Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 3:01 PM
Friday, September 28, 2007 at 11:40 AM
Thursday, September 27, 2007 at 7:52 AMThroughout the 2004 presidential campaign, Senator John Kerry tried his damnedest to expose the fallacy of President Bush’s war-on-terror by repeatedly citing a CIA field commander’s claim that, in December 2001, US forces had Osama bin Laden cornered in a cave in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan (and even had him in their sights), but “let him slip away”.
In fact, Kerry, a decorated war veteran, politicized the commander’s claim by charging that Bush outsourced the task of capturing bin Laden to a rag-tag band of Afghan soldiers instead of sending in US special forces to do the job. (And frankly, I thought this line alone should have dealt Bush’s campaign a knockout blow….)
Meanwhile, international media outlets have been replete in recent months with stories about resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. Therefore, I suppose it should not have come as a surprise that bin Laden would return to safer haven there (in the same caves of Tora Bora) instead of living the life of a bulls-eye nomad in the mountains of Pakistan.
What is surprising, however, is that – according to a report on NBC News last night – just weeks ago, US forces had bin Laden in their sights again, and let him slip away…again! Only this time, no one can blame brave, but inept, Afghans soldiers; since he reportedly got away because brave, but inept, US forces thought they could choke off 10,000 escape routes from the mountains with only 1000 men.
Which brings me to the cartoon above: Because, given the farcical nature of the hunt for bin Laden, it seems far more likely that prospecting Americans – who have been forced by the sub-prime mess to go from social climbing to mountain climbing – will find bin Laden before US forces do….
Wednesday, September 26, 2007 at 8:40 AMYesterday, President George W Bush of the United States and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran joined the queue of world leaders delivering canned speeches before the Annual Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. And even though none of them said anything of any consequence (Do they ever?), it would be remiss of me not to comment.
But I am mindful that it would be a Faustian (and redundant) endeavor to try to separate the wheat from the chaff amongst the speeches emanating from this veritable Tower of Babel masquerading as an international debating chamber.
Therefore, I shall suffice to reprise my commentary from last year. Because the 2006 annual meeting was suffused with such political tension, drama and outright buffoonery (all consummated in the performance of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – who didn’t even bother to attend this year), that the hackneyed speeches hardly mattered.
____________________2006 United Nations Debate: “He’s evil!” “He’s an imperialist!” “He’s the Devil!”Yesterday, in his address before the United Nations General Assembly 61st Session, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez highlighted his undiplomatic rant against U.S. President George W. Bush by calling him “the Devil”.
But I found it instructive that – when a reporter asked her what she thought of Chavez’s speech – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice replied, quite properly, that she would not dignify it with a comment. Because, frankly, that’s how I feel about all of the hot air passing for dignified debate at this week’s session.
Accordingly, the following is all I care to share about Bush’s congenitally-trite, Ahmadinejad’s passive-aggressive and Chavez’s hysterically-bombastic utterances:
Your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation’s resources to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons….Iran must abandon its nuclear weapons ambition.[Fair enough, Mr Bush. But now that French President Jacques Chirac is leading a European coalition of the willing to betray your agreement to impose sanctions against Iran, what are you going to do to stop it from fulfilling its ambition? Operation deny nukes?]
…if the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom…commit aggression, occupation, and violation of international law, which of the organs of the U.N. can take them to account?[Excellent point, Mr Ahmadinejad. Now tell us which international law gives you the right to develop nuclear weapons to “wipe Israel off the map”?]
Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world….The United States empire is on the way down and it will be finished in the near future for the good of all mankind.[Good one, Mr Chavez. But, if you really think Cuba is the best place to live in the Western Hemisphere (and, by inference, that America is the worst), why do you think so many people are fleeing Cuba and Latin America (including your own country) to seek a better life in the United States? Moreover, if the delegates laughing at your speech yesterday were to vote on your proposal to move the UN out of the US (To where, pray tell, China?), would you bet your presidency on the outcome?]
Meanwhile, one has to wonder about the conscience of Third World leaders who endorsed Ahmadinejad’s speech (indicting America as the greatest threat to world peace) and laughed at Chavez’s comedy routine (demonizing Bush). After all, these are the very same leaders who are still debating whether Bush is right to declare the ongoing slaughter of over 400,000 Africans by Arab militiamen in Darfur an “unfolding genocide”, which requires immediate UN military intervention – in the name of humanity….
NOTE on Taiwan: One of my associates challenged my cynicism about proceedings at the UN by citing its “pretty significant decision” to reject a bid by Taiwan to reclaim its seat in this august Assembly. In fact, the Taiwanese petitioned to be readmitted as “Taiwan” rather than the “Republic of China” – the name under which they lost their (de facto-independent) seat in 1971 to the newly-admitted People’s Republic of China.
Alas, I was constrained to inform him that Taiwan has failed in similar bids at every annual meeting of the General Assembly since 1992. And, with China increasing its influence amongst the member states each year, chances are very good that all future bids will be similarly rejected. (Incidentally, of the UN’s 192 members, Taiwan is recognised by only 24 relatively poor and powerless countries, including three from the Caribbean.)
There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is a part of China’s territory. This is the common position of the United Nations, and the overwhelming majority of its member states. [Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya]NOTE on Myanmar (Burma): It is surreal, yet inspiring, to see Buddhist monks risking their lives to lead pro-democracy street protests against the military juntas that have ruled Burma for almost 50 years. And, technology being what it is today, it’s very likely that these monks might be encouraged, indeed emboldened, by the expressions of solidarity that rolled off the lips of w
orld leaders at the UN this week.
