Watchers on the Wall edition

Don’t you just love election seasons? Friends unfriending friends. Twitter all aglow with vitriol and jingoistic fervor that has nothing to do with sports teams. Each side accusing you–yes, you personally–of enabling Hitler/ Mussolini/ Ebola/ the collapse of Western civilization. I look forward to it after every Olympics.  Welcome to “how to rile up the base into voting early.”
 Debate Watch Guide

And now we arrive at the best part of the Fall Frenzy: debates.

Monday. September 26. 6-7:30 PT (9-10:30 pm ET). Where to see it. 

Oh let’s do this thing. 

At first, I thought to offer some helpful predebate items, pre-factchecked to have at your fingertips, such as:

  1. Russia has already gone into the Ukraine.
  2. A nuclear triad includes bombers, land-based missiles and submarines
  3. Mexico has not agreed to pay for a wall

But honestly, I despair that facts will ever matter when talking about Trump. Check out this long but very thorough piece in the Atlantic   about the psychology of the whole show. 

 If the sound-off image is of a calm, confident Clinton and a fuming Trump, she will have won the debates and moved that much closer to winning the election.
 

Hillary is prepped of course–mock debates, lots of briefings, binders full of up to the minute information. and the campaign is doing its best to make her look like a policy wonk. Maybe that’s a strategy in itself, underplaying her strength at debating.

And let’s be honest, the person least likely to come out on top is Lester Holt. After the scorn Matt Lauer took for his soft-balling of Trump, let’s hope Holt is planning to step up. I dream of a Joseph Welch-McCarthy “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” moment, but 1) Holt doesn’t have that kind of gravitas and 2) Trump would say, “Nope.”

 On the other hand Trump does have a woman problem. He’s a bully and he can’t resist trying to stomp on women who stand up to him (you think you have a bad job job? Try being Kellyanne Conaway). He’d probably pee on his opponent if he thought he could get away with it.  It translates poorly in every battle he’s gotten into with women but he has no other tactics. I’m fascinated to see what Hillary has waiting for him from her arsenal. 

Here’s a little flashback fun to tide you over til Monday night. Get a glass of wine and have a drink for Hillary.
 
Also bookmark this handy Politifact guide to whoppers told by Donald Trump. 

All the Debates: When and Where

Sept. 26, 6-7:30 pm (PST) with Lester Holt moderating from Hofstra University, NY. 

Oct. 4, 6-7:30 pm (PST) with Elaine Quijano moderating from Longwood University in Virginia. 

Oct. 9, 6-7:30 pm (PST) with Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper from Washington University, St. Louis. 

Oct. 19, 6-7:30 pm (PST) with Chris Wallace from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 

The debates will be broadcast live on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, C-SPAN and all cable news channels

Early voting

So turning to other news. We got our voter pamphlet in the mail and ugh, California. I hate ballot measures. Hate them. But we will be slogging through so we can get to early voting, which I like to do in person as soon as possible. October 10 in CA. To figure out your early voting options, check NPR’s handy guide

Register now

Also, even if voter purges aren’t all the rage in Ohio, it’s worth checking if you are registered –still (!!!)– and making sure there are no problems before November 8. Deadlines are as early as October 8 in many states, so do it now!

Polling–let’s not freak out

  Finally, I just want to leave you with a couple of graphs. As longtime readers know, I obsess, probably to an unhealthy degree, over polls. I am hating FiveThirtyEight right now because it had Hillary at an 80% chance of winning a month ago and now it has her at 57.7%. But this is how election years go. It’s the worst reality television ever. 

For some perspective, here are the graphs from Electoral-vote.com, a site I read every day–showing polling aggregates for this year in electoral vote terms, but put those against 2012 (Romney was certainly a steadier candidate than the Donald) and 2008 (cuckoobananas Sarah Palin year.) 

  
  

  

See you at the debate!


Bounce, bounce bounce 

  As those who follow this blog know from past elections, I like to pay attention polls only when they make me happy. Seriously though, the news coming out of the miasma of convention time is good for Hillary Clinton, with polls pointing to a nice post-convention bounce that puts her back in the lead. We happy few who slogged both the RNC coverage and the Demo convention can only marvel that people compared the two gatherings at all. One was like a zombie apocalypse mob scene in which reason and sanity clawed to escape the savage hordes chewing out their guts, while the other was a  well-choreographed ice ballet with only a few slips and skids at the start but plenty of triple and quadruple axels. (Sorry, I know it’s the summer Olympics coming up. I’ll find better metaphors by the time next week rolls around.)

