RNC in CLE Open Thread: Your Modern GOP, America!

(What — no hand lotion?)

Open Thread: Melania’s Big Speech

But seriously, folks… Did anything in Melania’s speech seem to be describing Donald Trump?

Olivia Nuzzi, at the Daily Beast, before the scandal broke:

The purpose of this speech—the purpose of any appearance by a political spouse, but especially Melania—was the show us a kinder, softer side of Trump, the sort of side that only the woman who ostensibly sleeps next to him at night could know. But we did not learn anything new about Donald Trump on Monday night…

“He’s tough when he has to be,” she said, “but he’s also kind and fair and caring. This kindness is not always noted, but it’s there for all to see. That is one reason I fell in love with him.”

Her talk of compassion and loving your neighbor was, of course, divorced from the reality of her husband’s campaign which has been an exercise in flouting the conventions of basic politeness and human decency…

She promised the “values Donald and I will bring to the White House” are “kindness, love, and compassion,” which makes you wonder if they’ve ever talked to each other…

For Politico, Julia Ioffe — who has had her differences with Mrs. Trump before — wrote an excellent pre-speech analysis of “Melania’s Big Audition”:

… The political job in front of Melania would be a challenge even for an agile and willing campaign surrogate, and so far she has been neither. Trump has said that Melania will use the speech to talk about “women’s issues,” which, if a strange fit with today’s convention theme of national safety, is a crucial one for the candidate. Since the rollout of Trump’s bomb-throwing campaign, he’s struggled to win over female voters, and it has been Melania’s occasional job to prove, as the woman who is actually married to and living with Trump, that the Republican nominee is not a monster.

The problem though is that, so far, she hasn’t been very effective at it—and tonight’s appearance should give a signal of whether she’s likely to be an asset in one of his biggest weak spots, or remain another part of Trump’s strange coterie to be deftly managed…
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Open Thread RNC Recap, Day One: “The Weaponization of Fear”

Commentor Raven pointed out that’s the honest tag for the goals of the RNC opening day, aka “Make America Safe Again”. There is so much richness to choose from… like a fishpacking facility catching fire and setting off an explosion in the fertilizer factory next door…

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Open Thread: It’s Not 1968 (Fortunately)

I was twelve, going on thirteen, the summer of 1968, and my parents were imploding; the political crises on television seemed a natural backdrop to my own family’s battles. But I do remember very clearly that it was not America’s finest hour, regardless. This summer there seems to be a weird current of proto-nostalgia among certain members of the punditariat in their thirties and forties, social media addicts on all points of the political spectrum, who seem to be half-hoping that “we” (they) can finally get their very own cathartic “war” – against the white supremacists, against the uppity minorities, against the dirty hippie kids or the sclerotic monsters of the political party machines — but this time, our side will conclusively defeat the forces of evil. And we’ll all be heroes for the history books!

That’s not how history works, though. Looks like I may have to get a copy of Michael Cohen’s book…

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GOP Congress: We Luv Babies, But Not As Much As We Love Our Treason Flag

Not The Onion/Andy Borowitz:

House Republican lawmakers sought to reverse previously passed legislation restricting the display of the Confederate flag in federal cemeteries by slipping a provision stripping the legislation into a larger appropriations bill that included Zika funding. The House bill passed last week on largely partisan lines, but was blocked in the Senate Tuesday by a Democratic filibuster.

The Confederate flag language was just one of a number controversial provisions included in the bill, which also included an amendment cutting Planned Parenthood funding and other swipes at the Obama administration’s public health initiatives.

Republican lawmakers are warning that the American public will now blame Democrats if Zika becomes a full-blown health crisis. But Democratic leaders suggested that filibustering Tuesday’s bill was an easy call — pointing to provisions like the Confederate flag reversal…

Mr. Pierce, “Did Republicans Really Just Bring the Confederate Flag into the Zika Debate?”:

The Democratic opposition to the bill in the Senate primarily dealt with the whack the bill took at Planned Parenthood, and the president was likely to veto this bill anyway, not least because it contains half of what he asked for to fight the disease, and because it does so by draining money from other urgent priorities. But, honestly now, babies are being born with severe birth defects, and this is seen as an opportunity to get back a fight you’ve already lost?

