Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 12:32 PMIn the opening sentence of the article I published just yesterday, I dismissed the media’s obsession with Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a distraction from the gravest issue in this year’s presidential election: the (now virtually ignored) war in Iraq.
Yet, within hours of publishing it, my candidate, Barack Obama, played into this obsession by holding an extraordinary press conference to “divorce” Rev. Wright, his former pastor. Never mind that the reverend retired from his ministry months ago….
I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday…. And what I think particularly angered me was [Rev. Wright’s] suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing.
[Sen. Barack Obama criticizing remarks Rev. Wright made at the National Press Club on Monday]But when I finally saw clips of Obama’s press conference last night, I was almost as dismayed as I was when I saw clips of Wright’s “performance” at the National Press Club. Because this public spat they’re engaged in now reminds me of the racial spectacle Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill provided during hearings on his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court; i.e., two intelligent black people engaged in an idiotic bout of mutually assured destruction as political sport for political gain.
This is why I find the ongoing Wright and Obama show so regrettable. Nevertheless, I feel constrained to make a few points:
* This is a media-driven story. Because, like everything Britney Spears does, everything Wright says is good TV. And no one knows this better than the prima donna of ratings whores, Bill O’Reilly – who keeps wondering aloud why Wright won’t “just go away” while featuring the reverend every night on his show.
* In his historic speech on race almost six weeks ago, Obama addressed all of the relevant issues raised by the 24/7 streaming clips of Wright’s most controversial remarks. And nothing Wright has said since then warranted the press conference Obama gave yesterday except political damage control.
* The irony is not lost on me that the thing that “angered” Obama most happens to be the thing that is most true about this controversy, namely: Wright’s assertion that Obama’s denunciation of him is “political posturing.” After all, it is self-evident that the only reason Obama held this press conference was to appease white (blue-collar) voters who are buying into the media (bogeyman) caricature of Wright hook, line and sinker.
* But hanging Wright’s sermons like an albatross around Obama’s neck reeks of racism, religious bigotry and political double standards. Because no other presidential candidate (not even JFK) has ever had to disown, or answer for the lunatic rantings of, his (or her) pastor. (And, for the record, Wright’s sermons are tame compared to the racist, homophobic, misogynistic and xenophobic crap many white preachers spew from their pulpits every Sunday.)
The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an outstanding church leader…. To evaluate his dynamic ministry on the basis of two or three sound bites does a grave injustice to Dr. Wright, the members of his congregation, and the African-American church.Does it not follow therefore that the media should be calling on Hillary to denounce and disown her pastor for supporting Wright?
* With the exception of his insinuation that HIV/AIDS is a biological agent produced by the U.S. government to exterminate black people, I defy anyone to point to a single thing Wright has said that is untrue. (However, the fact that the government deliberately infected black men with syphilis for its Tuskegee experiment provides sufficient precedent for his suspicions about the origins of HIV/AIDS.)
* Like most black preachers, Wright’s sermons are dynamic, passionate and provocative. But that’s only “different not deficient” juxtaposed to the boring, frigid and by-the-Book sermons (most) white preachers deliver.
* I do not believe that Wright has been co-opted by the Clintons to sabotage Obama’s campaign. But the fact that a die-hard Hillary supporter was instrumental in securing his appearance at the National Press Club suggests that the Clintons’ Machiavellian hands are deeply involved in stoking this controversy.
* I believe that Wright is a remarkably brilliant, unquestionably accomplished and justifiably proud black man who intends no harm to Obama’s campaign.
Unfortunately, he’s also a narcissistic egomaniac who is hell-bent on doing whatever he can to redeem his reputation (and reclaim his marketability as the Bill Clinton on the preachers’ circuit). And he’s just too conceited to consider the collateral damage this is inflicting on Obama’s campaign.
* Meanwhile, there’s no denying that Wright only reinforced the way the media has caricatured him by acting more like a gansta rapper than a respected preacher at the National Press Club.
* Moreover, the irony is not lost on me that nothing could be more antithetical to his black liberation theology than a black preacher being the one to undermine the historic opportunity for the first black man to become president of the United States.
* Obama is understandably “outraged and saddened” by Wright’s refusal to put his ego in check for this historic opportunity. Frankly, I am too. But he’s naïve if he thinks that heeding calls by (mostly white) political pundits to throw his (former) pastor under the bus will kill Wright as a campaign canard.
* And only God knows what they’ll be calling for Obama to do when Wright escalates their nasty public divorce by responding to this latest denunciation….
That said, I support Obama now more than ever. And I wish him luck in getting out his message of hope, common cause and racial reconciliation.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 10:53 AMNotwithstanding the media’s obsession with Reverend Jeremiah Wright or warranted concerns about rising gasoline prices, the gravest issue in this year’s presidential election is the (now virtually ignored) war in Iraq. And since comparisons to America’s humiliating “cut and run” from Vietnam have become inescapable, I feel obliged to acknowledge this seminal day in the history of that war.
One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agony would add to our vocabulary new terms, like ‘boat people,’ ‘reeducation camps,’ and ‘killing fields.’
U.S. President George W. Bush
Because the unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s refusal to withdraw from an “unwinnable war” (as no less a person than Henry Kissinger has described the war in Iraq) should not be paid by thousands of American soldiers, whose deaths would add to our vocabulary new terms, like the fallacies of “[American-style] democracy is God’s gift to the world,” “shock and awe,” and “mission accomplished” on the one hand, and the terminal menace of “Islamic insurgents,” “torture,” and “IEDs” on the other.
Moreover, since Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has evidently drawn the same lesson from Vietnam as Bush, this alone provides just cause to vote for Sen. Barack Obama (or Sen. Hillary Clinton if she and husband Bill manage to steal the Democratic nomination) to become the next president of the United States.
After all, where McCain has pledged to “stay the course” in Iraq for 100 years (during which time U.S. casualties would surely surpass the 58,000 who died in Vietnam), Obama and Hillary have pledged to withdraw well before today’s 4000 casualties double to 8000.
But it is self-evident that the U.S. will have to cut and run from Iraq. The only question is when that will be and (in terms of lives and money) what price this defeat?
Monday, April 28, 2008 at 11:50 AMOn Friday, I wrote a column to put into proper context the extraordinary attack Premier Hon. Dr. Michael Misick of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) launched against me in Parliament last week.