Anyway, just taking a moment to check in on those post convention polls and the news is good. Here are a few screenshots from the windows I keep open on my iPhone. 

The Pollster aggregator on HuffPo now shows a satisfying uptick for Clinton:  

And the NYTimes also shows a narrower but similar split nationally between Clinton and Trump:  

Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight have Clinton edging nearer toward a 70% chance of winning the election:  

While even the red-trending Real Clear Politics are showing a shift in the numbers in Clinton’s favor:  

Of course, the name of the game is “270 to win.” And here Clinton is holding a good lead over Trump in electoral votes according to electoral-vote.com:

 
I sometimes get hung up on how the trend for electoral votes flips down and up, but it’s worth checking the graphs for the last three elections because you can see that this year generally we have had a nice big split between the candidates and there has been little of the crazy volatility that marked the 2004 race.    

   
See? We’re doing okay this year…

Now before we get complacent, there are still plenty of ways the polling can shift in the next (Dear Lord) 98 days. Plus we should be paying attention to those Senate races that the Koch brothers will be funding. (More on that later in the month.)
In the mean time, Donald Trump is free to double or triple down on his narcissistic sociopathic tweets that imply that the parents of Humayan Khan are somehow in a war with him. I really am starting to believe there is such a thing as bad press. 

  And in other news, please enjoy Bill Maher’s hilarious rant on how Hillary can own the villainous persona she’s been saddled with. I want a Notorious H.R.C. T-shirt now. Internet, please make one for me. 

  The Rookies say: Time for a quick belly rub, but make sure you register to vote!


I Know Who Hillary Is

  I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to put it together, but last night, while watching her speech accepting the Democratic nomination for President, I had a sudden revelation. I know who Hillary is, and chances are you know her too. 

Methodist, activist, thoughtful, but not flashy. A listener and a doer, not a grandstander. Witty and funny, but mostly with her friends and family. Smart as hell, but self-effacing. 

I turned to Eric and I said, “She’s your mom!”

Let me explain. 

  She organized your church trip to Central America to work on women’s issues, she wrote the church newsletter, even when she didn’t have time, she knows the name of not just every member of the church, she knows their kids’ names and their grandkids’ names — she knows their birthdays too and possibly remembers their birth weights. When her neighbor broke their ankle, she drove them back and forth to rehab appointments, because even though she was working full time, “no one else really has time.” And when she retired she was busier than ever.

“I sweat the details of policy, because it’s not just a detail if it’s your kid — if it’s your family. It’s a big deal. And it should be a big deal to your president.”

You know how she is. You know her. 

She’s pragmatic, and can’t keep still, which drives people crazy. “Sit down and let someone else do it,” is what people say to her all the time, but she can’t stop herself from wanting to fix things. Can’t keep from stacking the dinner plates and silverware at a fancy four-star restaurant just to “help out” even though the servers are like, “seriously, I get paid for this–don’t stack the plates.”

None of us can raise a family, build a business, heal a community or lift a country totally alone. America needs every one of us to lend our energy, our talents, our ambition to making our nation better and stronger. I believe that with all my heart.

You know how she is. You know her. 

 She gets tetchy with fake people, lazy people, selfish people–but never cusses them out. “Well, I just don’t know about so and so,” she’ll say, even though she knows perfectly well, but she’s too much of a nice person to call them an asshole. 

[Donald Trump] spoke for 70-odd minutes — and I do mean odd.

You know how she is.

She makes speeches when she has to, not because she likes to get up in front of people and orate, but because someone has to do it. Somebody has to speak up. 

…most of all, don’t believe anyone who says: “I alone can fix it.” Those were actually Donald Trump’s words in Cleveland. And they should set off alarm bells for all of us.

Really? I alone can fix it?

