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Day one of the Democratic National Convention was very interesting.  There was the usual backdrop of issues inside the party.  There always is a bunch of backdrop issues inside the party.  When you put about 5000 people from competing sides of the party together, you get backdrop issues.

The first issue was the DNC email scandal.  That was bad.  I said so yesterday and said that Debbie Wasserman Shultz had to go and stay away from the convention.  A couple of hours before the start, she finally decided not to attend.  I don’t know if she was forced to stay away or not, and I really don’t care.  She needed to go and she finally did.

Then there is the talk about where the emails came from that were leaked.  I was almost certain that Alex Jones and his InfoWars conspiracy theory idiots would come screaming out of the woodwork.  But, then I forgot, this is the Democrats and not the Republicans problem.

There is still some investigating to do on the hack, but here is a brief timeline about what happened.  Sometime in April, an independent contractor for the DNC was beginning an investigation and research into Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager.  She was looking into the connection between Manafort and the Ukraine President backed by Vladimir Putin who was tossed out of office by a citizens protest.  Manafort was “advising” the Ukraine President at the time.  To what extent that “advising” went, I do not know.

She was gathering information from the Ukraine when Yahoo, the place she had her personal email, contacted her to inform her that a foreign government was trying to hack into her personal email account.  She immediately contacted the DNC who then checked their system and discovered a hack.

The DNC hired a private cybersecurity company to investigate and try to figure where the hack was initiated.  In June, this private company determined that the hack had all the “fingerprints” of two Russian Intelligence Agencies.  They determined that the Russians were responsible for the hacks.

In the meantime, Donald Trump began questioning our membership in NATO.  He started questioning whether or not NATO should be disbanded.  Something Putin would absolutely love.  On the day the Republican National Convention started, Donald Trump gave an interview with the New York Times where he said he might not “automatically defend a new NATO ally” if they were attacked by Russia.  He would first have to check to see they “fulfilled their obligations to us”.

One week later, a day before the DNC was to start its convention, WikiLeaks leaked the DNC emails showing some of the party’s upper people were not in favor of Bernie Sanders gaining the nomination.  What a crazy coincidence.  This is the cue for Alex Jones to start his conspiracy theory about the Russians meddling in U.S. politics.  But, Alex Jones hates Hillary Clinton more than he hates Vladimir Putin.

I do not know what involvement the Russians had, if any.  I also know that none of this would have mattered if Debbie Wasserman Shultz didn’t run the DNC like her own little “power world”.  In the end, Debbie Wasserman Shultz is the one to blame for this mess.  And, she has paid dearly.  She may even lose her primary for reelection over this.  If she does, she has no one to blame but herself.

I’ll wait for the final investigations into the matter to settle just who did the hacks and where WikiLeaks got the emails.  I am no conspiracy theory nut.  But, if it does prove to be true that Russia is trying to influence our election to favor Trump, that would be disastrous even for him.

The first day of the convention was marked by the “Berniacs” not wanting to give up their fight for their candidate.  I can understand their disappointment.  However, they should also be reveling in the fact that they got about 90 percent of their issues into the official Democratic Platform.  As Bernie Sanders said himself, this is the most progressive platform in the party’s history.

For once, the Democrats actually have a platform that I can actually get behind.  Yes, it will be something that will be difficult to get passed into law.  Yes, it is very progressive.  Yes, there are no guaranties about how much the party will actually fight for it.  But, it is in writing.  It is saying this is what the Democratic Party now stands for and it is about time.

Let face facts.  You may or may not agree with the platform or the Democrats policies.  But, at least they told you what they were unlike their Republican cousins.  We have yet to hear what Trump’s policies are.  Except “believe me”.

This platform is one that really supports all of the people and their rights.  It is something that says being American isn’t just shouting U.S.A.  It is about the people and making their lives better.  The Bernie Sanders movement made this platform possible and they should revel in that fact.  No, their candidate didn’t win.  But the causes their candidate fought for did!

We also saw the Democratic Party give Bernie Sanders supporters their time on stage.  Instead of “quashing” any dissent like the RNC did at their convention, the Democrats let the dissatisfied have their say.  And, unlike the RNC, Bernie Sanders’ name will be placed in nomination tonight so his supporters can cast their ballots for him.

The evening speakers were very good.  Corey Booker gave a very uplifting speech that rallied the crowd.  Elizabeth Warren gave a pointed speech poking Donald Trump and his fantasy world.  Bernie Sanders gave a great speech.  But, the crowning jewel was Michelle Obama.  About the only person with a better ability to speak in public I have seen is her husband.  But the difference is razor-thin.

Her speech was so good, that one Republican Strategist jokingly said it was so good “we might hear it again at the next Republican Convention.”  There can be no better praise than that.

The first day began with turmoil.  I might even say it was chaotic.  But, the evening ended extremely well.  The best part for me was the Democrats actually laid out their plans much better than the Republicans did.  The Democrats painted a much different picture than the Republicans.

Instead of telling us that our country is in deep trouble and in dire straights, they gave us a positive view of what we have achieved since the debacle that was George W. Bush’s time in office.  They reminded us of the recovery we made from the great recession of 2008.  But, they did not back down from the idea that we have much more work to do.

For the first time we heard about climate change.  We heard about health care.  We heard about immigration reform.  We heard about energy.  We heard about the environment.  We heard about education.  These are all things we never heard even uttered by the RNC.  Except “build the wall”.

Next up is the roll call to nominate their candidate.  What happens after the vote will help determine just how good this convention can become.  I do not believe that all of the Berniacs will ever support Hillary Clinton.  But, the platform speaks for itself.

