Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Friday, April 29, 2011


Writes Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson:

"To those deniers who can’t come to terms with the fact of the Obama presidency, I have nothing to offer but this: Yes, he’s smarter, richer, luckier and better looking than you, and he’s your president. Yours, mine and ours. And he’s black. Get over it."

"So the leader of the free world summons the media for an important announcement — but not about war, peace or the economy. It’s about his birth certificate

This just in: President Obama has proved, yet again, that he is a natural-born citizen of the United States. Which we already knew — “we” meaning those of us who believe there is such a thing as objective reality.

I include in this reality-based group at least some of the “carnival barkers,” as Obama called them, who have led the gullible and the paranoid down the rabbit hole of “birther” conspiracy theory. Did Donald Trump ever really believe there was a question about Obama’s birthplace? Of course not; look how quickly he moved on to the next bogus “mystery,” which apparently involves Obama’s stellar academic record — a little too stellar, perhaps? A bit too perfect?

Two ugly forces had to combine to produce the birth certificate sideshow, which can only be described as a national disgrace. One is a calculated attempt by Obama’s political opponents to de-legitimize his presidency.

It seems obvious to me that this campaign to paint the president as some sort of usurper — this insistence that despite winning the popular vote by a healthy margin and the electoral vote by a landslide, he wasn’t really elected — has everything to do with race.

Does anyone disagree? Well, just imagine what the birthers would be saying if Obama — like his Republican opponent in 2008, John McCain — had been born in the Panama Canal Zone. Or think of the uproar if Obama — like George W. Bush in 2000 — had lost the popular vote but won the electoral college."


"The birther lunacy is an extreme case. The short-form birth certificate that Obama released in June 2008 was the official document, according to Hawaii officials. They should know, right? Wrong, said the deniers, we need the long-form certificate, even though it’s not considered official. Obama produced it Wednesday, and that settles the question, right? No sooner had the president finished speaking than a birther e-mail landed in my inbox, headlined 'Case closed? Not so fast.' ”

The Birther Controversy has always been about Mr. Obama's race.  To deny this ugly fact is to deny this ugly reality.  The birthers need to face up to what they are:   racists.  Once they do so, they will be able to get help for their psychological problem. 


Patrick M said...

Oh, enough with the "racist" bullshit already!

Understand, the birthers are just like every other conspiracy theory kook out there. They cling to their stupidity because they've rationalized something that isn't true and can't accept their rationalization is disproven. There probably are some actual bigots in the mix, but not all of these kooks.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, this whole obsession with finding widespread racism in every opposition to Obama's policies is just as damned looney. And, like the birthers, is a distraction from discussing something substantive. And since half the visible posts have to mention the all-consuming GOP racism....

TAO said...

Ah, Patrick...when 45% of Republicans do NOT believe that Obama was born in the United States, and by default, do not believe that he is THEIR legitimate President then there can be no other conversation....

A "conspiracy theory" is something that involves a small percentage of the population...but 45% is NOT a small percentage.

By continuing the debate, as Donald Trump has and as bloggers like Left Coast Rebel continue to do so they continue to want to question the legitimacy of the Obama election, they want to deny the fact that Obama was elected President by a majority....

Its not just RACISM but also an attempt to deny the legitimacy of our democratic system of government.

So, don't get your panties in a wad by those of us on the left screaming RACISM...but rather go around and visit your conservative buddies blogs and criticize them for perpetuating the myth of a conspiracy and undermining our system of government....

The whole purpose of the RACIST NATION (aka Birther Nation) was first and foremost to keep us from discussing other things....

The best the republicans could come up with is that "...they took Obama at his word..." rather a feeble attempt at not answering the question....

That was the whole purpose...

Shaw Kenawe said...

I attach a racist motivation to the birther issue alone.

Since no other president in US history has had to produce his papers even AFTER those papers were already produced and examined and verified by every official in Hawaii and even AFTER non-partisan fact checking organizations concluded that the birth certificate Obama made public during the 2008 campaign attested to the fact that he is an American citizen born of an American mother in the United States of America.

All of this proof was not enough.

Can YOU or any other apologist for this disgraceful action explain why the original bc that Mr. Obama made public was NOT believed?

BTW, Patrick, you seem awfully touchy about the "racist" label.

I'm just wondering if you were as tired of the "bullshit" labels of "Commie," "Marxist," "Socialist," "Islamist," that have been thrown at Mr. Obama for three years?

I disagree with you when you say not all of the birthers are racists. I believe all of them ARE motivated by racial fear and hatred.

Answer me this question and be honest:

Why did they demand more proof of Mr. Obama's citizenship when proof was given?

And why did they do this to our first bi-racial president.

Why did they question the circumstances of Mr. Obama's birth but not GWB, Clinton, GHWB, Carter, or ANY OTHER POSST-WAR PRESIDENT?

Not "everyone" finds racism in every opposition to Obama's policies. That's simply not true.

But I DO find racism in the birther's refusal to accept Obama as an American citizen.

Go read some blogs run by African-Americans and understand the damage the GOP has done to itself by not running away from this shameful issue.

PS. Your new blog looks great.

Dave Miller said...

Anon... so you are saying if a white president was pushing socialist principles, like government subsidies for business [think corn], and government propping up failing businesses [think Amtrak] like past GOP presidents have, your party would have asked them to produce not one, but two birth certificates, even after state officials from both parties in Hawaii verified its authenticity?

Really? You can't be that stupid can you?

Patrick, are you saying you see no racial component in this?

Maybe people are just saying those Hawaiians are just to stupid, or dumb to be able to tell if a birth certificate is fake.

Isn't that a logical conclusion?

The people perpetrating these falsehoods represent over 45% of the GOP.

Would you have us believe there is really little racism there and that instead they are just stupid?

Jerry Critter said...


And he can make you disappear with a snap of his fingers.

Octopus said...

My apologies. Your reply to Anonymous and my deletion of the same comment got crossed inside Blogger. Otherwise I would have left the comment intact so your reply would have had a reference point.

Identity politics – and we all know you have strong identifications with the GOP and conservative talking points –- is no excuse for blind-sighting yourself in the face overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Birtherism, Photoshop images of watermelons on the White House lawn, photos of the President dressed as a pimp, images of the President as a Joker in blackface … none of these examples exist in isolation. All are part of a PERVASIVE and PERNICIOUS pattern of underlying racism. Patrick, you seem to have lost yourself in identity politics, lost your objectivity, and keep missing the point.

Patrick, one more point: It seems you have forgotten about the former Dixiecrats and former segregationists who left the Democratic Party 40 years ago and became Republicans; and these people are racists! You seem to forget that very few people will openly admit to racism (roundly condemned these days in case you haven’t noticed), that racists have become consummately skilled in subliminal and covert messaging: Wink, wink, nod: “Oh, yes, talking about that ‘black man’ in the White House.” Wink, wink, nod.

Patrick, perhaps I give you too much credit. Perhaps you are incapable of putting hyper-partisanship aside to read the writing on the wall. Other Republicans have condemned the racism within their ranks. Why can’t you?

Octopus said...

Patrick: “… a distraction from discussing something substantive …

Curious indeed, “distraction” is the same word used by the President earlier this week, but it is perfectly OK when Patrick invokes the word while making himself tone-deaf when the President uses it.

What purpose does Birtherism serve? Some commentators claim that Birtherism is an attempt to discredit the President and undermine his legitimacy as leader. In my view, this is a shallow interpretation. I offer another. It is an extreme form of wedge politics designed to ‘atomize’ the electorate. In case Patrick does not know what this means, it is a form of ‘divide and conquer.’

When the GOP injects subliminal forms of bias and bigotry into their rhetoric, the idea is to reduce the electorate into a particulate mist such that people are turned into factions at odds with each other and no longer talking or comparing notes as a cohesive political force. Then the GOP is able to play factions against each other and slip odious legislation into the mainstream without intact voter blocks noticing to the fine print. It explains why diehard Republicans support policy positions that often inimical to their own economic self-interest. And it explains how proto-fascists stage-manage public opinion and gradually seize control.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Anonymous, I read your comment.

This smear campaign against the president's citizenship, academic achievements, and even the sincerity of his religious beliefs is all code, as (O)CT(O) rightly pointed out, for keeping the African-American in his place.

And people like you don't think his place should be in the White House.

I have repeated time and again that having differences with Mr. Obama's policies and politics is legitimate and part of our democracy.

Insinuating, through the birther issue, that our first bi-racial president is a usurping "other" by challenging his birthright, academic achievements, and even his sincerity of religion is shameful, malevolent, and racist.

No, sir, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, YOU need to get a grip on THAT.

Octopus said...

Moments ago, Anonymous left the exact same comment at the Zone. Here is the text exactly as it appeared in my email box:
- - - - - - - - - -
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "It's time to grow up, America":

It's not about rejecting the black man,it's about rejecting Socialism.

Get a grip and stop playing games with race

Posted by Anonymous to THE SWASH ZONE at 1:50 PM, April 29, 2011
- - - - - - - - - -
And here is my point: By now, Anon has left dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of copies of the above comment across liberal cyberspace ... culling from our link lists. Do you honestly think this troll will come back here to carry on a conversation? The intent is to go viral, and annoy people, not to engage you in a debate.

That is why I delete these comments. Responding to them is like taking to an empty room ... and a waste of time. See my point?

Jerry Critter said...

I see your point, but sometimes the stench of the stupid is just too pungent to ignore.

Sue said...

Oh God, everyone is saying such profound stuff! TAO is so right..."Its not just RACISM but also an attempt to deny the legitimacy of our democratic system of government." The wingnuts HATE liberals and do not want them running THEIR country!

When Obama bends over backwards to please the birthers and they still deny, that's racism...

Shaw Kenawe said...

This just landed in my inbox:

"Q. Why did it take Obama two and a half years to post his birth certificate? A. It didn’t.

Even among his supporters, the release of the “long form” of his Certificate of Live Birth from the State of Hawaii has provoked the question of why Obama waited so long to do it. It’s a stupid question that plays into two false memes and undermines the nature of objective fact and the proposition that all men are created equal.

The fact is that Obama “produced the birth certificate” like every other candidate when his campaign organization put him on the ballot in 2008, and his campaign put that document on the Internet in 2008. He did not wait two and a half years to produce the “real” birth certificate, nor did he spend two million dollars preventing people from finding it.

What he delayed on was was taking extraordinary and unprecedented measures to request an exception from Hawaii state law to produce and publish an obsolete and unofficial document.

His Correspondence with the Hawaii State Department of Health shows the length his lawyers had to go to to persuade the State of Hawaii that it was in their fiscal interest to make an exception to State law.

And he did this, ultimately, because the press and pundits were spending more time covering the false debate over his legitimacy rather than the real debate we need to have about jobs, budgets, deficits, and taxes.

Shaw Kenawe said...


"What the birthers seek is not the truth. (You can tell because they are not convinced by the truth; the usual suspects of Orly Taitz, WorldNetDaily, Donald Trump, and Jonah Goldberg still “have questions.”) There is a percentage of people who will always believe what they prefer to believe regardless of evidence; we see this in the debates over anthropogenic climate change, human evolution, and whether lower taxes on the rich stimulate economic growth and job creation. Birtherism is more insidious, though, than simple closed-mindedness.

What the birthers see is The Other. They look in the cedar chest and see their calligraphic Birth Certificate with flourishes and footprints and gold seals and doctor names, and take that as What A Birth Certificate Is. It's ceremonial, official-looking, and old-fashioned, traits that they associate with authority. When they see a cold, austere, government-generated computer form without the ceremonial flourishes they expect, they disbelieve. It Is Not Like Mine. and that plays into the fundamental bias—He Is Not Like Me.

This is the same emotion that falsely labels Obama a socialist, a Chicago shakedown artist, a Muslim, a secretive Manchurian Candidate, an Indonesian-educated foreigner, an elitist Pelosi Liberal, an Affirmative-Action President, a transcript-concealer, a hater of white people. Because his background is radically different from the idealized June and Ward Cleaver upbringing that Presidents are supposed to have, he is an outsider, and therefore must be a usurper, a fraud."

Shaw Kenawe said...


The shorthand for this is “racism” but that doesn't really capture the sentiment. It’s a kind of hidebound insularity that values ceremony over substance and is deeply suspicious of things and people who fail to conform to stereotypes.

The question of “why did he wait so long?” presumes two things: one, that the long form is more authoritative than the official COLB, and two, that Obama's failure to produce the long form on demand implies that he's hiding something. Both are wrong and deeply offensive. The first implies that Obama is not like other Americans, and the second implies that he has a higher bar to jump over to be considered qualified. “He wasn't vetted” is also code for “I don't accept him as legitimate.” The entire exercise—and the followup questions on school transcripts, medical records, etc.— is designed to prey on people’s fears of nonconformity to imply that his decisions, his agenda, and his power are scary and dangerous.

It makes no difference that there’s no factual basis for these fears. Our media are now in the business of selling tickets to dogfights, not trying to separate truth from falsehood. Even with the long form confirming the short firm in every detail, the media is still covering the doubters because it’s still a story.

Like everybody else, I doubt that this is the End of Birtherism. Some percentage of Americans will always spread a slander that reinforces what they want to believe. I would hope, though, that the majority will understand that when the people who have been spreading lies and slander have been proven wrong, and are not only unapologetic but persist in further lies, that they’re the ones who should be marginalized and driven out of the public debate, not the target of their slander.


Octopus said...

Let me put this into perspective. Three (3) readers of this forum have responded to this troll. If the same troll visits Sue's bog and succeeds in having three (3) more readers respond, and then visits Green Eagle's blog and gets three (3) more readers to respond, and so on ... that is a total of 9 readers replying to a troll who will NEVER RETURN to continue the conversation.

More than trollish behavior, this is also a PRANK designed to WASTE EVERYONE'S TIME.

My point, If blog owners deleted this crap beforehand, think of how much time you would spare your readers ... notwithstanding their annoyance. See what I mean?

Hellooo, Sue, are you listening?

Jerry Critter said...

I understand, Octo. Completely. And I agree with you, but sometimes I can't help myself.

You know. Every once in a while, we do something against our better judgment. It is just a "guy thing".

Jerry Critter said...

Sometimes you have to fart in public.

billy pilgrim said...

when i read your headline i thought you were referring to al franken.

he might be smarter and richer than me but i take umbrage at the luckier part. i'm lucky just to alive these days.

Shaw Kenawe said...

billy pilgrim: "...i'm lucky just to [be] alive these days."

So am I, billy. So am I.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Another interesting aspect on the Birther/Racism issue:

From the blog Hulabaloo and Digby:

The [Supreme] Court also presented a parade of horribles[sic] argument as to the feared results of granting Mr. [Dred] Scott's petition:

It would give to persons of the negro race, ...the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, ...the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.
In other words, the Dred Scott decision said, in part, that because blacks would never have been considered citizens of any state at the time that the Constitution was ratified, it was not possible ever to consider them citizens, even if individual states decided to make them citizens and accord them the rights of citizens. Note: Taney was talking about all blacks, not just slaves.

