Norman Finkelstein: Was Obama an Intellectual Fraud?

to just
09:15
just let me enter a footnote but just in
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a site
09:20
it was very interesting to watch who
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pulled it off
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when he establishes his first campaign
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team
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it’s proof axelrod and gibbs
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they’re all white
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then
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he assembles the team of writers
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he has eight writers
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and lyd makes the point
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they’re all white males
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it’s very striking wouldn’t it strike
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you
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yes it has
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of eight writers
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eight
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including
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around three who just did comedy
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sketches because he was going on like
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you know the
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washington press club comedy night you
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know
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he couldn’t find one black writer
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through comedy yeah i think that was a
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really interesting point that you made
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that apparently none of the black
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comedians kind of passed muster to join
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to join the team and yes it’s something
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that i you know people have commented on
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and that you know as i listen to
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the kind of
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crooked media
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podcast
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family
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where a whole lot of people are have
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very lucrative careers now as the host
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of positive america etc because they
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were his speech writers
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and thinking about
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how none of those opportunities befall
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any any black people or any women in
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part because that’s not who barack obama
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to keep around him and put words in his
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mouth it’s really striking in his inner
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circle there were two blacks
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valerie jarrett
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who for all intents and purposes might
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as well have been white well why do you
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say that professor finkelstein well
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first of all
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valerie jarrett just physically let’s
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start with the physically okay but
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that’s but never how race operates in
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america okay okay let’s start there and
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then say finish there
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when her child was
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born
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the hospital administrator put the child
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down as white
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i went to law school with her child in
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fact actually
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one of the most notable moments of i was
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very quiet one all year she was a year
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or two ahead of me and one of the most
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notable moments of my 1l experience was
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a
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professor feldman who’s in the news for
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other reasons not so charmingly right
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now uh called on her and called her mrs
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gray which is about the biggest
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impression i ever made on anybody in
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that class
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so
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and she grew up
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and actually her her mother when her
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mother
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gave birth to her the administrator put
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down white so just at that level at that
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level but you’re right it’s that’s you
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can call it a trivial level because we
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have the one drop rule
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in the united states okay correct she
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she had nothing to do with black people
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why do you say that well because she was
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the mascot for richard daley
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when richard daley when she when the
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richard daley administration came along
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in chicago he appointed her on every
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board
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she was the head of the chicago housing
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authority she was the head of the
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chicago transit authority she was the
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the head of the the chair of the stock
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exchange they just used her for
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everything when she was the head of then
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she became part of this habitat company
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a private public um co-op cooperative
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she was
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she was a one-person gentrification
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machine so i think
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all the black neighborhoods chicago but
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that’s different
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when i challenged the idea that you said
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quote you know she has nothing to do
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with black people but that’s those are
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this is this is the thing you know i i
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all i do is sit around critiquing
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identity politics
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but there’s a
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but it’s a very
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when she is the only representative of
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black people in his inner circle
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she is the only one except for reggie
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love right i understand that but you
