The iPINIONS Journal


  • Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    Going wireless: disconnecting families as much as computers

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Friday, December 15, 2017 at 8:21 AM

    Republicans Exploiting FBI Texts the Way Trump Exploited DNC E-mails

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I thought Bernie Sanders would have been a far more appealing Democratic nominee than Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential election.

    But the way Donald Trump exploited the private e-mails of staffers at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to undermine Hillary’s campaign reeked of cynicism and hypocrisy. This is why I condemned the media for blithely enabling him to do so.

    Yet all of that pales in comparison to the cynicism and hypocrisy afoot. I am referring to the way Republicans are exploiting the private text messages of agents at the FBI to undermine special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into the role Russia played in helping Trump get elected.

    For a little explanation and context, here is an excerpt from “Hey Media, Wikileaker Assange Is Still a Self-Promoting, Bail-Jumping Rape Suspect!” August 29, 2016.

    ____________________

    It hardly mattered that the leaked e-mails merely showed staffers rooting for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination. This, after all, was always as obvious as staffers at the RNC rooting for anyone but Donald Trump to win the Republican nomination.

    Not to mention that leaking e-mails about granting favors, peddling influence, and shifting alliances in Washington, is rather like leaking e-mails about political corruption, casino gambling, and street prostitution in Macau (all of which are legal, mind you).

    Yet, like a self-appointed messiah of transparency, Assange is sharing his hacked loot with any news organization prepared to facilitate his self-aggrandizing crusade. And far too many news anchors and political commentators are playing along — like disciples spreading his gospel. …

    This is what is passing for ‘Breaking News’ every day now — as Assange leaks a new cache of hacked e-mails like manna from heaven for lazy, unconscionable and myopic journalists. But what do you think CNN, Fox News, the BBC, the New York Times, the Guardian, and other news organizations would do if Assange were leaking hacked e-mails of their anchors and reporters — purportedly to expose bias in the media? The obvious answer only hints at why my disgust with the news media compelled me to write commentaries like “Journalism Is ‘Having a Very, Very Pathetic Moment,’” November 13, 2013.

    Remarkably, no news organization is bothering to question the prurient nature of Assange’s leaks. Worse still, none of them appear to have any qualms about facilitating his cyber crimes, which serve no compelling public interest and are devoid of any socially redeeming value.

    But I cannot overstate that, for every embarrassing or compromising e-mail hackers can hack from the accounts of Democratic officials, they can hack equally embarrassing and compromising e-mails — not only from the accounts of Republican officials, but also from those of other political parties, civil servants, corporate employees, and private citizens … worldwide.

    ____________________

    With that, here is the prurient fodder congressional Republicans are making of the private text messages of FBI agents in the name of government oversight.

    A senior FBI counterintelligence official who had until recently been part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation spent months sending text messages to a colleague in the run-up to the 2016 election that derided President Donald Trump as a ‘douche,’ an ‘utter idiot,’ and a ‘loathsome human.’

    The release of the texts from Peter Strzok, who had led the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server before joining the Russia probe, is giving new ammunition to Mueller’s conservative critics. The Trump defenders say the texts provide clear evidence that the former FBI chief isn’t running an impartial probe — and should be removed from his post.

    (Vox, December 13, 2017)

    On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee spent hours questioning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about these text messages. But the questions Republican members posed gave the impression that the agents involved were hatching a conspiracy to overthrow the Trump administration.

    Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Not to mention that Mueller summarily fired both agents – not because they did anything wrong but because he wanted to rid his investigation of any hint of bias or impropriety. Any fair-minded person would consider this demonstration of impartiality commendable and reassuring.

    This is why the Republicans questioning Rosenstein came across like a bunch of Chicken Littles.

    Rosenstein told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday he has seen no reason to fire Mueller thus far.

    ‘If there were good cause, I would act. If there were no good cause, I would not,’ Rosenstein told the committee. …

    During the hearing, Rosenstein praised Mueller for his work in the special counsel, saying there was no one better qualified for the job.

    (CNN, December 14, 2017)

    This, of course, is the last thing Trump’s flailing defenders wanted to hear. After all, they are part of an open conspiracy among Republicans to undermine Mueller’s investigation. Which is just the latest example of them sacrificing what little principles they had at the altar of Trump’s presidency.

    Even worse, these erstwhile chest-thumping, law-and-order patriots seem deliriously unconcerned that they are helping Trump not only propagate a false equivalence between the FBI and the (old Russian) KGB, but also erode public confidence in the integrity of all democratic institutions.

    Except that these Republicans are fatally undermining their efforts by asserting that this investigation is rife with pro-Democratic bias. After all, Mueller, Rosenstein, and most of the other top officials involved are Republicans.

    What’s more, Rosenstein put the nail in their coffin in this respect when their partisan badgering compelled him to school them on the difference between agents venting personal opinions in text messages and showing professional bias in a criminal investigation.

    Apropos of which, just as it was with the private e-mails of DNC staffers, nobody at this hearing seemed bothered by airing the private texts of FBI agents that have no bearing on any public business. Moreover, I’d bet my life savings that an airing of the private texts of these Republicans would reveal they were saying the same kinds of things about Hillary that they are hurling political indignation at these agents for saying about Trump.

    Hypocrisy has always been redolent in American politics. But USA Today had just cause to headline its December 13 editorial “Will Trump’s lows ever hit rock bottom?” Because the defining feature of his presidency is the way he is inducing other politicians to lower their already low standards of political conduct and debate.

    Related commentaries:
    Hey Media, Wikileaker

  • Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 8:26 AM

    Confessions of Facebook Programmers Continue

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Founding president Sean Parker made news recently by confessing that he and fellow programmers designed Facebook more like an addictive drug than a networking tool. I duly commented in “Zuckerberg Designed Facebook ‘Like’ an Addictive Opioid,” November 13, 2017. But Parker only confirmed what I had been contending for years in commentaries like “Facebook ‘Like’ an Infectious Disease,” January 24, 2014.

    Now ex-Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya is echoing Parker’s confession, lamenting how users blithely confuse popularity with truth:

    The tools that we have created today are starting to erode the social fabric of how society works. …

    Social media exploit our own natural tendencies in human beings to get and want feedback [which], chemically speaking, is the release of dopamine in your brain. … I think if you get to desensitized and you need it over and over and over again, then you become actually detached from the world in which you live.

    (CNBC, December 12, 2017)

    Frankly, these confessionals about social media smack of the way deprogrammed members speak about cults. But one hopes they inspire Facebook’s billion-plus junkies to kick their habit.

    Incidentally, most Facebook users I know think stupid Trump supporters are the greatest threat to Western civilization. How interesting then that Facebook programmers seem to think those stupid Trump supporters have nothing on brain-dead Facebook users in this respect.

    Facebook users would do well to stop taking selfies and simply take a look in the mirror.

    In the meantime, it speaks volumes that this executive takes pride in saying that he does not allow his own children to use Facebook. And why would he; after all, he knows it’s tantamount to getting kids hooked on opioids.

    Apropos of which, the following might help Facebook users rediscover the Merry in Christmas:

    Too much Facebook browsing at Christmas – and seeing all those ‘perfect’ families and holiday photos – is more likely to make you miserable than festive, research suggests.

    A University of Copenhagen study suggests excessive use of social media can create feelings of envy.

