Fox Loses More than Money, Pillow Guy Loses $5 Million and His Mind, 3 Insane Shootings, Cops Want to Lynch Blacks, GOP Pol Okays 12-Year-Olds to Marry, Bob Lee Stabbing Propaganda, Ahmad Jamal Plays
My take on news, pop culture, sports, and whatever else interests me.
NOTE: A quick thanks to all the new subscribers who joined us this week. Your support in keeping this newsletter alive and kicking at all the right people is greatly appreciated.
The Rise of the Planet of the Trump
When Trump was rejected by voters in 2020, I thought we’d seen the last of him as a political entity. My innate respect for the American voters’ belief that the United States stands for much more than the opportunity to exploit others to amass personal wealth told me that even Republican die-hards would not be charmed/hoodwinked/bullied into backing him again. Surely, they had enough integrity to openly denounce a man whose policies created a gaping sinkhole of sludge that dropped the country into huge deficits and a health crisis while shoving our relationship with friendly countries off a cliff. Even today, after Fox admitted to lying to their viewers, he encouraged them to continue lying about the election on-air because it benefits his campaign. That’s always been his political platform: Tell people what they want to hear, and they’ll be so grateful they’ll ignore the facts.
Yet, a FiveThirtyEight national poll of a Republican primary shows Trump with 49.3% of the votes versus DeSantis’s 26.2%. Today, several politicians who were allies of DeSantis announced they're supporting Trump. Since Trump became a candidate, we’ve learned how he’s cheated people he’s done business with, how many of his businesses have failed due to incompetence and shady business practices, how he’s been proven to be a sexual predator, a criminal, a bully, a liar, a Putin puppet, and a man who lacks even the barest ability to think logically. This is who they want to be president, even after he failed at it so spectacularly the first time.
My reaction to anyone supporting Trump after knowing all this is straight from The Princess Bride:
The first time around, Trump’s appeal was the same as a Snow Day, when kids are giddy at having their schedules disrupted and there’s nothing adults can do about it. A break from the routine of expectations. Everyone who supported him felt wickedly rebellious. But as adults, we recognize that Trump isn’t a whimsical respite from responsibility; he’s more like Michael Myers in Halloween. No matter how many times you think you’ve gotten rid of him, he keeps popping back up to wreak more destruction. The sequels never end as long as there’s money to be made.
Is the Republican bench so shallow that they can only support an alleged rapist, a criminal, and an incompetent businessman?
Fox Settlement Is a Victory for Dominion. But the Misinformation War Continues (The New York Times)
SUMMARY: “There are 787 million reasons to consider Fox News’s settlement of the defamation lawsuit a stunning victory for Dominion Voting Systems. Whether the millions of dollars that Fox is paying to Dominion will put to rest false claims about the 2020 presidential election or help deter misinformation more broadly remains far less clear.
“…And Dominion is only one part of a broader conspiracy theory that the American electoral system is corrupt. That view, despite all the proof to the contrary, is still cheered on by former President Donald J. Trump, who remains the front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024.
“…Fox was spared extended and potentially damaging testimony. The network did not have to issue an apology on air. Instead, in a carefully crafted statement, Fox acknowledged ‘the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false’ and touted its ‘continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.’
“While the major news networks pivoted to cover the trial’s abrupt end on Tuesday, Fox devoted just six minutes and 22 seconds to the topic across three segments. None of its prime time hosts, including Tucker Carlson, who had once bolstered the voter fraud myths and was named as a defendant in Dominion’s lawsuit, mentioned the case.
“Instead, Mr. Carlson began his show with a segment about violence in Chicago, airing video clips largely showing Black Chicagoans during a weekend of violence. ‘This is why we used to shoot looters,’ he said. That was followed with an interview with Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and new owner of Twitter.”
MY TAKE: The case was simple. Fox deliberately spread lies in a desperate attempt to win back viewers who fled after Fox told one truth: that Biden had won Arizona. They were eager to be lied to elsewhere, so Fox wooed them back with election lies. It demonstrated Fox’s commitment to having no integrity when it came to journalistic ethics, business ethics, or protecting democracy. No one disputes the facts.
