Live-Blogging the 2016 Democratic National Convention: Night 2

10:49 pm: “We’ve got to get back on schedule, y’all settle-down out there!”  This is Bill Clinton, telling the delegates of the Democratic National Convention that they can’t relish his speech quite so much, because Night 2 of the Convention is running over.

10:32 pm: President Clinton notes that when he lost re-election in the Reagan landslide of 1980, it was Hillary who gave him a sense of mission again: “We’re going to focus on being Chelsea’s parents for a while.”  She said that if Bill wanted to become Governor again, he would have to really listen to Arkansans, but also show them that he still had some fresh ideas.  He won re-election on this approach–Without Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton probably wouldn’t have become President–but soon faced a charge that Arkansas had the worst public schools in the country.  Hillary started a listening tour of all 75 Arkansas counties, which led 1 observer to quip, “Maybe we elected the wrong Clinton!”

This is marvelous: Former President Clinton’s self-effacing tribute to his wife’s support and personal drive represents a sort of correcting of the record: “Hasn’t the great woman behind the man already proved she can be President?”

10:29 pm: “The truth is that we rarely disagreed on parenting, though I believe that Hillary thought I went too far when I took a couple of days off to watch all 6 Police Academy movies with our daughter.”  I have no great insight into this; I just wanted to note that Bill Clinton likes the Police Academy movies. 

10:24 pm: “She also stayed the first legal aid clinic in northwest Arkansas…”  This is exactly what Secretary Clinton needs: This speech is a rigorous account of Hillary Clinton’s record of dedication to the disenfranchised, given narrative grasp by a sort of romantic comedy.

10:12 pm: “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl…After class I followed her out.  I approached her close-enough to touch her back, but.. I just couldn’t do it.  Somehow I knew this would be more than just another tap on the shoulder.  I thought that this might be the start of something I couldn’t stop…”

Former President Bill Clinton recounts meeting his future wife, Hillary Clinton.  She introduced herself to him after she became impatient with his ambivalent staring.  He recounts feigning his need to register for classes in order to wait on line and talk to her, and that when his “cover was blown” that he didn’t have to be there, he decided to go for a walk with her.  “We’ve been walking together, and talking, and laughing ever since.”

The most-effective parts of this speech have this personal touch; the most-important are his references to her volunteer work, working in legal defense, working at Yale-New Haven Hospital on new child abuse intake procedures, registering Mexican-American voters in the Southwest and Black voters in South Carolina…This along other causes taken-up between 1971 and 1974, when Hillary Rodham first rejected Bill Clinton’s offer of marriage!

9:56 pm: Madeleine Albright, an immigrant from the Czech Republic (then the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic) and President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001, speaks fondly of meeting then-Firat Lady Hillary Clinton, recalling her historic address abroad in which she said “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.”  She also praises the former Secretary of State’s capacity to listen more than she talks.

An ardent Cold Warrior, Secretary Albright reminds the assembled conventioners that the Russian President has blessed a Trump Presidency.  “As someone who fled from Communism, I know what happens when you let the Russians have their way.”  It sounds so much less…timid than the foreign policy direction Donald Trump promises to bring to the Republican Party.

9:50 pm: “Maybe Mark Twain said it best: ‘”What would men be without women?”  Scarce, sir, mighty scarce…'”  Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks at some length about the range of forms of domination women continue to experience around the World, from the rhetorical put-downs that can have consequences to the reality of millions of women living in sex slavery today.  Many of them are kept in parts of the United States today.  Many don’t see the light of day; some are hidden in the open.  I have to admit I haven’t had many occasions to observe a passionate cause of Senator Klobuchar; the Democratic Party seems to have taken sole responsibility for the premise that the United States can serve a moral mission in the World.

Ima Matul, once a slave herself and now an advocate for policing and ending human trafficking, speaks following Senator Klobuchar.

9:35 pm: Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, onetime antiwar insurgent Democratic Presidential candidate, then DNC Chairman through consecutive Democratic Party wave elections in 2006 and 2008, fires up the crowd.  I always recall that I’m partial to insurgent candidates of my own when I see Governor Dean speak; he calls for finally reaching the goal of fully-universal health care in America, to be regarded as a human right.  He used to be regarded as almost an avant-garde candidate, opposing the Iraq War and calling for universal health care; now he (and on these subjects, Senator Sanders) now just seem ahead of a long curve.

Dean closes his speech with the notorious list of State-by-State victories, ending with the “Dean Scream.”  Haah.  I’ve always appreciated this Liberal’s ironic sense of ownership.

9:30 pm: “No matter how busy she is (and I have a feeling she is always really busy), she always makes you feel like you are the most-importantperson in her day.  She blocks everything else out and focuses on me.”  A man with a rare form of Dwarfism recounts his experience securing health services in part through the efforts of then-Senator Clinton, which has led to reliable correspondence from the Presidential candidate.

9:20 pm: A DNC video opens with a reminder that some of the Sanders supporters with raw feelings ought to see: Hillary Clinton first came under widespread attack from Republicans a generation ago when she proposed single-payer health care!  After that initiative failed and Republicans won control of Congress in an historic wave election in 1994, she worked with those same Republicans to strike the agreement that created the Children’s Health Insurance Program, because that was what could be done at the time.

9:10 pm: Joe Sweeney, a former NYPD detective, recounts the experience of many September 11th first responders with Ground Zero Respiratory Syndrome.  The immediately-preceeding DNC video alluded to the same: The W. Bush Administration’s EPA Director, Christine Todd Whitman, bowed to pressure to say that the Lower Manhattan air was safe to breathe; she and other members of the Bush Administration knew that the air was full of poisonous black mold, asbestos, and glass dust among other contaminants, poisons and irritants.  As the Junior Senator of New York, Hillary Clinton was a consistent advocate for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Joseph Crowley, a Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman from New York, notes that Donald Trump didn’t so much as lobby for financial assistance from Washington after September 11th (which Senators Clinton and Chuck Schumer did to great effect, securing $20 billion in recovery money for New York in late-2001); Trump was too busy buying choice Lower Manhattan properties while the market in that wounded zone of New York City was bottomed-out.

9:00 pm: Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), simply-put, acts as a character witness for Secretary Clinton.  She shouldn’t require one, certainly not with the sulphuric rage that is mustered in the other party, but due to that same party’s prosecutorial talents a character witness is needed, and Senator Boxer is ready and eager to help.

8:55 pm: Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina speaks: “I want my daughters to feel the same feeling I felt 8 years ago when Barack Obama was elected President.”  He recounts a touching encounter his daughter had with the former Secretary of State, in which his daughter insisted that a woman could be President.

8:46 pm: “Hi, I’m Lena Dunham, and according to Donald Trump, I’m probably like a 2.”

“…And I’m America Ferrera, and according to Donald Trump, I’m probably a rapist.”

What follows is a straightforward speech that makes an effective connection between Donald Trump’s callous personal attacks on any and all political opponents and women’s health issues including sexual assault victimization.  Ferrera notes that then-Senator Hillary Clinton won expedited admittance of sexual assault victims to New York hospitals.

8:41 pm: Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, speaks next.  The parties sure are eager to heighten contrasts between them across these 2 weeks…This might seem a banal observation, but there was a time when both major national political parties were trying to appeal to at least some of the same people, and this would have to be evident.  Today, the party conventions seem to be defiant rejoinders to each other on almost every subject of discussion.  The differences between the parties didn’t used to pervade every policy concern, and even almost every reaction to the possible narrative implications of a news item.

Oh, hey, the late Texas Governor Ann Richards is Cecile Richards’ mother.

8:23-8:37 pm: Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland who hanged herself in jail following imprisonment after what seems to have been an unwarranted traffic stop, speaks surrounded by other mothers who have lost a child.  She says she hopes her daughter can speak through her.

The mother of Jordan Davis, “Who was shot and killed for playing loud music,” speaks next.  She describes him as a religious person who discussed God with his mother, and as a boy who wouldn’t have a popsickle in the presence of his friends unless there were enough for everyone.  “I feared that my son’s life would end this way,” she says.

Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, says “I am an unwilling participant in this movement.”  Her son was a 17-year-old boy when he was essentially attacked and then shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman of his gated community.  Martin was the son of his neighbor.  Zimmerman was acquitted of the charge of murder due to the State of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which authorizes the use of violent force against a subjectively-perceived danger so that an individual doesn’t have to retreat from an encounter.  That measure was signed into law over a decade ago by then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush, oddly regarded as a “moderate” in the recent Republican Presidential Primary.

After the assembled bereaved mothers depart the stage, the Democratic delegates begin to chant “Black Lives Matter!  Black Lives Matter!”


Live-Blogging the 2016 Democratic National Convention: Night 1

10:25 pm: Senator Sanders came through for the Democratic Party tonight.  Some of his supporters really were expecting nothing less than a political and economic revolution and may continue to feel disappointed and even betrayed, but there was clearly a lot of trust and even undimmed adulation for the openly-Socialist Senator, and he leveraged that fully but unhurriedly in order to Elmsford Secretary Clinton for President.  He was holding-out to influence the direction of the party as far as he could, and when he came to the end of that process, he said, “Here is the party and here is the candidate you should support.”  He has proved himself to be more-measured and more-statesmanlike than the darkest fears of the “Bernie-or-Bust” movement suggested.  He remains within the fold, and committed to the Democratic Party.

