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GOP Convention 2016

This will be just a quick round-up on my thoughts on this year’s Republican convention. I’ll be updating this post as each day of the four day affair ends.

Day 4

It’s OK to be Gay

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel is one odd dude. He wants to set up islands that are independent countries (seasteading). He has spoken out against democracy as a working system. He wants to be frozen after death so he can be revived when medical technology allows him to keep living. On the more conventional side, he founded PayPal and recently drove the web site Gawker into bankruptcy. All this aside, the most striking thing about Thiel is that he is gay, told the RNC crowd that he is gay and proud of it, and got … applause! Is the Republican party inching toward Libertarianism? You be the judge.

The Trump Kids – The Grand Finale

Ivanka Trump – wow, just wow! As an old fan of The Apprentice, I watched Ivanka in the board room and had mixed feelings about her. She seemed a bit cold and detached. She also seemed smart as a tack and that was on full display at the convention on Day 4. Ivanka used construction as a metaphor for why Donald would be perfect for the Presidency. From the ability to get a project done, to the need to work with an economically and ethnically diverse group of people, the construction industry was used by Ivanka as a case study for why Donald Trump has the skills to run this country. Then, in a departure from conservative dogma, Ivanka acknowledged the pay gap between men and women. She said the gap exists particularly for older women returning to the workforce after child-bearing. She called for a robust child care system to put women on an equal footing in this regard. AND — get this — said she would personally see that it gets done if Daddy was elected. Does this suggest Donald will have major government roles for his children? Her delivery was near perfect. I pity the fool that has to follow her on stage. Which brings us to …

The Main Event

Donald spoke for a long long long long time. I think it clocked in at about an hour and 15 minutes. It reminded me of the Will Smith film “Ali”, a three hour biopic of Muhammad Ali that should have been two hours. With editing, Trump’s speech would have been one of the better acceptance speeches in RNC history. He painted a grim picture of a country gripped in crime, terrorism and corruption. He swore at the outset that he wasn’t going to lie to the audience and indeed his perception of our current state is shared by many Americans. He specified few solutions but these acceptance speeches typically don’t rise to that standard. What specifics did Mitt or McCain offer in 2012 and 2008?

There were two standout moments of the speech, both of which I believe were ad-libbed. The first was when Trump greeted the audience chants of “lock her up” with “let’s defeat her in November’. This was reminiscent of Obama answering boos at rallies with “don’t boo, vote”. The other moment which was near jaw dropping occurred when Trump pledged to protect the LGBTQ community from foreign ideologies out to kill them. After the crowd cheered, Trump said he was happy the crowd reacted that way. Holy crap! A conservative crowd shows tolerance, hell, even heartfelt concern for gays and the nominee encourages it!

Perhaps the real achievement of Trump’s speech was his ability to suggest his hard-ass approaches, “the law and order candidate”, etc., would benefit ALL citizens. Blacks would be lifted by an attack on ghetto crime. Hispanics would be lifted by an attack on illegal immigration. This was a speech that made Trump tolerable to THINKING liberals who aren’t just knee-jerk partisan.

Epilogue

Much has been said in the past few days about how negative this convention has been. Folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I predict the Democratic Convention next week will be at least as negative in its attack against the Donald. Tune in here next week for my day by day blow by blow.

Day 3

The GOP is Racist Meme

While it is true that the delegate audience is overwhelmingly white, the minority guest speakers had the full attention of the audience. One example, on Day 3 was pastor Darrell Scott. I’ve seen the pastor on news shows speaking up for the Donald, so I kinda knew his spiel already. I focused more on the audience and they were with him 100%. It might be time to start considering that the GOP’s race problem is more one of poor outreach vs actual disdain or racism. Conservative blacks (few and far between) certainly seemed welcome and at home at this event.

Why Didn’t This Man Get the Nomination? Booooooring!!!

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Enough said. (At least he kept the “pledge”).

Marco Phones it In

Florida Senator Marco Rubio sent a video to the convention. He gave a lukewarm endorsement of Trump. He didn’t seem particularly inspired.

I Do Not Like Trump, Sam I Am

Texas Senator and Dr. Seuss filibusterer, Ted Cruz created chaos when he refused to endorse the GOP nominee. His “vote your conscience” plea was about as explicit a way as possible to say “Donald is an asshole.” The New York delegation had a collective aneurysm. Ted made matters worse by thanking the delegation for their enthusiasm, in his typical passive aggressive way that makes you want to punch him in the face. But it must be said that this was an odd mixture of honor and dishonor. It is dishonorable to take a pledge and then discard it. On the other hand, Ted’s wife and father were personally besmirched by Donald and his campaign team. What self respecting man could endorse Donald after that? You have to give the trouble maker credit for putting his foot down and refusing to exhibit the hypocrisy demonstrated by his fellow primary contenders.

