• Monday, January 30, 2017 at 8:58 AM

    Trumpasites Already Gagging on Big Lies (aka “Alternative Facts”) and Outrageous Pledges They Swallowed

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I was in the vanguard of those who despaired at the willingness of so many Americans to swallow the big lies (e.g., about tax returns) and outrageous pledges (e.g., about banning Muslims) that characterized Trump’s presidential campaign. Not least because I began sounding alarms in this respect years before he even declared his candidacy — as “Trump for President?! Don’t Be a Sucker,” April 8, 2011, substantiates.

    Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that, just days into his presidency, cartoonists are already ridiculing Trump’s supporters as suckers for buying into the signature pledge of his campaign. (I shall henceforth refer to them as Trumpasites, the mood-sucking parasites who feed off his toxic rhetoric.) No doubt you recall him leading them at rallies in chants about building a wall and making Mexico pay for it.

    Well:

    In a startling new pronouncement today, Donald Trump’s press secretary proposed what many analysts have long suspected – Americans, not the government of Mexico, would pay for building a wall along the U.S. southern border.

    (Forbes, January 26, 2017)

    Meanwhile, it is particularly galling that evangelicals are venting moral indignation at the religious bigotry inherent in the executive order Trump signed on Friday. It calls for a travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries — with Trump clarifying that

    We only want to admit those that support our country and love deeply our people.

    (Reuters, January 29, 2017)

    Never mind that the only possible way to show that support and love is for Muslims to not only hail Donald J. Trump as the greatest leader in the history of mankind but also declare their love … for him.

    But the reason this venting among evangelicals is so galling is that these are the same Christians who swallowed his campaign pledge to ban “all Muslims” from entering the United States. In fact, I found their willingness to sacrifice their moral authority at the altar of Trump’s idol-minded ambition so contemptible, I condemned them in “Evangelicals Supporting Donald Trump like Israelites Worshipping Golden Calf,” January 20, 2016

    I am now in the vanguard of those despairing at the willingness of so many liberal (and liberated) women to take solace in Trump making his “first daughter,” Ivanka, “the most powerful first lady ever.” No less a liberal authority than the Washington Post heralded Trump’s incestuous intent in its edition on December 16, 2016.

    Except that all of their talk about Ivanka having a positive, moderating influence on her Daddy is demonstrable bulls#!t. After all, this stepford daughter couldn’t even bring herself to criticize him for bragging about sexually assaulting women — complete with his infamous boast about “grab[bing] them by the pussy.”

    Apropos of having a positive, moderating influence, don’t get me started on erstwhile sensible and principled Republicans like Speaker Paul Ryan. After all, they decried all of the big lies and outrageous pledges Trump blurted out during his campaign. Yet they are now blithely endorsing and rationalizing his implementation of policies based on those lies and pledges.

    If you’ve ever wondered how so many German politicians became Hitler-saluting fascists, you need only look at how so many Republicans are becoming Trump-saluting bigots.

    Unsurprisingly, everything Trump has done since his presidency began nine days ago has outraged Democrats. But everything Trump has done merely throws into stark relief the maxim

    Elections have consequences.

    In fact, those consequences have not been so dire since voters elected George W. Bush instead of Al Gore in 2000. That led to the 2003 invasion of a sectarian hornet’s nest in Iraq — the tragic and costly effects of which we’re still suffering to this day.

    This is why I feel constrained to reiterate that the phenomenon of Donald Trump says far more about the American people than him. They clearly want to be entertained by the disruptive spectacle he creates and couldn’t care less about the offensive and invariably self-aggrandizing things he, er, tweets or does.

    More to the point, the nature of foolish pride is such that, no matter how willfully he betrays them or endangers us, these Trumpasites will be loath to ever admit they were wrong about him. As indicated here above, this is especially the case with the evangelicals who betrayed zealous adherence to moral rectitude (and sold their souls) to vote for him.

    The only saving grace in this context, according to sensible Republicans, is that he had the good sense to nominate cabinet members like James Mattis as secretary of defense, Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, and Nikki Haley as ambassador to the UN. Sure enough, these secretaries all seem determined to neuter the politically stray and rabid Trump, so much so that it’s already clear that, no matter what he might say, they will try to do what’s best for the USA.

    Unfortunately, this president still gets to play the stereotype of the ignorant and boorish ugly American on the world stage like no American has before. And only God knows what that portends.

    In any event, I presaged the sociopolitical consequences unfolding now in commentaries like “Why I Hate Twitter,” February 1, 2013, and “Rant about Stupid Voters…,” July 19, 2016. But I could not have presaged them better than the following from Matt Bai’s essay, “Trump’s Not Orwellian. He’s the Distracter-in-Chief,” Yahoo! News, February 2, 2017, in which Bai quotes Neil Postman’s polemic, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), in which Postman alludes to Aldous Huxley’s prescient novel, A Brave New World (1932) … got that?:

    No Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As [Huxley] saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

    Thank you Twitter, Facebook, Apple, et al. for helping to make Huxley’s fictional brave new world a reality.

    Related commentaries:
    Trump for pres? Don’t be a sucker
    American people are fools
    Evangelicals supporting trump

    * This revised commentary was originally published on Saturday, January 28

  • Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 10:56 AM

    Hail, Serena! Greatest Athlete Ever!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Serena Williams had Tennis fans in suspended animation until Saturday Down Under. That’s when we could finally hail her as the winner of the most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era and, arguably, as the “greatest athlete ever” – as Nike proclaims.

    That she blew so many opportunities to reach this milestone over the past two years only heightened the suspense, albeit tinged with increasing frustration. Most notable was her shocking loss to a relatively unknown player in the semifinals of last year’s US Open.

    Therefore, I hope I can be forgiven for exclaiming: It’s about time, Serena!

    Serena Williams won her seventh Australian Open singles title and reclaimed the No. 1 world ranking with a 6-4, 6-4 victory on Saturday over her older sister Venus Williams.

    Serena’s latest triumph in tennis’s great sibling rivalry also gave her a 23rd Grand Slam singles title, breaking her tie with Steffi Graf for the most in the Open era. …

    Saturday’s victory was Williams’s 10th major singles title since turning 30, and she has broken her own record, set at Wimbledon last year, by becoming the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open era.

    (New York Times, January 28, 2017)

    Unsurprisingly, many notables rushed to serve congratulations; not least among them Michael Jordan. It’s too bad Jordan seemed more interested in promoting his brand than in congratulating Serena.

    Evidently, he thought the occasion called for presenting her a boxed set of his Basketball shoes and jersey, both emblazoned with his famous No. 23 – ostensibly representing her record-setting 23 Grand Slams.

    But he would have done far better to follow the example no less a person than Steffi herself set when she hailed and graciously welcomed Serena after she reached #22:

    What an incredible performance by Serena at Wimbledon! Such a gift to all sport fans who get to continue to watch her add to an already amazing career #22!!!

    (Sports Illustrated, July 9, 2016)

    It’s been quite a wait for #23, but better late than never. Which, incidentally, is far more than I can say for Tiger Woods – whose march towards rewriting the record books in Golf I once despaired the Williams sisters would never mirror in Tennis.

    I fully expected Venus and Serena to do to the records in 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.

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

    I have never been happier to eat my words.

