Sunday, August 23, 2015 at 10:41 AM
Saturday, August 22, 2015 at 8:28 AM
Vladimir Putin climbed into a three-seat submersible craft Tuesday to check out an ancient sunken ship found recently in the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea — the peninsula annexed by Russia last year from Ukraine…
On previous trips deep underwater, Putin has explored the Gulf of Finland and Lake Baikal in submersibles. He also went scuba diving in the Kerch Strait that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, where he brought up fragments of ancient Greek jugs, or amphorae, that his spokesman later admitted had been planted.
(The Associated Press, August 18, 2015)
Mind you, chances are that, just as they planted those ancient Greek jugs, his enabling minions sank this ancient sunken ship to facilitate this ego trip as well.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (60) has become an international laughing stock for staging photo ops to make himself look more like an action hero than a political leader. Particularly because so many of his stunts, like pretending to escort migrating cranes in a glider, make him look more like Johnny English than James Bond
(“Putin Divorce Dents Public Armor,” The iPINIONS Journal, June 12, 2013)
Of course his sycophantic aides dare not tell Putin how stupid his he-man stunts look for the same reason Kim Jong-un’s dare not tell him how hollow his military threats sound; that is, they fear losing their jobs … or much worse.
All the same, better to have them live out their chest-thumping fantasies through harmless theatrics than deadly maneuvers – like test-launching nuclear missiles (Lil’ Kim), or invading neighboring countries (Pootie).
Friday, August 21, 2015 at 11:54 AM
For months, the U.S. State Department has stood behind its former boss Hillary Clinton as she has repeatedly said she did not send or receive classified information on her unsecured, private email account, a practice the government forbids…
Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own ‘Classified’ stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information…’
‘I did not send classified material, and I did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified,’ Clinton told reporters at a campaign event in Nevada on Tuesday.
(Reuters, August 21, 2015)
Trust me folks, 99 percent of what reporters and pundits are feeding you about this scandal has more to do with national politics than national security. After all, nobody in her right mind believes that Hillary intentionally compromised national security (e.g., the way General David Petraeus did).
What’s more, it hardly matters that Hillary’s private server was not as secure as it could or should have been. After all, John Kerry is on record making this sobering admission about his use of the purportedly secure government server:
Secretary of State John Kerry says ‘it is very likely’ that China and Russia are reading his emails.
‘It’s very possible … and I certainly write things with that awareness.’
(CBS News, August 11, 2015)
Yet nothing indicates how eager some in Washington are to politicize this scandal quite like Bob Woodward insinuating on Wednesday’s edition of Morning Joe that Hillary erasing thousands of e-mails from her private server is as incriminating as Nixon erasing minutes of recorded conversation from his White House tapes: E-mailgate? God help us.
Again, there isn’t a scintilla of evidence that Hillary used her private server as a means to any illegal end, or that she erased e-mails to cover up illegal activities of any kind. Nor is it clear that she violated the Federal Records Act, or “FRA,” 44 U.S.C. 3101 et seq., despite brazen assertions that she did.
Incidentally, it might be helpful to bear in mind that this e-mail witch-hunt began with Hillary’s Republican nemeses in Congress. They are trying in vain to pin blame on her for the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
I am all too mindful, though, that the Whitewater witch-hunt of the 1990s began with her husband Bill’s Republican nemeses in Congress too. They tried in vain to prove that he was involved in shady land deals (among other nefarious misdeeds too wacko to mention) in Arkansas. Yet they ended up impeaching him over the completely unrelated matter of Monica’s blue dress. Remember that vast right-wing conspiracy…?
With apologies to Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, just because the Clintons are paranoid doesn’t mean Republicans aren’t after them. Nor, alas, does it mean that the Clintons do not have other incriminating reasons to be paranoid. Indeed, the Clintons’ reputation for getting away with all kinds of dirty tricks and shady deals is such that the presiding judge in this case has already deemed her guilty … as accused.
For here is the extraordinary way Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, opined at a Freedom of Information hearing, which media outlets brought against the State Department seeking access to the e-mails of any staff member who corresponded with Hillary during her tenure as secretary:
We wouldn’t be here today if the employee [Hillary] had followed government policy.
(New York Times, August 21, 2015)
In saying this, however, the judge unwittingly skirted the truth. Because the only reason we are here today is that Hillary decided to willfully betray President Obama.
To be fair, she and her defenders are keen to cite the precedents her predecessors, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, set by allegedly using private servers. Except that nobody could reasonably suspect that either of them did so to hide official e-mail correspondence from the president they served. The same cannot be said of Hillary.
In fact, anyone who knows anything about the rivalry that defined their contest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination knows that Obama had just cause to suspect she might do just that. Mind you, practically everyone goaded him into nominating Hillary as his secretary of state to emulate former President Lincoln’s “team of rivals.”
But even I could see that she was bound to run the State Department like her political fiefdom — as I duly warned in “Hillary as Secretary of State? Don’t Do It Barack!” November 15, 2008.
[A]ppointing Hillary as secretary of state would be tantamount to inviting her (and her husband Bill) to set up a de facto parallel presidency predicated on the fiction that she will deal with foreign affairs and Obama will deal with domestic affairs. And, frankly, this would be a perfect recipe for untenable tension within his presidency, which would have Obama constantly looking over his shoulder to see what machinations Hillary is concocting to upstage him…
Obama should choose John Kerry to serve as secretary of state. After all, he has more foreign-policy experience, he is fluent in several foreign languages (whereas, she’s not in any), and he would surely be more loyal.
It speaks volumes in this context that, despite Hillary erasing tens of thousands of e-mails she deemed private, the State Department has released enough to show that she continued to take advice from one Sidney Blumenthal, despite Obama admonishing her to keep him at arm’s length. To explain why this raises all kinds of red flags would require sharing too much inside-the-beltway gossip.
Therefore, suffice it to know that Hillary taking advice from Blumenthal in these circumstances is rather like Condi taking advice from the hitman for John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign, despite Bush admonishing her, for obvious reasons, not to.
Blumenthal’s e-mails [offering his spin on the unrest in Libya, where his corporate clients were lying in wait to do business] were among 300 that have been turned over to the panel by the State Department…
They had been sent to Clinton via a personal e-mail address that she used while at the State Department [and while Blumenthal was working for the Clinton family foundation]. Her use of the private account violated White House guidelines at the time, which stipulated using government e-mail for official business when possible.
(Washington Post, May 21, 2015)
The point is that Hillary is being hoisted by her own petard for defying and deceiving the man who graciously positioned her to succeed him as president of the United States. The irony, of course, is that this self-inflicted wound may prove fatal to her and Bill’s “two-for-one” presidential ambitions. Especially with VP Joe Biden, who happens to be as worthy an heir to Obama as Bush Sr. was to Reagan, now hovering like a buzzard just waiting to gobble up the Democratic nomination.
In any event, it’s arguable that Hillary used her position as secretary of state as much to help endow her family’s money-grubbing foundation as to help execute Obama’s foreign-policy agenda.
Which is why when voters are asked that seminal question (with respect to the 2016 presidential election): Can she be trusted?
The damning and disqualifying answer must be: No she can’t!
Yet, despite all the above, I fear the only way Hillary will lose the Democratic nomination is if Obama’s Justice Department takes the extraordinary step of indicting his former secretary of state on charges stemming from this e-mail scandal. Beyond this, whether it’s Hillary or Joe, I am as convinced that the Democratic nominee will win the 2016 presidential election as I am that Donald Trump will lose the 2016 Republican nomination. Got that?
In the meantime, enjoy the spectacle.
Hillary as sec of state…
Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 8:23 AM
Members of the China Philharmonic Orchestra play during a rehearsal in Tehran, Iran, on Aug. 12, 2015. The visiting China Philharmonic Orchestra will jointly perform with Tehran Symphony Orchestra.
(Xinhua, August 13, 2015)
This, of course, is China using its soft power, which is making it the preferred superpower patron, even to former U.S. beneficiaries, throughout the developing world. Whereas, in typical fashion, Russia is flexing its military muscles – by striking all kinds of arms deals with Iran just to spook and spite the United States … Israel be damned.
Iran will sign a contract with Russia next week to buy four S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, the Iranian defense minister said on Tuesday, bringing Tehran closer to acquiring an advanced air defense capability…
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the most vocal critics of last month’s final nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, has expressed Israel’s ‘dismay’ at Russia’s decision to supply the S-300s to Tehran.
