Five Thoughts On Tonight

As the second night of the DNC comes to a close, a few thoughts:

  • On night one, Michelle Obama once and for all obliterated the idea that only one of our two parties speaks to the values of families in modern America. On night two, the Democratic Party made the nation’s response to 9/11 one of the key issues of the night. Thanks to Trump and Trumpism, the parties have essentially flipped places on two of the defining issues of the 1990s and early 2000s. Add to that the fact that the Republicans are rapidly morphing into a pro-Putin, pro-Russian party, and it’s all really difficult to process.
  • I don’t think this is the last time we’ll be hearing about Donald Trump the war profiteer. I wasn’t previously aware of this line of attack, and I read A LOT about politics every day. The fact that Trump profited off 9/11 is truly fucked up, even by his standards.
  • Bill’s speech reminded me of two things. First and most obviously, he’s a fantastic storyteller who loves to riff, and I would hate to have been his TelePrompTer operator tonight. Second and more importantly, that in the span of about a decade, Hillary’s public image has gone from a shirll, left-wing idealist to a centrist, corporatist sellout. I suppose if you aren’t old enough to remember the 1990s that might make sense, but if you do it’s a really bizarre thing to experience. So much of what so many people “know” about Hillary just isn’t true, and in an important way, the fact that she has been believed to be both inside of a decade really illustrates how ridiculous the narratives around her are. It’s just not possible for one person to  be both of those in under a decade. She’s boring and wonky and weird and way too defensive, but she isn’t a monster, no matter what your angry Bernie Bro or Trump-tastic uncle might say to you. And remember this: Republicans tried to turn her into a monster in her race for the Senate, and although it worked at first, in the end it backfired spectacularly.
  • I know Republicans want to make Bill’s infidelities one of the central themes of the campaign, but if they do that I am absolutely certain they will live to regret it. Republicans have spent decades claiming to be the party that defends the sanctity of marriage, but now they’ve gone ahead and nominated someone who treats divorce the same way he treats bankruptcy, and if they add to that the idea that there’s something wrong with two people who choose to stay together despite their mistakes, they will be taking the position that divorce is more honorable than marriage. That might please the base because it’s an attack on the Clintons, but it will sound ridiculous to everyone else.
  • Last but certainly not least, my respect for Bernie Sanders has grown immensely over the last 48 hours. I know that it’s easier for me to make this move than it would be for a Bernie supporter to do something similar, but I hope that by the end of this week, many of them will have come around too. Because as I’ve said numerous times on Facebook, he won everything but the nomination. That might not yet be clear to everyone, but it will be soon.

Much more tomorrow….

Hang on…one more thought….a bunch of the people on my teevee seem to think that Bill Clinton should’ve talked about his infidelity tonight. So many things I could say but I will stick to just these. First: I’m going to be be gracious and assume that these people have never had their lives shattered by infidelity, and that as a result they don’t know what they are talking about. Second: you do realize that the purpose of his speech was to talk about her, yes? And that maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t want him to talk about it? That as the victim of the infidelity, she gets to choose, not you or him? Before you keep on about this, I suggest you think on that.

Trump and Russia, Sittin in a Tree…..

I don’t have time to write a full post on this right now – too much going on at the convention – so here are some bullets for you on what promises to become one of the weirdest and yet potentially most important subplots of the election:

If you don’t have time to read them all, go for the ones in bold.

UPDATE: And now POTUS has weighed in. Kevin Drum considers the implications and find Trump’s “I have ZERO investments in Russia” totally lacking. The point isn’t that Trump invests in Russia; its that Russia invests in Trump:

The evasiveness of this answer is pretty obvious. Nobody cares all that much if Trump has business in Russia, they care whether Russian money funds his business here—which might explain why he’s so friendly to Russian interests. He has very carefully avoided answering that question. That’s a bad sign since he would normally just lie about it. He must know that evidence of his reliance on Russian money is out there. Trump’s tax returns would tell us the answer, of course, but Trump has declined to release them, unlike every other presidential candidate of the past few decades. Maybe now we know why.  

UPDATE II: NYT just in: Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked DNC

Four Thoughts on Tonight

Four thoughts on tonight:

1) I don’t think it is a coincidence that almost all of the disruptions tonight came from the California delegation. That’s the one state that’s so far in the bag for the Democrats that you could get a double-digit vote for the Greens and still get a big victory for Hillary Clinton in the Fall. The delegations from the swing states were, by all accounts across all networks, already essentially unified.

