Friday, July 29, 2016

Well, THAT's over...

If Hillary's speeches to the banking industry were as eyes-glaze-over boring as her acceptance speech at the convention last night, she was vastly overpaid.  Shopping lists make for lousy oratory, even when they include a few of your own favorite goodies.  Chelsea's introductory attempt to "humanize" her mother kind of fell flat.

Finale notwithstanding, I suppose the Democratic Convention will be accounted a success.  The Obamas and Bill Clinton were predictably silver-tongued; Booker and Biden wound their stumps quite nicely; Warren and Sanders were workmanlike despite some sabotage by their own supporters; Bloomberg added a nice touch; the second-tier pols didn't embarrass themselves; and "all the little people" played their roles quite well.  (The "entertainment" was awful.)

Something was puzzling me about Tim Kaine's perky, quirky stylings, and it wasn't the digressions into espaƱol.  His mannerisms are — there's no other way to put this — gay.  Go figure.

Anyway, I hope Hillary's handlers let her be sarcastic, dismissive, and generally condescending to Tr*mp in the debates.  He does have a soft underbelly, and it does require some unconstrained poking, including below the belt.  You don't beat a bully with statesmanship.

And, yes, if New York looks safe enough in the Fall, I will be voting for Jill Stein.  It has to look quite safe though — otherwise I'll get out my very large clothespin and do what I must.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Conventional Wisdom

Nobody who was paying any attention at all is surprised that DNC Chair and Mean Girl Emerita Debbie Wasserman Schultz was seriously pulling for Hillary throughout the primary process, so those who appear to be amazed as well as aggrieved either are complete political infants or playing games of their own.  Hillary wasn't in on it because she didn't have to be— everybody just assumed it was inevitable because it was, well, inevitable.

The Russian connection is amusing, but I can't see any reason to suspect that the Tr*mp campaign had any part in the hacking of DNC emails — mostly because the campaign has been too inept to pull off anything quite so ambitious.  Yes, Paul Manafort did represent former Ukrainian leader and Putin sycophant Viktor Yanukovych, but the hacking began long before Manifort was hired by Tr*mp.  The timing of the release of the emails just before the Democratic convention also does not indicate Tr*mp involvement.  Of course Putin would like to have an irrational incompetent at the helm of Russia's main adversary, if only for the comic effect.

I'm beginning to get the idea that nobody actually is bothering to listen to Tr*mp anymore — not after that high decibel rant instructing all of us to be very afraid and to believe that He Alone can save us from ravening hordes of dark-complected cop killers.  Those who believe will continue believe, but I don't see any practical way for him to expand his base.

I'm anxious to hear what Bernie has to say tonight.  The right speech can leave a great many establishment Democrats in his debt.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


I've been watching as much of the Republican convention as I can tolerate, but I've been taking a lot of breaks.  A lot of the delegates are doing the same thing, we're told.

The truth is, it's been hard to take: fear, hate, more fear, more hate, and not much else.  I stuck with Rudy Giuliani for a while, not wanting to miss seeing him have his stroke, but after a few minutes I had to give up.  The black sheriff of Milwaukee County, who thinks "Black Lives Matter" is a terrorist organization, was especially despicable.  That first night, Melania's speech offered the only respite from the fear and loathing;  yes, it was especially amusing that a chunk was plagiarized from Michelle Obama.  Why not Margaret Thatcher — or even Tipper Gore?

I must have missed the "Work" part of the "Make America Work Again" themed second night, because all I heard were especially rabid attacks on Hillary, with the grand prize going to Chris Christie.  It was pretty much the same on night three, with a little Bible thumping from Pence, and a star turn by Ted Cruz, who apparently still hasn't forgiven the Donald for linking Ted's father to the Kennedy assassination.

I don't know if I'll watch Tr*mp's speech tonight.  I suppose, as an informed citizen, I should — but I might have to chug a little Pepto first.  Will there be a post-convention "bump" for the Republicans this year?  I won't be surprised if it doesn't happen.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Coup that Wasn't

I have to admit I was experiencing mixed feelings when I heard about the attempt to overthrow Erdogan.  It's hard to feel sympathy for a leader whose goal appears to be personal autocracy; who suppresses free expression; who persecutes and jails perceived enemies; who is trying to rewrite his country's constitution to magnify his own power; and who demonstrates frightening paranoid tendencies.  On the other hand, a military dictatorship like that of the 1980s and 1990s was not a particularly good alternative.

Needless to say, my opinions and apprehensions don't matter — but the coup attempt is almost certain to inspire Erdogan to redouble his drive towards authoritarian Islamism in Turkey.  I can't see a paranoid narcissist taking the coup attempt as a signal that, perhaps, he has been pushing a bit too hard and too fast.  He instantly began expanding his enemies list; and, since he couldn't blame the Kurds for this one, he has fallen back on blaming Fethullah Gulen, who almost certainly was not involved.   As John Kerry observed, “I must say it does not appear to be a very brilliantly planned or executed event.” A coup attempt by Gulen's people would not have been so incredibly inept.

There's another leader in the Middle East whose resemblance to Erdogan is striking: Benjamin Netanyahu.  Netanyahu is driven by political cupidity rather than paranoia, but the likely outcomes for both Israel and Turkey may be distressingly similar.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

This Week's Fatalities

I watched the video of Alton Sterling's death.  He was, quite clearly, under police control when the fat cop shot him.  The cop didn't even seem in any special hurry.  "You fuck with me, I swear to God..." he shouts.  Then he unholsters his pistol, points it down at Sterling, and pulls the trigger three times.  The video image veers to the right.  Three more shots are heard.  When the image returns to Sterling, he is not quite dead.  The second cop takes a gun out of Sterling's pants pocket where, apparently, it had remained throughout the incident.

The Philando Castile video begins after the shooting is over, but the police are saying he "looked like" an armed robbery suspect — presumably one who brought his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter along on the heist. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton thinks Castile would not have been shot were he white.  Dayton is probably right.

According to right-wing commentators, the murder of five police officers by the Dallas sniper, Micah Johnson, is proof that black men are fundamentally evil, and hence deserve to die.  Tr*mp is calling himself the "Law and Order Candidate," just in case there happened to be any straggling racists out there who weren't already supporting him.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


"How can you tell if a politician is lying?"
"His lips are moving."

If one thing is certain coming out of the Clinton email fiasco, it's that Hillary is a liar.  Okay, nobody is surprised.  Is it on the same level as "I didn't have sex with that woman?"  Actually, it is, pretty much.  Like Bill, Hillary told lies of expediency, aimed at diverting immediate blame.  It's kind of on the same level as "The dog ate it."

Unlike Hillary, Tr*mp actually seems to believe his lies as he tells them — then believes his contradictions the next day.  It strikes me, at least, as pathological.

Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage told a number of major whoppers in their campaign for the Brexit vote, most notably about the amount of money the UK would save by withdrawing from the EU, and the idea that said money would be used to shore up the National Health Service.  Both of them, however, had the good grace to duck out of the way when their lies were uncovered.