Monday, May 23, 2016 at 7:18 AM
Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 7:33 AM
I would like nothing more than to see Bernie do to Hillary in 2016 what Barack did to her in 2008.
(“Bernie Sanders: The Democrats’ Ron Paul…?” The iPINIONS Journal, July 2, 2015)
In fact, I was feeling the Bern long before Millennials — who are now fueling Bernie Sanders’s campaign — even knew his name. But, like their misguided Arab Spring counterparts, these wannabe revolutionaries seem fully prepared to “cut off their nose to spite their face:”
At least some supporters of the Vermont senator insist they won’t vote for Clinton, no matter what. Many view the former secretary of state with her deep ties to the Democratic establishment as the polar opposite of Sanders and his rallying cry of political revolution. Throwing their weight behind her White House bid would feel like a betrayal of everything they believe.
(The Atlantic, May 5, 2016)
Hence their misguided rallying cry: Bernie or Bust!
I know, I know; Hillary’s supporters cried the same about voting for Obama in 2008. Except that, as my allusion to anti-Mubarak protesters indicates, I fear these overly coddled, self-entitled, anti-Clinton voters might actually follow through. Misguided spite could easily cause them to boycott the November election or, even worse, vote for Trump without giving any thought to the consequences.
Let’s not be stupid about this … kids.
Meanwhile, Bernie is manifesting cult-like ideations about his leadership that are giving me cause to pause.
I see nothing wrong with him staying in the race until the last vote is counted. But he’s now venting Trumpian nonsense about the Democratic system, which nominated Obama over Hillary, being rigged against him.
Not only is this not cool, it’s selfish, irresponsible, and even irrational….
Friday, May 20, 2016 at 7:06 AM
I have been venting exasperation with President Obama’s Bush-Lite war on terrorism almost from day one of his presidency – as such commentaries as “Obama Saluting War Dead Will Be Defining Image of His Presidency,” October 30, 2009, and “Demystifying ISIS: Case against Obama’s Bush-Lite War on Terrorism,” September 10, 2014, attest.
I have been particularly exasperated with his semantic games about the role U.S. troops have been playing. Here, in part, is what I wrote six months ago in “Why Isn’t Combat against ISIS Combat? Er, Because Obama Says So…?” November 6, 2015.
President Obama is channeling President Nixon with his justification for deploying Special Forces to help combat ISIS. Of course, Nixon justified deploying the FBI and other intelligence agencies to illegally wiretap, entrap, and otherwise undermine anti-Vietnam protesters as follows:
Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.
(“Nixon-Frost Interview,” New York Times, May 20, 1977)
Clearly, having abandoned similar efforts just weeks ago, deploying U.S. troops now to ‘train, advise, and assist’ local forces defies logic. Therefore, Obama’s explanation can only be a Nixonian pretext for their real mission to engage in the very ‘frontline’ combat he steadfastly denies.
More to the point, his doublespeak about the nature of U.S. involvement in the fight against ISIS is eerily similar to that which Nixon propagated about U.S. involvement in the fight against the Viet Cong. Watergate journalist Bob Woodward documents Nixon’s willful perfidy in this respect in his latest book, The Last of the President’s Men…
I’m no Woodward, but even I decried Obama’s Vietnamization of America’s involvement in the Middle East in such commentaries as ‘Obama Escalates Afghan War; the ‘Die’ Is Cast on His Presidency,’ December 2, 2009…
In fact, more U.S. troops died in Afghanistan after Obama promised to end that war than those who died during all of the feckless years Bush spent waging it…
I feel compelled to confess how much political pain these commentaries cause me. Not least because my ardent support for Obama’s presidency stems back to when other johnnies-come-lately supports were still joining Bill and Hillary Clinton in dismissing his candidacy as a ‘fairytale” – as my commentary “It’s Time: Run Obama, Run!” October 24, 2006, attests.
I am still a big fan. Obama has had a remarkably successful, transformative presidency in many respects – especially given the Republicans’ politically/racially motivated efforts, from day one, to ‘make him a failed president.’
All the same, my commentaries chronicle my profound disappointment in his conduct of foreign policy in the Middle East – from the Arab Spring to this creeping combat against ISIS.
Just as ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,’ combat by any other name would spell defeat. In fact, the other name for Obama’s new mission of ‘train, advise, and assist’ is mission creep … with all of the horrors of Vietnam that entails.
(“Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Barack Obama, Wins Landslide Victory,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 24, 2015)
Former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates tore into the White House on Thursday for its refusal to describe the ongoing U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Syria as a ‘combat mission…’
‘They are in combat,’ said the former defense secretary, who served under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Gates assailed ‘the semantic backflips to avoid using the term combat’ as ‘a disservice to those out there putting their lives on the line.’
(Politico, May 19, 2016)
I just wish Gates had the cojones to publicly condemn this “disservice” while he was still serving. After all, U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Syria clearly amounted to combat throughout his tenure.
If he had done so then, he would not be doing so now; and those soldiers who died in vain on combat missions (masquerading as training missions) would have died more honorably.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 9:43 AM
Frankly, I am stupefied that this country of my birth is holding a referendum on June 7 to decide whether men and women should enjoy the same constitutional rights – primarily with respect to citizenship.
Prime Minister Perry Christie presented the four amendments at issue during the launch of his “YES Bahamas Campaign – Equal Rights for Our Sons and Daughters” on April 10, 2016. Courtesy of The Bahamas Weekly, he presented them as follows:
- The First proposed Amendment would allow children born abroad to obtain Bahamian citizenship from either their Bahamian father or mother, in those circumstances where the other parent is not Bahamian…
- Amendment Two would enable a Bahamian woman who marries a non-Bahamian man to secure for him the same ability to apply for Bahamian citizenship – following the same steps, and subject to the same considerations – currently afforded to a Bahamian man married to a non-Bahamian woman…
- Amendment Three would correct that provision in our Constitution that currently discriminates against men. The change would mean that an unmarried Bahamian man could pass on his Bahamian citizenship to a child fathered with a non- Bahamian woman, if he is able to prove by DNA evidence that he is the father. This right currently belongs only to women…
- Amendment Four would update Article 26 of the Constitution, so that it would become unconstitutional for Parliament to pass any laws that discriminate based on sex.
The categorical imperative to vote “Yes” on each amendment should be self-evident to anyone living in a democratic country. Yet this referendum comes after almost fifteen years of political cunning, pandering, and dithering.
Meanwhile, it seems lost on virtually every commentator that constitutional rights are, by definition, rights all citizens are entitled to enjoy, equally. This is why the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan famously opined that no citizen should have her enjoyment thereof subject to a referendum: Holding one on the age of consent, the death penalty, or Caribbean integration? Yes. On equal rights? No.
I decried this subjugation in “Petty Politics (and Homophobia) Bedeviling Equal Rights for Women in The Bahamas,” August 14, 2014. It includes the following excerpt.
If the ruling PLP were serious about ushering in gender equality, it would have done so by an Act of Parliament (i.e., without pursing this fraught process of amending the Constitution)…
Mind you, the Constitution of The Bahamas does not expressly discriminate against women (e.g., the way the Constitution of the United States discriminated against blacks) such that constitutional amendments would be necessary to correct an ‘original sin.’ It just does not include ‘sex’ in the Article 26 at issue – along with ‘race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, or creed’ (as it does in Article 15) – as a personal attribute that should not give rise to any form of discrimination.
