How Muhammad Ali Changed America—And His Role in Malcolm X's Murder

Sportswriter Robert Lipsyte on the Greatest's massive, contradictory legacy in politics and culture.


Muhammad Ali & The Beatles, 1964|||Autore Sconosciuto, Wikimedia
Autore Sconosciuto, Wikimedia

Former New York Times reporter Robert Lipsyte revolutionized sportswriting in the mid-1960s when he started covering the late Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, a.k.a. "The Louisville Lip."

Where other scribes and broadcasters saw a loudmouthed, uppity punk they openly wanted to lose to Sonny Liston, Jerry Quarry, Floyd Paterson, and others, Lipsyte saw a man of immense ability and intelligence who would change not just boxing but American culture.

In a 2013 interview with Reason, Lipsyte goes so far as to say "the '60s" began with Clay's surprising defeat of Liston, the brooding, terrifying heavyweight champ whom some worried would literally kill his relatively light opponent in the ring. Lipsyte recounts how he got to cover the fight because none of the Times' serious sportswriters even wanted to shlep to Miami to cover such an obvious mismatch. That began an amazing—and fraught—relationship between the writer and the boxer, who would convert to the Nation of Islam (NOI) and refuse to serve in the U.S. Army when drafted. "No Viet Cong ever called me nigger," Ali supposedly said in explaining his refusal to fight in Vietnam. There is no evidence exists that he ever said that exact phrase, though what he did say is arguably more powerful:

My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father… Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.

As controversially, Ali made public comments that Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965 at the orders of NOI leader Elijah Muhammad, got what he deserved. "Let's not forget that Nation of Islam was going up against civil rights. They believed quite openly in segregation," recalls Lipsyte. "I think he was in some abstract way an accomplice in the death of [Malcolm X]. When anybody says, 'Anybody who defies the Honorable Elijah Muhammad shouldn't live,' that was open season."

Click below to watch Reason's interview with Lipsyte, who also went on to help invent the entire genre of Young Adult fiction with the 1967 publication of The Contender, and has served as ESPN's ombudsman (his personal website is here).

The interview is cued up to the section discussing Ali as "change agent" (9:00 minutes) and the section about Malcolm X begins at 20:00 minutes. For more background and a list of other topics covered, go to the full video page.

Reason, December 2003

Related Lipsyte story: Robby Soave wrote about a Seattle University dean being suspended for recommending Dick Gregory's provocatively titled 1964 memoir, which was co-authored by Lipsyte.

Back in our December 2003, Reason celebrated its 35th anniversary by listing "35 Heroes of Freedom" whom we celebrated "for making the world a groovier and groovier place since 1968." Among the athletes who made the list were Curt Flood, the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder who pioneered free agency in baseball at the cost of a great career; Martina Navratilova, the tennis champion who fled communist Czechoslovakia so she could keep her winnings and, eventually, live an openly alternative lifestyle; and…NBA all-star Dennis Rodman:

As a cross-dressing, serially pierced, tattoo-laden, multiple National Basketball Association championship ring holder, the Worm set an X-Men-level standard for cultural mutation. His flamboyant, frequently gay-ish antics place him in apostolic succession to a madcap handful of athletes such as Joe Namath, Rollie Fingers, and Muhammad Ali, all of whom challenged the lantern-jawed stiffness that had traditionally made sports stars such dull role models.

At this late date, let me agree with several readers, friends, and even staffers who insisted at the time that Ali would have been the better pick.

[Ali-Beatles image credit]

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  1. I never did care for Ali’s rope a dope tactics. Makes for a boring fight.

    1. And he got a bogus win in Ali-Norton III.

    2. Maybe, but when that man threw a punch it was a thing of pure beauty. Effortless, so natural, so fast and so accurate.

      1. Ali’s jab and Tyson’s uppercut were two of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in the ring.

        1. The most amazing thing I ever saw was Arturo Gatti’s heart. Or was it Mickey Ward’s heart? I can’t remember, but their first fight is the greatest boxing match of all time, IMO.

          1. Disagree if you want. But watch round 9 first

            1. I’d like to see Gary Johnson do that.

            2. I know its a different sport but this fight showed the ultimate in heart Two amateurs trying to turn pro.

    3. Hyperion|6.4.16 @ 11:33AM| block | mute | #

      I never did care for Ali’s rope a dope tactics. Makes for a boring fight.

      Maybe you didn’t, like many people, understand what you were seeing.

      As this guy argues in great detail

        1. That was great. ‘Foreman’s stalking technique’ was frightening.

          Thus concludes how the New Jersey Devils played hockey and Italy approached soccer at their zenith. They masters at letting their opponents play with the puck or ball only to shut down spaces and counter-attack at their most vulnerable point.

          Anyway. Those were some serious bad ass heavyweights back in the day.

          1. ‘They were masters.’

            Bah. In any event, it’s an acquired taste and can be frustrating to watch at times.

          2. That guy’s channel (lee wylie) is fantastic. few videos but all of them are brilliant. Strangely – nothing specifically on Ali, whereas he’s got like 5 just on Roberto Duran*, and a dozen related to Mayweather. The slow-mo footage analysis is great.

