Friday, May 30, 2008 at 9:48 AMReprinted from Caribbean Net News
Book review: The iPINIONS Journal: Commentaries on World Events – Volume 3
Published on Friday, May 30, 2008
Our regular readers will be familiar with Anthony Hall’s enlightening and entertaining weekly column in Caribbean Net News, and he has now provided us with his third annual retrospective compendium of insight and observations on the events of the previous year.
Mr Hall’s look back at 2007 — The iPINIONS Journal: Commentaries on World Events – Volume 3 — has just been published and for this year’s edition he includes updates to the specific events he writes about, which also serve to emphasise the often prescient nature of Mr Hall’s commentaries.
Of particular interest to our readers will be the regional perspective Mr Hall brings to much of his commentary. Topics of special Caribbean interest in 2007 include the mess Anna Nicole Smith left behind in The Bahamas; the Caribbean Community’s “fatally flawed” demand for reparations for slavery; and the continuing saga of violence and corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands, which later earned Mr Hall the distinction of being the object of a verbal attack by the Premier in that territory’s House of Assembly.
In reading Mr Hall’s wide ranging commentaries on the events of last year, the reader must be prepared for a range of reactions. The realisation that another year has gone by will dismay some; those whose grasp of world events is not so extensive as Mr Hall’s (surely the great majority) will be surprised at some of the news that passed them by unnoticed; many will be gratified at his relentless deflation of the pompous and self-righteous; and all should be pleased at his recognition of lesser-known but nevertheless praiseworthy individuals who might otherwise go unremarked.
Those who have read earlier iPINIONS volumes will know that, in addition to offering his unique insight into major issues of national and international importance, Mr Hall turns his attention to such other topics as movies, sports and health care. This year’s edition also includes a brief visit to Serbia.
Mr Hall tackles all of these topics and many more with his trademark confidence, flair and humour.
Highly recommended reading.
* This book review was published today at Caribbean Net News, the most widely read newspaper in the Caribbean.
Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 9:47 AMEvidently, President Bush still has a few dead-enders who are prepared to do anything to save what little remains of the credibility of his administration. Because they were popping up all over TV yesterday putting political band aids on the bleeding wounds former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan inflicted with his just published tell-all book, which is titled What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.
The most sensational parts of the book deal with McClellan’s searing, even if self-serving, condemnation of the war in Iraq. Because, after selling it for years with the zealotry of a born-again Christian, he now claims that the invasion of Iraq was a “serious strategic blunder,” and that Bush relied on an aggressive “political propaganda campaign instead of the truth to sell the Iraq war.”
In addition, McClellan reveals that, with the invasion of Iraq:
Bush saw his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness…. The president’s real motivation for the war was to transform the Middle East to ensure an enduring peace in the region.As revelations go, however, this ranks right up there with the revelation that the Sun rises in the East. After all, McClellan is merely parroting what some of us have been saying for years – even before this ill-fated war began with a “shock and awe” thud.
Specifically, here’s what I wrote in April 2007 about one of the neo-cons who McClellan accuses of ill-serving the president in this respect:
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense [Paul Wolfowitz] was the principal architect of the “domino” plan to democratize the Middle East that misled American soldiers into the current mess in Iraq.And here’s what I wrote in September 2006 about Bush’s real motivation:
President Bush conflated retribution for 9/11 with his ill-fated crusade to democratize the Middle East, and then launched a preemptive war against Iraq.McClellan also waxes indignant about Vice President Dick Cheney. In fact, he describes him as “the magic man” whose invisible hands were behind every doomed White House policy. In this respect, in addition to the invasion of Iraq, he cites the White House’s orchestrated campaign to out CIA agent Valerie Plame – as retribution against her husband for daring to debunk their lies about WMDs as a pretext for the Iraq war.
But in October 2005, on the eve of the indictment of Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, for his role in the Plame affair, here’s what I wrote should become of Cheney for conducting this White House “weapons of mass deception” program:
If he is favored by the gods, someone he genuinely respects (like his wife Laura) will do for President Bush what Nancy Reagan did for her husband President Ronald Reagan when his presidency was in similar crisis: advise him to get rid of the ring leader of this White House cabal, namely, Vice President Dick Cheney – who, after all, will be an un-indicted co-conspirator if Libby is indicted. The country deserves this act of enlightened courage and Bush’s legacy demands it.Alas, despite all of the furor (and backlash against the author) it has incited, the only thing truly telling about this tell-all book is the fact that McClellan is the first member of Bush’s Texas posse, which included Karl Rove, Harriet Myers and Alberto Gonzalez, to betray him. And what a profitable betrayal it’s proving to be: after all, reports are that his book is already a bestseller (no doubt because Bush’s legions of political enemies relish McClellan’s insider’s account of all they’ve ever suspected of his administration’s lies and deception).