But any fair and just interpretation of Article 26 by a competent court would hold that sex/gender is plainly implied. For example, the U.S. Constitution does not include the term “same sex.” Yet the Supreme Court ruled that its provisions necessarily imply that same-sex marriage is as fundamental a right as traditional marriage…
[Meanwhile], religious leaders are hijacking the national debate, mostly by hurling ignorant fulminations about equal rights for women being dependent on what the meaning of ‘sex’ is… [They are] reading into the term ‘sex’ an expansion of the constitutional definition of discrimination based on ‘sexual orientation.’ Specifically, they fear the proposed update to Article 26 will provide homosexuals the same level of protection from discrimination heterosexuals already enjoy…
More to the point, in a country where religious leaders proselytize homophobia as an article of faith, this (mis)reading of the language in the tabled bills is spreading faster than the gospel at Pentecost. And whenever religion enters the house, reason hightails it out the back door.
Frankly, one could be forgiven for thinking that this referendum is more about marriage for gays than equal rights for women.
That said, the struggle for black civil rights in the United States should be instructive. Not least because, if black civil rights were subject to a national referendum, blacks would probably still be sitting in the back of the bus … and much worse.
Congressional legislation was instrumental – as legislation on everything from employment rights to voting rights attests. But Supreme Court rulings were even more so – as rulings on everything from school desegregation to public accommodations attest.
More to the point, Supreme Court rulings were also instrumental with respect to equal rights for women – as rulings on everything from rights of citizenship to employment benefits attest; and equally so with respect to gay rights – as rulings on everything from public accommodations to same-sex marriage attest. The constitutional principle that obtained in each case is that, inherent in the fundamental rights (white) men enjoy under the U.S. Constitution, is the right of women, blacks, gays, and every other law-abiding citizen to enjoy those same rights. But I digress.
The point is that, with respect to codifying the equal rights at issue, Parliament has devolved its prerogative to a plebiscite. But civic leaders in The Bahamas would do well to query why Court of Appeal rulings have not been more instrumental.
Dame Joan Sawyer is the former president of this highest court in the land. She incurred professional censure and public ridicule in equal measure for dismissing this referendum as “unnecessary” and a “waste of time.”
But I would like to think this was just her way of lamenting the ironic silence of the Court of Appeal in resolving these fundamental constitutional issues. This, notwithstanding the arrogant ignorance she displayed by declaring her intent to vote “No” while admitting that she hadn’t even bothered to read the proposed amendments.
Which brings me to the only thing that explains the government seeking political cover under a referendum: religious bigotry.
This referendum clearly provides political cover. But national leaders are having to bend over backwards to pander to this bigotry. They are trying to reassure an extremely religious nation that voting “Yes” will not “provide a legal back door for the authorisation of same-sex marriage in The Bahamas.”
Except that this reassurance is politically, morally, and legally specious; not least because, like the constitution of all democratic countries, ours is based on the democratic imperative of equal rights for all citizens. As such it provides a legal front door – not only for women to enjoy the same rights men do, but also for homosexuals to enjoy the same rights heterosexuals do, including the right to marry.
Incidentally, with enactment of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, the UK Parliament finally exercised its prerogative and codified the right of homosexuals in England and Wales to marry. It is instructive that the government did not subject their fundamental right to marry to a referendum.
No doubt if (like men and women in The Bahamas) men and women in the UK did not enjoy the same rights of citizenship, the government would have redressed that inequality with an Act of Parliament too.
Of course, national leaders in The Bahamas are pandering to religious bigots because homophobia carries even more cultural currency than male chauvinism in our island paradise. Indeed, it speaks volumes that retired Anglican Archbishop Gomez is chastising other church leaders for using the specter of same-sex marriage as a poison pill to deny equal rights for women:
Please note that, if you vote ‘No’, you will be telling the world that you are happy and content to be the recipient of certain constitutional rights while your Bahamian sister is denied these same rights under identical circumstances. Surely, your conscience should lead you to recognise that such a position is unfair and unjust.
(Tribune, May 13, 2016)
As it happens, I chastised Archbishop Gomez in similar fashion ten years ago with respect to the ordination of women and gays in the Anglican Church. I noted in ‘Internecine Battle for the Soul (and Property) of the Anglican Church,” December 18, 2006, that:
What is ironic and, frankly, disappointing is that Archbishop Peter Akinola and Archbishop Drexel Gomez are misleading African and Caribbean blacks, respectively, into using perverse religious and cultural rationalizations to discriminate against women and gays. After all, white bigots used similar rationalizations to discriminate against blacks not so long ago.
Alas, as the son of a preacher man, I know firsthand the scourge of religious bigotry. Time and again I have seen it mislead otherwise intelligent people (like Dame Joan Sawyer) to fear the immutable constitutional symmetry between civil rights, equal rights, and gay rights.
I decried this bigotry in “Gay Cruise Passengers: Welcome To You Too,” January 31, 2006, when it reared its ugly head with respect to gay and lesbian cruises making ports of call in The Bahamas. The commendable efforts of the then FNM government did little to quell the homophobic hysteria these cruises incited. I decried it again in “Banning Marital Rape in The Bahamas,” August 14, 2009, when it reared its ugly head with respect to proposed legislation criminalizing marital rape.
The way I summed up my lamentation in this latter commentary could serve as a lamentation for all Bahamians with respect to the religious bigotry fueling opposition to this pending referendum.
This proposed legislation has incited such widespread moral condemnation, one might think Bahamians are living in a Taliban paradise. Indeed, this condemnation exposes the fact that Christian fundamentalists, in many respects, are every bit as fanatical as Islamic fundamentalists… [O]pposition to this proposed ban on marital rape is being stirred up primarily by religious leaders…
Accordingly, I implore political leaders to ignore the blandishments of religious leaders who not only condone but actually champion marital rape — based on their reading of the Bible and their chauvinistic concept of traditional family values.
I rather suspect, though, that self-preservation would preclude these religious leaders from supporting legislation calling for all adulterers to be put to death – as the Bible also commands.
Hypocrisy, thy name is religion.
Still, my reservations and concerns thusly expressed, I urge my fellow Bahamians to vote “Yes”!
Monday, May 16, 2016 at 8:43 AM
Eager to convince and assured of its purpose, the advocacy documentary Under the Gun tackles America’s persistent gun violence crisis with – word choice intended – an arsenal of information about why even modest fixes have been slow in coming…
There’s a villain, of course: the National Rifle Association post-1977, when it shifted from being an apolitical gun safety group to a lobbying behemoth in the business of goosing gun sales through fear, and scaring reelection-obsessed politicians into ‘no’ votes on any control measures…
[Director Stephanie Soechtig and producer/narrator Katie Couric are] careful not to tar the rank-and-file membership, especially when it’s easy to make NRA head Wayne LaPierre look like a nonsense-spewing nut job with just a few sound bites, and you can show average members genuinely surprised to learn that someone on the terror watch list has the right to buy a gun.
(Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2016)
Under the Gun is only the latest in a spree of films released this year about the epidemic of gun violence in America. Unfortunately, not only are Americans immune to the gun-control message these films proselytize; they are even inured to the increasing menace of gun violence in their midst.
Arguably, Bowling for Columbine (2002) is to films about gun violence what To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is to books about racial injustice. But, despite their popularity, the latter did little to redress racial injustice; the former did even less to redress gun violence.
This might explain why Under the Gun focuses more on the profiteers than the perpetrators. As the Los Angeles Times indicates, this film dramatizes how “shocked, shocked” average members are to learn that the NRA spins any gun-control measure, no matter how salutary, into a Trojan Horse aimed at confiscating their guns.
The NRA has venal politicians arguing that it is more important to grant citizens the right to own guns that can shoot a plane out of the sky than it is to grant them the right to affordable healthcare.
(“2011 State of the Union Address,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 26, 2011)
Soechtig and Couric clearly hope that the more average members know about the NRA’s mercenary machinations, the less likely they will be to support it; moreover, that the less average members support the NRA, the more likely politicians will be to enact gun-control legislation.
