• Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 5:25 AM

    I have the flu…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    And I even got a flu shot!

  • Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 11:21 AM

    Actor Wesley Snipes takes on the IRS in the dumbest role of his life

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    For the past two weeks, Wesley Snipes has been on trial in Florida for failing to pay taxes on the $38 million he earned from movies, including the “Blade” vampire trilogy, between 1999 and 2004.

    He faces 16 years in prison and millions in fines.

    But the antic egos of celebrities are such that Snipes is probably more concerned about the fact that the paparazzi (who cover Britney Spears 24/7) have shown so little interest in his trial than he is about the prospect of going prison….

    Yet to prison he will surely go. Because prosecutors allege, and Snipes does not deny, that he filed a false claim for a $7-million tax refund, moved tens of millions of untaxed dollars offshore, and gave the government three bounced checks totaling $14 million to cover some of the taxes owed.

    Not to mention that Snipes’ lawyer showed utter contempt for the jurors by resting on Monday without calling a single witness to defend his actions. Instead, he relied on a closing argument during which he argued, with a straight face, that Snipes is a nonresident alien (think Blade runner) who has no legal obligation to pay taxes. In addition, that the IRS is not a legitimate government agency, and has no legal authority to collect taxes.

    Nobody likes paying taxes, but paying taxes is the price we pay to live in a civilized society…. And it’s the law, and that’s what this case is about. It’s about three men who felt they were above the law. [Prosecutor M. Scotland Morris]

    Frankly, the most interesting aspect of this case is the extent to which Snipes has allowed himself to be misled by Eddie Ray Kahn, a charlatan who founded the Guiding Light of God Ministries to proselytize the heresy of tax avoidance. Because Snipes displayed a level of gullibility, or perhaps self-deluding greed, that is dramatic even by Hollywood standards. Indeed, it speaks volumes that his own lawyer described his dealings with the IRS as “kooky, crazy and loony.”

    At any rate, his conviction, which I expect the jury to announce later today or tomorrow, should serve as a reminder that only big corporations can get away with paying no taxes. And I have just two words for anyone who is inclined to buy his line about being prosecuted because he’s black: Leona Hemsley!

    NOTE: Even if he’s acquitted, Snipes will spend the rest of his life paying off his tax bill.

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 8:02 PM

    The Kennedys: Dissing Hillary, endorsing Barack…ignoring Bush

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In a New York Times op ed on Sunday, Caroline Kennedy proffered the truly stunning and unassailable proclamation that Sen. Barack Obama would be a “President like my father.” And there’s no denying that her proclamation is tantamount to a slap in the face of all politicians (like Bill Clinton) who, for decades, have been touting themselves as heirs to the political legacy of John F. Kennedy (JFK).

    Here, in part, is what she wrote:

    I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans…. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

    Given that, I invite you to recall the hissy fit Bill threw after Obama merely suggested that Ronald Reagan was a more “transformative” president than he. Because only then can you appreciate what a devastating injury Caroline’s endorsement must have inflicted on his fragile ego. Not to mention the blow to Hillary’s imperial candidacy….

    Far more important, however, is the insult that followed moments ago when Caroline’s uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), endorsed Obama as well. An insult, incidentally, which could only have been exacerbated by reports that Bill pleaded with Sen. Kennedy in recent days to either endorse Hillary or stay neutral.

    Although, his desperate pleas are understandable – given that Kennedy is the only person in the Democratic Party whose influence rivals Bill’s; especially among poor whites, blacks, and Hispanics.

    It’s time for a new generation of leadership…. Through Barack, I believe we will move beyond the politics of fear and personal destruction and unite our country with the politics of common purpose…. And I know he’s ready to be president on day one! [Sen. Kennedy endorsing Obama today in Washington, DC]

    But close friends say that Kennedy had become so disgusted with the Clintons’ race-baiting campaign to marginalize Obama that he regarded Bill’s pleas as nothing more than a pathetic attempt to spin him. Never mind his visceral inclination to shun this former president who has now shown himself to be little more than the white equivalent of Al Sharpton.

    [So what] Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in ’84 and ’88.

    Indeed, it could only have reinforced Kennedy’s disgust when Bill uttered these cynical words after Obama’s landslide victory over Hillary in the South Carolina primary on Saturday. Because it was lost on no one that he was trying to foment racial resentment among whites and Hispanics against Obama to get them to vote for Hillary.

    But I know that what he was really saying to the blacks of South Carolina, and implicitly to all black Americans, is “ya’ll can kiss my white ass because we don’t need you to win!” And, given that Hispanics now outnumber blacks, he may be right….

    Which begs the critical question: If Kennedy’s racial conscience has been so offended by the way the Clintons have played the race card against Obama, what does it say about the racial pride of blacks who continue to support them?

    Of course no black had a greater duty to address this question than Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. After all, she is primarily responsible for injecting into black consciousness the patently absurd notion that Bill is “the first black president of the United States.”

    “White skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime. [Toni Morrison in 1998]

    Therefore, I am pleased that Morrison joined the Kennedys today in announcing her endorsement of Obama – as not only naturally but also politically far more worthy of this honor. I just hope that the many influential blacks who parroted her self-abnegating praise of Bill Clinton will now follow her commendable lead by eating their words as well.