    More to the point, the irony is not lost on me that Tiger suffered yet another professional humiliation just hours before Serena reached this professional milestone. No doubt you’re aware of his beleaguered quest to regain the form that saw him win 14 major championships. I chronicled it in such commentaries as “Tiger, Tiger … Losing Fight,” August 15, 2011, “For Tiger Bad Play Causes ‘Pain,’ Not Vice Versa,” August 7, 2014, and “Tiger’s Back, but His Back Won’t Let Him Play?! Puhleeze,” February 6, 2015.

    Sure enough, Tiger (41) failed to make the cut on Friday in his first PGA tournament back – after taking off 17 months to recover from (yet another) back surgery. This, after missing the cut in three of the four majors before his surgery; hence

    It’s plainly disingenuous for Tiger to suggest that chronic injuries have prevented him from winning. For this is belied by the fact that he not only seemed just fine throughout his winless 2010, but actually won his ‘last’ Major, the 2008 US Open, while in obvious pain caused by a knee injury. …

    Frankly, one does not have to be a trained psychologist to diagnose that Tiger’s problems are more mental than physical. Because it is self-evident that the public humiliation he endured following that domestic incident [in November 2009], which exposed his Charlie-Sheen like penchant for prostitutes, sapped him of the self-esteem and confidence that not only fueled his game, but instilled self-defeating fear in other players.

    (“Tiger, Tiger … Losing Fight,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 11, 2011)

    But this is about Venus and Serena, not Tiger.

    As fate would have it, I watched Serena seal her legacy on Saturday at the expense my favorite Williams sister. Especially given that Venus seemed destined to win even more Grand Slams, and I was duly cheering her along in commentaries like “Hail to 4-Time Wimbledon Champion Venus Williams,” July 9, 2007 and “Venus Routs Little Sister Serena in Wimbledon Final,” July 6, 2008.

    Then she became stricken with a debilitating disease:

    I feel compelled to at least acknowledge the painful, pitiful way Sjögren’s syndrome, the incurable autoimmune condition she contracted a few years ago, is ravaging her skills. She not only lumbered out in the third round in singles; she proved too much weight even for Serena to carry them beyond the quarterfinals in doubles.

    (“Hail, Serena! US Open Champion … Again,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 8, 2014)

    This might explain why Venus (36) was so happy just to make it to another Grand Slam final, her first since 2009. And I suppose there’s also some consolation in being the oldest woman to do so.

    This might also explain why Serena (35) made such a public show of paying tribute to Venus on centre court after their match:

    I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she’s an amazing person — she’s my inspiration.

    There’s no way I would be at 23 without her — there’s no way I would be at [No.] 1 without her. Thank you, Venus, for inspiring me to be the best player I can be and inspiring me to work hard.

    (Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2017)

    No doubt she’s acutely aware that, but for Sjögren’s, Venus would probably have hoisted the trophy for her 23rd Grand Slam long ago …

    All the same, not bad for two little black girls straight outta Compton, eh.

    By the way, congrats to Serena on her recent wedding engagement. But I must say, she seems an awful lot for her nerdy, Reddit-founding fiancé to … handle.

    Congratulations, Serena!

    That said, I’m on record expressing my preference for women’s tennis. I would be remiss, however, not to acknowledge that Roger Federer defeated Rafael Nadal to win the men’s title.

    One of the greatest rivalries in tennis history received another chapter Sunday night in Melbourne, Australia, as Roger Federer outlasted Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open title, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

    The win gives Federer his 18th Grand Slam title, the most by a man in the Open era.

    (Yahoo! Sports, January 29, 2017)

    It is particularly noteworthy that, like Tiger, Roger (35) has been beset by injuries. Indeed, like Tiger, he was making his first return to competition after an extended stint in rehab – in his case, six months. Of course, Roger’s result stands in remarkable contrast to Tiger’s, which only compounds the humiliation Tiger must be feeling – given that his comeback ended with him not even making the cut.

    Congratulations, Roger!

    Related commentaries:
    Serena triumphs
    Tiger’s back
    For Tiger, bad play
    Tiger, tiger
    Hail to 4-time Wimbledon champ Venus Williams
    Hail, Serena

  • Friday, January 27, 2017 at 6:46 AM

    #OscarSoDiverse …?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    On Tuesday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for this year’s Oscars. The nominees evoked such praise, you could almost hear Hollywood singing the song, “Kumbaya, my Lord.”

    This stood in stark contrast to the Academy’s announcement last year. The nominees provoked such outrage back then, you could almost hear Hollywood bemoaning the song, “We Shall Overcome.”

    Of course, the viral nature of all things great and small is such these days that you’d be forgiven for not remembering that outrage. Especially given that black-swan Donald Trump has had the whole world wallowing in one black hole of outrage after another since then.

    But last year’s nominees provoked that outrage because, in the major acting categories for the second consecutive year, they were all white. 

    The Academy was duly spooked; so much so that its president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, rushed to announce new rules to redress this whitewash (and hopefully prevent future episodes).

    I duly commented in “#OscarSoWhite! Duh. But Boycott? Nah,” January 22, 2016, noting the irony that it fell to Isaacs, the Academy’s first black president, to tackle institutional racism in Hollywood. Here is an excerpt.

    ___________________

    Reports are that Isaacs has proposed new rules to ensure noticeable and sustainable change by next year. But I can think of nothing more anathema to the artistic license and freedom that defines Hollywood than requiring Academy members to vote like North Korean bureaucrats.

    After all, the only way Isaacs can fulfill her promise is to impose a quota for black nominees, which only a rash fool like [Spike] Lee would recommend.

    There’s also talk of increasing the number of nominees in each category. The expectation is that this would give black movies like Straight Outta Compton and black actors like Idris Elba a better shot at being nominated. But this would be tantamount to the farce of awarding ‘participation trophies,’ which diminishes recognition of all achievement. Not to mention making a mockery of the real purpose of affirmative action.

    Again, human nature being what it is, the only way to seed and grow diversity at the Oscars is to ensure diversity at every stage in the filmmaking process. This will lead organically to the Academy reflecting the demographics more of the American people than a Connecticut country club. With all due respect to Isaacs, this cannot be done in one year. But the silver lining in this backlash is that it presents this year as an unprecedented seeding season for diversity in Hollywood.

    ___________________

    As it happens, California has been blessed with so much rain since then, its drought-stricken soil is now more fertile than a Jamaican Ganja plantation. (For what it’s worth, legalization has made recreational marijuana a growth industry in California.) Even so, it will take a generation or two for the seeds I recommended last year to bear the fruit of diversity we all want to see in Hollywood.

    But, hey, it’s Hollywood; hence the miracle-gro that produced this show of diversity after just one year:

    While no actors of color were nominated the last two years, this year saw every acting category recognizing a person of color. A record-tying (with 2007) seven minority actors were recognized, including a record-setting six black actors.

    (Variety, January 24, 2017)

    Except that there’s nothing surprising or reassuring about white guilt compelling Hollywood liberals to, er, Do the Right Thing (i.e., vote like North Korean bureaucrats to fill the Academy’s black quota of nominees). Not to mention that this kind of guilt is as fleeting as a teenage crush.

    Therefore, unless the Academy is pruning diversity at every stage of the filmmaking process, I fear it will only be a matter of time before Hollywood suffers another #OscarSoWhite episode.

    NOTE: The 89th Academy Awards show is scheduled for broadcast on February 26. As usual, I shall publish my Oscar picks a day or two before.

    Related commentaries:
    #OscarSoWhite
    Last year’s Oscars

  • Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 6:49 AM

    NFL Conference Championship Sunday: Hail, Patriots! Hail, Falcons!