    It particularly warns about the negative impact of ‘lurking’ on social media without connecting with anyone.

    (BBC, December 22, 2016)

    Of course, this lurking into depressive envy is particularly pathetic given that most online photos of perfect families (and Christmas holidays) are … FAKE!

    That said, I hasten to acknowledge the redeeming value inherent in all social media. Foremost is the way these platforms enable people living under tyrannies to bypass state-controlled media to share stories of their oppression.

    It’s just too bad that social media also enable this famous Churchillian lament like never before:

    A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

    Not to mention the way social media enable shysters of all stripes to peddle their wares, playing millions for suckers – as trout-pout “Kylie” and the Kardashians demonstrate all too well.

    Related commentaries:
    Zuckerberg
    Infectious disease

  • Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 7:27 AM

    Happy Hanukkah

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Monday, December 11, 2017 at 7:48 AM

    Obama Joins Chorus Warning about Trump’s America Aping Hitler’s Germany

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I have been in the vanguard of those warning about this fearful symmetry. In fact, my concerns were such that I began sounding alarms long before a conspiracy of bigotry, ignorance, and complacency misled voters to elect Donald J. Trump the 45th president of the United States.

    I reacted to this black-swan election with “WTF: President-elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done?” November 9, 2016. But commentaries like “Trump for President? Don’t Be a Sucker!” April 8, 2011, “Hip-Hop Mogul Pens Fawning Letter Chastising/Cheering Racist Trump,” December 11, 2015, and “Republicans Bewailing Trump as Their Nominee; Democrats Hailing Hillary as Theirs,” June 8, 2016, attest to my early warnings.

    But such warnings are now mainstream, so much so that no less a person than former President Obama has joined the chorus. But none of us (not even Hillary) got right wingers frothing with outrage like he did after saying this last week during an address to the Economic Club of Chicago:

    We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly.

    That’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s, which despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolf Hitler rose to dominate. Sixty million people died. … So, you’ve got to pay attention. And vote.

    (Crain’s Chicago Business, December 6, 2017)

    I won’t dignify any of that outrage by citing, let alone commenting on, it. But I know that right-wing zealots (arguably Trump’s “Brownshirts”) want you to think that these warning are only coming from left-wing liberals who still can’t accept that Trump is president. And too many reporters and commentators are either too ignorant or too lazy to cite evidence that counters this narrative.

    This is why I hasten to note that Europeans – from Prince Charles to Stern, the most respected news magazine in Germany – are issuing similar warnings. I commented on the former in “Prince Charles Draws Analogies Between Trumpism and Nazism,” February 8, 2017. Here is how The Hill, the most respected political news magazine in America, commented on the latter:

    A German news magazine’s latest cover image shows President Trump doing a Nazi salute.

    Stern is portraying Trump wearing an American flag and doing the salute, which is illegal in Germany. The caption reads ‘Sein Kampf,’ which means ‘his struggle’ — a reference to Adolf Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf,’ or ‘My Struggle.’

    ‘Neo-nazis, Ku Klux Klan, Racism: As Donald Trump stirs the hate in America,’ a translation of the cover reads.

    (August 23, 2017)

    Meanwhile, the trolls howling at Obama for daring to issue this warning are the very ones giving their version of seig heil to all of Trump’s fascistic policies and rhetoric. Frankly, Trump’s willing enablers are every bit as converted today as Hitler’s willing executioners became during the darkest days of his Nazi regime.

    I have written many commentaries lamenting the myriad ways Evangelical Christians and Republican politicians have sacrificed their values and principles at the altar of Trump’s presidency. (Acclaimed ethicist Peter Wehner gives compelling testimony to this fact in today’s New York Times under the headline “Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican.”) But nobody personifies this incomprehensible conversion to Trumpism quite like the longest-serving Republican in the US Senate (at 40 years), Orin Hatch of Utah.

    Remarkably, like fish to water, Hatch has taken to helping Trump tear down the democratic institutions and bonds of bipartisanship he spent his career building up. You’d never know that, before he became the deacon of Trump’s political crusade, Hatch was best known for striking legislative compromises with his best friend in the Senate, namely, Democrat Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts (a.k.a. the liberal lion).

    But, sadly, Hatch has gone so far over to the dark side that Politico quoted him preaching this Republican heresy recently:

    I’ll say this for ya. [Trump has] been one of the best presidents I’ve served under.

    (December 3, 2017)

    One cannot avoid saying here that former President Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave. But surely he has been doing that ever since Trumpism trumped Reaganism in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

    In any event, no leader since Hitler has done more to rattle the “thin veneer of civilization” than Trump. This is a comparison nobody can deny.

    That said, I also hasten to note that I’m on record declaring my abiding belief that America’s constitutional checks and balances, as well as its democratic institutions, distinguish it from Germany’s Weimar Republic. This is why I am so confident that Trump will either resign in disgrace or be impeached before he can come anywhere close to emulating Hitler’s destruction.

    All the same, I fear the zeitgeist of his presidency will leave an indelible stain not only on the reputation of America but also on the psyche of its people.

    God help America.

    Related commentaries:
    WTF! Trump president-elect
    Hip-hop mogul
    I can’t … without spitting…”
    Bewailing Trump
    Trump’s America
    Trumpism and Nazism

  • Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 7:38 AM

    Intifada – a latterday David vs. Goliath

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In a speech on Thursday evening, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah waded into the decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – he supported a new Palestinian intifada, condemned the American decision and called on Lebanese not to have dealings with Israel.

    ‘If the Palestinians undertake an intifada, the Arab and Muslim world must support it – morally, financially and by arming it with weapons.’

    (Jerusalem Post, December 8, 2017)

    So here’s to supporters of the Palestinian cause smuggling in as many slingshots as possible.

    Incidentally, that the Israelites have become the Philistine Goliath in this proverbial struggle speaks volumes about how much they have not only lost their moral compass but forgotten where they came from.

    They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt. …

    Because they had rebelled against the words of God And spurned the counsel of the Most High.

    (Psalms 106:21, 107:11)

    In other words, they have violated the most fundamental of all Mosaic laws:

    Do to others what you would have them do to you.

    (Mathew 7:12)

    Related commentaries:
    Palestinian uprising

  • Friday, December 8, 2017 at 7:58 AM

    Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Fans Are as Stupid as Trump’s Voters

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    When Beyoncé performed in North Carolina last year, I argued that it was tantamount to endorsing that state’s anti-LGBT law. Further that, in doing so, she was being every bit as mercenary as entertainers who performed in South Africa during the Apartheid regime.

    More to the point, though, here is what I wrote about her marriage in “For LGBTs in North Carolina, Beyoncé Is a Sellout,” May 6, 2016.

    ____________________

    Lemonade is all about Beyoncé playing her fans for suckers; you know, the way Donald Trump plays his supporters. In fact, the women who believe her I-am-woman-hear-me-roar-against-my-cheating-husband schtick are no smarter than the rednecks who believe his “Make-America-Great-Again” schtick.

    Frankly, even the Kardashians can’t keep up with the way Bey and Jay exploit the intimacies of family life, including infidelities. Which is why it’s hardly surprising that he’s planning to mix his ‘Iced Tea’ with her Lemonade.

    If you interpreted Beyoncé’s Lemonade to be the conclusive mic drop on speculation about her marriage to Jay Z, you may have been wrong. A new report states that Bey’s husband of eight years is planning on responding to his wife’s many lyrical accusations — that he cheated on her, took her for granted, and did not treat her like the queen she is — with his own album telling ‘his side of things.’

