• 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
    The problem
    Royal marriage
    British honours

    *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:
    Trump projecting
    I Hate Twitter

  • 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:
    Stop breaking news
    crown prince MBS
    Trump vs. Jong-un
    Sunnis, Shias, Kurds
    Sgt. La David Johnson
    Las Vegas

    *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 Trumpleton relatives to stuff it.


  • 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, 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:
    Professional epiphany
    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!


    — 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:
    Bile all-around

  • Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 8:29 AM

    Research shows men commit sexual harassment because they have dicks for brains

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I’d be remiss not to mention Gretchen Carlson. I hailed her for going public ‘Women Complain Fox News Head, Roger Ailes, Has Dick for Brains,’ July 20, 2016.

    Indeed, it’s arguable that, if Judd had gone public two decades ago, she would have taken down movie mogul Weinstein the way Carlson took down TV mogul Roger Ailes. Not to mention the courage Carlson gave other women to take down the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling.

    In any case, I trust the takeaway from this latest sexual-harassment scandal is that women should go public. Further, that they should be prepared to suffer whatever professional backlash doing so might still entail. After all, if the ‘balance of power’ between Weinstein and each of his accusers who settled was 10 to 1, it was 100 to 1 between Ailes and Carlson.

    (“This Hurricane Harvey Harassed Hollywood Hotties for Decades,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 6, 2017)

    Related commentaries:
    Hurricane Harvey

  • Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 7:42 AM

    Military Coup Ousts Mugabe in Zimbabwe

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Frankly, this could not have happened to a nicer strongman.

    Early Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo, Zimbabwe’s army chief of staff, denied on state TV that the military had overthrown longtime President Robert Mugabe, despite tanks in the streets and reports of explosions and gunfire. The ruling ZANU-PF party later tweeted that former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mugabe had ousted last week, had stepped in as interim president, and South Africa’s News24 reported that Mugabe, 93, is ‘preparing to step down.’

    The ZANU-PF account called Wednesday’s military takeover of the capital a ‘bloodless,’ and said Mugabe and his wife, Grace, are ‘detained and safe.’

    (The Week, November 15, 2017)

    Unfortunately, for the longsuffering people of Zimbabwe, this only portends more years of kleptocracy and oppression under general administrative incompetence. In other words, this country is fated to continue its 37-year malaise, which has seen it wither away from the breadbasket of Africa to a simple basket case. And it will continue thus – even despite the vesting efforts of  China – i ts new superpower patron which reportedly gave its blessing for this coup.

    The man believed to be behind the coup in Zimbabwe is the country’s recently sacked vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa – also known as ‘The Crocodile’.

    Mnangagwa, 75, is a notorious and much-feared figure in Zimbabwe, having led a vicious crackdown on opponents in the 1980s with the help of the dreaded North Korean-trained Fifth Army brigade. …

    His reputation for cruelty is so legendary that he was one of the few leaders of Zimbabwe known to drive around the country without security.

    (London Daily Mail, November 15, 2017)

    I have bemoaned Zimbabwe’s descent into the “heart of darkness” in too many commentaries to cite. They include “Zimbabweans Pray for Liberation from their Liberator, Robert Mugabe,” March 29, 2005, “UN Sanctions Mugabe’s Genocidal Rule,” May 14, 2007, “Zimbabwe: From Africa’s Breadbasket to Basket Case…,” December 5, 2008, “It’s Hail, Mugabe! … Again,” August 4, 2013, and “Zimbabwe’s Black Farmers: Bring Back White Farmers,” September 16, 2015.

    Which is why this de facto coup, especially with its air of déjà vu, warrants no further comment. Except that I feel obliged to note that most Zimbabweans will consider this a second liberation – no matter how pyrrhic.

    Meanwhile, say what you will about Fidel Castro of Cuba, at least he was shrewd and humble enough to step down on his own terms.

    By contrast, Mugabe now joins the rogue’s gallery of dictators like Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire who were unceremoniously overthrown. In this case, the ignominy includes the fact that the triggering event was this pussy-whipped old fool moving to install his “trophy” wife (52) as his successor.

    Now Mugabe has to pray he does not suffer the fate that befell dictators like Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and Saddam Hussein of Iraq who fulfilled that famous proverb:

    He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.

    But, if his captors were shrewd, they would exile him to Morocco posthaste. Because, like his strongman comrade Sese Seko, Mugabe would probably die of disgrace there within six months.

    Finally, much is being made about President Jacob Zuma of South Africa vouching for democracy in Zimbabwe, despite this coup. But this is rather like the frying pan vouching for safety in fire. After all, newspapers have been replete for years with reports about the kleptocracy and oppression under general administrative incompetence that have characterized Zuma’s rule.

    As it happens, some of us warned of this foreboding symmetry:

    One wonders what could have prompted the ANC to emasculate Mbeki. … If he heeds the ANC’s recall … Zuma will become the next duly elected president.

    Then, I fear, he will do for South Africa what Mugabe has done for Zimbabwe.

    (“South African President Mbeki Forced to Resign … Hail Zuma,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 22, 2008)

    How telling then that Zuma is moving today to install one of his many wives as his successor … too.

    It took Zimbabweans 37 years to arrive at this fateful rendezvous with destiny. But South Africans witnessing events unfolding in neighboring Zimbabwe must be thanking God that:

    There but for the wisdom of Constitutional term limits, go we.