Yes, I’m disappointed that there wasn’t a trial because then the facts might have eventually reached Fox loyalists who otherwise won’t hear the full story on Fox News. I’m especially disappointed that Dominion didn’t at least hold out for a public apology and admission of guilt on Fox. Instead, Carlson and Hannity can continue being outraged about everyone but themselves.
It’s worth taking a closer look at Fox’s statement after the settlement (with my notes in brackets and bolded):
“We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. [I’m sure they’re pleased that they didn’t have to go to trial.] We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims [“certain claims” makes it sound like something small and incidental instead of a barrage of lies that were designed to damage the democratic process and create an atmosphere that encouraged an insurrection at the Capitol.] about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. [It was hard to read that sentence without throwing up a little in my mouth. Fact checks of Fox have proven year after year that they have the lowest journalistic standards. And this conspiracy to lie that included Murdoch at the top and pretty much everyone else down the line, establishes their commitment to profit over truth.] We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.” [They borrowed a page from the Gerald Ford excuse book when he pardoned Richard Nixon to prevent divisiveness. First, divisiveness in itself is not always a bad thing. For example, when the country was divided about slavery, attempts to placate slaveholders never worked. We are divided about abortion, education, voting rights, and more. When there is a legitimate disagreement, we should be divided. It’s how we resolve the division that matters. Paying a fine and then ignoring it does not heal or prevent divisiveness, it encourages it. The “acrimony of a trial” is part of the process of healing because it tells the country and the world that we prize the process of establishing truth above all else, even money. How are we “moving forward from these issues” when Fox goes right back to muddling the news and misinforming its audience? Fox’s statement proves they haven’t moved forward.]
Mike Lindell’s firm told to pay $5 million in ‘Prove Mike Wrong’ election-fraud challenge (The Washington Post)
SUMMARY: “MyPillow founder and prominent election denier Mike Lindell made a bold offer ahead of a ‘cyber symposium’ he held in August 2021 in South Dakota: He claimed he had data showing Chinese interference and said he would pay $5 million to anyone who could prove the material was not from the previous year’s U.S. election.
He called the challenge ‘Prove Mike Wrong.’
On Wednesday, a private arbitration panel ruled that someone did.
The panel said Robert Zeidman, a computer forensics expert and 63-year-old Trump voter from Nevada, was entitled to the $5 million payout.
Zeidman had examined Lindell’s data and concluded that not only did it not prove voter fraud, it also had no connection to the 2020 election. He was the only expert who submitted a claim, arbitration records show.
MY TAKE: I don’t think any news story delighted me more this week than this one (even the news of Ariana Madix having a new beau at Coachella). Lindell has been a particularly destructive influence in his attempts to overturn the 2020 elections. He financed a poorly received “documentary” filled with fuzzy logic and lies and has been thumping his pulpit with misinformation for years in an unhinged effort to undermine democracy. The fact that he doesn’t even see how damaging to the country he is tells us everything about his capacity for critical thinking.
Finally, the world of facts and reason have caught up to him and he has been publicly revealed to be nothing more than an empty pillowcase. Zeidman told The Washington Post that he was “really happy” with the arbitrators’ decision. “They clearly saw this as I did — that the data we were given at the symposium was not at all what Mr. Lindell said it was,” he said. “The truth is finally out there.”
Lindell’s response? “They made a terribly wrong decision! This will be going to court!” I hope so, because I’d love to see the triumph of facts over lies again. The scary thing here is that he is unable to distinguish between factual and logical argumentation and throwing a tantrum because you didn’t get what you wanted. Nor does he care what the effects of that tantrum are. Fox lied for money, which is sinister. He lies just to be right, which is an oxymoron.
This Week in Shooting Innocent People
Calls grow for man who shot Black teen Ralph Yarl to be charged with hate crime (The Guardian)
SUMMARY: “A lawyer for the family of Ralph Yarl, the Black 16-year-old who was shot by a white man in Kansas City, Missouri, after ringing his doorbell by mistake, said the case should qualify as a hate crime.
“‘Ralph Yarl was shot because he was armed with nothing but other than his Black skin,’ Lee Merritt told the Associated Press.
“Activists in Kansas City and civil rights leaders nationwide have called for Andrew Lester, the 84-year-old homeowner, to be charged with such an offense.”
