Category Archives: DNC

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!

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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


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.


Unranting Edition

Were you looking for a rant after the last day of the convention?

Yeah, I was too.

When I turned off the Dem convention Day Three last night, I was looking for that fired-up energy.

You know, the couch-slapping, galvanic kind of energy  I got at the end of Bill Clinton’s Day Two speech or the poignant warmth that I felt at the end of Michelle Obama’s encomium on Day One.

Don’t get me wrong, Obama gave a good speech. It had some memorable lines and excellent points, but, as with many of the speeches he’s given in the past few years, I felt like it was geared more toward dialing things down than firing things up. And after we turned off the TV, I didn’t really have any particular feelings about the speech, other than that it was good, not great.

Still, I think it says a lot about him and his approach that his speech slowed me down. I wasn’t typing furiously the way that I did after the Republican convention speakers, or even at the close of the last two days of the DNC. In the morning, I’m chewing over it and still asking myself how I felt about it. The answer is positive, although not necessarily inspired.

The fact that we’ve always known is that Obama is not a grandstander or a demagogue. And he’s not a ranter like me.  Now, I love to see that other people are as outraged as I am, that they’re as vexed by the misinformation and obfuscations that have been flying this political season. I like to watch Bill Clinton preach and Jennifer Granholm rip into Romney. Even last night, it was John Kerry, of all people, who was on fire:”Our opponents like to talk about ‘American Exceptionalism,’ but all they do is talk. The only thing exceptional about today’s Republicans is that — almost without exception — they oppose everything that has made America exceptional in the first place.”

And Joe Biden, who’s often painted as a buffoon in the news media, gave a disarmingly heartfelt and stirring populist speech, exhorting folks to look to a future where we promote the “private sector, not the privileged sector.” Although I worry about Bob Woodward’s new book being a thorn in Obama’s side, it seems his portrayal of Biden confirms what I’ve always suspected: that he’s savvier than you think, and doesn’t care what his public image is as long the job gets done.

BUT, none of this is Obama’s style. We could see that from Day One of his presidency in his inaugural address. Last night’s speech, to be honest, wasn’t full of soaring rhetoric, or even broad, sweeping ideas. His sauciest one liner–“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!”– was delivered with more exasperation than charm.

However, I think it was designed to reframe the entire conversation and in its own understated way, re-entrench (if I may coin a word) his supporters, by reminding them of what we like about him. He’s honest, unafraid to face tough realities, works hard for what he believes in, and is humble enough that everything doesn’t need to be about him. Some of what I thought were his best lines last night underscored that:

“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy.  I never have.  You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear.  You elected me to tell you the truth.”

“So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me.  It was about you.  My fellow citizens – you were the change.”

“And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'”

“America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now.  Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place.  Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together.  We don’t turn back.  We leave no one behind.  We pull each other up.”

Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast had it right, I think, when he said, “I don’t think it was a game-changer. I do think it sets an optimistic tone for the campaign and a stark choice for Americans this fall. This convention was much better than last week’s. Clinton’s speech alone was worth the whole thing. But this will now be decided in the debates. They will be more than usually vital. I suspect Obama kept his waverers on his side tonight, fired up his base, but failed to break away. We’ll see.”

The reaction from around the blogosphere is pretty much in agreement. James Fallows at the Atlantic says, “I thought it was not one of his best but that it did the job.” And at the NY Times, David Brooks’ assessment is : “Thursday night’s speech showed the character and his potential. It didn’t show audacity and the fulfillment of that potential.” And Howard Kurtz at the Daily Beast says: “It was not Obama’s greatest speech, nor his most passionate. It was, instead, a grown-up speech, a substantive speech, one that hit high notes but never soared to the heights. Whatever afterglow it created may soon fade as voters again confront the realities of the shaky economy, and the fresh unemployment figures due out Friday morning.”

So here’s the thing though. Mixed in with my musings on the Obama speech, I was also pondering the post of a Facebook friend, a Conservative  Baptist I’ve known since high school, who says that she is hiding the posts of some people that she knows until this election is over. I have to assume that I’m on that list, since I merrily post political items on my timeline all the time. Add to that the request from another friend that I not send her emails any longer because “politics just isn’t her thing.”

Now, I’m not offended, but it brings home a reality that I think we have to face up to. People who are Republican supporters are just as unlikely to change their minds about anything to do with Obama as I am to change my mind about Romney. A few weeks ago there was a report on NPR which I can’t find now, but the upshot of it was that for those of us who have a partisan bent, whether it be left or right, it is nearly impossible to make us change our minds now. But there are surprisingly few people, even among independents who HAVEN’T yet made up their minds.

