Here’s the perfect video for when you already miss Obama but had your doubts when he was president

Originally posted January 20, 2017 on RawStory

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.

VERSE #1
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
VERSE #1
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
Your hair looks so good gray.
So I really think you should stay.

If Trump knew what Alex Jones said about him, he wouldn’t give him press credentials

image via youtube
Originally posted January 26, 2017 on RawStory

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was into spreading alternative facts way before it was cool, claimed that he was granted White House press credentials in a video he released on Wednesday. But the White House is denying the claim, probably because they’re a bunch of breastmilk-denied, fluoride-poisoned, retarded, low-grade moron, globalists.

While it’s impossible to know whom to believe in this alternative facts tête-à-tête, one thing is clear: if the extremely thin-skinned The Donald knew what The Alex Jones had said about him, he wouldn’t let him near the White House…

When a few Raw Story writers went to cover the Republican National Convention, I was blessed enough to run into Jones on the street. Since I hadn’t expected to meet him and had to maneuver ducking under his entourage, I stalled with some small talk and asked him if he was enjoying himself. He quite deftly pivoted from the personal to the political, saying “I like standing up against tyranny, yeah.” In other words, he was, indeed, enjoying himself.

But that’s not the damning part. During the exchange, Jones told me he was supporting Trump. When I asked him if he had any reservations about the nominee, a candid Jones confided, “I don’t like some of the torture stuff.” He qualified that by saying, “but at least he’s honest about it. With Hillary, she wants to mount America’s head on the wall.” When I asked Jones what that meant “policy-wise,” he responded, “It means she just wants to piss all over the country like a big fat goblin.” Though Jones’ support was unwavering, it’s unlikely The Donald would tolerate any criticism of his pro-torture stance.

Of course many in the media have criticized Trump’s position on torture, which he reaffirmed Wednesday during his first TV interview as President of the United States, telling ABC, “absolutely I feel it works.” But Jones is supposed to be better than the “leftist mainstream media,” which “promote tyranny.”

Below is the transcript of our exchange as well as two versions of our encounter. Much like the truth, run-ins with Jones have two sides. Continue reading “If Trump knew what Alex Jones said about him, he wouldn’t give him press credentials”

Missouri Republican cuts mic as NAACP leader explains how new bill guts workplace protections

State Rep. Bill Lant (Twitter)
Originally posted February 14, 2017 on RawStory

Perhaps aiming to show instead of tell, a Missouri House Republican leader literally silenced the president of the Missouri NAACP — as he attempted to testify against a bill that would gut protections against workplace discrimination at a public hearing on Monday night.

Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel was speaking against a set of bills that he described as “an expansion of discrimination.” Chapel wasn’t hyperbolizing. Currently, under the Missouri Human Rights Act, a plaintiff must prove that their race, religion, sex, or age was a “contributing factor” to their termination.

Under Springfield Republican Rep. Kevin Austin’s bill, the burden of proof would be raised so that the plaintiff’s race, religion, sex, or age is a “motivating factor.” In other words, if you’re fired just because you’re Black that’s good old fashioned discrimination. If you’re fired because you’re Black and get to work late, while your white co-worker isn’t fired for arriving late, that’s not discriminatory wrongful termination. The bill also caps the amount of money people could receive if they were able to prove they had been discriminated against. So, it’s pretty fair to call it an expansion of discrimination.

In a video of the exchange, which you can find below, Chapel testified that he was “dismayed” that universities, schools, and businesses had testified on behalf of the bill and were therefore “all united in favor of expanding discrimination.”

Committee chair Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, saw all of this discrimination talk as irrelevant to bills pertaining to discrimination. So, he instructed Chapel to “contain [his] speech to speaking on the bill.”  Chapel responded, “Oh, but I am, because this is nothing but Jim Crow. Because this is nothing but Jim Crow. You cannot legalize discrimination on an individual basis and call it anything else.” So, Lant did what any white lawmaker would do when an African American leader of the nation’s largest civil rights organization indicts racism: by cutting off his mic.

Lant “allowed” Chapel to speak for a few more seconds before he interrupted Chapel, and said, “thank you for your testimony, sir.” Chapel replied, “I’m not done,” and Assistant House Minority Leader Rep. Gina Mitten, a St. Louis Democrat, pointed out that witnesses had five minutes to speak, which Chapel hadn’t been given. Lant once again said Chapel wasn’t “speaking on the subject.” Chapel said, “I am speaking on the subject.” Mitten tried once again to step in for democracy, imploring “I would ask you to please allow,” Chapel to finish speaking. ” Lant replied by saying if there was “no other witness that would like to speak I will cancel this hearing.”  A silenced Chapel got out of his seat. Mitten then asked if she could ask Chapel questions. Not surprisingly, Lant said, “no ma’am, you may not.”

