Friday, July 6, 2007 at 10:25 AM[The following was published this morning by Caribbean Net News]
________________________Every week, Anthony Hall enlightens and entertains our readers with his regular column in Caribbean Net News, as well as many others through his daily online commentary on the latest events and issues at ipjn.com.
And, once again, Mr Hall provides us with his annual retrospective compendium of insight and observations on the events of the previous year, this time in the shape of a look back at 2006: The iPINIONS Journal: Commentaries on Current Events – Volume 2.
Although an international lawyer and political consultant headquartered in Washington, DC, as someone of Caribbean ancestry (Turks & Caicos Islands and The Bahamas), Mr Hall brings a special regional perspective to much of his commentary.
His regional topics range from a comprehensive evisceration of the religious arguments against a gay cruise to the Cayman Islands in the north, to dealing with corruption in Trinidad in the south, and all points in between.
In addition to providing his unique insight into major topics of national and international importance, Mr Hall also turns out to be a movie and fashion critic (last year’s Oscars); a sports commentator (NBA finals, World Cup football); and health care consultant (AIDS and circumcision). Mr Hall tackles all these subjects and many more with his trademark confidence, flair and humour.
Although these are commentaries on some of last year’s more significant issues, it is nevertheless interesting and instructive to read Mr Hall’s sometimes prescient observations in the light of subsequent events. And, as always, the reader can hardly fail to be entertained by Mr Hall’s limpid prose and biting wit.
Highly recommended reading.
NOTE: This review was published originally here by Caribbean Net News (CNN) – the most respected publishing and communications company in the Caribbean. And, as indicated, I am a featured columnist at CNN.
Nevertheless, I have no doubt that CNN published this review in the same spirit with which the most respected publishing and communications company in the world, The Washington Post, routinely publishes reviews of books by its featured columnist, Bob Woodward. And if you think I’m flattering myself by making this analogy, click here to be disabused of that thought.
Thursday, July 5, 2007 at 10:41 AMAlas, even the heroic efforts of Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) – arguably the two most influential political operators in America – could not save the highly contentious immigration reform bill from a slow and agonizing death. Recall, after all, that only days before it was finally pronounced dead a week ago today, McCain and Kennedy resurrected it from premature death with all of the hope for long life that attended Christ’s resurrection of Lazarus.
I actively supported this bill (here, here, here, here and elsewhere) because it constituted the most comprehensive and sustainable plan to assimilate the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants currently living in America. And, despite dogged mischaracterizations by its opponents to the contrary, it contained provisions to secure the (US/Mexico) border to avoid having to contend with millions more a decade from now.
Therefore, I mourn its demise. And in so doing I commiserate with all who recognize and appreciate the contributions illegal immigrants make to America’s thriving economy and evolving culture. But no one mourns the death of this bill more than President George W Bush who – given the terminal mess he’s created in Iraq – was clearly hoping against hope that it would be enacted to give his presidential legacy at least one redeeming feature.
I hasten to clarify, however, that I harbor none of the irrational fears that many despairing supporters have expressed about illegal immigrants now being rounded up and deported summarily. In fact, I have no doubt that 99.9% of them will continue to live in plain sight – as unaffected as ever by current US laws.
But I am as disappointed by the fecklessness this bill’s enlightened supporters demonstrated as I am outraged by the bigotry its atavistic opponents expressed. After all, no legislation considered by this Congress held more promise not only for the sustained growth of the US economy but also for the improvement of its national security.
Yet, in a strained but convenient alliance, conservative talk radio (represented by the jingoistic and bombastic voice of Rush Limbaugh) and labor unions (represented by the overweening and selfish arm-twisting of the AFL-CIO) succeeded in demagoguing and distorting this bill to such degree that poll after poll showed Americans being more fearful of its passage than they are of another terrorist attack.
Moreover, Limbaugh and others exhibited no compunctions about proselytizing the specious notion that – far from being good for America – Mexicans crossing the border illegally to mow your lawn could be al Qaeda terrorists crossing it to chop off your head….