11:19 pm: Senator Sanders notes how his input has transformed the Democratic Party’s platform: It now calls for breaking up the largest banks, institution of a new Glass-Steagall Act, and “opposition to job-killing trade deals like the TPP.”  The first 2 would represent symbolic victories rather than real attainments for a more-equitable and secure financial and economic system; the 3rd platform change actually invites a profound strategic loss and an equally-profound missed economic opportunity.

11:10 pm: Senator Sanders manages to find a lot of reasons to support Secretary Clinton for President–the need for a higher minimum wage, superior labor regulations, a woman’s right of access to safe abortion procedures, gay rights, minority and immigrant rights, and environmental protection.  He gives central mention to overturning the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision.  Secretary Clinton didn’t need Senator Sanders’ influence on the Democratic Party Platform or the Democratic Presidential Primary in order to take that stand, I feel I souks add; she was already there.

11:05 pm: Note the time: Senator Sanders says that he considers it “necessary to elect Hillary Clinton President of the United States.”

11:02 pm: Senator Sanders cites some damming statistics on wealth inequality.  He seems to come close to criticizing President Obama’s leadership on these issues–until he notes that Barack Obama and Joe Biden inherited the worst financial crisis since the start of the Great Depression, and thanks them for filling-in the hole and stopping the rapid sink of the U.S. economy.

11:00 pm: Senator Sanders quotes his statistics on wealth and income inequality: “The richest 10% of Americans command as much wealth as the bottom 90%.”  Time to see if he can stop this cruising freight train before it reaches the yard…

10:56 pm: I can hear an excited female Sanders supporter ullulate for Bernie.

10:50 pm: Bernie Sanders walks out to the podium.  He is met with more than 3 minutes of cheering, crying, and sign-waving from delegates who supported him.  Wow, old White men who say whatever is on their mind command tremendous regard in our political system.

10:45 Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) notes that the Democratic Platform is the most-Progressive the Party has ever passed, which is true.  For perspective, Congressman Ellison is the first Muslim Representative elected to the House.  Ellison notes that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) (who considers himself an alternative standard-carrier for his party) refuses a vote to update the Voting Rights Act.  “Not voting isn’t a protest,” Ellison says with passion, “it’s a surrender.”

10:34 pm: I have to admit, Senator Warren makes the critical economic argument from the Left with an incisiveness and rigor that Senator Sanders never really exhibited in the Democratic Presidential Primary.  She speaks not only in static generalities or about what she would like to do in public policy, but points to legislative opportunities missed, about the intellectual vacuity and moral bankruptcy of the Republican opposition, and with critical insight into the class origins of the American type of racism, specifically in keeping poor Whites undercut economically by slavery in the Antebellum South complacent with a false belief in their status as “Whites.”I have to admit, Senator Warren makes the critical economic argument from the Left with an incisiveness and rigor that Senator Sanders never really exhibited in the Democratic Presidential Primary.  She speaks not only in static generalities or about what she would like to do in public policy, but points to legislative opportunities missed, about the intellectual vacuity and moral bankruptcy of the Republican opposition, and with critical insight into the class origins of the American type of racism, specifically in keeping poor Whites undercut economically by slavery in the Antebellum South complacent with a false belief in their status as “Whites.”Left with an incisiveness and rigor that Senator Sanders never really exhibited in the Democratic Presidential Primary.  She speaks not only in static generalities or about what she would like to do in public policy, but points to legislative opportunities missed, about the intellectual vacuity and moral bankruptcy of the Republican opposition, and with critical insight into the class origins of the American type of racism, specifically in keeping poor Whites undercut economically by slavery in the Antebellum South complacent with a false belief in their status as “Whites.”

10:28 pm: Let this be the image you have of the Bernie-or-Busters at the Democratic National Convention: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) mentions her endorsement of Secretary Clinton, and immediately the angry voices of some men out in the crowd shout, “We want YOU! We want YOU! We want YOU! We want YOU!” You know, just a couple of angry guys in the crowd shouting over a woman while she’s trying to say something.

10:18 pm: Michelle Obama notes that she lives in a house that was built by slaves, and can look out of the window and see her 2 daughters–“2 beautiful, bright young Black women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn,” and expresses gratitude that they will be able to come of age taking it “for granted that a woman can be President of the United States.”  This has been the best speech of the Convention thus far.  Any time the first lady mentioned her daughters was not just touching but disarming, almost subversive in its honesty.

10:15 pm: “I want a President who will teach our country that each and every person matters.”  There is another invocation of the dream of the Founding Fathers, “that we are all created equal.”  There is an admiration for the American tradition here that was absent from the Republican National Convention entirely; I missed it.

10:11 pm: Michelle Obama says what the Convention hall needs to hear: “When (then-Senator Clinton) lost the nomination, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned.  She didn’t pack her bags and go home, because she knows that this is so much bigger than her personal desires…”  There is truly massive applause, I would say the grandest applause of the Convention thus far.

10:05 pm: Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, who was considered controversial by default upon the Presidential candidacy of her husband but is not roundly admired for her capacity for courage, grace, and at times reticence, speaks.  She says she can hardly believe that it has been 8 years since she first spoke at the DNC out in Deme when her husband was still a Senator.  She recalls seeing her young children piling into big black SUVs “with big men with guns” for their protection in transit, and asking herself, “What have we done?”  She notes that her husband’s decision to run for President would now be the formative fact and experience of their daughters’ lives.

9:52 pm: Rhetorical flourishing.  Senator Booker warms-up the crowd for Secretary Clinton, who will accept the Democratic Presidential nomination in 3 days.  Booker speaks of the early Revolutionary War upsets in Massachusetts to remind the assembled delegates that Americans are strivers and achievers by character.  He opened his speech by noting the novelty of America formally declaring its independence in a letter that also declared that all of us are “created equal” and that we possess rights that are inalienable.  Senator Booker loves the story of the Founders, and he loves thinking in historical terms.

He also loves public speaking, which many of the Democrats who have spoken thus far do not.

9:39 pm: “I value the ideal of rugged individualism.  But rugged individualism didn’t beat the British, or put us on the Moon, or build our highways, or map the human genome.”

“We are not called to be a nation of tolerance; we are called to be a nation of love.”

“This is one of my favorite sayings.  It’s an African saying: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.'”

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) is a gifted speaker.  I appreciate seeing Democrats, as this one is right now, speaking with intensity, as if they’re expecting a fight.  Yes, I greatly appreciate what President Obama has done and what he has tried to do, but we seem to have entered into a different political era in 2014, one in which, as David Brooks once put it, “The most-brutal players get to set the rules of the game.”  President Obama will not set the terms or the tone of the era in American politics that is before us now.  Women like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren and men like Cory Booker and, yes, Bernie Sanders could; they seem to welcome the fight foisted on them by what in a more-principled era used to be called “the opposition.”

9:29 pm: “Who cares what the audience wants to hear?  You’ve got something you want to say.”  A stirring tribute video to the late New York Governor Mario Cuomo, father of the current New York Governor and a Liberal icon of the late-20th Century.  George Pataki, a moderate Republican who went on to serve 3 terms, surprised him when he formed a winning suburban-rural coalition in the historic Republican wave year of 1994 to defeat him.

9:21 pm: Also Sarah Silverman, as Bernie-or-Busters grind her endorsement speech to a halt with chanting: “You Bernie-or-Busters are being ridiculous.”  This from a passionate Sanders supporter: Depth and breath of commitment to a candidate for national office often run in opposite directions.  She then notes that she and Senator Franken were asked to stretch for time a bit, so she’s ad-libbing; hah.

9:20 pm: Sarah Silverman: “It’s really exciting to think of Hillary Clinton becoming President.  I mean, she was just a secretary!”  Ahh hah hah hah!

9:02 pm: A brief DNC video plays, showing Donald Trump mocking a reporter with a disability.  The highlight of the short video is definitely New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who debased himself with his own obnoxious comportment during the Republican Presidential Primaries, saying “This is just not the way you behave.  This is not worthy of a man who wants to be President…”  Governor Christie of course endorsed Donald Trump not long after dropping out of the Republican Presidential Primary, an act which in retrospect seems to have raised Trump’s profile in the Primaries greatly but which was met with derision from both Democrats and Republicans for Governor Christie himself, with various references to the latter as both an opportunist and a hostage.

Anastasia Somoza, an international advocate for the disabled, speaks immediately following the video.  “I honestly feel bad for anyone with that much hate in their heart…Donald Trump doesn’t see me, he doesn’t hear me, and he definitely doesn’t speak for me.”

The Liberal Ironist can see that the two parties have become so culturally polarized today that the Republican Party is striving to demonstrate its hardness towards people whom its members believe deserve it, while the Democratic Party is striving to demonstrate that it sees people whom are disenfranchised or marginalized.  I wonder how you make a party that’s running towards hard-heartenedness and a party that’s running towards compassion can communicate with each other on legislative questions.  Will they finally get where they’re going and settle down?

8:52 pm: Senator Al Franken (D-MN) comes out with a great trollish speech in which he assures us that he is qualified to speak about Clinton’s Republican Presidential opponent, owing to his “degree in megalomania studies from Trump University,” where you can take classes “from such models of success as Scott Baio, Mike Tyson, and a life-size cardboard cutout of Donald Trump himself.”  Senator Franken notes that the cardboard cutout of Donald Trump teaches classes at Trump University; this alludes to the facts, as cited in the class-action lawsuit against Donald Trump from some very dissatisfied Trump University in the class-action lawsuit, that enrollees who paid university-level tuition received in compensation a series of seminars in real estate sales given not by Trump’s “hand-picked real estate experts,” but by relatively anonymous employees.  These seminars themselves apparently contained little specialized information.  In short, Trump University took people for tens of thousands of dollars, to Donald Trump’s benefit.

