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

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

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

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

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

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

Deep Breathing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s hope that’s true.

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Not Playing with a Full Deck: The RNC Convention Day 2

Sunny JimSo Day 2 of the RNC Convention.

Know where I wasn’t? In front of the TV. No-sir-ee-bob. I was in a swish, West Coast liberal, San Francisco restaurant, enjoying the turpitude of an over-priced cocktail indubitably made for me by an immigrant–or the child of an immigrant, or the descendant of an immigrant–and concentrating hard on advancing the moral degradation of the human race with my pursuit of dangerous San Francisco values like compassion, justice and a living wage.

The very name of the establishment is “The Progress,” and you know what that means.

(That it was the name of the former theater where the restaurant is now housed which closed in 1925.)

head-explodeAs I left the restaurant, I checked my phone to find nine frantic text messages from my husband, each more agitated than the previous one, starting with “WTF Chris Christie?,” moving on with words like “apoplectic,” “bile” and “vomiting” and reaching a fever pitch with the phrase “I’m RNC drinking now.”

No, he wasnt talking about that devilishly delicious norovirus outbreak that is creating some havoc and sending GOP conventioneers into quarantine. (Isn’t that to be considered some kind of plague visited
upon the sinners? If not, why not?)

“I blame you for Chris Christie,” he fumes at me as I walk through the door. He’s furiously folding laundry and skirting our toddler who’s running around clad only in her diaper.

“What did I do?”

19lateshow-master768I sense that somehow I’m going to have to take the hit of social responsibility for the very existence of the culture that gave rise to Snookie and “The Jersey Shore.” But what about Jon Stewart?

“If I ever see Jon Stewart, I’m gonna slap him,” my husband lashes out.  (BTW, if you haven’t noticed, Jon’s come out of hiding and is hanging with Colbert again….)

Okay, you see how this is going?

“I taped it for you,” he says, with a delightful anachronism that takes me back to 1992. “You’re going to watch it.”

alien brain hemorrhageI get it. Misery loves company. But I’m going to need a stiffer drink.

“And I’ll take an Alien Brain Hemorrhage please? Up, with extra Baileys.” Especially if you’re gonna drop me right into Christie’s idiotic excuse for a speech.

“I used to be a federal prosecutor…” he says. And I’m thinking, maybe this is why you aren’t a prosecutor anymore — ’cause you’re not very good at this.  And by “this” I mean taking facts backed up by hard evidence and assembling them into a cogent argument. But, by all means, go ahead.

Within minutes, I’m on the couch myself sputtering, “Oh, because placing Boko Haram on a terrorist group list was TOTALLY gonna stop them from kidnapping those girls in Nigeria.” “SYRIA?  That’s rich!  You personally, Chris Christie, are on record as saying you’d ban Syrian orphans under age 5 from ever setting foot in this country, but you blame Hillary because you think she should have saved the lives of 400,000 Syrians?”

I won’t bore you with all my outbursts, but let’s note that the NY Times had a very nice neat fact check of Christie’s claims this morning (cooler heads than mine). And The New Yorker offered this assessment of Christie’s spectacle, “The general opinion was that Christie had debased himself and had gotten nothing for it.”

gettyimages-577715706_custom-b190f90e76637967ce47eec068abe107b15174dd-s900-c85Bobbleheads

You know what I’m distracted– nay, fascinated by? Who are the people on the convention floor?  I’m thinking about that while Ben Carson rambles on about Lucifer –“So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.”Uh, wait, what? What the heck are you talking about?? Is it possible Ben Carson performed neurosurgery on himself?

But I digress. Who are the people vacantly nodding their heads out there on the floor and shouting “Lock her up” at every ad hominem attack? Are they hired? Are they real? Do they think, or are they drugged? Do they have norovirus? My stars, I hope they are giving out norovirus with every stupid ten-gallon hat.

