Friday, August 31, 2007 at 11:26 AMOn Wednesday, a 9ft-high bronze statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela was unveiled in London’s Parliament Square – making him the first black man to join a pantheon of mostly-British statesmen memorialized at this historic site.
Though this statue is of one man, it should in actual fact symbolise all of those who have resisted oppression, especially in my country. [Nelson Mandela]
Of course, the occasion was replete with glowing tributes and accolades being heaped upon him by invited dignitaries. Yet Mandela unwittingly bested them all with this endearing reflection:
In 1962, when Oliver Tambo and I visited this place, we wondered if we would ever live to see the day when a black man would be honored here.
Well, the irony is lost on no one that it is a far greater honor for the British to have him grace this square than it is for Mandela to be honored there.
You’ve come a long way brother….Congratulations Madiba!
Meanwhile, considering how resolute former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was when she branded Mandela a terrorist during our struggle against apartheid, it behooves us to question leaders who brand others as such so resolutely today….
BBC profile of Nelson Mandela
NOTE: On 20 July I wrote what turned out to be a very controversial commentary entitled A wannabe gangsta…perhaps, but Premier Misick is no genocidal Mugabe. In it, I delineated the grave implications of assault and theft charges that were filed by an MP against the premier of my mother country, the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Well, on Tuesday, the British-appointed Attorney General issued his disposition of this case, and I am not pleased…at all. Click here to see why.
Thursday, August 30, 2007 at 10:15 AM
[T]hey are also mindful that – as the most unpopular (lame-duck) president in US history – Bush has nothing to lose, but much to gain, by attacking Iran. After all, only the opinion of historians matter to him now. And nothing would do more to redeem his presidential legacy than a preemptive strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.
Although, if truth be told, most world leaders would welcome such a strike…if it were successful. Because they know as well as Bush does that no amount of diplomatic pressure or UN negotiations will ever stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
This is a quote from an August 16 commentary in which I challenged readers to bet against my assertion that Bush will attack Iran to redeem his presidency. Unfortunately, instead of taking me up on that bet, many of them simply e-mailed to call me everything from a “neo-con Jew lover” to a “war-mongering fool”.
But if I’m any of those things, then so is the new president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. Because, in lamenting the patently-futile diplomatic initiative (led by the EU and UN) to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, here’s what he said on Tuesday – in the first major foreign policy speech of his presidency:
This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran….This is the worst crisis currently facing the world…. For me, Iran having a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.
I suspect, however, that he would resolve this dilemma by bombing Iran. And, frankly, so would I.
Therefore, despite Sarkozy affecting Hamletian doubt about becoming as much an enabler for US-led air strikes against Iran, as British PM Tony Blair was for the US-led invasion of Iraq, I fear that my geostrategic prognosis of this situation is even more of a sure bet today than it was two weeks ago: Double or nothing?
Indeed, it was probably no coincidence that US President George W. Bush reinforced Sarkozy’s speech only hours later by laying out the just cause for war. And, in so doing, he reminded people that he’s the only world leader with the cajones to abide, unequivocally, by the Clausewitzian maxim that “war is politics carried on by other means”. Here’s a little of the drumbeat he intoned:
Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan to be used to attack American and NATO troops…And Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust. Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere.
In fact, Ahmadinejad seems psychotically-determined to provoke an attack. After all, in addition to repeating his genocidal vow that “Israel shall be wiped off the map”, here are some of the fighting words he hurled at Bush – on this fateful Tuesday – as a rhetorical counterpunch:
You cannot preserve your power over Iraq with a few tanks, artillery and weapons. Today, you are prisoners of your own quagmire… I can tell you there will be a power vacuum in the region. We [will] fill this vacuum.
Now, given this undeniable prelude to war, unless my critics can put up clear and convincing evidence, which indicates either that Iran will end its nuclear program (since no one believes it’s being developed for peaceful [energy] purposes), or that a nuclear Iran is no threat to Israel or other nations, they should shut up.
September 2: People all over the world experienced shock and dismay when they were greeted this morning by the following explosive headline in the staid and unimpeachable Sunday Times of London:
Pentagon “three-day blitz” plan for Iran
By contrast, however, the readers of my weblog could only have regarded it as fulfillment of the prophecy they’ve been reading about in my articles over the past year – presaging this headline. Nevertheless, even I was a little surprised by how detailed and authoritative the Times was in reporting that:
The Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert….US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick [air]strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities….They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007 at 1:45 PM
This short video chronicles one of the most compelling cases of racial injustice that I’ve ever seen. See for yourself. But be prepared to be outraged and, more importantly, to act!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007 at 10:09 AM
I am not gay. I never have been gay. I did nothing wrong….Thus declared Republican US Senator Larry Craig yesterday – in a defiant and indignant attempt to repudiate news reports which indicated that, if not gay, he clearly has an unsavory predilection for gay sex in public toilets.
Never mind that – judging from the look on her face – it seems even Craig’s wife did not think his declaration passed the smell test.
But I have no doubt that Craig felt compelled to perform this charade. After all, word about his recent arrest for propositioning an undercover cop for sex – in the men’s room of an airport no less – was spreading like wildfire through Washington and his “red” home state of Idaho.
Alas, his insistence that he is not gay, and that he pleaded guilty to the charges only to avoid a public scandal, suggest that he’s not only a political, moral and sexual hypocrite, but also a pathological liar. Either way, I urge his constituents to demand his immediate resignation – if only to spare us the farce of a Senate “ethics” investigation….
But having gloated to excess just two days ago in an article on the fall from grace of a preacher and another politician, I am loath to waste any more time today on this pusillanimous (self-hating) bore.