In a statement released after the hearing, Mitten wrote, “Jim Crow is alive and well in Missouri and Rep. Lant just proved it.”

Chapel also released a statement that, “the Chair’s refusal to let me speak ensured that not only my voice, but all voices of those protected by anti-discrimination laws in the state were silenced.” Continue reading “Missouri Republican cuts mic as NAACP leader explains how new bill guts workplace protections”

Bernie Sanders Nailed It On Identity Politics and Inequality, and the Media Completely Missed the Point

Originally published at Paste

Bernie Sanders Nailed It On Identity Politics and Inequality, and the Media Completely Missed the Point

For over a year, critics within and around the established wing of the Democratic Party have painted Bernie Sanders as a misogynistic, racist, heteronormative, cis, male, pseudo-anti-establishment, actually-totally establishment politician motivated by a humongous ego and a desire to thwart progress and the election of the first female president in US history. And then there were the less moderate critics.

I kid, but only slightly.

And as we saw in a recent episode of anti-Sanders outrage, this narrative is still extant. On Sunday November 20, during a talk at Berklee College in Boston, Sanders said something nuanced about race, ethnicity, gender and class, and the same media that supported Clinton during the campaign distorted his remarks to fit this narrative.

Though the election is over, the battle over the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, which was personified and defined by Clinton v. Sanders, is in full swing. While Clinton and her supporters represent a centrist neoliberal wing of the party, Sanders and his supporters represent the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” as the late Senator Paul Wellstone put it. In fact, the fight for the DNC chair is part of this same struggle. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), who had endorsed Sanders and whom Sanders appointed to the Democratic Platform committee, is seeking to be DNC chair. The ADL’s vicious and embarrassing smear campaign against him as being an anti-semite—which he’s not—demonstrates how much is at stake.

So, it makes sense that the official Clinton campaign, as well as the David Brock run smear PR empire, continues to push the narrative which they worked so hard to develop and embed during the campaign to delegitimize Sanders and his critiques.

According to this narrative, Clinton and her supporters understand the unique but overlapping challenges faced by women, LGBT, people of color and immigrants. This tendency, to see the intersections of issues of class and race and gender and etc. is called “intersectionality,” a term and concept developed by Kimberle Crenshaw. Sanders, they argue, is a single issue candidate, a vulgar class reductionist, only interested in fighting for the interests of the white working class.

The problem is, for many of the so called intersectionalists who support Clinton and reject Sanders, intersectionality and identity politics include everything except for class. They are so tone deaf about class that they hear the “working class” as a white monolith, as if working class people of color or LGBT people or immigrants don’t exist. Yes, Sanders has spoken about the unique challenges of reaching the white working class, something that would make sense to any intersectionalist who thinks that white supremacy is a real thing. But his use of the word white in this specific context is just more proof that his use of working class without “white,” includes people of all backgrounds. Sanders; critique of inequality, and his attack on the one percent, is one that champions the rights of people from all backgrounds. At the same time, Sanders acknowledges the singular struggles and double (or triple, or quadruple) burdens faced by different people, and how the economic inequality is compounded by racism and sexism. For example, the NAACP gives him a rating of 97% on his positions on affirmative action. They give Clinton a rating of 96%.

What Sanders Actually Said

Let’s look at what Sanders said that got him in so much trouble. After his Nov. 20 talk, the moderator opened the Q&A by reading one of the audience questions. Rebecca, who considers Sanders and Elizabeth Warren her heros, had written, “I want to be the second Latina senator in U.S. history. Any tips?”

Sanders responded:

“It goes without saying that as we fight to end all forms of discrimination, as we fight to bring more and more women into the political process, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans — all of that is enormously important, and count me in as somebody who wants to see that happen.”

What Sanders was clearly saying, and actually did say, is that discrimination is real and a problem, that diversity and representation of underrepresented people is “enormously important,” and something he “wants to see…happen.”

He went even further than that, though, saying:

“Right now, we’ve made some progress in getting women into politics — I think we got 20 women in the Senate now. We need 50 women in the Senate. We need more African Americans.”

Not only is diversity critical but there is still more work to be done. There has been some improvement but not enough.

But then he uses the “but” word:

“But it’s not good enough to say, “Hey, I’m a Latina, vote for me.” That is not good enough. I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country, and is going to take on big money interests.”