Isn’t he forgetting? Troops on the front lines. Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger. Doctors and nurses who care for us. Teachers who change lives. Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem. Mothers who lost children to violence and are building a movement to keep other kids safe. He’s forgetting every last one of us. Americans don’t say: “I alone can fix it.” We say: “We’ll fix it together.”

Now Donald Trump says, and this is a quote, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.” 

No, Donald, you don’t.

You know her. 

And when she speaks, she hates talking about herself, so she always starts with other people. 

We heard the man from Hope, Bill Clinton and the man of Hope, Barack Obama….We heard from our terrific vice president, the one-and-only Joe Biden, who spoke from his big heart about our party’s commitment to working people. First lady Michelle Obama reminded us that our children are watching, and the president we elect is going to be their president, too. And for those of you out there who are just getting to know Tim Kaine — you’re soon going to understand why the people of Virginia keep promoting him: from City Council and mayor, to Governor, and now Senator. And I want to thank Bernie Sanders.

Because she’s generous, and she knows that even when she’s in the spotlight, there’s a lot more to the story than personal ego. You know her. 

 So then she’s self deprecating when there’s no need to be because this kind of thing is sort of embarrassing. Although she does want you to understand. 

The truth is, through all these years of public service, the “service” part has always come easier to me than the “public” part.

You know how she is. 

Maybe people think she’s pushy because she pushes them to do the right thing. Maybe they have issues with her “temperament” because she stood her ground and pointed out hypocrisy, but didn’t yell or scream to do it. Ultimately, she really walks the walk, whether or not people believe her. 

“Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.”

  You know her. I sure do. She gets stuff done and isn’t afraid to dig in and do the icky, grinding, boring work. She sends you the quick email  saying she’ll be out of touch for a few days because she’s on a mission to Honduras or wherever. She also remembered to mail your birthday card before she left. 

She reminded you when you were arguing with your little sister over something petty that you have responsibilities and she made you think about other people. 

She’s not afraid to admit if she makes a mistake, but then insists that it has to be fixed. Let’s not waste time. In fact a lot of her suggestions start with some variant of “Let us…”

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism, and are made to feel like their lives are disposable. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to do a dangerous and necessary job.

She never backs down from things she believes in and she believes in the goodness of people and the importance of bigger things than just ourselves. 

Let our legacy be about “planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” That’s why we’re here … not just in this hall, but on this Earth. The Founders showed us that and so have many others since. They were drawn together by love of country, and the selfless passion to build something better for all who follow. 

You know her. She’s your mom, your grandma, that best friend from school, the spouse of your colleague who’s always raising funds for Convoy of Hope to bring clean water to Flint, Michigan or shelter trafficked women in Thailand. That’s your uncle the Episcopal priest who taught you to be a global citizen, and that other guy who volunteered with some crazy San Francisco community organization and went to Bolivia to build houses. The person who does as much good as they can for as many people as they can, as long as they can. 

I know her. And I’m with her. 


Morning in America: Democratic Convention Day 2 & 3

 The birds are singing, a glow seeps over the eastern horizon, and kitten-cats lie contentedly across my feet. I stretch and smile, and want to break into a chorus of “This is my fight song/Take back my life song/Prove I’m alright song/My power’s turned on/Starting right now I’ll be strong/I’ll play my fight song/And I don’t really care if nobody else believes…”

Am I enjoying the Democratic convention? You betcha!

Finally, we get a little bit of an exhale after slogging through so much muck for weeks. Two straight days filled with some really stellar moments. On the one hand, I’m ecstatic. On the other, I keep thinking “102 days more of this campaign after the balloons drop…”  (Seriously, we’ve been at this since March 2015 when Ted Cruz declared he was running for president. We have got to limit these campaigns. Even elephants only have a gestation period of 22 months. )

Anyway, soak it all in, folks, because it gets uglier and uglier, and for those who have said, “it can’t get worse…” I promise you, it can always get worse.

But right now enjoy the sanity and the relief. Enjoy the nice coherent messaging from reasonable people making logical arguments.

So, side note: I apologize for not posting yesterday. I took a day off, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t fab things that happened on Day 2 of the Convention.