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can’t that is not the same thing the
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problem with valerie jarrett is that she
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doesn’t have good politics that connect
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with what the bulk of black voters want
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and need not because she’s light-skinned
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right that’s not the issue and not
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because of what her personal connection
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is no and it’s also not because you said
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she has nothing to do with black people
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i know nothing about her personal life
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who she hangs out with how she grew up
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or how much she has anything to do with
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black people so what i’m i’m not
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disagreeing with the substance of your
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critique of valerie jarrett but i’m just
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cautioning you to be careful especially
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since you aren’t black frankly something
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that that’s who he chose
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it’s right something
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if the leading intellect black
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intellectual in the united states is i
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think clearly hands down is cornell west
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and it’s very striking that obama
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couldn’t find any place for cornell west
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in his administration that tells me
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something
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it tells me something but he finds a
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place from valerie jarrett and the only
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other person is reggie love and reggie
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love it was just
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he was the gopher
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oh obama wants an exotic meal can you
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get it for him obama needs a new pair of
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shoes can you get it for him that’s how
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reggie loved it i actually i i liked
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reggie loves memoir because he didn’t
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give
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he used a memoir to talk about himself
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which i i kind of like even though of
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course there’s the praise for obama but
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it tells you something i don’t know why
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you wouldn’t want to see that
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that the people i don’t need
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i don’t think that you are hearing what
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my criticism is
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does it bother you that does it bother
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you
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that valerie jarrett sings the praises
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of al sharpton
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yes that is a substantive critique of
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valerie jarrett valerie jarrett being
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light skinned her daughter being
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perceived as white as a kid it derails
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the rest of your argument that’s the
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point i’m trying to make
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it’s not helpful no i’m i’m telling you
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i’m telling you as someone who is
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sympathetic to your argument and who is
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perhaps the
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person outside of
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the reeds who has written most critique
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of identity politics on the left that
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there are aspects of what is written
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here that even alienate me and force me
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into a defensive posture that is
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unnecessary
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and you cannot you cannot you can choose
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not to care professor finkelstein that’s
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completely you’re right but we we could
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be talking about
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we could be talking about the
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substantive things that we agree with
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but we keep getting derailed because of
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these kind of assigns that do wait i’m
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sorry if i could just finish the
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sentence
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that do open you up to i think
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legitimate criticism that this isn’t
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about the substance but it’s about a
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personal animus for barack obama and i
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personally don’t have a personal animus
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barack obama beyond the extent to which
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he has failed to stand up for the
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promises that he made to the american
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people who are suffering
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at a historic level right now and
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particularly because he’s a black person
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who traded on
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his blackness in order to convince
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people without a lot of substance as
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you’ve written so persuasively
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to invest in him and to trust him with
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the future and the fate of the most
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historically marginal you know one of
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the most historically marginalized
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groups in this country that is my beef
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with barack obama but when you say
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things like i don’t find him interesting
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that’s fine you don’t have to i
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personally find him to be very
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interesting and deeply compelling and i
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i mean like the whole phenomenon i find
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to be fascinating
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but the i it begs the question you know
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why is it relevant whether you find them
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interesting and i find them just
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uninteresting i said i don’t think it’s
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relevant but it comes up you end up you