But it behooves these brave protesters to beware that (every year for the past four years) these leaders have expressed similar solidarity with the victims of genocide in Darfur. Yet they have done nothing to give credence to their words.
Meanwhile, in an ominous development yesterday, the junta ordered troops to enforce a curfew to crackdown on the protests that have been growing daily – in size and daring – over the past week. Which means that the conditions are now eerily similar to those that triggered the slaughter of thousands of pro-democracy protesters, mostly monks and students, during Burma’s “8888 Uprising” of 1988.
Will the UN standby and watch history repeat itself…? Is the Pope Catholic…. (Besides, what’s a few thousands Burmese monks compared to a half million Africans!)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 10:21 AMIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has just delivered an esoteric dissertation on the history of science and the categorical imperatives of reason – according to his doctrinaire religious perspective.
But I’m sure the only thing that stirred interest amongst his wary audience was the 5-minute flourish at the end of his lecture, during which he defended his right to question established facts about the Holocaust, and suggested that US-sponsored abuse of the Palestinian people is the root cause of 9/11.
(Incidentally, instead of daring to repeat his vow that “Israel should be wiped off the map”, he insinuated that Jews should be relocated to Europe because that’s where the Holocaust was perpetrated….)
At any rate, I got the distinct impression that Ahmadinejad was lecturing to his Columbia audience today much the way he preaches to his students every week in Iran (he claims to teach a weekly class in graduate studies). And I have no doubt that his NY audience found his lecture every bit as boring as I suspect his Iranian students find his sermons.
Nevertheless, Ahmadinejad acquitted himself well as an evocative, provocative and articulate speaker. And nothing demonstrated his rhetorical skills quite like the MLKesque way he responded to the personal assault Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, launched at him – under the pretext of an official introduction. For example, he declaimed, with all of the derision he could muster, that Ahmadinejad is “either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated”, and a man who exhibits “all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator”.
Yet, here’s how Ahmadinejad deflected Bollinger’s rudeness:
Oh, God, hasten the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi….
I think the text read by the dear gentleman here, more than addressing me, was an insult….
In Iran tradition requires that when we demand a person to invite to be a speaker we actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgment and we don’t think it’s necessary before this speech is even given…to provide vaccination of some sort to our students and our faculty….
There were insults and claims that were incorrect, regretfully….I should not begin by being affected by this unfriendly treatment.
But frankly, Ahmadinejad deserved not only greater respect as the duly-elected president of Iran, but also greater hospitality as Columbia’s invited guest. In fact, Bollinger should have left it to audience members to express such condemnation when Ahmadinejad dared them to question him….
Meanwhile, think whatever one might of his political ignorance (in evidence when he claimed that “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who told you that we have it…”), or of his intellectual duplicity (displayed when he demurred that “I don’t deny the facts…we just need more research on the historical phenomenon of the Holocaust”), there’s no denying Ahmadinejad’s clever manipulation of democratic axioms to further his totalitarian agenda.
Indeed, he seemed almost Jeffersonian; especially juxtaposed to Bollinger’s boorish efforts to humiliate him.
Alas, nothing of any academic (or political) merit was gained from this forum. Because, just as it was obvious that Ahmadinejad was merely playing with the minds of the American people, it was equally obvious that Bollinger was merely playing to the rabid protesters who criticized him for daring to act like a university president by inviting Ahmadinejad to speak in the first place.
Monday, September 24, 2007 at 1:17 PMIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have tipped his hand unwittingly during his interview on 60 Minutes last night. Because he manifested a classic case of projection when he ascribed to President George W Bush the intent to use the threat of attack as psychological warfare against his people. One wonders, after all, what his repeated vows to “wipe Israel off the map” are all about….
Moreover, it is obvious that the intent of Ahmadinejad’s mission to New York this week is to play psychological games with the American people by, inter alia, making specious arguments about there being more freedom of speech in Iran than there is in the US; and by insisting that the weapons Iran is sending to insurgents in Iraq, as well as the nuclear program its developing at home, are all for purely peaceful purposes.
Of course, I appreciate how infuriating it is that he says all of these things with a preternatural Cheshire-Cat grin on his face. Indeed, one gets the impression that he expects it to disarm his audiences of the knowledge that he has not only denied Hitler’s Holocaust, but appears determined to perpetrate one of his own.
But, given how patently contrived his mission is, I am stupefied that so many seem threatened and emotionally tortured by it:
This madman, this little Hitler…Ahmadinejad should be arrested, not invited to speak…I call on all New Yorkers to make the life of Ahmadinejad as he is in New York miserable, miserable….[ Dov Hikind NY Assemblyman]
Alas, with all due respect to his indignant protesters and would-be jailers, Ahmadinejad’s playing them like a Stradivarius. Indeed, the shame is not his wanting to speak at Columbia or visit Ground Zero. Instead, it’s that so many people are allowing him to pull their emotional strings and (mess with their minds) by the crazy (and sometimes fiendishly clever) things he says.
Nevertheless, for the record, Ahmadinejad should be allowed to speak and engage in debate at Columbia University (or at any other venue in the US). Never mind his hackneyed rhetoric and the fact that getting a straight answer from him will be like drawing blood from a stone – as he demonstrated on 60 Minutes.
On the other hand, he should not be allowed to visit Ground Zero – given his transparent intent to merely piss on this hallowed ground (by “airing differences…and explaining to the American people the root causes of [the 9/11] attacks).
Meanwhile, if you think New Yorkers are beside themselves over this visit, just imagine how seething with envy Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez must be over all of the notoriety Ahmadinejad is getting….
Monday, September 24, 2007 at 9:46 AMNothing vindicates Michael Moore’s hagiography of Cuba’s healthcare system (ie, the one for party officials and foreigners only) quite like the fact that Cuban doctors have managed to keep a “terminally ill and dying” Fidel Castro alive for over a year….