Calling All Delegates

Roll call was not the hot mess it might have been and thankfully no floor fights broke out. Indeed, we got the symbolic Bernie moment in which he halted the roll call in favor of Hillary, as she did eight years ago for Obama. I even teared up a little at the sight of Sanders getting verklempt when his brother referenced their parents as he cast the votes for Democrats Abroad.

My Man Bill

And then Bill. Giving not the kind of policy wonk speech that we have come to love him for, but the perfect First Lady speech where he extols the virtues of his spouse, and humanizes her with anecdotes about her work ethic and family life. He’s an ex-President with a sharp mind and a lot to say, who could have talked about himself for an hour, but he chose not to. (Take a moment to watch Bill’s ad libs for which he is justly renowned–a writer for Gawker filmed the TelePrompTer screen while he was speaking so you can see him go delightfully off-script.) As Rebecca Traister says in The Cut:

It was notable that Bill mentioned Michelle Obama so enthusiastically in his speech; in many ways, he was taking his cues from her, and he now hopes to share a category with her, a category once also occupied by his own wife — that of the brilliant and hugely overqualified presidential helpmate.

Also, have a chuckle over this assessment of Bill Clinton’s style from Jenni Avins–he wore a fetching pantsuit, clearly in tribute to his wife. Hey, the Times reported on Michelle Obama’s Christian Siriano gown and Melania Trump’s Roksanda Ilincic outfit. Fair is fair.

The best part of Bill’s speech though, was his instantly hashtag-ready refrain of “the real one.”

How did this square with the things that you heard at the Republican convention? What’s the difference in what I told you and what they said? How do you square it? You can’t. One is real, the other is made up.

People were getting all caught up in it and hash tagging #TheRealOne with tweets like, “I haven’t been this emotional since the ‘Fault in Our Stars.'” (Translation for us old folks: “I feel like I just watched ‘Beaches.'”) It’s good to know that he reached both millennials and Gen Xers.

So by the end of Day 2, things were feeling a little bit more on track. Could Day 3 get better? I’m so glad you asked.

Uncle Joe
JoeBiden-smOh, Joe. I love you. Having watched this man through years of ups and downs, through losses and successes, gaffes and heartfelt moments, I couldn’t listen to his speech without feeling an upswell of emotion:

As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, the world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. I’ve been made strong at the broken places, by my love Jill, by my heart, my son Hunter and the love of my life, my Ashley.

And by all of you, and I mean this sincerely, those of you that have been through this, you know I mean what I say. By all of you, you’re love, your prayers, your support, but you know what, we talk about, we think about the countless thousands of other people, who suffered so much more than we have, with so much less support.

So much less reason to go on. But they get up, every morning, everyday. They put one foot in front of the other. They keep going. That’s the unbreakable spirit of the people of America. That’s who we are.

In new cycle after news cycle, it’s been all about The Donald, but Joe offered a tribute to Hillary that was in a way almost as touching as Bill’s.

Hillary understands that college loan is about a lot more than getting a qualified student education. It’s about saving the mom and dad from the indignity of having to look at their talented child and say sorry, honey, I’m so sorry. The bank wouldn’t lend me the money. I can’t help you to get to school. I know that about Hillary.

Hillary understood that for years, millions of people went to bed staring at the ceiling, thinking oh my God what if I get breast cancer, or he has a heart attack. I will lose everything, what will we do then? I know about Hillary Clinton.

There’s only one person in this race who will be there, who has always been there for you, and that’s Hillary Clinton’s life story. It’s not just who she is, it’s her life story.

The Kaine-maker

Tim KaineLast night also saw the national spotlight debut of Tim Kaine, Hillary’s veep pick and he did a great job coming after a tough act like Joe. Kaine has an easy manner about him and like Joe, he comes across as very down-to-earth and practical.

He was absolutely on point with his attacks and FINALLY mentioned Trump’s tax returns with a Trump impersonation that made me giggle.  I hope that also gains some traction.

Hey, Donald, what are you hiding? And yet, Donald still says, believe me. Believe me.

Believe me? Believe me? I mean, here’s the thing, most people when they run for president, they don’t just say, believe me, they respect you enough to tell you how they will get things done.

I also hope that “Hillary es lista” catches on.  I’d like to see that on some posters.

