Dem Donkey

Democratic Convention 2016

Day 4

Black Cop Lives Matter

The first thing that caught my eye on Day 4 was a sheriff who called for a moment of silence to honor fallen officers. The moment was interrupted by an asshole screaming “black lives matter”. What happened next was a beautiful thing. Two black women in a row spoke to pay tribute to their husbands, policemen killed in the line of duty – and BLACK. A nice retort to the disruptive and misguided BLM contingent. Black lives mattering and police lives mattering is clearly not mutually exclusive.

The Clinton Kid

Just as all of Donald Trump’s adult kids spoke at last week’s GOP convention, on Day 4 of the Dem convention we were treated to the Clinton kid, Chelsea. I come to this with a bit of bias because in my former life in corporate America I became aware of Chelsea’s tenure at McKinsey (a consulting firm) and the scuttlebutt was that she was quite difficult to work with. That said, let’s get back to her address. I had never seen her speak at length before so I was pleased when she started. She had humor. Her delivery was calm and paced. But then I noticed it seemed almost too calm. She almost seemed to be under a spell. She reminded me of animatronic department store dummies, as her head slowly moved back and forth between teleprompters. Then I put my finger on why she seemed so odd. She reminded me of the brainwashed veterans in “The Manchurian Candidate” who were programmed to praise one of their fellow soldiers, a man who was actually a total prick. I couldn’t resist a tweet:

She’s an odd bird. According to Dick Morris, former advisor to Bill, it was Bill who was most involved with her childhood, not Hillary.

Another President Clinton

Hillary’s acceptance speech was met with low expectations because historically the acceptance speech pales in comparison to the ra-ra-sisboomba speeches that come before it in the first three days. That said, OMFG!!! The thing seemed to go on forever! Hillary does not have Obama’s gift of delivery. As the pundits put it, she speaks in prose, not poetry. I hate to admit I literally dosed in the middle of it and woke up in time for the ending. The speech was completely forgettable. I have trouble coming up with a single quote that will stand on its own historically. She tied Trump’s fear mongering to FDR’s “the only thing we have to fear …” quote. That was a nice touch. She reached out to Bernie voters. Not bad. But otherwise, the speech seemed poorly structured. I felt no narrative arc. She repeatedly cleared her throat, just adding to rumors she’s not in the best of shape. In fact, she looked quite tired half way through the address. Protesters, God bless them, tried to disrupt the speech but were drowned out by shouts of “Hill-a-ry” and “USA”.

This was an uninspired speech by an uninspiring candidate. This speech and the entire convention were marred by the cynical view that making history with a woman President is more important than taking into account her checkered past. November will be a coin flip. Donald got lucky to be running against the only American almost as unpopular as he is. There will be no good outcome in November. The President will either be someone who has no business anywhere near the Oval office or someone who brings so much baggage and such questionable judgment that four years of scandal are almost guaranteed.

Day 3

Courage and Kleenex

Every time I see Gabby Giffords I am amazed at her tenacity and courage. Giffords who was shot in the head by a crazed gunman has regained most of her ability to walk and speak. I focus on her grit and ignore her inexplicable support of Hillary Clinton. She was introduced by her husband, a former service member and astronaut. It doesn’t get much more patriotic than that.

It’s been almost 4 years since 20 precious children lost their lives to a lunatic scumbag with a gun-happy mother, who, for God knows what reason, thought it a good idea to take her little monster to the shooting range. Four years later I still cannot see photos of those kids without totally losing it. When Erica Smegielski, the daughter of the murdered Sandy Hook Elementary principal spoke, I fast forwarded through it. I just can’t take it. What Democrats refuse to say and Republicans already know is that the only solution to our gun problem is confiscation. That is never going to happen.

Uncle Joe

Whenever you mention Joe Biden to a conservative you are reminded of his plagiarism scandal that short-circuited his presidential campaign almost 30 years ago. That’s about the best they can do in condemning Uncle Joe. Believe it or don’t believe it, Biden comes across as the guy who lives next door to you. He is warm. He is corny as hell. He is inappropriate (remember Barack being “well spoken”). On Day 3, Joe told the audience to shut up and listen. Then he gave the most simple condemnation of Donald Trump imaginable. Do we really want a leader whose signature catch-phrase is “you’re fired”? Biden ended his speech with what should be the Democratic campaign slogan from now until November: “Come on! We’re America!”

Persuasion from an Independent

Former New York Mayor, former Republican and always billionaire, Mike Bloomberg made a plea to independents and Republicans to reject Trump. What made his speech persuasive was his status as a businessman in Trump’s league (if not richer) who could bust the myth that Donald was somehow self-made and successful by normal business ethical standards. Not the most dynamic speaker, Mike still may have given the fence-sitters some second thoughts about the Donald.