Was this dog-and-pony show going to change the opinions of anyone out there?  Nope. Neither convention could ever have done that and frankly,neither the RNC nor the DNC was without cringe-worthy moments. On balance, I think the Dems came out ahead, despite the wrangling over putting “God” and Jerusalem in the platform, and despite the embarrassing move out of the stadium venue for the last night. After all, the Republicans lost a whole day to the hurricane, had to contend with Clint Eastwood talking to a chair, and were raked over the coals for Paul Ryan’s factually-challenged speech.

Instead, I think we have to use these moments to remind ourselves of why it’s important that we not get lazy about this election, why it’s important that everyone gets out there to vote. Why it’s important that we refute the lies of course, and battle the misinformation wherever we find it, and take this election seriously.

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GROUSY CAT SEZ:
Only kitties can afford to be lazy. Get out and vote.

Top Bill-ing Edition

DNC Day Two.

Okay, I’m ready. I’ve got my cat next to me, my laptop  fired up and my hand on the pause button so I can blog as we go….  bring it on!

Firstly, yes, there are just as many boring speakers at the DNC as at the RNC last week. Yes, their ideas are more in line with my views generally, but if I’m being honest, these conventions are really tedious, far too predictable and far too carefully scripted. Except for Bill Clinton.

Hold that thought. We’ll come back to that.

If you were watching CBS or ABC you would have missed one interesting thing:  Sandra Fluke’s speech. It’s a not-funny non-irony, because as you might remember, she was the Georgetown Law student who was prevented from testifying on the importance of birth control to a House committee. You know, the woman Rush Limbaugh labeled a “slut” for speaking up about how insurance companies need to cover birth control.

After Sandra, there are a few more good, but not notable speakers. And then, Elizabeth Warren–yes! You know why I love this woman?  Because she’s PROGRESSIVE and not apologetic about it.  There are days I want Obama to be so much more progressive, days when I want Dems to stand up and yes, have a frickin’ backbone. And on those days, I watch the YouTube video of Elizabeth Warren going off, just to make me feel better, to remind me that I ain’t so crazy, and that there are leaders out there who are share my lefty-liberal, socially responsible viewpoint.

Warren’s speech isn’t a barn burner, but she makes a lot of good points and she doesn’t sound like a crazy person. Nice and calm. I can appreciate that after listening to people shout into the microphone all night.

But now… it’s time for Bill Clinton.  Everyone sit up, grab your drinks and pay attention. This–THIS is what we’ve been waiting for. Freakin’ brilliant.  I’m thinking it’s one of the best speeches we are going to see here in Charlotte and wondering if Obama can top that. Of course, I thought that same thing back in 2008 too.

As I’m watching it, I’m looking at the transcript, meaning his prepared remarks, and noticing the little differences, the extra facts that he sprinkles throughout brilliantly. I love his digression from the text to talk about National Security and Hillary’s work as Secretary of State. Man has a mind like a steel trap. As Huffpo says, Bill kills it.

Here are some of my “Thank you!” lines–you know, the ones where you slap the couch and shout, “Thank you! Finally someone said it!”:

I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside.  A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.

The Republican narrative is that all of us who amount to anything are completely self-made.  One of our greatest Democratic Chairmen, Bob Strauss, used to say that every politician wants you to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself, but it ain’t so.

Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24.  In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs.  What’s the jobs score?  Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!

I understand the challenge we face. I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. Though employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend and even housing prices are picking up a bit, too many people don’t feel it. I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working and the economy was growing but most people didn’t feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history. President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the President’s contract you will feel it.

There were two other attacks on the President in Tampa that deserve an answer. Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars. Here’s what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None. What the President did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren’t making people any healthier. He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program, and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. It’s now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare, they strengthened it.

When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama’s “biggest coldest power play” in raiding Medicare, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. You see, that 716 billion dollars is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings Congressman Ryan had in his own budget. [Then Clinton ad libs] You got to admit, it takes some brass to attack a guy for what you did.

People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets. What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.

Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left, because it defied arithmetic. [and he ad libs]It was a highly inconvenient thing for them in our debates that I was a country boy from Arkansas and came from a place where people thought  two and two was four.

Clinton has always had this uncanny ability to make complicated policy stuff comprehensible, he can make people LOVE hearing budget numbers. At 48 minutes, he runs overtime by about half an hour, and nobody even cares. He must be the only politician I’ve ever seen who can keep an audience in rapt attention while quoting jobs figures to them.  How does he do it?? The spell he has over the crowd is awe-inspiring. Paula Poundstone tweeted, “I want a Bill Clinton backpack, a Bill Clinton lunchbox, Bill Clinton toothpaste, Bill Clinton curtains, and a Bill Clinton beach towel…” (Paula, let me know where I can order those–call me!)