    Related commentaries:
    Zimbabwe’s black farmers
    South African President Mbeki
    Zuma doing to SA what Mugabe

  • Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    Rock Stars Geldof and Bono Damn Myanmar’s Suu Kyi as ‘Handmaiden to Genocide’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    A few months ago, I damned Aung San Suu Kyi as the ‘godmother of ethnic cleansing.” I did not think then that anyone could damn her more. I was wrong.

    But I suppose it should come as no surprise that two acclaimed song writers have found more damning words:

    The Irish musicians Bob Geldof and Bono, as well as the other members of rock band U2, have attacked Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, accusing her of complicity in the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people in the country.

    Geldof announced that he on Monday would hand back his Freedom of the City of Dublin because the award is also held by Suu Kyi.

    In a strongly worded statement, the Live Aid founder dubbed the Burmese Nobel Peace laureate a ‘handmaiden to genocide’ and said her association with the Irish capital ‘shames us all.’

    (Daily Beast, November 13, 2017)

    All the same, I hope it’s not gloating to note that I had the political consciousness and foresight to damn Suu Kyi four years ago for what Geldof and Bono are finally damning her today.

    In fact, I have written many commentaries decrying her fall from Nobel Peace laureate to … handmaiden to genocide. They range from “Even Fellow Nobel Laureates Now Condemning Myanmar’s Suu Kyi, the Godmother of Ethnic Cleansing,” September 14, 2017, to “Obama’s Historic Trip to Myanmar: Too Soon?” November 12, 2012. The latter includes the following excerpt, which provoked my initial dismay and indignation.


    The only meaningful step [military dictator] Thein Sein has taken towards democracy was to release Suu Kyi in 2010 from nearly 15 years of house arrest.

    But he has since co-opted this former ‘democracy icon’ into his political establishment – as leader of the loyal (i.e., powerless) opposition in parliament. Nothing demonstrates the extent to which he has co-opted Suu Kyi quite like her deafening silence while majority Buddhists continue their ethnic cleansing of minority Muslims. This, even in the face of the UN calling Myanmar’s Muslims ‘the world’s most persecuted people.’

    Yet, whenever challenged to explain her silence, the Buddhist Suu Kyi demurs, saying self-righteously that she is not taking sides to preserve her impartiality to help them reconcile. But just imagine how much worse the ethnic cleansing of minority Muslims by majority Hindus in India would have been if the Hindu Gandhi had not been so vocal in condemning it…?


    That said, President Trump returned last night from his 5-country, 12-day visit to Asia. He would want you to think that it was not just the longest but the most successful foreign trip any leader has ever undertaken in the history of the world.

    Except that, as I posited in “Trump Congratulates China for Raping US,” November 9, 2017, he would be hard-pressed to cite any real success. Granted, Xi threw him a bone by releasing three knuckleheads from the UCLA Basketball team who were caught shoplifting during a concurrent goodwill visit. But the measure of his fake success is limited to the extravagant ways authoritarian leaders stroked his ego … to make him feel like one of them.

    More to the point, critics across the political spectrum bemoan that the idle flattery they lavished on him induced the preternaturally narcissistic Trump to overlook their appalling human rights record. They contend that any other US president would have leveled unbridled criticism, especially against the likes of Xi of China, Duterte of the Philippines, and Suu Kyi of Myanmar. They are wrong.

    In fact, US history is replete with US presidents visiting authoritarian countries. And, far from leveling criticisms, they invariably propped up or kowtowed to a rogue’s gallery of US-friendly dictators – from African kleptomaniacs to Arab potentates. And they did this even without the ego-stroking inducement of idle flattery.

    A case in point is the historic visit none other than Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, made to Myanmar. The following excerpt – from the commentary cited above – attests to the cynical note I sounded about the way he blithely overlooked its appalling human rights record, which is compelling so many to damn Suu Kyi.


    I warned that her (personal and political) liberation would do little to facilitate democratic reform in Myanmar:

    What’s more, Thein Sein has shrewdly used Suu Kyi to curry favor with Western leaders/donors for whom the international celebrity she now enjoys is a political aphrodisiac. Obama, duly seduced, brought along $170 million in financial aid.

    Nonetheless, he rationalized his visit by claiming that it is not an endorsement of the government of Myanmar but an acknowledgement of the democratic path the country is now on (which will come as news to the hundreds of political dissidents still withering away in prison).

    Ironically, his rationalization for awarding Myanmar his presidential imprimatur smacks of that which the Nobel committee proffered for awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009; namely, not for brokering any peace, but for the potential he had for doing so. The oppressed people of the world, especially the Rohingyas and Palestinians, are still waiting for him to realize his Nobel potential.


    Alas, Obama never realized that potential as president – for all kinds of perennial geopolitical reasons. But there’s no excusing his failure – as private citizen – to join Geldof and Bono in the chorus of famous people now damning Suu Kyi.

    Related commentaries:
    Even fellow nobel
    Trump congratulates Russia
    Bob Geldof

  • Monday, November 13, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    Zuckerberg Designed Facebook ‘Like’ an Addictive Opioid

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    So, with all due respect to Karl Marx, who needs religion when the masses have Facebook…?

    It turns out that your brain on Facebook is like an egg in a frying pan. This, in effect, is what none other than Facebook founding president Sean Parker has confessed:

    The unintended consequences [is that] it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other [and] God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.

    The thought process that went into building these applications … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’ …

    That means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever.

    (CBS News, November 9, 2017)

    Except that this is rather like a drug kingpin (or the head of a big pharmaceutical company) confessing about the unintended consequences of the dopamine-triggering drugs (or opioids) they peddle.