    Meanwhile, does anyone care that President Bush is delivering his final State of the Union Address tonight? Because, anticipating the drama that has now unfolded in this year’s presidential campaign, here’s what I wrote in my commentary on his address last year:

    The only thing on anyone’s mind listening to Bush [during his 2008 address] will be: ‘I wonder who’ll be standing there next year…Hillary or Obama?’

    Was I right or what!

    NOTE: The Clintons are trying to counter the endorsements of the senator and Caroline by trumpeting endorsements by the children of Robert F. Kennedy (RFK). Unfortunately, this effort is greatly undermined by a report in the New York Times today that their mother:

    Ethel, the widow of RFK, referred to Mr. Obama…as ‘our next president’ and likened him to her late husband.

    Now, with the Kennedys proclaiming Obama the only legitimate heir to the political legacies of both JFK and RFK, let us pray that their endorsements do not turn out to be as much a blessing as a curse….

    Related Article:
    Clintons playing the race card
    Bush’s 2007 State of the Union Address

    *This will serve as my Obama-Day Tuesday commentary because business travel will make it impossible for me to get online for the next 24-36 hours. (Published originally on Monday at 3:02 pm)


  • Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 11:24 AM

    Why Hillary has never been happier that Bill’s such a dog…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Friday, January 25, 2008 at 12:13 PM

    Another Italian government bites the dust…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    A few of my Italian readers chastised me last October for writing that, with three governments in three years, the Ukrainians were:

    …on track to make the Italians’ promiscuous penchant for changing governments seem positively chaste.

    However, given that yet another Italian government fell yesterday, they may want to eat their words. Never mind the damning fact that Italians have run through 61 governments over the past 60 years….

    Therefore, this latest political crisis should have come as a surprise to no one – especially readers of this weblog. After all, here’s what I wrote almost two years ago when Romano Prodi replaced Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister:

    Unfortunately, [the election results], which left him only 2 seats short of Prodi’s majority in the Senate, have stoked Berlusconi’s vain ambition to make Prodi’s term as prime minister even shorter and more beleaguered than his first 9-month term was in 1994. So congratulations Signore Prodi! And good luck. You’re going to need it….

    Of course, Prodi can derive some consolation from the fact that his government lasted 20 months. But it was always only a matter of time before his brittle center-left coalition fell apart. And it finally happened in dramatic fashion yesterday – after a fractious no-confidence Senate debate, during which one senator was spat upon, fainted, and had to be carried out on a stretcher.

    Alas, it hardly seems to matter why Italians lost confidence in Prodi’s leadership. Because, with the 60-year record cited above, not even the Pope could withstand their fickle scrutiny.

    Meanwhile, Berlusconi made it clear yesterday that he is eager for yet another episode as prime minister. Because he responded to the fall of Prodi’s government by declaring that “we need to go to the polls in the shortest time possible without delay”.

    And it would not surprise me if Italians re-elect him…again. This, notwithstanding that Berlusconi seemed to spend almost as much time during his beleaguered premierships (April 1994 – January 1995 and June 2001- May 2006) defending himself in court (against a battery of corruption charges) as he did representing them.

    After all, there’s no denying that Berlusconi has been the most influential, dynamic and stabilizing figure in Italian politics since World War II.

    Related Articles:
    My favorite ex-communists: the Ukrainians
    Arrivederci Silvio Berlusconi…until next time
    Berlusconi’s wife pussywhips him in public

  • Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 10:04 AM

    NFL League Championship Sunday

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Real football fans will tell you that the most exciting day of the NFL season is League Championship Sunday, not Super Bowl Sunday (as fair-weather fans might say).

    And, true to form, last Sunday’s NFC Championship game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers (which the Giants won in OT 23-20) and AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers (which the Patriots won 21-12) did not disappoint.

    However, since I’m not much of a fan (Sunday was the first time I even bothered to tune in to the NFL this season) and even less of a critic of football, I shall limit my commentary to the off-the-field significance of these games.

    I had mixed emotions watching the NFC game. Because on the one hand, I wanted the Packers to win to further vindicate the decision of their elderly quarterback, 38-year-old Brett Favre, to play this season. Especially since virtually every sports writer said his best days were way behind him, and that there was no way he could help his team improve on last year’s 8-8 regular season record.

    Therefore, despite their loss on Sunday, which, unfortunately, he aided in part by throwing a critical 4th-quarter interception , Favre should derive considerable consolation from the fact that he led the Packers to a remarkable 13-3 record this year.

    On the other hand, I wanted the Giants to win to give their nerdy young quarter back, Eli Manning, a chance to emulate his big brother Peyton – the quarterback of Indianapolis Colts who not only led his team to a league championship last year, but also to victory in the Super Bowl.

    Therefore, here’s to Eli and the Giants for keeping this sibling rivalry going.

    Meanwhile, I had no mixed emotions watching the AFC game. Because, like everyone else – except Chargers fans – I was rooting for the Patriots to continue their historic and improbable perfect season.