The Trump Kids Part 2

Eric Trump was ok. He couldn’t match the skill of his older brother Don Jr. but he did a good job. It is clear that the boys dearly love their father and while that does not qualify Donald to handle the nuclear codes, it does humanize him.

Newt, Cleanup in Aisle 5

It fell to SOMEBODY to clean up Ted Cruz’s mess and Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and Washington fixture was the man to do it. Newt basically said the only way to “vote your conscience” was to vote for Donald Trump; otherwise Hillary wins. He then spent the balance of his address on the ISIL threat. I must admit, when he was done I felt a lot less cozy in my Naperville living room than before he began. Donald was ultimately right. Newt is a great surrogate and probably a poor Veep choice.

The Veep, a 21st Century Ronald Reagan

While the Donald would like us to believe he is some sort of reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, the true Reagan doppelganger is the Veep choice, Mike Pence. In accepting the nomination for VP, Pence reminded me of Reagan in his self deprecating humor, the cadence of his speech, his corniness, his down-home regular guy approach. Pence was a right wing radio host so he is comfortable in front of the mic. My only problem with him was that his speaking style doesn’t lend itself to a long speech and I found the speech overly long. MSNBC dinged Trump for not staying on the stage longer with Pence. I found nothing wrong with it – for once Trump was letting someone else get the limelight. The good news is Pence left the crowd energized and he was the last speaker of the night so we didn’t get anyone talking to a half empty room like the previous two nights.

Melania-gate Update

After Paul Manafort (who should be canned pronto) said nothing to see here about the plagiarism mini-scandal, a Trump ghostwriter came forward to admit she helped Melania with the speech and inadvertently put Michele’s words in there. She offered her resignation, which was refused by Trump. Bottom line: Melania vindicated and Trump looking like a loyal, noble stand-up employer. Not bad for a 3 day scandal.

Another ghostwriter, the dude who actually wrote “The Art of the Deal”, Trump’s mega bestseller, was interviewed in the New Yorker magazine and said Trump could not be trusted with the nuclear codes. Unfortunately, I smell a washed up ghostwriter trying to revive his career. Can you spell opportunist?

 Day 2

Trump Has Made Pols Booooooring!

Whether it was Cotton and Sessions on day 1 or Ryan and McConnell on day 2, the verdict is the same – virtual snooze fest. Donald’s unorthodox diarrhea of the mouth speaking style has rendered the speeches of “professional” politicians wooden, predictable and full of platitudes. Next.

Business Endorsements

From my thinking, business endorsements should be Donald Trump’s bread and butter. Much more than Mitt Romney, having never been a politician, Donald is selling himself as a business success story. Hence, speakers like Dana White, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, are a more logical choice here than at previous conventions. I’m actually aware of the UFC due to my studies related to my day job. As an organization, they are consummate sales people. White’s endorsement of the Donald shed light on the  businessman and the personal side as well. Good pitch, short and sweet.

The Just-the-Facts-Ma’am Barn Burner

Without the histrionics of Rudy Giuliani, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie offered a searing indictment of Hillary Clinton. He listed her various “crimes” and in a call and response pattern got the crowd to pronounce her “guilty” on all counts. It was both entertaining and effective. Not too many good words about Trump but that has been typical of the convention so far.

The Trump Kids Part 1

Tiffany and Donald Jr. took turns at the mic. Tiffany came off like a stuck-up snotty brat who frankly described an absentee Dad, albeit a kind one. She is the product of Donald and Marla Maples and from what I could gather was not raised near Donald after the divorce. I found her presentation cringe-worthy but I have to give her props for speaking to a crowd like that at the tender age of 22. She just “graduated college” (arrrrrrgh!!!!!) in June – she went to U. Penn. I’m still in shock that U. Penn. didn’t teach her that people graduate FROM college.

Don Jr., familiar to most viewers as Dad’s side kick in the board room on The Apprentice, pretty much hit it out of the park. No warm and fuzzy family stories but instead a crystal clear portrait of a successful businessman with a feel for “the common man”. His only slip was his description of Donald teaching his grand-kids how to swing a golf club. Sorry, golf ain’t the game for the common man. But that’s a minor quibble. Junior successfully pivoted from the professional to the political, painting his father as the solution to America’s problems. A stellar performance.

Honorable mention goes to Dr. Ben Carson who kept us entertained throughout the primary season. He said Hillary was a follower of a follower of Lucifer (a reference to Saul Alinsky) and concluded by warning us that if we don’t recognize God’s grace, He will go elsewhere and leave us to our own devices. Hard to understand why he isn’t the nominee!

Day 1

Rick Perry Hypocrisy Avoidance

Rick, who declared Donald Trump a “cancer” on conservatism managed to avoid utter hypocrisy by not really singing Donald’s praises. He mainly just introduced war hero Marcus Luttrell.

