How Sincere Is Kyrie’s “Apology,” Joe Rogan’s Weird Lie, Undermining Education, GOP Pol Says Giving Birth Perfectly Safe, MT Greene Threatens to Go After Businesses that Don’t Donate to GOP, & More
My thoughts on the top--and not so top--stories in this week's political, sports, and pop culture news.
People are always talking about the great sacrifices of limbs and lives that have been made in the name of democracy. Yet, so many teary-eyed “patriots” will spend more time and money on lottery tickets than on electing good candidates. They complain that all candidates are the same, so it doesn’t matter. If they really believe that, then they have to know that they’re the same because you let them be the same.
Your vote is precious, don’t squander it on liars and dunces.
Sports: When the Principal Makes You Apologize for Bullying
NBA’s Kyrie Irving Apologizes for Antisemitic Post After Brooklyn Nets Issue Suspension: Everything to Know (US Magazine)
Summary: Four hours after the NBA suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games following his antisemitic posts on social media, Irving issued an apology. before that, the Nets issued a statement: “We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify. Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
Kyrie then posted an apology on Instagram:
“To all Jewish families and communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize. I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled antisemitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish brothers and sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the documentary. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against antisemitism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the documentary I agreed with and disagreed with. I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all.”
My Take: Everyone loves a redemption story (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Best of Enemies, American History X). Me too. I really hope this is one. But I’m skeptical of any apology that comes only after a suspension and the threat of even more punishment, including Nike suspending their relationship with him. Is he saving his soul—or his career?
It doesn’t really matter whether or not Irving’s apology is sincere. That was never the actual goal here. It is not within anyone’s power to make Irving understand the errors in his thinking. That is up to him. But it is within the Nets’ and NBA’s power to punish the errors in his behavior—and others who would follow—which was broadcasting hate speech to millions. That is the main goal: to stop athletes with influence from promoting hate speech to their millions of followers. Hopefully, this suspension made that statement.
Politics: Origin of a Lie
Summary “GOP”: At a town hall meeting, GOP nominee for Senate in New Hampshire Don Bolduc spread the hoax that children are using litter boxes in classrooms. “Guess what? We have furries and fuzzies in classrooms. They lick themselves, they’re cats. When they don’t like something, they hiss.” This same lie was also publicly spread by Republican nominee for governor in Minnesota, Scott Jensen.
Summary “Rogan”: Joe Rogan admitted he lied about self-identified “furry” children using litter boxes in the schools. In an October podcast, he reported to guest Tulsi Gabbard that his “friend’s wife taught at a school that ‘had to install a litter box in the girl’s room because there’s a student that’s a furry.’” Now he admits that didn’t happen. “‘I fed into that,’ Rogan said in his podcast, admitting he had no facts to back up his claim.”
My Take: This podcast really whipped up conservatives because they saw this as an extension of schools pandering to LGBTQ+ students. For them, this was an example of how absurd the liberals were. It was a swipe at education, which they fear, and at LGBTQ+, which they also fear. Their willingness to believe this without any facts explains why they hate education so much—it didn’t work on them.
Worse is that at least two politicians running for significant offices—Senate and governor—spread the lies without themselves or anyone on their staff actually checking to see if it was true. To voters in their state this should be a clear indication that they either don’t care about the truth, or they are too incompetent to find it. Either way, they sure as hell don’t care about the people in their states.
The Guardian reported that last month, NBC News revealed: “At least 20 conservative candidates and elected officials have claimed this year that K-12 schools are placing litter boxes on campus or making other accommodations for students who identify as cats … Every school district that has been named by those 20 politicians said either to NBC News or in public statements that these claims are untrue.”
While it’s true that some school districts do indeed have cat litter, they are for “Emergency Go Buckets” to allow pupils and teachers to use the toilet during lengthy lockdowns when a threat is perceived or confirmed. Yup, these wonderful politicians are using a terrible necessity to twist into some anti-woke lie.
Every vote cast for them is an endorsement of lying, unscrupulous candidates. Vote accordingly.
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Kareem’s Video of the Week
This is one of my favorite videos, not only because the kids are so earnest and sweet, but because it represents the main issue dividing society: blind belief in an authority figure. If this doesn’t touch you, your heart needs a jumpstart.
Education: What Do You Really Want for Your Children?
Most Americans Think Parents Should Be Able to Opt Their Kids Out of Learning Things They Disagree With. That's Terrifying (Time)
Summary: “[A]dults across the political spectrum broadly agree about what topics are appropriate for children to learn in schools. For example, nearly all adults (98% of Democrats, 97% of Republicans) want children to learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills in schools, and majorities from both parties want children to learn about controversial issues in balanced ways (for example, learning about both gun control and second amendment rights). At the same time, though, more than 6 in 10 Americans think parents should be able to opt children out of school lessons that include content they find disagreeable.”
My Take: Most parents want their children to do better than them. Unfortunately, “doing better” for many means only financially. Education in their eyes is only a means to an end: a lucrative career. However, the goal should also be for their children to thrive intellectually, to be even smarter than the parents, not just in a profession, but in critical thinking.
Yet, the desire to rule over their children’s education is really about the parents’ fear that their children will abandon the beliefs and values they were raised with and thereby become estranged from the parents. They fear their brainwashing may be overwritten by school brainwashing. Our educational goals are to teach children how to avoid any kind of brainwashing, whether by parents or schools. We try to give them the tools to think logically so that they can’t be manipulated by anyone, whether loved ones, bosses, or politicians.