    No doubt this is why CEO Mark Zuckerberg felt compelled to inject this “timely” observation from his presidential listening tour:

    [Zuckerberg] said the extent of the US opioid crisis was the thing that surprised him the most during his travels throughout America this year.

    ‘The biggest surprise by far is the extent of opioid issues, it’s really saddening to see,’ Zuckerberg said during a live Facebook broadcast from the University of Kansas.

    (CNBC, November 10, 2017)

    Frankly, given Parker’s confession, this observation reeks of hypocrisy and cynicism in equal measure. And I’m not even alluding to reports that Facebook makes more money from illegal adds for opioids than it does from fake ads for Russian trolls.

    In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking this broadcast was just Zuckerberg’s Trumpian way of deflecting from the brain damage Facebook is causing by pointing the finger at opioids. Mind you, one can hardly blame him for thinking that if Russian President Vladimir Putin could use Facebook to get Trump elected president of the United States, then he could easily use it to get himself elected.

    But there’s no denying Parker’s contention that social media (like Facebook and Twitter) are just as hazardous to your health as opioids (like fentanyl and heroin).

    Many are commending him for speaking out. I, however, just see him as a Johnny-come-lately – given commentaries like “Why I Hate Twitter,” February 1, 2013, “Facebook Friends?! Try Facebook’s Guinea Pigs,” July 8, 2014, “Hey Moron, Personal Tweet Is … an Oxymoron,” March 6, 2015.

    For a sense of my abiding indignation, here is an excerpt from “Keep Your Selfies to Yourself…Puhleeease! April 7, 2014.


    A selfie is not just about adoring one’s own reflection like Narcissus; it’s more about taking a picture of that reflection to publish for all the world to see. But am I the only one who rues the cognitive dissonance that has turned self-obsessed showoffs from laughingstocks into standard-bearers of what is now not only acceptable but required public behavior?

    Nothing irritates me in this context quite like the way people convey every private sentiment — from condolences to birthday greetings and romantic love — only by tweeting or facebooking it for everyone to read. …

    I do not think social media are utterly without redeeming value. … It’s just that, all combined, [that value] probably accounts for less than 10 percent of what is posted daily. Whereas the other 90 percent seems borne of a pathetic neediness or insecurity, which causes people to make fools of themselves by posting selfies for no other reason than the vain hope of eliciting idle flattery.

    Remember when there was no greater social nuisance than the Dad who showed off pictures of his newborn child (even to complete strangers) – as if it were the most beautiful thing God ever created? Well that Dad is social wallflower compared to the twit who posts selfies – as if she were the most beautiful thing God ever created.

    Frankly, this culture of unbridled narcissism and oversharing has become like a metastasizing cancer that is eroding all traditional notions of personal discretion and public decency. This cannot be a good thing, especially for the self-esteem of young girls. After all, they were already suffering untenable body-dysmorphic triggers from images of models in glossy magazines. Now, thanks to photo-shopping apps, ordinary girls on social media are setting similar, unattainable standards of beauty … and fame. …

    But here’s a PSA for those of you who seem as addicted to chasing “likes” as junkies are to chasing the dragon:

    Your friends and followers are too socially correct to tell you what an embarrassing bore your selfies – to say nothing of your banal thoughts, snarky comments, and hackneyed aphorisms – have become. You are clearly as clueless about the perennial truth that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ as you probably are about the economic theory of ‘information asymmetry.’ And I gather ‘unfriending’ and ‘unfollowing’ are tricky propositions.

    Therefore, take it from me, your friends and followers would really appreciate it if you’d spare them the annoying social obligation of having to tell you (every friggin’ day) how witty you are, or how beautiful you look. This, especially when you insist on posting selfies in which you look like a Russian babushka selling borscht who thinks she’s a VS model selling lingerie. Really, get over yourself!


    Meanwhile, Parker’s confession does not even address the white elephant on Facebook’s platform. It, of course, is the pandemic of fake news; you know, of the kind that infected last year’s US presidential election, which caused so many of its brain-dead users to vote for Donald Trump.

    I commented on this socio-political “black swan” in “‘Unlike’ Facebook for Facilitating Trump’s ‘Post-Truth’ Run to the White House,” November 18, 2016.

    In any event, I hope at least some of Facebook’s 2 billion users have enough brains left to “Like” (and heed) Parker’s sobering admonition.

    But it behooves all consumers of social media to appreciate the Orwellian nature of the anti-social behavior all networks foster, namely compelling users to continually stare down at personal digital assistants (i.e., smartphones that make so many users dumb people).

    Related commentaries:
    Hate Twitter
    Hey Moron
    Facebook guinea pigs
    Keep your selfies
    Unlike Facebook

  • Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 7:41 AM

    Islanders know the rich who shelter their money ‘offshore’ couldn’t care less what happens onshore

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7:38 AM

    UPDATE: Trump Congratulates China for Raping US

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Here is what Trump said on the campaign trail last year, which thrilled Republican voters as much as it must have angered Chinese leaders:

    ‘We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing.’…

    Sunday marks the first time in this campaign that Trump has used the term ‘rape’ to refer to what he views as China’s dominance in trade with the US.

    (CNN, May 2, 2016)

    And here is what he said in Beijing today, which thrilled Chinese leaders as much as it should anger all Americans:

    I don’t blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for benefit of their citizens? I give China great credit.

    (CNN, November 9, 2017)

    Of course, Trump himself is an alleged rapist. Therefore, it probably comes more naturally than some might think for him to blame the victim and hail the rapist.