    Therefore, it was tremendously gratifying that by half time, quarterback Tom Brady had his team well on its way to a rendezvous with destiny: to win the Super Bowl and become the first team in NFL history to go 19-0! And this, notwithstanding having to deal with the distraction “a female friend” of the team’s star wide receiver, Randy Moss, caused when she accused him of assaulting her last week.

    (Of course, a 19-0 record would surpass the 17-0 perfect season the 1972 Miami Dolphins played when there were only 14, not 16, games in the regular season.)

    Indeed, since I want to see history made more than I want to see Eli emulate his brother, I’m picking the Patriots to win the Super Bowl!

    Sorry Eli….

  • Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 9:52 AM

    Actor Heath Ledger is dead…at 28

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Most people seemed genuinely shocked by the news that Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment yesterday of an apparent “accidental” drug overdose.

    Meanwhile, as I listened to everyone from entertainment reporters to his publicists offer spontaneous eulogies, I got the distinct impression that they were already committed to ensuring that the legend of Heath Ledger will surpass that of James Dean.

    Yet, this is not nearly as far-fetched as it might seem. Especially since Ledger’s heartthrob celebrity (including his crossover appeal in the gay community), and his body of work (including his Academy-nominated performance in Brokeback Mountain), compare favorably to Dean’s.

    Nevertheless, just as it was with grunge rocker Kurt Cobain, Ledger’s death evokes very mixed emotions. After all, he was known as much for being a refreshingly unassuming actor with tremendous potential, as for being a weirdo with seemingly drug-induced idiosyncrasies.

    To tell you the truth … we saw it coming…. Heath has gone through a rough road of trying to get sober…. Things were very dark…. His one joy was Matilda.

    [Us Magazine quoting a personal friend]

    Incidentally, Matilda is the 2-year-old daughter Ledger had with actor Michelle Williams who played his wife in Brokeback Mountain. They reportedly separated in September.

    My condolences go out to his family and true friends.

    Farewell Heath…RIP

    Related Articles:
    CNN obit on Ledger

  • Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 12:37 PM

    Obama-Day Tuesday: Do or die in South Carolina?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    If Barack doesn’t win Iowa, it is just a dream.

    [Michelle Obama, Des Moines, Iowa September 26, 2007 – as reported by CNN]

    This quote by Sen. Barack Obama’s wife now has an eerily-resurgent resonance. Because it appears to have presaged not only Bill Clinton’s patronizing allusion recently to his campaign, but also the growing view that if he doesn’t win South Carolina on Saturday, “it [really] is just a dream” (or, is that a “fairytale”?).

    But just as I thought Michelle was wrong about the consequences of a loss in Iowa, I think pundits (many of whom are Obama supporters) are wrong about what a loss in South Carolina would portend for his candidacy. Never mind the fact that I think he’s going to win.

    Actually, I’m more concerned about the way the Clintons are playing the race card. Because, despite protestations to the contrary, they’re doing everything they can to marginalize Obama as nothing more than a younger, more educated Jesse Jackson.

    Of course, this means that even if he wins in South Carolina, where black voters predominate, the Clintons will spin it as merely a reflection of blacks voting their race. And their not so subtle hint will be that whites should do the same (as they’ve always done, incidentally) in forthcoming primaries. Because the aim of their race-based strategy is to ensure that Obama does not repeat his impressive win and second place in virtually all-white Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively.

    But I encourage all Obama supporters who are getting nervous about his prospects to keep the faith…at least until “Super Tuesday” on February 5. Because no matter what happens in South Carolina, Obama’s candidacy will remain as viable as it was the day after his stunning “must-win” victory in Iowa.

    That said, I’ve received enough complaints to appreciate that Obama’s performance in last night’s debate has given many of you pause for concern. And I gather that the way John Edwards switched his supporting role from helping Obama beat up on Hillary in previous debates to helping Hillary beat up on Obama is the least of it.

    But the only debating point that gave me pause for concern was when Edwards played the electability card. Because, even though he became defensive after suggesting that America is not ready to elect a black or woman as president, I fear he may have voiced the abiding thoughts of many voters (white, black, male and female).

    Nevertheless, I feel obliged to remind you that we’re not electing the leader of a debating society. Because, if that were the case, Hillary would be the runaway winner.

    Therefore, don’t be swayed by the media’s focus on who landed the most punches. After all, these debates are staged more to entertain political pundits than to inform ordinary voters.

    For what it’s worth, however, I thought Obama prevailed in some of the more heated exchanges with Hillary last night:

    Obama: I was helping unemployed workers on the streets of Chicago when you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.

    Hillary: I was fighting against misguided Republican policies when you were practicing law and representing your contributor … in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.

    Obama: You and President Clinton are distorting my record. Your husband….

    Hillary: I’m here. He’s not.

    Obama: Well, I can’t tell who I’m running against sometimes….

    Related Articles:
    Hillary v. Obama, but Edwards wins the fight
    Clintons playing the race card

  • Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 12:26 PM

    Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The following are Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s final words. He delivered them at the end of a sermon at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN on 3 April 1968…the day before he was assassinated:

    Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now.