Let me hasten to clarify, however, that the only reason I revel in the outing of hypocrites like Craig and former Rep Mark Foley is that they are professed Christian conservatives who legislate against gay rights during the day, then cruise for gay sex at night.
September 1: Caving under an unrelenting torrent of outrage and expressions of disgust – from virtually everyone, including fellow Republican Senators and erstwhile supporters – Sen. Craig finally announced his resignation.
Unfortunately, he seemed even more pathetic and disingenuous announcing his resignation today – complete with affected defiance and indignation – than he did proclaiming he’s not gay on Wednesday. Here’s a little of what he said:
[I] it is with sadness and deep regret that I announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate, effective September 30. [This scandal has become] an unwanted and unfair distraction from my job and for my Senate colleagues….I apologize for what I have caused. I am deeply sorry. I have little control over what people choose to believe.
Of course, it behooves one to be suspicious whenever a politician says that he intends, or does not intend, to do something; because he invariably does the opposite. Besides, Craig left no doubt that, even if he honors his intent to resign, “he will not go gentle into that good night”.
In fact, he reiterated his clueless determination to have his guilty plea for soliciting gay sex in the men’s room at the Minneapolis Airport expunged, and concluded this press conference by vowing:
We’ll fight this like hell.
Whatever Mr Craig! Bottoms up….
Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 10:56 AMIn my August 14 commentary on the resignation of President Bush’s political guru, Karl Rove, here’s the passing reference I made to the ongoing vigil over his Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales:
Alas, lingering suspicions about these firings [of eight federal prosecutors] have left Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the last surviving member of the Texas posse that rode into Washington in 2001, now serving as little more than Bush’s political foil or, more precisely, the Democrats’ political piñata.Therefore, no one was surprised yesterday when a politically battered and bruised Gonzales limped up to the microphone at the Department of Justice to finally announce his resignation (effective September 16). Especially since Bush clearly telegraphed his pending doom when he went out of his way a few weeks ago to express confidence in and support for Gonzales’ performance as attorney general.(After all, such expressions of confidence and support are Bush’s patented famous last word – as everyone from former FEMA Director Mike Brown to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld can attest.)
But, over the past year, Gonzales has been subjected to such bipartisan assaults on his personal integrity and professional competence that his resignation will be tantamount to an ignominious surrender. Indeed, no Washington politician has had to endure such sustained and determined calls for his resignation since President Richard Nixon was forced to resign three decades ago.
(It is ironic that, although charges for many other high crimes and misdemeanors were looming against Nixon, the principled resignation of then Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson, when Nixon instructed him to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox – who was investigating the Watergate scandal, was arguably the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.)
At any rate, this is not to say that calls for Gonzales to resign were not warranted. In fact, when FBI Director Robert S. Mueller leaked damning personal notes about Gonzales to the media on August 16, it was indisputably the straw that broke the camel’s back in this regard. Because those notes fostered near-unanimous suspicion in Washington that Gonzales had lied under oath about his role in the firing of those federal prosecutors.
Even more damning, however, they also suggested that he may have perjured himself when he testified in Congressional hearings about his role ( as White House counsel three years ago) in seeking authorization for Bush’s controversial wiretapping program. Because Mueller’s notes indicate that Gonzales:
…tried to get a then feeble…barely articulate…and stressed Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to approve a warrantless wiretapping program over Justice Department objections.Nevertheless, where I reveled in the political comeuppance of other members of Bush’s Texas posse, I feel genuine sympathy for Gonzales. And this, notwithstanding my unease about his Lilliputian cord of obligation to Bush, which evidently made it impossible for him to comport his behavior to serve as US Attorney General after serving as (Bush’s) White House Counsel. Indeed, I readily concede that my sympathy emanates more from my proud solidarity with his humble background than from any regard for his job performance.But only a Yellow Dog Democrat could not be saddened by the rise and fall of Alberto Gonzales. After all, when Bush appointed him two and a half years ago, this son of immigrant farmers was duly heralded as the first Hispanic Attorney General of the United States.
And at that time, his resume, which includes a law degree from Harvard University and service on the Supreme Court of Texas, precluded rabid critics, like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), from dismissing him as just another beneficiary of Bush’s trademark cronyism – as they did in squashing Bush’s nomination of another member of his Texas posse, Harriet Myers, to the US Supreme Court two years ago.
But, despite the dark clouds that descended upon his political career yesterday, the silver lining of Gonzales’ meek, but unbowed character shone through when he uttered the following as part of his statement of resignation:
I have lived the American dream. Even my worst days as Attorney General have been better than my father’s best days….NOTE: After Bush went out of his way last week to express confidence in and support for Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki’s leadership, I felt obliged to warn al-Maliki that he had just become the latest victim of Bush’s famous last words. Accordingly, I advised him to start packing….Related Articles:
Belated (and overrated) resignation of Karl Rove
The doomed nomination of Harriet Myers
Rumsfeld becomes a casualty of Iraq war
Monday, August 27, 2007 at 11:23 AMI confess that I take perverse pleasure in commenting on stories that expose the hypocrisy of sanctimonious preachers and self-righteous politicians. Therefore, it is with unprecedented schadenfreude that I write today’s article about two recent developments: one, which should damn Bishop Thomas Weeks, III to hell; and the other, which should ruin Australian opposition leader Kevin Rudd’s political career.
Weeks is the founder of Global Destiny churches who became, effectively, a kept husband after he married Juanita Bynum (in a “million-dollar ceremony”) in 2002. Because, even though he was doing pretty good business as a televangelist based in Washington, DC, it wasn’t until he married Bynum that Weeks became a national Christian celebrity…albeit by basking in her reflected glow.
After all, as charisma goes, Weeks is to Hillary (Clinton) as Bynum is to Bill. But the analogy ends there. Because, in every other respect, all indications are that Bynum was utterly devoted to and supportive of Weeks. Unfortunately, she could not help the way her inspiring holistic message overshadowed his pedestrian evangelistic hucksterism.
