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from David Roberts at Grist: http://grist.org/politics/in-an-era-of-post-truth-politics-credibility-is-like-a-rainbow/

Sullivan has the cover story in the latest issue of Newsweek, called “The Democrats Reagan,” about the enormous potential of a second Obama term. One of his main arguments is that a decisive defeat for Republicans in 2012 could interrupt their rightward drift. Defeat would cause soul-searching, cooler heads would once again prevail, and the party would tack to the center. Color me skeptical.

Mostly I was struck by this line, which comes in the context of a discussion about immigration:

Under Obama, deportations of illegal aliens are double what they were under his predecessor; and the number of border agents is at a record high. Both give him conservative credibility on the issue, if only the right would acknowledge it.

. . . In post-truth politics, the basic mistake to see things like “credibility” as objective phenomena in the world. Put high heat to water, you get steam. Put conservative immigration policies to Obama, you get conservative credibility.

Credibility is not like that. It’s what you might call a relational phenomenon; it exists in the relationship between object and subject. Think about a rainbow. (Always good advice.) For a rainbow to exist, you need sunlight and water vapor in the air, but also a subject positioned at a particular angle to the sun and water vapor. A rainbow is just “how the light bouncing off the vapor appears to the subject.” Without the subject, there’s no appearing, and thus no rainbow.

Credibility is like a rainbow. It is relational. “Conservative credibility” is not something that simply happens when conservative policies are enacted or conservative rhetoric echoed. It requires a subject — in this case a conservative subject — to witness and acknowledge it. One must be credible to someone, and to have “conservative credibility” one must be credible to conservatives.

. . . there are no referees any more, no members of the elite who transcend the partisan war and are respected by both sides. Or at least very few. Any more, there are only the sides and their respective worlds. Conservative credibility can only come from the conservative side, and if conservatives refuse to grant it, it doesn’t exist, any more than a rainbow exists when no one’s looking at it.

read more: http://grist.org/politics/in-an-era-of-post-truth-politics-credibility-is-like-a-rainbow/

No Tossed Salad Either

. . . on the left.


'Nice' Conservatives Crying That Their Party's Lost Its Way Are Mostly Full Of S**t

WHILE it's undeniable that the worst instincts and ambitions of the republican party are in full view these days, and amplified by the media promotion (and some voter identification) of their most extreme whack-jobs, I can't remember this fantastical time in history when republicans and their policies were devoid of the bigotry, racism, xenophobia, corporate love, and greed that's front and center today; prominent in this presidential election.

Without arguing individual motives and efforts of folks like D. Frum, A. Sullivan - and others, like A .Fleisher and J. Goldberg, who've criticized their party's ineptness or tone to some extent - it's transparent from their clinging to their party identification and support for republican candidates that the only thing they actually decry about their party is that they seem to be losing ground and losing elections with every unapologetic, divisive appeal - with every divisive, elitist policy they promote.

What gives the most rabid among republicans hope that someone outside of the mob of paranoid, frightened rabble that makes up their base is listening to their drivel this time around is their success in the last midterm freak-out where they managed to turn out their sour-grapes supporters to stick it to President Obama and take over the mouthpiece of the House.

However, the polling this election which shows very little traction gained by republicans off of a chronically ill economy is a clear repudiation of whatever message Americans are taking from the latest conservative agenda. It's as if the old bugaboos and whistles have lost their luster and din for voters outside of the narrow republican margin of support looking forward to November.

No matter to the Romney team, though (and the congressional campaign managers, as well) . . . Like conservatives pined for more bombs to drop on Vietnam in a vain attempt to steal victory out of the mouth of certain defeat, today's republicans - save for the recalcitrant ones embarrassed by the audacity of Mitt's and Ryan's mendacity - are angling to empty their arsenal of demagoguery onto the already slippery floor of their faltering presidential campaign to rescue Romney from a crushing November.