    I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

    I finally made my pilgrimage to the Martin Luther King, Jr., historic sites in Atlanta, Georgia last weekend. And as I read my way through all of the exhibits on display, I was particularly struck, indeed humbled, by how much Dr. King wrote, said, and did to further the causes of civil rights and poverty alleviation. Because it really is a marvel that he accomplished so much before James Earl Ray shot him. He was only 39….
    Therefore, I shall observe this year’s MLK holiday with even greater reverence and respect, not to mention gratitude, than ever before. However, whether you normally observe it by going to a shopping mall or to the beach, I urge you to take a moment to reflect on the real meaning and significance of his legacy.

    But I lament the fact that so many politicians pay homage to his legacy by paying lip service to civil rights. Because, if they really wanted to honor MLK, they would be leading mass nonviolent protests for economic justice to help the poor, and to end the war in Iraq. After all, he died fighting for these causes; i.e., by speaking up for the poor, and by speaking out against the war in Vietnam.

    In fact, King was in Memphis to support poor sanitation workers who were striking for higher wages and better working conditions.

    NOTE: Even though we honor him today, his official birthday is January 15.

    Related Articles:
    MLK was also a womanizer…so what!
    The Mall at last…Thank God almighty, a black’s on the Mall at last!

  • Friday, January 18, 2008 at 11:41 AM

    World Beware! Bush and the Saudis are talking down the price of oil…again

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Many people thought Hillary Clinton was being rude – during Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate – when she called President Bush “pathetic” for flying over to Saudi Arabia this week to beg King Abdullah to lower the price of oil. Whereas, in fact, she was being kind.

    After all, there’s something positively venal and conspiratorial about Bush promising to “talk down the price of oil” with his Saudi friends, given that the price actually rises every time he promises to do so. Indeed, here’s how I noted this oxymoronic synergy in April 2005 – in a commentary entitled The Bushes and the Saudis: Elusive (financial) ties that really bind:

    [I]t’s worth recalling that on the eve of entertaining [then] Crown Prince Abdullah at his ranch in April 2002, Bush promised Americans that he would “talk down” the price of crude oil with his royal compadre – “mano a mano”. But since then, the price of oil has more than doubled (from $23 to $60); no doubt much to the constrained glee of oil sheiks in Saudi and oil barons in Texas.

    Therefore, it seems more than a little ironic, if not incredulous, that Bush reiterated the same promise (to get the prince to put out) on the eve of their date just days ago. Indeed, his unfulfilled promise from 2002 begs the question:

    What is America (and the Bush family) getting out of this relationship with Saudi Arabia?

    But, if his constant begging to no (public) avail isn’t pathetic enough (true to form, the price is now hovering around $100), what does it say about Bush’s personal integrity that he has gone from holding Abdullah’s hand in 2005 (like a proud boyfriend) to carrying his royal train in 2008 (like a humble footman)?

    Related Articles:
    The ties that bind the House of Bush and the House of Saud

  • Friday, January 18, 2008 at 3:13 AM

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 10:38 AM

    Conflict in Kenya: Another African genocide in the making?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Almost three years ago, I wrote a commentary in which I lamented that “genocide is taking place in the DR Congo … on a scale that threatens to surpass the horrors of Rwanda”. I also urged President Bush to do all in his power to end this genocide because:

    We do not need another American President traveling to Congo in a few years to apologize for failing to intervene [as Clinton did in 1998 for failing to intervene in Rwanda]; nor should we wait for the movie ‘Hotel Congo’ to incite outrage about this crisis – after another 1 million Africans have been massacred.

    But, with more people already dead in Congo than in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Darfur combined, and with as many women being raped in their homes as men being killed on the battle field, the extent and nature of the ongoing violence there are unconscionable – even by African standards. Which, alas, means that the producers of Hotel Congo will have enough raw footage to make a horror trilogy.

    (Incidentally, I appreciate that the CBS program 60 Minutes deemed the genocide in Congo finally newsworthy enough for broadcast last Sunday night.)

    Now comes Kenya. And despite being forlorn of hope for much of Africa, I am simply crestfallen by Kenya’s rapid descent into Rwandan-style tribal warfare in recent weeks. After all, despite manifestations of congenital kleptocracy, it was just beginning to seem relatively worthy of being called a beacon of democracy on that Dark Continent.

    But when President Mwai Kibaki and his ruling party refused to give up power after losing national elections on December 27, I was so mindful, indeed fearful, of the potential for widespread civil unrest that I wrote the following:

    [T]his sets up the all-too-familiar prospect of Africans resorting to tribal warfare to settle their political disputes …. And those of us who are still hoping against hope for a political awakening in Africa cannot help but look on in despair as Kenya … descends back into the heart of darkness – where bloodlust gives rise to Idi Amins and Rwandan genocides….

    Now, three weeks later, the situation there seems even more dire. Because Kibaki has vowed to use an iron fist to squash all protests called for this week by opposition leader Raila Odinga – who insists on being recognized as the duly elected president. And it does not augur well that the only dialogue Kibaki (L) and Odinga are engaging in these days is through the press to blame the increasing death toll on a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing by members of each other’s tribe.

    According to the BBC, more than 600 people have been killed, and another quarter of a million have been driven from their homes….

