• Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    Tiger Blows; Serena Crows

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    linkListItem-62463005-2532BBEB00000578-935_154x115Given the way I ended “Tiger’s Back! But He’s Brown, Not Black” two days ago, I can probably be forgiven for saying, I told you so.

    For just the second time in his professional career, Woods failed to break 80. The missed cut was just the 13th time worldwide that he failed to qualify for the final 36 holes and the first time he has done so in back-to-back official tournaments.

    (ESPN, January 31, 2015)

    But I see no point in joining the peanut gallery of sports analysts and psychologists sounding off on what went wrong, and on what Tiger has to do to get it right. Not least because I believe I accurately diagnosed his problem two years ago, essentially, as follows:

    No doubt you recall that his downfall began in the wake of a sensational bimbo eruption that destroyed his marriage and sapped him of the aura of invincibility that was as key to his game as his putting stroke.

    (“Tiger No.1 Again! But…,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 27, 2013)

    In other words, the more Tiger loses, the more he will expect to lose and, more importantly, the more other players, especially upstarts like Rory McIlroy, will expect to beat him….

    Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 3.13.04 PMMeanwhile, I would be remiss not to acknowledge that Serena Williams won her 19th Grand Slam—with a domineering straight-set victory over Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open—mere hours after Tiger suffered this historic meltdown.

    Not mention that, with every Grand Slam she wins now, Serena obliges me to eat more humble pie, which is precisely what I did after she won her 17th at the U.S. Open two years ago — as this excerpt from “Serena U.S. Open Champion … Again!” September 9, 2013, attests.


    I have renewed hope that, unlike Tiger Woods, she will truly rewrite the record books in her sport.

    I fully expected Venus and Serena to do to the records in women’s tennis what Tiger Woods has done (and is doing) to the records in golf.

    Alas, they have not.  In fact, of the 43 Grand Slam titles that have been up for grabs since they turned pro in 1998, Venus has won only 7 and Serena 11.  By comparison, in less than half that time—from 2004 to 2008—Justine Henin won 7 titles. And at 29 and 27, respectively, it seems a pipe dream that either Venus or Serena will ever surpass Steffi Graf’s feat of winning 22 titles, let alone Margaret Court’s 24.

    (“Serena…Triumphs at Wimbledon,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 6, 2009)

    Hail Serena!


    25360D2600000578-2934163-image-a-49_1422705134644Well, here’s to the likelihood of pipe dreams coming true. Serena entered this tournament tied with Martina Navratilova and Chris Everett as holders of 18 career Grand Slams.

    There’s really no reason now to doubt that it’s only a matter of time before Serena surpasses Steffi Graf — as holder of the most Grand Slams in the modern era of Tennis. If she does, even at 40, I’d put good money on Serena surpassing Margaret Court too.

    I just hope she loses those fake, Eddie-Munster eyebrows along the way.

    Related commentaries:
    Tiger’s back

  • Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 8:02 AM

    PSA: Vaccinate your kids! (Spay/Neuter your pets too!)

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 9.20.30 PM

  • Friday, January 30, 2015 at 6:48 AM

    Australian Police Kill more Terror Hostages than Terrorists Do

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I took a lot of flak for my commentary “Lone Wolf Terrorizes Australia,” December 15, 2014. This excerpt might explain why.



    The “Breaking News” is that police stormed the café after nearly 17 hours of futile negotiations. Never mind that negotiating with a Muslim terrorist is like swimming in quicksand.

    Reports are that, in the conflagration that ensued, the gunman and two hostages were killed, and several others injured. But it would not surprise me to learn that the police did all of the killing and injuring – given what seemed like the thousand rounds of bullets they fired just to kill this one, lone wolf.

    Meanwhile, the opportunity clearly presented itself numerous times throughout this standoff for a sniper to take him out with one bullet…

    In any event, this obliges me to repeat my view that, post 9/11, it’s almost always better to take one’s chances by fighting back as soon as one of these situations arises…

    [T]hink not to flee in fright, but to stay and fight!


    New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and New South Wales Premiere Mike Baird conduct a press conference related to the siege at a Sydney cafeWell, now comes this:

    A hostage who died during a siege in a downtown Sydney cafe was killed when she was struck by fragments of a bullet fired from a police officer’s gun as authorities stormed in to end the 16-hour standoff, a lawyer told an inquest on Thursday.

    (The Associated Press, January 28, 2015)

    Police gunfire seriously injured three other hostages as well….

    Enough said?

    Related commentaries:
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  • Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 6:19 AM

    Tiger’s Back! But He’s Brown, Not Black…?!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    0131_patriotsTrying to get coverage of any sports event during Super Bowl Media Day is about as futile as trying to get ratings for any TV show during the Super Bowl game itself. That is, unless you’re Tiger Woods.

    Traditional fans got their panties in a twist yesterday because I insinuated (in a commentary on Lance Armstrong) that the rise in Golf’s popularity over the past decade had more to do with interest in Tiger Woods than in the game itself…

    [B]ut there has always been a direct correlation between how well Tiger is playing (if he’s playing at all) and TV ratings for Golf. More to the point, this correlation has been on a downward trend for almost five years – ever since Tiger’s well-publicized personal troubles off the course began causing professional problems for him on it.

    (“Golf: more About Tiger than the Game Itself,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 25, 2014)

    In fact, the breakdown of his marriage seemed to trigger a breakdown not only of his game, but of his body too.

    Apropos of the latter, you probably know that Tiger had been rehabbing his lower back since last August. Well, he held a press conference on Tuesday (Super Bowl Media Day) to announce his (latest) return to PGA competition.

    Tiger knows better than anyone that he will not be able to fully redeem his professional reputation until he wins another five Majors (i.e., from among the Masters in April, U.S. Open in June, British Open in July, and PGA Championship in August).

    (“Tiger Won…Finally,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 5, 2011)

    635579615378926783-PNI-phxopen-main-0128-Tuesday-aTrue to form, he not only got coverage, but there were more media stories about Tiger than any Football player, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (now of “deflate-gate” infamy). Of course no other golfer got honorable mention, let alone full media coverage of his press conference.

    Tiger tees off in Arizona today for the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. But I have an old bone to pick with him, which I hint at in my headline above. It stems from the farcical turn his press conference took when reporters began asking more questions about his teeth than his back (or his game, God forbid).

    Tiger explained that a cameraman knocked out two front teeth last week when, dressed in disguise, he got caught up in the hustle and bustle of the media scrum at a skiing event at Cortina D’Ampezzo in Italy.

    But that “ouch” moment soon became an “awwww” moment when he said he just wanted to be there to support girlfriend Lindsey Vonn – as she tried to become the winningest female skier in World Cup history – without causing any distraction.

    Unfortunately, that “awwww” moment soon became a “WTF” moment when he quipped:

    I was trying to blend in. There’s not a lot of brown dudes at ski races.

    (CBS Sport, January 27, 2015)

    Phoenix Open Woods Tooth Golf-2Interestingly enough, most reporters cited this quip as evidence of a more endearing Tiger. Yahoo Sports captured their take on his press conference with this gushing headline just hours later:

    Tiger’s tooth is back, and so is his sense of humor.

    I suspect, however, that this take prevailed among them only because, well, there’s not a lot of black dudes covering Golf. I know for certain that his quip incited nothing but visceral indignation in this black dude.

    Here, in part, is why:

    Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley gave Tiger the race cred he so desperately coveted. This was especially the case after he made a racial eunuch, if not a public spectacle, of himself in 1997 – by insisting that he considers himself not black but Cablinasian: a portmanteau of Caucasian (Ca), black (bl), Indian (in), and Asian (asian). And I’m sure he found validation in the fact that they both shared his penchant for gambling and White women of easy virtue.

    (“Blaming Tiger’s Homeboys…,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 1, 2010)

    tigerg-300x274I chalked up that Cablinasian nonsense to Tiger just having mischievous fun with the media – whom he regards, with good reason, as little more than a necessary menace. But this latest attempt to deny his racial identity smacks more of pathology than mischief.

    Have you ever heard any Black American (even one of mixed race like Barack Obama) call himself Brown or any shade thereof?

    I fear Tiger is suffering some form of self-hate, which makes it difficult for him to see himself as the black man everyone else sees. Hell, even British actor Benedict Cumberbatch showed more racial awareness, when he referred to blacks as “Colored” people during an interview last week. Ironically, his interviewer was no less a person than black activist Tavis Smiley, and they were discussing no less a topic than the lack of black roles in Hollywood….

