Kanye’s Anti-Semitism Bears Bitter Fruit, Ted Cruz Is the Most Hated Man in America, Tucker Carlson's Lie Creates Panic, Ron DeSantis Poisons Schools, "Black Adam," Marjorie Taylor Greene's Dunce Cap
My thoughts on the top--and not so top--stories in this week's political, sports, and pop culture news.
Politics: Kanye’s Anti-Semitism Bears Bitter Fruit
More antisemitic hate seen in L.A. after Kanye West’s hateful rants (Los Angeles Times)
Summary: After a series of anti-Semitic posts on social media and in interviews, West’s comments have inspired hate groups to demonstrate in Los Angeles: “On Saturday, demonstrators gave Nazi salutes as they stood behind a large overpass banner that read, ‘Kanye is right about the Jews,’ according to images collected by antidiscrimination organizations and Jewish residents appalled by the group’s message.” In addition, flyers promoting conspiracy theories about Jews and LGBTQ+ people have been distributed to residents.
My Take: Racists wait for an excuse to emerge from their hidey-holes to openly spout their insanity. It’s like open-mic night for white supremacists. West gave them that mic and up they popped like Whack-a-Moles to karaoke their hate. That’s why we have to be ever-vigilant for any expression of hate against marginalized groups. Sadly, what West doesn’t seem to understand is that the same people using his name to justify their demonstration against Jews would just as soon go medieval on him given the chance. And his hate speech gives them the chance to do it to others.
There is some hope here: Since his comments, West’s music has taken a hit: airplay is down 13% and streaming is down 23%—though in a just and enlightened world it would be down 100%. Which means those still listening don’t really care about racism and anti-Semitism. Other good news: many of the companies that were in business with West have ended their relationship, including Adidas, Balenciaga, J.P. Morgan, the Gap, Def Jam, and his talent agency CAA. That is exactly the response that we should all take against such hateful speech that promotes fear and violence. We are living in an era when the past atrocities are fading from memory: 20% of Millennials and Gen Z in New York believe the Jews caused the Holocaust; 63% of Americans don’t know six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust; although there were 40,000 camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, 48 percent of Americans cannot name a single one.
It’s important that the reaction to hate speech is swift and clear. Some Jewish and non-Jewish celebrities immediately responded with their condemnation, while many others remained silent. The Kardashians, including West’s ex-wife Kim, waited two weeks to respond with a refutation of his comments. Finally. Two weeks is a long time when you’re part of the group being bullied, harassed, and attacked.
Finally, where are all the famous professional athletes who asked for widespread support during Black Lives Matter protests. And received it from many Jews.
But we have to, because no one is free unless everyone is free.
Politics: The Most Hated Man in America—or Just the Dumbest?
"You're A Disgrace": Baseball Fans Hurled Insults At Ted Cruz While He Attended A Yankees Game (BuzzFeed News)
Summary: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) attended the final game of the play-offs, which was won by his state’s team. While he was there, New Yorker’s heckled and ranted against him, many giving him the middle finger.
My Take: Clearly, Yankee fans were not going to be kind to Ted Cruz, especially after a loss that ousted the Yankees from World Series contention. But being booed, flipped off, and scolded follows Cruz wherever he goes these days. Among the taunts hurled at him from furious fans was his infamous escape to Cancun during Texas’s power grid crisis that left millions of Texans freezing—and some dying. (Was that trip cowardly, insensitive, or idiotic—hard to tell.)
The following day he appeared on The View, where protestors interrupted by chanting, “Cover climate now!” Cruz has refuted climate change by stating, “The scientific evidence doesn’t support global warming.” Unfortunately for him, according to vast majority of scientists, yes, it does.
Evidence, proof, science—none of that pesky stuff the New York elite liberals like is important when it comes to Ted Cruz. He voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on, well, what he bases all his decisions on: his political career.
Over the years, Trump referred to Cruz as “lyin’ Ted” and insulted his wife by calling her ugly. But when the political power shifted to Trump, Cruz snuggled up to Big Daddy and declared his loyalty. Braveheart, he ain’t.