    Meanwhile, both sides seem impervious to diplomatic efforts to resolve this conflict. And this, despite overtures by everyone from African statesmen like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former UN general secretary Kofi Annan to International mediators from the EU, UN, and US.

    And with Bush now focusing on creating a legacy in the Middle East, he probably couldn’t care any less about what happens in Kenya. Although, in light of the fecklessness of his persistent diplomatic efforts to stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur, who can blame him?

    Of course, he’s understandably loath to send in the marines, the few who might be available, given the humiliating defeat they suffered after his Daddy deployed them to restore law and order in Somalia in late-1992. (Remember Black Hawk Down?)

    Furthermore, even though the US is Kenya’s biggest aid donor, threatening to withhold aid is bound to have little or no impact. Because China would be all too willing to pick up the slack by providing as much, if not more, amoral and unconditional financial assistance; just as it did in coming to the aid of the perpetrators of the genocide in Darfur.

    Therefore, as remembrances of things past in Rwanda unfold in Congo, Zimbabwe, and Kenya, we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that Africans will settle their political conflicts on their own terms, and in their own time.

    But frankly, with the continent’s most powerful leader, South African President Thabo Mbeki decrying “western solutions to African conflicts”, one can be forgiven the impression that Africans would rather resort to tribal warfare to settle political disputes – no matter how much that offends our western sensibilities.

    When they get tired of killing each other, however, I’m sure they will welcome any assistance westerners can render to help them clean up the mess and reorganize their lives.

    Related Articles:
    Genocide in DR Congo: Rwanda with a vengeance
    Kenya’s rigged elections
    How African leaders codified right to abuse their people
    Hollow apologies from Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan for Rwanda
    Yes, save Darfur! But what about Zimbabwe

  • Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:15 PM

    Hey ALH, what about the Republicans?!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Since the Iowa Caucuses, I have received e-mails from a surprising number of you complaining about my ignoring the heated race for the Republican nomination. But even though I appreciate your complaints, I find them baffling.

    After all, I’ve been quite unabashed in declaring that, even though far too little distinguishes the two political parties, I have more common cause with Democrats than with Republicans. More to the point, however, none of you reading any of my commentaries on this presidential campaign could have failed to grasp that I’m a fully committed supporter of Barack Obama!

    Therefore, I’m not sure why you’d expect me to be commenting on the horse race among the Republicans.

    You are wrong, however, to assert that I have “completely ignored” it. Because, in my January 9 commentary – following Hillary Clinton’s win in New Hampshire, I declared the following:

    No matter who the Republican nominee is, he won’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell against either Obama or Hillary in November.

    That said, I do think it’s noteworthy that Mitt Romney won in Michigan yesterday.

    After all, he billed it as a do-or-die primary. And the shame of losing in his native state would have been surpassed only by the foolhardiness of spending over $40 million of his own money in such a vainglorious and futile venture. Although, I suspect this win will only delay and increase the cost of his foolhardiness….

    NOTE: Henceforth, I shall limit all commentary on this presidential campaign to my new weekly “Obama-Day Tuesday” feature.

  • Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 8:46 AM

    Obama-Day Tuesday: BET founder executes black-on-black hit for Hillary

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Almost two years ago, I wrote a commentary in which I condemned Hillary Clinton for going into a black church in Harlem and faking a Southern-chitlin’ accent as she wailed to an Amen-crowd of blacks about how Republicans in Congress were treating her like a black slave.In fact, I was so incensed by her unconscionable political exploitation of this seminal black experience that I wrote the following:

    As Sen. Ted Kennedy – who recently referred to a Republican black female judge as an ape – can attest, white liberals will never pay a political price for insulting blacks – who are either too stupid to realize they’re being insulted or don’t care, or both….

    Then just days ago, I felt obliged to take her (and her husband) to task in another commentary for her insinuation that President Lyndon Johnson did more for black civil rights than Martin Luther King Jr. (and for Bill’s insinuation that Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign is nothing but a fairy tale).

    But even as I prayed that Obama’s Secret Service bodyguards would redouble their efforts to protect him from a wannabe assassin, I lamented that there was nothing they could do to protect him from Bill and Hillary’s patented plan to assassinate his character.

    And this brings me to their campaign to re-invent Hillary as one who has done more to further the cause of black civil rights than Obama. (And please do not miss their unwitting analogy here to Johnson and MLK.) Never mind that I have written numerous commentaries citing why it’s arguable that even President George W. Bush has done more for blacks than Bill and Hillary Clinton.

    Nevertheless, they are now relying on black assassins to do their dirty work. And in this regard, Bob Johnson is following Andrew Young – who argued recently that Bill is blacker than Obama because “he’s been with more black women” – in taking cheap shots at Obama. But talk about the pot calling the kettle black….

    After all, Johnson is the latter-day minstrel who purportedly empowered blacks (and became a billionaire no less) by promoting images of them as a bunch of drug-pushing thugs and booty-poppin’ sluts on Black Entertainment Television (BET). Yet here’s what he had the unmitigated gall to say about Obama in defense of Hillary on Sunday:

    [T]o me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –­ and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book ….