    No doubt Tiger thinks he’s only expressing pride in his “uniqueness.” Except that I have yet to meet a black American who cannot (indeed does not) claim some Caucasian, Indian, and Asian in his racial makeup. This is why Tiger’s determination to assign himself a special racial category just makes him look unique in a pathetic and pitiful way.

    may4_01masters_600x399_0Not to mention that “I’m brown and I’m proud” is just too ahistorical, if not downright alien, for words.

    Some will argue that interest in Tiger should be based on how he plays, not on what he says. I fully appreciate that. But, as indicated in my first quote above, interest in Tiger was never based just on how he plays.

    In fact, I’d be willing to bet my life savings that at least 75 percent of Tiger’s fans are like me: people (black and white … and Asian et al) who began watching Golf only because they reveled in seeing a black player master a sport traditionally dominated by White players. Trust me, if he were just another white guy doing all that, Golf would still be no more popular than Skiing.

    10940991_10153196169359728_4755930651001107155_nSpeaking of which, I should mention that the “awwww” moment I referenced earlier had a happy ending: Lindsey broke the record for World Cup victories with her 63rd.

    This means that, henceforth, my interest in Tiger’s career will no longer be as a black reveling with abiding racial pride. Instead, it will be as a man watching with fleeting gender solidarity as he tries to one-up his girlfriend: by becoming not just the winningest golfer in PGA history (he has 79, Sam Snead holds the record with 82), but also the holder of the most Majors (he has 14, Jack Nicklaus holds the record with 18).

    Mind you, Tiger can call himself anything he wants; although, I shudder to think what he’s teaching the two kids he had with his blonde Swedish ex-wife to call themselves. It’s just that my racial pride is such that I cannot revel in the accomplishments of any black sportsman who I suspect would rather be anything but black.

    In any event, bear this in mind:

    Tiger is 35. So he can probably compete, physically, for another five years. But if he still hasn’t won his 15th major by this time next year, then I fear he will never be able to compete well enough, mentally, to dethrone Jack Nicklaus…

    But, to give you a sense of how difficult it is for one player to dominate the majors the way Tiger once did, just bear in mind that the last 13 major championships have been won by 13 different players.

    (“Tiger, Tiger … Losing Fight,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 15, 2011)

    I wrote that four years ago folks; and he still hasn’t won his 15th major. Given the above, it may just be that, at this point in his life, he needs to find himself before he can find his game….

    Related commentaries:
    Tiger escapes
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  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 6:36 AM

    Endgame for Kobe Bryant

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    It just so happens that I telegraphed the end to Kobe Bryant’s career two years ago:

    I have no doubt that Kobe will return next season, from what should have been a career-ending tear of his Achilles tendon last month. But I fear he will fail in his quest to tie or surpass Michael’s tally of six rings.

    Indeed, the only way Kobe could emulate Michael at this point would be to end his career in even greater ignominy than Michael did, which was as a wobbly, hobbling shadow of himself, playing more as team mascot than team leader for the Washington Wizards.

    (“Coach Phil Jackson on Michael vs. Kobe,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 30, 2013)

    Sure enough, he returned last season and played like a wobbly, hobbling shadow of himself – just as I telegraphed. I duly commented in “Wither Kobe Bryant,” March 13, 2014. Here is an excerpt.



    I was already vindicated when Kobe returned, just as I predicted, only to re-injure his torn Achilles. This had him duly looking like a wobbly, hobbling shadow of himself for the mere six games he played this season, before resuming his role as more team mascot than team leader on December 17.

    Now comes this:

    The Los Angeles Lakers have ruled Kobe Bryant out for the remainder of the season after a re-examination of the veteran guard’s injured knee showed it still hadn’t healed, the team announced Wednesday…

    Los Angeles signed Bryant to a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension in November.

    (ESPN, March 12, 2014)

    Frankly, when the Lakers signed that contract extension with Kobe, I thought they might as well had bought some swampland in Florida too.

    I have no doubt that Kobe will return next season or that he’ll manage to play more than six games. Indeed, he might survive the entire final two seasons of his contract extension.

    But you too would have to be the kind of fool who would buy swampland in Florida if you think he’ll lead them to an NBA championship. And the Lakers would be even bigger fools if they sign him to another contract extension.


    ts_150123kobenoSure enough, he returned this season and, well:

    Kobe Bryant will have surgery Wednesday on his torn right rotator cuff, likely ending his 19th season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    (ESPN, January 27, 2015)

    Clearly he can forget trying to emulate Michael Jordan. Because nobody believes withering Kobe will ever recover well enough to lead the Lakers back to the playoffs, let alone another NBA championship.

    Therefore, the only reason for him to return for a 20th season is to try to emulate Derek Jeter. Specifically, before tip off for the new NBA season in the fall, Kobe should announce it will be his last. He should then pray NBA teams use his final visit to their respective arenas as an occasion to shower him with farewell gifts and praises, the way MLB teams did during the farewell season Jeter orchestrated for himself last year.


    Related commentaries:
    Wither Kobe

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 6:41 AM

    Snowpocalypse ’15

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall



    Winter storm Juno could rank among New York City’s biggest snowstorms, with forecasts predicting 18-24 inches of snow.

    The ‘crippling and potentially historic’ nor’easter will move into the city late Monday, with most snow accumulation happening overnight and early Tuesday.

    (Huffington Post, January 26, 2015)


    Good luck to the 60 million across seven states who will be affected….



  • Monday, January 26, 2015 at 7:04 AM

    Elections Show Greeks Want to Have Their Euro and Spend It Too

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Yesterday, Greece finally held its anxiously awaited general election, which many regarded as a referendum on that country’s membership in the Eurozone.

    The consensus was that a win by the ruling New Democracy party, headed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, would mean more of the bitter austerity medicine Greeks have been taking for years as dues for continued membership; whereas a win by the opposition Syriza party, headed by Alexis Tsipras, would mean no more austerity – even if that forfeits membership.

    *** BESTPIX *** Exit Poll Results Are Declared In The Greek General Election

    Syriza won.

    Tsipras has promised to renegotiate the country’s 240 billion-euro ($270 billion) international bailout deal, and seek forgiveness for most of Greece’s massive debt load. He has pledged to reverse many of the reforms that creditors demanded — including cuts in pensions and the minimum wage, some privatizations and public sector firings — in exchange for keeping Greece financially afloat since 2010.

    (The Associated Press, January 25, 2015)

    Except that Prime Minister Samaras himself spent years trying, to no avail, to renegotiate Greece’s bailout terms with these very same creditors – the “Troika” of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank.

    IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told CNBC Wednesday, before flying to Athens, she had no interest in adjusting Greece’s bailout terms.

    ‘I’m not in a negotiations or renegotiations mood at all.’

    (UPI, July 6, 2012)

    Therefore, either Syriza’s supporters are in for a rude awakening – as Greece’s indignant refusal to comply with bailout terms forfeits membership; or Troika members will swallow their institutional pride and allow the EU’s most vexatious debtor nation to dictate repayment terms. Trust me, you’d be forgiven for analogizing this standoff to an unruly child (Greece) refusing to eat the vegetables (austerity measures) his mother (the Eurozone) insists he must….

    But I went on record years ago – not only warning that it would come to this, but also urging Eurozone leaders to cut their losses and kick Greece out before its debt contagion metastasizes.

    greececHere, for example, is an excerpt from “Greece: a Tumor Growing in Europe,” May 15, 2012.


    I find it stupefying that Greece is causing so much existential angst in Europe. Mind you, I used to accept the prevailing view that, like JPMorgan Chase, Greece is just too big to fail; moreover, that if it failed others would surely follow.

    I am now convinced, however, that this transformative logic simply does not hold. Not least because the more appropriate analogy is not the risk of a major bank failing, but the fear of a little tumor metastasizing. And in this context, cutting Greece out of the Eurozone is the best way to forestall the self-fulfilling prophecy of its failure triggering a contagion/domino effect; you know, the way one might excise a metastasizing (malignant) tumor out of the body…

    Greece is refusing to take the only medicine that stands any chance of putting the cancer it represents into remission. Frankly, this refusal alone demonstrates why it needs to be excised out of the Eurozone…

    Greece should be left to its own devices to become the terminally debt-ridden, dysfunctional and ungovernable mess in Europe that Haiti has been in the Caribbean for centuries…

    Despite the writing on the wall, European leaders have been implementing extraordinary measures to keep Greece on financial support, fearing that, if Greece fails and exits, other Eurozone countries like Portugal and Spain would follow. They should have been implementing measures to make Greece’s inexorable path towards failure and exit so painful for Greeks that other countries would want to avoid going down that primrose path like the plague.

    This is why the only thing I find newsworthy about this Eurozone debt crisis today is the extent to which countries like Germany and France have allowed the financial contagion Greece represents to metastasize. The situation is clearly critical now.