Overall, it was a pretty lackluster night in terms of messaging and speakers, though I admit, I did not see UFC’s Dana White take the podium.

tiffanyI did watch Tiffany Trump onstage, who certainly did a bit better than Melania on Day 1, but that’s not saying much.  There’s a strange inauthenticity to both of them that makes me feel like I’m eating waxy, low-quality chocolate. Sickeningly sweet, and it leaves behind a kind of film that you just can’t get rid of.

Tiffany is that other kid. Not the ones  you’ve seen on the campaign trail whose mom is the glam Ivana Trump, but the daughter of Marla Maples, whose name spawned a thousand bad jokes.  I feel sorry for her.  Her speech comes off like a badly written college essay.

My dad is a natural-born encourager, the last person who will ever tell you to lower your sights up give up your dreams. I always looked forward to introducing him to my friends, especially the ones with preconceived notions, because they meet a man with natural charm and no facade. In person, my father is so friendly, so considerate, so funny and so real. My friends walked away with a glimpse of all that he is, and all that he means to me, of the strong, protective, kind, endearing man I am so proud to call my father.

All in all, if you’re skipping these early days of coverage, you’re not missing anything good, or even bad — it’s all just as you might expect: infuriating, yet in a very mediocre way.

Here’s the latest poll trends from Huffpost:

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 4.12.02 PM


Pwned Edition

Well, Hallelujah!

Welcome to Presidential Debate Number Two and a fine, fine Obama win. Debate video and transcript here.

Hopefully this little dog and pony show puts the Obama campaign back on track and makes people stop and think, really think for a moment about who this Romney jerk is.

So here’s what we learned today. Mitt Romney is a kneejerk bully who can’t let anyone else have the last word and believes that rules, even debate rules, are for someone else.

But this time, Obama doesn’t just roll over and let Mitt the Arrogant run roughshod over him. ‘Bout damn time. I have a brief flash to that story of Romney’s “Lord of the Flies” style attack on his presumed gay classmate, you know, where he held down and cut the hair of another kid just because he was “different.”  This is the same Mitt Romney we’re looking at today, folks. This is how that kid grew up, from an insolent, overprivileged cocky little brat who thought he could do whatever he wanted, to a pompous swaggering braggart who thinks he can say whatever he wants.

Pssst…Mr. President….there’s a crazy person behind you…

But I’m glad to say that Obama is not a little kid, and he’s not taking it lying down, thank god. At times, it looks like an episode of the Bickersons, with the two of them doing a “No, you don’t,” “Yes, I do,” “No, you don’t” “Yes, I do” kinda useless exchange. And to her credit moderator Candy Crowley tolerates it only for a moment before shutting it down. She has obviously taken heed of the ghost of Jim Lehrer, and I give her credit for cutting through the brawling going on on the stage. In fact, Candy more than earned her stripes when Romney tried to shove down everyone’s craw a particularly silly little bit about Obama’s response to the Libya attacks.

“You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror?” Romney eye-rolled, adding obnoxiously, “I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”

“Get the transcript,” Mr. Obama replied. With such firm, unsmiling authority, that it sent a million bloggers to Google to find the transcript, which took all of .0000002 seconds.

Candy actually live fact-checked–LIKE ANYONE WITH A BRAIN WOULD– and said, “He did in fact, sir.”

To which the president added, “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?”

Yeah, here, Candy, let me do it.  HE SAID: “NO ACTS OF TERROR WILL EVER SHAKE THE RESOLVE OF THIS GREAT NATION, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”

It was a stupid move by Romney because winning a semantic point like that really doesn’t prove anything, but losing the point makes him look like a bully and a condescending jerk who doesn’t know enough to stop lying when he’s been exposed. Didn’t someone say “I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it….” Oh YEAH, that was YOU Governor Romney, back in Debate Number 1, at time 21:16:44.

one does not simply fill binders with women

I think Obama’s feistiness and the fact that Crowley was indeed going to call him on BS must have rattled Romney, because his voice actually took on a different tone and he had a few weird little worms come out of his mouth. Something garbled about how on Day One as president he would “label China a currency manipulator.” But one of the fastest growing memes in the seconds after it emerged from his mouth was “binders full of women.” Uh, yuck.

