Given Melania Trump’s surprising choice to plagiarize Michelle Obama, we have high hopes that The Donald will lift some language of his own when he accepts the nomination from the Republican party tonight. Below are some works Trump would do well to incorporate into his historic speech.
1. “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” – Hannibal Lecter, Silence of he Lambs.
As everyone by now knows, Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton today. If you’re feeling a little down about Bernie Sanders stepping down from the race, this farewell speech may make you laugh instead of cry. I’ve written about the comedic duo behind the Trump Vs. Bernie show.Here is James Adomian’s Bernie Sanders explaining what he and Hillary share and encouraging the movement to keep on keeping on.
The original draft of the Declaration of Independence indicted the institution of slavery. Spoiler alert: it didn’t make it into the final version.
On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee of five men—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston—to write a document declaring the independence of the colonies. The gang of five tasked Jefferson with taking the first crack, which he did, writing a draft, which included a litany of grievances against the King, the last of which read:
he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incure miserable death in their transportation hither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. [determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold,] he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce [determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold]: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
The paragraph starts out great, condemning, as it does, the evils of slavery. It turns into a cop-out towards the end. Jefferson, absolves his fellow slave owners by blaming the King for bringing slavery and selling enslaved people to the colonies. Even worse, he criticizes him for offering freedom to the slaves who managed to escape, in exchange for their fighting with the British. Both the sides of the War used the promise of freedom to entice slaves to fight for the opposing side.
But even this self-exonerating and hypocritical critique of slavery was too much.
The Committee of Five didn’t mind it paragraph. John Adams was particularly enthusiastic and would write in a letter decades later, “I was delighted with its high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning Negro slavery.”
When the document was presented to the Congress on June 28, certain delegates were less than supportive. As Adams explained, Jefferson’s “Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress… They obliterated some of the best of it… I have long wondered that the original draft had not been published.” In the next sentence Adams declared that the “the reason is the vehement philippic against Negro slavery.” (Well, there you go, John). To be fair delegates from Northern States, whose merchant economies benefited from the slave trade, also objected. By the time the document was signed, on July 4, the criticism of slavery had been dropped.
While we don’t know what exactly the delegates said to make their case, I imagine it was something along the lines of….
Tom. John Adams* is right: you’re a really good writer. Not sure you’re ten times better than he is. That seems unnecessarily self-critical on John’s part. But, great rhetorical flourishes. And don’t pay attention to John’s criticism about tone**. It’s perfect. Not too critical, not too passionate. That’s his issue. Not yours.
There’s a lot of good stuff in here and we know some of this is just spit-balling so, the following tweaks shouldn’t be too much of a hold up. It’s no big deal, but we’d love you to cut a part of the document. Of course, it’s totally up to you. But if you want us to pass this thing, the whole slavery-is-against-nature graph is going to have to go. It’s a nice sentiment. It may be true. But the slave trade is kind of our thing. Besides, the “all men are created equal” is a nice enough gesture. And getting rid of the paragraph will make you feel less awkward about your whole slave-owning situation.
We don’t have to resolve this issue now. We can table it. For a century or so.
Good work! Keep it up and you’ll really go places!
*In the same letter Adams recalled telling Jefferson, “you can write ten times better than I can.”
** Adams also confided that there were “expressions which I would not have inserted if I had drawn it up, particularly that which called the King tyrant. I thought this too personal, for I never believed George to be a tyrant in disposition and in nature; I always believed him to be deceived by his courtiers on both sides of the Atlantic, and in his official capacity, only, cruel. I thought the expression too passionate, and too much like scolding, for so grave and solemn a document…”
If you’re not living under a rock, you may have noticed just a slight media bias against Bernie Sanders. Although, in all seriousness, you may not have noticed it, since the biased media doesn’t tend to report on its own bias.
You don’t actually have to be a Sanders supporter to acknowledge the media bias. I would argue, in all seriousness, that Clinton supporters who admit that there is negative coverage of Sanders make much better spokespeople for their candidate because they have credibility, or at the very least, the air of credibility.
But I digress. This post is supposed to be fun and funny. Back to how you can laugh instead of cry, or, say, fall asleep.
Through their live tour and Web/TV Series, comedic geniuses James Adomian and Anthony Atamanuik have been holding Trump vs Bernie debates since the fall, long before The Donald agreed to, and then chickened out on, debating The Bernie. Last week, I posted one of their videos to give people a sense of what the debate could look like. The video below offers not only Trump on Sanders hilarity, but takes on the media bias found at MSNBC. Adomian’s Chris Matthews impersonation is as impeccable as his Bernie Sanders one and Atamanuik is dead-on as Trump and as Rachel Maddow.
