments in sports to imbue Iraqis with the elusive sense of national unity they experienced yesterday.
…We don’t want anything to spoil the day’s joy for the people of Iraq. [Salim Abdullah, a Sunni]
Sunday, July 29, 2007 at 12:40 PMFrankly, despite what appears to be an avalanche of scandals, there are clearly many more sports heroes around today than there were when only “good ole boys” were sports stars: like Babe Ruth in Baseball, Bob Cousy in Basketball and Bronko Nagurski in Football.
And, as far as being better role models is concerned, if the private lives of those good ole boys were subjected to the same 24/7 media scrutiny as that of sports stars today, I have no doubt that there would have been just as many scandals reported back then as are being reported today!
Besides, even with the myopic and overweening standards today’s sports heroes have to live up to, one would have to confess that there’s probably more redeeming value in letting one’s son grow up to be a Dallas Cowboy than a Catholic Priest….
NOTE: I shall have more to write about this notion of bona fide sports heroes after Barry Bonds dethrones Hank Aaron as the home-run king of Baseball, which I expect him to do this week….
Friday, July 27, 2007 at 10:44 AMI had grave misgivings about commenting on Lindsay Lohan’s latest booze and drug-induced infractions.
After all, I experienced unbridled schadenfreude watching spoiled rich bitch Paris Hilton finally get her comeuppance last month. But it evokes nothing in me except pity and disgust watching spoiled white trash Lindsay behave as white trash does – notwithstanding her accidental fame and fortune.
I am innocent…did not do drugs. They’re not mine. I was almost hit by my assistant Tarin’s mom. I appreciate everyone giving me my privacy.This is how Lindsay, 21, purportedly proclaimed her innocence and telegraphed her defense on Wednesday to charges of felony cocaine possession and driving under the influence…with a suspended license. And, not surprisingly, she did it through the only medium she finds credible – the entertainment program Access Hollywood.
But it betrays how hopelessly misguided she is when even her legal and PR people seem incapable of drafting a more sober and sympathetic statement. Moreover, even Judge Lance Ito would probably rule that – after chasing her assistant’s mom all over Hollywood in an altered state of mind – Lindsay’s account of who did what to whom is inherently unreliable.
And speaking of unreliable, does anyone think that Lindsay ever regarded that alcohol-monitoring bracelet she wore (after getting out of rehab just 10 days ago) as anything more than a trendy fashion accessory…?
I can’t get into trouble, I’m a celebrity. I can do whatever the f**k I want….I’m not going to get into trouble….I wasn’t driving. The black kid was driving. [Lindsay unplugged – as reported by the very reliable source, TMZ.com]
This is how Lindsay boasted to the owner of the SUV she commandeered to chase her assistant’s mom, and then blamed the black guy (who was actually sitting in the back seat) when cops questioned her about this now notoriously-reckless case of road rage.
The owner – who happens to be white and was “terrified” sitting next to her in the front passenger seat during this ordeal – claims further that she ran through numerous red lights in a residential neighborhood at over 80 mph….
Clearly, the petulant and indignant deflection of blame reflected in everything she has reportedly said since this incident suggests that, where Paris at least had some appreciation of the gravity of her legal jeopardy, Lindsay remains utterly clueless. And, like most congenital deviants, locking her up will do nothing except reinforce her anti-social behavior.
Nevertheless, given that Paris was sentenced to 45 days in jail, Lindsay should be sentenced to at least 90 for these (repeat) offenses. Recall that she was arrested and charged with similar crimes after a “coke” and booze-fueled hit-and-run crash on Memorial Day Weekend (last May). And, ironically, it was this incident that prompted her to seek refuge in rehab to avoid going to jail….
Like Paris, however, Lindsay will no doubt milk the pathetic publicity her unfolding tragedy is bound to generate for all it’s worth. But this is a far greater indictment of our celebrity-obsessed culture than it is of their fried brains and misspent youth.
Meanwhile, there’s been a great deal of criticism leveled at Lindsay’s parents for her delinquent behavior. And with an enabling drunk for a mother and a convicted felon for a father, she does seem to have been caught in a perverse parent trap.
But it’s worth noting that Hollywood is replete with stage moms, who are invariably failed or frustrated actresses, now living vicariously through their daughters’ careers.
However, the difference with Lindsay’s mom Dina (pictured here in a recent photo) is that she seems more interested in living her daughter’s partying lifestyle than in basking in the reflected glow of her movie stardom.
NOTE: Did you hear about the latest about our favorite wild child Britney Spears? She reportedly ran out of a million-dollar photo shoot last week – after using the designer wardrobe donated for the occasion as a napkin to wipe her greasy fingers (from the fried chicken she demanded for lunch), and as a pooper scooper to wipe up the doo doo her little pooch left all over the studio floor.
Talk about white trash….
Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 10:53 AM
To fellow natives in Commonwealth countries who assume that the privileges and immunities of former colonists were abolished with the advent of black rule, consider the (murderous) misdeeds of Thomas Cholmondeley.
This is the opening line of an article I wrote in May 2006 entitled White Farmer shoots another Maasai warrior like game. And I took this cynical tone because – as I lamented in that article:
Almost a year to the day after murder charges against him for killing a Maasai ranger were summarily dismissed (due to “insufficient evidence”), Cholmondeley, 45, son of the 5th Baron Delamere, was arrested earlier this week for shooting dead yet another one.
Well, even though delayed, it now seems that justice in this second case will not be denied. Because, after perhaps the longest preliminary hearing in the history of English jurisprudence – having convened last September, a judge ruled this week that there is in fact sufficient evidence for Cholmondeley to be tried for murder. Moreover, if convicted, he will be hanged – despite a long-standing government pledge to abolish the death penalty.
True to form, however, he insists that the killing was in self-defense. But frankly, arguing – as he did in the first case – that he mistook this Maasai ranger on patrol for a poacher (seeking to steal one of his prized “gazelles”, not necessarily to harm him) is not only patently fatuous; it ultimately betrays the most inhumane presumption of vintage colonial racism….
Therefore, stay tuned. Because, as I warned in last year’s article, if Cholmondeley gets off this time it would probably incite Rodney-King style riots all over the appropriately named Rift Valley region of Kenya.
NEW ORLEANS COP GETS RODNEY KING-STYLE JUSTICE
Meanwhile, apropos “no justice, no peace”, one of my more zealous readers e-mailed yesterday to vent her seething outrage after a New Orleans judge ruled that one of the two (white) police officers who were caught on tape beating the crap out of an old (black) man – for no apparent reason – was justified in doing so.
(Ironically, consciousness of guilt forced the other police officer involved to commit suicide on the eve of trial.)