[Iran is] also negotiating with Russia to buy fighter jets, in a likely attempt to upgrade its aging fleet of mostly U.S.-made jets for which it cannot obtain spare parts or upgrades due to long-standing hostility between the two countries.
(Reuters, August 18, 2015)
Meanwhile, just as delusional Miami Cubans and their useful idiots in Congress would be perfectly happy if the United States were the only country embargoing Cuba, crusading evangelical Christians and their useful idiots in Congress would be perfectly happy if the United States were the only country sanctioning Iran … until kingdom come.
Israel has become as sacred a cow in American politics as Mom, apple pie … and guns because, on the one hand, evangelical Christians consider its security key to their salvation; on the other hand, politicians of every stripe consider pandering about its security key to their (re)election.
(“Americans More Jewish than Jews in Israel,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 7, 2013)
Apropos of this, Republican politicians and evangelical preachers are making a pharisaic show of vowing – as an article of political and religious faith, respectively – to oppose the nuclear deal with Iran … for Israel’s sake.
Rebuffing a campaign among Jewish organizations to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal, 340 rabbis sent a letter to Congress Monday (Aug. 17) supporting the agreement and rejecting the notion that most American Jews oppose it…
The rabbis who sent the letter Monday argue that, while they have reason to distrust Iran’s leaders, the deal is the best available strategy to confront the specter of a nuclear Iran. And they want to challenge assumptions that Jews who oppose the deal represent American Jews as a whole.
(Huffington Post, August 17, 2015)
In a similar vein, you’ve probably seen Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on TV preaching his Chicken-Little message (complete with his A-men chorus of American sycophants) about Iranian Mullahs lying in wait to execute a second Holocaust. In doing so, he invariably casts aspersions on Obama as a naïve man whose dogged pursuit of a legacy (aka Nobel) peace initiative blinds him to the clear and present danger Iran poses to Israel, which, incidentally, is the only nuclear power in the Middle East.
Alas, Netanyahu’s political arrogance blinds him to the clear and wanton insult inherent in his message to the intelligence and sensibilities of the other world leaders, most notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who partnered with Obama to negotiate this deal.
But consider this:
Many Israeli ex-generals and former security chiefs have signed a petition urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, which he strongly opposes.
(Agence France-Presse, August 3, 2015)
This means that, to believe Netanyahu, you’d have to believe that all of these Israeli generals and security chiefs are as naïve and politically motivated as he claims Obama is.
Not to mention the disqualifying fact that this is the same putatively wise and seasoned statesman who was all over American TV in 2002, agitating for military action against Iraq. Back then, he was preaching with just as much religious conviction that it posed the same kind of existential danger to the United States and Israel that he’s claiming Iran poses today.
There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons – no question whatsoever…
Today the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk. And make no mistake about it — if and once Saddam has nuclear weapons, the terror networks will have nuclear weapons.
(C-SPAN, September 12, 2002)
Sound familiar…? As George W. Bush himself might attempt to say: fool us once, shame on Netanyahu; fool us twice, shame on us. In fact, when it comes to preaching his Holocaust gospel, Netanyahu is such a brazen televangelist that he makes those who preach their newfangled prosperity gospel seem, well, monastic.
Ironically, it’s arguable that he has terrorized Israelis more over the past 25 years with his rhetoric about impending than Iranian Mullahs have with theirs about wiping Israel off the map.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 7:49 AM
In light of the recent trend set by Angela Merkel of Germany and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Bachelet’s election would be encouraging to those of us who welcome the seepage of womanpower through the crevices of political and corporate governance around the world…
Here’s to ‘the fairer sex’ – not only as indispensable guardians of home and hearth, but also as invaluable (and capable) stewards of the ship of state!
(“Cracking the Glass Ceiling: First Woman to Become President in South America,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 12, 2005)
As this quote indicates, I have celebrated every small step women have taken over the years towards integrating professions traditionally reserved for men. And I could not be more pleased to celebrate their latest.
Not least because, with all due respect to Tysonesque MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, it demonstrates that women are just as capable of performing in armed combat as men.
Two women are about to make history by becoming the first female soldiers to graduate from the Army’s exhausting Ranger School.
The Pentagon describes Ranger School as ‘the Army’s premier combat leadership course, teaching Ranger students how to overcome fatigue, hunger, and stress to lead Soldiers during small unit combat operations.’
The current class started in April with 381 men and 19 women. The students were forced to train with minimal food and little sleep and had to learn how to operate in the woods, mountains and swamplands.
(CNN, August 18, 2015)
And let me hasten to dispel the myth about the physical prowess required to be a Special Forces operator. Because, despite the training involved, the vast majority of operations do not require them to carry a 50-pound rucksack or hold their breath underwater for six minutes — as those who executed the famous mission to get Osama bin Laden will attest.
Moreover, women have been fighting alongside putatively all-male Navy SEALS and Army Rangers for years – as Gayle Tzemach Lemmon chronicled in her true-life book, Ashley’s War.
Which is why all of the blather about traditional esprit de corps precluding these women from serving as Army Rangers is as anachronistic as it is chauvinistic. Not to mention that the U.S. military began clearing all bureaucratic obstacles in this regard years ago:
The military services began racing Thursday to open jobs across the armed forces to women, a historic change that likely will put more women into direct combat in Afghanistan and in any future conflicts.
The sweeping new rules at the Pentagon, ordered by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta after a year of consultations with senior military officers, require the military services to expand all positions to women — or convince the defense secretary why those jobs should remain exclusively male…
[As a senior Marine Corps official noted, ‘We’ve been looking at this for a long time, and for us the issue is, ‘Can they do it?’
(Huffington Post, January 24, 2013)
So clearly, even by their own notoriously rigorous and uncompromising standards, the military services cannot offer any reason why combat operations should remain exclusively male – notwithstanding traditional notions about gender roles, which might cause some men to … bitch.
Incidentally, for a little perspective, prevailing chauvinism in my profession was such that, after Sandra Day O’Connor graduated from law school in 1952, 40 law firms refused to hire her as an attorney … because she was a woman. Yet not only did she become the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981, but (according to the Center for Research on Gender in the Professions 2013) women now compose 55 percent of staff attorneys in law firms.
To be sure, some pioneering women will feel the need to ‘act just like men’ – as Margaret Thatcher arguably did. But as their participation, power, and influence become the norm rather than the exception, so too will their natural tendency to lead or rule by persuasion and consensus, instead of presuming, like men, that might makes right.
(“Men Should Be Barred from Politics,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 25 2013)
Which, of course, might spare the military having to deal with scandals like My Lai and Abu Ghraib.
Congratulations Rangers! Oh, to the male ones too….
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 at 8:03 AM
He made history, but I had misgivings almost immediately. Not least because he signed with the Oprah Winfrey Network to turn his Football career into a Kardashian-style reality show even before he signed with his team. This indicated that he was more interested in the fame than the game, which only made my informed concerns about his ability to play at this level even more acute.
I delineated those concerns in “Michael Sam a More Worthy Jackie Robinson of Gay Athletes than Jason Collins,” May 12, 2014. Here is a prescient excerpt.
I feel constrained to note that he was the 249th of 256 players drafted. Moreover, it took the NFL team from Missouri, the state where he played his college Football, to draft him, which it did only after drafting nine other players in the earlier rounds. Which is why it’s arguable that he would not have been drafted if the Rams had not selected him.
But let me hasten to clarify that there was nothing homophobic about other teams passing on Sam. After all, despite an impressive college career – highlighted by leading the Southeast Conference in sacks with 11.5 last season and being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, he simply failed to impress, by all objective criteria, at the NFL Combine in February…
Ironically, it’s probably fair to assert that the Rams drafted him only because he’s gay.
I hope Sam makes the final cut this fall – not as the NFL’s token gay, but as a bona fide player. Because there will be no gay pride in the Rams keeping him on the roster if he turns out be as big a bust during pre-season tryouts as he was during the combine.
Sure enough, he did not make it in the NFL – even as a token gay. Now comes this:
Michael Sam, who last year became the first openly gay player drafted by a National Football League team, said on Friday he was stepping away from football, citing concerns over his mental health.
The Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, with whom he signed a contract in May, said on its team website that Sam had left the team for personal reasons and as a result had been placed on the team’s suspended list.
‘The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health,’ Sam wrote on Twitter.