On the Democratic side we have a platform filled with things that will help all Americans.  On the Republican side we have a platform filled with hate and divisiveness.  It is also filled with positions that clearly state that their “government” will tell the rest of us how to live our lives.

Yesterday there were some fireworks.  There was some chaos.  There was some good.  I would say yesterday was far better than the circus the RNC gave us last week on their first day.  The other thing to remember, is none of the major players in the party have “boycotted” the convention for “haircuts” or “fly-fishing”.  Nor, has anyone refused to be a speaker at this convention.

I thought day one was much better than the RNCs day one.  You have to decide for yourself.  Let’s see what happens on day two.

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Today the Democrats will open their convention.  The biggest news in the party is that Debbie Wasserman Shultz has resigned her post as Chair of the DNC.  That was something that a lot of people have wanted for some time.

According to the statement, she is resigning effective immediately at the end of the Nation Convention this week.  Too bad, she should have made it immediate and stayed away from the convention completely.

It seems weird that leaked emails from her and her staff was her downfall.  Yet, she really hasn’t done all that much to help the DNC since she became the chair.  She has been a lightning rod now for a couple of years and her departure is long overdue.

Some “hard-core Berniacs” will be there and some may even protest.  Some might try to upend the VP nomination of Tim Kaine.  That is probably unlikely, but we shall see.  Bernie Sanders got a lot of compromise from the DNC over the platform.  No, he didn’t get everything he wanted, but he was able to change it some to lean a bit more left.

I don’t foresee too much turmoil at this convention.  See, Democrats have a long history of controversy at their conventions.  Unlike the Republican Party which usually rules with an iron fist, the Democrats are mostly open at their conventions.  Which results in more squabbles than at Republican parties.

To me, the biggest thing to watch for is the tone.  At the Republican Convention last week, the tone was very dark and problematic.  Nothing in this country is going well, according to them.  There are plenty of groups to blame for the mess, excluding the Republican Party.  And, we are all going to wake up one day and find we have been murdered in our beds by these nefarious groups unless we elect the next dictator, Donald Trump.

Some simple facts of reality.  In 2008 the country elected Barak Obama as the first Black President in our history.  That same year, during the election, the economy collapsed.  When Obama took office in January 2009, we were losing about 850,000 jobs per month.

After a year of trying to stop the carnage, we began to see things turn around.  We have had over 75 straight months of private sector job growth.  That despite the lack of participation of the Republican Party in governing.  The Republican Controlled House of Representative has been the least effective House in our history.

Each year of their control, they break new lows for how ineffective they are.  Two years ago, the Senate came under Republican Control.  Mitch McConnell said we would “now see just how to govern under Republicans”.  We are still waiting because they haven’t done anything more than the House, which is nothing.  Hell, even Donald Trump said we need to rebuild our infrastructure.

What he didn’t say is that there has been a Transportation and Infrastructure Bill intended to do just that languishing in the Republican Congress for SEVEN YEARS!  Republicans are not interested in passing that bill nor in creating the millions of good paying jobs it would ensure.

So, the tone of the Democrat Convention is very important to me.  I am very interested in just how they conduct themselves.  Will they fall into the trap and start bashing Donald Trump or will they tell us what policies they plan on to build on the progress we have made since 2008.

Are the speakers going to produce innuendos about the other side, or are they going to compare what their plans are to their opponents?  That should be easy since their opponents don’t have a plan.

Democrats need to spell out exactly what they see as problems and challenges facing our nation, and tell us exactly what they intend to do to address those problems and challenges.  People want to know that someone is interested in their future.  They need to know that if they vote for Democrats, the people’s wishes will be considered and not the special interest groups.  That is going to be huge challenge for Democrats.

The middle-class is disappearing.  We need to know what is going to be done to bring it back.  We need to know how public education will improve for everyone.  We need to know that our children’s future will be bright and promising.

What is going to be done about climate change and the environment?  What is going to be done about income inequality?  What is going to be done about our crumbling infrastructure?  What are we going to do about health care and its costs?  How do we combat terrorism and not strip our citizens of their right to privacy?  So many problems and we need solutions not 20 second sound bites about who to blame.

Too many people are talking like this is a binary election.  Meaning we have a choice between two bad candidates.  That does not have to be the choice.  Since the Republicans failed to provide any details about their policies, except “believe me”, the Democrats have an opportunity to separate themselves from the Republicans and show that they deserve our votes.

The Democrats have an opportunity to give us real policies and real choices.  Or, they can give us a mud wrestling match.  I would rather choose between policies rather than a mud wrestling match.  Trump wants a mud wrestling match.  That is the only way he figures he can win.

All we can do now is wait and watch.  I know that there will be some fights during this week.  I know that everyone will not be totally happy with everything going on this week.  That is usual for Democrats.

It is the tone that matters.  It is policies that matters.  It is ideas that matters.  Last week we got a very dark tone.  We got no policies.  We got no ideas.  All we got was “I am the only one who can fix the problems, believe me”.

That ranks right up there with the “check’s in the mail” and “I promise I’ll respect you in the morning”.  It is all up to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.  This week will let us know if this is really a binary election or one based on ideas, policies, and hope.

Let’s hope it is about ideas, policies and hope.  We have had too many mud wrestling matches in the past, and they provided us with nothing but division and hate.

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To quote Vince Lombardi:  “What the hell is going on out there?”  My parents took elections pretty seriously.  Every four years, they watched the conventions.  I remember my first convention on television in 1960.