Of course, there are many politicians out there who are all bluster without intelligence, but Cruz seems to embody the perfect storm of lack of integrity, honesty, or respect for his constituents, and his blatant sucking-up-ness (that’s gotta be a word). Even Texans don’t like him: his Approve Strongly rate is 22%, his Disapprove Strongly is 40%.
That’s why he wins the tin-can crown as The Most Hated Man in America.
Haven’t subscribed yet? Come on! These articles don’t write themselves.
Video: How to Adapt to Adversity
The Dog Who Learned to Walk Like a Human
We need a break before we start in on more political insanity. So, here is a video of the celebrity dog who walks like a human. You’re welcome.
Health: Just How Much of a Liar is Tucker Carlson?
False claim that CDC would require covid vaccines for kids goes viral (The Washington Post)
Summary: On October 18, “a Fox News contributor claimed on Twitter that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was set to mandate that schoolchildren get coronavirus vaccines. By Tuesday evening, the claim was being repeated by the nation’s most popular cable news show, and had been amplified to millions more on social media.
“‘The CDC is about to add the Covid vaccine to the childhood immunization schedule, which would make the vax mandatory for kids to attend school,’ host Tucker Carlson tweeted, sharing a segment from his show that has been viewed more than 1.5 million times online.
“But the claim was wrong: The CDC cannot mandate that schoolchildren receive vaccines, a decision left up to states and jurisdictions, the agency and multiple public health officials said.”
My Take: It would be an insult to journalists to refer to Tucker Carlson as a journalist, but he does play one on TV. It was in that role that he again lied to his audience in an effort to stir up anger against vaccines, the CDC, and the whatever authority figures his watchers like to rant against.
Trump’s own former U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome M. Adams, condemned Carlson’s lies: “This is an all new level of dangerous misinformation. It could both harm kids (by derailing the VFC program, which helps disadvantaged children access vaccines) and endanger health officials (due to angry misinformed parents). We need to be able to have honest conversations about pros and cons of vaccinating children, without resorting to blatant misinformation.”
This lie is especially harmful because we are now facing a serious health crisis this fall that has already overcrowded hospitals, especially with kids (“'Triple-threat' illnesses causing kids to pack hospitals nationwide, prompts warning from Dr. Fauci”). Hospitals in 43 states, including California, are facing increased cases of flu, RSV and other respiratory illnesses. In addition, new variations of COVID-19 threaten to attack Americans this fall and winter.
Once again, Tucker Carlson has helped spread vaccine hesitancy and medical distrust that will allow more people—including kids—to get sick. Or worse. As long as his $35 million salary is safe and healthy, all is good.
Education: Book Burning Under Another Name
Florida Puts Raging MAGA Moms on Book-Banning Council (Daily Beast)
Summary: Florida’s Republican-controlled state government circumvented the usual protocol for soliciting official candidates from local school districts and instead created a censorship council filled with anti-gay and anti-mask conspiracy theorists and right-wing activists who have a history of proposing book bans. Their job is to retrain public school librarians to adhere to new restrictions regarding what students may read. The many qualified candidates for the council, who had teaching experience, were passed over in favor of those with no experience except for activism against mask mandates and critical race theory.
My Take: “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper,” T.S. Eliot tells us in “The Hollow Men.” Education is what makes a country prosperous because its people thrive. Gov. Ron DeSantis, and many other Republican-controlled states, would turn our children into hollow men and women, as vacant of originality and lacking in fresh thought as they are.
The war on American’s personal liberties is being fought on so many political fronts that seemingly small things like this council can get overlooked. That’s what they’re counting on. This “retraining” of librarians, and then teachers, to fall into sync with the party line is scarily reminiscent of Mao’s re-education programs that plucked the educated from their jobs and sent them to factories and farms to suppress any independent thought.
Book banning is where all totalitarian tyrants start. But then, if they don’t teach our children factual history, how will kids ever know that in order to stop it? I guess that’s the point.
