• Friday, October 30, 2015 at 3:53 PM

    UPDATE: Black Students Protest in Support of White Officer…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Here is a surprising twist in the developing story of the White student resource officer who lost his job after forcibly removing a Black female student from her classroom at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina earlier this week:

    The local NBC affiliate WIS reported that hundreds of students participated in Friday’s walkout at 10 a.m., before a school administrator told them to return to class…

    Some of the students responded by yelling ‘Free Fields.’

    [School senior John Cassibry — who published video of the protest] estimated that Black students accounted for a majority of the protesters on Friday.

    (Huffington Post, October 30, 2015)

    Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 3.06.05 PMIt is instructive to note that, after the school administrator assured them that the school heard their voices and appreciated their efforts, the students duly returned to class. Imagine that.

    But, given the intra-racial flak I’ve taken, I hope I can be forgiven for also noting that, in mounting this protest, these students vindicated my take on this incident below in “White Male Cop ‘Brutalized’ Black Female Student? I Beg To Differ,” October 28, 2015.

    They made fools of the political opportunists who propagated the notion that the officer in this case is just another racist, rogue cop, and undermined media portrayals of the female student he arrested as an innocent victim.

    Enough said.

    Related commentaries:
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  • Friday, October 30, 2015 at 6:24 AM

    Happy Halloween (Hope you don’t mind the Christmas Carols…)

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 10.27.39 PM

  • Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    Millions in South Sudan Eating Leaves and Grass … Like Cows

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    For important context on this grazing tragedy, here is an excerpt from “South Sudan Descending into the Heart of Darkness,” December 30, 2013.

    _________________

    pic1I joined the chorus of those heralding the birth of South Sudan as a new nation in Africa – fathered not by colonial masters but by Africans themselves. But I felt constrained to sound this cautionary note:

    What looms, however, may cause the southerners’ Independence Day, which they will mark on July 9, to turn into a pyrrhic celebration…

    I just hope and pray these southerners – who are composed of all kinds of Black tribes – can avoid the kind of tribal conflicts that continue to beset so many other countries in Africa.

    (“South Sudan Secedes,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 9, 2011)

    Sure enough, their celebration was pyrrhic. Because here I am, less than three years later, feeling obliged to comment on South Sudanese cannibalizing each other:

    South Sudan’s army fought on Sunday with ‘White Army’ ethnic militia, accusing rebels of mobilizing the force despite its offer of a truce to end the conflict in the new country.

    Two weeks of fighting have left at least 1,000 dead and split the oil-producing country barely two years after it won independence from Sudan. It has also raised fears of an all-out civil war between the main Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups, which could destabilize fragile East Africa.

    (Reuters, December 29, 2013)

    Clearly there’s farcical irony (or is that tragicomedy?) in calling a bunch of Black militiamen – who cover their faces with ash as insect repellant – a “White Army.” Given their look and haunting tactics, one would’ve thought “ghost army” would be more fitting. But I shall leave it to experts to comment on the socio-psychological legacy of colonialism their curious appellation reinforces.

    President_Salva_Kiir_and_Ri-300x114Instead, I shall suffice to bemoan this prescient/foreboding lament I sounded six years ago – in “Politics of Corruption in Kenya,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 31, 2007 – when Kenya was on the precipice on a similar tribal/ethnic conflict:

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

    _________________

    That was two years ago, folks. And I’ve written several commentaries bemoaning the same since then, including “South Sudan Continues Descent into the Heart of Darkness,” April 25, 2014, and “’Another African Famine?! Nobody Cares!’ Then Call Me Nobody,” May 2, 2014. Significantly, I ended the latter with this abiding plea:

    I am truly humbled by the thousands of foreign aid workers (mostly White Americans) who, despite all of the challenges and frustrations, continue to march to the front lines to help combat everything from chronic poverty to the vicious cycle of tribal warfare.

    Hence, I can never tire of doing what little I can to support them and keep the humanitarian work they do in public consciousness. And, in doing so, I hope you don’t mind my taking a page from my Mummy’s playbook by trying to guilt you into donating (as I do) to their organizations, like UNICEFUSAID, Doctors Without BordersUN World Food Programme, and CARE.

    Therefore, it truly pains me that South Sudan continues to vindicate my worst fears – as this excerpt from a BBC Documentary “South Sudan’s Shattered Dream,” October 28, 2015, attests.

    __________________

    Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 5.32.56 PMAlmost four million people are facing severe food shortages, with thousands at risk of starvation, in South Sudan, in what has been described as one of the worst humanitarian crises.

    According to a report published in October 2015, if immediate action is not taken, the country could face famine in a matter of weeks. Aid agencies are pleading with both government and opposition forces to respect the current ceasefire and give unrestricted access to the areas most in need…

    It’s evening time, and Regina is busily preparing dinner for her family. I look into the pot to see what it is she is cooking and am astounded and shocked to find she is just using grass and leaves to feed her six children. It’s all she has.

    __________________

    Not to mention that an international commission of inquiry into alleged war crimes found that both government and rebel forces are perpetrating systematic torture, mutilations, rape, and forced cannibalism against the country’s hapless, starving civilians.

    The media are making much ado about the exodus of thousands of Syrians fleeing sectarian conflict. But they would have cause to make much more ado about the exodus of millions of South Sudanese fleeing ethnic conflict … if only chronic starvation did not prevent the South Sudanese from walking like the Syrians.

    In truth, all I can say at this point is: God help the godforsaken people of South Sudan.

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  • Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 6:48 AM

    White Male Cop ‘Brutalized’ Black Female Student? I Beg To Differ.

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    No doubt you’ve seen the latest video clip chronicling seemingly irreconcilable conflicts between White cops and Black folks.

    In the clip that went viral online on Monday, Student Resource Officer Ben Fields is seen violently flinging a female student out of her desk, dragging her to the front of the classroom, and forcefully restraining her as he puts her in handcuffs…

    The student had refused to leave class before the school officer became involved, the sheriff’s office told the local TV station WIST.

    (Huffington Post, October 27, 2015)

    download (35)You’ve probably also seen commentators all over mainstream and social media hurling mob-like condemnation at this officer for the “extremely disturbing” and “horrific” way he “brutalized” this student. Never mind credible reports that she suffered no injuries during this incident, which occurred at the Spring Valley High School in South Carolina yesterday morning….

    The clip shows the officer ordering her, rather politely, to obey the teacher’s instruction to leave the classroom. But she appeared to accord him no greater respect than she did her teacher or the administrator her teacher initially called for help. This left the officer no choice but to physically remove her … for the educational benefit of the other students.

    Alas, that he acted pursuant to this prevailing benefit seems completely lost on most commentators, and will be lost, I fear, on her fellow students too – given the way this incident is playing out in the media.

    It’s easy to say from our vantage point that this officer should have used less force to remove her. But I suspect we’d be able to accuse most cops of using excessive force if they were caught on tape dealing with a similar situation.

    On the other hand, prevailing anti-cop bias is blinding commentators to the fact that she clearly provoked the force he used by resisting so frenetically – complete with punches and kicks to fend him off.

    Perhaps more instructive, though, are reports that neither her teacher nor the administrator uttered a word of complaint about excessive force … before that video went viral. Not to mention the obvious fact that the teacher would not have called for help in the first place if this student had not shown a determination to resist as she did.

    All of which raises a few critical questions. But first, please take a moment to consider what a disruptive presence she must have been to have compelled her beleaguered and frustrated teacher to call for help:

    • What is a student resource officer supposed to do when a disruptive student refuses all entreaties to leave the classroom?
    • Would it have been in the school’s or, more importantly, the other students’ interest to allow her to continue disrupting the class at her will and whim?
    • If yes, what would this portend for the classroom order and discipline necessary to create an environment conducive to learning?

    Truth be told, this student’s disruptive behavior did not surprise me in the least. It is entirely consistent with the cancerous disrespect far too many young Black kids are developing, not just for police officers but all authority figures.

    Apropos of which, I cannot overstate this abiding fear:

    The lesson most young Black men [and women, evidently] are learning from this tragedy is that they can resist arrest — so long as they shout the newfangled slogan, ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ while doing so. Clearly, this will only lead to more of them ending up like Michael…

    Instead of doublespeak that would make him a saint, those eulogizing Michael would honor his death far more by admonishing young Black men [and women] against the deadly hazards of resisting arrest and defying authority … merely as a misguided badge of honor or rite of passage.

