July 26, 2016

Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention.

Watch it with me. Hillary is nominated. That's the central fact, but there's got to be more going on here. Help me find something to talk about.

Lake Mendota, today.

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"Historically, when Mr. Clinton does not have a job to do, he gets into trouble."

Writes Patrick Healy in a NYT article titled "A Worry if Hillary Clinton Wins: What to Do With Bill."
Putting Mr. Clinton to good use, while containing his less helpful impulses, would be a major test for Mrs. Clinton as president, given the spotlight and pressure they would be under and her limited ability in the past to rein in his excesses....

Given his insights and experience, Mr. Clinton could be more capable than anyone else in ensuring the success of her presidency – or he could cast a long shadow over her....

"Why did Hillary get rid of her middle name?... Hillary 'Rotten' Clinton... It's too close."



Trump didn't originate that — I can see Mark Levin using it back in 2007 — but I hadn't noticed it before Trump's little routine (which has some pretty expert comic timing, I think). 

Here's Scott Adams talking about it today: "Rotten cleverly incorporates all of Trump’s best labels for Clinton, including 'crooked' and 'no stamina.'"

"To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous."



Let's talk about what Sarah Silverman said. Here's my set of observations:

1. Silverman was not calling all Bernie people ridiculous, only the "Bernie or bust" people — only those who are so dedicated to a lost dream that they won't see the clear task at hand and do what needs to be done.

2. Silverman was ad libbing, not following a script. She and Al Franken had been told to stretch it, because for some reason the next person — it turned out to be Paul Simon — was not yet ready to take the stage. So we got something actually spontaneous. That's refreshing. Interestingly, it's something Donald Trump does all the time: Come out with unscripted expressions of his reaction to what's happening in the room right now. The attention to Silverman's remark gives some insight into why Trump has had such an effect on so many people.

3. Silverman's remark also hit people in an emotional place, I believe. Maybe not for everyone or quite in the same way, but what I think happened was: She assumed authority as the woman who can tell you what you need to be to measure up socially. If you've been caring about social acceptance and being part of the group — and maybe you've been feeding off of a communal feeling of being in the Bernie crowd — you're suddenly taken aback and warned that you could lose your inclusion. The people who matter think you are an embarrassment and you might find yourself, once again, on the outside. The meaning in life that you found with the Bernie people could be lost if you don't shape up and act the way The Lady says you must act.

4. The downside of her remark is this: The Bernie people — some/many of them — had been having a deep personal experience of awakening into and living in idealism. Something amazing and spiritually rewarding seemed to be happening to them. A wide world of potential seemed to be opening up. And now they are brought up short as Sarah tells them what felt real to them is just a childish thing that needs to be put aside. Join the real world, you starry eyed fools. So all that idealism, what was it? Were we chumps to believe? Were we exploited all along for our propensity to believe? And now you insist that we believe something else? Why? If we were a bubble and you popped the bubble, what are we now? Nothing! And Sarah's beautiful face morphs into the face of the witch who's been horrifying us all this time and she's laughing at us...



5. As noted at #2, the need for the stretching occurred because Paul Simon wasn't coming out on cue. Why would an old performer — one with much experience at live shows — have difficulty getting out there? Look at him and ask yourself what went wrong:



Maybe he didn't want to do it. He was for Bernie. He gave his beautiful song "America" to Bernie to use in the best (save one) political ad I've ever seen. Maybe Paul was close to being Bernie-or-bust and was busting back stage. But it wandered out eventually and struggled through that song that's not really written for his voice, but for Art's. Maybe he didn't want to lay himself down as a bridge — a bridge to Hillary. That's not the lofty spiritual destination over the bridge in that song. How, after all these years can he give that song to her? What a pale, debased repeat of giving "America" to Bernie! Ah, poor Paul! How dreary and sad the song sounded. Nothing like the exquisite inspiration of "America" given to Bernie. In the comments, coupe had said: "Bernie's not an idiot. He has millions of dollars in outstanding campaign bills to pay off. He's going to say whatever is necessary to get the DNC and Clinton to pay them off." And Meade wrote this parody of Paul Simon's "America":
"Let's not be suckers, we’ll marry extortions together
I’ve got some emails right here in my bag"
So you'll pay all of my campaign debts and I'll buy your Wall Street lies
And we'll walk off and sell out America
6. Proofreading, I'm surprised to see I wrote "it wandered out eventually." Ah, poor Paul! Drained of his soul! Ah, poor Bernie people, drained of their soul! Your soul was just something The Party was using until it became an inconvenient encumbrance. Shed it now. You look ridiculous.

If Donald Trump showed equivalent disrespect for the rule of law, he would be lambasted, but Bernie Sanders can say...

"Hillary Clinton will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who are prepared to overturn Citizens United and end the movement toward oligarchy in this country. Her Supreme Court appointments will also defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment."

And you don't hear a peep.

And I don't mean "peep" in the sense of "My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist."

