Discover more from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Trump Admits He'll Persecute Enemies as Prez & Ohio GOP Cancels Voters' Abortion Decision
Plus: FL Republican Apologizes for Suggesting Palestinian Genocide, Boebert Claims the GOP's Survival Rests With Her, "Bass Reeves" Is Cool, and Richard Baskin Sings
What I’m Discussing Today:
Kareem’s Daily Quote: There are thousands of variations of the biblical “do unto others” teaching. Here’s why I like the biblical version the best.
Florida Republican Calls for Genocide of Palestinians: Michelle Salzman wants to kill ‘em all. Leadership at its finest.
Lauren Boebert Thinks She’s the Cornerstone of the GOP: Her tweet soliciting campaign donations reflects her as a politician: self-important and hollow of reason.
Trump Admits He’d Use His Office to Persecute Political Rivals: Another smoking gun in his hand to prove he wants to assassinate democracy.
Ohio GOP Doesn’t Like the Abortion Vote, So They’re Cancelling It: You know you’re an American patriot when you override democracy to enforce your own religious views.
What I’m Watching on TV: Lawmen: Bass Reeves tells the compelling story of a real-life deputy U.S. Marshall—who just happens to be Black.
Kareem’s Video Break: I dare you not to smile at this sneaky dog.
Richard Baskin Sings: Back in 1976, a quirky movie called Welcome to L.A. was released with jazzy-bluesy-soulful songs that still haunt.
Kareem’s Daily Quote
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Jesus, Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12
This quote is often referred to as The Golden Rule because almost all religions and philosophies can be distilled into this one universal idea. To follow this is to have achieved full potential as a human being. There are hundreds of similar sayings from every religion and most philosophers throughout history, many from hundreds of years before Jesus or the Bible. (For a comprehensive list, check out The Golden Rule Project.) For example:
“Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” Confucius (c. 551 – c. 479 BCE), Analects 15:23 (Confucianism)
“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Tripitaka Udanavarga 5:18 (Buddhism)
“Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.” Socrates
“Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others that which you wish for yourself.” The Prophet Muhammad Hadith (Islam)
The reason I chose to highlight the biblical version over the other variations is that most of the others approach the concept as a warning about what not to do. But the biblical quote frames it so that we should diligently “do unto others,” meaning not just avoid harming, but intentionally going out and doing good. The Islamic admonishment— “Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others that which you wish for yourself.”—has that same vibe. One should wish for others what we would want. But that still stops short of actively doing. That little difference is what makes the biblical teaching the most challenging to follow.
So simple—yet, so hard. Sudoku for the soul. The main challenge to living by this teaching is that we can MacGyver it whenever the going gets tough. We find a sneaky workaround that allows us to ignore the rule, but still feel virtuous: “That person hurt me, therefore they don’t deserve my doing unto them.” “That person doesn’t follow the teaching so why should I follow it with them?” And so forth. We’re ingenious when it comes to tricking ourselves.
The thing is, the teaching doesn’t say “do unto some others” or “do unto deserving others.” Just others. That’s the point. By following the teaching, two practical things happen: First, you are overcoming your own biases and emotional roadblocks to become a better person. This will lift a lot of burdens from you and make you happier. Second, through your selfless example, you are helping to create a world in which everyone follows this teaching. You’re creating “others'“ who will also do unto you.
Sadly, this is the most popular and least followed teaching. Part of the reason is that many people can’t distinguish between doing unto others and imposing on others. Doing unto others is to treat others as they wish to be treated. However, some prefer to impose their beliefs and value systems on others instead. Which would be the opposite of the teaching. The goal of these people is not to do good, but to feel good about themselves.
I think of this quote whenever my pettiness, ego, stubbornness, or biases nudge me to be rude, dismissive, or even cruel. To deliberately inflict emotional pain on another is shameful. It is a transgression we have all committed, but to pull out a Richard Wilbur quote I recently wrote about, “The past is never past redeeming.”
We can do better unto ourselves. We must do better unto others.
This Week in Dumb & Dangerous Statements by Politicians
In John Carpenter’s 1982 movie The Thing, a group of researchers in Antarctica are being killed by an alien entity that can shape-shift into the person it kills in order to get closer to the others. Unable to determine from appearance which of them is the alien, the men devise a test in which they stab a sample of each person’s blood with a heated wire, knowing the creature’s blood will react differently.
That’s what my “This Week in Dumb & Dangerous Statements” section is: A sizzling wire applied to the lifeblood of democracy to identify those who resemble Americans who love democracy, but who are actually evil beings bent on destroying it.
What makes this feature so necessary is the openness with which so many politicians and celebrities express their anti-American sentiments with no fear of reprisals. After all, the GOP frontrunner choice to be their president is a rapist (“Judge clarifies: Yes, Trump was found to have raped E. Jean Carroll”), a fraud (“Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks and insurers while building real estate empire”), and a murderer who deliberately allowed people to unnecessarily die by hiding how serious COVID-19 was (“Trump Tells Woodward He Deliberately Downplayed Coronavirus Threat”). What mental contortions these people must go through to justify their support of this heinous person?
If we don’t call out people in power each and every time they say or do something that sabotages the ideals of our country, then we’re normalizing that behavior, which essentially excuses it. I can’t do that. So here comes the red-hot wire.
SUMMARY: Outrage continues to grow over a public comment made by a Florida state Republican lawmaker calling for all Palestinians to die.
The remarks came during a debate in the state legislature about calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which has so far killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, many of whom are children. The assault came after Hamas fighters attacked Israel from Gaza, killing at least 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostage.
In the speech in support of the ceasefire resolution, the Democratic Florida state representative Angie Nixon said: “We are at 10,000 dead Palestinians. How many will be enough?”
“All of them,” Michelle Salzman called in reply.
MY TAKE: The increased violence in the U.S. against both Jews and Palestinians is a testament to some people’s inability to distinguish between the acts of politicians and the population. For example, an independent commission set up by the Bishops' Conference of France released a report estimating that 330,000 French children (80% boys) were molested by Catholic church priests and employees between 1950 and 2020. Should Catholics around the world—some of whom may be actual victims—be randomly stabbed, beaten, and harassed because of what the priests did? Neither should Muslims, Jews, or Palestinians be punished for the acts of a few political “leaders.”
Salzman said something incredibly vicious and shockingly stupid. If others around the world heard her statement, would they be justified in attacking Americans on the streets for supporting genocide?
Of course, she later apologized: “It's the most horrific of implications,” Salzman wrote on Thursday. “I am so incredibly sorry for even the slightest of suggestions that I would want an entire community erased. My comments were unapologetically towards the Hamas regime – I NEVER said Palestine.”
Well, she did say it. She may or may not have meant it. But as we often see with celebrities and politicians who say horrific things—and later offer tepid apologies—the damage is already done. Many more people will hear her original statement than her apology. She has given support to those who would violently attack Palestinians here in the U.S.
Salzman should not go unscathed for what she said. In a just world where people hold their elected officials to a high standard of intelligence and integrity, she would be charged for hate speech, possibly removed from office, and certainly not elected again for any office. We’ll see what kind of just world Florida is.
SUMMARY: An appeal for donations by Rep. Lauren Boebert on X, formerly Twitter, has sparked a wave of mockery aimed at the House Republican on Friday.
Boebert, who represents Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, is facing a GOP primary challenge from Jeff Hurd, a Grand Junction attorney, and a number of her former donors have already defected to her rival. If she wins the primary in November 2024, Boebert could face a rematch of her primary battle against Democrat Adam Frisch, a businessman who unexpectedly came within 546 votes of unseating her at the 2022 midterms.
In September, Boebert's reputation suffered a major blow when footage emerged of her and a male companion groping each other during a performance of the musical Beetlejuice at a Colorado theater. They were later ejected for repeatedly vaping and taking photographs. In a statement, Boebert said she was "truly sorry for the unwanted attention my Sunday evening in Denver has brought to the community," adding that she had been "going through a public and difficult divorce."
On X, Boebert posted: "In less than one year, Colorado's 3rd District is going to be THE battleground district that will determine if we keep the House or not. My opponent has Hollywood elites POURING money into his campaign. Can I count on you to help me push back against their dark money and support our campaign today?"
MY TAKE: I am not among those who delighted in Boebert’s fall from media grace when she acted foolishly at a theater performance. Yes, there was some low-hanging hypocrisy to feast on, but mostly I saw a woman who’d recently suffered twin blows of divorce and the discovery that her 17-year-old son was going to be a father. Regardless of the positive political spin she tried to put on both, I’m sure they were personally devastating.