      1. No, I’ve watched boxing since I was a little kid. I understand it completely, it’s just boring to watch.

        1. i agree mostly. on repeat views i’ve found some to improve

        2. It is boring to watch but like most sports fun to engage in.

          We had a couple of pairs of gloves when I was a kid. We wore them out. And each other.

          1. Child abuse!

          2. Gloves? You pussy. We beat each other up bare-knuckle, as God and the gypsies intended.

            1. Heh. We did plenty of that too, when we weren’t feeling congenial.

              *looks in mirror at 40 year old scar from split lip.*

              I could always punch above my weight. The problem was that my brother could too.

      2. Yeah but as we learned today,Foreman outlasted him in the end.

        Too soon?

        1. Ali successfully dodged a Foreman rematch.

    4. I’m still annoyed by Sugar Ray Leonard beating Marvelous Marvin Hagler mostly by dancing around him.

      1. I’ve always thought that Duran was the best of that trio, just on guts alone. No Mas, ok, ok…

        1. You’re forgetting Hearns!

          1. I did forget Hearns, or mabye I was confusing him with Marvelous Marvin, I mean they all look alike you know… I probably just like Duran better because he’s less brown. Us whitey can’t help it.

            1. The golden age of boxing arguably started with the Patterson-Johansson fights and basically ended when Douglas knocked out Tyson.

              1. Buster Douglas, lol. Tyson got knocked out by a little woman, not Buster Douglas. The guy was just a mess after that.

      2. I understand your frustration but he did clearly defeat him. Hagler simply couldn’t effectively cut off the ring to pound Leonard’s body and slow him down. It was a technical masterpiece on Leonard’s part, but yes, it can be tedious. Benard Hopkins and Mayweather have been criticized for much the same thing.

        1. Yeh, yeh. I know.

          /bites into apple.

    5. Dominic Cruz has taken Ali’s stuff to a whole another level. Boxing is boring and irrelevant these days.

      Also, Bisping? WTF. MMA is a fun sport.

    1. To clarify, I think Nick linking to an interview with a writer who covered Ali is the correct way to treat Ali’s death. There has been so much written about Ali that there is not necessarily a need for someone to write more, or to give their “take.” RBS mentioned that Hunter Thompson wrote a lot about Ali, and one of my favorite articles that inspired Ali is this George Plimpton article, The Time Hunter S. Thompson Passed Out In A Pool And Missed The Rumble In The Jungle. TW: Deadspin.

      I would have objected to someone like Soave writing a summary of Ali’s life, regurgitating facts they learned minutes earlier while skimming wikipedia. I think that is what will be plentiful this week, and it is one of Crusty’s Pet Peeves.*

      *Read about the others in my newsletter!

      1. Correction: was inspired by Ali. There.

      2. Norman Mailer’s “The Fight” is worth a read. Like many of his ‘new journalism’ books (armies of the night, the siege of chicago, fire on the moon) you can finish it in an afternoon.

        Half the book seems to involve being very drunk with plimpton and thompson and contemplating the nature of characters like Don King and Mbutu

        1. I have not read that, but I’ve heard good things. Those three writers, and Lipsyte, certainly have their faults, but they are far superior to the vast majority of shit that will be written about him.

      3. That was great, thanks for the link CJ.

      4. There is not enough mind bleach on Earth to convince me to read your newsletter, Crusty.

  2. Two of my favorite quotes are Ali’s.

    “Thank god my grandaddy was on that boat” – After returning from a tour of Africa

    And, cited in the article- “No Vietcong ever called me nigger.”

    1. That is because no Vietcong ever saw him. Had they, they would have called him Mi Dang…whatever the hell thatr means.

      1. The European version of racism towards blacks would make North Americans cringe.

        1. The American Progressives version makes me cringe.

        2. The Asian version even more so.

          1. So I read. But I’ve actually witnessed the European variety.

            They openly engage in ‘nigger’ talk.

            1. They openly engage in ‘nigger’ talk.

              what, like rap music?

              I KEED! I KEED!

              1. Even around here they still carelessly say ‘le ‘tit negre’ (the little nigger) in casual conversation. I don’t think they’re aware of the baggage it carries. My friend who is black would tell me stories of them saying that right in front of him.

                1. When I read the English-language version of *Tintin in America,* there was a sheriff who casually admitted that a mob had lynched “three people.” I read the French-language version in high-school French class, and it said “trois negres.”

                  1. It’s possible that Herge was simply invoking an anti-American trope (which was actually accurate at the time), because Herge himself was never a racist.

                2. Um, isn’t “negre” better translated as “negro”…?

                  1. Yes.

                    Negro means something entirely different than nigger.

            2. To be fair, I didn’t witness anything like it in 1985 Germany – though if I was still in touch with my fellow exchange student from my American high school, I would be interested to know if she experienced anything (she’s black).

        3. The Japanese version of racism toward everybody who is not Japanese would make North Americans cringe.

      2. Too buku!

        1. All fucking niggers must fucking hang.
          -animal mother

      3. You have a point. My experience is that America is the least racist country in the world. It is exponentially worse everywhere else.

        Still, Ali had a damned good point.

        1. Compared to most Asians I’ve known, we’re not racist at all. One Korean guy I knew would just come right out and say that there is no racism in the US compared to his country. He said they’re even racist towards Koreans from another area in South Korea.