    (Vanity Fair, May 4, 2016)

    Sadly, Bey and Jay have just cause to believe millions will pay to see them act like Ike and Tina Turner – complete with Jay playing an alpha dog who can shag as many ‘Beckys’ as he wants to.

    With all due respect to Michelle Obama [who hailed her as a role model], Bey is misleading young women to think that venting psychotic violence is the way to deal with infidelity. She reinforces this in the epic video for her album by burning houses, smashing up cars, and even hinting at skinning his mistress(es) alive. Then, after her ‘waiting-to-exhale’ rage, she reforms, forgives him, and takes him back.

    Far from paying tribute to love and reconciliation, Lemonade serves up little more than sour-tasting male chauvinism. Only this explains Bey portraying a subjugated wife who, despite her purported intelligence, independence, and resourcefulness, feels she has no choice but to reconcile with a husband who disrespects and abuses her. Even worse, her idea of redemption has her musing, like a victim of Stockholm syndrome, that ‘my torturer became my remedy.’ That is, of course, until the next cycle of disrespect and abuse.

    Meanwhile, Bey and Jay are laughing all the way to the bank. This is why their marriage seems more like a business partnership than a love relationship. And, just as it is with Bill and Hillary’s political partnership, that’s fine. Just let us be sensible enough to recognize it for what it is … and call this spade a spade.

    ____________________

    The Behive attacked, naturally. Thankfully, I inoculated myself against far more menacing trolls long before they swarmed on me.

    All the same, reports on Trump’s policies are causing even his stupid voters to finally see him in a negative light. Here’s to this report on Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s exploitation causing their stupid fans to do the same:

    Jay-Z’s transgressions reportedly inspired many of the songs on Beyoncé’s most recent album, Lemonade, [which] sold 2.5 million copies globally in 2016 [and] prompted Beyoncé’s Formation tour, which grossed $256 million, helping to push her net worth to an estimated $350 million, according to Forbes.

    Meanwhile, Jay-Z parlayed the experience into his latest album, 4:44, which became his 14th album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and garnered him several Grammy nominations. Both his album and Beyoncé’s also sparked renewed interest in Tidal, the music streaming service he co-owns.

    (Market Watch, December 4, 2017)

    Ka-ching!

    Clearly, Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s marriage is even more “successful” than Bill and Hillary’s.

    Related commentaries:
    Beyoncé

  • Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 7:04 AM

    Recognizing Jerusalem: Trump’s America and Netanyahu’s Israel against the World

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and setting in motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City.

    Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem isolates the United States on one of the world’s most sensitive diplomatic issues. It has drawn a storm of criticism from Arab and European leaders [and even] Pope Francis and the Chinese foreign ministry joined the chorus of voices warning that the move could unleash a wave of violence across the region.

    (New York Times, December 6, 2017)

    Frankly, I’m not sure why people are getting their knickers in a twist over this recognition. After all, it’s so plainly just another of Trump’s political stunts. For example, he made quite a show of “ripping up” the Iran nuclear deal. Yet he left it to Congress to assure Iran that the United States will continue to honor it.

    In this case, even he made clear that his announcement amounted to much ado about nothing.

    Specifically, the only difference between him and his predecessors is that they were too respectful of the competing claims to Jerusalem and too diplomatic to risk regional fallout from making this presidential announcement.

    Yet Trump took idle-minded pride in pointing out that he couldn’t care less about those claims or that risk. Moreover, he clearly couldn’t give a damn about the adverse impact on the perennially beleaguered peace process.

    The point is that this announcement does nothing to change the status of Jerusalem as a terminally divided city – with Israelis claiming the west as their capital and Palestinians claiming the east as theirs. Period.

    This is why, instead of reacting to this stunt, world leaders should just ignore it. Here is an instructive excerpt from “Advisers Treating Trump Like that Crazy Uncle … and It Behooves Everyone to Do the Same,” May 2, 2017.

    ____________________

    Trump has his surrogates continually scrambling to clarify the stunningly stupid and often reckless things he says. …

    Many commentators are suddenly parroting the crazy-uncle allusion. But here is how I made it several weeks ago – as I explained the implications of this farcical dynamic between Trump and his advisers:

    Such blunders are becoming a feature of his presidency. This is why political and business leaders worldwide are beginning to treat him like a crazy uncle, who is liable to say anything. Instead, they are looking to his cabinet secretaries to explain official US policies.

    (“Hail, Erdogan – Nouveau Sultan of Turkey,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 19, 2017)

    Beyond this, the world should thank God for the constitutional checks and balances that limit the damage a crazy president like Trump can do.

    ____________________

    Sure enough, reports are that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis lobbied to no avail to disabuse Trump of the folly of making this announcement. But I have no doubt that his advisers are already reaching out to world leaders to clean up this latest mess.

    This is especially so regarding leaders in the Middle East. Perhaps Tillerson can convince them that Trump making this announcement in America is no different from Yassar Arafat shouting “death to America” in Ramallah, but singing “God bless America” everywhere else. In other words, it’s all about the base.

    That said, I would not be surprised if (Muslim) leaders in the Middle East begin looking to China as a more reliable superpower patron and peace broker. Not least because, in doing so, they would only be following the switch many in Africa, the Caribbean, and South America have already made.

    Meanwhile, apropos of his base, Trump knows that he did enough to get ignorant Evangelicals in America to hail him as a latterday Saul of Tarsus. Not to mention how much he’s relishing the hosannas he’s getting from right-wing Zionists in Israel. Never mind that he’s too self-absorbed to notice that they see him as nothing more than a useful idiot doing their bidding.

    Israeli PM [Benjamin Netanyahu’s] response to US President’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel:

    ‘This is a historic day. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years. …

    We’re profoundly grateful to the President for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the US embassy here.’

    (Arutz Sheva 7, December 6, 2017)

    Alas, this sectarian bit of idol worship is worth all the risk in the world to the reckless and narcissistic Trump.

    But I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the Iago-like role Netanyahu played in getting Trump to make this announcement. It’s also worth noting that Netanyahu probably cares even less about the fallout.

    Netanyahu seems to think Israel can get by with a little help from its friends — even if those friends compose just the small faction of Christian fundamentalists and neo-cons on the lunatic fringe of US Republican Party.

    (“Netanyahu’s Call for Jewish Exodus more Sharpton than Moses,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 23, 2015)

    Only this explains Netanyahu defying the dire warnings of his purported Muslim friends (notably the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey) – all of whom have joined in the “storm of criticism.”

    Related commentaries:
    Trump at UN re Israel
    Crazy uncle

    * This commentary was originally published yesterday, Wednesday, at 9:24 pm

  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 7:49 AM

    IOC Ban Shows USA How to Deal with ‘Systematically’ Corrupt Russia

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Russia’s Olympic team has been barred from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. … Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books will forever show that Russia won zero medals.

    That was the punishment issued Tuesday to the proud sports juggernaut that has long used the Olympics as a show of global force but was exposed for systematic doping in previously unfathomable ways.

    (New York Times, December 5, 2017)

    This ban of an entire Olympic team is unprecedented. But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) insists that it’s only proportional to Russia’s “unprecedented assault on the integrity of the Olympic Games.”

