Monday, June 30, 2008 at 10:00 AM
And unless the UN (AU or US) deploys troops to depose Mugabe, Tsvangirai will wither into oblivion as a president without a country….
[Mugabe forces opposition leader Tsvangirai to flee for his life, The iPINIONS Journal, June 24, 2008]
Yesterday, just hours after his electoral commission announced that he had won 85% of Friday’s run-off election, Mugabe assumed the Napoleonic prerogative and swore himself in as the disputed president of Zimbabwe.
And, just to affirm his legitimacy, Mugabe flew to Egypt today to represent Zimbabwe as its head of state at a key summit of African leaders. Moreover, he must derive some confidence in this respect from the fact that the UN has already pivoted from condemning him to pleading with his fellow leaders in the African Union (AU) to urge him to negotiate with Tsvangirai.
Unfortunately, African leaders are congenitally disposed to enable each other’s despotic tendencies – as the host of this summit, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni can attest. Therefore, leaving a resolution of this crisis in Zimbabwe to the AU does not bode well for Tsvangirai.
Like Kibaki and his ruling party [in Kenya], all indications are that Mugabe 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….
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.
[Kenya forms grand coalition: a model for Zimbabwe?, The iPINIONS Journal, April 14, 2008]
Of course, Mugabe can now afford to be magnanimous. Indeed, I suspect he would be happy to confer the title of prime minister upon his hapless foe; provided, however, that that title is conferred with all of the political power wielded by a Nubian Eunuch.
Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 10:00 AM
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
[Nelson Mandela]Such humility (and restless aspiration) coming from a man so great makes me feel unworthy to even wish him a Happy Birthday.
Nonetheless, I join the world in celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday this week. And, adding to his inspirational legacy, it was encouraging to see that he still has a rhythmic appreciation for pop music.
So here’s to Madiba: Long may he live…to climb and climb and climb.
Meanwhile, the juxtaposition of the world celebrating Mandela whilst condemning his liberation comrade, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, is noteworthy. Indeed, it is instructive that Mandela interrupted praises to him to join the international chorus of those condemning Mugabe.
NOTE: Click here to visit the Nelson Mandela (46664) Foundation
Friday, June 27, 2008 at 9:00 AM
This year, for the first time, I not only made a New Year’s Resolution but also published it here on January 3. I did so because I thought reporting on my efforts to fulfill this particular resolution might inspire others to fulfill theirs.
Accordingly, here’s an excerpt from my original article, followed by today’s update:
I have always been blessed with good health – especially since I began swimming competitively at age 9. Therefore, I’ve never felt the need to join the madding crowd of yo-yo dieters making New Year’s resolutions to lose weight.
But that all changed recently when my doctor summoned me for a consultation on the results of my latest physical exam. In short, she informed me that I was fat, and I that needed to lose weight…40 pounds to be exact…
Far more troubling, however, is the self-delusion that allowed me to gain 40 pounds (up to 210) and still think that I was every bit as fit as I was when I weighed 170.
Meanwhile, my cholesterol is now over 300 and I’m presenting all of the early-stage symptoms of kidney and heart problems that took my Mummy’s life at the unforgivably young age of 64.
Never mind all of the nagging middle-age pains this extra weight has caused, but which I kept chalking up to after-workout burn. And to top it all off, I’m going blind….
Therefore, I have resolved to lose all 40 pounds by this time next year.
Finally, I had my first prostate exam. I was so traumatized, however, that I can’t even imagine having another one for at least another 10 years! (But seriously guys, if you’re over 40, I urge you to discuss the importance of prostate exams with your doctor.)
In March (when I published my 1st Quarter Report), I weighed 203, which was down from 210 in January. Today, I tipped the scale at 192. Not bad, but this means that I am 2 pounds short of my mid-year goal of losing 20 pounds….
Since I’ve always exercised regularly and eaten very healthy foods, my weight loss is due almost entirely to portion control; i.e., I still eat the same things only in smaller amounts.
In March, my total cholesterol was 270 (LDL: 190, HDL: 64), which was down from 325 in January. Today, my cholesterol is 223 (LDL: 133, HDL: 77).
In March, my blood pressure was 125/70, which was down from 135/80 in January. Today, my blood pressure remains essentially the same.
But that’s enough information about me. (3rd Quarter Report is due on September 26). How are you coming along?
NOTE: We are suffering a pandemic of obesity (and related complications) worldwide. Therefore, I urge you to commit to annual physical exams (complete with tests for HIV and other STDs). And this applies especially to black men in Africa and the Caribbean where there seems to be a cultural belief that one visits the doctor only for emergency care.
After all, I’m a living example of the fact that, despite daily exercise, we are all vulnerable to that silent killer – CHOLESTEROL.
My New Year’s Resolution: 1st Quarter Report
Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 9:19 AM
Recall that the Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat in 2004 to indulge Kobe’s petulant and narcissistic personality. And since then all NBA fans have wondered which of these two franchise players would be the first to lead his team to a championship without the other.
Therefore, Kobe must have resented watching Shaq lead the Heat to an NBA championship in 2006.
[Celtics rout Lakers to win 2008 NBA Championship, The iPINIONS Journal, June 18, 2008]
Shaq confirmed my psychological analysis of his professional relationship with Kobe by performing a rap song in which he skewers Kobe as follows:
Last week Kobe couldn’t do it without me…
Kobe tell me how my ass taste
I’m a horse, Kobe ratted me out, that’s why I getting a divorce
Kobe, can’t do it without me…
Anecdotal evidence suggests that Shaq’s diss was a hit amongst the hip-hop crowd and some basketball fans. Unfortunately, his boss at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department, where Shaq moonlights as a deputy, was not amused:
I want his two badges back. Because if any one of my deputies did something like this, they’re fired. I don’t condone this type of racial conduct.