8:48 pm: Senator Gillibrand notes that Secretary Clinton has an impressive record of starting the issues important to the most-vulnerable, including her key role in creating the Child’s Health Insurance Program.

8:47 pm: Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) notes that U.S. “labor laws are stuck in the Mad Men era” to a hoot from among the assembled delegates!  It’s fits to see there are a few Mad Men fans out there.

8:36 pm: Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) speaks.  Donald Trump once said “Outsourcing isn’t always a bad thing.”  Well, it’s not, but I’m fine with Democrats trolling Donald Trump for saying whatever will please his base opportunistically.  It’s remarkable to think that a man who has embraced a number of positions that put him in radical opposition to his own past statements and advocacy (and repeatedly spoken demonstrable untruths in major campaign speeches including his RNC acceptance speech) currently polls ahead of Secretary Clinton, a well-known quantity, on the question of who is an “honest and trustworthy” candidate.

Profit-sharing, an exit tax on corporations that use inversions to reincorporate overseas to avoid taxes, and an investment in high-tech manufacturing employment: With Senator Casey’s short opening night Convention speech, I feel like I’ve already heard more about economic policy particulars than I heard in 4 nights at the Republican National Convention.

Live-Blogging the 2016 Republican National Convention: Night 4

I’m getting an early start of it this evening so as not to miss any of tonight’s distinguished speakers…Apparently, I simply have an appetite for the absurd and the grotesque.

11:30 pm: Hey, Governor Pence finally joined the candidate onstage.

11:25 pm: Trump promises to roll back the “Johnson Amendment, freeing churches to advocate directly in politics without losing their tax-exempt status.  That is a pretty big offer of a special-interest giveback to the Christian Right, which seems to be doing alright in both the funding and the political advocacy departments.

11:24 pm: Donald Trump burnishes his endorsement by the NRA, asserting that he “will defend your right to keep your family safe.”  Actually, both parties defend the 2nd Amendment; Republicans just think that it means that no gun purchasing or carrying regulations whatsoever are ever constitutional or sound, and Democrats don’t think that.

11:14 pm: Trump promises to challenge China’s pegging of the yuan to a low value against the US dollar; he calls China “the greatest currency manipulator of them all!”  Currency “manipulation” is common; states have central banks that allow them to strategically manage their money supplies.  I think it’s unusual, though, for a major-party Presidential candidate to threaten our country’s largest trading partner with sanctions–not least when that country’s government is also our largest creditor.

11:12 pm: Donald Trump vows to punish corporations for moving jobs overseas.  What about corporations that automate jobs?  What about corporations that downsize positions due to reduced revenue?  What is the justifying principle behind this promise, outside of addressing the fears of class disenfranchisement understandably felt by Republican Primary voters?

11:04 pm: Trump, just to review, ticks-off part of the list of Americans killed one way or another by an illegal immigrant.  Literally since Day 1, this Republican National Convention has sought to plant in attendees’ and viewers’ minds the idea that illegal immigrants are a bunch of murderers.  The contrast to a warm and totally-positive introduction by Ivanka makes this speech oddly exactly the same in context as Trump’s now-notorious declaration of candidacy over a year ago.

10:55 pm: Trump looks directly into the camera and notes that the Islamist-inspired Pulse nightclub shooter in Orlando targeted “the LGBTQ community–no good.”  He seems to be defying Conservatives whom are reticent to acknowledge an anti-gay hate crime as a matter of partisan principle.  This is part of his attempt at outreach to a wider national electoral audience; seeing as the crude hostility is still in place, I’m not too worried that Trump can deftly pivot.

10:50 pm: Trump notes the disturbing police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, landing on “I am the law and order candidate.”

Trump says he wants to make America safe again for young people in Baltimore and Chicago as well.  This is the new bait-and-switch of the Republican Party: Black people will be better-off if there is less crime in their communities, and the police prevent crimes and bring justice to criminals, so Black people should shut up about police brutality or lethal police mistakes and sit down.  And yes, this is an old bait-and-switch; it just wasn’t obvious to the rest of us before.

10:46 pm: Donald Trump assures us that only he can fix our corrupt political system.

10:42 pm: A Code Pink protesterhad begun chanting, but she was easily drowned-out by repeated chants of “USA!  USA!  USA!  USA!”  Officers of the Cleveland Police ask her to leave the Convention hall with them; she resists slightly, but is eventually led out of the room.  “How great are the Cleveland Police, huh?” the candidate asks.  I as much as anyone are grateful for the presence of the police at this Convention; Donald Trump doesn’t have to auction-off legal compensation to the supporter who starts beating-down on protesters

10:38 pm: “Americanism not globalism” will be our credo.  The Republican Party has been rechristened as the White nationalist party of America, our very own Front Nationale.

10:32 pm: Mention of Hillary Clinton; the crowd launches into a new round of the chant “Lock her up!  Lock her up!  Lock her up!”  Trump the rich and confortable huckster lets them get it out of their system.

10:28 pm: Donald Trump launches into another story of an illegal immigrant killing someone, in order to showcase his belief that illegal immigrants pose a net danger to American society: a man who was an illegal immigrant murdered a recent college graduate who had a 4.0 GPA.  “Just another life sacrificed (by the Obama Administration on the altar of open borders.”  This really is a monotonous display of xenophobic fear-mongering…and I’m starting to repeat myself.

10:25 pm: Donald Trump raises some alarming statistics about increases in homicides: homicide in our largest cities increased 17% over the past year; the homicide rate has increased about 50% in Washington, DC; the homicide rate has increased over 60% in Baltimore, Maryland.  Has Donald Trump implied that President Obama controls America’s many local police forces from Washington?  That’s not how police or policymaking in America work, Donald.

10:20 pm: Donald Trump immediately brushes aside the substance of her daughter’s introductory speech; he wants to talk about terrorism.  “We can’t afford to be so politically-correct anymore!”  It’s a very hard argument to make, that being more broad-brush in how we seek to label terrorists and terrorist supporters and sympathizers will make us safer or even constitutes a strategy for counterterrorism.

10:18 pm: As Ivanka Trump introduces her father, I am relieved to hear that Donald Trump is momentarily no longer misusing Queen, a band committed to peace and understanding, for his entrances and exits.  But a friend of mine is deeply agitated: “NO…NO. NO. NO. NO.  Trump is using the music from Air Force One. No, **** you.”

“Friends, I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the Presidency of the United States.”  Now, as an ironist, I think I am more-prepared for this absurdity than most of you.

10:12 pm: Ivanka argues that a lack of maternity leave is the great driver of unequal pay for women, and says that her father proposes paid maternity leave as a new labor requirement.  That’s a welcome change coming from a Republican, considering that the United States is on an incredibly short list of countries that don’t provide for paid maternity leave.  This doesn’t change the fact that the prospect of a Trump Presidency is frightening to me, or that Trump won’t fight for this proposal in the face of a miserly Republican Congress.

10:05 pm: Ivanka tells the crowd that Donald Trump taught all of his children character–to never give up, to have compassion for the downtrodden.  She recounts her father pulling stories out of the newspaper about people who are in trouble, so he could think about it later.  I must say, Donald Trump’s children are such an incongruity even compared with most of the Convention-speakers.  So much of the speech projected here has been xenophobic and self-satisfied, and unconcerned about who knows it.  Where do his children, who seem grounded and who constantly attest to his character, fit in?  I don’t think we’ve been too harsh on Trump; it’s a fact that he called Mexican immigrants in general drug smugglers, criminals, and rapists–“and some, I imagine, are good people”–and that he attributed Megyn Kelly’s tough questions for him in a debate to her period–with imagery.  But here are his children, speaking with such warmth and ease, doing more than anyone else to bail him out from his own extraordinary shortcomings as a person.

10:03 pm: “…In his own way, and through sheer force of will, (my father) has sacrificed greatly to run for President, besting a team of 16 talented rivals…”  Ivanka Trump sure loves mythology.

9:54 pm: “Hi, I’m John Voight.  I want to tell you about my friend Donald Trump…”

Stop doing this, John Voight!  You starred in Deliverance!  You should know that tooth, fang, and claw is not the way we were meant to live!

9:38 pm: Tom Barrack, founder of the super-PAC Rebuild America Now, gives a weirdly-gendered speech for a party that doesn’t believe in identity politics.  His opening line after loud applause: “I feel like the anchovie in Ivanka’s Caesar salad!  I know you’re salivating for that; that’s coming…”  I don’t entirely understand what he meant by that, but I shudder to speculate further.

Then Mr. Barrack came up with an unfortunate metaphor: “Donald is like–he’s like an animal in the jungle.  He says, ‘A lion gets up in the morning, and he knows that he has to run faster than the fastest gazelle.  And the gazelle, she knows that she has to run faster than the fastest lion’…”  Are apex predators male and vulnerable herd animals female in this man’s mind?

