Kareem Reacts to Today’s News Headlines (Aug 17): Liz Cheney for President?, Ice Cream Good for Health, Republican Rally Stifles Journalists, NBA Is Heroic, "Bachelorette" Lies?
My thoughts on the top stories in today's news.
I’ve selected five stories today from various news sources. And, per your requests, I’ve mixed up the stories a bit more so they aren’t all dark and gloomy political issues. This feature is meant to encourage conversation among my subscribers, so please leave comments.
My Take: Representative Liz Cheney lost the Wyoming primary by more than 35 percentage points in a sad but unsurprising commentary on the lack of intelligence of those who voted against her. I don’t agree with Cheney on most social and political issues, but I don’t doubt her moral integrity one bit. She saw what a threat Donald Trump was to not only the Republican Party, but to democracy itself, and she stood up to it.
In May, I posted an article called “Why America Needs the GOP—Just Not This GOP” in which I speculated that if I were president, my cabinet would be like Lincoln’s and include those who didn’t agree with me as long as they were motivated by logic and integrity, not just political ambition. Liz Cheney would be the kind of person I would want on my cabinet.
She was brought down by Republicans who still support Trump despite the thousands of lies he’s told, the sexual assaults, deliberately walking in on teenage girls in his pageants while they were undressed, overt racism, active misogyny, using his position to enrich himself and his family, illegally stealing and shredding presidential papers, trying to overturn an election, and encouraging a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Anyone who still supports Trump after all that are like the family that comes home to find someone broke into their home, ate their food, posted nude photos of himself on their bed, and urinated on their couch. They find a guy sitting on their patio wearing clothes from their closet drinking booze from their cabinet. They have security video of him doing all those things. But he says, “That wasn’t me. I heard a noise so I came to investigate for you.” The family is so grateful that they hire him as security to protect their home. That’s Wyoming Republicans. The biggest mistake is trying to appeal to this kind of non-rational person. They are not to ones we want guiding where the country should be going.
I hope Cheney does run for president. At least it will restore my faith that there are Republicans who do the right thing despite the personal career cost, because they are patriots before politicians.
My Take: Finally, news that I’ve always secretly hoped for. The Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy at Tufts University released a study in which they ranked foods from 1 to 100 based on nutritional value. The higher the number, the more nutritious. According to the study, an ice cream cone with nuts and chocolate ice cream scores a 37, while a multigrain bagel with raisins gets a sad 19. More good news for me: plain Fritos chips received a 55. But before you switch to a Fritos and ice cream diet, veggies still ranked highest in terms of health.
You know what’s even better for you than ice cream? This Substack column. For the price of one cone, you can get a month’s worth of my finely crafted (and delicious) words. So, do it!
Vance, DeSantis rally puts ‘highly unusual’ restrictions on press (Washington Post)
“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them.” —Thomas Jefferson
I’m starting with that quote because the best way to undermine democracy is by destroying a fair and impartial news media. Of course, there is no such thing as being totally impartial in anything, but some news sources make the effort to pursue truth wherever that leads. Others are merely mouthpieces for their political masters. The disturbing truth is that many Americans don’t know how to distinguish between the two and merely choose whatever supports their bias. That is the worst news for democracy, which depends on citizens being informed, not fluffed by faux news sites like Fox, Breitbart, and Daily Wire.
Which brings me to this news story: A Republican rally featuring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate candidate J.D. Vance in Ohio is placing highly unusual restrictions on journalists who wish to cover the event. Journalists have to agree to give rally organizers access to any footage. They will also not be allowed to attend certain events nor can they record speakers who don’t wish to be recorded.
Any political event that features such high-profile politicians is newsworthy, so why all the secrecy and restrictions? What could any speaker say to those attending that they wouldn’t also want the public to hear? Why the need to control the press reporting on the event? It all has the feeling of a cultish hive-mind not wanting the world to see the truth. Journalists should not submit to these restrictions or we start down a very dark path.
My Take: The NBA continues to be a leader in social and political commitment—and I couldn’t be prouder of them. This year for the first time, the NBA is not scheduling games on Election Day in order to promote more people voting. According to the NYT, “All 30 teams will play the night before the election as part of what the league is calling a ‘civic engagement night.’”
This kind of step is especially important this year after so many Republican-led states have passed laws attempting to restrict or inhibit Black voters. That is how sports organizations prove their social responsibility.
Bachelor Nation slams 'Bachelorette' host for not being honest about contestant getting COVID-19 (Yahoo!)
My Take: This week The Bachelorette did some major damage to the show’s credibility. First, the Logan Palmer Controversy: Last week Palmer switched to Gabby’s side and was given a rose by Gabby, despite the glaring daggers from Rachel. Then this week it’s announced that Palmer has COVID-19 and had to leave the show. Gabby shows no reaction about losing such a committed suitor. Despite the fact that Palmer mingled with everyone and engaged in some sloppy kissing, no one else was quarantined. The host didn’t tell the men why Palmer left, just that he did. If COVID was an issue, they would have been told. Reality shows already walk a tenuous line—this clumsy lying insults the audience. Worse, it makes them question everything about the show.
Second, before Rachel Lindsay became the first Black Bachelorette in 2017, I wrote an article for The Hollywood Reporter titled, “How the Bachelor and Bachelorette Franchise Are Damaging Romance in America.” Shortly afterward, the shows producers called to invite me to appear on the new season with Rachel Lindsay. I agreed to because I wanted to promote this new diversity, which I had complained about in the article. In a subsequent article I noted how I had “observed that African-American contestants, though always a part of the dating scrum, were predictably cut loose after an appropriately polite ‘we don’t see color’ period of time. I didn’t think anyone was to blame or that there was a racist conspiracy. It was just a consistent occurrence that reflected contestants’ comfort zone.”
Well, we’re down to the final few episodes and, although there were numerous People of Color contestants, they have all, with one exception, been eliminated. This week, in one of the cruelest moments in the franchise’s history, Gabby selects Black bachelor Nate for a second individual date. He’s thrilled because he’s sure that’s a sign she’s committed to him. But she uses that date to dump him because he has a daughter and she’s not ready for that responsibility.
She’s not wrong to question whether she as a White woman is ready to take on the responsibility and cultural conflicts that come with raising a daughter of a different race, but she never admitted to that as an issue, just general excuse of having “more healing and growing to do before I become a mom.”
What is fascinating isn’t the romances this season—which seem especially contrived and bland—but the contortions of the show to salvage the franchise without respecting their audience. The parallels with current politics is enlightening.
To answer the question some of you are asking: Why do you care about such shows, Kareem? Because pop culture is a barometer for the political weather to come. What happens in our music, TV, books, movies, fashion, and art tells us more about who we are, what we want, and what we’re willing to do than anything else. Plus, it’s all highly entertaining.