    (“Why Chastise the Times for Describing Michael Brown as ‘No Angel’?” The iPINIONS Journal, August 26, 2014)

    2DD8EEA500000578-3291816-image-a-4_1445979565124Indeed, what is most troubling about this trend is the way everyone from civic leaders to social commentators invariably treat these rebels without a cause like civil-rights martyrs and heroes. And, after coddling them, despite their misbehavior/crimes, these same people then wonder why Black kids continue to act out in such disruptive and criminal ways; or, of far greater concern, why they continue to perform in school way below their White counterparts – with the continuing cycle of plight and blight that portends.

    To say nothing of the media portraying this student as a wholly innocent victim of “racist” police brutality. Only this explains the Huffington Post headlining its fairly balanced report on this incident: “When Black Kids Aren’t Allowed To Be Kids.” How’s that for confusing, condescending, coddling claptrap?! Talk about exhorting Blacks to be their own worst enemies….

    Frankly, it’s a reflection on what dystopian places schools have become that student resource officers are now as commonplace at them as physical education teachers. And those officers are there as much to protect teachers from increasingly unruly and violent students as to protect students from each other.

    For a little perspective, if I had disrupted class in this fashion when I was in school, my Mummy would have “brutalized” me more than that officer reportedly brutalized this girl. What’s more, my school, my classmates and I would have all been much the better for it.

    Mum-beats-child-for-throwing-rocks-at-Baltimore-Police-mainAnd, lest you think I’m just old fashioned, the Black kid whose mother caught him on TV reveling in the Baltimore riots earlier this year might beg to differ. Remember the viral sensation she became when she marched through those riots, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, and brutalized his ass all the way home?

    He was clearly humiliated but, trust me, that kid would tell you today that he’s much the better for it.

    Which raises one more critical question:

    • Why aren’t more commentators questioning the parenting of this child who sees nothing wrong with not only refusing to participate in class, but making it impossible for other students to do so as well?

    Then, of course, there’s the most cynical feature of these contrived civil-rights conflicts: the inevitable lawsuit, which unjustly enriches the lawyers filing them and the alleged victims in equal measure.

    Nothing demonstrates this misguided folly quite like the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) sticking its brown nose into this provincial disciplinary matter. As if lying in wait for the video to “go viral,” it made quite a show just hours ago of announcing its intent to launch an investigation to determine if this cop violated this student’s civil rights.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 5.50.13 PMMind you, this is the same DOJ that made quite a show of launching an investigation to determine if another White cop violated Michael Brown’s civil rights when he shot Michael in Ferguson last year. Only it made far less of a show when it finally announced that his use of deadly force was justified – given clear and convincing evidence that Brown was violently resisting arrest.

    Never mind that DOJ officials stood by in the interim as ignorant and misguided protesters convicted this cop in the court of public opinion and pressured local officials to fire him.

    Therefore, I would bet my life savings that, after sufficient political pandering in this case, the DOJ will quietly announce that this cop’s use of force was also justified.

    Never mind that DOJ officials will stand by in the interim as ignorant and misguided commentators convict this cop in the court of public opinion and pressure local officials to fire him.

    Which brings me to the most important things to learn from this teachable incident:

    • It only fuels these conflicts between White cops and Black folks when commentators of all stripes refuse to condemn the types of behavior that continually give rise to them.
    • It only encourages more unruly behavior, thereby making learning even more challenging, when commentators of all stripes hail this student – who disrupted her own class – as a latterday Rosa Parks.
    • It is always incumbent upon cops to diffuse conflicts, which in this case might have had him calling for backup to lift this kid, while still seated in her chair, and take her out of the classroom (as ridiculous as that seems), instead of dragging her from it and cuffing her the way he did.

    Incidentally, what is probably most telling about this video is that none of her classmates can be seen raising a voice, let alone lifting a finger, in her defense against this White cop.

    Related commentaries:
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    *  This commentary was originally published yesterday, Tuesday, at 6:08 p.m.

  • Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    Obese Passengers Should Pay Extra…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    According to the World Health Organization, we are experiencing a “global obesity epidemic”. The following points from its January 2015 fact sheet bear this out:

    • Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
    • In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese.

    obese-300x187It is hardly surprising, therefore, that complaints about obese passengers encroaching the seats of fellow passengers are reaching critical mass. Which is why many airlines are requiring obese passengers to pay for an extra seat.

    Obese British man told he must pay for two seats on plane…

    [I]n the age of the supersize traveller, our total weight (passenger and luggage) should be taken into account at check-in…

    Tall people already have to pay for extra legroom.

    (UK Daily Mail, October 26, 2015)

    As it happens, I was in the vanguard of those calling for airlines to implement such policies:

    The only fair and equitable way to deal with obese passengers is to require them to purchase two seats – the second one perhaps at half price.

    (“Bar Obese Passengers from Flying?” The iPINIONS Journal, September 11, 2009)

    I was acutely mindful back then that some might condemn such policies for discriminating against fat people. Indeed, this is why you’d be hard-pressed to find any airline expressly stating or strictly enforcing its obese-passenger policy.

    2DC57C8F00000578-3289014-Julia_Richardson_often_finds_herself_sandwiched_between_two_larg-a-52_1445819697498

    But if you have ever had an obese passenger encroach your space with impunity, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re the one being discriminated against. This is why I’ve always emphasized the extent to which obese passengers encroach the space of other passengers, instead of how much they add to the overall weight of the airplane.

    Incidentally, this physical encroachment is as distinguishable from crying babies or heavy perfume as punching a person is from screaming in her face. It also stands in instructive contrast to the fatuous way some airlines cite fuel consumption to justify taxing overweight people the way they tax overweight baggage.

    In any event, the only sustainable alternative to requiring an obese passenger to pay for an extra seat is for courts to order the airlines to provide one as a matter of human rights. In other words, accommodate people with extra weight the way they accommodate people with disabilities….

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  • Monday, October 26, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    Lewis Hamilton, Formula One Champion … Again

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    2251None of my siblings or close friends enjoy car racing. Therefore, I had no one to celebrate with yesterday after Lewis Hamilton clinched his third Formula One (F1) championship, especially given that it played out against NFL Sunday.

    In fact, one of my NFL-loving brothers dismissed my jubilant attempts to convey the significance of Hamilton’s achievement with derisive comments about car racing and rednecks. This caused me to betray my own prejudice by countering that FI is to urbane people like me what NASCAR is to rednecks….

    In any event, here’s a little of what I wrote seven years ago – in “Hamilton Becomes the Youngest Ever and First Black F1 Champion,” November 3, 2008 – after he won his first championship.

    __________________

    If you don’t know Formula One from Formula 409, please take note:

    F1 car racing is a sport that requires the steady hands of a surgeon, the daring skill of a jet fighter, and the physical stamina of a marathon runner. Moreover, no sport can match the sustained thrill and nail-biting suspense one gets from watching those drivers navigate the zigs, zags, and hairpin-turns of a grand prix racetrack as they jockey for position at speeds exceeding 200 mph! …

    Naturally, given the uncanny similarities in racial background and precocious talent between Hamilton and Tiger Woods, the barons of Hamilton’s sport are banking he’ll do for F1 racing what Woods has done for golf.

    ___________________

    Of course, the spectacular downward spiral Tiger’s career took just one year after I wrote this makes the analogy to him a little unfortunate in hindsight.

    I’m sure Tiger never imagined that booty hunting in his private life could haunt his professional life the way it has. Therefore, I hope Lewis learns this lesson, especially given the way he flaunts his pursuits in this respect. Indeed, that he’s so often featured as a front-row gawker at Victoria’s Secret and other fashion shows does not bode well.

    image6.img.640.mediumBut there’s no gainsaying today that the only driver who can stop him from rewriting the records books in FI, as Tiger was supposed to do in Golf, is Lewis himself.

    After the ecstatic Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag on Sunday he performed donut spins for the cheering crowd while Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ blared out from the Mercedes garage. As he crossed the line and had it confirmed that he had equalled his idol Ayrton Senna by making it three F1 world championships the 30-year-old said over the car radio: ‘This is the greatest moment of my life.’

    (UK Guardian, October 25, 2015)

    Incidentally, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg deserves the viral condemnation he’s getting for his poor sportsmanship, which had him stewing in self-pity over his second-place finish. Still, he deserves credit for finishing this race like a worthy teammate, holding off the furious late challenge by third-place finisher (and four-time F1 champion) Sebastian Vettel as he did.

    After all, a truly spiteful Rosberg would have let Vettel overtake him and thereby deny Hamilton the points separation he needed to clinch the championship in this race. Never mind that the effect would only have been to delay Hamilton’s coronation for another day (either in Mexico on November 1, Brazil on November 15, or Abu Dhabi on November 29 — the final of this nineteen-race season).