    So instead of begging Greece to take the medicine to save both itself and the ‘euro project,’ European leaders should be scrubbing for the surgery that is necessary to cut out Greece to save the Eurozone. Greece is not too big to fail.


    Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.08.36 PMMore to the point, though, here is how I characterized the congenital arrogance, which not only makes Tsipras think he can renegotiate bailout terms and get massive debt forgiveness, but also made voters pin their country’s fate on his impudent promises:

    Greece may be the cradle of civilization, but it’s being regarded throughout Northern Europe these days as little more than a beggars’ colony. This is because Greece is now looking to richer member states of the European Union, like Germany and France, to bail it out of an existential financial mess…

    [R]ich member states in the North believe that their poor relations in the South have nothing to blame for their financial woes but their own ‘Club Med’ approach to fiscal discipline…

    You’d think that having to go to their betters in the North – hat in hand – would humble the Greeks. Instead, public sector workers have gone on strike in a self-indulgent effort to pressure their government against imposing any austerity measures as a condition for receiving a bailout package from the EU (and IMF).

    (“Greece Just Another Panhandling PIG in Europe,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 29, 2010)

    Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.08.10 PMIs it any wonder, then, that a majority of Greeks bought Tsipras’s promises hook, line, and sinker? You know, “money for nothing and the [kicks] for free,” with apologies to Dire Straits. This, despite Samaras pointing out all kinds of silver linings in the dark austerity clouds that have been hovering over Greece for so many years. This election result is rich with irony in this and so many other respects.

    In any event, I remain convinced that the best way forward is for the Troika to let Tsipras lead his people down the primrose path into national bankruptcy, and leave them to suffer all that forfeiting membership in the Eurozone (aka, a “Grexit”) entails. It is noteworthy that the EU’s most powerful and influential member finally seems prepared to do just that:

    Der Spiegel magazine reported at the weekend that the German government believes the Eurozone could cope with a Greek exit from the single currency and that such an outcome would be almost inevitable if the ‘anti-austerity’ Syriza party wins on 25 January.

    (The Guardian, January 5, 2015)

    Not to mention the untenable precedent caving in to Greece’s demands would set for Syriza-like parties that are lying in wait in other EU countries, like Spain, to demand similar anti-austerity concessions.


    That said, I hope it’s self-evident that Greece does not really want to exit the Eurozone. For, in today’s globalized world, no country can afford to be an island onto itself – even if it’s composed of thousands of tiny islands. No less an island nation than England – with far greater self-sustaining resources, to say nothing of its special relationship with the United States – is struggling to contain the bombast of Syriza-like forces that would force it into a similar, Russian-roulette standoff with the EU.

    Syriza is just banking on Troika members being so afraid of the domino effect a Grexit might have on the EU that they will renegotiate bailout terms and forgive debts just as Tsipras promised – with his intoxicating mix of bravado, ignorance, and naiveté. The irony, of course, is that the viability and solvency of the EU depends on calling Greece’s bluff. I expect Troika members to do just that.

    NOTE: European leaders would have been well-advised to heed the counsel I provided in other such commentaries as A Dead EU Constitution Resurrected as a New Treaty Is Still a Dead EU Constitution (November 13, 2007), A Europe Divided by Debt Cannot Stand (March 25, 2010), If Rescuing Greece is Necessary to Save Europe, Europe’s in Big Trouble (October 15, 2011), and Forget the Euro, Europe Itself is Falling Apart (December 15, 2011).

    Related commentaries:
    Greece: a tumor

  • Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 7:26 AM

    This Pope’s loose tongue is his most redeeming/endearing trait….

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Who am I to judge gays? 

    You talk about my Mama, I’ll punch you in the mouth!

    Catholics don’t have to **** like rabbits!

    Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 10.34.36 PM

    God Bless him…

  • Friday, January 23, 2015 at 6:06 AM

    Chutzpah: Israeli PM to Address US Congress

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    a874572c98c64726610f6a7067009ca5I have had cause on far too many occasions to denounce the presumptuous way Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attempted, variously, to challenge Obama’s presidential authority or dictate how Obama should exercise it.

    What is most troubling, however, is that congressional Republicans have invariably enabled him. In fact, while doing all they could to block Obama’s policies (regardless of merit), they allowed Netanyahu to treat the U.S. Congress, for his intents and purposes, like “Israeli-occupied territory.”

    What’s more, whenever Obama tried to put Netanyahu in his place, Republicans decried Obama’s authority and defended Netanyahu’s impudence. Hell, you’d think Netanyahu, not Obama, was the president of the United States….

    Here is an excerpt from “Obama Dissing Israel PM Netanyahu?” September 12, 2012, which provides a little insight:


    The chutzpah of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never ceases to amaze me…

    I am simply stupefied by the way he has been publicly goading Obama – almost from day one of his presidency – to stop Iran [from developing nuclear weapons] before it enters some amorphous ‘zone of immunity’ (presumably where North Korea resides)…

    All of his talk about red lines and red lights is just a red herring. If Netanyahu wanted to attack Iran today, nobody would stop him.

    Except that this arrogant SOB would rather sit on his moral high-horse (playing the Holocaust card) and declaim falsely about Obama dictating when and how he should act to defend Israel’s national security interests. All the while he’s presuming to dictate to Obama when and how he should act to defend America’s national security interests with respect to Iran: talk about brass ones…

    It is noteworthy that Netanyahu is being supported in his rhetorical misadventure by the same coalition of crusading dunces (namely, Jewish Zionists, Christian fundamentalists, and new-world-order neo-cons) who goaded Bush into attacking Iraq. Not to mention that they have all been issuing Chicken-Little warnings about Iran being just months away from going nuclear since the 1990s.


    netanyahu_boehnerThis is why I was not at all surprised when news broke on Wednesday about Republican Speaker John Boehner inviting Netanyahu to address a Joint Session of Congress … on whether the United States should impose (more) sanctions against Iran, immediately. Boehner did this despite Obama practically pleading – in his State of Union Address on Tuesday – for Congress to give his diplomatic initiatives a reasonable chance to work (i.e., without congressional and/or Israeli interference that could undermine them, fatally).

    Setting up a diplomatic showdown on an issue that has sharply divided Obama and congressional Republicans, Boehner announced the invitation the day after Obama pledged in his State of the Union address to veto Iran sanctions legislation being developed in Congress.

    (Reuters, January 21, 2015)

    Of course, the Jewish Zionists, Christian fundamentalists, and political neo-cons – who Boehner and Netanyahu consider their bilateral base – would like nothing more than to kill Obama’s initiatives. This, they figure, would provide their pretext for this president (or the next) to bomb Iran … in an Iraq-style misadventure to protect Israel. But I digress….

    012215_otr_panel_640Nor was I surprised when Netanyahu not only accepted, but declared his intent to meet with Obama during his visit, even though the White House had issued no invitation.

    Frankly, this congressional invitation just crystallizes the antic contempt both Republicans and Netanyahu have for Obama. Only this explains why this Speaker would defy long-established protocol by inviting this foreign leader to address a Joint Session of Congress without even bothering to consult this president. And only this explains why this Israeli prime minister would defy long-established protocol by accepting. Not to mention that the speaker’s interference smacks of an attempt to usurp the long-established power of the president to conduct foreign affairs.

    Unfortunately, the only thing Obama can do is ignore them.


    The White House announced that President Barack Obama will not meet with Netanyahu during his visit; U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will also forgo meeting with Netanyahu [and] Vice President Joe Biden is also expected to do the same.

    (Haaretz, January 23, 2015)

    Meanwhile, nobody seems the least bit bothered by the untenable precedent this congressional flouting of protocol – to slight this president and hail this prime minister – sets. After all, it will only embolden other foreign leaders to curry favor with congressional leaders to undermine the authority of a president whose policies they don’t like. It will also give credence to visceral assertions by Obama’s more rabid supporters, like Reverend Al Sharpton, about Republican opposition to him having more to do with racism than politics.

    But I urge all Democrats (and sensible Republicans) to boycott Netanyahu’s address. Because only this would demonstrate, quite appropriately, that in showing this kind of contempt for Obama, Boehner and Netanyahu are showing contempt for the American people.

    By the way, on Iran:

    Netanyahu showed no regard for the fact that Obama has insisted all along that, like Reagan in his dealings with leaders of the Soviet Union, he will ‘trust but verify, verify, verify’ everything. Specifically, that there will be no lifting of crippling sanctions, which have Rouhani crying uncle on behalf of his long-suffering people, until there’s concrete and verifiable evidence that Iran has dismantled all of its facilities to develop nuclear weapons.