But, don't let the timid ones fool you. All they really wish for is that all of the blatant and open racism, bigotry, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, corporate love, and greed that has always under-girded republican victories was, somehow, put back undercover - out of public perception - and that their party would get back to devising and employing those clever codes and whistles that masked their most fervent motivations to divide and conquer.

A Clarion Call for a New Democratic Era

MICHELLE OBAMA'S speech last night before the Democratic convention was a clarion call for a new Democratic era. It was due notice that generations of Americans are poised to move forward -- from the promises and opportunities of our nation, to their struggles and challenges to redeem those; -- and, to the hoped-for realization of those dreams and aspirations.

Moreover, as our First Lady affirmed the struggles and challenges that she and her husband, Barack Obama, have faced on the road to the highest responsibility in the land, she gave voice and light to the struggles and challenges that her husband has dedicated most of his life to resolving and triumphing over for countless Americans from all stations of life.

If I close my eyes and listen to her testimonial and short history of their lives together, I can see generations standing before her; proud of her inspiring words, but anxious to get to the actual realization of those dreams and aspirations Mrs. Obama so lovingly and convincingly conveyed. I can also see generation after generation standing behind her; energized by her enthusiasm and optimism, but anxious, as well, to move past the cynicism and deliberate obstruction from those without vision or concern for the future to their promised successes.

In the hall filled with Democrats and others, I could see countless men and women who have pulled themselves up from the hard and firm roots of our nation to bask in the energy and sustaining light of our party's ambitions for their ultimate growth and blossoming.

There isn't the same sense of just a handful of fortunate ones having arrived at the gate; there's been a bumper crop of minority youth, women, physically-challenged Americans, and others who have little memory or expectation of some deliberate oppression or some organized epidemic of discrimination sanctioned by our government and encouraged from the highest levels of our government. This is a generation of Americans who have come to expect that there will be opportunities and successes in their lives; and, who have come to expect that they can effectively defend against interference and noise which threatens to deny them those opportunities and successes.

Cynicism is now a luxury, as Bill Clinton used to say. Cynicism is mostly an imposture, used opportunistically by those opposing and resisting transformational change in America as a lure away from the path and from the realization of that defining progress we seek. It's no coincidence or accident that those in our party who have taken up the banner of opportunity and progress regard cynicism as an anathema to those efforts.

It's also no coincidence or accident that those who would stand in the way of progress are fully invested in cultivating doubts and suspicion of our collective efforts in government. That contrast between the aspirations of our two major political parties couldn't be clearer. Democrats are invested in hope; republicans are invested in denigrating, belittling, and squashing those hopes.

Yet, generations and generations are now at the gate and ready to step into whatever opportunities for responsibility we can offer; more Americans than ever before in our history have taken advantage of the gifts generations in the past have placed before them and are poised for personal greatness; poised to take that next step to assuming responsibility for generations to follow.

Those who have invested themselves in blocking these classes of Americans from opportunity have little but avarice, antipathy, and acrimony to keep them company. If they can knock down those in the lead -- the folks opening the doors ahead of us -- they can forestall progress and change. They are a desperate and threatened cabal of obstinacy. The American dream, for many of them, is just a political prop and justification of their own excess; perverted into a defense of their own sweet selves and their fading preeminence.

In this election, we are privileged to have a pragmatic optimist to champion our Democratic causes into the next presidential term; into the future. Barack Obama has remained incredibly focused on our futures; even as he defends his political one. It's remarkable just how many of the issues, initiatives, and ideals that he's represented since his first presidential run are still at the forefront of his political efforts -- even in his campaign for reelection. His rhetoric and his mindset is firmly focused on us; the American people who he represents in office. He's determined to capture and deliver that American dream for as many of us as he's able; for republicans and Democrats alike.

Michelle spoke to that last night. For those who've witnessed this lady in action, it should be clear that she has been one of Barack Obama's toughest critics. It should mean a great deal to us, therefore, that she believes our President is the best suited to lead us to those things we aspire to.

Indulge me a bit, read through, and let this passage from Michelle Obama's convention speech resonate against what I've said here . . .

Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it . and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love.

And he believes that when you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity . you do not slam it shut behind you . you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.