Mitt was trying to show off how wonderfully openminded he is and how he did his darndest to locate some kind of qualified dames to hire  for his cabinet.

Actually, as it turns out, this idea that he ASKED for the binder full of women is another Romney lie/exaggeration. From David Bernstein at Talking Politics:

Hey, I know about that binder! And guess what — Mitt Romney was lying about it… What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.

Here’s what Emma Keller at the UK Guardian had to say about it, “Why did the phrase resonate? Because it was tone deaf, condescending and out of touch with the actual economic issues that women are so bothered about. The phrase objectified and dehumanized women. It played right into the perception that so many women have feared about a Romney administration – that a president Romney would be sexist and set women back.”

Romney is, according to him the kind of open-minded guy that lets his Chief of Staff leave at 5 pm so she can go home and make dinner for the kids. I can only presume that Romney is talking about Karl Rove protege Beth Myers, who manages his campaign and owns a share of that famous Romney horse, Rafalca. Of COURSE, Romney will let her leave at 5  make dinner, because we wouldn’t DREAM of asking Beth’s husband to do that. [Rolls eyes.]

If Romney was hoping to make an impact on women with his caring compassion for the struggles of a working mom, he needed to dial up his “I am a human” setting a few more notches and maybe turn on a space heater to warm him up. Ugh.

Anyway, as I was saying… Romney got pwned by Obama tonight. I figure if the conservatives are saying it was an Obama win, it was clearly a knockout… LOL.

The NY Times noted:

“George Will said, ‘Barack Obama not only gained ground that he had lost, he cauterized some wounds that he inflicted on himself by seeming too distant and disengaged.’

On CNN, the longtime analyst David Gergen said “the night goes to Barack Obama.” On MSNBC, the Rev. Al Sharpton credited Mr. Obama with his “best performance of his career as a debater.”

“Tonight Mitt Romney was up against a different man,” said the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who added that “Democrats will be thrilled.”

I will now breathe a little more easily, take off my lucky Giants T- Shirt (It is SOOOO working) and ignore the polls until the post debate swing happens.

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“Look at how sparkly someone else already made them…”

Nice Christian Attitude Department

And, no, I just can’t pass over that Paul Ryan photo op in the homeless shelter in which he showed up in a 15-minute stop ON HIS WAY TO THE AIRPORT, after the breakfast was over, (conveniently missing any actual contact with homeless people, who are, as we all know in the 30% of Americans who are “takers), “ramrodded” his way into the kitchen (yep, that’s what the charity’s president said) and proceeded to clean pots and pans that were already clean (lest he soil his pretty hands with kitchen schmutz.)  All to get the picture you see on the left.That is one cynical photo op.

I mean really, it’s just so difficult being Romney-Ryan.  They deride the takers, the 47% who just won’t take responsibility for their lives,saying we should cut out entitlements and get rid of handouts.  But, they also want us to think they’re good Christians, so they should at least look like they’re serving, but they should not actually hand any free food to those freeloading “takers.” But they don’t want to be viewed as cold  and unfeeling, but they also only have fifteen minutes to make this op look good, so “Liza, do NOT get grease on your hands, we don’t have time to clean it off, we have a plane to catch!”

Marie Lee of Salon says this: “This staged emptiness is such a glaring metaphor for the oxymoronic “compassionate conservatism” that a novelist would reject it as too obvious…This is exactly what the GOP is all about. They need to pretend to care about the poor and disenfranchised so they don’t come off as total monsters, but in practice, they’d be horrified to confront a food scrap that may have been touched by a 47 percenter.”