As someone who voted for Barack Obama twice, self-identifies as a feminist and as a Bernie Bro (a label I’ve reclaimed), I’m having some mixed emotions about our, gulp, last president.
Barack Obama was complex, complicated, and provoked extreme and disproportionate responses. The Right despised him so much, they started reactionary The Tea Party movement. The Republicans hated him so much that they stated, out loud, that their most urgent priority was obstructing him. Their open embrace of stymying any legislation is just disturbing, and more surprising, than their actually doing it. At the same time, many on the Left, myself included, gave him a pass on things we would have criticized in a different president.
I know that I personally responded to the racist vitriol hurled at and overlooked or ignored some of his most objectionable positions and policies. Part of this was an overprotective defensiveness. Part of this was being distracted by the attacks on him. Part of this (for me, at least) was being disarmed by his nerdy swagger and an uncanny ability to effortlessly and cooly deliver comebacks which slayed.
What we should have done was chew gum and walk at the same time, as Gerald Ford couldn’t do, and “go ahead and make [him] do it,” as FDR (may have) said. We needed to both defend him from unprecedented and unwarranted demonization while also holding his feet to the fire. The Left could have pushed him more than we did. As president, he would never have been the progressive we would have wanted. But he could have been nudged into being more progressive than he was.
A more anecdotal example of Obama’s ability to elicit strong and contradictory responses can be find in Reverend Jesse Jackson. Who, besides Obama could inspire a moved Jackson to cry at his inauguration and an unaware-his-mic-was-hot Jesse Jackson to whisper that he wanted to “cut [Obama’s] nuts out” for “talking down to Black people.”
While my response was nowhere near as epic as Jackson’s I too was moved by Obama… to do rewrite and cover Rihanna’s hit song Stay and reenact the legendary its bath-tub-based music video.
You can even sing along thanks to the subtitles I provided and copied and pasted below. And yes, I wrote the lyrics and recorded the song and filmed myself in the bath, in case you’re curious about “the process.” If you haven’t seen the original music video, please do, in order to better enjoy mine.
Never had Obama fever a skeptical hopeful believer. I threw my hands on the lever pulled it two times for Obama I knew he wasn’t perfect but that I thought that he’d be bolder.You droned and deported and bailed out the banks through Tim Geitner but at least you gave us DACA and finally protected some Artic Water….CHORUS #1
You are a neolib and kind of hawkish but Something in the way you move makes me feel like I can’t live without you and Trump is really scary. And I want you to stay
It’s not universal healthcare you’ve given.
But it helped young people & those who live with preconditions. On and on Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan go. Tell me know, tell me know, tell me know when will Guantánamo close?CHORUS #2 You slowjammed TPP and you are corporate but something in the way you move makes me feel like I can’t live without you and Trump is really scary I want you to stay
As usual, the Left has its workers-collective-manufactured panties all up in a bunch over Henry Kissinger. This time, the furor is over rumors that Hillary Clinton may be seeking an endorsement from the former Secretary of State.
But, to be fair, for many people, Henry Kissinger just can’t do anything right these days…or for the last four decades. If it’s not one thing, like backing a coup against the democratically elected Chilean government and ushering in a brutal dictatorship and cutting-edge torture techniques, or extending the Vietnam War by five years, or secretly bombing Cambodia and Laos, it’s another thing, like green-lighting the invasion of East Timor, which killed over 100,000 people, or wiretapping his political opponents, or supporting Pakistan’s military dictatorship, which killed between 200,000 and 3 million Bangladeshis.
We learn more and more about Kissinger’s accomplishments all the time. Earlier this month, newly declassified documents showed that Kissinger was even more supportive of the Argentine dictatorship than we knew. He didn’t merely ignore the government’s killing and/or disappearing as many as 30,000 people between 1976 and 1983; when he visited Argentina for the 1978 World Cup, as a guest of junta leader General Jorge Videla, he lauded the government for doing “an outstanding job in wiping out terrorist forces.” This praise, according to National Security Council official Robert Pastor, was “the music the Argentine government was longing to hear.”
And on Wednesday, the CIA released 2,500 previously classified President’s Daily Briefs (PDB) from the administrations of Nixon and Ford, both of which Kissinger served.
So, stay tuned for more revelations and more left wing hysteria. The good news is that some cooler heads are trying to prevail, and are making the bold case that Clinton’s wooing of the social butterfly of a war criminal would not be a “big f***ing deal,” to quote Joe Biden on the Affordable Care Act.
Let’s take a look at some of their most persuasive points.
1. The guy is a monster but…
Michael Cohen, known on Twitter as speechboy71, opens his article “How Democrats Can Learn to Stop Worrying and Still Hate Kissinger,” by saying, “Let me make one thing clear at the outset of this piece: I consider Henry Kissinger to be, morally speaking, a monstrous figure.”