    But, as I telegraphed in my related commentary, idle flattery could get this narcissist to sell out his mother. Therefore, it’s no surprise that being feted with such pomp and circumstance got him to sell out his country with this historic flip-flop.

    Indeed, I wish a reporter had the balls to ask Trump this question:

    Mr. President, besides having your ego stroked, what has this state visit done to advance America’s national and regional security interests, especially with respect to the clear and present danger posed by North Korea’s nuclear missiles?

    Because, I assure you, his reply would be as garbled as Daffy Duck trying to explain the Theory of Relativity.

    Meanwhile, Trump has embarrassed and demeaned the United States like nobody has ever seen before. For this has to be the first time in history that a US president traveled to the capital of a foreign adversary and lavished it with praise for “raping” the United States.

    Mind you, this is the same Trump who spent much of his campaign ridiculing Obama as weak for traveling abroad and “apologizing for America.” IDIOT!  #kowtowinghypocrite #treasonous #MakeAmericaMissObama (MAMO)

    Related commentary:
    Trump in China

  • Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 8:27 AM

    China, Next Stop on Trump’s Traveling Circus through Far East

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President Trump begins his state visit to China today. He will pay lip service to the threat of trade war with China, but the threat of nuclear war with North Korea will dominate all talks.

    Except that anyone who knows anything about the nature of this threat knows that these talks will amount to much ado about nothing. The only reason North Korea has nuclear weapons is that it furthers China’s geo-strategic interest. To understand the Chinese checkers-like moves afoot, just think how improbable it would be for Mexico to do the same, namely to develop nuclear weapons and continually threaten to annihilate China without the consent, if not the cooperation, of the United States.

    Frankly, it speaks volumes about China’s perfidy that it sees politically redeeming value in having North Korea as a menacing nuclear power. As this country’s indispensable lifeline (i.e., its primary supplier of food and energy), China clearly feels immune to its threats, which have bedeviled China’s regional adversaries, including the United States, for decades.

    Moreover, while those adversaries have been wasting time and resources contending with those threats, China has been busy executing its plan to dethrone the United States as the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

    I’m on record telegraphing these moves in commentaries like “America’s Trump vs. North Korea’s Jong-un: the Ultimate Reality-TV Show,” August 9, 2017, “‘Leading from Behind’: Trump Depending on China to Protect US from North Korea,” April 21, 2017, and “Trump at UN General Assembly like Obama at KKK Rally,” September 18, 2017, which includes this overview:

    Thanks to leaks from Trump’s White House, the entire world now knows Obama warned him that North Korea’s nuclear program poses a clear and present danger, which the United States must deal with as a matter of life and death. Yet the first thing Trump did as president was to make a public show of begging, brown-nosing, and then badgering China to protect the United States from North Korea. …

    But … Chinese President Xi Jinping was playing him for a fool with empty promises to keep Jong-un in check. Which, of course, was easy to do because this US president is as susceptible to idle flattery as an ugly teenage girl. Xi was the first foreign leader to exploit that insecurity. Others have been queuing up ever since to do the same.

    But you don’t have to take my word for it. Because here is how no less an authority than the Los Angeles Times previewed this state visit yesterday:

    Expect the good times to continue when Xi figuratively rolls out an ultra-wide red carpet to host Trump in Beijing — a ‘state visit-plus’ in the words of the Chinese ambassador to the United States.

    The Chinese, much like the Japanese and South Koreans on the first two stops of Trump’s five-nation Asia tour, believe the gilded treatment is the best way to play to Trump’s ego and disarm him, and thereby blunt his demands that China open up its economy and take a harder tack against North Korea, according to experts and former government officials.

    Xi can be forgiven for feeling even more emboldened to play Trump like a chump given this:

    Xi Jinping has been consecrated as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong after a new body of political thought carrying his name was added to the Communist party’s constitution.

    The symbolic move came on the final day of a week-long political summit in Beijing – the 19th party congress – at which Xi has pledged to lead the world’s second largest economy into a ‘new era’ of international power and influence.

    ‘The congress unanimously agrees that Xi Jinping Thought … shall constitute [one of] the guides to action of the party in the party constitution,’ a party resolution stated.

    (London Guardian, October 24, 2017)

    Alas, Xi has in Trump a willing dupe who would happily cede America’s global leadership to China only to have his fringe base in the Republican Party consecrate him in similar fashion.

    Spoke to President Xi of China to congratulate him on his extraordinary elevation. Also discussed NoKo & trade, two very important subjects!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2017

    But China’s moves are not going unnoticed, and, despite Trump, I predict it will not go unchecked.

    The US military officials in the region warn that China’s ultimate goal is to become dominant by slowly making changes to the international order. China will use the laws it likes, ignore the ones it doesn’t and eventually other nations will have to adapt, thereby re-setting the rules in China’s favor.

    ‘China is on a path to win without a fight,’ one official said.

    (NBC News, November 1, 2017)

    Again, Xi’s is presiding over a China that is slowly but surely eclipsing the United States. The following puts this supplanting eclipse into context:

    Nixon landing in China in 1972 was like Columbus landing in The Bahamas in 1492; whereas Trump landing in China in 2017 is like Churchill landing in Washington in 1942.

    In other words, no matter Trump’s begging and/or badgering, China will deal with North Korea on its own terms. Unfortunately, this might mean waiting until war breaks out between North Korea and the United States before China plays its hand.

    But, for now, like the king did for his state visit to Saudi Arabia, Xi will make sure Trump feels feted like the most important man to ever set foot in China. Because all leaders now know that, despite his “America First” rhetoric, that’s all that really matters to Trump.