=========================

The news that George McGovern is entering hospice gave me a sobering moment today.  I couldn’t help but think, is this the end of an era for Liberals, or can we make this the passing of a torch.  Well, okay, I know Barack Obama isn’t the Liberal I wanted, but he’s liberal enough for right now.  I wasn’t there in 1972, but I have to imagine that this election is a lot different from Nixon vs. McGovern.

==========================

I’m trying not to get too depressed by polling.  Really, truly, with everyone and his aunt out there polling “likely voters”  the noise is unbearable and those poll lines are guaranteed to fluctuate a lot in the next three weeks. When I want to feel good about life, I look at Electoral-Vote.com’s Senate map.

In more heartening news, Obama is leading Romney 59-31% among early voters, according to a new Ipsos/Reuters poll.

The online poll is another sign that early voting is likely to play a bigger role this year than in 2008, when roughly one in three voters cast a ballot before Election Day. Voting is already under way in some form in at least 40 states.

And in even more heartening news, “The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a last-gasp appeal by Ohio Republicans and approved early voting for Ohio residents on the weekend before Election Day.”

====================

And if you REALLY need a laugh, check out this Gangnam style parody, “Mitt Romney Style.”  I almost fell off my chair when I first saw this.

====================

GROUSY CAT SEZ:

Booyah.


Nearly-Incoherent-With-Rage Edition

What. Was. That.

I’m so angry after watching the first Presidential Debate live from Denver that I can barely form the words.

TranscriptVideo.  Arghhhhhh.

I screamed at the TV like a deranged maniac, causing my poor Grousey Cat to literally fall off the ottoman and retreat in a huff under the table while I worked myself into a livid fury.

Must. Calm. Self. Not. Good. for. Blood. Pressure.

But now the debate is over. My Grousey Cat has emerged to give me a tentative, calming, wet-nosed nudge, and my Editorial Cat has walked across my keyboard, promising to help edit, if I promise not to be scary anymore.

First off, can we please, PLEASE, PLEASE get a moderator with a fricking backbone?  Jim Lehrer was, in the words of my perceptive husband, “worthless.” Not only did Jim himself often interrupt Obama claiming time was up, he let Romney run roughshod over him, and demand extra time, natter on about whatever he wanted to talk about and interrupt the president as much as he pleased. He didn’t force either of them to stick to the topics or the time limits, and on top of that, his idiotic kickoff questions–“What is the difference between you and your opponent on fill-in-the-blank” was how he started every damn segment–were an embarrassment to the whole proceeding. Jim, that was not only useless, ineffectual, and pandering, it was damn lazy. It made it look like you spent no time at all preparing to moderate this debate.

I would like to also propose a system in which the candidates are locked in two soundproof booths, and unable to be heard unless their mike is turned on.

That or some kind of electronic muzzle. Or automatic pepper-spray spritzes in the face whenever they say something that is a lie.

I’m designing it in my head, and thinking it could be a big seller.

Because tonight’s offerings from Mitt Romney were RIDDLED with whoppers that have ALREADY BEEN PROVEN TO BE LIES! I hope the fact-checkers have a field day with this.

Here are a few that have already hit the boards:

  • 12 million jobs: Mr. Romney promised to create 12 million jobs over the next four years if he is elected president. That is actually about as many jobs as the economy is already expected to create, according to some economic forecasters.
  • “I did not propose a $5Trillion tax cut: It is true that Mr. Romney has proposed “revenue neutral” tax reform, meaning that he would not expand the deficit. However, he has proposed cutting all marginal tax rates by 20 percent — which would in and of itself cut tax revenue by $5 trillion.
  • $716 billion cut for Medicare: How long are we going to have to listen to this one? “These cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program’s finances out longer than they would last otherwise.”

The sad truth is that it was a slick performance by Romney, who was aggressive and energetic. He was well-prepped, using coded keywords and appropriating Demo buzz phrases with a Tea Party twist– “trickle down government,” “economy tax.”  Aside from the actual ballsy outrageousness of his lies, his biggest misstep was saying he’d fire Big Bird and Jim Lehrer, although, personally, at this point, I’d fire Jim Lehrer too.