    Drive on, Brother! Drive on!

    mclarens-lewis-hamilton-after-winning-the-2012-formula-one-united-states-grand-prix_100409806_m

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  • Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Barack Obama, Wins Landslide Victory

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Not surprisingly, Trumped-up Republicans reacted by calling for a wall between the United States and Canada too.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 8.34.36 AM

    Just kidding.

    [Emulating Obama] Justin Trudeau got help from youth, new voters, social media in election win…

    Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau outpaced his competition on Twitter on Election Day as well; there were more than 150,000 tweets to @justintrudeau, whereas Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s account @pmharper only got 68,385.

    (Toronto Star, October 23, 2015)

    Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 1.05.29 PMObama aside, many commentators, on both sides of the border, are now hailing the Trudeaus as the Kennedys of Canada. They invariably refer to similarities in liberal politics and good looks for this dynastic comparison. Never mind that the Trudeau women, especially Justin’s notoriously hedonistic mother Margaret, make the Kennedy women look like stepford wives.

    But surely it would be fairer to hail them as the Bushes of Canada. After all, Justin, 43, has now emulated his father Pierre, who served as prime minister (1968-79 and 1980-84); just as George W (2000-08) emulated his father George H.W., who served as president from 1988-92. By contrast, no Kennedy has ever emulated his father (or any other family member for that matter) in this context – with all due respect to the promise JFK Jr. showed before he died so tragically in 1999 at age 38.

    On a more serious note, Trudeau pledged during his campaign to establish a far closer relationship with the Obama administration than Harper had. Of course, this wasn’t pledging much; not least because the Harper administration acted like the northern flank of Obama’s Republican opposition in Congress.

    Even so, Trudeau distanced Canada from the United States with his first act as prime minister-elect. He announced the immediate withdrawal of all Canadian combat troops from the Middle East.

    Recall that Obama premised his 2008 presidential campaign on withdrawing all American troops from foreign entanglements in the Middle East. He argued, quite sensibly, that those entanglements, especially in Iraq, have done nothing but cause hundreds of thousands of lives and waste trillions of dollars. Accordingly, he made quite a show of announcing the withdrawal of those troops.

    Yet, incomprehensibly, Obama still has a few thousand over there trying to do what one hundred fifty thousand failed, for over a decade, to do; namely to train Afghans and Iraqis (and now Syrians) to govern, defend, and sustain themselves.

    Again, Muslims have been waging sectarian wars for over a thousand years. But nothing demonstrates the folly of U.S. meddling quite quite like U.S.-trained Afghans, Iraqis, and Syrians either surrendering to or joining ISIS fighters, instead of fighting them. That is, mind you, when they weren’t turning their U.S.-issued guns on their U.S. trainers….

    Not to mention performing so poorly when they actually showed the will to fight that their U.S. trainers invariably ended up doing most of the fighting … and dying too – as was the case just days ago:

    American and Kurdish commandos raided an Islamic State prison in Iraq on Thursday, freeing about 70 captives believed to be facing “mass execution” and leaving one U.S. soldier dead, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

    It was the first time a member of the U.S. military had been killed in a combat situation in Iraq since President Obama pulled out all U.S. troops in 2011…

    The maneuver underscored the risks facing troops in Iraq despite the Obama administration’s efforts to keep U.S. forces­ far from combat and avoid the bloodshed of the last Iraq war, when more than 4,000 American service members died.

    (Washington Post, October 22, 2015)

    Clearly, 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.

    But this deadly, foolish game — of deploying troops to a combat zone but insisting they’re not in combat — illustrates how mired in the folly of Bush-league wars Obama has become.

    I have written many commentaries lamenting this metamorphosis, including most recently “Obama more Like Bush than Obama Would Like to Say,” September 25, 2014, and “Obama Amassing Coalition of the Willing to Do in Syria What Bush Did in Afghanistan/Iraq,” September 30, 2015.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 9.48.51 AM

    Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that, during their first conversation on Tuesday, Trudeau informed Obama that he’s withdrawing all Canadian combat troops from Obama’s coalition. By the way, Britain’s new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbin, would do the same if he pulls off a Trudeau-like miracle by winning the next election.

    This, after all, is what Obama would’ve done – before he became more concerned about protecting his presidential legacy than doing the right thing.

    Hail, Trudeau!

    Related commentaries:
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  • Friday, October 23, 2015 at 2:13 AM

    Oh Adele, I Will Always Love You … Too

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    And here it is: “Hello,” the first new music from Adele in over three years.

    The single is a straightforward ballad that sends Adele’s voice flying. Following up on her 2011 album 21, an extraordinary tribute to a dead relationship with a still-beating heart, “Hello” examines doomed love…

    Even as she laments the end, “Hello” knows it’s just checking in, then moving on.

    (Vox Culture, October 23, 2015)

    Here, in part, is why I am probably the most cherished, unrequited love of her life:

    In this age, when style too often triumphs over substance (e.g., think how indispensable style is to the performances of singers like Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj), she personifies the saving grace of pure, unadulterated talent. And she’s beautiful to boot….

    (The Oscars: My Picks, The iPINIONS Journal, February 24, 2013)

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  • Friday, October 23, 2015 at 1:47 AM

    MJ: ‘The Kid Is Not My Son’ (Nor Is the Girl or the Other One)

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Prince Jackson is admitting it … there’s a chance Michael Jackson isn’t his biological parent…

    This started when someone trolled Prince on Twitter by saying, ‘everyone knows you are a Rowe-Klein NOT A Jackson!’

    (TMZ, October 22, 2015)

    Doc-to-Call-Michael-Jackson-Children-as-Defense-Witnesses-in-Manslaughter-Trial-2You knew this day would come, right?

    Of course, any Michael Jackson fan will recognize the allusion in my title to his hit song, “Billie Jean.” Ironically, this song could have served as the anthem for his “big lie” about the kids he proudly claimed were his own.

    Remarkably, the Jacksons always sang in tune about Michael being the biological father of Prince, Paris, and Blanket. That is, except for the artistically challenged LaToya sounding an occasional discordant note.

    But nothing betrayed their intent to conspire in this respect quite like the Jacksons vilifying Matt Fiddes, a White man, who claimed that sicko-wacko-Jacko actually asked him to donate the sperm to father Blanket. A farfetched claim, I know. But almost everything about MJ was farfetched.

    For what it’s worth, I found Fiddes’s claim so convincing that I commented on it in “The Kid (Blanket) Is Not (Michael’s) Son,” April 24, 2012. It is noteworthy that two other White men, Arnold Klein and Mark Lester, have made credible claims of paternity to Prince and Paris, respectively.

    Whatever the case, I have denounced Michael’s big lie in several commentaries.

    For example, here:

    The most manifestly troubling aspect of Michael’s personal life was his role as a father. In addition to many other Freudian questions, I wonder about the psychological impact on his three lily-white children of having this black man (notwithstanding his appearance) insist that he is their biological father.

    Just imagine the psychological defect (self-hate?) or physical dysfunction that led Michael to choose the sperm of a white man, instead of using his own (or that of a black man), to inseminate the (white) surrogates who gave birth to his designer babies.

    (“Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, Is Dead,” The iPINIONS Journal, June 27, 2009)

    And here:

    Nothing is more pathetic than watching his siblings on TV going on about how these kids look just like Michael – seemingly unaware that surgically or cosmetically altered features (like his pointed nose, bleached skin, and long wig) cannot be inherited.

    (“52nd Annual Grammy Awards,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 1, 2010)

    The greater irony, however, is that the Jacksons seemed to be banking on this big lie becoming the truth, putting a truly perverse twist on Michael’s warning in “Billie Jean” to:

    Be careful of what you do ’cause the lie becomes the truth’.

    Mind you, I always considered Michael’s big lie a form of child abuse, which the Jacksons sang along with for pecuniary benefits.

    One wonders if any of them ever gave a moment’s thought to the inevitable psychological damage these kids would suffer. Perhaps they thought Prince, Paris, and Blanket miraculously inherited their greedy gene and would buy into his big lie too – when they grew old enough to recognize it.

    paris-jackson-320But it should come as no surprise that teenage Paris spent as much time in psych wards as in classrooms in recent years:

    Paris Jackson will continue treatment for depression and grief at a rehab facility in Utah, sources state. The 15-year-old will be moved there after she finishes treatment at UCLA and remain until doctors feel she is not a threat to herself…

    Last month Paris attempted to take her life by taking an abundance of Motrin pills and cutting her wrists.

    (Christian Post, July 8, 2013)

    I hope her treatment was/is successful. I would not be the least bit surprised, however, if she acts out in ways that put paid to this big lie (e.g., by living with her biological mother or rushing into a teenage marriage).

