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Republican Reaction To Kamala Reveals Same Old Pathologies

What was for most Americans a moment of inspiration — the ascent of Sen. Kamala Harris, a woman of African and Indian descent, to a national party ticket — has instead provoked paranoia and rage on the Republican right. Along with the usual petty insults spat by President Donald Trump, his minions in the media are returning to their habitual obsessions of nativism, racism and misogyny.

It is a repellent and buffoonish spectacle, but it is unlikely to make any impression on voters who don't already share Trump's narrow, delusional worldview.

In the barrage of confused attacks on Harris, there is much to be learned about the psychopathology of the far right. So-called conservatives have little interest in the senator's actual record in public office or views on substantive issues, only in assaults on her background and character. Somehow, they miss the irony of calling her "nasty" while they launch hundreds of these vicious broadsides.

From Rush Limbaugh and Joe Pagliarulo, we hear the insinuation that Harris somehow used her sexuality to rise to the political pinnacle she now occupies. They're just "putting it out there," as Pagliarulo smarmily intoned, but why bother? Only someone very stupid would believe that a romantic relationship that concluded decades ago elevated Harris from the district attorney's office to statewide office in California, a seat in the United States Senate, and then her party's vice presidential nomination. Life and politics obviously don't work that way.

The only reason to "put it out there" is to detract from Harris' impressive achievements, with the kind of innuendo that is never inflicted on men. These Trump toadies dismiss the Access Hollywood tape, the Jeffrey Epstein photos, the Stormy Daniels affair, and the multiple credible rape and assault allegations against their idol -- yet they're troubled by those dates that Kamala Harris once had with the mayor of San Francisco. (Let's not even delve into Limbaugh's own problematic personal life, which is colorful in all the wrong ways.)

From former George W. Bush administration flack Ari Fleischer, and sundry other self-styled white experts on African American affairs, comes the suggestion that Harris is somehow not truly Black (or at least not Black enough). Those old racial dog whistles were blown when Barack Obama first ran for president, too, because his mother was white and he grew up in the home of his white grandparents. Does anyone believe that Fleischer — a ludicrous figure on his best days — knows what will "excite" Black female voters, as he put it?

African Americans supposedly won't embrace Harris because her father was from Jamaica and her mother from India. Indeed, according to the pardoned felon and provocateur Dinesh D'Souza, Harris is really white because one of her ancestors was a white slaveholder.

Again, this is a profoundly idiotic jape. Where would Kamala Harris' paternal forebears have originated other than Africa? She is an American of African descent. And how many other Black Americans, like Harris, have a white slaveholder somewhere in their ancestry? Many millions, surely, and like them, that fraction of her lineage is tiny.

The plain truth is that like so many Americans, Harris is proud of the ethnic variety in her background. And like many Black Americans of mixed heritage, she has chosen to identify strongly with the Black community throughout her life. It isn't a contradiction but represents what David Dinkins, the first Black mayor of New York City, likes to call "the gorgeous mosaic."

The unappetizing tableau of Republican race baiting wouldn't be complete without a reversion to "birtherism" — in this case, fake concern over Harris' eligibility for the presidency based on her parents' immigration status at the time of her birth. Desperate for clicks, Newsweek dredged up a right-wing law professor to claim that she just might not pass constitutional muster. It's a feeble argument, fully consistent with the professor's unimpressive, highly ideological resume. But is anybody surprised that the falsehoods flung at Obama for years are now aimed at the next person of color nominated for national office?

I'm not.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

#EndorseThis: Trevor Noah Pardons Kim Kardashian-West For Meeting Trump

Kim Kardashian-West is the second person from the same famous marriage to take heat for getting chummy with President Trump. Like Hillary Clinton’s argument against speaking to Iran, many liberals feel that meeting with Trump normalizes him. Add Kim’s status as a worldwide mega-superstar and the potential for controversy jumps off the charts.

To his credit, comedian Trevor Noah is not worried about the tabloid aspects of the Kim (Kardashian) and Trump story. Instead, he’s focused on the substance. Unfortunately, when the onion is peeled away, it appears that Kim’s efforts to move 45 were met with not only rejection, but a slap. Kardashian-West pleaded with the Orange One to pardon great-grandmother Alice Marie-Johnson, who has served decades on a non-violent drug offense. But Trump woke up the next day and pardoned conservative arse-clown Dinesh D’Souza, then indicated that Martha Stewart could be next in line instead of Marie-Johnson. (It’s a bad thing.)

Trump deserves every bit of Trevor’s punishment here. But in case you are wondering, yes, the Daily Show comic unleashes his patented Kim Kardashian impression at the 2:25 mark, while defending Kim from an on-air attack from CNN’s Jim Acosta.

Press play, and learn to ca’o-exessst.

The Reckoning Arrives For Donald Trump, Fox News, And The GOP

Spy magazine got it right more than two decades ago: Donald Trump is simply a short-fingered vulgarian.

For any remaining non-believers, this week’s released tape of Trump boasting about his sexual predator behavior eliminated any real doubts. (“Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” and “Grab them by the pussy.”)