    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.

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

    Alas, this Conference Championship Sunday did not live up to expectations.

    AFC

    This later AFC game turned out to be the more exciting of the two. But I say “exciting” advisedly. It featured two of the NFL’s most storied teams: the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots.

    Of course, anyone familiar with my NFL commentaries knows that I think the Patriots are cheaters who too often prosper. This explains the unbridled relish I displayed on the rare occasions when they got their comeuppance – as “Giants Stomp Patriots to Win Super Bowl XLVI 21-17,” February 6, 2012, and “NFL Sacks Brady as Court Reinstates Deflategate Suspension,” April 27, 2017, attest.

    Therefore, to say I wanted the Steelers to win would be the understatement of the season. Unfortunately, those damned cheaters prospered – again:

    The Steelers had their chance to whittle into a double-digit deficit in the final minute of the first half last night [but] had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Chris Boswell and never regained the momentum. …

    The Patriots pulled away in the second half and coasted to a 36-17 victory at Gillette Stadium to capture the AFC Championship for the ninth time.

    (Boston Herald, January 23, 2017)

    Truth be told, I was so certain of this outcome, I switched to Victoria on Masterpiece and never bothered to watch the second half.

    Incidentally, Antonio Brown stirred a lot of controversy for live streaming on Facebook  (for a handsome fee) from the Steelers’ locker room after their game the week before. But I do not believe this adversely impacted preparation for or play during their game on Sunday.

    This was just another affirming instance of the insidious and unhinged narcissism social media breeds. After all, Brown thought nothing of betraying the camaraderie and privacy of that locker room to entertain his imaginary friends on Facebook.

    It’s bad enough that he was more interested in publishing self-aggrandizing selfies than huddling with teammates for their coach’s post-game pep talk. And his contract is such that the fee Facebook pays him to live stream could not have been his driving motivation.

    But, in doing so, he also live streamed Coach Mike Tomlin’s profanity-laden exhortations. This led to the spectacle of Tomlin having to publicly apologize for his “private” indiscretion, as well as Brown’s public stupidity.

    To appreciate the untenable position Brown put Tomlin in, imagine trying to discipline a superstar player who has the selfie mentality and proclivities of Kim Kardashian. Which is why criticizing Antonio for being inconsiderate makes about as much sense as criticizing Kim for being … selfish. Instead, Pittsburg should release him and let him take his live streaming talents somewhere else – to Miami perhaps.

    In any event, I would be remiss not to commend Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – even if begrudgingly.

    He completed 32 of 42 passes for 384 yards – the most for any Patriots quarterback in a playoff game. And this, at the relatively old age of 39, inspiring awe among players on both sides of the field, not least the twentysomethings for the Steelers – who tried in vain all game to force him to show his age.

    Finally, apropos of hype, injury-prone, party-boy Rob Gronkowski is fast becoming to the Patriots what NBA player Derrick Rose became to the Chicago Bulls: all promise, no pay off. The Patriots proved this season they don’t need him, just as the Bulls proved they don’t need Rose.

    Therefore, the Patriots would do well to trade “Gronk,” just as the Bulls traded Rose.

    NFC

    As indicated, this earlier game was even less interesting. It featured the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. But, after the first half ended with the Falcons up 24-0, I doubt even diehard Cheeseheads (aka Green Bay fans) bothered to watch the second half.

    From the start, the injury-depleted Packers defense did not stand a chance to even slow down Ryan and the Falcons. The Pro Bowl quarterback completed 27 of 38 passes for 392 yards and 4 touchdowns, exploiting mismatches all over the field, with Julio Jones leading the way with 9 catches for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. …

    The frustration on [Packers quarterback] Aaron Rodgers’ face was a constant as he was repeatedly let down by his receivers and spent most of the game having drives end with nothing to show for them even when they put up plenty of yardage.

    (New York Times, January 23, 2017)

    I can’t believe I watched the whole thing; although, this probably explains why I switched after the first half of the later game. The Falcons ended up scoring their berth to Super Bowl LI in a veritable blowout, 44-21.

    Super Bowl LI

    The Falcons will be making their second trip to the NFL’s big dance to tango with the Patriots – who will be making their ninth (the most of any team in league history).

    For the record, I was rooting this season for the Dallas Cowboys to finally live up to their (own) hype. They showed great promise – with the triumvirate of quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, and wide receiver Dez Bryant emulating the winning ways of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin, respectively, who led the team to three Super Bowl victories in the 1990s.

    Unfortunately, they continued their post-season fecklessness by failing to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs, let alone making it to the Super Bowl, for the 20th time in the last 20 years.

    America’s team”? Give me a friggin’ break!

    That said, I honestly couldn’t care less who wins this Super Bowl. But it would be un-American not to place a bet. Therefore, I’m betting on the Falcons to beat the slightly favored Patriots when they meet at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, on February 5. This would go a long way towards reaffirming the truism: cheaters never prosper.

    Related commentaries:
    NFL conference championship
    Deflategate

  • Monday, January 23, 2017 at 6:47 AM

    Women Worldwide March against Trump

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Donald J. Trump is clearly the most thin-skinned, self-centered and self-aggrandizing man ever elected president of the United States. This explains why he became so unnerved and unhinged on Saturday – after watching women gather in cities around the world to greet the first day of his presidency with jeers, not cheers.

    More than 1 million people gathered in Washington and in cities around the country and the world Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of President Trump. What started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree became an unprecedented international rebuke of a new president that packed cities large and small — from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Park City, Utah, Miami to Melbourne, Australia.

    (Washington Post, January 21, 2017)

    Myriad causes animated these marchers, which turned their gatherings into Tower of Babel-like spectacles. But there’s no denying what NPR reported as their galvanizing aims: opposition to Trump’s agenda and support for women’s rights.

    Nothing betrayed how much they affected him quite like the way Trump behaved during a visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday. He went there ostensibly to make amends for spending much of his transition impugning the intelligence and integrity of its agents.

    Instead

    Trump spent much of his speech – which he gave in front of a memorial wall that honors the 117 CIA officers who have fallen in the line of duty – focusing on the size of the crowd size at his inauguration, his appearance on magazine covers and saying he ‘has a running war with the media.’

    ‘Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,’ [Brennan’s spokesman] Nick Shapiro said in a statement. ‘Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself.’

    (CNN, January 21, 2017)

    With all due respect to Director Brennan, expecting Trump to be ashamed of himself is like expecting a ghost to be afraid of itself. Apropos of which, his “despicable display” is just the umpteenth reason why we should be afraid that this insecure buffoon is now the most powerful man in the world. He makes North Korea’s nuke-crazy boy dictator, Kim Jong-un, look like a seasoned statesman.

    I mean, if Trump would use the solemn space of the CIA’s Memorial Wall to try to convince us that the size of his “crowd” was bigger than Obama’s, imagine what portends.

    After all, it’s bad enough that this new president is a pathological liar. But it’s certifiably dangerous that he and his spin doctors seem intent on continually challenging us to believe the lie we hear from them, instead of the truth we see with our own eyes. And it’s self-evident that it does not matter to Trump if that lie is about a matter as petty as his crowd size or as grave as his collusion with foreign enemies – like Putin’s Russia.

    To be fair, his congenital insecurities are probably such that he cannot help telling big lies about the size of everything from his small crowds to his small … hands. Size literally matters to him.