    But I would bet every dime in my savings account that if you were to challenge Johnson to cite a single thing Hillary did to further the cause of black civil rights, you would find that he is every bit as stupid as he suggests the Obama campaign thinks he is …. (Got that?) Yet Johnson (and the Clintons) would have you believe that where Hillary spent her years as a young adult championing the cause of black civil rights, Obama spent his hanging out in the neighborhood crack den.

    Whereas, in fact, Hillary was busy trying to help Barry Goldwater defeat the very President Johnson she’s now praising for doing more to further the cause of black civil rights than MLK. And this, despite knowing full well that Goldwater was one of only six Republican senators who fought tirelessly to obstruct enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for which MLK risked his life.

    But, lest you think this was just the political flirtation of a misguided young girl, you should know that in her recent autobiography, Living History, Hillary described herself during those good ole days as “a Goldwater girl, right down to my cowgirl outfit”. And you should also know that, after her anti-black hero lost his campaign to defeat Johnson, Hillary went on to get her law degree from Yale University, and then returned (with Bill) to Arkansas to work as a white-shoe lawyer for corporate fat cats.

    Now juxtapose Hillary’s early years with the fact that in his own autobiography – Dreams from my Father, Obama acknowledges his youthful indiscretions involving drug use. But he cleaned up his act and went on to get his law degree from Harvard University and returned to Chicago to work as civil rights attorney (specializing in profiling and death-row cases in which blacks were so often the victims of unfair and unjust prosecution) and as a community organizer (trying to empower blacks politically and economically).

    Now you decide which is more troubling: Hillary idolizing the racist Goldwater, or Obama doing a few lines?

    What is most instructive about Bill and Hillary in this context, however, is that they sealed their tenure as governor and first lady of Arkansas by executing a retarded black man to appease white voters during their first campaign for the presidency in 1992. (Although, she would no doubt argue that her work as an advocate for children more than compensated for this one execution….)

    It might also be helpful to know that in 1993, as president and first lady of the United Sates, they betrayed Lani Guinier. Guinier, of course, is their fellow Yale Law School graduate who the Clintons claimed was a close personal friend. Yet they withdrew her nomination as the top civil rights attorney at the Justice Department as soon as whites began smearing her as a “Quota Queen”.

    And it is especially telling that, within months of betraying Guinier, they gave the nation’s highest civilian award — the Presidential Medal of Freedom – to William J. Fulbright — a man who spent the vast majority of his public career and life as a proud segregationist; which is rather like President Bush giving this medal to Strom Thurmond.

    (Not to mention Clintons’ “end welfare as we know it” scam, which effectively took welfare checks from single black mothers and gave them to fortune 500 corporations.)

    And this is only the tip of the iceberg of particulars I could marshal to expose the Clintons’ shortcomings and hypocrisy on race matters. Yet they have the nerve to lecture Obama about being all talk and no action.

    What is even more disappointing, however, is that blacks like Johnson open wide and swallow their pride even when Hillary’s white liberal supporters make racist remarks about Obama: As was the case, for example, when Andrew Cuomo dismissed his campaign strategy in New Hampshire as “shucking and jiving”; and when Bob Kerry insinuated that Obama is a Muslim who was educated at a Jihadist madrassa in Indonesia even though he knew these were bold-faced lies. Not to mention, just last week, when her husband Bill dismissed the very premise of Obama’s campaign, namely his opposition to the Iraq War, as an uppity fairy tale.

    Incidentally, please don’t be fooled by these political assassins – who hurl stink bombs, and then issue patently cynical statements clarifying or apologizing for their remarks. Also, in this respect, bear in mind that no two people show more indignant sincerity when lying or spinning for political expediency than Bill and Hillary Clinton. And, as between the two of them, Bill has nothing on Hillary.

    Therefore, beware and be informed – especially as you watch them take center stage to exploit upcoming events commemorating MLK’s 79th birthday, which happens to be today.

    Finally, the silver lining in this ironic racial fight is that it might finally cut the Lilliputian cord of obligation that has kept blacks politically tethered to a Democratic Party that has always taken them for granted. And, if Hillary wins the nomination by denigrating MLK’s legacy and assassinating Obama’s character, it would serve her right, and redound to their long-term political benefit, for blacks to support her Republican opponent in spades….

    : Usually the only people who tune in to presidential debates are political wonks. But I urge all of you to watch tonight’s Democratic debate in Nevada, if only to see how Hillary and Obama deal with the racial conflict that has dominated the news for almost a week now.

    * OBAMA ’08: To learn more about this extraordinary presidential candidate, and to contribute to his audacious campaign, please click here.

    Related Articles:
    Hillary says she’s being treated like a slave
    Hillary disses MLK and wins lily-white New Hampshire
    Andrew Young says Clinton is blacker than Obama

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  • Monday, January 14, 2008 at 10:37 AM

    To all of my Eastern Orthodox friends: Happy New Year!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 10:06 AM

    Candidates for British prime minister show they too can play Hillary’s crying game

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Hillary’s woe is me – “this is really tough…sniff, sniff” – campaign performance may have won her New Hampshire. But I have far too much respect for the intelligence of most American women to believe that playing on their emotions will take her all the way (back) to the White House.