    As it happens, this follows a more limited ban on Russian Track & Field athletes, which the IOC issued for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Here in part is the prescient way I commented on that ban:

    I suspect Track and Field athletes are being punished for the sins of Russian athletes in every other sport. After all, it beggars belief to think that Russia used systemic doping to enhance the performance of these athletes, but left those in every other sport to rely on their natural abilities.

    (“Track Officials Ban Russians from Rio Olympics for Doping,” The iPINIONS Journal, June 18, 2016)

    Mind you, despite protesting its innocence back then, Russia vowed to clean up its act to qualify for these Games. Therefore, it speaks volumes about the insidious nature of the doping at issue that Russia was unable to do so. Indeed, Germany is already leading a clarion call for the IOC to ban its entire team from the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan.

    In any event, this ban means that Russia is now about as respected in the world of sports as North Korea is in the world of politics. Mind you, I have often quipped that Russia is just North Korea with more nukes.

    To be fair, though, even North Korea can claim that the integrity of its national character is such that it would never even countenance cheating in this systematic fashion for Olympic glory.

    This is why, try as he might, Russian President Vladimir Putin can barely conceal the look of eternal shame he has brought upon his “proud” nation. No doubt he’s cursing fate that he’s not lording over the old Soviet Union. For, if he were, he could force satellite states to join Russia in a face-saving boycott.

    Instead, even more Russian athletes will be queuing up to effectively renounce their citizenship to compete in Tokyo than the number who did to compete in Rio, which will only compound Russia’s humiliation and shame. Well, that is unless Putin makes clear that he would do to the family of any Russian who competes what Kim Jong-un does to the family of any North Korean who defects.

    Meanwhile, Putin is blaming this IOC decision on a Western plot to affect the outcome of the presidential election in Russia next year. Evidently, irony is even more lost on him than pravda (truth). Not to mention that everyone knows he will rig this one the way he has rigged every other election he has won.

    Frankly, his blame shifting is patently absurd. The fact is that this IOC ban punched a big hole in the master-of-the-universe image Putin has cultivated in Russia. He’s only trying desperately to cover it up.

    That said, this IOC ban has also magnified US President Donald Trump’s morally bankrupt fraternization with Putin. After all, his predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama treated Putin like a pariah. And they had good cause for doing so.

    Specifically, both Bush and Obama imposed increasingly crippling sanctions against Russia because, among other things, Putin

    • annexed the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia;
    • annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea;
    • ordered assassins to kill journalists and dissidents at home and abroad; and
    • ordered trolls to undermine democratic elections and institutions everywhere from Germany to the United States.

    Yet, despite all this, along comes Trump angling not just to lift those sanctions but also to treat Putin with even greater camaraderie than he accords leaders of America’s most trusted allies.

    I have posited in many commentaries that only one thing explains their antic bromance: Putin, a former KGB colonel, has such compromising information on Trump that this pussy-grabbing narcissist is willing to sell his soul, and even sell out his country, to keep it from seeing the light of day.

    The Winter Games get underway on February 9, 2018.

    Related commentaries:
    Ban the Russians
    Georgia territories
    Ukraine
    Putin-Trump

  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 7:52 AM

    Trump’s Lawyer Says this Wannabe Dictator IS Above the Law

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Trump tweeted over the weekend that he knew then-national security adviser Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador before firing him in February — and before FBI Director James B. Comey said Trump asked him to be lenient while investigating Flynn. Experts said the president’s admission increased his legal exposure to obstruction-of-justice charges, one of the core crimes under investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

    But Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd sought to excuse the president’s tweet in part by telling Axios and NBC News on Monday that the ‘president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.’

    (Washington Post, December 4, 2017)

    Well, who could have seen this coming? Oh wait:

    Richard Nixon famously intoned that ‘when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.’ This seems the kind of self-deluding logic that animates Trump’s presidency. …

    We know the fate that befell Nixon for thinking he was a law unto himself. I suspect a similar fate will befall Trump.

    (“Trump Decertifying Iran Nuclear Deal more MALO than MAGA,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 13, 2017)

    I elaborated on this foreboding symmetry months earlier in “Channeling Nixon, Trump Fires FBI Director,” May 9, 2017.

    Therefore, I will only add that – in commentaries like “Evangelicals Supporting Donald Trump Like Israelites Worshipping Golden Calf,” January 20, 2016 – I lamented the willful willingness of so many to sacrifice their personal and professional integrity at the altar of Trump’s political ambition. But even I am surprised that a seasoned and respected lawyer like Dowd would do the same.

    Except that Evangelicals supported Trump, an accused serial rapist, for president. And they are now compounding their moral backsliding by supporting Roy Moore, an accused serial child molester, for senator. Therefore, given this, I suppose nothing should be surprising when it comes to moral turpitude and rank hypocrisy in this age of Trump.

    Related commentaries:
    Trump decertifying
    Channeling Nixon
    Evangelicals supporting trump
    Roy Moore

  • Monday, December 4, 2017 at 7:56 AM

    Pope Francis Compounds Moral Cowardice with Contrived Apology to Rohingyas

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    There was considerable disagreement among the Catholic clergy and political commentariat about the wisdom of Francis dignifying Myanmar with a papal visit. But there was consensus that, if he did, he would face a categorical imperative to not only condemn this country’s genocidal sins but dare to speak the name of the victims of those sins: Rohingyas!

    This is why it was so shocking to see this pope backslide on both counts. Most notably, he dodged the word Rohingya during his national sermon as artfully as former President Bill Clinton famously dodged the word sex during his criminal deposition.

    But, in doing so, Francis impeached his moral authority. And it shall redound to his eternal disgrace that he did so merely to appease the genocidal sense and sensibility of Myanmar’s military regime.

    Then came this belated, pathetic display of humble courage:

    Pope Francis asked for forgiveness Friday from refugees in Bangladesh for all the hurt and persecution they have endured, demanded their rights be recognized and pronounced the word he had so assiduously avoided only days earlier in Myanmar: ‘Rohingya.’ …

    He apologized for the ‘indifference of the world’ to their plight and then pronounced the name of their ethnic group to a gathering of Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian leaders.

    (Washington Post, December 1, 2017)

    This, from the purported champion of the oppressed who himself had just consecrated that indifference. Frankly, this is even more egregious than Trump making a presidential visit to Russia and assiduously avoiding any word about its authoritarian regime undermining US elections and democratic institutions.

    When he was elected, Francis seemed determined to emulate Jesus. He inspired faith that he would turn over the tables of dogma, decadence, and deceit that had been dogging the Catholic Church for decades. And, sure enough, he immediately pronounced lifestyle changes and began pastoral practices that augured well.

    But I was soon despairing that his papacy was mostly about inspiring faith that he would do things he was showing very little evidence of doing. Here, for example, is what I wrote in “Cardinal Living Like Princes; the Pope Like a Pauper,” March 11, 2016.

    ____________________

    I don’t mind admitting that Francis made a liar out of me when he chose to live in a modest communal apartment instead of the Apostolic Palace. I had declared this prospect impracticable, even absurd. But he clearly hoped cardinals and bishops would follow fashion. They have not.

    In fact, it appears the pope is the only church leader living the humble life he decreed. Even worse:

    Two controversial new books describe a Vatican awash with cash that is woefully mismanaged, where senior officials pour church funds into their already-lavish apartments, and where even the office that researches candidates for sainthood has had its bank accounts frozen out of concerns about financial impropriety.