Then – citing the article I wrote on this incident in October 2005 entitled White New Orleans cops give 64-year old black man a Rodney-King style beating – she asked in utter stupefaction:
How could this judge possible make such a ruling?
And – as I too was still seething with incredulity and outrage over this breaking news – here’s how I replied:
But we all saw cops on tape beating the crap out of Rodney King in Los Angeles as well. Perhaps what we need now is a riot in New Orleans to get justice. Unfortunately, all potential black rioters were displaced by Hurricane Katrina….
Did you happen to see this undeniably-incriminating video?
NOTE: I’m saving my socio-psycho commentary on Lindsay Lohan’s pathetic one-upmanship on Paris Hilton for tomorrow….
Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 10:29 AMJust over a week ago, US President George W. Bush hailed what he thought was a silver lining in the dark clouds that have hovered over disarmament negotiations with North Korea from day one of his presidency. Bush’s triumphal hope stemmed from the fact that North Korean President Kim Jong Il promised to not only shut down his nuclear program completely, but also allow UN inspectors to verify his compliance.
But Kim made this promise only after Bush agreed to the release of $25 million that had been frozen at a Macau bank – to punish him for being an uncontrollable (nuclear) menace – so that it could be transferred to an account at a Russian bank under his control….
Unfortunately, it only took days for Bush to realize that that silver lining was just the glint from Kim’s now patented Cheshire grin. Because, true to form, Kim wanted far more than the cash in hand to fulfil his promise.
In fact, his bedevilment in this respect forced six-party negotiators to adjourn their meeting on Saturday after Kim’s bag men refused to confirm that he will fully disclose all of his nuclear activities or permanently disable his main nuclear reactor by year’s end as promised.
(Incidentally, representatives from China, Japan, North and South Korea, Russia and the United States have been negotiating the terms of North Korea’s proposed disarmament since 2003.)
But even I anticipated this latest razzle-dazzle in Kim’s nuclear brinksmanship. Indeed, I could have told Bush that Kim would consider the release of that $25 million as nothing more than a good-faith gesture. After all, Kim does not need cash (which he counterfeits at will anyway) as much as he needs oil to fuel his totalitarian regime and international respect to stabilize his Napoleonic complex.
Therefore, no one should have been surprised that the six-nation meetings hit an impasse when Kim’s reps insisted that there will be no more (empty) promises made about disclosing or disabling anything until the West forks over 950,000 tons of fuel and unqualified diplomatic recognition of their “Dear Leader”.
And so, despite vowing not to be hoodwinked by Kim’s Three-Card Monte diplomacy (the way, he insists, his predecessor Bill Clinton was), Bush has clearly been had. But, more to the point, here’s how I framed the prospect of negotiating with Kim almost two years ago – in an article entitled Resolving the North Korean menace:
…no one familiar with Kim’s negotiation tactics should be surprised by this turn of events [i.e. that he reneged on yet another promise to disclose and disarm his nuclear program]. After all, this little tyrant has been performing his own version of the tail wagging the dog, with infuriating effect, for many years.
Recall the embarrassing spectacle of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright [in the Clinton Administration] traveling all the way to Pyongyang in 2000 to toast a similar triumph of diplomacy only to have Kim renege on his word even before she made it back on American soil. And recall the equally futile overtures of South Korean leaders who offered a bonanza of economic benefits through their Sunshine Policy only to have Kim accept with one hand in agreement whilst giving them the finger with the other.
So, until the next kabuki nuclear dance (scheduled for September), Kim will be sitting quite comfortably in his (nuclear) catbird seat!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007 at 10:20 AMNew British Prime Minister Gordon Brown must feel fated to suffer the perils of Pauline during his tenure. After all, within days after he succeeded Tony Blair a few weeks ago (on June 27), Brown had to contend with terrorizing attempts by wannabe al-Qaeda martyrs to set off car bombs in London and Scotland. And now he’s having to play the role of a latter-day Noah to help Britons escape floods of truly biblical proportions.
But, with casualties rising even faster than flood levels, widespread looting, panic buying and forecasts of worse (in all respects) yet to come, Brown will need a miracle to restore calm to much of the affected areas.
The irony is not lost on me, however, that media coverage of the desperate and abandoned (white) souls who are treading water for dear life in England today, is eerily similar to the media coverage of the desperate and abandoned (black) souls who were doing the same in New Orleans (after Katrina) in 2005.
But conspicuously absent from the coverage in England is any commentary about Britons merely using the floods to vent their predisposition for looting and other kinds of depraved behavior. By contrast, recall how such (racist) commentary characterized the heroic efforts of black Americans trying to survive the desolation and deprivation Katrina left in her wake. Never mind that the only thing racist about the way people behaved was the failure of Bush Administration officials to appreciate the suffering of black folks and render timely humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, no one should be surprised that just as people did what they had to do to survive Katrina, so too will they do what they must to survive these floods. Nor, for that matter, should anyone be surprised that a few white thugs will exploit this situation just as a few black thugs exploited the crisis in New Orleans.
Nevertheless, let’s hope that British officials perform their duties and responsibilities with far greater urgency and due care than their counterparts did in America. Although it does not bode well – given yesterday’s London Times report that:
…the Ministry of Defence was unwilling to supply lorries and drivers without being guaranteed payment for their services. As a result there appear to have been delays in securing the use of high-sided vehicles that could deliver sleeping bags and flood parcels to the stricken communities.
Staple food items, including fresh vegetables and salad, are also in short supply because supermarket lorries were unable to make deliveries.
Therefore, my prayers go out to the hundreds of thousands of Britons who will have to cope without food supplies, potable water or electricity for days, and possibly weeks, to come.
Monday, July 23, 2007 at 10:24 AMWhen Rachel Weisz won the Oscar for her supporting role in The Constant Gardener last year, I cheered heartily. But here’s what I wrote in my annual Academy Awards review about the true merit of this film:
…it was brilliantly acted and dramatized the all-too-real exploits of corrupt governments and multi-national (pharmaceutical) corporations that routinely entail sacrificing human lives for profit – especially African lives that are regarded so cheaply, universally.
Therefore, I was truly heartened when the BBC reported last week that the Nigerian government has filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical hegemon Pfizer. In this landmark class-action case, Nigeria alleges that Pfizer scientists conducted illegal trials of an anti-meningitis drug (Trovan) that they knew or should have known would kill or deform hundreds of Nigerian children – as it surely did.
Even worse, however, the suit alleges that these scientists duped Nigerian parents into offering up their children as guinea pigs. And this horrific allegation stems from the fact that, after a severe outbreak of meningitis in 1996, radio broadcasts urged concerned parents to take their children “as quickly as possible”, to local clinics, where international aid workers from Medicins San Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) were administering free emergency treatment.