He's the same man who started his career by turning down high paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work . because for Barack, success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives.

He's the same man who, when our girls were first born, would anxiously check their cribs every few minutes to ensure they were still breathing, proudly showing them off to everyone we knew.

That's the man who sits down with me and our girls for dinner nearly every night, patiently answering their questions about issues in the news, and strategizing about middle school friendships.

That's the man I see in those quiet moments late at night, hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him.

The letter from the father struggling to pay his bills . from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won't cover her care . from the young person with so much promise but so few opportunities.

I see the concern in his eyes...and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, "You won't believe what these folks are going through, Michelle . it's not right. We've got to keep working to fix this. We've got so much more to do."

I see how those stories — our collection of struggles and hopes and dreams — I see how that's what drives Barack Obama every single day.

And I didn't think it was possible, but today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago . even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met.

I love that he's never forgotten how he started.

I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he's going to do, even when it's hard — especially when it's hard.

I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as "us" and "them" — he doesn't care whether you're a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above . he knows that we all love our country. and he's always ready to listen to good ideas . he's always looking for the very best in everyone he meets.

And I love that even in the toughest moments, when we're all sweating it — when we're worried that the bill won't pass, and it seems like all is lost — Barack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise.

Just like his grandmother, he just keeps getting up and moving forward . with patience and wisdom, and courage and grace.

And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here .and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once.

But eventually we get there, we always do.

We get there because of folks like my dad . folks like Barack's grandmother . men and women who said to themselves, "I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will . maybe my grandchildren will."

So many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love . because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.

So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelming — or even impossible — let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation . it's who we are as Americans . it's how this country was built.

And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us . if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button . then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids.

And if so many brave men and women could wear our country's uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights . then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights . surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.

If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire . if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores . if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote . if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time. if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream . and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love . then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.

Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country — the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.

That is what has made my story, and Barack's story, and so many other American stories possible.

I couldn't have said it better, Michelle.



The time spent on Romney's biography was a waste. That was supposed to be their main goal

It's remarkable that the Romney campaign thought that his image needed to be softened by an entire convention gushing over life experiences which most folks will assume are the advantages of his wealth.

This bland and rambling convention was an attempt to establish Mitt Romney as some Reagan-like figure who should be regarded as some kind of icon, rather than a politician accountable for the details of his ambitions and endeavors for the presidency. Romney spent the week ducking behind this poorly erected diversion -- with a tedious line of folks trying to fill in the blanks of his tepid, vacuous campaign -- and emerged to accept their nomination with the gravitas of a wet slice of bread.

With all of that done and over, the question is still directly on his finances and the tax returns he's hiding. There wasn't enough in his curiously empty speech to the convention to recall, past the lies and distortions, to distract from the questions that followed the mostly unknown republican candidate.

He's been effectively defined by the Obama campaign and others as the worst of what we've come to expect out of capitalism. That's still the referendum here: Vulture capitalism and taxpayer-enabled greed, vs. the vast majority of working American families without access to the benefits Romney enjoyed to his financial success. He's a poster for the speculation, scheming, and manipulation of our financial industry by slick insiders which most Americans rightly blame for our present economic struggle and collapse.

NONE of what just occurred in that convention hall obscures ANY of that.

Think about it . . . at this time in our nation's history, with our first African American president

Republicans have been scrambling since this president's nomination in 2008 to find a way to disenfranchise and disqualify the legions of African-American voters from voting for Barack Obama. States have put regressive and discriminatory laws in place to deny the black vote this very November.

Our nation's first black Attorney General is well and timely placed and is having NONE of it! Att. Gen. Holder has blocked voter ID laws in several states, including Texas, and has effectively preserved the rights of African-Americans (and others) in Texas to free and unencumbered access to the voting polls with the court's decision to reject Texas' insidious attempt to suppress the minority and poor vote in their state.

What a perfect storm of antagonism and forceful resistance at the very top levels of our nation's government. What a thing of beauty, in my lifetime! I know we'll be looking back on this as an integral part of a transformational era in civil and voting rights for African-Americans (like me).