I’m not so sure; after all, politicians have demonstrated time and again their willingness to defy prevailing public opinion (e.g. on measures like background checks) to toe the NRA’s propaganda line. For them, campaign donations trump common sense.
As it happens, I preempted this film’s attempt to appeal to the common sense of “rank-and-file” NRA members in numerous commentaries, including as follows:
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has perpetrated a brazen and unconscionable fraud on the American people by pretending to be arch defenders of their right to keep and bear arms. Because the NRA is just the lobbying arm of gun manufacturers, and its sole mission is to ensure that those manufactures have the right to sell as many guns of every type to as many people as possible. Period!
(“The Second Amendment and Gun Control,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 19, 2012)
As my reference to Bowling for Columbine indicates, however, it beggars belief to think this film will be able to do what numerous exposés on 60 Minutes, the most-watched news program in the history of television, have been unable to.
Yet still we try to transform the consciousness of NRA members; hoping, perhaps against hope, to make owning a gun even more culturally anathema than smoking a cigarette. Never mind that NRA members seem as immune to common-sense gun control as Trump supporters are to common-sense immigration reform.
Indignant ignorance animates both groups: It explains why NRA members believe the best way to protect themselves against gun violence is to fortify their homes with enough munitions to make U.S. military outposts in Iraq seem unfortified. It also explains why Trump supporters believe the best way to protect America against terrorist attacks is to ban all Muslims, deport all illegal immigrants, and build a wall along the Southern border.
In any event, it’s hardly surprising that:
America has more gun stores than it does McDonald’s and Starbucks combined.
(Huffington Post, May 15, 2016)
Frankly, Americans are more likely to kick their addition to fast food and caffeine before they kick their addiction to guns.
More to the point, I would be genuinely surprised if any rank-and-file NRA member even bothers to watch Under the Gun. In addition to those cited above, my commentaries include “NRA Cares No More about Gun Violence than Drug Cartels Do,” June 17, 2014, and “This Gun-Control Debate Is Insane,” April 5, 2013. And I know firsthand that getting NRA members to support gun control is like getting alcoholics to support prohibition.
Alas, on this issue, we are often preaching to the choir….
Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 7:47 AM
Friday, May 13, 2016 at 7:54 AM
Reports are that computer geeks began doing “so” in the 1990s. Which conjures up the spectacle of first dates between geeks from Silicon Valley and valley girls from the San Fernando Valley. Not exactly the stuff of California dreaming….
But I find both words … like so annoying. Don’t you?
We generally heap condescending scorn on the airheads who litter every sentence with “like.” Perhaps we should reserve a little of that scorn for the smart alecks who begin every sentence with “So.” No?
NOTE: I published this commentary originally on January 25, 2013. I shall republish it from time to time – until using “so” becomes as gauche as “like.”
Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 8:17 AM
One of the constants of modern elections is that presidential candidates have released their recent tax returns…
But Donald Trump has told the Associated Press that he does not expect to release his tax returns before the election…
If he’s Honest Donald, he’ll release his tax returns to make sure that voters know that he’s neither dodgy nor [dishonest] … only [Dishonest] Donald — the worst possible Trump — has no incentive to disclose.
(New York Times, May 11, 2016)
No stranger to questions about his taxes and wealth, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday criticized Donald Trump’s decision to withhold his tax returns from the public, calling the move ‘disqualifying’ and speculating that Trump is hiding ‘a bombshell.’
‘Tax returns provide the public with its sole confirmation of the veracity of a candidate’s representations regarding charities, priorities, wealth, tax conformance, and conflicts of interest. Further, while not a likely circumstance, the potential for hidden inappropriate associations with foreign entities, criminal organizations, or other unsavory groups is simply too great a risk to ignore for someone who is seeking to become commander-in-chief.’
(Huffington Post, May 11, 2016)
Trump has fueled his campaign with nothing but blather, bluster, and bravado about how his acquisition of “huge” wealth makes him uniquely qualified to be president. To honor what little integrity remains in their profession, journalists should force Trump to prove it.
After all, by his own measure, his refusal to release his tax returns is rather like a doctor refusing to present his medical qualifications. Which, of course, is why doctors plaster office walls with framed copies of all manner of licenses and degrees.
Trust me, if his tax returns showed that he is as wealthy and charitable as he claims, Trump would be distributing them like campaign flyers. But it speaks volumes that Dishonest Donald is failing the test for honesty, which Richard “I-am-not-a-crook” Nixon set by releasing his tax returns. And it’s noteworthy that Nixon did so even while the IRS was auditing him
Meanwhile, this is the same Trump who never refuses to dispel rumors about the size of his penis being much smaller than he boasts; so much so that he used the platform of a recent presidential debate to prove it — at least to his satisfaction. Specifically, he invited the audience to look at the size of his hands, which he raised for inspection. Never mind that his stubby fingers actually indicate that Illma Gore’s rendering of a peanut for his penis, on display at Maddox Gallery in London, is anatomically correct….
But this is also the same Trump who made his name in politics by making racist and condescending demands for President Obama to release his birth certificate and college transcripts. Not to mention leading the calls four years ago that forced Romney to release his tax returns.
Frankly, Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns reeks of so much hypocrisy, it must fail the smell test even of gullible Republicans who already have their noses way up his bloviating ass.
With that, I say, hackers of the world, unite!
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 6:24 AM
The inaugural Invictus Games in London 2014 used the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women…
The Invictus Games Orlando 2016 for our Wounded Warriors will feature 10 competitive events including archery, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.
[They] will take place in Orlando, 8th-12th May 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
More than any other mortals, wounded warriors have the unconquerable souls William Ernest Henley salutes in his celebrated poem, “Invictus.”
But I pray to whatever gods may be for our damnable souls. Because ratings show that we’d rather watch the contrived antics of reality-TV stars than the heroic feats of Invictus athletes.
In fact, interviews with Prince Harry are probably all you’ve seen of the games this week. And, catering to prevailing preferences for celebrity over valor, interviewers duly asked more questions about his royal family than the Invictus athletes.
As it happens, I’ve written many commentaries denouncing royalty and all its appurtenances. But I have no qualms about commending Harry for founding these games and using his celebrity to promote them.
Yet, what price glory? After all, to qualify, warriors had to sustain disabling wounds fighting for the ill-fated cause of turning Iraq and Afghanistan into Jeffersonian democracies.
To elaborate would be tantamount to rubbing salt into their wounds. But it’s noteworthy that former President George W. Bush, the honorary chair of these Invictus Games, seems unable to talk about wounded warriors without tearing up. One can only assume those are tears of irredeemable guilt.
That said, the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. Department of Defense, and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs coordinate year-round clinics and camps across the country. There, wounded warriors engage in parasport for psychological rehabilitation to face life challenges, as well as athletic training to participate in competitions like the Invictus Games and Paralympics.
I’m ashamed to admit that the only time I became interested in anything related to the Paralympics was when the poster boy for these games, Oscar Pistorius, suffered a surprising upset in the men’s 200m. And this was only because Pistorius received so much media attention during the Olympics for being the first double amputee to participate.
(“In Defense of NBC’s Olympics and Paralympics Coverage,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 14, 2012)
Therefore, here’s to you giving up a little of your trash TV to watch what remains of these games and the forthcoming games in Rio. It might take some channel surfing to find them. But, trust me, it’ll be good for your soul.
Monday, May 9, 2016 at 7:53 AM
These days, even the most shocking scandal trends and memes for an hour on social media, and then fades from public consciousness. Therefore, the Penn State child sex abuse scandal might seem like ancient history.
As it happens, I wrote a number of commentaries decrying the abuse and cover-up involved – beginning with “Penn State’s Catholic-Church Problem,” November 10, 2011, and ending with “Judgment Day for Pedophile Enablers at Penn State, August 2, 2013.