One of the more ironic things about his attack was his accusation that I am a crony of the opposition PDM party. Ironic because, not so long ago, when I hailed Dr. Misick for his historic achievement on becoming the first Premier of the TCI, many PDM supporters condemned me as a “traitor.”
Well, today I’m writing about another matter that I feel obliged to put into proper context. And it pertains to the salacious and malicious rumours that are stalking the circulation (throughout the entire Caribbean) of a picture of TCI First Lady LisaRaye on the cover of a magazine called Smooth.
Frankly, I am shocked and appalled that so many purportedly intelligent and fair-minded people are not even bothering to wonder when this photo was taken before condemning the First Lady for bringing our country into ill-repute. Not to mention the self-righteous Christians amongst us who have apparently forgotten God’s admonition to “judge not, lest ye be judged.”
Beyond being shocked and appalled, however, I am profoundly dismayed. Because so many influential people (including some from the ruling PNP) seem hell-bent on besmirching the First Lady’s reputation as a craven means of twisting the knife in our terminally wounded Premier. And this is unfair, unseemly, and unbecoming.
Nevertheless, my faith in the innate compassion and good sense of my fellow TCIslanders remains unshaken. Therefore, I hope the facts I’m about to share about this prurient farce will not only set the record straight but also compel all of you to redouble your efforts to accord our First Lady the deference and respect she deserves:
b. At the time it was taken, LisaRaye was working as an actress. And as such, she did what every beautiful and respectable actress from Halle Berry to Angelina Jolie did to further their careers; i.e., she modeled.
c. Unfortunately, starting out in their careers, none of these women are ever in the position to retain control over the use of the pictures that are taken of them. And that is why, all these years later, magazines like Smooth can publish them to exploit the positions of honor and esteem they attain in society, the arts or politics.
d. Whatever one thinks of the revealing nature of this picture, it is modest by comparison to what many other respectable actresses revealed in their modeling days.
e. And, even if LisaRaye appeared fully nude, I suspect it would have been in the artistic manner we see nude women on display in some of the most hallowed museums in the world, including at the Vatican in Rome. Of course, if you prefer a more contemporary reference, consider that a fully nude photo of the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni, was sold at auction just weeks ago.
That said, let us now focus our thoughts and attention on the truly scandalous matters we’re having to cope with these days. After all, it is also ironic that this unjust vilification of our First Lady (for taking a relatively innocent picture) has detracted from the just denunciation of our Premier (for squandering our nation’s wealth).
Finally, I suspect that many of you who have taken perverse delight in hurling indignation at the First Lady are the very ones who have already tried and convicted the Premier of rape. Therefore, I urge you to take a moment to reflect on what the following question says about our character and soul as a God-fearing nation:
Why did so many of us think so little about treating so cruelly a woman who must be crestfallen over allegations that her husband betrayed her by raping a woman in their home?
My fellow TCIslanders, each of us now has a duty to show the world that we are better than this….
NOTE: No doubt it will be difficult for some of you to appreciate why I have come to First Lady LisaRaye’s defense – especially given all that I’ve written about her husband. But I defend her for same reason I criticize her husband: the offices they hold reflect who we are as a people. And to the extent those offices are besmirched or corrupted, we too are besmirched or corrupted.
* This article is also featured today at Caribbean Net News, the most widely read newspaper in the Caribbean.
Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 11:42 AM
McCain’s pipe dream: Hillary and Obama engage in mutually assured destruction (MAD), and he wins by default…Meanwhile, here, in part, is what I wrote several months ago (on January 29) about how the Clintons’ race-baiting campaign tactics so outraged the Kennedys that they felt morally compelled to endorse Obama:
It could only have reinforced Sen. Kennedy’s disgust when Bill Clinton insinuated that Jesse Jackson could have done just as well after Obama won a landslide victory in the South Carolina primary. Because it was lost on no one that Bill was trying to foment racial resentment amongst whites and Hispanics against Obama to get them to vote for Hillary.
In fact, what he was really saying to blacks in South Carolina, and implicitly to blacks all over America, is “ya’ll can kiss my white ass cuz we don’t need you to win!” And, given that Hispanics now outnumber blacks, he might be right….
It took them long enough, but even “neutral” black leaders are now becoming disgusted with the Clintons. And no one has expressed this disgust with more dignified indignation than Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the so-called Dean of black Democrats.
The final straw seems to have been Bill’s recent pot-calling-the-kettle-black tirade in which he insisted that “Obama played the race card on me.” And, when challenged about the patent falsity and absurdity of his claim, Bill exacerbated his delusion as he fumed to an aide:
I don’t think I should take any shit from anybody on that, do you?
This, in turn, prompted Clyburn to call Bill’s tirade “bizarre,” and he admonished the former “first black president of the United States” (brother to “brother”) to “chill.”
Unfortunately, Bill and Hillary couldn’t care any less how blacks feel about them playing the race card or taking “the low road to victory.”
Nevertheless, they are such craven opportunists that once Obama gets the nomination, the Clintons will act as if they ordained it. Moreover, they will work fiendishly on his behalf to ensure access to the White House once Obama is elected the next president of the United States.
The Kennedys: Dissing Hillary, endorsing Obama
Friday, April 25, 2008 at 10:02 AMRepublished from Caribbean Net Newscaribbeannetnews.com
Published on Friday, April 25, 2008By Anthony Livingston Hall
On Wednesday, in the midst of the most critical budget debate in the history of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), Premier Hon. Dr Michael Misick took to the floor of Parliament and accused me of plotting to ruin the country. Of course, if I suffered any of the delusions and pathologies he manifests, I would be flattered.
Frankly, this is rather like a crazy man who sets his house on fire and then accuses the firemen of trying to destroy it. After all, the Premier spewed this accusation at me in response to the opposition party’s indictment against him for the mismanagement, misuse and misappropriation of government revenues that have left us effectively bankrupt.
At any rate, as evidence of my phantom plot, the Premier claimed that:
a. I received $100,000 from the previous PDM government to perform legal services but “did nothing”;
b. I am a crony being used by opposition leaders to tell lies and drag our country through the mud in the international media. (Because he won’t let me do so in the TCI); and
c. I am not even a real citizen of the TCI because I have never lived there and care nothing about it.
And, in a perverse attempt to authenticate these fatuous claims, he added that two of my erstwhile cousins (namely, Deputy Premier Floyd Hall and Minister Jeffery Hall, MP) have denied any relationship with me.
