Trying to Derail Obama. Again

There have been political cartoons and breathless stories, including blatantly false ones by Donald Trump, the GOP nominee for President of the United States, about how President Obama paid ransom to get the Iran nuclear deal.

Now, along comes a corrective story in the form of a New York Times editorial:

The first thing to know about the latest controversy over the Iran nuclear deal is that the Obama administration did not pay $400 million in “ransom” to secure the release of three American detainees. Yet that’s the story critics are peddling in another attempt to discredit an agreement that has done something remarkable — halted a program that had put Iran within striking distance of producing a nuclear weapon.

The truth is that the administration withheld the payment to ensure Iran didn’t renege on its promise to free three detainees — a Washington Post journalist, a Marine veteran and a Christian pastor. That’s pragmatic diplomacy not capitulation.

A graphic accompanying the editorial in the New York Times
A graphic accompanying the editorial in the New York Times

“U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed” The Wall Street Journal first blared two and half weeks ago (the story is behind a pay wall), peddling a gotcha that the “Obama administration insists there was no quid pro quo, but critics charge payment amounted to ransom.”

A shame that Rupert Murdoch has turned a once-principled newspaper into another of his disreputable propaganda organs.

Please read rest of the Times editorial to get the background and full story of what happened in this case.

Donald Trump is Such a Kidder!

These people. They just can’t take a joke.  First, he sarcastically ran for the office of the President of the United States even though he is not qualified to run the country and he has no ideas how to and is not even interested in running the country. Ruin the country, maybe, but run it, no.
I mean, what’s a joker and a con man to do, right?


Ratings challenged reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) “the founder” of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON’T GET SARCASM?


Especially when all these people started taking him seriously and started supporting him. They come to his rallies to watch him froth at the mouth and display for all to see that he is unfit to be president.

So, what, he sarcastically called Mexicans criminals and rapists and said he would build a magnificent wall to keep them out of the U.S. And, then, he sarcastically added that, what the hell, let’s keep out Muslims, too. People can’t figure out that he has no idea how to do any of this?

I mean, would a person interested in leading his country demean, denigrate and insult the leader of the country in the crudest and racist manner?


Trumpy SaladAnd then, sarcastically, he called for gun nuts to kill his opponent for president before she gets a chance to nominate Supreme Court justices who might overturn gun rights.

And, yet, for this and other abominable acts and utterances in between, he cannot get these idiotic GOP leaders to stop supporting him and for people to stop following him.

Donald Trump does not mean any of this. It was a lark and now it’s gone too far. If only there’s a way to stop running for president. He’s done everything he could to show everyone he’s not serious but . . . even Republicans are, like, you are our leader. We support you.

What’s a con man to do?

Maybe he should test out one of the theories he propounded upon earlier on in the campaign by going out and shooting someone on 5th Avenue to see if people will stop supporting him then.

It won’t be the most outrageous thing he’s done in this campaign.

Will ReUnit-ing with #Pogback Feel So Good?

Adidas rap music video announcing Pogba’s return to Manchester United

I was a fool to ever leave your side
Me minus you is such a lonely ride
The breakup we had has made me lonesome and sad
I realize I love you ’cause I want you bad, hey, hey

—Opening lyrics from Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited”

We are, of course, thinking, talking about Paul Pogba being feted as a returning hero on his coming back to Manchester United. A reunion made in marketing heaven. Simply put, whatever United were, they are suddenly cool again. The way they’ve never been since David Beckham left.

Like the Bleacher Report said, “For now there is the excitement. For now there is the hype. For now there is #Pogback.”

And, unlike when Beckham was driving the manager nuts by pushing the envelope back then, Pogba is out there fully with Manchester United and sponsor Adidas’ full blessings.

#PogbackFirst things first, in shirt sales alone, Man U will recoup many times over the $89 million to $110 million that they reportedly gave to Juventus to get their wayward son back.

And the reason is that Pogba, with his effusive personality and general relatability, is an incandescent talent the world over. With his 6’ 3” frame and 175 lbs dripping wet, Pogba brings dazzling skills that produces amazing goals and assists and unquenchable star quality.

Continue reading “Will ReUnit-ing with #Pogback Feel So Good?”