The VEEP

It seems nearly impossible to dislike Tim Kaine as a person. He seems friendly, kind and service-oriented. He does nothing to make Hillary look more progressive. He’s vanilla ice cream which is exactly what Hillary wants since she’s doing enough damage control already. His speech was 50% ripped off from his Miami speech last Saturday when he was first introduced. The last half was devoted to dissing Trump but clearly dissing is not Tim’s strength. He’s just a nice guy. Oh, and he speaks fluent Spanish.

POTUS

Barack Obama is a living breathing Rorschach test. Some see him as an arrogant, narcissistic, not terribly bright, petty bastard propped up by racially obsessed liberals. Others see him as an intelligent, articulate, kind, deliberative leader who has seen the country through tough times. There is no convincing either side of the others perception. I fall somewhere in the middle. Bottom line, if you reside in the first group, there was NOTHING Obama could say last night that would impress. Those that hate the man can barely watch him. If you fall in the latter group, Obama hit the ball out of the park with his Day 3 speech. Without mentioning his name, Obama called out Trump as a “demagogue” to be rejected in the same breath with Communists and Jihadists. He explicitly named Trump as a man devoid of plans or facts. He suggested that Americans will reject Trump because they don’t want a dictator. This made me chuckle since I know most of my readers consider Obama a dictator. Obama further asserted that Trump had hijacked the Republican party – that the GOP convention last week was neither Republican nor conservative.

His attack on Trump was far more effective than his over-the-top endorsement of Hillary. For the most part, while speaking in grand terms, Obama gave a boiler-plate recommendation that we’ve heard time and time again. She has always advocated for children. She worked hard for First Responders in the wake of 9/11 as New York Senator. She helped make the call to take out Bin Laden when she was Secretary of State. We’ve heard it all before. When he referred to her good judgment, I threw up in my mouth a little. Then came the whopper – Hillary Clinton is more qualified to be President than any other candidate in history including Barack and Bill. Well she may be more qualified than Barack and Bill – but Thomas Jefferson? My only response to Barack would be a variation of Biden’s rallying cry, “Come on! We’re America! We are not stupid!”

Day 2

A Moving Moment During Roll Call

Convention roll calls are priceless for their corniness. Each state bragging about itself before announcing the votes they cast for the various candidates. One unlikely delegation brought tears to my eyes. Democrats Abroad had its votes announced by Larry Sanders, Bernie’s brother who resides in the UK. Larry paid tribute to Bernie by reminding him how proud their parents, who died young, would be of him. It was hard to watch the two brothers well up and not get a bit weepy yourself.

The Mixed Message Mothers

Several mothers of black “victims” of shootings appeared on stage together. Apparently Hillary has met with these women and won their support. The problem is that one shooting is not the same as another and this set of mothers presents a very mixed message. Sandra Black mysteriously died in a jail cell, a supposed suicide, but the facts didn’t add up and the incarceration was triggered by a stupid traffic stop gone wrong. Her mother was the first to speak. Then a mother of a boy shot for playing his music too loud was the next to speak. From memory, I don’t recall this being a police-related incident. Then, heaven help us, the mother of Trayvon Martin spoke last. Trayvon is the gangsta-wannabe that pushed the black lives matter movement into high gear. Again, this was not a police related shooting. Worse, the photo of Trayvon shown on stage was the same misleading photo of a 13ish year old boy that we saw when the story broke — not the 17 year old thug who mishandled an encounter with crazy George Zimmerman. The mother of Michael Brown, the classic misrepresentation of a victim of police violence, was also on the stage but did not speak. Perhaps they knew she had best keep her mouth shut since her son never met the standard of “hands up, don’t shoot”. You could see the white-guilt oozing from the liberal audience. A sad affair overall.

The Big Dog, Bubba, Slick Willie

Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, was the main speaker of the night. He spent the first half of his speech trying to humanize his wife Hillary. His choice – to describe how he courted her. Problem is that his courtship sounded more like creepy staring and stalking. He even made a reference to not knowing where starting with Hillary would lead. Impulse control issues? You might as well have had a flashing MONICA LEWINSKY sign behind him during the first half of his address. The second half of the address portrayed Hillary as a tireless defender of the downtrodden. This was very effective if you can overlook the fact she is also a pathological liar.

Clinton, the wannabe First Gentleman, was caught in a bit of a catch-22. Humanizing Hillary can’t be done because it is the very human side of her and her relationship with Bill that stinks to the core. However, the professional side of Hillary doesn’t smell much better. The only marginally redeeming conclusion from Bill’s pitch is that maybe life is complicated for everybody and the Clintons are truly clueless to how bad their complications look in public. I might also add that Bill’s delivery was lackluster. I personally don’t believe he wants his wife to be President and I’m damn sure he doesn’t want her presidency to outshine his own.

