• Monday, November 30, 2009 at 7:21 AM

    UPDATE: Tiger issues indignant but clearly defensive statement

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Here’s the statement Tiger issued yesterday afternoon (on his website) - after canceling for the third time a meeting he had scheduled with the Police (and after I published yesterday’s commentary on his sensational domestic mess):

    As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I’m pretty sore.

    This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.

    The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.

    This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be.

    Well, on it’s face, this statement confirms not only that he was having an affair but also that my spin on the fight he had with his wife about it is uncannily accurate. 

    But when one reads between the lines it becomes clear that the exaggerated praise he heaps on his wife and the corresponding blame he assumes are all pursuant to his lawyer’s instructions. Specifically, the (legal) strategy now seems designed to avoid the police at all cost because, if they see the weeping wounds she inflicted, they would probably arrest her for spousal abuse.  This means that, if they aren’t sufficiently healed, Tiger will not show up in Los Angeles on Wednesday for his charity tournament.

    Of course, if he saves her ass from being arrested, he may no longer feel obliged to buy that “house on a finger” from Tiffany & Co or to perform the other Kobe-like penances that were surely due.

    Meanwhile, it must have scared the living daylights out of Tiger to find that his little Swedish goldfish has the bite of a big Caribbean barracuda….

    UPDATE

    Tiger withdraws…

    3:30 pm:  Received word a short time ago that, just as I predicted, Tiger has issued a statement confirming that he will not be showing his scratched-up (and evidence-laden) face this week to host his own tournament.   It’s reasonable to deduce that his physical wounds are still weeping….

    (In fact, it’s probably safe to assume that he will not be showing up at any golf tournaments for the rest of the year….)

    But trust me, the police will incite unprecedented public scorn if they use hospital records to obtain a warrant to hunt Tiger over this private matter.  Because, notwithstanding the inherent sexism, he refuses to be treated like a victim and will clearly do anything to protect his wife from arrest for domestic violence – even if it means losing endorsements and a few fans.

    So, just leave them alone!

    Related commentaries:
    Tiger’s wife serves him a Thanksgiving fat lip

  • Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    Tiger’s wife serves him a Thanksgiving fat lip

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I don’t mind admitting that … I have never swung a golf club, let alone played a round of golf. Yet I’m as big a fan of the game as anyone else – whenever Tiger hits the links.

    [Tiger wins British Open ... again, TIJ, July 24, 2006]

    When I first heard that Tiger Woods was involved in a car accident and had been admitted to hospital in “serious condition,” my first (admittedly selfish) thought was that he might have suffered career-ending injuries, which would end my arbitrary and capricious interest in golf.

    Thank God the reports on his accident were grossly exaggerated. Because it turned out to have been nothing more than “a minor car accident” stemming from Tiger’s mysterious encounter with a fire hydrant and a tree just outside the driveway of his home in Florida.  More importantly, the only injuries he reportedly suffered are “scratches” on his face and a fat lip.

    So what’s the big deal?

    Well, it’s Tiger: the most dominant, recognizable and intriguing athlete in the world today.  And when you consider that his career is as distinguished by his squeaky-clean image as by his record-breaking talent, it’s easy to understand why even a minor accident would generate worldwide media interest.

    Of course, his wife, former model Elin Nordegren, only fueled prurient interest when she told the police some cockamamie story about how she heard the crash from their home around 2:30 in the morning after Thanksgiving, rushed out to rescue her unconscious husband, used a golf club, which she just happened to be holding in her hand, to smash the windows of his Escalade, pulled him to safety and then administered first aid. 

    After all, the more credible story is that she confronted Tiger about a report in the National Enquirer that he was having an affair with a New York night club hostess. Moreover, that after finding his denials so unconvincing, “she went ghetto” on him – scratching up his face, busting up his lips and chasing him out of the house wielding a nine iron golf club – where she smashed the windows of his SUV as he was trying to flee for his life. 

    At which point he must have thought, courtesy of Richard Pryor in Which Way Is Up, “Oh shit, the bitch done gone berserk!” In fact, all indications are that it was her hysterical hot pursuit that caused his freakish bumper-pool crash with the fire hydrant and tree.

    Given this, it’s no wonder Tiger is trying to buy as much time as possible (to heal his physical wounds as well as his wounded pride) before showing his face – even to the police. Since this was only a solo fender bender, however, Tiger has no legal obligation to tell the police what actually happened to provoke or directly cause this accident. 

    From a purely PR perspective, though, he should have spoken to them as soon as his lawyers and agents helped him and his wife get their stories straight; i.e., instead of jerking the police around (by scheduling and canceling interviews) while issuing patently specious statements on his website. Not to mention that his ambivalent refusal to speak to the police is giving the undeniable impression that he and wife have something to hide. Of course, they do….

    But when he finally speaks publicly, I fully expect him to simply plead for “privacy” as he and his family deal with this very intimate and embarrassing matter. No doubt he is mindful that public figures like John Edwards have demonstrated all too well the PR hazards inherent in uttering self-righteous denials about affairs that can be so easily contradicted by titillating circumstantial evidence – like text messages and hotel receipts.