    More to the point, Trump made quite a show, during his address to the South Korean National Assembly yesterday, of demanding that China cut diplomatic ties with and economic supplies to North Korea. But Xi knows from experience that it only takes a little flattery to get him to forget these demands. And Trump expecting Russia to help the United States with North Korea is even more foolhardy than Netanyahu expecting Iran to help Israel with the Palestinians.

    Of course, North Korea will just dismiss him as certifiably insane for demanding it unilaterally disarm. (Or what, face more of his bluster about raining down fire and fury?)

    That said, I feel obliged to reiterate this warning from “World Beware, China Calling In (Loan-Sharking) Debts,” February 3, 2010.

    This episode should serve as a warning to all countries around the world that are not just lapping up China’s largesse, but heralding it as a more worthy superpower than the United States. After all, China is spitting imperious and vindictive fire at the rich and mighty United States over a relatively insignificant matter like meeting with the Dalai Lama. So just imagine what it would do to a poor and weak country in a conflict over a truly significant matter.

    Apropos of that, there’s this curious thing, which all non-white world leaders, especially those throughout Africa and the Caribbean, might want to beware of:

    Obama always spoke of China with respect. Yet when he hosted Obama, Xi showed Obama unprecedented disrespect.

    Knowing Trump, he probably reminded Xi of this as they had a laugh at Obama’s expense:

    Donald Trump said Monday that he would have left the G-20 summit in China over a logistical flap that left President Obama disembarking Air Force One onto a plain metal staircase.

    ‘They have pictures of other leaders who are … coming down with a beautiful red carpet. … It’s a sign of such disrespect,’ [Trump said].

    (Washington Post, September 5, 2016)

    By instructive contrast, Trump always spoke of China with disrespect. Yet Xi is showing Trump unprecedented respect.

    Perhaps Xi is just performing a Chinese version of the parable of the prodigal son. But it’s one of those things that make black people go, hmmm.

    Related commentaries:
    Trump vs. Jung-un
    Leading from behind
    General Assembly
    Hong Kong
    World beware

  • Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 8:21 AM

    ‘Paradise Papers’ Out Elizabeth II as Tax-Dodging Queen

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and a key ally to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among the 120 rich and powerful people who are mentioned in the Paradise Papers, a new release of data about offshore tax havens and obscure financial dealings.

    The Paradise Papers are a massive trove of 13.4 million records — many of which were leaked from the offshore law firm Appleby, which was founded more than 100 years ago and operates in places ranging from Bermuda and the Cayman Islands to the Isle of Man, Mauritius, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

    Reflecting millions of loan deals, financial statements, emails and other documents, the data reveals how specialty firms handle the money of wealthy individuals, families and corporations.

    (NPR, November 6, 2017)

    Forgive me, but this is one of those occasions when “Breaking News” obliges me to say, almost in exasperation, I told you so.

    The following excerpt from “Leaked ‘Panama Papers’ Affirm more than Reveal Offshore Banking Secrets,” April 6, 2016, explains why.


    This is hardly news, let alone ‘Breaking News’: Leaking the Pentagon Papers was a bombshell because they revealed that the US government was lying about the nature of its involvement in Vietnam. Leaking the Panama Papers is not because they merely affirm what is generally known about offshore tax-dodging and money-laundering schemes.

    Not to mention the truly rare insights the ‘Swiss Papers’ provided in this regard just a year ago. …

    I’m on record commenting – in ‘Unlike NSA Leaks, HSBC Leaks Actually Serve Public Interest,’ February 10, 2015 – on the rogue’s gallery of tax dodgers and money launderers this investigation outed. More to the point, many of the names that popped up in the Swiss Papers are popping up in the Panama Papers too.

    Alas, in this age of Twitter and Snapchat, even news of the discovery of life on Mars would probably trend for only a day, before the next trending topic knocks it out of public consciousness. …

    Russian President Vladimir Putin can be forgiven for thinking he’s ‘the main target of Panama Papers leak’ – as the New York Daily News headlined its sensational report on Monday.

    The problem of course is that targeting Putin as a kleptomaniac is about as consequential as targeting Trump as a demagogue. Nothing indicates this quite like the litany of reports over the years that have outed Putin as the biggest political crook in history … all to no avail. I have decried his immunity/impunity in this respect in many commentaries – from the ‘Putinization of Russia…,’ November 2, 2006, to ‘Ukraine’s Orange Revolution Turns ‘Red,’’ February 25, 2014. …

    The US Tax Code has become riddled with so many tax-avoidance loopholes, they render most tax-haven schemes redundant. To say nothing of the fact that states like Delaware and Nevada now compete with (offshore) tax havens when it comes to incorporating shell companies to hide cash. Shamefully, as ‘fallout’ from the banking crisis demonstrated, the scandal is that it’s perfectly legal for the rich in America to avail themselves of all kinds of schemes to avoid taxes, hide assets, and get richer.

    Mind you, law firms are still doing for non-American clients in these tax havens what Mossack Fonseca is accused of doing for its clients in Panama. Indeed, if Putin’s moneymen only laundered two of his forty billion in ill-gotten gains through Panama, chances are that they laundered similar amounts through other tax havens like Hong Kong; you know, spreading the wealth (and risk) around. Moreover, the BBC reports that tax havens hold up to $30 trillion in undisclosed accounts.