At this point, I feel obliged to apologise to my fellow TCIslanders for the mockery our Premier made of the budget debate by launching into this incomprehensible attack on me. Especially since I am reliably informed that many of you watched this farce on (his) national TV.
That said, I’m sure everyone, except the Hon. Dr Misick, is wondering what in the world I have to do with the fact that he blew our national budget by $36 million, has overdrawn the government’s current cash account by $6 million, and is planning to burden us with massive tax and fee increases to compensate for his shortcomings as Premier.
In fact, his tirade against me is such a patent and puerile ruse to deflect blame that I seriously considered not dignifying his claims with any response. Ultimately, however, my respect for the office he holds compels me to.
Therefore, in order, here is all I have to say about our Premier’s attempt to assassinate my character:
a. I never, ever, received $100,000 (or anywhere near that amount) from the PDM government.
The fact is that over a 10-year period (from 1993 to 2003), I performed a variety of legal and consulting services for the government. And I did 99 per cent of this work free of charge.
Nonetheless, in the one case where I submitted a bill for legitimate and documented services rendered, the government paid only two thirds of it and the rest remains outstanding to this day. This, no doubt, is the case the Premier was alluding to in his parliamentary diatribe.
But I am sensible enough to know that it would be unseemly and futile for me to engage in a “he said, he said” argument about the facts involved.
Therefore, I invite the Premier (or any interested party) to contact the chairman and board members of the government agency who retained me for the work in question. As I am certain that, if they tell him today what they told me back then, he will be informed that the work I submitted took one-tenth the time to complete, was twice as good, and cost half as much as similar work they were obligated to pay a foreign firm to produce.
(Incidentally, I am quite prepared to subject all of my business dealings in the TCI to the kind of forensic scrutiny that would surely cause the Premier to break out in hives if his were subjected to similar scrutiny.)
b. I challenge the Premier to cite a single lie I’ve written about him or our country. And no fair-minded person who reads my commentaries could possibly think that I’m a crony of the PDM. Which is more than can be said for the (Barbadian) editor of his state newspaper, The Sun; after all, he peddles the Premier’s propaganda as if his livelihood depended on it.
But nothing demonstrates the Premier’s delusional state of mind quite like his accusing me of ruining our country by writing about his corrupt and incompetent government in the foreign press. Because, like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, he takes foolish pride in the fact that he has silenced all freedom of press in the TCI.
Indeed, it takes psychotic gall for this man – who is under investigation not only for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars but also for raping one of our tourists – to be accusing me of dragging our country through the mud. It also reflects the fact that he has become completely detached from the realities of ordinary life and politics in the TCI.
This, however, is hardly surprising since the Premier has spent more time abroad spending our money like an Arab sheik than he has at home attending the affairs of state. Furthermore, he has used public funds to maintain a lifestyle (complete with domestic servants who earn more than civil servants) that makes the $50,000 net worth he declared when he was first elected seem like mere pocket change today.
(By the way, I fear some of his ministers have become equally detached. Because only this explains why, during the budget debate, Minister Jeffrey Hall offered the following instruction to long-suffering TCIslanders as a way they can help resolve the economic crisis the government created: Begin putting things in, and taking them out, of the refrigerator in the blink of an eye to conserve electricity…)
c. Thank God my status as a bona fide TCIslander is determined only by our Constitution.
Because, if it were up to the Premier, only islanders who swear cult-like loyalty to him, Russians and Czechs who conduct shady land deals with him, and Hollywood D-listers who sponge off him would qualify.
With that, I hope my fellow TCIslanders will find my answers to the Premier’s claims both dignified and wholly credible.
Now I shall conclude by reiterating two pieces of advice I have urged the Premier to heed:
1. Two years ago, when he was teasing us with talk of independence, I advised him to govern with such prudence and honesty that no one could accuse him of being a hollow politician who is more interested in posing as an independent leader than in assuming the duties and responsibilities of good governance. Alas, he did not heed this advice…
2. Two weeks ago, when rape allegations against him first surfaced, I advised him to stay far away from the United States because he would surely be arrested. And the last thing our people need is to see another TCI leader being hauled off from Miami Airport in handcuffs. It behooves him to take heed.
redible sources have reported that Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has joined TCI Opposition PDM Leader Hon. Floyd Seymour in calling on the Premier to resign. However, I suspect one would have better luck drawing blood from a stone.
This is why, over six months ago, I called on the more conscientious members of the ruling PNP to throw him overboard to save themselves and our country. But I fear their failure to do so will eventually force the British to dissolve this government and put our country into receivership… again.
ENDNOTE: Rumor has it that lawyers for the Premier are on the verge of concluding negotiations for him to pay off the woman who accused him of rape. If so, this will probably provide just the pretext TCI law enforcement authorities need to drop the case.
Nevertheless, he should be aware that once she reported this crime to the police in America, she retained no authority to decide whether to prosecute him. In fact, even if the Premier offers her millions, she could still be compelled to testify (and could be held in contempt if she refuses) and he could end up facing charges not only for rape but also for obstruction of justice.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 10:51 AMFor a variety of reason not worth mentioning, I thought Barack Obama would win yesterday’s Pennsylvania primary. In fact, here’s how I called it:
It seems no one thinks Barack Obama has a prayer of winning today’s Pennsylvania primary. But I think he’s going to shock the world by upsetting Hillary Clinton (i.e., by ending up in a virtual tie in her “home state”). And this will give him a lock on the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.
More important, however, even if Hillary wins by the 10-point margin most pundits predict, it will have no significant impact on Obama’s lead in the overall delegate race 1655 to 1513.
What can I say, occasionally conventional wisdom is wise. Never mind my (and Obama’s) misguided hope that Pennsylvanians would reverse the trend of white voters promising to vote for Obama on the campaign trail but voting for Hillary on election day….
Despite the egg on my face, however, “read my lips:“ Obama will be the Democratic nominee. In fact, even with her impressive win and all the delegates factored in, Obama retains his commanding lead in the delegate race 1694 to 1556.
Nevertheless, as a consolation prize, Hillary’s win will enable her to not only replenish her debt-ridden campaign coffers but also remain a bona fide nuisance to Obama all the way to the Democratic Convention in August. Indeed, she is now poised to make good on her threat to have a cat-and-dog death match with Obama on the floor of the Convention for the nomination.
Whatever Hillary….NOTE: To all of the poor blue-collar workers out there struggling to make ends meet, please do not be fooled by Hillary’s I-feel-your-pain-cuz-I’m-one-of-you shtick.
