Saturday, February 28, 2015

If Giuliani’s Obama Smear Wasn’t Racist, What Was It?

Rudy Giuliani visits "Cavuto" at FOX Studios on September 23, 2014 in New York City. Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images
When Rudy Giuliani accused President Obama of not loving America, was he expressing a form of racism? If not, what was Giuliani saying?
I have argued, controversially to some on the left, that it is important to grapple with ideas on their own terms before merely analyzing their motivations. American conservatism is historically intertwined with white racism in such a way that nearly any conservative idea could plausibly be understood as an appeal to racism, but most of those ideas can be expressed and justified in non-racial terms, and deserve to be taken at face value. The trouble with Giuliani’s comments is that they lack the coherence necessary to be analyzed as an idea. Brush away the bilious rage he has emitted, and nothing solid remains behind.
The original basis for Giuliani’s comments was Obama’s allegedly unusual upbringing. “He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country,” alleged the former mayor. As Wayne Barrett points out, Giuliani’s father was a mob enforcer, and he and his five brothers all avoided military service during World War II. What about this upbringing in any way suggests it conveyed some deeper patriotism than Obama’s?
Giuliani subsequently clarified his original remarks, though not in the way he intended, by asserting that Obama’s alleged anti-Americanism amounted to “socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.” Here Giuliani is reprising the theories of Dinesh D’Souza, who has described Obama as fundamentally influenced by Kenyan anti-colonialism. Unfortunately for Giuliani, D’Souza’s racism is so transparent not even many conservatives care to defend it any longer.
Giuliani also explained that Obama’s anti-Americanism comes through in his selective use of press conferences:
“He sees Christians slaughtered [in Egypt] and doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference, although he holds a press conference for the situation in Ferguson,” he said. “He sees Jews being killed for anti-Semitic reasons, doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference. This is an American president I’ve never seen before.”
Of course, the more obvious explanation for why Obama held a press conference to address Ferguson but not Egypt is that Ferguson is located in the United States of America while Egypt is not. For a president to deliver a speech urging calm, while expressing sympathy with underlying grievances, is a completely standard act for an American president. (George Bush did it in Los Angeles.) Had Obama declined to speak about Ferguson, he could have just as easily been accused of indifference to the lives of Americans.
National Review’s Kevin Williamson attempts to rescue Giuliani’s smear by shearing off its ugly insinuations, and boiling it down to a simple left-versus-right debate about American goodness:
For the progressive, there is very little to love about the United States. Washington, Jefferson, Madison? A bunch of rotten slaveholders, hypocrites, and cowards even when their hearts were in the right places. The Declaration of Independence? A manifesto for the propertied classes. The Constitution? An artifact of sexism and white supremacy. The sacrifices in the great wars of the 20th century? Feeding the poor and the disenfranchised into the meat-grinder of imperialism. The gifts of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor? Blood money from self-aggrandizing robber barons.
It is certainly true that there is a strain of left-wing thought that implicitly or explicitly rejects patriotism, and which deems the United States no better than, or perhaps even worse than, other countries. The trouble is that Obama has explicitly and repeatedly rejected this thinking. Even Obama’s endlessly criticized 2009 press conference, in which he gave an answer on American exceptionalism that conservatives deemed insufficiently flag-wavey, ended on an affirmation of American exceptionalism (“I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional”).
The liberal conception of American exceptionalism espoused by Obama, while different than the left-wing conception with which Williamson conflates it, is also different than the conservative version. The left rejects American exceptionalism. The right treats it as something inherent in the American character, rather than, as liberals see it, an ideal that must be struggled toward and has often been failed. Obama’s treatment of the issue lies firmly in liberalism, rather than the left.
And of course the key element of Giuliani’s charge is that Obama has broken completely from the liberal tradition. He does not accuse Obama of being a weak-spined liberal like Jimmy Carter. He calls Obama worse than Carter:
What country has left so many young men and women dead abroad to save other countries without taking land? This is not the colonial empire that somehow he has in his hand. I’ve never felt that from him. I felt that from [George] W. [Bush]. I felt that from [Bill] Clinton. I felt that from every American president, including ones I disagreed with, including [Jimmy] Carter. I don’t feel that from President Obama
Jamelle Bouie, with excessive generosity, concedes that (smear aside) Giuliani is onto something. “Compared with the visions of his predecessors,” writes Bouie, “[Obama’s] is less triumphant and informed by a kind of civic humility.
In fact, previous Democratic presidents have also acknowledged American historical failures, in language every bit as frank as Obama’s. In a famous 1977 speech, Carter conceded, “For too many years, we’ve been willing to adopt the flawed and erroneous principles and tactics of our adversaries, sometimes abandoning our own values for theirs.” Clinton mournfully acknowledged American slavery and support for military dictatorships in Guatemala and Greece. Obama has kept fully within the liberal tradition of conceding America’s inconsistent history of upholding its ideals without abandoning the ideals themselves.
Any attempt to salvage an idea from Giuliani’s gaseous smear invariably fails. His dark insinuation that this liberal Democratic president hates America in a way unlike other Democratic presidents is under-girded by nothing but a generalized suspicion neither he nor his supporters can define.