It is debatable, however, whether this fact is more galling to partisan critics of Moore’s movie Sicko, or to Miami Cubans who must be sick and tired of dancing on his grave.
After all, recall that when Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde published the first pictures of Castro taken after his gastrointestinal surgery last summer (2006), they were roundly criticized as Photoshop fakes. But only die-hard fantasists can deny the authenticity of the new pictures of Castro – in living color and sporting his now-trademark tracksuit – that were aired during a TV interview on Friday.
Incidentally, no one has made more of a public spectacle of his pining for Castro’s death than celebrated Cuban-American blogger Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr. Because, for over a month now, Lavandeira (a.k.a. Perez Hilton) has been holding a virtual vigil for his readers, who reportedly number in the millions, by assuring them that “Fidel is dead”, and that “An Official Announcement Is Coming” (as he did on August 24, 2007 at 2:55). Moreover, he relished this consummation, so devoutly to be wished, by promising his readers that “There’s gonna be a big ol’ party en Calle Ocho, mi gente!!!!”
Meanwhile, to dispel any reasonable doubt about his 9 lives still being very much a fact, Castro held up a copy of last week’s newly-released tome by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan during his interview, and even read a few passages aloud for further affirmation …of his life.
And it had to put a final nail in the coffin of rumors about Castro’s death when Ann Louise Bardach, CBS news correspondent and author of the authoritative WITHOUT FIDEL: The Death of Castro and Other Tales, declared over the weekend that – though gravely ill – Castro is:
…determined to outlive the Bush presidency.
My money’s on Fidel; especially since Bush’s presidency is effectively dead already…!
But, frankly, even if he drops dead today, there can be no denying Castro’s phenomenal longevity – given the determined efforts over the past 50 years by the CIA, and Cuban exiles, to kill him….
Sunday, September 23, 2007 at 2:15 PMWhat consenting adults do behind closed doors is nobody else’s business. But when you’re the six-time world boxing champion and a married father of four, you’re pretty stupid to think that cavorting like a transvestite with a bunch of calls girls will remain private.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya’s “girlfriends” are now exposing his business as the News of the World.
…[I]t was all about domination. He would say to me, ‘Please, put me down on my knees and pull my hair’. And he liked to be called Goldie—not Golden Boy. That’s what he told me. [Oscar’s alleged dominatrix Milana Dravnel]
And, since there’s nothing like pictures to add vivid titillation to a salacious story, here’s a montage of some these working girls took of pretty-baby Oscar in all of his kinky glory:
Closet transvestites beware…!
NOTE: Oscar insists that the photos are fake. But let’s see if he has the balls to tell that to a judge and jury by suing not only these girls but also every tabloid publication in the world for outing him. And, apropos balls, he’d have to have iron ones to ever set foot in a boxing ring again…!
Bonus rounds courtesy of Dominatrix Dravnel (featured in all photos) who claims that Oscar begged:
…put me down, pull my hair…and call me Goldie!!!
How sex makes smart men do stupid things…
Sunday, September 23, 2007 at 12:08 PM
Saturday, September 22, 2007 at 11:40 AMThe participants in yesterday’s march on Jena can be forgiven for thinking that their MLK-inspired, non-violent appeal for justice would result in Mychal Bell being released from prison today. Alas, the only thing swift about the justice they sought was the judge’s decision to remand him back to his cell…without bail.
Of course, it probably did not help that Bell’s lawyers began today’s hearing, which was ordered by Louisiana’s 3rd Circuit Appellate Court only yesterday, by seeking to oust the presiding judge, J. P. Mauffray, from the case. After all, the moment seemed ripe to appeal for equal (racial) justice by tapping into what little regard he might have for our shared humanity.
Instead, Bell’s lawyers argued that Mauffray is too blind by racism to preside over today’s hearing. Unfortunately, an “independent” judge rejected their argument – leaving Mauffray to rule on Bell’s request to be freed on bail.
Meanwhile, no one dares challenge Mauffray’s warning that anyone who speaks to the media about the proceedings in his courtroom will be held in contempt. (Although, the irony is not lost on me that today’s hearing was held in secret because the appellate ruled that Bell should be treated like a juvenile after all.) Nevertheless, the sight of his mother leaving the courthouse virtually prostrate in tears spoke volumes.
For now, Bell’s detention remains indefinite, and his legal fate uncertain….
Yet, perhaps we can all derive some consolation from the way Louisiana authorities handled the rednecks who drove by with a noose hanging from their truck as black marchers were boarding buses to leave town last night. Because, unlike the white students who hanged nooses from that tree at Jena High School, these noose-hanging, KKK-wannabes were summarily arrested and charged with “driving while intoxicated and inciting to riot”.
Moreover, here’s how Mayor Jacques Roy of Alexandria, Louisiana, which served as a staging area for the march to nearby Jena, commented to CNN about this second noose incident:
The march was the most peaceful event…not an arrest….It was the most moving experience of my life in public service….This [hanging nooses] is not indicative of the city where I live….No one can take this moment away from us.
Now let’s see if the perpetrators of this hate crime will spend as much time behind bars as Mychal Bell has.
We shall overcome….
March on Jena…
*Published originally Friday, 21 September at 5:24 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 9:21 AMInstead of tuning in to CNN, I urge you to watch the 4-minute video below on the racially-charged case of the Jena 6 that will be headline news today. Because it presents the issues and charges involved in the prosecution of six black high-school students, for beating the crap out of a white classmate, in an informative and sobering documentary.