Critically, however, the parents were not told that agents from Pfizer had also set up shop at those clinics and were slipping their children an “unregistered and unapproved trial drug as part of this treatment”.
The American doctors took advantage of our illiteracy and cheated us and our children. We thought they were helping us.
We did not suspect that our children were being used for an experiment. They have cheated us and our children. All I can say is that God will judge them according to their evil deeds. [Hassan Sani – whose daughter Hajara (pictured here) was one of the lucky victims]
It is regrettable, however, that this is only a civil action to collect money for pain and suffering; especially since it would take only chump change for Viagra-producing Pfizer to pay-off the $7bn in damages being sought.
Because, if the Nigerian government really wanted to vindicate and honor the lives of these innocent victims, it would follow the lead of its Kano regional government by pursuing criminal prosecutions to imprison Pfizer’s Mengeles for serial manslaughter and murder….
Meanwhile, I appreciate that the film probably dramatizes this dark secret of American enterprise in too entertaining a fashion to incite the level of outrage that would compel a multi-national corporation like Pfizer to stop its exploitation of the poor Africans for profit. And I fear that even this court trial will do little more in this respect.
Therefore, I highly recommend you buy the book by John LeCarre on which the film is based. Because reading it is far more likely to evoke the kind of moral indignation against this constant gardening in Africa that is warranted….
Indeed, recall that back in 1972 the New York Times exposed the US government for conducting “the longest non-therapeutic experiment on human beings [i.e. poor black sharecroppers in Alabama] in medical history”. In fact, the experiment ran from 1932 until this exposé incited such universal condemnation that the government was compelled to end its “Tuskegee Syphilis Study” post haste and pay $10 million to compensate the victims and their heirs – to forestall a class action suit.
Yet many who condemned the government are acutely aware that since then US pharmaceutical corporations have been blithely experimenting with new drugs on Africans to ensure their safety for Americans. And the venality of this unconscionable practice is hardly redeemed by Pfizer’s self-righteous protestation that its experiments are for the good of all mankind, not merely for the benefit of its shareholders. Nor, moreover, by its specious claim that it secured consent decrees from all of these sacrificial lambs beforehand….
So, where’s the outrage!!!
NOTE: The next time you hear that primitive customs make Africans suspicious of lifesaving vaccinations that westerners take for granted (like those for polio), think of the barbaric practices of pharmaceutical companies that have given them just cause to be suspicious….
Friday, July 20, 2007 at 10:27 AM[NOTE: Last week Thursday the Premier of my mother country, the Turks and Caicos Islands, got into a street fight with members of the opposition party. And it has incited still-simmering and very partisan passions.
Therefore, I wrote the following article hoping that it will shed more light than heat and lead to a constructive resolution of this national dispute. It is featured today in our national newspaper of record, The TCI Weekly, as well as on the most widely read online newspaper in the region, Caribbean Net News.]
For years I have lamented the fact that my compatriots in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) have been too busy tearing each other down (over petty political matters) to build up a sustainable economy and stand united in our petition for independence from Great Britain.
Indeed, it is a testament to the petty, quarrelsome and, ultimately, self-defeating nature of TCI politics that supporters of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM – opposition party), who presumed my blind allegiance to their party based on family ties, actually called me a traitor for publicly congratulating our Premier, the leader of the Progressive National Party (PNP – ruling party), Dr Michael Misick. And they did so simply because I congratulated him not only last year when he successfully concluded constitutional reforms (which, admittedly, were negotiated with the British almost entirely by PDM leaders), but also earlier this year when he won a landslide re-election victory.
Given this context therefore I was not at all surprised by the alleged fight that broke out between Premier Misick and PDM officials last week. But, true to form, the incident has only incited their respective supporters to wax indignant and hurl invectives at each other; even though only gossip informs their sound and fury.
Instead of taking sides, however, I implore my fellow TCIslanders to take a moment to reflect on a few simple questions that, no doubt, will put this embarrassing fracas into proper perspective and help illuminate the grave consequences it portends for our nation; namely:
Is it not commendable that the PDM convened a news conference last week Thursday to challenge the PNP’s education and economic policies – at which people questioned why our Premier seems to spend more time attending Hollywood events than attending to affairs of state?
After all, it is the duty of the PDM – as our “Loyal Opposition” – to not only guard against abuses of our democratic rights and freedoms by the ruling PNP, but also to “check and prod” to ensure that they manage our fiduciary affairs prudently. But frankly, there was such probable cause to suspect that Dr Misick might turn out to be an “absentee Premier” that even I challenged him over a year ago – in an article entitled Is all the talk about TCI independence just that: all talk – to lead in a way that assures all TCIslanders that he is not:
…more interested in posing as an independent leader than in assuming the duties and responsibilities of governing an independent nation.Was it just coincidence or evidence of consciousness of guilt that, only hours after that PDM news conference, the Premier returned home from his latest Hollywood excursion? And, does it matter that he has not given a credible account of how his frequent traveling there furthers his duties as Premier here? After all, even though we appreciate that his American wife, our first lady, is a working actress (never mind that everyone in Hollywood thinks she’s a Caribbean Queen…literally), we are constrained to wonder if it’s a greater priority for our Premier to support her in her professional pursuits in Hollywood than it is for her to support him in his professional role in the TCI.
What does it say about our Premier’s judgment if, as he asserts, he diverted his motorcade on the way from the airport to confront someone who he thought was pointing “a camera or a gun” at him?
After all, whatever delusions of invincibility our Premier may suffer, surely we want him to be guarded by men who have the common sense to divert him from, not towards, potential dangers. (Never mind that the Premier could have directed his driver to go to the police station right there on airport road and ordered the police to investigate what he allegedly feared was a “stalker” lying in wait to assassinate him….)
Since he soon discovered (to his relief or horror, alas, one cannot say) that it was just opposition MP Arthur Robinson holding a harmless camera, why did the Premier (with his armed bodyguard in tow) allow what should have been an understandably-cantankerous (political) encounter to escalate into such a physical brawl that he feared (and still fears) for his life – as reported by The Sun newspaper?
After all, it insults not only our intelligence, but his as well, for our Premier to allege that Mr Robinson greeted his polite enquiry by assaulting him. Moreover, it simply defies common sense that the Premier would even ask Robinson and PDM Chairman Shaun Malcolm “…why they were pointing objects at him” – after clearly seeing that the “suspicious object” was, in fact, a camera.
Does it not raise terminal doubts about our Premier’s credibility and character that – after this incident – he claimed that “The truth and fact of the matter is that I am deeply concerned about my safety. I am aware that members of the Opposition PDM are stalking me….”?
After all, if there were a kernel of truth to this claim, I have no doubt that our law enforcement authorities would have already arrested the suspect MPs, or assured the Premier that his fears were patently unfounded and irrational….