    What’s more, it cannot be lost on Obama that, if he had his way, Netanyahu would have already misled him down a primrose path to war against Iran similar to the one neo-cons misled his predecessor, George W. Bush, down to war against Iraq 10 years ago.

    (“Netanyahu, Obama’s Iago; Iran, His Desdemona,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 2, 2013) 

    584016-c3f18e54-9ae1-11e4-b380-6759e7d08be1Notwithstanding Iran, the prevailing suspicion is that Netanyahu invited himself to bolster his image in advance of Israel’s March 17 elections. That the French accused him of doing just that a few weeks ago lends credibility to this suspicion.

    Reportedly, French President Francois Hollande was so concerned that Netanyahu’s participation in a Charlie-Hebdo parade would inflame passions, he personally rang to beg him off attending. Except that Netanyahu determined that his participation would boost to his re-election prospects. Therefore, he not only ignored this personal entreaty; he made quite a show of leading the parade … right alongside Hollande.

    Like I said, the chutzpah of the man never ceases to amaze me.

    NOTE: Netanyahu will never miss an opportunity to undermine peace with Israel’s enemies — even if that means making enemies of Israel’s friends.

    Related commentaries:
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    Obama dissing Israeli PM
    Obama’s Iago

  • Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 6:48 AM

    New England Patriots Caught in ‘Deflategate’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Allegations that the New England Patriots cheated during Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts went viral within minutes after it ended. It pertained to charges that the Patriots underinflated game balls to make it easier to throw and catch in the cold, wet weather.

    Here in part is how I commented:

    The Patriots trampled the Colts (45-7) in a game that will be remembered more for an allegation of cheating off the field than for the execution of any play on it…

    Even if proven true, the Patriots would clearly be happy to absorb the relatively light penalties as the cost of doing business. After all, a few draft picks and even a $1-million fine would be a small price to pay to get to the Super Bowl for the sixth time and have a shot at a fourth title during this Belichick-Brady era.

    (“NFL Conference Championship Sunday,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 20, 2015)

    tom-brady-game-ballWell, it now seems that not just this game, but the entire Belichick-Brady era will be remembered more for cheating than winning:

    The NFL has found that 11 of the New England Patriots’ 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirements, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game told ESPN.

    The investigation found the footballs were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what’s required by NFL regulations.

    (ESPN, January 21, 2015)

    The prevailing suspicion is that, after the referee inspected their game balls two hours before kickoff, the Patriots secretly deflated them to quarterback Brady’s preferred but illegal level….

    With this finding, however, the only question now is what penalties the NFL will impose for this latest act of cheating. After all, this is the same team and personnel  the NFL penalized for illegally videotaping their opponents’ hand signals during a game in 2007.

    roger-goodell-nfl-commissioner-roger-goodell-press-conference3-850x560The NFL should be guided by the fact that stripping the team of one first-round draft pick, fining it $250,000, and fining Coach Belichick $500,000 in that case had no deterrent effect. It should also be guided by the notorious misstep it made last year by initially giving Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice just a slap on the wrist for battering his then fiancée.

    Consistent with my assertion about the Patriots factoring in such penalties as the cost of doing business, the NFL should:

    • Fire all support staff involved in deflating those game balls, immediately.
    • Strip the team of three times as many draft picks, and fine it ten times as much, as the NFL stripped and fined the Patriots for cheating with those videotapes.
    • Suspend Coach Belichick for one year without pay, immediately; despite his protestations that he knew nothing about it. He should have known, and his credibility is obviously suspect.
    • Suspend quarterback Tom Brady for one year without pay, immediately; especially in light of the way he initially laughed off the allegation as utterly preposterous. He clearly knew or should have known, and he benefited more than any other player from this cheating caper.
    • Place asterisks next to victories and quarterback stats this team accumulated during the Belichick-Brady era. This would consign them to the same kind of fate that will forever call into question the victories and stats associated with notorious cheaters like steroid-junkies Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez.
    • Deny Belichick and Brady entry into the NFL Hall of Fame for the same reasons Bonds, Clemens, and Rodriguez will never make it into the MLB Hall of Fame. Not least because of the unavoidable deduction that Belichick and Brady got away with cheating in similar fashion during far too many other games to countenance.

    Of course, immediate suspensions would bar Belichick and Brady from coaching and playing, respectively, in the forthcoming Super Bowl. But I can think of no better way for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to redeem his and the league’s reputation (after the Ray Rice debacle) than to impose immediate suspensions.

    635548731457112737-DREW-BREES-AND-SEAN-PAYTONAll NFL fans are familiar with Goodell invoking the maxim “ignorance is no excuse” in 2012 to justify suspending New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton (for one year without pay) for his team’s crush-for-cash scheme (aka “Bountygate”). This, despite Payton pleading then, as Belichick is now, that he knew nothing about it.

    And, just as pleading ignorance about the steroids he was shooting up to hit home runs did not exculpate Bonds (He thought it was flaxseed oil, remember?), pleading ignorance about using deflated game balls to help him complete passes should not exculpate Brady.

    Finally, if these suspensions make it easier for the Seattle Seahawks to win, it would constitute only a fraction of the poetic justice required to compensate for all the games, to say nothing of the three Super Bowls, the New England Patriots have won under the cheating leadership of these two arrogant schmucks.

    Related commentaries:
    NFL Conference Championship

    * This commentary was originally published yesterday, Wednesday, at 6:28 p.m.

  • Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 7:41 AM

    From Washington to Davos, Calls to Stop Rich Getting Richer Just Hot Air

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    People have been sounding alarms about the rich getting richer (and the poor getting poorer) for over 150 years. In fact, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 2, quotes no less a person than former president Andrew Jackson invoking this aphorism way back in 1832:

    When the laws undertake … to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society … have a right to complain of the injustice to their Government.

    What’s more, the laws of practically every country on earth have invariably undertaken to make the rich richer. That includes socialist/communists countries, like China and Cuba, where laws purport to prevent glaring disparities in wealth and income.

    download (10)This is why I am so bemused by all the media fuss about Oxfam, the international anti-poverty organization, sounding a similar alarm. It stems from a report Oxfam released on Monday, which executive director Winnie Byanyima summarized as follows:

    The richest 1% have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014…

    Do we really want to live in a world where the 1% own more than the rest of us combined?

    (CNN, January 19, 2015)

    But a report telling us that the ‘wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of us combined’ is about as newsworthy as reports telling us that China will soon overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy.

    1297653873024_ORIGINALIn any event, the media are making a fuss especially about Byanyima attending the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week to present Oxfam’s concerns. For anyone familiar with the Bible, this probably conjures up allusions to Christ entering the temple and overturning the tables of usurious moneychangers and greedy merchants; or of Christ admonishing the Pharisees and Sadducees against a man gaining the whole world, and losing his own soul.

    Except that this too strikes me as much ado about nothing. Not least because I’m on record decrying Forum organizers for continually inviting do-gooders like Byanyima just to help them feel good, not to make them do good. Here, for example, is an excerpt to this effect from “Why All the Fuss about the World Economic Forum,” January 30, 2006.


    The World Economic Forum … is an annual event at which corporate titans, international bankers, world leaders, and a smattering of celebrity do-gooders gather to bloviate about the impact of world developments on their respective businesses, personal wealth, and collective conscience. Politicians and celebrities change from year to year, but the regulars are invariably the same CEOs, investors, and managers who represent the world’s super rich.

    The forum is promoted as ‘impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.’ But movers and shakers know the reason an invitation to this retreat is so coveted is that it’s a rare (and rarified) opportunity to see and be seen amongst the people who really rule the world. And, the PR value of such images alone is priceless…

    The wealthiest one percent would have the rest of us believe that Davos is all about addressing world economic problems that affect our lives. That’s why the most talked-about feature of their gathering is not the (main-event) schmooze-fests for business opportunities; rather, it’s the (undercard) gabfests for charitable causes – at which invited guests sit on panels and blow hot air on issues like climate change and the plight of the poor.


    To be fair, President Obama took a significant step towards redressing this gap in the United States five years ago, when he prevailed upon Democrats – who controlled Congress – to pass his healthcare reform bill (aka Obamacare). But it reeks of garden-variety pandering that he waited until the “fourth quarter” of his presidency to begin proposing legislation that would tax the rich to pay for such things as free community-college education for the poor and rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure.

    Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 6.59.47 AMAs I write this, I’m listening to him tout this and other redistributive policies (mostly having to do with closing loopholes rich folks and corporations use to avoid fair taxation) in his annual State of the Union Address. If implemented, they would close the gap between rich and poor considerably.

    Unfortunately, Republicans – who now control Congress – are so ideologically committed to passing laws to make the rich richer that they even regard Obamacare, which makes healthcare affordable for the poor, as a political abomination. Therefore, Obama knows full well that all of the social and economic justice items he’s championing now have about as much chance of becoming law as I have of becoming president.