(Incidentally, this beating, which occurred in December 2006, was the culmination of a series of fights between blacks and whites at Jena High School in Louisiana that was provoked when white students hanged three nooses from a tree on campus in August 2006.)
In addition, this video documentary eschews the gratuitous drama being hyped by CNN and the racial flames being stoked by Rev Al Sharpton. Although, notwithstanding his opportunistic political motives, there’s no denying the indispensable role Sharpton has played in furthering justice in this case.
After all, but for his agitation, the most serious charges against the six black students (namely, that of attempted murder against Mychal Bell) would never have been dropped (to a lesser charge). Therefore, one can understand why Sharpton feels emboldened to keep the pressure on until all charges against all six defendants are resolved consistent with fairness and justice.
Meanwhile, the fact that no white student was prosecuted for hanging the nooses (or any other racial assault) is fueling outrage amongst blacks all over America. Accordingly, there’s bound to be a whole lot of pressure applied today when an estimated 10,000 to 40,000 blacks march on predominantly-white Jena ( pop. 3000) shouting “no justice, no peace”.By contrast, Rev Jesse Jackson should be utterly condemned for declaring that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is “acting like he’s white” because he chose not to lock arms with Jackson and Sharpton to lead this march. Indeed, nothing demonstrates Jackson’s political venality quite like his assertion that:
If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena!Nevertheless, let us confront (and seek redress for) the racial injustice this case represents without turning the political clock from Jena, Louisiana 2007 back to Selma, Alabama 1965. Never mind the dogged (Bull-Connoresqe) prosecutor and few redneck (confederate) racists in Jena who would like nothing more than to reclaim the privileges and immunities of the Jim-Crow era.
(Let me hasten to clarify that I am not suggesting that the Jena 6 should not be prosecuted. Instead, I think the white students – who ignited the chain of events that led to this fateful schoolyard brawl – should be prosecuted to the same extent as the black students who were charged. But, frankly, none of them should be sentenced to prison, which makes the fact that Bell remains incarcerated almost a year after being charged all the more outrageous….)
Finally, some people have expressed stupefaction that Jackson would undermine Obama’s political credibility by slurring him with such ghetto rhetoric; especially since Jackson claims to be supporting his presidential campaign.
But I suspect that, given their failed campaigns, neither Jackson nor Sharpton can countenance any other black man being elected president of the United States. Not to mention the fact that Obama has shown far less willingness to aid and abet their race-hustling enterprises than Hillary has demonstrated….
Calling Obama “articulate” is an insult to blacks?!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 11:19 AMWhen I received an e-mail from an associate yesterday, directing me to an article with the above title, I deleted it summarily. Because, frankly, I find news about a “NY party girl” contracting HIV about as interesting as news about a dog suffering flea bites.
When I chatted with that associate a few hours later, however, I was genuinely shocked to learn that the newsworthy thing about the article was not the party girl contracting HIV. Instead, it was the fact that she was spreading it promiscuously amongst New York City’s “A-List sports and hip hop” celebrities.
Even worse, this pr[e]ying mantis boasts of her conquests as if she were a rock star having her way with groupies; whereas, she’s nothing more than a psychopathic-wannabe star who should be arrested and prosecuted for intentionally causing grievous bodily harm by creating a substantial risk of death.
[In the past year] I’ve had a lot of one night stands. But I’ve also had what I consider to be relationships – like with [a current member of the NY Knicks], [a current player on the NJ Jets], and [an extremely popular Atlanta rapper].
I don’t tell anyone I date that I’m [HIV] positive … it’s none of their business…I’ll ask a man to put on a condom, but I’m not going to force him to put one on. It’s his life and he can choose to do what he wants … And you’d be surprised at how many men refuse to wear a condom – especially when it comes to [oral sex].
Maybe when I get older I’ll write a book about all that I’ve been through. But right now I’m just enjoying life and living day by day.
How’s that for a little insight into the delusional mind of a murderous psychopath?! (Indeed, one wonders how much older she thinks she’ll get – given her virus, and her even more deadly attitude….?)
I feel obliged to note, however, that I initially dismissed this story as a crude joke. Because I am acutely aware of the unverifiable “blind items” tabloids feed enquiring minds just for fun. But when I found out that mainstream media outlets quote MediaTakeOut.com almost as often as they quote the National Enquirer, the story’s credibility quotient increased…measurably.
That said, this story is rife with legal and ethical conflicts. But this is hardly the forum for a dissertation on them. Therefore, I shall suffice to offer just a few observations:
2. Because of the right to protect its source, MediaTakeOut.com has no legal obligation to report this woman to the police. Besides, notwithstanding her confession, there’s no indication that any of her potential prey is in imminent danger.
3. Although in a rather perverse way, MediaTakeOut.com is giving notice to the “playas” – who might have been infected by this woman – to get tested! (Especially so that they do not continue putting others at risk unwittingly, the way she has done so wantonly.)
4. This story also provides a public service announcement (PSA) about the deadly health risks of cruising night-clubs for one night stands today the way people did during the AIDS-free boogie nights of the 1970s.
NOTE: Lay people are not required to report crimes – unless subpoenaed. Unfortunately, this fact has given rise to a depraved code of conduct in urban areas that prohibits “snitching”. Therefore, I am concerned that neither MediaTakeOut.com nor anyone who knows the identity of this two-legged contagion will even exercise the ethical obligation to report her to the police.
Nevertheless, I urge its founder – who I understand is a fellow lawyer – to “do the right thing“. Namely, he should refer this woman to a shrink ASAP – who is mandated to report her to the police if he/she deems her confession credible. Or, if she refuses to get help, he should find a way (that ensures him of plausible deniability) to report her in the interest of public safety.