After all, this is a woman who has lived in either a governor’s mansion (in Arkansas) or the White House virtually all of her adult life. And she was just forced to disclose that she’s worth over $100 million for Christ’s sake!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 10:58 AMI know many of you consider car racing a sport only simple-minded, beer-drinking, tobacco-chewing rednecks could enjoy. But this reflects your ignorance far more than it does any lack of sophistication among the fans of this sport.
After all, Indy car racing is a sport that requires the steady nerves of a surgeon, the daring skill of a jet fighter and the physical stamina of a marathon runner. And no sport can match the none-stop thrill, nail-biting anxiety and death-defying excitement one gets from watching those cars zoom around that track – jockeying for position at an average speed of over 220 mph…for 500 miles!
Now, add to these exhilarating dynamics Danica Patrick – all 5’1”, 100lbs of her in full racing armor – and the world’s most watched sporting event (over 300,000 in the stands) is injected with a level of human interest that transcends sport.Indeed, when Patrick made her debut on the all-male Indy racing circuit in 2005, I was among the ardent feminists heralding her as the Tiger Woods of her sport. In fact, I thought her performance in that year’s feature race, the Indianapolis 500, was so promising that I wrote the following:
What a debut Patrick made! Because, after racing in such dramatic fashion – by skillfully navigating through a number of harrowing crashes, leading the race on several occasions (including at lap 190 of 200) and finishing 4th out of 33 of the world’s best drivers – Patrick easily surpassed her media hype and demonstrated beyond doubt that a woman is equal to any man when it comes to the sport of auto racing.Therefore, imagine how disappointing it has been for me to watch her turn into the Anna Kournikova of this sport, namely: a babe who competes more to win commercial ads than to win Indy races.
That all changed on Sunday, however, when she won the first race of her career at the Japan 300. And in so doing, she became the first woman in history to win an Indy car race. But no one appreciated how belated it was in coming than Patrick herself – who hailed her victory as follows:
It’s a long time coming. Finally!Well, you’ve come a long way baby! In fact, I can think of no greater tribute to her performance in this race than the one I gave in honor of her debut:
Here’s to Danica Patrick for racing through yet another sexist barrier along the road towards liberating the full potential of women to be all that they can be. And, it’s only a matter of time before this young trailblazer drives her car into the winner’s circle as champion of the Indianapolis 500.
You go girl!
NOTE: It seems no one thinks Barack Obama has a prayer of winning today’s Pennsylvania primary. But I think he’s going to shock the world by upsetting Hillary Clinton (i.e., by racing her to a virtual tie in her “home state”). And this will give him a lock on the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.
More important, however, even if Hillary wins by the 10-point margin most pundits predict, it will have no significant impact on Obama’s lead in the overall delegate race 1655 to 1513.
Patrick makes sensational debut at Indy 500
Monday, April 21, 2008 at 10:25 AM
Negro I am, Negro I Will Remain
Because he died on the tiny French Caribbean island of Martinique last Thursday when virtually all media attention throughout the Americas was focused on the Pope’s historic visit to the United States. And, as a result, neither Césaire’s passing nor his state funeral was accorded the international media attention it was due.
Therefore, to make (woefully modest) amends for this oversight, I decided to wait until today to pay my respects – since the Pope has now returned to the cloistered confines of the Vatican.
Of course, I appreciate that few of you know who Césaire was. And even many of you who do probably find it presumptuous of me to think that eulogizing him merited impinging on the 24/7 media coverage of the Pope.
Nevertheless, I am certain that my plaintive homage will resonate with anyone familiar with Césaire’s leadership of the 1930s Negritude Movement. Because, defined as “affirmation that one is black and proud of it,” this movement gave rise to black liberation struggles throughout Africa and the Caribbean just as the 1920s Harlem Renaissance gave rise to the struggle for civil rights in the United States.
Moreover, just as intellectuals of the Renaissance, including Alain Locke, Jesse Toomer and Langston Hughes, challenged white paternalism and racism, Césaire and others, including Leon Dumas and Léopold Sédar Senghor, challenged the presumptions and prerogatives of colonialism.
Césaire is especially celebrated in this pantheon of black-consciousness pioneers for founding the Black Student Journal in Paris, which promoted and cultivated an Afrocentric pride in the African heritage of black folks. And his 1950 book, Discourse on Colonialism, has become a classic of French literature.
All the same, I’m embarrassed to confess that I knew nothing about him until an English girl tutored my initiation into Afrocentric literature in America 27 years ago. And she set me on life-long quest for racial enlightenment by inducing me to read two of Césaire’s most-celebrated works, namely, his essay “Negro I am, Negro I will Remain,” and his poem “Notes From a Return to the Native Land.”
A Césaire poem explodes and whirls about itself like a rocket, suns burst forth whirling and exploding like new suns—it perpetually surpasses itself.
But nothing affirmed my racial, intellectual and political affinity for Césaire quite like learning just days ago that, like me, he endorsed Socialist Segolene Royal instead of Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in last year’s French presidential elections.
Yet it’s a measure of Césaire irreproachable stature in France and throughout Francophone Africa and the Caribbean that, even though he snubbed Sarkozy on more than one occasion, Sarkozy, as president, mounted a successful campaign to rename Martinique’s airport in his honor. More to the point, Sarkozy led a high-profile French delegation, which included his rival Royal, to attend Césaire’s funeral on the island yesterday.
A free and independent spirit, he embodied during his entire life the struggle for identity and the richness of his African roots…. Through his universal appeal for the respect of human dignity, consciousness-raising and responsibility, he will remain a symbol of hope for all oppressed people.
[French President Nicolas Sarkozy]
Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 11:07 AM
Friday, April 18, 2008 at 10:57 AM
If you prosecute me, I can make life miserable for many VIPs…. I can state with unequivocal certainty this situation will be a long and unpleasant one.
[DC Madam to federal prosecutors upon her arrest]
On the other hand, she skillfully teased the rest of us to the point of giddy animation as we awaited the outing of the VIP pricks who patronized her elite prostitution ring.
Yet when her trial suffered premature summation this week, her high-profile patrons were the ones who enjoyed orgasmic relief while the rest of us were left with virtual blue balls.
Although if Palfrey delivered on her sexual promises the way she delivered on her threat, it’s a wonder she had any names in her little black book to exploit. Because, when it came time for her to finally put out at trial, she sat there like a frigid nanny and called only a few pedestrian clients to testify in her defense.