    On the other hand, his cunning is probably such that he thought throwing a tantrum about the media’s coverage of his inauguration on Friday would draw coverage from the women’s protests on Saturday. And he was right, which speaks volumes about the media’s Pavlovian reaction to everything Trump says (or tweets).

    He probably also thought it better to have the media running down this rabbit hole than analyzing his dystopian inaugural speech, which paid homage the American isolationism that led to World War I, discarding the American exceptionalism that has prevented another such conflagration for over 65 years. His speech made a mockery of his universal acclaim as leader of the free world — an acclaim every US president has honored for more than 100 years. Frankly, I see no reason to dignify it with any further comment.

    Incidentally, CIA personnel gave him a polite reception — complete with perfunctory applause and canned laughter on cue. Never mind reports that Trump boosters — who were bused in for the occasion — egged them on. But I suspect Brennan expressed how most agents really feel about his visit.

    That said, I was overcome with a foreboding sense of déjà vu as I stood among the mammary hordes on the Mall on Saturday, listening to speaker after speaker declaim on issues as varied as unequal pay, reproductive rights, and that infamous wall.

    My foreboding stemmed from the fact that I stood among “a million black men” on that same Mall in 1995, listening to speaker after speaker fulminate against everything from predatory lending to police brutality and white supremacy.

    As was the case with this march, organizers of the Million Man March talked about harnessing the surge of activism on display into a movement to redress their concerns. Yet they had so little to show in this regard that I vented my disappointment and decried their shortcomings: first, 10 years later in “Millions More Movement (and That’s Millions More Dollars, Not People … Fool!),” October 17, 2005; and again 20 years later in “Farrakhan’s ‘Justice or Else’ Ponzi Scheme,” October 13, 2015.

    In fact, it speaks volumes that black men are still fulminating against all of the injustices that inspired their original march. Granted, they’re marching these days under the newfangled banner, Black Lives Matter!

    Nonetheless, it does not require a leap for me to have faith that the organizers of this Women’s March will do a better job of turning their moment into a movement. I found it particularly encouraging that, instead of focusing on raising money to fund their organizing efforts, they issued marching orders.

    Most notably, they urged women to get involved in politics – from voting in elections at every level (even if only for local dogcatcher) to bombarding congressional representatives with issue-oriented phone calls to running for office at every level (even if only for local dogcatcher).

    As it happens, I’ve been in the vanguard of those urging women to do just that. I refer you to “Cracking the Glass Ceiling: First Woman to Become President in South America,” December 12, 2005, “Men Should Be Barred from Politics,” September 25, 2013, and “Women Make Better Politicians than Men,” October 14, 2010. The last of these includes the following:

    We have enough data, as well as anecdotal evidence, from the way women have influenced the corporate world to make some credible extrapolations. The correlation between more women holding positions of power and the implementation of family-friendly policies is undeniable in this respect. Therefore, it’s entirely reasonable to assert that if more women held positions of power in politics they would use their power more towards building up human resources than military armaments – just to cite one obvious example.

    Finland’s president, prime minister, president of the Supreme Court, as well as eight of its eleven government ministers are all women. Arguably, there’s a direct correlation between their positions and the fact that Newsweek rated this county the best place to live in 2010 – in terms of health, economic dynamism, education, political environment, and quality of life.

    This explains why, for me, Hillary losing to Trump was more about opportunities lost than fears realized. (Of Trump’s top 21 cabinet picks, 17 are white men. Obama had 8; Bush, 11.)

    Yet hope springs eternal. And, given our celebrity-obsessed culture, here’s to Hollywood stars like Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, and America Ferrera – who happened to be three of the more inspiring speakers on Saturday – emulating the likes of Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Donald Trump someday soon.

    But I won’t hesitate to vent disappointment and decry their shortcomings if, 10 years from now, the organizers of this Women’s March have little to show for the unprecedented activism millions of women displayed on Saturday.

    Finally, I feel constrained to comment on the meme about this activism being a day late and a vote short. True to form, Trump himself chimed in:

    Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote?

    (@realDonald Trump, January 22, 2017)

    The problem is that, like so many viral memes, this one has no basis in fact. After all, it’s entirely possible, if not probable, that the eligible women who marched on Saturday did vote in November.

    How do you think Hillary ended up with 65,844,954 votes – almost three million more than Trump? This of course is a fun fact that gets under his thin skin like no other.

    The challenge now is for these women who marched to help their March-For-Life sisters who voted for Trump to come to their senses. But it hardly helps in this regard to tell them that their stance on one issue, namely pro-life on abortion, precludes them from marching in solidarity with women on all other issues — as organizers reportedly did in this case.

    It behooves all anti-Trump activists to bear in mind that 53 percent of white women voted for him.

    NOTE: This is only Day 3 of his presidency and I’m already fed up with Trump. Therefore, I shall be very sparing henceforth with commentaries on his shiny objects flaring up as political debates.

    Related commentaries:
    Millions More Movement
    Farrakhan ponzi scheme
    Glass ceiling
    Men should be barred
    Women make better politicians

  • Friday, January 20, 2017 at 2:19 PM

    Congratulations … President Trump!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Good Luck!

    Because, as Obama says:

    If you fail, we fail.

  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 … ‘Lost’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Truth be told, I felt certain the technology that enabled deep sea explorers to find the wreck of the RMS Titanic after seven decades would enable them to find the wreck of MH370 after seven hours.

    Not to mention the unprecedented resources they were dedicating to this search:

    The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has spawned the largest-ever multinational air-sea search — involving ships, airplanes from at least 14 countries and requests for radar information from as many as 26.

    The nature of the search, in which such an enormous stretch of the globe is being scoured, is also equally unprecedented, officials say.

    (NPR, March 17, 2014)

    Yet I could not resist positing that its passengers might either meet the real fate of Amelia Earhart, or play out the TV fate of the characters on the popular series, Lost.

    Nobody knows what became of it. …

    My own scenario follows the takeoff for the TV series Lost. All things considered, those on board should be so lucky. …

    There’s no denying my consternation over the fact that, despite all the advances in radar and avionics, this Malaysian jumbo jet disappeared without a trace today just as Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed prop plane did 77 years ago.

    (“Malaysian Airlines MH370 … ‘Lost,’” The iPINIONS Journal, March 14, 2014)

    This is why I am as dumbfounded as I am resigned that it has come to this:

    After nearly three years, the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended in futility and frustration Tuesday, as crews completed their deep-sea search of a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean without finding a trace of the plane or the 239 people aboard it.

    The Joint Agency Coordination Center in Australia, which helped lead the $160 million hunt for the Boeing 777 in remote waters west of Australia, said the search had officially been suspended after crews finished their fruitless sweep of the 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) search zone.

    ‘Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting-edge technology, as well as modeling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft,’ the agency said in a statement, which was a joint communique from the transport ministers of Malaysia, Australia and China.

    (Associated Press, January 17, 2017)

    Good night Malaysian three-seven-zero.

    Farewell.

    Related commentaries:
    MH370

  • Monday, January 16, 2017 at 8:53 AM

    Observing MLK Day

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    mlkcIf Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would be as pleased and proud as anybody that Barack Obama is ending his presidency this Friday on such a high note.

    After all, Obama not only served with dignity and grace that were endearing and enduring in equal measure; he’s also leaving behind a legacy of transformative accomplishments. In fact, the New York Times published a series of interactive graphs yesterday, showing that – by almost every measure – the American people are far better off today than they were eight years ago.