          1. That is pretty standard everywhere. The Koreans do seem to be especially bad though.

            I dated an English girl from Sunderland. She hated the people from Newcastle. The feeling was mutual. You can throw a freakin’ rock from one to the other. Hell, I couldn’t tell the difference. Both of their accents sounded like garbledy garble to me.

            We went down to Durham once and the people there wouldn’t even speak to either one of us.

            1. That sort of hatred between regions is normal but the English variety is nothing compared to Spain and Italy.

          2. The Japanese have fairly negative attitudes towards non-Japanese, including the other native peoples of the archipelago. Many of them are surprisingly arrogant about it given the history of Japanese colonialism/warmongering, especially as compared to Western attitudes in similar matters (which are nauseatingly apologetic/deferential).

            1. Many of them are surprisingly arrogant about it given the history of Japanese colonialism/warmongering

              I’ve always found the “(shrug) fuck ’em” attitude of the Japanese refreshingly honest in its mercilessness.

              they seem to intuitively understand there’s nothing “honorable” about bowing and scraping and apologizing to people who’s asses you’ve just brutally-kicked for 400+ years. if you feel bad, give them some money and some land, and do them the kindness of not making a big deal out of it in front of everyone.

              Whereas the American constant-self-flagellation about slavery and indian-killing? smacks of enormous vanity. Its all about *us* and our enormous egos and how we just feel so bloody awful and wanting to be praised for our enlightened self-hatred now. Its gross and egotistical and undignified. Meanwhile none of the public-handwringing does a fucking thing to actually aid people we claim to be so freaking concerned about.

              1. Several of the Koreans I’ve known/know have a very outward contempt for anything and everything PC. And they won’t waste anytime telling you about it, no matter who you are or in what situation.

              2. Hear Hear, Gilmore.

              3. Whereas the American constant-self-flagellation about slavery and indian-killing? smacks of enormous vanity.

                I’m going to harp on this until someone agrees with me. The left denies believing in American exceptionalism and the superiority of Western culture even while holding both America and the West to a much higher standard than they ever would any other nation or culture. We’re meant to apologize for our collective sins, an expectation never leveled at every other country or people. And in doing so they’re tacitly acknowledging that Western society and Americans especially are in fact exceptional. We’ve not only outgrown our barbaric impulses but have the moral courage to condemn our ancestors for theirs.

                1. I think both you and Gil are bang on.

              4. As I once said here, it’s an insufferable feature of Americanism.

                Though HM pointed out it was a pretty big part of history.


                What America experienced is nothing out of the ordinary in the annals of world history.

              5. Whereas the American constant-self-flagellation about slavery and indian-killing? smacks of enormous vanity.

                Of course it is. Does anyone actually think these shitlibs are going to fuck off back to wherever in Europe their ancestors came from and give up their “stolen land”? Virtue signaling is effortless and demands nothing outside of feeling bad about what your ancestors or, better yet, “those evil white people” did. If these people actually sacrificed something that benefited them personally, it would be the first time in their lives they ever did so.

            2. A friend of mine who lived in Japan for a while used to have schoolkids point at him and yell “Gaijin!” (foreigner).

          3. Q: What do Koreans say about the US dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
            A: It was a good start.

          4. I believe most Aaians have a slanted view about other cultures.

    2. “I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

  3. He sucked. He didn’t think poor people should fight other poorer people, who lived in a country with a proud tradition of fighting off invading armies. He believed those principles deeply enough that he gave away millions of dollars in earnings at the peak of his career so that he wouldn’t have to duke it out with peasants in a jungle at the behest of an aggressive, imperialist army. What a dope.

    1. In other words, he had more conviction in his pinky than you have in your entire body.

    2. Leave it to a commie to make a social issue out of anything and everything.

      1. Leave to a commie to do a poor job of channeling its inner sarcasmic.

        1. I know what he’s trying to say, it’s pure derp, but the effort is to turn this, like everything else in commie world, into a social issue.

      2. I didn’t even understand what he was railing about.

        1. Exactly.

        2. That’s because he’s too stupid to contrive decent sarcasm.

          1. It’s obvious that I think he was a hero and that his decision to sit out the Vietnam War was heroic. It turns out there’s more to believing that the government should be limited than gun control, sugary soft drinks, and bitcoins. Not killing a couple million people in a bullshit war counts too.

            1. american socialist|6.4.16 @ 1:20PM|#
              “It’s obvious that I think he was a hero and that his decision to sit out the Vietnam War was heroic.”

              No, it’s not. Your posts and most of your opinions are so pathetically lame that we, for good reason, think the worst of you.
              You’re a commie, for pete’s sake.

            2. “Not killing a couple million people in a bullshit war counts too.”

              But the choco jeebus droning whomever he pleases – you’re ok with that because black people don’t know any better. Racist POS.

            3. Not killing a couple million people in a bullshit war counts too.

              I didn’t know you viewed the Viet Cong so harshly.

            4. “Not killing a couple million people in a bullshit war counts too.”

              But killing TENS OF MILLIONS because of your ideology is not bullshit.

              Of course.