2) Given that 45% of the delegates in the hall were Bernie delegates, there were far fewer disruptions than I would’ve expected on Day One. If the party really was deeply divided, you would’ve seen total chaos given that split. And yet….

3) Cory Booker and Michelle Obama? If either one ever runs, either one wins. I’m not sure that either will run, but I’m as sure of that predictions tonight as I was when I said the same thing about Obama back on that night in 2004.

4) I’m disappointed that no one managed to sneak a paper-mache puppet into the hall. Up your puppet game, aging hippies!

Bounce Bounce!

So looks like Trump’s Convention bounce is coming in right on schedule and size: some polls showing him up a few, some down a few, in a tighter race. Of course the CHAOS AT THE CONVENTIONS didn’t change any minds. That’s not how conventions work. Not really even how politics works, actually.

One of the 538 models has Trump up, the other Clinton. Makes perfect sense for this moment in the race. One of their models is a “now-cast,” the other a “forecast.” The former shows Trump winning, the later losing. That’s exactly what you would expect to see from a small bounce in a close race.But remember: this isn’t sports, so although the now-cast is useful for identifying short-term trends, it by design doesn’t tell us about the longer term. This isn’t actually a race, so don’t think of it like one, no matter how hard they try to get you to.

Oh, and as a partisan? I’m **THRILLED** Trump is up on the now-cast. Turnout will determine this election, and I want EVERYONE on my team to realize that nothing can be taken for granted this year. Fear is a powerful motivator.

Looking ahead…i would expect Hillary to get a bounce as well. That will fade, leaving us roughly where we were prior to the conventions. Once we get into September the polls will become more predictive, but they will still be noisy. Expect Trump to take the lead once or twice between September 1 and Election Day, each time slipping back behind Clinton. 

And no, I’m not altering my “5-point Clinton victory in a record-setting turnout election” prediction. Why would I? So far, everything has gone exactly as I expected!

On Parties

Parties exist to mobilize voters in order to win elections. In pursuit of that goal, they are supposed to identify and advance the candidates that they believe are most likely to win election and advance the party’s policy goals, and they are supposed to identify and undermine the candidates they believe won’t. In pursuit of those objectives, they are supposed to attempt to shape coverage of those candidates and those goals in the media. They wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t do these things, and in a nation of 315+ million, it’s not likely that democracy would work if they didn’t. That’s part of what you see in the leaked DNC emails.
Unfortunately for all of us, what you also see in those emails – and what you would see in similar ones from the RNC if those were ever leaked – is that most (but not all!) of the people who choose to become party professionals haven’t gotten over the fact that they didn’t get to sit with the cool kids in the High School cafeteria. And because of that, they spend much of their time creating cliques and settling scores and righting imagined wrongs. But on both sides of the aisle it’s almost always a sign of immaturity, not malfeasance. That doesn’t make what they do right or good, but if you think on it a bit an pay close attention, it might make a lot of it make more sense.

Not A President But A King

He doesn’t want to run the Executive Branch. He doesn’t want to have to deal with either domestic or foreign policy. All he wants to do is focus on “making America great again.” 

Policy? Well…that’s for the Vice President, which means that it’s actually Pence-Trump and not Trump-Pence. And even by contemporary standards, Pence is a hard-core right-wing ideologue. So all of the “Trump will shake things up and shatter the establishment” isn’t even true. Even that is a ridiculous lie.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Or maybe both?

But seriously: get to know Mike Pence. He’s among the most hard-core of the hard-core drug warriors. He’s among the most hard-core of the hard-core “the culture of life begins at conception and ends at birth” activists. He’s among the most hard-core of the hard-core anti-LGBT theocrats. And he’s dumb as a box of rocks to boot.

End the Revolving Door By Obliterating the Door….and the Walls…

I can’t imaging anything that could go wrong with this plan:

Flitter also reports that Christie and Trump want to “let businesspeople serve in government part time without having to give up their jobs in the private sector.” 

This is one of those stories that should be huge but won’t be because it’s just too inside-baseball for most people to care. But seriously? Allowing people to simultaneously work for for-profit enterprises while also serving in positions that regulate those enterprises? Things are bad enough as they are – you can go from running Goldman Sachs to heading up the Treasury, for example. But they want to make it possible to do BOTH AT THE SAME TIME? Because this would be better how precisely? 

It Wasn’t Plagarism…Oh Well, Never Mind, It Was. And While We’re At It….It Was an Illeagal In-Kind Donation Too!