Alas, she denied us the prurient pleasure of watching VIP Johns like Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana squirm on the witness stand. Instead, we were treated to her lawyer’s fatuous argument that Palfrey was just selling appointments and should not be liable for what her girls did during them.
Not surprisingly, the jury rejected her I-was-just-a-receptionist defense and convicted her on Tuesday on all counts, including money laundering, racketeering and using the postal service for illegal purposes.
She faces many years in prison when she’s sentenced on July 24.
That said, I think the prosecution of Deborah Palfrey was a national farce and a travesty of justice. Because prostitution is a victimless crime, which should be decriminalized!
Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 10:49 AMLast night Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama engaged in their 21st Democratic presidential debate. Never mind that I thought they had exhausted all they had to say on the issues that matter to the American people after the 10th one. In fact, here’s the national plea I sounded some time ago to end this dog and pony show:
I feel obliged to remind you that this is not an election for the president of a debating society…. Therefore, don’t buy into the media hype about who landed the most punches…. These debates are staged more to entertain political pundits than to inform ordinary voters.
For what it’s worth, however, I thought Obama prevailed….
[Obama-Day Tuesday…South Carolina, The iPINIONS Journal, January 22, 2008]
Moreover, even Obama has come to realize the utter futility of continuing to participate. That’s why he promised supporters that this would be his last debate. This, notwithstanding Hillary’s sado-masochistic pining for at least 20 more – no doubt hoping against hope that Obama might make a fatal mistake in one of them.
But I hope this is at least one promise Obama keeps….
Nevertheless, these debates have had at least one redeeming feature. Because they have showcased Obama’s political genius, adaptability and readiness to serve as president of the United States.
After all, he has compelled even his most ardent critics to go from calling him just a great orator who could never match wits with Hillary in debates, to hailing him as the candidate who not only acts more presidential but also displays superior debating skills.
Therefore, it was no surprise at all that, just as he has done in the last several debates, Obama performed well enough last night to maintain his momentum over Hillary among fickle superdelegates and in these debates.
Indeed, nothing demonstrated his superior political and debating skills quite like the way Obama countered Hillary’s attack on him for sitting on the board of a charitable foundation with a member of the bomb-throwing 1960’s anti-war group, the Weather Underground. Because, after noting that she has based her entire candidacy on her husband’s presidency, Obama reminded everyone that Bill Clinton actually pardoned two members of the same group.
And this only added insult to the rhetorical injury he inflicted on her calling him an elitist for saying, quite properly, that small-town folks are bitter about their economic plight. Because, after ridiculing her for pretending to be everything from a whisky-swigging longshoreman to a gun-toting Annie Oakley to get a vote, he dismissed her antics by saying:
“She knows better, shame on her!”
Of course, what he really meant to say was that Hillary calling him elitist is like the pot calling the kettle black. But then she’d probably call him a racists for saying so….
All the same, Obama should know better than to think that Hillary is even capable of shame. Because it’s patently clear that she is not.
Obama-Day Tuesday…(Another presidential debate)
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 10:59 AMThe advance billing said that Pope Benedict XVI was coming on his first papal mission to America to promote peace (in the Middle East), foster interfaith fellowship, and pay homage to the victims of 9/11.Yet there’s no denying that his greatest challenge will be reestablishing the trust between his Bishops and America’s 65 million Catholics, which was betrayed by priests who sexually abused so many children. But this challenge is compounded by the fact that it took class-action lawsuits to reveal the Bishops’ cover up of these abuses. And I doubt the $2 billion the Church paid out to over 11,000 victims did much to restore their shattered faith….Of course, the Pope’s politically savvy aides are acutely aware that this sex abuse scandal will cloud every word he utters and every move he makes during this visit. And this is why they had him launch a preemptive campaign to frame discussion of this sensitive issue by offering the following lamentation to a gaggle of reporters on his flight to the US:
It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen. It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission … to these children.
I am deeply ashamed, and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future. I do not wish to talk at this moment about homosexuality, but about pedophilia, which is another thing.
We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry. It is more important to have good priests than many priests. We will do everything possible to heal this wound.
However, the Pope’s now patented candor may have done more to anger than pacify the victims of this abuse. After all, a cabal of homosexuals in the Vatican continues to indulge and cover up the sexual exploits of gay priests, including the abuse of pedophiles.
Not to mention the widespread (mistaken) belief that there is a positive correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia in the Catholic Church. And I’m sure the Pope is acutely mindful that disabusing Americans of this belief is critical to getting them to replenish the billions the Church has lost in payoffs and tithing withheld as a result of the sex abuse scandal….
Meanwhile, many analysts have marveled at the fact that, for the first time in his presidency, President George W. Bush traveled to the airport to greet a foreign dignitary upon arrival for a state visit. But this was probably because Bush appreciates that the Pope is the only man that Osama bin Laden and Islamic jihadists want to kill more than him.
(Incidentally, this is why we’ll be treated to unprecedented levels of disruption for security reasons in Washington, DC and New York City this week…)
Perhaps you recall how the Pope incited hysterical riots among Muslims all over the world almost two years ago. They went ballistic because – in rejecting what he called the “dictatorship of relativism” (i.e., the notion that all ideas, no matter how fanatical, have equal value) – the Pope alluded to the following prescient challenge to Muslims by 14th Century Christian Emperor Manuel II Paleologos:
Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
Of course, it is this unqualified rejection of moral relativism that binds the Catholic Pope and Protestant president. However, where moral absolutism in a religious leader is tolerable, in a political leader it is untenable, which accounts for Bush’s fatally flawed presidency….
Never mind the irony that it was Bush’s moral aversion to “evil doers” that compelled him to invade Iraq; whereas, it was the Pope’s moral aversion to evil doers that compelled him to oppose Bush’s invasion.
At any rate, here’s to the Pope’s mission of peace, love, hope, forgiveness and reconciliation. And, since today happens to be his 81st birthday, I also wish him a Happy Birthday.
Pope extends olive branch after offending Muslims
Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 10:31 AMMany of my Italian readers took jingoistic offense when I alluded in a May 6, 2006 article titled Arrivederci Silvio Berlusconi…until next time to the fact that they change their governments with uncanny promiscuity.
Here, in part, is what I wrote about Berlusconi’s reluctance to cede power after losing in national elections to his perennial nemesis, Romano Prodi:
The election results, which left him only 2 seats short of Prodi’s majority in the Senate, have clearly stoked Berlusconi’s vain ambition to make Prodi’s term as prime minister even shorter and more beleaguered than his first 9-month term in 1994….