I have paid attention to politics ever since.  I have found it to be interesting, and believe it or not, educational as well.  Although I consider myself a progressive, I am registered as unaffiliated.  That is something I have been since the first time I registered to vote in 1971.  At that time, the partisan divide in this country was not so huge.  Plus, until Richard Nixon went after the so-called “Dixiecrats” in 1968, the GOP was really the party of civil rights.  It was mostly Republicans that got the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Rights Bill passed.  It was also Eisenhower who sent in troops to protect black high school students in Arkansas after segregated schools were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

But, I haven’t seen such weirdness at a convention as this one.  I thought that things could never get to this stage.  That we were getting over our race and gender issues.  The weirdest one I witnessed was the Democrat Convention in Chicago in 1968.  I am not even talking about the demonstrations and riots outside the convention.  I am talking about the chaos inside.  I didn’t think we would see that again.

But, I was wrong.  This year’s Republican Convention tops the 1968 Democrat Convention of 1968.  This is so weird, I don’t know where to begin.  In day one there was a mild protest over the nomination rules.  In day two there was a mild protest from Alaska about how the votes were counted by the chair.

The speeches were pretty much what I have expected.  There has been nothing to spell out the policies the Republicans are going to run on, unless you count hating Hillary Clinton as a policy.  This has been a “hate Hillary” love fest.

Last night was no different.  There were the usual speeches claiming inheritance of the Party of Lincoln even though it is now the party that wants to go back to Jim Crow days.  There were more “hate Hillary Clinton” speeches.  But there was nothing about policies.

But, once again there was chaos.  More than one person did not endorse Trump during their speeches.  Everyone claims to be “shocked, shocked I tell you” that Ted Cruz did not endorse Trump.  And, that is what everyone wants to talk about.  I wasn’t shocked.  These two men absolutely hate each other.  But more on that later.

Marco Rubio sent in a video that was more of a “vote for me for Senator” than anything else.  You know the same Senator who misses about 60 percent of votes wants Florida to reelect him after he said he was not running anymore.  He mentioned Trumps name twice and NEVER endorsed him.

The one that is kind of a shocker is a speech given by retired astronaut Eileen Collins.  She gave a speech mostly prepared by the Trump campaign.  According to the transcripts, the prepared speech was supposed to end”

We need leadership that will challenge every American to ask, “What’s next?” We need leadership that will make America’s space program first again. We need leadership that will make America first again. That leader is Donald Trump.

Thank you and God bless the United States of America!

But that is not how the speech ended.  Instead, she ended the speech saying:

We need leadership that will ask Americans, Americans will ask again, “What’s next?” We need leadership that will make America’s space program first again. We need leadership that will make America great again.

I want to thank all of you. Thank you for what you’re doing. God bless America.

The line “That leader is Donald Trump” was left out by Collins.  I guess that is another OOPS on behalf of the Trump Campaign.

Newt Gingrich did his best to let America know that we have a third-rate military, we have record high unemployment, that we are coming apart at the seams.  His view of the country is downright gloomy.  It is also false.  As a veteran, I take great umbrage at the notion that our military is third-rate.  It is the best equipped, best trained, and made up of the best people in the world.

Mike Pence gave his acceptance speech.  In his speech he talked about national security as well.  He said that America will stand by its allies under all circumstances.  He said that our allies will “respect” us again.

Seems someone forgot to tell him that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have the same feelings about our allies.  In an interview with the New York Times Trump before said before coming to the aid of the Balkan States if they were attacked by Russia, he would have to ensure they have fulfilled their obligations to the U.S.

In the interview he also said that he would not pressure Turkey or other authoritarian allies about conducting purges of their political adversaries or cracking down on civil liberties.  Mr. Trump claims that we “have a right to lecture”.

Those are two wonderful ideas to “gain back respect of our allies” as the GOP claims we need to do.  He wants to put conditions on when we will support our allies and if one of them are to wipe out say 500,000 people in a purge, well who are we to say not to do that.  Is that because he wants his own purge if he is elected?  Why else wouldn’t you condemn purges somewhere else unless you believe in them yourself.

There is also Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire state representative and delegate and an advisor for the Republican presidential nominee.  In a radio interview he said:

I’m a veteran who went to Desert Shield, Desert Storm. I’m also a father who sent a son to war, to Iraq, as a Marine Corps helicopter avionics technician. Hillary Clinton, to me, is the Jane Fonda of the Vietnam War,” referring to Fonda’s 1972 trip to Hanoi that some Americans consider to be an act of betrayal.

[Clinton] is a disgrace for the lies that she told those mothers about their children that got killed over there in Benghazi. She dropped the ball on over 400 emails requesting back up security. Something’s wrong there.

This whole thing disgusts me. Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason. (emphasis mine)

This whole violent theme is very disturbing to me.  This is the kind of thing you might hear in a Banana Republic.  Not in U.S. politics.  But, it is all to common in Trump’s camp.  Yes, the Secret Service is investigating this Bozo for his comments.

Before Mike Pence even took the stage, Ted Cruz took the stage.  He gave his usual “freedoms” speech.  The one where everyone has freedoms except those he doesn’t like.  You know people like immigrants, LGBT, women, and “liberals”.  Everyone was waiting with bated breath, except apparently me, for his “endorsement” of Donald Trump at the end.

OOPS here we go again.  Instead of endorsing Trump, he said everyone should “vote your conscience” for the candidate you like best.  In political terms that is saying you do not like the nominee and expect him to lose big time.  You are also telling your followers not to vote for the nominee.