[Self-described “America’s Toughest Sheriff” - Joe Arpaio]
In his defense, Shaq pleaded, rather unconvincingly, that he “was freestyling. That’s all. It was all done in fun.” Nevertheless, I have no doubt that a sheriff from a neighboring county would be happy to pin four deputy badges on Shaq just for the favorable press it would generate….
Let me hasten to note, however, that the shame here is not the embarrassment Shaq caused the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department. Instead, it’s the embarrassment he caused himself by gloating over Kobe’s professional misery in such a public and juvenile fashion. Not to mention the spectacle he made of his ongoing divorce proceedings….
Celtics rout Lakers to win 2008 NBA Championship
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 9:04 AM
But I actually own three comedy albums that I still listen to as much as I listen to any of my musical CDs: two of them are by Richard Pryor entitled That Nigger’s Crazy (1975) and Live on the Sunset Strip (1983) and the other is by George Carlin entitled Class Clown (1972), on which he gives the following notorious riff on “dirty” words:
There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven of
them that you can’t say on television. What a ratio that is. 399,993 to seven. They must really be bad….
You know the seven don’t you? Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits, huh? Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that will infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.
Yet, as funny as he was, I have no doubt that Carlin derived far greater satisfaction from making people think than from making them laugh. His genius, of course, is that his observational humor made us think and laugh in equal measure:
Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway.In fact, Carlin was never more entertaining than when he was challenging conventional wisdom and social taboos:
I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.And for those of you who think Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are hip and cutting edge, it might interest you to know that they’re nothing more than plain-vanilla Carlin copycats.
Carlin died of heart failure on Sunday. He was 71. But I can think of no more fitting epitaph for this iconoclastic gadfly than the one he provided himself:
Speaking of dead people, there are things we always say ‘I think he’s up there now smiling down at us.’ Now, first of all, there is no ‘up there.’ And why doesn’t anyone ever say, ‘I think he’s down there now smiling up at us?’Farewell George (And, if Hell is your destiny, I hope God has reserved a special place there for you to cool your heels and shoot the breeze….)
NOTE: In an all too belated gesture, the guardians of the coveted Mark Twain Prize for American Humor announced on Tuesday that they were planning to make Carlin the 11th recipient of their annual prize in Washington, DC on November 10.
Richard Pryor is dead…
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 9:11 AM
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, the likes of which Africa has not seen in years, to wrest power from his hands.
[Mugabe makes a dictator’s pitch for reelection, The iPINIONS Journal, March 29, 2008]
Alas, since March 29, Zimbabwe has descended into the heart of darkness. Here’s a recap:
On March 29, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party lost power in presidential and parliamentary elections. Instead of conceding defeat, however, Mugabe launched a campaign of intimidation, harassment and murder amongst supporters of the triumphant opposition Movement for Democratic Change. This forced many of them, including leader Morgan Tsvangirai, to seek refuge in neighboring countries like South Africa.
On June 3, claiming that neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai had won a majority, the cowered and compromised members of the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) scheduled a run-off election between them for June 27.
On June 4, less than a week after his return from exile, Tsvangirai and the entire leadership of the opposition MDC were arrested en route to a campaign rally. More arrests followed, making it virtually impossible for them to campaign.
(According to the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, since the March election, thousands of people have been displaced by violence wrought by Mugabe’s marauding supporters; 1300 have been tortured; and 86, including the wife of the mayor of the nation’s capital, Harare, have been murdered. The institute has described the acts perpetrated by Mugabe’s supporters as “crimes against humanity.”)
We in the MDC have resolved that we will no longer participate in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process…. We will not play the game of Mugabe.
[MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai]
Then just yesterday, Tsvangirai made it clear that he does not intend to be a martyr for his cause. Because, after police raided his party headquarters again and arrested more MDC officials, he sought refuge in the Dutch Embassy in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.
But Mugabe and his supporters could not be happier about Tsvangirai fleeing for his life:
The runoff would go ahead in accordance with the constitution – and to prove Zimbabweans’ support for Mugabe, who has held power since independence from Britain in 1980.
[Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu]
Only God will remove me from power
Moreover, he made it plain that he would “never accept a Zimbabwe ruled by the MDC” whose members he claims are traitors and puppets of their former colonial masters, Great Britain.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai has resorted to pleading once again for South Africa (and the United Nations) to intervene to halt the genocide that Mugabe has been perpetrating for years now.
Unfortunately, despite condemning Mugabe as “a former independence who has become a despot and bankrupted the country,” African countries are unwilling to lift a finger to help the oppressed people of Zimbabwe. And, of course, the UN is simply unable to do anything.
NOTE: Yesterday the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning Mugabe for the “campaign of violence” that has made a free and fair presidential run-off impossible. It also declared that Tsvangirai should be recognized as the duly elected president of Zimbabwe based on the results of the March election.
Unfortunately, this UN resolution is not worth the paper it’s written on (and the verbal condemnation of its indignant members, including the US, is worth even less). And nobody knows this better than Mugabe.
After all, this resolution is conspicuous by its failure to indicate how the UN intends to help Tsvangirai come out of hiding to begin serving as president. And unless the UN (AU or US) deploys troops to depose Mugabe, Tsvangirai will wither into oblivion as a president without a country….
