WATCH: Alex Jones tells Raw Story he doesn’t like Trump ‘torture stuff’ — and ‘Hillary’s a big fat Goblin’

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Originally published June 22, 2016 on RawStory

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.

Continue reading and see the video…

That time when Clinton refused to drop out of the race because Obama could be assassinated

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama take questions during a primary debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Photo: Stan Honda, AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama take questions during a primary debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Photo: Stan Honda, AFP/Getty Images)
Originally published May 23, 2016 on RawStory

Call me sentimental but I’m a sucker for anniversaries. Take, for example, May 23 2008, when then Senator Hillary Clinton was asked if she was going to drop out of the primary race, given the Senator Barack Obama’s lead in delegates. During an interview with the editorial board of the South Dakota newspaper The Argus Leader Clinton expressed frustration with the way she was being pressured to suspend her campaign. I should add that I don’t find this part of her response inappropriate:

I don’t know I don’t know I find it curious because it is unprecedented in history. I don’t understand it and between my opponent and his camp and some in the media, there has been this urgency to end this and you know historically that makes no sense, so I find it a bit of a mystery.

But things took a turn for the worse when the editorial board asked, “You don’t buy the party unity argument?” to which she responded:

I don’t, because again, I’ve been around long enough. You know my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere around the middle of June. We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. Um you know I just I don’t understand it. There’s lots of speculation about why it is.

Now this may seem like a Joycean or Woolfean stream of consciousness. But buried in it is the following argument:

First of all, I’m not gonna drop out now because it’s May and my husband Bill Clinton didn’t secure the nomination until June in California. Speaking of June and California, by gosh, dontcha know, it was that very month and in that very state when then Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Democratic presidential candidate was shot and killed. So, let’s be honest, my opponent could be taken out any second. And I have to be ready to go to the convention so I can defeat the Republican nominee. It’s really the patriotic thing to do. You’re welcome.

I’m not a presidential historian, but I think it’s safe to say that this was an unprecedented use of the potentially-looming-assassination-of-your-opponent-to-justify-staying-in-a-race. While innovative and trailblazing, murdered-Kennedy-dropping is impolite. It’s impolitic. It’s bad etiquette. It’s the presidential equivalent of wearing white after Labor Day or to another woman’s wedding. Except, I would argue, it’s way worse in that instead of violating a dress code, it exploits the national tragedy that was the murder of Senator Robert Kennedy.

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Surprise! Author of viral ‘Becoming Anti-Bernie’ piece is corporate lawyer who defends hedge funds

image via Medium
image via Medium

Originally posted April 19, 2016 on RawStory

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

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#BernieMadeMeWhite: Meet the Black writer who called out the media for erasing people of color

image via Leslie Lee III
Image via Leslie Lee III
Originally posted on March 28, 2016 on RawStory

Leslie Lee III is a writer and English teacher from Baton Rouge, LA who lives in Yokahama, Japan with his wife, Kelly, and their dog, Taco. His writing ranges from essays and articles on politics and Japanese wrestling, to the novel he is working on with his father about Kentucky’s Black coal miners. But according to some sources, Lee does not actually exist. He’s a figment of the imagination. Because he’s both Black and a supporter of Bernie Sanders.

The nice thing about the notion of the unbearable whiteness of being a Sanders supporter is that it doesn’t need to be based in reality. On Saturday, for example, CNN attributed Sanders’ landslide victories in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington primaries to the whitey-mcwhiteyness of the states:

These caucus states — largely white and rural — are the type of places Sanders traditionally does well. In order to win the nomination, he must replicate this success in other, more ethnically diverse states that hold primaries, as he did in Michigan last month. In theory, it’s possible. But the reality is tough.

Likewise, in theory, it’s possible to portray these states as white. But the reality is tough. Because they’re not. Washington state is literally the seventh most diverse state in the Nation. Two (if not three) of the five most diverse counties in the country are found in Alaska, which CNN itself described as “the most diverse place in America,” in an article in January. And Hawaii, according the Pew Research Center,

stands out… more than any other state… when it comes to its racial and ethnic diversity… The Rainbow State has never had a white majority. In fact, non-Hispanic whites, the largest group in most states, account for only 23% of the population, according to 2013 census figures.