Obama Says He Even Loves America’s Idiots

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In his weekly radio address, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his love of country, telling the nation, “I love America—even its idiots.”
Expanding on this theme, the President said, “America is made up of all kinds of people: young and old, weak and strong, smart and dumb. And when the really dumb ones get up and act like total clowns, I still love them, because they are part of America. In fact, a really big part.”
In a call for unity, the President concluded, “Let’s all work together for the United States of America. And if that means putting aside our differences—including our sometimes vast differences in intelligence—so be it.”

Republicans Unlearning Facts Learned in Third Grade to Compete in Primary

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In the hopes of appealing to Republican primary voters, candidates for the 2016 Presidential nomination are working around the clock to unlearn everything that they have learned since the third grade, aides to the candidates have confirmed.
With the Iowa caucuses less than a year away, the hopefuls are busy scrubbing their brains of basic facts of math, science, and geography in an attempt to resemble the semi-sentient beings that Republican primary voters prize.

An aide to Jeb Bush acknowledged that, for the former Florida governor, “The unlearning curve has been daunting.”
“The biggest strike against Jeb is that he graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa,” the aide said. “It’s going to take a lot of work to get his brain back to its factory settings.”
At the campaign of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the mood was considerably more upbeat, as aides indicated that Walker’s ironclad façade of ignorance is being polished to a high sheen.
“The fact that Scott instinctively says that he doesn’t know the answers to even the easiest questions gives him an enormous leg up,” an aide said.
But while some G.O.P. candidates are pulling all-nighters to rid themselves of knowledge acquired when they were eight, the campaign of Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, is exuding a quiet confidence.
“I don’t want to sound too cocky about Rick,” said one Perry aide. “But what little he knows, he’s shown he can forget.”
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Malcolm X assassination: 50 years on, mystery still clouds details of the case

Despite freedom of information act requests throughout the years, New York still will not release records to the public and claim files would endanger the safety of police officers and constitute unwarranted invasions of privacy
Malcolm X in Rochester, New York, 1965.
Malcolm X in Rochester, New York, 1965. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives

Fifty years on, questions surrounding Malcolm X’s assassination still contribute to the atmosphere of suspicion and distrust between law enforcement and the black community. And while the murders of John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, and Emmett Till have all been re-examined through federal intervention, Malcolm X’s assassination remains a blindspot in US jurisprudence and historical memory.
Malcolm X was a dangerous man. Not dangerous as the widely circulated image of him holding a rifle and peeking through the curtains in his home would suggest. Nor because he disagreed with the nonviolent wing of the civil rights movement and its assertion that racial integration was the primary objective of the black freedom struggle. By challenging integration as a primary goal, Malcolm X threatened to undermine the tenuous support that mainstream civil rights leaders were receiving from the government and white liberals. For many white people, Malcolm and the Nation of Islam embodied their greatest fears.
As the public face of the National of Islam, he confronted racism well beyond the confines of southern segregation. He worked tirelessly to denounce America as a damaging imperialist and neo-colonialist system. “Just as a chicken cannot produce a duck egg”, he charged, “the system in this country cannot produce freedom for an Afro-American.” And with his characteristic wit, he added that if it did, “you would say it was certainly a revolutionary chicken.”
By 1963, Malcolm had been suspended from the NOI for calling President Kennedy’s assassination a case of “chickens coming home to roost.” The rift deepened after Malcolm revealed that the group’s leader, Elijah Muhammad, had fathered children out-of-wedlock with NOI secretaries. This public feud combined with competing political visions to cause deep divisions within the Muslim community. Malcolm formed two independent groups in 1964: the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) and Muslim Mosque, Inc. (MMI). A year later, he prepared to release a new political program which would have likely included voter registration drives, local organizing against police brutality, and a call for the United Nations to denounce American racial practices as human rights violations. He was gunned down on the very day he was set to unveil it.