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  • Friday, January 11, 2008 at 11:51 AM

    President Bush’s “peace in [his] time” pipe dream

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    It is generally accepted that US presidential candidates make promises they know they cannot keep. But it smacks of unconscionable and irresponsible pandering for a US president to do so.

    Yet that is precisely what President George W. Bush did yesterday when he promised to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians:

    I believe there’s going to be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office . . . I’m on a timetable . . . I’ve got 12 months.

    Of course, with all of media attention focused on the race to succeed him, not to mention the perceived irrelevance of his lame-duck presidency, Americans can be forgiven for having no clue that Bush is on this delusional peace mission. But I doubt anyone in Israel or Palestine took him seriously.

    After all, Bill Clinton tried to no avail to attain this diplomatic Golden Fleece during the eight years of his presidency. Not to mention that it was patently obvious to the world that, for seven years now, Bush couldn’t care any less about peace in the Middle East.

    But listening to him yesterday, I could not help thinking about the peace mission undertaken in 1938 by British prime minister Neville Chamberlain. Because Chamberlain was equally delusional when, in reliance on Hitler’s word, he said to the British people:

    My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

    That said, I find it ironic, if not instructive, that on the day Bush was making his quixotic pronouncement about peace in the Middle East, former British prime minister Tony Blair was making a mercenary announcement about his plans to rake in millions as an adviser to America’s third-largest bank, JP Morgan Chase.

    To appreciate the full scope of this irony, however, you’d have to know that only six months ago, Blair was speaking in equally quixotic terms about the prospect for peace upon his appointment as Middle East envoy working on behalf of the US, UK, UN, and the EU (the so-called “Quartet”).

    But this sets up the prospect not so much for peace in our time as for a competition between these two old war buddies for a redeeming and lasting legacy….

    Related Article:
    Blair brokers peace in Northern Ireland

  • Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 12:03 PM

    Lynch Tiger Woods? When a racist comment is not racist at all

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The wide world of sports is buzzing today about an allegedly racist exchange between Kelly Tilghman and Nick Faldo, commentators on the Golf Channel.

    Now, once you get over the shock that there is actually a channel dedicated to golf, you might think this is rather like getting worked up over a racist exchange between two good ole boys at an all-white country club.

    But here’s what happened:

    Tilghman and Faldo were clearly joking on air about what the players on the PGA tour would have to do to beat Tiger Woods. And Tilghman chuckled audibly as she said they “should lynch him in a back alley”. Then, not insignificantly in this context, Faldo chimed in “yeah, that’s right”.

    And for this, the Golf Channel suspended Tilghman yesterday for two weeks, which I think is entirely appropriate. Because it was a stupid thing to say on the air – even in (perversely complimentary) jest.

    But here’s the rub: America’s race-baiting Pied Piper, Rev. Al Sharpton, wants to IMUS her! Specifically, he’s singing his trademark rap for her to be fired, and the rodents in his chorus are growing like flies to s#!+.

    Meanwhile, here’s Tiger’s reaction, which his agent, Mark Steinberg, issued on his behalf:

    Tiger and Kelly are friends, and Tiger has a great deal of respect for Kelly . . . Regardless of the choice of words used, we know unequivocally that there was no ill-intent in her comments.

    To which I say…Amen!

    Apropos Amen, Rev. Sharpton clearly needs to spend more time in Church praying for racial healing instead of trolling the airwaves of America, like a latter-day Joe McCarthy, looking for unwitting racists to slay; or for any chance to pull the scab off old racial wounds.

    That said, I wonder why the Golf Channel did not suspend Faldo as well, given that he seconded Tilghman’s remarks? Things that make you go hmmmm….

    Related Articles:
    The firing of Don Imus


  • Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 1:34 PM

    Hillary wins New Hampshire! Defies pundits…but not her ill-fated destiny

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    After Barack Obama’s stunning upset of Hillary Clinton in Thursday’s Iowa Caucus, almost every political pundit in America began heralding him as the second coming of a Kennedy (alluding giddily between JFK and RFK), and dismissing Hillary as the second coming of Edmund Muskie (the presumptive Democratic nominee in 1972 who ended up folding like a cheap suit).

    But I found their characterization in both respects inherently flawed. (Not to mention being cursedly ill-fated for Obama.) Therefore, instead of joining the gaggle of those writing Hillary’s political death notice, here’s the admonition I offered in a published commentary the morning after Iowa:

    [I]t really is too premature to count Hillary out. So let’s hold off on the celebrations for now.

    And, of course, her razor-thin win over Obama in New Hampshire last night vindicated my admonition. Yet, true to form, almost every political pundit in America immediately began heralding her as the second coming of Lazarus, and (practically) dismissing Obama as the second coming of Howard Dean (grrrrhhhhh).

    Whereas, in fact, the only thing truly noteworthy about the results in Iowa and New Hampshire is that – for the first time in a generation – we have bona fide races for both the Democratic and Republican nominations for president of the United States.

    (Although, no matter who the Republican nominee is, he won’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell against either Obama or Hillary in November.)