Here is an excerpt from the former, which should prick your memory … as well as your conscience.
Sandusky … used a group home he founded for troubled boys as a plucking ground for his pedophile pleasure…
All of the top officials associated with the team/university, most notably 84-year-old Head Coach Joe Paterno, allegedly knew about this abuse almost from the outset, but decided not to report it to the police… [A]ll of them were clearly involved in a conspiracy to cover-up the ongoing sexual abuse of little boys…
[I]nstead of wasting what little moral outrage I can still muster on child sex abusers, I just react by wishing them a fair trial, followed by a lifetime in prison having ‘big’ men do to them what they did to little children. And Sandusky will surely get his…
But let me hasten to add that I believe the same fate should befall all of those who knew about this abuse and failed to report it. That clearly includes Sandusky’s three conspiring stooges Paterno, Curly, and Shultz. But just as I suspect there are more victims, I suspect there are other professed good men (and they are almost always … men) who knew about this abuse and did nothing. Their motivation of course was to protect the big-money enterprise Penn State football has become.
I know many will consider it punishment enough that Paterno is resigning in disgrace. The outpouring of support among misguided students – for whom Football is a religion and Paterno a demigod – is testament to this fact…
[But] nobody in his right mind would argue that decades of pastoring are sufficient mitigation to grant leniency to bishops who stood by and allowed pedophile priests to serially rape little boys. Therefore, nobody should argue that decades of coaching are sufficient mitigation to grant leniency to coaches who stood by and allowed pedophile assistants to do the same.
Accordingly, not only should the university force him to resign immediately, but prosecutors should have him arrested to boot.
I was hardly surprised when Penn State supporters began trolling me for damning Joe Paterno. And they only became more menacing after I commented on his death as follows:
If ever there were a case where a lifetime of good could (indeed should) be fatally undermined by one act, this is it.
Ironically, I suspect Paterno wished he were dead when the details of this child-sex abuse became public last November. After all, it exposed him as showing more concern about protecting his football program from scandal than protecting little boys from the pedophile clutches of his assistant coach. Well, he was finally put out of his misery yesterday when he died of lung cancer. He was 85.
No doubt many people will shed tears for Paterno, and do all they can to salvage his reputation and legacy. But I prefer to save my tears for those little boys, and will do all I can to remind people of how he betrayed them so unconscionably.
(“Joe Paterno, Penn State’s Pedophile-Enabling Coach, Is Dead,” January 23, 2012)
Penn State’s football team is getting back 112 wins wiped out during the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, and the late Joe Paterno has been restored as the winningest coach in major college football history…
The announcement follows the NCAA’s decision last year to reinstate the school’s full complement of football scholarships and let Penn State participate in postseason play…
In a statement, Paterno’s family called the announcement of a settlement ‘a great victory for everyone who has fought for the truth in the Sandusky tragedy.’
(ESPN, January 16, 2015)
In effect, Paterno’s avenging trolls bullied the NCAA into absolving him of any complicity in the scandal. What’s more, they seemed as determined to return Paterno’s statue to its prominent place on campus, as they were to remove Sandusky’s name from any mention in the annals of Penn State football.
Then came this:
A court order related to the millions of dollars owed to the victims of Jerry Sandusky says that Penn State coaches, including Joe Paterno, may have known of child abuse allegations against Sandusky as far back as 1976.
According to PennLive.com, a line in a court order claims one of Penn State’s insurers said a child ‘allegedly reported’ to Joe Paterno in 1976 he was ‘sexually molested by Sandusky.’ Sandusky, who is currently serving 30-60 years after being found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse, was a defensive assistant under Paterno from 1969-1999, when he retired.
(Yahoo! News, May 5, 2016)
In other words, there’s now credible and compelling evidence that Paterno was every bit as complicit in Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children as I decried. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if documents reveal someday that Paterno himself was a bird-of-a-feather pedophile.
For now, though, the NCAA and Penn State are terminally vested in vindicating their whitewashing of Paterno’s legacy; so much so that, for them, this documentary evidence blasphemes rather than indicts his good name.
Meanwhile, one high-profile booster spoke for many Penn State supporters when he admitted to me that this new evidence left them with egg on their faces.
Alas, such admissions might be all Sandusky’s victims can hope for. This, notwithstanding the nearly $95 million Penn State paid to settle all sex abuse cases, which seems insulting given the $140 million Gawker is paying for publishing a Hulk Hogan sex tape.
On the other hand, what this booster admitted is vindication enough for me.
NOTE: Reports are that, in late 2014, Penn State’s post-Paterno president, Rodney Erickson, had the JoePa statue ‘removed from storage and melted down in order to make the bronze letters affixed to the Food Science building that now bears his [Erickson’s] name.’
Penn State’s … problem
Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 8:24 AM
Sadiq Khan made history as London’s first Muslim mayor tonight…
Mr. Khan, a former Labour cabinet minister, became Britain’s most powerful Muslim politician when he defeated the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith by a landslide…
The Conservatives’ tactic of accusing Mr. Khan of ‘legitimising’ extremist views failed to win over voters in the capital, and was described as a ‘vile smear’ by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
(London Telegraph, May 6, 2016)
This is not quite as historic and transformative as America electing its first black president; but it is both of those things all the same. In fact, Khan is the first Muslim to be elected mayor of any major city in Western Europe, making him the most powerful Muslim politician in the EU.
I hasten to clarify that, but for Obama’s liberal/progressive politics, I would not have celebrated his election in 2008 with such enthusiasm and hope. And, but for Khan’s kindred politics, I would not be celebrating his election today in similar spirits. Indeed, it is noteworthy that he proudly channeled Obama when he hailed his election as a triumph of hope over fear and unity over division.
Yet there’s no denying the symbolism and significance of Khan’s election; not least because it defies the impression that London is becoming Islamophobic. Of course, this impression stems from the Conservative UK government doing so little to assimilate a fair share of the Muslim migrants who are fleeing to Europe, in unending droves, from civil strife in places like Syria, Iraq, Somalia, and Libya.
On the other hand, here’s a little sense of the racist pandering that doomed Goldsmith: He attended the Asian Awards in London last month. And, eager to counter the narrative of racism that was dogging his mayoral campaign, he began blathering to the press about how much he loves everything Bollywood.
He seemed to be begging for follow up questions. Which is why it was as incomprehensible as it was damning that, when a reporter asked him to name his favorite Bollywood film or actor, he squirmed (as his face turned progressively red) before conceding that he could not … on either count.
I’ve seen the clip and, trust me folks, it’s cringeworthy. Even more so, in fact, than Donald Trump trying to counter the narrative of racism that is dogging his presidential campaign. Perhaps you’ve seen the picture he tweeted, on Cinco de Mayo, of him pretending to dig into some “Amerixican“dish called a taco bowl with the caption “I love Hispanics.” Despite an unprecedented record of campaign buffoonery, he still never ceases to make a spectacle of himself.
That said, Goldsmith’s sister, Jemima, deserves honorable mention for publicly criticizing him for trying to win by appealing to white xenophobes and outright racists. And, far from the customary dog-whistle, he and his Conservative cohorts used alarmist rhetoric to smear Khan. This is why I suspect her criticism was as influential as it was courageous. If only Trump’s sister(s) were so inclined….
But I am particularly heartened that, although Jemima targeted her brother, outgoing Mayor Boris Johnson probably suffered collateral damage. He, of course, is the Trump-lite buffoon who is campaigning to be the next prime minister.
More to the point, though, he acted like a Svengali who strutted his stuff throughout this mayoral campaign as if he could bequeath the office to his muse, Goldsmith. So here’s to Trump’s resounding defeat in November prefiguring Johnson’s in 2020.