Questlove Singes O’Reilly’s on Slavery

“I dunno if that man’s (never say his name) point is to troll at any cost whatsoever but his entire existence is a 5 steps backwards for any progress made in humanity.”

6-gordonQuestlove ran the following on his Instagram (with the attached photograph): Slavery was inhumane. Slavery was sadistic. Slavery was uncomfortable. Slavery was unjust. Slavery was a nightmare. Slavery was a despicable act. Slavery is the pebble whose ripple in the river still resonates on and on and on and on. I’d like to think most of you have common sense. But there is nothing more dangerous than a man in a suit pretending to be a journalist giving revisionist history on the ugliness that was slavery. What’s so fun and lighthearted about being shackled? being separated from your loved ones? Being molested and raped HOURLY, being branded with hot iron? being property? being castrated? being flogged? being malnourished? living in high stress conditions? forced to lay in your own feces? being sold in a heartbeat? suppressing ANY emotion (with the surprising exception of singing it was illegal —lashes or death–to read, write, “talk back” or “sass”, cry (how many of you heard “you better NOT cry before I give you something to cry about!”), get angry, or even more surprising LAUGHING (a plantation barrel of water was always in proximity to dunk ones head in so one could express emotions and suppress the sound as to not alert your overseer of your “sassing”—deep history I just learned about laughing and the slave period—the first recorded song “The Laughing Song” was the defiant “F%^k Tha Police” of its day (also where the term “Barrel Of Laughs” gets its origin)—I’m getting beside the point. I dunno if that man’s (never say his name) point is to troll at any cost whatsoever but his entire existence is a 5 steps backwards for any progress made in humanity. My dismay is the percentage of people who get their news from memes/headlines/& sources to whom they have 0 clue is feeding them false information. Human Trafficking in any form from today’s underage prostitution, to the private Prison System we exercise here in the US, to the Holocaust to 500 years of Slavery–and all other examples I’ve not mentioned is INHUMANE & Evil. —watch where you get your information from and the company you keep people.

Donald Trump’s Noxious Vision

After Donald Trump’s scary, dark musings last night–laden as it was with lies, threats and his profoundly disturbing vision of what he aims to do as president–a little reflection is in order.

Think about it. Is our common public weal more imperiled today than it was in those dark days of 2008?

Yet, neither of the two major party candidates that year offered as dark a vision of the nation nor offered as harsh a prescription of how to rebuild our nation.

Looking back through the tunnel of time, back to 2008, we found a cratered U.S. economy. Banks deemed too big to fail were nevertheless filing for bankruptcy protection. Despite billions in government assistance to financial firms, a historic economic recession was just around the corner.

With the worst attack on American soil in our history within memory, the U.S. military was enmeshed in two wars, American service personnel dying in pursuit of Osama bin Laden in the mountains and caves of Afghanistan and a self-inflicted misadventure in Iraq as we expended treasury we could not afford.

Continue reading “Donald Trump’s Noxious Vision”

Nick Cannon Talks ‘Black Lives Matter’

When I say Black Lives matter
That don’t mean yours don’t
When we say Black lives matter
That don’t mean your kids won’t
They will… They gonna say it with us, because they get us.
When I say Black lives matter that don’t mean yours don’t
When I say Black lives matter
Don’t me white folks can’t get on the boat
So it’s like when I say save the whales
That don’t mean the other fish can’t float
It just means the whales are endangered
Just like my species
It don’t matter who’s doing the killing
As long as we end up extinct , see
This Is the thesis in these secret meetings
They having about me and the rest of my community
They say well when they shooting each other
They don’t care about unity
Well brutally Let me be the one to say, they right!
But there ain’t no such thing as black on black violence
It’s crime against you and me!
Intolerance of people
See Gentrification and Genocide
It’s the Same thing in my eyes
So we gotta reprogram these social lies
And take back our streets
And we gonna keep screaming, fighting, marching and cussing
Until we abolish injustice
And our internal royalty is realized and reached
That’s why I’m out here now
Practicing what I preach
So all you tweeting at me with all that Social chatter
When they kill me
Make sure they put on my tombstone
Damn Right
Black Lives Matter

Living ‘Black’ in the United States of America

And living to tell the tales.