PSA: washing too soon after sex increases risk of HIV
Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 8:03 AM
This was supposed to be a devastating Syrian surprise for Israel….We’ve known for a long time that Syria has deadly chemical warheads on its Scuds, but Israel can’t live with a nuclear warhead [in Syria or Iran]. [Sunday Times of London quoting a reliable Israeli source]On Sunday, American media gave the impression that recycled “BREAKING NEWS” about O.J. Simpson and Britney Spears was of global importance.
Meanwhile, British media distinguished itself by reporting breaking news about a story of indisputably-critical global importance, which actually reads like a Hollywood script. In particular, the Sunday Times of London led with the sensational headline: Israel blew apart Syrian nuclear cache.
And here, in part, is what the Times reported went down on 6 September:
It was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.
At a rendezvous point on the ground, a Shaldag air force commando team was waiting to direct their laser beams at the target for the approaching jets. The team had arrived a day earlier, taking up position near a large underground depot. Soon the bunkers were in flames.But this story is especially noteworthy because it not only harkens back to Israel’s 1981 air raid that destroyed Iraq’s nuclear facilities, but also telestrates my concerns about a looming attack (by Israel or the US) to destroy Iran’s nuclear cache.
In fact, here’s what I wrote in April 2006 about Israel’s resolve in this regard:
…[P]ay no mind to the international blather about Iran’s nuclear program. Because when Israel determines that Iran is on the threshold of possessing nuclear weapons that could, in fact, wipe it off the map, Israel will launch military strikes to take out Iran’s nuclear program, just as it did to take out Iraq’s nuclear facilities in 1981.Moreover, here’s what I wrote just weeks ago about the US’s (ie, President George W Bush’s) resolve:
…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.Not to be outdone, French media followed up on Monday with equally compelling stories about the drumbeats of war. But instead of informing the public about the gathering dangers of this rogue state possessing nuclear weapons, they focused on the political dynamics of a new coalition of the willing being formed to confront Iran.
In fact, here’s how Bruno Tertrais of the Foundation for Strategic explained the French resolve:
Both in content and in appearance things are shifting, and France is more in phase with US policy. It is not a question of alignment, but of convergences — especially on the Iranian issue.Nevertheless, media reports were actually consistent with my assertion about France’s role in this unfolding war drama. Because here’s what I wrote in the above-referenced article delineating the US’s resolve:
Therefore, despite [French President Nicolas] 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 [ie, the looming war with Iran] is even more of a sure bet today than it was two weeks ago.It is instructive to note, however, that Israel launched air strikes against Syria because credible intelligence revealed that – despite North Korea’s declarations to the contrary – it was supplying this “terrorist state” (and Israel’s mortal enemy) with nuclear materials.
Which makes my warning just two weeks ago about North Korea’s congenital duplicity – in an article entitled North Korea denuked?! Dream on – seem prophetic.
(Incidentally, some experts suspect that North Korea conspired with Syria to hide the materials from parties involved in ongoing “Six-Party Talks” to dismantle its nuclear program; Whereas, others speculate that Syria bought the contraband outright to further its own nuclear ambitions. Alas, North Korea is as North Korea does.)
But for years I’ve been lamenting “the willing suspension of disbelief” amongst some in America when it comes to the trustworthiness of this hermit kingdom’s “Dr Strangelove” – President Kim Jong-il. After all, it was the first “2 for 1” Clinton Administration that gave Lil’ Kim the cover of a patently-flawed nuclear disarmament agreement under which he developed the materials Israel was just compelled to destroy in Syria.
Finally, you’re probably wondering when, indeed if, Syria will respond.
All I can say is the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. [Syrian vice-president, Farouk al-Sharaa]
But frankly, almost two weeks after being attacked, Syria seems to have been cowered into limiting its response to aiding and abetting Hezbollah in its declared mission to not only destabilize the pro-Western Lebanese government, but also wipe Israel off the map.
Perhaps you recall how a ragtag band of Hezbollah guerrilla fighters bedeviled the Israeli Army last summer – after Israel attacked their stronghold in Southern Lebanon vowing to rout them out. Therefore, I rather suspect Israel would welcome a direct response from Syria as an opportunity to avenge that humiliating incursion and vindicate the reputation of its vaunted military.
So stay tuned….
Time to put up or shut up about Iran’s nuclear program
Bush will attack Iran to redeem his presidency (note the UPDATE)
Bush setting America up for war with Iran
North Korea denuked?! Dream on…
Monday, September 17, 2007 at 5:29 AMOne could be forgiven for thinking that O.J. Simpson’s first criminal trial proved beyond all doubt that incriminating facts are irrelevant when he’s the defendant. Moreover, it is already self-evident that his latest criminal act represents little more than a ratings bonanza for all media, and career opportunities for TV legal pundits.
Indeed, given the saturation coverage since his arrest this afternoon, I see no point in reciting the alleged facts and circumstances surrounding his participation in an armed robbery in Las Vegas on Thursday night. Besides, the real issue is whether you’ll be able to resist gawking at this O.J. spectacle. After all, it is bound to make coverage of Paris Hilton’s tragic farce look like filler for the graveyard schedule on TV….
That said, the charges against him, which include robbery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary with a firearm, are all major felonies that carry serious prison time.
Meanwhile, a number of you have e-mailed asking if O.J. might get off easier if it turns out that he was not one of the men holding a gun, or that he was even aware that there were guns involved.
The answer is NO!
Because of the conspiracy charge, regardless of the level and nature of his participation, he is liable for all of the crimes committed, and to the same extent as the person who held the gun.