This is the most incompetent campaign in the history of campaigns.

So first Melania’s speech plagarised multiple sentences from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. 

Then the campaign denied it was plagiarism and spent 36 hours arguing the definition of plagiarism with journalists, citing among other things: My Little Pony, Akon, John Legend, and Kid Rock.

Then the speechwriters leaked the final draft of their version of the speech to clear their names, something every speechwriter in America will tell you violates the norms ofs their profession.

Then the Trump organization released a letter from the staff writer responsible for the whole mess. In it, she tells a story that involves Melania reading Michelle’s speech to her over the phone BECAUSE SHE ADMIRED MICHELLE, and this staffer then somehow transcribing the parts of the speech Melania liked into the text of the speech. But let me repeat that: she liked Michelle Obama, the woman the right loves to despise, that she wanted to use her words about honesty and integrity and hard work in her speech!

While that was happening, the Chief Strategist for the Republican Party was on CNN arguing the old party line that it wasn’t plagiarism.

And if that wasn’t all enough – her letter was released on Trump Orgnaiztion letterhead, which means that she was doing this while working for his firm. Under federal election law, that’s an illegal in-kind donation! And not in a way that’s in the usual gray zone of campaign finance law. This is as black and white as you can possibly get.

Is this real life?

So we’ve gone from “Trump hires only the best of the best, and those who disappoint him will be fired” to “Trump is so loyal to his employees that he won’t even fire them when they humiliate his wife” in under 48 hours.

RNC Convention – Day Two Live Blog

I’m late to this, as I actually had to do some work today, but better late than never?

11:17p No wait…the highlight of the night had to be Ben Carson going off script to discuss Hillary’s connection to Lucifer.

11:10p Chris Matthews is right: the people who hate Hillary are already Republican voters, and this entire convention is devoted to hating Hillary. But Ron Fournier is totally wrong: this approach has nothing to do with scaring undecideds, because there aren’t any of those. There are unaffiliated voters, but that isn’t the same thing as undecided. Fournier must long for the days of the Cold War, when bipartisanship was achieved through the exclusion of huge numbers of Americans and as a result of the threat of nuclear annihilation. Oh god do I hate Fournier….

11:00p The highlight of the night for me has to be Donald Trump, Jr., a man so thoroughly born to entitlement that he doesn’t even have his own name, ranting against “self-satisfied people at the top, our new aristocrats.” That’s fantastic.

10:54p The self-proclaimed avocado enthusiast is closing the night. Why do they keep doing this, having speakers speak after the big names? It makes no sense.

10:47p This night isn’t nearly as fun as last night. I’m bored. Oh and for the record? Read Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals, both because it’s brilliant, and because it’s hilarious how closely the conservative movement has adhered to its principles for the past half century. They might not know it, but they’ve much more closely followed his blueprint than have Democrats.

10:41p “The prepared remarks did not include references to Lucifer.” Up next: an actor and avocado grower!

10:37p Beware of Hillary! She will cultivate the children for their votes!

10:34p And now Dr. Ben Crason and his brains. The media has an agenda! And they don’t know what they are talking about! And be “weary” of Republican elites! Use your brain people!

10:28p Judging from the reactions on MSNBC and CNN, the Trump Jr. speech must’ve played very differently in that room than it did in this one.

10:23p Wow did Tiffany Trump make a horrible awful synth-pop record. Wow. You’ve got to check this out.

10:16p The son of a billionaire continues ranting against the wealthy….do they have any idea how absurd that sounds? 

10:14p Another Benghazi rant. These people are insane. This is like a series of disconnected rants from Rush and Hannity combined comments from a 4Chan thread. And wow is the dude a capital-D Douchebag.

10:12p A rant against lawyers and accountants and the people at the top from a Trump. Are you kidding me? And wait…now a rant against risk? This makes no sense whatsoever.

10:07p This speech from Jr. Seems to be premised on the idea that people don’t already know who Donald Trump is. Also, did he just take a shot at guys from Wharton? He did, but that makes no sense. Or rather, it makes as much sense as Donald Trump and his sons being men of the people.
10:00p The party that is the party of the constitution and of respect for the rule of law is demanding that their political opponent be locked up despite the fact that all of the investigations conducted under the constitution and the rule of law found that no charges could be brought. But please proceed with the screaming and the ranting. Please proceed, governor.

9:51p OK this isn’t nice, but wow….Tiffany Trump is very strange looking. Oh wait, this party is opposed to political correctness, so I’m encouraged to say this yes? Also what the hell is the point of this speech? She loves dad, which is nice, but what about this has anything to do with an election?

