Soaring Speeches, Muttered Protests

Actually, “muttered” does no justice to the chanting and booing that echoed like city noise down an abandoned alleyway as the Democratic party machine rolled over Berniacs to nominate Hillary Clinton. And I get it.

Forty percent of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention were elected to support Bernie on the first ballot. You can bet these people were believers. Watching on TV, I saw so many of them in tears—not wanting to stop cheering Bernie as he took the podium Monday night. They knew that after he started speaking, he would eventually stop, and that would truly be The End of his candidacy.

Allowing his delegates to vote for him in the roll call was the least that the DNC could do to try and placate them. Of course some would not be placated, and they booed Bernie himself during his speech, as he asked them to support the woman he’d spent a year calling unsuitable.

It’s hard to blame them for their passion. The week began with the revelation that Sanders had been treated like a second-class candidate by the Democratic Party’s powers that be. The embarrassment was deep enough to force the resignation of longtime DNC chairwoman, and masterful convention organizer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

That embarrassment included emails devising ways to discredit Sanders—including using his Judaism. My jaw is on my chest. Shultz is Jewish. Plenty of Democrats are Jewish. Sounds to me like the Democrats wandered into ugly Republican territory long before they “stole the G.O.P. playbook” at their convention by playing the optimistic patriot card.

Truth be told, Sanders did exert a recognizable influence on the DNC platform, if party platforms have ever mean anything in the long game of a presidency. Hillary is now pitching debt-free college, Wall Street reform and other issues that directly reflect what we could call Sanders Populism.

It’s not quite a revolution, but it is movement toward the political Left, long overdue after repeated jerks to the Right over the past few decades. Now the question is whether Bernie’s faithful can bring themselves to pull the lever for Hillary in November. They’ve got 100 days and counting to bring themselves back from their emotional abyss.

The convention teetered toward trouble on Monday, with angry Bernie supporters booing any mention of Clinton’s name. But Michelle Obama righted the titling ship that night with a speech that put healing into everyone’s heart. Republicans would have been lucky to hear any of those words plagiarized at their own gloom-fest.

On Wednesday, Michelle’s husband Barack delivered a dazzling defense of his presidency and praise of the woman who he wants to take the torch he is passing. It was one of his best speeches ever, topping an already high bar. And amidst all that soaring rhetoric he called Trump a demagogue—reflecting the Clinton campaign strategy that speaks to disaffected Republicans as much as to Democrats.

I’m waiting to hear the “God Emperor” title that some Trump supporters like to use—probably to horrify anti-Trumpers as much as anything. But which side would use it in an ad? I could argue that many pro-Trumpers would like a god emperor. But their kind, mind you, not a Democratic one.

In my last blog, I omitted the now-visible “elephant in the room” that is racist voting laws. And silly you thought Jim Crow was dead and buried. He was exhumed and reanimated in 2013, immediately after the Supreme Court gelded the Voting Rights Act …thus immediately proving that Associate Justice Scalia’s assertion that voting rights were no longer threatened was utterly false and blind to reality.

At that time, I despaired over this legal version of voter fraud. Republicans were going to keep power by denying Democratic voters their rights, with phony fraud-prevention laws. But now I keep reading the good news that federal appeals courts are striking down these laws in various states.

Last week: a federal court that struck down discriminatory laws in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Kansas—calling them modern-day Jim Crow lies. And it happened the week before in Texas! Has the worm turned? The political dam that was supposed to hold back a demographic flood of (liberal) voters of color is springing some serious leaks. This old white man is cheering.

Joe Biden owned the auditorium for the length of his Wednesday speech, oozing patriotism and optimism over the crowd as enthusiastically as Ronald Reagan ever did. Even though I know full well that 1. the country isn’t as stricken as the G.O.P. would have it or 2. as thriving as the Democrats pitched, even I (the eternal cynic) was comforted by all the rah-rah. The previous week of gloom and doom left me depressed; I needed the uplift.

The week was not without surprises. Hillary’s speech Thursday was downgraded before she ever delivered it, by nearly every reporter with an anticipatory moment onscreen. She’s no Obama, you know. Not even a Biden at the microphone.And she doesn’t have a penis, either. Yes, I’ve heard.

I thought she did as well as any of the week’s top tier speakers. I watched her on MSNBC of course, to coddle my partisan liberal ears between the speeches. I was temporarily shocked to hear their conservative guest talking head Nicole Wallace trash Clinton’s speech afterwards.