A cast of co-conspirators

When Malcolm X was killed at the Audubon Ballroom on 21 February 1965, a man named Talmadge Hayer (now named Mujahid Abdul Halim) was pulled from the scene of the crime. Yet some witnesses claimed a second figure was also taken into custody by the police.
The late Herman Ferguson, a founding member of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (the OAAU, founded by Malcolm X after he left the Nation of Islam), recalled a police car which pulled up alongside the ballroom and brought out a man with an “olive complexion ... obviously in great pain.” Ferguson, thinking that the injured man was one of “our guys,” watched as the squad car sped away and over the Hudson River. The Associated Press also reported the day after the assassination that “two men were taken into custody.”
In the following days, the NYPD also arrested two other members of the Nation of Islam’s Mosque 7 in Harlem: Norman 3X Butler (Muhammad Abd Al-Aziz) and Thomas 15X Johnson (Khalil Islam). Both men, as well as key witnesses who knew them, denied they were at the ballroom that day. Hayer also testified at the end of the 1966 trial that the two men had not been involved. But he refused to name any other accomplices, and all three received life sentences.
A decade into his incarceration, Hayer came forward with new information, identifying four co-conspirators. He signed an affidavit offering the names and addresses of these men, along with a detailed timeline of their plot. With the help of the self-described “radical attorney” William Kunstler, Butler and Johnson appealed their convictions.
Hayer named William Bradley, a NOI member called Willie X, as the man who fired the fatal shotgun blast, adding that Bradley was “known as a stick-up man.” The petition noted that Bradley was “upon information and belief presently incarcerated in the Essex County Jail, Caldwell, New Jersey.” Kunstler added that he did not know of “any comparable case in American jurisprudential history” in which an accomplice had described a crime in such detail without a thorough reinvestigation. Yet, judge Harold Rothwax rejected a motion to reopen the case.
Bradley (who now goes by Al-Mustafa Shabazz) is living in Newark. Earlier this week, The New York Daily News published an interview with him in which he rejected the claims. “It’s an accusation,” he said. “They never spoke to me. They just accused me of something I didn’t do.”

‘The investigation was botched’

In the weeks following Malcolm’s assassination, the organizations he created after his falling out with the Nation of Islam struggled without his leadership, and his friends and comrades attempted to make sense of their loss. Most of his followers had witnessed the murder, and the dangerous climate and mistrust of the aftermath drove some underground for decades.
On 6 March 1965, members gathered for the weekly Saturday class at the OAAU’s Liberation School. That meeting had been lost to history until recently, when a detailed account reveal its contents. In 2011, the personal papers of James Campbell, housed at the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, were made available to the general public.
Campbell is an educator and civil rights activist who founded the Liberation School along with OAAU member Herman Ferguson in 1964. His papers include handwritten notes taken by the late Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama. The meeting, the notes explain, was held “to establish stability from this crisis.” And the notes contain an unexpected piece of information. Kochiyama’s scrawl at the bottom of the 6 March meeting reads:

Ray Woods
‘Ray Woods is said to have been seen also running out of Audubon; was one of two picked up by police. Was the second person running out.’
The notes appear to substantiate the accounts of Herman Ferguson and the AP of a “second man” taken into police custody. That a name should resurface 50 years later is remarkable. But more significant is that the “Ray Woods” named in the note was likely Raymond A Wood, an undercover New York City police officer with the Bureau of Special Services and Investigation (BOSSI).
Wood began his career by infiltrating the Bronx Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter under the name Ray Woodall in 1964. There, he posed as a 27 year-old graduate of Manhattan College studying law at Fordham. He was soon named CORE’s housing chairman and oversaw a voter registration project.
Wood earned his activist bonafides by getting arrested with two others at city hall while attempting a citizen’s arrest of mayor Wagner for allowing racial discrimination on a public construction project. Feminist Susan Brownmiller, a fellow CORE activist at the time, recalled that if “CORE had placed an advertisement in the Amsterdam News describing what it was looking for, Woodall would have fit the bill.”
By 1965, “Woodall” had been reassigned under his real name to infiltrate a group calling itself the Black Liberation Movement (BLM). He was credited with foiling a bomb plot by the BLM that allegedly targeted the Statue of Liberty and other national monuments, just a week before Malcolm X’s assassination. One of the four arrested in the plot was Walter Bowe, who also co-chaired the cultural committee in Malcolm’s OAAU. Wood’s close association with an OAAU member makes it likely that others within the organization would also have known and recognized him.
Wood was promoted to detective second grade for making the arrests in the BLM case. And although his name and a photo of the back of his head circulated throughout the press in the week leading up to Malcolm X’s assassination, the NYPD reported that he was put back to work because his “face is still a secret.”