    Now though, if not depression, her big brother Prince is clearly suffering a lot of grief – as the opening quote indicates.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 10.42.29 PM

    Only God knows what a meme about this white boy pretending to be the biological son of a black man (even if that black man pretended to be white) could force Prince to do … to himself. To say nothing of what it might force the painfully shy Blanket to do. But we all know that menacing trolls on social media have demonstrated an alarming ability and resolve to torment young kids to death … literally.

    My sympathy for these innocent kids is surpassed only by my contempt for the Jacksons for helping Michael perpetrate this siring farce.

    Michael clearly had enough money to compensate other kids for the harm molesting them caused. But I fear his estate can never generate enough money to compensate these kids for the harm claiming he fathered them caused.

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  • Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 2:41 AM

    Israeli PM Netanyahu Blames Palestinian for Getting Hitler to ‘Burn them’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    ‘Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,’ Netanyahu said [in a speech to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem late on Tuesday]. ‘And Haj Amin al-Husseini [the then Mufti of Jerusalem] went to Hitler and said, ”If you expel them, they’ll all come here.”

    “So what should I do with them?’’ Netanyahu said Hitler asked the mufti, who responded: “Burn them.”

    (Reuters, October 21, 2015)

    1018347788This is the incendiary way Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu framed his latest race-baiting attack against the Palestinian people.

    Unsurprisingly, Palestinians condemned him. Here is how Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s secretary general, crystallized their condemnation:

    It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbor so much that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of six million Jews.

    (UK Guardian, October 21, 2015)

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    But I am heartened that Israelis, across the political spectrum, condemned him too. Here is how Moshe Yaalon, Netanyahu’s own defense minister, crystallized their condemnation:

    It certainly wasn’t (Husseini) who invented the Final Solution. That was the evil brainchild of Hitler himself.

    (Washington Times, October 21, 2015)

    Not to mention that historians chastised him. Here is how Dina Porat, a professor at Tel Aviv University and the chief historian of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, crystallized their chastisement:

    To say that the mufti was the first to mention to Hitler the idea to kill or burn the Jews is not correct.

    The idea to rid the world of the Jews was a central theme in Hitler’s ideology a long, long time before he met the mufti.

    (France 24, October 22, 2015)

    Netanyahu-holocaust-angelamerkel-germany-hitler-jews-zionists_10-22-2015_201566_lBut it speaks volumes about the egregious nature of Netanyahu’s remarks that Germans felt obliged to publicly accept eternal blame for the Holocaust … yet again. Here is how Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, crystallized their acceptance:

    All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilisation that was the Holocaust.

    (Haaretz, October 21, 2015)

    If he had any shame, Netanyahu would apologize. But his record of race baiting against Palestinians is such that I expect no better of him than I do of Al Sharpton, famous for his notorious race baiting against Whites.

    Indeed, I’ve had just cause to condemn Netanyahu twice this year alone for race baiting against Palestinians:

    • In “Netanyahu’s Call for Jewish Exodus more Sharpton than Moses,” February 23, 2015, I condemned him for insinuating that Jews in Europe today are as oppressed as they were during the heyday of the Hitler’s Third Reich. Of course, the irony is completely lost on this self-righteous schmuck that he is oppressing Palestinians today even more than Hitler oppressed Jews … before executing his “final solution” to burn them.
    • And in “Israel Votes to Become more Like (old) Apartheid South Africa,” March 18, 2015, I condemned him for exhorting Jews to rush to the election polls because too many Israelis of Arab descent were showing up to vote.

    Meanwhile, these bullet points should make clear that, notwithstanding his public utterances of support, Netanyahu is as opposed to an independent state for Palestinians (the so-called “two-state solution”) as he is to an Israel in which they have equal rights. This is why anyone who knows anything about Israeli politics knows that there will be no peace between Israelis and Palestinians as long as he is prime minister.

    But here is how I crystallized my longstanding condemnation of him in the commentary I referenced in that first bullet point:

    The best way to get my disdain for Netanyahu’s politics is to understand that there’s no event too farcical or solemn for him to exploit for political gain or self-aggrandizement. This exploitation invariably has him playing the Holocaust card, which is why he can be fairly thought of as little more than Al Sharpton’s political brother from another mother.

    Enough said?

    Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 9.59.06 PM

    Except that I would be remiss not to acknowledge Netanyahu’s intent. It is clearly to exploit the international sympathy Jews are receiving for the way Palestinians have been perpetrating ISIS-inspired knife attacks against them in recent weeks (aka “a new intifada for a new generation”).

    No doubt I sympathize with the Jewish victims. What’s more, I reserve a fair amount of condemnation for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for exhorting Palestinians to perpetrate these attacks.

    abbas-resistance-2After all, here is how he hailed Palestinians who have been rioting for weeks now, purportedly defending their claim to the disputed holy site on the Temple Mount, which houses the famous al-Aqsa Mosque.

    Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is ours…

    They have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet, we won’t allow them to do that.

    (Times of Israel, September 17, 2015)

    I’m all too mindful, however, that the Apartheid-like way Netanyahu’s government lords over Palestinians in the Occupied Territories triggered these attacks. The way it facilitates expansion of Jewish settlements there, in brazen defiance of UN Resolutions, is particularly noteworthy.

    Frankly, it’s not too difficult to understand why oppressed and hopeless Palestinians would choose “martyrdom,” which comes with knifing a Jew, over misery, which life under Israeli occupation has become.

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  • Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    Global Fight against ‘Extreme Poverty’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In “G8 Summit ’05: Rich Nations Pledge (again) to End Poverty,” May 27, 2005, I decried the way extreme poverty persisted in developing countries, despite global pledges and efforts to end it.  Here is an excerpt.

    __________________

    It is a glaring indictment of our shared humanity that rich countries revel in obscene wealth, while poor ones wallow in extreme poverty.

    3990Yet, for more than fifty years, people of conscience have pleaded to no avail for rich countries to help alleviate world poverty by redistributing a little of their wealth. Indeed, when the United Nations passed a resolution thirty-five years ago to cut world poverty in half by 2015, it seemed naïve at best.

    Sure enough, the pledges rich countries made pursuant to that resolution never amounted to much more than political grandstanding. And, therein lies the perennial fallacy of rich countries making pledges to help poor ones. (Just ask the Indonesians how much of the billions pledged for Tsunami relief has actually materialized.)…

    It must be noted, however, that no discussion or criticism of the failure of rich countries to honor their aid pledges would be complete without acknowledging the even more scandalous failure of poor countries to manage the aid they receive responsibly. After all, it has become axiomatic that corruption is part of the culture of life in most developing countries. With the end of the Cold War, however, donor nations no longer have as much strategic interest in these countries. They are now less inclined to turn a blind eye to the rampant misappropriation and gross mismanagement of aid that was so customary.

    Therefore, concomitant with challenging rich countries to increase and fulfill their pledges, we must require poor countries to demonstrate more transparent accounting for (and sensible use of) foreign aid. Because, despite shortchanging and other shortcomings, the cumulative data on the aid rich countries have donated compels one to wonder why poor countries have not done more to alleviate extreme, chronic poverty in their midst.

    __________________

    The good news is that the international community has done a lot since then to “make poverty history,” notwithstanding my abiding criticism.

    The number of people living in extreme poverty is likely to fall for the first time below 10% of the world’s population in 2015, the World Bank said on Sunday…

    Across the planet, the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped by more than half since 1990, when 1.9 billion people lived on under $1.25 a day, compared to 836 million in 2015, according to the UN…

    Replacing [the poverty alleviation goals] are the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 goals to combat poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030 – with ending extreme poverty for all people everywhere, a key target.

    (UK Guardian, October 4, 2015)

    Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 9.11.29 PM

    The bad news is that poverty across Africa persists at more than three times the level it does across Asia. Specifically, according to this same World Bank report, more than one third of Africa’s population remains mired in extreme poverty.

    In fact, it stands as a historic contradiction that the more aid Africa received the poorer Africa became. But this has had almost as much to do with rich countries extracting onerous debt-repayments terms as with African leaders embezzling aid, systematically, and ethnic/religious conflict undermining development, chronically.

    Over the past 60 years at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Yet real per-capita income today is lower than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50% of the population — over 350 million people — live on less than a dollar a day, a figure that has nearly doubled in two decades.

    Even after the very aggressive debt-relief campaigns in the 1990s, African countries still pay close to $20 billion in debt repayments per annum, a stark reminder that aid is not free.

    (Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2009)

    Dambisa_Moyo_Black_Presence_UK-300x209In addition to joining other westerners in calling for debt relief, I have lamented the aid paradox in such commentaries as “Fatal Assistance to Haiti. Oxymoron Intended,” February 3, 2015.