Politics: Oops, I Did It Again (Opened My Mouth)
Marjorie Taylor Greene visits Union Army monument — which she says honors ‘Confederate soldiers’ (RawStory)
Summary: Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted to Truth Social: “Tonight, I stopped at the Wilder Monument in Chickamauga, GA, which honors the Confederate soldiers of the Wilder Brigade. I will always defend our nation’s history!” She also posted video showing she had climbed the 136 stairs to the top of the 85-ft tower. Unfortunately, her knowledge of her state’s history is a bit lacking: the monument honors Col. John T. Wilder’s Lightning Brigade—which was part of the Union Army.
My Take: Sure, it can seem petty to point this out. But Greene was the one so intent on making her public stand in defense of the Confederacy and the monuments that honor slavers and those who would have destroyed the country that it’s important to see her as an embodiment of those same anti-American values. As such, she is poorly educated about the state she represents, unable to read the damn memorial, and committed to restricting the education of Georgia’s children so they are just as smart as she is.
Dwayne Johnson Champions ‘Black Adam’ 90% Audience Score: Making Fans Happy Is the ‘Only Thing That Matters’ (Variety)
Summary: “Dwayne Johnson is praising fans in the wake of ‘Black Adam’ launching to $67 million at the domestic box office and $140 million worldwide. The movie now marks Johnson’s biggest box office opener in the U.S. as a leading man. While “Black Adam” was widely panned by film critics (its Rotten Tomatoes score is 39% from 219 review), audiences appear to be responding more favorably. Johnson has repeatedly touted the movie’s 90% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is “the highest audience score for a DC theatrical film” since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.”
My Take: First, I like Dwayne Johnson movies and will see any and all of them. I like his kids’ movies (The Game Plan), his comedies (Central Intelligence), and his action blockbusters. His TV show, Ballers, was also great. I don’t care what the reviews say, I will always watch them. Johnson just has that kind of film presence that makes you believe his character and root for him. It’s a rare quality shared by few.
As to Black Adam. It’s a good, solid, enjoyable film. It’s a darker version of Shazam, with the same backstory mythology. Johnson plays Teth Adam, entombed for 5,000 years and released to fight a major evil plus the Justice Society of America (Hawkman, Dr. Fate, et al) who want to contain his power because he kills bad guys.
There are problems: the young woman who is introduced as having a super-genius IQ never uses her brains, just swirls of colorful wind. Since she’s the only female superhero in the film, that’s pretty dismissive. The fight scenes get a bit repetitious: how many times can he and Hawkman fight to a draw (when we know Black Adam could pulverize him). The JSA pay a lot of lip service to saving lives, but then they get in epic battles downtown that must have killed hundreds while destroying the city.
I’d place this on the same level as Aquaman. Very entertaining. Johnson is believable as the moody, glaring, edgy hero. And he knows how to deliver a funny line. But this is another example of why DC movies just aren’t as good as Marvel films. Marvel plots are more complex and therefore more intriguing. (The plot in Black Adam of liberating Kahndaq is much too linear and simplistic.) The characters generally are richer than DC characters. The villains have more interesting goals than those in DC, who mostly just want to rule the world (then what?). Thanos was much more compelling because of the complexity of his goal and the cruelty that he was willing to inflict to attain it.
Having said that, I hope there is a sequel because I will be right there with a tub of popcorn having a great time.
Music: Beth Orton’s Weather Alive Soars
Beth Orton review – a redefining moment (The Guardian)
Summary: “Flitting between keyboard and guitar, old hits and jazz-adjacent new album Weather Alive, the coltish singer-songwriter finally seems at one with herself.”
My Take: This lovely album reminds me of Joni Mitchell’s folk/jazz fusion that conveys a mystical, lyrical feeling of being in a world distilled down to its most basic emotions. Beth Orton has been producing amazing music since her debit album in 1996, Trailer Park. It’s wonderful to experience her at the top of her talents.
The title song, “Weather Alive,” moves smoothly but with moments of intensity followed by more reflective passages. This is much more than background music.