Hail, Jeremy Corbyn…
Friday, May 6, 2016 at 8:20 AM
In the mid-1980s, Miles Davis, U2, and Run-D.M.C. headlined a long list of entertainers who boycotted South Africa. They did so because they knew performing there would be tantamount to endorsing the Apartheid government’s discrimination against blacks.
Laws in North Carolina and Mississippi that restrict the rights of transgender Americans are hateful and should be repealed, Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said Monday…
The North Carolina law requires transgender people to use bathrooms in state government buildings and public schools and universities that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates. It also established statewide anti-discrimination protections that exclude LGBT people, and it bans communities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances that go further.
(Associated Press, May 2, 2016)
Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and Sharon Stone headline a growing list of entertainers who are boycotting North Carolina. They are doing so because they know performing there would be tantamount to endorsing this anti-LGBT law. Incidentally, this stands in refreshing contrast to far too many celebrities – whose idea of political activism these days is publishing vacuous tweets and self-promoting selfies on social media.
The point is that ending discrimination against LGBTs is the civil rights struggle of our time. And, in a dismaying bit of symmetry, yet another Southern governor, North Carolina’s Pat McCrory, is attempting to enforce discrimination against LGBTs today, the way Alabama’s George Wallace attempted to enforce discrimination against blacks in the 1960s.
Indeed, nothing betrays this law’s intent quite like its dark little secret:
Tucked inside is language that strips North Carolina workers of the ability to sue under a state anti-discrimination law, a right that has been upheld in court since 1985. ‘If you were fired because of your race, fired because of your gender, fired because of your religion,’ said Allan Freyer, head of the Workers’ Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center in Raleigh, ‘you no longer have a basic remedy.’
(Mother Jones, April 5, 2016)
In other words, in a misguided attempt to insulate itself from claims of discrimination against LGBTs, the state has legalized discrimination against all constitutionally “protected classes.”
Regrettably, the categorical imperative upon blacks to oppose this law seems lost on Beyoncé:
Thousands of fans braved severe weather and traffic delays to see Beyoncé perform in Raleigh, North Carolina, Tuesday night…
The concert, one of the most highly-anticipated of the summer, takes the stage in a political atmosphere that other artists have chosen to boycott.
(WRAL, May 4, 2016)
I hasten to clarify that I would be a little sympathetic if, before breaking this boycott, Beyoncé had followed Cyndi Lauper’s lead and issued a statement like this:
I will be donating all of the profits from the show to Equality North Carolina’s efforts to repeal HB2 and I am proud of my manager and agent for joining me in this effort by donating their commissions from the show to this vital effort.
(Entertainment Weekly, April 17, 2016)
Unfortunately, Beyoncé waited until the morning after to issue her self-serving statement on “Equality NC Works To Prove ‘Y’all Means All” — complete with her signature: #BeyGood.
After all, Lemonade is all about Beyoncé playing her fans for suckers; you know, the way Donald Trump plays his supporters. Therefore, if you believe her I-am-woman-hear-me-roar-against-my-cheating-husband schtick, then you probably believe his “Make-America-Great-Again” schtick too.
Frankly, even the Kardashians can’t keep up with the way Bey and Jay exploit the intimacies of family life, including infidelities. Which is why it’s hardly surprising that he’s planning to mix his “Iced Tea” with her Lemonade.
If you interpreted Beyoncé’s Lemonade to be the conclusive mic drop on speculation about her marriage to Jay Z, you may have been wrong. A new report states that Bey’s husband of eight years is planning on responding to his wife’s many lyrical accusations — that he cheated on her, took her for granted, and did not treat her like the queen she is — with his own album telling ‘his side of things.’
(Vanity Fair, May 4, 2016)
Sadly, Bey and Jay have just cause to believe millions of suckers will pay to see them act like Ike and Tina Turner – complete with Jay playing an alpha dog who can shag as many “Beckys” as he wants to.
With all due respect to Michelle Obama, however, Bey is misleading young women to think that venting psychotic violence is the way to deal with infidelity. She reinforces this in the epic video for her album by burning houses, smashing up cars, and even hinting at skinning his mistress(es) alive. Then, after her “waiting-to-exhale” rage, she reforms, forgives him, and takes him back.
Far from paying tribute to love and reconciliation, Lemonade serves up little more than sour-tasting male chauvinism. Only this explains Bey portraying a subjugated wife who, despite her purported intelligence, independence, and resourcefulness, feels she has no choice but to reconcile with a husband who disrespects and abuses her. Even worse, her idea of redemption has her musing, like a victim of Stockholm syndrome, that “my torturer became my remedy.” That is, of course, until the next cycle of disrespect and abuse….
Meanwhile, Bey and Jay are laughing all the way to the bank. This is why their marriage seems more like a business partnership than a love relationship. And, just as it is with Bill and Hillary’s political partnership, that’s fine. Just let us be sensible enough to recognize it for what it is … and call this spade a spade.
That said, her more enlightened fans could be forgiven for feeling disappointed in Beyoncé for performing in North Carolina. But she clearly doesn’t give a damn. In fact, her attempt to show solidarity with LGBTs by posting that statement on social media is as condescending as it is contrived: #ShameOnYouBey.
But where’s the outrage?!
Mind you, I used to be a big fan – as this excerpt from “The Grammys (or the Mr. and Mrs. Carter Show?),” January 27, 2014, makes wistfully clear.
I’m a huge Beyoncé fan. But I agree with Jennifer Hudson (who co-starred with Bey in the hit movie Dream Girls) that she cheapened herself and her talent with shamelessly vulgar lyrics and videos for her new, self-titled album.
For some incomprehensible reason, the serene Bey is trying (way too hard) to be to I’m-sexy-and-I-know-it thirty-somethings what twerking Miley is to don’t-know-much-about-sex Gen-Xers, and what cradle-robbing Madonna is to desperately-seeking-sex AARPers. Got that?
But we can really do without Bey acting out on stage what she does in her bedroom, making mockery of Michelle Obama hailing her as role model little girls can look up to…
I missed Adele.
In any event, here’s to other, more conscientious and less greedy artists continuing to sing, “I, I, I … ain’t gonna play [North Carolina]” – until it repeals this infamous law.
Mr and Mrs Carter…
Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 5:47 AM
[NOTE: I am publishing this commemoration today (on cuatro de Mayo) because professional commitments make it impossible for me to do so tomorrow. And, yes, part of me wanted to publish it, come what may, as a middle finger to Donald Trump.]
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that purportedly celebrates the victory of a ragtag band of 4,000 Mexicans fighters over 8,000 French soldiers on May 5, 1862.
But this historic feat seems lost on most people of Mexican heritage in the United States who mark the occasion by celebrating their culture — much in the drunken and carousing way people of Irish heritage celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Cinco de Mayo tops St. Patrick’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday with U.S. beer drinkers….
(Washington Times, May 4, 2015)
Alas, in recent years, the debate on illegal immigration (complete with street protests) has overshadowed all that Mexican-Americans have to celebrate. Not least because, thanks to the demagoguing Donald Trump, it conjures up images of swarms of poor, menacing Mexicans crossing the border.
Never mind that, according to a report in the Washington Post on April 23, 2012, more Mexicans are leaving the United States voluntarily than entering illegally for the first time since the Great Depression.
So instead of continuing their indignant protests in support of their illegal brothers and sisters, perhaps my Mexican-American friends will now channel more of that energy towards celebrating their culture. And there’s no better way to do that than to use this holiday to remind Anglos of the things they all love about Mexico: tequila, Acapulco, tequila, Chichen Itza, tequila, los mariachis, tequila, Diego Rivera, tequila, Cancun, tequila, fajitas, and much more….
Monday, May 2, 2016 at 7:45 AM
These days, news anchormen serve as little more than hosts of reality TV shows masquerading as news programs.