(Indeed, with her televised sermons and bestselling books aimed at empowering women, she is (or was) fast becoming the Oprah Winfrey of televangelism. Whereas, with his peddling gimmicky steps for “walking towards the Next Living Level” as one of the tolls the faithful must pay on the highway to heaven, he has already become the P.T. Barnum of the genre.)
But, even though they had a thriving (gospel) business partnership, their marriage was apparently doomed from the words “I do”; not least because, in addition to his hair-trigger temper and fragile ego, Weeks was always dogged by reasonable suspicions about his sexual preference. Therefore, only his most gullible parishioners could have been surprised when they separated earlier this year.
But everyone had to have been surprised by reports that Bynum agreed to meet him at a hotel near Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport early on Wednesday “to try to reconcile”. After all, the abiding theme of her empowerment ministry is helping women decide when it’s time to leave abusive relationships, which, by her own admission, she has had to do on too many occasions….
Then, people had to have been positively shocked when those reports revealed that at about 4 am a hotel employee was alarmed by sounds of a couple fighting in the parking lot. And that when he looked outside, he saw Weeks:
…choking her…pushing her to the ground and then kicking and stomping on her.
It was at this point that the employee reportedly yelled for someone to call the police before running outside to pull Weeks off Bynum.
By the time police arrived, however, Weeks had already fled the scene.
Of course, enquiring minds (of which there is no greater density anywhere in America than in the black church) want to know what made Weeks go off like this. After all, one has to assume that if Bynum was hanging out with him at 4 am, she was trying not only to reconcile, but also to give up some booty.
I suspect she triggered his rage when she said something like: “no more gettin some on the down low if ya wanna be with me”. But my Lord, the things that make you go hmmmmm….
At any rate, Bynum wasted little time filing assault charges against him. And, after coming to his senses, Weeks turned himself in on Thursday, when he was duly arrested and charged with physical assault and “making terroristic threats to kill his wife”.
However, to get a sense of the venal nature of this man and his ministry, consider this: As soon as he posted his $40,000 dollar bond, Weeks sent out an urgent request to all of his longsuffering parishioners to contribute to “The Raven Fund” that was already set up to pay Atlanta’s best lawyer to defend him. And, unfortunately, I have no doubt that many of them will contribute as if saving their souls depended on it….
Meanwhile, from the sublime to the ridiculous:
Never mind that the reports were only about “the kind of mistake blokes make” – as Rudd maintains. And in this case, his mistake was sauntering into a New York strip club called “Scores” in 2003, where he reportedly groped at the naked strippers so aggressively that he was kicked out….
Of course, he denies his behavior was as bad as reported; although his denial is somewhat undermined by the fact that he also admits that he:
…can’t remember much about the night because he was too drunk.
More to the point, however, since becoming opposition leader last December, this married father of three has been riding high in opinion polls by touting his “back to basics Christian family values”. Therefore, it would be entirely fitting if this story exposing his hypocritical behaviour causes him to be hoisted by his own petard.
Did you hear that Kevin Rudd saw a disappointing poll this morning? It was bereft of a gyrating naked woman. [one of the jokes now making the rounds in Australia]
Truth be told, however, even Rudd’s hypocrisy compares favorably with the acute disillusionment Australians evidently have with the 11-year premiership of grandfatherly John Howard. In fact, with defenders like one Senator Brown spinning this story so brilliantly, he might be elected prime minister this Fall by a landslide:
Four years ago Kevin Rudd got drunk and took himself into a strip club.
Four years ago John Howard, sober, took Australia into the Iraq war.
I think the electorate can judge which one did the more harm.
UPDATE – on Weeks
September 4: “Prophetess” Bynum held a
news conference today to put media speculation about her marital spat into proper perspective; ie, to “stop all the majoring in minor things”. Here’s a little of what she said:
I forgive my husband….I wish Bishop Weeks the best.
I don’t want to be seen as a damsel in distress….I’m not a victim, I want to become an advocate….This is not a religious issue….this is a social issue.
Domestic violence now has a face and a name. Domestic violence is now my mantle. This has changed my life forever….
Never mind that domestic violence got a face and a name more than 13 years ago – after OJ Simpson slaughtered his wife. In fact, this notorious case prompted nationwide changes in laws dealing with domestic violence, which undoubtedly is what caused serious charges to be filed against her husband with such dispatch.
But Bynum seems more concerned about finding a secular hook for her women’s ministry than about prosecuting her husband for beating the crap out of her; or, more importantly, about getting therapy to heal her emotional and psychological wounds. Moreover, one wonders why this latest beating inspired her professed domestic-violence epiphany, when documented bouts of domestic violence in her previous relationships did not….
Clearly, her credibility on this subject leaves a great deal to be desired. Indeed, if she does not take Bishop Weeks back, chances are that some psychological defect will drive her to find another man to beat her up. Not that that will stop physically and emotionally battered women from hanging on Bynum’s every word…and donating their hard-earned cash to her egocentric cause….
Saturday, August 25, 2007 at 11:07 AM
Friday, August 24, 2007 at 11:42 AMThe only thing most Americans (if not Westerners in general) know about Pakistan’s self-appointed president, General Pervez Musharraf, is that he is the vanguard member of President George W. Bush’s coalition of those still willing to fight his “war on terror”. Therefore, it’s no wonder why Westerners regard Musharraf as such an indispensable ally.
Never mind the glaring contradiction he personifies: an unreformed military dictator fighting with Bush in a neo-Christian crusade to spread “western-style” democracy throughout the Muslim world.