    Of course, the success of his presidency is made all the more remarkable given the unprecedented ways Republicans attempted to obstruct his policies – their lips dripping from day one with words of interposition and de-legitimization.

    It’s a testament to Republican obstructionism that, despite objective measures to the contrary, most Americans believed throughout Obama’s presidency that he was leading the country on “the wrong track.” He expressed regret on 60 Minutes last night that he did not promote his successes more aggressively to counter the Republicans’ contrived narrative about him being a failed president.

    Never mind that the Republicans failed in their declared intent to make him a “failed, one-term president.”

    Yet MLK would be the first to remind us that we are still far from the Promised Land that inspired his famous dream. It speaks volumes in this respect that the man succeeding Obama on Friday seems a reincarnation of the institutional racists MLK marched against.

    Indeed, President-elect Trump demonstrated what little respect he has for MLK by kicking off this weekend of observance with a Twitter tantrum that was replete with racist presumptions and stereotypes.

    Specifically, after Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said that Russian interference undermined the legitimacy of his election, the preternaturally thin-skinned Trump reacted by impugning Lewis’s character and life’s work:

    Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to…mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!

    (@realDonaldTrump, 7:50 AM -14 Jan 2017)

    This he said of a man who not only bears well-known scars from marching with MLK for civil rights, but is easily the most revered black man in America today – as Obama himself would concede.

    Not to mention that, far from “falling apart [and being] crime infested,” Atlanta, the district Lewis represents, is the very manifestation of that “shining city upon a hill” former President Ronald Reagan envisioned in his farewell address. Moreover, no less a Republican bible than Forbes named his district “the ninth best place in America for businesses and career development, and among the best for job growth and education.”

    On the other hand, I disagree with Lewis leading a growing number of Democrats in boycotting Trump’s inauguration. Not least because it smacks of the kind of petty, partisan politics I’ve spent the past eight years denouncing Republicans for orchestrating against Obama; such is hardly becoming of the heir to the moral authority MLK exercised.

    More to the point, no matter the nature and extent of Russia’s interference, there’s no evidence that it affected the outcome of the election. Besides, this boycott will seem utterly irrelevant on Inauguration Day — given that both Obama and Hillary will be participating front and center in this orderly transfer of presidential power, showing due respect for the office, even if not for the man assuming it.

    Meanwhile, Obama appears all too mindful that Trump’s election is an ominous fulfillment of King’s dream deferred. He even insinuated recently that having Trump succeed him amounts to America taking one step forward, two steps back on its march towards a “more perfect Union.” Of course, nothing betrayed the fatuous notion that his election ushered in a post-racial era quite like the Selma-like protesters — chanting “Black Lives Matter!” — who dogged his presidency.

    But, hey, this is MLK’s day.

    It is most noteworthy that he is the only private citizen (black or white) to have a federal holiday declared in his honor.

    Hell, even Washington and Lincoln have to share one holiday on Presidents’ Day. And, with the August 2013 dedication of his memorial, MLK is now perched on the Mall alongside them in perpetuity. All of which might explain why Washington’s monument is glaring down on MLK’s….

    Seriously, though, am I the only one who thinks the Washington Monument looks eerily like a stonemason’s homage to the KKK…?

    There was considerable media coverage last week of workers repelling down the Washington Monument to inspect damage caused by the recent earthquake. However, while most people seemed mesmerized by the acrobatic feat this entailed, I could not help noticing how much up-close images of the cone of the Monument resemble the hood of a Klansman.

    I’ve read accounts of Free Masons, who were instrumental in building DC, inserting masonic symbols all over the city. Therefore, is it so farfetched to think that this monument, which was built between 1848-84 as a memorial to George Washington, also paid homage to the prevailing symbol of white supremacy…?

    (“Washington Monument’s KKK Imagery,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 11, 2011)

    Whatever the case, this holiday is not just a testament to MLK’s greatness. It’s a symbolic down payment on the promissory note, which represents the unpaid, if not unpayable, debt America owes descendants of the blacks it enslaved.

    That said:

    This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

    Related commentaries:
    Washington monument
    Obama inauguration commemorates Lincoln…
    Burris finally sworn in to replace Obama in Senate
    MLK on the Mall at last

  • Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 9:38 AM

    The Gambia’s Jammeh: Will he stay, or will he go…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The African Union has said it will no longer recognise The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh as the country’s leader from next Thursday, when his term ends.

    The bloc warns of ‘serious consequences’ if Mr Jammeh’s refusal to give up power causes a crisis…

    Nigeria’s leader has flown to Banjul to try to broker a deal but the latest talks appear to have failed.

    (BBC, January 13, 2017)

    I feared it would come to this:

    Alas, Jammeh is just the latest African despot attempting to hold on to power by force…

    It eventually took military force to remove Gbagbo. I fear it will take the same to remove Jammeh.

    In fact, I’m willing to bet that it’s only a matter of time before Jammeh ends up either like Gbagbo, in The Hague rotting away in jail, or like Laurent Kabila of the Congo, dead. They never learn.

    (“The Gambia’s Jammeh Using Military Force after Losing Democratic Election,” December 14, 2016)

    Plus ca change….

    Related commentaries:
    Jammeh

  • Friday, January 13, 2017 at 1:21 PM

    Bush Daughters Publish (Another Selfie-Serving) ‘Open Letter’ to Obama Daughters

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President George W. Bush’s twin daughters are offering advice to Malia and Sasha Obama, who are soon to join them in the ranks of former first kids…

    They said they had more advice now that the Obamas are moving into a new chapter of their lives…

    This is not the first time the sisters have written a letter to the Obama children: A similar note of encouragement was published in the Wall Street Journal in 2009.

    (CNN, January 13, 2017)

    I appreciate that nothing is too private for Twitterers, Facebookers, and Instagrammers who crave attention the way junkies crave drugs.

    But you’d have thought the Bush daughters were still recovering from the overdose of attention they “suffered” during the twelve years their grandfather served as vice president of the United States (1980-88) and president (1988-92), and the eight years their father served as president (2000-08).

    Therefore, it’s surprising, even disheartening, that they would relapse by publishing so-called “heartfelt” notes of encouragement to Malia and Sasha. After all, they knew full well that they would only be drawing media attention to themselves.

    Which is why the only thing that explains this public sharing of their personal advice for the Obama daughters is the social pathology I’ve been decrying for years:

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

    You’d never know, for example, that just years ago any self-respecting man would be mortified if he were caught checking himself out in the mirror. Now the Internet is littered with as many selfies of preening men as women. But nothing irritates me in this context quite like the way people convey every private sentiment — from condolences to birthday greetings and romantic love — only by tweeting, facebooking, or instagramming it for everyone to read/see.

    (“Introduction,” The iPINIONS Journal, Vol. IX, p. xxi, 2014)

    Frankly, I’d be shocked if Barbara and Jenna even bothered to share their (selfie) note with Malia and Sasha (in 2009 or this time) before having it published for the world to read (or, to be more precise, to “Like”).

    I’d be even more shocked if the Obama daughters emulate the Bush daughters by publishing similar notes of encouragement to Trump’s son, Barron. For, even if they saw some value in penning such a note, I’d like to think Malia and Sasha are too classy to make it all about them by publishing it.