    Meanwhile, I fully expect the “other woman” (the brunette) at the center of this delicious scandal to make the most of her fifteen minutes of fame.  And I’m sure that her close friend (the blonde), who reportedly outed Tiger, will do even more to make a (money-making) spectacle of this alleged affair. (I refuse to contribute to their infamy by naming them.)

    For the record, despite this party girl’s coy, if not shrewd, denial, I believe the Enquirer’s story. What’s more important though is that Tiger’s wife seems to believe it.  And nothing will confirm this story quite like Tiger’s refusal to sue for defamation. 

    I just hope he has the good sense to keep his mouth shut and just go about buying his wife that house-on-a-finger apology and performing all of the other Kobe-like penances to save his marriage.

    To be sure, though, this episode will have no negative impact on his game or endorsements, which together have made him the world’s first billion-dollar professional athlete. Not least because, if fans and sponsors can forgive Kobe Bryant an allegation of rape, they are bound to forgive Tiger this allegation of an extramarital affair.

    Related commentaries:
    Tiger wins British Open
    Enquirer catches John Edwards cheating on his wife

  • Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 8:01 AM

    Happy Thanksgiving Day! But just remember how we got here…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 6:36 AM

    Palin’s book … a bestseller?! You betcha!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The story is not that Sarah Palin has made a book of her whining, self-righteous political platitudes; it’s that multitudes of stupid Americans are buying it.

    In fact, they have already bought over 700,000 copies of her Palinist Manifesto entitled Going Rogue (though one can be forgiven for reading it as Going Rouge) since its release only a week ago.

    I love those hockey moms.  You know they say the difference between a hockey mom [which she proudly calls herself] and a pit bull … lipstick (sic).

    (Sarah Palin introducing herself to the nation as the nominee for vice president at the 2008 Republican National Convention)

    Related commentaries:
    Quitting a no-brainer for Palin…

  • Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 2:39 AM

    Obama’s swing right alienates left

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Last week, TIME published what many political pundits are heralding as the definitive article on President Obama’s adoption of a series of right-wing policies that his left-wing base finds anathema.

    The article, entitled The Fall of Greg Craig (Obama’s top lawyer), recounts the behind-the-scenes war at the White House for the soul of Obama’s presidency, which pitted liberal ideologues (reportedly led by Craig) against liberal pragmatists (led by Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff). And even though the ideologues won a few battles, it is clear that the pragmatists won this war.

    He and the Administration have adapted as we have learned more and the issues have evolved, but there has not been an ideological shift.

    (White House spokesman Ben LaBolt)

    Sure … tell that to the vanquished Craig who announced his resignation last week because, as TIME reports, “the agenda had changed”.  Incidentally, nothing demonstrates this change quite like the way Obama has betrayed an almost solicitous disposition to abandon the public option (government run) feature of healthcare reform that the ideologues regard as an article of faith.

    Much of this internecine war was fought over Obama’s campaign promise to discontinue Bush’s war-on-terror policies.  But the pathos of the article stems from the gradual disillusionment of the ideologues as Obama began to marginalize them on key issues like the release of memos detailing harsh interrogation methods and of photos of suspected terrorists being abused in US custody: Craig argued that releasing them was a moral imperative; Emanuel argued that it was political suicide.

    But I knew from the day Obama was elected that it would be thus.  (There was of course the instructive precedent Bill Clinton set by co-opting ring-wing policies like welfare reform – in a strategy called “triangulation” – to inject pragmatism into his domestic agenda.)  In fact, here’s how I presaged this war the day after:

    His agenda will invariably be modified by the infighting between liberal and moderate Democrats that is bound to ensue. [But] I’m sure the congenitally pragmatic Obama will [avoid] lurching too far to the left…

    [Good morning Mr President-elect..., TIJ, November 5, 2008]

    And here’s how I sided with the pragmatist long before this White House war was chronicled by TIME:

    [L]iberals are simmering with disillusionment over the fact that Obama has been systematically adopting many of Bush’s war-on-terror tactics, which they, and he, routinely condemned during last year’s presidential campaign…

    Even though I’m probably among the most liberal of Obama’s supporters, I agree wholeheartedly with all of his flip flops in this respect. Indeed … it is politically naïve and hypocritical to ridicule former VP Dick Cheney’s dire warnings about canceling Bush’s war-on-terror policies. (Because if he did and we were hit it would doom Obama’s presidency).

    [Obama angers liberals by governing just like Bush, TIJ, May 14, 2009]

    But now even liberal pragmatists are becoming disillusioned by the growing perception that Obama is not only dithering on Afghanistan but losing his bearing on his entire political agenda.  I, however, do not share their disillusionment; for I am convinced that there’s uncanny method to Obama’s apparent chaos.

    In fact, I think far too many liberals are being swayed by conservative spin about Obama’s domestic policy agenda being too unfocused and his foreign policy being too soft. Not to mention the political naivete being displayed by those who are already calling him a “sellout”.

