Discover more from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Who Bombed the Gaza Hospital and Why Are DeSantis and Haley Still Lying?
Gaza Hospital Bombing Leads to Rush to Judgement, DeSantis Knowingly Let People Die, Haley Lies About Her China Connection, My Special Book Recommendation, Al Jarreau Sings Beautifully
What I’m Discussing Today:
Kareem’s Daily Quote: When might makes wrong, what’s a woman to do?
Who Bombed the Gaza Hospital?: The world has reacted violently. Based on what?
DeSantis Ignored COVID Facts About Florida Deaths: How many of the 23,000 Floridian deaths is he responsible for?
Nikki Haley Lies Directly to Town Hall Questioner: Vocal opponent to China owning land actually gave them land in her state.
A Special Recommendation from Kareem: My friend and co-author has a thrilling new novel that I think you're going to love as much as I do.
Kareem’s Video Break: The classic “You poked my heart” debate that once seen can never be forgotten.
Al Jarreau Sings “Moonlighting” Theme Song: The ‘80s show is now streaming and Al’s sublime voice is everything we want to hear.
Kareem’s Daily Quote
The fundamental difference between the sexes is that one of them can kill the other with their bare hands.
Ani Bezzerides, True Detective
I watched the second season of HBO’s True Detective when it was first broadcast in 2015 and this quote from Rachel McAdams’ police detective character has stayed with me ever since. I often think of it whenever I consider the main cause for inequities between any group: Because one group can overpower the other through sheer physical force. Any time it wants to.
And so women, by sheer difference in size, have historically been dominated by men. Their right to vote, to own property, to even exist has often rested in the hands of men who must grant these rights. The whole process has been “civilized” through religious writings (written by men) that place men as the head of the household because of their superior reasoning (which men have conveniently defined). Tradition has petrified these beliefs into cultural traditions so powerful that even many women have come to believe this to be true. This Stockholm Syndrome thinking only confirms to some men of their own superiority of reasoning. After all, to them only an inferior mind would prefer subjugation.
Physical threat is still very much a part of our world, as we can see in the two wars raging now. In the end, might makes right is the message. That message of implied threat trickles down to our society in our interactions and culture, whether it’s promising to use your grandpa’s gun in “Try That in a Small Town,” or a traffic cop pulling over someone because they’re Black, or manspreading on a subway.
Women make up 51.1% of the U.S. population. Yet, there is still a clear imbalance of power, rights, and opportunities. Women are still sexually harassed in the workplace (70% of women say workplace sexual harassment is a major problem; unsurprisingly, only 53% of men agree). About 91% of rape and sexual assault victims are women, with 99% of the perpetrators being men. Worldwide, at least 1 out of 3 women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused—at least once. In the U.S., 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence, resulting in 1,500 deaths a year (40% of those killed sought help in the two years before their deaths). Between 80 and 90% of domestic violence victims abuse or neglect their own children. All because of size.
In Lessons in Chemistry, a new drama on AppleTV based on the bestselling novel by Bonnie Garmus set in the 1950s and ‘60s. Elizabeth Zott must endure a sexual assault, relentless sexual harassment, and discrimination in pursuit of her career. Watching men and women oblivious to the level of contempt they express for women may seem quaint from decades of numbing nostalgia, except when you realize that the contempt is still being expressed, just in more subtle ways, but equally as subversive.
Just when we think we may be rising out of the primordial ooze to a higher plane of rationality, reality shoves us back into the thick muck of our own primitive fears and urges. I look forward to the day when no one lays hands on another except to embrace, encourage, or comfort.
Kareem’s Video Break
After all the discussions about how misinformation is influencing our opinions, I thought it was time to rerun one of my favorite videos. The kids are passionately arguing about whether it’s drizzling or raining, each basing their opinion on what their mother told them. Despite the vehemence of their irrational arguing, they find a way to compassion.
Don’t poke my heart, just share this and expand my heart.