    3. I’ll bet he paid his mortgage.

    4. Undoubtedly you have 15 browser tabs opened and are busy masturbatingcommenting furiously but this tab is *Reason Magazine*.

      If you asked the comment board here 99% of them would tell you that the Vietnam War was bullshit and we should have never gotten involved and that they’d love for the next president to be an anti-interventionist – which is why they’re not voting for Sanders *or* Clinton.

      1. And didn’t vote for Obama *or* Bush (or Clinton).

  4. They never even mention that Ali died here

    anyway = complete coincidence? I watched “When We Were Kings” last night. No reason, just happened to cue it up. spooooky.

  5. I wonder how Frazier feels.

      1. SF’d.

        Welcome to the club.

        1. You know, my response would’ve been hilarious had you not intervened. Fricken Canucks.

          1. You snooze, you looze.

      2. He felt like a dead link? Makes sense.

      3. ggaaaaaaa heeaaaaaa uuuuhhhhhhh eeeaaahhhhhh meeeuuuuuaaaahhhh yyeeeaaahhuuuuu

  6. Iconic figure aside, cue the over the top eulogies!

    1. I’m sure when Lou Reed kicks off, the eulogy will be quite memorable.

  7. “Click below to watch Reason’s interview with Lipsyte, who also [went] to invent the entire genre (…)”

    “There is no evidence exists [remove “exists”] that he ever said that exact phrase (…).”

  8. Interesting that all the way back in 2003, Reason preferred the “flamboyant, frequently gay-ish antics” of a “cross-dressing” athlete to one who made real sacrifices for his anti-war beliefs.

    Glad to hear there was some dissension, at least.

    1. You know, I didn’t really put too much stock in the criticism before, but you can’t really argue with this evidence.

  9. Remember that 1970 Super Fight between Ali and Rocky Marciano that was acted out – rope-a-dopes, clinches, jabs, knockdowns and KOs – and then filmed which was then spliced together and determined by a computer!

    It was shown via close-circuit in movie theaters across North America and Europe to cheering, paying audiences.

    Easily found on YouTube.

  10. A black muslim draft dodger. Heads are going to explode at Fox News.

    1. Athletes get a pass.

      1. Actually, Fox will give it the attention deserved and not the over-the-top fawning of the MSM.

    2. Just as surely as CNN and MSNBC will nicely glean over the racism and his membership in a murderous hate cult.

      1. murderous hate cult

        But it’s so coooooool. Look at their uniforms and how they think their cult has anything to do with the religion of Islam! And they killed Biggie and Malcolm X… that’s so coooollllll!

      2. They’ll probably just give it the attention it deserves, as a nite in his history, considering his recanting of the racism and life’s work to promote peace after boxing.

        1. recanting of the racism

          [citation needed]

          1. Try learning about him before you attack him. This article tells you he turned away from NOI. It’s not that hard to do a little research.

            1. There’s a world of difference between “turn[ing] away” from the NoI (which Ali apparently did, he became an actual Muslim instead of a member of a murderous fake-Muslim cult) and “recanting” those beliefs.

              I’m pretty sure if it was me who joined a cult, took on a name GIVEN ME BY THE LEADER OF THE CULT, became their most famous member, promoted their racist beliefs to all and sundry for over a decade and publicly excused their murder of their enemies… if I actually “recanted” those beliefs, my actions would include :

              1) renouncing the name given to me by the leader of the cult
              2) publicly speaking against the cult, properly identifying it as a fake-Muslim cult
              3) publicly speaking about how poorly used by the cult I felt

              If Ali did these things, we wouldn’t be calling him “Muhammed Ali” while discussing it. Unless I’m missing something, Ali wanted to distance himself from the NoI while retaining the mystique and legacy that his time as the most prominent member of the cult granted him. Unfortunately, one can’t have it both ways…

              tl;dr – [citation still needed] that Ali repudiated his membership in the NoI to the degree that his participation warranted.

              1. “His Mamma call him Clay…. I call him Clay!”

  11. Now the Super Freak Randy Moss is the greatest.

    1. Ha! I never knew of horse racing Randy Moss.

      1. Not only that, the NFL Network brought him into the fold.

      2. Did you ever hear of dog fighting Michael Vick?

        1. Man bites dog?

  12. The t-shirt guy? RIP.

    1. (Incidentally, I thought he’d died already. Oops.)

  13. I had an LOL moment watching a two-minute Ali piece on NBC during the French Open just a moment ago. Before the final screen, there was footage of Muhammad Ali shaking hands with, and getting hugged by, GW Bush. Someone at NBC surely got fired for that edit.

    1. How about Garbi?e Muguruza?

      1. I woke up too late to watch the women’s final. I was watching Bryan/Bryan versus Lopez/Lopez at the time/time.

        1. Good to see Bryan x2 lose again. Marc Lopez’s tears of joy after finally winning a major were wonderfully genuine.

  14. I still remember before Ali’s first big fight with Frazier, my grandmother would say ‘I hope frazier wins, I don’t like that Cassius Clay’.

  15. OT: Here’s a good article by Andew Napolitano.

    Server and Email

    The inspector general interviewed Clinton’s three immediate predecessors — Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — and their former aides about their email practices. He learned that none of them used emails as extensively as Clinton, none used a private server and, though Powell and Rice occasionally replied to government emails using private accounts, none used a private account when dealing with state secrets.”