But really folks, when all is said and done – notwithstanding our Premier’s demonstrably-specious account of what happened – here are the most probative questions to reflect upon:
Is it not more likely that when the Premier saw Robinson and Malcolm he knew immediately what they were up to (which, of course, was documenting his attempt to slink back into the country to blunt criticism of him as an absentee Premier)?
And, upon seeing them, it is not far more likely that he confronted them for the sole purpose of confiscating the incriminating evidence against him that he no doubt feared they had caught on videotape?
All of which begs the truly critical question:
Since the best evidence of who did (and said) what to whom was captured on that tape, and given the very troubling allegation that it was wiped clean before the Premier’s bodyguard handed it over to the police, all TCIslanders should be demanding to know: Did you erase the tape, Premier, did you erase the tape?
Of course, in this respect, it is instructive to know that Robinson and Malcolm allege that the Premier ordered his bodyguard to confiscate the tape as he belittled them with a profanity-laced tirade that would make even a gansta rapper blush. And, more to the point, that this verbal assault and the Premier physically attacking Robinson – without provocation – were all caught on that tape.
But even though many TCIslanders may want to dismiss this incident as just another manifestation of our Premier’s pugnacious temper, we cannot help but wonder what motivated him to react so violently. Indeed, some enquiring minds want to know if it was because he feared that he and his entourage were caught on tape entering the country without being cleared through immigration or customs; which, of course, would raise all kinds of sinister suspicions. Whereas, others want to know if it was because he did not want to be seen returning – not with his wife but with actor Duane Martin; which, of course, would raise all kinds of salacious suspicions.
Therefore, no one should be surprised if, as alleged, the tape has been wiped clean. But, if not prosecuted for conspiracy to obstruct justice, the Premier will surely be haunted by this question (Did you erase the tape, Premier, did you erase the tape?) until his dying day.
That said, those questions should suffice for now. But it behooves our Premier to address them without further delay or prevarication. Because, if he fails to do so, he risks being accused of being not only an absentee Premier, but also one who thinks himself above answering to the people he’s constitutionally mandated to serve.
(Indeed, it is worth noting that when the British take us for fools, we assume it is due to historical presumptions and congenital prejudice. But when our own Premier does the same, what assumptions are we to make of his behaviour…?)
Meanwhile, apropos constitutional mandates (and the British), it is also incumbent upon the TCI Governor, His Excellency Richard Tauwhare, to ensure that this matter is properly investigated. And this is especially so because there’s a growing sense amongst politically-astute TCIslanders that this Governor, like our Premier, is only interested in enjoying the ceremonial trappings and perks, as opposed to performing the duties and responsibilities, of his office.
And, lest anyone thinks that these concerns are unwarranted, recall that almost two years ago this Governor assured TCIslanders that there would be a thorough investigation into the apparent murder of our Premier’s own daughter, Melissa Creese. Yet to this day we have no idea whether anyone has even been questioned. (Never mind the more suspicious fact that our Premier has seemed more zealous about finding the person who murdered police officer Prince Smith than about capturing the bastard who murdered his daughter….)
Therefore, we can be forgiven our doubts after hearing His Excellency assure the nation last week that there will be a thorough investigation into this matter as well.
Finally, I feel obliged to admonish PDM supporters who have begun deriding our Premier as a “TCI Mugabe”. Because I know Mugabe; I’ve been studying and writing about his reign of terror (in Zimbabwe) for a long time. And, trust me my friends, Michael Misick is no Robert Mugabe.
After all, Mugabe has led his people so far down the primrose path to a living hell that it might take divine intervention to rescue them; whereas, Misick has only begun to lead us in that direction.
But this is precisely why we should be grateful that we have such a vigilant but loyal opposition. And it is why we must prevail upon this Governor to not only say, but also show that justice is being done – especially given the clouds of criminal suspicion and salutary neglect that are gathering over the office of our Premier.
In fact, failure to apprehend our Premier’s alleged abuses now, risks turning our beloved country into a gangsta’s paradise.
Congratulations to TCI’s first Premier, Michael Misick
PNP wins reelection by a landslide
Is all of the talk about TCI independence just that: all talk?
Another plea from Archbishop Ncube (and me) for Zimbabwe
UPDATE (31 August 2007): The TCI Attorney General issued a press release a few days ago – in which he proffered reasons why he deemed there was neither sufficient public interest nor legal merit in prosecuting the Premier on assault and theft charges.
But click here to read why I deemed his reasons utterly specious, which amounted to a gross dereliction of his duties.
Thursday, July 19, 2007 at 10:45 AMFederal prosecutors may have sacked Michael Vick’s commercial endorsements, but he’ll probably still be allowed to pursue his career as the all-star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons…for now.
Yesterday they announced a voluminous indictment against him for funding and participating in a dogfighting operation, which carries a penalty of up to six years in prison. And the odds on acquittal are slim to none – given the number of defendants who have been convicted for this crime with far less incriminating evidence against them than prosecutors claim to have against Vick.
Meanwhile, I was genuinely shocked last April when investigators disclosed that their high-profile raid on Vick’s property in Virginia, where they rescued 54 pit bulls, was only one of thousands they execute each year. Although my shock had less to do with the revelation that there’s illegal dogfighting going on all over America.
Instead, I was more shocked by the fact that Vick was such a big player. After all, this was rather like finding out that Michael Jordan is a big-time fox hunter – a bloodsport I consider no less repugnant. But, based on reports, it seems that dogfighting is replacing “ghetto craps” as the favorite game for gamblers in the Hip-Hop community….
Vick executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in ‘testing’ sessions by various methods, including hanging, drowning and/or slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.
(So, don’t let the lil pup above fool ya. Indeed, I imagine Vick would have been an even more rabid breeder if he could have bottled the genetic defect that caused this freak of nature to develop muscles twice the size of normal dogs of its breed….)
We are disappointed that Michael Vick has put himself in a position where a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against him. [NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy]
Nevertheless, the NFL has invoked the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty” to protect its members more than any other professional organization. In fact, given that the league has coddled everyone from murder suspects to wife beaters, I have no doubt that Vick will be entreated to take the field until federal authorities take him off in handcuffs.
Truth be told, however, Vick’s off-the-field antics have overshadowed his game from the day he was drafted; not least of which was putting himself in a position where a woman could file a credible suit against him for passing herpes.
Frankly, it is incomprehensible to me, and I truly regret, that the adrenaline rush from playing football (and making millions no less) was not enough for Michael Vick. But maybe he can finally exorcise his animalistic fetish by betting on and participating in dawg-fights in the federal pen.
That said, I wish a small amount of this public outcry against Vick for abusing dogs would be heaped upon other professional athletes for routinely abusing women….