    (London Guardian, November 3, 2015)

    Alas, leaders of the Catholic Church have no greater regard for the Code of Canon Law pertaining to poverty than they have for the one pertaining to celibacy. I commented on the pope himself lamenting the former in “Pope Francis Condemns the ‘Cult and Idolatry of Money,’” November 27, 2013, and the latter in “Pope Confesses: There’s a Gay Cabal in the Vatican,” July 13, 2013.

    But don’t get me started on the indulgences church leaders grant priests who sexually abuse children. I commented on this betrayal of faith and trust in “Pope Accused of Harboring Pedophile Priests,” March 16, 2010.

    ____________________

    Therefore, I am not surprised by the shameful way Francis cowered to the diabolical whims of Myanmar’s military junta.

    Incidentally, it spoke volumes when a chorus of Nobel peace laureates and celebrities condemned Myanmar’s titular leader Aung San Suu Kyi for her indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas. This makes their failure to condemn Francis in similar fashion as confusing as it is cowardly.

    Catholics believe their religion is predicated on moral absolutes. But, despite their dogma, Catholics – from pope to laity – have practiced a kind of moral relativism that has always made them seem more hypocritical than religious.

    Related commentaries:
    Princes and pauper
    Sex abuse against pope adviser
    Condemning Suu Kyi

  • Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 8:47 AM

    Trump is ‘odd man out’ in (growing) rogue’s gallery of sexual predators and pettifogging perverts

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Related commentaries:
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  • Friday, December 1, 2017 at 7:48 AM

    Lindsey Vonn Wants to Ski against Men…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Frankly, this is arrogant and disrespectful (to both men and women skiers).

    Downhill Skiing ranks among my favorite spectator sports – right behind Swimming and Track and Field. This is why I am so dismayed by the farce Lindsey Vonn is trying to make of this sport.

    The 33-year-old, the most successful woman in World Cup history with 77 victories, is still hopeful that her sport’s governing body, the International Ski Federation (FIS), will allow her to race in a men’s World Cup downhill race next year. …

    ‘FIS are coming around to the idea, I’ve had more positive feedback than I’ve had in the past so I’m going to keep working on it and, hopefully, I can get it done.’

    (CNN, November 1, 2017)

    Mind you, it would be one thing if Vonn were as dominant when skiing downhill as Katie Ledecky is when swimming long distances against women. But she is far from it. What’s more, the women she’s competing against at this weekend’s World Cup races in Lake Louise, Alberta, will undoubtedly reinforce this fact.

    This is why her petition to compete against men is both arrogant and disrespectful:

    • arrogant because it presumes an ability to compete at a level that is plainly beyond her reach; and
    • disrespectful because on the one hand it reduces the men’s competition to nothing more than a foil for her publicity stunt, while on the other hand it casts the women’s competition as not being challenging enough for her.

    As it happens, we’ve been treated to this kind of sporting stunt before – and I’m not talking about the famous Battle of the Sexes between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

    A decade ago, Michelle Wie was a sure thing: only 16 and a new pro but not yet an LPGA member, the lanky long hitter from Hawaii had six top-five finishes in eight tour starts. …

    After that, the expectation – and pressure – was off the charts. It is easy now to look back and say her development might have been better served if she had focused on winning against girls her own age instead of trying to make the cut against men, a quest she abandoned in 2008.

    (Golf Digest, July 5, 2016)

    Apropos of the then 29-year-old Billie Jean King’s trailblazing stunt, bear in mind that Riggs was a 55-year old who was not even ranked in the top 1000 among men Tennis players. A fair analogy would have Vonn competing against a group of random middle-aged men at a ski resort in Vail, Colorado.

    I respectfully submit that, if she’s determined to compete against men, doing so for exhibition at such a resort would be more appropriate.

    Related commentaries:
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    *This commentary was originally published yesterday, Thursday, at 1:36 pm

  • Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 7:42 AM

    Justice Delayed but Not Denied for Oscar Pistorius

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Oscar Pistorius became as famous after he murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as O.J. Simpson was when he murdered his wife Nicole Brown.

    More to the point, his was as much the trial of the century in South Africa as O.J.s was in America. He wasn’t acquitted like O.J. But his conviction and sentence incited similar outrage.

    I objected to the judge reducing the murder charge against Pistorius to manslaughter. And, after she found him guilty of that lesser charge, I objected to her sentencing him to only five years.

    Unsurprisingly, the prosecutor appealed, and the appellate court duly “scaled up” his conviction to murder. I hailed that ruling in “Oscar Pistorius Guilty of Murder…Duh,” December 7, 2015.

    ____________________

    It took fourteen years for justice to finally catch up with O.J. … But it has only taken fourteen months for justice to finally catch up with Oscar.

    When the justices of South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal vacated Masipa’s manslaughter verdict last week, they were finally making him pay for murdering his girlfriend in 2013. …

    Only six weeks ago, Pistorius won parole from the five-year sentence Masipa imposed for manslaughter. But he now faces a minimum of 15 years.

    ____________________

    A sound judge would have seized this judicial slap on the wrist to scale up her sentence commensurate with murder. Masipa did not. Instead, she willfully added just one year to her original sentence.

    This sentence incited the prosecutor to appeal yet again, which predictably led to this:

    South Africa’s Supreme Court more than doubled Oscar Pistorius’ murder sentence on Friday after the state argued the original jail term of six years for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was ‘shockingly lenient’.

    The gold medal-winning athlete, known as the ‘Blade Runner’ for his carbon-fiber prosthetics, was not in court to hear the new sentence of 13 years and five months handed down.

    Steenkamp’s family were also absent but welcomed the sentence — the minimum 15 years prescribed for murder, minus the time Pistorius has already served — and said it showed justice could prevail in South Africa.

    (Reuters, November 24, 2017)

    This is as much a slap in the face for Judge Masipa as it is a punch in the gut for Pistorius. And both are equally warranted.

    Justice delayed but not denied for O.J. was getting a 33-year sentence for petty theft in Las Vegas. This was clearly intended to compensate for the double murders he committed in Los Angeles. For Pistorius, it is having his sentence more than doubled. And this is clearly intended to compensate for the relative slap on the wrist Masipa gave him.

    The latter is not quite as poetic. But it has the same whiff of comeuppance for a celebrated man who seemed to have gotten away with murder.

    Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, were ’emotional’ as they watched Seriti deliver the verdict live on television at their home, family lawyer Tania Koen said.

    ‘They feel there has been justice for Reeva. She can now rest in peace,’ Koen told the Associated Press.

    (Associated Press, November 24, 2017)

    Related commentaries:
    Oscar Pistorius

  • Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 7:41 AM

    Like Barack Obama, Meghan Markle is Black. So Why Is She Passing…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    He is a flame-haired former wild child, who courted controversy in his youth by smoking cannabis and by once wearing a Nazi uniform to a party. She is a biracial, divorced actress from abroad. Together, they are taking the British monarchy — that most conservative of institutions — into a more modern era.

    Prince Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and fifth in line to the throne, is engaged to Meghan Markle, his American girlfriend, the royal family said on Monday.

    (New York Times, November 27, 2017)

    Both Obama and Markle have one white and one black parent (his father, her mother). But, by generally accepted classification, they are both black. Moreover, we ascribe this classification regardless of the individual’s preference – as wannabe “cablinasian” Tiger Woods will attest.