9:24 pm: Peter Thiel, who funded a lawsuit that brought down Gawker as revenge for that website outing him as a gay man, mocks the Obama Administration: “When I was a boy, the great debate was once how we would beat the Soviet Union.  We won.  Today, there are those who will tell us the great debate is over what bathroom we can use…”  It’s frustrating to see Republicans “get themselves into the room,” them deride anyone else who feels marginalized because of an identity they didn’t “choose” for themselves.  Thiel soon tells us, “I am proud to be gay,” but that wasn’t the case when Gawker exposed his sexual orientation.  He avers, “I don’t agree with everything in my party’s platform,” and then refuses to countenance “divisive culture wars.”  Which party marshalled the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition against women, gays, and “secularists”?  Thiel obviously wants to be accepted in this crowd of bigots; he succeeds, because rigorous application of principle is not a priority at the Republican National Convention.  It’s just a deeply-unflattering picture to get of the angel investor behind Facebook that he wants to be part of a party dedicated to xenophobia and contempt for disenfranchisement.

9:10 pm: Preibus tells us that “Hillary Clinton has mastered the politics of personal gain.”  Secretary Clinton has actually served in elected office before; Donald Trump is a businessman who actually bragged during the Republican Presidential Primary Debates about financing politicians’ campaigns so that they would take his calls.  Last night, one of Donald Trump’s sons told us that his father wanted to run for President because he considered it a challenge; that, to me, was chillingly-shallow.  Now we are told to mistrust Secretary Clinton as a self-seeking politician.

9:08 pm: Republicans again chant “Lock her up!  Lock her up!  Lock her up!” while RNC Chairman Preibus mentions Hillary Clinton’s emails.  This has already been the subject of House investigation, which has cleared the former Secretary of State.  Get ready for the pageant of the next House investigation.  “Lock her up!” is the true chant of this year’s RNC.

9:02 pm: RNC Chairman Reince Preibus comes out to thank Cleveland for hosting their Convention, too thunderous applause.

He tells us that the Democratic Party’s “dirty secret is that they are the party of the same old ideas.”  He tells us that “the Republican Party has the new ideas, we are the party of the grassroots that listens to the people!”  Preibus seems to have confused “ideas which have been kept in the shadows because they are deplorable–racism, rank misogyny, fight-or-flightforeign policy isolationism–for “new” ideas.

8:43 pm: “The person who agrees with you 80% of the time is an ally,” Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin explains to Convention delegates.  One of the things that’s so strange about the Republican Presidential Primary cycle just past is that Republicans have just spent the entire Obama Presidency ousting each other in legislative primaries for ideological deviations that almost qualify for theology, and now the ideologically-obtuse and philosophically unschooled Donald J. Trump just bested a deep bench of ideologically-adroit Republican Presidential hopefuls.  Has the Tea Party movement actually drawn most of its fuel from pure tribalism?  It’s hard to believe that anyone could have supported Donald Trump in the Republican Primaries primarily out of a concern with limited government, yet here he is, just having resoundingly won a Republican Primary cycle with higher turnout than any other in history.

8:35 pm: Congresswoman Blackburn asserts against group grievance without making an argument that racial minorities, women, gays, the poor, the transgender and others don’t face grave personal challenges and abuse–often as individuals–or that they don’t live the issues that one Republican after another have just told them to shut-up about.

8:30 pm: Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a longtime partisan fuxture on cable nightly news shows, tells us that the American people are tired of divisive politics.  This should be good.

She also says, “The American people want someone to take the reins and bring us all together.”  How are we not supposed to interpret that as a call for an authoritarian deliverer?

In the interest of full disclosure: Marsha Blackburn was an early advocate for Donald Trump’s candidacy.

8:21 pm: Donald Trump defied the odds and overcame a 1% chance of being the Republican Presidential nominee, Mr. Mealer tells the crowd with his winning boyish smile.  This reminds me a little of Trump’s son calling him “a boy from Queens,” as if the point of the message is to subvert our judgement intro accepting that Donald Trump is a whiz with the common touch who possesses vision.

What Donald Trump actually is is a testament to how if you inherited $200 million decades ago, you can accomplish anything, even if you don’t exhibit ability, accountability, or effort.

8:19 pm: Brock Mealer, motivational speaker.

8:09 pm: Mark Burns’ speech consists entirely of inveighing against actually addressing issues of racial inequity.  My visiting friend points-out the condescension of reasoning that the Black Lives Matter movement gets its animus primarily from the poverty of Black communities in America, for which the presumed answer is more Capitalism.

8:04 pm: I’m just waiting for it–There it is, the Black minister at the RNC just said that racial issues are divisive and should be ignored.  There they go again.

Now he shouted at the top of his lungs, “ALL LIVES MATTER!”  Convention-goers seem quite happy with a status quo in which routine police shootings of unarmed and uncharged Black men don’t result in disciplinary action.

7:56 pm: Falwell tells us that, towards the end of his life, his father recounted that he dreamed that Chelsea Clinton interviewed him about the 3 greatest threats facing America.  In response, he said “Osama, Obama, and your mama.”

After September 11th, Jerry Falwell told us that God allowed the terrorist attack that killed 3,000 Americans to happen because of gays, Feminists, and Liberals and their power here.  In other words, Falwell and bin Laden both saw Providence in that day of mass murder; then-Illinois Senator Obama and then-Senator Clinton, like most of us, saw only the mass murder.

7:52 pm: Jerry Falwell just compared Donald Trump to the Founding Fathers!  His reasoning is that the Founding Fathers weren’t professionalpoliticians, and they were able to create our durable democratic republic.  It’s worth noting that professional politicians in Revolutionary times were often appointments of King George III.

7:50 pm: Jerry Falwell Jr. strolls out to address the Convention.  The son of the founder of the Moral Majority sounds drunk, a friend of mine remarks.

Hold the phone: Jerry Falwell Jr. just said that “We have never seen a more loving and genuine family” than Donald Trump’s.  That is a troubling statement from a man who professes to minister to many families ostensibly more-Christian in both religion and ethics than the Trumps.

7:35 pm: Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council gives a relatively sedate speech: Christianity is under assault in America.

Perkins stresses the “pragmatic” accommodation that many Conservatives either disturbed by Donald Trump or skeptical of his ideological bona fides: A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for the appointment of Conservative Federal jurists who will protect religious freedom, as they define it.  Think of the courts, they say.

7:19 pm: “Ladies and gentlemen, delegates and alternates, please take your seats.”  The assembled delegates quietly settle into their seats; none of the surliness and raucousness that overtakes the Convention late at night.  I think the angry hostility and general rowdiness that takes over later in the evening is partly an effect of the weariness of the delegates.  But I suppose they feel committed to take ownership of it after the fact…

Live-Blogging the 2016 Republican National Convention: Night 3

11:09 pm: “If you looked at the calendar this morning, you might have noticed something: We are exactly 6 months away from the end of the Obama Presidency…”

6 months left in his term, and I miss President Obama fervently already.

“We like Mike!  We like Mike!  We like Mike!  We like Mike!”  I don’t know who came up with this chant or who got it started–Nice reminiscence of “We like Ike!” in it–but the stagecraft of it at his introductory moment in the midst of a divided party convention is brilliant.  Is Governor Pence being cast as the Jon Snow of the cause of the Right?  He may have been underestimated as a standard-carrier for the Republican Party.

11:04 pm: “…While this election will define the Presidency for the next 4 years, it may define the Supreme Court for the next 40.  Think very carefully–Think very carefully about the consequences this will have for the Constitution…”  Ahh, again, the best appeal Conservatives who can stand Donald Trump have for the Conservatives who can’t: You’re forgetting about the Supreme Court, ya know!  The Democrats are only 1 vote on the highest court away from being able to undermine the cartel-like grip billionaires have on campaign finance in our country…

11:00 pm: Governor Pence just finished a passage in which he referred to the abandonment of many regions of the country due to the oversight of international trade patterns.  I don’t think the current Republican Presidential candidate will ever appear as Presidential (as serious and as substantial, I mean to say) as his running mate does right now.

10:50 pm: Governor Pence says the things that governors usually want to be able to say: We’ve cut taxes and kept Indiana’s budget balanced while also increasing spending on highways, education and health care.  I think a huge number of people, Left as well as Right, as of this speech are already hoping that this man will be the Dick Cheney to Donald Trump’s George W. Bush in the event that that bigoted and obscene blowhard actually wins the election in November.  I suspect they are hoping it, Right as well as Left, more-fervently than they hoped it in the case of George W. Bush, a man who clearly lacked the proper sense of gravity and decision-making style of a good President but who at least had a substantive policy track record as Governor of Texas which you could use as a valid template for his approach to Federal domestic policy, and who wanted to do good.  You can’t say either for Donald Trump.

10:43 pm: “…My running mate brings such enthusiasm to the party, so much charisma…I guess he just wanted to balance the ticket.  Now, for those of you who don’t know me, which is most of you…”  This is going to be a very strange Republican Presidential ticket, just as strange as the Establishment-Conservative, older, august and experienced war veteran Senator John McCain’s choice of soon-to-be populist Tea Party darling Governor Sarah Palin, for whom scrutiny is her eternal bane.

10:38 pm: “My fellow Americans, I could not be more-proud of our candidate for Vice President!”  Haaah ha hah, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) didn’t say anything like that last night, and he doesn’t say it about Donald Trump tonight.  I guess he is vwry carefully avoiding telling any lies while temporizing on the importance of Republican unity.  Ryan’s introduction to his onetime fellow House Conservative and current Indiana Governor Mike Pence is truly enthusiastic; he obviously feels differently about what he’s saying now.