Vick gets penalty for passing herpes
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 at 11:00 AMLast Friday I wrote an article entitled Another plea from Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube (and me) for Zimbabwe. And in it I lamented the fact that – despite his moral and my political appeals over the years – no foreign government or international organization has accepted the categorical imperative to intervene in Zimbabwe to stop President Robert Mugabe from deliberately starving, displacing or murdering millions of his people.
Well, it seems Mugabe had had enough of my lauding this lowly bishop as his worthy foe. Because over the weekend, he ordered his secret police to publish – on the front page of his state-run newspaper – what appears to be incriminating photos they took of Bishop Ncube preparing to lay a carnal blessing on one of his married parishioners….
Alas, the plethora of e-mails I received over the past 48 hours suggest that the publication of these seedy pictures gave far too many Africans all they needed to reject Ncube’s criticisms of Mugabe and ridicule my support of Ncube. And, remarkably enough, among those who sent dismissive e-mails were Zimbabweans who claim they’ve been victimized by Mugabe.
Indeed, so blind is their righteous indignation that they did not see the update I posted to that Friday article in which I addressed this alleged exposé on Ncube. Therefore, below is a reprint of it for their and your edification.
But suffice it to know that, even if true, Ncube’s lusting after the flesh, no matter how indiscriminate, does not vindicate Mugabe; just as Martin Luther King’s extramarital affairs did not vindicate the white racists he challenged during the American Civil Rights Movement – as duly I proffered on page 2 of my latest book (a copy of which I invite you to order by following the links in the left side bar):
UPDATE: July 16
Reports out of Zimbabwe are that a local man has filed a Z$20 billion lawsuit against Archbishop Ncube for allegedly having an adulterous affair with his wife. (Incidentally, given the depths to which Zimbabwe’s economy has plummeted in recent years, that 20 billion converts to about 200 US dollars; well, not quite, but you get the point ….)
But Ncube has refused to dignify the allegation with a response. Although his supporters have denounced it as just another dirty trick by Mugabe to undermine his most formidable and fearless critic. Whatever the merit of this allegation, however, it does nothing to discredit Ncube’s condemnation of Mugabe’s genocidal leadership.
Another plea from Archbishop Ncube (and me) for Zimbabwe
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 at 10:49 AMLately, many of my African friends have been expressing resentment, if not indignation, at Americans for lecturing them about good governance (i.e. transparency and accountability), and for doling out humanitarian aid like carrot sticks for good behavior – no matter how perverse (e.g. giving money to fight HIV/AIDS, provided however, that clinics do not provide comprehensive sex education or distribute condoms).
Moreover, they take great pride in juxtaposing this “paternalistic” American approach to dealing with them with the strategy the Chinese and Russians are pursuing, which primarily entails establishing joint-venture partnerships and forging long-term economic ties.
But, truth be told, these intelligent and proud Africans seem to relish the marginalization of Americans on the Dark Continent. And frankly, their sentiments are entirely understandable.
Nevertheless, I fear that the wholesale rejection of American political interest (and largesse) in favor of Chinese or Russian pecuniary interests does not bode well for Africans. And the Chinese cuddling of the oppressive regime in Sudan, which has the blood of hundreds of thousands of Africans in Darfur on its hands, should be a red flag in this respect.
It is in this context, therefore, that I feel obliged to publish this update on Cold War II:
This summer US President George W Bush invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to be the first foreign leader to visit his family’s hallowed compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. And in doing so he made it abundantly clear that he still sees in Putin’s eyes the soul of a Jeffersonian democrat. Although, he probably scheduled the visit for the July 4 weekend to help imbue Putin with the spirit of independence that inspired Thomas Jefferson to draft the abiding tenets of America’s Declaration of Independence.
But almost from the day in 2001 when Bush first vouchsafed that Putin is “a democrat and friend”, Putin has behaved – at home and abroad – more like a neo-Stalinist than a bona fide democrat. In fact, in a series of related articles (see below), I have chronicled his unabashed efforts to wield totalitarian powers while curtailing the democratic freedoms that his predecessor, Russia’s true Jeffersonian democrat – Boris Yeltsin, pushed to codify in a new constitution in 1993.
Most notably, in a March 2005 article entitled President Putin reforming Russia in his own image, I coined the phrase “the putinization of Russia” to describe what appears to be his pathological determination to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. And nothing has confirmed my diagnosis in this respect quite like Putin’s iron-fisted attempts to dominate former satellite states (e.g. by trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections in the Ukraine and threatening to cut off critical supplies of Russian gas to extract financial and political concessions from Georgia).
But never mind my indictment against Putin; because what made Bush’s unprecedented invitation to him so disappointing, if not hypocritical, is the fact that only a year ago, Bush dispatched VP Dick Cheney to Putin’s doorstep in Vilnius, Lithuania to deliver a similar indictment, which I heartily endorsed in an article entitled Cold War Redux: Friendship over between Russia and the United States.
Nevertheless, if the putinization of Russia were not sufficient to convince Bush that he’s hell-bent on reclaiming Russia’s superpower status, then Putin’s efforts to re-establish Cold-War ties with African leaders should be dispositive in this respect. After all, one of the more cynical and indelible features of the historic bipolar struggle between the US and USSR was their amoral strategy of inducing Third World countries – with lots of cash and military hardware – to parrot their ideological world view.
Therefore, those of us who are acutely mindful of Putin’s global agenda took heed last September when he became the first Russian leader to visit Africa’s most influential country, South Africa. And there Putin vowed to end “the decades-long interruption in ties between South Africa and Russia”. More importantly, however, Putin used this vantage point to assure all African leaders, many of whom (including South African President Thabo Mbeki) studied communist ideology and received military training as communist revolutionaries in Russia during the Cold War, that he intends to seal their bond this time around with sustainable financial partnerships instead of mere rhetorical comradeship:
The level of our economic co-operation is totally out of line with the political trust and confidence we’ve had over recent years.
Meanwhile, it shall be recorded in the annals of history as a profoundly ironic fact that – despite being hailed as the world’s sole superpower – America’s sphere of influence in the world today is even less than it was at the height of the Cold War. And nowhere is this more evident than in Africa, where China, not the US, is the superpower adversary Russia will have to compete with for joint-venture partners….
But really, how can Bush be concerned about fighting a new cold war against Russia (and/or China) when he has a very hot war on terror to fight against al Qaeda….
Monday, July 16, 2007 at 11:12 AMAfter a three-month trial and 12 days of jury deliberations, last Friday proved to be V-day for media mogul and aristocratic arriviste, Lord Conrad Black. (He famously renounced his Canadian citizenship in order to be granted a Lordship by HM Elizabeth II – Queen of Great Britain.)