Meanwhile, it seems disillusionment amongst Pakistanis with Musharraf’s dictatorship has reached a tipping point. After all, he pledged in May 2000 that he would “abide by a Supreme Court ruling to hand over power to civilian rule within three years.”
(No doubt he felt compelled to make this pledge after deposing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999 in a military coup, which he justified by citing rampant political and financial corruption. Although Sharif’s feckless and harebrained attempt to fire Musharraf as army chief and force him into exile – by refusing to allow his plane to land on Pakistani soil after a brief trip abroad – probably sealed his fate….)
Yet not only has Musharraf reneged on this pledge, but he has done everything possible to consolidate his dictatorial powers, including his own feckless and harebrained attempt to sack the chief justice of the Supreme Court earlier this year. Therefore, it’s no wonder why Pakistanis regard Musharraf as such an unsavory leader.
But a day of reckoning looms that will test Bush’s commitment to democracy as much as it will challenge Musharraf’s grip on power. Because even Bush was compelled to voice unconditional support for national elections (due later this year) – after Pakistanis protested for days upon learning that Musharraf was preparing to impose emergency rule, which would enable him to neutralize the courts and extend his dictatorship, indefinitely.
Of course, both Bush and Musharraf know full well that Musharraf does not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning a democratic election in Pakistan. Moreover, nothing assured them of his ignominious defeat quite like yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to allow the man he deposed, the exiled Sharif, to return home, without prejudice.
And, sensing rose-colored nostalgia amongst many Pakistanis for his rule, Sharif – who even in exile retained leadership of the biggest party in the six-party religious opposition alliance, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party – has vowed not only to return, but also to launch a campaign to oust Musharraf.
This is a victory for democratic struggle. Dictatorship has lost, democracy has won and the constitution of Pakistan has won. It is the beginning of the end of Musharraf. [Sharif in a London news conference after the court ruling]
But Musharraf must have anticipated this ruling. Because two weeks ago he went on an extraordinary mission to Abu Dhabi to seek accommodation, if not to propose a shotgun marriage, with Pakistan’s other former prime minister in exile, Benazir Bhutto.
After all, no matter Sharif’s assumptions about regaining power, odds are that Bhutto – who, like Sharif, retained her position as Chairperson of the country’s most progressive political party, Pakistan’s Political Party (PPP) – will be the queen bee when it comes to determining mates in the power-sharing government that is bound to emerge from forthcoming general elections.
(Incidentally, to get a sense of the political intrigue afoot in Pakistan, it might help to know that Bhutto herself was forced into exile in 1999. And, ironically, that she flew the coop to avoid trial on corruption charges – brought against her by then Prime Minister Sharif – that were very similar to the corruption charges Musharraf proffered as the just cause for his coup d’etat against Sharif….Got that?!)
At any rate, despite reports that Musharraf offered Bhutto a de facto pardon, in exchange for her support in his election showdown against Sharif, it seems far more likely that he will fall back on his role as army chief and support Bhutto in a battle of the exiles.
And, it was not lost on Bush, who blessed this proposed marriage, that such a deal, consummated by a Bhutto victory, would enable Musharraf to remain an indispensable ally to America. (Although no one can deny that, despite his apparent reluctance, Musharraf is best suited to pursue the phantom Osama and his al-Qaeda terrorists in the frontier region of Waziristan, Pakistan.) In addition, it would allow him to finally honor his pledge to cede political power.
Whereas, if Sharif and the PML were to win, they might well brand Musharraf a traitor and Bush himself a terrorist. In which case it would behoove Musharraf to follow the trail so many of his predecessors have blazed into exile.
And, frankly, given the numerous assassination attempts on his life, it would be understandable if Musharraf decided that he’d be better off enjoying time in London, spending the millions he skimmed from US military aid, than wasting time in Pakistan chasing Islamic terrorists….
(Incidentally, in a truly Machiavellian marriage of strange bedfellows, Bhutto could reject Musharraf and hook-up with Sharif. But this “enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend” scenario seems least likely.)
Meanwhile, despite all of the political permutations in the offing, nothing terrifies world leaders more than the nightmare scenario of the keys to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons being democratically-snatched from Musharraf’s secure and trustworthy hands by a Muslim zealot; i.e. like a Pakistani version of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad….
So, stay tuned….
NOTE: As we mourn the loss of a few Caribbean natives, whose lives were washed away by Hurricane Dean, I beg you to consider contributing funds to help the many survivors whose homes have either been lost or sustained cata
Please make your tax-exempt donation to: AmeriCares
Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 10:26 AMTwo years ago, I was accused of peddling a “barbaric Jewish practice” as scientific fact when I heralded the finding by Ugandan doctors that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV infections dramatically.
But since then peer reviews have compelled every reputable medical and health organization in the world to endorse circumcision as “the most potent intervention in HIV prevention” available today.
Therefore, it is with even greater confidence that I share this public service announcement, which is based on another pioneering finding by Ugandan doctors:
Washing the penis minutes after sex increases the risk of acquiring HIV in uncircumcised men.
Of course, I fully appreciate how counterintuitive this is. But it would be foolhardy (and potentially deadly) to intellectualize, or impute cultural biases to this surprising finding. Instead, I implore men – especially those living in regions where HIV infections are prevalent (like Sub-Saharan Africa) – to take heed and “delay washing for at least 10 minutes after sex” as the doctors recommend.
For the scientifically curious amongst you, however, here are the explanations lead researcher, Dr. Fredrick E. Makumbi, offered for this extraordinary finding at an International AIDS Society Conference in Sydney, Australia last month:
One is that the acidity of vaginal secretions may impair the ability of the AIDS virus to survive on the penis. Delayed cleansing — and longer exposure to the vaginal secretions — may then reduce viral infectivity.
Another is that use of water, which has a neutral pH, may encourage viral survival and possible infectivity.