Okay, so what does his “but” do? Here, it does not contradict but complicates. It builds on his other statements about diversity in government. Diversity is absolutely necessary but it’s not sufficient. We have to know where those candidates stand in terms representing the people’s interests, not merely their demography (which again, IS important, but not enough!)

He expands:

“One of the struggles that we’re going to have right now, we lay on the table of the Democratic Party, is it’s not good enough to me to say, “Okay, well we’ve got X number of African Americans over here, we’ve got Y number of Latinos, we have Z number of women. We are a diverse party, a diverse nation….”

And then come more “buts” as he delves deeper into the conflicts of between policies for the people and policies for the financial elites.

“But, but here is my point, and this is where there is going to be division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for someone to say, “I’m a woman! Vote for me!” No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”

And here’s where Sanders brings up identity politics. Ready? Brace yourselves!

“In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”

Identity politics is a term used for the addressing of the issues and injustices of particular groups in the political process. This is the only time Sanders ever mentions identity politics. “Go beyond identity politics. ” For the mainstream media, that was the gotcha moment, and the focus of attention. Yes, “go beyond” can mean different things. It can mean to go “farther” or “go further” as when directions tell us to “go beyond” a certain intersection, or a counselor advises us to “go beyond” our comfort zone. At worst, “to go beyond” can have a dismissive and discounting connotation—though “get beyond” or “get over” would be a better choice if the idea was to dismiss.

At any rate, the fact that Sanders emphasized how important identity politics are shows he was clearly not eschewing them. In addition to what was already quoted, Sanders followed his sentence on identity politics by saying, “I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American head or CEO of some major corporation.” And in case you missed the message, he finished his speech with, “We need candidates — black and white and Latino and gay and male — we need all of those candidates and public officials to have the guts to stand up to the oligarchy.”

He couldn’t have been clearer in presenting economic policies and representational diversity as being complementary, and not mutually exclusive.

How the Media Responded

It looks like the first major publication to pick up the story was Talking Points Memo, (TPM)which had written the following headline by Monday Morning: “Sanders Urges Supporters: Ditch Identity Politics And Embrace The Working Class.”

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The headline and opening sentence, which use the words “ditch” and “move away from” clearly distort what Sanders was saying. They also miss that he was talking to people running for office and the Democrats, not his supporters, though what did I expect after the headline? The headline also reads like a translation from 1930s Pravda. You can almost hear the Internationale crescendo in the background as a caricature of an old and archaic Sanders spouts dated disproven ideas about the working class, forsaking the progress of women and people of color.

Either emboldened by TPM’s lax (mis)reporting or too lazy to review the comments on their own, several other outlets incorporated “ditch” or its synonyms into their articles’ headlines or paragraphs.

At Vox, not surprisingly, Matt Yglesias, chided that Democrats neither can nor should ditch “identity politics”:

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Not everyone put the headline in its headline. Some put it into the body of their articles.

Rebecca Traister linked and quoted the TPM headline in a piece she wrote for The Cut, lamenting that Sanders was “recommending that Democrats embrace the working class and “Ditch Identity Politics,” according to one headline.” In the very next sentence, She clarified that:

In fact, the headline was overblown: Sanders did not say we should dump identity politics, and affirmatively noted that “we should bring more and more women into the political process” and that “we need 50 women in the Senate!”

Bustle did a cute move in copy and pasting the TPM headline into its opening paragraph.

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On Wednesday night, the TPM talking point, if you will, made it’s TV debut. Speaking on All in with Chris Hayes, Clinton supporter and Slate writer Michelle Goldberg complained that Sanders was saying the Democrats need to ditch identity politics.” To be fair, though Goldberg did repeat “ditch,” she did get the target of Sanders’ message right, noting it was for the Democratic Party and not his supporters. That’s neither here no there, except, perhaps, to show that Goldberg had taken enough time to go over what Sanders had said and deliberately chose to not update or correct the verb.

Host Chris Hayes, who was with Goldberg in the studio, interjected (though barely audibly), that Sanders, “didn’t quite say that.” Nina Turner, former Ohio State Senator and Sanders surrogate, who was speaking from a remote studio, also clarified, that Sanders, “didn`t say it that way. He didn`t mean it that way.” But Goldberg ignored the correction, continuing as if nothing had been said: “I think that there is a fear among some people that in this move, that kind of a purely class-based politics will throw women and people of color under the bus in this attempt to win back the culturally conservative white working class.” Goldberg, a white female Clinton supporter, speaking past Turner, a Black woman, to explain how the Vermont Senator who Turner had chosen to support was espousing an ideology that would throw women of color under the bus, was “problematic,” to use a word so frequently invoked by Sanders critics.