And if you don't understand what I'm referring to by the shorthand in the post title, let me remind you of the way every Supreme Court nominee since the Bork debacle has presented himself or herself in the confirmation hearings — notably Justice Ginsburg:
At her Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg repeatedly explained that the judicial obligation of impartiality required that she give “no hints, no forecasts, no previews” about how she might “vote on questions the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide.” As she declared in her opening statement:
A judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints, for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process.
Sanders is saying that Hillary Clinton will ensure that her nominees will forthrightly parade what Ginsburg called disdain for the entire judicial process.

"Oh! Elizabeth Warren just did a Nazi salute, waiting for the breathless indignation from the media."

"Well if Laura Ingraham gave a Nazi salute then so did Elizabeth Warren. But I'm guessing we won't hear about that in the media."

July 25, 2016

"For the last year, I’ve been feeling the Bern. Relax, I put some cream on it."

Said Sarah Silverman at the Democratic National Convention tonight.

It made me say, quoting the old Bill Clinton line, "Put some ice on it."

I don't think they meant to evoke that. Maybe it was only me.

After all the talk of how much Democrats care about women and the children they tend to, Al Franken ended his speech in a very discordant way.

"Many of you have jobs. Many of you have families. Ignore them. Let me tell you something: kids love it when their parents aren't home. And let me tell you something else. An 8-year-old knows how to use a microwave. And let me tell you something else. An 8-year-old can teach a 4-year-old how to use a microwave. That's just scientific fact. They'll be fine."

I know it's humor. It just hit me the wrong way. I didn't like joking about neglecting children.

"There is only one person" who is "truly qualified" to be President — Michelle Obama says — "and that is our friend Hillary Clinton."

Why say that to all the Bernie supporters in the room? He's not even qualified to be President?

And Democrats been criticizing Donald Trump for saying "I alone can fix it." As Chuck Todd said, interviewing him on "Meet the Press" yesterday:
One of the phrases you used, "I alone can fix it." And to some people, that sounded almost too strong-mannish for them. Do you understand that criticism and what do you make of it?"
Michelle Obama just said the same thing about Hillary.

Amid great disunity, the new DNC chair calls for the "Unity Report."

The newcomer chair, Marsha Fudge, struggles with the disorder at the Democratic National Convention:

I'll Keep It With Mine...

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(Today, at Collectivo.)

"Hundreds of supporters of Bernie Sanders drowned out the Vermont senator with boos Monday..."

"... as he tried to make the case on the first day of the Democratic National Convention that his fans would need to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to defeat Donald J. Trump."
[T]he crowd remained fixed on their support of Mr. Sanders and not on the idea of defeating Mr. Trump. Over and over again they chanted, “We want Bernie. Bernie. Bernie. Bernie.”

The reaction from Mr. Sanders’s supporters was consistent with the anti-Clinton message delivered by demonstrators earlier in the day. Some pro-Sanders protesters took a harder turn on Monday, chanting “Lock her up” in an echo of the message of the Republican National Convention a week earlier, fueled by the resignation of the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
 ADDED: Trump reacts:

"A meeting of Florida Democratic delegates descended into chaos when outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz took the stage today."

"In the middle of her speech in Philadelphia, angry attendees began to chant, 'Shame! Shame! Shame!'... 'We know that the voices in this room that are standing up and being disruptive, we know that is not the Florida that we know,' said Wasserman Schultz, who quickly exited after brief remarks."

Breaking news email from CNN, just now.

She knows that what is happening right before her eyes is not what she knows she knows.

"A toilet-themed cafe where customers dine on meatballs floating in soup-filled latrines...."

"Guests at the 'Jamban Cafe' sit on upright toilets around a table where food is served in squat loos.... 'Jamban' means toilet in Indonesian...."
Owner Budi Laksono, a public health expert who used to work for the local government, hosts discussions with customers and shows them videos as he seeks to encourage people to use dedicated facilities for their bodily functions...

"This cafe serves as a reminder that many people in Indonesia still do not have toilets," said Laksono, 52.... "Many critics say the cafe is inappropriate and against Islamic law," he said.

"So this is the story the NYT runs with, the one the Clinton campaign is pressing?"

"Instead it should be asking, What did Hillary Clinton know and when did she know it?"

That's typical of the highly rated comments at a NYT article, "As Democrats Gather, a Russian Subplot Raises Intrigue." ("An unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia: Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?... It may take months, or years, to figure out the motives of those who stole the emails, and more important, whether they were being commanded by Russian authorities, and specifically by Mr. Putin....")

Imagine if Trump's campaign were putting out an equivalent fanciful story about Hillary's connection to a foreign power. As Donald Trump Jr. put it yesterday (appearing on "State of the Union" after Robby Mook, who pushed the Russians-are-coming theory): "If a Republican did that... they would be calling for people... to bring out the electric chair.... And again, if we did that, if the RNC did that, if my father's campaign did that they'd be calling for people to get the electric chair."

When you have an argument with your husband in the car, do you get out of the car? In an animal park? With tigers?