Nevertheless, it might prove illuminating and instructive for me to cite an article I wrote last year entitled How sex makes smart men do stupid things. Because in it, I lamented the fact that Jacob Zuma testified at his trial for raping a woman (who he knew was HIVpositive) that:
…after having sex [he had] taken a shower because this would minimize the risk of contracting the disease.
Clearly, this statement exposes Zuma as a suicidal sociopath. But who amongst us would have thought that jumping out of bed to wash after getting off could kill us…?
But consider the fact that Zuma is not only the deputy leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, but also the country’s former deputy president and former head of its anti-AIDS campaign. Consider further that South Africa has more people living with HIV and dying from AIDS than any other country in the world; and, moreover, that Zuma is most likely to be elected its next president in 2009.
Because only after considering these facts can you begin to appreciate why Zuma and South Africa loom so ominously in this context.
Finally, notwithstanding this finding, let me hasten to remind all “promiscuous” men and women that condoms remain the best defense against contracting HIV (and other STIS). Indeed, this is why I utterly condemn religious groups for lobbying the US government to make humanitarian aid to poor countries conditioned on recipient governments preaching abstinence instead of providing sex education and condoms to combat this pandemic.
That said, let me also hasten to disabuse men everywhere of the suspicion that this finding is nothing more than an elaborate ruse concocted by women to get us to stay put and cuddle after sex….
New HIV/AIDS Vaccine: An old Jewish ritual
WHO agrees – To briss or not to briss: that is the question
How sex makes smart men do stupid things
South Africa condemned at annual AIDS conference
Why Zuma – a morally-bankrupt rapist and thief – will be president
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 at 11:12 AMAccording to ABC NEWS, Ohio Judge John Plough threw lawyer Brian Jones in jail last week for disobeying his order to proceed when his case was called. Jones insisted he was simply “unprepared” for trial.
But, at the risk of betraying professional self-loathing, when this story became fodder for water-cooler chatter at law firms all over America yesterday, I felt neither the indignation at Judge Plough nor the solidarity with Jones that other lawyers expressed. Instead, I felt nothing but the unqualified schadenfreude I expect most non-lawyers will feel upon hearing or reading about it.
Indeed, I appreciate that – upon learning that he is a public defender who received the file on his client’s misdemeanor assault case only a day before trial was scheduled – even some of you might feel sympathy for Jones.
Therefore, let me hasten to disabuse you of that sympathy by informing you that public defenders (many of whom are actually third-year law students) are presented with far more serious cases, under similar time constraints, every day. And, moreover, they invariably provide their clients wholly-competent representation.
More importantly, however, if every public defender needed more than 24 hours to prepare for a misdemeanor assault case, the wheels of the US criminal justice system would become hopelessly clogged.
Meanwhile, the following statement by Carmen Hernandez, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, should give you a sense of how self-righteous and exaggerated the criticisms of Judge Plough are:
Asking a lawyer to go to trial without preparation is like asking a doctor to perform surgery before diagnosing the patient.
Alas, only a lawyer could make this analogy with a straight face. After all, a more appropriate analogy would be that giving a lawyer 24 hours to prepare for trial on a misdemeanor assault case, is like giving a doctor 24 hours to prepare for surgery on a broken wrist.
Yet, ironically, Hernandez’s statement actually supports Judge Plough’s decision to throw Jones in the pokey. Because any doctor, at any metropolitan hospital in America, could testify to the fact that doctors routinely perform (major) surgeries within 24 minutes of being presented with critically-wounded patients (see Trauma: Life in the ER); which clearly makes the 24 hours Judge Plough gave this legal prima donna to prepare for his misdemeanor trial seem like an indulgence.
Frankly, with defenders like Hernandez, it’s a wonder Jones spent only 5 hours in jail….
NOTE: Even if Jones were juggling 1000 other cases, any lawyer could testify to the fact that 2 hours should have been sufficient time for him to review the file on this case. Then he could have argued any number of defense motions, including for a continuance, to comply with Judge Plough’s order – as he clearly should have done.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 10:42 AMHere’s a little of what I wrote in my 19 July commentary on the indictment of NFL quarterback Michael Vick for funding and participating in a dogfighting gambling ring:
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, dawgfights in the federal pen.
Well, it seems Vick will soon have that opportunity to exorcise his fetish. Because yesterday he agreed to plead guilty to related federal charges, and will probably be heading right off to a federal pen (for a reported 12 to 18 months) after he’s sentenced on Monday.
But I think 3 to 6 months in prison and a $250,000 fine would be a fair sentence for his crimes, which include “executing under-performing dogs”. After all, if Vick does any time, he’ll forfeit at least one season’s pay on his NFL contract, which will be tantamount to an additional $10 million fine. Then add to that millions more in lost endorsements, and only then will you get a true assessment of Vick’s punishment.
Nevertheless, I hope Vick spends his time rehabilitating his mind and reforming his soul. Because prisons are notorious for merely cultivating vices that got inmates arrested in the first place. And it would be a shame if he returns to the NFL as nothing more than a more hardened thug.
(Perhaps he should seek out an Imam and convert to Islam. After all, a similar prison conversion turned Mike Tyson from a menacing pugilistic into an endearing pussycat; never mind that it also ruined his career…. But Vick plays the cerebral position in football; therefore, becoming an endearing pussycat might make him more agile and, hence, not only a better player, but also a better person.)
Indeed, apropos the NFL, let me hasten to disabuse you of any doubt about Vick’s football career. Because the only question is: which team will offer him the most lucrative contract once he pays his debt to society…?
Therefore ignore all of the politically-correct talk from the NFL commissioner about suspending or expelling Vick for violating the league’s “morals” clause. After all, if the NFL has no moral qualms about employing men -like Larry Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs – who routinely abuse women, then it should have no reservation at all about employing a “reformed” man – like Vick – who routinely abused dogs.