  • Friday, January 13, 2017 at 6:49 AM

    Obama Ends Discriminatory ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Cuba Policy

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I’ve been decrying this policy for twenty years; not least because:

    [It] stipulates that seafaring Cuban refugees who make it to U.S. shores must be assimilated, unconditionally; whereas seafaring Haitian refugees (fleeing even greater persecution and privations) who make it must be repatriated, summarily.

    (“Compassion Fatigue for Haitian Migrants,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 31, 2009)

    I’ve been denouncing former President Bill Clinton just as long for devising it only to pander to Miami Cubans and their paradise-lost presumptions. After all, this policy was not only discriminatory in its application, but also racist in its impact.

    This is why I called on President Obama (in the commentary quoted above, just six months into his presidency) to either apply this policy to Haitians too … or end it:

    President Obama must reconcile [America’s] unfulfilled obligations [to foster sustainable development in Haiti] with the moral imperative to reform U.S. immigration laws to give Haitians the same protected status Cuban migrants have always enjoyed.

    Incidentally, I called on him to do this in the above-quoted commentary, which I wrote just six months into his presidency.

    I fully understood, of course, that applying the “wet foot, dry foot” policy to Haitians would have invited sympathetic calls to apply it to others in the region, making the policy prohibitive.

    I was also mindful that the politics of implementing any change in policy towards Cuba precluded Obama doing so during his first term; hence my commentary, “Fifth Summit of the Americas: Managing Expectations,” April 17, 2009, which included this prescient note just three months into his presidency:

    I am convinced that, if re-elected, Obama will seal his legacy by normalizing relations with Cuba.

    Sure enough, once re-elected Obama did just that:

    One bitter holdover of the Cold War slipped into the history books at 12:01 a.m. Monday, when the United States and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations. For the first time since severing ties in 1961, they reopened embassies in each other’s capitals.

    Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla traveled to the Cuban Embassy in Washington to raise his country’s flag, an event that Cuban government officials said would be broadcast live on the island’s state-run TV.

    (CNN, July 20, 2015)

    But, even though convinced that, if re-elected, Obama would end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy as well, I never thought he’d wait until the last week of his presidency to do so.

    President Obama, in one of his last foreign policy initiatives, will lift the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy that has allowed Cubans reaching U.S. soil to stay and receive American residency, while sending home those intercepted at sea, according to U.S. officials.

    The policy, put in place by the Clinton administration in 1996, altered the long-standing special immigration status of Cubans in place since the 1960s that had sent hundreds of thousands across the Florida Straits, often in leaky boats or homemade rafts.

    (Washington Post, January 12, 2017)

    But, hey, better late than never!

    That said, Donald Trump will have the authority to reinstate this policy on day one of his presidency – a week from today in fact. And it might seem a certainty given his pledge to “terminate the deal” Obama struck to normalize relations with Cuba.

    But, like his pledge to terminate the deal Obama struck to halt Iran’s nuclear program, it will prove far easier said than done. Remember his pledge to ban all Muslims…? Well, that has already been broken to resemble little more than the “extreme vetting” the Obama administration has had in place for years.

    Frankly, the juxtaposition of building a wall to keep Mexicans out and reinstating a policy to invite Cubans in might prove too contradictory … even for Trump. For there’s no denying that the impact of this policy reversal will be a halt in the kind of illegal immigration from Cuba Trump wants to halt from Mexico.

    Not to mention that, thanks to Obama normalizing relations, Miami Cubans now seem far more interested in traveling to Cuba than in having Cubans escape to Miami. For them, this “wet foot, dry foot” policy is hardly the sacred cow it was twenty (or even eight) years ago.

    Related commentaries:
    Compassion fatigue
    Fifth Summit
    Obama normalizing relations….

  • Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 7:03 AM

    Clemson Tigers Roll Alabama Crimson Tide for CFP Championship

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    How did the Tigers do it? With an indefatigable quarterback and the most thrilling of game-winning touchdown passes; with a host of slinky, stretchy wide receivers and an unbending will; with a goal-line leap from a bull of a running back; and with Swinney in the middle of it all, screaming and shouting and cajoling and inspiring. Over the past six seasons, only one program had won more games than Clemson, and it was Alabama, which also defeated Clemson in last year’s national championship game.

    (New York Times, January 10, 2017)

    Well, turnabout is fair play. So here’s to Clemson for exacting revenge on Monday night, defeating favored Alabama to win this year’s College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship 35-31.

    I feel obliged to disclose that I am not a fan of big-time college Football. No doubt this is because I did not attend one of far too many colleges in America whose reputation is based more on athletics than academics. Therefore, I never have any bragging interest in the outcome of any NCAA championship.

    Nonetheless, I have watched enough championship games to appreciate why so many sports commentators are hailing this one as the best in NCAA history. In fact, there’s no denying the thrill of watching an action-packed fourth quarter, during which Clemson overcame a three-touchdown deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with only one second left on the clock.

    Apropos of this, it speaks volumes that the CFP Championship rivals the NFL Super Bowl – not just in popularity but also in revenue. This is why the primary reason I comment on this annual spectacle is to vent my abiding lament about college Football masquerading as an amateur sport. This excerpt from “Reggie Bush Forfeits Heisman Trophy,” September 16, 2010, crystallizes my concerns.

    ___________________

    There’s nothing amateur about college football.  It’s a multibillion-dollar business for Christ’s sake!

    More to the point, the people 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’s 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.

    _________________

    That said, the only redeeming feature in this respect is that most major NCAA teams are now featuring blacks as quarterbacks. They were the exception not so long ago. They are fast becoming the rule, so much so that three of the four starting quarterbacks for this year’s CFP were black, including Deshaun Watson for Clemson and Jalen Hurts for Alabama.

    More importantly, this high-profile position greatly increases the likelihood of these black players making the first round of the NFL draft. This in turn guarantees multimillion-dollar contracts, which provide belated compensation for their years of indentured servitude.

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

  • Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 7:35 AM

    Obama’s Farewell Address: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Much is being said about the emotion President Obama showed and evoked when he paid tribute to First Lady Michelle and their daughters during his farewell address in Chicago last night. But the following captures the sense of accomplishment and customary admonition he conveyed:

    The work of democracy has always been hard. It has been contentious. Sometimes it has been bloody: for every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.

    (New York Times, January 10, 2017)

    In other words, the phrase “two steps forward” reflects the success of his presidency; “one step back” reflects the foreboding of Trump’s.

    Enough said.

  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 8:33 PM

    Breaking News: US Intel Says Putin Has Compromising Info on Trump

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Here is what I wrote almost a month ago on this topic:

    Frankly, besides Putin manipulating his infantile ego, the only thing that explains Trump’s antic infatuation [with Putin] is the same Russians who hacked the DNC making it clear to him that they have compromising, if not incriminating, information on him and/or his family.

    (“The Issue Is Not Whether Russia Affected Outcome of US Election,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 12, 2016)

    And here is what CNN is reporting right now as Breaking News:

    Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

    Truth be told, we already know so much about the money-grubbing, pussy-grabbing Trump, it’s hard to imagine any information that could compromise him, especially in the eyes of his “basket of deplorables.”

    But the alleged personal information might prove too humiliating for Congressional Republicans to defend:

    Russian authorities tried to ‘exploit Trump’s personal obsessions and sexual perversion’ in order to compromise him.

    The document also referenced Trump’s ‘(perverted) conduct’ at the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow, [where] the President and First Lady Michelle Obama ‘whom he hated’ had stayed.

    It cited ‘Source D’ as saying Trump’s conduct included hiring prostitutes ‘to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.’ It says the hotel was known to be under the control of Russia’s FSB, with hidden cameras and microphones.

