Category Archives: Trump

Dumping that guy

  I could blog about this insane election. Or I could binge watch “Outlander” and just cross my fingers that we all survive another 30 days…oh, who am I kidding? I can’t stop myself. Every day some new  revelation come out about the Slime Mold with Toupee who is running for President and people ask me, “Didn’t that thing about Trump disgust you?”

My dears, it ALL disgusts me–I’ve had decades of practice. He has disgusted me long before mainstream America discovered Disgustrump on The Apprentice. Long before his pathetic banter with shock jock Howard Stern when he was scrabbling for news coverage in the 90s. Since he defaced Fifth Avenue with his brass and glass ode to greed and ostentatious bad taste in the 80s he has disgusted me. Because he has ALWAYS BEEN Donald Trump. The ugly has been right there for everyone to see. Right there. What really appalls me is that it seems to have taken nothing less than him bragging about sexual assault to make some people wonder if, well, maybe, just maybe, he’s not such a nice guy. 

It’s been a fascinating week to say the least. More revealing about what it takes for people to repudiate the Donald than anything else. Racist? Eh. Retweeting Mussolini? Hah.  Insults military and Gold Star family? Meh. Publicly demeans Miss Universe and calls her fat? Whatevs. Loses nearly a billion dollars in a single tax year? Pah.

I mean, seriously, what does a guy hafta do to get dropped from a ticket around here? Hang out with Billy Bush? Ahhhhh…

Let’s be real about this for just a moment. This is a man who was not having a little private joke –harharhar–with a buddy. He knew he was on mic and being recorded and since this kind of talk is so normal to him, he said it all anyway. As Natalie Morales in USA Today points out:

What transpired next, she says, was not a conversation between two men left alone during a long break in production who forgot their microphones were still hot.

“There were seven other people on the bus with Mr. Trump and Billy Bush at the time,” Morales explained. “They were the two person camera crew, the bus driver, an Access Hollywood producer, a production assistant, Mr. Trump’s security guard and his PR person.”

The fallout from this video has meant that Republican leadership are heading down the ropes to abandon ship like hasty vermin. But guess what? His name is on all the ballots … at the very top. They won’t be able to replace him with Pence, Cruz or any other of the innumerable ugly candidates at their disposal. Tens of thousands of early votes are already being cast. Too late. As one of my friends posted: “Hey, GOP-You asked for him. You weren’t responsible enough to prevent him. You have to carry him to term. How does that feel?”

Needless to say, I am looking forward to this debate with both bile rising in my throat and a sense of hollow glee. I hope that Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper have agreed to nail him to the wall. Please let him have to answer to a woman. Face to face. With no bathroom breaks.  And speaking of answering, I really hope that 6-year old Sophie Cruz got picked to ask her question:

“If you deport my parents, what happens to me?” she asked in a message posted on PresidentialOpenQuestions.com with the help of the pro-immigration group Define American. 

Looking for something to call Agent Orange? Here is a helpful list of monikers for the Angry Creamsicle. 


Early Voting in California starts this week

Do you live in our sunny nutty state? Early voting starts this week (various dates for various counties, so check the local election site for your county.) San Francisco voting at City Hall opens Tuesday and we are wading through the props tonight –we believe in maximizing our frustration and outrage–while watching the debate. I’m happy to share our decisions and the line of reasoning behind them once we have gotten through the behemoth voter information tome. 

And speaking of Tuesday, October 11 marks 29 days before Election Day (!!!) and for many states, including swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona and Texas (yes, I said Arizona and Texas–hi there trending blue-ish) voter registration ends on that day. Got friends in those states? Tell them to register to vote and check their registration now! 

I leave you with the happy image of the current standings on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight predictocon.

See you after 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!


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.


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. 


Jokers Wild: The RNC Convention Day 3

TedCruz-smugWell, that was fun.

Top moment of the RNC convention so far? Ted Cruz being booed from the floor as conventioneers realize that he will not say the words, “I am in bed with Donald Trump.”