For example, if this were a bank robbery in which someone was murdered, and O.J. was only the getaway driver (ie, he waited outside in the Bronco, never even entered the bank and thought his buddies were just going to politely demand the loot), he would still be liable for armed robbery and felony murder!
Finally, for the record, based solely on O.J.’s account of his harebrained “sting” to repossess some of his own sports memorabilia, I suspect even that predominantly black jury that acquitted him in 1995 would convict him today on all charges.
Accordingly, I predict he’ll be convicted and sentenced to at least 25 years in prison; notwithstanding his patently-specious (no-intent) defense that he cannot be convicted of stealing his own “shit”.
(Just one more way in which his civil conviction for those murders is coming home to roost…. Recall that he was ordered to turn over his sports memorabilia to help settle the $33 million judgment.)
Pay no attention to his desperate attempt to feign a confident smile in this most recent mugshot. Because, if you look into his eyes, you could see it dawning on him that he’s about to pay for being not only a double murderer, but also a common thief!
*Published originally on Sunday, 16 September at 4:29 PM
Sunday, September 16, 2007 at 5:47 AMPresident Vladimir Putin dissolved Russia’s parliament on Wednesday, and then shocked everyone by appointing the country’s (virtually unknown) financial regulator and anti-corruption czar, Viktor Zubkov, as its new prime minister. And, in a staged TV discussion with one of his Kremlin flunkies, Putin announced that he exercised this presidential prerogative:
…to structure the government so that it better suits the pre-election period and prepares the country for what will happen after the parliamentary and presidential elections.But Western political pundits wasted little time deriding Putin’s move as a blatant ploy to enable him to continue wielding power in Russia after he’s constitutionally mandated to give up the presidency next year. (To his credit, Putin has repeatedly pledge to eschew any attempt to amend the provision in Russia’s 1993 constitution that limits presidents to two consecutive terms.)
In fact, many of them have described Zubkov as nothing more than Putin’s caretaker president. Never mind that these same pundits accused Boris Yeltsin of a similar ploy when he plucked Putin from relative obscurity in August 1999 to serve his fifth prime minister in 17 months….
But even though I think there’s merit to this conventional wisdom, I rather suspect that Putin’s appointment of Zubkov has more to do with protecting the billions of dollars he siphoned off from the oil companies he nationalized, than with his Stalinist ambition to serve as Russia’s president for life.
After all, what better way to ensure Zubkov’s trust, if not complicity in this regard, than a quid pro quo in which Putin makes him president, and Zubkov launders Putin’s loot…? Besides, Putin could even allow the 65-year old Zubkov to serve two terms and still be a relatively young 63 when it becomes his “rightful” turn to reclaim the presidency in 2016.
(Though, given the way former presidents Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko died off in such quick succession during the 1980s, chances are that Putin may not have to wait even one four-year term before he resumes [official] power….)
Meanwhile, Putin also made quite a shocking (and intimidating) point this week by testing what he calls “the father of all bombs”. It packs an explosive impact that is equal to that of a nuclear weapon and is four times more powerful than anything the US has in its arsenal of conventional bombs.
Of course, despite his Cold-War predilections, Putin is not planning to drop this bomb on America. But folks in unruly former Soviet republics like Georgia should be afraid…be very afraid!
*Published originally on Friday, 14 September at 5:17 AM
Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 11:21 AMGiven all of the media hype surrounding Britney’s “comeback performance”, I felt compelled to tune in to MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMA) on Sunday – if only for blogging purposes.
However, as soon as it was announced that she would be opening the VMA’s, I began citing – to my one friend who cared – why watching Britney these days seems eerily similar to watching the train wreck that was the surreal (and cartoonish) life of Anna Nicole Smith. And, in this respect, Kanye’s pre-show rant about Britney not being worthy of, or ready for, such a feature performance was far more obvious than it was prophetic.
I was not at all surprised, therefore, when she bombed. And now America’s P.T. Barnum of Pop, Simon Cowell, says that she may have “killed her career”. Although I suspect there are many more suckers out there still willing to pay for more of “The Britney Show” than even Simon seems to realize.
Nevertheless, I waited until today to comment on her performance because I did not want to participate in the unseemly media orgy of piling on…no matter how much she invited it. Instead, I wish only to reiterate my hope that Britney can get off Anna Nicole’s pedestrian path to self-destruction.
Moreover, I urge her mother and other loved ones to fight now to save her life. I fear, however, that they will simply standby and watch her self-destruct, and then fight over her children and her money (though not necessarily in that order)….
Meanwhile, the irony is not lost on me that MTV bosses got exactly the ratings bonanza they wanted – complete with a drunken brawl between Kid Rock and Tommy Lee over Pam Anderson.
But kudos to Justin Timberlake, Britney’s teenage crush and the real star of the show, for having the balls to bite the hand that gave him four “Moonmen” VMAs. Because he seized every opportunity on center stage to criticize, and even ridicule, these venal bosses for peddling “Real Wold” train wrecks as entertainment instead of promoting music videos; which, after all, is MTV’s purported staple.
*Published originally Friday, 14 September at 5:11 AM
Friday, September 14, 2007 at 10:07 AMOn 26 May 2005, I wrote an article entitled Groundhog days in Iraq…and in President Bush’ head. And in it, I dismissed, in fact decried, the delusional update on the Iraq war, which Bush presented to the American people earlier that week.
Alas, what I wrote about that update back then can fairly suffice as commentary on the delusional update he presented last night – in his eighth “major speech” on Iraq; hence the groundhog days metaphor. Indeed, to demonstrate how utterly irrelevant everything Bush says about Iraq has become, here, in part, is what I wrote in that fateful article over two years ago:
…[I]t came as no surprise that last weekend 20 Americans were reported killed in Iraq amidst more car bombings, serial assassinations and general mayhem. It was instructive, however, to observe President Bush when he was asked how he thought things were going there. Because his answer suggests that he’s suffering from a variant strain of the Groundhog-day syndrome that characterizes the stalemate in Iraq.