    After all, they fail to appreciate that Obama is merely planting political seeds this year (e.g., on the economy, healthcare, Iran and even in his dealings with rabidly partisan Republicans) that he reasonably expects will blossom (i.e., pay dividends) in due course; specifically, on domestic matters, before congressional elections in November 2010, and on foreign affairs, before his presidential reelection in 2012.

    Of course, this means that, like the most successful presidents in modern times (namely Reagan and Clinton), Obama is perfectly prepared to sacrifice short-term popularity (and a few congressional Democrats) to ensure his reelection and presidential legacy.

    So keep HOPE alive my liberal friends cuz CHANGE is gonna come someday … soon!

    Related commentaries:
    Good morning Mr President-elect

  • Monday, November 23, 2009 at 5:24 AM

    Lockerbie bomber’s still alive?!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Given the way Scottish authorities handled the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi last summer, the only thing left for them to do now is act like Captain Renault in Casablanca by exclaiming that they’re shocked, shocked to find that Megrahi is still alive!

    For here’s a little of what I wrote about this release back then:

    [N]otwithstanding his alleged illness, Megrahi’s release is such an affront to common sense that I’m inclined to believe that the Scots released Megrahi for the same reason many believe the Americans invaded Iraq: oil.

    I am sensible enough to appreciate, however, that incurring the moral wrath of the Americans for releasing him was a small price to pay for sweetheart oil deals with Libya

    I just wish Scottish authorities did not insult our intelligence by citing compassion as their justification for releasing this mass murderer; especially since they have refused to show similar compassion for many other convicts who are (or were) relatively more worthy…

    Also, don’t be surprised if Megrahi lives well beyond the three months he purportedly has to live … all praise be to Allah!

    [Release of Lockerbie bomber: compassion v. justice, TIJ, August 24, 2009]

    Well, Allahu Akbar! (God is greatest!)

    Because, just as I predicted, Meghrahi is evidently coping exceedingly well with his “terminal illness.” So much so in fact that an indignant US Senator Charles Schumer is now demanding that he be extradited back to his prison cell in Scotland, immediately.

    Here is a quote from a letter he sent to British PM Gordon Brown over the weekend in this regard:

    The bottom line is Megrahi should have never been released in the first place but it would be even more outrageous if he were to be able to live a long and free life after his release… Justice in this case was life in prison, no exceptions.

    No matter Schumer’s moral demands (or President Obama’s political entreaties), however, the British simply cannot afford to renege on their Faustian exchange with Libya.  Therefore, this is a done deal!

    Now all that is left for Libyan authorities to do is announce that Megrahi has had a spectacular recovery thanks to the superior medical treatment he has received in Libya since his release.

    Senator Schumer is a notorious grandstander. But, in this case, I share his moral outrage.

    Related commentaries:
    Release of Lockerbie bomber

  • Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 6:50 AM

    Kyoto failed; and so will Copenhagen. So here’s to Everest…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 6:06 AM

    The bow less reported: Obama to the Chinese

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Virtually every international news organization ran this week with stories about President Obama bowing down before the Japanese emperor.  But only The Freeport News (in The Bahamas) reported the fact that the most humbling bow of all was the one he made before the Chinese president.

    It is depicted in this editorial cartoon below, which shows the purported leader of the free world not only bowing but actually kissing the shoe of the shylockian Chinese leader – as if Obama were just another hapless, Third-World leader (represented here by Bahamian PM Hubert Ingraham) showing due deference to the master of his country’s economic fate.

    To be sure, the cartoon takes a little creative license.  But the essential point it conveys is undeniable: America cannot stand like a superpower with China squeezing its balls in a financial vice grip!

    Related commentaries:
    Shut up about Obama bowing down before royalty

  • Friday, November 20, 2009 at 5:23 AM

    Cuba: Raul’s a brutal despot too?! Duh…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    This week, international news organizations reported the fact that Raul Castro is continuing the reign of terror his brother Fidel launched almost 50 years ago as if it were every bit as shocking as the fact that President Barack Obama is continuing many of the oppressive war-on-terror tactics his predecessor George W. Bush deployed after 9/11.

    Here, for example, is how Reuters began its report:

    Cuba’s Raul Castro has kept the system his brother Fidel used to repress critics, refusing to free scores of people imprisoned years ago and jailing others for ‘dangerousness’.

    But predicting that it would still be thus today was as reliable as predicting that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.  In fact, here’s the foreboding I sounded after Fidel ceded power to Raul in 2006:

    Cuban Americans were dancing in the streets this week upon learning that critical surgery forced Fidel Castro to transfer power to his brother Raul. However, their celebration betrayed not only how naive they are about the implications of this transfer, but also how much emotion and resources they have vested in this man’s eventual death…

    I predict that the pragmatic Raul will emulate his new Chinese patrons by pursuing liberal economic policies while imposing even stricter political and military controls in Cuba. Indeed, friendly nations like China and Venezuela are flushed with cash and seem eager to help him develop Cuba into a Caribbean economic tiger, if only to spite the US…

    [Meanwhile] it is a testament to the conceit and arrogance of Miami Cubans that they firmly believe they’ll be able to return to Cuba after Fidel dies – to inherit the political power and social privileges their ancestors abdicated decades ago.