Rather, I prefer to focus on her ineffectiveness and irrationality as a legislator of uncommon thickness who doesn’t deserve to be in government on any level. Today, we’ll just deal with her campaign tweet [My comments are in bold and brackets.]:
In less than one year, Colorado's 3rd District is going to be THE battleground district that will determine if we keep the House or not. [This allows her to bypass her personal lack of achievements in her job and make the election about the GOP keeping control of the House. She’s signaling how important she is as a political placeholder rather than a hard-working legislator. Also, this is not “THE battleground” but one of several around the country.] My opponent has Hollywood elites [Dog whistle wording: Hollywood elites=rich liberals. She wants to imply that these champagne-slurping celebrities aren’t like the common work-a-day people who support her. Of course, she doesn’t name any of these “elites,” who, if they exist at all, could be movie business executives and not celebrities.] POURING money into his campaign. [“POURING” must mean a lot since it’s all in caps. That has the sinister feel of a conspiracy. She doesn’t say how much her opponent has raised, nor how much she’s raised. Perhaps no one likes her enough to POUR money her way.] Can I count on you to help me push back against their dark money [“Dark money” sounds nasty. She’s betting that people don’t know what it is and just generally are put off by the term. She also doesn’t offer any evidence that dark money—which is legal—is actually being used. Are we also meant to believe that if large businesses donated dark money to her, she’d turn it down?] and support our campaign today?
Let’s not dwell on her vaping and groping, and miss the bigger sin. As of January 2022, she had introduced seventeen bills and seven resolutions, with none passing the committee. However, in an effort to really become significant, in February 2023, Boebert co-sponsored a bill to designate the “AR-15-style rifle” the National Gun of the United States. She also submitted resolutions to impeach President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. Donating money to her is like rubbing dirt on a gaping head wound.
SUMMARY: Donald Trump has suggested he would use the FBI and justice department to go after political rivals should he return to the White House next year in a move which will further stoke fears of what a second period of office for Trump could mean.
Trump made the comments during an interview with the Spanish-language television network Univision. The host Enrique Acevedo asked him about his flood of legal problems saying: “You say they’ve weaponized the justice department, they weaponized the FBI. Would you do the same if you’re re-elected?”
“They’ve already done it, but if they want to follow through on this, yeah, it could certainly happen in reverse,” Trump replied. “They’ve released the genie out of the box.”
“…[I]f I happen to be president and I see somebody who’s doing well and beating me very badly, I say go down and indict them, mostly they would be out of business. They’d be out. They’d be out of the election.”
MY TAKE: Ho hum. Donald Trump has just admitted he would use his office to persecute political rivals just like every dictator in history. What else ya got?
Years ago, that statement alone would have whipped up such outrage that it would have disqualified him from running for office. Ever. But in today’s morally indifferent America, we have the super-wealthy pushing for his election because he will dismantle the IRS, the EPA, the FDA, and any government agency guarding the people from abuses. We also have the super-irrational, who want a king who will unburden them from making decisions on their own. He once swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, yet most of what he’s done since that day has been to undermine and destroy it.
After taunting veteran POWs as losers, Trump had the gall to give a Veteran’s Day speech: “In honor of our great Veterans on Veteran’s Day, we pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American Dream.”
I’ve never before seen so many Americans who actually hate America enough to support someone so determined to destroy it. It’s like a family watching their home burn inviting the arsonist standing beside them with gasoline and a lighter to run the Neighborhood Watch.
Kareem’s Video Break
This dog does not want to come inside just yet. Every time they call her, she hides. But when they close the door… I watched it several times and laughed each time.
Share this newsletter “unto others.”
Ohio GOP lawmakers propose stripping judges of power to interpret abortion rights (Cincinnati Enquirer)
SUMMARY: Several Republican lawmakers plan to fight the recently approved abortion rights amendment by trying to overthrow the judicial branch's authority to interpret it.
Ohio voters approved protections for abortion and other reproductive rights, 57-43%, Tuesday. Abortion rights advocates will soon head to court to repeal restrictions and bans on the procedure.
But four GOP lawmakers had another idea.
