Thursday, July 21, 2016

Republican Convention Edition

Full disclosure: I find it hard to watch all of the Republican National Convention proceedings, what with all the Hillary bashing and the almost comical ways security and ordinary attendees are trying to muzzle protesters’ voices and faces. I suspect I will find it similarly difficult to follow the Democrats chance next week.

Unless, unless Hillary Clinton and her convention planners have absorbed lessons from the Republicans and focus their remarks not on a continuous assault on Donald Trump’s lack of qualifications to be president but rather on how she and a Democratic Congress would invigorate the economy, safeguard the homeland and the freedom of our allies, protect healthcare and social security benefits, and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. They will need to provide specifics, not just lip service. 

Any intelligent Democrat or objective-thinking Independent, and even some Republicans, already know the danger of a Trump presidency, so an anti-Donald-day in-day-out convention to pump up the faithful is not necessary. What would turn on undecided voters and recalcitrant Bernie Sanders supporters would be a message of populist change. 

On MSNBC’s Monday night coverage of the Republican National Convention, Nicolle Wallace, the former communications director for President George W. Bush, said the election will boil down to a choice between a candidate (Trump) whose temperament to be commander in chief is questioned versus a candidate (Clinton) whose honesty and integrity to be commander in chief is questioned. 

I think that’s a fair assessment. 

Trump’s Twitter response to Melania-gate (“Good news is Melania’s speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!”) is validation of a quote attributed to P.T. Barnum: “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.” 

FYI, Stephen Colbert has got his mojo back. If you haven’t seen his live broadcasts after each convention session, complete with a resurrection of his arch-conservative Colbert Report alter ego from Comedy Central, download segments on YouTube or from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert site. 

Monday night he brought back his “Tonight’s WØrd” bit with a twist. Instead of “truthiness,” Colbert lampooned “Trumpiness.” Truthiness, he explained, “is believing something that feels true even if it isn’t supported by fact,” such as the statement “The Rio Olympics will be fine.” 

“Truthiness comes from the gut because brains are overrated … Truthiness has to feel true, but Trumpiness doesn’t even have to do that. In fact, many Trump supporters don’t believe his wildest promises and they don’t care … If he doesn’t have to mean what he says, he can say anything …

“Truthiness was from the gut, but Trumpiness clearly comes from much lower down the intestinal tract, and his supporters know this.” 

What Ailes Ya? Twenty years ago, Roger Ailes teamed up with media mogul Rupert Murdoch to launch Fox News, the conservative-leaning cable news channel. Eight years earlier, in 1988, working as Vice President George H.W. Bush’s media advisor in his bid to succeed President Ronald Reagan, Ailes helped develop the signature ad of that election campaign, the Willie Horton spot. Under a Massachusetts plan backed by Bush’s opponent, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, Horton received a prison furlough during which he raped a Maryland woman and assaulted her husband. The ad portrayed Dukakis as soft on crime. The ad helped propel Bush into the White House.

Dukakis’ campaign manager was Susan Estrich.

Fast forward to July 2016. Estrich is Roger Ailes’ lawyer in his defense against allegations of sexual harassment that has cost him his job as head of Fox News. 

Is there a better example of interlocking, incestuous interests among the power elite?

Where’s Geraldine When We Need Her? Comedian Flip Wilson’s in-drag character Geraldine sought forgiveness when she violated cultural norms by saying, “The devil made me do it.” Apparently, one-time presidential hopeful Ben Carson has a problem acknowledging the devil.

As described by The New York Times, “Ben Carson got a prime speaking slot at the convention on Tuesday evening, and he took a different approach at questioning Mrs. Clinton’s integrity. Digging into her college thesis about Saul Alinksy, the left-wing community organizer and radical, Mr. Carson suggested that Mrs. Clinton admired him. Then he pointed out that Mr. Alinsky had acknowledged Lucifer on the dedication page of one of his books, suggesting that such an association was somehow damning for Mrs. Clinton.

“‘Are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?’” Mr. Carson asked. “Think about that.” (

So what’s wrong with acknowledging the devil exists? Don’t most organized Western religions include the existence of Lucifer as one of their basic beliefs? One would think the Bible-loving Republican crowd would not have a problem with Alinsky’s acknowledging Lucifer.

Israel Beware: In 1973, President Richard Nixon bolstered the defense of Israel after it was attacked by Syria and Egypt on Yom Kippur by shipping tons of war materiel to the Jewish state. Under a President Trump Israel might not have similar replenishment support given his comments about the backing the United States is obligated by treaty to provide NATO members.

During a 45-minute conversation (with The Times), “he (Trump) explicitly raised new questions about his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance. Mr. Trump re-emphasized the hard-line nationalist approach that has marked his improbable candidacy, describing how he would force allies to shoulder defense costs that the United States has borne for decades, cancel longstanding treaties he views as unfavorable, and redefine what it means to be a partner of the United States.” (

As Israel has no mutual defense treaty with America and receives billions of dollars in foreign aid, Trump may be indisposed to help Israel should another war break out. He might also drastically reduce foreign aid as part of his “take care of America first” platform.

Here’s your political witticism of the day courtesy of

“I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.” —Adlai Stevenson