(Reuters, August 15, 2015)
Unfortunately, for far too many, his failure will only reinforce gay stereotypes. Whereas I’m sure the stress off the field, especially in light of his disappointing play on it, was in fact overwhelming. But it appears Sam caused much of that stress. For reports indicate that he spent more time cultivating fame while tackling homophobic trolls on social media than earning it by sacking quarterbacks on the Football field. I wish him well.
That said, trust me folks, Jackie Robinson would not have become a Black hero if he turned out to be only a mediocre Baseball player. What made Blacks so proud was the undeniable fact that Jackie was so good.
This is why all of the hype about David Denson becoming the first openly gay player in Baseball is so patronizing. After all, he’s not even playing in the Major Leagues.
David Denson, a first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers’ rookie affiliate [aka Minor League team] in Helena, Montana, made baseball history this weekend by revealing that he is gay.
(CNN, August 16, 2015)
In fact, it’s arguable that Denson outed himself because, like Sam, he is more interested in the fame than the game. What’s more, his chances of making a name for himself as a professional athlete seem even less than Sam’s were.
Which brings me to the dubious way gay basketball player Jason Collins and gay swimmer Ian Thorpe made news. Here, in part, is how I dismissed their coming out in “Nothing ‘Brave’ about Ian Thorpe Finally Saying, I’m gay,” July 16, 2014.
When Ellen had the balls way back in 1997 to say, ‘I’m gay,’ she was at the pinnacle of her professional career and still a figure of considerable public interest. And, given the prevailing climate of homophobia, she had a lot to lose. But she was clearly more interested in being true to herself than in currying public favor. That was 17 years ago folks!
More to the point, thousands of public figures have emulated her pioneering coming out since then. Therefore, it seems more than a little patronizing – towards the person coming out as well as the public – for the media to continue covering people coming to terms with their own sexuality as a friggin’ news event.
But this is particularly annoying, if not cynical, in Thorpe’s case. After all, his ‘public service announcement’ would’ve had some socially redeeming value if he had emulated Ellen by coming out at the height of his career – during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, where he was born. Instead, he chose to emulate the equally opportunistic, if not cowardly, Jason Collins [by waiting until his career was practically over to do so].
Therefore, given the spectacular disappointment Sam turned out to be, I suggest we reserve our hosannas for the coming out of a gay athlete who is an undisputed superstar in his sport. Incidentally, thanks to Sam’s oversharing disposition, we know there are several playing in the NFL today who – he claims – just don’t have his courage to come out.
But only when a superstar does will gays be as proud of a gay professional athlete as Blacks were/are of Jackie Robinson.
Monday, August 17, 2015 at 6:21 AM
It’s hardly surprising that the U.S. media are providing obsessive coverage of Donald Trump’s egocentric campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. After all, nothing attracts today’s ratings-driven media quite like a freak show or impending doom. Trump’s campaign offers both.
Meanwhile, the media are providing relatively little coverage of Bernie Sanders’s holistic campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. You’d think his David-versus-Goliath challenge to Hillary’s coronation would be replete with fodder for ratings exploitation. But even this potential spectacle cannot compete with Trump’s three-ring circus.
Which brings me to the challenge Jeremy Corbyn is mounting in Britain for next month’s Labour Party leadership election. For his campaign is offering both the spectacle of Trump’s and the substance of Bernie’s, which is compelling the UK media to provide due coverage.
Here, for example, is how The Guardian characterized the “unusual interest” Corbyn’s campaign is generating, especially among “young people, long alienated from politics,” in an editorial on August 13:”
There’s been no talk, as last time, of there being little to choose between the candidates. A yearning for plain speaking over soundbites is evident, as is a hunger for a full-throated alternative to the reinvigorated Tory government over austerity, social security and the wealth gap. There is overdue debate about the links between big business and politics, as well as about inequalities of class, race and gender.
In fact, the New York Times could fairly write a similar editorial about the substantive nature of and unusual interest in Bernie’s campaign.
Gordon Brown is to intervene in Labour’s leadership race for the first time, saying the party needs credible economic policies to win power.
Mr. Brown, the former prime minister, will deliver an address on ‘power for a purpose.’
It comes after his predecessor at Number 10, Tony Blair, warned that Labour risked annihilation if it elects Mr. Corbyn – currently seen as the front-runner.
(BBC, August 16, 2015)
Labour’s establishmentarians fear that Corbyn’s full-throated socialist policies will doom any chance their party has of serving as a credible opposition to the Conservative (Tory) Party, which won a surprisingly decisive victory in parliamentary elections last May.
Their fear is understandable. After all, far from embracing the triangular (aka Tory-light) policies that made Blair so successful, Corbyn is doubling down on the quasi-socialist ones Opposition Leader Edward Miliband championed to Labour’s humiliating defeat in those elections.
More to the point, in light of that defeat, it’s abundantly clear that Tory capitalism enjoys far greater appeal in Britain these days than Labour socialism. Which is why it seems so foolhardy to elect a die-hard socialist as party leader.
Indeed, despite commending the formidable force his campaign represents, The Guardian sided with party stalwarts in declaring Corbyn unelectable. It editorialized further that, even if elected, he would be incapable of governing, having alienated Labourites and outraged Tories in equal measure with his uncompromising brand of politics.
Instead, The Guardian has endorsed Yvette Cooper as the candidate who can best resurrect Blair’s triangulation politics and harness the party’s competing factions sufficiently enough to govern. Not to mention the appealing prospect of Cooper becoming Labour’s belated answer to the Tory’s iron lady, Margaret Thatcher.
Of course, party stalwarts and newspaper editorials are declaring Bernie equally unelectable and, if elected, incapable of governing … for similar reasons.
Nonetheless, I am convinced that Corbyn’s popularity is rising there for the same reason Bernie’s is here: both upstarts are championing policies, especially on issues like immigration, income inequality, racial injustice, and the corrupting influence of money in politics, which provide the starkest contrast in the politics of their respective countries in a generation.
I for one have long bemoaned that the difference between Republicans and Democrats features more in what they say than in what they do. Only this explains why the rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer no matter which of them is in power. The same could be said of Labourites and Tories.
Frankly, Corbyn is the only Labourite and Bernie is the only Democrat championing policies that offer real change (with all due respect to Obama).
But I am sensible enough to appreciate that, while Corbyn stands a far greater chance of winning his party’s leadership than Bernie does of winning his party’s nomination, neither one stands a snowball’s chance in Hell of being elected leader of his country, respectively.
This, however, is precisely why I urge every Briton who shares Corbyn’s views to vote for him, just as I urge every American who shares Bernie’s to vote for him. Because the better socialist candidates perform at the polls, the more likely they are to become pragmatic alternatives to, instead of mere political spoilers for, mainstream candidates.
So here’s to Corbyn taking one small step for British politics, but a giant leap for socialist policies by winning the election to become the next leader of the UK Labour Party.
Saturday, August 15, 2015 at 8:21 AM
Friday, August 14, 2015 at 8:48 AM
The U.S. Army’s outgoing chief of staff warned Wednesday that reconciliation between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq is becoming harder and that partitioning the country ‘might be the only solution…’
General Raymond Odierno, who once served as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and retires Friday after nearly 40 years in uniform, said the U.S. focus for now should be on defeating the Islamic State, the jihadist group that has seized large portions of the country.
But in a valedictory news conference he took a pessimistic view about the underlying conflict between Shiites and Sunnis that brought the two communities to brink of civil war in 2006.
(Agence France-Presse, August 13, 2015)
I fear the only hope now is to partition the country into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni zones and leave them to defend their own borders and barter (or fight) for a share Iraq’s oil wealth.
So, here’s to the triumph of opportunistic politics over failed military strategies.
(“At Last, Rumsfeld Becomes a Casualty of the Iraq War,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 9, 2006)
Unfortunately, Gen. Odierno is talking out of both sides of his mouth. For, even as he concedes that the only solution to sectarian strife in Iraq might be a political one, he suggests that it might be necessary to embed about 1,000 U.S. troops with Iraqi soldiers to help them fight ISIS terrorists.
Mind you, this is the same general who commanded a rotation of 1.5 million U.S. troops on a mission to help Iraqis defeat al-Qaeda terrorists/Sunni insurgents.
Yet, according to “Iraq by the Numbers,” Democratic Policy and Communications Center, December 11, 2011, here is what they have to show for their ten-year effort:
- 4,474 dead comrades
- 32,226 maimed comrades
- 115,676 dead Iraqi civilians
- $850 billion wasted
Not to mention that the dispiriting fact that Iran and ISIS wield more influence in Iraq today than the United States. Is it any wonder that – as the Washington Post reported on March 29, 2014 – 56 percent of vets believe the Iraq war was not worth fighting?