Meanwhile, on behalf of the dead-enders at the White House, McClellan’s successor as press secretary, Dana Perino, offered this pithy party-line response:
Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. We are puzzled. It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew.However, I believe the indignation Bush loyalists are hurling at McClellan for writing this book is every bit as disingenuous as the indignation McClellan hurls at his former colleagues in it. Because on the one hand, Bush loyalists know that all of McClellan’s claims are true; while on the other hand, McClellan had to have known they were true when he was steadfastly denying them as press secretary from May 2003 to April 2006.
Therefore, my only criticism of McClellan is the same one I made of former Secretary of State Colin Powell after he wrote a similar confessional memoir, namely: if he had such grave misgivings about the administration’s conspiracy to wage an unlawful war, he should have resigned and voiced his concerns in a more timely and public-spirited manner.
Beyond that I say take the money and run Scott! But spare us the sanctimonious claptrap about hoping to change the culture of politics in Washington.…
Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 8:26 AMDear Readers, I am still experiencing many technical difficulties with this site. Therefore, in consultation with my webmaster, I have decided to change my server and web host. In addition, I shall take this opportunity to make stylistic changes that I hope you will find more appealing. However, this process will take 3 to 4 weeks to complete – during which time there will be days when articles will be published much later than usual…or not at all. Therefore, I beg your understanding and patience; and thank you for your continued support. Anthony
Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 9:45 AMAs an actor, Sydney Pollack had a face everybody recognized. Indeed, seeing his picture here, many of you will immediately remember the supporting roles he played in films like Tootsie, Husbands and Wives, and (my favorite film from last year), Michael Clayton.
Yet nobody (outside Hollywood) seemed to know his name.
As a director and producer, however, Pollack was a living legend. After all, he produced such notable films as Presumed Innocent (1990), Sense and Sensibility (1995) and (my favorite film adaptation of a Graham Green novel) The Quiet American (2002). And he directed The Way We Were (1973), Three Days of Condor (1975) and Random Hearts (1999).
But he was probably most acclaimed for producing and directing what I always regarded a modern version of The African Queen, namely: Out of Africa (1985) – starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. In fact, he won both producing and directing Oscars for this film.
Pollack died at his home in Los Angeles yesterday after a nine-month struggle with cancer. He was 73.
That’s a wrap!
Monday, May 26, 2008 at 10:13 AM
Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 9:19 AM
Let us pray that – as Obama begins to look more and more like the truly inevitable Democratic nominee (and the next president of the United States) – his Secret Service bodyguards will redouble their efforts to protect him. Because the last thing America needs right now is another assassination that triggers all of the lost hope and incendiary rage of the killing of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr…combined!
Alas, there’s nothing Obama’s bodyguards can do to protect him from the character assassination the Clintons have already begun executing against him.When I wrote the above in an article earlier this year (on January 9), even I did not fully appreciate the macabre nature of Hillary’s political ambition. But she incited visceral indignation even amongst her die-hard supporters yesterday when she revealed that the reason she’s staying in the race is to win by default if (when?) Barack Obama is assassinated – just like Robert F. Kennedy.
More to the point, however, nothing betrays the pathological intent of her ambition quite like the spin she gave to quell the furor she caused. Because she apologized to the Kennedys for any offense she may have caused them but did not apologize to Obama for seeming to want him dead.Related Articles:
Hillary defies pundits…but not her destiny
Hillary plays the (white) race card
Hillary is a fighter, not a quitter
Friday, May 23, 2008 at 9:39 AMI am proud of the fact that I participated in the US-led international protests during the 1980s that precipitated the end of white rule (Apartheid) in South Africa.And I remember thinking back then that a South Africa ruled by liberated blacks could be the beacon of hope and the land of opportunity for Africans that America is for people all over the world.