Congratulations Signore Prodi! And good luck. You’re going to need it….
Well, I suppose my critics can claim some measure of vindication from the fact that Prodi’s term lasted more than nine months. But this hardly undermines the premise of my article.
After all, by voting on Sunday to change governments yet again – even though Prodi had served only 2 of his 5-year term – the Italians are clearly continuing their promiscuous electoral ways. Indeed, this election will usher in Italy’s 62nd government since World War II….
(By comparison, the United States has had only 43 goverments since its founding almost 220 years ago….)
All the same, I’m obliged to hail Berlusconi’s third stint as prime minister.
Yet I am constrained to note that – as an evidently irrepressible 71-year old – Italian politics will probably force him to endure at least three more cycles of election defeat and return to power before he ends his career as Italy’s most dynamic and controversial politician since Benito Mussolini.
The months and years ahead will be difficult and I am preparing a government ready to last five years.
[Berlusconi - after his main rival conceded defeat on yesterday afternoon]
Alas, there’s no reason to believe that he will fare any better this time around in executing his campaign promises to liberalize the economy, reduce crime and clean up corruption (or for that matter to clean up the mess from a year-long garbage strike that has turned Naples into a city dump).
So, congratulations Signore Berlusconi! And good luck. You’re going to need it….
Monday, April 14, 2008 at 12:31 PMYesterday, almost four months after contested election results plunged Kenya into tribal warfare that killed 1500 and left 600,000 displaced, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga held a joint press conference to announce that they had finally signed a National Accord and Reconciliation Act (NARA). This Act proposes:
To form a grand coalition government to rescue their country from weeks of violence, anger, and mistrust.
Never mind that there was virtual unanimity among international election observers not only that Kibaki’s ruling Party of National Unity (PNU) had lost control of parliament, but also that he had been duly ousted as president.
Yet, as members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe and Odinga’s Luo tribe clashed in the streets, Kibaki defied the results by having himself sworn in for another term as president and forming a cabinet comprised of his cronies amidst the chaos. In fact, this is what made signing the NARA so difficult.
Because, after 12 weeks of post-election violence showed no signs of abating, both men agreed in principle to a power-sharing government as, effectively, an armistice agreement to end the tribal warfare. But this meant Kibaki had to unseat many of the ministers he hastily appointed.
Meanwhile, Odinga and his opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party had already emulated Kibaki and his PNU by declaring Odinga the new president and the ODM the new ruling party. And it was reconciling the equal and opposing ambitions of those who sat in each party’s ministerial posts that proved so devilish.
Nevertheless, when all was said and done, Kibaki got his way. After all, in this grand coalition, he remains president, while Odinga becomes prime minister. Moreover, even though the NARA prescribed “an equal share of power,” there’s no denying that Kibaki’s men will remain head of the most powerful ministries.
So, after failing at the polls, Kibaki, who many in the West heralded as a new breed of African politician, resorted to good old-fashioned violence, intimidation, and dirty tricks to hold on to power.
Which brings me to Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe: Because like Kibaki and his ruling party, all indications are that he and his ruling ZANU-PF party lost close national elections that were held on March 29. Yet, like Kibaki, Mugabe refused to concede defeat, which also plunged Zimbabwe into post-election violence.
(Note: The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to release the official results. Instead, it has ordered a recount that many believe will be rigged – i.e., more effectively than the original count – to give Mugabe and the ZANU-PF the victories they are determined to have by hook or by crook.)
Moreover, Mugabe and ZANU-PF have already resorted to even more ruthless means to hold on to power, including ransacking opposition party offices and executing summary arrests.
Therefore, it behooves Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to seek a grand compromise for a coalition government based on the Kenya model. And they would do well to heed this advice because all political and legal maneuvers to oust Mugabe are doomed to fail.
Indeed, despite great expectations that those attending last weekend’s summit of southern African leaders would denounce Mugabe and demand that he step aside, Tsvangirai was sorely disappointed when they merely issued a pro forma call for Zimbabwe’s election results “to be announced speedily.”
However, if the opposition party does not compromise (essentially on Mugabe’s terms), here’s what lies in store for Zimbabwe – from an article I published before the polls closed on election day:
Whatever the case, nobody who knows Mugabe can possibly believe that he will ever accept defeat at the polls. After all, this man is a genocidal megalomaniac who is congenitally disposed to war.
Therefore, it will take a war – that will make post-election violence in Kenya seem like a school-yard brawl – to wrest power from his hands.
So, here’s to five more years of 100,000% inflation, 80% unemployment and international pariah status for Zimbabwe under the iron-fisted rule of Robert Mugabe….
Sunday, April 13, 2008 at 12:01 PMRelated Articles:
Saturday, April 12, 2008 at 9:50 AMOn Thursday, word that a woman accused Premier Hon. Dr. Michael Misick of rape spread throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) like wildfire. And such is the disaffection and disillusionment with his leadership that even supporters of his ruling Progressive National Party (PNP) were adding fuel to rumours about his premiership going down in flames.
Nevertheless, I admonish all of my compatriots to resist the temptation to speculate too much about what this accusation portends for Premier Misick, and for our country. Especially since he categorically denied it in a statement he delivered on state TV on Thursday night:
My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, a few days ago, an American female, after leaving the Turks and Caicos Islands, made a false report to law enforcement officials in the United States that she had allegedly been sexually assaulted by me. I strongly and categorically deny these false allegations…. I am confident that I will be completely and fully exonerated of these false and outrageous allegations.
Let me be clear, I will continue my duties as Premier.
Moreover, it will be weeks, if not months, before our attorney general decides whether there is sufficient evidence to even file charges against him. Not to mention that our Premier is entitled to, and must be accorded, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty!
(Of course, given the plethora of complaints about him denying others the Constitutional rights to which they are entitled, I fully appreciate how difficult this admonition will be for many of you to accept.)
That said, there’s no denying the national, regional and international interest in this story. Therefore, I hope this commentary will at least foster more informed gossip about it.
Indeed, since the facts in these “she said, he said” situations can only be established in a court of law, I can only comment on what reliable sources claim occurred:
It is my understanding that Premier Misick committed this alleged rape over a week ago at the Providenciales mansion he shares with his American (actress) wife, First Lady Lisa Raye. The accuser is said to be an American friend of Lisa Raye. After being raped, she reported the crime to the TCI police. And, shortly thereafter, she returned to her home in the United States and reported it to the FBI, which of course poses far more ominous consequences for the Premier.