    But, apropos of my abiding criticism, it is far more noteworthy that young African leaders, like Dambisa Moyo of Zambia, are actually championing a paradigm shift from Western-style aid to Chinese-style investments:

    My frustration as an African is that, here is Bill Gates, he did not reach success by relying on aid…

    His ability to transform the African condition, indeed the human condition, would be far more effective if he went to Africa and did something truly innovative like setting up a university, or an engineering school, or a massive Microsoft plant…

    Ultimately one takeaway about why aid is problematic is that it undermines the accountability of governments in these countries [that] are able to abdicate their responsibility of providing the public goods, like education, healthcare, national security, infrastructure [which] is the only mechanism by which we are able to hold them accountable and thus have proper liberal democracies in place.

    (Slate, May 22, 2013)

    Hope springs eternal….

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  • Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 7:22 AM

    Eddie Murphy, King of Comedy, Finally

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Comedian Larry David debuted his impersonation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on last weekend’s edition Saturday Night Live (SNL). I’ve seen the viral clip of his performance. He was hysterical. But the media worship was such that he could be forgiven for feeling like the king of comedy.

    Never mind that David sounded more like his curmudgeonly self on Curb Your Enthusiasm than Sanders on the campaign trail.

    As it happens, though, Eddie Murphy had just cause to feel like the king of comedy after receiving this year’s Mark Twain Prize at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday night.

    The Kennedy Center awards the prize annually to social critics who best emulate Twain’s searing wit in comedic writing and/or performances. Accordingly, Kennedy Center chief Deborah F. Rutter said that Murphy is receiving it:

    For being a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective on social injustice and personal folly.

    (Deadline Hollywood, October 19, 2015)

    usa-entertainment-twainSure enough, during his acceptance (or coronation) speech, Murphy upstaged David’s impersonation of Bernie Sanders with a far edgier impersonation of Bill Cosby. And the greater was his humor because, unlike David’s riff on Sanders owning just one pair of underwear, everything Murphy said about Cosby rang true.

    This speech constituted the celebrated movie star’s first stand-up routine in 28 years.

    Obviously, I cannot do it justice in this forum, even if I were something of a mimic myself. But here, in part, is what he said, alluding to fallout from the scandal that has now seen over 50 women accuse Cosby of rape:

    You know you’ve fu*ked up when they want you to give your trophies back.

    [Then, bringing down the house with his spot-on Cosby (Jell-O pudding) voice, he blared:]

    I’d like to talk to some of the people who feel … that I should give my motherf**king trophies back!

    (Rolling Stone, October 19, 2015)

    Mind you, after a good belly laugh, I could not help wondering if this bit said more about Murphy’s situational ethics than Cosby’s terminal demise. After all, just last February, Murphy reportedly bailed at the last minute on doing Cosby for the SNL 40th anniversary show, claiming that he did not want to join other comics in kicking this alleged serial rapist when he’s down.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.47.48 PM

    Never mind that the SNL stage is where he honed his comedic skills, including mimicking Richard Pryor not only when he was down, but all burnt up from freebasing cocaine.

    Frankly, you’d think Murphy would have shown a little more deference to the show that launched his movie career. After all, but for SNL, he would not be ranked ranked today among the top-five box office earners of all time, having starred in such blockbusters as 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, and Shrek.

    HsPPrbHBut this imperious streak might explain why the comics who showed up on Sunday to honor him were more protégés, like Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Rock, than peers, like fellow Mark Twain Prize-winners Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, and Tina Fey – with all due respect to attendee Joe Piscopo.

    Nonetheless, I’m a big fan. And this prize is well-deserved, perhaps even overdue.

    After all, the Kennedy Center awarded it to Will Ferrell four years ago for Christ’s sake!

    Congratulations, Eddie!

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  • Monday, October 19, 2015 at 7:16 AM

    Paid at Last, Paid at Last, Black Farmers Are Paid at Last

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    0508_pol-black-farmers1Almost four years ago, President Obama announced a provisional agreement to settle longstanding claims of institutional racism, which Black (and Indian) farmers filed against the federal government. This announcement made me as proud of Obama as I was pleased for the farmers.

    Here, in part, is how I commented in “Government Finally Settles Billion-Dollar Discrimination Suit with Black Farmers,” November 2, 2011.

    ____________________

    Far too few Americans, especially Black ones, are aware of the almost 30-year legal battle Black farmers launched in 1983 against the U.S. government. They claimed that for decades the Department of Agriculture (USDA) denied them loans and technical assistance that were routinely offered to White farmers.

    Here is how President Obama hailed the settlement of their claims in an all too modest statement last Friday:

    This agreement will provide overdue relief and justice to African American farmers, and bring us closer to the ideals of freedom and equality that this country was founded on.

    (Whitehouse.gov, October 28, 2011)

    blackfarmers-300x225His statement is modest because, but for Obama’s decision to order the USDA and the Department of Justice to assess the merits of their claims, this settlement would never have been reached.

    Not to mention that if these farmers did not hold out hope that this day would come (i.e., despite being ignored by presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush), the USDA would have succeeded in ethnically cleansing them from the ranks of the nation’s farmers. After all, according to the 1997 Census of Agriculture, in 1920 Black farmers owned 14 percent of the private farms in America; today they own less than 1 percent…

    Given the way so many Democrats (and even some Republicans) are waxing nostalgic over Bill Clinton these days, I think it’s important to at least question why even he ignored the desperate pleas of these black farmers.

    __________________

    obama-black-farmers-indiansjpg-aeeb768f43bdf463Well, here’s to that settlement now being signed, sealed and delivered. The money is theirs.

    President Obama signed a $4.55 billion settlement today to end decades-old claims by African-American farmers and Native Americans who said the federal government cheated them out of loans and royalties from use of natural resources…

    The bill provides $3.4 billion to American Indian tribes for past royalties from oil, gas, and timber extraction from their lands.

    And $1.15 billion goes to African-American farmers who said they have been unfairly denied federal loans and other assistance.

    (USA Today, October 12, 2015)

    Justice delayed is not always justice denied. But, like Obama said at the signing ceremony, it’s high time the government made things right.

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  • Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 8:59 AM

    EXTRA! EXTRA! Playboy Will Stop Showing Nudes!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    170055_600

    Playboy is covering up.

    For 62 years, the iconic adult magazine has fueled sexual fantasies with glossy fold-out spreads of fully nude women. Furtively hidden in adolescent bedrooms and defiantly plastered on college dorm room walls, it helped spark America’s sexual revolution and tested the country’s acceptance of photos that in an earlier day passed for pornography.

    Now, however, in a move that is sure to shock (privately, at least) millions of Americans, Playboy is putting clothes on its centerfolds.

    (Washington Post, October 13, 2015)

    This is hardly “Breaking News.” In fact, it’s about as meaningless as news that Blockbuster will stop renting movies. Moreover, like Blockbuster, Playboy will go bust … in due course.

    Ironically, the folks at this magazine appear to be the only ones who never got the running joke about buying it for the articles.

    But the world wide web of porn has rendered Playboy’s nude pictorials, well, quaint. And the notion that people will now buy it to ogle scantily clad girls is no less so. After all, with computers, smartphones and photo-sharing apps like Instagram, the opportunity to ogle an unlimited number (and variety) of such girls is now at everyone’s fingertips….

    Not to mention that publications like Maxim have already saturated this sub-genre of porn that Playboy is now getting into. Hell, even Victoria’s Secret is selling more T&A than lingerie.

  • Friday, October 16, 2015 at 7:17 AM

    Yet More Websites Banning Public Comments

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Dear Reader, We’re Closing Comments

    HRahaik-The Independent Online is South Africa’s “premier online news source.” The above is how it headlined a transformative open letter to readers yesterday, becoming the latest on a growing list of news sites and weblogs banning comments.

    Here, in part, is how the editor explained IOL’s reason for doing so:

    I thought you should be the first to know that Independent Online (IOL) will be closing comments on its online articles with immediate effect.

    It is a difficult but necessary decision to make and we arrived at it after careful consideration of all the factors at play…

    We are of the view that instances of abuse in our comments section have become untenable.

    Screen-Shot-2014-05-17-at-9.17.15-PMWelcome to the club, IOL:

    I disabled the comments feature on this site years ago. Far too many visitors were using it to either publish comments that had nothing to do with my commentaries or hurl insults at other readers (you know, the ignorant and juvenile snark that seems standard fare on Twitter and Facebook).

    Not to mention those who commented anonymously or under fake names because they didn’t have the balls to stand by, or the brains to defend, their comments.

    (“More Websites Banning Public Comments,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 23, 2014)

    I trust it’s self-evident from browsing my commentaries that I probably read more news, arts and culture, and sports sites than anyone you know. But I stopped commenting on what I read long ago, after realizing that the comments section, even of purportedly highbrow sites like the New York Times and The Economist, is invariably more mental mosh pit than debate forum.