The screams of the burning Mozambican still haunt me…. I have never seen such barbarism. [Zimbabwean woman as told to the BBC]Therefore, I find the events unfolding there today almost as ironic as I find them disappointing. Because in recent weeks, the deadly violence black South Africans have perpetrated against black foreigners rivals the violence white South Africans perpetrated against blacks during Apartheid.
In fact, just imagine a prevailing state of fear that would force a Zimbabwean – who (along with 3 million others) immigrated to South Africa to escape starvation, poverty and political oppression – to return to Zimbabwe because he would rather die in his homeland than in South Africa.
Yet reports are that thousands of Zimbabweans have begun doing just that in recent days. Likewise, Mozambicans, Nigerians and blacks of all nationalities are fleeing South Africa to escape the spate of attacks by unemployable mobs who, ironically, blame them for the country’s high crime and unemployment.
(One wonders when, like the angry mobs in Zimbabwe, they will begin taking out their frustrations on employed and relatively wealthy whites who represent the legacy of their colonial oppression….)
South Africa has a total population of 49 million, of which 5 million are foreigners. Unfortunately, despite the ANC government’s commendable efforts to create jobs, the country’s unemployment rate hovers at around 30%. And this, of course, is primarily the source of the frustration that has led black South Africans to scapegoat black foreigners….
Things have gotten so bad in some areas that – for the first time since the end of Apartheid in 1994 – the army has been deployed to patrol the streets of South Africa.
Since the attacks began on May 11, 42 foreigners have been killed, hundreds have been injured, thousands have been displaced and 15,000 have fled the country.
Alas, with suspected rapist and rabble-rouser Jacob Zuma poised to take over the South African presidency next year, I fear mob violence borne of economic frustration will only worsen….
…an absolute disgrace that has blemished the country’s name.
Never mind that it was Mbeki’s constructive support for Mugabe’s oppressive regime that forced so many Zimbabweans to flee to South Africa in the first place….
According to the latest reports, 50 people have been killed and 25,000 driven from their homes.
Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 11:55 AM[NOTE: We're experiencing many technical difficulties with this site, which have resulted in articles being posted later than usual and my not being able to properly format images. And my webmaster tells me things will probably get worse.... I apologize for this and beg for your understanding and patience. ALH]
On Tuesday, in an interview with the BBC program HARDtalk, Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding decreed that there is no room for gays in his Cabinet. And as I listened to him, I could not help thinking of other politicians, like U.S. Senator Larry Craig, who take such egregious public positions against gay rights as a means of keeping their own homosexuality locked in the closet.More to the point, however, Golding proudly defended his provincial pledge that “homosexuals will find no solace in any Cabinet formed by me.” But I was stupefied by his apparent obliviousness to the discouraging signals his decree sends to potential investors in, and visitors to, his country. Not to mention the encouraging signals it sends to the homophobic thugs who already prey on suspected homosexuals all over this island nation.
Indeed, Golding seemed utterly unfazed by the fact that his declarations were only reinforcing the finding by Human Rights Watch that Jamaica ranks as the most homophobic country in the world.Specifically, he insisted that “Jamaica is not going to allow values to be imposed on it from outside” and rationalized his homophobia as follows:
A Prime Minister must decide what he feels would represent to the Jamaican people, a Cabinet of ministers who would be able to discharge their functions without fear, without favour and without intimidation. That’s a choice that I had and I made that choice.
But this compels me to wonder if he feels ALL Jamaicans would be well served by a Cabinet of ministers who govern with fear (of homosexuals), with favour (towards heterosexuals) and with intimidation (from Jamaican clerics who demand strict adherence to their anti-gay religious dogma)….
Moreover, I wonder what values Golding fears outside forces are conspiring to impose on Jamaica:
Could it be the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the universally applicable and inalienable set of human rights that every person is entitled to, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression?
Or could it be the values codified in the Bible – the word of God, which proclaims that we are all His children, warns us not to judge lest we be judged and dares any of us who is without sin to cast the first stone?Regrettably, I have no doubt that, like the (mostly black) Anglican bishops who decreed that there’s no room for gays in their ranks, Golding is using the same perverse religious and cultural rationalizations to discriminate against gays that whites used to discriminate against blacks not so long ago.