Chachi Was There

Yes, Scott Baio of “Joannie Loves Chachi” fame was a speaker. He did better than Clint Eastwood.

Was Grief Exploited?

I don’t know what to think about the heart wrenching speech given by Pat Smith, whose son was one of the four Americans killed in the Benghazi terrorist attack. She was there of her own free will yet I can’t get the nasty taste out of my mouth that she has become a political pawn. I will say this – she makes everyone from Hillary Clinton to the liberal media who say “but she’s mistaken”, look heartless and cruel. If you’re not moved by this woman’s pain, you have no heart.

Blacks Back the Donald

Jamiel Shaw and Sheriff David Clarke added some color to the predominantly white affair. Shaw lost his son to an illegal immigrant and Clarke is an outspoken critic of Black Lives Matter. I was impressed by how restrained Clarke was. I have seen him on YouTube and Fox and I expected a barn burner.

Yawners

Senators Tom Cotton and Jeff Sessions. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Rudy and Joni

Rudy Giuliani was a throwback to Jennifer Granholm at an old Dem Convention, in other words OVER THE TOP. I thought old Rudy might stroke out right there on the stage. Still I found the speech effective. Senator Joni Ernst earned her place in history by declaring ISIL present in all 50 states of the union. This of course was in line with the theme of the first night: be afraid, be very afraid!

Michelle Obama – ahem – Melania Trump

In what was otherwise a perfectly fine speech by the First Lady Wannabe, Melania inexplicably lifted passages from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. This escapade deserves a post of its own. As of this writing, the Trump team says “you didn’t cut my arm off, it’s just a flesh wound“. Conservative radio personality Larry Elder tweeted:

So the “you did it too”defense is in full swing. Either Melania is a cheater (and her judgment in marrying Trump makes one wonder) or she has been badly screwed by a Trump staffer who helped her write the speech. Hard to tell if it will just blow over. MSNBC (expectedly) obsessed over it; CNN covered it; and Fox totally ignored it.

The only piece of day 1 that I missed that I still want to see was Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who led the chant “Lock her up” referring to Hillary belonging in the slammer.

The bar is open, what do you think?

We Need Some Good GOP Campaign Songs

A few days ago one of my loyal readers posted a Liz Warren campaign song video (even though she’s not running for anything right now). The video was posted to my comments section with a snide comment and reminder of the Obama songs we contended with in 2008.

I wondered why we never see any good campaign songs for the GOP contenders? Rather than mock Warren’s supporters, how about putting together some ditties for your candidates? So I figured in this time of dark headlines and world unrest, we could use a lighter post today. Here are my song fragments for a few of the leading contenders for the GOP POTUS run.

Mitt Romney (provide your own melody)

Mitt’s the hit, he’s the hole in one.
Michigan’s favorite son.

Vote for Mitt and you can bet
He’ll wipe out Russia, our biggest threat.

“Bankrupt Detroit”, our Mitt foretold
That GM cars would all soon explode.

The war on women will gets its licks
When Mitt opens up his binder of chicks.

VOTE FOR MITT, HE’S THE HIT!!

Rand Paul (provide your own melody)

Rand Paul, he’s our man
A tried and true Libertarian

Rand Paul, he’s our man
He won’t send your son to die in Iran.

He’ll get the gov out of your bedroom
And let you smoke pot and eat your shrooms.

And just like his Daddy said
He’ll stop foreign aid and audit the Fed.

Jeb Bush (to the melody of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”)

Everybody’s talking ’bout Iraq, Afghans, Katrina, failed banks, Cheney, Rumsfeld.

All we are saying, give Jeb Bush a chance!

Everybody’s talking ’bout Father, Brother, dynasty, even Mother say’s it’s bullshit but

All we are saying, give Jeb Bush a chance!

Marco Rubio (to the melody of “La Bamba”)

Come on and vote for Marco.
Come on and vote for Marco, the Cuban wonder.
He’s not like Obama.
He’s not like Obama, he will not plunder
Your hard earned wages.
Your hard earned wages will stay with you, will stay with you, will stay with you!

Come on and vote for Marco.
Come on and vote for Marco, the Rubio.
He will fix immigration.
He will fix immigration but do it slow.
Don’t want to piss off the right wing
Don’t want to piss off the right wing and Tea Party
He will fix immigration
He will fix immigration very slowly, very slowly, very slowly.

MARCO, MARCO
MARCO, MARCO
MARCO, MARCO
MARCO!!

Chris Christie (to the melody of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”)

Have yourself a President Chris Christie.
He’s a voice that’s new.
While others coddle voters, he just says “Fuck you!”

So have yourself a President Christie — FUCK YOU!