But I am stupefied that President Obama is even considering Odierno’s retread-embed strategy. After all, Obama not only had the good sense to oppose the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which stirred up the hornet’s nest of sectarian strife that has bedeviled that country ever since; but he premised his presidency on getting U.S. troops out of that infernal mess … presumably for good.
Moreover, in “Obama’s Afghan Surge Fails,” September 28, 2012, I lamented how his surge of U.S. troops failed to improve conditions in the “good war” – as Obama himself called the war in Afghanistan. Therefore, it seems foolhardy for anyone, especially Obama, to think that a surge of U.S. troops (albeit disguised as incremental deployments of advisers) will improve conditions in the “bad war” in Iraq.
So never mind failing to heed the lessons of Vietnam – with his mission creep of “advisers,” Obama is failing to heed the lessons of George H.W. Bush. For Obama’s promise to “bring our troops home” was every bit as inviolable as the elder Bush’s infamous “read my lips, no new taxes.” Which is why, given that human lives instead of tax dollars are involved, breaking his promise should entail far graver consequences for Obama’s presidency than those Bush’s suffered after breaking his.
Meanwhile, if the suicide bombs that rocked Baghdad again just yesterday did not punctuate the sacrificial nature of deploying troops back to Iraq, late-breaking reports on the fateful irony of ISIS launching chemical weapons should.
In any event, here’s to American political and military leaders being finally disabused of their perverse form of noblesse oblige, which has them trying in vain to stop one set of Muslims from killing another. This is not genocide. It’s an internecine struggle, dating back one thousand years, which by definition is none of America’s business.
Specifically, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS are waging blood feuds for the soul of Islam. And, despite our meddlesome warmongering and their anti-Western blustering, each of them is far more interested in subjugating or killing so-called moderate Muslims to win this clash within Islam than they are in beheading Westerners in a clash of civilizations.
Accordingly, I repeat what I began pleading almost 10 years ago: Americans should leave Afghans, Iraqis, and Syrians to fight their own sectarian battles. And, if ISIS or al-Qaeda jihadists are the ones standing when the dust is settled, Americans should be prepared to deploy:
One Drone to find them all, One Drone to watch them,
One Drone to bomb them all, and from the skies contain them,
In the Land of Babylon where the Dark Ages loom.
(“Time to Partition Iraq? Ha!” The iPINIONS Journal, March 31, 2015)
Except that, if Muslim factions are left to their own devices, trigger-happy Americans could stand down because the dust might not be settled on a full-scale Muslim maelstrom for another thousand years….
Hey, hope springs eternal.
Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 7:36 AM
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, a time to build up… A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace… [But above all else] a time to be born and a time to die.
Recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body. I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare. A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.
(The Carter Center)
This is clearly a very grave development. My thoughts and prayers are with him for a speedy recovery, which admittedly might be expecting too much of this 90-year-old do-gooder. Not to mention that it seems a miracle he’s still alive — given that his three younger siblings all died over twenty-five years ago of pancreatic cancer.
That said, his statement might seem rather frank and unsentimental. Except that Carter’s long public life has been punctuated by disarmingly frank and unsentimental observations. It is in this spirit that I offer the following.
According to inside-the-beltway gossip, every one of his successors has found Carter to be a meddlesome and self-righteous bore, which of course is at odds with his affable and genteel public persona. For what it’s worth, I know first hand that this gossip contains more than a kernel of truth.
But nobody could ever deny the exemplary work Carter has done since leaving office, which he himself describes as “waging peace, fighting disease, and building hope” all over the world. I am particularly fond of his volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity since 1984. Habitat is the “nonprofit ecumenical Christian ministry that builds homes with people in need regardless of race or religion.”
I will note, however, that he’s hardly deserving of all the praise he has received over the years for observing elections in places like DR Congo, Myanmar, South Sudan, and China. After all, it’s arguable that his election observers did no more to ensure free and fair elections in those countries than Christian missionaries have done to ensure good governance.
In fact, yet another military coup is unfolding in Myanmar today, making a mockery of The Carter Center’s efforts to shepherd this country’s transition from military rule to democracy.
What’s more, even I have taken exception to some of his pontifical pronouncements. I had cause to do so just weeks ago when Carter cited foreboding developments in Russia, England, and China as evidence that Barack Obama’s success on the world stage has been “minimal.” After all, this is every bit as disingenuous (or resentful) as one of FDR’s predecessors citing foreboding developments in Germany, England, and the Soviet Union in 1940 as evidence that his success on the world stage had been minimal.
But all criticisms of Carter in this regard pale in comparison with the commendation he deserves for calling a spade a spade where Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people are concerned. He delineated and documented his concerns about the fatally flawed peace process to redress this oppression in his seminal book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (November 2006).
Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said in remarks broadcast Monday that Israeli policy in the West Bank represented instances of apartheid worse even that those that once held sway in South Africa…
‘The greatest commitment in my life has been trying to bring peace to Israel, Carter told the Atlanta Press Club last week.
‘Israel will never have peace until they agree to withdraw [from the Palestinian territories].’
(Haaretz, December 11, 2006)
Of course, the reason this criticism is so damning is that, on matters related to peace in the Middle East, Carter’s pronouncements are beyond reproach. This is so primarily because of the pivotal role he played in brokering peace between Egypt and Israel in 1979, which was a major factor in the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
Get well, Jimmy.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at 9:38 AM
His critics argue that Chávez is merely expropriating property in a Robert Mugabe-style land grab. (No doubt Mugabe is flattered by the allusion.) But Chávez has declared it a ‘war on the latifundio’ (or rich estate owners), casting himself as a latterday Robin Hood of the Amazon Forest.
(“Hugo Chávez Replaces Fidel Castro as America’s Foreign Enemy #1 in the Americas,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 4, 2005)
But it did not take long before I began denouncing him as just another tin-pot dictator who was betraying the very socialist causes he championed. Here is an illustrative excerpt from “Bolivia’s Woes Expose Chávez’s Socialist Counter-Revolution as Little more than One-Man Three Ring Circus,” September 7, 2006.
Just a year ago, regional leaders were more eager to implement Chávez’s socialist agenda than the capitalist reforms President George W. Bush mandated for their sustainable development and, more important, for good relations with the United States…
But as dynamic and appealing as Chávez’s socialist agenda seemed last year, it is moribund and fractious this year… Many regional leaders … failed to appreciate that it was Venezuela’s oil, not Chávez’s agenda, which allowed him to play Robin Hood to his country’s peasants and thumb his nose at the U.S…
Even I bought Chávez’s socialist rhetoric of empowering the poor throughout the region. But I soon realized that he was only interested in enlisting regional leaders to enable his paranoid delusions of grandeur. And that his agenda had more to do with undermining Bush’s presidency than helping poor countries, including his own, build sustainable economies.
The poor neighbourhood of Petare in western Caracas is not an obvious hotbed of anti-government sentiment. In the past, its residents have been among the major beneficiaries of Venezuela’s public health and education campaigns, and an economic policy that resulted in one of the sharpest falls in inequality in the world.
But as demonstrations sweep several major cities, even the people of Petare have taken to the streets to protest again surging inflation, alarming murder rates and shortages of essential commodities.
(The Guardian, February 20, 2014)
Clearly the political conflict Chávez stirred in me pales in comparison with the economic misery he left among poor Venezuelans. Frankly, it was so clear to me that disillusionment among the poor would bedevil his legacy that I seized every opportunity, while he was still alive, to herald the socialist agendas of other regional leaders as far more worthy of commendation:
Like Bachelet [of Chile], Cristina [of Argentina] espouses political reconciliation, poverty alleviation, and a panoply of welfare programs, all of which appeal to my sensibilities. Therefore, I hope these women together can wrest the mantle of democratic socialism from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who has turned out to be nothing more than a tin-pot dictator masquerading as a latter-day Robin Hood.
(“Argentina’s First Lady Poised to Steal Hillary’s Thunder,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 9, 20109)
Sadly, apropos of disillusionment, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is turning out to be every bit as corrupt as any male leader; just as “iron lady” Margaret Thatcher turned out to be every bit as heartless, when it came to the general welfare of poor Britons. But I digress….
Now comes word that, while implementing his give-them-fish policies, Chávez was presiding over a political syndicate whose members practiced their own version of the socialist creed, which empowered each to take from the treasury according to his ability, hoard wealth according to his greed. Only this explains how Chávez was able to bequeath billions in misappropriated funds to his children.