Whatever the case, I urge all conscientious Jamaicans to prevail upon him to renounce this bigoted decree. Especially since his proclamation that the Jamaican government practices apartheid-like discrimination against gays is bound to incite such outrage amongst Americans and Europeans – upon whom Jamaicans depend to sustain their tourist economy – that they will shun Jamaica like a Taliban island paradise….Apropos apartheid, Golding would do well to be guided in his political and moral thoughts about gays in his Cabinet (and in society) by South Africa’s Nobel Peace Laureate – Archbishop Desmond Tutu. After all, here, in part, is how Tutu paid tribute to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission on April 8, 2008:
Despite being frequently hounded, the butts of offensive jokes, discriminated against, vilified, molested and even killed as targets of homophobia, most of you still manage to remain extraordinary human beings, compassionate, caring, self-sacrificing, refusing to be embittered. Thank you for your part in trying to help make our world a better place.
Finally, as the son of a preacher man, I am well versed in all of the Biblical scriptures (most notably Leviticus 20:13) that self-professed Christians cite to justify their moral, social and professional aversion to homosexuals. But until they can also cite scriptures in which God condones moral, social and professional fraternization with liars, thieves and adulterers (as opposed to homosexuals), I shall regard their homophobia as borne of nothing more than base prejudice and rank hypocrisy.
NOTE: Even though Golding announced his decision to ban gays from his Cabinet just days after California legalized same-sex marriage, the political irony (or lesson) of this juxtaposition seems completely lost on him.
More importantly, Golding certainly has a right to his personal attitudes towards gays. But he is wrong to impose his homophobic views on the Jamaican people by using an anti-gay litmus test to determine who is qualified to serve as their government ministers.
Anti-gay crusader, Sen. Larry Craig, arrested for soliciting gay sex
Bruce Golding elected prime minister
Fight over role of gay bishops in Anglican Church
California legalizes same-sex marriages
* This article is also published today at Caribbean Net News – the most widely read newspaper in the Caribbean
Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 12:39 PMGiven the way his political friends (and enemies) were eulogizing him in Washington yesterday, one can be forgiven the impression that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass) had just passed away.
To be sure, after suffering two seizures over the weekend, Kennedy (76) is now fighting for his life. After all, doctors have diagnosed him with a malignant brain tumor called glioma that experts say will kill him within “one or five years…or more.”
And I have no doubt that some of the emotional outpouring from his colleagues was genuinely felt. Indeed, how can one not be moved by the sight of wheelchair-bound, 90-year old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va) – the only senator who has served longer than Kennedy – crying uncontrollably as he prayed on the floor of the US Senate:Of course, I too pray for him and his family as they cope with this medical “death sentence.” Never mind the irony of Kennedy himself declaring a “national war on cancer” in a Senate hearing just weeks ago and, more to the point, that “cancer is no longer the automatic death sentence that it was.”
Moreover, there’s no denying that he will be missed – given his role as the champion of such worthy causes as health care, minimum wage and immigration reform during his 45 years in the Senate.
But, as a student of American history, I am mindful of the many things that make Kennedy, like so many others in his family, a tragic hero. After all, this is a man who was born into the wealth and privilege his father Joe amassed through various business and stock-trading schemes of doubtful legality, including reportedly peddling booze during Prohibition. Yet his life is noted more for its tragedies than for his accomplishments.For example, his eldest brother, Joseph (not pictured), died in a World War II plane crash; another brother, President John F. Kennedy (right), was assassinated in 1963; and yet another, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (left), was assassinated in 1968.
Not to mention the untimely deaths of two of his nephews: Michael in a skiing accident in 1997 and JFK Jr in a plane crash in 1999; or the notorious Palm Beach rape trial of yet another, William Kennedy Smith, which stemmed from a night of boozing with “Uncle Ted” and at which he was compelled to testify as the star witness for the defense.
Then, of course, there are the alcohol-fueled tragedies of his own making, most notably, causing the death of one of his young campaign workers in 1969 when he drove his car off a bridge to Chappaquiddick island (in Massachusetts), then fled the scene and did not call for help until the next day. (He got off by wearing a neck brace and pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, for which he received an indulgent two-month suspended jail sentence.)
All the same, my personal feelings about Kennedy can be summed up as follows:
This “liberal lion” and champion of civil rights was purportedly so disgusted by the way the Clintons were playing the race card in this year’s presidential campaign that he felt morally compelled to endorse Barack Obama. Yet this is the same man who called a black female judge, Janice Rogers, an ape (a Neanderthal) because he deemed her judicial opinions too conservative.