ray wood
Agent Wood hides face from photographer. Photograph: Star.
There is no question that the police were keeping close tabs on Malcolm X in the period prior to his assassination. Tony Bouza, a former BOSSI detective and lieutenant from 1957 to 1965, explains that the NYPD, and not the FBI, was the primary agency conducting this surveillance. Gene Roberts – a man known affectionately within the OAAU as “Brother Gene” and photographed trying in vain to resuscitate Malcolm X at the assassination – was later confirmed as an undercover agent.
Bouza argues that the NYPD failed to take basic and minimal steps to protect a prominent public figure from a threat that was widely believed to be imminent. And he is harshly critical of its subsequent failure to disclose all that it knew about the assassination of Malcolm X. “The investigation was botched,” he said, and a “parallel tragedy lies in the NYPD’s obvious stonewalling of any release of records.”
But Bouza also insists that Wood had nothing to do with the case, and there are other reasons to doubt this latest eyewitness account placing Ray Wood at the Audubon. Such reports are unreliable, even those recorded shortly after the assassination. Accounts of what happened at the Audubon Ballroom that day are also conflicting. One OAAU member named Willie Harris was interviewed by the NYPD while being treated at a medical center after a stray bullet hit him at the ballroom. Harris claims he sought help from a police officer who then took him to the hospital. Is it possible that the unnamed witness mistook Harris for Ray Wood? Finally, there is the question of why BOSSI would send an undercover agent back into a place where he might be recognized after his name had been in the press.
The simplest way to resolve these questions would be for the NYPD to release its surveillance files and disclose what Ray Wood, Gene Roberts, and its other undercover officers reported in the years surrounding the assassination. But the department has repeatedly refused to release them.
My attempts with professor Manning Marable and the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University in 2008-2009 to access BOSSI files through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ended in a full denial. In denying the requests, the department’s legal bureau cited a number of Public Officers Laws, claiming that the files would endanger the safety of officers and constitute unwarranted invasions of privacy. A more recent FOIA request this year produced some materials relating to the assassination case, but only documents that were already publicly available at the New York Municipal Archives. The release did not include any files related to BOSSI’s surveillance.

‘Failed promise to families’

The most obvious avenue for reopening the investigation into Malcolm X’s assassination is the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. In 2011, the Justice Department responded to calls to reopen the case with the statement that “the matter does not implicate federal interests sufficient to necessitate the use of scarce federal investigative resources into a matter for which there can be no federal criminal prosecution.” The Till Act, however, was specifically crafted to render these objections moot. It allocates $10m annually for such investigations, and requires the Justice Department to work in concert with local law enforcement to implement state law.
Janis McDonald, who co-directs the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University College of Law, told me that rulings such as this ignore “the intent of Congress when the Emmett Till Act was enacted.” Its implementation, she said, “has been a failed promise to the families of those who were killed and a disregard of the congressional intent to preserve the integrity of the law for everyone. This Act has never been a priority for the Department of Justice.” It is set to expire in 2017 if not renewed by Congress.
According to Paula Johnson, co-director of the Syracuse Cold Case Justice Initiative, the “purpose of the Emmett Till Act is to fully investigate and resolve just such killings.” The account placing Ray Wood at the scene, she said, “warrants further investigation into the knowledge or role of law enforcement in Malcolm X’s death.”
Until Malcolm X’s assassination case is reopened and surveillance files are made fully available, the injustice to one of America’s boldest civil rights figure continues, while one or more of his killers may roam free.
As the case turns 50 this week, the NYPD and other surveillance agencies must make their records public. It is time to for a new investigation into the assassination of this civil rights leader that will lay to rest the lingering questions about the case, and ensure that all those involved have been brought to justice.
Garrett Felber is a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan. He was Senior Research Advisor at the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University and is co-author of The Portable Malcolm X Reader with Manning Marable.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Forgotten Man Seeks Attention

Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said President Obama 'doesn't love America.' (photo:
Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said President Obama 'doesn't love America.' (photo:

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
20 February 15
The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."

largely forgotten man sought attention on Wednesday night before returning to obscurity on Thursday, according to reports.
The man, whom many Americans had difficulty placing, was making a desperate bid to remind people of his existence, experts believe.
His efforts were somewhat successful, as his widely reported outburst caused people across the country to rack their brains to try to remember who he was.
After briefly attempting to recall where they had seen the man before, many people gave up and moved on with their days, but for others, the desperate man’s remarks left a bitter aftertaste.
“There is no excuse for making comments like those, no matter who you are,” Tracy Klugian, forty-seven, of Springfield, Missouri, said. “Who is he again?”
Still others showed concern for the man, and expressed hope that, instead of future bids for attention, he would find fulfillment in crafting or some other harmless hobby.

+79 # RMDC 2015-02-20 18:36
Yes, indeed. This man is a legend in his own mind. If he only knew where he left his mind. It is not likely he will take up some harmless hobby. It is just not in him. He'll go on trying to creep out of obscurity forever.
+29 # Old4Poor 2015-02-21 00:23
But he already has a hobby as a Drag Queen.

The photos are nightmare producing.
+16 # keenon the truth 2015-02-20 18:45
Help, someone. It's been a busy week. What did I miss?

Later edit:Sorry, I didn't look at the photo. Wish there was a way to delete comments.