    Hence, it’s only a matter of time before leaks from the Luxembourg Papers, the Singapore Papers, the Turks and Caicos Papers, et al. become global headlines. …

    Until then, bear this in mind: During Leona Helmsley’s notorious trial for tax evasion in 1989, one of her employees testified to her abiding belief that, ‘Rich people don’t pay taxes. Only poor people pay taxes.’ Trust me, folks, this revealed the perversely entitled motto that far too many rich people still live by.


    This Helmsleyian aphorism bears highlighting. Because it explains why, despite such leaks and the embarrassment they cause, nothing will change. After all, the rich regard tax avoidance as an article of faith. And venal politicians abound who are willing to ensure laws exist that enable the rich to do so, the cheating of their respective treasuries, let alone taxpaying citizens, be damned.

    Which brings me to the Paradise Papers now making headlines. They too amount to little more than tabloid fodder. For they mostly reveal the self-evident truth that celebrities (like Bono and Lewis Hamilton) and corporations (like Apple and Facebook) are no different from crooks (like political despots and drug lords) who hide their money offshore.

    Granted, I relish the prospect of congressional/parliamentary committees and special prosecutors imputing guilt to politicians like President Trump and members of his Cabinet who have been caught doing the same. This stems from incriminating tidbits about his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross. He reportedly has billions tied up in undisclosed entanglements, which have him doing business with sanctioned Russian companies and oligarchs, including no less a person than Putin’s son-in-law.

    But, my title notwithstanding, I even couldn’t care less that these papers outed Queen Elizabeth II as a tax dodger. After all, what’s the point of being the queen of tax havens like Bermuda and Cayman Islands if “one” can’t reap the same, wholly legal tax-dodging benefits one’s lowly lords (like the infamous Michael Ashcroft) do.

    Not to mention that Her Majesty deigned to begin paying taxes in 1992 only to quell restive resentment among her subjects over the opulent lifestyle of some lesser royals. Which is why this sovereign is probably cursing her embarrassment with that common saying: no good deed goes unpunished.

    Frankly, the only thing I find newsworthy about this latest leak is that it appears Putin has more money invested in US companies than Trump.

    Behind one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors, Yuri Milner, was hundreds of millions of dollars in Kremlin funding. The documents show that Mr. Milner’s investment in Twitter relied on money from VTB, bank controlled by the Russian state. One of his most significant investors in Facebook relied on funding from Gazprom Investholding, another government-controlled institution.

    (New York Times, November 5, 2017)

    Then again, it’s hardly surprising that Putin’s portfolio is so deep and diverse given this:

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made waves this week when he briefly unseated Bill Gates as the wealthiest person in the world, according to Bloomberg’s tracker. The two US tech titans are jockeying for the lead at around $90 billion each. But according to Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder, they’re nothing compared to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose personal fortune Browder ‘believes’ to be $200 billion.

    (Fortune, July 29, 2017)

    Of course, no bank robber would deposit his loot in a bank he robbed. This explains why Putin has invested in American companies instead of Russian ones. Besides, thanks to his fleecing, he knows full well that the bottom line of Russia’s biggest companies is as fake as the news his trolls peddle through Facebook and other social media.

    Related commentaries:
    Panama Papers
    Special Russia prosecutor

  • Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 6:48 PM

    Oh Donna – Hillary’s ‘Slave Girl’ Singing Tales of Freedom

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I’m not Patsey the slave. Y’all keep whipping me and whipping me and you never give me any money or any way to do my damn job. I am not going to be your whipping girl!

    This is the dramatic way Donna Brazile claims she chastised Hillary’s campaign “hacks” for trying to feature her in their version of 12 [Months] a Slave.

    She details the frustrations and indignities of her sojourn in Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House. It will be published on Tuesday. But this quote, from a review in Saturday’s edition of the Washington Post, provides a telling insight:

    Former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile writes in a new book that she seriously contemplated replacing Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee with then-Vice President Biden in the aftermath of Clinton’s fainting spell, in part because Clinton’s campaign was ‘anemic’ and had taken on ‘the odor of failure.’

    In an explosive new memo Brazile details widespread dysfunction and dissension throughout the Democratic Party, including secret deliberations over using her powers as interim DNC chair to initiate the removal of Clinton and running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) from the ticket after Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2016, collapse in New York City. …

    Perhaps not since George Stephanopoulos wrote All Too Human, a 1999 memoir of his years working for former president Bill Clinton, has a political strategist penned such a blistering tell-all.

    No doubt everything Brazile details about the Democratic Party (DNC) is true. It bears noting, however, that this is the same DNC Barack Obama commandeered to win two presidential elections.

    This is why I am convinced that Brazile is just using the DNC as a foil for her disaffection and disillusionment with Hillary Clinton. Interestingly enough, the Post alludes to this with its analogy to Stephanopoulos’s dissatisfaction and disillusionment with Bill Clinton. Indeed, just as Brazile harbored mutinous thoughts about replacing Hillary with Biden, I suspect Stephanopoulos harbored the same about replacing Bill with Gore. But I digress …

    The point is that one can draw a straight line between the dysfunction and dissension that attended Bill’s beleaguered presidency of the 1990s and that which attended Hillary’s beleaguered campaign of 2016. And the precipitating cause all along was the imperious presumptions of the Clintons and their enabling courtiers, not the infuriating bureaucracy of DNC.

    Brazile betrays this fact by spending most of her memoir recounting – with as much righteous contempt as prosecutorial zeal – “Hillary Clinton’s secret takeover of the DNC.” Frankly, any reasonable reader would conclude that she was indicting Hillary for rigging the Democratic nomination process. This ranged from Hillary prevailing upon the DNC to schedule debates to maximize her advantage to treating staffers as little more than her personal aides. The latter led to the notorious scandal of Brazile herself feeding Hillary a question ahead of a CNN town hall debate.