But you know the old adage, necessity (to correct irresponsible journalism and media bias) is the mother of (viral) invention. And So, Mr. Lee launched his epic #BernieMadeMeWhite hashtag, mocking the idea that all supporters of Sanders are white. Its debut appearance was:

 

I decided I would ask Mr. Lee, or @tokyovampires as he’s known on Twitter,  about what inspired the hashtag, though merely ignoring it and him would have been a very meta demonstration of the very erasure he’s protesting.

He explained, “The common narrative in this election that Bernie has a ‘minority problem’ or that all his supporters are ‘bros’ is pervasive, and insulting to the POCs [People of Color] and women who support [him].” But, “it hit a peak… when Hawaii, the least white state in the nation, retroactively became white or ‘not diverse’ due to the fact that Bernie won it. So, I started #BernieMadeMeWhite.”  And, Lee tweeted to me, “since my real existence as a black person who supports Bernie is ignored…  might as well embrace my new whiteness.”

Lee was kind enough to answer some more questions over e-mail, probably out of a sense of solidarity, since I’m a female Bernie bro and don’t really exist either.

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Larry David has the best rebuttal for people accusing Bernie Sanders of hiding his Jewish identity

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Originally posted on March 25, 2016 on RawStory

Countless people, newspapers, pundits, self-appointed definers of all things Jewish have challenged, questioned or even denied Bernie Sanders’ Jewish identity… because it’s a Friday. Speaking of which, good shabbos!

It’s hard to keep up with all the self-righteous attacks and denouncements lobbed at Sanders but one of my favorites from this week alone was the nuanced and understated headline which graced the schlock-filled right wing rag that is Front Page:

HOW BERNIE SANDERS SOLD HIS SOUL TO BE AN AUTHENTIC LEFTIST

This soul selling was, of course, a reference to Sanders’ decision not to the annual AIPAC conference.

But I don’t want to leave out Jeffrey Goldberg, whose condescending and catty tweets about how Jewish identity is appropriately defined, was stunningly unaware. Goldberg tweeted truth to power during the Sanders-Clinton debate in Flint Michigan from earlier this month when host Anderson Cooper said the following:

Just this weekend there was an article I read in the Detroit News saying that you keep your Judaism in the background, and that’s disappointing some Jewish leaders. Is that intentional?

(Because if there is one publication that represents THE JEWS it’s definitely the Detroit News or DN, as we Jews like to call it. And if there is one group of people who speaks for the Jews, it’s definitely “some Jewish leaders.” But that’s neither here nor though, so moving on.) Bernie made the mistake of saying that part of his Jewish identity was shaped by the Holocaust, during which his father’s side of the family was “wiped out.” Well, that didn’t sit too well with Jeffrey Goldberg, who sanctimoniously tweeted:

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The feminist, anti-racist educator Killer Mike quoted and the media calls ‘a woman’

Killer Mike introduces Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a campaign rally in Atlanta on Nov. 23, 2015. [YouTube]
Killer Mike introduces Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a campaign rally in Atlanta on Nov. 23, 2015. [YouTube]

Originally posted on RawStory on February 17, 2016

Rapper and Bernie Sanders endorser Killer Mike made a terrible mistake on Tuesday night when he quoted “a woman” who used the word “uterus,” during a speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Twitter and several media outlets blasted Michael Render, AKA Killer Mike,  for sexism. Interestingly, most of them didn’t bother to explain what he was really saying or who the woman he had cited was: feminist, anti-racist educator and activist Jane Elliott.

Here is what he said:

https://vid.me/e/OZAv?stats=1&tools=1

When people tell us ‘hold on, wait a while’ – that’s what the other Democrat is telling you,  ‘Hold on Black Lives Matter, just wait a while. Hold on young people in this country, just wait a while,’ And then she get good, she have your own momma come to you, your momma sit down and say, ‘Well you’re a woman.’

Render is describing what he sees as an attempt on Clinton’s part to appeal to gender identity to get the vote. Whether or not you think this is accurate is another question. But we can all agree on what he’s saying. He goes on:

I talked to Jane Elliott a few weeks ago, and Jane said, ‘Michael, a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States. You have to have policies that’s reflective of social justice.’ ”

To me, it’s pretty clear what Render is saying here. Again, you don’t have to agree with him, but the point he is making is that policies and not gender determine whether someone is actually promoting social justice.