    I have listened to enough State of the Union Addresses to know that they invariably amount to a triumph of style over substance.  Nothing demonstrates this quite like the most memorable thing about President Obama’s first address last year being not something he said, but a congressman yelling, ‘You lie.’

    (“2011 State of the Union Address,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 26, 2011)

    No doubt this is why PBS NewsHour felt obliged to report earlier this evening that only 2 of the 18 proposals Obama made in his 2014 State of the Union Address have become law….

    Meanwhile, you are probably wondering how the rich feel about the prospect of Obama “spreading their wealth around” – as so many of us voted for him in 2008 hoping he would do.

    Well, the following excerpt from “Super-Rich Irony,” October 5, 2012, provides some insight. But I should preface it by noting the commendable exception of some of the super rich, most notably public-spirited philanthropists like Bill Gates and progressive-taxation champions like Warren Buffet.


    I find it amusing when people regale me with a story or opinion that mirrors one of my published commentaries. Such was the case yesterday when a colleague vented her incredulous take on an article in the current issue of the New Yorker titled: “Super-Rich Irony: Why Do America’s Super-Rich Feel Victimized by Obama?”

    Of course the irony is that the super-rich (aka the one-percenters) are the ones who have benefited most from his presidency…

    Most notable are Wall Street bankers whose firms he bailed out and who raked in record profits as the DOW rose an unprecedented 56 percent. But they are joined at the hip by corporate CEOs — whose companies are sitting on trillions in profits and who earned so much in compensation, their despair must be some perverse form of thriver’s guilt.


    On the other hand, Chris Rock triggered viral interest a few weeks ago, when he quipped that there would be riots in the streets if poor people knew how filthy rich the rich really are.

    Except that the French Revolution erupted precisely because poor people knew this. Moreover, it’s not only the case that technology has enabled poor people to know all about the “secret lives of the super rich;” but rich people have become even more conspicuous in consuming their unprecedented amount of wealth.


    But, apropos of rich irony, one of the reasons today’s poor are unlikely to revolt is that they are too busy pretending to be rich. More to the point, technology has also enabled poor people to live virtual lives in which they have more in common with rich people than with each other.

    (Karl Marx lamented that religion is the opiate of the poor masses, which induces the complacency of “illusory happiness.” Social media is giving religion a run for its money in this respect.)

    Not to mention that partisanship in America has become so dogmatic that millions of poor, uninsured folks support politicians – whose sole agenda is to repeal Obamacare – just to honor their membership in the Republican Party (of the rich).

    That said, I couldn’t end without reprising this pet peeve about the annual gathering in Davos. As you read it, bear in mind reports about as many as 1,700 private jets crisscrossing the pristine Swiss Alps, taking attendees to and fro:

    To hear these rich folks lamenting about the depletion of the ozone, the increasing gap between haves and have nots, and the almost criminal waste of non-renewable energy, one would think they jet-pooled to Davos on ethanol-fueled airplanes; whereas they all flew in on gas-guzzling, air-polluting private jets.

    (“Attendees Emit More CO2 than Solutions at World Economic Forum,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 29, 2007)

    Frankly, all of the above makes clear that all talk of redressing the gap between rich and poor (including calls for a “New Magna Carta” no less) is, well, just hot air. I mean, am I the only one who sees that the more the rich talk about helping the poor, the richer the rich become…?

    Related commentaries:
    Why all the fuss
    2011 SOTU address
    More than solutions

    * This commentary was originally published yesterday, Tuesday, at 10:11 p.m.

  • Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 6:51 AM

    NFL Conference Championship Sunday! 

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Real Football fans will tell you that the most exciting day of the NFL season is Conference Championship Sunday, not Super Bowl Sunday — as casual fans might say.

    (“Historic NFL Championship Sunday,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 22, 2007)

    True to form, yesterday’s National Football Conference (NFC) game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers did not disappoint. Never mind that it took an improbable second-half comeback by the Seahawks for this game to generate the kind of excitement we’ve come to expect of conference championship games.

    589APTOPIX NFC Championship FootballAfter all, with the Packers sitting on a 16-0 lead and the Seahawks having thrown almost as many interceptions as completions at halftime, this game was generating nothing but Zzzs. Watching it play out in torrential rain only aided the somnolence.

    But one had to be a dead fish not to be electrified watching the Seahawks execute a fake field goal attempt for a touchdown, score a two-point conversion with a Hail Mary pass, and recover an onside kick that led to another touchdown — all within a two-minute span late in the fourth quarter. This forced the Packers to pull off some heroics of their own, including a long (48-yard) field goal just for an overtime-triggering tie (22-22) at the end of regulation.

    But frankly, when they followed up all of their fourth-quarter heroics by winning the coin toss to take first possession in overtime, the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks seemed assured of a rendezvous with destiny. Indeed, it only took a few snaps for quarterback Russell Wilson to make up for his four interceptions by tossing a 35-yard touchdown pass to secure sudden-death victory, 28-22.

    Alas, my post-game high did not last long. You probably recall the post-game rant following last year’s NFC championship game that made Richard Sherman a household name:


    He might well be the best cornerback in the NFL, but chances are that you never heard of the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman until the media made a barking fool of him on Sunday.

    Unfortunately, the takeaway (especially for young Black boys) is that you have a far better shot at fame in America today by acting like an obnoxious jerk than by displaying real talent. And amoral corporate sponsors will only reinforce this socially demeaning value now by rewarding him with lucrative endorsement deals.

    Which is why the story here is not Sherman’s postgame rant, as the media would have you believe. Rather, it’s the media (and advertisers) choosing to elevate his rant over the game itself.

    (“‘Thug’ — the Politically Correct Word for Nigger,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 23, 2014) 

    It was hardly surprising, therefore, that little-known Seahawk players tried to emulate Sherman with post-game rants of their own — clearly hoping to stir up Campbell Soup-like endorsement deals too. But it was a real snooze watching them do so. Thankfully, I don’t think they’ll find the media, let alone advertisers, as interested in their testosterone/steroid-fueled gloating as they were in Sherman’s.

    In any event, apropos of rendezvous with destiny, the Seahawks are now poised to become the first NFL team to defend their Super Bowl title since the New England Patriots did it in 2003-04.

    How fitting then that they will have to beat the Patriots to do so. In fact, thank God that NFC game ended up providing so much excitement. Because it more than compensated for the bore the American Football Championship (AFC) game between the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts turned out to be.

    image (2)The Patriots trampled the Colts (45-7) in a game that will be remembered more for an allegation of cheating off the field than for the execution of any play on it:

    The NFL has confirmed it is looking into charges the New England Patriots cheated Sunday night when they clinched a trip to the Super Bowl Sunday night by using deflated footballs … to make them easier to throw and catch.

    If the Patriots did cheat, it would not be the first time. The team was penalized a first-round draft pick, fined $250,000 and head coach Belichick was personally fined $500,000 after an investigation by the NFL determined the team had illegally videotaped their opponents hand signals during a 2007 game.

    (FOX News, January 19, 2015)

    I have only one point to make about this:

    • Even if proven true, the Patriots would clearly be happy to absorb the relatively light penalties as the cost of doing business. After all, a few draft picks and even a $1-million fine would be a small price to pay to get to the Super Bowl for the sixth time and have a shot at a fourth title during this Belichick-Brady era.

    That said, my home team, the Washington “Epithets,” have been too busy setting new precedents for futility and providing new highlights for derision to even make the playoffs. Therefore, I won’t have a dog in the fight when the Seahawks play the Patriots for Super Bowl XLIV in Arizona on February 1.

    All the same, I’ll be routing for the Seahawks!


    Primarily because, despite being defending champions, they are the underdogs; and I am psychologically disposed to champion the underdog. Indeed, Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ relatively small quarterback, looks like the proverbial David. Tom Brady, the Patriots’ relatively big quarterback, looks like the proverbial Goliath.

    But I am also picking the Seahawks to win because I’m so impressed with the poise, class, and humility a victorious Wilson invariably displays. His character is such that it not only compensates for that of the chest-thumping, trash-talking nincompoops on his team, but also stands in admirable contrast to the cheating that seems to have enabled so much of the Patriots’ accomplishments — with all due respect to Brady and the rendezvous with the NFL Hall of Fame that awaits him.

    Go Hawks!

    Related commentaries:
    Historic NFL

    * This commentary was originally published yesterday, Monday, at 1:13 p.m.

  • Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 8:15 AM

    WTF! Ohio’s Cardale Jones Opts to Stay in School…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    [Most ‘student athletes’] not only graduate with degrees not worth the paper they’re written on; they actually enter college aiming to do nothing but make themselves more marketable to professional teams – as no less a person than last night’s star, Cardale Jones, asserted in a refreshingly honest tweet years ago:

    ‘Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come here to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.’ (8:43 AM – 5 Oct 12)

    Of course, classes could indeed prove pointless for Jones now that he’s a national champion quarterback. The only lesson left for him to learn is that he must strike while the iron is hot and go pro.

    (“Ohio Buckeyes Trample Oregon Ducks to Win NCAA Football National Championship,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 13, 2015)

    635569357188557110-DSC-1842Alas, he failed to learn this lesson. For here is the pithy way Cardale announced, during a LeBronesque press conference on Thursday, that he’s taking his talents back to Ohio:

    [The NFL] was out of the question. A first-round draft pick means nothing to me without my education.

    (ESPN, January 16, 2015)

    With this announcement, Cardale became the poster boy for (the idealized notion of) student athletes. This of course is ironic — given his infamous tweet about going to school “to play Football [not] to play school.” Arguably, that made him the poster boy for “one and done” athletes who deem it pointless to stay in school if they stand any chance of being drafted into the professional leagues.

    images (6)In any event, I respect his decision. But, given my instruction, it would be remiss of me not to offer just a few more instructive, clarifying points:

    • Playing in the NFL is no more anathema to getting an education than playing in the NCAA, especially considering the amount of time student athletes dedicate to sports at Division 1 colleges, like Ohio State. Moreover, many athletes have completed (and are completing) their education while playing professional sports. This makes Cardale’s claim about staying in school to complete his seem shockingly naive.
    • The best way to prepare for a career in the NFL is to play in the NFL — as any first-round draft pick, who completed his four-years of indentured servitude in college, will attest.
    • It smacks of a perverse form of paternalism to question a 21-year-old football player’s mental and emotional ability to handle all that comes with suddenly making millions (especially if he grew up dirt poor — as Cardale did). After all, teenage entertainers handle the same every day. At least nobody can question the 6’-5”/250-pound Cardale’s physical ability to handle playing in the NFL.
    • Cardale claims he sought advice from family members and close friends about whether to go or stay. But this is unfair, almost to the point of being cruel. After all, even if they wanted to say, “take the money and run, fool,” they probably feared coming across like parasites who just can’t wait to live off Cardale, his education be damned.
    • Cardale claims he also sought advice from his coach. But, for obvious reasons, his coach has more vested interest in having him stay in school than his teachers.
    • Cardale would have been far better served if he had sought advice from men who have been in his shoes, like superstars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant – neither of whom ever spent a day in college. What’s more, given his declared interest in studying financial planning, I’m sure LeBron would’ve been happy to hook Cardale up with his private tutor, multibillionaire investor extraordinaire Warren Buffet.

    But I wish him well – as he continues doing far more for Ohio State than Ohio State can do for him at this point….

    Related commentaries:

  • Friday, January 16, 2015 at 6:23 AM

    Oscar Snubs ‘Selma.’ Good!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I not only urge you to shun this movie, but hope the major arbiters of artistic merit, especially those at the Golden Globes and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will snub it as well.

    (“‘Selma’ Defames LBJ to Make MLK Look, What, Even Better?” The iPINIONS Journal, January 5, 2015)

    2490295400000578-2910567-image-a-45_1421271133977I took a lot of flak, especially from fellow Blacks, for issuing this clarion call not only for moviegoers to boycott Selma, but for awards syndicates to snub it too. But nothing vindicated my call quite like its director, Ava DeVernay, proffering this fatuous explanation for her willfully distorted depiction of the relationship between LBJ and MLK:

    History is for each of us to interpret for ourselves, so anyone’s opinion is valid, truly it is.

    (CBS Morning Show, January 7, 2015)

    In other words, never mind historical facts, if you think Hitler rescued six million Jews from slaughter by the Soviets, that’s valid. Sadly, her explanation only makes DeVernay seem as ignorant as she is irresponsible.

    This is why it served her right that:

    • moviegoers are shunning Selma in favor of such unabashedly fictional fare as Taken 3, Into the Woods, and The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies;
    • the Golden Globes snubbed it a few weeks ago by recognizing it only for John Legend’s theme song (ironically, reinforcing a racial stereotype); and
    • the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences followed suit this morning by awarding it token nominations for Best Song and Best Picture — the latter of which is not the honor it used to be, considering that the Academy nominates ten instead of only five pictures these days for this most coveted Oscar.

    For the record, though, here is how the Washington Post reported this snub:

    The most obvious snub was Selma, Ava DuVernay’s moving biopic about Martin Luther King Jr. Despite a nod for best picture and best original song (for Common and John Legend’s recent Golden Globe-winning “Glory”), the film’s director and actors were shut out in their respective categories. David Oyelowo missed out on a best actor nomination, but more surprisingly, Ava DuVernay was not acknowledged in the best director category, a nomination that would have been the first for an African American woman.

    Cue the cries of racism:

    Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.51.26 AM

    In fact, the increasingly popular Huffington Post, which too often panders to Blacks, promptly blared – “White Gold: Whitest Oscars since ’98…,”– as if Blacks are entitled to a quota of nominations, regardless of the merit of their work.

    You’d never know that, just last year, this same Academy, whose over 6,000 voting members are 94 percent White (77 percent male, and average age 62), not only nominated Blacks in most major categories, but also awarded the most-coveted Oscar, for best picture, to a “Black movie,” 12 Years a Slave. In fact, members went beyond tokenism by awarding an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress to Black Lupita Nyong’o and another for Best Adapted Screenplay to Black John Ridley.

    Frankly, it has become farcical to watch race-baiting activists, like Reverend Al Sharpton, perform racial tantrums every time this lily-white Academy fails to meet some de facto quota of Black nominations. It would’ve occurred to well-intentioned civil rights activists long ago to negotiate behind closed doors to better integrate the Academy. Failing that, genuine Black pride would’ve compelled them to simply establish their own version of the Oscars. And they could’ve named their Academy Award of Merit, The Leroys – given that there’s an “Uncle Leroy” in practically every Black family.

    In a similar vein, am I the only one who finds it curious that Hollywood cast British actors to portray the two most admired men in U.S. history: Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln three years ago; and David Oyelowo as MLK in Selma last year…?

    NOTE: Folklore has it that Margaret Herrick, the Academy director during the 1930s, had an uncle named Oscar whose features seemed to have been used to mold the famous golden statue. Further, that this resemblance inspired Academy staff to begin calling their Award of Merit, The Oscars—in homage to her uncle.

    Related commentaries:
    Selma defames LBJ

    * This commentary was originally published yesterday, Thursday, at 11:53 a.m.

  • Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 11:16 AM

    Pope Francis Rebukes ‘Charlie Hebdo’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    From day one, I seemed to be among far too few non-Muslims condemning Charlie Hebdo for publishing anti-Muslim cartoons.

    It’s one thing to defy Islamic jihadists to expose human rights and other abuses Muslims perpetrate in the name of Islam — as Hirsi Ali and van Gogh did with their film. It’s quite another to do so merely to propagate caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad — as Charlie Hebdo and its celebrated cartoonists did with their cartoons. The former clearly informs and has undeniable redeeming social value; whereas the latter serves no purpose other than to provoke/offend Muslims (for the amusement of non-Muslims?).

    Put another way, would so many people be standing in solidarity with these cartoonists if they were propagating racist caricatures of Blacks — complete with liberal use of the word “nigger” in speech bubbles…? Or, perhaps more relevant to Europeans, would so many people be standing in solidarity with them if they were propagating anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews — complete with hooked nose sniffing for financial schemes…? I don’t think so…

    No amount of religious or cultural offense can ever justify the kind of jihadi justice meted out against Charlie Hebdo and its staff today – no matter how repugnant, or indeed sacrilege, their offense.

    (“Massacre in Paris: Islamic Jihadist Come Home to Roost,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 7, 2015)

    pope on charlieImagine my feeling of solidarity, therefore, when Pope Francis affirmed our condemnation — not only of mass murder in the name of religion, but also of religious insult in the name of freedom of speech.

    Here in part is what he pronounced just hours ago:

    To kill in the name of God is an aberration.

    [However], if [a close friend] says a swear word against my mother, he’s going to get a punch in the nose. One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.

    (TIME, January 15, 2015)


    By the way, I hope it’s self-evident that the pope was speaking metaphorically about punching his friend in the nose (instead of turning that proverbial other cheek). He clearly said this to convey the depth of offense such insults provoke. Not to mention that he prefaced this illustrative point with several pronouncements condemning violence, to say nothing of mass murder, as a reaction to religious insult.