Much like the phrase “I’m not racist but,” signals that a racist statement is soon forthcoming, Cohen’s condemnation suggests that a defense is imminent.
He cites Kissinger’s “backing of the Nixon administration’s illegal bombing campaign in Cambodia and the invasion of the country in 1970, along with his support for right-wing coups in Latin America and anti-Communist leaders in sub-Saharan Africa and the Far East, have deservedly defined his sordid legacy. And that’s not even counting perhaps his worst act while in public office—his actions in 1970 in support of the Pakistani genocide of Bengals in what is today Bangladesh.”
But Cohen goes on to say, “Why should we care about the foreign policy legacy of a guy who hasn’t held public office in 40 years? Well, it seems that in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, being pro- or anti-Kissinger has become a foreign policy litmus test for Democrats.” What gives, Dems?
2. Criticism is also monstrous.
Cohen notes that “the outcry among American liberals” over rumors of Clinton’s Kissinger-courting “was significant.” He deems the “antipathy” from the Left as “completely understandable,” and yet, simultaneously, “more than slightly outsized.” What is totally inappropriate and uncalled for, it should go without saying, is verbal lashing of any sort, especially the ones to which Clinton was subjected. As if we needed any reminding, Cohen takes us on a stroll down a dark and twisted memory lane: “Back in February, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was lacerated by her then-rival Bernie Sanders for saying she considered Kissinger a friend.”
Cohen, is wrong, actually. Clinton in no way referred to Kissinger as a friend. The #HumbleKissingerBrag Clinton dropped during the Feb. 4 New Hampshire debate was professional, not personal: “I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time.”
Sanders did not strike back right away. Nebbish predator that he is, he waited until the next debate in Milkwaukee to pounce: “Secretary Clinton… talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger. Now, I find it rather amazing, because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.”
Of all the sexist “violence” Bernie and his bros unleashed against Hillary Clinton, this ranks among the worst. If Hillary were a man, would Bernie have had the chutzpah to denounce…Henry Kissinger?
3. We’re all on the monster spectrum.
Cohen cautions us against judging Kissinger for his war-crime tendencies. After all, we’re all on a spectrum and lots of other political figures have dabbled in human rights violations. With a couple million deaths under his belt, Kissinger is, of course, especially prolific. But, Cohen writes, Kissinger “is hardly the first U.S. foreign policy figure with an odious past.” Cohen then goes through a who’s who list of powerful people with bloodied hands:
“The Eisenhower administration routinely supported anti-communist dictators… John F. Kennedy tried… to have… Fidel Castro assassinated and supported a coup attempt in South Vietnam that led to the death of the country’s president… Lyndon Johnson… initiated the U.S. war in Vietnam that ultimately led to the deaths of more than 1 million Vietnamese… Jimmy Carter, urged on by National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, began American arms shipments to the Afghan mujahedeen, with the clear goal of bloodying the nose of the invading Soviets and prolonging the conflict. The Reagan years saw support for the contras in Nicaragua and a right-wing government in El Salvador under which death squads massacred thousands of civilians.”
This is true. And yet… a bit apples and oranges in a few different ways. On a technical level, five of the six examples offered by Cohen are presidents, not the major foreign policy makers. Also, the whole “routinely support[ing] anti-communist dictators” is hardly unique to the presidency of Eisenhower. It was kind of a Cold War thing.
Sure, Eisenhower, LBJ, JFK, and Reagan all have some blood on their hands. You know what else they have in common? They’re dead. And, with all due respect to the dead, ghosts aren’t as easy to find and prosecute as the full-bodied, still-living Henry Kissinger. The human rights violations committed by our dearly departed lack the urgency of those committed by a man who has never apologized for a single crime against humanity and yet continues to be revered, respected, quoted, awarded, published, and invited to conferences, lecture halls, and fabulous parties.
4. You need to check your monster-dar, fam.
What Michael Cohen seems most outraged by, ironically enough, is the lack of outrage at people who are way worse than Kissinger.
All of this is not to say it’s wrong to loathe Kissinger. Indeed, I count myself among those who view him with contempt. But there are far worse people to get upset about when it comes to endorsing—and counseling—Clinton, many of whom have escaped the wrath of liberals now up in arms over her alleged outreach to the former secretary of state.
What’s odd is that nowhere in the entire piece does Cohen point to anyone “far worse,” who has or might endorse Clinton. You’d think this would be a good thing to include.