I kinda think that it was Paul Ryan who compelled Donald Trump to nominate as his running mate either Governor Pence or someone like him.  That may have been the price of his grudging, purely pro-forma support.

10:36 pm: Musical interlude: All I can hear now is the refrain towards the end:

“It’s a put-on!/It’s a put-on!/Come to the party/dressed to kill…”

10:27 pm: Speaker Gingrich tells us were losing the War on Terror.  He had ticked-off a list of Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks of just over a month’s time; a slashing on a train in Germany, 84 people killed in Nice, France by a truck driver on Bastille Day, a man who live-streamed his home invasion and killing of a police officer couple in Paris, the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando…He leaves-out quite a few Islamist terrorist attacks in Muslim countries, actually.  Maybe Gingrich was concerned about holding the attention of his audience.

Yes, the former Speaker of the House is taking this in the direction of arguing that the United States cannot afford to accept refugees from Muslim countries.  These terrorist actions weren’t the work of individuals resettled through refugee programs, and refugees settled in the United States as a class have an exemplary record of good behavior, but Donald Trump’s call to bar refugees from Muslim countries from settling in the United States is a fearful reaction that took Republicans by storm, and now needs a justifying principle from an academic type.

You know, going by theme, Speaker Gingrich really should have delivered this speech on Monday night–but then there wouldn’t have been as much room in prime time on that night for accounts of how illegal immigrants commit vehicular manslaughter and racial murder.

10:22 pm: Within 2 minutes of coming onstage at the RNC, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) explains to the assembled delegates that he thinks they didn’t understand something Senator Cruz said in part of his speech.  With the longstanding attack of Conservatives against “Liberal elites in academia,” it’s a wonder to think how a man as professorial as the academic Newt Gingrich could have been such a powerful figure in this party, even a generation ago.

10:00 pm: Next we have taped remarks from Donald Trump’s children.  One of his sons tells us that Trump is running for President because he never runs from a challenge, and that he always wants to do what he’s been told is impossible.  This is such a startlingly shallow reason to run for President that it qualifies for nihilism; given the larger-than-life egoism of the candidate himself, I take the young man at his word.

In live remarks that follow immediately afterwards, one of Trump’s other sons speech has a simple refrain: “My father is running for you.”  Nietzsche once said that a political party is not a favorable environment for critical thinking, but I don’t think he meant that it was a place for political leaders to boldly mock the capacity for reasoning of their own supporters.

9:54 pm: While Senator Cruz speaks about his father’s own immigration story as an exile from Cuba, many of the delegates begin shouting over his speech: “WE WANT TRUMP!  WE WANT TRUMP!  WE WANT TRUMP!”  At some point, the brash Presidential candidate emerges on the convention hall floor and begins shaking hands!  Trump similarly overshadowed Senator Cruz just this afternoon, when he flew low over his onetime Presidential rival while he was speaking to his own supporters in Cleveland.  A consummate showman, Mr. Trump managed to do this just as Cruz told his supporters that the Republican Party has its Presidential candidate.

9:52 pm: Senator Cruz commends the family of Alton Sterling, a Black street merchant who sold CDs in Baton Rouge who was shot multiple times by Baton Rouge Police after being subdued by a squad of them, for calling on protesters to tone-down the rhetoric and protest activity following a mass-shooting of police officers in that city last weekend: There is hesitant applause from some, an icy silence from most.

Senator Cruz commends a Charleston-area Black church congregation’s survivers for forgiving the White supremacist who was invited into one of their prayer meeting only to subsequently shoot and kill 9 of that body’s members; there is Stonegate-more applause from the audience, but still a noticeable silence.

It’s hard not to reach the conclusion that many of the assembled Republican delegates don’t like their Black countrymen on general principle.

9:50 pm: Senator Cruz calls President Obama’s proposal to allow 100,000 Syrian refugees settle in the United States over 3 years after 1-2 years of background vetting each as “letting ISIS terrorists into the United States as refugees!”  There is loud applause from the hall.

9:47 pm: Senator Cruz claims the United Kingdom’s “Leave the European Union” vote in late-June as part of the Conservative populist movement.  If by that, he means he wants to claim an English-speaking country’s decision to listen to right-wing politicians who knew they couldn’t deliver what they promised in order to vote to effectively restrict immigration on terms in which no favorable policy outcome was likely as a result, then yes, I do think that “Brexit” is part of the same Conservative-populist movement as Donald Trump and Senator Cruz.

9:36 pm: It really is remarkable: Senator Cruz can’t speak about any subject without taking the first opportunity to say something dishonest to subvert our judgment.  In speaking of the tragic last morning of Dallas Police officer Michael Smith, who was killed in the line of duty by a radicalized racially-motivated shooter 2 weeks ago, Senator Cruz pulls off a drive-by smear: “He defended the very protesters who mocked him!”  The Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas 2 Thursdays ago was by all accounts a very civil affair, overwhelmingly a protest against police shootings of unarmed or uncharged Black men throughout the rest of the country.  Dallas Police officers took pictures with the protesters in a show of solidarity and sympathy; to Senator Cruz, this is an opportunity to impose a partisan binary: police good, protesters disorderly and disrespectful.  It’s mostly untrue, and it’s really not the point.  It actually obscures the high standard set by the Dallas Police department itself.

9:33 pm: How did Republicans convince Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to deliver a message on Donald Trump’s behalf at all?  It’s still clear that Rubio really despises the man; he gives brief taped remarks.  He says about as little about Trump as he can in a primetime statement.  He argues in favor of a vote for Donald Trump on account of his promises to keep taxes low, to rebuild an underfunded US Armed Forces, and to appoint Conservatives to the Federal Courts.  It’s the best ask for Donald Trump that a Republican could make to a thinking Conservative; to much of the staff of the National Review, for a few, it isn’t enough.  Senator Rubio’s voice is clearly missing the contagious passion that usually distinguishes him as a great public speaker.

9:29 pm: A personal employee of the Trump family–a Black woman–speaks in often-emotional terms about her experience of Donald Trump and the Trump family.  I can’t gainsay her own experience, but it doesn’t change the things Donald Trump has said, the brutish way he has comported himself during the campaign, or his obvious lack of preparedness to be Commander-in-Chiefor to make Federal appointments.

9:20 pm: Governor Walker tells us that “budgets are balanced and responsible” in Wisconsin tody; the University of Wisconsin probably didn’t appreciate the hundreds of millions of dollars shaved from its annual appropriations as an afterthought when the increased revenues Walker predicted would come from his tax cuts completely failed to materialize (See also: Kansas, Louisiana).  Walker, who never finished college, averred, “Professors may have to teach more classes.”

Among social Conservatives, Governor Walker is probably a hero for gutting one of the best-esteemed public research universities in the country.

9:10 pm: Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, the early departure among Republican Presidential hopefuls, assures RNC delegates that the Washington power elite “support Hillary Clinton, because she represents them.”  I’d like to draw every reader’s attention to the fact that, while he was breaking Wisconsin teachers’ unions back in 2011, he returned a phone call from a left-wing Madison radio jockey impersonating billionaire Republicam donor David Koch, and engaged in a very private discussion of his political strategy, right down to explaining why he decided against putting agentsprovocateurs in the crowds of protesting public employees to stir-up trouble with the police.

But remember, Hillary Clinton represents the connected in Washington, not you.

9:06 pm: Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Shale Oil, is the next to speak.  He almost seems to succumb to the disastrous optics of being a rich oil CEO making a stock speech for yet-another rich White man, but he has the good sense to mention that he is a 13th child of poor sharecroppers.

It’s still weird to me that the Republican Party has made a partisan rallying cry out of drilling for oil: Democrats want to do it sometimes, Republicans want to do it all the time and make it a matter of burning passion.

9:05 pm: Pastor Scott was the first Black speaker in prime time at this year’s RNC not to accuse Black political leaders, or Black Lives Matter, or both, of being shams or failing the Black community.  He focused on promoting Neoconservative concepts and legitimizing the entirely-unexperienced Donald Trump as a statesman.  As he struts off the stage, the crowd shouts “USA!  USA!  USA!”

9:00 pm: Darrell Scott, Senior Pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center Ministries, delivers a message of American exexceptionalism.  It’s a plausibly-Christian message, until he accuses Democrats of being embarrassed by patriotism and attacks calls for the United States to act as a more-modest world power.  It was a much-anticipated paradox of American politics, that once it was done colonizing the Republican Party, the Christian Right became colonized by the Republican Party.

8:55 pm: I tune-in to see an Hispanic RNC speaker use the word “mentirosos”–apparently accusing the Democratic Party of lying, and asking hia fellow Hispanic-Americans to “vote para Donald Trump.”  He then calls Secretary of State Hillary Clinton out, saying “You have betrayed the Hispanic community.”  Somehow I don’t think this message of lying and betrayal is going to carry through to a racial community whose political introduction to Donald Trump was in the context of the Mexicans among them being abused of bringing crime, and bringing drugs, and of being rapists.

Live-Blogging the 2016 Republican National Convention: Night 2

10:56 pm: Day 2 of the 2016 Republican National Convention adjourns after a prayer delivered by a Muslim.  This is a pointless gesture; few Muslims if any will forget the suspicion Donald Trump has provoked towards them, few Republican voters will appreciate it, and few truly independent voters will let it influence their perceptions of that man.  Night 2 of the Republican National Convention mostly offered subtle clues of the forced relationship between other elected Republicans–many of them absent from the RNC this year altogether–and their voters’ choice for President.  Being an opposition party may be the condition that allows them all to postpone a reckoning over their own lack of common convictions.