No seriously, this is the kind of petty infighting usually reserved for Democratic Party contests… and it’s giving me no end of pleasure to watch it unfold. Last night on the NPR/PBS coverage, one of the male commentators who clearly thought he was off-mike could be heard muttering “…so undisciplined…” I really hope it was David “No, not Trump, not ever” Brooks.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 7.40.14 AMSo as Ted is wrapping up his “Vote for me in 2020” speech, as the crowd is unleashing a spectacle of boos and “Endorse Trump” shouts,  the Donald himself sweeps in on his Trump-copter and strides into the arena like this is “Wrestlemania 23: Battle of the Billionaires.” He joined his family in the VIP boxes and TOTALLY upstaged Ted as everyone flipped back and forth between him and Cruz.

Donald-TedScowlingRNC

Win Mcnamee/Getty

In the end, it started feeling ugly and Ted’s wife Heidi had to be escorted from the Convention space (by “Never Trump” proponent Ken Cuccinelli, no less). She could be seen wildly gesticulating as the crowd yelled “Goldman Sachs!” at the Goldman Sachs private wealth investment manager and she shooed at them like mayflies. (These are the folks you’re hoping will support you in 202, Ted?  Hooo-kay.)  I could sense the feed producer cutting from camera to camera with glee as they split-screened Ted’s big finish being booed with Donald Trump scowling from the sidelines.

 

 

Ted exhorts us to get out there in November and vote our conscience and it’s not clear if he is saying, “Vote for Hillary,” or “Vote for Gary Johnson.” Or maybe “Vote for Lucifer,” just to stick it to Ben Carson. And then he blessed us and scurried off the stage, no doubt thinking he was being a hero. He certainly thought he scored some points because this morning he doubled down on the non-endorsement: “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” even though he was reportedly kicked out of Sheldon Adelson’s luxury suite after his little display.

Ah, that was bracing.  I missed the apparently hilarious spectacle of Newt Gingrich trying to get things back on track by translating Ted’s remarks into their proper obsequious tone.  I know I ask this every year, but why the hell is ANYONE listening to Newt Gingrich anymore? Oh I know, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for speakers this year–heck, Marco Rubio didn’t even bother to show up in person, but sent in a milky taped endorsement that came across like a cheap late-night infomercial. But can I just mention once again that Newt was forced to resign as Speaker of the House when he admitted to having an affair with intern while married to his second wife AND while pursuing impeachment against Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky?? He comes up this year as a Veep possibility when the man was fined for ethics violations by the House of Representatives. What the hell? how is it that people are going on about Hillary and Benghazi, but conveniently forgetting Newt and his affairs??

Trump-Pence

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Anyway, there’s no one who can really out-do Cruz. Trump’s VP nom Mike Pence gave us a pretty solid, if smarmy speech, full of all the right notes for a Republican also-ran. And Trump appeared upstage of Pence during the bows — literally upstaging him–because there can’t be a nanosecond of time that isn’t All About Trump. Reports came out later that up till midnight Trump was still trying to “get out of” choosing Pence as his VP, but Pence seems to have soldiered on like good cannon fodder.

Only one more day to go! Phew!

If you haven’t watched Laura Benanti on Colbert with a spoof of the Melania Trump speech, you must.  It’s a side-splitter!

Up next: The Republican platform (yes there really is one).

 

 


Rules Are for Other People 

 Have I mentioned that I’m tired? No, it’s not that I’m weary from carrying a toddler all weekend. Not just weary from the constant barrage of tragedies that seem to unfold daily on our TV screens. I’m weary from all the mental energy expended–wasted really–on Donald Trump. Wondering how he got this far. Wondering how  it is that he can bully and bluster and foment divisiveness while calling it unity, racism while calling it patriotism and inchoate rage while calling it populism— and get away with it. Wondering who those people are on that convention floor cheering him on with their brains fully switched off. Wondering if this really is who we are as a nation? Good God, I hope not. 

He is the definition of the word demagogue. Look it up: 

  

Yeah, this is me, collapsed on the couch watching the GOP undertake a useless shouting match on the floor over rules while a crude, loud mouthed, xenophobic, misogynist know-nothing glides into the nomination. 

Center Square But hey! Today’s celebrity A-list lineup includes that guy from “Duck Dynasty,” Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato, Jr.  It’s like watching Hollywood Squares. 

They have pithy things to say like, “It’s been a rough year for the media experts–I don’t even know if they know how to talk to people from Middle America … who like to hunt, and fish, and pray and actually work for a living,”(clearly since I only hit one out of four, I am not ‘Murican enough) and “Is Donald Trump the Messiah? No, he’s just a man… a man doing this out of the goodness of his heart, because he wants to help.” (If you believe that, I have some old steaks and bad vodka to sell you. Possibly an airline and a university too.) And I believe I actually choked audibly when Sabato said, “Donald Trump believes in one America.” (N.B. it looks white, has bad hair and paints everything in gold.)