5. The guy is a war criminal but Clinton isn’t seeking his endorsement
The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky chose a headline so cavalier it makes Cohen’s look like it was written by a relative of a desaparecido: “Clinton Has Not Sought Henry Kissinger’s Support. But So What if She Had?”Tomasky wants readers to know there isn’t that much truth behind the rumor about Clinton’s seeking a Kissinger endorsement. “First things first: A source close to the Hillary Clinton campaign tells me that there has been no outreach to Henry Kissinger.” Like Cohen, Tomasky includes the obligatory “I get it. This guy has his issues” disclaimer about Kissinger. Using the whimsical tone that befits discussions of human rights violations and genocides, Tomasky writes:
Granted, Kissinger occupies a, ah, unique position. He’s a war criminal. Not convicted of course, but in my view and the view of millions. And although he has never faced the bar of international justice over East Timor or Chile or his sabotaging of the Paris Peace Talks, he is very careful about where he travels and lives with the ignominy of knowing that when The New York Times posts his obituary, there are going to be some well-earned negative adjectives in the very first paragraph.
This guy’s got some major negative adjectives coming to him… once he’s dead.
6. Endorsements! Good god, y’all! What are they good for?
I’ve been having a great time at the RNC. I took my photo with Herman Caine, Sean Hannity, and, as of this afternoon, got to interview Info Wars host Alex Jones on the street! I must say, his skin looked great. And I now know why: he had just been given a moisturizing Turkish Dorean facial, which consists of comedian Jimmy Dore spitting Ice Tea in your face after you try to crash a live broadcast of The Young Turks.
Jones rolls thick and deep, surrounded by an entourage of dudes who look like they’ve booby-trapped their homes in preparation for a government invasion of their houses and at least one man who is an actual shofar-playing, born again Christian, with who I had spoken days before. Yet I was able to talk to Jones as he and his crew walked down the streets. And I wasn’ even wearing my “Make America great again,” camo hat. Here is our exchange, presented without further commentary.
Katie Halper: Are you enjoying yourself?
Alex Jones: I like standing up against tyranny
KH: Where is the biggest threat of tyranny coming from?
AJ: From our globalists that are running our government into the ground.
KH: And between Hillary and Trump?
AJ: Or, there’s no choice, Trump all the way.
Shofar-Player: Hillary’s a witch, she’s into witch craft, she’s a jezebel. We all know who she is.
You may have seen this “On Becoming Anti-Bernie” piece, which is going around the internets. It’s one of the top three most popular posts on Medium’s politics section, has 1.4k likes, and over 600 comments. But who is the author? Robin Alperstein? She’s a corporate lawyer who specializes in defending hedge funds but also represents the occasional nanny-abusing, jet-setting, Chilean aristocratic Upper East Side couple.
Lest you think I’m bringing up Alperstein’s biography because I can’t rebut the substance of her argument, I’ll go through a mere sampling of its flaws.
Let’s start with one of her bald-faced lies. Alperstein writes that Sanders, “literally pushed his wife away from a lectern (‘don’t stand there!’) on the air.” Actually, Bernie gestured. He never touched her. And there is video. So Alperstein either didn’t watch it (is “lazy and unprepared,” which are literally the words she uses to describe Sanders) or she’s a liar.
Also, as a Clinton supporter, does Alperstein really want to make this election about the relationship between the candidate and his or her spouse. By all means, as a Bernie supporter, I’d be happy to.
But the piece is generally chock full of distortions and myths that persist despite lack of evidence: Sanders hasn’t accomplished anything (which is weird because he has and his nickname is the Amendment King); he never compromises (which is even weirder since Alperstein points to examples of compromise in the same piece); has no foreign policy experience (he has more foreign policy experience than Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama did when they ran for first election, was right on Iraq. And Clinton was wrong on Iraq, but to be fair, her being wrong shouldn’t be limited to that one incident. She’s also been wrong on Libya, Haiti and Honduras, where she legitimized a coup that has rendered the country the “murder capital of the world.”)
The piece also uses glaring double standards. It smears Sanders as “lazy,” while attacking Sanders for his tone. I guess she’s showing instead of telling. So, well played Alperstein. It attacks Sanders on his temperament, which is so important, it has its own “temperament” subsection: “Sanders is crotchety,” Alperstein writes. And, when questioned, he apparently becomes, “testy and sarcastic.” If temperament is fair game, that’s great news for Sanders supporters. Because we can now talk about Hillary’s cold yet fake, awkward yet disingenuous demeanor, yes?
Alperstein condescendingly writes that Sanders “doesn’t seem to have an ‘inside voice’.” Shall we talk about the cadence or volume of Clinton’s voice?
Perhaps my favorite critique is that he gets “red-faced.” I won’t dignify this by responding to it beyond saying talking about a candidate’s physical appearance is not a good look.
OK. Now back to Alperstein. Who is she, you ask? Well, she’s a partner at Becker Glynn. And, according to the website, she specializes in