    The nation’s answer to the question ‘Who is black?’ has long been that a black is any person with any known African black ancestry. This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with Jim Crow segregation. In the South it became known as the ‘one-drop rule,’ meaning that a single drop of ‘black blood’ makes a person a black.

    (PBS Frontline quoting Professor F. James Davis’s ‘Who is Black? One Nation’s Definition,’ 1991)

    So why is Markle passing? And, more to the point, why is everyone playing along?

    Frankly, I am disappointed that so many independent news organizations are bowing to some unspoken protocol to refer to her as “biracial” or “mixed race.” After all, these same news organization have always referred to Obama as black.

    Black girl in the firm
    Tra la la la la
    There’s a black girl in the firm
    Tra la la la la la
    Black girl in the firm
    Tra la la la la
    But she passes for whiter than white
    White white

    Regrettably, only one thing explains Markle’s royal whitewashing.

    ‘She won’t be allowed to be a black princess. The only way she can be accepted is to pass for white,’ Kehinde Andrews, an associate professor of sociology at Birmingham City University who launched the first black studies degree in Europe, told Newsweek.

    (Newsweek, November 27, 2017)

    Trust me, if Harry wanted Meghan to identify as black, not only would she do so but she would act as if she never played that biracial card. Unfortunately, racism trumps even the manifest desire of this anachronistic royal family to seem “relevant.” The irony is that embracing an interracial marriage would imbue it with relevance … in spades.

    Of course, the British monarchy once reigned over dominions where black slavery flourished, and still reigns over a Commonwealth composed mostly of black nations. Therefore, little could be more symbolic, perhaps even reconciling, than for the royal family to celebrate the marriage of this prince to a black woman.

    Meanwhile, the media have obligingly propagated lore about royal ties or aristocratic blood in the genealogy of every “commoner” who married into this royal family. As farfetched as it might seem, I fully expect them to do the same in this case.

    Apropos of which, this weblog is replete with commentaries decrying British royalty and all of its prerogatives, perquisites, and prejudices.

    What concerns me is that people around the world seem even more vested in this anachronistic institution today than they were when William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, got married 30 years ago (on July 29, 1981).

    I have long maintained that royalty is anathema to the universal principle that all people are created equal. Moreover, that a democracy that perpetuates royalty in the twenty-first century is almost as cancerous (and oxymoronic) as one that perpetuated slavery in the nineteenth.

    (“The Problem Is Not Kate’s Weight, It’s William’s Title,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 11, 2011)

    Therefore, I couldn’t care less about the hullabaloo surrounding Markle’s engagement to this, admittedly charming, royal spare. I just feel compelled to call shame on all who are playing along with the royal farce afoot, namely, of not allowing Markle to be a black HRH Princess Harry of Wales.

    That said, the lady’s royal wave needs taming, methinks. It’s a little too … giddy.

    Related commentaries:
    Cablinasian Tiger
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    Royal marriage
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    *This commentary was originally published yesterday, Monday, at 6:35 pm

  • Sunday, November 26, 2017 at 1:13 PM

    Trump’s Insulting Tweet about Doug Jones, the Alabama Democratic nominee, Reveals More about Trump

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The psychopathology afoot here is called projection. It is defined by people attributing to others traits, faults, and blame that inhere in themselves. And it explains almost every insult Trump has hurled at his opponents throughout this presidential campaign.

    So when you hear him calling other people crooked, insecure, weak, beholding to special interests, liars, etc., be mindful that he’s revealing self-conscious truths about himself, unwittingly.

    (“Forget the Clinton Foundation. Shut Down the Trump Organization!” The iPINIONS Journal, August 26, 2016)

    With that, here is the typically juvenile way he tweeted this morning about Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee for Alabama’s open seat in the US Senate.

    The last thing we need in Alabama and the US Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY. Jones would be a disaster!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2017

    And, with projection in mind, here is the unwitting truth Trump’s tweet revealed about himself:

    The last thing we need in Washington and the White House is a Putin/Bannon puppet who is WEAK on Russia, RACIST on immigration, RECKLESS with our Military and our indispensable allies, variously CLUELESS about and CONTEMPTUOUS of the Constitution, democratic institutions, and all norms of civil society, AND WANTS TO CUT TAXES SO THE RICH LIKE HIM CAN GET RICHER. Trump IS a disaster! #IDIOT.

    — Anthony L. Hall (@whyiHateTwitter) November 26, 2017

    That shared, Roy Moore is the Republican nominee for this open seat. Several women have accused him of preying on them when they were teenagers, including one who said she was just 14 when a then 32-year old Moore sexually assaulted her.

    Yet Trump is drumming up support for him with that tweet. Political tribalism is tearing America apart. And Trump’s presidency smacks of a demonic force designed to have Republicans and Democrats ape the Sunnis and Shias who have been fighting for the soul of Islam for over 1000 years.

    Still, it is unconscionable even for Trump to think that America would be better served if the Senate has another Republican (who happens to be an unrepentant pedophile) instead of another Democrat (who happens to be more conservative than Ronald Reagan).

    Which is why it is noteworthy that Trump’s daughter Ivanka has damned Moore as follows:

    There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children.

    (Associated Press, November 15, 2017)

    Because this puts an awkward twist on the Trumpian compulsion to project. For, arguably, Ivanka was unwittingly damning her own Daddy as follows:

    There’s a special place in hell for people who champion men who prey on children for political benefit.

    (ALH, The IPINIONS Journal, November 26, 2017)

    That said, it’s all too understandable that Trump is supporting Moore. After all, birds of a feather

    But many Republican senators are making quite a show of declaring the accusations of sexual misconduct against Moore politically indefensible. They are even threatening to expel him if Alabama voters are morally bankrupt enough to elect him.

    The problem, of course, is that these are the same Republican senators who were themselves morally bankrupt enough to champion Trump – when he was just the Republican presidential nominee. And this, despite accusations of sexual misconduct against him, including rape, that were even more politically indefensible. #HYPOCRITES!

    Related commentaries:
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  • Saturday, November 25, 2017 at 10:03 AM

    Bombing in Sinai Shows Dreaded ‘Clash of Civilizations’ Is Between Moderate and Extremist Muslims

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In the deadliest attack on civilians in Egypt’s modern history, Islamist militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque on Friday and then sprayed gunfire on panicked worshipers as they fled the building, killing [305] people and wounding at least 109 others.

    The scale and ruthlessness of the assault, which occurred in a small town in the insurgency-racked Sinai Peninsula, sent shock waves across the nation, not just for the number of deaths but also for the choice of target. …

    The attack injected a new element into Egypt’s volatile stew because most of the victims were Sufi Muslims, who practice a mystical form of Islam that some extremists deem heretical.

    (New York Times, November 24, 2017)

    Rather throws the terror of church shootings in America into sobering relief, no? But sadly, this is just the latest confirming evidence of my contention that Muslims in the Middle East have more to fear from Islamic jihadists than non-Muslims in the West.

    Nothing is more perverse or irresponsible in this respect than the way the media continually portray ISIS terrorists. For they would have you believe that this ragtag bunch of Islamic jihadists are the latterday equivalent of Christian crusaders — who are rampaging across the Middle East, avenging Islam by beheading thousands of Westerners along the way.