2 Texas cheerleaders were shot after 1 tried to get in the wrong car after practice (NPR)
SUMMARY: “A suspect is in custody after two elite high-school cheerleaders were shot — one of whom was critically injured — in a Texas supermarket parking lot after one of them mistakenly tried to get into the wrong car after a late-night practice.
“Police in Elgin, about 25 miles east of Austin, said in a release that 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. was charged with ‘deadly conduct,’ a third-degree felony. That's punishable by two to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000.”
Man Charged With Murder in Shooting of Woman Who Went Up Wrong Driveway (The New York Times)
SUMMARY: “A man in upstate New York was charged with murder on Monday in the killing of a woman who was in a car that mistakenly drove into his driveway, officials said.
“The woman and the three friends she was with never got out of the car on Saturday night, Jeffrey J. Murphy, the Washington County sheriff, said at a news conference. They were turning around after realizing their error when the man, Kevin Monahan, 65, stepped out of his house, in Hebron, N.Y., and fired at least two shots at the car, the sheriff said.”
MY TAKE: Yes, my knee-jerk reaction is to at least propose tighter gun control laws. But in a climate where Republican legislators are eager to arm the population more than they want to vaccinate them, gun control discussions seem to produce little results. They are loud when promoting their Protect the Children laws, but they mean protect the children from books—not from bullets.
Instead of talking about gun control, I’d like to offer a few observations about these shootings.
I don’t know if Andrew Lester’s, 84, shooting of Ralph Yarl, 16, was racially motivated. Not enough facts have been released to reach that conclusion. On the surface, it looks like it, just like it sure seems like racism when a young bleeding Black boy runs to three houses searching for medical help and ends up being told to get on the ground and put his hands up. He did so and then passed out.
I have no doubt that Lester shot Yarl because he was truly afraid. However, his fear wasn’t justified by what he saw; it was amplified by years of conservative media fear-mongering when it comes to crime and to Black men.
According to The Philadelphia Tribune, “researchers say Lester's description of Yarl, who is 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds…fits a pattern among shootings of young Black men. Lester said the teenager was a ‘Black male approximately 6 feet tall’ — several inches off Yarl's actual height, according to the criminal complaint. ‘Lester stated that it was the last thing he wanted to do, but he was “scared to death” due to the male's size.’
“Similar language has been used in other cases, reflecting the fear people of other races sometimes feel upon seeing Black people, researchers say. In multiple studies, people who were asked to judge the size of Black people tended to see Black men as bigger and stronger than they actually were, and gave Black children the attributes of adults. The result is that they are seen as more dangerous, researchers say.”
During 2021 and 2022, after Biden became president, Fox News mentioned crime twice as often as other news outlets, even though FBI statistics showed very little rise in some crimes and a decrease in others. This was done in order to frighten conservatives into believing they were less safe and then blaming Democrats for that feeling. Immediately after the mid-term elections, Fox’s reporting of crime dropped back to the same levels as other media outlets. A YouGovAmerica poll in 2021 found that 65% of Fox News viewers thought the national increase in crime had been significant, though statistics proved otherwise.
I mention all this because Fox News, Republicans with their expanse of laws allowing almost anyone to carry a concealed weapon, “stand your ground” laws, and politicians and performers (like Kid Rock) shooting at stuff they don’t like, even people, perpetuate an atmosphere of unjustified fear against non-Whites—and the remedy for that fear is guns.
These three shooters all felt the need to be armed. We need to address why. Then we have to address why they felt they would be justified in shooting another person. Part of the reason is the hype around “stand your ground” laws in which states permit people to use deadly force to protect themselves from death or bodily harm. At least 28 states have “stand your ground” laws.
One problem with this law, claims John Roman, director of the Center on Public Safety and Justice at NORC at the University of Chicago, who authored a study examining 53,019 cases involving stand your ground laws, is that it promotes violence. “People feel like they have an added protection that makes them more likely to shoot where they wouldn't have shot without that perceived protection,” he said.
Data from the report also shows racial disparity in these laws: “when the shooter is white and the victim is black, the white shooter is 10 times more likely to have their actions deemed justified than when the shooter is black and the victim is white.”
“The study found that, in cases where stand your ground laws featured, 11.4% of white-on-black homicides were ruled as justified, compared to just 1.2% of black-on-white homicides.”