Closing the Deal with Shattering Glass

Bill was followed by Alicia Keys, singing and Meryl Streep, of all people, emoting. Then on the video display in quick succession we saw pictures of the 43 MEN who have served as President and then a shattering of glass to reveal Hillary Clinton, live from New York state surrounded by girls of all ages. Say what you like about the racial component of Barack’s election eight years ago but it was never as flagrant in that year’s convention as the gender component this year. On the one hand, I get the historic moment. On the other hand, we are one of the last civilized countries to do this so maybe we oughta be a bit more quiet about our neanderthal past? Great Britain is on its second woman PM while we get all misty eyed over our first in 230 years.

Day 1

The 2020 Audition

Just as in 2004 Barack Obama delivered the speech that would catapult him to the 2008 nomination, so did Cory Booker last night. The soaring rhetoric was, in my opinion, unmatched by anyone else that night despite what the pundits will tell you. I predict he will be the Democratic nominee in 2020 against President Donald Trump.

Two Overrated Performances and an Off-key Legend

Maybe my disgust at the entire affair tainted my judgment. Perhaps I am so drained of energy that I can’t recognize it in anyone else anymore. That said, I simply wasn’t blown away by either the First Lady, Michelle Obama nor the Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren. Both seemed low energy to me. Yes, Michelle painted a poignant picture of what it is like to raise two young girls in the White House. Yes, she did tie that to whom she would trust her girl’s safety to – Hillary. But the notion Clinton can be trusted with anything is so absurd as to make the punchline of any pro-Hillary speech utterly ridiculous. I’ve seen Warren do her anti-Trump speech and she has had ten times more energy in previous performances. I don’t think her heart was in it. As for Paul Simon – good God that was almost as bad as 2012 Clint Eastwood. He could barely stay in tune for his iconic song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. It is also odd he did not sing “America”, the song beautifully used in the best campaign ad of the season by Bernie Sanders.

The Man Who Should be King

The speech of the night was of course given by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who gave Hillary a run for her money. This capped off the only truly progressive campaign of the season. His ultimate defeat proved that Democrats are more interested in identity politics and establishment politics rather than actually changing the status quo. Bernie did what he had to do. Unlike Ted Cruz, he swallowed his pride, accepted Hillary’s boot up his ass, and wholeheartedly endorsed her. At least he did not do so without bragging about his phenomenal campaign. It was a sad day for any Democrat who really wanted change in America.

And the Total Asshole Award Goes to …

Sarah Silverman, a comedienne who prides herself on “look at me, I’m so vulgar” comedy, a former Bernie supporter, decides to lecture Bernie’s devoted followers telling them they are “being ridiculous”. Sarah needs to stick to comedy. She doesn’t understand the whole point of a political movement. She does not understand you can’t just swap one D in for another and get the same result. She doesn’t seem to care, as a Jew, that her fellow Jew was being attacked for his religious views by the political machine she now supports. Sarah is the ridiculous one. She can seriously go screw herself.

More Email Problems

Before the convention even began, emails emerged to bite Hillary Clinton in the ass again. This time the email dump came from Wikileaks and the source was Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. Understand, the DNC is supposed to be a neutral facilitator of the Democratic primary process. The emails confirmed what so many Bernie Sanders supporters already suspected. The DNC, with the knowledge of its leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to tip the scales toward Hillary Clinton. In one of the more despicable examples, there was a notion to discredit Jew Sanders as an atheist. So the party so vocally rejecting anti-Muslim rhetoric was, behind the scenes, using religion to sway the electorate. By the time the opening gavel came pounding down, Debbie Wasserman Schultz had tendered her resignation (effective Friday) and bowed out of any formal role in the convention. As far as I’m concerned this was the last straw. This scandal rendered whatever happens next this week utterly hypocritical. The party that I thought always had the moral high ground has forfeited that status. I am no longer a Democrat.

The bar is open. What do you think?

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The Real Problems with the Tuskegee Speech

First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a now infamous commencement address at Tuskegee University a couple of weeks ago. I read the speech transcript and for the most part it was boiler plate graduation speech. It was when Michelle decided to empathize with the audience that things went off the rails. It was a mistake but not for the reasons primarily cited by Fox and its conservative friends. 

The two gripes I heard were that Michelle recited a litany of black victimization and that she exaggerated. I heard stuff like “puhleeze, Obama went to prep school. Nobody was dissing Obama on racial grounds.” There were also accusations of not being “grateful” for the assumed affirmative action that Michelle was no doubt the beneficiary of. 