(Incidentally, one can only hope that our police followed proper procedures – particularly by using our version of a sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kit to gather and preserve physical evidence. On the other hand, Premier Misick is probably hoping for police incompetence in this respect….)
But that’s it for all of the alleged facts that are relevant. Nevertheless, they beg all kinds of unanswerable questions and are rife with political and legal implications. For example:
- If this rape occurred over a week ago, I wonder whether guests who attended the gala opening of the Nikki Beach Resort and Spa last weekend can recall (even if through a drunken or drugged-out haze) any antic behaviour the Premier and First Lady displayed that could be attributed to it.
- Given the Premier’s Clintonian denial, I wonder if we should infer that his defense will be that he did not rape her, but did have consensual “rough” sex with her.
- Since the accuser is an American, I wonder how aggressive a role FBI agents are playing in the investigation. The Premier is clearly naive if he thinks they’re “just observing” – as he declared.
- I wonder which role the First Lady will choose to play: Will she stand by her man; or will she fly the coop back to the US to stand by her friend – especially if the FBI and IRS make her an offer she can’t refuse?
(Of course, if she flees and divorce proceedings ensue, we’d have to end our tourism ad campaign featuring her in the most lucrative role of her life; which would result in millions more of our money being squandered by this TCI government.)
- I suspect senior members of the ruling Progressive National Party (PNP) were already suffering acute anxieties over the looming commission of inquiry into corruption in the TCI. Therefore, I wonder how close they came to finally throwing the Premier overboard to save their own hides.
- Yet, I wonder whether these allegations will make the British more, or less, inclined to establish this commission.
But this seems a good place to stop wondering and to assert that it is wishful thinking to assume that prosecuting (and even convicting) Premier Misick for rape renders moot the need for a commission of inquiry. Because, if anything, this episode dramatizes how critical the need for one has become.
After all, the members of the UK Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) were not “shocked, appalled [and] astonished” just because the Premier reeked of corruption. They expressed those feelings because the entire government reeked of it.
Indeed, it is arguable that if the Governor, government ministers and the Attorney General did not give tacit approval to (or participate in) his alleged political and financial crimes, Michael Misick would not have been our Premier when he allegedly perpetrated this violent crime….
Meanwhile, those who were unjustly enriched by the corrupt government practices he institutionalized may be in for a rude awakening. Because it is also wishful thinking to assume that this Premier will go on trial for rape without ratting out even family members in a plea to save his own hide.
(For example, his lawyers might negotiate a plea bargain with British and American authorities that requires him to tell all about his tangled web of corruption in exchange for leniency on the rape charge….)
Therefore, it behooves all who have just cause to fear that he may eventually implicate them to plead their case to the FAC before it’s too late. And the offer I made in my recent commentary on the looming commission of inquiry (i.e., to liaise with the FAC on anyone’s behalf) still stands.
That said, even though rife with political implications, this is first and foremost a criminal matter. And we should leave it to TCI, British and American authorities to investigate the allegations, and to prosecute the Premier if the evidence warrants – in accordance with the due process of law.
In the meantime, however, I would caution him against traveling to the United States. Because I’m sure the FBI would like nothing more than to arrest him and assume original jurisdiction to prosecute him there.
Never mind that, in recent years, the US has so extended its extraterritorial jurisdiction over people who commit violent crimes against Americans abroad, the Premier might not be
safe from the FBI’s dragnet even ensconced in his TCI mansion.
NOTE: No doubt some of you are wondering if the TCI Attorney General will dismiss this allegation of rape against our Premier the way the Director of Public Prosecutions in St Vincent and the Grenadines dismissed two separate allegations of rape against that country’s prime minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, earlier this year.
And frankly, given that the TCI Attorney General decided last year that there was “no public interest” in prosecuting the Premier on credible charges of assault, theft and obstruction of justice, chances are very good that his legal reasoning will mislead him into dismissing this allegation as a strictly private matter.
However, the reason Premier Misick will not get off as easily as Prime Minister Gonsalves did is that his accuser is an American, not a native woman. (Pathetic I know, but it’s really that simple….)
More to the point, I suspect that, ultimately, the FBI and US prosecutors will pursue justice for her far more more diligently and objectively than our arbitrary and capricious Attorney General would have done for one of our own.
Commission of Inquiry looms…
FAC “shocked and appalled”…
Open Letter to PM Gordon Brown
Alas, throwing Premier Misick overboard is necessary…
No public interest in prosecuting the Premier…?
A wannabe gangsta…
* This article was also published today in the most widely read newspaper in the Caribbean: Caribbean Net News
Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 9:10 AM
Maybe men had it right all along: It doesn’t take long to satisfy a woman in bed. A survey of sex therapists concluded the optimal amount of time for sexual intercourse was 3 to 13 minutes.
But it begs the question: Why is this such shockingly pleasant news?
After all, if women’s liberation empowered women to do anything, surely it would have been to disabuse men of the hydraulic notion that pounding away for hours was the foolproof way to satisfy them….No?
At any rate, in addition to relieving men of the anxiety of having to perform like energizer bunnies, this news should also relieve women of the burden of reducing themselves to meat grinders in a misguided effort to stroke men’s egos. And, of course, a greater joy of sex can be had by all.
So here’s to more quickies….
Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 11:35 AMThe only news coming out of Washington yesterday related to the Congressional report by Gen. David H. Petraeus on the progress of America’s mission in Iraq.
But it reflects the American people’s surreal disinterest in (or frustration with) the national tragedy this mission has become that the headlines had little to do with Petraeus’ report. Instead the way the three presidential candidates (namely, Senators John McCain (R-Ariz), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill)) posed rhetorical questions to Petraeus dominated coverage.
For example, Petraeus stressed the fact that the surge strategy President Bush ordered a year ago has led to “pockets of success.” Yet senators had to virtually waterboard him to concede what is plain for all to see, namely that:
We haven’t turned any corners, we haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel. The champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the refrigerator. And the progress, while real, is fragile and is reversible.Most importantly, Petraeus conceded that any notion of withdrawing troops – as Hillary and Obama have proposed (and which a vast majority of Americans favor) – is simply unthinkable. And this means that American troops will be propping up successive Iraqi governments for the next 100 years no matter how much Hillary and Obama ridicule McCain for admitting this fact.