I like Tim. He’s a fiscal conservative social progressive mix and I can live with that because he’s got the priorities I like, plus it seems like he’s a good guy. He’s making inroads with the “Couldja have a beer with him?” crowd, and I was amused by this piece on his Dad-cred:

Tim Kaine knows he probably won’t need the extended warranty, but he appreciated the salesperson’s candor and wanted to make sure they got a nice commission.

Tim Kaine could easily have afforded the next trim level up. But it didn’t add any benefit, and he doesn’t do “flashy.”

Tim Kaine secretly supercharged the minivan, but not before modifying the filtration system and full cat-back exhaust to prevent an increase in emissions.

Tim Kaine keeps a swear jar for everything above “darn” and empties it once in a while to take everyone out for ice cream.

Tim Kaine will always stop to help someone with a dead battery, and healways pretends to electrocute himself with the jumper cables.

Tim Kaine thought about getting Sirius, but then how would he be able to play all of his old Beach Boys tapes?

Bloomberg News

The Conservative Party Annual Conference Concludes With The Prime Minister's Keynote Speech

I was also pleasantly surprised by Michael Bloomberg’s speech. As one might guess, I wasn’t Hizzoner’s biggest  fan while he was New York City Mayor.  I found him to be opportunistic (you changed from lifelong Democrat to Republican just to get Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement?), tone-deaf (you bought yourself a third term by paying off Ronald Lauder so he wouldn’t block City Council from changing term limits laws?) and out of touch. Still, he didn’t wreck the city during his tenure. And he had some reasonable points to make last night.

Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders, and contractors who feel cheated, and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us.

I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one! Trump says he’ll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories. He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the US visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages. He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them. What’d I miss here?!

Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy. He wants you to believe that we can solve our biggest problems by deporting Mexicans and shutting out Muslims. He wants you to believe that erecting trade barriers will bring back good jobs. He’s wrong on both counts.

Still an Obama-Girl

barack-obama-dnc-convention-july-27-2016-large-169The star of last night, justifiably, though, was the President.  Damn, that guy is good.

Like the trickle of a stream headed to the ocean, Obama’s speech was informal and funny to start “Don’t boo–vote!”, sweeping into a thundering roar as it gathered steam. Loved every minute of it.

You know, the Donald is not really a plans guy. He’s not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated.

Does anyone really believe that a guy who’s spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice?

One of my favorite lines came midway through– and it got applause and laughs from Bill Clinton up in the boxes):

I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman—not me, not Bill, nobody—more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America.

I hope you don’t mind, Bill, but I was just telling the truth, man.

But getting to the meat of things logically is the Obama style — make the case, lay out the argument and bring it home:

Look, Hillary has got her share of critics. She has been caricatured by the right and by some on the left. She has been accused of everything you can imagine—and some things that you cannot. But she knows that’s what happens when you’re under a microscope for 40 years. She knows that sometimes during those 40 years she’s made mistakes—just like I have; just like we all do. That’s what happens when we try. That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described—not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs…but who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.”

Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena. She’s been there for us—even if we haven’t always noticed. And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue. You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about “yes, he will.” It’s about “yes, we can.” And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands.

Yes, we can. Not “yes, she can.” Not “yes, I can.” “Yes, we can.”

IMG_6565It was a great speech. When Clinton walked out and joined him on the stage at the end of the speech, I wanted him to pull out an Olympic-style torch and hand it off to her.

I’ll be singing this all day:

hillary's fight song


From the Ridiculous to the Sublime: Day 1 of the Democratic Convention

 “Bernie or Bust” people? I am freaking disgusted with you. I’m done tap dancing around this. You’re acting like idiots who have disconnected your brains from your spines. And yes, Sarah Silverman is being too polite by a long shot when she informs you that you’re being ridiculous.

I’m so done with people who have their heads up their butts. You got to the front of the line at the ice cream truck and guess what? They don’t have Orange Dreamsicle. Orange Dreamsicle went home because it didn’t get enough votes in the primary. Your choices now are Strawberry and dog poop. Stop crying and get over it.

90Give me a sec. It’s morning in America and Michelle Obama is waking up to watch her girls play on the White House lawn, but I’m still frothing at the mouth over the three nincompoops MSNBC found at
the Democratic Convention last night who asserted that they would never vote for Hillary. She’s a liar and a crook, one of them says without any proof of what she’s accusing Clinton of. I just don’t trust her, says another one.