Politico swapped it out for “slam.”

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On the Right, The Blaze went with “quit.”

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The Observer chose “grow out of.”

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Others definitely went to great lengths to distort what Sanders said, and it’s hard to believe they were innocent.

As for opinion pieces and tweets, this one stands out as being utterly unrelated to reality.

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What makes the attacks on Sanders so disingenuous is that they are so clearly partisan and unprincipled. Contrast Sanders statements on class and race with Clinton’s.

What Clinton Said

Back in February, Clinton delivered a speech in the suburbs of Las Vegas where she explicitly pitted economic policies against “progress” for women, immigrants, people of color, and LGBT. In an obvious dig at Sanders, who the Clinton campaign was deriding as a “single issue candidate,” Clinton asked, rhetorically, “Not everything is about an economic theory, right? If we broke up the big banks tomorrow — and I will, if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will — would that end racism?” When the audience responded “No!” Clinton took the call and response and really ran with it, asking “Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the LGBT community? Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight? Would that solve our problem with voting rights, and Republicans who are trying to strip them away from people of color, the elderly, and the young?”

The audience responded to each of these questions with… “No!”

Clinton gets a lot out of this call-and-response jam session. She makes the strawman argument that Sanders thinks or has ever suggested that breaking up the banks will end racism, sexism, homophobia, voter disenfranchisement and xenophobia etc. She is certain that taking on the banks is insufficient. But she goes further by saying that it may not even be necessary. She vows that she will do something about the banks, “if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk.” Clinton is agnostic on whether the banks deserve any kind of regulation or are a risk. And Clinton paints breaking up banks and fighting against structural racism as two discrete and unrelated projects.

The truth is that the foreclosure crisis was one of the most stunning and disturbing examples of institutionalized racism. As Nathalie Baptiste writes in the American Prospect:

“Across the nation, black homeowners were disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis, with more than 240,000 blacks losing homes they had owned. Black homeowners in the D.C. region were 20 percent more likely to lose their homes compared to whites with similar incomes and lifestyles. The foreclosure crisis also affected blacks of all income brackets; high-earning blacks were 80 percent more likely to lose their homes than their white counterparts, making the homeowners of Prince George’s County prime targets.”

Clinton wraps up her speech by calling herself “the only candidate who’ll take on every barrier to progress.” Of course, her ignoring the systemic risks already posed by the banks and de facto racist policies already practiced by the banks, makes it hard to believe that she is at all equipped to do this.

People who care about identity politics should have been in an uproar. They may not particularly care that she oversimplified and distorted Sanders’ analysis. But how could Clinton have ignored the racist nature of the subprime loan scandal? Also, how could she present economic justice and other forms of justice as so unrelated?

And yet there was no outcry.

Clinton’s statements were nowhere near as nuanced as Sanders. Sanders doesn’t make one more important than the other. Clinton does. Had Clinton spoken about class and identity politics with the same intersectionality and nuance as Sanders, her statements would have been very different. She would have taken the very sensible position that while bank reform is a good and necessary thing, it alone will not end racism or sexism. She would have emphasized the need for attacking the overlapping issues.

But she didn’t and Sanders did. Not that you’d know.

Katie Halper hosts the Katie Halper Show. You can listen to her latest episode, featuring Matt Stoller and Leslie Lee, below.

11 Reasons People Need to Calm Down About Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton Already

Originally published August 30, 2016 on Paste
11 Reasons People Need to Calm Down About Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton Already
Photo courtesy of Getty

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?

Continue Reading…

Hillary’s Mean Media is Alive and Well

Throughout the primary season, smearing Bernie Sanders and his supporters established itself as a full-fledged media industry. Sanders, we were told, was an egomaniacal, sexist, old white man on a delusional and quixotic campaign promoting pie-in- the-sky policies like single payer health care, free college tuition, viewing Palestinians as people, and not destroying the planet. Exerting his male privilege, he bullied Hillary Clinton into nominally opposing a secretive, Frankensteinian trade agreement. He even forced her to embrace a $15 federal minimum wage with a sexist condescension that far outweighs the material benefits that would be reaped by women who make up the majority of the minimum wage work force.