    (Daily Mail, January 10, 2016)

    If he had any sense of decency, Trump would resign in shame … assuming this report is true. But I fear he will force Congress to impeach him — as I posited exactly two months ago today:

    Speaker Paul Ryan is leading a chorus of Republican leaders in singing Trump’s praises. But their resentment over his bull-in-a-China-shop run to the White House is palpable.

    Therefore, don’t be surprised if they seize the first opportunity to impeach and replace him with Vice President-elect Mike Pence — who Republicans and Democrats alike consider far more fit to serve as president … for a litany of well-documented reasons. And, given Trump’s Nixonian inclination to punish his enemies, to say nothing of his Clintonian inclination to enrich himself, he is bound to provide all kinds of opportunities for them to do so.

    (“WTF! President-elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” The iPINIONS Journal, November 10, 2016)

    On the other hand, if he were only a little smarter and less egotistical, Trump would admit it. After all, there’s nothing illegal about frolicking with prostitutes, no matter how depraved. I mean, it’s not as if he actually tested his political invincibility by standing in the middle of 5th Avenue and shooting someone.

    What’s more, his wife has already shown that she’s every bit as willing to forgive his infidelities as his supporters are to forgive his lies. Not to mention that admitting the truth of this report would remove Putin’s Damoclean sword of blackmail from over his head, freeing Trump to treat him with even more contempt than he treated “Little Marco.”

    Still, unsurprisingly, Trump immediately dismissed it as “FAKE NEWS.” To which the only appropriate comment is the old Greek proverb:

    Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    But God help us if this report is true. Because, by denying it, Trump is only strengthening Putin’s hand as his puppet master — with all of the nefarious compromises that portends.

    Meanwhile, am I the only one who fears that, if Putin has compromising personal and financial information about Trump, he probably has such information in reams (and in living color) about Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. After all, Tillerson’s bromance with Putin is based on “doing business” in Moscow not just for a weekend but for a decade.

    Stay tuned, folks.

    Related commentaries:
    The issue

  • Monday, January 9, 2017 at 3:49 PM

    Black Lives Matter … more to White Cops than Black Thugs

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Arguably, the defining feature of black America in recent years has been the eruption of street protests every time a cop killed a black man. In each case, protesters vented existential angst with chants of: Black Lives Matter!

    In fact, the spectre of white cops killing black men now dominates national consciousness, so much so that no less a venue than the Capitol is featuring (as part of a Congressional Arts Competition) a mural depicting cops as trigger-happy pigs. Truth be told, there have been far too many instances affirming this depiction. Never mind that a mural depicting black men as menacing, rabid dogs would represent a greater and more existential truth.

    Perhaps more telling is how black consciousness led blacks to cheer Colin Kaepernick when he refused to stand for the National Anthem to protest police brutality. Kaepernick of course is the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers – whose teammates even awarded him their “most prestigious award … for inspirational and courageous play.” Never mind that his play was anything but inspirational and courageous as he led them through a feckless 2-14 season.

    Incidentally, I refused to cheer – as “Delusional Kaepernick Standing Up by Sitting Down During National Anthem,” August 30, 2016, attests. I initially delineated my reasons for doing so in “Killing Michael Brown: as much about Resisting Arrest as Police Brutality,” August 12, 2014, and reiterated those reasons in countless commentaries, including most recently in “Five Policemen Murdered: America Beware the Dallas Effect,” July 8, 2016.

    Meanwhile, the proverbial elephant in the room is that black men kill each other at 100 times the rate, to say nothing of the innocent black children they often kill in their crossfire. 

    Apropos of what menacing, rabid dogs they can be, there’s a manhunt underway as I write this for a black thug who killed a black cop in Orlando today; this, as she attempted to arrest him for allegedly murdering a pregnant woman a few weeks ago….

    Unfortunately, far too many blacks refuse to see this proverbial elephant. This prevailing refusal supports my contention that black lives matter more to white cops than black thugs. And those who protest the killing of one black by a white cop, while countenancing the killing of 100 blacks by black thugs, only reinforce it.

    Nothing can be more dismaying in this respect than reports that blacks in Orlando are now harboring that black thug who killed that black (female) cop….

    All of which raises the question: What do these protesters have to show for their protests?

    Alas, the short and all-too-predictable answer is: the killing of an alarming number of black men by black men … with relative impunity.

    Here is how former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called out Black Lives Matter protesters in this respect last week:

    During a radio interview with John Catsimatidis on AM 970 in New York, McCarthy blamed protests against police brutality in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and Charlotte, N.C., for creating a ‘political atmosphere of anti-police sentiment.’

    ‘So what’s happening, and this is ironic, is that a movement with the goal of saving black lives at this point is getting black lives taken, because 80 percent of our murder victims here in Chicago are male blacks,’ McCarthy said. ‘Less than half of 1 percent of all the shootings in this city involve police officers shooting civilians.’

    (Black Christian News Network, January 1, 2017)

    That “less than half of 1 percent of all the shootings” involves police officers cannot be overstated, especially when you consider this:

    Chicago marked 2016 as the deadliest year in nearly two decades, data released by the Chicago Police Department shows.

    The city saw a surge in gun violence in 2016: 762 murders, 3,550 shooting incidents, and 4,331 shooting victims, according to a statement released by the department on Sunday.

    There were 480 murders in 2015, the most in the city since 1997.

    (CNN, January 2, 2017)

    Of course it’s one thing to explain or rationalize crime data. It’s quite another to sound alarms in real time about factors that make up that data. As it happens, I’ve been doing just that for years — sounding alarms not only about too many black men triggering their own deaths by resisting arrest, but also about black thugs being a far greater threat to black lives than white cops.

    Here are excerpts on point from just two of my commentaries:

    ____________________

    • From “Why Chastise the Times for Describing Michael Brown as ‘No Angel’…?” August 26, 2014:

    None of national leaders eulogizing Michael bothered to reinforce the most salient lesson everyone, especially young black men, should learn from his death.

    That lesson is that distrust of the police, no matter how warranted, does not give anyone the right to resist arrest or engage in visceral confrontations with them…

    I fear the lesson too many black men are learning from this tragedy is that they can resist arrest, so long as they shout the new-fangled slogan, ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ while doing so. Clearly, this will only lead to more of them ending up like Michael.

    • From “Tyshawn Lee: Excuse Me, Which Black Lives Matter?” November 5, 2015:

    God help the city where residents fear gang members more than they trust police officers. But, given the scourge of black-on-black crime, the irony is that blacks predominate in areas of far too many cities where this is the case.

    This brings me to the unwitting spectre of the ‘Ferguson effect.’

    Chuck Rosenberg, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, said Wednesday that he agrees with FBI Director James Comey that police officers are reluctant to aggressively enforce laws in the post-Ferguson era of capturing police activity on smartphones and YouTube…

    The comments offer more support for the theory that, faced with increased scrutiny, the nation’s police officers are pulling back.

    (Washington Post, November 4, 2015)

    Unfortunately, black activists and pundits have spent more time this week splitting hairs about the Ferguson effect than condemning the increasing lawlessness that led to Tyshawn’s death.