    It’s seemingly impossible to explain this to some people.

    1. “The report also makes clear that had she sought permission to use her own server as the instrument through which all of her email traffic passed, such a request would have been flatly denied.”

      It was allowed! Fake Scandal, durrrr.

    2. “It’s seemingly impossible to explain this to some people.”

      I think you can qualify willful ignorance as dishonesty…

    3. Have you seen the “nobody’s gonna get killed so she should get a pass” defense Albright trotted out?

      There’s a special place in hell for people that prefer the rule of man over the rule of law.

      1. Yeah, I saw that. I mean, sure, as long as no one gets killed then let’s let them just ignore all of our laws. She could have just burnt down the State Department and sold nukes to the jihadists and as long as no one has been killed yet, it’s ok.

      2. Ambassador Stevens is nobody?

        1. Suggesting that Hillary Clinton wanted Ambassador Stevens dead, Hillary is engaged in massive coverup to hide her complicity in Stevens’ brutal death?

          Should be working for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

          If you stayed up all night trying to think of a better way to drive swing voters into arms of Hillary Clinton, you couldn’t come up with anything better than saying that Hillary is personally responsible for that.

          1. Does “negligence” not count for anything?

            Because I could stay up all night and not find a way to turn more voters away from Hillary than to find out the terrorists in Benghazi got a copy of his schedule and/or the security of the embassy from an email hacked from her private server.*

            *An email that would be too classified to release to the American people in the FOIA dump, mind you.

            1. “Does “negligence” not count for anything?”

              I’ll go with “incompetent”, “deceitful”, “secretive”, and “negligent”–sure!

              Those are great reasons why she shouldn’t be elected the next President–regardless of whether what she did was illegal.

          2. Whut?

            Who is naive enough to think Putin didn’t have Hillary’s emails discussing her gun running to anti-Assad rebels and that Putin didn’t give it to Assad, his ally?

            The 9/11 attack on the ’embassy’ in Benghazi is some weird anomaly?

            C’mon Ken your are a hell of a lot smarter than that.

            Hillary didn’t want Stevens dead, she was just too incompetent and bone crushingly stupid to keep it from happening.

            1. C’mon Ken your are a hell of a lot smarter than that.

              [Citation Needed]

        2. Exactly.

          She’s going down. All these trial balloons aren’t playing. Even the readers of Politico are calling bullshit.

      3. Nobody in the future will die. As for the past, “what difference, at this point, does it make?”

    4. Just for record, I still don’t understand why it matters whether what Hillary Clinton did was illegal.

      The question is whether her behavior is disgraceful. Whether her behavior as Secretary of State was so disgraceful that she’s unqualified to be President.

      This is where we got lost on Whitewater and other Clinton era scandals. The question wasn’t whether Hillary Clinton’s behavior was illegal in regards to Madison Guaranty. The fact is that federal taxpayer money that was intended to bail out the depositors in a failed S&L (which wasn’t insured by FDIC) ended up in Bill Clinton’s election campaign fund by way of a real estate transaction that Hillary set up. No one disputed that’s where the money came from.

      The question wasn’t whether what she did was legal. The question was whether the Clintons’ behavior was so disgraceful that it made it necessary to remove Bill Clinton from office. Whether what they did was legal was completely beside the point. “I legally didn’t know about it!” So what?

      The question wasn’t whether money from the Chinese Government made its way into Bill Clinton’s legal defense fund. Everyone agreed that’s exactly what happened, and that’s where the money came from. The question wasn’t about whether the donation was legal. Whether it was legal was beside the point. The question is whether it was so sleazy that Bill Clinton should be removed from office. Legality simply doesn’t matter!

      1. Her behavior was both illegal and disgraceful.

        1. Unfortunately:

          1) I’m not sure the donations were technically illegal.

          2) Focusing on the illegality drains the disgracefulness of its credibility.

          It really doesn’t matter whether shoving a cigar up in intern is illegal in the wake of Anita Hill and the Clarence Thomas hearings. And focusing on whether it’s legal deflects the blame for being disgraceful.

          I’m not going to help Hillary with her bait and switch. I’m not carrying any water for her, ever.

          1. The donations are illegal if they were the quid for Hillary’s quo. There are some remarkable coincidences to be explained away before you can say they weren’t illegal.

            1. “There are some remarkable coincidences to be explained away before you can say they weren’t illegal.”

              Yeah, like her receiving tens in millions in donations both from the countries who wanted to buy hardware from American defense contractors and from the American defense contractors who needed approval from the Secretary of State in order to make the sales.

              “The donations are illegal if they were the quid for Hillary’s quo. “

              There is no justification for a Secretary of State to receive donations from foreign governments–regardless of whether the donations are legal.

              The fact that she received donations from foreign governments is all that should matter to primary voters and to the American people.

              It’s as if drug cartels had given money to the head of the Customs Department. Maybe a prosecutor would have to show that it was a quid pro quo beyond a reasonable doubt–and the jury would have to be unanimous.

              But whether it’s a crime isn’t the question. The question is whether he or she should be elected as the President of the United States.