    And they assume this prerogative without any regard for the Cubans who have been toiling at home, waiting for their opportunity to govern their country. But, at this rate, a well-indoctrinated Elian Gonzalez will be Cuban dictator before Miami Cubans are disabused of their antic pining for their paradise lost….

    [Dancing on Fidel's grave is not only unseemly; it's premature, TIJ, August 2, 2006]

    Enough said!

    Except that I would be remiss not to reiterate my admonition for Obama to demonstrate some maturity in his foreign policy towards Cuba; i.e., by ending the US embargo instead of taking baby steps like easing restrictions on travel and remittances as gestures of political good faith.

    After all, continuing this failed, 50-year policy makes a mockery of his presidential mandate to usher in an era of transformational change.

    In the meantime, though, completely lifting restrictions on travel, which Congress is currently debating, would constitute a pretty grown-up step … but don’t hold your breath on that.

    Related commentaries:
    Dancing on Fidel’s grave

  • Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 4:12 AM

    ‘Critical’ Copenhagen treaty on climate change goes up in smoke

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.

    A year ago today, this was how President-elect Barack Obama dismissed any thought of compromising on the deadline to sign a binding global-warming treaty at next month’s climate summit in Copenhagen.

    Yet at last weekend’s summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Singapore, he and leaders of some of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases conceded that the only thing they will accomplish in Copenhagen is, well, to emit more hot air.  Incidentally, the US is by far the biggest polluter, but China is growing into a formidable competitor.

    Here’s the spin Michael Froman, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, put on this latest setback:

    There was an assessment by the leaders that it was unrealistic to expect a full, internationally legally binding agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen starts in 22 days.

    But, given that, you’d think awareness of the purported urgency of combating climate change began only last year (with Obama’s election) and that negotiations on this historic Copenhagen treaty began only last month.

    Whereas, in fact, the Chicken-Little nature of the efforts to combat global warming is such that I felt moved to sound this cynical note 18 months ago:

    Virtually none of the countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol (adopted in 1997) – with its legally binding emissions targets – is honoring promises made in this agreement. In many cases their emissions have actually risen….

    I won’t even comment on the “emissions trading” scheme, which allows rich countries to pollute all they want provided they pay poor countries (that typically pollute far less) for the privilege: a scheme eerily reminiscent of papal indulgences….

    [G8 Summit: emitting more hot air about global warming..., TIJ, July 9, 2009]

    In fact, the only thing surprising about this latest episode of all talk and no action on global warming is the extent to which the great expectations Obama set are coming back to haunt him.  For here’s a sample of the extraordinary reaction amongst Europeans who hailed him as a black Moses for their liberal causes:

    US President Barack Obama came to office promising hope and change… Now, should the climate summit in Copenhagen fail, the blame will lie squarely with Obama.

    In his Berlin speech [summer of 2008], he was dishonest with Europe [when he claimed to be a citizen of the world]. Since then, Obama has neglected the single most important issue for an American president who likes to imagine himself as a world citizen, namely, his country’s addiction to fossil fuels and the risks of unchecked climate change.

    (Spiegel 11/17/2009)

    This is absurd of course.  But it illustrates the extent to which disillusionment is replacing the hope Obama once inspired … worldwide.

    Meanwhile, I suspect the Chinese, whose participation in this cause is indispensable, have no more regard for environmental prophecies about global warming than atheist have for religious prophecies about Armageddon. This is why, even though they’ll talk about combating climate change, as Chinese President Hu Jintao did in Beijing at a joint press performance with Obama yesterday, they will never sign on to any binding global treaty.

    (Incidentally, I call it a performance because the Chinese insisted that, instead of asking questions, the members of the press had to sit quietly – like a theatre audience – as Obama and Hu Jintao delivered their well-rehearsed lines.)

    With that, my sympathies go out to all of the true believers who must now fret about the world coming to an end in four years. After all, this is what no less a person than Al Gore warned, er, prophesied just days ago would be the case if world leaders fail to act.

    Related commentaries:
    G8 Summit
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  • Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 5:27 AM

    The NHIP: Why pleading for a referendum is pointless

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    [NOTE:  Efforts to implement healthcare reform in my mother country of the Turks and Caicos Islands have become so contentious that they make similar efforts in the US seem positively harmonious.  Today's commentary is a follow-up to Monday's, in which I called for a national boycott of a new National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP) as a means of forcing our British caretaker government to redress flaws in it that pose unconscionable and unsustainable burdens on local residents.]

    _____________________

    I understand that Douglas Parnell, the newly elected leader of the PDM, is still pleading for a referendum to resolve the burgeoning crisis over the NHIP.  I respect his initiative; but I’m afraid it is hopelessly misguided.

    First of all, through press releases as well as numerous acts of commission (and omission), our British caretakers (the FCO) and Interhealth Canada have already made it painfully clear that they intend to implement this NHIP … public opinion be damned!