Therefore, here’s what the general reported in a nutshell: Despite over 4000 soldiers dead and half a trillion dollars spent, America is no further along in building an Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself that it was five years ago.
Specifically, the “progress” Petraeus cited has done little to foster political reconciliation among Iraq’s political factions, and even less to rebuild the country’s infrastructure or clean up the slums where al Qaeda fighters and Iraqi insurgents thrive. All of which, of course, constituted the stated mission of Bush’s surge strategy.
Meanwhile, just as he did after Petraeus’ last Congressional report seven months ago, Bush has scheduled another address to the nation tomorrow night to put a presidential spin on this report. And, true to form, he will not only reiterate the rosy scenario about the state of affairs in Iraq that he’s been peddling for the past five years; but will also try to convince the American people that they’re getting good value for all of the blood and treasure being wasted in Iraq.
For a little perspective, on May 26, 2005, I wrote an article titled Groundhog days in Iraq…and in President Bush’s head. And in it, I dismissed, in fact decried, Bush’s delusional war updates from the Oval Office. Alas, what I wrote back then remains as relevant today and will serve as a fair preview of his address tonight:
[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 a reporter asked how he thought things were going there. Because his answer (which, in essence, was that victory is at hand…if we only stay the course) suggests that he’s suffering from a variant strain of the Groundhog-day syndrome that characterizes the stalemate in Iraq.Yet 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.
So instead of fiddling with timetables for withdrawing troops, Bush should deploy hundreds of thousands (i.e., 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 fulfil America’s mission in Iraq. And, incidentally, even if executed flawlessly, this will take decades; not the months or years being debated.
But unless America really occupies Iraq and assumes plenary responsibility for rebuilding it, all of the talk about staying the course or bringing the troops home is just bullshit.
NOTE: Neo-con war hawks were salivating after Petraeus reported that Iran is masterminding the Iraqi insurgency that is bedeviling and killing American troops. Because, by their reckoning, this means war. Therefore, let us pray that Obama becomes president before they convince Bush that the only thing he can do to seal his legacy is to launch a war against Iran.
Of course, McCain and Hillary have called Obama naive for vowing to hold talks with the Iranians about stabilizing the situation in Iraq. But there’s no way they can reconcile their position in this respect with the fact that every American president held talks with the Russians to stabilize similar conflicts during the Cold War.
Another groundhog speech from President Bush
Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 10:53 AMFrankly, Memphis did not deserve to win – given that their superstars failed to make three free throws that would have sealed the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Baskeball Championship last night.
Or maybe they were fated to lose – given that it would have been unseemly for this city, where the nation marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of MLK just days ago, to have anything to celebrate.
But the hired guns who comprise the winning Jayhawks make it clear that this is not Dorothy’s Kansas anymore. And the fact that they triumphed in a Final-Four tournament that featured the top-seeded teams from all regions for the first time in history must make their victory especially sweet.
Congratulations Kansas for pulling off a thrilling 75 to 68 win over Memphis … in overtime!
Final Four: My pick? North Carolina…sorry Charlie
Monday, April 7, 2008 at 12:16 PMIt seemed an uncanny coincidence last September when coroners in London and The Bahamas announced – within days of each other – dates for highly-anticipated inquests into the deaths of Princess Diana (and Dodi Fayed) and Daniel, the son of Anna Nicole Smith, respectively.
Therefore, it seems positively eerie that the juries in both cases seem poised now to render their verdicts within days of each other – with the jury in The Bahamas handing down its verdict last week, and the one in London expected to do so today.
Of course, with all of the tabloid stories about Britney Spears, Elliot Spitzer and other celebrities that have dominated media coverage since then, it’s probably difficult to remember how much worldwide interest these inquests once generated.
Despite all of the conspiracy theories still surrounding Diana’s death, I suspect the jury empanelled at the Westminster Coroner’s Court will merely ratify the findings in Lord Stevens’ report.
He found that Diana died in a terrible car accident when her chauffeur, Henri Paul, lost control; that Paul lost control because he was “as drunk as a pig on a combination of booze and tranquilizers;” and, most significantly, that neither Prince Philip nor any other member of the British royal family engineered or precipitated any criminal mischief in this respect.
Accordingly, since the jury is likely to return a verdict of “accident,” this will effectively stamp “Case Closed!” on this notorious tragedy.Therefore, given that nothing presented at this inquest challenged or contradicted the findings in Lord Stevens’ report, I stand by my prediction of the verdict in this case.
Of course, this jury is taking a rather long time (having begun their deliberations last Wednesday) to render what seems an obvious verdict. But this probably has more to do with the judge’s superfluous instructions than with any regard for the evidence. After all, here, in part, is what Lord Justice Scott Baker told the jurors:
The conspiracy theory promoted by Fayed’s father, Mohamed Al Fayed, that the couple were killed in a secret-service plot masterminded by Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip, has been minutely examined and shown to be without any substance…There was not a shred of evidence.
There is no pressure of time. Take as long as is necessary.Meanwhile, bear in mind that separate French and British police investigations have already concluded Diana’s death was accidental. Therefore, the only thing that explains this jury’s delay in rendering its verdict is that it is comprised of a gaggle of wannabe Sherlock Holmeses who are determined to solve the mystery (or conspiracy) surrounding Diana’s death, which they presume has eluded all of the professional detectives….One wonders whether the seven women on this jury have already made up their minds…. I suspect the jury will find that the manner of Daniel’s death was eerily similar to that of his mother’s, namely, accidental drug overdose.
(A verdict that I’m sure will be a terrible disappointment to the millions who have already convicted Howard K. Stern of being not only a money-grabbing, baby-stealing Svengali but also a double murderer!)
Quite appropriately, these jurors took only 73 minutes to affirm my prediction; i.e., that they would conclude he died of an accidental drug overdose.
Case closed…in London and The Bahamas!
UPDATE (Today 4:00 pm GMT): It took them far too long but jurors in London just affirmed my prediction by handing down their verdicts that Diana and Dodi were killed “through the grossly negligent driving” of chauffeur Henri Paul. Although they also found that the universally reviled paparazzi contributed to this tragedy – notwithstanding that all professional investigators exonerated them.
But I rather doubt these verdicts will disabuse Dodi’s Daddy, Mohammed Al Fayed, of his 10-year quest to prove that Diana and his son were murdered at the behest of the British royal family.
A tale of two inquests…