              Hillary isn’t going to jail. If she wins, no one will prosecute her. If she loses, it’s doubtful Trump will squander whatever good will he has on the past–and Obama may just go ahead and pardon her on the way out the door anyway. So what are we hoping to gain by going after secret emails? She accepted donations from foreign governments, and that’s the end of the story for me.

              1. When I was a kid, this preacher came to my church school and started playing us records backwards. Venom’s Welcome to Hell was one of them. He had us there listening to “Welcome to Hell” to prove that the record was Satanic. There’s a goat’s head in a pentagram on the cover. The lyrics are Satanic played forwards!

                I don’t have to listen to Hillary’s emails backwards to know that she accepted donations from foreign governments. It’s printed right on the front of the record.

          2. 1. Taking money for your slush fund/charity in exchange for benefits is quite illegal.

            2. Bullshit. It makes the disgracefulness a part of the public record in a way that cannot be spun.

            1. “1. Taking money for your slush fund/charity in exchange for benefits is quite illegal.”

              The illegal part is presumably taking it for your slush fund.

              But it doesn’t matter why she took it.

              She took money from foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State.

              If being the Secretary of State means anything, it should mean that you don’t take money from foreign governments.

              1. If being the Secretary of State means anything, it should mean that you don’t take money from foreign governments [for any reason].

                1. And you don’t think it’s logical to charge her and set a precedent that we are a society with rule of law?

                  What’s wrong with you, Ken? You charge people for the exact reasons you’re trying to say charged don’t matter.

                  1. She isn’t going to be charged.

                    Do you imagine the public pressure to charge her is going to become so great that Barack Obama is going to have her indicted on his watch? Even if someone from below goes against him, he’ll just pardon her on the way out the door anyway.

                    This is like the idea where, you know, we wait until the government is so flush with cash that they finally cut spending. The government doesn’t cut spending when it’s flush with cash. The government doesn’t cut spending when times are tough, either–because we need stimulus! Under no scenario, that’s when they’re going to cut spending.

                    And there isn’t any scenario in which Hillary is going to be indicted either.

                    I suppose Congress could try to impeach her for what she did while she was in office. If they did that, she’d end up as the next President for sure.

                    Regardless, the worst possible precedent isn’t the one when the former Secretary of State doesn’t get prosecuted. The worst possible precedent is when a crook like Hillary makes a mockery out of rules of common decency–and gets elected to the Presidency anyway. That’s the precedent I’m trying to avoid.

                    The media isn’t even talking about her accepting donations from foreign governments. They’re talking about her email! They’re so wrapped up in whether what she did with her email was illegal, they’re neglecting to talk about . . . *deep breath* . . . SHE ACCEPTED DONATIONS FROM FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS WHILE SHE WAS THE SECRETARY OF STATE.

    5. Now we’re talking about whether Hillary’s emails are legal? The ironic things is–it doesn’t make any difference at this point! No one disputes that Hillary Clinton accepted donations from foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State. The question isn’t whether what she did was illegal. The question is whether it was so disgraceful that disqualifies her from being President.

      When we talk about whether what Hilary did was legal, and frame her behavior in those terms, we are doing Hillary’s dirty work for her. The American people don’t need a law, a judge, or a jury to tell them whether Hillary’s disgraceful behavior disqualifies her from being President. We can all come to that conclusion ourselves–so long as we focus people on the right question. And the question is not whether what she was illegal. That question doesn’t matter–at all.

      Smoking marijuana is illegal. If she’d smoked marijuana while in office, would we disqualify her for that? No! Because whether what a candidate did was illegal doesn’t matter one bit.

      1. No we aren’t talking about Hillary’s email. We’re talking about the illicit server.

        Come on now, you don’t think routing State Department data on a private server and failing to retain, even trying to destroy the data is equal to smoking pot.

        1. They’re equal in that the illegality is of little or no significance.

          If what she did was incompetent, evasive, dishonest, and disgraceful, then it was all those things–even if it was perfectly legal.

          So why focus on a completely irrelevant point?

          1. Perhaps because if it ain’t illegal most people don’t give a damn. Only clear law breaking might convince them.

            1. The leftists still hang onto,”Rick Perry was charged and only the corrupt Texas Supreme Court overrode the honorable prosecutor.” They don’t say “he was never charged but we know he was crooked.”

              Charges hold credibility the way accusations of immorality cannot. And they sway public opinion a hell of a lot more than Ken believes.

              1. If people think that what Hillary Clinton did in putting together the Whitewater deal was okay because she was never indicted, then people are putting too much weight behind whether there were charges to decide what is and isn’t misbehavior.

                Sometimes the police aren’t indicted because they can be heard yelling “stop resisting” on recordings.

                Sometimes people aren’t indicted because they’re the First Lady.

            2. “Perhaps because if it ain’t illegal most people don’t give a damn. Only clear law breaking might convince them.”

              Maybe it is a very libertarian idea to think that our standards aren’t circumscribed by law and legality isn’t necessarily the best guide for judging people’s behavior. Using our own standards to judge people probably does require thinking for ourselves on some level.