+7 # Skippydelic 2015-02-21 01:34
Actually, you didn't REALLY miss anything… ;-)

+59 # Art947 2015-02-20 23:15
Is there any way that we can round up all these small men with super-inflated egos and provide them with that trip to Mars that everyone else is talking about? It should certainly satisfy their egos and provide the rest of us with respite from their stupidity.
+43 # Old4Poor 2015-02-21 00:24
Result of that action: Mars Attacks Earth.
+40 # angelfish 2015-02-21 00:29
ON the money, as USUAL Andy! You have an uncanny ability to SEE the REAL issue! A washed up Hack of a Politician looking for a spot in the Limelight once again. Really pitiful.
+23 # LGNTexas 2015-02-21 06:05
The Bracewell-Guili ani law firm has been representing the SPANISH Cintra corporation in acquiring American toll road construction contracts and management leases. Indiana, under former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, leased their East-West toll road giving up management for 75 years. In Texas, Cintra was in bed with Gov. Rick Perry who tried to have them build the NAFTA "superhighway from the Mexican border to the Oklahoma state line. That project failed due to much landowner resistance to losing land by eminent domain, especially to profiting foreign companies. Even though Giuliani is supposedly a moderate he endorsed the most right-wing Perry in the 2012 campaign for President. Giuliani loves America so much that his privatization plans for American roads would pad the net worth of Spanish and Australian companies.
+13 # Bruce Gruber 2015-02-21 07:52
An interesting series of Sociology/Psych ology/Poly Sci PhD theses could research where so many politicians end up peddling their knowledge, contacts and "public service" experience.

Inasmuch as money is the "free-est" and most effective resource in seeking public office, correlation of pre- and post- election contributors and investors could be enlightening ... if voters were aware and inclined and capable of considering factual information in selecting their "leaders"... Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito notwithstanding.

Giuliani continues to provide the entertainment divisions of mass media enterprises with the spice of 'stupidity' with which to stir, antagonize and misdirect the public away from thought and knowledge.
+8 # C-SIK 2015-02-21 09:01
I Laufhed so hard I hurt -
I couldn't place the face -
But I kept reading --- going along w/ the spirit of it so to speak ---
--- Oh My Gawd ANDY --
You set me up good - !!! -
I really did know the face, but I couldn't put a name --
And I'm trying hard - ANDY -!
And then I start reading the comments -
And Andy " OMFG " -
--- It ! - IT! - ITS!!!---
--- rudy --
rudy ???
YES !! RUDY! --
rudy -g- ???
We were quoted to say --
I Owe U --- 99%OU ---
I needed that laugh although it nearly killed me --
Oh yeah and thank you Rudy ---
what does the G stand for ---???
" I forgot "
+15 # sfintersect 2015-02-21 10:37
I say Bravo Rudy! It takes most people much longer to turn themselves into a bad joke. And here you are, able to do it overnight & with just a few sentences ~ Bravo!
+1 # Corvette-Bob 2015-02-21 19:40
NEWS FLASH !!! Republicans presidential ticket for 2016. Rudy, Pres. Donald, VP.

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Rudy Giuliani, American Soviet