Oh, and after a three-day GOP convention in which everyone tiptoed around the very mention of any Bushes, how ironic is it that the only shout-out heard in either convention comes from Bill Clinton at the DNC? Hah.

Says US News &World Report: “Clinton’s mournful recounting that extremist elements of the GOP had driven “two distinguished Republican senators” out of office was also not in his prepared remarks. It was part of a brilliant riff where Clinton adopted a post-partisan tone—speaking fondly of GOP presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Reagan, and even both Bushes—while effectively doing the very partisan work of demonstrating that the Republicans have become hostage to rigid and uncompromising ideologues.”

Joe Klein at Time Mag says, “Bill Clinton talks about policy–about the substance of governing–better than any other politician I’ve ever heard. He keeps it simple and he keeps it accurate. He can make Medicare as dramatic as warfare. He did a major demolition job on the Republican Party’s economic policy tonight. He held it to the light of the facts. And it crumbled, as those of us who follow these things knew it would.”

And Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast is equally enthusiastic: “Holy smokes. That was the best political speech more or less ever. There wasn’t a thing he didn’t touch on, and there wasn’t a thing he didn’t just blast out of the park. His carriage and delivery nailed it for partisans and for persuadables. He hit Republican obstructionism. He slammed the Romney and Ryan plans on virtually every point they’ve raised in the last six months, from the welfare ads to the tax cuts to the Medicare “cuts” to so much more, and he did it in detail.”

Even Scott Galupo at American Conservative says, “The case he made against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan was devastating. The speech was chockfull of soundbite-ready takeaways: “There they go again.” “We can’t afford to double down on trickle-down.” “One word: Arithmetic.” And there were substantive segments on Medicare, welfare, student loan reform, energy policy, etc.”

And Andrew Sprung at xpostfactoid offers what I can only hope is a truth: “What a giant enterprise. He set himself singlehandedly to counter a billion dollars in attack ads, to break through the core Republican lies and obfuscations.”

Anyway, after Bill’s speech, I quietly turn off the TV to absorb. And then I turn it back on and rewind it to watch again. It’s just that good.  Go on. Watch it again.

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Notes from elsewhere

And in the “Are You KIDDING ME?” Department, this from HuffPo: “On December 10, 2010, Ryan penned a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend a grant application for the Kenosha Community Health Center, Inc to develop a new facility in Racine, Wisconsin, an area within Ryan’s district. “The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary healthcare needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without healthcare,” Ryan wrote. The grant Ryan requested was funded directly by the Affordable Care Act, better known simply as healthcare reform or Obamacare.”

Yeah. Uh-huh. Ad that to the list of hypocrisies.

And in other fascinating news, Gallup reports that Mitt Romney got almost no “bounce” from last week’s convention.  Which either says that there’s no shifting to be had, or that was a pretty sucky convention.  Guess which one I think is the case….

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GROUSY CAT SEZ:

“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”


In the Tank Edition

Clearly I am in the tank for Barack Obama.  It’s a nice tank. I like it a lot. I’ve installed a comfy couch in one corner of this tank and I’m planning to stay here.

Yep, it’s time for the Democratic Convention–and after managing to contain the rage (yes,that was contained) that the GOP convention elicited, I feel like I can finally enjoy politics for a brief shining moment. 

Everyone is a little shouty, except for Kathleen Sebelius, but they’re hitting the right notes. Tammy Duckworth and Lily Ledbetter are there, as is Rahm Emmanuel with some great observations about life in the Obama White House that make me long for the “West Wing.” He reveals that Obama reads ten letters from average Americans every night to ground him and remind him of what they were working for. Why do I doubt Mitt Romney would ever even entertain the thought of such a thing?

Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts gave a fabulous fiery wonderful speech–I especially loved his exhortation to Democrats to grow a backbone–did that offend people? It should, because it’s true and it’s been a problem for Dems for decades. Still, Deval reminds us of all the Obama has accomplished, “With a record and a vision like that, I will not stand by and let him be bullied out of office — and neither should you.” If you’re looking to get fired up, check his speech out.

Patrick’s not the keynote speaker though. That’s Julian Castro.  I’m still dreaming of a “West Wing” Matt Santos from Texas kind of situation. Castro’s TED talk was genial but not on fire.  In Charlotte though, he gets warmed up and he’s a great personable natural speaker, plus he gets a few great lines in there about Romney/Ryan: “Republicans tell us that if the most prosperous among us do even better, that somehow the rest of us will too. Folks, we’ve heard that before. First they called it “trickle-down.” Then “supply-side.” Now it’s “Romney-Ryan.” Or is it “Ryan-Romney”? Either way, their theory has been tested. It failed. Our economy failed. The middle class paid the price. Your family paid the price.”

Castro also tosses off this line: “In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay.”  Yeah, that’s a gibe about Ryan’s fibs about his fabulous marathon time.