Clearly, race isn’t the issue in two of these shootings, but the atmosphere that guns are the first solution to solving a problem—even when it’s not a problem—does exist in all three cases.
ALSO READ: ‘Stand your ground’: the US laws linked to rising deaths and racist violence (The Guardian)
Oklahoma Official Quits After Secret Recording About Lynching Black People (The Daily Beast)
SUMMARY: “McCurtain County Commissioner Mark Jennings quit on Wednesday after a local newspaper in the Oklahoma town released an audio recording of him allegedly discussing murdering one of its reporters and lynching Black people. The Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association also suspended McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy, as well as sheriff’s investigator Alicia Manning and jail official Larry Hendrix. For its part, the sheriff’s office claimed the audio may have been altered and illegally obtained. In the recording, Jennings allegedly told Clardy that if he had his way, he’d ‘take [Black people] down to Mud Creek and hang them up with a damn rope.’ He adds, ‘But you can’t do that anymore. They got more rights than we got.’ The recording was first reported by the McCurtain Gazette-News after its publisher Bruce Willingham left a voice-activated device in the room after a March 6 county meeting. The officials were also allegedly taped discussing hiring hit men to kill Willingham’s son, Gazette-News reporter Chris Willingham, who had filed a defamation lawsuit against the sheriff’s office and board of commissioners. Chris Willingham claims that after he wrote a series of articles detailing problems inside the sheriff’s office, Manning told a third party that he exchanged marijuana for child porn.”
MY TAKE: What you might miss in this story is that, although the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association suspended them, the cops are still in their jobs—protecting and serving the White, non-reporter citizens. (Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has called for all of the officials in the recording to resign.)
My favorite part is where they claim that “the audio may have been altered and illegally obtained.” “May have” isn’t really a strong condemnation, especially now that the newspaper has released the entire audio proving it wasn’t altered or taken out of context. But the clear indication of their incompetent level of defense is stating that the tape may have been illegally obtained. That isn’t a denial of the truth of what they said, just anger at getting caught.
Equally alarming is the violent threat against the reporter investigating their corruption. The sheriff’s department is run like the Mafia rather than law enforcement.
RELATED: California police department under audit after officers’ racist texts are discovered (The Guardian)
SUMMARY: “Amid outrage over text messages showing police officers in northern California using racist slurs and bragging about making up evidence and beating suspects, city officials voted to audit the troubled department.
The FBI and the Contra Costa district attorney’s office discovered the shocking messages while investigating officers within the Antioch police department suspected of crimes. Officials have named 17 officers who sent texts, including the president of the Antioch police union, but nearly half the department was included in the messages.”
MY TAKE: As I’ve mentioned before, my dad was a decorated cop, so it’s always painful to me to see such corruption among law enforcement officers. For years, I’ve been asking for tougher standards when screening and hiring officers. The problem is that some of the corruption has already risen in the ranks and when they hire, they look to hire their own kind.
For those denying the existence of systemic racism in law enforcement, well, if they’re still denying it after all the evidence that’s been given, nothing will affect their bias.
Kareem’s Video Break
Sometimes I need to indulge my sentimental side in hoping there is a goodness that exists inside just waiting for an opportunity to be expressed. This video shows a monkey doing everything it can to save this kitten, even trying to enlist the help of another monkey and testing branches to see if they will hold his weight. Peaceful Kingdom, indeed.
Think of the video as a metaphor: You’re the cute monkey, and this Substack newsletter is the kitten. When you subscribe, you pull the kitten out of the well. Thank you!
Kareem Short Takes
Bob Lee knew his killer. But that won’t ease the pressure on San Francisco (The Guardian)
SUMMARY: “Last Wednesday, San Francisco woke to shocking news of the death of Bob Lee, the 43-year-old founder of the popular Cash App. Police had found Lee overnight suffering from multiple stab wounds on a sidewalk in the city’s Rincon Hill neighborhood. He was transported to a hospital, where he died.
“For days, law enforcement officials stayed mum on the circumstances around the case, and the San Francisco mayor, London Breed, urged residents not to jump to conclusions.