Rolling Stone investigative journalist Matt Taibbi. (photo: HBO)
Rolling Stone investigative journalist Matt Taibbi. (photo: HBO)
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
22 February 15
udy Giuliani is giving me Soviet flashbacks.
With his bizarre foot-in-mouth rants about how Barack Obama doesn't love "America" the way "we" do, Rudy — and other "They hate us!" exceptionalist 'Muricans like Eric Erickson and Steve Forbes — are starting to remind me of the frightened, denial-sick communist die-hards I knew as a student in Russia.
Not to go too far down memory lane, but in 1990, I went to Leningrad to study. The Soviet empire was in its death throes and most people there, particularly the younger ones, knew it.
But some hadn't gotten the memo yet, and those folks, usually nice enough, often older — university administrators, check-room attendants, security guards, parents of some of my classmates, others — were constantly challenging me and other exchange students to East-versus-West debates, usually with the aim of proving that "their" way of life was better.
By the time I left Russia a dozen years and a couple of career changes later, a lot of those people still hadn't gotten the memo. They were deep in denial about the passing of the USSR and spent a lot of time volubly claiming ownership of words like we and our and us in a way that quickly became a running joke in modernizing Russia.
U Nas Lusche — roughly, Ours is Better or It's Better Here — was the unofficial slogan of the pining-for-the-old-days crowd in post-communist Russia.
These folks weren't communists in any real ideological sense. They were mainly just people who had grown lazily comfortable with certain romantically goofy elements of the Soviet way of life and were (somewhat understandably) reluctant to give them up.
If you've spent the last 30 years sitting on splintered park benches with your buddies after work, drinking rancid keg beer out of a jam jar along with some salted vobla fish and some mushy "Doctor's" kielbasa, well, you'll be damned if you're going to worship at the more expensive altar of a warm Coca-Cola and a Snickers.
You liked your disgusting salt-fish and your unhygienic beverage choices and your absurd "kassa" multi-cashier store payment system that could make shopping for groceries an agonizing three-hour ritual.
And it rankled you to no end when people told you that these things, and by implication you yourself, were vestiges of a dead-and-gone world. (I actually loved the vobla and the particulate-filled Soviet beers and a lot of other USSR delicacies — the infuriating kassa system, not so much).
All of which is a roundabout way of saying the Soviets also had a strong sense of exceptionalism. It was something that was carefully nurtured and encouraged by The Party and had been spread successfully from the Kremlin to the remotest drunk-tank in Kamchatka.
But the problem with exceptionalism is that it can turn unintentionally comic with the drop of a hat. You're made to believe you're at the center of an envious universe, but then the world changes just enough and suddenly you're a punchline clinging to a lot of incoherent emotions. I watched this happen with my own eyes to a lot of people in the former Soviet Union.
And I feel like it's happening here now, with Rudy and the rest of the exceptionalist die-hards. They're hanging on to a conception of us that doesn't really exist anymore, not realizing that "America" is now a deeply varied, rapidly-changing place, one incidentally that they spend a lot of their public lives declaring they can't stand.
This was all on display this past week. Rudy's bizarre, Internet-maelstrom-inspiring media tour began with remarks at a private dinner for Scott Walker. People focused on the insult to Obama, but just as interesting was the apostrophic address to a conspiratorial and exclusive you and me America of his imagination:
I do not believe — and I know this is a horrible thing to say — but I do not believe that the president loves America. . . He doesnt love you. And he doesnt love me. He wasnt brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.
Rudy was ripped by pretty much everyone to the left of James Dobson for these comments, with the White House snarkily commenting, "It was a horrible thing to say."
There were allegations of racism and "otherizing," and the Twitter/Net/Cable feeding frenzy was intense enough that by the end of the week, even Walker began creeping sideways, beetle-like, in a direction away from Rudy (Walker told CNBC that Rudy could "speak for himself," noting helpfully: "I love America").
Characteristically, and with a trial lawyer's bravado, Rudy tried to talk his way out of the mess, rambling in self-defense to Bloomberg, CNN, Fox and anyone else who would listen. At each stop he doubled down on his remarks, concluding the tour with an incoherent rant to the New York Times in which he denied his comments about Obama were racist "since [Obama] was brought up by a white mother."
God knows what that meant — reading this was like watching Mark Fuhrman undergo hypnosis therapy — but it was fascinating stuff.
At the very least, the Giuliani crack-up started up a long-overdue discussion about what exactly it means when patrician pols like Rudy accuse others of not "loving America" enough.
After all, which America do they mean? The one that will be majority nonwhite by 2042? The one that twice elected Barack Obama president? The one that now produces more porn than steel? The one that has one of the world's lowest fertility rates and one of the highest immigration rates? That America?
Are they big fans of South Park maybe? The Wu-Tang Clan? Looking? Because it's ironic: The heavy industry and manufacturing might that was a key source of American power in the days of Giuliani's youth is now in serious decline, but Hollywood (and American pop culture generally) is a bigger, more hegemonic world power than ever.
Yet the current batch of exceptionalists mostly despises Hollywood, one of our few still-exceptionally-performing industries. They liked it better in the days when John Wayne was the leading man, Rock Hudson was in the closet and nobody made movies about copulating cowboys or Che's motorcycle trips.
Conservative politicians like Rudy are a bizarre combination of constant, withering, redundant whining about Actual Current America, mixed with endless demands that we all stand up and profess our love for some other America, one that apparently doesn't include a lot of the rest of us or the things about this country we like.
I feel sorry for Rudy that he can't love this country the way it is. I love America even with assholes like him living in it. In fact, I'm immensely proud of our assholes; I think America has the best assholes in the world. I defy the Belgians or the Japanese to produce something like a Donald Trump. If that makes me an exceptionalist, I plead guilty.
In all seriousness, the Rudy story is a bummer. It's not easy to love America and hate half the people who live there. It requires that you spend a lot of time closing your eyes and wishing history had happened differently, which, at least in my limited experience, doesn't work very well.
And that's not something to gloat about, either. A lot of people in this country think like Rudy, and if our present doesn't work for them, the future won't work for any of us. We're all going to end up miserable together, and that sucks.