Unfortunately for him, the “V” in this case did not stand for victory. Instead, it represented the verdict (of guilty on fraud and obstruction of justice charges) rendered by a Chicago jury, which will now strip Lord Black – in the most ignominious fashion possible – of all that remains of his ill-gotten gains and royal pretensions.
We think the verdict vindicates the serious public interest in making sure that when insiders in a corporation deal with money entrusted to them by the shareholders, that they not engage in self-dealing. [Black’s prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, who also won a stunning conviction earlier this year against VP Cheney’s aide Scooter Libby….]Of course, given the celebrated heights to which Black’s personal pride and corporate arrogance soared, which I derided in previous articles here and here, his spectacular fall from grace can only reinforce the proverb that:
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
In a 16-count indictment, Black was charged with lording over Hollinger International as if it were his private fiefdom. Hollinger, of course, is a media conglomerate that includes among its holdings such reputable newspapers as the Chicago Sun-Times, the London Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post.
But Black evidently used millions from the revenues this public company generated to fund his feudal lifestyle. And even though he exhibited enviable business skills and a prodigious intellect as Hollinger’s chairman, Black also perfected and flaunted the art of living as the most ostentatious and imperious corporate crook in the history of western civilization (notwithstanding Dennis Kozlowski).
Despite appearances, however, the gossip among the chattering classes is that he has always been little more than a consort to his wife, Barbara Amiel Black. And no woman in the corporate world or high society displayed more ruthless cunning in pursuit of (rich) men and social prestige than the thrice-divorced Amiel did.
Indeed, one would have to think of the Shakespearean character Lady Macbeth or of that royal diva Marie Antoinette to get an appreciation of how much Amiel’s insatiable powerlust and garish excesses were precipitating factors in Black’s tragic downfall. But this quote should suffice to indicate what a piece of work this woman is:
I have an extravagance that knows no bounds.To complete the analogy, however, I suppose Black, 62, should be grateful that he won’t be beheaded either by an avenging shareholder in a fit of outrage or by the state at the behest of resentful commoners who comprised his jury. Instead, he’ll be heading to the pokey. But since he’s facing as much as 35 years, he could be sentenced, in effect, to life in prison. Naturally, his lawyers have vowed to appeal.
But I have no doubt that Black will begin his descent into purgatory when he’s sentenced in November. Although his penance could commence as soon as next week when Judge Amy St Eve will determine whether he’s too much of a flight risk to remain free on his $21 million bond pending sentencing.
And frankly, it does not bode well for him on this count. Because Judge St Eve has probable cause to suspect that – having been convicted of trying to hide 13 boxes of incriminating evidence from being discovered by federal investigators – Black might now try to hide himself from being incarcerated in federal prison….
Meanwhile, Amiel, 66, is bound to fare better than her fictional and historical counterparts. Because, instead of also suffering the full measure of her husband’s tragic fate, she will remain as free as a bird. And I am convinced, beyond all doubt, that it’s only a matter of time before she resorts to what remains of her cunning and alluring charm to seduce some rich old fool – just as she stroked Black’s flaccid ego – into funding the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed.
After all, deprived of the accouterments of an opulent life, Amiel would probably prefer prison life herself. And, apropos this, the note I appended to one of my previous articles on the unweaving of Black’s tangled web of corporate kleptocracy is worth quoting here:
I’m sure her erstwhile socialite friends in Europe and North America are wondering how much longer Barbara Amiel will walk in the Payless shoes of a devoted, long-suffering wife before she files for divorce – citing not his legal woes, but Black’s inability to maintain her in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed….
Meanwhile, Amiel is probably wondering at what point in this unfolding saga Black will do the proper thing and die (a la Ken Lay) to spare them further embarrassment, and save as much of his fortune for her to buy her way back into the good graces of rich Americans and aristocratic Britons….
Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 11:15 AMUS Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff “warned” last week that he has a gut feeling another al Qaeda attack is imminent.
Then (and perhaps only to exacerbate Chertoff’s indigestion and foment even more anti-terror paranoia) al Qaeda’s secretary of propaganda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, warned in another of his militant podcasts that, in fact, all systems are go for another attack, which should make the explosions of 9/11 seem like firecrackers. And to lend credence to this foreboding, he released a videotape this morning of the bogeyman himself, Osama bin Laden, spinning his hackneyed jihadist beatitudes.
Nevertheless, terror experts speculate that bin Laden’s sermon – coming amidst increased chatter amongst his restive martyrs’ brigades – might have conveyed his coded order to strike now….
So, be vigilant! Because, as recent foiled terror plots in London indicate, even your family doctor could be a suicide bomber in training….
London terror plots foiled
Friday, July 13, 2007 at 10:27 AMOver two years ago, I pleaded for Africa’s continental power, South Africa, and the world’s superpower, the United States, to coordinate a coalition of the willing to intervene in Zimbabwe. I felt compelled to do so because it was patently clear to me that Zimbabwe’s genocidal president, Robert Mugabe, was hell-bent not only on eliminating all of his political opponents, but also on starving millions of other Zimbabweans to make them too weak to oppose his rule.
Here, in part, is how I tendered my plea:
We can remain hopeful that the spontaneous revolutions that have erupted all over the world in recent months might penetrate Mugabe’s considerable defenses. Indeed, Zimbabwe’s courageous Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube has even called for a Ukrainian-style uprising to overthrow Africa’s lone-reigning Big Dada.
The conditions of poverty, disease and hunger are so severe, however, that Zimbabweans may not have the strength to march in the streets even if they wanted to….
But since then, I have watched in utter dismay and fecklessness as South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki, pursued do-nothing initiatives under the guise of “constructive engagement”, and US president, George W Bush, squandered virtually all of his country’s goodwill and foreign resources on an unwinnable (civil) war in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Mugabe continued to wreak such death and destruction that a few months ago I resorted to pleading for Great Britain to (re)assume “the white man’s burden” that characterized its colonial relationship with Zimbabwe. Of course, the irony and futility of this plea was not lost on me.
Nevertheless, it was all I could think to do after reading that Archbishop Ncube had been reduced to praying to God for divine intervention. Although, even in prayer he remained defiant.
Because here, in part, is how he expressed his frustrations just months ago:
The situation in Zimbabwe is getting steadily worse but even though people’s morale has been broken they should not be intimidated….President Mugabe must go….You can’t negotiate with him. It’s useless. African presidents have tried to negotiate with that man to no avail.
Alas, plus ca change (i.e. the more things change the more they stay the same…).
Therefore, since it has become painfully clear that even God has forsaken Zimbabweans, I was not at all surprised when the BBC reported that Archbishop Ncube was in South Africa on Tuesday reiterating his humane plea. But this time he urged the unconscionably-passive Mbeki to amass a regional coalition to rescue his people from a man he now rebukes as a “power-crazed megalomaniac”.