DIGBY: "In the real world, of course, the court and the Congress reversed this shameful decision (although the Dred Scott decision was, technically, never overruled). Still, the general lesson of Dred Scott endures in the modern right wing: a very effective way to eliminate those you hate is to delegitimize them, deny them any justification to the claim of being a genuine American citizen and a voice in the public political discussion. The birther movement is simply one of the wedges used by racists, ethnocentrists, religious bigots, and homophobes to force the country to engage in an evil discourse: whether citizenship, including but not limited to the right to be president, should be culturally, if not legally, withheld from anyone they deem not sufficiently American. And in the case of Obama, the Supreme Court - via originalist arguments as specious as anything Scalia advances now - asserted it was simply impossible for blacks to become citizens and therefore it is impossible for Obama to be a legitimate president.

Birtherism may fail, but so what? The evil discourse remains: Who is truly American and who is truly not? That is the argument the right demands we address every time a Democrat is elected president.

With Obama, the right has an ancient Supreme Court ruling on their side. It may be discredited legally, but culturally, the notion that any black man could ever be a legitimate president is simply unthinkable - especially a black who has thrown his hat in with the socialists of the Democrat party.

The path out of this evil discourse is simple: label it first as the disgraceful and malicious expression of racism it is. Refuse to engage the "substantive" arguments they advance. Crowd out the evil discourse with truly important discussions that the country simply needs to have."

I couldn't agree more!

Shaw Kenawe said...

I mistakenly wrote that Digby of Hullabaloo wrote the above article. That is wrong. Tristero is the author.

Tim said...

My only problem with crying racism is it makes Obama look like a victim and less then presidential. He (of course) refuses to take the bait and this makes him look all the better for it.
Really it is about the fact that Republicans feel that they are the only legitimate party in America and that NO DEMOCRAT is worthy of holding the office, as exemplified not only by their utter contempt for Obama and Clinton as well. They feel Democrats are unamerican commies who will turn their children into gay, welfare receiving pacifists instead of the red blooded union hating warmongers that they should be.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Tim, far more insightful people than I have understood birtherism as racial bigotry.

Michael Tomasky of The Guardian wrote:

"But the problems here are racial paranoia and the bald willingness of politicians to lie in order to stoke it. In at least this one respect, the election of the first African American president, rather than taking us forward, has drawn us back into a cobwebbed and pitiless past, from which there seems no escape."

And David Remnick of The New Yorker wrote this:

"Let’s say what is plainly true (and what the President himself is reluctant to say): these rumors, this industry of fantasy, are designed to arouse a fear of the Other, of an African-American man with a white American mother and a black Kenyan father. Obama, as a politician, is clearly not a radical; he is a center-left pragmatist. If anything, he believes deeply in his capacity to lead with subtle diplomacy and political maneuvering, with a highly realistic sense of the possible; in fact, to many he is maddeningly pragmatic.

The one radical thing about Barack Obama is his race, his name. Of course, there is nothing innately radical about being black or having Hussein as middle name; what is radical is that he has those attributes and is sitting in the Oval Office. And even now, more than two years after the fact, this is deeply disturbing to many people, and, at the same time, the easiest way to arouse visceral opposition to him. Let’s be even plainer: to do what Trump has done (and he is only the latest and loudest and most spectacularly hirsute) is a conscious form of race-baiting, of fear-mongering. And if that makes Donald Trump proud, then what does that say for him?"

Since no other president has been hounded the way Mr. Obama has even after he produced a birth certificate in 2008 which all officials in the state of Hawaii, Republican AND Democratic, have unequivocally said was proof positive of Mr. Obama's citizenship.

Mr. Obama was born of an American mother on American soil.

That should have been the end of it, but something drove this over the cliff, and that something is racial hatred.

Tim said...

Oh I didn't say it wasn't racism, I'm just saying whining about it makes Democrats look like wimps. Seriously, by now everybody "knows" that teabaggers are racist and they look ridiculous when they deny it.
Besides, there are lots of racist Democrats as well.

Dave Miller said...

Good point Tim...