    Except that nothing could be further from the truth. These terrorists are merely exercising temporary dominion over rat holes in parts of Syria and Iraq, which U.S.-led coalition bombers are now in the process of turning into their graves.

    In the meantime, they are deliberately executing one thousand Muslims for every non-Muslim they behead.

    (“Stop the ‘Breaking News’ about Beheadings Already!” The iPINIONS Journal, October 4, 2014)

    Of course, this has not stopped narcissistic jingoists like President Trump from making the internecine battle within Islam all about hatred of America. This, despite the fact that this battle has been raging over there for over 1000 years.

    Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are the main opposing sects in this battle. And it does not bode well that saber rattling between them is threatening a regional clash. After all, it would make today’s Sunni-inspired massacre look like backyard fisticuffs between siblings.

    Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince called the Supreme Leader of Iran ‘the new Hitler of the Middle East’ in an interview with the New York Times published on Thursday, sharply escalating the war of words between the arch-rivals. …

    ‘But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East,’ the paper quoted him as saying.

    (Reuters, November 24, 2017)

    Mind you, this is the same crown prince who vowed just last month to reform Saudi Arabia from its extremist ways to pursue a more moderate form of Islam. Because it is noteworthy that he did so just days before rounding up hundreds of Saudi princes and businessmen in a political purge worthy of Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union.

    Truth be told, this makes the war of words between Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea look like idle bluster. But a more instructive analogy might be the infamous “16 words” former US President George W. Bush uttered in his 2003 State of the Union address:

    The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

    (Bush, George W. “State of the Union address.” The White House, January 28, 2003)

    Those words led to America trapping itself in the crossfire of this never-ending battle for the soul of Islam. Yet even Bush did not ignite the kind of doom this crown prince is igniting with his fighting words – complete with his apocalyptic warning about another world war.

    In any event, my related commentaries attest that I spent most of the Bush and Obama presidencies pleading for them to withdraw US troops from unwinnable wars in the Middle East.

    Obama would be well-advised to cut America’s losses and run ASAP; to let the Afghans govern themselves however they like; and to rely on Special Forces and aerial drones to ‘disrupt and dismantle’ Taliban and al-Qaeda operations there.

    (“Without (or even with) More Forces, Failure in Afghanistan Is Likely,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 23, 2009)

    Alas, neither president heeded my pleas. In fact, I vented peak frustration and dismay in this respect in “Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds Fighting for Control of Iraq. Stay Out America!” June 19, 2014.

    This is why I am loath to plead for Trump to end this continuing march of folly. Which is just as well because, despite parroting Obama’s campaign promise to withdraw US troops, Trump is aping Bush and Obama by expanding America’s misguided war on terrorism to even more countries.

    American Special Ops Forces Have Deployed to 70 Percent of the World’s Countries in 2017.

    Special Operations Forces are the main effort, or major supporting effort for US VEO-focused operations in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, across the Sahel of Africa, the Philippines, and Central/South America — essentially, everywhere Al Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are to be found.

    (The Nation, June 16, 2017)

    Unfortunately, this whack-a-mole strategy has led to the absurdity of US troops dying in far-flung places like Yemen. Because they are serving as little more than military interlopers and sitting ducks — as the recent ambush killing of Sgt. La David Johnson and three fellow soldiers in Niger threw into tragic relief.

    William Owens, whose son William ‘Ryan’ Owens became the first American to die in combat under the Trump administration, says that he refused a chance to meet President Trump and that he wants an investigation into his son’s final mission — a raid in Yemen whose merits have been called into question.

    (NPR, February 27, 2017)

    Called into question? No Shit!

    Meanwhile, white men are terrorizing the United States with shooting massacres in ways Islamic jihadists can only dream of. The October 1 attack in Las Vegas, which killed 58 and wounded nearly 500, demonstrated this in distressingly “normalized” fashion. Yet Trump is so focused on vindicating his Islamophobia, he refuses to even call out, let alone combat, these white terrorists.

    Again, I’m on record pleading from as early as 2006 that the best way for the United States to fight this so-called war on terrorism is as follows:

    1. Withdraw all US combat troops from Muslim countries;
    2. When invited to train Muslim soldiers, do so in friendly Muslim countries like Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia;
    3. When CIA operatives provide intelligence about high-value ISIS targets, rely on Predator and Reaper drones to hit them, which drone pilots can do from the comfort and safety of their air-conditioned trailers on over 60 military drone bases across the United States; and
    4. Leave it to Muslims themselves to continue fighting their internecine battles.

    All else is folly.

    Related commentaries:
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    crown prince MBS
    Trump vs. Jong-un
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    *This commentary was originally published yesterday, Friday, at 3:43 p.m.

  • Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at 7:51 AM

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Even if you’re not into politics, you might find yourself in spirited debate about President Trump’s anti-immigration policies over Thanksgiving dinner.

    The instructive historical perspective illustrated below might be helpful. The hypocrisy it depicts would be laughable if it were not steeped in the genocide white colonists perpetrated against Native Americans.

    But I urge you to use it when telling your Trumpasites relatives to stuff it.

    happythanks

  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at 8:18 AM

    Charlie Rose, Accused Sexual Predator, WAS My Favorite TV Interviewer

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The phenomenon of women outing powerful and influential men as sexual predators has reached critical mass. More to the point, it has already ended the careers of such closeted creeps as Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. Never mind its conspicuous failure to end that of Donald J. Trump …

    I have written many commentaries on men falling from grace in this respect. Many have yet to fall, and I shall welcome the comeuppance for each one. But, truth be told, the confluence of schadenfreude, disgust, and shame (for my gender) became such that, after Weinstein, I decided to write no more.

    Then came this:

    Eight women have told the Washington Post that longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.

    The women were employees or aspired to work for Rose at the Charlie Rose show from the late 1990s to as recently as 2011.

    (Washington Post, November 20, 2017)

    Trust me folks, Rose was so revered and respected that this is almost like the pope himself being outed as a pedophile. Nobody who hailed his public face could have imagined that he was showing a private face to women that looked very much like that of the predatory Harvey Weinstein.

    Apropos of which, the following excerpt is from “Professional Epiphany: I have Returned My Flower, a Changed Bee,” June 20, 2006. It explains why I think his fall from grace is at least worthy of dishonorable mention.

    __________________

    Charlie Rose is my favorite TV interviewer. …

    As I was confined to my own sick-bed, I watched Charlie mark his celebrated return by explaining to viewers [of his eponymous Charlie Rose interview show] the impact his illness has had on his personal and professional life. …

    It was instructive to listen to Charlie talk about his commitment to work, which he invariably pursued at the expense of family and friends:

    I have to think now of what is the appropriate balance. … I’m asking have I lived a good life….

    Nobody on their death bed says I wish I spent more time at the office. I’ve spent too much time working, and the opportunity, or the commitment I have now is to read more and to spend more time with friends.

    Charlie (himself a former practicing attorney) shared his intent to reduce his workload to have more time for the family and friends he has neglected over the years.  I have resolved to do the same.

    Close friends know that I find writing tremendously therapeutic. This is why they have been exhorting me for nearly a year to make this weblog more a vocation than avocation. I have resolved to try.

    __________________

    Except that, instead of reducing his workload as he publicly vowed to do, Rose doubled it. Specifically, he signed on in 2012 to co-host the breakfast show, CBS This Morning. This indicated that the satisfaction he got from his work went far beyond the lust for power, influence, and money that drives most professional men.