Moreover, here’s how I concluded that 19 July commentary:
I wish that some of this public outcry against Vick for abusing dogs would be heaped upon other professional athletes for routinely abusing women….
NOTE: Yesterday, within hours of Vick’s lawyers announcing his plea agreement with the feds, a good-ole-boy prosecutor in Virginia vowed to indict him on similar state charges that could keep him in the pokey for up to 40 years.
And, all bets are off if this prosecutor makes a career for himself by making good on his vow. Because, as a Virginia Hokie himself, Vick probably knows better than most black men in America that this dog will hunt.
Therefore, stay tuned fans; because this legal game is about to go into overtime….
Feds indict Vick…for dogfighting
Monday, August 20, 2007 at 3:37 PMOn 29 August 2005, when Katrina was still gathering strength (and toying with islands) in the Caribbean Sea, here, in part, is the commentary I wrote to put hysterical forecasts about this “mother of all hurricanes” into perspective:
TV stations cover natural disasters purportedly as a public service. But there’s no denying that such coverage is a ratings boon for their bottom line – catering as it does to the perverse suspense that keeps us fixated on the hype of impending doom….
Katrina is a bona-fide category 5 hurricane making a beeline for Louisiana…. But, as far as natural disasters go, seasonal hurricanes passing through America today should not leave the magnitude of devastation in their wake that droughts inflict upon people in Africa every month…or, indeed, that hurricanes inflict upon my people in the Caribbean every year (as Hurricane Ivan’s decimation of Grenada demonstrated so poignantly last season).
Americans are blessed with the meteorological technology, shelters and other emergency management resources to forecast and weather hurricanes with virtually no loss of life. Nevertheless, how well local authorities enforce evacuation orders and how many daring fools ignore them…shall determine Katrina’s human casualties.
However, this commentary is as valid today as it was in 2005; despite the “blood-on-your-hands” criticism I received after post-Katrina floods devastated New Orleans. In fact, I would argue that most Caribbean natives are now every bit as blessed (as Americans are) with resources to weather hurricanes.
Indeed, nothing demonstrates this fact quite like reports confirming that, despite 140 mph winds and torrential rainfall, there was no loss of life on Jamaica. And this is especially noteworthy considering that only 47 of the 1000 shelters were partially occupied when Dean began pummeling this island on Sunday afternoon.
But this seemingly foolish act of defiance betrays the cynical regard people retain for human nature - notwithstanding forecasts about Mother Nature’s looming wrath. After all, experience suggests that people have far more to fear from human looting than they do from natural disasters (as evidenced by rampant looting in the wake of Britain’s Katrina, the earthquake in Peru, et al.)
I am putting my faith in God. I’m not leaving my home to go to no shelter. I need to protect my home from the looters. [unnamed woman on ABC News Sunday]
Too much crime in Kingston. I’m not leaving my home. [Kingston resident Paul Lyn]
That said, I still don’t understand why Americans always panic in reaction to the media’s Chicken-Little hurricane coverage by fleeing their Caribbean vacations. After all, even if a hurricane were to knock out electricity for a few days, what could be a more authentic (and romantic) island experience than “roughing it” on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world…?!
NOTE: Don’t you find it amusing when reporters scramble to justify their hype after a hurricane like Dean lays an egg?
Jamaica really dodged a bullet here, but it looks like Dean will take it out on the Cayman Islands [...or perhaps Mexico?].
Saturday, August 18, 2007 at 10:51 AM
Most Islanders will weather Hurricane Dean, but many Americans will drown under mortgage foreclosuresAll the same, my thoughts and prayers go out to my friends in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and to all who will be caught within Hurricane Dean’s ferocious vortex….
Friday, August 17, 2007 at 10:28 AMThere seems no end to the growing list of Chinese products being banned by the US government because they contain deadly toxins.
Nevertheless, Chinese government spokesman, Wang Xinpei, tried to redeem confidence in his country’s exports on Wednesday by declaring that, henceforth, China will ensure that its manufacturers are more aware of the “highly sensitive nature of the American consumer”.
Unfortunately, I doubt he’ll inspire much confidence by suggesting that the problem is not so much poisonous Chinese products, as it is weak American stomachs that can’t digest toxic melamine in toothpaste or a little lead from children’s toys.
More troubling, however, he seemed to be implying that the stomachs of consumers in other markets around the world – including the Caribbean – may not be so sensitive. And, if you think this ominous implication is too absurd to be true, consider that Wang left no doubt that products banned in the USA will still be sold in China.
(Incidentally, all of the fuss in America about the poisoning of a few cats and dogs – after eating pet food imported from China – must be as confusing to the Chinese as Americans would be if the Chinese were making a similar fuss about the poisoning of a few cows and pigs. After all, in both cases, the indignant assumption would surely be that the poison would have no effect anyway…once the animals are stewed or roasted!)
Therefore, I urge regional governments to announce what measures they have taken to assure the people of the Caribbean that Chinese products too poisonous for American consumption are not being sold to us.
Indeed, it behooves our leaders to appreciate that some of us are mindful that – after accepting Chinese inducements to abandon diplomatic relations with Taiwan – many of them might now be loath to embarrass the Chinese government, even if it means risking the lives of our citizens.
And, apropos this, perhaps it is instructive that the Dominican Republic wasted no time joining the US in banning the import of tainted Chinese products. After all, it is only one of five Caribbean countries that rejected China’s bribe, em, er, appeal to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
Meanwhile, we should all be mindful that the Chinese are not likely to take these body blows to their economy and national pride without retaliating. Indeed, these recalls might constitute the opening salvos in a bipolar trade war between the China and the United States that could be waged for years to come.