    What’s more, most reporters/writers only chimed in if they had a financial incentive to curry favor with readers; you know, like social-media hustlers begging for “Likes” and “Followers.”

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  • Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    Kardashians Rush to Comatose Lamar Odom … with Cameras Rolling

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Former NBA star Lamar Odom was on a days-long bender before he fell unconscious at a brothel on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said Wednesday…

    Love Ranch employees confirmed that Odom had taken at least 10 sexual performance-enhancing herbal supplements over a three-day period at the brothel, and that he’d taken cocaine on Saturday.

    Odom, 35, was reportedly fighting for his life Tuesday and had yet to regain consciousness. It wasn’t clear what his condition was Wednesday.

    (Huffington Post, October 13, 2015)

    Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 10.44.51 AMNo doubt his family members and former teammates, notably Kobe Bryant, rushed to Odom’s bedside out of heartfelt concern for his welfare. But you could be forgiven for thinking that his estranged wife Khloe and the other Kardashians rushed there, with cameras rolling, out of ratings concern for their reality-TV show(s). And oh the boon if he throws them a solid by dying … while they’re there.

    (Don’t get me started on the twits following fashion with tweets that are clearly more about attention for them than concern for him….)

    Sadly, our celebrity-obsessed culture has become such that even the mainstream media are dedicating far more coverage to how the Kardashians are grieving for the cameras than to how Odom is fighting for his life. In fact, so much so that those who know Odom are taking to social media to rail against the Kardashian machine.

    ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt rails against Kardashian-slanted coverage of Lamar Odom’s hospitalization…

    ‘Lamar Odom, unlike those for whom fame is oxygen, whose fame comes in the absence of accomplishment, his fame was earned: as Sixth Man Of The Year, as a multiple NBA champion….’

    (New York Daily News, October 15, 2015)

    Except that the Kardashians are only doing what the Kardashians do. What’s more, Odom himself has no reason to expect any better of them.

    lamar-odom-kardashian-jenner-lgHere’s why:

    [O]ne of the two Lakers ejected for committing a flagrant foul was Lamar Odom. But, unlike the other player, he probably did it as much out of frustration as out of some perverse attempt to create more ratings-grabbing fodder for Keeping Up With The Kardashians, the reality-TV show on which he appears as a two-bit player alongside his wife Khloe Kardashian.

    Yes folks, our social values have become so screwed up that it’s entirely credible to assert that a multimillionaire basketball player would willfully demean himself and undermine his team on the court just to boost ratings for his reality TV show.

    (“Jackson Resigns After Lakers Swept…,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 10, 2011)

    How ironic, then, that reports are that, despite his best efforts, he could not manufacture enough drama to keep up with the Kardashians. Further, that the shortcomings of the almost 7-foot has-been in this respect drove an emasculated Odom to seek validation and comfort in drugs, alcohol … and prostitutes.

    Incidentally, it speaks volumes about the emasculating nature of their faux reality that gold medal Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner just managed to escape with his balls, but little else, still intact: “Call me Caitlyn” indeed….

    In any event, you might feel sorry for Odom. But I cannot comment any further.

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  • Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 6:31 AM

    Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino Defends Use of N-word with Middle Finger

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Throughout his career, Quentin Tarantino has been dogged by criticism over his Tourette’s-like use of the word “nigger” in his films.

    Therefore, it’s noteworthy that he decided to finally address this criticism. He did so in an interview with Bret Easton Ellis as part of a lengthy profile for the October 12 edition of the New York Times’ T Magazine.

    Except that, in the piece headlined, “The Gonzo Vision of Quentin Tarantino,” he did little more than dismiss his “Black critics” with indignation and contempt.

    Quentin-TarantinoHere, in part, is what he said:

    [W]hen the Black critics came out with savage think pieces about [Django Unchained], I couldn’t have cared less…

    If people don’t like my movies, they don’t like my movies, and if they don’t get it, it doesn’t matter…

    You wouldn’t think the color of a writer’s skin should have any effect on the words themselves.

    Unlike his Black critics, I have no problem with Tarantino using the n-word … in his movies. Not least because I can think of no better way to portray a character’s racism and ignorance than to have him spew that racial slur, wantonly.

    Indeed, Whites are loath to utter this word in polite society, especially in the company of Black folks, for good reason. It follows that Whites who do are labeled racists – with all of the social scorn and sanction that entails … and rightly so.

    But Tarantino undercut his artistic license by feigning ignorance about the racial effect/perception that obtains when he, a White writer, laces his script with the n-word. Race matters, and he knows it.

    As a matter of fact, I would have found Tarantino’s take on his use of this word more palatable if he had been interviewed for this profile by a critically acclaimed Black writer like Ta-Nehisi Coates. Not least because Coates explores the legacy of America’s original sin in such books as Between the World and Me, whereas Ellis, a critically acclaimed White writer, explores the American zeitgeist of amoral sex, drugs, and violence in such books as American Psycho.

    All the same, “Gonzo” is the operative word in the headline. For nothing defines a Tarantino film quite like Hunter S. Thompsonesque, stream-of-consciousness dialogue and orgiastic violence, which reflect his twisted mind more than anything in real life. But there’s no denying his talent as a movie writer, producer, and director—as his two Oscars and two Golden Globes duly attest.

    But there’s no denying his talent as a movie writer, producer, and director – as his two Oscars and two Golden Globes duly attest.

    In fact, no filmmaker has made a string of more entertaining movies over the past twenty years – as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill (Vols. I and II), Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained duly attest.

    quentin-tarantino-soundtracks

    And, ironically, no White filmmaker has featured more compelling Black characters – as Black actors Samuel L. Jackson, Pam Grier, and Jamie Foxx duly attest.

    Yet filmmaker Spike Lee, novelist Ishmael Reed, and columnist Jelani Cobb have led a chorus of Black critics who, over the years, have decried Tarantino’s use of the n-word. My reading of their criticism is that he writes as if there is no difference between the “racist licks” and the profanities he laces throughout his scripts.

    But here is how I addressed such criticism, with respect to Tarantino’s Academy Award-winning Django Unchained no less, in “The Oscars: My Picks,” February 13, 2013.

    ____________________

    You’ve probably heard Spike Lee, the director of such ‘racially affirming’ films as She’s Gotta Have It and Jungle Fever, spewing indignation about Django Unchained being ‘disrespectful to my ancestors’ – as he is quoted saying in the December 21, 2012, edition of Vibe magazine. It speaks volumes about his professional integrity and intellectual curiosity, however, that he boasted about having no intent to ever see this film by (White) director Quentin Tarantino.

    MV5BMjEyMDAyNTk3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDQ1OTMz._V1_SX640_SY720_But all you need to know is that Lee spewed equally vacuous criticism about the Academy Award-winning film The Color Purple by (White) director Steven Spielberg. Not to mention his demonstrably uninformed fulmination about Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood not including one Black soldier in his two films about Iwo Jima, namely Letters From Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers

    The only plausible explanation for his criticism in each case is race-based envy and resentment. (I addressed Lee’s race-baiting ignorance in this latter respect more fully in “Spike Lee vs. Clint Eastwood Over No Blacks in War Movies,” June 10, 2008.)

    All the same, criticizing Tarantino for having his White characters use the word ‘Nigger’ too many times in Django Unchained is rather like criticizing Spielberg for having his German characters use the word ‘Vermin’ too many times in Schindler’s List. The criticism in both cases reflects an insidious strain of political correctness that presumes even to rewrite history.

    ____________________

    Incidentally, this is the same Clint Eastwood who directed Black actor Forest Whitaker in Bird, arguably the best film ever made about jazz. And, of course, jazz is Black America’s greatest gift to Western civilization … with all due respect to Straight Outta Compton and the legacy of hip-hop.

    Alas, political correctness has led to the fetishization of the word “nigger.” Nothing betrays this Orwellian spectacle quite like the Black (er, African-American) thought police assigning racist connotations even to our once proud racial classification, “Black” – presuming to ban it.

    But, to appreciate the absurd implications, imagine perverting James Brown’s classic from “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” (as I do), to “Say It Loud – I’m African American and I’m proud” (as one might … just to be politically correct).

    Frankly, the amount of time, emotion, and effort Blacks waste policing the way Whites use the n-word would be far better spent policing the way Whites actually treat us. Not least because reaction to this racial slight could and should be enlightened indifference – perhaps based on this take on that famous nursery rhyme:

    Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me … unless I let them.

    images (21)Meanwhile, it seems Tarantino’s Black critics couldn’t care less about the way their criticisms of him infantilizes the Black actors who appeared in his films. After all, if lacing his scripts with the n-word is so offensive to Blacks, what does it say about demonstrably proud Blacks like Jackson, Grier, and Foxx that they were not offended…?