Somehow the takeaway from this was,”Killer Mike Quotes Woman Saying ‘Having a Uterus Doesn’t Qualify You to Be POTUS’” as Blue Nation Review headline put it. The Hill said, “Rapper Killer Mike drew attention late Tuesday after saying during a rally for Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders that a “uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president.” And Mediaite wrote that he “got pretty fired up about Team Clinton saying “just wait a while” and quoted a woman who told him, “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be President of the United States.”

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headline originally referred to Jane Elliott as a lesbian. She is an activist around LGBT rights, in addition to being a feminist and anti-racist educator.

Eric Garner’s daughter — and 20 women you might not know back Bernie Sanders

Originally posted February 12, 2016 on RawStory

Erica Garner-Snipes, whose unarmed father was murdered by police, released an extremely moving video endorsing Bernie Sanders on Thursday. Garner joins a long list of women who don’t fit into the stereotype of the white millenial, skinny-jeans-wearing, Brooklyn-gentrifying Bernie Babe.

The issue of female support for Bernie Sander’s has been in the headlines ever since Gloria Steinem commented on it during an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday. When  Maher asked his guest why so many women support Senator Sanders, Steinem explained, “when you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie’.”

Many responded my attacking Steinem’s statements and her approach to feminism. While a debate over intersectionalist feminism has it’s place, I do think it’s unfair to trash Steinem and throw out her invaluable contributions to feminist and progressive movements. And, as the video I made below shows, Steinem herself “felt the Bern” so much, she declared him “an honorary woman” at a campaign event in the fall of 1996.

But this isn’t about Steinem or individual surrogates or endorsements. Her turn of phrase about “where the boys are” does give us an important opportunity to explore exactly who some of the women and girls supporting Sanders actually are and why they are choosing to support him.

 

And here is the amazing video from Erica Garner-Snipes, about why she’s supporting Sanders.

12 “memorable” quotes from Antonin Scalia

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Originally posted February 14, 2016 on RawStory

Conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who spent decades warning the nation about the flagpole-sitting nature of homosexuality, died of natural causes on Friday at a luxury resort in Texas. He was 79.

Death is always sad. I feel bad for his family. And it’s not time to talk about politics. (Unless you’re a Republican who really wants to honor Scalia’s memory by using his death to push for a totally unheard of postponement of his replacement so it happens after Obama leaves office.)

But it might be time to memorialize the man through rounding up some of the most memorable things he ever said or wrote.

1.Homosexuality: It’s a lot like murder!  Romer v. Evans challenged a Colorado amendment which banned outlawing anti-gay discrimination (I know, I have a headache, too) in 1993. Justice Scalia expressed his sympathy for the people of Colorado, who wanted nothing more than to protect themselves from gay sex like they would from murder:

The Court’s opinion contains… hints that Coloradans have been guilty of ‘animus’ or ‘animosity’ toward homosexuality, as though that has been established as Unamerican. . . . I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible–murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals–and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct.

2. Homosexuality: it’s a lot  like incest! The Supreme Court struck down a Texas ban on sodomy in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas. Amazingly, Scalia’s murder comparison had not convinced his colleagues of the danger posed by the gays. So he tried again. Only this time, with a different analogy.

States continue to prosecute all sorts of crimes by adults “in matters pertaining to sex”: prostitution, adult incest, adultery, obscenity, and child pornography

3. Homosexuality: it’s a lot like flagpole sitting! To his credit, Scalia would try, time and time again, to use the power of simile to enlighten his colleagues. Within the same dissent, he pointed out that not everything was a right just because it had once been illegal. The act he chose to use to demonstrate is a great American pastime:

Suppose that all the states had laws against flagpole sitting at one time [which they then overturned].Does that make flagpole sitting a fundamental right?

4. Legalizing same-sex marriage: nothing more than ‘fortune cookie justice.’  When the Court legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015Scalia lamented that,

The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.

5. Legalizing same-sex marriage: nothing more than pretentious, egomaniacal ‘fortune cookie justice.’ In the same dissent, he described the majority opinion as being,

couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic.