    Perhaps our friends who initiated online petitions to help resolve this crisis can explain to Mr Parnell how little public opinion matters to these folks.

    Then, alas, there’s his logical fallacy of decrying the British for running a Cuban-style dictatorship on the one hand, whilst crying for them to hold a referendum to further his political initiative on the other. Indeed, you’d think Mr Parnell would be instructed by the fact that the Castro brothers have never held a single referendum against their declared interests during their 50-year rule.

    Though, to be fair, his logical fallacy is actually surpassed by that being exhibited by Interhealth Canada. For its managers seem to think that the best way to foster corporate good will in TCI is to act as if they’ve been contracted to build an Iranian-style nuclear reactor instead of a Canadian-style healthcare system.

    Frankly, given all of the above, it seems elementary that the national boycott I called for on Monday offers the only hope we have of forcing the FCO and Interhealth Canada to show any regard for our concerns. 

    And there is a way that Mr Parnell and others – who are vying for the reins of power when the term of this Interim Government ends – can help: They can encourage local employers to appreciate that their long-term commercial and patriotic interests would be far better served by helping us execute this boycott (as delineated in my original commentary on Monday) than by doing the corporate bidding of Interhealth Canada.

    That said, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that some TCIslanders actually support the implementation of this NHIP. In fact, it is well documented that a few have a pecuniary interest in seeing it done. 

    I understand that Robert Hall, the new (putative) leader of the PNP, is the most notable supporter. But I do not see how impugning the character and patriotism of those who do not support this NHIP advances his cause.

    For example, I am reliably informed that Mr Hall used his radio programme on Monday to challenge my call for this boycott.  And I gather that the essence of fulminations can be summed up as follows:  Anthony should go fly a kite because he’s no real TCIslander and has no business even commenting on the NHIP.

    Accordingly, I shall suffice only to note that Mr Hall seems to think the best way to emulate Michael Misick as premier is by parroting his political rhetoric, including his antic diatribes about the birthright of TCIslanders, like me, who do not reside in the TCI. 

    But considering where that provincial he’s-not-one-of-us nonsense got our former (disgraced and soon to be indicted) premier, Mr Hall would be wise to change his campaign strategy.

    In the meantime, I think he would serve his listeners far better by commenting on the things I say instead of propagating ignorant and unsustainable claims about my right to say them.

    With that, I appeal to all of our political, economic, social and religious leaders of good faith to help us mobilize this boycott based on the categorical imperative that together we shall stand, but divided we shall surely fall.

    Related commentaries:
    A boycott to reform health care in TCI

  • Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 5:18 AM

    Shut up about Obama bowing down before royalty!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    It is a sad reflection on the state of the news media today that idle gossip and silly punditry now flow unfiltered from the fringe corners of the blogosphere into the main stream … often as breaking news!   And nothing demonstrates this quite like the way conservative wingnuts turned their paranoid delusions about President Obama’s birth (they say Kenya) and religion (they say Muslim) into national headlines.

    Now these “dittoheads” have the main stream media propagating their fulminations about the shame Obama supposedly caused the United States by “bowing down to the Japanese Emperor” during his visit to Japan a couple days ago. 

    And to give credence to their jingoistic indignation, they’ve published a video of cynically edited still shots, which capture other world leaders greeting the emperor with an upright handshake but Obama doing so with a deep-waist bow.

    Meanwhile, they all seem to have forgotten how Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, held hands with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and fawned all over him like a love-sick schoolgirl.

    Frankly, to say this is much ado about nothing risks dignifying this criticism.

    All the same, I believe it is important to reinforce the fact that it’s a sign of engaging strength for the most powerful man on the planet to show such respect for local protocol and customs wherever he travels. 

    Unfortunately, this concept is hopelessly lost on these partisan idiots who would clearly prefer to see their American president strut all over the world like a conquering military general. Instead of criticizing Obama, they really should learn some manners….

    That said, I just HOPE Obama’s handlers do not respond to criticisms about this bow before the Japanese emperor with the same, patently absurd spin they proffered in response to criticisms about his bow before the Saudi king earlier this year, which I commented on as follows:

    His critics charge that Obama displayed a “shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate” by bowing to Abdullah. But his press spokesman, Robert Gibbs, insisted yesterday that:

    ‘It wasn’t a bow … [the president] bent over and grasped his hands with both hands [as a gesture of respect], and he’s taller than King Abdullah.’

    As disappointed as I am with his critics for making their patently absurd charge, I am even more disillusioned with Obama’s handlers for putting this Clintonian spin on such an egregious gaffe: He clearly bowed!

    [Mr President, did you bend or did you bow, TIJ, April 10, 2009]

    Enough said.

    Related commentaries:
    Mr President, did you bend, or did you bow
    Obama bows, others stand before Japanese emperor
    Bush and Saudi King holding hands
    Bush and Saudi King holding hands II

  • Monday, November 16, 2009 at 5:17 AM

    A boycott to reform healthcare in TCI..?! Yes

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In the spirit of transparency and accountability, I should begin by acknowledging that I was amongst the most plaintive callers for British intervention in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). And, despite some disappointment with the way direct rule is unfolding, I remain as convinced as ever that this intervention was absolutely necessary.

