Kareem Reacts to the Top News Headlines: Alex Jones, Brittney Griner, Climate Change, Improved Economy, and More
My thoughts on the top stories in today’s "The New York Times."
I want to welcome the hundreds of new subscribers who have joined our Substack community by introducing a new feature this week. My idea is that I will share my thoughts on the top news stories in today’s The New York Times, pretty much as if we were sitting around at a Starbucks together with our morning paper.
Whether it becomes a regular addition depends on your reaction. If you like it, let me know. (If you don’t, suffer in silence. Kidding.)
The employment gains, which far surpassed expectations, show that the labor market is not slowing despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy.
My thoughts: Back during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, his chief strategist James Carville urged campaign workers to focus on one major idea: “The economy, stupid.” There were two other messages (“Change vs. more of the same.” and “Don't forget health care.”), but history mostly has forgotten those because every election seems more and more about the economy. As they say, People vote with their wallets.
Any glitch in the economy is an election weapon which is why the Republicans have been so gleeful about inflation as we near the very important mid-term elections. They have already instituted a national campaign to legislate voting restrictions and roadblocks to make it harder for opposition voters to get to the polls. They’ve been publicly hammering President Biden and the Democratic party as being solely responsible for inflation. Even though the accusation is inaccurate, the tactic has been successful: 64 percent of the I&I/TIPP poll's 1,310 adult respondents believe Biden's policies were either "responsible" or "very responsible" for rising prices. They count on the fact that the average voter knows little about the various causes of inflation and just need to put a familiar face to their misery. They ignore the fact that inflation is rampant across the world—Russia, Germany, England, Japan, Turkey, Argentina, etc.—with the U.S. not near the top.
Bottom line: This is bad news for Republicans because it indicates a stronger economy than has been hyped. Of course, these hopeful indicators don’t mean much to people when they’re at a gas pump or grocery store, but it is a sign not to panic and immediately point fingers at the wrong people. Especially when oil companies have been gouging us just when they should have been pulling back. In the last three months, oil company profits have set records: Exxon Mobil made $18 billion in profits, while Shell and Chevron each made nearly $12 billion in profits. Profits!
The Arizona Democrat had been her party’s last remaining holdout on the package, now slated to move forward on Saturday and pass the Senate within days.
My thoughts: While I’m delighted that the package is finally moving forward, I have little respect for Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) or Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). They have done nothing but act as Republican lackeys impeding any Democratic agenda for two years. If their objections were based on heartfelt beliefs, I would support them, even when they disagreed with me. But they appear to be motivated by nothing more than political self-interest. Every time I’ve read their objections to the Democrats’ agenda—especially the attempts to remove the filibuster—the lack of facts and logic astounds me.
Quick reminder that I may be the one writing these words, but I have a staff to edit, do research, find photos, and shine my head. That only happens with your help.
A Times investigation revealed a coordinated effort by state treasurers to use government muscle and public funds to punish companies trying to reduce greenhouse gases.
My thoughts: My heart sank reading this. States including West Virginia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Arizona—Republican-controlled states—want to ignore the climate crisis experts have been warning us about, and which everyone can observe, for the sake of big corporations jacking up more profits. In the short run, this is how those politicians stay in office. But the long-term effects of more droughts, wild fires, and killing heat waves have already begun. The rich, whose pockets they’re lining, will be able to insulate themselves from these disasters on their yachts and private jets. Not the rest of their constituents, especially the poor and middle class.
One expert lays out evidence that Mr. Jones tried to hide his wealth with personal loans and shell companies. Jurors, who already awarded more than $4 million in compensatory damages, are deliberating to determine punitive damages for the parents of a Sandy Hook victim.
My thoughts: Alex Jones is the worst that humanity has to offer. He is a huckster who laughs behind the backs of the very people he exploits: the ones who give them their hard-earned money that puts his worth between $135 million and $270 million. Never for one second of his life did he think the Sandy Hook shootings were fake, but he saw an opportunity to grind a few more million out of his sad and desperate followers by feeding them the conspiracies that make them feel smart so they can avoid actually reading newspapers and thinking for themselves. Alex Jones has become the Hindenburg of media personalities like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity who rake in the cash while spewing what they know is nonsense to suckers who lap it up. But his crashing and burning won’t stop them. They are basically media drug dealers and the drug is telling their clients whatever they want to hear. And business is good: Tucker Carlson’s net worth is $420 million and Sean Hannity’s net worth is $250 million.
Alex Jones should be in prison, but my guess is he’ll soon be back on TV and podcasting his way to many more millions.
The countries’ top diplomats made the remarks one day after a Russian court sentenced the basketball star to nine years in a penal colony.
My thoughts: I gave my thoughts about this case a couple weeks ago (“Will Support from LeBron James, Joe Rogan, Kim Kardashian, and Other Celebrities Help Free Brittney Griner from a Russian Prison?”). It looks like we are negotiating for the release of both WNBA star Brittney Griner, who yesterday was sentenced to nine years in prison for having vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage, and Paul N. Whelan, sentenced to 16 years for espionage. In exchange, we will be giving them Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer known as “The Merchant of Death,” serving 25 years for conspiring to kill American citizens.
I’m thrilled that Griner and Whelan could be coming home—even at the cost of Bout, who will probably find himself back in prison again in the future. What irks me (yes, I used the word irk) is the Republican backlash. Donald Trump—alleged serial fondler and insurrectionist—called her “a potentially spoiled person” who went to Russia “loaded up with drugs.” I’m still trying to understand “potentially”—either she is or isn’t. Also, she wasn’t “loaded up with drugs” but had a few vials of hasheesh oil for vaping. Her lawyers also provided evidence from her doctor that the cannabis was for medical use due to chronic pain.
I’m not sure when siding with Russia against U.S. citizens given unfair trials and outrageous sentences became a thing. Why don’t they have anything to say about Whelan (or why didn’t Trump get him released when he was president)? Maybe because Griner is Black and bisexual and therefore not important to the Republican Party.