    Yet Brazile insisted on today’s edition of ABC’s This Week – hosted by none other than George Stephanopoulos – that she found no evidence of rigging. This reminds me of that infamous news conference, which then FBI director James Comey held on July 5, 2016:

    He delineated all of the reasons Hillary should be indicted for using a personal e-mail server. Yet Comey insisted at the end that “no reasonable prosecutor” would indict her.

    Not to mention that Bernie Sanders spent most of the Primary Season accusing Hillary of rigging the nomination process, but to no avail. And, whether she intended it or not, Brazile’s memoir has Senator Elizabeth Warren, herself a wannabe president, leading a chorus of progressive Democrats now accusing Hillary of the same.

    In any event, I have written many commentaries damning Hillary (and Bill). They include “With Hillary, the Truth Depends on Catching Her in a Lie,” March 26, 2008, “Bill Clinton Loses Title as America’s First Black President,” May 13, 2008, “‘Hillary Is a Lesbian’?” February 19, 2016, “WTF: Bill Meets Privately with Attorney General Loretta Lynch,” July 1, 2016.

    But in “ABC’s Stephanopoulos Still Serving as Clintons’ Political Hack…?” May 17, 2015, I presaged Brazile’s lament and the Post’s allusion to Stephanopoulos.


    During the mid-1990s, I was one of many worker bees at the D.C. headquarters of the Clinton-Gore Re-Election ’96 campaign.

    We all buzzed around trying to seem relevant to the political ambitions of the most powerful man in the world. Yet even I saw enough of the compromises and sacrifices (of self and others) Bill and Hillary Clinton demanded of staffers to become irretrievably disaffected and disillusioned. …

    No writer evoked [this] disaffection and disillusionment … quite like George Stephanopoulos did (in confessional and redemptive tone) in his memoir All Too Human: A Political Education (1999). …

    But, trust me folks, for every George … who can tell horror stories about Bill, there is a … Mary who can tell similar stories about Hillary. …

    But nobody knows better than George their congenital sense of entitlement. This is why they see nothing wrong with spending more of the billions they solicit for their Clinton Global Initiative on personal expenses than charitable causes. It is also why they are now preparing for a coronation instead of an election in 2016. …

    I shall vote for anyone but Hillary in the Democratic primary. If she’s the nominee (and that’s no guarantee), I’ll hold my nose and vote for her. … Only a black fool, with too little regard for or knowledge of Black-American history, would buy into the canard about not voting being a form of enlightened political protest.


    It was an open secret that Bill and Hillary felt entitled to realize their 2-for-1 presidential ambitions.

    But, insofar as those ambitions are concerned, her loss to Donald Trump was the final nail in the coffin. Brazile’s memoir is just pouring dirt over it.

    Related commentaries:
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  • Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 8:54 AM

    America Attacked: Both Roosevelt and Bush Retaliated; but Trump Is Just Trying to Fake It

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The president and first lady Melania Trump participated in a wreath laying ceremony inside the USS Arizona Memorial in honor of the more than 2,400 Americans who died in the attack by Japan. In a somber moment, the two then tossed white flower petals onto the sunken USS Arizona, and stood back to view the underwater battleship as the petals drifted away.

    (ABC News, November 4, 2017)

    President Roosevelt reacted to that infamous attack by declaring the nation at war with Japan. #AmericanPresident!

    Of course, Bush famously did the same re whack-a-mole terrorists. #ChristianCrusader!

    Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal … said that ‘Russia is a dangerous adversary who attacked the United States. I’d argue to you that it was an act of war by an enemy…’

    (New Republic, July 17, 2017)

    President Trump is reacting to this infamous attack by declaring that “it’s fake news.” #RussianPuppet!

  • Friday, November 3, 2017 at 8:49 AM

    ‘Haley to UN General Assembly: US Does Not Fear Isolation’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Ambassador Nikki Haley blasted the United Nations Wednesday in a defiant speech to the 193-member General Assembly before it adopted a resolution calling for an end to the US economic embargo on Cuba. …

    ‘This assembly does not have the power to end the US embargo. … To those who are confused as to where the United States stands, let me be clear: the American people have spoken … they have chosen a new president, and he has chosen a new ambassador to the United Nations.’

    (Miami Herald, November 1, 2017)

    The title to this commentary is from a McClatchy report on the Trump administration’s regressive relations with Cuba. But it speaks volumes about the delusional arrogance that guides Trump’s approach to most international matters.

    For example, only the delusional arrogance inherent in claiming no fear of isolation explains his administration withdrawing the United States from the

    • Trans Pacific Partnership
    • Paris Climate Accord
    • Iran Nuclear Deal, and
    • UNESCO.

    Frankly, this administration is taking foolish pride in not just isolating the United States, but relegating it to the kind of pariah status usually reserved for countries like North Korea.

    You’d be forgiven for thinking that Trump wants to see international goodwill relegated to the dustbin of history – along with concepts like diversity, immigration, and political correctness. I have remarked on many occasions that he seems to think that hurling insults and insisting on having his way is the best way to win friends and influence people.

    For example, in “‘Leading from Behind’ – Trump Depending on China to Protect US from North Korea,” April 21, 2017, I ridiculed him for variously badgering and begging China to help with North Korea, and then tweeting temper tantrums over China’s refusal to do so.