    That said, I have refrained from commenting on the conduct of the interim government of HE Governor Gordon Wetherell since it took over three months ago  (i.e., with the notable exception of a recent commentary on the belated dismissal of rape allegations against former Premier Michael Misick). I did so because I felt this new government deserved a transitional period free of presumptuous advice, gratuitous praise or overzealous criticism.

    Over this period, however, I have watched in dismay as burgeoning public opposition to a new National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP) has rendered all other government initiatives practically irrelevant. 

    Frankly, criticisms about the propriety, cost and provisions of this NHIP have become so defiant that one could be forgiven the impression that it is actually a Trojan Horse for the imposition of a British dictatorship.  Indeed, it’s a testament to this irrational distrust that the most influential members of both political parties in the TCI are now condemning Governor Wetherell as a (malevolent) dictator.

    Of course nothing could be further from the truth.  Yet I fear that instructions the Governor is receiving from his bosses at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London are feeding into patently contrived efforts to undermine this Interim Government.

    Specifically, I have no doubt that the FCO has instructed the Governor to implement the NHIP, as is, despite untenable flaws.   And, as any sensible Governor in his position would, he is trying dutifully to comply.  (This, incidentally, makes the condemnation of Wetherell referenced above as uninformed as it is mean-spirited.)

    Nevertheless, there’s no denying that the implementation of this NHIP has been marked by adhesive decrees, stupefying obfuscation, and brazen contradictions, all of which have made a mockery of the Governor’s pledge to run a transparent and accountable government.  Not to mention that material terms and provisions in the contract for this NHIP seem borne of either corrupt intent or rank incompetence.

    But, alas, we should not be surprised.  After all, the Governor is being instructed by the same ilk of bureaucrats at the FCO whose salutary neglect enabled the Misick government to turn our country into the Zimbabwe of the Caribbean.

    The only question now is:  What recourse do we have, short of calling for another British intervention, to compel the FCO to reconsider implementing this NHIP; especially given all of the prohibitive concerns informed people, including investigative journalists, medical practitioners, civil servants and citizen activists, have expressed?

    Clearly, online petitions have not worked.  And individual, disparate threats to boycott the NHIP simply do not convey the critical mass of opposition that would compel not only the FCO but also the company contracted to implement this plan, Interhealth Canada, to take heed.

    Therefore, I propose the following:

    This Thursday, November 19, everyone employed in the TCI should hand deliver a cease-and-desist letter instructing his/her employer to refrain from deducting NHIP contributions to the National Insurance Board (NIB) from your paycheck. Self-employed individuals and unemployed permanent residents should deliver similar letters directly to the NIB on their own behalf.

    For your information, this letter could read simply as follows:

    November 19, 2009

    Dear [Sir/Madam]

    Please be advised that I have conscientious objections to being enlisted in the NHIP – as currently drafted and mandated. 

    Therefore, I hereby instruct you to refrain from deducting any portion of my paycheck for NHIP contribution to the NIB until further notice.

    Sincerely,

    [Sign then print name]

    In turn, I admonish all employers to be no less willing to help us execute this nonviolent civil boycott than you were to help the government impose this unconscionable plan upon us.

    But, my fellow TCIslanders, please be mindful that if only a few people take this principled stand, the government could easily impose fines and dismiss us as uninformed and misguided troublemakers. If we all participate, however, the government and Interhealth Canada will have no choice but to modify the NHIP contract on terms that better serve our physical and financial well being: Together we stand, divided we fall….

    If these actions are taken, I have no doubt that this crisis will be resolved with relatively little consequential or collateral damage.   And, trust me, not even a Misick government would countenance denying anyone healthcare services in retaliation for his/her participation in this boycott.

    But who would’ve thought that the Governor’s attempt to implement healthcare reform in the TCI would precipitate a greater national crisis here than President Obama’s efforts to do the same in the US has precipitated there…?

    At any rate, I find our current state of affairs particularly ominous because the defiance being expressed could have the collateral effect of so hardening public opinion against this Interim Government that attempts to implement far more contentious, but equally important, constitutional reforms in due course will prove virtually impossible.

    Therefore, no matter the legal and purported financial consequences, it behooves the Governor to cite this national boycott as a veritable force majeure which necessitates immediate modification of this NHIP contract. If Interhealth Canada refuses to renegotiate, then he can seek judicial declaration that the contract is void as against public policy.

    As a practicing attorney, I have an abiding regard for the sanctity of contracts. But I also know that it is a long-settled principle of English common law that contracts can be declared void on moral, equitable and practical grounds.

    Meanwhile, it feels like “déjà vu all over again.” In fact, the FCO has allowed this one policy to cause such disillusionment with the Interim Government to fester that the BBC’s Mike Thompson began a report last week on the simmering crisis it has wrought as follows:

    Looking out across the sparkling turquoise waters that lap these golden palm-treed sands all seems well in the beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands. But storm clouds have been gathering ever since the British government dissolved the local Parliament here and restored direct rule from London following claims of high level corruption and misrule.  And three months on, the smell of mutiny hangs heavily in the air.