The star speaker of the evening though is Michelle Obama. Gotta love it when “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” is your theme music. Seriously, how much does this woman rock?

One can’t help contrasting Ann Romney’s speech with Michelle’s.  Ann got a lot of praise for her speech, but looked at next to Michelle’s, it pales–it comes across as inauthentic, nervous and and filled with non-specific generalities about life with Mitt.

I don’t doubt that Mitt and Ann started out in a basement apartment where they ate pasta and tuna on an ironing board, but she can’t carry the story through to say, “I understand your struggles,” because they don’t understand. There was a hollowness to Ann’s speech that I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time, but which seems obvious when I watch Michelle. Ann was trying to tell the story she had been tasked by the RNC with framing, but wasn’t ready to lie to put the story over.

By contrast, Michelle’s speech is both gracious, and yet peppered with details of her experience that ring true and move us. “Being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are,” she says, and that is so damn true. She gets all verklempt at the end, I’m all verklempt, the entire convention floor is on its feet, people are crying and cheering at the same time.

As Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast says, “As she describes the courage, wisdom, patience and grace of Barack Obama, I see them too. I make no apologies for admiring this president as much as anyone in public life, and seeing his sincerity and integrity and hearing this woman tell the truth about him after so many lies, it all comes as a huge and joyous relief.”

Yes. This.

I was going to wrap with a recap of the five best speeches Obama has ever given, but you know what? Michelle’s speech is too good.  Just go watch her speech.

Republican Wrap

In Huffpo’s “Lies and the lying liars who tell them,” Sean Carman says: “And so here is the takeaway from last week’s saturation-level political activity, revealed not by the carefully-staged theater we witnessed, but by the moments in which the actors went off-script and the truth was accidentally revealed: Mitt Romney is not a particularly great decision-maker, and Paul Ryan is a liar.”

ThinkProgress has compiled  the Ultimate Guide to Mitt’s Convention speech.  There’s good stuff in there, a lot of it reiterated elsewhere (not that I object to fact-checking the GOP convention over and over and over again) but this particular item on the list drew my attention, because it’s often repeated, and infrequently rebutted, “Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt.” [The Hill,6/28/2012] REALITY: According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare reduces the deficit by $124 billion over 10 years and even more after that. [Politifact, 6/28/2012]”

 

Let’s have a closer look at that graph from the CBPP:

In Salon, Robert Reich offered this view: “Every campaign is guilty of exaggerations, embellishments, distortions, and half-truths. But this is another thing altogether. I’ve been directly involved in seven presidential campaigns, and I don’t recall a presidential candidate lying with such audacity, over and over again. Why does he do it, and how can he get away with it? The obvious answer is such lies are effective. Polls show voters are starting to believe them, especially in swing states where they’re being repeated constantly in media spots financed by Romney’s super PAC or ancillary PACs and so-called “social welfare” organizations (political fronts disguised as charities, such as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have set up).”

Madeleine Albright: “It was appalling and disgusting,” she said. “But if I may say so, the things that he said in one form or another are in the Republican platform. So [while Republicans are] saying he is a nutcase and they have to move away from him, they did not move away from their platform.” Albright goes on to add this “I think there are some who believe they are actually protecting women, you know, and that it is better for women to be taken care of. I think women want to take care of themselves, and I think having a voice in how that is done is very important. And frankly, I don’t understand — I mean, I’m obviously a card-carrying Democrat — but I can’t understand why any woman would want to vote for Mitt Romney, except maybe Mrs. Romney.”

Also, the other invisible personalities at the GOP convention did not go unnoticed by Bill Maher, who says that the  GOP needs to admit the Bushes exist. Maher had this hilarious poke at Romney that I have to share–check out this money shot of Romney and colleagues at Bain Capital.  Kinda says it all…

And if you’re still wondering what the heck this company Romney worked for actually did,  Tony Soprano explains Bain Capital in easy-to-understand terms.

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GROUSY CAT SEZ: The voting shenanigans are multiplicitous.

Dems just won a victory with the recent ruling in Ohio that “ruled that Ohio made an “arbitrary” decision when it took away early-voting rights for most voters but carved out a special exemption for military and overseas voters.”

We need everyone to get out there and vote early. I’M NOT KIDDING HERE, PEOPLE!

Seth Masket at Mischiefs of Faction notes that the Obama camp has a clear advantage on the ground over Romney. Check out this graph. Obama has far more field offices in swing states than Romney.  Romney’s clearly betting on big ad buys, but, I have to wonder if that’s going to continue to help him or backfire when voters get fatigued and tired of seeing the endless meaningless ads.

Meantime, the development side of me thinks the knocking on doors, the social media, old fashioned person-to-person campaigning is going to be the way to go.


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