Mugabe makes dictator’s pitch for re-election…
Monday, June 23, 2008 at 12:29 PM
Advocates for America’s puerile, inhumane and hypocritical policy towards Cuba invariably cite Fidel Castro’s dictatorship as justification for sustained hostilities. But all one has to do is cite China – with whose dictators the U.S. courts a very beneficial relationship – to dismiss this justification as demonstrably specious….
Long before his first trip to Cuba in 1998, the Pope [John Paul II] decried America’s policy towards Cuba as “oppressive, unjust and ethically unacceptable…. Specifically, he pronounced that ‘imposed isolation strikes the people indiscriminately, making it ever more difficult for the weakest to enjoy the bare essentials of decent living, things such as food, health and education.’
[The iPINIONS Journal, 2005: The Year in Review, p. 79]
In so many ways, the United States has either undermined or forfeited its role as the world’s sole superpower.
The most egregious example in this respect of course is the way it has made a shambles of its once vaunted military power and squandered its international goodwill by invading Iraq. But it is also evident in the way the EU has replaced the U.S. as the arbiter of what is equitable and just in international relations.
And no where is this latter point more manifest than in the way the EU has conducted bilateral relations with Cuba in recent years.
Recall that in 2003 the EU imposed sanctions against Cuba in protest after Fidel Castro imprisoned more than 70 political dissidents. After making its symbolic point, however, the EU began lifting those sanctions two years later when it became clear that the only Cubans being hurt by them were the poor.
Therefore, if the US had any regard for these poor (mostly black) Cubans – who comprise the vast majority of the population – it would have lifted similar sanctions, which it imposed in 1959, decades ago. Instead, the U.S. has systematically tightened those sanctions over the years.
At any rate, it was not at all surprising when the EU announced on Thursday its decision to normalize relations with Cuba.
We see encouraging signs in Cuba and I think that we should show the population in Cuba that we are ready to work with them.
[EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner]
What is significant about this EU decision, however, is that it forces into public consciousness another example of the US’s unilateral aggression towards a country, which can only be described as cruel and inhumane.
Alas, the U.S. appears unmoved:
We’re disappointed in this decision. We think the Castros need to take a number of steps to improve the human rights conditions for ordinary Cubans before any sanctions are lifted.
[National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe]
Nevertheless, there’s cause for hope. Because Barack Obama has pledged to lift many of the more onerous economic sanctions if he’s elected president of the United States in November. And he’s likely to keep this pledge because Miami Cubans – whose political influence has been the driving force behind the U.S. embargo all these years – are not expected to figure prominently amongst his supporters.
So here’s to the EU for demonstrating how to constructively engage Cuba’s repressive dictatorship – for the sake of its oppressed people. Now let us hope the U.S. follows in due course….
Raul enacts reforms but pledges to continue Fidel’s revolution…
Sunday, June 22, 2008 at 10:52 AM
Friday, June 20, 2008 at 9:06 AM
Obviously, to the extent we can help immediately, we will help. You’ll come back better….Sometimes it’s hard to see it.
This is the cold comfort President George W. Bush gave yesterday to the residents of Iowa and other states in the Midwest who have been devastated by tornadoes and torrential rains over the past week.
He was obviously trying to compensate for failing so notoriously as comforter in chief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina three years ago. Nevertheless, Bush deserves credit for providing a little hope to all whose homes and personal effects have been washed away.
To date, 24 people have been killed, tens of thousands across six states have been forced from their homes and millions of acres in farm land have been destroyed. But the rest of us should be mindful that the impact these floods will have on the price of everything from beef to breakfast cereal will make $5 gasoline seem cheap.
I’m constrained to note, however, that – with so many roads, levees and bridges crumbling under pressure – it seems much of America’s infrastructure was built like a house of cards.
Meanwhile, things are bound to get worse. Because U.S. government climatologists joined experts from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change yesterday in predicting that:
The frequency of heavy precipitation events (or proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls) will very likely increase over most areas during the 21st century, with consequences to the risk of rain-generated floods.
God help the people of the Midwest….
Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 12:26 PMReprinted from Caribbean Net News
caribbeannetnews.comPublished 19 June 2008Lately, American (and even some British) colleagues have been asking me why government officials in the TCI seem so indifferent to (and immune from) prosecution for corruption.Of course, their questions stem from the fact that, despite probative evidence of gross mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds, the British have done nothing to prevent or even inhibit the patently corrupt practices of these officials.
Indeed, a few of them actually alluded to FCO Minister Meg Munn’s extraordinary declaration recently that her department was not aware of any wrongdoing that warranted serious investigation, let alone prosecution. Never mind that her declaration prompted a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), which was investigating the FCO’s performance of its oversight duties, to exclaim that he was “shocked and appalled” at the salutary neglect Munn and other FCO officials have demonstrated towards the TCI.
But regular readers of this weblog will no doubt recall my commentary on this FAC investigation, dated 31 March 2008, in which I noted the following:
If outrage were sufficient to hold TCI government officials accountable for their corrupt practices, the disaffected, disillusioned and disgusted people of the TCI would have done so long ago. Instead, we need the British to honour their constitutional obligations to us by convening a commission of inquiry – not only to investigate the vast scope of these allegations but also to recover public funds that have been misappropriated.
