Trump Wants to Ditch Obamacare & GOP Wants Texas to Vote on Seceding from U.S.
Speaker Mike Johnson Endorses Homophobic and Anti-Poor Book, Trump Pardoned Political Allies in a Preview of Abuse of Power, "Dream Scenario" Contender for Best Picture Nom, Dionne Warwick Sings
What I’m Discussing Today:
Kareem’s Daily Quote: Bill Belichick explains why talent is not enough to be successful.
Trump Wants to Ditch Obamacare: Most Americans don’t agree, especially when the GOP or Trump has offered no alternative.
Texas GOP Want to Vote to Secede from the U.S.: There is no legal way to do this, but Republicans want to stir up anger against the federal government so people don’t think about the crappy job they’re doing in their own state.
Speaker Mike Johnson Writes Foreword for Homophobic, Racist Book: After the backlash, he claims he never read those passages. Huh?
Trump Pardoned a Lot of Political Allies: This is a glimpse into the kind of misuse of political power we can expect.
Kareem’s Video Break: Once you see this video, you will never forget its magnificent beauty.
Kareem Goes to the Movies: Dream Scenario is a dark horse candidate for a Best Picture nomination. It’s a satire with intelligence and wit.
Dionne Warwick Sings: This was Burt Bacharach’s favorite of his compositions. Despite having more than 40 other singers covering the song when it came out, Dionne’s is still the best.
Kareem’s Daily Quote
Talent sets the floor, character sets the ceiling.
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots head coach and five-time Super Bowl champion
There are about 500 NBA players every season. All of them are talented because they are the best of 25,000 college players who are the best of 551,373 high school players. Yet, only a handful of those 500 NBA players become superstars. That’s because talent can only take a person so far.
When I first started to make a name for myself as a college basketball player, there were a lot of people who attributed my success to my 7’2” height. What they failed to realize is that there were a couple dozen other players who were over seven feet at the time. I battled against and dominated players taller and heavier than I was. In 2014, there were 96 players on Division I rosters who were over seven feet. Today in the NBA, there are 32 players over seven feet, some 7’7”. Most will never be as good as Nikola Jokić (who is a mere 7’).
That’s where character comes in.
When I first started playing basketball, despite my height advantage, I was a gangly, clumsy kid who really wanted to be a baseball player. More talented and experienced—and shorter—kids ran circles around me. But I soon developed a passion for the game and with that passion came a drive to develop skills. I spent hour after hour alone on a playground practicing left-hand and right-hand shots. I worked on my dribbling, my stamina, my rebounding. That’s how I became “talented.”
I once read an interview with a famous bestselling mystery writer who said that if she had a talented young writer with little discipline and a disciplined writer with little talent, she would always bet on the disciplined writer to become a success. The disciplined writer has the drive, the passion, the commitment—the character—to become talented. I’ve seen it over and over again, not just in sports, where someone who at first seems ill-equipped to do anything, rises to great heights through hard work.
People who dismiss successful people as “born with talent” are making excuses. Yes, genes may account for getting to the starting line quicker, but that is no guarantee of doing well in, let alone winning, the race. Accusing people of succeeding based solely on natural-born talent is what undisciplined and unmotivated people do to justify their own failure to strive.
Muhammad Ali said, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” In other words, “talent” is earned. It is cultivated by desire and nurtured by sweat. The lawyer who studies late into the night while his peers watch The Masked Singer is creating his own talent. The teacher coming up with innovative new lesson plans to inspire her students and the artist experimenting with daring techniques to dazzle viewers—that’s having the discipline to succeed and the courage to fail.
Parenting is a good example. No one is born with the talent to be a good parent. They have to be willing to put in the time: go to their kids’ games or performances, help them with their studies, listen more than lecture, stay up late putting together toys, give up what you want so they can get what they need. There are no championships. No trophies. No endorsement deals. Just the knowledge that you tried your best to be the best.
Even Calvin Coolidge, famous for not saying much, was verbose when it came to talent versus determination: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.”
When I salute someone of exceptional achievement, I’m not praising their talent, I’m honoring their discipline, their focus, their commitment, their passion—and mostly their hard work. I’m celebrating their character.
This Week in Trump’s Assault on Democracy
SUMMARY: Former President Trump emphasized late Tuesday night that he wants to “replace” the Affordable Care Act — more commonly known as ObamaCare — rather than “terminate” it entirely.