In the wake of the ground-shaking campaign bombshell, the Republican Party now faces a political crisis the likes of which it probably has not seen since the days of Watergate. In terms of a political party openly at war with its presidential nominee one month before Election Day, as a GOP chorus grows demanding Trump step aside, there’s simply no precedent for this in modern American politics.

How did the Republican Party arrive at this cratered-out low point? Simple — this is what happens when conservatives feast exclusively on Fox News gobbledygook for years, especially for the last eight years under President Barack Obama. It’s what happens when you abandon policy, when you abandon common sense, and when you abandon hope in favor of vulgarity as a party platform.

This Trump fiasco was telegraphed months ago. All of it. It simply wasn’t possible that a vainglorious narcissist like Trump, deeply uninterested in how the world works, would be able to pull off a presidential election campaign without revealing his true identity.

The best case scenario was that Trump would run as sort of a bombastic and obnoxious Mitt Romney, lose, but not do serious lasting damage to the Republican Party. The far more likely scenario, and the one that’s unfolding during the final weeks, was that Trump would reveal himself to be a pathological liar and disturbed sexual predator who thinks fame gives him a license to assault and harass women.

Think about that: The GOP nominated a pathological liar whose moments of truth seem to be when he brags about his sexual predator habits. And even then, when audio and video proof finally confirmed what was long suspected, prominent Fox News hosts immediately sprang into spin control mode, while far-out Fox guests uttered bizarre statements.

Gina Louden: “No one was raped, nobody has died.”

Dinesh D’Souza: “In my entire adult lifetime but never before have I seen the media so aggressively huffing and puffing to drag this crooked hag across the finish line.”

The simple truth is the GOP followed Fox News into the ethical and moral abyss long ago. And the GOP did so willingly. Seduced by the millions of dollars (billions of dollars?) worth of free airtime that Fox News provides the party each year, and aroused by the channel’s unvarnished hate rhetoric and its fever swamp attacks, Republicans abdicated party leadership to the now-disgraced Roger Ailes, who then turned around and helped crown Trump the Fox News mascot/presidential nominee.

This train wreck, this dumpster fire, this…..thing now on display in the form of the Trump campaign represents the logical conclusion for a party that decided to walk away from governance and embrace the bottom-of-the-barrel offerings cooked up by Fox News. For a party that opted to nominate in Trump someone who scooped up all that Fox hate rhetoric and made it the very cornerstone of his campaign. And yes, that includes dangerous insurrectionism and the racist smear that Obama is a foreign-born terrorist sympathizer.

Lots of Republicans have since stood by Trump despite the fact he’s repeatedly denigrated women, African-Americans, Latinos, and the disabled, among others. That’s how the party arrived at its current crisis.

The funny thing is we tried to warn them.

Four years ago, I wrote about how Fox News was destroying the Republican Party. But no, back then I never imagined we’d be witnessing this kind of public disintegration of the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2016.

And that’s what makes this unraveling so stunning. It’s not that the campaign apparatus has fallen apart. It’s not that Trump’s team misread the electorate. It’s that the GOP candidate has fully revealed himself to be a loathsome person who has surrounded himself with equally loathsome people. First and foremost among them is former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who was forced out this summer amidst a sexual harassment firestorm.

Please keep in mind:

During July, we learned that women claimed men who worked in positions of power at Fox News (namely Ailes, but not exclusively) groped women, kissed women against their will, made wildly inappropriate sexual comments (“Are you wearing any panties? I wish you weren’t”), asked about female employees’ sex lives, pressured younger women to date older men in the office, made “jokes” about liking having women on their knees, promised promotions in exchange for sex, and cut short careers of women who took offense.

And yes, Fox News general counsel Dianne Brandi and Ailes’ deputy Bill Shine were accused of trying to cover up their former boss’ behavior. (Shine has since been promoted to Fox News co-president.)

Twenty years ago on Friday, the same day the predatory Trump tapes were released, Fox News made its national debut, on October 7, 1996. Over the last two decades Fox News has forever changed American politics. And right now, the Republican Party is paying the biggest price.

Reprinted by permission from Media Matters for America.

IMAGE: Former Fox News Channel CEO Roger Ailes, before he was ousted last summer.

Right-Wing Media Use The Worst Anti-LGBT Massacre In American History To Lecture The LGBT Community

Published with permission from Media Matters for America.

Right-wing media personalities — each with their own records of anti-LGBT smears — used the June 12 Orlando massacre, in which a gunman wielding an assault weapon killed 49 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub, to lecture the LGBT community. The conservative media figures told them not to “focus on the gay community instead of the American community” and urged them to “come back home to the Republican Party.”

Numerous government officials and media outlets have identified the shooting as a hate crime. NBC News reported it was “both the deadliest terror attack inside the U.S. since 9/11 — and the deadliest hate crime against a gay target in American history.” CNN’s New Day devoted a segment to elevating LGBT voices in the wake of the massacre, where it was described as a hate crime. Both President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton referred to the massacre as “an act of hate” against the LGBT community. Obama explained the significance that the attack occurred at a gay nightclub, calling it “a place of solidarity and empowerment,” while Clinton said, “We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear.”