Because only such a commission would have the authority to conduct the forensic examination of bank accounts, sales of Crown Lands, and business transactions that have given probable cause to suspect that Premier Michael Misick and his cabinet ministers are ruling over us like African Kleptomaniacs.
At any rate, I’m reliably informed that the FAC will issue its final report within weeks. And, frankly, I too am wondering whether TCI government officials will prove to be as indifferent to (and immune from) prosecution for corruption as they seem. Whether the FAC will recommend a commission of inquiry to hold them to account or merely recommend new measures to tighten FCO oversight, however, is anybody’s guess.
(All the same, I feel obliged to reiterate the admonition I issued in an Open Letter to British PM Gordon Brown, dated 8 March 2008, namely, that enacting new measures to combat corruption in the TCI now is rather like a fox locking the door to the hen house after he has eaten all of the hens.)
Meanwhile, these government officials are dealing with their political and legal jeopardy by launching a fatuous campaign to blame those of us who have criticized their corrupt practices for chilling investor confidence in the TCI. Perhaps you recall how Premier Hon. Michael Misick took to the floor of parliament during the recent budget debate and blamed me for bankrupting the country. Now his deputy, Hon. Floyd Hall, has followed suit this week by deflecting blame on the editors of The TCI Journal as follows:
They cannot be patriotic and actions (sic) must be perceived as an attempt to cripple the country at large…. I love my country and want it to prosper but the bad press is definitely a turn off and I know for a fact there is a downturn in the investors (sic).
However, my ostensibly concerned compatriots should appreciate (and our British overseers should beware) that I’ve been criticizing the UK government almost as much as I’ve been criticizing TCI government for the mismanagement and corruption that have undermined the benefits of investing in our country. In fact, as the quote from my FAC report indicates, the British must accept contingent liability for all of the foreseeable losses (in tourism receipts and foreign investments) that stem from their failure to ensure good governance in the TCI.
Whatever the extent of their ill-gotten gains, however, it shall redound to British officials’ liability and shame that they have allowed TCI officials to perpetrate such brazen fraud and abuse. Indeed, just imagine the irony of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe having just cause to tell British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to clean up corruption in his own territory before lecturing him about good governance.
Frankly, a commission of inquiry is long overdue….
But, in case anyone doubts my counsel in this respect, Hon. Ian Davidson MP, member of the British House of Commons Committee on Public Accounts, highlighted this point when he asked the following during an Oral Evidence Session on Monday, 10 December 2007:
Can I just ask about this question of weak regulation and the impact upon the United Kingdom’s reputation and financial liability if the regulators were not adequate in … Turks and Caicos, and we were then sued in some way?
And, when the answer to this question only exacerbated his concern, Mr. Davidson issued the following warning:
The standards of supervision in [the TCI is] presently inadequate and you are allowing that to continue, leaving the United Kingdom at risk, not only of reputational damage but also of financial liabilities.
Not to mention that Premier Misick implicates the British government in his misdeeds every time he blithely asserts that there’s no corruption in the TCI because the British governor signed off on everything….
It would be tantamount to ignoring the big white elephant in the room if I did not acknowledge HE Governor Richard Tauwhare’s dereliction of duties that have contributed to our national woes. After all, it would have required his complicity or tacit approval for the Premier to commit many of these alleged political and fiduciary crimes.
[Throwing Premier Misick overboard is necessary to save the TCI, The iPINIONS Journal, 5 October 2007]
Therefore, it behooves the British to appreciate that investigating all allegations of corruption against this TCI government, in a transparent manner, is not only in our national interest but in theirs as well.
Finally, I sympathize with all TCIslanders, expats, and people around the world who are concerned about the mercenary way in which this government is developing our national parks and reserves. But I feel constrained to disabuse all of you of any notion that the British give a damn.
After all, it is patently, even if painfully, clear that, despite preaching environmental conservation to others around the world, the British have condoned everything from the dredging of our coral reefs to build “Star Island” as a playground for hedonistic celebrities to the pending destruction of more reefs to develop a high-end resort on Salt Cay, which we need in the TCI like a CAT-5 hurricane.
Alas, the only legal way to halt and redress these crimes against the environment is by regime change in the political leadership of our country.
The only credible way to bring about this change is to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate and prosecute the leaders who have perpetrated these (and other) alleged crimes.
And, the only determined way to bring about this inquiry is to convince the British beyond all doubt that, if they do not establish one, we shall hold them liable – politically, legally and financially – not only for the misappropriation of our public funds but also for the mismanagement of our natural resources.
Special report on FAC investigation into corruption in TCI
Open Letter to British PM Gordon Brown
TCI Premier blames me for bankrupting the country
Throwing Premier Misick overboard is necessary to save the TCI
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 12:22 PMIn a veritable rout last night, the Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 131-92 to win the 2008 NBA Championship Series 4-2.
This represents the first title the storied Celtics have won since the halcyon days of the 1980s, when Larry Bird led them to championships in ’81, ’84 and, most recently, in ’86.
This also gives them a league-leading 17 titles in NBA history. And it’s noteworthy that this is the first Celtics championship team that does not feature a white player….
Yet it is an indication of how much the NBA has faded in popularity in recent years that the only household name amongst the players fighting for this championship was Kobe Bryant. Never mind that this probably has as much to do with the sensational rape charges that were filed against him in 2004 as with the three-consecutive NBA championships he helped the Lakers win in 2001, 2002 and 2003. (Incidentally, Kobe got off on the rape charges by reportedly paying his accuser $5 million in hush money.)