It’s not surprising therefore that by the time a final vote on this bill was taken last week, many erstwhile and would-be supporters voted against it merely out of fear of being accused of undermining the US economy (with cheap labor), destroying its national character (i.e. challenging the predominant white race by naturalizing so many brown Mexicans) and jeopardizing national security (by voting for an “open borders” policy which grants unfettered access to everyone from law-breaking Mexican squatters to Islamic jihadists). And their political opportunism (if not cowardice) was such that it mattered little to them that they were cowering in fear from rhetorical bullying borne of rank jingoism laced with racism….
Little by little, the number of people who lose their appreciation of [the United States] will grow….With what happened yesterday, everyone loses, sooner rather than later, and there are fewer possibilities of healing that wound. [Guatemala’s national newspaper Prensa Libre lamenting the death of the immigration reform bill]
That said, I feel obliged to inform illegal immigrants (especially those of Hispanic origin with whom I marched in support of this bill) that where their disappointment over the bill’s failure is understandable, their indignation at the US Congress is not. In fact, this debate on immigration reform has made it self-evident that tens of millions of people in Central and South America must be disabused of the presumption that the US government is more responsible for their welfare than their respective national governments are….
Nevertheless, this issue remains in the vital and strategic interest of the US. Therefore, let us hope that in the next session, Congressional leaders will make comprehensive immigration reform as much a national priority as Bush has made his war on terror. And, in this regard, the admonition I gave this Congress in May bears reiterating:
Now that the Democrats have won control of Congress (in part by denying Republicans the ability to take credit for passing comprehensive immigration reform), it will be interesting to see how immigration reform fares on their legislative agenda. But if this Democratic Congress neglects to pass immigration reform this year , one of the organizing principles of our march next year should be a clarion call to oust its leaders from power as well.
Therefore, here’s to electing a clean slate of more enlightened and less partisan Democrats and Republicans in next year’s elections to finally enact this legislation.
Last best chance for immigration reform
Wednesday, July 4, 2007 at 11:36 AM
Tuesday, July 3, 2007 at 10:26 AMYesterday a federal appeals court ruled that there were no legal grounds for VP Cheney’s former chief aide, I. Scooter Libby, to remain free pending appeal of his conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges – for lying to federal investigators about his role in the White House leak of a CIA officer’s identity. And this meant that he would have to report to prison within weeks.
Within hours of the court’s ruling, however, President George W. Bush commuted his 30-month prison sentence. But he let stand Libby’s felony conviction and (trial) Judge Reggie B. Walton’s imposition of a $250,000 fine plus two-years probation.
Indeed, even though he gave Libby a stay-out-of-jail card, here’s how Bush accurately catalogued the consequences he will still suffer:
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.
But frankly, this commutation represents one of the few instances where Bush exercised his presidential powers with commendable skill and sensitivity; which is ironic considering that his presidency has been bereft of relevance, credibility and respectability by “a parade of setbacks“. Never mind that (rabid) Republicans will criticize him for not wiping Libby’s record clean; and their Democratic counterparts will charge that it reflects the arrogance of power and wanton disregard for the rule of law that has characterized his administration…yada, yada, yada!
Of course, such political carping is to be expected. After all, the prosecution of Libby was an inveterately-political affair. Nevertheless, it was not without legal precedent. And it is in this context that I hail Bush’s executive decision as sound and just. Here’s what I mean:
In 1999 US District Judge Susan Webber Wright of Arkansas ruled that her states’ favorite son, Former President Bill Clinton, committed perjury when he testified (as pictured here from his actual deposition) about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky before a federal grand jury. And, moreover, that his false testimony was “intended to obstruct the judicial process in the sexual harassment case Paula Jones filed against him”.
Accordingly, she held Clinton in contempt, which led to him being disbarred. His lies proved insufficient, however, to convict him at his farcical January 1998 impeachment trial in 1998.
But given this precedent, it seems more than sufficient that Libby will be not only disbarred but also marked as a convicted felon for the rest of his life (with all of the social, professional and political limitations these entail).