Most of the delegates went nuts.  But then what is a Republican gathering if no one goes nuts.  It was reported that one lead delegate, it wasn’t reported which one, had to be restrained he was so angry at Cruz.  The New York delegation went totally berserk.  It was also reported that Heidi Cruz, Ted’s wife, needed to be “escorted from the floor” for her own safety.

Cruz was actually booed off of the stage as he left.  Which made Donald Trump very happy.  If I were a very cynical man, I would say the whole thing was staged by Trump and Cruz to rile up the delegates.  Let’s face facts, this has been anything but a wild show of love for Trump.

But, I am not going to believe that for a minute.  Remember, Cruz and Trump hate each other.  Sometimes I think they hate each other more than they hate Hillary Clinton.  Which would really be something.

During the campaign, Trump called Cruz every name he could come up with.  He attacked Cruz’ wife for her looks.  He even accused Cruz’ father of being with Lee Harvey Oswald handing out “communist” pamphlets in New Orleans and claiming he “may have had a hand in killing Kennedy.”

With all of that in mind, how could anyone actually believe that Cruz would endorse Trump to become President.  Instead of endorsing Trump, he gave a speech that tells everyone why he should get the nomination in 2020 after Trump is trashed by Clinton.

The odd thing is that the Trump campaign knew what he was going to say before he went on stage.  Trump even tweeted that he had the speech 2 hours before it was given.  So, the real question is why would they allow Cruz to take the stage right before Mike Pence?

Everyone agrees that Trump blew it when he rolled out Pence and announced he would be his running mate.  After introducing Pence at the press conference, Trump walked off the stage and wouldn’t even stand there while Pence was speaking.  I don’t know about Pence, but I would consider such actions as dismissive.

Then Trump allows the Cruz fiasco to be the last spot before Pence speaks.  After the speech, Trump did not shake Pence’s hand and pose for pictures together, he merely “blew him a kiss” from offstage.  I believe that is the first time I saw one candidate “air kiss” his running mate.

The other question is what the hell was Cruz thinking?  He knew he wasn’t going to endorse Trump.  He knew it would be taken as “burying the hatchet” – right in Trump’s back.  Did he think that he was going to be held up as some kind of hero?  Even the Texas delegation is angry at him right now.  One delegate said they wanted “answers” from Ted when they meet with him this morning.

I have been following politics for 56 years.  I have never seen a convention like this one.  I have never seen a campaign like this one.  The GOP wants us to vote for Donald Trump.  They claim he will support our allies.  But he says only if the have fulfilled “their obligations to us.”

They tell us he will “bring jobs back to America”.  Except of course his own families products.  They will still be made in Mexico, China, India, and Bangladesh.  They tell Latinos that Trump is good for them even though he calls them rapists and murderers.

They tell the LGBT that the party is “all-inclusive’ but keep passing laws that “exclude” them from society even making them “second-class” citizens.  They tell Blacks the same “all-inclusive” line but calls them “terrorists” if they dare take to the streets in protest against things like police brutality.

They talk about “religious freedom” but then say we should ban Muslims from entering the country and “watch” the Mosques here for “radicalization” practices.

They tell women how much they love them.  Then pass laws to defund Planned Parenthood which is the number one provider of cancer screening, birth control, and other women’s health issues.  They pass laws banning abortion and birth control  all in the name of “women’s safety”.

They tell Americans that it is a shame that jobs have been outsourced overseas.  Yet, it is their “free trade” policies that make it possible.  They claim to be all for education but pass budgets that slash education funds.  they claim to “love” our veterans but introduce bills to slash funds to benefit packages like the GI Bill.

While all of this “all-inclusive” speaking was going on, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Texas Voter ID law.  There is a lot of claiming going on at this convention.  And, all of the claims are totally opposite of what their actions are.  Yes, this has been a weird convention.  It has been a weird election cycle.

My dad had a favorite saying when someone blew their horn on the road for no reason.  And, as I listen to each of these Republican speakers this week that phrase keeps popping up in my head.  That is when today’s Republicans speak, I keep wanting to yell “blow it out your ass!”

But I don’t have to, because that is exactly where they are talking from in the first place.

This convention has been marked with chaos and violence against opponents of Trump.  That should tell you all you need to know about the Republicans who want your vote.

 

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Day two of the Republican National Convention has ended.  In all fairness it was better than day one.  But that is like saying that a foot of snow is better than a blizzard.  The Donald was officially nominated as the party’s nominee for President.  There were several speakers, and aside of his own children, only two even mentioned the nominee’s name.

Ryan talked about policies but never said what they were.  Christie went after Hillary Clinton, what new?  Dr. Carson claimed that Hillary and the Democrat Party were in league with the devil.  The night’s “theme” was “Make America Work Again”.  However, no one spoke about what that meant or how they could complete that theme.

Donald Trump, Jr. gave probably the best speech of the night.  But, it was also the perfect example of the simple-mindedness of the whole Trump campaign.  In order to make my point, I am going to focus on one small fragment of his speech.

In his speech, he said that “education used to be the elevator to the middle class but the elevator is stuck on the first floor.”  In total fairness, he is correct.  Many people around the country have complaints about public education.  It needs to be fixed.

However, what has caused education to decline?  What has caused our public schools and the elevator to be stuck on the first floor.  Well, the answer is Republican education bashing and politics.

Just look at the realities of the world.  Republican controlled states have slashed public school funding.  In some states, like in New Jersey, over a billion dollars have been slashed from education budget.  Teachers pay have been frozen in many states.  In North Carolina for example, teachers went four years without getting a pay raise.