    Therefore, I admonish you to ignore all of the talking-head BS that will surely flow from every new poll, political gaffe, or new primary result between now and “Super Tuesday”. Because chances are very good that even after that purportedly fateful day on February 5, we still will not have a definitive nominee for either party.

    That said, am I the only one who thinks it was patently disingenuous when Hillary declared last night that – after 35 years of playing a political Mother Teresa – she finally found her voice this week? (Especially since this is the obvious gender-card spin she’s putting on the cracked voice that held back her tears of sorrow over what she feared was her looming defeat…before last night’s results.)

    And am I the only one who thinks it was patently offensive when her husband Bill derided Obama supporters on Monday as a bunch of fools for buying into – what he riduculed as – “the biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen . . . Give me a break!”?

    Never mind the irony, if not hypocrisy, of Clinton – who far too many blacks have hailed as the first black president of the United States – doing all he can to undermine the opportunity for the first real black man to earn this historic tribute.

    But trust me folks, the venal self-righteousness of the Clintons’ political ambitions knows no bounds. For example, I doubt any other white politician in America would dare make the specious, if not latently racist, assertion that President Lyndon Johnson did more to win civil rights for blacks than Martin Luther King, Jr. – as Hillary did a couple days ago. Yet not only does she expect to get away with it, she even expects her supporters to shout “Amen”!

    And this brings me to the support of black folk, which the Clintons have always taken for granted. Because they must fear that blacks will now do to them what whites have done to black politicians for decades: i.e., promise they’ll vote across racial lines, then vote their race on election day. . (Which, incidentally, may be the reason why – even though all of the polls had him winning easily going into yesterday’s vote – Barack still came up short.)

    Therefore, the Clintons will have to gamble that their old race cards – like ace of spades Rev. Jesse Jackson and ace of clubs Rev. Al Sharpton – will play for their presidential patronage with more zeal than ever before. And, so far, these good ole black boys are rising to the occasion – complete with Andrew Young trying to convince us that even Hillary is blacker than Barack.

    They said this day would never come…They said our sights were set too high . . . But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do. Years from now you’ll look back and say this is the moment where it all began. – Barack Obama in Iowa, January 3, 2008

    But this is Obama’s clarion call to his supporters, and his defiant challenge to all, including white liberals and their enabling black sycophants, who regard him as nothing more than an uppity Negro getting in the way of Hillary’s coronation: “Wait your turn Barack! Wait your turn….”

    Meanwhile, I suspect people in Iowa and New Hampshire (the two whitest states in the union) voted for Obama in such high numbers because they felt both in their hearts and minds that he would make them proud in many ways. And no doubt absolving themselves of a little racist guilt by electing him the first black president of the United states figured prominently in this respect.

    But if these white people can feel this way about Obama, then I suspect whites in New York, California, Florida, et al will feel even more so. In which case, all he needs is for his fellow blacks to appreciate the categorical imperative of loving and respecting him just as much….

    NOTE: Again, let us pray that – as Obama begins to look more and more like the truly inevitable Democratic nominee (and the next president of the United States) – his Secret Service bodyguards will redouble their efforts to protect him. Because the last thing America needs right now is another assassination that triggers all of the lost hope and incendiary rage of the killing of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr…combined!

    Alas, there’s nothing Obama’s bodyguards can do to protect him from the character assassination the Clintons have already begun executing against him. But I am confident not only that he can withstand their negative attacks, but also that the American people will resent and reject the Clintons even more for launching them.

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  • Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 9:02 AM

    Update on circumcision and HIV/AIDS

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Regular readers of this weblog are no doubt aware of my championing the study by African scientists, which found that:

    . . . if male circumcision were more widely available, millions of lives, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa would be saved. WHO and UNAIDS said access to the procedure should be urgently scaled up in areas with high rates of heterosexual infection and low rates of male circumcision. [BBC Report March 28, 2007]

    However, I became indignant late last year when a urologist challenged my proselytizing in this respect. Because he upbraided me in an open letter to the Caribbean Net News (CNN) for failing to disclose the desensitizing effect circumcision has on the penis as a sexual organ. (Note: CNN is the most widely read newspaper in the Caribbean – a region that has the highest prevalence of HIV infections in the world outside sub-Saharan Africa.)

    But this presumably informed urologist provided no scientific basis for his assertion. And frankly, even though I pride myself on my insatiable intellectual curiosity, I found many of the details he proffered far more than I needed to know about the subject.

    Unfortunately, I had no the data to counter his arguments. Therefore, I responded simply by maintaining that, given the consensus in the scientific community about the prophylactic effect of circumcision on HIV transmissions, most men would probably be happy to give up whatever marginal pleasure they derive from the prepuce.

    Now it turns out that urologist was just talking out of his ass. Because yesterday the BBC reported on the most comprehensive study ever undertaken on this matter, which found that:

    Circumcision does not reduce sexual satisfaction and so there should be no reservations about using this method as a way to combat HIV.

    Nevertheless, let me hasten to admonish that condoms are still the most effective guard against contracting HIV and other STDs. So please use them diligently and properly – no matter how much they purportedly inhibit sexual satisfaction….

    Related Articles:
    To briss or not to briss: that is the question
    BBC report, “circumcision does not curb sex”

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