10:53 pm: Ms. Brown just suggested that a President Trump would “shske things up” in Washington and “rebuild our infrastructure.”  It really is grating to hear Republicans promise to achieve needed public policy aims that President Obama has talked about since getting elected but which Republicans have explicitly refused to pay for.  Republicans in Congress even refused to pay for an infrastructure bank.  Apparently a Republican President could pass new infrastructure spending because a Republican Congress would work with him.

I wonder how long Republicans’ honeymoon with President Clinton will last.

10:47 pm: Actress Kimberlin Brown just defended young people not carrying health insurance because they’re healthy.  Yes, this was in the service of an argument against President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.  Meanwhile, most of the assembled RNC audience this evening looks more than old-enough to shout “Keep your government hands off of my Medicare!”

10:42 pm: There is a nice Earth, Wind and Fire musical interlude as security surround yet-another Code Pink protester.

10:40 pm: “I’m proud to support Donald Trump.”  Those words came out of Dr. Carson’s mouth and they settled to be delivered without ambivalence, but they still sound utterly bizarre, like if he were to say that the Old Testament Patriarch Joseph built the Pyramids to store grain or something.

10:38 pm: Dr. Carson attacks Hillary Clinton as a supposed lifelong acolyte of Saul Alinsky.  Booo, boo Saul Alinsky!  An hour ago Hillary Clinton was an insensible representative of the Washington status quo; now she is implicated in anti-government radicalism.

Maybe Dr. Carson isn’t aware that both Governor Palin and Speaker Gingrich used the Saul Alinsky link on Barack Obama and that there’s no evidence it helped in either 2008 or 2012–or maybe Republicans think they need all the vague attack lines they can get this year.

10:37 pm: Dr. Carson appeals to the “Never Trump” Republicans–Conservatives whom are justifiably horrified by both Donald Trump’s character and his policy proposals–with the best appeal to unity that Republicans are going to have this year: A President Clinton would make Federal Court and Supreme Court appointments that would rule on constitutional law for generations, forever changing this country.

10:33 pm: Dr. Ben Carson, a brilliant neurosurgeon who ran a Presidential candidacy that was so Christian-themed that he seemed almost eager to demonstrate how little he knew about Ancient Egypt, takes the stage.

10:22 pm: President Obama has an agenda of higher Federal education funding at all levels, job retraining programs, infrastructure spending and road building, and investments in job-creating new technologies; he has simply been blocked from implementing most of these job-creating initiatives by Congressional Republicans, as part of their protracted strategy to generate anger among the public at the President.  Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) speaks of her fellow Mountain Staters’ desire for a President who will “fight-fight for our jobs”.  It’s sad; her party talks in generalities that do not countenance what the fraying White working class actually needs while President Obama proposes actual policies.  But President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, advocacy of gun control legislation, and executive orders protecting many illegal immigrants, while rationally-designed, have struck at many Conservative symbols of personal security simultaneously.

10:14 pm: Donald Trump Jr. mentions the Benghazi terrorist attack, and his speech is again interrupted by refrains of “Lock her up!  Lock her up!”  I wonder how these constant angry demands to jail the other party’s Presidential candidate will play with the wider public.

10:08 pm: “The American people are smart–they’re street smart.  They don’t necessarily have paper credentials…”  Beginning in 2008, the resentment–the raging inferiority complex that ate away at the spiritual pretensions of the American Right–went from subliminal to overt as anger and dread became the substance of the RNC that year.  The purpose of this speech is a feat of the absurd, to make insecure or vulnerable White Americans who feel invisible identify with Donald Trump.

10:05 pm: Donald Trump’s son calls his father “a boy from New Jersey” who “changed the skyline of New York.”  I get it, I get it, this is the part where the RNC planners try to make us all forget that Donald Trump inherited $200 million, and that he made some staggeringly-bad investments, and that his current wealth of billions says a lot more about how forgiving our current political, legal, and economic arrangements are of the very-rich than they do about Donald Trump’s business acuity.  Donald Trump is not a self-made mean, and he doesn’t have the common touch, just a classic huckster’s instinct.  He isn’t our era’s Pericles; he is our Kleon.

10:04 pm: Donald Trump Jr. assures us that “This is the most-important election of our lifetimes.”  Republicans have said this before, but I think this year it’s…a bit of a gamble to remind voters outside of this Convention hall of how important this election is; the wider public might want to elect someone more…serious.

10:00 pm: It’s 10:00 on Night 2 of the Republican National Convention…The theme of the evening is the economy and jobs…The Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the House, and House Majority Leader have already spoken…Who is on now?  Why, it’s Kerry Woolard, General Manager of Trump Winery.

9:54 pm: Donald Trump’s daughter Tiffany Trump, who just graduated from college, tells us that her father wrote notes of encouragement to her on her report cards.  Also, he was the first phone call she received after learning of the death of someone very close.

9:48 pm: Governor Christie’s speech is interrupted by the chant of “Lock her up!  Lock her up!” the 4th time? the 5th time?  So far, the great catalysts of enthusiasm I can find in the 2016 Republican National Convention involve going about armed, deporting immigrants, building a wall, batting refugees entrance to the United States, and jailing the other party’s Presidential candidate.

I mean, I just want the Trump University plaintiffs to get their day in court…OK, maybe a criminal trial that makes Governor Christie as a conspirator in Bridgegate would have a sweet relish to it after Christie’s many months of bellicosity towards every opponent.

9:39-9:45 pm: Governor Christie does his prosecutorial act, accusing Clinton of delivering Libya to anarchy, protecting Boko Haram in Nigeria, and embracing violence-prone dictators in both Syria and Russia.  Has Governor Christie ever listened to Secretary Clinton talk?  I have to say, I’d just be embarrassed to be delivering the speech he’s giving right now.

9:37 pm: Governor Christie mentions Secretary Hillary Clinton, and the Convention breaks-out into an apparently spontaneous chant of “Lock her up!  Lock her up!”  I just find this Republican mainstreaming of labeling any public figure they oppose a criminal so endearing…

Governor Christie looks uncomfortable, shy, during this chant.  No, really, he does.  It was probably a mistake when he used his Port Authority connections to shut-down George Washington Bridge access during several weekdays in September 2013 to take petty revenge against a Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee who refused to endorse him for re-election; he’s apparently a fugitive from his own sense of irony now.

9:36 pm: Scandal-dogged New Jersey Governor Chris Christie takes the stage.  I missed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)’s speech somehow; that’s funny, I watched it…

9:30 pm: “…What do yout say we unify this party?”  Speaker Ryan exhibits uncharacteristic temerity in making an appeal to party unity after delivering the speech he just gave.  He talked at length and with great enthusiasm about a smaller Federal Government, popular sovereignty and free market-driven prosperity.  This isn’t the message that won this year’s Republican Presidential Primary with an unprecedented number of votes.  Republicans like Speaker Ryan and Democrats respect him, but his agenda clashes radically with his party’s Presidential candidate.  Republicans nationwide nominated Donald Trump; no one outside of rural and exurban southwestern Wisconsin has ever voted for Paul Ryan.  Can he make a serious appeal to party unity on terms he can accept?

9:24 pm: Speaker Ryan’s speech made a nominal reference to Donald Trump becoming President, but has now moved-on to invoking Ronald Reagan.  This is the first clear example I’ve seen of what pundits have said they expect from this year’s RNC: Such Establishment Republicans as are willing to compromise themselves by supporting Donald Trump will use their prime time speech time to talk-up their own agenda.  Donald Trump just wants to be President; if he were actually to get elected, Paul Ryan would still at least nominally have the House of Representatives.

9:19 pm: “You know, all of this has a familiar ring to it.  Students of trivia will recall that, once upon a time, I was this party’s nominee for Vice President.”  House Speaker Paul Ryan jokes about having moved on to other things.  “I’ve found some things to keep me busy…”  Ryan’s speech is a little too self-conscious.  “Have we had our disagreements?  Yes, we have.  Do you know what I call that?  Signs of life!”  Yes, Donald Trump and “Low-Energy Jeb,” “Little Rubio,” “Lyin’ Ted” and the minor tragedy of Marco Rubio–the Great Communicator of the Right, a possible bridge figure between the Tea Party and Hispanic Americans reduced to making fun of Donald Trump’s hands–these are the signs of vitalizing frictions within the Republican Party!

9:13 pm: Senator McConnell refers to the “cynicism” of Congressional Democrats.  He mentions a Senate bill to combat the mosquitos carrying the zika virus and a Defense spending bill that were both recently blocked by Democrats in the Senate.  “What in the world do these people think public service is about?”  What he doesn’t say is that those bills were coupled with a measure defunding Planned Parenthood, and that the point of drafting those bills was to get Senate Democrats to vote against them.  It takes an extraordinary cynicism indeed to make your own hypocrisy the core of your strategy.

9:09 pm: “Say what you will about Barack Obama, he never his the fact that he wanted to move the country to the far-Left…”  Ah yes, the Senate Majority Leader takes-on the ungainly burden of explaining to a sea of amassed true believers why, upon closer inspection, not the election of Barack Obama but Hillary Clinton, already a known quality, would mark the end of Western civilization.