Traffic was heavy on Route 17 in Hasbrouck Heights on my way home to Ridgewood, NJ, after work on Wednesday, which wasn’t exactly news. But, as I approached a stretch where Route 46 and Interstate 80 go over Route 17, traffic eased and I saw the reason why. Rubbernecking motorists.

What were they looking at?

A black man with both hands on top of his head standing in front of a white police officer on the grassy area next to the shoulder. The cop’s car, lights flashing, and another car in front of it were parked on the shoulder. Unlike Alton Sterling on Tuesday or Philando Castile on Wednesday, this black man stopped by a white cop was still alive.

James Eagan Holmes, heavily armed, killed 12 and injured 70 people in a Colorado theater and was captured alive. Dylann Roof killed nine churchgoers in South Carolina and was captured alive. Jason Dalton killed six and injured two in Kalamazoo. His life was preserved as he was being arrested.

Cedric Chatman. Tamir Rice. Laquan McDonald. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Black men make up 6% of U.S. population; are 40% of people killed by police.

He’s lucky to be alive, I thought as I drove on. Was that too sanguine a response to the situation?

Jesse Williams Speaking out

I am not taking the situation lightly. I’ve lived long enough to be a middle-aged black male despite too many tangles with cops, both in the United States of America and elsewhere, to do that. But, as these killings pile up, becoming more and more common each day, I’ve long realized that I’ve been lucky to still be alive to tell tales of encounters with cops.

My narrow escape from racist Afrikaners in 1994, while on assignment for the New York Daily News in South Africa, is an entirely different story that will be told a different day. Not today. Also, it’s available on the Internet for anyone curious enough to want to find out.

St. Louis, MO in the ’80’s

A police car pulled up behind my car as I eased into traffic after a college friend and I left a bar late one night many years ago. He pulled me over. The cop came up to the car, peered in, then instructed me to step out. I did. He said that he had stopped me for suspected drunk driving because he had observed me weaving in and out of traffic. I protested that I did no such thing and that, in any case, I couldn’t be drunk driving since I had not been drinking.

Continue reading “Living ‘Black’ in the United States of America”

The Company We Keep

greece_3402538bMy son asked me a question the other day that still cuts very deep.

“How are you comfortable being in league with racists, xenophobes and reactionaries?” he asked.

What prompted the question was my support for Brexit.

I’ll admit it is true that the likes of Boris Johnson, the idiotic and racist former London mayor, and Nigel Farage who leads the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a right-wing political party, stoked anti-immigrant fervor to sell their successful campaign to get Britain out of the European Union.

And, let’s not forget our own resident bigot, one Donald Trump, the next president of the United States, was ecstatic at the outcome. Just yesterday, Marine Le Pen of the French racist National Front political party wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times praising the Brits’ courage for their Brexit vote.

The reactions to Brexit, especially in the media, have been hyperbolic. In a highly emotional editorial yesterday, the Times castigated Brexit proponents for “backing away from the false claims and dubious promises that they made in the run-up to the referendum to take Britain out of the European Union.”

I know the financial markets have been tantrumy since the vote but everything is going to be all right. The world on Friday and since has been no different than it was on Wednesday, the day before the Brexit vote. Despite corporations and the markets behaving the way they are, nothing is really being lost.

Let me rephrase that. Continue reading “The Company We Keep”

‘Super Mario’ Four Years Ago Today

It is hard to imagine that Mario Balotelli is nowhere to be found in France as Italy is again proving doubters wrong at the UEFA Euro 2016.

Italy seemingly limps into every tournament only to surprise. This years is no different, with the latest masterclass against Spain. Part of the reason many doubt Italy would do much in this year’s championship is that the team is made up of mostly anonymous players.

The biggest missing piece is Balotelli who seemed like such a bright star four years ago but whose career has since spiraled. I hope he finds the inspiration to dazzle again.

Trump: “More Profiling, Please”

Donald TrumpIt is no longer a rumor that Bill Clinton talked to Donald Trump in the weeks before he ran for president.

For the people who believe that, Trump gives them ammunition daily. It’s like Trump calls the HRC campaign headquarters each day to get his talking points about how to further kneecap himself. Or, maybe BC is the ventriloquist that makes the Trump dummy spout nonsense to make himself unpalatable to the general election electorate.