By contrast Obama’s performance was frankly lackluster.  I know some people will disagree and feel that his non-combativeness was more presidential, but it was also less inspiring, and looked indecisive and confused. When Romney claims that he just wants to help those Americans out there who are hurting, why didn’t Obama hit back with “but you mean not the 47% of them who support me?”

When Romney accuses him of pillaging $716 billion from Medicare, why doesn’t he say, “ask your running mate Paul Ryan how it works, since he proposed the same plan.” When Romney makes a crack about repeating something that’s not true so often til people think its true, why not come back at him and say, “Perhaps you know all about that since SuperPACS supporting you have had so much practice doing exactly that–LYING.” And when Romney has the utter GALL to say that Obama should have gotten Republican support to pass his health care plan, I want to choke him. How about giving him a tart reply that if the Republicans had not CATEGORICALLY decided that blocking Obama (not the welfare of the country) was their TOP political priority , bipartisanship would have been a possibility.

This really frosts me.  When Romney says, “But the right answer is not to have the federal government take over health care and start mandating to the providers across America, telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they can have,” why isn’t Obama retorting, “Oh, you mean the way you’d like to come between a doctor and a woman exercising her right to choose?”

And when Romney has the nerve to spout this little gem, “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own plane, your own house, but not your own facts,” you need to hit back with, “Right, Mitt, you think only YOU are entitled to your own facts–that’s an ‘entitlement’ you take advantage of every day.”

Instead, Obama looks unpracticed–he stutters, seems to be looking down all the time during Romney’s responses, and generally comes across as unfocused and rambling.  It was a totally ennervated performance, that has me wondering where the Obama of 2004 or 2008 is?  There’s a hell of a difference between rising above the negativity to look presidential and just being plain old boring.  Word is that sparring with John Kerry was his debate prep. Well, sadly, he looked like John Kerry–and not that cool, fiery Kerry from this year’s DNC, but the fumbling dry, boring Kerry of 2004 who got SwiftBoated without even raising a peep about the lies told about him.

Joe Klein says: “Mitt Romney won this debate. Barack Obama lost it. I mean, he got his butt kicked. It was, in fact, one of the most inept performances I’ve ever seen by a sitting President. Romney–credit where it’s due–was calm, clear, convincing (even when he was totally full of it) and nearly human. The real mystery was Obama. Where on earth was he? Why was his debate strategy unilateral disarmament? Why did he never speak in plain English: “Mitt, you’re selling a fantasy. Bill Clinton proved it. He raised taxes on the wealthy and the economy boomed. George Bush lowered taxes drastically and the economy tanked. How’s your plan any different than Bush’s?”

Excellent point. Why did Obama never even MENTION Bush and hang the Shrubbery around Mitt Romney’s neck??

And Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast says, “Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama’s meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look.”

I don’t know what the polls are going to look like after this, but I fear it will not be good for Obama.

Is this whole exercise a canny way to shake all of us supporters out of our complacency and send us into a full-blown panic, lest we take this election for granted?  Mr. President, it’s not necessary to give us heart attacks.  Really. You can just ask us kindly to get out there and vote.

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GROUSEY CAT SEZ:

“Ow. I hurt myself when I fell of the ottoman. Don’t make me hurt myself again.”

GO VOTE NOW. 

In-person early voting has commenced in South Dakota, Idaho,  Vermont, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio.

You can vote by absentee ballot already in Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas,Maryland, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Mississipi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas,Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, North Dakota, Illinois, Washington DC, New York and Florida.

On Monday we here in California can begin early voting.


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.