Meanwhile, it is nothing short of hypocritical for people – like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – to demand a pound of flesh (or Libby’s hide in jail) for this political crime. After all, these are the very same people who fulminated with moral indignation against the fact that Clinton was even being tried for a similar crime. Indeed, one could’ve been forgiven the impression that they would have considered it just cause for another civil war if the patently-mendacious Clinton had been convicted and properly punished – instead of getting off with what amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist.
More to the point, however, these partisan criticisms ring hollow given the way Clinton used his presidential power to completely pardon embezzlers, tax-avoiding arms merchants (remember Marc Rich?), drug fiends (including his brother Roger) and other unsavory criminals. But this puts into stark relief his wife Hillary’s self-righteous charge that by pardoning Libby, Bush was:
…elevating cronyism over the rule of law.
Good call Bush!
NOTE: Notwithstanding all of the above, I am cynical enough to believe that – as he slinks out of the White House in January 2009 in utter disgrace – Bush will completely pardon Libby and expunge all vestiges of this criminal episode from his record. And so it goes….
Monday, July 2, 2007 at 10:39 AMGiven the 24/7 coverage, not only in the UK but also in the US, you can be forgiven the impression that the Islamic terrorists who launched attacks over the past few days in London and Glasgow, Scotland killed scores, if not hundreds, of people.
After all, it had to have been divine intervention that caused the keystone terrorists in London to fail in their mission to detonate their holy bombs. This after parking cars outfitted with explosives (and nails to maximize casualties) at two high-profile locations there on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Allah must have been rolling his eyes at the nincompoops in Glasgow who decided to use their gasoline-soaked bodies, instead of remote-controlled mobile phones, as detonation devices – in what might have been a misguided attempt to avenge the incompetence (and cowardice?) displayed in London. Accordingly, these wannabe suicide bombers rammed their jeep packed with explosives into Glasgow Airport’s main terminal on Saturday morning – shouting “Allah, Allah” and, no doubt, hoping to greet their apocryphal 72 virgins in a blaze of glory. But they failed here too, abysmally.
(Am I the only one who wonders what portends in the hereafter for suicide bombers who fail…?)
Unfortunately, it is now demonstrably clear that Islamists do not have to mount successful attacks to give (their) Allah the perverse pleasure of terrorizing us to death (as anyone who has traveled since 9/11 knows all too well). And western media (and far too many government officials) have become willing accomplices in this respect by continually exaggerating their power and propagating their terror.
Alas, nothing boosts TV ratings quite like coverage of terrorist attacks, even those that fail. Indeed, just imagine the coverage (i.e. intentional infliction of fear) if any of these attempts succeeded….
Nevertheless, what I wrote after terrorist bombs killed 50 and injured over 700 people in the “7/7 London attacks” 2 years ago this week remains every bit as poignant and instructive today:
It must be understood, however, that no matter their collective resolve, there’s absolutely nothing our governments can do to prevent such attacks. Meanwhile, that Americans reacted yesterday as if those explosions went off in Washington or New York should compel westerners to focus on calming our collective nerves instead of fretting about (or worse, trying to figure out) the motivation for and timing of terrorist attacks by Islamic fanatics.That said, I feel obliged to conclude by asserting that we should still do everything possible to foil, and protect ourselves against, these attacks – even if that means installing Orwellian cameras and interrogating wannabe terrorists…aggressively.
After all, but for the steel barricade framing the entrance to Glasgow Airport, that jeep would’ve been able to penetrate deep into the terminal with far more devastating consequences. And but for the security cameras surveiling almost every nook and cranny of the UK, the five suspects now in custody would probably be planning a do-over of their dastardly deeds in plain sight.
Therefore, the next time you’re inclined to wax indignant about the fortifications and security cameras that have become eyesores in so many western cities…remember Glasgow! Moreover, with all of the consternation, if not derision, being expressed about these botched attempts, let us be mindful that it does not take a genius to actually pull-off a truly horrific terrorist attack….* Article published originally on Sunday, 1 July 2007, at 1:13pm