    Never mind that nothing demonstrated the deadly impact of the Ferguson effect quite like police officers being reluctant to intervene as (black) rioters looted, pillaged, and burned their own areas of Baltimore earlier this year. To say nothing of the fact that no less a paper of record than the New York Times affirmed this effect in a June 15, 2015, report headlined, ‘West Baltimore’s Police Presence Drops, and Murder Soars,’ (the Baltimore effect?)…

    The obvious and understandable truth [is] that police officers (white and black) have always been reluctant to police high-crime areas, like the South Side of Chicago. Only this explains the despairing resonance of Spike Lee’s forthcoming movie, Chiraq, about violence so wanton and unchecked in black areas of Chicago, residents might as well be living in Iraq.

    The more troubling irony, though, is that police officers fear vigilant(e) public scrutiny that could end their careers (a la Darren Wilson) more than gangland violence that could end their lives.

    Such is the seemingly inexorable and irreconcilable breakdown in trust between those who wear blue and those who are black in America today.

    ____________________

    Alas, nothing explains why the killing fields of black America will remain fertile for years to come quite like Chicago’s current police superintendent echoing his predecessor’s dire lament:

    Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson told the AP recently that officers have become more careful, partly because they’re concerned about viral videos [which could cause them to] lose their job…

    The ‘the anti-police rhetoric’ in Chicago and across the country ‘has emboldened and actually empowered these gang members to do what they do.’

    Gang members may believe community residents will take their side instead of the police’s, he added.

    (ABC News, January 3, 2017)

    This is why my forlorn hope is that black consciousness will compel protests against the unrelenting menace of blacks killing blacks – complete with far greater urgency and outrage than those we’ve seen against the incidental spectre of cops killing blacks.

    As a case in point, I can think of no killing more worthy of such a Black Lives Matter protest than that of the black cop that black thug killed today:

    Orlando police Chief John Mina called Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, a 17-year veteran, a hero who was dedicated to serving her community. She was a Central Florida native, married with one son, who is in college, Mina said.

    ‘Master Sgt. Clayton always had the time to give back to her community, whether it was by mentoring at-risk youth or serving on our law enforcement task force,’ the Central Florida Urban League said on Facebook.

    (News6 Orlando, January 9, 2017)

    Michael Brown died resisting arrest. Master Sgt. Debra Clayton died protecting and serving her community. Black lives matter, but there’s no denying that some matter more than others….

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  • Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 8:01 AM

    Trump vs. Jong-un: a worthy match in so many respects

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 9:06 AM

    UPDATE: U.S. Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking of Presidential Election

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Yesterday, the Washington Post published what it deemed are the most important lines in the intelligence community’s report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    Significantly, those lines affirm what I inferred from testimony the community’s leaders presented at a congressional hearing on Thursday. I bulleted those inferences in yesterday’s commentary, “Trump Is Trump, and Intelligence Is Intelligence, and Never the Twain Shall Meet,” January 6, 2017.

    Here are three of those lines:

    We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.

    (Washington Post, January 6, 2017)

    There’s no denying the success of that campaign – no matter how many tweets Trump publishes to the contrary.

    More to the point, his continued, Manchurian-like deflection of blame from Putin’s Russia, while imputing it Democrats, constitutes one of many seeds already germinating for impeachment proceedings. And he has yet to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

    Speaker Paul Ryan is leading a chorus of Republican leaders in singing Trump’s praises. But their resentment over his bull-in-a-China-shop run to the White House is palpable.

    Therefore, don’t be surprised if they seize the first opportunity to impeach and replace him with Vice President-elect Mike Pence — who Republicans and Democrats alike consider far more fit to serve as president … for a litany of well-documented reasons. And, given Trump’s Nixonian inclination to punish his enemies, to say nothing of his Clintonian inclination to enrich himself, he is bound to provide all kinds of opportunities for them to do so.

    (“WTF! President-elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” The iPINIONS Journal, November 10, 2016)

    Mind you, Trump would be lucky if his presidency ends with impeachment. After all, he insinuated throughout his presidential campaign that Hillary’s would end with a “Second Amendment remedy” if she were elected.

    In any event, one cannot overstate the significance of Democrats and Republicans venting near unanimous support for the findings in this report, as well as for the categorical imperative of retaliating against Russia. Hence Trump really is “an island” — albeit one that can affect lives, for good or ill, on every continent of the world.

    Stay tuned, folks.

    Related commentaries:
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  • Friday, January 6, 2017 at 11:39 AM

    Trump Is Trump, and Intelligence Is Intelligence, and Never the Twain Shall Meet

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    It has become self-evident that Donald Trump and human intelligence are parallel forces of nature. The obvious reason for this is that Trump’s need to feed his ego — even in the face of brazen hypocrisy or imminent danger — knows no bounds. Hence, any truth that does not make him look good is suspect — no matter how hypocritical or dangerous his refusal to accept it.

    This brings me to the hearing the Senate Armed Services Committee held yesterday on intelligence findings that Russia interfered in last year’s presidential election. It featured Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, and Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Marcel J. Lettre II. The bottom line of their testimony is that there’s agreement across all U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia tried, in a variety of unprecedented and foreboding ways, to influence the outcome of that election.

    These intelligence leaders did not ascribe motives, but one could reasonably infer that Russia was attempting, among other things, to

    • undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral process, if not in Western democracy itself;
    • sow Sunni vs. Shia-like discord between Republicans and Democrats;
    • exact revenge on Hillary and the Democrats for raising questions about the fairness of Russia’s 2012 presidential election – notwithstanding the legitimacy of those questions;
    • deflect from its own domestic and international troubles, which include that damning WADA report on its state-sponsored doping program. This report led to practically every Russian Track and Field athlete being banned from the Rio Olympics, and every Russian athlete (in every sport) being banned from the Rio Paralympics.

    No doubt to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dismay, Republican and Democratic senators on the committee holding this hearing demonstrated rare bipartisanship, expressing unanimous support for the intelligence agencies and the testimony of these select leaders. In fact, they are getting similar support from nearly all politicians and pundits alike.

    Yet, despite all this, President-elect Donald Trump is still venting doubts – even disparaging the intelligence findings as part of a political witch hunt orchestrated by the Democrats.

    Trump has now made clear he intends to keep fighting the intelligence community’s findings.

    (Washington Post, January 6, 2017)

    Frankly, only two things explain Trump’s willful suspension of belief:

    1. Russia has compromising information on him.
    2. His narcissism makes him congenitally incapable of accepting that Russia’s interference hurt Hillary and helped him.

    But don’t get me started on

    the irony and hypocrisy inherent in him whining about the intelligence community conspiring with Democrats to de-legitimize his election.

    After all, he’s the conspiracy nut who spent the past eight years trying to de-legitimize Obama’s presidency — variously insinuating that Obama was not born in the USA (aka the ‘birther’ madness) and that his Harvard degree is a fraud. Now he’s adding insult to that offense by making pronouncements, engaging foreign leaders, and strong-arming corporations as if he’s already the president of the United States.

    (“The Issue Is Not Whether Russia Affected the Outcome…,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 10, 2016)

    The point is that, if you are still expressing shock and venting outrage over all of the ignorant, narcissistic, dishonest, puerile, thin-skinned, hypocritical, and dangerous things Trump says and does, the joke’s on you.

    To be fair, though, Trump never missed an opportunity throughout his presidential campaign to warn voters that it’s more important to him to preserve his ego than to “preserve the Union.” Moreover, that he would defend his ego at the expense of the Union even against the most asinine or inconsequential slight.

    God help America.

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  • Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 8:07 AM

    Happy New Year…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Back on Monday, January 9, 2017

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