Their programming mantra – “if it bleeds, it leads” – used to reflect reporting on an increasingly violent society. Now it reflects reporting on anything that outrages, scares, or titillates – just to generate ratings. Which, of course, is the same mantra that explains outrageous movies like Borat, horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or erotic movies like Fifty Shades of Grey.
I was in the vanguard of those decrying this tabloidization of the news. Not because it exploits primal fears and desires; but because it betrays the news media’s role as a public trust. After all, the freedom of the press enshrined in the Constitution imposes a commensurate responsibility to serve as a source for news and information, not fun and entertainment.
Here is how I decried this betrayal a few years ago:
Don’t get me started on the way journalists now troll social media for news, and report on every tragedy as if it were the friggin’ Super Bowl. For journalism has become such a pathetic enterprise – so utterly bereft of principles like journalistic truth, professional independence, and duty to inform – that journalists think nothing of reporting what they think the public wants to consume as news, instead of informing the public about what is newsworthy.
Some purported news organizations even generate sensational (‘viral’) headlines and then have creative writers produce stories to match those headlines. Sadly, journalists are becoming just like investment bankers who think nothing of packaging a junk bond as a triple-A stock and selling it for a quick buck.
(“Nixonian Obama Right to Spy on Associated Press,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 13, 2013)
Which brings me to the news media’s mercenary coverage of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Remarkably, they report every thing he says as “Breaking News”, especially the Tourrete-like insults he hurls at other candidates. In fact, you’d have to have been living on Mars over the past year to be unfamiliar with his boorish punch lines.
As it happens, President Obama commented on this at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday. In a mocking tone, which did little to mask his abiding contempt, he chastised their obsessive coverage and summarized their abandonment of all journalistic principles with this dig at the host of CNN’s State of the Union:
Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN.
(C-SPAN, April 30, 2016)
Equally noteworthy, though, is the way Campbell Brown, former anchor for NBC and CNN, commented a day earlier. In “Why I Blame TV for Trump,” for the May/June edition of Politico, she lamented how “hunger for ratings” has induced journalists to abandon all hope of practicing real journalism.
It is driven by a hunger for ratings — and the people who run the networks and the news channels are only too happy to make that Faustian bargain [i.e., giving Trump editorial control over their news programs in exchange for access to him]. Which is why you’ll see endless variations of this banner, once I saw all three cable networks put up in a single day: ‘Breaking News: Trump speaks for first time since Wisconsin loss.’
Brown’s prevailing lament is that the news media have become so focused on chasing profits that chasing news has become a distraction. Only this explains the networks and cable news channels deserting coverage of Obama’s historic trip to Cuba to cover Trump’s umpteenth campaign rally. This, even though they knew full well that his rally would amount to little more than Trump blurting out the same political slogans and personal insults he has on every other occasion.
Brown’s most poignant lament, however, is that media bosses will honor this Faustian bargain. This, even though they know full well that a Trump presidency “could destroy the country.” CBS President and CEO Les Moonves summed up this mercenary coverage in Barnumesque fashion as follows:
It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS…
Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now?… The money’s rolling in and this is fun.
(The Hollywood Reporter, February 29, 2016)
His corporate glee stands in dismaying contrast to GM CEO Charles Wilson’s patriotic vow (in 1953) that what was good for America was good for General Motors and vice versa. It also indicates how much the fourth estate has lost its way. Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite must be rolling over in their graves. For even putatively serious journalists now seem mandated to inflame passions rather than to inform minds. Which is why I had just cause to preempt Brown’s lament years ago with commentaries like “Journalism Is Having a Very, Very, Pathetic Moment,” November 13, 2013.
Of course, the mandate to hump trump has not plunged all news anchormen into a state of despair. For, ironically, none other than Megyn Kelly of FOX News seems perfectly happy to ape Trump by playing a reality TV host – in what Trump himself has turned into a presidential version of The Apprentice.
Perhaps you recall the way she questioned him during the first GOP presidential debate last August; particularly how she put him on the defensive for using vile and misogynistic epithets when talking about women. In all too predictable fashion, Trump reacted by hurling vile and misogynistic epithets at Kelly, notably insinuating that she questioned him so aggressively because she was having her period.
But the unassailable way she challenged Trump’s misogyny made her both a feminist and journalist heroine; not least because she had the good sense to resist his taunts to respond in kind. This is why it’s all the more lamentable that she has now made a mockery of all that:
Donald Trump and the FOX News host Megyn Kelly met at Trump Tower on Wednesday morning…
Trump’s intense dislike of Kelly – whom he has called unfair, overrated and even ‘crazy’ – has been one of the subplots of his run for president…
‘Mr. Trump and I discussed the possibility of an interview, and I hope we will have news to announce on that soon.’
(CNN, April 23, 2016)
FOX is promoting her Barbara Walters-style special as an “exclusive.” It’s scheduled to air on May 17. Never mind that a network promoting an exclusive interview with Trump is like a “John” hyping an exclusive rendezvous with a prostitute.
But there’s no denying that Trump is a TV cash cow. And, like nearly everyone in the news “business,” Kelly wants to milk him for all he’s worth … her journalistic integrity and reputation be damned.
He makes quite a show of attributing his popularity among Republican voters to his willingness to act like a boastful, bumptious, bullying buffoon. Never mind that he appears congenitally unable to “act presidential.”
But ratings indicate that even Americans who hate Trump can’t resist watching his reality TV show masquerading as a presidential campaign; hence the TV phenomenon.
To be fair, though, the Republicans were already a party of far too many suckers long before Trump declared his presidential campaign. These, after all, are the same suckers who bought every thing from claims about Obama being a Muslim to pledges to repeal Obamacare – hook, line, and sinker.
Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that Trump, the undisputed P.T. Barnum of our times, is having no trouble getting them to buy his snake oil to “Make America Great Again.” This, notwithstanding a litany of caveat emptors, including his absurd fulminations about getting Mexico to pay for a wall to keep Mexicans out and banning all Muslims to keep terrorists out.
They are like people who gorge themselves for years on nothing but fast food, and then wonder — with anger, frustration, and self-righteous indignation — why they ended up morbidly obese. To continue poking them, however, would be tantamount to harpooning beached whales; especially given such commentaries as “Trump for President? Don’t Be a Sucker!” April 8, 2011, “On Syrian (and Every Other Issue) the American People Are Insolent, Ignorant Idiots,” September 10, 2013, and “Evangelicals Supporting Donald Trump like Israelites Worshipping Golden Calf,” January 20, 2016.
But I must confess that, despite my well-documented and well-founded cynicism, even I did not think there were enough suckers in the Republican Party to elect Trump its presidential nominee. I was wrong.
Hell, Trump was probably right when he boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, in broad daylight, and still get enough votes to win this nomination. Which actually vindicates my point about his popularity saying far more about the gullibility of his supporters than the credibility of his candidacy.
Not to mention the alarming number of people who, it seems, just want to be entertained — even in politics; and, the more gauche and scandalous the better. Hence the popularity of reality TV, the tabloidization of the news, and the rise of Trump — the impact on cultural development, or even the welfare of the country, be damned.
Still, thusly chastened, I can only hope there are not enough suckers in the general electorate to elect Trump the next president of the United States. I remain convinced that, for a silent majority, his schtick jumped the shark years ago with his “birther” nonsense.
Accordingly, I am banking on Democrats and Independents — who elected and re-elected Barack Hussein Obama — to prove me right. More importantly, I am challenging prominent Republicans like Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, and members of the #NeverTrump movement—who have publicly damned Trump as dangerous and utterly unfit to be president — to make a public show of endorsing Hillary, the presumptive Democratic nominee. For, if ever there were a time to put love of country above loyalty to party, this is it!
Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 7:42 AM
Things are looking grim for Bernie Sanders. The Democratic presidential candidate told The New York Times on Wednesday that his campaign plans to lay off ‘hundreds of staff members’ as the campaign shifts resources to California, which holds its primary contest in June.
The news arrives less than 24 hours after Sanders suffered a series of defeats against Hillary Clinton in Northeastern primary contests. Any path to the nomination now looks highly implausible.
(The Atlantic, April 27, 2016)
Friday, April 29, 2016 at 6:05 AM
Elvis Presley pioneered the funereal phenomenon of music stars becoming far more marketable in death than they ever were in life. Michael Jackson took this to new heights (or depths depending on your sense and sensibility):
Since the singer died of drug intoxication in 2009 – when he was said to be $500 million in debt – his estate has ballooned to an estimated $1.5 billion, a portion of that from the 50 million albums that have sold posthumously.
(Daily Mail, June 8, 2014)
I duly expressed my cynicism in “More Proof Michael Was Not ‘Gone Too Soon,’” June 20, 2014.
This is not the forum to elaborate on the psychology of people who wait for music stars to die to become their biggest and most devoted fans. But I could not resist commenting on it – in “David Bowie, Gender-Bending Performing Artist, Is Dead,” January 12, 2016 – as follows:
Don’t get me started on his self-professed fans taking to social media to share how much his music meant to them. After all, if just a fraction of them had actually purchased his music, Bowie’s last hit single would not have been “Let’s Dance” … over 30 years ago…
Ironically, apropos of hits, that is bound to change with the timely release, just two days before he died, of Blackstar, his requiem/farewell album. It’s trending; therefore, millions of social-media twits must have it.
Sure enough, Billboard reported on January 14 that sales of the dead Bowie’s Blackstar eclipsed record-setting sales of the living Adele’s 25, rocketing him to the top of its album chart for the first time … ever.
Is it any wonder, then, that Prince never enjoyed in life the kind of commercial success he’s now enjoying in death:
Initial sales figures prove that Prince’s influence still reigns — sales spiked a reported 42,000%, according to Nielsen Music…
The tributes, memorials and thoughtful remembrances of Prince will continue for weeks. But now a whole lot more people have Prince songs in their libraries, and that’s one small silver lining in all the sadness.
(Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2016)
The cynicism inherent in such spike in sales is bad enough. That this cynicism seems completely lost on so many is profoundly dismaying. After all, if Prince ever had the influence the Los Angeles Times implies, the “silver lining” in his death would not be “a whole lot of people [suddenly adding] Prince songs to their libraries.”
Mind you, I suspect madding mourners buy memorabilia on these occasions primarily to draw attention to themselves. And there’s never any shortage of hucksters willing to exploit this perverse form of narcissism.
This, from today’s edition of the New York Daily News, betrays the cupidity of the hucksters, as well as the vacuity of the mourners, in this context:
Crafty sellers are looking to the heavens to make purple gains after Prince’s death. Just one week after Prince died, Minnesotans have launched a free-for-all selling spree to profit from the Purple One’s passing.
While most merchandisers stuck to shirts, key chains and posters, endeavoring entrepreneurs were inspired by the ‘Purple Rain’ artist – by literally selling the rain from the day Prince died.
Let me hasten to clarify here that I am an even bigger fan of Prince’s music than Michael’s. Any real fan of both will understand why. But I find it curious that, just as he did in life, Prince is getting a pass in death for manifesting the same symptoms of racial self-hatred that dogged Michael in life and death.
Nothing demonstrates the latter quite like reports a few weeks ago about Twitter trolls taunting his daughter Paris to explain the patent absurdity of claiming a black man as her biological father. I wrote about the inevitability of his children facing taunts and identity crises in such commentaries as “Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, Is Dead,” June 27, 2009, and “MJ: The Kid Is Not My Son (and Neither Is the Girl, or the Other One,” October 23, 2015. But I digress.
The point is that Prince conveyed (and left behind) mixed messages about his racial pride that are every bit as troubling. He clearly emulated Michael’s efforts to look more white than black. And his song “Controversy” betrays consciousness of guilt in this respect just as surely as Michael’s “Black Or White” does. For the record, the only person who ever created a controversy over whether Prince is black or white was Prince; and, with all due respect to Michael, it actually does matter if you’re black or white.
But perhaps nothing is more telling than the gallery of Prince’s wives, fiancées and girlfriends. For the blackest of them all was his half-Mexican protégé, Sheila E.
Meanwhile, bringing my lament full circle, reports are that the intestate beneficiaries of Prince’s estate are already salivating over the prospect of turning his Paisley Park into a tourist trap; you know, like Elvis’s Graceland….
As indicated above, one could write a dissertation on this posthumous idol worship, which makes no more sense to me than viral clips about swimming pigs. What irks me most is that it makes a mockery of the respect and support real fans showed singers like Prince while they were still alive. But I shall suffice to end with this question:
Why don’t a whole lot of people suddenly add the films of dead movie stars to their libraries the way they add the songs of dead music stars?
Things that make you go hmmm, no?
Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 6:12 AM
The facts were so universally debated back then, I see no point in rehashing them now. Instead, here is how I commented on his suspension in “NFL on Brady’s Appeal: He Cheated, then Lied, and then Obstructed Justice,” July 29, 2015.
In “NFL Investigation: Brady’s a Liar and a Cheat,” May 7, 2015, I not only declared my belief that Tom Brady is as guilty as sin, but urged [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] to make an example of him to protect the integrity of the game.
But I had no idea Brady’s consciousness of guilt was such that he obstructed the Deflategate investigation the way Richard Nixon obstructed the Watergate investigation. In fact, given reports that he destroyed critical cellphone evidence “on or shortly before” the day he met with the special investigator, he really left Goodell no choice…
This guy just strikes me as an arrogant cheater and a pathological liar. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of legal hacks and PR flacks willing to enable and defend his pathologies for a handsome fee.
Which brings me to the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). It should leave Brady to his own devices … to protect its own integrity. That Patriots owner Robert Kraft accepted the team’s punishment without appeal is instructive in this regard. Many pundits accused him of throwing Brady under the bus. But Kraft did what was clearly in the best interest of his team and the league, honoring the unqualified maxim that no player is bigger than the game.
By the same token, it behooves the NFLPA to act in the interest of the association and the league. The evidence of Brady’s guilt is beyond any reasonable doubt. And Goodell’s power to discipline him is beyond reproach.
Therefore, standing by Brady – in his self-indulgent and futile efforts to salvage his reputation – will create an untenable and unsustainable expectation among other players; namely that the NFLPA will stand by them too, no matter how egregiously they cheat or what crimes they commit.
Trust me folks, in a legal fight between Brady and Goodell … on this issue, Brady is bound to suffer a humiliating and costly defeat. Unfortunately, he’s too full of himself to realize it, and his hacks and flacks are raking in too much of his money to deflate his ego. But he would be well advised to cut his losses, accept the suspension, and let his supermodel wife help him lick his wounds behind closed doors….
That said, I think it’s fair to assert that Tom Brady’s reputation in Football is (or should be) every bit as tarnished as Barry Bonds’ reputation in Baseball is (and should be).
This is why I was more gratified than surprised when the court affirmed the NFL’s decision earlier this week:
A U.S. appeals court on Monday restored the four-game “Deflategate” suspension of New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady over allegations footballs were under inflated before an NFL playoff game last year.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed a federal judge’s ruling from September. The appeals court ruled that in imposing the suspension, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell properly exercised his discretion under a collective bargaining agreement.