9aa6c_clinton-memeAnd to the mainstream media — I’m looking at you, Andrea Mitchell, who should know better–stop asking if Hillary is “likable.”  This isn’t an election for Prom Queen, you’re not voting for “Miss Congeniality,” you’re not looking for a hook-up on Tinder. We are electing the President of the United States.  I don’t care if she’s likable, I care if she can get the job done.  Frankly, it may make her more effective to be unlikable.  I don’t need someone who goes on benders with Jeffrey Epstein, and wants to pal around with Vladimir Putin, I want someone who knows how to run a country. Jesus, Mary, Joseph. You people made Barack Obama sputter out “Likable enough” back in 2008 and he lost in New Hampshire. It’s a stupid meaningless question.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 7.28.14 AM“Bernie or Bust” doesn’t “love” Hillary the way they “love” Sanders. “Not in my heart,” she says.  So how’m about you use your head instead, pumpkin? You people are so out of your gourds that you booed you own man. The one you profess to love. Just because he endorsed Hillary. LIKE A SANE PERSON.

Deep Breathing

2016-07-24-Sarah-SilvermanOkay, I’m going to take a deep breath.  I’m good. I’m good.  Actually, when you get past those idiots, the convention Day 1 was good. Sarah Silverman and Al Franken got things back on track after Bernie’s disaster of a meeting with his “supporters.”Sarah Silverman, God love her, provided the perfect unscripted riposte to the BoB nonsense, and righted the ship.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker went long, but offered a rousing finish to prove that he’s definitely a light in  the party’s future. I love that when Trump jabbed at him with a post speech tweet, Booker responded with, “I’m just gonna keep loving on him. I’m gonna tell the truth about him but I’m going to keep loving on him. That kind of vitriol, that kind of meanness has no place in the presidency.”

 Then there’s Michelle. FLOTUS. “Renaissance” woman and grand slam specialist. Hers is a speech worth plagiarizing. Watch the whole thing if you haven’t already. It’s the best speech of the 2016 election so far.

And when I think about the kind of President that I want for my girls and all our children, that’s what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere. Someone who knows this job and takes it seriously. Someone who understands that the issues a President faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady, and measured, and well-informed.

That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves and I watch my daughters –- two beautiful, intelligent, black young women –- playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters –- and all our sons and daughters -– now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States.

I admit I got teary-eyed. I read it again this morning and yes, it is that good. 

Michelle Obama never said Donald Trump’s name during her speech at the convention last night, yet she offered a more effective rebuttal of the Republican nominee and the mantra that animates his campaign than any other Democrat has been able to thus far in 2016.

I love Warren and I respect Sanders–no, I don’t love him and I don’t have to. But Michelle hit it out of the park with a speech that was authentic, heartfelt and moving.

Speaking of Warren, she gave a good speech herself. And Sanders retooled his stump speech for the sake of his followers, but to his credit, he was full throated in his support for Clinton. I’m willing to let him have his victory lap, but now we have to pull it together.

Here’s the upside, before I work myself into a depth over three noodynods again.

Pew asked those consistent Sanders supporters whom they support in the general election. Ninety percent said they back Hillary Clinton.

Let’s hope that’s true.


In the City of Brotherly Love: Day 1 of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia

sanders-clinton-handshakeOur theme today is “United Together.” I’ll pause while we all take a deep breath and live in the hope that today’s Democratic Convention opening doesn’t look like last week’s RNC disaster.

Will Bernie Sanders go all Ted Cruz and refuse to endorse Hillary? Will the Feel the Bern-ers (who are still chalking “Vote for Bernie” on sidewalks in the Fillmore) take over the spotlight to cause a ruckus? Bernie has promised a special moment for his supporters for today, which sounds ominous…

michelle-obamaOn the other hand, Michelle Obama is also slated to speak tonight. Personally, I’d love it if she cribbed a phrase from Melania Trump, but she’s too gracious for that kind of thing.