How else would you explain Trump on Sunday calling for profiling Muslims?

See a video of his call-in to CBS’s Face-the-Nation here:

Now, why would a former president whose wife was a certain candidate for POTUS be advising another man to get in the race for the same office? Some conspiracy minded people have gone so far as to say that BC planted Trump in the Republican nomination contest to destabilize the GOP and smooth the way for his wife becoming POTUS.

Republicans may believe in profiling but they don’t believe in stating it so baldly as Trump is prone to do on this and on so many other issues that the GOP prefer to hint at, dog whistle, if you will. Trump, God bless him, just prefers to say what he believes.

If it Walks and Quacks like a Duck . . .

imageDespite his “good relationship with the blacks” and being the “least racist person” he knows, Donald Trump history of discriminating against people of color goes back to the beginning of his business career.

The New York Times, which over the weekend released a story about how DT devastated lives in numerous bankruptcies in Atlantic City, NJ while laughing all the way to the bank, released today this Times Insider piece from 1973 that showed Trump was “Accused of Antiblack Bias in City” at that time.

“The Department of Justice had brought suit in federal court in Brooklyn against Mr. Trump and his father, Fred C. Trump, charging them with violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in the operation of 39 buildings.

“The government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals ‘because of race and color,’ ” The Times reported. “It also charged that the company had required different rental terms and conditions because of race and that it had misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available.”

As it is his won’t, DT bellowed like a stuck pig: The charges are “are absolutely ridiculous,” he said.

“We never have discriminated,” he added, “and we never would.”

It even turned around and sued the U.S. government for $100 million (or, as the Times noted, $500 million in today’s dollars). Yet, it quietly settled the lawsuit under terms that seemed to essentially acknowledge its guilt on the charges.

Over the weekend, as news of the Orlando atrocity came to light, DT was again at it, spewing racist, sexist and anti-muslim garbage in all directions. Yet, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and most of the GOP hierarchy and the party’s establishment insist this man is fit to be our next president.

Muhammad Ali’s Dream

AliIt is a strange process that we put all our heroes and heroines through.

First, we seen them as dangerous and revile them. Then, in death, we (even their former antagonists and adversaries) adopt them and turn them into everything we wished the hero to be, everything we could not make them be when alive.

Much as we turned Martin Luther King, Jr. into a plaster saint that even the racists among us could quote to our own ends, so too shall we render Muhammad Ali.

For Ali, the process actually began when he lighted the Olympic flame at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

It was the first time the whole world saw how much Parkinson’s Disease had taken from Ali. Though, an apparition by the time he turned up in Atlanta, he stood tall, powerful and defiant still.

But because he could not really speak for himself, not anymore, people started speaking for him and saying for him things that he might not have said for himself.

His death may complete that process of sainthood. He would be fitted with feet of clay, the better to keep him in place. Writer Dave Zirin is cautioning against that in a Los Angeles Times opinion-editorial.

Kirin wrote:

“His life was one of polarization and reconciliation, anger and love, and a ferocious, uncompromising commitment to nonviolence, all delivered through the scandalously dirty vessel of corruption known as boxing. Few have ever walked so confidently and casually from man to myth, and that journey was well earned.”

I’ll quote one more passage but this article is required for anyone who ever cared about Ali and what he stood for:

“Ali’s death, however, should be an opportunity to remember what made him so dangerous in the first place. The best place to start would be to recall the part of him that died decades ago: his voice. No athlete, no politician, no preacher ever had a voice quite like his or used it as effectively as he did. Ali’s voice was playful, lilting, with a rhythm that matched his otherworldly footwork in the boxing ring. It’s a voice that forced you to listen lest you miss a joke, a gibe or a flash of joy.”

In a series of interviews with the BBC’s Michael Parkinson, Ali expanded on his views about everything under the sun. The most iconic of those interviews was the first one, which took place Oct. 17, 1971.

Some of what Ali remarked on then are commonplace today and are taken for granted. But, when Ali spoke, not only did African-Americans lack much power and rights, our society, including the power of our own government, resisted the civil rights movement.