After all, Bush replied without a hint of irony or repetition that “we’re routing out the terrorists…and enjoying tremendous success”. But this has been his unwavering refrain for almost 2 years now despite the mounting death toll of American soldiers and innocent Iraqis; and, even more alarming, despite frank admissions by his own generals that their war objectives have been plagued by unforeseen obstacles, not least of which is the deadly spectacle of erstwhile-friendly Iraqis turning on them.
Of course, I appreciate the apparent authority Bush assumed last night by citing the surge report of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. In fact, I accept the general’s assertion that the surge has produced pockets of success in Iraq (eg in Anbar Province); notwithstanding attempts by the anti-Bush morons of MoveOn.org to besmirch Petraeus’ good name by calling him “General Betray Us”.
But no one ever doubted the military’s ability to pick off insurgent cells like matryoshka (Russian nesting) dolls. Instead, for the past four years the elusive challenge has been nation building in Iraq, and providing a clear vision on how this furthers US national security. On these critical points, however, Petraeus was silent in his report, and then demurred in his highly-anticipated Congressional testimony on Tuesday (9/11) that he is, in fact, clueless.
Indeed, apropos this, I am mindful that in 2005 Bush cited (Arabic-speaking) Lt. Gen David Abizaid as the man best suited to broker political reconciliation amongst resolutely-sectarian Iraqis. Because, even back then, Bush was acutely aware that establishing political stability in Iraq is sine qua non in vindicating the “Mission Accomplished” seal he had already stamped on America’s military misadventure in Iraq. And, we all know how well Abizaid fared in that political mission….
Therefore, making more delusional promises – based on this relatively-innocuous troop surge – will do nothing to help build an Iraq that can “govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself”.
Yet, a sober determination must be made about what interest America has in untangling the web that Bush has woven this country into over in Iraq. After all, whether or not one considers the war as vital to America’s national security interest as Bush contends, there’s no denying America’s obligation, if not its categorical imperative, to honor the Pottery Barn (you break it, you own it) rule. And, America has broken Iraq….
Therefore, I submit that the only change of course worth considering now is the one I endorsed years ago – when “shock and awe” was the war jingle of the day. Namely, US military forces should execute the Powell Doctrine.
Specifically, instead of fiddling with timetables for withdrawing troops, Bush should deploy hundreds of thousands [ie, at least 500,000] of them to secure every nook and cranny of Iraq and enforce strict Martial Law. Because only under these prevailing conditions would it be possible to build the country’s infrastructure and democratic institutions, not to mention reconciling its political differences, to create an Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself.
(Incidentally, even if executed flawlessly, this will take decades; not the months or years being debated.)
Meanwhile, with this overwhelming military presence already in place, Bush could exploit the expedient collateral benefit of being able to launch air strikes (this time next year) to take out Iran’s nuclear program and / or enforce an embargo on its oil exports.
And what a boon this would be to Texas oil barons when the price of oil soars to $150 per barrel as a result! Not least because it would make it a lot easier for them to fulfil their end of the bargain to “replenish Bush’s coffers” when he leaves the White House….
Groundhog days in Iraq…and in President Bush’s head
Support the Draft to prevent stupid wars
Iraq Study Group recommendations to “fix” Iraq
Bush will attack Iran to redeem his presidency
Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 11:32 AMLast week Europeans were alarmed by a report in a leading UK newspaper, The Independent, on Switzerland’s draconian immigration laws. In fact, the letter and spirit of these laws are so patently racist and unjust that reporter Paul Vallely was compelled to pose this rhetorical question:
Has Switzerland become Europe’s heart of darkness.
Vallely reports that neo-fascism in this erstwhile “haven of peace and neutrality” is becoming as prevalent amongst Swiss politicians as it is amongst Swiss skinheads. But to appreciate how truly troubling this is, one needs only consider that the level of fascism amongst German politicians (during Hitler’s rise to power) never came close to aping that which existed amongst German Brownshirts (aka SS thugs).
Indeed, even the United Nations has expressed alarm that the Swiss parliament is poised to enact a law calling for:
…the entire family of a criminal under the age of 18 to be deported as soon as sentence is passed.
Now consider that:
Switzerland has the toughest naturalisation rules in Europe. To apply, you must live in the country legally for at least 12 years, pay taxes, and have no criminal record. The application can still be turned down by your local commune which meets to ask “Can you speak German? Do you work? Are you integrated with Swiss people?”
It can also ask, as one commune did of 23-year-old Fatma Karademir – who was born in Switzerland but who under Swiss law is Turkish like her parents – if she knew the words of the Swiss national anthem, if she could imagine marrying a Swiss boy and who she would support if the Swiss football team played Turkey.
Yet, more than 20 per cent of Switzerland’s population, and 25 per cent of its workforce, are (legal) immigrants. More significantly, it enjoys a thriving economy – with enviably low unemployment and a “per capita GDP larger than that of any other Western economy”.
Meanwhile, Swiss claims that these laws are being enacted “For More Security” are rendered even more specious by the fact that violent crime is virtually nonexistent in Switzerland – except on rare occasions when it occurs between immigrants.
Therefore, only good old-fashioned racism can explain the virulent stream of xenophobia now flowing through Switzerland.
But I wonder when it will dawn on the Swiss that deporting so many essential workers is tantamount to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. Moreover, as alluded to in the title above, many people have criticized the relatively hospitable provisions in America’s immigration-reform plan as racist and unjust. Therefore, I also wonder what they will think of this Swiss formula…?