This Week in Misinformation, Disinformation, and Lies
This has been a bad week for truth. Every time I watch or read the news someone else is lying. What concerns me is that when they lie so openly they have to know they will be caught in their lies. Yet, they don’t care. As if they believe we are so biased that no one respects the truth because no one expects the truth. Let’s prove them wrong.
Who Bombed the Gaza Hospital?
In the Israel-Hamas conflict, wait for verifiable facts (The Washington Post)
SUMMARY: [T]he Hamas militant group attacked Israel, killing more than 1,400 people and abducting more than 200. Israel responded with airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is headquartered, killing at least 3,785 people in Gaza so far, according to Palestinian estimates.
It’s often said that the first casualty of war is truth, so we urge readers to be wary of social media claims and initial reports.
Immediately after the attack on Israeli towns, for instance, social media posts last week claimed that “40 babies” were “beheaded” by Hamas. That conflated comments by a correspondent for an Israel-based television network. She had referred to 40 babies being killed — and separately that there were reports some were beheaded. The Israeli government released graphic images that claimed to show babies were burned, but did not officially confirm decapitations of infants.
This week, the Gaza health ministry claimed that 500 people were killed by an Israeli airstrike on the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza. The initial images were at night, making the statement hard to assess, but it received wide publicity and the alleged attack on the hospital spurred outrage across the Arab world. Israel blamed the incident on a misfired rocket by another militant group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The next day, videos and photos showed many dead bodies as result of the blast, though not the debris damage that generally would be associated with an airstrike. The White House said that U.S. intelligence “with high confidence” believes Israel was not responsible. But how the blast occurred — and the death toll — has not been confirmed by independent sources, while news organizations have been hampered by not having access to the blast site.
MY TAKE: Following the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital airstrike in Gaza, people around the world became so outraged that many took to the streets to demand retaliation—some committed acts of violence against individuals. Because Hamas claimed Israel was responsible and Israel claimed Hamas was responsible, supporters of both sides had enough vitriol to fuel their need for vengeance.
But who is in the right? Who was actually responsible for the deaths and destruction?
I don’t know for certain. No one does.
I’ve heard Israeli claims and the U.S.’s intelligence reports. Seems reasonable. Except I saw those same reports right before we invaded Iraq. Gen. Colin Powell showed us “evidence” of Weapons of Mass Destruction that didn’t exist. And I remember the leaked Pentagon Papers revealing how the U.S. government had lied to the public for years about the Vietnam War. I want to believe U.S. and Israeli reports because I’d prefer it was an accident rather than deliberate targeting. But, I’m cautious.
I certainly don’t believe Hamas. They lost all credibility when they invaded Israel, took hostages, and set the mass violence in motion. That in no way lessens my sympathy for the Palestinian people and my disapproval of some of the policies Israel has perpetuated regarding Gaza.
I’m talking about this one event—and why we need to be skeptical and cautious about any reporting coming out of the war. Even respected news sources under pressure can get it wrong: “BBC Admits Reporter’s Speculation Over Gaza Hospital Rocket Misfire ‘Was Wrong.’”
Social media is often driven by passion and outrage more than reason or facts. Plus, the influence of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, who have bot farms that flood social media with disinformation to undermine democracies. Elon Musk’s X is intent on doing the same. These headlines should give you an idea just how bad it is: “Misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war is flooding social media. Here are the facts”; “Misinformation about Israel-Hamas war spreads like wildfire on social media”; “7 influential accounts are warping Israel-Hamas news on X, researchers find.”
We can’t be sucked into the widening gyre of conflicting and misleading reporting in a rush to judgment. It’s fine to pick your side and defend them with passion, but that doesn’t make everything your side is doing right. Weigh every report independently, remembering the ultimate goal is lasting peace, which can only be achieved if we know the truth.
SUMMARY: A courtroom settlement over withheld Covid-19 data that critics say cost thousands of lives has deflated Ron DeSantis’s campaign trail persona as a courageous freedom warrior who kept his state open during a deadly peak of the pandemic.