Additionally, Republicans have taken education out of the hands of professional educators and placed in the hands of “local” boards.  This has resulted in curriculum being changed.  Creationism instead of evolution in science classes for example.

They have started to privatize schools which has NOT resulted in better education.  Rather, it has simply reinstated segregation.  This privatization comes in two ways.  Paying a for-profit company, usually with very stringent “Christian” curriculum and “vouchers”.

The idea of vouchers has been around for years.  If you want your child to attend a private school, it was always your responsibility to pay the tuition.  Now, with these “voucher” programs, the state will give you money to pay that tuition.

The reason I call this reinstating segregation is because this all came to fruition over the desegregation laws.  The best way to segregate schools is to let the racists attend private schools with taxpayer dollars.  Especially when the “approved” private schools set standards that poor people of color cannot meet.

Then, there is the Charter School sham.  Again, these schools segregate against minorities and disabled children.  Charter schools have limited enrollment and almost none of them offer the type of classes needed by children with disabilities.

As a result of these Republican policies, there is less money for Public Schools.  Public Schools are not getting the upgrades to their facilities they need.  They don’t even get enough money for school supplies.  Teachers, who are way underpaid by Republican controlled states, are forced to spend money out of their pocket to provide proper school supplies.  That is criminal.

Paul Ryan in his speech said that “our policies work”.  My question is “work for whom?”  Your policies have all but stripped this country of a good public education system.  You claim that education is the elevator to the middle class and then gut the very education system that is supposed to provide it for everyone.

Whole segments of our citizens are being denied proper and good public education.  Those segments are always poor.  They are always people of color.  And, they are people with special needs.  Republican education policies have cut them off from getting the education they need to “ride the elevator” to the middle class.

Now that their policies have gutted funding for public education, vilified teachers as what is wrong with public education and effectively denied a proper education to millions of our children, they want you to believe that it is because these children are “lazy” or are “looking for a handout”.

Republican policies have been disastrous for our country.  It has been Republicans who have been screaming for “free trade” agreements like NAFTA and TPP that gut American Jobs.  It is Republican policies that has gutted education funding.  It is Republican policies that give tax cuts to companies who move their factories overseas.  It is Republican policies that caused the 2008 economic collapse.

Maybe that is why we have not heard a single idea from the Republicans at this convention.  Maybe that is why we only hear negativity from the speakers at this convention.  The Republicans are stuck in 1899.  They don’t want any taxes.  They don’t want Social Security for our senior citizens.  They don’t want to ensure citizens have a right to health care.

All they want is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.  They simply want to bring back the days of the Robber Barons.  When Paul Ryan says “our policies work” he is not talking about working for you.  He is talking about working for the top 1% of the economic plateau.

That is your choice.  Do we continue down the road of disastrous policies offered by Republicans or do we move forward and fix our problems.  Remember, conservatism by definition is against moving forward.  Conservatism wants to maintain the status quo or go backwards in time.

I for one want our country to move forward.  Which is why I cannot support Republican candidates.  They created the current status quo and quite frankly it sucks for everyone except the rich.  I am more fearful of their policies than anything else.  So their fearmongering does not help get my vote.

 

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Yesterday was so full of “stuff” I don’t hardly know where to begin.  Even before the Republican National Convention kicked-off Paul Manafort assailed the very popular Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, by saying he is an embarrassment to Ohio.

This personal attack came because John Kasich does not like Trump, does not like the idea of Trump running the party, and refuses to attend the convention being held in his own state.  So naturally, The Donald sent out his campaign manager to attack the sitting Governor.

The other thing I noticed during the dog-and-pony show is how the delegations were placed.  In my many years of watching conventions, I seem to remember that the host state had a position front and center on the floor.  But, this year, Ohio has been relegated to the “back of the bus” as has every other state that did not vote for Donald Trump during the primaries.

When the convention started later in the afternoon, there was the expected rebellion.  It occurred when the “chair” held a vote on the rules for the convention and the next convention.  The Never Trump group tried to stop the voice vote and have a “roll-call vote”.

The chair held his voice vote and then declared that in his opinion the rules passed.  The Never Trump group then sent up a petition to have a roll-call vote.  According to reports, the petition was from seven different delegations and contained enough votes to force the roll-call vote.  The chair denied the petition and hell broke out.

Almost the entire Colorado and Utah delegation walked out of the convention at that point.  They accused the party of ignoring “their own rules”.  Apparently the petition is part of the rules but the chair ignored it.

Later that night, one woman who is a delegate from Utah said that she had been threatened by two women who “were apparently Trump Supporters”.  According to this delegate, they told her that she and the rest of the Utah delegation “deserve to die” for not supporting Trump.  This lady was very shaken by her experience.  I can’t say I can blame her either.

In between the afternoon and evening sessions, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) made a white supremacy statement on national television.  During a panel discussion on MSNBC, Esquire editor-at-large Charlie Pierce, made a comment about how he felt that this convention was more than likely to be “wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people” who wouldn’t tolerate any sign of party rebellion.

That was all King needed to go into his rant.  He said he was tired of “white people” always being blamed for bad things and that they should be praised for all of the good things they have done for the world.

Here is the actual exchange:

King: “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

Host Chris Hayes: “Than white people?”

King: “Than Western civilization itself. It’s rooted in western Europe, eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”

When asked “what about Africa, what about Asia”? an argument was about to break out so Hayes ended the discussion.  He said:

We’re not going to argue the history of Western civilization.  Let me note for the record that if you’re looking at the ledger for Western civilization, [in] every flourishing democracy you’ve got Hitler and Stalin as well, so there’s a lot on both sides.