"Surveillance video that circulated widely online showed a woman exit a car, then walk to the other side of the vehicle, where she was attacked a few seconds later by a tiger. As the animal dragged her away, her husband and mother jumped out in an attempt to rescue her. The woman left the car because of an argument with her husband...."

The woman survived, as did the husband. The mother, however, died. 

I thought this was something that happens only in movies. The characters are going somewhere in a car and they just have to hop out of the car because of whatever the hell they are talking about. In real life — I've always thought — people just put up with being in the car together and try to get wherever they were going.

Don't panic yet, Trump loathers. Hillary's bounce is yet to come.

CNN reports its shocking new poll result with the into "The bounce is back."
Donald Trump comes out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups.

There hasn't been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN's polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court.
So if Trump got 6, Hillary should get 6. Just hang on. Wait a week. The rightful order of things will be restored....

ADDED: "Pre-convention, independents split 34% Clinton to 31% Trump, with sizable numbers behind Johnson (22%) and Stein (10%). Now, 46% say they back Trump, 28% Clinton, 15% Johnson and 4% Stein."

Trump gained 15% among the independents!

AND: There's a big flaw in the idea that Clinton should get the same bounce from her convention — like it's a bounce year, comparable to 2000, when Gore and Bush got identical 8-point boosts. Trump had to move from being a strange phenomenon to being seen as even a normal candidate, a person would could credibly serve as President, let alone an especially great prospect. That is, he had huge upward potential. Hillary is so well known. What is the convention supposed to do to change how we think of her? Trump had to fight through the establishment and getting accepted in the ritual of a convention was a real transition from him. But Hillary was her party's preference all along. The convention can only be more of the same... except to the extent that the Bernie delegates — fueled by the recent DNC links — manage to act up. There's a downside for her if the Bernie people don't shut up for the good of the great cause of defeating Trump. But I think they will. Bernie is speaking tonight. 

IN THE COMMENTS: David said: "Is there really that much movement, or are the polls less accurate than usual in a year of rebellion?"

It may be that before the convention, people were holding back from telling pollsters they supported Trump and that the convention, by normalizing him, caused these people to go ahead and acknowledge they're for him.

I think it's been the case — and it's still partly true — that there are a lot of people who have the feeling that they don't personally support Trump and don't want to be thought of that way, but that they are aware of somehow nevertheless wanting him to win.

I have heard it expressed just this way: I'm not for Trump, but I want him to win. That's a hell of a state of mind!

Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.”

All were Marni Nixon.

Nixon has died at the age of 86.
Deborah Kerr was nominated for an Academy Award in 1956 for her role as Anna in “The King and I”; the film’s soundtrack album sold hundreds of thousands of copies. For singing Anna’s part on that album, Ms. Nixon recalled, she received a total of $420.

“You always had to sign a contract that nothing would be revealed,” Ms. Nixon told the ABC News program “Nightline” in 2007....

July 24, 2016

Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook floats the conspiracy theory: Russians hacked the DNC emails for the purpose of helping Trump.

On "State of the Union" this morning:
TAPPER: So, I have to ask, what is the reaction of the Clinton campaign to these DNC leaked e-mails suggesting that top officials, including the CFO there, were actively discussing ways to hurt Bernie Sanders in the primaries?

MOOK: Well, I think the DNC needs to look into this and take appropriate action, and I'm sure that they will. What's disturbing to us is that we -- experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these e-mails. And other experts are now saying that the Russians are releasing these e- mails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump. I don't think it's coincidental that these e-mails were released on the eve of our convention here. And that's disturbing. And I think we need to be concerned about that. I think we need to be concerned that we also saw last week at the Republican Convention that Trump and his allies made changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian. And we saw him talking about how NATO shouldn't intervene to defend -- necessarily should intervene to defend our Eastern European allies if they are attacked by Russia. So, I think, when you put all this together, it's a disturbing picture. And I think voters need to reflect on that.

TAPPER: What evidence is there that the Russians were behind this in terms of the hacking or in terms of the timing by WikiLeaks?

MOOK: Well, we need to let the experts speak on this. It's been reported on in the press that the -- that the hackers that got into the DNC are very likely by to be working in coordination with Russia. And, again, I think it's -- if the Russians in fact had these e-mails, again, I don't think it's very coincidental that they are being released at this time to create maximum damage on Hillary Clinton and to help Donald Trump.

TAPPER: But it is a very, very strong charge that you're leveling here. You're basically suggesting that Russians hacked into the DNC and now are releasing these files through WikiLeaks to help elect Donald Trump.

MOOK: Well, this isn't my assertion. There are a number of experts that are asserting this. I think we need to get to the bottom of these facts. But that is what experts are telling us. Experts have said that it is the Russians that, in fact, went in and took these e-mails. And then, if they are the ones who took them, we have to infer that they are the ones then releasing them....
He's just passing along the theory he heard from some "experts." Go ask them if you want some details.