Yeah, go ahead and take a moment. I’ll wait while you get “goodness of his heart” unstuck from your craw and roll your eyeballs out from the back of your head. This is the kind of quality you get when Tim Tebow and Don King aren’t available to speak at your convention. But hold onto your hats, people, Ultimate Fighting Championship prezzie Dana White hits the podium on Tuesday. 

In the mean time, we have possibly the most disorganized, off-message slate of speakers on a convention day 1 that I’ve ever seen. Who were the two Benghazi survivor guys who reminisced up there like they were on a poorly attended Comic-Con panel? I kept falling asleep before I could read their names. 

And then there’s Michael McCaul. I’m wondering who the heck this guy is and why he gets a slot when he’s nattering on about “And Donald will never allow terrorists to gain ground against America — he will shake the ground they walk on.” Then he says, “I’m proud to serve as part of Trump’s national security team” and I can’t stop the hoot from exploding from my mouth. This nincompoop is your national security advisor?

  “I don’t know how much more of this I can deal with,” says Eric flatly. I think he’s worried that early exposure to all this bigotry and rabble-rousing pseudo-patriotism will ruin our daughter neurologically. 

“We’ll watch through Giuliani and then switch to something calming like ‘Orphan Black,'” I assure him. 

So we grit our teeth and hang on til Giuliani appears, looking wider than usual, or maybe that’s just the aspect ratio in my TV being off. He proclaims that what he “did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America.” Immediately, I flash back to the 90s in Spanish Harlem when I walked daily through police checkpoints on the street –they stopped every black resident to demand ID (even from old ladies) but never once glanced at me, the whitish-Asian chick. Yeah, he’s not lying, Donald Trump would do that for America. 

In the end, we were weighed down by the sheer volume of shite–“I don’t know, honey. Is a firkin of shit bigger than a crock of shit? Maybe it’s a methuselah of shit. And do you use liquid measure for that?” In any case, flattened by despair, we watched Melania –hey what the heck is Donald doing introducing her when no candidate ever shows up on day 1–Trump. 

Her speech is so surreal as to be otherworldly. Caring for the poor?? When has he ever cared about the poor?? Then the NY Times reported on passages from her speech that were weirdly similar to Michelle Obama speech at the 2008 convention. Ah, that’s why it’s surreal–it was someone else’s speech. Hey, Mel, plagiarizing ideas doesn’t mean you’re unifying them. 

Ugh. Okay, we turned it off after that. Maybe Bob Dole danced naked on the 50-yard line afterward (though I doubt it) but we didn’t see it. 

The polling sez so

So here we are with two of the least liked, most unfavorably rated candidates ever. One has a resume that includes “member of Congress” and “Secretary of State” and the other has a string of failed businesses, a loud mouth and a Twitter account. So naturally, we will evaluate them based on the traditionally accepted standard for American politicians, which is whom you would most like to have a beer with. No, scratch that. Trump is a notorious teetotaler and Hillary enjoys craft beer, so by that standard she should be way ahead. Nope. I just don’t know why the polling is so close. 

Regardless, I’ll just remind everyone of a few things:

In this modern age when people mainly have cell phones and won’t talk to pollsters, you have to ask if polling is dead in the water from the start. 

Polls leading up to and following conventions always show a “bounce.” There’s still four months of shenanigans to watch after that, so don’t worry, the numbers will be up and down much more than you’re seeing today. 

Poll trends that take in many polls and not just one are far more interesting, which is why I’ll be following aggregators like Electoral-Vote.com

  And speaking of electoral votes, for better or for worse, that’s pretty much all that matter ultimately. So I’m less interested in hearing about the 52%-48% split nationally than I am about how candidates are faring in key swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. I’ll also watch FiveThirtyEight. Yes Nate Silver got blindsided by the Trump juggernaut, but I believe he’ll adjust accordingly and take the crazy pants seriously in his future calculations. Who knew you had to pay attention to a snake oil salesman with no political experience whatsoever. 

Well, that’s all for now, folks. Tune in again to watch us foam at the mouth some more. Does anyone here know first aid?


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