The rest of the night was pretty much what we expected.  There was a lot of hate speech.  Especially directed towards Hillary Clinton, the Black Lives Matter movement and immigrants.  There were slogans like “Hillary for Prison” and one very grieving woman who said she ‘blames Hilary Clinton for the death of her son in Benghazi.”

Her speech was moving and very raw.  You could see the agony and her pain while she spoke.  I am sure that she blames Hillary Clinton for her son’s death.  When a loved one is take from us, it is natural to look for someone to blame.  It is natural, and I feel pity for this woman.  But, to me that is all it is.  A very sad woman with real grief who wants to blame someone and the Republican Party gave her a platform to hurl her accusation at their opponent.  I do hope she finally finds the peace she deserves.

There was one odd item this poor woman’s speech.  While she was talking, it was reported that Donald Trump called Fox News and they cut away to do an interview with him instead of airing the woman’s speech.  So, the Fox News audience never saw the speech.  How bizarre!

There were other speakers not of much interest.  They all were telling us that we should “shelter in place” because we are all about to die at the hands of terrorists.  Rudy Giuliani did not give a speech.  He screamed at the audience instead.

Near the end of his yelling, he asked “what happened to no black America?  What happened to no White America?  What happened to One United States of America”?  Apparently, he didn’t listen to Rep. King go off on his white supremacy rant. He didn’t know about the “death threats” made to a delegate because she did not support Trump.  He didn’t know about Manafort’s dismissal of the sitting governor of Ohio.

He apparently forgot how his “candidate” called Mexican immigrants “rapists and murderers”.  He forgot about all of the anti-LGBT laws that his party has passed in several states in the country.   He forgot about all of the voter suppression laws these same states passed.

The simple answer to his question is that his party, the Republican Party, has done everything in its power to assure that we remain a divided nation.  If we had a “unified nation” racists and bigots would find themselves on the outside of both parties.

Sens. Tom Cotton and Jodi Ernst also gave speeches.  They spoke about their service in the military.  They talked about their perceived “lack of leadership” from the administration.  They talked about honoring our veterans.

What neither of them talked about was the bill that is making its way through the Senate at this minute.  The Republican bill that will cut $3 Billion from the GI Bill.  Hillary Clinton has already said she opposes the bill.  Donald Trump hasn’t said a word.  Neither did Cotton or Ernst.  Which to me means they support the bill.  So much for “supporting our veterans”!

Donald Trump decided that he would “introduce his wife” before she gave her speech.  The entrance reminded everyone of a WWE wrestling TV show.  Even though he was introducing his wife he made sure everyone knew it was all about him.

After her speech, which we will get to in a minute, he waved to the audience and walked off with Melania.  That seemed to be a signal that the event was done for the evening.  Except there were more speeches to come.  Including Gen. Flynn and Sen. Jodi Ernst.

Jodi Ernst found herself speaking to a half-empty arena.  Plus, she started after 11PM EDT so her speech was not carried on the networks.  She was supposed to be speaking during the 10 o’clock hour when the networks were televising the event.  OOPS!

Finally, there was Melania’s speech.  It was a nice speech.  Those in attendance seemed to love it.  All was happy in Trumpland!  Well for a little while.  It seems that someone on Twitter who has a very large following, started tweeting about similarities between Melania’s speech and Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008 when she spoke about Barak.

The news were quick to look into the matter since it exploded on Trump’s favorite social media, Twitter.  Turns out that she did use words taken directly from Michelle’s speech.  In plain speaking, she or some speech writer plagiarized the First Lady’s speech from 2008!

Everyone was waiting for Trump’s reaction to this news.  Surely someone was going to be fired over this incident.  But, there is a problem.  Melania, earlier in the evening during an interview that aired this morning on NBC’s Today Show said that she wrote the speech, “with very little help from someone else”.

So, this morning “damage control” took place from the Trump campaign.  They dismissed the incident as “insignificant” and “crazy”.  On CNN this morning, Manafort said:

There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These are common words and values that she cares about her family, things like that.  I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy. This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.

There you have it.  The fact that Melania used words from Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008 is nothing more than Hillary Clinton’s fault.  He went on  say”

Melania Trump’s speech relied on “words that are common words” and that “certainly there’s no feeling on her part that she did it.  To expect her, to think that she would do something like that, knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night, is just really absurd.

He also said there was “no reason” to fire anyone over the speech.  I don’t know if he knows it or not but he just threw Melania Trump under the bus for this incident.  Since I haven’t heard Donald say anything yet, I don’t think he noticed, or cares, that his wife was just thrown under the bus by his campaign manager.

But the stupidity doesn’t end with Manafort.  Chris Christie, who is expected to lay out his reasons why he would prosecute Hillary Clinton over the email scandal, was asked by Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today if he thought he could make a case for plagiarism.  Christie said “no”.  HMMM!

He went on to say:

Listen, Matt, the worst day of a convention is the first day because everyone’s building up to it and everybody gets breathless, both the delegates and the media, about something to cover and a controversy to talk about. I think after tonight we won’t be talking about this, we’ll move on to whatever comes up tonight.

However, Reince Priebus said that if the speech writer that was involved in this incident worked for him, he would certainly fire him.  So, the Trump campaign says that using the words of the wife of the man they and the conservative right-wing consider “public enemy number one” is no big deal.