Respectfully,
Rutherford

When and When Not to Play the Race Card

We live in odd times when folks who see racism are called racists. Some people, mostly conservative, follow the logic of Stephen Colbert which goes something like this: “I don’t see race. The only reason I know I’m white is people tell me I am. The only reason I think you’re black is people tell me you are.” Hence anyone who brings up race as an issue must be the only one thinking about it and must be therefore the real racist. If we are honest we acknowledge that we don’t live in a post-racial society, whatever that is, and that the election of the first black President of the United States only made matters worse. Just like the chunk of cheese brings out the mice, the elevation of a black, albeit ethnically complex man to the top job brought out the racists in full force. Since the 1960’s the language that bigots use has for the most part changed because society simply will no longer tolerate n*gger this and n*gger that. The language is a bit more subtle and the racism in some ways more pervasive and harder to pin down and stamp out than it used to be. The fact is in 2012 there are times to play the so-called race card. However, not every dispute involving a person of color comes down to racism. To be credible, we need to learn when to play the race card.

When to Play the Race Card — GOP to Embrace Hispanics and Continue to Ignore Blacks

What have we heard repeatedly in the aftermath of the recent election? The GOP lost the election because they are blind to the changing demographics of America. Every once in a while a pundit will refer to “people of color”. More often the comment is that Hispanics who are “hard-working” need to be embraced by the Republican party. They are a growing demographic. Excuse me? So by implication, we’re back to the same old stereotype of blacks not being “hard-working”, the old saw of shiftless and lazy, to quote Sarah Palin, “shucking and jiving”. Who needs a “growing demographic” when there is a full-grown demographic already ripe for the picking? Where is the wake up call in the Republican party to actively pursue the black vote?

About the only worthwhile moment in Mitt Romney’s campaign was when he spoke in front of the NAACP. He didn’t play games. He didn’t pander. When he referred to “Obamacare” he got booed. So what? He actually treated the audience like adults who could agree or disagree with him. In fact he seemed more comfortable talking to this audience which he viewed as a lost cause for votes than he did talking to some of the folks whose votes he thought he could get.

Allen West and some other conservatives have talked about the new plantation where Democratic benefactors enslave their black voters with promises of handouts. How many times do they deliver that message to black audiences? I’d suggest close to never. It can’t be done you say. Tell that to Bill Cosby who years ago told black audiences that they needed to clean up the dysfunction in their communities. Some blacks were offended while others cheered. It was a dialogue that needed to happen. It needs to happen on a regular basis. Who better to push that conversation than conservatives whose claim to fame is self-sufficiency? Again, not telling the story to white audiences but to black ones.

Conservatives say liberal politics has failed the black community. Fine, then step in and tell a different story to this constituency and win them over. It’s easier just to ignore them, isn’t it? Leave them to rot because they can’t be reasoned with. That is tacit racism at its most destructive.

When Not to Play the Race Card — Obama’s Enemies Attack Susan Rice

UN Ambassador Susan Rice went on a series of Sunday morning gab-fests shortly after the September 11 murder of diplomat Chris Stevens and lied about the nature of his murder. Now before my liberal friends burst a blood vessel, there are innocent lies and there are malicious lies. I happen to believe that Susan Rice repeated talking points that had been sanitized as they traveled from the CIA through a bunch of bureaucrats and eventually into her hands. I do not believe her intention was to deceive. To the extent that a lie is something contrary to the truth, she lied. Unwittingly lied, but lied nonetheless. Enter, stage right, Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain who call for Rice’s head on a platter. McCain says that if she is named as Hillary Clinton’s replacement for Secretary of State, he will block the appointment.

What are several pundits saying now? They say the “optics” of this are very bad. They say in the aftermath of an election where the GOP appeared tone-deaf to minorities they are now persecuting a black woman. I say screw the “optics”. This is the kind of charge that discredits legitimate claims of racism. The folks who are attacking Susan Rice don’t like Obama. It is as simple as that. They want to turn the tragedy of Benghazi into a scandal that irreparably damages the President. Already we’ve heard “what did he know and when did he know it” regarding security problems at the consulate. Susan Rice is nothing but a pawn in the game of Obama’s enemies. It is unfortunate that her outstanding career hangs in the balance but it has nothing to do with her being a woman or being black. She actually shares something with the white, penis owning Governor of New Jersey who has been attacked recently by conservatives: guilt by association with Obama. It is as simple as that.

Racism in America did not magically disappear when Obama got elected. Far too many blacks and whites don’t trust or like each other for reasons entirely juvenile and ignorant. We can only hope to bridge the chasm between the races by talking honestly about how to lift all of us together from our hardships. Accusations of racism where none exists only serve to keep the goal of racial harmony out of reach. Similarly, talking about blacks as if they were a monolith incapable of being persuaded, a group only worth judging from a distance, snuffs out any hope for positive change.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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