9:08 pm: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) takes the stage, to a surprising volley of boos and jeers.  He’s going to make his case for the election of Donald Trump…Get ready to schadenfreude!

9:00 pm: Natalie Gulbis, a professional golfer and founder of a boys’ and girls’ club, is the next speaker.  Her personal testimonial of Donald Trump as a source of counsel and support in encouraging her to think of herself as a businessman is well-delivered; it’s a rare speech at this Convention in being positive and dealing with Donald Trump’s character in ways that are not vague.  It doesn’t change the fact that Trump attributed tough primary debate questions from FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly to her being on her period, or that he attacked fellow Republican Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina by making fun of her face, and tried to make-up with her in public by…complimenting her looks.

8:58 pm: “A Hillary Clinton Supreme Court means your right to own a firearm is gone.”  I just tuned-in, and already there is senseless hyperbole.  When exactly did it become the almost universally-held position among Republican politicians and activists that any proposal of a gun control regulation whatsoever constituted evidence of a plan to seize every American’s guns?

Live-Blogging the 2016 Republican National Convention: Night 1

Absurdism of the Night Winner: Former New York Mayor and Time Magazine Person of the Year Rudolph Giuliani:

“I am sick and tired of the defamation of Donald Trump by the media and by the Hillary Clinton campaign! He is a good man!”

11:41 pm: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus calls on the assembled delegates who haven’t gone to bed to adjourn the RNC for the night on a voice vote; some maniacs who do not sleep actually shout “No!”

I remember watching the 2000 RNC that formally nominated George W. Bush, himself an illiberal theologian of a President.  I remember my incredulousness at the thought that so many people could believe that Republicans in Washington were “going to leave no child behind” just because that was the span they were repeating, or that a Republican Party that was lily-White in the aisles actually championed diversity because it had so many Black, Hispanic, and Asian prime time speakers to showcase.  Just a dash of skepticism towards the RNC’s intent made their cynicism plain to see.

But at least then, Republicans were actually trying to have a bigger tent.  At least then, their ideals were not cruel–as they are now.  At least in 2000, as theocratic and anti-intellectual and partisan and as clueless about the rest of the World as so much opinion within the Republican party was straying, at least then they still had a sense of shame.

Today the Republican Party has realigned itself entirely on religious fanaticism, ignorance, fear, and resentment.  Today the Liberal Ironist, believing that meaning is a human creation meant to serve our purposes and not the other way around, and who believes that the purpose of politics is to make society less-dangerous and less-cruel for all of us–just hopes that the Republican Party collapses.

11:26 pm: “Lock her up!  Yeah!  That’s right.”  I’ve just heard the 2nd veteran in an hour say that Secretary Clinton should go to prison over the Benghazi terrorist attack.  As Lieutenant General Flynn, the first of those speakers, said, “Unbelievable!”  As the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, General Flynn should know that well over a dozen terrorist attacks as deadly as Benghazi occurred at our embassies and consulates while George W. Bush was President; does he think that anyone from the Bush Administration should go to prison?

11:22 pm: “With Hillary Clinton, it’s always about her.  This should be all about you!  Donald Trump cares about you!”  Senator Ernst makes an utterly bizarre claim, telling the assembled delegates of the Republican National Convention that Secretary Clinton, who once popularized the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” is the true egomaniac of the 2016 Presidential Election, while Donald Trump, whose Trump University class-action fraud lawsuit charges that he took its enrollees for tens of thousands of dollars each to give them a trite real estate sales seminar, is the Presidential candidate who thinks about us little people.

11:11 pm: Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) recalls her experience as an American exchange student in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, where Ukrainian farmers asked her what it was like to live in a free country.  This inspired her to serve in the military; she was part of a convoy that traveled between Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Last fall, Senator Ernst retired from the Iowa National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Yes, all of this is a preamble to a speech without any facts or specifics that asserts in so many words that President Obama–and prospectively a President Hillary Clinton–literally allows terrorists entry into the United States, while Donald Trump will defeat the terrorists (with a combination of political incorrectness and torture, I guess).

11:06 pm: If I understand General Flynn correctly, if our head-of-state uses coarser language and conducts a less-articulate foreign policy, this will return America from its current metaphysical state of “unsafe” to the state, lost 8 years ago, of “safe.”  Well, I can see why Donald Trump would want the endorsement of a general willing to make such a strained argument on his behalf.

10:59 pm: General Flynn tells us that President Obama “concealed the actions of Osama bin Laden”–actually, he had that terrorist rabble-rouser unceremoniously killed and his body dumped in the ocean–and “concealed the role of Iran in the rise of radical Islam.”  Is General Flynn claiming that Iran was instrumental in the rise of the fanatically anti-Shi’a Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State?  If that is what he means, he really should share this bombshell revelation.  Maybe this insight is part of Donald Trump’s secret plan to fight the terrorists, and we presumably have to elect him to find out what the plan is because right now it’s a secret.

How does a U.S. Lieutenant General who thinks that Donald Trump is more-fit to be Commander-in-Chief than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even exist?

10:54 pm: “I am infuriated when our President bans criticism of our enemies!”  The Liberal Ironist is infuriated when partisan critics of President Obama make-up vague nonsense like that.  I know many people,  as you probably do, who don’t just criticize but deride the foolishness of America’s enemies and adversaries with relish.  The crowd in the RNC convention hall seems to eat this concept up, though.

10:45 pm: “Our new American Century does not risk its future on political correctness”–Yeah, that’s the Republican Party at its core–“or on senseless hyperbole.”  What?  You are a Republican, right?

Half a minute later, Lieutenant General Flynn tells us that under the Obama Administration, America is now in jeopardy!  Alright, clearly we are not putting senseless hyperbole out-of-bounds.

The General also quotes President Reagan: “If America losses is freedom, there is nowhere to escape to.”  He tells us that this is the theater of freedom’s last stand.  There are so many species of this belief on the Right, from the fundamentalist Christian to the emphatically Libertarian.  It’s a minimal binding element for the Republican coalition, like the Right’s glossy obsession with political correctness.

Political correctness is the next subject General Flynn talks about.  The General has a lot to say about rhetoric in general.  Does he really think that blunter language will help us cultivate a more-effective national security strategy?

10:41 pm: Melania Trump has been the best Convention speaker in prime time tonight, Mayor Giuliani included.

10:39 pm: Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, speaks next.

Did he just call Melania “hot”?

10:37 pm: Melania’s speech is a propspective First Lady’s speech.  Its conventionalism for that purpose is the most-noteworthy quality about it.

10:31 pm: Her husband Donald’s avant-garde right-wing populist campaign aside, Melania Trump still has to meet conventional expectations for the public bearing of a First Lady; having said that, her speech really characterizes her as being too good (or at least too well-intentioned) to occupy this Convention stage in tonight’s lineup of speakers.

10:20 pm: Donald Trump swaggers onto the stage, that he may better introduce his wife Melania to all of us so that she can introduce him to us.  “We Are the Champions” sears over the loudspeakers in the Convention hall.  Queen–an ecumenical band led by a gay man who lived between worlds and wrote many songs about the marginal finding themselves or celebrating the free pleasures in life–has no place at any Donald Trump function.  They should instead use the latter half of the Wall–the part where the eponymous isolated rocker Pink Floyd experiences a mental breakdown and incites a White race riot.

10:05 pm: Mayor Giuliani, who distinguished himself in his brave response to the September 11th terrorist attacks but who engendered controversy in his unqualified defense of police officers who shot unarmed Black men–New York City is, after all, ahead of the curve when it comes to social controversy–speaks very loudly in defense of both law enforcement and the idea of One America.

The audience almost seems in stunned silence as Mayor Giuliani accepts that police officers who shoot people in an altercation without justification should be prosecuted for it.  He accepts the need to hold police officers who commit unjustified homicide to account through the justice system in theory, just not in practice.

Mayor Giuliani rouses the Convention crowd by insisting on the importance to our national security strategy of using the term “Islamic terrorism”.  He mocks President Obama for supposedly minimizing the San Bernardino shooting as “workplace violence,” and musters the anger of the crowd against Secretary Clinton by noting that she downplayed the terrorist plot against our Foreign Service personnel in Benghazi in 2012.

Our intelligence services requested that both President Obama and Secretary Clinton downplay our knowledge of the terrorist organization responsible due to an ongoing investigation into the group, but hey, the Republicans need something to run on this year.

9:59 pm: “The United States admits 1.1 million immigrants a year–more than any other nation on Earth.  Most of these are wonderful additions to our country.”  Applause is very muted as Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) avers that much of our annual immigration is a plus to our country–but in fairness, Senator Sessions doesn’t really believe that.  He closes his speech by reminding the crowd that the President has the power to restrict even legal immigration, which I know is a dream of Senator Sessions’.

The Shade of Calvin Coolidge walks the Convention floor.

9:50 pm: As Senator Cotton utters his Neoconservative nonsense–If it were at all within Senator Cotton’s power, Iran would now be close to a nuclear weapon simply because he opposed an oversight agreement with Iran on general principle–the Liberal Ironist is reminded that Senator Cotton learned nothing at all from the humiliating reversals of the W. Bush years, but that President Obama learned lessons that he gave to much weight in his thinking.  The violence and disorder of the Syrian Civil War and the terror of the Islamic State are an effect of am excessive risk-aversion that doesn’t see an intelligible choice–and moral responsibility–in the effects of doing nothing as a country collapses.