Accordingly, I too reiterate my plea. But this time I urge the fatally-discredited Bush to at least try to redeem America’s moral authority by calling on the UN Security Council to deploy UNPROFOR’s Rapid Reaction Force to Zimbabwe without further delay.
And, given the anti-Bush credentials CARICOM leaders have established at the UN – not least by their Faustian (PetroCaribe) alliances with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, I appeal to them to lend their voices to this humanitarian call to save Zimbabwe.
After all, it is arguable that the moral imperative to intervene there today is even greater than it was when the world finally intervened to stop (or mop up – as was the case) the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Indeed, let us pray that UN troops will perform more honorably in Zimbabwe than they did in Rwanda (under Kofi Annan’s direct command) where they stood like English Beefeaters as genocide raged on all around them….
UPDATE: July 16
Reports out of Zimbabwe are that a local man has filed a Z$20 billion lawsuit against Archbishop Ncube for allegedly having an adulterous affair with his wife.
(Incidentally, given the depths to which Zimbabwe’s economy has plummeted in recent years, that 20 billion converts to about 200 US dollars; well, not quite, but you get the point ….)
But Ncube has refused to dignify the allegation with a response. Although his supporters have denounced it as just another dirty trick by Mugabe to undermine his most formidable and fearless critic. Whatever the merit of this allegation, however, it does nothing to discredit Ncube’s condemnation of Mugabe’s genocidal leadership.
Zimbabweans pray for liberation from their liberator Mugabe
Mugabe launches head-bashing assault on Opposition leaders
Yes, save Darfur! But what about Zimbabwe
Britain’s salutary neglect
Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 11:15 AMWhen I read about the death of Lady Bird Johnson – the long-surviving widow of Lyndon B Johnson, the thirty-sixth president of the United States (1963-1969) who died in 1973 – I had second thoughts about paying tribute to her. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m sure those thoughts stemmed from critical e-mails I received over the years whenever I commented on the death of a well-known political figure.
Their consistent tone was one of incredulity, bordering on indignation, which questioned what interest or standing I had in paying such tributes. But where I never even felt inclined to acknowledge those e-mails until yesterday, today I hope to bury them, and disabuse readers of any inclination to send more, by paying unqualified respects to Lady Bird.
Reports are that she died yesterday at her home in Austin, Texas of natural causes. She was 94….
But as I normally do on these occasions, I shall refer you to America’s newspaper of record for political affairs, The Washington Post, for Lady Bird’s proper obituary.
I shall note, however, that amongst all of her commendable life achievements, she will undoubtedly be eulogized for her campaign to beautify America and its national parks, which led to the enactment of the quixotic Highway Beautification Act.
Nevertheless, my interest in commenting on her death derives from the fact that I am a student of American history and politics. And as such, I have a profound appreciation for the role Lady Bird played in providing her husband calm in the middle, and refuge from, the twin firestorms of civil rights and anti-war protests that nearly incinerated his presidency.
Of course, my standing in this respect derives from the fact that – but for President Johnson’s ability to weather these firestorms – the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, which made it possible for people like me to enjoy the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, would have been long-delayed, if not denied.
Therefore, in light of my informed view that behind this brave man stood an even braver woman, I pay this modest tribute to Lady Bird Johnson, unreservedly.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 at 11:24 AM
I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary….If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.
That was Wendy Vitter, wife of Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), in 2000 expressing the indignation voiced by many liberated women when Hillary Clinton failed to kick her skirt-chasing husband to the curb after his affair with Monica Lewinsky became fodder for international tabloids. Of course, their indignation was wholly warranted.
After all, in a metaphorical bra-burning moment in 1992 (on her road to becoming First Lady of the United States), Hillary protested that she “wasn’t some little woman ‘standing by my man’ like Tammy Wynette”. How ironic therefore that since then she has stood by her man through more personal betrayals and public humiliation than any self-respecting housewife, let alone an iconic feminist, would have tolerated.
Of course, to the perverse disappointment of many women, Hillary did not follow Bobbitt’s 1993 example by cutting off Bill’s penis to reclaim her pride. Instead, she insinuates in her frigid biography that she smacked him upside the head (again?) – after reading all of the juicy details Special Prosecutor Ken Starr published in his pornographic report about the unseemly dictation Bill routinely gave Monica in the Oval Office during their affair.
But now Mrs Vitter faces a similar moment of decision. Because yesterday’s salacious reports about her husband’s assignations with prostitutes make Clinton’s extramarital affairs seem puritanical by comparison. Moreover, her challenge to say goodbye or shut up and cry is especially acute because – unlike Bill Clinton who everyone, including Hillary, knew was a priapic womanizer long before he was caught with his pants down – Sen. Vitter erected his political career on a platform touting “traditional family values”….
Perhaps you recall the suspended animation that attended initial reports a few months ago about the imminent publication of a DC Madam’s black book, which purportedly contained the “names of thousands of politicians and powerbrokers”. But its billing as potentially the biggest sex scandal in Washington history proved little more than a tease when the only people outed were third-rate bureaucrats and foreign diplomats.
[many of the DC Madam’s] former clients must be sweating bullets trying to figure out how to explain (to their wives, colleagues and constituents) why their names might appear.
Because little did I know that at the very moment Vitter was probably tarrying before God and pleading with his wife for forgiveness. (The couple are pictured here with one of their four children rejoicing after his election to the Senate in November 2004.) Indeed, here’s his spin on the path he took to (perhaps marital, though not necessarily religious or even political) redemption:
This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible….Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there—with God and them.
Talk about skirting the issue and using the Lord’s name in vain. After all, we all know that it’s not his wife and God Vitter’s worried about; it’s Louisiana voters! But to add to his woes in this respect, late-breaking claims by a New Orleans Madam yesterday (that Vitter was one of the more genteel and faithful patrons of her house of ill-repute) and more sordid details that porn’s publishing king Larry Flynt promises to broadcast later today might expose him as not only a serial and kinky adulterer, but also a pathological and unrepentant liar….
That said, I am acutely aware that many of you have no idea who Vitter is or why his pedestrian infidelities are even worthy of comment. Nevertheless, I suspect all of you will appreciate the undeniable schadenfreude that comes with this ironic chain of hypocrisy – courtesy of the Associated Press:
In the House, Vitter succeeded GOP Rep. Robert Livingston, who was in line to replace Newt Gingrich [who was forced to resign by marital and financial scandals] as speaker until Livingston admitted to extramarital affairs and quit Congress. Livingston had been a critic of President Clinton, calling on him to resign over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Indeed, I feel constrained to note that if these men were not lead vocals in a Republican chorus of moral crusaders, I would not have given their sexual escapades a moment’s thought. For the unadulterated pleasure of afflicting such political hypocrites, however, I do not even mind being bedfellows with a publicity–seeking hustler like the aforementioned Mr Flynt.