Many right-wing media pundits, however, responded instead by lecturing members of the LGBT community about how they should react.

On Fox News’ Fox & Friends Sunday, Newt Gingrich — network contributor and favorite for Donald Trump’s potential vice-presidential pick — used the tragedy to say he hoped “the gay rights movement will come to realize that Islamic Supremacy is their mortal enemy.” In the past, Gingrich has chided the movement as “gay and secular fascism” wanting to “impose its will on the rest of us.”

Also on Fox & Friends Sunday, former Fox contributor and failed GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson exhorted gay people to avoid being too “ideologically driven” in order to start looking “very carefully” at “radical elements … for their own survival.” Carson has a history of bigoted remarks against LGBT people, which include comparing the gay community with practitioners of bestiality, saying marriage equality could destroy America like “the fall of the Roman Empire,” and asserting that sexual orientation is a choice because “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight and when they come out, they’re gay.”

Fox’s Todd Starnes wrote June 13 that the attack was not about “the LGBT community,” but “the American community,” and denied that the president was “affirming and announcing solidarity with the LGBT community.” Starnes has appeared on anti-gay hate group media and has frequently included comments from the hate group Family Research Council in his own Fox reporting. In 2011, Starnes warned that proponents of marriage equality may try to make “traditional marriage” a hate crime, and he espoused several disparaging commentsabout LGBT people in his 2012 book Dispatches From Bitter America.

On his website, anti-LGBT Fox contributor Erick Erickson criticized “the way the media chose to report on the event … [as] a tragedy in the gay community.” Calling it “an unnecessary dividing line,” Erickson claimed that “the divisions and focus on the gay community instead of the American community” would reduce the tragedy’s impact on American anti-terror policy. Erickson concluded (emphasis added), “The chain of events that led a terrorist to an arsenal then to a nightclub without the FBI noticing is far more relevant and important right now than the agendas of various activists.

Erickson has repeatedly compared the LGBT community to “terrorists,” including ” in a 2015 blog post titled “The Line Between Islamic Extremists and Gay Rights Extremists” that asserted “the divide between Islamic extremists and gay rights extremists is at death. They meet on the line of destruction.” In the wake of the June 17, 2015, mass shooting in a Charleston, S.C. church, Erickson claimed that Americans can no longer distinguish “normal from crazy and evil from good,” citing society’s acceptance of transgender people like Caitlyn Jenner.

The Resurgent’s Steve Berman wrote that “the LGBT community does deserve our special protection … against Muslims who follow an evil ideology sprung from their holy books.” While admitting that he “certainly do[es] not” agree with “the LGBT political agenda,” Berman concluded by threatening LGBT Americans: “I would gladly stand guard, AR-15 in hand, at any gay bar to protect these Americans, with whom I disagree, but will defend with my life. I do this because I love them like Jesus loves them. When the time comes for choosing enemies, I pray that LGBT Americans would choose very carefully.”

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza tweeted, “Maybe gay activists will start to realize that playing with snakes — which is to say, coddling Islamic radicals — can be quite dangerous.”

D’Souza publicly outed gay classmates during his time at Dartmouth College in the early 1980s and in 2008 penned an op-ed contrasting gay rights and democracy. D’Souza wrote, “Gays do have the right to marry. They have the right to marry adult members of the opposite sex! What gay activists want is something else: the right to marry members of the same sex.”

Conservative blogger Jim Hoft, who in the past hurled anti-gay smears against openly gay Obama administration appointee Kevin Jennings, used the massacre in a June 13 Breitbart News piece to urge gay people to vote for Donald Trump, writing:

I’ve been a conservative activist for years. But today I’m coming out as a conservative gay activist.

In the past few years I’ve built one of the most prominent conservative websites in America. I created The Gateway Pundit because I wanted to speak the truth. I wanted to expose the wickedness of the left. I was raised to love my country. Today I serve my country by defending her from the socialist onslaught.

[…]

I can no longer remain silent as my gay brothers and sisters are being slaughtered at dance clubs.

There is only one man who can lead this nation and protect all gays and all Americans. His name is Donald Trump.

[…]

I pray that gays will come back home to the Republican Party – no more death.

Striking a different tone, the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD), an organization that works to support LGBT Muslims, stressed that the tragedy “cannot be neatly categorized as a fight between the LGBT community and the Muslim community.” In its statement, MASGD called on Americans “to resist the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia as well as against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.” From the June 12 statement:

This tragedy cannot be neatly categorized as a fight between the LGBTQ community and the Muslim community. As LGBTQ Muslims, we know that there are many of us who are living at the intersections of LGBTQ identities and Islam. At moments like this, we are doubly affected. We reject attempts to perpetuate hatred against our LGBTQ communities as well as our Muslim communities. We ask all Americans to resist the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia as well as against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. Let us remember that the actions of a single individual cannot speak for all Muslims. Let us also remember that there are many straight Muslims who have been strong allies to the Muslim LGBTQ community. We see the beauty in our cultures and our faith traditions, and we have experienced love, acceptance and support from many in our Muslim communities.

Photo: Dinesh D’Souza via Facebook.