This all misses the point. The otherwise ordinary speech became a travesty for two reasons. First, Michelle chose a joyous event to tell these students essentially “no matter what you do, to whitey you’ll always just be a n—–.” This is what the predominantly black class will need to overcome. Is that really what Martin Luther King Jr. died for? After all the struggle and suffering culminating in the election of the first black president, Michelle’s message was that they should ignore  all the whites who voted for her husband and assume whites will give them the shaft. How inspirational!

The second problem is the “they” in Michelle’s attempt at empathy. “They” who cross the street when “they” see you coming. “They” who follow you around the store assuming you’re a thief. The “they” of course is white people. This reminds me of Obama at a San Francisco fundraiser talking about “clinging to guns and religion” or Romney and his 47% comment. Did it not occur to Michelle that her not-secretly-recorded speech would be seen by lots and lots of WHITE PEOPLE? Did she think she was having a private rap session? Does she not understand she is the First Lady of these white folks? Do they not have feelings? Do they deserve gratuitous offense from the best known woman in the country?

Six years ago I was seething with anger about the way some white folks were treating Barack Obama. I wrote then,

Well guess what folks! He is our President! Barack Obama is our President. He is your President if you voted for him. He is your President if you did not. He is your President if you are black. He is your President if you are white. He is your President if you are progressive and dammit, he is your President if you are conservative. He is OUR President.

Now I find myself needing to remind our First Lady that blacks are your people and whites are YOUR PEOPLE. ALL AMERICANS ARE YOUR PEOPLE! 
A hat tip goes to one of my readers who pointed me to a video by the YouTube host of “ZoNation” who touches on a couple of these themes. 

Michelle Obama owes the deservedly proud graduates of Tuskegee an apology for putting their accomplishments against a backdrop of racial discord. She owes America an apology for highlighting what divides us. It was beneath the dignity of a First Lady of the UNITED States of America.  

What do you think? The bar is open. 

An aside: I DO believe the government should  heavily subsidize the education of everyone. I do NOT agree with some of the points made in the video by Alfonzo Rachel. But that’s for another post. 

The Soft Racism of MSNBC

MSNBC_logoBack in 2007, Fox News icon Bill O’Reilly made headlines when he dined at famous soul food restaurant Sylvia’s in New York City. Bill infamously remarked:

I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship. … There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea.’ You know, I mean, everybody was — it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.  — O’Reilly surprised “there was no difference” between Harlem restaurant and other New York restaurants

If you think this diminished expectation of black behavior is limited to O’Reilly and his friends at Fox, you are mistaken. During the Inaugural parade last Monday, a camera was focused on the First Family as they watched the proceedings from their box seats. In the background we got to hear Chris Matthews and Joy Reid, two MSNBC talkers, wax on about what a fine decent family the Obama’s were.

Joy compared Michelle Obama to Diahann Carroll as the kind of black female role model her mother admired. When I first heard this my heart warmed. It brought back memories of “Julia”, the groundbreaking sitcom in which Carroll played a dignified professional black woman as opposed to the wise cracking maid that was the typical TV image of black women in older times. But my warm heart quickly froze over when I realized that was 40 years ago. Is Joy Reid really suggesting that we’ve made so little progress in 40 years that we need Michelle Obama to provide a good role model to young black girls? I can think of many others, including of different political stripes. Condoleezza Rice comes to mind. There is no shortage of fine female black role models.

Then, Chris Matthews, who suffers from the worst case of white guilt I have ever witnessed, talked about how decent and ordinary the family was. They do so much for race relations just by being there for all of us to see. What is this? Some Ripley’s Believe it or Not freak show? Come and see the black family that knows how to behave! What exactly were Chris and his panel expecting? Did they expect Michelle to be stinking up the White House with chitlins while Malia and Sasha blast “Fuck tha Police” out their bedroom windows?

I know the MSNBC gang have their heart in the right place. That doesn’t change the fact they suffer from the soft racism of low expectations. It’s been a good 30 years since “The Cosby Show” portrayed a black family that was not trapped in the ghetto, dodging bullets from gang-bangers. If after all this time we need the Obama’s to remind us that there are black families “just like the rest of us” then we are worse off as a nation than I had ever imagined.

Post script: I am glad to say that the Oxygen network has cancelled “All My Babies’ Mamas” before it ever got on the air. The reality show about a rapper and the ten mothers of his eleven children raised eyebrows and outraged enough folks to shame Oxygen into doing the right thing. That is one less show promoting the diminished expectations of black folks.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image by NBC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons