Hopefully I’m not dating myself too much by recalling an episode of the old Twilight Zone in the 1960s, which made a return trip as a scene in the 1980s movie remake. The episode was entitled “It’s a Good Life,” and it first aired on November 3, 1961.
In it, a six-year-old boy named Anthony Fremont lives in a Midwestern town as a particularly distinguished citizen. It turns out that little Anthony has the ability to read the minds of those around him and make people do whatever he wants them to — or else.
As you might imagine, that kind of power being visited on a small child has a particularly corrupting influence, and little Anthony is particularly corrupted. He’s a tyrant on a frightening scale, and the adults around him bend to his every whim, because to refuse him is to bring upon oneself an immediate death sentence.
I couldn’t help but to recall little Anthony when LeBron James made an absolute fool of himself by shilling for communist China after the Houston Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey expressed support for the Hong Kong protesters fighting to maintain the rule of law and individual freedoms amid encroachment from Beijing.
James, who never went to college and whose high school diploma was more honorary than a true expression of academic achievement, accused Morey (B.S. in computer science from Northwestern, MBA from MIT) of ignorance where it came to the China–Hong Kong question.
“I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke,” said James, “and so many people could have been harmed not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually.”
It was a laughable rebuke, and James immediately found himself in the middle of a widespread firestorm of criticism from fans and other observers — complete with protesters in Hong Kong, who generally wear masks when demonstrating on that city’s streets so as to thwart the facial recognition software the government uses to identify and punish them, began using printouts of James’ face in a delicious display of mass sarcasm. He didn’t take too well to that, and things continued to escalate until, on Tuesday, James disrespected the national anthem at the Lakers’ season opener by prancing around the court yelling, “Let’s go!,” at the crowd during the end of the song.
“If this was the Chinese anthem @KingJames would have showed the proper respect,” fired Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy.
It’s easy to write this whole thing off with the assumption that James is just a dumb jock in over his head attempting to opine on geopolitics and human rights, but there is more going on here.
That’s because LeBron James is essentially little Anthony Fremont all grown up with a basketball in his hand. He’s been surrounded all his life by people who have seen him as a meal ticket and as such devoted to making him happy, and nobody has ever really reined in his ego. James never played college basketball, so he was never part of a team with a coach whose profile was greater than his, like a Mike Krzyzewski or Rick Pitino or Tom Izzo, and while in the NBA he has used the power of free agency to hold teams he has been on hostage to his whims.
And as such, LeBron James has become a version of the monster Anthony Fremont was in that Twilight Zone episode. He has been a net negative for basketball ever since he landed in Los Angeles after his latest free-agency spectacle. The James ego-fest has mostly been restricted to the notice of basketball fans; it only really hit the general public when this China business began.
It’s likely to get worse, because nobody has ever talked to LeBron James the way the public is talking to him now. He’s unprepared to handle it. Hopefully there is someone in his retinue of hangers-on with the stones to tell him what he needs to be told.
Which is that he has no idea what he’s talking about where China is concerned, that he’s wrong in trashing Daryl Morey, and that he desperately needs to shut up and just play basketball for a while.
I must confess I have no idea what the Resurgent’s David Thornton and the Washington Examiner’s Quin Hillyer are doing this week.
Both of them went over a cliff after House Republicans stormed the committee room in the Capitol Hill basement where Adam Schiff, that clownish dime-store Joe McCarthy wannabe, is holding secret impeachment hearings by turning House committees into facsimiles of a grand jury.
Storming that committee room is supposedly a bad idea because it’s a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), and some of the congressmen engaging in that stunt had their cell phones with them, which could have allowed enemy hackers to gain access to secure briefings.
Except that what was happening in that SCIF damn sure shouldn’t be secure. Schiff and his cabal are talking about impeaching a duly elected president of the United States, and to do it in secret without the American people being able to watch every last second of what he’s doing is the single most un-American thing I’ve ever seen.
The idea that you would judge Matt Gaetz, Steve Scalise, and the rest of the House GOP members who proceeded to invade that partial-birth abortion of a hearing in order to expose the chicanery going on inside by the highest standard of behavior and not judge Schiff for attempting to usurp our democratic republic doesn’t make any sense to me.
What is happening in that committee room is an attempted coup d’état. It’s hardly surprising that more than two-thirds of the American people believe we’re moving toward a civil war. If Thornton and Hillyer can’t recognize that reality while they’re busily clucking their tongues at the lack of decorum by congressmen attempting to force this coup out into the open, then it’s tough to understand why anyone should ascribe relevance to them in the future.
Earlier this week there was a fascinating article in Forbes by Kerry McDonald about the new phenomenon of “micro-schools,” specifically in Arizona, where Kelly Smith, an education entrepreneur, has created a company called Prenda. It provides learning environments that function as a cross between homeschooling and private education. For an annual tuition of $5,000 or so per year, a little more than a third of the per-student cost of an average American public school, these micro-schools put kids in multi-age small class environments with specifically tailored lesson plans to let them move at their own pace through core academic subjects.
This is what 21st-century education should look like, and it’s what the market would make it but for the staggering amounts of cash poured in to prop up our abjectly failing public schools.
There are seven million jobs unfilled in America for a lack of anyone qualified to fill them. That’s a glaring indictment of public education in this country both at the K-12 level and among our institutions of supposed higher learning. At some point there has to be a reckoning. Particularly when quietly, largely outside of the notice of the legacy media, smarter and more competent people than the bureaucrats and union flacks who run our Soviet-style educational system are coming up with a more efficient and more effective model.
Finally, a dispatch of a more personal level. I haven’t really promoted my novel in this space since it came out, but I’m taking the opportunity to do that. It’s been out for about a month, and the reviews so far have been quite good — but of course since I’m self-publishing it, not a lot of fanfare has accompanied its release.
The name of the book is Animus, and it’s a story set in a slightly different world, in which a society the reader will recognize as a Western market democracy is forced to contend with a barbarian neighbor in a neverending conflict that flares up again as the pages turn. It’s been described as Game of Thrones meets Atlas Shrugged, and something tells me the readers of this column might find it to their liking.
So give it a shot if you’re in the reading mood. It’s available in Kindle and paperback format, with an audiobook to come soon.