The daughter of Hugo Chávez, the former president who once declared ‘being rich is bad,’ may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela, according to evidence reportedly in the hands of Venezuelan media outlets.
Maria Gabriela Chávez, 35, the late president’s second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2 billion, Diario las Americas reports…
Alejandro Andrade, who served as Venezuela’s treasury minister from 2007 to 2010 and was reportedly a close associate of Chávez, was discovered to have $11.2 billion in his name sitting in HSBC accounts in Switzerland, according to documents leaked by whistleblower Hervé Falciani….
(Daily Mail, August 11, 2015)
No doubt few Venezuelans could have imagined that Chávez was a bigger crook than any drug lord who ever menaced Latin America. But he has clearly earned his rightful place in the rogue’s gallery of dead kleptomaniacs, which includes everyone from Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier of Haiti to Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire/DR Congo and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Crime bosses like Al Capone and drug lords like Pablo Escobar had nothing on political dictators like these….
Incidentally, this gallery is bound to include such notorious dictators as the Castros of Cuba, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, and Vladimir Putin of Russia – whose misappropriation of public funds, as documented by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (April 19, 2012), has made him “the richest man in the world.”
[Putin’s] only reason for standing in solidarity with everyone from Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia to Yanukovych of Ukraine is that he lives in mortal fear of popular uprisings of the sort that toppled them toppling him too. Period.
This is why he must’ve been a little unnerved yesterday when even pro-Russian Ukrainians were calling for Yanukovych’s head after they got a glimpse of the obscenely opulent, Louis-XVI lifestyle he was living at their expense. So just imagine what Putin’s peasant supporters in Russia would want to do to him if they were suddenly presented with clear and convincing evidence that he lives a lifestyle that’s a thousand times more extravagant than Yanukovych’s, having amassed billions in ill-gotten gains over the years as a KGB officer turn politician.
(“Ukraine’s Orange Revolution Turns ‘Red,’” The iPINIONS Journal, February 25, 2014)
So let there be no shock and dismay when, like Chávez, these kleptomaniacs bequeath billions in misappropriated funds to their offspring too.
In the meantime, his family and cronies have nothing to fear, so long as the man to whom he bequeathed the Venezuelan presidency, his crony in chief Nicolás Maduro, remains in office. But all bets are off, with respect to their ill-gotten fortunes and even their freedom, the minute any opposition leader assumes power.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 7:49 AM
An independent bookstore in Michigan is offering refunds for customers who were unhappy with Go Set A Watchman, the recently released controversial novel by Harper Lee…
‘It is disappointing and frankly shameful to see our noble industry parade and celebrate this as ‘Harper Lee’s New Novel’. This is pure exploitation of both literary fans and a beloved American classic (which we hope has not been irrevocably tainted)’ [said the bookstore in a statement posted on its website].
(Daily Mail, August 8, 2015)
Trust me, most book reviewers and booksellers feel this way, but they are too needy for paychecks and too greedy for sales, respectively, to say so.
Meanwhile, reports today are that the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien is getting in on this literary gold rush by announcing plans to publish his discarded notes as a newly discovered masterpiece called The Story of Kullervo — his literary reputation be damned too. This is a shameful practice; unfortunately, publishers and beneficiaries are too shameless to care.
But I told you so – in such commentaries as “Harper Lee: To Milk a Mockingbird,” February 5, 2015, and “Harper Lee, Dr. Seuss, et al: the Mercenary Phenomenon of Newly Discovered Masterpieces,” July 30, 2015. Here is an instructive excerpt from the former.
Having read about the dubious provenance of this sequel, I just feel like jeering.
To begin with, Go Set a Watchman is reportedly based on a completed manuscript Lee’s editor persuaded her to put aside in order to publish To Kill a Mockingbird. This alone raises far too many obvious, but now unanswerable, questions. Most notably: Why was Go Set a Watchman deemed unworthy of publication back then? And what has changed to make it worthy today … 55 years later?..,
It requires a willing suspension of disbelief to buy her story about suddenly finding what neither Lee nor Alice could for 55 years. And Lee’s publisher is probably banking on such willing suspension of disbelief among fans of To Kill a Mockingbird to peddle other ‘long-lost manuscripts’ — as the New York Times hails this one so disingenuously…
I think the greatest literary fraud in the history of publishing is afoot, constituting a brazen betrayal and exploitation of one of America’s most beloved literary figures.
A man is suing his new wife for fraud after seeing her without make up for the first time.
‘He said she looked very beautiful and attractive before marriage, but when he woke up in the morning and found that she had washed the make-up off her face, he was frightened as he thought she was a thief,’ a source told local media.
(Metro.co.uk, August 5, 2015)
Again, I told you so – in such commentaries as “PSA: Unmask Your Woman Before You Tell Her She’s Beautiful,” October 16, 2013, and “Beware Makeup Morphing ‘Ugly Ducklings into Swans’,” June 1, 2015. Here is an instructive excerpt from the former.
Perhaps the time has come for truly liberated women to lead a new revolution for women under the banner ‘Our Faces, Ourselves,’ calling on women not to burn their bras but to ditch their makeup.
Men can be good foot soldiers in this new revolution by encouraging every woman they know to wear a little less makeup each day – until the image they see in the mirror right after their morning shower imbues them with far more pride and self-esteem than the one they (used to) see after painting on their daily mask.
And those of you still in the dating game can do even more by asking your date to take off all of her makeup (along with her spanx and fake hair) before you make love for the first time.
Monday, August 10, 2015 at 7:07 AM
Jon Stewart ended his 16-year gig as host of The Daily Show on Thursday with relatively muted fanfare.
Except the irony, if not the poetic justice, cannot be lost on him that the reason his sign-off got, and is still getting, so little media coverage is that the entire country watched, and is still focused on, the first Republican presidential debate on FOX News. After all, more than any other public figures, Republican politicians and journalists at FOX News were the butt of Stewart’s trademark barbs over the years.
Nonetheless, it speaks volumes about the role he played – as the pope of news media – that everyone from politicians to journalists and A-list celebrities marked the occasion by singing hosannas to his name. Never mind that virtually all of them did so in videotaped messages because they were tuned in to that debate too; or, more to the point, that they all subjected themselves to his prosecutorial wit during his papacy more to curry favor with his young audience (for votes, ratings, or receipts) than to kiss his … ring.
Apropos of this latter point, one of the top-trending memes on Stewart’s retirement pertained to the prevailing view that millions of young people watched his show as their only source of news and information.
I’ve always found this stupefying, even dismaying. Not least because I watched The Daily Show (hint: on Comedy Central) too, but only for the same reason I watched The Late Show with David Letterman: to be entertained, not to be informed … about anything.
Which is why I say – to any brain-dead parasite now wondering who will feed him the “news” the way Stewart did – try reading the news yourself. Not only will you be more informed; you might even be a little entertained.
Mind you, he always presented himself more as media and political critic than news and entertainment reporter. This explains why he felt outraged enough to invite hundreds of thousands to Washington, DC, in 2010 for a “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.”
As it happens, the following from his sermon on the Mall crystallizes the kind of criticism that drove his show:
The country’s 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder… If we amplify everything, we hear nothing….
(The Nation, October 30, 2010)
But I’m obliged to note that Stewart often contributed to the “conflictination” he criticized. In fact, no less a media standard-bearer than the New York Times bade him farewell with a feature article (on August 7), which criticized his sanctimony and hypocrisy in equal measure.
Here, in part, is how it read:
Mr. Stewart, who signed off from The Daily Show on Thursday … trained his liberal-leaning audience to mock hypocrisy, incoherence and stupidity, and could have nudged them to see the planks in their own eyes, too. Instead, he cultivated their intellectual smugness by personifying it.
Not to mention the damning insights one White female audience member and one Black male staffer provided into the character of this media pontiff, when they revealed how Stewart hurled a barrage of profanities at them for daring to question why his show was peddling racist and other forms of plainly offensive humor.
First, here is how Salon carried (on April 9, 2014) audience member Alison Kinney’s description of what happened when he came out to welcome his “mostly White” audience before taping, but after a White comic had “warm[ed] up the crowd [with a slew of] racist and misogynist jokes:”
I asked why a Daily Show warm-up targeted African-Americans and a woman in a wheelchair. Stewart’s face creased with annoyance. He said, shortly, loudly, glaring at me, ‘BECAUSE. IT’S. FUCKING. FUNNY.’