Meanwhile, I shall wait with morbid curiosity to see if Mrs Vitter will chop off her husband’s Willy and walk away to demonstrate that she’s more faithful to her vow to avenge this betrayal than he was to his marriage vows….
NOTE: Instead of Lorena Bobbitt, Mrs Vitter would do well to emulate the wife of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who filed for divorce last month after his affair with Mirthala Salinas, a reporter for NBC station Telemundo 52, was exposed.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 10:10 AMNOTE: This quintessentially-native painting was painted, in fact, by the internationally-acclaimed Italian artist, Benini. Nevertheless, I take special pride in featuring it on this occasion because he painted it in homage to my country’s independence when he lived on my native island of Grand Bahama during the early 1970s.
Monday, July 9, 2007 at 12:25 PMAll Grand Slams in the sport of tennis are not created equal. Because it is undisputed that players regard a championship at Wimbledon – the oldest and most prestigious of the four major championships (the others being the Australian Open, French Open and US Open) – as the crowning achievement of their careers.Indeed, even French players are rumored to have made locker-room confessions about coveting this title more than their own Grand Slam. And Amelie Mauresmo seemed to confirm this last year when she expressed unimaginable joy over winning Wimbledon but was utterly blasé when queried about never winning the French Open.(Although, in response to suggestions that she faces psychosomatic barriers to winning on her home court, Mauresmo should have reminded her critics that Virginia Wade did not win Wimbledon, her own Grand Slam, until her 16th try. After all, she has failed at the French Open only 13 times so far….)
At any rate, this should put into perspective the historic and enviable feat Venus Williams accomplished on Saturday by winning her fourth Wimbledon title 6-4, 6-1 over an ironic and unlikely opponent, Marion Bartoli of France. And in so doing, her name was stenciled on the wall of champions at the storied All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club as – appropriately enough – only the fourth woman to win four Wimbledon titles.
But Williams awed fans and players alike with such power, determination and finesse during this year’s tournament that instead of receiving unqualified accolades after her win, she faced a barrage of questions, if not criticisms, about why she hadn’t already won many more Wimbledon titles.
And, truth be told, even I lamented aloud amongst friends in this respect. Because after rising to the top of her game in 2002 (when, at 22, she was ranked No. 1 and was already a 2-time Wimbledon champion), Williams (and her equally-talented sister Serena) seemed more interested in fashion modeling, designing homes and dating men than in playing tennis. (Williams is pictured here with her new man – pro golfer Hank Kuehne.)
However, where I fully expected wealth and celebrity to derail the wannabe movie-star Serena from her career path, I never expected the ostensibly-serene Venus to squander ripe professional opportunities. In fact here, in part, is how I hailed her third Wimbledon title in 2005:
So here’s to Venus – the most athletic, graceful, intelligent and poised player ever in women’s tennis (and the most articulate too)!
Now, if she can only get her little sister Serena to spend less time in nightclubs and pastry shops and more on the tennis courts, they could still fulfill their promise of sharing all grand slam titles between them for years to come.
Alas, Venus spent the next two years struggling to make it just to the semi-finals of a major championship, let alone winning a slew of them….
(To be fair, however, even though she was eliminated in the early rounds at this tournament, Serena was just as impressive in winning the Australian Open earlier this year as Venus, now 27, was in winning Wimbledon on Saturday.)
I was really motivated because no one picked me to win. They didn’t even say, ‘She can’t win. They weren’t even talking about me. [Venus Williams, who was a career-low 23rd seed at Wimbledon this year]
Well, not exactly. In fact, Venus and Serena’s Daddy, Richard Williams, was talking about her a lot. But because he’s such an eccentric, irascible and sociopathic braggart, most people in the tennis world (including his estranged wife) try their best to tune him out.
There can be no denying, however, that Mr Williams has been as shrewd in charting their careers as he has been prescient in predicting their victories. And, true to form, he not only predicted that Venus would win this tournament but also that Serena would falter. (Before the tournament began, he seemed to be playing possum with reporters by declaring that instead of competing – especially against top-seed Justin Henin in the early rounds, Serena should be at home nursing her nagging injuries. Of course, she then faltered just as he predicted she would.)
Therefore, Mr Williams may well have put a de facto hex on other players when he made the following prediction after Venus stunned everyone else by winning her fourth Wimbledon championship:
I think she could be a champion until she’s 34, I really do….As a matter of fact, I’ll tell you something else I believe. I don’t think you’ve seen the best of Venus play yet.
Meanwhile, I’ve been quite unabashed in expressing my preference for women’s tennis. Because, frankly, the women’s game is not only almost as powerful as the men’s (with Venus hitting 125 mph serves); their fierce baseline strokes during relatively long rallies are also far more titillating to watch than the one big serve that now characterizes men’s tennis.
Nevertheless, it is arguable that Roger Federer accomplished an equally-historic and even more enviable feat by defeating Rafael Nadal yesterday to win his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title 7-6 (9/7), 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-2. And in so doing, he emulated the legendary Bjorn Borg. But in a related article, in which I attempted to put Andre Agassi’s retirement into perspective, I left no doubt that I think Federer has a way to go to emulate an even greater living legend, Pete Sampras!
(Incidentally, I concede that there were a few exceptional rallies in yesterday’s Federer-Nadal match….)
Finally, I feel obliged to express some ambivalence over the fact that the English finally decided to follow the politically-correct fashion at the other Grand Slams of awarding equal pay to women players for unequal work.
Because, as a proud (and principled) feminist, I am sympathetic to the argument that until women play the best of five sets (like men do) instead of just three, they should not be paid the same amount in prize money. (In this case, Williams and Federer got $1.4 million each for their respective Wimbledon titles.) After all, if women must run the same 26.2-mile marathon, or complete the same chauvinistically named Iron Man triathlon, to earn equal prize money, why not require them to play the same best of five sets as men do to earn equal prize money in tennis…?
Yet I am also sympathetic to the argument that because women generate far more fan and commercial interest in the sport (as I proffered, unabashedly, above), they should be paid the same amount, if not more, in prize money – despite playing less tennis. And, this is how I choose to resolve my ambivalence.
How about you?
Agassi whimpering into retirement
Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 12:23 AMPerhaps as penance for his role in waging an infernal war, British PM Tony Blair committed his life last week to a round or two of purgatory – toiling in the bottomless perdition of the Middle East trying to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Although one wonders whether his pending conversion to Catholicism might have inspired this masochistic missionary sojourn….