Wayne Barrett: What Rudy Giuliani knows about love — a response to his 'doesn't love America' critique of Obama

special to the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Thursday, February 19, 2015, 9:29 PM
Updated: Friday, February 20, 2015, 10:49 AM

Obama Doesn't Love America

Rudy Giuliani knows a lot about love.
Ask Regina Peruggi, the second cousin he grew up with and married, who was "offended" when Rudy later engineered an annulment from the priest who was his best man on the grounds, strangely enough, that she was his cousin. Or ask Donna Hanover, the mother of his two children, who found out he wanted a separation when he left Gracie Mansion one morning and announced it at a televised press conference.
Or ask Judi Nathan, his third wife, whom he started dating while still married to Hanover and New York mayor. In two SUVs, he and an entourage of six or seven cops traveled 11 times to Judi's Hamptons getaway at a taxpayer cost of $3,000 a trip. That's love.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, seen speaking in New York last year, was assailed Thursday for questioning President Obama's love of country.
Rudy knows so much about love that he declared the other day that President Obama "doesn't love you" and "doesn't love me" at a private party of GOP fat cats.

TANNEN MAURY/EPA Obama was not 'brought up the way you were and the way I was brought up through love of this country,' Giuliani went as far as to say.
The onetime presidential candidate also revealed at the party that Obama "doesn't love America," an echo of a speech he'd delivered to delirious cheers in Arizona a week earlier when he declared: "I would go anywhere, any place, anytime, and I wouldn't give a damn what the President of the United States said, to defend my country. That's a patriot. That's a man who loves his people. That's a man who fights for his people. Unlike our President."
Rudy may have forgotten the half-dozen deferments he won ducking the Vietnam War, even getting the federal judge he was clerking for to write a letter creating a special exemption for him. And remember Bernie Kerik? He's the Giulaini police commissioner, business partner and sidekick whose nomination as homeland security secretary narrowly preceded indictments. He then did his national service in prison.

Giuliani's rampage against Obama questioned the President's love for America. 'I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American Presidents.' Colter Hettich/ New York Daily News Photo Illustration Giuliani's rampage against Obama questioned the President's love for America. 'I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American Presidents.'
Giuliani went so far as to rebuke the President for not being "brought up the way you were and the way I was brought up through love of this country," a bow no doubt to the parenting prowess of Harold Giuliani, who did time in Sing Sing for holding up a Harlem milkman and was the bat-wielding enforcer for the loan-sharking operation run out of a Brooklyn bar owned by Rudy's uncle.
Though Rudy cited Harold throughout his public life as his model (without revealing any of his history), he and five Rudy uncles found ways to avoid service in World War II. Harold, whose robbery conviction was in the name of an alias, made sure the draft board knew he was a felon. On the other hand, Obama's grandfather and uncle served. His uncle helped liberate Buchenwald, which apparently affected him so deeply he stayed in the family attic for six months when he returned home.

Exported.; Handout A Department of Correction receiving blotter from Sing Sing prison shows the name of Harold Giuliani (aka Joseph Starrett), Rudy's father.
Rudy also said Obama is "more of a critic than he is a supporter of America," an odd admonition coming from a security salesman who told a Tijuana audience of consulting clients in October: "America needs to stop lecturing other countries and start working on how to stop drug use in its citizens," shifting the onus for the Mexican drug trade onto us. He's a consultant in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the very countries where right-wing governments, traffickers and/or gangs are driving children and teenagers across the U.S. border.

Exported.; MARK LENNIHAN/AP Actress Donna Hanover is the mother of Giuliani's two children. Enlarge
Giuliani and his third wife, Judith Giuliani, attend the 'Saturday Night Live' 40th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday at Rockefeller Plaza. D Dipasupil/FilmMagic Giuliani and his third wife, Judith Giuliani, attend the 'Saturday Night Live' 40th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday at Rockefeller Plaza. Enlarge
He was a consultant for the government of Qatar, the country his friend and FBI director Louis Freeh accused of hiding 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed before the attack. That's the ultimate triumph of money over memory, since he's still talking, as recently as a week ago, about the 10 friends and 343 firefighters he lost on 9/11.
While Giuliani finds Obama's rhetoric insufficiently pro-American, his 2012 RNC speech was filled with catchphrases like Obama's "a complete and absolute failure," and he just branded the President "a moron" in his Arizona invocation of Neville Chamberlain at Munich, all of it presumably a new form of nationalist celebration. In 2012, Rudy even blasted Obama, without a glance in the mirror, for "attempting to exploit" the killing of Osama Bin Laden, calling it "disgusting."
Rudy contends that his not-like-us Obama insights have nothing to do with race, adding in day-after doubling down that the President "was taught to be a critic of America," while pointing out that his mother and grandparents were white. There are few in New York now, after 12 years of Mike Bloomberg and a year of Bill de Blasio, who doubt that Rudy was a conscious, almost energetic, polarizer. He never acknowledged his dark side then and he's not about to now.
Barrett is author of "Rudy: An Investigative Biography."