And here is how the New York Times reported (on July 24, 2015) on what happened when staffer Wyatt Cenac dared to admonish Stewart that the racism one of his bits perpetuated far outweighed its comedic value:
In the podcast, Mr. Cenac described events at The Daily Show in 2011, after Mr. Stewart did an on-air impression of Herman Cain, a Black business executive who was seeking the 2012 Republican nomination for president.
Mr. Cenac compared Mr. Stewart’s impersonation to the Kingfish, a racially stereotyped character from The Amos ’n’ Andy Show, and said it struck him as ‘a little weird’…
When Mr. Cenac later tried to discourage Mr. Stewart in a staff meeting from pursuing a further segment … Mr. Cenac said the host ‘kept shutting me down [and] then he got upset and he stood up,’ adding that Mr. Stewart shouted expletives at him several times.
Significantly, at the time of this professional humiliation, Cenac was the only Black writer on The Daily Show. He left the following year, claiming in his podcast that, after being so racially and professionally disrespected, he “never felt comfortable” there.
This … demonstrates the insidious entitlement White liberals have been granted — by politically compromised Black leaders — to make all kinds of racial jibes with impunity; so long as those White liberals are celebrated supporters/members of the Democratic Party.
(“Hillary: Republicans Treating Democrats like Slaves,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 23, 2006)
Things that make you go, hmmmm, no?
To be fair, given these accounts, it also speaks volumes about Stewart’s character that Cenac returned on Thursday, along with other former staffers like Steven Colbert, John Oliver, and Larry Wilmore who have become famous in their own right, to pay homage to him. To say nothing of the fact that Stewart blessed Black South African comic Trevor Noah to replace him as host.
Incidentally, I’ve seen enough of Noah’s performances to believe that he can have as much success replacing Stewart as Jimmy Fallon has had replacing Jay Leno; certainly as much as British imports John Oliver and James Corden have had in similar circumstances. This, notwithstanding that network executives will expect twice as much of the Black Noah than his White counterparts … if you know what I mean.
All in all, though, I commend Stewart for his trailblazing and entertaining contributions to the social criticism and public debate I toil in with this weblog. I wish him well in his future endeavors, which I gather will include directing iconoclastic movies – as professionally typecasting as that might be.
Sunday, August 9, 2015 at 8:24 AM
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was forced to leave a Seattle, Washington rally without speaking after protesters claiming to represent the Black Lives Matter movement stormed the stage and took the microphone from the Democratic presidential hopeful.
‘I think it is unfortunate because among other things I wanted to talk about the issues of black lives,’ Sanders said following the interrupted rally.
‘They didn’t want to hear anything.’
(Huffington Post, August 8, 2015)
Trust me folks, when it comes to championing policies for the national advancement of Black people, Bernie Sanders makes both Hillary and Bill Clinton look like right-wing Republicans.
Yet these Black nincompoops have decided that Bernie’s a racist simply because he properly refused to chant, “Black lives matter,” when they commanded him to do so, at a Netroots Nation event in Phoenix last month.
They have appointed themselves the arbiters of what constitutes support for criminal justice and racial equality. But they are too self-righteous and self-obsessed to realize that they are alienating the very Whites they need to help them advance these causes. Whites, I might add, who would like nothing more than to establish common cause with them. It would make some political sense, for example, if these gorilla campaigners were gatecrashing the campaign rallies of Republican candidates in this fashion.
Ironically, as things stand, Blacks like these – who bum-rushed Bernie in Seattle tonight – are to the Black Lives Matter movement what Donald Trump is to the Republican Party: a bullying, embarrassing and self-aggrandizing distraction.
They need to get over themselves. But more than that, sensible Black leaders need to put these buffoons in check the way sensible Republican leaders are finally putting Trump in check.
Except that I fear the Clintons have already co-opted Black leaders – who are probably happy to have minorities think that Bernie’s a racist to get them to vote for Hillary. These are the same Black leaders, after all, who tried in 2007 to have Blacks think that Barack Obama was not “Black enough.” Remember the self-hating spectacle of former UN ambassador and Atlanta mayor Andrew Young declaring that Bill is blacker than Barack…?
But, like Barack did in 2008, to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, Bernie must defy and overcome their pro-Hillary schemes. And running off stage every time Black activists challenge him won’t do. Instead, he must stand his ground and educate them.
In the meantime, though, it behooves Bernie to inform Blacks and Hispanics nationwide about his bona fides as a civil rights pioneer and long-time crusader for criminal justice and racial equality. And I urge him to do so … by any means necessary, urgently.
Bill blacker than Barack…
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Saturday, at 10:46 p.m.
Saturday, August 8, 2015 at 9:46 AM
Friday, August 7, 2015 at 7:53 AM
As the media hyped so cravingly, it was all about Donald Trump. Which is why nothing any of the other ten candidates said during this debate will have much, if any, lasting impact.
I feel obliged to note, however, that U.S. presidential campaigns have always been more spectacle than substance. And buffoons like Trump have provided comic relief throughout.
Yet, remarkably, when all was said and done, the nominee of both parties has always ended up being the candidate who offered far more substance than spectacle.
This is a fitting metaphor for Trump’s performance – after he exposed himself as a one-trick pony who has nothing but clueless, bullying and self-aggrandizing bombast to offer. FOX News moderator Megyn Kelly brought this into pitiful relief when she asked him why he revels so much in being a male chauvinist pig – who, ironically enough, sees nothing wrong with calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Because all he could do to explain or defend himself was hurl a veiled threat to stop being nice to her … too.
Not to mention his Perryesque rambling when moderator Chris Wallace asked him to produce the evidence he claims he has proving that the Mexican government is sending rapists, murderers, and drug dealers across the border. But nobody should have been surprised; after all, he made a similar claim four years ago about having evidence proving that Barack Obama “pulled off the biggest fraud in history” because he was born in Kenya. He has yet to produce it.
Now, like a typical bully laid bare, he’s playing the victim card, whining and complaining about the questioners treating him unfairly.
All of which vindicates my assertion that:
Trump does not have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning the Republican nomination, let alone being elected president of the United States. That he’s leading all polls today only reflects the abiding interest of that wacko twenty percent of the Republican Party who had Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann leading similar polls during the last cycle (Remember them?), until sensible Republicans nominated Mitt Romney.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that Trump won’t win a single Republican primary next year. Unfortunately for the Republicans, no matter how ‘fairly’ the party treats him, he’s bound to flirt with a third party campaign. After all, this would be the only way to continue getting the media attention that seems to give his life meaning.
(“WTF: Trump Saying Now What I Predicted about No more Black Presidents,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 3, 2015)
So enjoy Trump’s starring role in the Republican Party’s reality TV show, The Presidential Apprentice, for all it’s worth….
If Google searches are any indication, Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina won the Republican ‘happy hour’ debate that took place in Cleveland, Ohio, on Thursday…
The seven ‘happy hour’ debaters were invited to participate in the early forum because of their low poll numbers.
(Huffington Post, August 6, 2015)
All I’ll say about this is that Carly Fiorina is proving herself to be the woman John McCain hoped Sarah Palin would be. Fiorina will not win the nomination, but the eventual nominee would do well to pick her as his VP running mate, especially if Hillary is on the Democratic ticket.
Incidentally, Republican and Democratic candidates are scheduled to participate in many debates before primary voting begins next year. But, trust me folks, notwithstanding the media’s ratings-stoking hype, you really only need to watch one debate for each party to find out all you need to know about these candidates. They might offer different styles, but what little substance candidates offer will be essentially the same from debate to debate.
In fact, for anyone only marginally familiar with their respective stump speeches, the most interesting part of last night’s debate was the refreshing and challenging questions the moderators asked, not the tried and tested answers the candidates gave.
Therefore, I urge you, as a civic duty, to watch at least one in each case before voting in your primary. And, yes, if you’re eligible, you’d better register and vote!
Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 7:17 AM
Here, in part, is how I commented on reports that Jimmy Savile, the British Dick Clark, was a serial child sexual abuser:
All of England is still reeling with shock and indignation at recent revelations that Sir Jimmy Savile was a predatory pedophile (and an alleged necrophiliac). Savile was the nationally beloved host of a number of BBC programs, including the very popular and long-running Top of the Pops. But reports are that he sexually abused hundreds of young girls (and boys) throughout his 40-year career…
Far more troubling, though, was a report on Monday by Panorama, the BBC’s own critically acclaimed current affairs program, which left no doubt that Savile was part of a pedophile ring that included other stars as well as top executives at the BBC – some of whom may still be on the job … and still preying on children.