InvisibleObama Loves You Edition

Do you know what the definition of a straw man is? “A straw man is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.” Hmmmm…

The star of this convention clearly is not Mitt Romney, but the straw man we’ll call Invisible Obama, a guy who apparently hangs out with Clint Eastwood and wipes the drool off his chin–you know,  the guy the Republicans made up. I forgot about him.  He’s the guy who wasn’t born an American even though his mother was a US citizen. He’s the guy who apparently closed a GM plant in Janesville before he was inaugurated, “raided” Medicare, killed small business in America, stomps all over your right to self-determination, doesn’t care about women or children… He’s a despicable…oh wait, no that’s Republicans.

WHAT is the purpose of the Republican convention again?  Oh yeah, to make me so mad I could spit nails. Got it.

I’m gonna just set a baseline here. Let’s just say this right from the start and then I can just continue to reference this comment all…damn…night… From Day One of the Obama presidency, the Republican Party as a body decided it would not just obstruct but actively wage war against every single initiative and policy that Barack Obama proposed. So when Republicans rail against him for not getting something done, when Republicans deride him for not doing more for the economy, know that it was the REPUBLICAN Party and since the mid-terms in 2010, the Republican-led House that decided it would categorically refuse to do anything to help this country out of sheer spitefulness, like petulant toddlers. It was the Republican Party led by Boehner and bullied by the Tea Party that chose to drive this country into the ground simply because they hate Obama so much.

It’s Day Three of the RNC and we have to grit our teeth just to turn on the TV and tune into the convention coverage. It’s a fracking slog, if you must know, but I feel like I must at least try. It’s the responsible thing, yes? To listen to the other side spew lies and misinformation? Most of it is supremely uninteresting and simultaneously annoying. There’s Jane Evans touted as a Liberal Democrat up there shilling for Mitt, a parade of Olympic heroes– a move, it seems, designed simply to get the crowd chanting “USA! USA!”

The “surprise” mystery guest for tonight turns out to be Clint Eastwood and I’m sad to say, the guy sounds nearly incoherent.  Who thought this was a good idea–more like both bad and ugly.  Alex Massie at the Spectator tweeted, “Eastwood plainly giving the father of the bride speech at a wedding at which he dislikes the groom and doesn’t recognize his daughter.” Several faltering and unfortunate jokes later, I can only refer you to my comment on obstruction above. All these Republicans are whining and whinging about how Obama hasn’t done anything for the country and I want to say, 1) President Obama done a helluva a lot for this country IN SPITE of the GOP’s best efforts, and 2) see my comment about obstruction up above. People, check out the list of 244 of the President’s accomplishments.

Anyway,  Eastwood has a painfully long extended and very lame conversation with an InvisibleObama, leading to yet another hilarious Twitter meme in which “InvisibleObama” makes snarky remarks about Marco Rubio standing on his foot. In less than an hour, the Twitter account for InvisibleObama’s empty chair has 20,000 followers–can they all vote?

I’m only half tuning into what they’re saying now and occasionally blurting out retorts. Some guy says something about how in the dark days of the past, wealth used to be concentrated in the hands of just a few. Um,  that’s TODAY that you’re talking about.

I’m bored with the speakers. Looking around the convention floor, there are faces you just don’t see. No, I don’t mean that there are no minority faces, although that’s true too–their tent may be big, but it’s also empty. But I mean that certain prominent visages have not been asked to make a speech. No Bushes at all of course. As Milena astutely pointed out, no Dick Cheney? No Palin?

Ahhh Palin.  What fun THAT was (Sorry, is there not enough sarcasm in my tone? “What fun that was….*grimace*And by fun I mean torture.”) What HAS she been up to these days?  Aside from getting bumped off of the Fox News lineup that is…

Paul Ryan didn’t have the expensive wardrobe, but he sure has the faces down.  Paul West had a good analysis in his LA Times piece: “When Mitt Romney was searching for a ticket mate, Republicans pleaded: Don’t pick another Sarah Palin. So it may come as a surprise that, in at least one important way, he ended up doing precisely that with Paul D. Ryan….”