“But the killing of a well-known and by all accounts beloved tech executive on a city street promptly reignited arguments that San Francisco is unsafe. National headlines once again focused on the city’s massive homelessness emergency, drug crisis and high-profile retail thefts, with pundits and some prominent voices in tech, including Elon Musk, demanding a course correction.”
MY TAKE: According to FBI data, San Francisco’s violent crime rate has been declining for the past thirty years and is lower than many other major cities. That doesn’t mean there’s not crime (45% of residents say they’d had something stolen in the past five years; almost a quarter say they’ve been attacked or threatened in that same time period). Like most big cities, they are struggling with homelessness, housing issues, and public safety. But it is nowhere near the massive crime scene that the right has portrayed.
So, what’s going really on?
San Francisco has the reputation of being a politically liberal city that has a vibrant arts community and a thriving LGBTQ+ community. All things that the right attacks with vitriolic gusto. A guy was stabbed by someone he knew because of the murderer’s sister. This was not the result of men holding hands or discussions of reparations to Blacks. Yet, before any facts were known, Elon Musk and his ill-informed ilk were ranting against the city. I have no problem with complaining about whatever they want, but I’m shocked that they still don’t care about gathering facts before issuing opinions because those opinions influence millions of others. I understand defending free speech, but why not put as much passion in promoting truth speech?
Missouri State Senator Doubles Down on Marriage for 12-Year-Olds (The Daily Beast)
SUMMARY: “A Missouri Republican has repeated his belief that 12-year-olds should be allowed to get married but insisted he does “not support adults marrying minors.” State Sen. Mike Moon caused controversy Tuesday during a debate about a bill he introduced that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender children in his state. Democratic state Rep. Peter Meredith asked Moon about why he’d previously voted against making it illegal for kids to marry adults at the age of 12 if their parents consent. Moon answered that he knew kids who were married at 12. ‘And guess what? They’re still married,’ Moon said.”
MY TAKE: Moon later released a video trying to clarify his position, but he still came across as arrogantly clueless as in his original statement. Again, he told the story of the underage couple who had a baby and got married and are still together (the boy was 12 and the girl 11). Apparently, Moon is not aware of the logical fallacy of anecdotal evidence, in which a person supports their opinion based solely on their own observation, regardless of any research, studies, or facts. The fact that this one unknown couple is still together doesn’t address whether or not they were happy together, whether their child or children had a good upbringing, whether other children in the same position who were forced into marriage (because at that age, you don’t have the mental capacity to make this kind of decision) had good or horrific outcomes.
The real hypocrisy here is that Moon’s main point was how he was protecting children from the horrors of being trans—which he justified with a scary mixture of hyperbole and misinformation (polite way of saying lies). And yet, he’s not so keen on protecting young children from getting pregnant or marrying. Once again, Protecting the Children is the mantra of the right, but what they mean is protecting their job.
Kareem’s Jukebox Playlist
Ahmad Jamal: “Poinciana”
I’ve been listening to Ahmad Jamal most of my life. He and his piano playing have been part of the soundtrack of my personal evolution for sixty years. That’s why I was so affected by his death last week at the age of 92.
I selected “Poinciana” because the percussion and piano are so melodically and hypnotically intertwined to create a lively and celebratory sound. Despite being covered by so many other artists—Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington—Jamal made it a signature song.
I selected this video because Jamal was in his 80s and I love seeing a master getting better as he ages. Gives me hope. He performs with such sheer delight that you will feel it too.
...much needed videos--a monkey saving a kitten warms the heart & soothing music from a master!! You’re right, it may not make the craziness go away, but it sure does help us endure through the madness & chaos!!
As always, THANK YOU for your wisdom, decency & humanity!!
Dear Kareem, I’m overwhelmed with admiration at the range of your deeply researched commentary and also your terrific passionate artistic writing, including the humor and great turns of phrase. I laughed out loud at your remarks on Fox’s statement about adhering to the highest standards. Truth said. Their demonic arrogance is a comment to make one retch!! As was the sell out settlement. You were the best on reporting on it with your annotations. What a terrible disappointment, with Fox able to disappear the news on their sick station. Thank you for your service to us. And the backstory of what energy and research it takes to provide. You have been a celebrity of course and as well a hero now of American resistance to lies and misinformation, a champion of civil rights.