But I was quite surprised to hear so many staunch MSNBC liberals dismiss it as a minor work. People, she kicked ass. Clinton’s oratory isn’t embellished by Obama’s resonant tones or well-measured pauses, is that your problem?

If you want to call “I’m not here to repeal the Second Amendment” a simple statement, I object. It’s short, yes. But listen to what followed and revel in its directness: “I’m not here to take away your guns. I just don’t want you to be shot by someone who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place.”

Not that the Right will believe her, but FOX News cannot edit this quote into a lie. It’s man-on-the-street meets Hemingway, and it happens to express the polling-verified opinion of 90% of the electorate.

NRA, do your worst—oh wait, you’ve been doing that for years. I say: don’t discredit using the flawed no-fly list to forbid gun purchases. Instead, lend a hand toward making the list more accurate. That would protect people far better than a gun under the pillow.

While we’re on the subject, WHY can’t the purchase of any gun, anywhere, require a background check?

  • Is it because the purchaser has an incorrect background detail that would forbid the purchase?
    We desperately need a national conversation on communication, on tolerance, maybe even trust for people who don’t agree with us. We’ve been baited into Dick Cheney’s “So?” response to anyone telling us we’re wrong. Everyone is wrong, at some time.
  • Or is it because the “incorrect background detail” is actually true?
    There ARE people who should not have a gun. And of course they would support the NRA’s “everyone gets a gun” position. And that takes me right back to the no-fly list—and any other list that you could group into a “no-buy” category: Don’t discredit the list! Fix it. It’s supposed to do what everyone wants: find terrorists.

And speaking of trust… it’s that time of a presidential election year when both candidates begin receiving intelligence briefings because one of these two will be the president in just a few months. This time around, both candidates’ trustworthiness is called into question.

Wags have wondered for months if Trump can hear Top Secrets and not spill them at a news conference or in a midnight tweet. And Hillary’s campaign server just got hacked. As did the DNC server. Hillary’s qualifications to handle Top Secrets are not in question. But is she any safer a risk than Trump?

In fact, how far up our digital ass has Putin’s hacker core crawled? How many more systems are we going to discover have been occupied by the Russians for years? It’s scary.

But back to Trump’s analog problem with Top Secrets for a moment. One senior intelligence official refuses to participate in briefing him, saying, “He’s been so uninterested in the truth and so reckless with it when he sees it.”

I haven’t even touched on the motives or actors behind the hacks of Democratic databases. I do not believe that Trump and Putin are in cahoots, but I can tell you this: each has probably recognized independently that he could have a profitable relationship with the other.

You know that Putin was listening raptly when Trump threatened to violate the NATO treaty by not defending Baltic state members if Russia attacked them.

A Washington Post quote caught my eye, from a cybersecurity expert talking about the two Democratic data hacks (first the DNC, now the Clinton campaign) explaining that the release of this information is “…definitely part of a much, much broader campaign that is yet to fully be publicly revealed.”

Reading that stirred up adrenalin in my stomach… not only from the prospect of Trump in the White House, but also from the prospect that Putin could have a hand in getting him there. And that’s what has me wondering if Putin is eyeing Estonia or Latvia for an October invasion, or maybe in January as the new president’s first test, no matter which one wins.

Your first week in office and suddenly you’re playing nuclear chicken with Shirtless Vlad? That would be a tough hand to finesse. It’s hard to imagine who would do what, when faced with an instantaneous need to show toughness.

Don’t forget that one characterization of Margaret Thatcher was “Reagan With Balls.” I see no reason to mistake Hillary Clinton for a weak sister, either.

So I hope that a NATO confrontation is too crazy even for Putin to contemplate.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post—that newspaper banned from Trump rallies for “bad reporting”—published an article on Trump’s economic ties to Russia. Keep it up, you bad reporters! And in an interview with George Stephanopoulos Sunday, Donald Darko demonstrated again his ignorance of foreign policy. You want more? His weekend counterattack on the Kahn family—the muslim father and mother who lost their son in Iraq—demonstrating his lack of humanity. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell disowned the remarks, if not the candidate. Even running mate Mike Pence backed away.

The Trump train seems close to derailing, but I won’t feel safe until he loses the damn election. By a lot, please.

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Steve Schlich is retired after 35 years of writing fiction about software: “easy to use,” “does what you want,” and the like. Hobbies include webmaster for, writing songs and short stories. In 2004, he created, a website chronicling the naughty public art in Washington, D.C. He lives happily with his wife and cats, north of San Francisco.

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