We will see if the Dems can get their act together. That dull thunk you hear is the sound of Debbie Wasserman Schultz falling on her sword, which may not mollify the Sanders supporters, but oy, can we please at least get the  dirty laundry aired and dry cleaned before we start this party? I am so tired of watching supposed adults acting like they are five year-olds on a playgroundfive year-olds on a playground.  Come to think of it, I know better behaved five-year olds.

Party Rules

Real estate developer Donald Trump, gestures during a news conference with the PGA in New YorkSo, I know I promised this earlier in the week. It took a while for my stomach to settle down enough so I could read the Republican Party platform. Not that you’d know it from the four days of absurdly rollicking disunity and disorganization we just witnessed ( which Politico called “The most chaotic, messy and perhaps memorable political convention in decades“), but there is a written plan that theoretically outlines the champagne wishes and caviar dreams of the GOP.

2It’s 66 pages of eye-roll inducing bloviation that starts out by declaring for American exceptionalism, which to me is like starting out by stating that the sun, moon, and stars all revolve around the earth. It just ain’t true, folks–we are as exceptional as any other nation, which is to say, not at all. It also kind of hilariously flies in the face of Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” If we are so exceptional and guided by divine right, why do we need to make ourselves great…again?

Here are some other lowlights, but I encourage you to read it yourself, particularly to friends who need encouragement to get out to vote in November. It’s scary, folks.

In no particular order, let’s start with  denial about climate change. The GOP is putting their chips formally behind fossil fuels and coal, which seems so ludicrous as to be insane. Do you really need the votes from coal miners in West Virginia so badly?

Hilariously, the platform notes that:

The central fact of any sensible environmental policy is that, year by year, the environment is improving. Our air and waterways are much healthier than they were a few decades ago. As a nation, we have drastically reduced pollution, mainstreamed recycling, educated the public, and avoided ecological degradation.

Seriously? And just who do you think was responsible for the REGULATIONS that brought about that improving? Because it was Republicans and it didn’t just happen spontaneously.

Republicans are, of course, vehemently pro life and would like to pass an amendment declaring every egg and sperm is sacred.

We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Notorious R.B.G. At work. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Along with that, the platform formally declares their desire to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood and condemns the Supreme  Court decision that allows women’s health clinics to continue to operate in Texas without undue restriction.

 

Also on the Culture War front, the platform also promises pro-life justices– enjoy this shoutout to Antonin Scalia:

Only a Republican president will appoint judges who respect the rule of law expressed within the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, including the inalienable right to life and the laws of nature and nature’s God, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Speaking of Scalia, the GOP is also looking to roll back marriage equality gains:

Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values. We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law. We also condemn the Supreme Court’s lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which in the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia,
was a “judicial Putsch” — full of “silly extravagances” — that reduced “the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Storey to the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.” In Obergefell, five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Check that out. That’s Republicans claiming that they were robbed of the right to disenfranchise other citizens of their rights.

PP-Casting-Out-the-MOney-Changers-by-Carl-Heinrich-Bloch-1834-1890

Hey, moneychangers: Get out.

And speaking of rights….the GOP also whines that the freedom of religion is under attack because certain institutions who don’t believe that gay marriage should be a right can’t get government grants and might lose their tax exempt status. Uh, by the way, you’re still FREE to practice your religion–you just don’t get money and tax breaks for failing to recognize the rights of others.

Other miscellany: the GOP is against gun restrictions. Of course. High capacity magazines (154 shots in 5 minutes) are a great idea especially for school shootings.

We oppose ill-conceived laws that would restrict magazine capacity or ban the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle.

They’d like to roll back banking reform –what little there was of that–from 2008, because darnitalltoheck those pesky restrictions keep crazy people from inventing new investment schemes that can tank the economy.

What else? They’re against stem cell research, natch, and against GMO labeling, but for proof of citizenship to vote. (Hey, what if everyone had to name the nine –well eight–justices of the Supreme Court in order to qualify? Then only recently-minted American immigrants will be able to vote.)

keystone-xl-pipeline-tar-sands-cartoon-1024x701Republicans are for fracking, more oil and gas drilling (hello, Keystone XL pipeline) and against food stamps. They want to break down Obamacare and build a wall on the Mexican border. They want to penalize cities that give sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, but pass a law allowing bible study in public schools. Affirm the right to life while restoring the death penalty. Oh, and this:

Quite simply, the Republican Party is committed to rebuilding the U.S. military into the strongest on earth, with vast superiority over any other nation or group of nations in the world.