It comes at a pivotal time for the Florida governor, whose teetering run for the Republican presidential nomination is mired in financial difficulties and collapsing poll numbers in early primary states.
Among the efforts DeSantis has made to try to arrest his slide among Republican hardliners include positioning himself as a champion for “medical freedom”, and defying federal health guidance to advise Floridians against taking new Covid-19 booster shots.
The settlement ends a two-year legal battle between the DeSantis administration and a coalition of Democrats, open government advocates and media outlets that began in June 2021 when the Florida health department ended daily updates of Covid cases, deaths and vaccinations on its online dashboard.
The department will pay the plaintiffs’ $152,000 legal bill and resume regular posting of the data that DeSantis’s communications team insisted at the time was no longer necessary because cases had “significantly decreased” and that Florida was “returning to normal”.
In reality, as DeSantis dismissed reporting on the pandemic as “media hysteria”, the Delta variant of the virus was just taking hold, and cases and fatalities spiked, to a record 385 a day in Florida by September 2021. Simultaneously, Florida led the nation in pediatric Covid hospitalizations.
Critics dubbed DeSantis “the Pied Piper of Covid, leading everybody off a cliff”, as he forged ahead with an executive order banning mask mandates in schools, having already signed legislation awarding himself veto power over coronavirus mandates set by municipalities.
MY TAKE: According to Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democratic former state congressman who filed the lawsuit against the Florida health department, “Twenty-three thousand Floridians died during the Delta surge, and not only did the DeSantis administration restrict information on Covid during that time, they repeatedly downplayed the severity of the outbreak to fit their political narrative and help DeSantis run for president. That decision cost lives.”
If I sell a substance that I claim will cure you, but I know it will kill you—and it does— I’m arrested for murder. So, how is it that DeSantis can suppress information that might have saved lives while promoting actions that he knew would cost lives and not be a murderer? That’s moral mathematics. Instead, he’s re-elected governor and runs for president. The sheer enormity of his disregard for lives to further his own career should be a cautionary tale of what he’s willing to do—and who he’s willing to sacrifice—to satisfy rich donors.
The pattern of Trump (who admitted to downplaying the severity of COVID to the public) and DeSantis lying and Fox lying is the admission that many in the GOP have chosen to lead by misleading. They do not trust the people to follow them if they knew the truth, so they will lie to gain power. Shockingly enough, people prefer the blue pill of comfortable fantasy to the red pill of truth.
Nikki Haley misleads town hall audience on Chinese land acquisitions (The Washington Post)
SUMMARY: “I saw something on the internet that said you gave China thousands of acres of land in South Carolina. Why would you do that?”
— audience member asking a question at a Haley for President town hall in Boone, Iowa, Oct. 9
“Don’t believe what you read on the internet. ... We didn’t sell any land to the Chinese. But, yes, I recruited a fiberglass company.”
— former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), in response
In her campaign for president, Haley has warned repeatedly about Chinese investments, including land purchases, in the United States. Yet as governor from January 2011 to January 2017, she recruited Chinese companies to her state. Chinese capital investment in South Carolina more than doubled from $308 million in 2011 to nearly $670 million in 2015.
There’s nothing wrong with politicians changing their positions in light of new facts. Haley has become a hawk on China, making her stance a key part of her campaign platform, and many politicians in both parties, including President Biden, have become alarmed by China’s behavior. But her response at the town hall was false and misleading. The audience member asked whether she “gave China thousands of acres of land.” She answered that “we didn’t sell any land to the Chinese,” specifically mentioning a fiberglass company.
This is political sleight of hand — denying something that was not asked.
The fiberglass deal did not involve the sale of land — but that’s because the company received almost 200 acres of county-owned land free of charge if promised investments were made. By our count, Chinese companies received about 1,500 acres while Haley was governor, much of it through land sales, despite her denial at the town hall.