(“The BBC’s Penn-State Problem,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 24, 2012)
Remarkably, the British media had been reporting on this pedophile ring for years to no effect.
But, as indicated, reports that it included (and may still include) celebrated stars like Savile sent shockwaves throughout England. Reports now that it also included (and may still include) respected politicians like former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath have left the country in complete shock and dismay:
Five police forces are investigating claims of historical child sexual abuse involving former PM Sir Edward Heath [including a claim that he raped a 12-year-old boy in the 1960s]…
The BBC understands Wiltshire Police halted an inquiry into a brothel keeper in the 1990s after she said Sir Edward was involved in child sexual abuse…
The IPCC said on Monday that it would look at whether Wiltshire officers failed to pursue allegations of child abuse made against Sir Edward, who was Conservative prime minister from 1970 to 1974.
(BBC, August 4, 2015)
British authorities are clearly making much ado about these investigations. But I am constrained to wonder if they too were not at least complicit in covering up Heath’s pedophile crimes while he was still alive.
He died of pneumonia at his home in 2005, having avoided even a hint of scandal, let alone prosecution. He was 89. (Savile was equally protected, and also went to his grave in 2011 without being held to account. He was 85.)
Frankly, I’m not sure what British authorities hope to achieve by appealing to “dozens” of alleged victims to come forward. Perhaps they’re trying to assuage their institutional guilt by helping claimants discover evidence to sue Heath’s estate for monetary damages.
But I suspect no amount of money can compensate for allowing him to get away scot-free. Think, by contrast, of the many victims of pedophile priests who have been able to see their abusers fall from grace in recent years; notwithstanding that, in far too many cases, the Church paid for the crime, and the priest did no time.
Not to mention that Heath’s accusers might have to outnumber Bill Cosby’s before most Britons begin believing their stories….
All the same, something remains truly rotten in the state of England. It stems from a perversely hallowed tradition of sexual hazing among the former “public” schoolboys who have dominated British politics for centuries.
This is why nobody should be surprised that they turned the seat of government into a parliament of sexual deviants (like the bra-wearing, coke-snorting, whore-shagging Lord Sewel I wrote about just last week); or that the British establishment has covered up the crimes of as many pedophile politicians over the years as the Catholic Church has of pedophile priests.
For nearly two decades, the man known as ‘Big Cyril’ waddled about the United Kingdom’s parliament, all bombast and waggling fingers…
He also, according to hundreds of allegations since his 2010 death, was a pedophile of historic proportions.
That fact was one of many in a dossier prepared 30 years ago by a crusading member of Parliament who warned of a powerful pedophile ring of ‘big, big names.’
(The Washington Post, July 7, 2014)
Accordingly, the five police forces now investigating allegations against Heath would do well to divert some of their efforts towards apprehending members of this pedophile ring who can still be held to account.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 6:47 AM
Got that, New York?
I was in the vanguard of progressives decrying the fact that none of the bankers on Wall Street – whose shenanigans caused the global financial crisis of 2008 – were ever prosecuted.
Everybody knows that rank criminality and dishonesty among (predominantly white) casino croupiers masquerading as investment bankers – much of it having to do with misrepresenting their exposure to sub-prime mortgages – caused this crisis. And the whole world is still reeling from, and paying for, it.
Yet not a single banker has been arrested. By riot-provoking contrast, hundreds from the Occupy Wall Street protests have been thrown in the pokey.
(“Raj Rajaratnam: a Wall Street Crook Goes to Prison … Finally,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 13, 2011)
This is why I thought it amounted to much ado about nothing in 2012, when bankers in the City of London were caught perpetrating shenanigans that rivaled those their Wall Street counterparts perpetrated:
UK bankers were engaged in an institutionalized conspiracy to rig the interbank lending rate (aka the Libor). This is the rate banks pay to borrow from each other and it underpins transactions valued in the trillions.
More crucially, though, this is the benchmark rate banks use to set interest rates for mortgages, credit cards, and loans. In other words, by rigging the interbank rate bankers could make all of these rates more expensive or cheaper.
The bankers caught red-handed in this case are from Barclays. But just as all major U.S. banks were involved in peddling sub-prime mortgages as AAA investments, there seems little doubt that all major UK banks have been rigging the interbank rate too.
(“Why “Banking Scandal” Is Becoming Redundant,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 2, 2012)
I even dismissed UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s indignant pledge to prosecute all London bankers implicated as no different from the feckless rhetoric U.S. President Barack Obama hurled at New York bankers.
Former City trader Tom Hayes has been sentenced to 14 years in jail after becoming the first person to be convicted by a jury of rigging the Libor interest rate.
Hayes, from Fleet, Hampshire, was accused of being the ringleader in a vast conspiracy to fix the London interbank offered rate (Libor) between 2006 and 2010.
Motivated by greed and a desire for higher pay, the court heard that Hayes set up a network of brokers and traders that spanned 10 of the world’s most powerful financial institutions, cajoling and at times bribing them to help rig rates – designed to reflect the cost of interbank borrowing – for profit.
(The Guardian, August 3, 2015)
Eleven more bankers are in the dock, awaiting what is bound to be a similar fate. Beyond this, though, I applaud UK politicians, of all stripes, for calling on the Serious Frauds Office to go after the senior managers who “created the culture that allowed dishonesty to thrive.”
So here’s to London for defying prevailing presumptions, which have bank thieves going to prison but bankers who thief walking scot free.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 7:02 AM
During his recent trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, President Obama seized every opportunity to rebuke African leaders for the administrative incompetence and endemic corruption that have kept their countries mired in civil strife and poverty.
But I suspect nothing made them squirm quite like the way Obama criticized their habit of defying constitutional term limits to remain in office … for life. Not least because he did so to their faces, during a historic address to the African Union in Addis Ababa a week ago today.
Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end…
I don’t understand why people want to stay so long … especially when they’ve got a lot of money…
You look at Nelson Mandela – Madiba, like George Washington, forged a lasting legacy not only because of what they did in office, but because they were willing to leave office and transfer power peacefully.
(WhiteHouse.org, July 28, 2015)
Burundi has been in chaos since late April when [President Pierre] Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office, a move Western powers and opponents said violated the constitution and a peace deal that ended an ethnically charged civil war in 2005.
Months of protests and a coup attempt were quelled, but the capital and some areas in the countryside have been rocked by sporadic violence and killings.
Some of the army generals behind the attempted coup have vowed to lead a rebellion to oust Nkurunziza, who won the July 21 presidential poll after the opposition boycotted the elections.
(Reuters, August 2, 2015)
In any event, it just so happens that I provided a preemptive answer to Obama’s question/lament last year. Specifically, in “Ukraine’s Orange Revolution Turns ‘Red,’” February 25, 2014, I explained why no less a president than Russia’s Vladimir Putin refuses to (or dares not) leave office.
It would make a mockery of the Cold-War principles he governs by if Putin allows these Ukrainian revolutionaries to put his puppet Yanukovych on trial – the way Egyptian revolutionaries are doing with their former leaders Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi; or worse, if he allows them to execute Yanukovych in the streets like a bunch of hungry hyenas devouring a gazelle – the way Libyan revolutionaries did with Muammar Gaddafi.
After all, Putin has made no secret of his contempt for what he decried as Obama’s failure to protect America’s puppet leader, Mubarak, from avenging mobs.
Let me hasten to clarify, however, that Putin’s contempt was and remains entirely self-interested. Because his only reason for standing in solidarity with everyone from Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia to Yanukovych of Ukraine is that he lives in mortal fear that the popular uprisings that toppled them might topple him too. Period.
This is why he must’ve been a little unnerved yesterday when even pro-Russian Ukrainians were calling for Yanukovych’s head after they got a glimpse of the obscenely opulent, Louis-XVI lifestyle he was living at their expense. So just imagine what Putin’s peasant supporters in Russia would want to do to him if they were suddenly presented with clear and convincing evidence that he lives a lifestyle that’s a thousand times more extravagant than Yanukovych’s, having amassed billions in ill-gotten gains over the years as a KGB officer turn politician.
After eight years in power, Putin has secretly accumulated a fortune of more than $40bn. The sum would make him Russia’s (and Europe’s) richest man.