KKKristian-690x460

I don’t think these people live in Seville, Spain.

You’ve got the idea. Basically they’d like to give lip service to Christian values, while standing against all the things Christ actually represented like helping the poor, forgiving sins, renouncing violence and worldly goods, and unconditional love for your enemies.

 

Happier Thoughts

Anyway, in prep for tonight’s extravaganza, I offer you a few things that made me happy from last week, in hopes that this will set the tone for this week.


Party Like It’s 1984: The GOP Convention Day 4

  Thank God it’s Friday. Really. The convention is finally over. Now begins the long national nightmare of the campaign. 

I know that some of you are probably thinking that nutjob Donald Trump is still at the podium in Cleveland wrapping up his acceptance remarks. Maybe he is. That was an excruciatingly long speech and it seemed like it would never end. (It clocked in at 75 minutes making it the longest  acceptance speech ever. Is there hope he will just bore voters to death?)

I have no highlights for you. The entire affair was a discouraging bombastic exercise in self-aggrandizement. I really want to have as much fun with it as the Twitterverse does, but I’m so demoralized. Still, it did cheer me up to read some of the best tweets:

“I’ve heard this sort of speech a lot in the last 15 years and trust me, it doesn’t sound any better in Russian,” tweeted Russian chess great Garry Kasparov.

“So @medeabenjamin got into the hall and onto the floor twice? This is the party that’s going to lockdown our borders?” tweeted writer Gregg Levine.

  Hilariously, Trump extended some Big Tent love to Bernie Sanders supporters. Sanders, who is handy with Twitter himself, retorts “Those who voted for me will not support Trump who has made bigotry and divisiveness the cornerstone of his campaign.”

Anyway, there are fact checkers who are going to do better than I ever could with the barrage of claims he made in his hour-and-fifteen diatribe. But what’s staying with me is how hard it is to explain Trump. 

The daughter of a good friend staying over last night. She’s eight years old and very bright, loves to read, but is an expat living outside the country in Central America. I was explaining words to her like “demagogue” and “egomaniacal.” But what really struck me was when she asked what would happen if Trump became President. I was a little flummoxed because where do you even start? Does the earth split open and swallow us up whole? Do we lose all civil rights? Are we engaged in a ground war with Iran? Are people of color rounded up without regard to rights or status and taken off to prisons or just shot in the spot? 

How do you explain why starting a trade war with China is a horrible idea? How do you explain that the Arab Spring had nothing to do with Obama or Clinton? How do you explain that a man up there spouting self serving platitudes and half-truths is a fraud and has been for thirty years?

This is a guy who can’t be bothered with getting details right. Look at the handling of Melania Trump’s speech. People on the Democratic and Republican sides are aghast at how slipshod the preparation was--not even basic checking seems to have taken place. But that’s typical of Trump’s shoot from the hip style. “Don’t bother me with the details. I build towers.” 

To many Republicans, the lapse seemed frustratingly inevitable from a candidate who has not just eschewed the backstops of a major political campaign — he has mocked them as a waste of money. His campaign slogans, “America First” and “Make America Great Again,” echoed Pat Buchanan and Ronald Reagan. His social media graphics were crowdsourced on Twitter and Reddit by an aide who formerly managed Mr. Trump’s golf club in Westchester.

  And that results in I’m-simultaneously-laughing-while-crying kinds of gaffes. Like that time that Donald Trump tweeted an inspiring photo of himself and an American flag…superimposed over a photo of Nazi Waffen-SS soldiers

You’ve gotta ask, is his campaign really that phenomenally incompetent or is this just one big amazing piece of performance art? 

I mean look at this image from The NYTimes last night.   

Is it not pretty much this image?

 
Trump is offering to create a perfectly Orwellian dystopia for America and PEOPLE ARE EATING IT UP. 

If you haven’t had a chance, read the New Yorker article on Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrite The Art of the Deal. I want to excerpt the whole thing, but let’s start with this.

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

“Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.”

This is the self-serving charlatan who’s running for president. 


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