Then there’s the fact that he cared so little about party unity that he challenged a sitting Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, in 1980. And when he ended up in Hillary’s current position (as the vanquished Democratic nominee), he not only refused to get out of the race but even refused to shake Carter’s hand at the convention after Carter was declared the nominee.
Yet this is the same man who is now calling on Hillary to do the right thing by getting out of the race before the convention while insinuating that Obama should not even consider her as a running mate in the interest of party unity….
But despite it all, this is a man whose commitment to public service is is every bit as legend as the manor to which he was born.
Get well Ted….
Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 12:23 PMLast January, after the first votes were cast for nominees in this year’s presidential election, I noted how amazed, if not flabbergasted, I was at the level of interest people all over the world were expressing in this American spectacle.
In fact, try as I did to get friends and business associates in Europe, Africa and Asia to talk about the political situation on their respective continents, all they wanted to talk about was U.S. politics.
Therefore, I was not at all surprised when Hillary vs. Obama dominated conversation amongst international lawyers at a luncheon in Washington yesterday. What did surprise me, however, was the near-universal admiration people expressed for Hillary’s “stay-the-course” campaign strategy – no matter the cost in terms of her personal finances (she has already “donated” $12 million to fuel her terminally stalled presidential ambition) and Democratic Party unity).
Americans don’t want a president who quits [nor, evidently, do people from around the world]…. One thing I hope you know about me is that I don’t quit.
[Hillary Clinton]But I found their admiration for her in this respect a little peculiar, perhaps even hypocritical. After all, they were all acutely aware that Hillary doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the nomination. (And I explained why in Euclidean detail; alas, to no avail.)
Accordingly, I felt obliged to inquire why they so admired this stubbornness in Hillary, which compels her to continue fighting. This, after eliciting their near-universal condemnation of President Bush for his stubbornness, which has compelled him to pursue a my-way-or-the-highway strategy in dealing with everything from climate change to the war in Iraq.
As you can imagine, my inquiry transformed me from a gracious into a contumacious host in an instant….
Monday, May 19, 2008 at 9:06 AMLast week, President George W. Bush created quite a furor when he accused American politicians – including Sen. Barack Obama – of being Nazi-like appeasers for calling on him to hold talks with nations like Iran and Syria. But I was exceedingly pleased when Obama and others reacted with swift indignation by pointing out not only the political hypocrisy but also the historical fallacy of Bush’s accusation.
I am dismayed, however, that there has been virtually no reaction to his demonstrably disingenuous claims about brokering peace in the Middle East (before the end of his term on January 21, 2009) and “jawboning” the Saudis into lowering the price of oil.
After all, accusing politicians of being appeasers is consistent with what passes for political debate these days. Whereas, making fatuous claims that affect the economic well-being of Americans on the one hand, and the lives of Palestinians on the other, is unconscionable.
Of course, these days, Israelis and Palestinians alike believe in Bush about as much as they believe in Santa Claus.
And even though the Chamberlainian irony – of making such a patently hollow promise of peace – was completely lost on him, I doubt it was lost on them.
Unfortunately, far too many Americans still believe that he has the power (and the will) to order the Saudis to lower the price of oil. Therefore, I feel obliged to continue my modest efforts to disabuse them of their ignorance in this regard.
However, instead of dignifying his groundhog mission to Saudi Arabia last weekend with fresh commentary, I shall suffice to republish (with parenthetical modifications) the article I wrote the last time he offered comfort to foolish Americans by promising to jawbone the Saudis on the price of oil:
World Beware! Bush and the Saudis are talking down the price of oil…again
(January 18, 2008)
Many people thought Hillary Clinton was being rude – during Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate – when she called President Bush “pathetic” for flying over to Saudi Arabia this week to beg King Abdullah to lower the price of oil. Whereas, in fact, she was being kind.
After all, there’s something positively venal and conspiratorial about Bush promising to “talk down the price of oil” with his Saudi friends, given that the price actually rises every time he promises to do so. Indeed, here’s how I noted this oxymoronic synergy in April 2005 – in a commentary entitled The Bushes and the Saudis: Elusive (financial) ties that really bind:
[I]t’s worth recalling that on the eve of entertaining [then] Crown Prince Abdullah at his ranch in April 2002, Bush promised Americans that he would “talk down” the price of crude oil with his royal compadre – “mano a mano”. But since then, the price of oil has more than doubled (from $23 to $60); no doubt much to the constrained glee of oil sheiks in Saudi and oil barons in Texas.
Therefore, it seems more than a little ironic, if not incredulous, that Bush reiterated the same promise (to get the prince to put out) on the eve of their date just days ago. Indeed, his unfulfilled promise from 2002 begs the question:
What is America (and the Bush family) getting out of this relationship with Saudi Arabia?
But, if his constant begging to no (public) avail isn’t pathetic enough (and true to form, the price is now hovering around $125), what does it say about Bush’s personal integrity that he has gone from holding Abdullah’s hand in 2005 (like a proud boyfriend) to carrying his royal train in January 2008 (like a humble footman) to bowing before today (like a gypsy mendicant)?
Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 11:55 AM
Al Gore has decreed the Myanmar cyclone an act of man, not of God. Stay tuned for his (equally) divine pronouncement on the China earthquake…
* Illustration by Mike Lester
Friday, May 16, 2008 at 10:48 AMYesterday, in a landmark decision, the (Republican-dominated) California Supreme Court ruled that laws banning same-sex marriage for homosexuals is unconstitutional. Here, in part, is how the court justified its decision:
By reserving the historic and highly respected designation of marriage exclusively to opposite-sex couples while offering same-sex couples only the new and unfamiliar designation of domestic partnership — pose a serious risk of denying the official family relationship of same-sex couples the equal dignity and respect that is a core element of the constitutional right to marry….
The California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.
Of course, I appreciate that many “religious” people will regard this decision as a violation of the “sanctity” of marriage and an abomination against God. But these people are the moral heirs of those who once regarded interracial marriages (i.e., between blacks and whites) with the same disapprobation.
(FYI: In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court finally decided – in Loving vs. Virginia – that God did not mind interracial marriages after all.)
However, for anyone who truly believes that “we are all God’s children and are created in his image,” this decision represents nothing more than the belated granting of a basic civil right that has been denied our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters for far too long.
Nevertheless, “pro-family” (anti-gay) activists wasted no time vowing to overturn this decision by working to pass an amendment to the California Constitution banning same-sex marriages. And they were counting on California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger supporting them in their efforts, especially since he has twice vetoed legislation that sought to legalize gay marriage in the state.
But within minutes, Schwarzenegger, whose signature they would need to pass such an amendment, stunned them (and gay rights activists) by issuing the following statement:
I respect the court’s decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling.
Yet I fully expect that we will have to rely on the U.S. Supreme Court again to inform some rabid, anti-gay state courts that God really does not mind same-sex marriages…after all.
So, notwithstanding its conservative leanings, here’s to the (Republican-dominated) U.S. Supreme Court issuing a federal ruling that, just as whites and blacks have the right to inter-marry, gays and lesbians have the right to intra-marry.
NOTE: To be fair to the enlightened and trailblazing folks of Massachusetts, theirs was the first state in the union to legalize same-sex marriages. California is now the second.
Friday, May 16, 2008 at 9:01 AMPresident George W. Bush has already earned the dubious distinction of having the lowest approval rating of any president in U.S. history, including Richard Nixon. Therefore, you’d think he would be mindful of risking what little remains of his presidential gravitas.
Yet that is precisely what he did this week by violating the cardinal rule of American politics, which holds that partisanship (especially in foreign policy) ends at the water’s edge.
Bush is currently on a state visit to Israel to celebrate its 60th anniversary of independence. And, during a speech in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), here’s how he defiled the occasion by wallowing in the gutter of Republican Party politics:
Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.
We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
But I was so impressed by the inspired and pithy indignation his speech incited amongst (Democratic) members of the U.S. Congress that I shall suffice to share what a few of them said about Bush’s cheap shot at presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama:
President Bush comparing any Democrat to Nazi appeasers is offensive and outrageous, especially in light of his failures in foreign policy. [Hillary Rodham Clinton]
This is bullshit. This is malarkey. This is outrageous. Outrageous for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, sit in the Knesset … and make this kind of ridiculous statement. [Joe Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee]
Not surprisingly, the engineer of the worst foreign policy in our nation’s history has fired yet another reckless and reprehensible round. [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid]
I think what the president did in that regard is beneath the dignity of the office of president and unworthy of our representation at that observance in Israel. [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi]
It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel. [Barack Obama]
Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 9:02 AMThere’s no denying that most Chinese took great offense to the human rights protests that stalked and plagued the relay of their Olympic torch around the world. Therefore, one can only imagine the relief they felt when it finally arrived in China, where it was celebrated with unfettered and wholly appropriate jingoism.
Then, just as everything was finally in place for them to showcase what a 21st Century marvel China has become, they were struck by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake! And what devastation it caused: reportedly almost 20,000 dead, 26,000 injured, and 20,000 still trapped under debris from the 4 million homes and buildings that have been destroyed.
Thank God the Chinese government has the resources and manpower not only to conduct search, rescue and recovery missions but also to rebuild all of the affected areas.
This, of course, stands in stark contrast to the incomprehensible refusal of Myanmar’s military leaders, in the wake of Cyclone Nargiss, to accept foreign aid to compensate for their lack of national resources and crisis management expertise. As a result, the death toll there is expected to exceed 100,000.
More to the point, the Chinese can thank God that no venue associated with the forthcoming Olympic Games was damaged. However, much is being made of the fact that – even as he read a speech about the government’s “deep concern for the people of the Sichuan province” – Premier Wen Jiabao seemed more concerned about reassuring the world that the games will go on!
But I do not think this reflects badly on the Chinese. After all, the Yankees and Mets returned to the baseball field just one week after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 devastated New York City. Moreover, in admittedly cruder terms, the loss of 20,000 out of a population of 1.5 billion Chinese pales in comparison to the loss of 3,000 out of 300 million Americans. Not to mention that the Chinese still have three whole months to grieve, recover and rebuild.On the other hand, it is patently obvious why Chinese leaders are providing unprecedented 24/7 coverage of this national tragedy. Namely, they are acutely aware that nothing will drown out international cries to boycott the Beijing Olympics (as punishment for their brutal crackdown on Tibetan monks) quite like the despairing cries of Chinese parents for their children – many of whom are still buried beneath quake-ravaged rubble….
All the same, I extend my condolences to the Chinese people, and commend their leaders for upholding the unbreakable Olympic spirit.
After granting permission for the US and other countries to deliver plane loads of aid, the military junta sealed off the affected areas and decreed that no more foreign aid workers would be allowed in.
Meanwhile, the UN and Red Cross estimate the death toll at 128,000 and the number of people now at risk – due to starvation and disease – at 2.5 million. Yet reports are that military leaders are hoarding foreign aid supplies and selling them in other areas of the country.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 10:55 AMThe (predominantly white) people of West Virginia heeded Hillary’s clarion call to show the world that they will not vote for a black man even if their lives depended on it.
Unfortunately, for them (and for her), Hillary’s 67% to 26% win over Obama did virtually nothing to reduce his overall lead in the delegate count or his momentum towards the Democratic nomination.
Never mind that her redneck strategy – to make it seem as though white people in the rest of the United States will not vote for Obama – is patently flawed. After all, it is belied by the fact that he trounced her in predominantly white (swing) states, like Iowa and Missouri, and ran to a virtual tie with her in many other predominantly white states, like New Hampshire, Virginia and Indiana….
For the record, Obama now has 1,881 of the 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Hillary has 1,713.
Meanwhile, if you’re wondering why Obama is not sweating this loss in West Virginia it’s because, when he’s the nominee, he will send Hillary right back to convince those “poor, hard-working white people” that he’s really the second coming of JFK – for whom they retain almost cult-like affection. And by the way, he will send her not as his VP nominee, but as a woman who will be desperately seeking redemption for polarizing the Democratic Party along racial lines during her failed campaign to win the nomination.
Bill Clinton loses title as first black president
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 7:06 AMLast January, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) explained that he was so disgusted with the way the Clintons were playing the race card that he felt morally obligated to endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States. This, in turn, inspired me to pose the following question:
If Kennedy’s racial conscience has been so offended by the way the Clintons have played the race card against Obama, what does it say about the racial pride of blacks who continue to support them?
I reasoned further that:
…No black had a greater duty to address this question than Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. After all, she is primarily responsible for injecting into black consciousness the patently absurd notion that Bill is “the first black president of the United States.”
Of course, since January, even die-hard black supporters, like civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), have become so disgusted with the Clintons that Obama has been winning over 90% of the black vote in primaries and caucuses all over the country.