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said it i didn’t say it you said it and
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those kinds of asides and those frogs
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and detours i would put to you i would
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put to you
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set you up to be written off and set all
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of your critique to be written off
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as a personal vendetta as opposed to a
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substantive analysis which i think is
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very much here and that’s all that i it
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is that i’m flagging
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because
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um
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i don’t like
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identity politics
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why not
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why
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yeah i mean i don’t either but i want to
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hear i’m interested in hearing
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your
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analysis because
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i know enough young people
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not from the elite schools
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but
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young people who are
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struggling
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very hard
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now
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i had a wonderful life
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not in terms of professional success
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but enable
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in terms of being able to do with my
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life
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what i wanted to do
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you set a goal as a child a youth
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and then you
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are able to realize it
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i had a friend richard herskowitz
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he loved film
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he became a film uh impresario festivals
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organizing festivals
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larry spivak he was in the school band
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the orchestra leader
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he became the leader of the greenwich
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orchestra
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then there’s the whole slew who became
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doctors
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that was their goal and there were quite
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a few just money in wall street
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this generation
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they
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it’s the very rare person outside the 20
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the 20 will make it
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the 80
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who i know
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they’re not going to see anything in
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their lives it’s very hard for me to
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tell them that
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i um
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often they’re asking me what do you
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think i should do where do you think i
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should go
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i don’t even know what to counsel
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anymore
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because i don’t see any prospects at all
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so
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to me
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this identity politics
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it’s a complete and total
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diversion
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from anything meaningful
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and substantive
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for the young people i know who are poor
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who live four to a room
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in new york
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or four to an apartment in new york
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who struggle each month
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to make the rent
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who keep down
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three dead end jobs
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with no job security no vacation no sick
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benefits nothing nothing
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and then
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juxtaposed to that
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is this idiotic
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identity politics
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which
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so far as
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the young people i know
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has absolutely no meaning
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no
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substance
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whatsoever
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so i just want to make sure i understand
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what you’re really
20:25
one last thought sure
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it was very striking to me
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the
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juxtaposition of the obama campaign
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with the bernie campaign
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the obama campaign was just
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elect obama it was just all focused on
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electing this person president
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the bernie campaign
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was entirely focused on his platform
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everybody the moment he thought bernie
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you thought first medicare for all
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student debt
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abolish tuition
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jobs
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and infrastructure
21:08
it was an identity politics campaign
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juxtaposed against
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a class politics
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it was a very in my opinion
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a very striking juxtaposition
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most people like bernie not because they
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had any particular
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affection for him
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but because they trusted him they knew
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this guy’s been in politics for 40 years
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he’s been saying the same thing since
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the 1970s
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so they figured okay the guy is the real
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thing he’s the real deal uh that’s the
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kind of politics