“Getting much better Healthcare than Obamacare for the American people will be a priority of the Trump Administration. It is not a matter of cost, it is a matter of HEALTH,” he wrote on Truth Social. “America will have one of the best Healthcare Plans anywhere in the world. Right now it has one of the WORST!”
MY TAKE: When Richard Nixon ran for re-election in 1972, one of his campaign promises was that he had a plan to end the Vietnam War—which he would only share if he was re-elected. He was and he didn’t. There was no plan. But the strategy of gift-wrapping and gilding an empty box has continued to be an American tradition as effective as asking someone to “pull my finger” and being surprised at the results.
Trump, the most notorious liar we’ve ever had as a president, promises to replace the ACA with something better but his advisors say otherwise. A hint of his real intentions might be the fact that he didn’t do anything about it when he was president. You might remember previous Republican public promises to replace Obamacare with something better but never actually coming up with a plan. In fact, GOP politicians have pretty much given up their ranting against ACA because it’s become so popular. According to Politico, “Roughly three-in-five Americans like the 2010 health care law, even more than when Trump and Republicans in Congress came to the brink of wiping it out. And some of the Affordable Care Act’s better-known provisions — like protections for preexisting health conditions — engender even greater support.”
If we ever wonder where Trump falls on caring about the health of Americans, just think back to his admission that he deliberately downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19 when it was killing people by the thousands. He knowingly delayed people from taking life-saving measures with horrific consequences, mostly for the poor, minorities, and the elderly (“Trump shouldn’t have downplayed coronavirus, say experts”). Negligent homicide is Trump’s healthcare plan.
With Trump, all you get from his promises is what one usually gets whenever they fall for the “pull my finger” gag. And it isn’t pleasant.
Trump pardoned them. Now they’re helping him return to power. (The Washington Post)
SUMMARY: …Never before had a president used his constitutional clemency powers to free or forgive so many people who could be useful to his future political efforts. A Washington Post review of Trump’s 238 clemency orders found that dozens of recipients, including [former Maricopa County sheriff Joe] Arpaio, have gone on to plug his 2024 candidacy through social media and national interviews, contribute money to his front-running bid for the Republican nomination or disseminate his false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
…Arpaio’s pardon in August 2017, which forgave his conviction for disobeying a judge’s order to stop profiling Hispanics, set the bar for how the new president would bypass the rigorous Justice Department screening process and act unilaterally to bestow clemency on his political allies. More than six years later, Trump’s clemency record offers critical insights into how he might wield one of the presidency’s most unfettered powers if he is elected to a second term — potentially to undo the work of a Justice Department he scorns, to eliminate the threat of criminal prosecution against him and his allies, and to continue to build an army of indebted supporters he can call on as needed to back him.
…Experts say Trump’s abuse of the pardon power while in office was unprecedented in modern times.
MY TAKE: This reminds me of those old Westerns when the honest sheriff arrests rowdy cowboys who shot up the town, killing innocent people. The ranch owner demands their release or he and his gang will destroy the town and kill the sheriff. I’m pretty sure that’s how Trump sees himself too. The wealthy maverick who illegally and underhandedly amassed his fortune by stomping out the small ranchers around him. Now he thinks the laws don’t apply to him. He’s like Jennifer Jason Leigh’s super-rich character in Fargo who explains to the police that they have no function inside the walls of power, that their only job is to keep the rabble out.
To be clear, Trump actually gave fewer total pardons and commutations than all other presidents except the Bushes (by comparison, Obama granted clemency 1,927 times in his eight years in office). This isn’t about the number, it’s about the people he picked and how he went about it. According to one analysis: “While rare overall, Trump’s use of presidential clemency caused controversy because of the nature of his pardons and commutations. Many of Trump’s clemency recipients had a ‘personal or political connection to the president,’ and he often circumvented the formal process through which clemency requests are typically considered….”
It’s clear that Trump’s pardons are communicating to his supporters that they are free to do whatever it takes to get him elected—legal or not—because once he’s in power, he will pardon them. The man that Republicans say best represents their political philosophy and morality is a rapist and fraudster who has admitted he will use his power to punish enemies, gut the federal government of all employees who aren’t Trump loyalists, and will pardon all crimes committed to get him elected. That is the scariest political resume I’ve seen in my lifetime—and I saw Nixon’s enemies list.