    The reason they weren’t, of course, is that, far from denigrating Blacks, Tarantino’s films invariably champion them. Which is far more than can be said about blacksploitation films by Black directors, including Spike Lee and Tyler Perry, which too often feature coonish stereotypes of Black folks.

    Apropos of which, I would bet my life savings that every Black actor would prefer to play the Django character Foxx played in Tarantino’s Django Unchained than the Mookie one Lee himself played in Do the Right Thing.

    That’s a wrap.

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  • Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 7:18 AM

    Farrakhan’s ‘Justice or Else’ Ponzi Scheme

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    P.T. Barnum had an uncanny knack for getting poor people to part with their hard-earned money just to marvel at his “elaborate hoaxes.” His rival huckster, David Hannum, famously scoffed at this with the cynical observation that, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    MillionManMarchHolds20thAnniversaryMarchrLn5rhsEBsvlTens of thousands of Black folks vindicated Hannum’s observation when they heeded Minister Louis Farrakhan’s “final call” to gather in Washington on Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of his infamous Million Man March.

    After all, this 82-year-old huckster spent more than two hours delivering the same message about Black empowerment that he delivered twenty years ago, and again ten years ago to mark the 10th anniversary. The only difference came in the marketing of each gathering, having repackaged the tenth as the “Million More Movement” and this twentieth as the rally for “Justice or Else.” Never mind the latter begging the patently unanswerable question: or else what, Farrakhan?!

    The point is that Farrakhan’s farrakhanisms are notorious for their sound and fury; but they invariably signify nothing. Yet there seems no shortage of “suckers” willing to part with their hard-earned money to fund his Black-nation ponzi schemes. On Saturday, he framed his vintage solicitation to fund the latest with a promise to buy millions of acres of farmland – to grow enough wheat and milk enough cows to feed 30-40 million Black folks. I kid you not.

    Fashioning himself a latter-day Moses, as is his wont, he intoned, plainly disingenuously, that:

    Moses was not an integrationist and neither are we. Let me be clear. America has no future for you or for me.

    (CNN, October 10, 2015)

    All the same, there’s no denying how disreputable Farrakhan has become among the Black intelligentsia. For example, fellow race-baiting hustlers Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton jostled to bask in his reflected glow in 1995 and again in 2005. But even they shunned his call to return to the Mall in 2015. Instead, rappers Snoop Dogg and P. Diddy were the most prominent Blacks there on Saturday, and Farrakhan seemed eager to bask in their reflected glow.

    US-POLITICS-SOCIETY

    Frankly, Farrakhan is a false prophet with an uncanny knack for generating false profits. But I gave up long ago trying to understand why so many people continue to buy into his ponzi schemes for a Black Promised Land hook, line, and sinker.

    All that’s left is for God to demonstrate his perverse tolerance for genocidal conflict by turning the Promised Land Farrakhan preaches about into a Black homestead in Idaho, right next to the homestead Richard Butler carved out for White supremacists. There, Farrakhan’s hopelessly misguided Blacks and Butler’s hopelessly racist Whites could embark on an interracial conflict that rivals the internecine one Sunnis and Shiites have been waging for nearly 1,000 years.

    In any event, in Farrakhan’s spirit of continually sowing the same barren seeds and still having them fall on fertile ground, I’ve decided to mark this twentieth anniversary with the same commentary I wrote to mark the tenth. I continue to hope against hope that it will expose his message of thorns for what it truly is.

    I wrote “Millions More Movement (and that’s millions more dollars, not people…fool!),” on October 17, 2005. I did so as one who heeded Farrakhan’s call to join his original Million Man March (in October 1995), only to become so disillusioned, disaffected, and duly disgruntled that I marked the 10th anniversary more as a recovering victim than as an enabling follower.

    Again, because there’s a sucker born every minute, my testimony is as relevant today as it was on that seminal anniversary.

    ___________________

    “Millions More Movement…”

    Minister Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam (NOI) marked the 10th anniversary of their Million Man March (the March) by calling Black men, women, and children to the National Mall again on Saturday to launch their Millions More Movement (the Movement). But, considering that I am still in despair over dashed hopes and broken promises from the March, I thought it would be too politically masochistic to join the Movement.

    However, thanks to C-SPAN, I could not resist tuning in from the comfortable home my Caribbean work ethic and unparalleled opportunities in America have enabled me to own. And it saddens me to affirm that what I saw of Saturday’s activities only vindicated my decision not to dignify this occasion with my presence.

    Incidentally, it seems appropriate to note here that fellow Caribbean native Wyclef Jean delivered the most instructive and useful message of the day. Feigning self-deprecation, he begged the crowd to excuse his perfect English as he shared his immigrant story of coming to America at the age of 10 and working several jobs at once (“the way we West Indians do”) to get by. He ended his story by declaring this self-evident truth: that if he could achieve such stellar success in America, then there was no reason why every Black American could not do the same! Unfortunately, speaking such obvious truths was not on the Movement’s agenda for this day, as every other speaker made patently clear….

    millionmore-300x173Farrakhan is easily the most articulate, visionary, inspiring, provocative, dynamic and intelligent public speaker in America today (as he has been for decades). But many of us who have been energized and moved by his anti-establishment polemics have come to realize that Farrakhan is little more than a performer who delivers speeches full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, and then is heard from no more … until his next curtain call.

    For example, in March 1995, Farrakhan led an army of one million Black men in a spirited denunciation of White supremacy. More importantly, he exhorted Blacks to atone for their self-inflicted maladies and for the serial failures of Black leadership. Of course, the irony that his failures are paramount in this respect was completely lost on him.

    He exuded such infectious majesty on that occasion that even pedestrian Black leaders delivered speeches about self-help, Black empowerment, and personal responsibility with such eloquence that one might have mistaken them for historical Black luminaries like Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglas, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But none of them reached the rhetorical heights where Farrakhan’s rhetoric soared – from the opening of his speech until he ended it with this, now trademark, pitch:

    Now brothers, the last thing we want to say, we want to develop an Economic Development Fund… Inside of one month, we would have over $100 million. And in one year, we would have $1 billion … which means that no Black organization will be accountable to anybody outside of us… How many of you would like to see all our Black organizations free?

    A task force will be formed … to make sure that the things that we say today will be implemented… [W]e want an outside accounting firm to come in and scrutinize every dollar that was raised from your pockets to make the Million Man March a success… We will come back … and we will account for every nickel, every dime, every dollar…so that you can trust. I put my life on this.

    To rob you is a sin. To use you and abuse you is a sin. To make mockery of your love and your trust is a sin. And we repent of all sin and we refuse to do sin anymore.

    (Courtesy of C-SPAN, October 16, 1995)

    I am ashamed to confess that I not only bought every word Farrakhan uttered back then, but also contributed to his phantom Economic Development Fund (EDF). I derive no consolation from having enough sense not to contribute to his equally dubious Economic Exodus (slush?) Fund.

    The point is that, based on my research and inquiries, Farrakhan did not implement any of the Black empowerment initiatives he outlined, or fulfill any of the fiduciary promises he made (that is, if any of them were ever intended to be). Frankly, it shall redound to his eternal shame that Farrakhan did, in fact, use and abuse the trust we vested in him and made a mockery of the love we bestowed upon him as a leader who, we hoped, would create a “third force” to compel the American establishment to address the concerns of the poor and powerless.

    Therefore, watching events unfold on Saturday, I had an appalling sense of déjà vu as speaker after speaker delivered essentially the same words I heard 10 years ago. Only this time, instead of projecting the aura of historical Black luminaries mentioned above, they looked and sounded more like second-rate actors spouting off hackneyed lines about Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq. And, instead of professing atonement for their own sins, they were blaming President Bush for everything from causing the levee breaks in New Orleans to cutting back their welfare checks.

    Indeed, what I watched, from my 1995 vantage point, smacked of a bunch of thieves returning to the scene of their greatest heist and trying to pull off a similar heist a decade later. Specifically, one of the longest speeches on Saturday was a shameless (but decidedly shameful) solicitation for money by one of Farrakhan’s boosters. In what must be a patented NOI version of Three Card Monte, he entertained the crowd with jokes (like a Saturday night comedian) and threw them a few religious platitudes (like a Sunday morning preacher), all while coaxing them to put their “Benjamins [100 dollar bills] in the receptacles” (like an everyday street hustler).

    NOI praetorian guards had placed these receptacles all over the Mall and were guarding them like Fort Knox. But it speaks volumes about Farrakhan’s intent that this was the first political rally on the hallowed Mall at which organizers had receptacles to collect cash instead of trash….