In his Utopian quest, Sanders was more than happy to drag down the Democratic Party and thwart history, by opposing the candidate who could become the first female president of these United States. And he recklessly strung along an army of all white ‘Bernie Bros’ and some white women who had internalized misogyny. There were, simply put, no people of color who supported Sanders. It was that simple.

Little did we know, the media was actually pulling its punches. Once Hillary won the nomination and Vermont senator graciously and enthusiastically endorsed her, the gloves really came off. In a display of shameless schadenfreude, the media gleefully mocked Sanders supporters for being emotionally weak and cognitively damaged. If they wanted to hang around with the cool crowd, they had to remove their aluminum foil antenna from their heads, lick off their patchouli, and sit in the back, silent, hands-folded, and listening to the winners. Stinky, crazy, loud-mouthed losers, needed to get in line, sit down and shut up, immediately.

The media’s “Mean Girls” style contempt isn’t just for Bernie or Busters or Stein supporters. It’s for anyone who is, ever has been or ever might be one. Curiously, the criticism is much harsher than anything we see hurled at people supporting Trump… you know… the fascist whose potential presidency makes not supporting Clinton such an act of lunacy.

Let’s take a look at some schoolyard bullying and berating techniques the media is using that will do little to distinguish Democratic Party shills from you know who.

1. Ridicule people in pain.

Slate editor, Jeremy Stahl, was the schoolyard terror, lobbing Sanders supporters for being sad. In his piece, “Photos of Angry, Sad, Horrified Bernie Sanders Supporters During His Convention Speech”, Stahl compiled nine photos (none of which he took, as he’s more of a curator). Two of the selected photos have the same bummed out white guy and three of them have the same very sad white gal. There there was no shortage of photos of people of color with the Sanders Team in Philly (I know because I was there). But when your strategy is ridicule, why waste time on research?

And Stahl more than makes up for this with the witty descriptions he inserts under the photos such as, “Just please take me home now. I want to go home,” “poor souls,” “I mean, nobody died,” or my personal fave, “[Insert Celine Dion lyrics here.]” This blunt object hit piece wacks anyone who felt low watching their candidate officially leave the race, especially knowing that the DNC had employed dirty tricks to defeat him.

read the rest at Paste

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…

June 1! FREE Katie Halper Show Live & in person with Rania Khalek & Chapo Trap House

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FREE SHOW at Brooklyn Commons at 388 Atlantic Ave

Come in person but if you can’t watch the livestream here.

The Katie Halper Show Live has been called the best thing ever in the history of Wednesday-night Brooklyn talk shows in front of an intergenerational audience. Every first Wednesday of the month, Halper, her co-host Gabe Pacheco, and engineer in chief Reggie Johnson bring you an audience version of their show. This month’s show features journalist Rania Khalek, associate editor at The Electronic Intifada and co-host of the weekly podcast Unauthorized Disclosure, as well as Felix Biederman and Will Menaker from Chapo Trap House, which some call a podcast, but I call a movememnt. Laugh, Learn, think, get woke, check your priv, fall in love, whatevs, over drinks and food at the lovely Brooklyn Commons Cafe. It’s totally free!

Katie Halper, co-host Gabe Pacheco & engineer Reggie Johnson bring you a free monthly taping of The Katie Halper Show, the weekly WBAI radio show that takes a humorous look at the news, politics, and culture. Past guests include Ta-Nehisi Coates, Margaret Cho, Nate Silver, Dar Williams and more. Drink, nosh, laugh and think.
https://www.facebook.com/thekatiehalpershow/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-katie-halper-show/id1020563127?mt=2

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.

Continue Reading…

Zionist Roseanne Barr calls Israel founding father Theodor Herzl a ‘dipsh*t’

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Originally published May 6, 2016 on RawStory

As I was scrolling through Twitter on Wednesday night, I came across a curious statement from Roseanne Barr.

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Now, I knew that Roseanne Barr, the funny, often smart and often liberal comedian, actor and star of the TV show Roseanne had what I would characterize as extremist, hawkish and not very nuanced or rational views on Israel. It’s funny because Barr was once extremely critical of Zionism and Islamophobia. I thought she was a PEP, or Progressive Except on Palestine, who blindly supported Israeli policies.

I didn’t know she was in the business of diagnosing Jews.

So, I responded by pointing out that several very Jewy Jews were secular, i.e. not religious, and would not, presumably, have physical reactions to hearing Sacred Words. Some of these Jews are Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, Baruch Spinoza, the influential rationalist 17th century Dutch philosopher, and Theodor Herzl, the Austro-Hungarian journalist considered to be the founder of modern political Zionism.

Continue Reading…