Look, I am not going to get into whether this is or is not plagiarism.  That is for experts with far more knowledge about such things as I have.  However, think about this for a minute.  What if the roles had been reversed?  What if Melania Trump gave her speech first and Michelle Obama used these same words in her speech second.

You know what would have happened.  The right-wing would have exploded.  They would accuse Michelle Obama of “stealing” Melania’s words to make herself look good.  They would have gone off the deep end accusing her of plagiarism and how it reflected badly on her husband and that alone would disqualify” him to run for President.

During an interview on “60 Minutes” Sunday with Mike Pence at his side Donald Trump said something revealing.  When asked about how he could pick Pence who co-sponsored and voted for the Iraq War authorization act, he said “well everyone is entitled to make a mistake.”  When asked if that means Hillary Clinton too, he said “no, she is not”.

This incident shows that he doesn’t just mean Hillary Clinton isn’t allowed to make a mistake, no Democrat is allowed to make a mistake.  And, apparently, his wife, or whoever wrote her speech, can do as they please and call it a “mistake”.

There you have it.  Day one of the Republican National Convention.  I told you it was going to be a circus.

And, the “shirts” keep marching along!

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It is finally here.  What should be known as the Republican National Convention, but is currently known as Trump’s Circus, begins today in Cleveland, Ohio.  The last time I witnessed a convention opening under such nervous conditions was back in 1968 when the Democrats held their convention in Chicago.  There were lots of problems both on the floor and off the floor with demonstrations outside.

This year has even more intrigue than that one did.  First, delegates are not all that happy with their nominee.  There is still a “dump Trump” movement going on even though the Republican Party seems to have slammed the door on their options.  Second, many, and I mean many, party officials are simply not attending.  Some are going fly-fishing or getting a much-needed haircut instead of attending the coronation of Trump in Cleveland.  Third, the protests are going to be numerous.  And, don’t think that all are going to be from minorities or from the hated “left”.  It is rumored that the infamous Westboro Baptist Church has requested a permit to march and protest at the convention.

Trump announced his pick for Vice President over the weekend, and he immediately put him in the back of the bus.  The “introduction” speech by Trump was all about Trump, not Mike Pence.  Additionally, the two don’t agree on everything.  Well, that is a bit of a stretch, they don’t agree on much at all.

Then to top things off, they did an interview with “60 Minutes” last night and disagreed on a bunch of things.  Except one item that is.  Trump was asked how he could pick Pence when it was Pence who co-sponsored and voted for the Iraq War Authorization bill, especially when that is his biggest “difference” between him and Hillary Clinton.  He said “everyone is entitled to make a mistake.”  When he was asked does that include Clinton, he flatly said “no, she is not”.

I am not sure how raucous the convention is going to be.  There are not many “headline speakers” who are going to be talking.  Too many top Republicans refused to accept a speaking slot.  That is very odd, because that usually a prime speaking position that politicians would normally die for.  But, not this year.  The one real notable exception is Ted Cruz.  Cruz, still stinging from his loss to Trump has yet to “endorse” the Republican Candidate.  Yet he agreed to speak at the convention.

Problem is that Cruz is planning on giving a speech on “his vision” of what the party should look like moving forward.  Which means that the conservatives will have their glorious moment in the sun, even if it contradicts what Trump has said.  That is even more telling when you look at the platform that conservatives pushed through.  There are more contradictions between the party and Trump than you can shake a stick at.  But, I think that was the whole purpose, to distance themselves from their own nominee.

However, I am pretty sure that the Republican Party, which does not want any turmoil at their convention, will use an “iron fist” to keep the “dump Trump” people at bay.  But, you never know just how deeply these anti-Trump people hold their “values”.  But don’t think for a moment that they want to “dump Trump” because they don’t like him.  They don’t think he goes far enough in mandating “religious beliefs” as the law of the land.  Christian theocracy is the only thing these people want, and they will fight until they get it.

To fill the void, you will get plenty of Benghazi.  You will get plenty of Bill Clinton and his “many alleged affairs” in his past.  What that has to do with Hillary running for President is not very clear.  But, they are things Republicans love to harp on and they will bring out the full orchestra this week to “remind” everyone about them.  When you cannot offer policies, you got to do something to distract the voters.

Then, there is the protests outside the convention.  There is a real danger in what will take place there.  We will see protesters from both sides of the spectrum.  We will see ultra-conservatives protesting against Trump.  We will see Black Lives Matter people protesting.  We will see White Supremacists protesting.  One group said they were going to “protect Trump supporters”.

The New Black Panther Party will be there.  As I said earlier, the Westboro Baptist Church wackos will be there.  It will be a mixture of high voltage and gallons of water.  Then you have to consider the two shooting deaths of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and the cop shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and you have a very volatile mixture for sure.  Plus, you have to consider that Ohio is an “open carry” state.

The irony is that in the “protest zone” you are not allowed to carry aerosol cans or tennis balls, but you will be allowed to openly carry a gun.  After the Baton Rouge shooting yesterday, the Police Union President asked the Governor, John Kasich, to “suspend the open carry law during the convention”.  He refused.  Well, what he said was “I cannot suspend the law.”

That means you will surely see people from both sides of the political scale walking around openly carrying guns in a “protest” zone.  That makes real sense doesn’t it?  I cannot imagine just how much worse the riots in Chicago would have been in 1968 if Illinois had an open carry law back then.  There probably would have been open warfare on the streets with hundreds being killed.

I hope that doesn’t happen in Cleveland.  But, I know that when you put passionate people from two sides together, and allow them to carry guns, anything can happen and it usually does.  I guess all we can do is hold our breath and hope for the best.