    Granted, Thompson may be guilty of “sexing up” his report for dramatic effect. But only an FCO bureaucrat – who comes to our shores only to plant his head firmly in our “palm-treed sand” – could fail to notice the restive national mood he depicts.

    Accordingly, I shall end with this plea to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) – upon whose members it finally fell to rescue us from the open and notorious reign of corruption and misrule that members of the FCO simply refused to see:

    Please prevail upon the FCO to do whatever is necessary to empower Governor Wetherell to resolve this crisis without further delay. Because we are fast approaching a tipping point where public confidence in and support for this Interim Government will be irretrievably lost.

    Related commentaries:
    Former premier calls Gov racist dictator

  • Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 7:25 AM

    At least Obama knows where America’s bread is buttered…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Friday, November 13, 2009 at 5:38 AM

    My Mummy died ten years ago … today

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I suppose it’s embarrassing for a man to forever grieve the loss of his mother.   Yet I feel no shame about not only acknowledging my grief but also paying eternal tribute to my Mummy.

    And since I know that my 14 siblings – inspired by my big brother Christy – all feel the way I do, I pay this loving tribute on their behalf as well.

    So here’s to Olive Caroline Louise Hall, who continues to be in death as she was in life – the primary motivation for all that I do, for all that I am and for all that I will ever be:

    My Mummy died ten years ago,
    Yet she lives like the winds that blow.

    She is the sunrise that begins each new day,
    She is the sunset that takes one’s breath away.

    Like spring rain, she still nurtures me,
    Like fall breeze, her spirit roams free.

    She is the soothing wave that comes ashore,
    She is the scolding voice that says, ‘no more!’

    Like the stars, she still guides my feet,
    Like the moon, her glow’s a real treat.

    My Mummy may be dead and gone,
    But so much of her still lives on.

  • Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 5:19 AM

    Will blackouts force IOC to reconsider Rio for 2016 Olympics?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I was as proud as any non-Brazilian could have been last month when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics to Rio – despite high-profile lobbying by President Obama and Oprah for Chicago.

    [S]ince I was rooting for Brazil, my shock turned immediately to vindication because I knew that Chicago’s loss meant that Rio’s win was inevitable. 

    [Olympic 2016..., TIJ, October 3, 2009]

    But I thought it was ominous when 60 Minutes reported on Sunday that Brazil’s power grid is so susceptible to attack that hackers have plunged Rio and other cities into darkness with relative ease.  

    After all, what better time to launch a terrorist attack than during an orchestrated blackout at the Olympic Games?  Indeed, the potential for carnage and terror under such circumstances would make what happened at the 1972 Munich Games seem like an ordinary drive-by shooting in LA.

    Now come news reports that:

    A massive power failure swept over Brazil’s two largest cities Tuesday night along with other parts of Latin America’s largest nation, leaving millions of people [60M] in the dark.

    Frankly, whether by hackers or because of a reported breakdown at the country’s hydroelectric dam, the timing of these latest blackouts must be as troubling for IOC officials as it is embarrassing for Brazilian authorities.

    More to the point, reports are that IOC members are now thinking that Madrid, the runner up for 2016, might be a more reliable host city…. 

    But I’m sure cooler heads will prevail and that Brazilians will be given time to provide adequate assurances that they can keep their city electrified (in every sense) during the Olympic Games.  And it is fortuitous in this respect that hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 can now serve as a de facto dress rehearsal for 2016 (for Brazil, but for the terrorists too…).

    Related commentaries:
    Olympic 2016

  • Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 5:21 AM

    Veterans Day? Try showing (instead of telling) vets how much you appreciate their service …

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 5:30 AM

    Clearly, Sammy wants to ‘be just like Mike’ (Michael Jackson that is)

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Of all of the contradictions that characterized the life of Michael Jackson none was more glaring than his singing, with such conviction, the following lyrics from his hit song Black or white:

    …if you’re thinkin’ about my baby, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.

    For it clearly mattered to him; just as it does to far too many blacks throughout the Americas and all over Africa who have used bleaching agents to make themselves look more white than black.

    Now, “just like Mike,” former baseball superstar Sammy Sosa has become the poster boy for this insidious act of self-loathing.  Though, comparing a picture of him taken last year with one taken just last week, Sammy’s racial transmogrification appears even more dramatic.

    And, by the way, it’s a whitewash to assert that the steroids he used during his career suddenly turned his skin white after he retired – when, conveniently, he’s no longer exposed to the summer sun on the baseball field that would frustrate the effects of his “skin rejuvenation.”  After all, if steroids were the cause, almost all black football players and most black baseball players would be sporting Mike’s synthetic white pigmentation.

    Meanwhile, I’m sure Sammy and his enablers have an equally persuasive explanation for why he has suddenly begun wearing green contact lenses too.

    Frankly, the only question is why, Sammy, why?