    In any event, CBS broadcasts his critically acclaimed morning show; PBS his equally acclaimed interview show. Both networks suspended him immediately pending further investigation. But this is tantamount to firing him – as men like O’Reilly will attest.

    Rose issued a characteristically urbane statement. Unfortunately, it smacked as more of a self-righteous explanation than a heart-felt apology:

    I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken. …

    All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives.

    — Charlie Rose (@charlierose) November 20, 2017

    Alas, I suspect he will not be saying his signature TV sign off “see you next time for the rest of his life. In which case, he will be able to spend all of his time reading and hanging out with the few friends who haven’t already abandoned him.

    Mind you, it’s not as if I ever thought I knew Rose or what he did behind closed doors. It’s just that I thought my informed cynicism inured me to the shock and dismay others are experiencing as they watch so many powerful and influential men fall from grace.

    And no, they are not all white men. After all, the pioneering public face of these predatory creeps is that of the very black Clarence Thomas. Never mind that he got away scot-free, and is now sitting on the US Supreme Court.

    But I am truly shocked and dismayed by this fall. I am saddened to see his august career end in such disgrace. It really could not have happened to a better man.

    That said, this seems a good time to reprise my clarion call for women to replace men in positions of power and influence in every facet of public life. I sounded it in many commentaries over the years, including as lately as “Men Should Be Barred from Politics,” September 25, 2013, and as early as “Cracking the Glass Ceiling: First Woman to Become President in South America,” December 12, 2005. Notably, “Women Make Better Politicians than Men,” October 14, 2010, includes the following:

    We have enough data, as well as anecdotal evidence, from the way women have influenced the corporate world to make some credible extrapolations. The correlation between more women holding positions of power and the implementation of family-friendly policies is undeniable in this respect. Therefore, it’s entirely reasonable to assert that if more women held positions of power in politics they would use their power more towards building up human resources than military armaments – just to cite one obvious example.

    Finland’s president, prime minister, president of the Supreme Court, as well as eight of its eleven government ministers are all women. Arguably, there’s a direct correlation between their positions and the fact that Newsweek rated this county the best place to live in 2010 – in terms of health, economic dynamism, education, political environment, and quality of life.

    Sorry, Charlie(s)!

    Related commentaries:
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    Hurricane Harvey
    Men should be barred

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 at 11:57 AM

    USA Gymnastics Sex-Abuse Shame: Gabby Victim-Blames Aly and Outrages Simone

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Heart-warming athlete profiles have become a signature feature of Olympics coverage. But I always find them anodyne because they invariably fail to show the interpersonal relationships featured athletes have with fellow teammates and competitors.

    Profiles on members of the celebrated Women’s USA Gymnastics team during last year’s Rio Olympics brought this oversight into stark relief. This was especially so given the obvious tension between Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles. Here is how even I felt moved to address it in “Rio Olympics: Day 2,” August 2, 2016.

    ____________________

    I would be remiss not to acknowledge the equally remarkable dynamics between Gabby Douglas, the defending champion in the All-Around event, and Simone Biles, the three-time World Champion. For it seems Douglas can barely contain her resentment over the fact that Biles has not only replaced her as the darling of their sport, but is destined to dethrone her at these Games. I suspect failing to even qualify along with Biles for the All-Around only compounds her resentment.

    But Douglas needs to get over herself. After all, four years ago, I was pleading with corporate sponsors to give her the same commercial opportunities they gave Mary Lou Retton after she won the All-Around at Los Angeles 1984. Well, she has exploited those opportunities so shrewdly, she has earned the nickname ‘Gabby incorporated’ – with everything from Gabby dolls to Gabby emojis raking in the dough.

    What’s more, it’s a measure of her pioneering influence in this respect that Biles came into these Games with nearly as many commercial endorsements herself.

    ____________________

    Biles vindicated my take on the dynamics afoot in Rio by eventually winning gold in the coveted All-Around. More to the point, though, teammate Aly Raisman won silver, which could only have added public shame to Douglas’s private resentment. Because only her deep and abiding resentment explains the dynamics that played out among these three in the media last week.

    It began when Raisman shared a heart-rending testimonial about being sexually abused on the November 12 edition of 60 Minutes.

    Raisman: You really don’t want to let yourself believe that, you know, I’m, I, I am a victim of sexual abuse…like it’s really not an easy thing to let yourself believe that.

    60 Minutes: You are saying you were sexually abused?

    Raisman: Yes. Absolutely.

    60 Minutes: By the national team doctor … while you were out there representing your country.

    Raisman: Yes.

    In fact, she claims that team doctor, Larry Nassar, sexually abused her for years.

    Dr. Nassar, who worked with the US women’s national gymnastics teams for more than two decades, is now in jail. He pleaded guilty to child pornography charges but not guilty to charges of sexual assault. More than 130 women, many of them former athletes, have filed civil lawsuits alleging that Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of treating them for hip, back, and other athletic injuries.

    (CBS News, November 10, 2017)

    Thanks to Raisman, who reported her abuse to FBI investigators right after the Rio Olympics, Nassar will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

    Naturally, most people hailed Raisman. Remarkably, Douglas assailed her.

    Gabby Douglas has stirred controversy for remarks toward fellow Olympian Aly Raisman, who claimed she was sexually abused by the former doctor for the US women’s gymnastics team.

    ‘It is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy,’ Douglas tweeted. ‘Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.’

    (Yahoo! Sports, November 17, 2017)

    The backlash was immediate and overwhelming. But none provided greater insight into the interpersonal relationships among members of that storied team than the way Biles reacted:

    shocks me that I’m seeing this but it doesn’t surprise me…honestly seeing this brings me to tears bc as your teammate I expected more from you & to support her. I support you Aly & all the other women out there!

    STAY STRONG

    — Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) November 17, 2017

    A duly shamed Douglas deleted the offending tweet. When that horse-out-of-the-barn gesture provided no absolution, she tweeted this equally contrived and feckless clarification:

    i didn’t correctly word my reply & i am deeply sorry for coming off like i don’t stand alongside my teammates. regardless of what you wear, abuse under any circumstance is never acceptable. i am WITH you. #metoo

    — Gabby Douglas (@gabrielledoug) November 18, 2017

    This, alas, is what has become of the girl who was the darling of the 2012 London Olympics. And it’s a damn shame.

    Most people back then could not have imagined that lurking beneath her endearing smile was the sneer of a resentful, entitled, self-righteous, hypocritical bitch. Hell, given her prudish reaction, you’d think she trained (and visited the team doctor) wearing bloomers and chastity belt; and that Raisman did so wearing G-string and pasties.

    But I saw so many glimpses of her sneer that the way things played out last week among these former teammates did not surprise me at all.

    Finally, there’s no denying the indiscriminate and prolific nature of Nassar’s sexual abuse. Therefore, I have to wonder if Douglas and Biles reacted to Raisman’s testimonial based on similar experiences:

    • Douglas exhibiting a form of Stockholm syndrome by blaming the victim and siding with her and their abuser (sadly, the MJ-style skin bleaching she’s undergoing suggests that she’s dealing with all kinds of psychological issues); and
    • Biles defending Raisman as much as fellow teammate as fellow victim of Nassar’s sexual abuse.

    Related commentaries:
    Rio-day2
    Bile all-around

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