(“Putin, the Kremlin Power Struggle and the $40bn Fortune”, The London Guardian, December 21, 2007)
Trust me, Putin lords over a kleptocracy that has fleeced public funds on such an unprecedented scale that it makes kleptocracies headed by notorious African despots seem petty by comparison. Which of course is why he is so anxious to stoke the combustible geopolitical crisis in Ukraine to deflect the international media from drawing unavoidable parallels between Yanukovych’s illegal accumulation of wealth and his. Far better, for example, to get Russians drunk with pan-Russian pride than to have them pose sober questions about the billions he and his cronies embezzled from the $50-billion price tag for the Sochi Olympics.
The damning irony might have been lost on Obama that he was citing the wealth corrupt leaders accumulate while in office as incentive for them to retire. Again, the reason they hold onto power for dear life is that they fear having to account for their accumulation of that wealth the moment they cede or lose it.
But don’t take it from me; take it from the horse trainer’s mouth. Sergei Pagachev was universally recognized as “Putin’s banker” and most trusted aide … until they had a falling-out in 2011. He has been fleeing for his life ever since, while trying to no avail to maintain control over his billions in ill-gotten gains.
Here, from an extraordinary interview published in the July 28 edition of The Guardian, is the insight he provided into not just the unprecedented scale of Putin’s wealth but the gilded cage that now keeps him trapped in office.
Everything that belongs to the territory of the Russian Federation Putin considers to be his… He’s the richest person in the world until he leaves power.
I don’t see any guarantees for him [if he steps down]; Putin doesn’t see them either.
Monday, August 3, 2015 at 8:49 AM
I pledged some time ago to eschew commenting on the WWE-style battle royale masquerading as a fight for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. But reports on Donald Trump’s latest rant against President Obama hit a nerve, which is saying a lot given his record of racist taunts about Obama’s birth certificate and college transcript.
Before I get to it, though, let me state for the record that Trump does not stand a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning the Republican nomination.
That he’s leading all polls today only reflects the abiding interest of that wacko twenty-five percent of the Republican Party who had Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann leading similar polls during the last cycle (Remember them?), until sensible Republicans nominated Mitt Romney.
So when you hear reporters and pundits making much ado about Trump leading all Republican candidates with twenty-five percent of the vote, bear in mind that this means seventy-five percent of Republican voters still think he’s a jerk. Not to mention the truly sobering fact that the vast majority of those being polled probably couldn’t name the three branches of the U.S. government, let alone the three factions fighting for control of Iraq. Which, of course, is why they are so susceptible to Trump’s cocksure schtick.
The reason Trump won’t win the Republican nomination, let alone the presidency, is that his unfavorable numbers are so high it’s hard to see support for any of the candidates who fall by the wayside redounding to his favor. As this process unfolds, however, don’t be surprised if he emulates the likes of wannabe presidents Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee by winning the Iowa Caucus and a primary or two. Republican voters in some states really are that stupid.
Unfortunately for the Republican Party, no matter how “fairly” it treats Trump, he’s bound to flirt with a third party campaign. After all, this would be the only way to continue getting the media attention that seems to give his life meaning. Of course the media will duly oblige. Not least because watching political carnival barkers and flamethrowers is the TV equivalent of rubbernecking at roadside accidents. In other words, Trump is to ratings what fuel is to fire….
That said, in June, when Trump vilified Mexican immigrants as a menacing swarm of drug dealers, rapists, and murderers, he exposed himself as an ignorant racist (think Archie Bunker).
Yesterday, when he fired a campaign staffer for posting racist rants on Facebook, he exposed himself as a political hypocrite (think Mr. Krabs):
‘Effective immediately, Sam Nunberg, a low-level political adviser, is no longer associated with the Donald Trump For president campaign,’ Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in an interview.
In one post, Nunberg allegedly called the Rev. Al Sharpton’s daughter a “n[igger].” In another, he allegedly called President Obama a ‘Socialist Marxist Islamo Fascist Nazi Appeaser’ and mocked Obama’s proposal for ‘Kenyan’ health-care reform….
(Washington Post, August 2, 2015)
Frankly, Trump firing this political adviser for posting racist rants on Facebook is every bit as hypocritical as Vince McMahon (head of World Wrestling Entertainment) firing Hulk Hogan for hurling racist rants on secret video recordings. Indeed, given the litany of racial epithets that have been attributed them, a match between Trump and McMahon to determine who is the biggest racist would probably end in a tie. But, think whatever you will of McMahon, he’s sensible enough not to include running for president of the United States among his PR stunts.
Which brings me to the Trump rant that hit a nerve. Here, in part, is how the Huffington Post reported it yesterday:
Donald Trump thinks the United States will not see another Black president for some time because Barack Obama has ‘set a very poor standard,’ the billionaire businessman, entertainer and Republican presidential candidate told ABC News on Sunday. Trump — who has questioned whether Obama was born in the United States and was once sued by the Justice Department because the management of his apartment complexes allegedly discriminated against black tenants — also thinks he’ll win the Black vote.
Trump responded to a question on the show about a tweet he sent last year saying America would not see another Black president for generations because of how poorly he thought Obama had done.
Clearly, in addition to being a raving racist and a brazen hypocrite, Trump is a delusional fool. It is equally clear, though, that his popularity among Republican primary voters says more about how stupid they are than how foolish he is.
But here is why his tweet about Obama being such a disappointment that Americans won’t vote for another Black as president for generations hit a nerve; never mind what it betrays about his regard for the candidacy of fellow Republican, the Black Dr. Ben Carson:
[Republicans] would prefer economic Armageddon to what they have deluded themselves into thinking is Obama’s (Black-nationalist/Muslim-inspired) plan to turn America into a socialist, Greek-style banana republic — ignoring the ironic fact that nobody is doing more towards this end than they.
Their hatred of Obama is so irrational, one could be forgiven the suspicion that their dark, ulterior motive is to see America become so dysfunctional and humiliated under his leadership that Americans would not even consider electing another Black person as president for at least another 100 years.
(“S&P Downgrades U.S. Credit Rating,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 8, 2011)
Pretty uncanny, eh?
On November 6, 2012, Obama captured about 51% of the popular vote to Mitt Romney’s 47% [karmic, given his infamous remark about the poor, unwashed 47%], making him the seventh president to win a majority of the popular vote in at least two victories…
In doing so, he joined Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.
(Encyclopedia Britannica.org, January 18, 2013)
Except that Obama’s record of accomplishments has belied the Republican narrative about him being a failed president so comprehensively, only a fool like Trump would continue trumpeting this narrative as fact.
Indeed, it should suffice in this respect to cite the fact that Obama’s policies brought the unemployment rate down from a high of 10 percent during the first year of his presidency to 5.3 percent this year, and raised stock values on Wall Street up from 7,062 during the first year of his presidency to 18,132 this year. But then there are his legacy items, most notably killing bin Laden, launching Obamacare, normalizing relations with Cuba, preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and combating climate change.
Interestingly enough, earlier this year, in its February 16 edition, the Washington Post published the latest ranking of U.S. presidents, which placed Obama in the top twenty. But this was before he had what the Post hailed, in its June 26 edition, as “the best week of his presidency.”
That, you may recall, was the week he won transformational trade promotion authority, which nobody thought was possible; the Supreme Court upheld the subsidies for low and middle-income Americans he provided to help them buy health insurance; the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide based on actions his administration took to champion it as a fundamental right; and he comforted the nation, like no president ever did or could, in the wake of the mass shooting at that historic Black church in Charleston, delivering what has been universally hailed as the best speech of his presidency – complete with a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Arguably, if eminent historians were to participate in a similar survey today, they would rank Obama in the top ten, along with such notables as Washington, Lincoln, and FDR.
So, again, it’s uncanny that Trump is saying today what I feared most people would be saying if Republicans succeeded in their treasonous/racist mission to make Obama a failed, one-term president. But he’s too wrapped up in his own delusional bombast to appreciate that the most disappointing aspects of Obama’s presidency is the way it brought so many racists, like him, out of the closet. Trust me folks, Trump represents an insidious faction of White Americans who were hell-bent on destroying his presidency to such degree that liberal Whites would be so disappointed and Blacks so embarrassed they wouldn’t vote for another Black president for at least another 100 years.
And don’t get me started on the racist double standard inherent in thinking this way. After all, if whatever standard of excellence Trump has in mind had been applied to White, male presidents, Americans would not have voted for another White male for generations after the presidency of Warren G. Harding in 1923 or, even earlier, that of John Tyler in 1845.