Disagreeing with opinions parents have doesn’t mean the children will stop loving them, unless the parent makes agreeing a condition of being loved. In that case, that parent doesn’t deserve the child’s love. I like nothing better than having a lively, but respectful, conversation with my children. If they prove me wrong about one of my opinions, then I can be proud I did my job as a parent.
Politics: Yes, He Will Be Representing Women, Too
OHIO REPUBLICAN SAYS U.S. MATERNAL MORTALITY RATE IS ONLY BAD IF YOU COUNT “OBESE PEOPLE” (Vanity Fair)
Summary: Ohio state representative Bill Dean, currently running for re-election, believes that anyone who undergoes an abortion is a murderous “heathen.” He also argues—despite factual evidence—that giving birth is no great risk, and that the only reason that statistics prove otherwise is because they are skewed by obese women. He explained: “Pregnancy is a natural thing that women are made for. That’s the way God made them. The myth is that it is dangerous; it’s no more dangerous than living every day.”
My Take: Dean has accomplished a trifecta of callousness: 1. He doesn’t care about women’s right. 2. He doesn’t care about the health of “obese” women. 3. He doesn’t care about the life-threatening and long-term health risks of women giving birth. This is not good news for the women of Ohio, who make up 51.1% of the population (yet apparently still need to have their reproductive rights mansplained).
Let’s look at the facts: The U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate of all wealthy countries—and it’s the only developed country where the mortality rate has gotten worse of the last 30 years. Worse! According to the article, “a 2019 study by the Commonwealth Fund put the risk of maternal death in the US at double that of most other wealthy nations.” At least 861 women died in the U.S. of maternal causes in 2020. (Maybe Dean thinks they brought it on themselves if they were obese.) The maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is 2.9 times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic White women. By the way, it’s not just death that women face, they also have risks of long-term medical issues after birth. Between 2014-2018, the rates for childbirth complications rose more than 14%.
Want to hear something even scarier? Bill Dean is serving his third term in the Ohio House of Representatives and could be about to serve a fourth term.
Politics: Homegrown Fascism Freshly Served
Greene threatens GOP "investigations" into companies that cut off Republicans after Jan. 6 riot (Salon)
Summary: “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., on Wednesday vowed that the GOP will investigate corporations that stopped donating to Republicans who supported claims of a ‘stolen’ 2020 election if the party wins back the House in November.” She also argued that companies should focus on running their businesses and pleasing customers rather than getting involved in politics. “There is going to be investigations coming," Greene said. “And there should be. There definitely should be, because the way corporations have conducted themselves, I've always called it corporate communism.”
My Take: Is this how Mussolini felt when he used his secret police to remove all political opposition, outlaw labor strikes, and turn the country into a one-party wasteland? Because her statements are a schoolhouse primer for the rise of fascism.
Just to quickly unpack her idiocy: 1. She wants to punish businesses who refuse to donate money to GOP candidates. Does she think that’s even remotely how a democracy operates? 2. She wants businesses to stay out of politics, yet to donate money to politicians, which would be the definition if being in politics. (You can’t see them, but my eyes are popping out on springs like in cartoons.) 3. The threat of “investigations are coming” is the ultimate move of a dictatorship. 4. I have no idea what she means by “corporate communism” except she likes to tag communist and socialist onto everything she doesn’t like to rile up her followers, who clearly have no idea what those terms mean.
If you think it’s enough to just laugh at the absurdity of her statements, remember that, like Mussolini, she’s not alone.
Books: Murder in Space
I like it when mysteries merge with other genres. In Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty (read interview with her here), mystery and sci-fi merge to create a hybrid that is part British cozy, except instead of a small English village, we’re on a space station, and part locked-room mystery.
I especially liked the plot: Mallory has a problem: wherever she goes, murders follow in close proximity. This makes her unwelcome (and a suspect) by everyone, including her family. But the one bright spot is she has an extraordinary ability to solve the murders. Unfortunately, being shunned by family and friends makes her decide to live on a sentient space station with a variety of interesting species.
As you might expect, murder follows her to the space station and she has no choice but to solve them. This novel is a lot of fun—lively, funny, original, suspenseful.
Music: Ridin’ with Chris Byars
Chris Byars: Rhythm and Blues of the 20s (jazzwise)
Summary: Reviewer Peter Vacher offers a wonderful analysis: “New Yorker Byars says this isn’t old style R&B that he is offering here, rather it's a series of his distinctive originals which happen to use ‘Rhythm’ changes or which echo the blues. And by ‘the 20s’, he means the 2020s.
Consider the frontline formation too: alto, tenor, bass clarinet and trombone, Byars’ clever writing sometimes suggesting a big band sax section, at others a light-touch Birth of the Cool feeling, albeit without a trumpet in sight.
‘Salute to the Mailbox’ is inspired by a Gigi Gryce number and proves to be a sunny piece, with Nasser sailing through in Bird fashion, preceding Byars’ supple tenor and Mosca's tip-toe trombone before a lugubrious arco bass solo. Neil Tesser's useful note explains the harmonic niceties for each of Byars' tunes and highlights what he calls ‘the concise, pithy solos.’”
My Take: Yeah, what he said. These songs may be reimagined homages to legendary influences, but they sparkle with their own personalities. It’s like dressing up in vintage clothing to honor a time period, but the clothing only enhances who you really are.
I’ve included “Salute to the Mailbox” here because it made me feel like I was on a long, pleasant train ride through the Midwest, feeling love for those I left behind, but joyful anticipation about what lay ahead.