MY TAKE: I’m not opposed to selling land to China as long as it’s regulated to ensure our national security and that the sale significantly benefits the country. Yes, China is not our friend when it comes to democracy, doing all it can to undermine elections and sway public opinion through online disinformation. But they are our major business partner, so it would be hypocritical to draw this arbitrary line when there are so many other areas of business where they have much more impact on our economy.
But this article isn’t about China, it’s about Nikki Haley lying about China. Not only did South Carolina give away land to Chinese businesses (which is worse than selling it), they also sold land. The fiberglass company she mentioned is partially state-owned with a ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party as a top official. In 2016, Haley called it “a huge win for our state.”
At least four other Chinese companies were given land and incentives worth millions of dollars. This makes Haley’s answer to this person especially disingenuous—a polite way of saying she knowingly misled through word games and lied outright.
Nikki Haley is moving closer to surpassing DeSantis in the polls. Does that mean she also has to surpass him in lying to the public? She could have just said she’d re-evaluated her position regarding China and now believes we should slow down on selling or granting land. I can appreciate a reasoned change of position. But there is no reason applied here, just a bandwagon attempt to set up China as a mustache-twirling villain and Haley as our savior.
What I’m Reading: A Special Recommendation
The Hour Thief by Raymond Obstfeld
Raymond Obstfeld has been my friend and co-author for about sixteen years, starting with On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance. Together we have written 8 books and won a couple of NAACP Image Awards. Raymond had published more than 50 books before we teamed up, including mysteries, suspense, spy thrillers, Westerns, young adult, poetry, and more. He’s been nominated for an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America and a Delacorte Award for Best YA Novel.
Today, Raymond is launching his latest novel on Substack, The Hour Thief. I’ve read it, and it’s everything I love in a suspense novel: there’s lots of action, humor, mystery, romance, and twists and turns that I did not see coming.
Here’s the premise: After the suspicious deaths of his historian parents, Max Klein discovers an ancient artifact they hid that etches a disappearing and reappearing tattoo on his arm—a tattoo that allows him to conjure famous people from history. Once they’ve been conjured, Max absorbs their intellectual and physical abilities for one hour. For one hour he can be as smart as Einstein, as fast as Jesse Owens, as deadly as Bruce Lee, and as strong as Sampson. But a lot of nasty people want that power and they will stop at nothing to get it.
The novel is being serialized—just like Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Alexander Dumas did—with new chapters being offered every week.
As a courtesy to me, Raymond is offering my Substack readers the first couple of chapters for free with a special reduced subscription price. This offer is only good for 10 days, so please take advantage. The first four chapters are free.
Kareem’s Jukebox Playlist: Theme Songs
Al Jarreau: “Moonlighting Theme”
Moonlighting (1985-1989) catapulted Bruce Willis to fame as the smart-aleck private detective forced to team up with a tough-as-lacquered-nails ex-model played by Cybill Shepherd. The series has just released all 67 episodes on Hulu, and it’s a delight to revisit the show. Yes, there are cringe-worthy scenes of eighties-style sexism that wouldn’t be accepted today, but there is also witty dialogue, charming characters, and entertaining plots. It’s the fun uncle to the wonderfully whacky Psyche. I’d love to see a reboot.
One of the best things to come out of the series was Al Jarreau singing the theme song, which he co-wrote with Lee Holdridge. There are two versions of the theme song, one from seasons 1-3 (with only the first verse) and another longer version from season 4 on. The second version was released as a single in 1987 and rose to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart. It was also nominated for two Grammys.
Al Jarreau’s smooth voice has always delighted me. In 1968, he was focused mostly on jazz, but by his 1975 debut album We Got By, he’d evolved into a more jazz-infused R&B style. By 1983, he’d had three consecutive number one albums on the Billboard Jazz charts. There is a sincerity and commitment to Jarreau’s voice that adds a convincing romantic dimension to the TV series. It made us want to believe in the absurdity of the series’ premise.
Did your brain get a workout while you also had fun? Then don’t be stingy, share the joy.