    To deliver Saturday’s pièces de résistance (think Sermon on the Mount), Farrakhan descended the steps of the Capitol like a deus ex machina (Black Moses) – escorted by his personal security detail from the Fruit of Islam (FOI) – and wowed the longsuffering crowd with vintage farrakhanisms.

    The highlight of his speech (or the most irresponsible part, depending on your vantage point) was his call for a separate Black United States of America comprised of “Black, Brown, Red and Poor people.” Never mind reasonable suspicions that might cause Brown and Red people to fear Blacks treating them in a Black United States just as Whites treated Blacks in the United States.

    Still, Farrakhan went so far as to detail the ministries he envisioned, including those for Agriculture, Education, Trade and Commerce, Defense, Information and Religion. And he promised that his Black United States of America (presumably with him as the Black George Washington) would forge economic and political solidarity with a United States of Africa and a United States of Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Intriguing stuff … until one realizes that it’s merely a repackaging of the grand platform for the “global advancement of Black people” he presented 10 years ago. But to perfect his recidivism, Farrakhan signalled the end of this speech with his familiar refrain:

    Now brothers [and sisters] we need money.

    Only, instead of using the pretext of an EDF, he announced the founding of a National Skills Bank where millions of Black people – who wish to contribute to his borrowed vision of a Pan-African world – could register their names “for a small deposit of $20 … and donate as many Benjamins as you can.” (Farrakhan even pulled a $100 bill out of his pocket at this point and held it above his head so that there could be no confusion between Benjamins and Georges [one dollar bills] when these new suckers make their deposits.)

    millionmancrowds

    As for the “millions” who attended, you can believe NOI counters or your lying eyes…

    Of course, I would not be at all surprised if – 10 years from now – Farrakhan has nothing of substance to show for all of his talk about the Movement. And I suspect many other Black men who joined his Million Man March are now just as cynical. Not least because aerial shots – juxtaposing the one million men who heeded Farrakhan’s call in 1995, with the smattering of men, women and children who heeded his call on Saturday – provide irrefutable evidence that many of us have become justifiably disillusioned with Farrakhan’s hollow rhetoric and financial schemes, and no longer want to be associated with him.

    (Speaker after speaker made point on Saturday of marveling at the mirage of “millions” in attendance and suggesting that DC authorities might deliberately undercount them for political reasons. One could not help thinking that NOI disciples were propagating a Big Lie about the size of the crowd for their own political reasons.)

    But before too many people register (i.e., pay) to be used, abused, and mocked yet again, I urge all Black people of conscience (especially journalists) to demand the financial reports. After all, Farrakhan promised in 1995 that they would be published on an annual basis to ensure fiscal transparency in and good governance of his EDF. And, to help frame our demands in this regard, here are just a few threshold questions I would ask Farrakhan to answer, if I had the chance:

    1. What is the name of the “outside accounting firm” you promised would audit all of the EDF’s operations and use of resources, and can you have that firm publish a comprehensive (or money for value) audit online as soon as possible?
    2. You indicated in 1995 that “in one year, we could have $1 billion” in the EDF. What amount did you have after one year, and what is the total amount collected to date?
    3. One of the most dramatic and “uplifting” moments during your speech in 1995 was when you said that, with so much money in the EDF, you would have your board “call in Myrley Evers Williams and ask her, what the budget of the NAACP is for this year? $13 million? $15 million? Write a check.” How many checks, and in what amounts, Minister Farrakhan, did your EDF write to the order of the NAACP or other minority organizations over the past 10 years?
    4. At your rather less attended and less celebrated Million Family March in October 2000, you called on 1 million families to donate $100 each for your NOI to fund economic development in blighted Black cities all over America. What cities have since benefited from those funds?
    5. In a similar vein, please name three ongoing concerns (whether businesses, development projects, or community outreach programs) that have been funded by seed money from the EDF and now fill you with the most pride?
    6. When framing your solicitations for donations, you invariably profess an interest in helping Black and poor people of all races, religions, and creeds. Therefore, what has your NOI done to better the lives of non-Muslim Black Americans – besides selling them recordings of your sermons, speeches, press conferences, and, it seems, every other word that has ever proceeded out your mouth? [NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I purchased many of Farrakhan’s recordings before I came to my senses in the late 1990s – a few years after the Million Man March.]

    Meanwhile, if purported civil rights leaders – like (the fathering babies out of wedlock) Rev. Jesse Jackson and (chronically indebted) Rev. Al Sharpton – had any credibility or clout left, they would’ve silenced Farrakhan long ago by raising these questions in the public interest. Instead, there they were on Saturday, shadowing Farrakhan, hoping to bask in his reflected glow….

    Finally, I feel constrained to note that, at one point in his speech, Farrakhan ridiculed the $40 billion debt relief African Heads of State negotiated a few months ago with G8 countries. He posited that, because England alone had exploited more than a trillion dollars from the African Continent, this purported relief was, in fact, an insult (implying, of course, that the Africans are too ignorant or provincial to recognize this).

    Except that his logic raises the following question:

    Farrakhan is on record claiming that White Americans amassed trillions of dollars by exploiting Black Americans for centuries as slave and cheap laborers. Therefore, never mind debt relief, how much have Farrakhan and other enlightened Black Americans negotiated in reparations from White Americans?

    The answer, of course, is nothing! Which is why Farrakhan’s advice for African debt relief (or Caribbean reparations) should ring every bit as hollow as his plan for a separate Black United States of America.

    __________________

    Enough said?

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  • Saturday, October 10, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Americans use migrants to pick fruit, Europeans will use them to build walls

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    20151010_WWD000

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  • Friday, October 9, 2015 at 7:22 AM

    Aping Trump, Murdoch Tweets that Obama Is Not a Real Black Man

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Frankly, the only thing I found shocking or disappointing about this viral tweet is that it provoked so much genuine outrage.

    After all, here is how I presaged this years ago in “Twitter Rant: Take 2,” November 27, 2012.

    ___________________

    What is surprising, however, is that erstwhile pillars of Western civilization are taking to Twitter like hood rats to crack.

    Most notable among them are former GE Chairman Jack Welch and News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch. For there can be no doubt that, but for their Twitter addiction, the world would never have known that Welch is a right-wing nutjob who thinks Obama’s ‘Chicago guys’ cooked macro-economic numbers to boost his re-election; or that Murdoch is a closeted, oxymoronic Zionist who thinks the self-hating ‘Jewish-owned press’ is anti-Israel in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    So just imagine what this portends for public debate – having politicians, CEOs, and professors compete with celebrities, athletes, and trolls to see who can attract the most twits with their mindless tweets on everything from public policy to daily gossip.to see who can attract the most twits with their mindless tweets on everything from public policy to daily gossip. And let’s face it, getting self-interested attention seems to be the prevailing reason for tweeting. And every tweeting twit in the twitterverse seems to think that the only way to get it is to be as obnoxious, incendiary, and/or bellicose as possible.

    This is why I firmly believe that Twitter has about as much redeeming value as Twinkies.

    ___________________

    11murdoch1Sure enough, like Pavlovian dogs, social and mainstream media gave Murdoch the viral reaction he craved when he tweeted:

    Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.

    8:59 PM October 7, 2015

    And, like a Cheshire Cat, Murdoch cynically apologized for any offense he might have caused.

    Apologies! No offence meant. Personally find both men charming.

    8:14 AM October 8, 2015

    Of course, Carson should have taken offense at Murdoch complimenting him as a foil for his racist slight against Obama. But I fear Carson has become captive to the Republican ruse of excusing all manner of insults as liberation from political correctness. Only this explains the phenomenon of Trump’s candidacy.

    ben-carson-20140422-1Not to mention Carson feeling obligated to shuck and jive to continue receiving the media coverage Murdoch’s FOX News Channel provides his candidacy.

    But, alas, I’ve become like John the Baptist preaching salvation that comes by reacting to such racist dog-whistle with indifference instead of outrage.

    Again, it speaks volumes about the narcissism and dumbing down of public discourse these days that even the owner of the Wall Street Journal is tweeting like a teenage schoolgirl … just for attention. The only saving grace in this case is that the selection process for a new speaker in the Republican-controlled Congress erupted into utter chaos yesterday, sucking up much of the media coverage Murdoch would have received.

    I alluded above to the mainstream media trolling social media for ignorant snark to peddle as news. Only this explains the Huffington Post publishing today, on its front page no less, the lunatic rantings of Sarah Palin’s spawn, Bristol, against states providing young women with free options for birth control.

    Never mind that Bristol might have grown into less of a religious/political hypocrite than her mother if she had availed herself of one of those options, instead of breeding two kids out of wedlock … with two different men.

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