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that’s always interested me
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i care i care about the fate of humanity
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i do
21:54
i don’t much care about abram x candies
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um
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hair
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it doesn’t much interest me
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is uh
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these are fashion shows
22:08
this is not scholarship
22:10
it’s not politics
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it’s
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tamika mallory doing cadillac
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commercials
22:19
it’s
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patrice coolers
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buying her four homes and then taking
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the money and run
22:28
it’s also
22:30
beyond the scam
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it’s really destructive
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i was out every night
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during the george floyd demonstrations i
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was the only one over there was nobody
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over
22:44
[Music]
22:45
there was literally over 30 at the
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demonstrations because it was jaren
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covert
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so i was the only one
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not for my age cohort
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for four decades
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after 35
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three decades
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and what was most striking to me
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a veteran as it were of demonstrations
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i had never seen
23:10
such anger among the whites the young
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white people
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it was not this kind of no bless oblige
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solidarity with black people no
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it was solidarity
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however
23:25
it was we’re all in this together
23:29
and it was very striking
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let’s say the
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uh barclays center
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which is the big center in downtown
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brooklyn
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here were the cops lined up
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and here were
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the demonstrators
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and
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there would be the white women
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and there was such a fierce
23:52
anger
23:54
they were screaming it was not the most
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sophisticated
23:58
of the of slogans they were shouting
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nypd sucked my dick nyc
24:04
so angry
24:07
and
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you you could see
24:10
it was the rage against the machine
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that the police were the symbols
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of this whole
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system
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that left them with no future
24:24
a futureless future
24:26
and there was real potential there
24:29
it was real
24:31
black and white
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solidarity
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as i had never before seen it
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and it was very
24:40
inspiring
24:42
to see it because it wasn’t fake it
24:43
wasn’t the martha’s vineyard
24:47
it wasn’t performing
24:48
it was real
24:50
because a lot of these kids you know how
24:52
do you find a place in new york there
24:54
are three people they need a roommate
24:57
so a person comes along they randomly
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choose them there is like a co-op
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screening you know what i mean
25:03
so you have
25:05
every different type living together
25:08
a black person a white person a gay
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person the trans person through living
25:12
together
25:13
there was a real sense of
25:15
community there you know recognition
25:17
that blacks are getting shafted more
25:19
than
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everybody else but we’re all getting
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shafted by this system
25:24
and the identity politics wrecks all
25:27
that it destroys it
25:30
by
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by
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balkanizing
25:34
the
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solidarity
25:37
creating this competitiveness
25:40
who is the most oppressed
25:43
among the group
25:45
who should get bumped to the head of the
25:47
queue
25:48
it’s such a destructive
25:51
politics
25:52
i was a maoist
25:54
in my youth i made many errors
25:57
i’m perfectly willing to
26:00
acknowledge them
26:02
but there are things about that period
26:04
that i look back and they make sense
26:07
mao’s famous slogan was unite the many
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to defeat the few
26:12
unite the many to defeat the few
26:15
the slogan of identity politics is
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disunite the many to enable the few
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to create enough divisions
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fragmentations
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and so forth
26:27
uh it’s a very destructive
26:30
and at the end of course the whole
26:32
identity politics in the george floyd
26:34
demonstrations what do they what
26:36
happened instead of putting forth a
26:39
slogan which could have united people
26:41
the obvious slogan was
26:43
justice meaning justice against the cops
26:45
and jobs because all these people don’t
26:47
have work
26:49
instead of justice and jobs
26:51
it came to
26:52
pummeling
26:54
statues of
26:55
whomever they were pulling down
26:58
and if you were if you attended those
27:00
demonstrations i don’t know if you did
27:03
by the third week the first week it was
27:06
50 50 50 black 50 not black
27:11
by the third week it was about 80 10 80
27:15
white
27:16
the black people sort of
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it wasn’t going anywhere and they
27:20
started to disappear
27:22
and then the whole craziness with the
27:24
statues started
27:26
and then the whole thing just fizzled
27:27
out
27:29
i had there right well i think that the
27:30
i mean there’s a lot to be said about
27:32
those protests and we’ve said some of it
27:33
on the show i would dispute that it
27:35
fizzled out i think that there were a
27:36
lot of things that happened there was
27:38
the media turned on the protests and
27:41
started characterizing them
27:43
as kind of unhinged and violent and that
27:46
the ongoing protests were direct
27:49
um
27:50
there was going to be a direct trade-off
27:51
between the george floyd
27:54
movement policing movement
27:56
and
27:58
joe biden’s electoral chances and that
28:00
deflated some energy out of it and there
28:02
was an unwillingness of figureheads as
28:04
you’ve pointed to to actually stick that
28:06
landing and create any real use it for
28:09
any real leverage in an electoral
28:10
context in the middle of a journal
28:12
election and there was a lot of there
28:13
was a lot going on there
28:15
but um i want to bring this back uh
28:18
to
28:19
the subject to hand and ask you then
28:23
in a broader critique of identity
28:24
politics why is it that you felt the
28:27
need to write a chapter on barack obama
28:30
especially if to your point the younger
28:32
generations let’s say the under 40 crowd
28:35
is pretty woke and hip to
28:38
the
28:39
failures of obama
28:42
and doesn’t need need the pitch who who
28:44
is this who is this for hey youtube
28:47
don’t forget this is a podcast to get
28:49
full episodes including ones that are
28:51
behind a pay wall go to patreon.com bad
28:55
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28:57
please do subscribe to this channel hit
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video
29:03