    That said, bear in mind that you’d be hard-pressed to find a single politician or pundit in the West who has not gotten on board the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ bandwagon. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a single one who has not hailed Francis as the most compelling and consequential religious leader of our times.

    Therefore, it will be really interesting to see if this papal rebuke has a chastening effect on all who have been blithely riding along with those religious bullies (or, as the pope might call them, mean-spirited provocateurs) at Charlie Hebdo.


    French PM echoes my view on root causes of Muslim violence

    January 20

    Those who took exception to my criticism of the “je suis Charlie” rallying cry also took exception to my warnings about feelings of disenfranchisement, disillusionment, and disaffection among Muslim youths leading inevitably to anger, rage, and pathological violence. I originally issued warnings in this respect in “Caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad Incite Fiery Rage, Part II,” February 6, 2006, and again, most recently, in “Massacre in Paris: Islamic Jihadists Come Home to Roost,” January 7, 2015.

    Imagine my feeling of vindication, therefore, when French Prime Minister Manuel Valls echoed my warnings. For here in part is what he admitted during a speech today before the National Assembly in Paris:

    We have to look at all the divisions, the tensions that have been going on for years … the neglect of the suburbs, the ghettos, the social misery…

    A geographical, social and ethnic apartheid has established itself in our country.

    (Reuters, 20, 2015)

    I rest my case.

    Related commentaries:
    Massacre in Paris

  • Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    Forget Mount Everest, Try Climbing El Capitan

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    Never before in the history of human endeavor has there been a demonstration of such natural skill, perseverance, and daring — all in the name of sport:

    On the 19th day of their climb, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, both now bearded, reached the summit of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall, completing a quest that included years of planning and that many considered the most challenging rock climb in the world.

    It was the first ascent of the 3,000-foot Dawn Wall in a single expedition with the use of only hands and feet to pull climbers up — a challenge long considered impossible. Ropes were merely safety devices to break the occasional fall.

    (New York Times, January 14, 2015)


    To get a better sense of this, imagine climbing a building that is twice the height of the world’s tallest, relying only on gripping your fingers and planting your toes in crevices (shallower than those you’d find on a brick building) to get to the top. Imagine further that, instead of climbing straight up, you had to climb in zigzag fashion. Hell, I get queasy just recalling how seized with fright I was when I first looked over the edge of a 3-meter diving board….

    Frankly, the difference between this climb up El Capitan and treks up Mount Everest is the difference between swimming the English Channel and rowing it. And, if you know anything about all Everest expeditions, you know that sherpas and ropes are to trekkers as boats and paddles are to rowers.

    Yes, one does not climb Mount Everest; one treks it. This compels me to note that not enough is being made in the media about the seven years of unsung and unseen training it took to accomplish this feat….

    For what makes this climb so laudable is the pure athleticism and mental toughness it displayed. Which is so refreshing – given that some form of cheating or corruption taints practically every sport in the world these days.

    Of course, many of you are probably wondering what motivated Caldwell and Jorgeson to climb this mountain. But I suspect they can offer no better answer than the famous one English mountaineer George Mallory gave … before he died trying to summit Mount Everest in 1924:

    Because it’s there.

    Congratulations guys!


  • Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 6:48 AM

    ‘Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    n-je-ne-suis-pas-charlie-large570I am proud to be among the few still small voices condemning instead of praising Charlie Hebdo. But nobody in his right mind could possibly think that committing mass murder against its staff was the right way to express this condemnation:

    It’s one thing to defy Islamic jihadists to expose human rights and other abuses Muslims perpetrate in the name of Islam — as Hirsi Ali and van Gogh did with their film. It’s quite another to do so merely to propagate caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad — as Charlie Hebdo and its celebrated cartoonists did with their cartoons. The former clearly informs and has undeniable redeeming social value; whereas the latter serves no purpose other than to provoke/offend Muslims (for the amusement of non-Muslims?).

    Put another way, would so many people be standing in solidarity with these cartoonists if they were propagating racist caricatures of Blacks — complete with liberal use of the word “nigger” in speech bubbles…? Or, perhaps more relevant to Europeans, would so many people be standing in solidarity with them if they were propagating anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews — complete with hooked noses sniffing for financial schemes…? I don’t think so…

    No amount of religious or cultural offense can ever justify the kind of jihadi justice meted out against Charlie Hebdo and its staff today – no matter how repugnant, or indeed sacrilege, their offense.

    (‘Massacre in Paris: Islamic Jihadist Come Home to Roost,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 7, 2015)

    Vous êtes Charlie. OK. Êtes-vous KKK too?

    The prevailing argument in support of Charlie Hebdo’s anti-Muslim cartoons is that it desecrates all religions with equal irreverence. Except that, because Christians tolerate insults to their faith does not mean that Muslims should too. After all, nobody in his right mind would argue that, because Whites tolerate racist jokes about their race, Blacks should too.

    (“Media Covering Manhunt more as Entertainment than News,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 9, 2015)

    Paris MuslimsFrankly, I see little difference between Charlie Hebdo publishing anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic cartoons and the KKK publishing racist … and anti-Semitic propaganda. They both peddle hate speech that offends all reasonable notions of free speech.

    This is why I am marking its heralded return today – complete with cartoons expressly intended to insult Muslims more than ever – by formally declaring my solidarity with those who feel as indignant towards Charlie Hebdo as I feel towards the KKK.

    On 11 January, an estimated 1.6 million people took to the streets of Paris to voice their solidarity with those murdered at the hands of radical Muslim terrorists and proclaim ‘Je suis Charlie’ (I am Charlie). But not everyone in the city felt comfortable with that idea. Many Muslims throughout Paris chose to stay away – some of them even stating ‘Je ne suis pas Charlie’ (I am not Charlie).

    (The Guardian, January 12, 2015)

    Apropos of which, corporate interests might prevent the New York Times from declaring its solidarity. But refusing to follow media fashion, by running Charlie Hebdo cartoons, indicates that its editors do not think they constitute “news that’s fit to print” – even out of sympathy.

    On the other hand, for those of you who want a related hashtag that is more worthy of your viral activism, how about #Je Suis Ahmed:

    I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie disrespected me and ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so.

    (Vox, January 9, 2015)



    Meanwhile, a number art historians are declaiming that there’s nothing wrong with Charlie Hebdo publishing images of the Prophet Muhammad because images of the Prophet appear in medieval Islamic art. But this is plainly specious; not least because, instead of publishing images to respect and revere (as Islamic art invariably did), Charlie Hebdo invariably publishes them to demean and defile.

    What’s more, non-Muslims telling Muslims what should not cause them religious offense reeks of the kind of paternalistic arrogance that once had Whites telling Blacks what should not cause them racial offense. Of course, just decades ago, it was commonplace to refer to Blacks as Negroes/Niggers. But it’s generally accepted that today, in light of cognitive dissonance, only racists and ignoramuses would dare refer to Blacks as such.

    By instructive contrast, it has been centuries since it was commonplace to publish images of the Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, by the same token, why shouldn’t we deduce that today, in light of changing religious mores, only Islamophobes and ignoramuses would dare not only publish such images, but do so in the form of deliberately offensive cartoons…?

    Finally, am I the only one who sees the self-defeating irony inherent in Westerners, on the one hand, implementing all kinds of police-state measures to prevent “lone wolf” attacks; while on the other hand, leading mass parades in support of anti-Muslim cartoons, which will likely do more than jihadist propaganda to incite and recruit Muslims to carry out such attacks?

    Related commentaries:
    Massacre in Paris

  • Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    Ohio Buckeyes Trample Oregon Ducks to Win NCAA Football National Championship

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    My team, Virginia Tech, didn’t even make the coveted AP top 25, let alone the playoffs. Therefore, I did not have a dog in this fight (no allusions to former VT quarterback Michael Vick intended).

    150112.RJK_.EMG_.FBS_.CFPC_.CFPC_.1299-980x653Still, it was a pretty exciting game, especially watching Ohio’s third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones, outplay Oregon’s first-string and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Marcus Mariotta.

    The Buckeyes’ season seemed lost in November when quarterback J.T. Barrett broke his right ankle in the regular-season finale. They had already lost their regular starter, Braxton Miller, to a shoulder injury before the season even began. They had no choice but to turn to their third-stringer, Cardale Jones.

    (New York Times, January 13, 2015)

    But I’d seen enough of the way the Ohio Buckeyes dominated the first half, offensively and defensively, to feel certain that there was no way the Oregon Ducks could overcome the halftime score of 21-10.

    Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 7.05.33 AMThe Ducks made it interesting early in the third quarter, though, when they quacked up a quick 10 points to come within one. In doing so, they displayed a little of the seemingly invincible force that helped them drown the Florida Gators 59-20 in their semifinal game. But, before I could finish a bathroom break, the Buckeyes had responded with an even quicker 14 points of their own, and it was all downhill for them, or upstream for the Ducks, from then on.

    Ohio ended up winning 42-20 – complete with an unsporting score with mere seconds to go, which seemed like payback for the way the Ducks ran up the score on the Gators….

    CFPCHAMPIONSHIP-1421122778393-articleLargeAs impressive as Jones was, however, Ohio running back Ezekiel Elliot deserves honorable mention. For he virtually carried his team to the national championship on his back with 246 yards and four touchdowns.

    But the most interesting thing for me about last night’s “final” is that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice served as the only woman on the 12-member committee that devised the NCAA’s new playoff system.

    For the first time ever, the highest level of college Football has a playoff system, something the fans and media have desired for years. This is the first year of the College Football Playoff, a four-team playoff that consists of two national semifinal games and a final.

    The top four seeds were, in order, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State … were selected by a committee.

    (CNN, January 11, 2015)


    Particularly noteworthy is the howling protest her appointment incited among influential male chauvinist pigs – like former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden and former Auburn coach Pat Dye. Reports suggest that they remain wedded to the Neanderthal belief that only men understand what makes Football competitive … and profitable. Which is why they must just roll their eyes at Condi’s shameless lobbying for her “dream job” as commissioner of the NFL….

    But nothing vindicated this new playoff system quite like having Alabama and Florida State knocked out in semifinal games on New Year’s Day. After all, these two teams would surely have played for the national championship under the old (BCS) poll and computer-driven system.

    Moreover, this championship game generated so much hype, I would not be surprised if more people tuned in last night than will tune in to watch the Super Bowl in a few weeks. Not to mention that, instead of the traditional salad of post-season bowl games claiming to crown a national champion, this game finally crowned the NCAA champion with the same certainty with which the Super Bowl always crowns the NFL champion.

    This brings me to my abiding pet peeve about the big business of college football masquerading as an amateur sport. This excerpt from “Reggie Bush Forfeits Heisman Trophy,” September 16, 2010, explains why.


    There’s nothing amateur about college football.  It’s a multibillion-dollar business for Christ’s sake!  More to the point, the people who are generating its revenues are not the university presidents, athletics directors, or coaches who, incidentally, make millions of dollars in salary and endorsement deals. Instead, they are the poor, mostly black athletes whose raw talent colleges exploit to pack 100,000 fans into their stadiums on game day.

    I have always felt that it is tantamount to modern-day slavery for universities to recruit poor and, all too often, uneducated athletes just to play Football and not compensate them for their services, especially considering they rarely get an education…

    But this indentured servitude is made much worse by branding these poor players – who generate tens of millions for their respective universities – as cheaters for accepting a little cash on the side. Mind you, those offering the cash are often boosters just trying to make life easier for the players to enable them to perform better for their universities. Not to mention that, if the NCAA were to penalize all college players who accept such gifts, there would be no college Football (or Basketball) worth watching.

    The hypocrisy inherent in this is beyond shameful. Universities should be required to compensate student athletes in direct proportion to the way owners of professional Football teams compensate their players.


    01football_span-articleLarge-v2Therefore, I hereby call on the NCAA to form another special committee to rewrite the rules governing the relationship between colleges and so-called student athletes. Because it’s unconscionable to continue exploiting these athletes as nothing more than indentured servants – most of whom end up even more indebted, if not indentured, after their service.

    After all, they not only graduate with degrees not worth the paper they’re written on; they actually enter college aiming to do nothing but make themselves more marketable to professional teams – as the star of last night’s game, Cardale Jones, asserted in a refreshingly honest tweet years ago:

    Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come here to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.

    (8:43 AM – 5 Oct 12)

    Of course, classes could indeed prove pointless for Jones now that he’s a national champion quarterback. The only lesson left for him to learn is that he must strike while the iron is hot and go pro. Mind you, classes would not have proved so pointless had fate not intervened to injure Ohio’s first and second-string quarterbacks (as reported above), giving him a chance to shine. As it stands, chances are very good that ninety percent (or more) of his teammates, who share the same attitude and approach to classes, will never earn a penny as professional Football players….

    Finally, I would be remiss not to note that three of the four teams selected for this inaugural playoff competition (namely Alabama, Florida, and Ohio) all featured black quarterbacks. Not to mention that both NFL teams in last year’s Super Bowl featured black quarterbacks.

    Accordingly, I am happy to use this occasion to declare that I am finally over another of my pet peeves. After all, racism in the NCAA and NFL was such that teams invariably reserved this pivotal position for White players, deeming blacks not intelligent enough to play it. Imagine that….

    NOTE: Reporters and pundits invariably hurl indignation at black folks for going on rioting sprees to vent frustrations over systematic racial injustice; and rightly so. Therefore, you’d think these same reporters and pundits would hurl even more indignation at white folks for going on rioting sprees to express jubilation over a sports championship (as they did in Ohio last night); yet few of them do. What’s up with that?!

    Related commentaries:
    Reggie Bush
    Student-athletes graduate poor … and dumb

  • Monday, January 12, 2015 at 6:31 AM

    Discovery Channel Promises Fact Instead of Fiction

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    20141024164538-9573Here is how the founder and chairman of the Discovery Channel, John Hendricks, crystallizes its mission statement:

    To satisfy curiosity and make a difference in people’s lives by providing the highest quality content, services and products that entertain, engage and enlighten.


    Of course, all fact-based productions, for TV and film, would do well to be guided by this mission statement.

    Yet here, in part, is how I commented two years ago on the History Channel presenting producer Mark Burnett’s Eurocentric depiction of Jesus (and Satan) as historical fact:

    In making Jesus White and Satan Black, Burnett is proselytizing and perpetuating insidious and pernicious racial stereotypes. It’s a canard worthy of The Clansman

    The Bible’s biggest sin is not the artistic license Burnett took with his casting. Rather, it’s the decision executives at the History Channel took to carry this greatest story ever sold. They should have sent Burnett over to the Disney Channel, where make-believe TV belongs.

    Accordingly, I pray: “Let’s Bring History Back To The History Channel,” and leave all of the ‘scripted reality’ programming to the entertainment networks.

    (“‘The Bible’ – Proselytizing and Perpetuating Racial Stereotypes,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 19, 2013)

    And here in part is how I commented just last week on Paramount Studio presenting director Ava DuVernay’s Afrocentric depiction of the relationship between LBJ and MLK as historical fact:

    No doubt Selma Director Ava DuVernay thought her revisionist version of the relationship between LBJ and MLK, during this pivotal point in the Civil Rights Movement, would pack a more dramatic punch. Only this explains her clear, formulaic intent to portray LBJ as a Pharaoh-like villain and MLK as a Moses-like savior.

    No matter the commercial or political agenda, however, no artist should get away with peddling revisionist history as historical fact.

    (“‘Selma’ Defames LBJ to Make MLK Look, What, Even Better?” The iPINIONS Journal, January 5, 2015)

    This is why I was somewhat heartened on Friday when the new president of Discovery Channel, Rick Ross, made this promise:

    Despite its ratings success with shows like Mermaids: The Body Found and Megalodon: The New Evidence, new Discovery Channel president Rich Ross said he’s getting rid of fake shows…

    ‘I don’t think it’s right for Discovery Channel…’

    (Huffington Post, January 9, 2015)

    discovery-channel-team-rider-lance-armstrong-dataMind you, in addition to its fake programming, the Discovery Channel also corrupted its corporate mission by sponsoring fake cycling champion Lance Armstrong….

    But, to fully appreciate this promise, just imagine the editor of the New York Times being forced to promise to stop reporting stories about alien abductions, Elvis sightings, and Kim Kardashian’s natural booty. Such make-believe stories clearly do not belong in any newspaper of record. They belong in a tabloid like the fabled Weekly World News.

    Accordingly, I hope all producers, directors, and entertainment executives follow Ross’s lead. Because only respect for the thick, red line between fact and fiction will prevent so many people from believing specious, and often fatuous, assertions because TV programs presented them as historical facts.

    Related commentaries:
    The Bible

  • Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 7:41 AM

    If higher fuel prices = higher plane fares THEN lower fuel prices = lower plane fares. Right?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 10.06.47 PM

    The price of fuel has fallen over 50 percent in the last six months.

    Yet, far from lowering fares during this period, airlines hiked them. Why? Mergers that amount to monopolies, enabling fares that reek of price fixing.

    Airline executives clearly have nothing on used car salesmen….

    Friggin’ Gougers!

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