              But the level I’m talking about is practically instinctive. Diverting money intended to reimburse proverbial “widows and orphans” into Bill Clinton’s election campaign is awful–by anybody’s standards! Same thing with accepting money from a foreign government while the Secretary of State.

              These things are god awful wrong in every culture at all times throughout history. I don’t think it takes personal judgement.

  16. “I think he was in some abstract way an accomplice in the death of [Malcolm X]. When anybody says, ‘Anybody who defies the Honorable Elijah Muhammad shouldn’t live,’ that was open season.”

    Not that all violence is bad anyway, but some people can’t tell the difference between speech and violence.

    Long live Woodchipper Nation!

    1. If Ali’s speech made him an accomplice to murder, then I wonder how that reporter felt about the defense that “I was just following orders”.

      Using that reporter’s logic, aren’t people who commit murders becomes some public figure called for it somehow less culpable?

  17. Regardless of Ali’s accomplishments, there were some very brave people in China 27 years ago:
    “A vigil in Hong Kong to commemorate China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy supporters almost three decades ago was briefly disrupted by protesters demanding independence, underscoring the tensions dividing the city over how best to counter China’s growing control over the city.”…..-influence

    1. I worked with a Chinese guy for a while, he was an interpreter for the company, which had opened a factory in China. He was in Tiananmen Square when all that went down.

  18. as for athletes being more political, i think there’s something to be said about basic humanity. it’s possible that it’s much more simple to stand up, and even risk your life, for a clear moral cause -civil rights & vietnam- than it is to risk being ridiculed for everyday issues. you tell 10 different people you think it’s a nice day outside, and you get ten different reactions, and at least two of them will be so intense as to make even the toughest person run crying from the room. people are too busy simply making a living, so who wants to spend their free time with that kind of nonsense when ‘the big bang theory’ is on?

  19. Muhammed Ali was politicized via being brainwashed by a racist cult, a fake sect of Islam that was founded in 1930 by a con man from Detroit. Ali apparently eventually figured this out and became an actual Muslim. Cults are actually not cool or impressive. Did I miss where he repudiated his being used as a promotional tool for a murderous cult then being run by a holier-than-thou philanderer?

    (ObHumanist : RIP, another human.)

    1. a murderous cult then being run by a holier-than-thou philanderer

      Do you mean Nation of Islam or Islam Prime?

      1. Islam is a successful enough cult (as all religions start) to be considered a religion.

        But I get your point, that Mohammed was also a murderous holier than thou philanderer…

        1. …and child molester…and rapist…and fratricidal adulterer…and thief…and general, all-purpose sociopath…

        2. Mohammed was also an owner and trader of black slaves . . . while the original Cassius Marcellus Clay was a fierce abolitionist who was shot on two separate occasions for advocating the emancipation of slaves.

          1. Yep – Everything about Ali’s act was pure stupid.

  20. This article starts off by saying students should be required to shake female teachers’ hands despite religious objections, then it gets derpier.

    “”Your Liberty to Swing Your Fist Ends Just Where My Nose Begins”…

    “…The same principle of proportionality [as in the handshake case] should apply to the many other current controversies where religious freedom and other civil rights conflict. An abortion protester has the right to protest, but most certainly does not have the right to harass those who perform or receive abortions. Someone who doesn’t believe in contraception has every right not to use it, but no right to stop others from using it if they choose. A business open to the public has no right to discriminate against customers because it doesn’t like their skin color, ethnicity, religion, or sexual preference.

    “Your religious rights end when you intrude disproportionately on mine.”

    1. Basically what you’re saying is that they’re pretending to take the distinction about “violent contact” and extending it into a rationalization for the restriction of any exercise of one’s rights to speak, because as we all know, speech is the same thing as violence.

      Someone who doesn’t believe in contraception has every right not to use it, but no right to stop others from using it if they choose

      of course “Not paying for other people’s use of something” is the same as ‘stopping them’.

      I can’t believe this person is a professor at Duke. you’d think that he’d at least have peers point out how stupid this argument is.

  21. Wait, Muhammad Ali is dead?

    Ouch, that news stings like a bee.


    1. “including one to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ali formally refused induction into the U.S. military, soon adding, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong,” and “No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”

    1. And as you probably missed (above), that’s cause he was never near any Vietnamese.
      Damn, you’re stooopid!

    2. Amazing.

      True, they might have killed him before they could utter any epithets.

  22. Was always fun watching Ali and Cosell verbally sparring. Quite the pair. RIP Ali.

    1. Has the news shown the clip yet where Ali pulls off Cosell’s toupee? I remember that being a classic, and Cosell royally pissed.

      Perhaps it was on “Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell”? (Yes, Howard briefly had his own prime-time variety show, that IIRC debuted the same month as NBC’s new ‘late-night show for young comedians’, coincidentally also called “Saturday Night Live”. I think you know which show of the two survived and got to keep the name. In Cosell’s version, he was something of an Ed Sullivan, introducing live acts.)

  23. Well, everyone, thanks for giving me something to read at lunch. I must now return to work. I have a water leak, and this mud is like something out of a horror movie; I swear it has a life of its own. It covers everything it comes into contact with. And it’s slicker than snot on a brass doorknob. Maybe I’ll partake of a little something something first.