I am certain that when Cleveland lobbied to host the Republican National Convention they did not expect this three-ring circus coming to town.  If they did, they probably wouldn’t touch it.  But, that is the problem with politics.  Things don’t always go according to plan.  Sometimes someone throws a monkey wrench into the works.  Trump is that monkey wrench this year.

I am sure we will see many of his family giving moving speeches about how wonderful The Donald is.  I am sure we will see many political light-weights giving mediocre speeches about the wonderfulness of the conservative theocracy drive.  I am sure we will see many cringes on the faces of the “establishment” of the Republican Party.

We will not hear anything about climate change except that they consider it a hoax.  We will hot hear anything about how to make public education better, except to privatize it.  We won’t hear anything about income inequality except that the rich pay too much in taxes.  We will not hear anything about civil rights except how the LGBT community is evil and should be banned.  We won’t hear anything about immigration reform except to build a wall with Mexico.

We will hear a lot about “law and order” without any real plans to enforce it.  We will hear a lot about those nasty Muslims who should be “tested and deported” as Newt Gingrich proposes.  We will hear all about how our economy is the worst on record, despite the fact that we have had 75 months of job growth  since the economic collapse their party caused in 2008.  We will hear about how our President is really a “secret Muslim” out to destroy our nation, even though more “terrorists” have been killed by him than all of his predecessors.

But, just like everything else in this current Republican Nomination process, we will see no substance.  We will see no definitions of any policies planned.  We will see the usual finger-pointing, fear-mongering and hate-mongering we have seen for the past year.

I really don’t know if I will be able to stomach watching very much of this circus.  When I was a kid my parents took us to the circus that came to Chicago every year.  It was fun.  It was entertaining.  We were thrilled watching the high-wire act and the trapeze acts.  We were awed by the lion taming act.  This circus will have plenty of clowns, but I am not so sure it will have anything else worth watching.

It is going to be a very long week!

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There was another senseless attack in France last night.  A truck driver deliberately drove his rig into a mass of people trying to kill as many as he could.  This is obviously an act of terrorism.  At last count at least 80 people died in this attack.

It was a senseless attack during a fireworks display for Bastille Day celebrations.  We don’t know yet if it was a planned attack from some group like ISIS or a “lone wolf” attack by someone who wanted his 15 minutes of fame.  In either case, terrorism is always at the heart of such attacks.

The truck driver was Tunisian.  That automatically makes conservatives rail against Muslims, again, as being the only terrorists in the world.  But, Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who lost his position due to ethics violations, has the answer for America.  Gingrich said:

“Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia they should be deported.  Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.

When he was called out for his comments about “having a test” for Muslims, he blamed the “hysterical” media for his blunder.  A typical conservative answer for anytime they screw up.  However, the real problem is over this so-called “sharia law” that conservatives hate so much.

According to conservative fear mongering, sharia law is something that is forced on a population and if you disagree with anything to do with Islam, you are killed.  That is the type of practice is only followed by “radical Muslims” and not the entire Muslim population.

But, if you really want a comparison as to what it really is, all you need do is look at some of the laws being passed by Republican controlled state legislatures right here in America.  The whole anti-same-sex marriage issue is nothing more than forcing “religious beliefs” on the rest of society.

The anti-abortion issue is nothing more than forcing “religious beliefs” on the rest of society.  The mess over transgender’s use of bathrooms is nothing but forcing “religious beliefs” on the rest of society. In a word, the Conservative Christian Right’s agenda is nothing more than a Christian form of sharia law.

I would like to ask Mr. Gingrich what makes these laws “compatible” with western civilization?  From where I sit, they are not “compatible” with western society and if you want to have “tests” for Muslims and deport any of them who believe in sharia law, you must also have similar tests for Christians and if any of them are in favor of these laws, they also should be deported.

And, the Conservative Christian Right knows I am right.  They even argue “if you think our laws are stringent, look at what ISIS is doing to gays”.  Meaning, they know that their laws are not “compatible” with western civilization but don’t care they wish to force them on us anyway.

So, why should we allow any of them to stay in this country?  Why should they be allowed to force “their” religious beliefs on us?  Why isn’t Mr. Gingrich, the several times married Mr. Gingrich, not calling Conservative Christians “incompatible” with western civilization?

The answer is very simple.  We received it today on Twitter from non other than that great lover of all people Donald Trump.  He announced via twitter that his choice for Vice President of the United States of America is a woman hating, gay hating bigot from Indiana named Mike Pence.

You know Mike Pence.  He was the one who signed one of the very first anti-gay law in Indiana as Governor.  Yes, he backed away slightly when “western civilization” raised up against him.  But,  he has not backed off of discriminating against gays anyway he can.  He is still in favor of forcing his Christian form of Sharia Law on the rest of society.

I am not surprised that a misogynist pig like Donald Trump would choose another misogynist pig like Mike Pence as his running mate.  It also speaks volumes about the lies he tells about how he supports gays.

Western civilization as Mr. Gingrich likes to call it is supposed to be a democratic way of life that guarantees freedoms and liberties to ALL citizens.  Not just the ones you like.  In a normal political party there would be no place for even the mention of such “tests”.  But, in our current Republican Party you must pass a “religious test” just to be a member.

If you don’t pass the test imposed by the Conservative Christian Right, you are not a Republican nor are you a Christian.  Sorry, but that sounds an awful lot like sharia law to me.  Not to mention it is unconstitutional.  But then, according to Republicans, the Constitution is just a piece of paper you can pick-and-choose from just like they do with the Bible.

 

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