But, in light of e-mail responses to my article on global warming earlier this week, I feel obliged to disabuse anyone of the belief that anthropogenic activities affect the number or severity of hurricanes. Because, just like deadly heat waves, deadly hurricanes have raged in Mother Nature’s cyclical pattern of extreme weather phenomena since the beginning of time.
Thursday, August 16, 2007 at 11:31 AMDon’t bet against it….
Even dead-end supporters of America’s misadventure in Iraq expressed grave concerns yesterday after the Bush administration announced that it will soon declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization (as if declaring Iran itself part of the “axis of evil” in 2002 were not foreboding enough…). But their concerns are warranted because they are intimately aware that this demonizing of the enemy is patented foreplay before President George W. Bush unleashes his military arsenal.
Of course, they are also mindful that – as the most unpopular (lame-duck) president in US history – Bush has nothing to lose, but much to gain, by attacking Iran. After all, only the opinion of historians matter to him now. And nothing would do more to redeem his presidential legacy than a preemptive strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.
Although, if truth be told, most world leaders would welcome such a strike – if it were successful. Because they know as well as Bush does that no amount of diplomatic pressure or UN negotiations will ever stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Moreover, no one would deny that nuclear weapons in the hands of the genocidal (“wipe Israel off the map”) president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pose even greater apocalyptic dangers than such weapons in the hands of Osama bin Laden. Yet Bush and Israeli PM Ehud Olmert are the only world leaders with the cajones to prevent this nightmare scenario from becoming a reality. (In fact, I would bet that, if not Bush, then surely Olmert, or his likely successor Bibi Netanyahu, will eventually stop Ahmadinejad…for the sake of mankind!)
Meanwhile, many who have already discarded Bush as a deaf, dumb and done president are probably banking on the fact that the US is so tied down in Iraq – militarily, politically and financially – that it does not have the resources to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan, let alone take on the Republican Guard in Iran.
I hasten to remind these Doubting Thomases, however, that even though the US Army and Marines are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force and Navy are rested, cocked and ready to fire smart bombs (from the air and sea) to take out Iran’s nuclear installations. After all, not even VP Dick Cheney is so delusional as to think that oppressed Iranians are just waiting to greet the US soldiers in the streets of Tehran as liberators.
Therefore, listen carefully as Bush bangs the drums of war over the Fall and Winter – by teasing Iran about abetting Iraqi insurgents in the killing of US soldiers and lying about its nuclear program. Because then you won’t be shocked, shocked when he begins raining bombs down on it next Spring to fulfill his vow that:
America will not allow the world’s most dangerous regime to possess . . . the world’s most dangerous weapons.
But, to help you make a more judicious wager, consider further that as early as January 2006, the Washington Post quoted Bush lamenting ominously as follows:
…diplomacy has failed and we are…all sanctioned out as far as Iran is concerned.
Now, wanna bet?
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at 11:21 AMLast week, global-warming disciples were singing hosanahs over news reports (like this one here), which purportedly vindicated their religious belief that global-warming heretics (like me) are responsible for every climatological phenomenon from glacial melting to El Nino. And they proffered the reported findings by NASA scientists that 1998 was the warmest year in recorded history as the basis for their unmitigated schadenfreude.
But over the weekend, NASA was forced to revise its findings after fellow blogger Steve McKintyre, of climateaudit.org, found a glaring Y2K bug in the methodology that led to them. Now the inconvenient truth is that:
- The third hottest year on record was 1921, not 2006;
- Three of the five hottest years on record occurred before 1940; and
- Six of the top 10 hottest years occurred before 90 percent of the growth in greenhouse gas emissions during the last century occurred.
Meanwhile, forcing my global-warming adversaries to eat even more crow, a DC resident also made news over the weekend for “discovering” a 1922 Washington Post article entitled “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt”. Because this article is prima facie evidence that today’s authors of similar headlines are not only ignorant alarmists but also unwitting plagiarists.
Nevertheless, I feel constrained to note that I published the following a year ago this month in an article entitled …My final word on global warming:
As much as you may believe that last week was the hottest on record; in fact, that dubious distinction dates back to 1922 – decades before global warming became the yuppie political spawn of hippie self-consciousness.
Therefore, with all due respect to McIntyre and others, I’ve been challenging the junk science of environmental Cassandras for years.
That said, I also feel obliged to admonish global-warming disciples about their predilection for proselytising the notion that those of us who challenge their false prophecies are anti-environment.
After all, I have been exceedingly critical of profligate rich people who leave their grossly-disproportionate carbon footprints all over the world; and of cruise ship operators who pollute the pristine waters of the Caribbean; and of oil and lumber companies that are still razing what little remains of the Amazon rainforest, etc, etc.
But I’ve always directed my most ardent criticism at the hypocrisy of jet-setting, fossil-fuel gluttons – like environmental prophet Al Gore – who show no scruples about rebuking poor people throughout the Third World for burning coal for electricity.
Furthermore, I was a bona-fide environmentalist when Gore was still the proud heir to a sprawling tobacco farm. But my environmentalism was inspired by the common-sense understanding that we cannot continue dumping non-biodegradable crap on our planet, where landfills are replacing arable land at an alarming rate.
By contrast, I’m so indignant at global-warming disciples because of the way they ape fundamentalist preachers (who incite fears about burning in hell to get people to believe in God) by inciting fears about melting snow caps and glaciers flooding the planet to get people to respect the environment.
NOTE: As we engage in political debates about global warming, I am mindful that the Balkans are sweltering under an unprecedented heat wave that has already killed hundreds of people and thousands of animals, and is igniting forest fires that are threatening more lives, livestock and property throughout the region.