A Most Dubious Republican National Convention

Mitt Romney's campaign is torn between a panic that they have to, both, define their candidate for the majority of American voters, and their desperation to spend their time hollering at us from their podium what a scary, liberal, and un-American president they believe Barack Obama is.

That first ambition of Romney's campaign -- presenting their version of who Mitt Romney is in a way that connects and resonates with voters -- won't tolerate or bear well distraction of the blistering negativity that comes with each and every one of their desperate attacks on the record and character of President Obama.

That cynical balancing act was on display this morning when RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, speaking on 'CBS This Morning,' explained to Charlie Rose that the purpose of their convention was to "tell Mitt Romney's story." Preibus immediately stomped on that ambition by declaring his republicans' need to 'prosecute' Barack Obama:

"We need to prosecute the president on what he promised and what he delivered...we need to remind the American people that said if we pass a trillion dollar stimulus, we would have unemployment at this point below 6%. We need to prosecute the president who seems to be in love with his own voice...," Preibus said.

Is this the same republican party that complained all this week about how much they objected to what they saw as a 'divisive' Obama campaign?

There is no question that the Romney camp will feel that their time was wasted and their money disappeared down a rabbit hole if they didn't use this moment when they had the eyes and ears of the most Americans possible before the election to put Barack Obama down hard.

Yet, that destructive ambition will likely serve to reinforce and widen the negative perceptions of Mitt Romney that have already been generated and deepened by a withering primary battle with his republican opponents; and by an advertising campaign which hasn't yet found room in their increasingly defensive posturing to present their candidate as anything other than a caustic critic of Barack Obama.

It's not as if there aren't a bevy of substantive issues that Mitt Romney wants to represent in this campaign. Mr. Romney has offered his opinion on the stump about taxes, welfare, Medicare, Afghanistan . . . He just hasn't found a way of presenting them as anything other than an attack on his opponent. He's even raised a few issues just to defend against, and deflect from, charges by the Obama campaign about his personal financial conduct; or to defend the legislative record of the congressman he chose as his running mate.

In all, the atmosphere going into this republican convention is more full of animosity toward their Democratic opponent, than it's vibing on excitement about 'telling Mitt Romney's story.' Their candidate has presented no tax plan for them to cheer; no budget plan for them to celebrate. What's left to tell about Mitt Romney that work-weary American voters are interested in hearing?

"Enough talk about Barack Obama . . . let's talk about Mitt Romney, and how much he's against Barack Obama."

Despite all of the calculated complaining from republicans this week about divisive politics, divisive politics is just what their convention is all about. That's not, in and of itself, such a damning indictment on republicans. Campaigns usually get their best traction by being as abrasive as they can be without turning more folks off than they attract.

Is Mitt Romney's campaign at that point? I dunno, but, I don't think he can come out of a convention which is angry and mean and successfully cast himself as a hope and a promise. I think our media is as anxious to broker and amplify every juicy insult and slam they can manage; and, I think there's enough of a contingent of republicans attending the convention determined to be the eager 'prosecutors' of those opportunistic and ad hominem attacks.

"I think we're going to be able to have a great convention, tell the Mitt Romney story, prosecute Obama and his promises made and promises delivered," Preibus said in and interview on Fox News Sunday. "We're not where we need to be. We need to -- we have to fire Obama and save this country. We're going to make that case, but we're going to make Mitt Romney case this week as well."

Hope springs eternal, but this republican convention is a boiling crock of hate; ready to explode in an orgy of recrimination, taunts, and arrogance. The first salvo of the republican convention was rumored (then abruptly cancelled at the last minute) to be coming from the antics of the nation's most prominent birther, Donald Trump, who, reportedly, in a surprise opening, will 'fire' Barack Obama in a typically autocratic sketch which (would) surely mirror most republicans' most recurring and reassuring dream.

Ah, well . . .on with the show!

High Five!