    1. Sounds like you have some high clay content in that mud.

  24. I think the whole PPV thing with boxing may be somewhat short sighted. Nobody knows who any of these guys are anymore. I have to wonder if they could be making a lot more on merchandising and advertising if they opened up the viewing audience more. Or maybe people have lost interest.

    1. It’s a sign that we’re evolving as a species beyond our brutal origins.

      1. I’m not seeing it.

      2. I agree that boxing shows evolution; the point was, why would you try and hide it from people?

      3. Yeah, I’d agree if you were referring to sports viewership evolving to MMA. There’s a shitload of shows about it, lots of fights on network and cable. And it’s on par violence-wise with boxing.

      4. Allow me to add an addendum to my original post…


  25. I never watched much boxing. In fact I’ve probably caught more WWE just surfing channels than deliberately watching boxing. I went to see Mayweather fight Pacquiao, and it was exciting but not thrilling. The Rousey/Holmes fight was thrilling. UFC has for the most part been thrilling. Am I a philistine?

    1. Am I a philistine?


      If someone has no real intimacy with *any* sports, and makes bland generalizations about them without having even the remotest capacity to form an opinion, then you’d be a philistine. Merely being disinterested isn’t really either unusual or ‘indifferently hostile’.

  26. “No Viet Cong ever criticized Elijah Muhammad.”

  27. “for making the world a groovier and groovier place since 1968.”

    I do my part. *takes a bow*

  28. There’s always exceptions to the “Scientists are dull people with interesting ideas, celebrities are interesting people with dull ideas and athletes are dull people with dull ideas.”

    1. I’m not sure that aphorism even makes sense

      scientists work within a world of ideas. so do artists (a translation of celebrities), politicians, journalists, etc.

      Athletes, military people, mostly do not. their business is mostly action and is measured by ‘victory’.

      some athletes have very interesting ideas. if they aren’t known for them its mainly because there’s no one interested in listening other than other athletes. those people are called “Coaches”.

      1. Artists’ ideas outside of art are silly at their best, and conformist at worst.

        1. Dance naked in the woods and join the Communist Party.

        2. My point wasn’t to say the judgement of the aphorism was wrong; it was point out the apples/oranges comparison of scientists vs athletes

          1. Athletes are usually more interesting.

            1. (shrug)

              if i had to choose to spend a weekend with “dull” scientists vs. “dull” athletes, i’m pretty sure the latter would be easier to get along with.

  29. “They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father…”

    Someone is going to have to explain why this bit of hyperbole is so powerful, to me it just looks like a guy who has been fed a bunch of historical injustices and has somehow claimed those injustices for himself as a shield against responsibility.

    I mean, did **anyone* * lynch him? Did **anyone ** rape and murder his mom?

    So, since it happened to other people, you get to claim it as some righteous defense ?

    1. Well, the defense is just about as righteous as the Vietnam war was a righteous offense.

      1. I agree, it’s a terrible defense.

    2. People in Vietnam have never threatened him or his kin. People in the US did. Why should he fight the former because the latter demands it?

      1. And, in particular, is conscription constitutional and should it be?

        In, even more specifically, should conscription exist for sending young men – and now perhaps young women – overseas?

      2. People in Vietnam have never threatened him or his kin. People in the US did.”

        And rather than talk about actual examples, he made things up.

        And that’s supposed to be powerful somehow, but it really isn’t.

        Which was the point you totally missed and didn’t address at all in at way whatsoever.

        1. It only isn’t if you can’t understand why a black person in the 60s would be bothered by things like (systemically unpunished) lynchings and police brutality against other black people even if they didn’t personally happened to him. It’s blatantly obvious that’s what he means when he talks in first person. Also, I’m pretty sure he got called “nigger” at some point in his life.

    3. You are aware that black people like Ali had been legally considered second-class citizens and mistreated for hundreds of years by the country that nonetheless tried to force him to go fight a war for them against people who he had no motivation to fight?

      1. I am.

        You are aware my specific objection was stated specifically for a reason.

        I used the word hyperbole for a reason.

        Also, if you’d like to continue in tbe vein you started, that of a snarky asshole, please don’t bother.

        There’s nothing powerful about his fiction, to me. Your response does nothing to enlighten anything.

        1. I’m pointing out that your objection is nonsensical. He wasn’t personally lynched or raped, therefore he had no good reason to object to being drafted by the United States government?

  30. Air Force Secretary Deborah James supports draft registration and wants to expand it to include women.

    The Senate will be considering a bill to register women for potential conscription.

    A House version of the bill calls for a study on whether the Selective Service is actually needed any more.

    1. I wonder which version will be approved, the one that expands the government, or the one which potentially abolishes an entire government agency?

      Gosh, I don’t know.


      1. In a time of relative plenty, with no wars ongoing or planned, I wonder why politicians keep mentioning emergency military conscription.

    2. Women are ready.…..nd-torture

    1. so what you’re saying is that “one black guy” was smart enough to think just like you?

      Wow, that’s mighty white of you.

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  32. Ali: tremendous courage and ability, but he got a huge black mark in my book for the despicable way he treated Joe Frazier (a good man) even after Frazier quietly went out of his way to try and help him while he was being ruthlessly persecuted by our government.

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  38. Muhammad Ali is the best

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