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who started fighting for socialist and liberal causes as a teenager. Credit Tamiment Library, New York University

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Rudy Giuliani clarifies Obama comments by claiming the President has been influenced by communism, socialism

Friday, February 20, 2015, 8:50 PM

Rudy Giuliani said Friday that he believes the President has been influenced by communism and socialism. Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News Rudy Giuliani said Friday that he believes the President has been influenced by communism and socialism.
Trying to explain his controversial comments that President Obama doesn’t love America, Rudy Giuliani said Friday that he believes the President has been influenced by communism and socialism.
“Look, this man was brought up basically in a white family, so whatever he learned or didn’t learn, I attribute this more to the influence of communism and socialism” than to his race, Giuliani told the Daily News.
“I don’t (see) this President as being particularly a product of African-American society or something like that. He isn’t,” the former mayor added. “Logically, think about his background. . . The ideas that are troubling me and are leading to this come from communists with whom he associated when he was 9 years old” through family connections.
When Obama was 9, he was living in Indonesia with his mother and his stepfather. Giuliani said he was referencing Obama’s grandfather having introduced him to Frank Marshall Davis, a member of the Communist Party.
Wayne Barrett: What Rudy Giuliani knows about love — a response to his 'doesn't love America' critique of Obama
The former mayor also brought up Obama’s relationship with “quasi-communist” community organizer Saul Alinsky and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Giuliani, a 2008 presidential hopeful, set off a national firestorm when he told an exclusive gathering of conservatives, pols and media figures on Wednesday night, “I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that this President loves America.

The former mayor also brought up Obama’s relationship with 'quasi-communist' community organizer Saul Alinsky and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  
Mark Wilson/Getty Images The former mayor also brought up Obama’s relationship with 'quasi-communist' community organizer Saul Alinsky and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
“He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up: To love this country,” Giuliani said of Obama at the Manhattan dinner, which was arranged for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Even the host of the “21 Club” get together, billionaire Republican John Catsimatidis, distanced himself from Giuliani’s remarks.
“I wouldn’t have said it,” Catsimatidis told the News on Friday. “I respect the position of President.”
Tennessee congressman: Maybe Giuliani thinks Obama loves country 3/5 as much as GOP pals
Amid the uproar, Giuliani has spent the last two days explaining and contextualizing his comments in various interviews — but refusing to apologize.
In his interview with The News, which had a reporter at the Wednesday night dinner, Giuliani said he stood by his comments about the President because they were “from the heart” and not politically calculated.

De Blasio, DNC Chairwoman Slam Rudy Giuliani's Comments That Obama Doesn't Love America
NY Daily News
If critics are playing them up, he said, “I’m glad they’re making a big deal out of it, (because it’s) an issue of life and death, which is a lack of leadership by our President.”
Most of the likely 2016 GOP candidates have avoided addressing the Giuliani situation at length.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday that Walker said “no” when asked if Giuliani had crossed the line with his accusations, then added, “I don’t think it’s worth getting into the battle” over whether Obama loves the U.S.A. or not.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, “doesn’t question President Obama’s motives. He does question President Obama’s disastrous policies,” a spokeswoman said.

Republican insiders said Giuliani is doing damage to the GOP’s image.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked about Giuliani’s comments and said he felt “sorry” for him. Evan Vucci/AP White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked about Giuliani’s comments and said he felt “sorry” for him.
“I think it hurts the GOP brand once again,” a Republican strategist said. “It’s these types of comments that make the independent voter just think that we’re crazy!”
Giuliani responded on Friday, “I don’t know how good the political judgment of the people in my party is — because they blew the last two elections.”
Some GOP insiders defended Giuliani and said he is giving voice to what many may believe, but fear to say.
“When the Pope is sounding more hawkish than the President of the United States, then the White House just doesn’t get it,” a longtime party operative said, “and I believe Rudy’s genuinely frustrated about that — as are a lot of other people.”
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked about Giuliani’s comments and said he felt “sorry” for him.
“It’s sad to see when somebody who has attained a certain level of public stature, and even admiration, tarnishes that legacy so thoroughly,” Earnest said.
“And the truth is, I don’t take any joy, or vindication, or satisfaction from that. I think, really, the only thing that I feel is sorry for Rudy Giuliani today.”

In Remarks on Obama, Rudy Giuliani to the Core

Mr. Giuliani, long prone to flamboyant confrontation and rhetorical excess, is less inclined toward self-restraint than ever.
 (As the publisher of The NY Free Press I covered Rudy Giuliani during his eight-years as mayor. I question him on his view on race relation. I was not sure whether he was a racist or not. His recent comment about President Obama proved that he is an egomaniac  bigot.)
Rafael Martínez Alequín.)