Frankly, what I found most interesting about this year’s NBA finals is the prospect of Kobe finally leading the Lakers to a championship without the purportedly indispensable assistance of Shaquille O’Neal.
Recall that the Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat in 2004 to indulge Kobe’s petulant and narcissistic personality. And since then all NBA fans have wondered which of these two franchise players would be the first to lead his team to a championship without the other.
Therefore, Kobe must have resented watching Shaq lead the Heat to an NBA championship in 2006. And his resentment must be especially acute today given that he just lost what was probably his last, best chance to match Shaq’s coveted feat….
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 9:18 AMI don’t mind admitting that, if Tiger Woods, 32, is not playing, I would rather watch paint dry than watch professional golf. Frankly, it’s a testament to his appeal as an athlete that I actually skipped work yesterday to watch him play. No doubt, this is why he earns over $100 million annually in commercial endorsements.
It was the 2008 U.S. Open, of course, and Tiger was in rare (or typical) form. He forced yesterday’s 18-hole playoff against veteran Rocco Mediate, 45, in dramatic fashion on Sunday by sinking an unbelievable do-or-die 2-foot birdie putt.
This then incited Mediate – who would have won if Tiger had missed – to exclaim in contradictory consternation, “Unbelievable! I knew he’d make it.”
But such is the awe and resignation Tiger incites in all of his competitors that Rocco was probably conceding not only that putt but the championship as well:
I’m playing against a monster tomorrow morning. I get to play against the best player that ever played. Whatever happens, happens. I’m happy that I’m here and I will give it everything I have and see what we do.
To his credit, however, Rocco put on quite a show yesterday – not least by forcing a sudden-death playoff after trailing Tiger by 3-strokes at 11th hole. But, as it happened (and always seems to happen), Tiger roared in the end to defeat him with another birdie putt after Rocco missed a 20-footer that would have won him the title outright.
Adding to the drama this week was the fact that this was Tiger’s first tournament after a two-month recovery from surgery on his left knee. In fact, there were moments throughout the week when many commentators thought Tiger might withdraw because that knee was causing him such obvious pain.
Indeed, if, like all other players, he were simply playing for the money, Tiger probably would have quit. But, with nearly $1 billion in earnings already, he’s now playing for the history books.
Specifically, Tiger clearly has his sights on Jack Nicholas’s purportedly unbreakable record of 18 majors (i.e., wins in The Masters, The US Open, The British Open or The PGA Championship). And, with yesterday’s win, he now has 14. Therefore, it’s only a matter of time before Tiger catches this prey….
On the other hand, one can appreciate the frustration of current players like Rocco who now have to contend with the fact that even with a bad knee and “ebb and flow” play, Tiger is still the man to beat in the coveted majors.
This is probably the greatest tournament I’ve ever had.
And I’m sure this victory was especially sweet given that it came on a Father’s Day weekend that he was celebrating for the first time as a father himself.
NOTE: When I wrote my tribute to Tim Russert on Saturday, I expressed due regard for the “deluge of eulogies” that followed the announcement of his death. But the way his colleagues have been wallowing in their own grief on TV since then is making a mockery of his profession. Enough already!
Monday, June 16, 2008 at 9:16 AMMany of my European friends upbraided me last year when I greeted the resurrection of their constitution by writing the following in an article entitled The EU Constitution is dead:
People can be forgiven for having no clue that the heads of the 27 countries that comprise the European Union (EU) met in Portugal a few weeks ago, where they resurrected the constitution that European citizens voted DOA in 2005. After all, this political summit was arranged and executed with all of the stealth and feint one normally associates with a covert military operation….
But I predict that it too will be rejected in resounding fashion.Well, I hope my critics will forgive me for highlighting the fact that my prediction has now come true. Because, for the resurrected constitution to survive, it must be ratified by all 27 members of the EU. And when Ireland rejected it by a national vote of 53.4 percent to 46.6 percent on Friday, the “Lisbon Treaty” was effectively dead.
This, notwithstanding that 18 EU countries have already ratified the treaty; and that ratification in the other eight was expected to be pro forma.
After all, here, in part, is what I wrote about the scheme EU leaders cooked up in Lisbon last year to ensure full ratification:
There seems to have been only one reform measure on the agenda when European leaders met in Portugal. And that was their strategic plan to eradicate the “democratic mandate to ratify the constitution by a referendum of the people” in favor of the more expedient process of pro forma ratification by national parliaments….
I fully expect a popular backlash against this craven attempt by European leaders to finagle this document – full of legal and political jargon signifying nothing – into force. Not to mention that the Commission will probably be compelled to declare it null and void after member states follow the British precedent by systematically opting out of all provisions that do not suit their national interests.Alas, the only way the Irish could ratify the treaty under their constitution was by referendum. And their demonstration of the will of the people in opposition to parliamentary fiat is likely to incite citizens in other EU countries to demand a similar vote.People in Ireland have sent the clearest possible message that they do not want this treaty, they do not want this constitution and by all rights now it should be declared dead.
I think the elites in Brussels have got to listen to people in Europe who do not want endless powers being passed from nation states to Brussels. It is the height of arrogance for Gordon Brown and our government to press ahead with ratifying this treaty, flying in the face of public opinion.
[David Cameron MP, British opposition Conservative Party leader]
Europe as an idea does not provoke passionate support among ordinary citizens.
[Denis MacShane MP, British Labour Party member and a former minister for Europe]Meanwhile, this Irish vote has forced EU leaders to turn what was expected to be a celebration of their constitution at a summit in Brussels this week into an emergency session to resurrect this dead turkey once again.
But any modifications they make to appease Irish concerns are bound to embolden voters in other countries to demand similar modifications. And before long the EU Constitution will be exposed as the veritable tower of Babel I dismissed it as over a year ago.
The treaty was intended to assimilate the former communist countries of eastern Europe. In addition, according to the BBC, it provided for a streamlining of the European Commission, the removal of the national veto in more policy areas, a new president of the European Council and a strengthened foreign affairs post.
It was due to come into force on January 1, 2009.
EU Constitution is dead!
Saturday, June 14, 2008 at 10:10 AMI usually have a cynical regard for the deluge of eulogies that follow the death of famous people. But I know enough about the life and work of Tim Russert to believe every word uttered in his memory is true.
No doubt you’ve heard what a consummate interviewer he was, having pioneered the interrogation method – of confronting guests with their own contradictory words – that made so many politicians squirm.
In fact, such was my delight in watching Russert perform that Meet the Press became as routine a feature of my Sunday Mornings as going to church is for religious folks. He moderated this program for the past 17 years.
Yet, outside of politics, Russert was probably best known as the author of the bestselling book about his relationship with his father entitled Big Russ and Me. Therefore, given how much he gushed about this relationship, it seems a cruel irony that he died this Father’s Day weekend at age 58 – survived by his ailing father.
Then, of course, there’s the irony that this grand inquisitor of American politics (and a self-described political junkie) died in a year when the entire world is tuned in to the most interesting and historic presidential election in modern times….
Russert was married to Maureen Orth – a writer for Vanity Fair magazine. And they had one child, Luke, whose graduation from Boston College they celebrated with a trip to Italy just this week. My condolences go out to them and all surviving members of the Russert family.
He was reportedly stricken by a fatal heart attack yesterday at the NBC studios in Washington, DC, where he was preparing for another edition of his show: “because if it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.”
Friday, June 13, 2008 at 9:33 AM
Canadians have always oozed righteous indignation when looking down on their Yankee neighbors still struggling to deal with race matters almost 150 years after the abolition of slavery. Indeed, one could be forgiven the impression that Canada enjoys complete racial harmony – unblemished by the legacy of slavery that still haunts America or by the challenges of racial assimilation that are now coming home to roost all over Europe.
The reality, of course, is that Canadians have simply managed to quarantine their racial problems more effectively than Americans or Europeans. Because, from the time America’s founding fathers codified racism in their constitution, Canadians have been living with their own racial shame….
Canada has a history of dealings with aboriginal Indians that is just as violent and exploitative as America’s.
[Delusions on matters of race are coming home to roost in Canada, The iPINIONS Journal, October 3, 2006]
Of course, there was nothing unusual in the 19th Century about white men assuaging their guilt by presuming to civilize and educate the natives after stealing their land. In fact, the United States established similar boarding schools back then to civilize and educate American Indians.
But I commend Canada for taking this belated step – even if it was only inspired by the apology Australia issued a few months “for the past wrongs” it perpetrated against Aborigines(Perhaps now the U.S. will be inspired to issue a similar apology. But the Americans probably think that the cold hard cash they’re helping (some) Indian tribes rake in from running casinos more than compensates for any heartfelt apology. On the other hand, I rather suspect apologizing for mistreating the Indians would be far less controversial than apologizing for the past wrongs of slavery….)
I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools. The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history….
The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language…
We now recognise that, far too often, these institutions gave rise to abuse or neglect and were inadequately controlled, and we apologise for failing to protect you…
The government of Canada sincerely apologises and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly. We are sorry.
Moreover, according to the Globe and Mail, Canada is putting its money where its mouth is; i.e., by setting up a C$2bn ($1.9bn) fund to compensate surviving former schoolchildren.
A truth and reconciliation commission has also been convened to fully address the racial and cultural prejudices that not only led to the establishment of these schools but also kept them functioning well into the late 20th Century.
Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 12:18 PMThousands of lawyers mounted a “Long March” on the Pakistani Parliament yesterday – not only to demand the restoration of judges President Pervez Musharraf sacked, but also to call on him to resign. This march, of course, stems from the fact that Musharraf spent much of last year trying to neutralize the judiciary to save his presidency.
They then exacerbated Musharraf’s ire when they ruled that he had no legal authority to summarily deport his political arch-enemy, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, when Sharif attempted to end his seven-year exile to run against Musharraf for president.
And when he got word (reportedly by having his secret police tap the phone of the chief justice) that the court was poised to rule his October 6 re-election null and void, he sacked most of them and imposed martial law, during which he had many of the lawyers marching today arrested.
But the writing was on the wall for Musharraf even before the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), once headed by the assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto but now headed by her widower, Asif Zardari, and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), headed by Sharif, defeated his “king’s party” (PML-Q) resoundingly in parliamentary elections last February.
And this, notwithstanding my prediction that Musharraf would probably survive the coalition between Zardari and Sharif because they would soon discover that they hate each other even more than they hate him.
Sure enough, within weeks of forming a fragile coalition government, Sharif pulled his ministers from the cabinet. Ironically, their irreconcilable differences erupted over the fact that Sharif wanted to reinstate, by executive order, the 45 senior judges Musharraf sacked.
He reasoned that they would then rule Musharraf’s re-election unconstitutional – just as Musharraf feared.
He reasoned that this would strip not only them of their powers to undermine his party’s ruling authority, but also Musharraf of the power to sack his government – as powerful presidents have done to two previous PPP governments. Moreover, that this loss of power would turn the proud Musharraf – who he was already calling “a relic of the past” – into a lame duck president and force him to go quietly into that good night.
All the same, it has been self-evident ever since Musharraf was blamed, unfairly, for Bhutto’s assassination that it’s only a matter of time before an assassin takes him out, or the political situation becomes too chaotic for his dictatorial penchant for law and order.
In fact, this is what prompted me to write the following as he was trying to consolidate his power last year:
…It would behoove Musharraf to follow the trail so many of his predecessors have blazed into exile. And, frankly, given the numerous assassination attempts on his life, it would be understandable if Musharraf decided that he’d be better off enjoying time in London, spending the millions he skimmed from US military aid, than wasting time in Pakistan chasing Islamic terrorists.
[D-Day for America’s most-favored dictator…, The iPINIONS Journal, August 24, 2007]
Actually, given the dissolution of the Zardari-Sharif coalition, Musharraf might even be able to play king maker for a more sustainable government. Because, if he takes the money and runs, he could negotiate with Zardari to form a new governing coalition comprised of his PML-Q and other smaller parties, leaving Sharif and his PML-N out in the cold.
Got that? Stay tuned…
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 10:45 AMAlas, the premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), Hon. Michael Misick, and Hollywood actress LisaRaye McCoy-Misick will not be living happily ever after. Because, just two years after their fairytale marriage (complete with Grace-Kelly tiara), they seem headed for divorce.
Clearly, for the people of the TCI, this is big news. But I fear prurient interest in what caused this marriage to become irretrievably broken down might overshadow what it portends for the leadership of our country – especially regarding its relevance to the unresolved allegations of rape and corruption against the Premier.
All the same, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the general assumption that our First Lady is leaving her husband for the same principled reason many Americans, especially self-respecting women, thought U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton should have left her chronically unfaithful husband long ago….
However, I feel obliged to comment on this pending divorce for the same reason I felt obliged to defend First Lady LisaRaye in recent article against charges of bringing the TCI into ill-repute after an old photo of her, scantily clad, appeared on the cover of a men’s magazine. Namely, I feel it’s important to help fellow TCIslanders put this matter into perspective vis-à-vis the breakdown of good governance in our country.
It is no secret that many TCIslanders resented the fact that the Premier married an American woman. And I have no doubt that many will greet the end of their marriage with unbridled glee.
Yet we can no more blame the First Lady for the mismanagement and misappropriations that have given rise to allegations of corruption, which could bring down our government, than we can blame her for the Premier’s (alleged) extramarital affairs that have given rise to allegations of rape, which could land him in jail.
Therefore, we should regard with grave suspicion any insinuation in the TCI press, which the Premier boasts of effectively controlling, that she is in any way responsible for the looting of our national resources that has virtually bankrupted our country.
That said, a very important disclosure is in order:
After I published the above-referenced article defending her, the First Lady contacted me. And, given the way she was portrayed in the international press and maligned through our local rumour mill, I was both shocked and surprised by what she had to say; no doubt, in part, because I had neither met nor even spoken to her before.
I was shocked because she lamented that no member of the Premier’s ruling party defended her (or even offered moral or political support), when her reputation was being besmirched.
I was surprised because she spoke of her role as TCI First Lady with a persuasive sense of duty and public spiritedness that would seem laughable coming from the Premier or his government ministers.
But, clearly, no time is ideal for a divorce. And I’m sure all TCIslanders regret that the irreconcilable differences between our Premier and First Lady are such that divorce now seems inevitable.
More to the point, however, just as French President Nicolas Sarkozy handled his wife’s decision to divorce him while in office with dignity and discretion, let us hope that our Premier will do the same – for his sake and for the sake of our beloved country.
Accordingly, my prayers go out to him and the First Lady as they go through this very difficult personal (and unavoidably) public ordeal.
Defending the reputation of TCI First Lady LisaRaye
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 2:11 PMAfter gathering that nobody is interested in my commentary on the unfolding situation in Pakistan, despite its potential for nuclear conflagration, I felt obliged to add my two cents to the talk of the day. So, here it is:
I knew enough about Clint Eastwood as a film director to be skeptical when I first read Spike Lee’s criticism of him for not including African-Americans in his two war movies, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima.
Moreover, I knew enough about Spike’s cry-racism shtick to assume that he was just blowing smoke again. This, after all, is the guy who criticized Steven Spielberg for purportedly doing the wrong thing by directing a film, The Color Purple, about a quintessentially black-American experience. His asinine, unsustainable and ultimately racist logic being that only blacks make films about their experiences; and only whites about theirs one presumes….
What I did not anticipate, however, is that Clint would punctuate his response to Spike’s criticism by aping the words of Dirty Harry, a character he made famous as an actor.
But here, in a nutshell, is what this silly and misguided spat is all about:
It began when Spike criticized Clint as follows on ABC.com:
He did two films about Iwo Jima back to back and there was not one black soldier in both of those films. Many veterans, African-Americans, who survived that war are upset at Clint Eastwood. In his vision of Iwo Jima, Negro soldiers did not exist. Simple as that. I have a different version.
Except that, even though Spike raises a legitimate point about the failure of too many period films to acknowledge the contribution, or even existence, of blacks, his criticism in this context is unfair and uninformed.
Because, first and foremost, black soldiers are depicted in Flags of our Fathers – albeit only as some of the many soldiers who fought that battle but had nothing to do with raising the now famous flag that is the subject of the film.