6. ladies: not protected by the Constitution. Scalia didn’t limit himself to reactionary ideologies based on sexual orientation. Ironically, his bigotry embraced the diversity and equality that, he claimed, the Constitution lacked. During a 2011 interview with California Lawyer, Scalia said,

Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.

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11 Most Anti-Capitalist Quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (Flickr Creative Commons)
Image: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (Flickr Creative Commons)

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. To be fair, I guess I should wish “Sorry it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” to the people who don’t believe it should be a holiday and the politicians who voted against making it one. I’m talking to you, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ),  Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).

While both parties attempt to claim Dr. King, the Republicans have a much harder time doing so without distorting history and the truth. But the truth is, most politicians would distance themselves from Dr. King’s stunning (and spot on) indictments of capitalism.  There are, of course, a few exceptions, here and there.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, let’s look at some of the things he said challenged capitalism and are left out of most history books.

  1. “I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic… [Capitalism] started out with a noble and high motive… but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has out-lived its usefulness.” – Letter to Coretta Scott, July 18, 1952.
  2. “In a sense, you could say we’re involved in the class struggle.” –Quote to New York Times reporter, José Igelsias, 1968.
  3. “And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.’ When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society…” –Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.
  4. “Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis.”Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.
  5. “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.” – Speech to the Negro American Labor Council, 1961.
  6. “We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.”- Report to SCLC Staff, May 1967.
  7. “The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.” –Speech to SCLC  Board, March 30, 1967.
  8. “I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed matter: the guaranteed income… The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.” – Where do We Go from Here?, 1967.

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Black comedians on Bill Cosby: ‘Your hero is evil. It hurts but it’s true.’

Actor Bill Cosby speaks at the National Action Network's 20th annual Keepers of the Dream Awards gala in New York April 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Actor Bill Cosby speaks at the National Action Network’s 20th annual Keepers of the Dream Awards gala in New York April 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Originally published on RawStory

Charges against Bill Cosby for aggravated indecent assault, which his legal team tried to have dismissed on Monday, have reignited a debate not just about the comedian’s guilt or innocence but about the role of race and racism. While many former defenders have defected over mounting allegations and revelations from an unsealed deposition, some of the people who continue to champion Cosby are framing it as the latest example of a racist criminal justice system which punishes Black men for doing things that white men get away with. Rapper Waka Flocka tweeted that he think’s the someone is “framing” Cosby, through “an organized lie,” and “propaganda.” He also tweeted that, “Every time a famous minority make it they throw salt in the game.” Rapper The Game took to Instagram, where posted an blank white image with the word Black and commented,

 “I think it’s crazy that Bill Cosby has a mugshot for alleged assaults 11 years ago with no physical evidence or proof besides these womens accounts of what he did to them an entire decade later…. But Darren Wilson, who killed Mike Brown on camera… George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin… Timothy Loehman, who killed Tamir Rice seconds after arriving on the scene.. on camera, is FREE… Why did it take these women over 10 years to bring this to the light ?- The Game #BlackLivesSplatter

Comedian Eddie Griffin, for example, said, “There is a systematic effort to destroy every black male entertainer’s image…. They want us all to have an asterisk by our name. Kobe, raped a white woman in Colorado. Dr. Cosby, raped 37 bitches and counting. Nobody leaves this business clean.”

Of course several Black comedians like Larry Wilmore and Franchesca Ramsey have condemned Cosby and spoken about the intsection of rape culture and racism. And it was Hannibal Buress, who used his own standup to point out Cosby’s hypocrisy—telling young Black men to pull their pants up, while being a rapist– that propelled the Cosby story into our national dialogue.

 

In order to further explore how Black comedians were navigating this issue, I spoke to Rae Sanni and Tarik Daniels on my radio show. Sanni told us, “There’s a lot of people who bring up Woody Allen or Roman Polanski when you talk about Bill Cosby and say this guy got away with rape,” she said. “That is uninteresting to me because the idea that equality is everybody getting away with rape is silly.” For Sanni, “people like Eddie Griffin, who attribute accusations against Cosby to “an attempt at the destruction of the Black man,  are the kind of people that think that Black liberation doesn’t necessarily include Black women. Because if you think that the way to Black liberation is to allow the abuse of one half of the population, then you don’t believe in Black liberation at all. You actually just want the access to patriarchy that white males have access to.”

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