Yet I hasten to disabuse anyone of the inclination to blame global warming for these soaring temperatures. Because similar heat waves have plagued every region of the world – as part of Mother Nature’s cyclical pattern of extreme weather phenomena – since the beginning of time.
Alas, some countries have far greater resources at their disposal than others have to help their people cope. And nothing demonstrates this fact quite like the way the heat has caused thousands of casualties in Romania; whereas, a similar heat wave now scorching the mid-section of the United States has had (relatively) little impact.
END NOTE: I truly intended the above-referenced article to be my last word on this topic. But then I realized that, if I abided by my pronouncement, I would deprive all new visitors to my weblog of my antidote to (the still-contagious) global-warming fever….
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 10:36 AMKarl Rove has been the subject of so much hagiography and vilification lately that one could be forgiven the impression that he is the embodiment of (and responsible for) all that is good and bad about Washington politics.
But as you hear talking heads either fawning over or fulminating against what Rove did for (or to) America, be mindful that the truth about his record of public service lies somewhere in between…good and bad.
After all, he deserves credit for accomplishing the extraordinary architectural feat of building fellow Texan George W Bush up from a prodigal drunk into a two-term governor of their home state and a two-term president of the United States.
Yet he deserves criticism for promising to position the Republican Party to rule America for generations to come, but succeeded only in orchestrating its historic demise – with Republicans having lost both houses of Congress and now doing all they can to disassociate themselves from their de facto leader, the lame duck and contagiously-unpopular President Bush.
Moreover, to the extent it will even be recorded, history will not be kind to Rove’s legacy as Bush’s chief policy advisor. Because it will be distinguished by his failures on immigration reform, social security reform, the mother of all failures, the selling of the Iraq war.
But Rove probably deserves a little pity for becoming a victim of the unseemly bipartisan sport of criminalizing political gamesmanship. Because, even though a special prosecutor could not even indict (let alone convict) him for any wrongdoing, he has been tarred and feathered for allegedly leaking the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to discredit her husband and participating in a conspiracy to fire eight US attorneys who refused to carry out orders from the White House to prosecute political rivals.
(Alas, lingering suspicions about these firings have left Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the last surviving member of the Texas posse that rode into Washington in 2001, now serving as little more than Bush’s political foil or, more precisely, the Democrats’ political piñata.)
But, despite all of the Sturm und Drang about his resignation, which takes effect on 31 August, the premature epitaph I wrote on his political career two years ago holds true today:
…predictions that the indictment [i.e. loss] of Karl Rove will plunge Bush’s presidency into complete disarray and fecklessness are not only exaggerated, but also belated. Moreover, like countless others before him, Rove will soon be relegated to the dustbin of Washington history.
Therefore, take everything you hear about Rove over the next few days with a grain of salt – especially unsustainable threats by Democrats to compel him, under subpoena, to spill the beans about his political shenanigans at the White House.
Although, I was genuinely touched by the public display of affection Bush and Rove demonstrated towards each other today as they said their public goodbyes….
NOTE: No doubt all of the swooning about Rove’s brilliance (eg. “he’s a voracious reader” “an autodidact”) is a patently-gratuitous attempt to compensate for the fact that he’s a college drop-out. But who cares?! So is Bill Gates, for chrissake!
Monday, August 13, 2007 at 11:14 AMOn Friday, President Bush’s top military adviser on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, shocked members of America’s political, business and cultural elite when he said the following in an interview with the National Public Radio program All Things Considered:
the Draft has always been an option on the table and that it makes sense to certainly consider it.But, all things considered, only rich Americans could have been shocked by this wholly-sensible statement. And this is because they have always presumed their kids were inoculated against having to fight America’s war in Afghanistan to avenge 9/11 or Bush’s war in Iraq to avenge his Daddy’s presidential legacy (and seal his own).
Indeed, it is a reflection of their cloistered presumptuousness that so many of them were shocked, if not outraged, by the mere suggestion of a Draft. After all, there have been almost daily news reports in recent months about the Army dumbing down mental and physical requirements, raising the enlistment age to 42 (phew…) and offering signing bonuses of $20,000 – all in a desperate, though alas, futile effort to meet recruitment goals.
(Incidentally, this cash inducement is especially ironic considering that Bush cited the fact that Saddam Hussein was offering similar signing bonuses to poor Palestinians – who were prepared to sacrifice their lives for the cause of Palestinian statehood – as one of his reasons for attacking Iraq.)
Meanwhile, anyone who thinks Lute raised the specter of the Draft in this very public forum without Bush’s approval is naïve. Because here’s why he did it, and why White House attempts to deny any association with his statement are so implausible:
The repeated deployments affect not only the troops but their families, who can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military. And ultimately, the health of the all- volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions.Indeed! And welcome to the growing army of conscientious objectors Gen. Lute….
After all, it was painfully clear from day one that poor Americans were bearing the unfair, unjust and unequal burdens of these wars. And it was conscientious objection to this fact that compelled some of us to sound clarion calls for the Draft years ago. In fact, I reiterated the political, military and moral justification for Lute’s remarks as recently as 14 March of this year – in an article entitled Support the draft to prevent stupid wars!
But, given the seriousness of this debate, I urge you to read this article again, or for the first time, by clicking here. Because, after doing so, I hope that you’ll be as convinced as I am that no candidate should be elected US president next year unless he or she pledges to reinstate the Draft – regardless of politically-correct and patently-unsustainable plans to withdraw or redeploy the troops.
Sunday, August 12, 2007 at 12:21 PM
And President Bush is accusing Iran of arming the insurgents?!
Saturday, August 11, 2007 at 12:07 PMOf course, most WSJ journalists are indignant with concerns that he’ll piss all over this venerable paper?
Because they know the nature of this media beast; and, moreover, that Rupert does as Rupert is….