That’s not governing. That’s a talk show.

As of mid-June, per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, at least “Three women in the U.S. mainland infected with the Zika virus have delivered infants with birth defects and three others have lost or terminated pregnancies because their fetuses suffered brain damage from the virus”.

States have been scrambling to find funds for Zika prevention efforts, resorting to stealing it from other programs. At least one Republican, Rep. Ted Poe (Texas) complained that his district wasn’t getting enough Zika funding from the CDC — even as he personally voted to cut the agency’s funding.

And the women most likely to be affected are, of course, those least likely to be able to protect themselves.

Not for the first time, I find myself wishing that the GOP Talibangelicals and their enablers would actually be judged under the religious standards they profess, because it wouldn’t be the biblical Heaven to which the Jesus described in their holy book sent them.

Late Night Open Thread: John Oliver on Brexit

Local knowledge is invaluable. As might be expected, refugee from Little Britain Oliver has STRONG OPINIONS.

Reports from the People’s Summit

“No, sir, th’ dimmycratic party ain’t on speakin’ terms with itsilf. Whin ye see two men with white neckties go into a sthreet car an’ set in opposite corners while wan mutthers Thraiter an’ th’ other hisses Miscreent ye can bet they’re two dimmycratic leaders thryin’ to reunite th’ gran’ ol’ party.” — Finley Peter Dunne, Mr. Dooley’s Opinions (1901)

“Dems in disarray” is an honorable tradition, one of the oldest in modern politics; so is Will Rogers’ comment that You’ve got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and you’ve got to be a humorist to stay one.” Last weekend the progressive/leftist wing of the party convened in Chicago, to prepare for the convention and rally their troops…

D.D. Guttenplan, in the Nation, “There Was No Clear Agenda at the People’s Summit—and That’s a Good Thing“:

…[C]oming from London—where a political argument about what kind of world we want to live in and what kind of relationship we want to have with Europe turned murderous and took a young woman’s life—what I saw in Chicago was a warm, lively, hopeful, well-organized gathering of 3,000 people whose biggest discovery in the past year has been not that the system is rigged (we already knew that) but our own astonishing strength. And who have no intention of giving up that strength and falling quietly in line behind Hillary Clinton or anyone else.

“Once you know something you can’t un-know it,” the activist and actor Rosario Dawson told the crowd. “Now we know how powerful we are.”

The task now is to figure out how to preserve and grow that power, and how to use it most effectively in a time of great danger, and when the stakes for our country, and our movements, couldn’t be higher. And what may have seemed frustrating to those in search of a quick sound bite—namely the lack of a unified, coherent agenda going forward—actually struck me as a sign that no one was being stampeded, or shepherded, or rounded up to be delivered to Clinton or anyone else. Which is a tribute to the National Nurses United, who tacked this “gathering of the tribes” onto the end of their annual convention here, and proof that when Winnie Wong, the Occupy Wall Street veteran who co-founded People for Bernie, the group which co-sponsored the summit, told me that, instead of a list of demands, “I want to see a thousand lovely parasols,” she meant it…

For some, that means going to Philadelphia, where Sanders backers will be both inside the hall—like Mike Fox, Florida state coordinator of Progressive Democrats of America, or Waleed Shahid of the Working Families Party, who will be among the nearly 1,900 Sanders delegates—and outside on the streets. If you believe—as Sanders and his supporters do—that pushing the party away from corporate accommodation and towards a more populist, more “democratic” direction is actually crucial to defeating Donald Trump in November, then both are necessary. Because while those inside the hall are able to communicate demands, and negotiate, their power to do so stems from those outside—not just on the strength of their numbers but also on their willingness to obstruct or disrupt if those inside are ignored or muscled out of the way…

Frances Fox Piven, the veteran activist who has been mentoring movements for a half-century, did tell the group that, faced with the real risk of a Trump presidency rolling back decades of social progress, “we have to elect Hilary Clinton to defeat Donald Trump. You may not like it, but we do.” However, Piven also reminded us that “movements flourish when there are politicians in office who have reasons to be afraid of them.” …

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