Indeed, Spike criticism here is rather like a white director criticizing him for not including whites in his film Malcolm X; after all, many whites participated in marches and protests for black civil rights….
Beyond this, however, it was just a cheap shot for him to accuse Clint of racism for exercising the artistic freedom readily accorded all film directors, including Spike. Never mind the reasonable suspicion that this was nothing more than a cravenly calculated way for Spike to garner publicity for his own World War II movie (ironically, about blacks soldiers who fought) entitled Miracle at St. Anna.
Then Clint responded as follows in The Guardian:
…There was a small detachment of black troops on Iwo Jima [which, again, he depicted] but they didn’t raise the flag. The story is ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn’t do that. If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people’d go, ‘This guy’s lost his mind.’ I mean, it’s not accurate.”
When I do a picture and it’s 90 percent black, like ‘Bird,’ [the 1988 biopic of Charlie Parker] I use 90 percent black people. A guy like him should shut his face.
In addition, since Letters from Iwo Jima is about Japanese soldiers, his logic follows, naturally. In fact, Clint was doing really well until he inserted that Dirty Harry bit telling Spike to shut his face. Because this gave the racially hypersensitive Spike the opportunity to assume the moral high ground by responding as follows:
First of all, the man is not my father and we’re not on a plantation either. He’s a great director. He makes his films, I make my films. The thing about it though, I didn’t personally attack him. And a comment like ‘a guy like that should shut his face’ — come on Clint, come on. He sounds like an angry old man right there.
Frankly, it was only left for Clint to escalate this farce by saying to Spike: “Do you feel lucky punk…. Go ahead, make my day.”
Nevertheless, on the merits, Clint’s response to Spike’s criticism is unassailable in every respect: historically, artistically and biographically (i.e., the man is no David Duke; moreover, it was he, not Spike, who made Bird).
Therefore, I urge Clint to second Spike’s pledge as follows:
I’m going to take the Obama high road and end it right here. Peace and love.
Never mind that Clint is a Republican who is probably supporting McCain….
Meanwhile, I am mindful that some black soldiers claim they did, in fact, participate in raising the flag at Iwo Jima; i.e., “by providing the flagpole” for the five marines (four whites and one Indian) who raised it so dramatically. But, even if true, this omission in Clint’s movie hardly warrants Spike’s criticism.
NOTE: That Clint just happens to be married to a woman of black-American and Japanese descent is rife with instructive irony. Alas, this all seems completely lost on Spike.
Monday, June 9, 2008 at 11:53 AM
In the industrialised world transmission of HIV among men who have sex with men is not declining and in some places has increased.
In fact, according to Dr. Kevin de Cock (I kid you not), the head of the WHO’s department of HIV/AIDS, new scientific data show that the threat of a global heterosexual pandemic has actually “disappeared.” This, of course, stands in stark contrast to what UNAids was insisting just years ago, namely, that “everyone is at risk,” which led to billions being wasted on prevention programs for people who were, in fact, at minimal risk.
Specifically, Dr. de Cock says that:
Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients.
That said, let me hasten to note that AIDS is still the leading killer of adults in the developing world, which now has 33 million people living with HIV.
The reason these new findings are so important, however, is that they might finally compel organizations, like WHO, UNAids and the Global Fund, to redirect scarce resources away from such useless programs as teaching abstinence in the developed world.
Instead, that money would be far better spent on circumcisions, condom distribution and new clinics to treat health needs such as malaria throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Not to mention general health benefits to be derived by spending more on safe water projects to combat the dangers posed by contaminated water throughout the entire developing world.
Nevertheless, it remains critical for sexually active people everywhere to continue using condoms to prevent other STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
After all, another report released today by the New York City Health Department shows that “more than one fouth of adult New Yorkers are infected with the virus that causes genital herpes.”
Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 10:31 AM
In a feat that is tantamount to David defeating two tag-teaming Goliaths, Barack Obama has now defeated Hillary (and Bill) Clinton to become the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee.
[Obama clinches Democratic presidential nomination, The iPINIONS Journal, June 4, 2008]When Hillary Clinton refused to concede defeat on Tuesday, her political agenda was patently clear: she wanted to hold off endorsing Barack Obama until he became so solicitous for her support that he would be willing not only to pick her as his vice president but also to give her more influence over his presidency than Dick Cheney wielded over George W. Bush’s.
And for a moment there, Obama actually seemed willing to oblige. After all, it is customary for the defeated candidate to call the winner to concede. Yet reports are that it was Obama on the phone trying desperately to contact Hillary on the night when he made history as the first black to win the nomination of a major political party to become president of the United States. And, there’s a fine line between being magnanimous and looking a little too star struck….
But thank God some of Hillary’s most influential Democratic supporters, including the dean of the New York Congressional delegation, Rep. Charlie Rangel, warned her that if she did not endorse Obama without further delay, they wouldn’t support her re-election to the Senate, let alone supporting her agenda to become vice president.
Well, this isn’t exactly the party I’d planned…. Today as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him and I ask of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.
Finally, the following bears repeating:
No matter the defiance and rage that has Hillary’s supporters (especially middle-aged white women) now vowing to vote for McCain instead of Obama, I have no doubt that they will come to their senses on election day and vote for Obama.
Moreover, I believe they will do so at the behest of their standard bearer, Hillary Clinton.
[Hillary threatens to fight on for months, but I predict she’ll cry uncle within days, The iPINIONS Journal, June 2, 2008]