Not that the Clintons are pining over this loss. After all, they pivoted right into courting the white vote by pretending to be card-carrying members of the “Hill-Billy” redneck club….
More to the point, however, I was pleased to read how Morrison finally clarified her misbegotten pronouncement – in a May 7 interview conducted by TIME magazine – as follows:
People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race.
However, for the record, here’s what she actually said back in 1998:
White skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.
Nevertheless, as self-serving political spin goes, at least Morrison’s clarification has some socially redeeming value….
Monday, May 12, 2008 at 9:31 AM
First they fingerprinted the Haitians,
and you did not speak up because you were not a Haitian.
Then they fingerprinted the Dominicans,
and you did not speak up because you were not a Dominican.
Then they fingerprinted the Filipinos,
and you did not speak up because you were not a Filipino.
Then they fingerprinted you,
and there was no one left to speak up for you. [My version of a poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller ]
Civil libertarians and human rights activists are expressing grave concerns about a new fingerprinting policy the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) implemented last week. This measure makes it mandatory for all persons seeking work permits, renewal of permits and residency permits to be fingerprinted.
The government insists that the primary benefit of having this new database is to enable the police to easily identify fingerprints left at the increasing number of crime scenes throughout the islands. It also cited an Orwellian need “to keep accurate information on residents” as our population (of 35,000) increases.
Yet, mindful of its controversial nature, RTCP press liaison officer, Sergeant Calvin Chase, attempted to preempt criticism by asserting that the TCI is merely emulating the U.S. and other countries by using fingerprinting as “a proper processing service…to know who is in the island (sic).” Fair enough….
Except that legal scholars inform me that this Orwellian policy violates both international human rights and the TCI Constitution (“Article 1 probably also Article 8”). Never mind that if the U.S. government can commit human rights abuses with impunity – in violation of international law and its own Constitution, then the TCI government could be forgiven for feeling self-righteous in doing the same.
(For example, consider the abuses the U.S. reportedly committed at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, as well as its inhumane detention of “suspect” immigrants and fingerprinting of not only people seeking residency and work permits but even of tourists simply visiting the U.S.)
But Sgt. Chase must know better than any politician that this procedure will do nothing to reduce or combat crime. After all, it’s TCIslanders who commit the majority of crimes, not those who need residency or work permits. In fact, the non-citizens this measure targets are invariably the most law abiding amongst us. No doubt because they live in constant fear of doing anything that might cause their residency or work permits to be revoked.
Therefore, this begs two questions:
1. Why doesn’t the government fingerprint TCIslanders as well?
2. What is the real reason it implemented this fingerprinting policy?
And I submit that the answer to both questions has everything to do with the public rebellion that erupted two weeks ago. That’s when the government brazenly attempted to impose a battery of new taxes upon TCIslanders to compensate for mismanaging (and allegedly misappropriating) national resources and funds.
After all, a tax rebellion like this one had not been seen since American colonists protested the British attempt to impose onerous taxes upon them; which, of course, was the proximate cause of the American Revolution. And, appreciating this forbidding precedent, TCI officials retreated hastily by rescinding two of the more vexing taxes (i.e., steep increases in airport departure and accommodation taxes).
Unfortunately, their desperate need to raise new revenues remained acute, and the full scope of their failed economic policies became manifest.
So, with increasing taxes on TCIslanders politically untenable, they resorted to scapegoating and exploiting these non-citizens. Specifically, the $65 fingerprinting fee they’re charging should raise at least $8,000,000 to help replenish their bankrupt coffers; which clearly makes this new policy nothing more than a quick-cash scheme.
Meanwhile, to my fellow TCIslanders – who take comfort from the fact that this tax is not being levied against you – beware! Because, just as it is with the work-permit fee, those of you who employ these non-citizens may soon be required to pay their fingerprinting fees as well.
To his enabling ministers
First he pillaged the country,
and you did not speak up because you got your share.
Then he silenced the press,
and you did not speak up because you did not care.
Then he raped a woman…?
and you did not speak up because you did not dare.
Then he screwed you, his ministers,
and there was no one left to speak up for you.
TCI Premier blames me for bankrupting the country
* This article is also being carried today by Carribean Net News, the most widely read newspaper in the Caribbean.
Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 11:24 AM
Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 12:12 PM