(Reuters, April 25, 2016)
Unfortunately, the drawn-out legal process enabled Brady to play last season with the presumption of vindication, which that federal judge’s erroneous ruling conferred upon him. And his lawyers could prevail upon him to draw it out even more by appealing this latest sack all the way to the Supreme Court.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of time for Brady, his legal hacks, and PR flacks to play out all kinds of futile maneuvers. Whatever the case, I expect him to be sidelined for the first four games when the NFL kicks off its next season on September 8.
In the meantime, the players should fire the head of their NFLPA. I’m just sayin’.
NFL on Brady…
Monday, April 25, 2016 at 7:18 AM
The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that women will feature prominently in new designs for the $20, $10, and $5 bills. Here, according to the April 20 edition of the New York Times, are the proposed changes:
Front of the $20 bill: Harriet Tubman
Back of the $10 bill: Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Back of the $5 bill: Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Marian Anderson
The Treasury set 2030 for the new bills to be in circulation. But interest groups are already lobbying to have them in circulation before the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020.
There is no denying the symbolism of these new designs. And none is more symbolic than replacing Andrew Jackson, a former slaveholding president, with Harriet Tubman, a former slave turned abolitionist. That the $20 bill is second only to the $1 bill in circulation only enhances this symbolism.
But any American not familiar with each and every one of these famous people should be ashamed of himself. They were, of course, key figures in the fight to end slavery, the campaign for women’s suffrage, and the struggle for black civil rights, respectively. This is why one would be hard-pressed to criticize these new designs.
Hence, I share the following advisedly.
I applaud Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for endorsing this “most sweeping and historically symbolic makeover of American currency in a century.” After all, the original plan called for replacing Alexander Hamilton, the country’s first Treasury secretary no less, with Susan B. Anthony on the $10 bill; notwithstanding that Anthony, arguably the most famous suffragette, already graces the $1 coin.
Incidentally, in “U.S. Putting Woman on Wrong Dollar Bill,” June 22, 2015, I delineated why the Treasury should leave Hamilton on the $10 and replace Jackson on the $20 – as it now plans to do.
But I chastise Secretary Lew for citing the providential popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical, Hamilton, as inspiration for endorsing these changes. Especially given the more credible inspiration Women on 20s provided with their non-profit, grassroots campaign “to put a woman’s face on our paper currency.”
After all, this is rather like congressional leaders citing a revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun, as inspiration for approving the MLK Memorial. Especially given the more credible inspiration Alpha Phi Alphas provided with their lobbying and fundraising to put this memorial to their most famous “Brother” on the National Mall.
Not to mention that women could be forgiven for greeting this belated honor with bittersweet appreciation. Not least because it does nothing to redress the fact that they are still only making on 78 cents for every dollar men make….
On the other hand, I appreciate why American leaders (black and white) are continually honoring Martin Luther King Jr. – who led the march for black civil rights. In doing so, however, they are continually overlooking Frederick Douglas – who led the fight to free blacks from slavery.
In “Mall at Last, Mall at Last, Thank God Almighty a Black Is on the Mall at Last,” November 14, 2006, I delineated why Douglas’s heroic biography and leadership make him eminently more worthy than MLK in this context. Here is an excerpt.
- Douglass was born in slavery; MLK was born in freedom.
- Douglass spent his formative years on a plantation scrapping with his master’s dogs for food to eat; MLK spent his in relative luxury dining with America’s black elite.
- Douglass taught himself to read and write; MLK attended America’s best schools, including Morehouse College and Boston University.
- Douglass escaped from slavery, settled in the North, and began his political activism by leading challenges to segregation laws, which were as strictly enforced in the Antebellum North as they were in the Deep South; MLK graduated from university, settled in the South, and began his political activism by accepting calls to lead blacks – who had already begun the now-seminal Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- Douglass had no peer among blacks in the fight to end slavery; MLK had Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X – whose message of self-defense and black nationalism resonated more with young blacks (for whom ‘by any means necessary’ was far more liberating and empowering than ‘I have a dream’).
- Douglass lived long enough (to age 77) not only to see his dream of abolition fulfilled, but also to become a professional man (as a U.S. Marshall and recorder of deeds), an international statesman (as U.S. Ambassador to Santo Domingo and Haiti), and a political champion for yet another cause (women’s suffrage); MLK died too soon (at age 39) not only to see his dream of racial equality fulfilled, but also to pursue any ambition outside of the black liberation struggle.
- Douglass’s published works on the fight for freedom from slavery are voluminous; MLK’s on the struggle for black civil rights are modest by comparison. (I refer you to articles from one of Douglass’s many newspapers, The North Star, as well as his autobiographies Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass—an American Slave, My Bondage and My Freedom, and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. It might also interest you to know that eyewitness accounts, by the likes of famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, suggest that Douglass was every bit the orator MLK was. Having read the text, I suspect his “What to the slave is the 4th of July?” speech, which he delivered on July 5, 1852, was even more provocative and inspiring than MLK’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, which he delivered on August 28, 1963.)
Notwithstanding the above, my most damning criticism of this historic makeover of the paper currency is the blithe and conspicuous absence of any Native Americans. This is especially egregious given the genocidal injustices Andrew Jackson perpetrated against these original inhabitants of this great continent.
Nonetheless, I trust you understand why elaborating would only compound this oversight.
Finally, there’s this sobering and prescient note. I sounded it when the Treasury was planning only to replace Hamilton with Anthony on the $10 bill:
Truth be told, paper currency is falling into such desuetude the media hype surrounding this belated and patently misguided honor seems contrived. It’s rather like hailing the appointment of a Native American as Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service; that is, now that e-mails and instant messaging are all the rage.
(“U.S. Putting Woman on Wrong Dollar Bill,” The iPINIONS Journal, June 22, 2015)
Friday, April 22, 2016 at 12:17 PM
Prince Rogers Nelson
(from Thursday, April 21 at 5:47 p.m.)
Reports are that Prince died from complications related to an addiction to Percocet. Rather like Michael with his Propofol, no? Remember that … him?
In any event, I appreciate so many of you asking if I intend to comment any further on Prince’s death. I do not.
I presaged the reasons for this decision in my January 12 commentary on David Bowie’s death. In essence, it has become distressingly clear that the only reason one comments on the death of famous people these days is to draw attention to oneself. This macabre form of self-flattery makes the narcissism of plastering Instagram pages with selfies seem modest.
Therefore, to comment any further risks participating too much in the madding self-aggrandizement that now characterizes public mourning on these occasions.
Friday, April 22, 2016 at 5:18 AM
The country celebrated its first Earth Day in 1970. The environmental practices it inaugurated have become routine and universal; so much so that the symbolic replenishing of Earth’s natural resources — by planting trees — now seems trite, if not contrived.
Granted, to hear all of the alarmist talk about climate change, you’d think it was Al Gore who transformed public consciousness in this regard only years ago with sermons from his environmental bible, Earth in the Balance.
But this celebration of, and deference to, Earth’s natural wonders should be distinguished from Gore’s convenient truths about climate change. Truths, incidentally, that included using fake images of melting glaciers in his documentary An Inconvenient Truth just to scare people.
Earth Day ushered in conservation and greening trends that have led to cleaner air, more potable (lead-free) water, and a much less polluted environment; whereas, for all his prophesying, Gore has had no impact.
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Al Gore said in an interview published Monday that there had been no improvement in the fight against climate change since his Oscar-winning film on the issue was released.
(Agence France-Presse, April 20, 2008)
As CNN reports today, scientists are hailing this agreement as the “world’s biggest leap forward in climate change policy in history.” It commits the world to ending our dependence on fossil fuels by the end of this century. This, in effect, would limit global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.”
Hope springs eternal. But, with past as prologue, getting each country to ratify this agreement, to say nothing of getting each to abide by the terms, might devolve into a terminal winter of discontent.
I delineated my abiding doubts in “Paris Talks on Climate Change to Avert an Apocalypse? Hardly…,” December 2, 2015.