David Perdue’s Prayer for President Obama

The Georgia senator invokes a psalm calling down divine wrath on an enemy—but insists he meant no harm.

Senator David Perdue appeared to break the rule Friday morning. In his remarks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference, Betsy Woodruff reported, the freshman Georgia Republican encouraged attendees to pray for President Obama. According to Perdue’s office, he said:

I think we’re called to pray for our country, for our leaders, and yes, even our president. In his role as president I think we should pray for Barack Obama. But I think we need to be very specific about how we pray. We should pray like Psalms 109:8 says. It says, “Let his days be few, and let another have his office.”

As many people quickly pointed out, the quotation is not exactly a benign plea for a new president in its original context. Here’s a chunk of the psalm:

8. Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
9. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
10. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
11. Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.
12. Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.
13. Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

That’s pretty ugly stuff. As frightening as the imprecation is in its original Old Testament version—its really masterful, bitter language—it takes on an even more chilling aspect in Christian theology. In the New Testatment book of Acts, Peter quotes the psalm as foretelling the ruin of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus.

Perdue didn’t make this up. In fact, this verse—sometimes labeled “the Obama Prayer”—has been circulating for years among conservatives. Gawker’s John Cook noted the prevalence of the reference on internet message boards and in CafePress t-shirts and bumperstickers back in November 2009. Other cases have popped up over the years, from the Manatee County, Florida, sheriff’s office to the Kansas House, where the speaker forwarded an email involving the psalm.

.. In a statement, Perdue’s office clarified, “He in no way wishes harm to our president and everyone in the room understood that,” and accused the media of “pushing a narrative to create controversy.” 

One of the more peculiar things about Perdue’s unwise remark is that it spotlights the persistence of the “Obama prayer” joke. Obama’s days in office are constitutionally numbered, and the end of his term is known. Moreover, it doesn’t seem as though the prayers did much good for Obama’s opponents in the first term; he was handily reelected in 2012. Perhaps intervening in elections by striking politicians dead isn’t how God works.

Franklin Graham’s Uneasy Alliance with Donald Trump

Billy Graham met every President from Truman to Trump, but he was particularly close to Richard Nixon, an intimacy he came to regret when the Watergate tapes became public and Nixon was heard repeating anti-Semitic remarks that Billy had made to him. In 2011, Billy Graham admitted that this closeness was an error. “Looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now,” he told the magazine Christianity Today.

.. When I asked Graham if there was a lesson in his father’s regrets, he brushed off the question, and told me the story of his dad’s reaction to Nixon instead. “He was hurt by President Nixon, and things that Nixon said, when, like the Watergate tapes, he never heard President Nixon cuss, use profanity—so that was a shock to him, and he felt a little bit betrayed by that.”
.. Later, with Graham seated next to him, Trump warned of the stakes for Christians if Republicans lost in the midterms. “They will overturn everything that we’ve done, and they will do it quickly and violently,” he said. Later, by phone, I asked Graham what he thought of this rhetoric about “violence” from the left—didn’t it seem far-fetched to him? Graham defended Trump, invoking the Cold War era, when Christians faced persecution in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries. “I do agree, to some degree,” he said. “The Democratic Party is moving very quickly toward socialism, and I know what socialism does to the church.”
.. Graham has also been criticized for his relationship with Vladimir Putin, which began before Trump took office. Putin’s anti-gay legislation aligns with Graham’s views, and, in 2014, Graham wrote, “In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.” In 2015, Graham spent forty-five minutes with Putin in Moscow, discussing the persecution of Christians and what evangelical Christianity actually entails, Graham told me.
.. He told me that he didn’t think Trump should have gotten “more aggressive” with Putin. “I don’t think that’s the way you get things done,” he told me. Graham has repeatedly denied the possibility that Trump colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election, and is only slightly more circumspect on the issue of Russian interference. When pressed on the issue, he said, “I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. But I do know that the United States has interfered in many countries’ elections. We’ve interfered in Iran, with the Shah. We interfered in Vietnam and put our own people in. We did this in Korea. And President Obama did this in Israel.” Graham, who is also a strong supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu, was speaking about President Obama’s alleged support for the more liberal Israeli opposition during the 2015 election. This is one of the many conspiratorial half-truths that Graham has levelled as criticism against Obama. He has also supported outright lies, including the spurious accusation that Obama wasn’t born in the United States.
.. And Trump’s moral failings are old news, he told me. “Well, you take American Presidents in the past. Bill Clinton wasn’t the first man to have an affair in the White House,” Graham said. “We’re all flawed, and the Bible says we’re all sinners. And the Bible tells us that God sent his son to take our sins, to die for our sins. And America needs a heart transplant. And we need to put our heart and faith and trust in Jesus Christ, because every politician—I don’t care who they are, what party you put in there—they’re flawed men or flawed women.”“Do you think that President Trump really wants to turn the nation to God?” I asked.