9:49p It’s just endlessly over the top nonsense from Christie, interspersed with unhinged anger from the floor. Oh, and for the record: Christie deleted Bridgegate texts from his phone, sent emails from private accounts and private servers, and ultimately “lost” one of the phones he used to do it all. But yeah, right, Hillary is uniquely evil.

9:44p More angry white people waving their arms around and screaming “lock her up.” I get it. If you’re a member of the base you love this, but do they have any idea how this actually looks to the rest of us? There’s a really solid case to be made against her, but this is most definitely NOT how you do it. This is so over the top, so blood thirsty, so obviously unhinged that it’s hard to watch…As a partisan I’m thrilled, but as an American I long for a day when we have reasonable and responsible Republican Party.

9:42p The incoherence of this foreign policy critique is amazing. It essentially comes down to the idea that whatever happened, it was Hillary’s fault. Does it matter that some of these policies were continuations of Bush Administration policies? Of course not. Does it matter that many of these issues were and are entirely outside of the control of the President of the United States? No. Clinton is personally to blame for Assad and Boko Haram? Just stop, you are embarrassing yourselves.

9:40p Libya’s economy is in ruins? THAT is Hillary’s fault? Are you kidding? Abductions in Nigeria are Hillary’s fault? Is Trump running for President or Emperor?

9:38p “Lock her up,” screams the crowd. Can you imagine the reaction if Democrats had chanted that about Colin Powell or Condi Rice? Do these people understand how dangerous it is to criminalize the opposition in this manner? 

9:35p Oh dear….here comes Chris Christie. He’s Donald Trump’s friend! And Trump is strong and genuine and decent….but let’s not talk about him, let’s talk about Hillary! Do these people realize how silly they sound? 

9:31p It’s worth noting that Drudge appears to be so obsessed with the implosion of Fox News that he’s paying almost no attention to the conventions tonight.

9:21p Good god Paul Ryan is boring. He’s overly earnest in an Opie-esque way, but maybe that appeals to Boomers? And geez…does he realize that the President’s approval rating has been over 50% for more than 6 months now? Does anyone at this convention recognize the problem that presents for their campaign?

9:18p This from one of the premiere Hillary-haters in the land, Andrew Sullivan, is priceless: “And, yes, he’s right about her lies. She cannot help herself. But her lies are trivial and pathetic, rather than massive, shameless and endless. She is a mediocre politician in our liberal democratic system. Trump is a direct, grave and imminent threat to the very system itself.”

9:15p Wait…does Mitch McConnell realize that the issues people care about in 2016 aren’t the ones that people cared about in 2012? Also, did anyone else notice that he only barely mentioned this party’s nominee? 

9:08p The man-turtle hybrid speaks! Boy is he a stereotypical establishment politician. And boy has the establishment become indistinguishable from Fox News. But look….this whole idea that Hillary is a flip-flopping liar might’ve made for a good line of attack but for the fact that they’ve nominated someone who is even worse. And while I’m ranting, can I note for the record that we’re now half way through the second night of the convention and they’ve still not addressed the fact that Bush’s time in office led to several historic disasters? It’s like they think if they don’t mention him we’ll forget that he existed. 

RNC Convention – Day One Addendum

Good lord….Melania Trump and/or her speechwriters plagiarized a major chunk of her speech tonight from Micehlle Obama’s convention speech in 2008. 

The story apparently broke immediately on Twitter as Melania was giving the speech, and it’s all over everywhere now. Here’s a quick summary, but you really need to see it for yourself to get just how awful it is. You do this in my college class and you are failing the semester. I mean it’s not even close.

Now earlier in the night, Melania claimed to have written the speech almost entirely on her own, but that’s probably not true. And early word from the campaign is that they are going to circle the wagons and blame the media. That’s Trump’s style, but good lord is that insane. He claims to be a genius leader who only produces great things, and THIS is what he gives us? 

Is this real life? Are you kidding me? It’s not just plagiarized. It’s plagiarized from MICHELLE FREAKING OBAMA?!?! And ask yourself: if Michelle Obama had been found to have plagiarized this much of Laura Bush’s speech, and if the part she plagiarized was all about honesty and hard work, would anyone have given her or the Obama campaign a pass? OF COURSE NOT.

UPDATE: And the speech included a Rick Roll too? I jokingly noticed this earlier, but…I now ask this in all seriousness: was this sabotage? What else are we going to find was in there?