    Of course, his answer to this question would undoubtedly be every bit as truthful and insightful as the answer Michael gave to the question about the paternity of his (white) children.  (He always insisted, as if in a terminal state of delusional fantasy, that he was their biological father.)

    But anyone who understands why light-skinned slaves were assigned to the master’s house while dark-skinned ones were relegated to the fields will understand why blacks like Sammy still covet identification with and acceptance by their perceived racial betters.  And, alas, they probably consider the fact that the first black president of the United States is half white as validation of their racial abnegation.

    Then of course there’s the fact that Sammy (pictured here with his wife Sonia)  hails from the Dominican Republic (DR) – where a de facto racial apartheid still exists between light-skinned blacks (aka mulatos) who comprise the ruling and social elite and dark-skinned blacks who mulatos looked down upon as little more than latter-day field slaves … from Haiti.

    Perhaps you recall how Spike Lee satirized the slave mentality that still causes dark-skinned blacks to feel inferior to light-skinned ones (and light-skinned blacks to feel superior) in his movie School Daze (1988).  Sadly, Oprah and Tyler Perry perpetuate this mentality by casting darker blacks as the bad characters and lighter ones as the good characters in their recently released movie Precious….

    Therefore, just imagine the inferiority complex little “Black Sambo” must have suffered  growing up in the DR….

    I pity him.

  • Monday, November 9, 2009 at 5:33 AM

    Holy Cao! Only one Republican votes for historic health care bill

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    When Barack Obama pledged to restore bipartisanship to Washington during last year’s presidential campaign, he could not have imagined that the centerpiece of his legislative agenda, health care reform, would garner only one Republican vote. Yet that is precisely what happened on Saturday night. 

    Specifically, Rep. Anh Cao was the only Republican in the House who voted with Democrats to pass a historic bill to overhaul the health care system 220-215. Most notably, this bill will provide health coverage to over 35 million uninsured Americans; no doubt many of whom live in Cao’s district of New Orleans.

    I’ve always been focusing on making the right decisions for the people of my district, whether or not it will cost me my political future.

    (Cao on his daring vote)

    But where Democrats were clearly surprised by his move, Republicans were positively incensed. After all, his vote, no matter how principled, is tantamount to political treason in Washington these days.  And it’s all the more stunning given that, as a first-term Congressman, everybody expected him to go along to get along with fellow Republicans.

    But then again Cao is no ordinary Congressman. 

    Interestingly enough, like Obama, he was a community organizer (in Louisiana’s Vietnamese community) before entering politics.  More to the point, though, he became the darling of the Republican Party a year ago by defeating William Jefferson, a nine-term, black, Democratic Congressman, in majority-black New Orleans.

    Here, in part, is how I heralded his historic election:

    … I lamented [after the terminally corrupt Jefferson's last victory] not only that predominantly black voters in his district of Louisiana had missed another opportunity to redeem themselves, but also that Jefferson would be defeated only when a cow flies over the moon. 

    Therefore, it came as a pleasant surprise on Saturday when Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao, a little-known Vietnamese American, defeated Jefferson

    That said, I don’t know how much of a future Cao has in American politics with a name that is pronounced “cow”. Although, having defeated someone with a presidential name like William Jefferson, he’s admittedly off to a good start….

    [Corrupt Jefferson finally booted from office, TIJ, December 9, 2008]

    Now, alas, it’s only a matter of time before the right-wing mullahs of the Republican Party issue a political fatwa to defeat him in the Republican primaries when he runs for re-election next year. These folks have no appreciation for life imitating art in this real-life version of Mr Smith Goes to Washington.

    Nevertheless, to persevere what little HOPE Obama retains of restoring bipartisanship to Washington, I hope Cao fends off not only a doctrinaire Republican challenger but also a likely black Democratic challenger next year to retain his seat.

    Not to mention that rewarding Cao’s profile in courage by re-electing him might inspire other members of Congress to vote according to their conscience and in the interest of their constituents instead of according to political orthodoxy and in the interest of their respective parties.

    Meanwhile, pay no attention to any of the rhetoric about this bill “going nowhere [and being] dead on arrival in the Senate.” Because, notwithstanding partisan disagreement over key provisions (like the “public option plan”), or legitimate concerns about its trillion dollar price tag, the Senate will now go through its own sausage-making process and will pass a version of this health care bill in due course.

    Then I have no doubt that Congress will present Obama a reconciled health care reform bill before the end of this year. This will give him the opportunity to sign, seal and deliver on his most important campaign promise, which will also be the most significant piece of Congressional legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

    For, as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy always insisted, health care is a right, not a privilege….

    NOTE:  Members of the main stream media would go a long way towards reclaiming their journalistic integrity if they would spend half as much time reporting on Cao’s honorable stand as they’ve spent reporting on the dishonorable antics of other members of Congress – for whom hurling puerile insults at the president or at congressional adversaries is a profile in courage.  But don’t hold your breath.

    Related commentaries:
    Corrupt Jefferson finally booted from office
    Illustration of healthcare debate

  • Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 7:12 AM

    You know Obama had a bad week when embracing Karzai was the highlight…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

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