“No,” Graham told me. “No. That’s not what he’s trying to do, no.”

.. “People think I’m closer to Donald Trump than I actually am, ” Graham said. “I haven’t seen Trump since my father’s funeral.” He didn’t want to go to the White House dinner, he told me, preferring to spend time with his family. “But people told me if I didn’t go it would look like a snub.”

.. “Can you imagine if the majority of the school board were controlled by God-fearing Christians?” he asked, continuing with a treatise on how secularism was no different from Communism, how abortion was murder, and how same-sex marriage was a sin against God.

 

Crowd cheers when valedictorian quotes Trump. Then he reveals it was really Obama

As valedictorian of his high school class, Ben Bowling thought a lot about what he would say in his speech at graduation. The high school senior from Bell County, Kentucky, stepped up to the podium and offered some words of wisdom for his classmates and their families.

“This is the part of my speech where I share some inspirational quotes I found on Google,” Bowling said. “‘Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.‘ – Donald J. Trump.”

The crowd erupted with applause. Then Bowling interrupted their cheers.

“Just kidding,” Bowling said. “That was Barack Obama.”

The 18-year-old said after he revealed it was not Mr. Trump who said the quote, but actually Mr. Obama, the crowd quickly went silent.

Fraudulence of the Fiscal Hawks

In 2011, House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, issued a report full of dire warnings about the dangers of budget deficits.

.. Citing the horrors of big deficits, Republicans refused to raise the federal debt ceiling

.. How big were these horrifying deficits? In the 2012 fiscal year the federal deficit was $1.09 trillion. Much of this deficit, however, was a direct result of a depressed economy

.. If anything, we should be using this time of relatively full employment to pay down debt, or at least reduce it relative to G.D.P.

.. They are providing more stimulus to an economy with 4 percent unemployment than they were willing to allow an economy with 8 percent unemployment.

.. Republicans weren’t just vehemently opposed to fiscal stimulus; they were also vehemently opposed to monetary stimulus. Basically, they were against anything that might help the economy on President Obama’s watch.

.. imposing austerity in a depressed economy, then running up the deficit when we’re already near full employment

The Real Russia Scandal

Mike Flynn. In 2016, the retired general published a book that made clear where he stood when it came to Russia.

“Although I believe America and Russia could find mutual ground fighting Radical Islamists,” he and co-author Michael Ledeen wrote, “there is no reason to believe Putin would welcome cooperation with us; quite the contrary, in fact.”

Lest there be any doubt as to where the future national security adviser stood, Flynn went on to stress that Vladimir Putin “has done a lot for the Khamenei regime”; that Russia and Iran were “the two most active and powerful members of the enemy alliance”; and that the Russian president’s deep intention was to “pursue the war against us.”

All this was true. Yet by the end of the year, Flynn would be courting Russia’s ambassador to Washington and hinting at swift relief from sanctions. What gave?

What gave, it seems, was some combination of financial motives — at least $65,000 in payments by Russian-linked companies — and political ones — a new master in the person of Donald Trump, who took precisely the same gauzy view of Russia that Flynn had rejected in his book.

.. the president’s craven apologists insist he’s right to try to find common ground with Russia. These are the same people who until recently were in full throat against Barack Obama for his overtures to Putin.

.. Yet the alleged naïveté never quits: Just this week, he asked for Putin’s help on North Korea.

The better explanations are:

  1. the president is infatuated with authoritarians, at least those who flatter him;
  2. he’s neurotically neuralgic when it comes to the subject of his election;
  3. he’s ideologically sympathetic to Putinism, with its combination of economic corporatism, foreign-policy cynicism, and violent hostility to critics;
  4. he’s stupid; or
  5. he’s vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

.. Each explanation is compatible with all the others. For my part, I choose all of the above — the first four points being demonstrable while the last is logical.

.. There’s no need to obsess about electoral collusion when the real issue is moral capitulation.