. . . Romney's birther remark -- I want to say this

That type of ignorant flirting with racism, bigotry, and xenophobia is in a pandemic stage these days; elevated and amplified by this election and the term of our nation's first black president.

We have had an undercurrent of racism, bigotry, and xenophobia in America, in this decade; decades beyond the point where our legislative remedies were met with a majority sense that these expressions of superiority and hatred would not be tolerated; especially in our public debate. There have certainly been many, many political and public figures who have made a point of denigrating one group of Americans or some individual they saw fit to posture as if the target of their divisive remarks was somehow beneath them and undeserving of respect and dignity because of differences from our nation's 'white' majority.

Yet, there is something surging right now which is related to the wide access to communications -- such as the internet --, perhaps a more willing and permissive media which has found room to broadcast hateful remarks and petty slurs as if there was something in them that deserved even a moment consideration of their appropriateness or acceptability.

Regular surfers of internet-published news and opinion are certainly familiar with open racism and vicious slander presented in news form and available right alongside of the mainstream and alternative press. The proliferation of hateful, bigoted, and racist media is certainly a product of a subculture in America of regressive and throwback beliefs among many of our citizens.

The willingness of that subculture to embrace any and all deliberately divisive rhetoric offered by demagogues and opportunists has not gone unnoticed by republican politicians who regularly employ subtle and recognized language which gives comfort to, and encourages those Americans who would have us divided among ourselves along the often fine lines of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation; all for some political advantage.

It's pretty standard with republicans; at least from the point of view of those who have been the repeated targets of their political rants and ire.

We look at the statement Romney made yesterday:

"No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."

The Obama campaign summed up my reaction:

"Take a moment or two to think about that, what he's actually saying, and what it says about Mitt Romney."

Mitt Romney was not merely making an ignorant observation; he was suggesting to his mostly-white audience (those who would give him a second-thought) that he shares with them an affinity that he doesn't believe others -- like our nation's first black president -- can or should be considered equal and integrally part of.

At the very heart of the affinity that he's presuming to parcel out among those he chooses is something basic to each and every American; our citizenship -- that special bond to our land and nation which is conferred on us through geography, relations, or application.

What Mitt Romney is saying is that few, if any, should assume that he wasn't born in America, because he happens to have fair skin.

Conversely, fully aware of the slander and bigotry about the President's birth certificate coming from the very top of his chain of supporters, like Donald Trump -- slander which he took time to explain to Americans he did not share --Romney is suggesting that there is something about President Obama which is visibly foreign to this country. He's allowing that there is nothing that he can find recognizably American about Barack Obama.

That means that Mitt Romney must not recognize the rest of our non-white citizens as equal and integral to our country; as he does those who share in his affinity and appearance. In this new century, that is an amazing regression from the efforts of our collective population to recognize ALL of our men, women, and children as individual reflections of the pattern of our nation.

What possesses this man to openly encourage such divisiveness and derisiveness? It almost doesn't matter; until you consider what he's aspiring to at the moment. This isn't mere ignorance; but a deliberate, political tactic. It's much more pernicious than just a belief that someone holds somewhere. It is part of a movement to project such bigotry from the elevation of the highest office in our land for the petty purpose of furthering Mitt Romney's corporate-driven, political career and ambition.

In the ultimate happenstance of his election to office, Mitt Romney won't be engineering his oblique politics against minorities alone. Nothing that subtle. He's going to be content for his followers to expand and deepen his deliberately-generated animosity in their communities to pave the way for the next divisive campaign. All the while, Romney will be using his position in government to deliver his promised tax-cut booty to his money-soaked benefactors; all at the expense of the 98% of Americans of ALL races, religions, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation who lack any affinity at all with his tax-evading, wealthy lifestyle.

Fortunately, we are still a nation which is making strides in the ways we relate, work, and live with one another. Most of us can't and won't accommodate actions and rhetoric which only serves to separate us from each other. It's dysfunctional; as well as, just plain wrong -- and we know it.

That tells us a great deal about Mitt Romney . . . doesn't it?
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