"To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with Issue 1, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative," according to a Thursday night news release with quotes from four GOP House representatives. "The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides."
MY TAKE: The Republican Party has determined that their role now is to be the country’s strict, tough-love parents. They will give us independence in increments, but we have to keep proving ourselves worthy by (1) showing gratitude for their largess and (2) never making a decision they would disapprove of. Kids, we’re going to let you decide whether you’d like to attend church or go to that college party. Your choice. You chose the party? You’re grounded for a month!
Ohio voters chose to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitution despite a slew of GOP dirty tricks from purging 26,000 voters just days before the election, to declaring a special election in August to derail the amendment (after the same GOP banned August elections for being too costly). Rolling Stone reported that “the Ohio Senate Majority Caucus communications department used taxpayer funds and a government website to spread misinformation about the ballot measure, warning of ‘abortion on demand’ or ‘dismemberment of fully conscious children’ if voters approved the measure.” They lied—and still failed.
Their latest gambit is to override voters by replacing judiciary oversight with their own. They alone will decide how the law will or will not be implemented. Basically, that means it won’t be enforced.
Screwing the voters is not a conservative policy. It’s not even a traditional Republican Party policy. But clearly, the GOP is now being controlled by Trumpian Lilliputians intent on spanking the whole country if it doesn’t do what they want: “You live in my country, so you’ll follow my rules!” Isn’t that what King George III said?
How did that work out for him and England? He asserted our independence from authoritarian monarchs in 1776. Let’s do it again in 2024.
What I’m Watching: Television
Lawmen: Bass Reeves (Paramount+)
This is the TV show I wished for when I was a kid watching The Rifleman, Bonanza, Have Gun—Will Travel, Bat Masterson, and a dozen other Westerns I devoured almost daily. Despite the fact that 25% of cowboys in the Old West were Black, about 0% were Black on TV. Following the Civil War, being a cowboy was one of the few options for Black men not wanting a service job for White people.
Bass Reeves went from being a slave owned by Col. George Reeves, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, to the first Black deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River. He was acclaimed as a marksman, but also for his skills as a detective and use of disguises. Some historians claim Reeves was the inspiration for the character of the Lone Ranger. At one point, he even brought in his own son who was charged with murdering his wife.
Lawmen: Bass Reeves starts with Reeves (David Oyelowo) fighting on behalf of the Confederacy during the Civil War because his owner is an officer. It is a double humiliation: As a slave, he has no choice but to fight for slavery—and his name is that of his owner. It is the perfect storm of non-existence. This living as a shadow continues until he finally frees himself to begin his journey as his own man—and as a feared lawman.
The series so far is gritty and compelling as Reeves discovers who he is as a man and what wonders he’s capable of. The Old West, just a little bit darker and more realistic.
Kareem’s Jukebox Playlist
Richard Baskin: “City of the One Night Stands”
How do I come up with my selections? Sometimes I pick from what I listen to at home. Or I’ll hear something new on the radio while driving. Or an artist will pop into my mind for no reason. In my last newsletter, I presented a song by Barbra Streisand, which made me remember Richard Baskin had produced some of Streisand’s music and was in a personal relationship with her in the eighties. And that reminded me that he was the musical director on one of my favorite movies, Robert Altman’s Nashville, and that he did the haunting and memorable soundtrack for a quirky 1976 movie, Welcome to L.A. (You can watch it free here.)
You may not have heard of Richard Baskin, but he is an enormous talent. (Fun fact: His dad was the co-founder of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream empire.) Baskin was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in its second season, produced Streisand’s songs, was the musical director and composed the scores for numerous movies, and directed music videos with Streisand, Elton John, and Rod Stewart. He also holds patents on technology used today in all major streaming services.
The entire soundtrack for Welcome to L.A. is excellent, but I chose “City of the One Night Stands” because its jazzy-bluesy-soulfulness captures the loneliness and desperation in chasing after meaningful relationships by people who actively avoid meaning. They live in isolation not because of the world, but because they deserve their own imprisonment. In expressing this doomed quest, there’s a palpable sadness in his voice with just a note of hope squeaking through. (If you like it, you can listen to the entire soundtrack here.)
Sometimes, I’m excited to introduce you to something you may not have heard of but will delight you as much as it does me. I hope this is one of those times.