Frankly, I don’t think Ryan did himself any favors with his overblown, overstated claims yesterday–journos and bloggers and just about everyone is still raking him over the coals.  A trending hashtag on Twitter this morning is “#LyinRyan“– for you non-Twitterers, that’s NOT a good thing. And when someone says in a piece on FOX News “”to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech…” your cred has slipped…way down. Sally goes on to say, “Republicans should be ashamed that there was even one misrepresentation in Ryan’s speech but sadly, there were many…”

Hilariously, Gawker has a list of seven things Paul Ryan said that were true, including: “There she is–my Mom, Betty” and “My Dad, a small town lawyer, was also named Paul.”

But at last, we have gotten to the man of the hour: Mittelschmerz Romney. I’m a little surprised to note that Romney’s acceptance speech, while irritating, doesn’t get me nearly as riled as I was when Condi Rice was onscreen. I’m not sputtering and incoherent like I am with some of the other speakers, but I think that’s because there’s just nothing to get excited about one way or another with Romney. He lacks charisma, lacks fire, and is just completely uninteresting. The one time I’m ready to spit nails is when the word “bipartisan” emerges from Mitt’s mouth. Don’t fracking even MENTION the word “bipartisan” to me–no one at this convention gets to say that word.

Aside from this though, I predict that the Mittelschmerz will continue to have image problems.  Back in early August, Pew Research Group released a poll noting that, “By a 52% to 37% margin, more voters say they have an unfavorable than favorable view of Mitt Romney. The poll, conducted prior to Romney’s recent overseas trip, represents the sixth consecutive survey over the past nine months in which his image has been in negative territory.” Frankly, I don’t see that shifting radically after this convention. I mean, he was trending down even before he famously staged three major gaffes in three countries,  condescending to the British, stomping all over delicate diplomatic ground with the Israelis and Palestinians, and  insulting journalists in Poland. Little foreign policy sumptin sumptin for everyone. Anyway, back to popularity (not that elections are like running for prom queen or anything) Romney’s popularity actually took a DIP before the convention…

Is he getting a convention bounce?  Yeah, 1-2 points, which is normal. But know what?  convention bounce, whatever,  Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight notes that going into the Republican convention, Obama leads in 12 of the fifteen national polls released at the end of August. “Enjoy this moment of polling clarity,” he says.

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As per usual it’s up to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to get me through the week with a shred of sanity. Jon’s got a wonderfully ridiculous Romney bio video narrated by Leonard Nimoy.  The video for 8/30 wasn’t up as of press time, but should be posted soon. PLUS his guest is  Michael Steele, who is surprisingly ready to dish on the Republican convention.  Can’t blame him for being bitter after the way Republicans blamed him for everything from the party’s debt (what was that about fiscal responsibility?) to picking storm-prone Tampa for the convention.

Apparently it’s Disgruntled Republicans Week on Comedy Central. Gov. Jon Huntsman, the last even semi-reasonable Republican — remember, the guy I might have been able to actually vote for? — was on Colbert and nailed it, “SuperPACS are destroying democracy. It’s an abomination.”  When it comes up on ColbertNation.com, watch it.  It will do your heart good. Favorite line, when Stephen asks Huntsman “Romney says he’s not going to be beholden to factcheckers. How important do you think the facts are to this campaign?” Huntsman also gives his opinion… in fluent Mandarin– Translations anyone?

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Once again, I will reiterate,  plan to vote early, and plan to get everyone you know to vote. I’m looking at you folks in the swing states especially. If you’re not already registered,register to vote now!

The deadlines to register for each state are here, and many states have a deadline to register of 30 days before the election. That means your registration must be postmarked October 8, but the alert among you will note that that is also Columbus Day. So some states have moved the deadline BACK to October 6. Check your local registration deadline carefully!

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GROUSY CAT SEZ:

Thank God it’s over.


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