Vallely is wrong, however, to suggest that this Swiss strain of the anti-immigration virus is a new phenomenon in Europe, which threatens to infect the rest of the continent. After all, over two years ago, I documented the draconian immigration laws that nearly every other European country was implementing to block perceived dangers posed by the swarm of (Asian, Turkish, Balkan and African) refugees and asylum seekers crossing their borders.
(Incidentally, I documented this in an article on how former European colonies in the Caribbean were grappling with the real dangers posed by the wave of Haitian refugees and asylum seekers washing up on our shores.)
In particular, here’s what I noted about Switzerland:
[I]n a radical departure from its tradition of liberal immigration laws which resulted in immigrants accounting for up to 23 per cent of its total population – now has some of the most restrictive immigration laws in Europe. Among these is a law which mandates immigration authorities to deny renewal of work permits in great numbers to force thousands of settled immigrants out of the country.
Accordingly, Switzerland is not becoming Europe’s heart of darkness so much as it is beginning to manifest the dark heart that other European countries, including England, have been exhibiting in their dealings with immigrants for years….
That said, there’s no denying Switzerland’s assumption of the vanguard role in creating a new (anti-immigrant) iron curtain across Europe. Indeed, Swiss voters seemed to relish this role when (as reported by BBC News) 67.8 per cent of them ratified new asylum and immigration laws a year ago:
… making it more difficult for refugees to receive assistance in Switzerland and effectively blocking unskilled workers outside Europe from moving to the country.
However, it behooves Hitler’s reformed bankers to consider the international ramifications of now becoming his political heirs….
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 7:36 AMRegular readers of this weblog are quite familiar with my biannual rants against skinny models, which I publish to coincide with the annual Spring and Fall fashion shows in New York City. But for those of you who are not, here’s a sample of my plaintive lament in this regard:…[A]s the madams of modeling in New York are flaunting their obsession with anorexic girls at their biannual fashion bacchanal, the matrons of fashion in Spain announced that such sickly-looking mannequins will no longer be strutting their dry bones at Madrid’s fashion shows…Unfortunately, Madrid is hardly the fashion trendsetting capital of the world. And I fear that instead of setting a new tone its fashion vanguards will suffer a backlash from fashionistas in places like New York, London and Paris who seem terminally vested, commercially and psychologically, in anorexic models.Regrettably, since publishing my first rant (in a different forum) over a decade ago, there has been no gain in the transformation of (health) consciousness amongst the trendsetting madams of fashion. And this, despite the addition of influential voices like that of Harry Potter author JK Rowling to this weighty cause.Indeed, nothing demonstrated the daunting challenges we face more than when self-proclaimed advocate for normal-size models, Tyra Banks, chose the positively-skeletal Jaslene Gonzalez (pictured left) as the winner of her top-rated TV competition for America’s Next Top Model. (Alas, no matter what she says, naturally-chubby Tyra’s still dying to be thin….)Nevertheless, there’s reason to hope. Because the Daily Mail reported on Monday that, for the first time in the history of haute couture, a major London agency, Models 1, fired a fashion model for being “too thin”. Moreover, the conscientious head of this agency told her to not even think about coming back until she has gained at least “one stone” (ie, 14 pounds).But it was not at all surprising to me that instead of pouting with resentment, this model, Charlotte Carter who is 5’10” but wears a bulimic “size 0”, expressed relief:It was like a psychological wall coming down. It helped me to finally realize that I was too thin.I was impressed that an agency was addressing my well-being. It feels like London agencies are cracking down on this super-skinny idea . . . and the rest of the world is somehow listening.Now, if only the madams at Ford, Elite, Wilhelmina et al of New York could get over their obsession with strutting bone-thin mannequins….Meanwhile, I’m not too focused on how bone thin these bitches are to notice how bone white they are also! In fact, here’s what a typical fashion runway looks like in NYC this week!Frankly, one could be forgiven the impression that – since Alek Wek is busy promoting her extraordinary autobiography in the US, and a semi-reformed Naomi Campbell is busy raising funds for flood victims in the UK – no other black models are worthy of showing off the clothes of the world’s top fashion designers.Well, let’s see what Rev Al has to say about that! What?! Sharpton went to Vegas for the VMAs…?!
UPDATE ( September 27) Fashion group Flash & Partners incited appropriate revulsion against skinny models today by launching an ad campaign featuring an anorexic model in all of her glory to coincide with the start of this year’s fashion week in Italy.The image appeared in Italian newspapers and on billboards in the fashion capital, Milan. The photographer, Oliviero Toscani – who attained international fame with his invariably controversial ads for Benetton – said he wanted the campaign to reflect growing concerns about “the unhealthy image of beauty” being propagated by the fashion industry.After all, reduced to its bare essentials (ie, runway models stripped of their haute couture), this is the nightmarish image of beauty that the madams of fashion would have our eyes behold:
Skinny models (still) reign at New York’s Fashion week
Skinny models no longer reign in Spain
JK Rowling joins anti-skinny campaign
Admonition on girls dying to be thin
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 1:45 PM
After just having a conference call interrupted so that my business colleagues could “watch President Bush lead the nation in a moment of silence”, I think it’s time to get some perspective on the elaborate national day of mourning that 9/11 has become.
After all, this wallowing in grief-stricken jingoism – complete with the affected reading of all 3000+ names of “fallen heroes” – now seems little more than a national political spectacle.
Meanwhile, can anyone recall how many annual moments of silence, Soviet-style tributes, and funereal processions were performed in remembrance of Pearl Harbor or the Oklahoma City bombing?