    Actually, Chinese President Xi Jinping has made little effort to disguise his contempt for Trump – who is

    • as susceptible to idle flattery as a fifteen-year-old girl
    • as inclined to juvenile taunts as a ten-year-old boy, and
    • as prone to temper tantrums as a five-year-old child.

    Xi’s contempt was clear from their interaction when they met in Florida in April, and will probably be even more so when they meet in Beijing next week.

    Truth be told, Trump’s lying, boasting, and general buffoonery have become so notorious, most world leaders now treat him more like an international mascot than the reputed leader of the free world. I was already remarking on the laughingstock he had become in “Russia, China, North Korea Making Trump Look Like a Chump,” March 7, 2017. So when you hear Donald Trump boasting about rallying his fellow world leaders to confront North Korea or Iran, beware that it has about as much resonance as Harvey Weinstein boasting about rallying his fellow Hollywood producers to combat sexual harassment.

    (Have you noticed the defensive way Trump projects about others making the United States an international laughingstock? It would be laughable if it were not so serious.)

    Now his administration is effectively declaring that the UN is only relevant when it resolves to do America’s bidding. No doubt other member states harbor similar delusions. But at least they have enough common sense to pay lip service to the UN – even as they willfully defy its resolutions.

    More to the point, though, no nation has more vested interest in all nations respecting the authority and imprimatur of international organizations than the United States; not least because it is a founding member of practically all of them.

    What’s more, no nation relies more on international cooperation to further its national interests. The “coalition of the willing” former President George W. Bush built for “America’s invasion” of Iraq stands as a glaring example. But such cooperation is indispensable on a range of other matters. The wonder is that Trump has yet to figure this out.

    Indeed, it defies common sense for his administration be withdrawing, as delineated, when it needs international cooperation to

    • redress trade imbalances
    • combat ISIS
    • curb nuclear proliferation, and
    • Make America Great Again.

    Mind you, Haley’s bluster about US isolation is probably no more reasoned than Trump’s bluster about, well, everything.

    For example, on Tuesday, a terrorist mowed down eight people in New York City. On Wednesday, Trump blustered about shipping that terrorist to Guantánamo Bay (Gitmo). Yet on Thursday, he tweeted:

    Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system.

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017

    It’s important to appreciate the backdrop. After all, with the notable exception of Israel, most countries called on the United States to close Gitmo over a decade ago.

    Five independent United Nations human rights experts today called on the United States to immediately close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre following three suicides there, citing a report they issued three months ago alleging inhuman conditions amounting to torture and the ‘profound effect’ on detainees’ mental health.

    (UN News Centre, June 14, 2006)

    Of course, Trump would have you believe that he suddenly performed some statistical analysis, which showed that Gitmo serves as little more than a black eye on the face of the United States. Never mind that his predecessor, Barack Obama, spent the eight years of his presidency citing those very statistics, which he did to no avail in pleadings for the Republican-controlled Congress to close Gitmo.

    Incidentally, those same human rights experts marked the 14th anniversary of Gitmo (on January 11, 2016) with an Open Letter to the United States. In it, they warned that

    Impunity only generates more abuses.

    I fear the Trump Administration’s declaration of isolation presumes this kind of impunity. And it will not only generate more abuses at Gitmo but transform the United States from a force for good to one for ill on the world stage.

    Obama ended up using his executive authority to normalize relations, which included releasing many Gitmo prisoners and easing many restrictions on Americans traveling to and doing business in Cuba.

    This brings me back to the embargo. It is noteworthy that Israel is the only country to vote with the United States in opposing this latest UN resolution. Because, ever since its founding, Israel has acted on the world stage as if it can do anything, as long as it has the backing of the United States. Now it appears the US is acting as if it can too, as long as it has the backing of Israel.

    Meanwhile, both the United States and Israel seem oblivious that countries are queuing up to pay homage to China as the “indispensable nation” the United States used to be … until its stupid voters elected Trump as president. Never mind that jumping even from Trump’s America to Xi’s China is tantamount to the proverbial jumping from the frying pan into the fire, which I warned about in commentaries like “China Buying the Global Influence Russia and US Fighting For…,” October 19, 2016.

    To be fair, though, one can hardly blame other world leaders, most of whom are finely lubricated weathervanes, from bowing towards Xi.

    It’s bad enough that Trump forfeited his preeminent leadership by acting like a puppet on the string of Russia’s wannabe superpower(ful) Vladimir Putin. But Xi just emulated Putin by having the Communist Party Congress enshrine him as president for life.

    Whereas, far from serving two beleaguered and politically emasculated terms, Trump will be lucky if the US Congress does not impeach him before the end of his first.

    Related commentaries:
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  • Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 7:58 AM

    World Series: Houston Wins … as Much for City as for Team

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Houston, we have a winner!

    In the franchise’s 56th season, the Houston Astros are finally champions after closing out the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 5-1 win in Game 7 of what was a thrilling World Series from start to finish. …

    The Dodgers, who won a Major League-best 104 games this season, eventually got one run in the sixth inning on a run-scoring single from Andre Ethier off Morton, but otherwise they were almost comically incapable of capitalizing on base runners, stranding 10 over the course of the game.

    With the Astros finally winning a championship, there are seven teams left that have yet to win a World Series: The Tampa Bay Rays, the Seattle Mariners, the Texas Rangers, the Washington Nationals, the Milwaukee Brewers, the San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies.

    (New York Times, November 2, 2017)

    With all due respect to Los Angeles (and those other perennial losers), hurricane-ravaged Houston had a far greater need for this jolt of pride. Trust me, there’s no exaggerating the therapeutic power of sports.

    Congratulations, Houston!

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