This doesn’t mean that Senator Cotton’s Neoconservatism is anything other than an ill-timed political curio.  Republicans today have a weird fight-and-flight reactive temperament towards international politics.  It isn’t an approach to international political issues so much as a reaction to President Obama.

9:47 pm: Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)’s dull, Neoconservative face.

9:39 pm: “Where are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?  They don’t speak for Black America, and they don’t speak for me!” Darryl Glenn, a Republican local official who is running for Senate, refrains.  Yes, another Black speaker onstage to tell the assembled White crowd in Cleveland that their self-assurance that there is nothing to see in racial politics is correct.  “And I think someone with more than just a little tan should be the one to say it: Blue lives matter!”  A Black American making the argument that Black Americans don’t need a movement, the police do: It’s RNC season in Cleveland.

Mr. Glenn ends with a request of support for his Senate campaign against Michael Bennett out in Colorado; he speaks well, but I think Donald Trump got the better end of the deal in his primetime Convention appearance.  I wonder if Mr. Glenn believes the things he is saying tonight.

9:26 pm: David Clarke, the Milwaukee County Sheriff, loudly proclaims that “Blue lives matter!”  Sheriff Clarke is Black.  The Liberal Ironist has no problem with the “Blue lives matter” refrain, or the idea that police in America deserve our respect and support during a time of heightened scrutiny–though that concurrence will not extend to the removal of that scrutiny–but I note a certain cynicism in using one Black speaker to say that Barack Obama doesn’t care and that the Black Lives Matter movement is bankrupt on President Obama’s account, and using the next to say that America’s police are more-vulnerable than Black Americans who have a shorter life expectancy in part because of violent crime.  Sheriff Clarke even links the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements to violence and lawbreaking, suggesting that protesting our country’s yawning wealth inequality and the exposure of the vast rate at which Black men die at the hands of police officers is what’s fraying the American social contact, rather than the undeniable existence of those conditions themselves.

9:14 pm-9:24 pm: Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), who amusingly is at best a mediocre speaker on a night where people who stumble over their words figure prominently in prime time, argues that Hillary Clinton is responsible for President Obama’s withdrawal of our Armed Forces from Iraq, and President Obama’s and Secretary Clinton’s feigned ignorance that the September 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack emboldened terrorists.  It’s always been odd to me that a party that readily accepts the evil and nihilism inherent in terrorism actually think that what they idiosyncratically define as gestures of weakness actually influence their aims or intent.

Anyway, this Convention sure has its essential elements on full display: The theme of this Republican National Convention is fear.

9:11 pm: The previous speaker, the second mother whose son was a victim of vehicular manslaughter at the hands of “an illegal”–an “illegal alien,” no less, was evidently foreign-born; the next speaker is a Black man.  He has a vivid and admittedly disturbing account–alright, they’re all undeniably disturbing anecdotes–of his son’s racially-motivated murder by an illegal immigrant.  In a weird, strained attempt at irony, the speaker argues that Obama doesn’t care and that Black lives don’t matter because President Obama won’t keep the illegals out.  References to the “Wall” being built make appearances throughout.

I’d really like for one of these speakers to be able to speak about one of the millions of immigrants who happen to be in the country illegally without an immediate reference to manslaughter or homicide.  It would show a modicum of diversity of views.

9:08 pm: Another woman speaks about the loss of her son due to “an illegal immigrant–I call them illegal aliens” driving under the influence of alcohol.  She recounts the misdemeanors the illegal immigrant in question received both before and consequent to her son’s manslaughter death–this latter mention is meet by incredulous cries from the crowd.

Referring to illegal immigrants as “aliens” has been aright-wingcalling card at least since Lou Dobbs was on CNN, but now the use of a term that seems contrived to imply that millions of people resident in the country are not human is greeted as a badge of courage by the speaker.  It’s strange times in Cleveland.

9:00 pm: Tuning-in shortly before 9:00 pm, I see a Convention video decrying the plague of crime supposedly brought to the United States by illegal immigrants.  News video clips playing during the video contain TV journalists’ references to violent crime along with the somewhat dehumanizing term “illegals.”  This is my first exposure to this year’s Republican National Convention.  After the introductory video, a pair of siblings speak to the assembled Convention by a recorded video in which they tell the story of their brother, a Border Patrol officer who was killed by an “illegal.”

Shortly after this, a woman speaks in person at the Convention to recount the death of her son, a police officer, in a car accident involving “an illegal.”  The crowd seems to be lapping this up; do these people realize that most of the 11 million immigrants currently in the United States illegally haven’t killed anyone and aren’t going to?

Live-Blogging the April 14, 2016 CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate in New York

10:51 pm: Senator Sanders answers the question of whether Secretary Clinton has greater credibility for the campaigning she has done in support of Democratic candidates very well.  First, he corrects the record: He has done a lot to support Democratic campaigns, it’s just less-visible than the kinds of campaign appearances Clinton has made on behalf of Democrats.  Finally, he shifts the conversation to the kind of Democratic Party he hopes to build, one in which organized moneyed interests won’t determine its candidates.

10:48 pm: Senator Sanders has said that President Obama should withdraw Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland because he hasn’t pledged to overturn Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission.  Judge Garland hasn’t made that commitment because he is a judge, and because he actually intends to be confirmed by a Republican Senate.

10:31 pm: One thing to consider about the debate over Israel: The Liberal Ironist prefers 2 States; the far-Right in both Israel and the Palestinian Territories does not, because they want the other nation to be driven-out of their land or suppressed.  Senator Sanders is willing to criticize Israel’s awful Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu; Secretary Clinton is not.  Secretary Clinton will view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the prism of a Realist; Senator Sanders will pressure Israeli governments to change policy.

Without pressure from a U.S. President on Israel, the Liberal Ironist sees no way that the hardships faced by the Palestinians will be lessened.  The debate over this subject goes to Sanders almost by default.

10:19 pm-10:31 pm: Hearing Senator Sanders call Israel’s counteroffensives against Palestinian militants disproportional in its harm to Palestinian civilian life and Secretary Clinton remind the audience that Arafat walked away from peace in 2000 (he did) and that Hamas responded to Sharon’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal with more violence against Israel (which they did) just goes to show that part of the reason this conflict is so intractable is that separate perspectives don’t even address each other’s points.

Secretary Clinton’s criticisms of Palestinian leadership were more-rigorous; they also didn’t say anything about the past 10 years.

10:17 pm: Listening to Secretary Clinton start-out the NATO question by affirming her commitment to NATO, agreeing with the idea of asking other NATO members to make a larger budgetary commitment to the military alliance, but ultimately warns against threatening to walk away from the alliance if European states don’t contribute a larger share of funding to its maintenance.  Every part of her answer suggested greater appreciation of NATO and more cognizance of the basic foreign policy issues pertinent to North Atlantic security.

In these days of Russian tin-horn revanchist expeditions, neither Democratic candidate suggests that NATO isn’t needed.  Good.

10:15 pm: Senator Sanders wants our European NATO allies to shoulder more of the military expenditures needed to maintain the military alliance.  Apparently he is unfamiliar with the “Prisoners’ Dilemma,” and why it’s so problematic to ask for higher costs on members of a cooperative venture.

9:39 pm-10:14 pm: Ugh, I’ll fill this in later.

9:38 pm: Secretary Clinton is on the attack again, criticizing Senator Sanders for voting for indemnification for gun manufacturers against lawsuits.  (Senator Sanders later gets another sensationalist question from a CNN moderator that asks him if he owes a bereft Newtown mother an apology for the shooting death of her child; he doesn’t directly address the question, which leads to a lot of booing.  It’s a dumb question, much dumber than Secretary Clinton criticizing Sanders’ vote to indemnify gun manufacturers against lawsuits.)

9:35 pm: Senator Sanders calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage.  I find it chilling that Sanders hasn’t in any way considered the possibility that committing to more than double the national minimum wage would eliminate so many jobs that it would reduce total income.  He seems to ride a tide of going further than the rest of the Democratic Party and getting credibility for standing alone and never have to think through some policy consequences…I daresay it’s a bit Cruzesque.

9:30 pm: Pandemonium.  Both candidates are shouting–but unlike a Republican Primary Debate this year, they are actually shouting about policy and philosophical differences and not simply belittling each other. Even at their worst, the Democratic debates are better.

9:15 pm: Secretary Clinton actually gets a question from a CNN moderator about why she hasn’t released the transcript of her paid speech to Goldman Sachs.  CNN continues to lead the media race to carry-on a solipsistic soliloquy about how people might feel about a candidate’s response to a question where no one has yet clarified exactly what the relevant issue is.

The Liberal Ironist continues to appreciate Senator Sanders’ Leftist curmudgeonism as a net positive in this primary, but along with the substantive scrutiny he has brought to the issue, Senator Sanders has brought conspiratorial insinuations that accepting campaign donations disqualifies a Democratic Presidential candidate.  (Every Democrat who might run for President except for Senator Sanders, who is not a Democrat, is not a real Democrat?)  This allows Senator Sanders to campaign on innuendo and allegation, rather than actually explain why he would be a better executive by reference to examples and fact.

9:10 pm: Senator Sanders gets a question about whether it can be demonstrated that campaign donations from the financial sector have ever influenced her vote on any bill before the U.S. Senate.  After a rambling response, Secretary Clinton responds, “Well, Senator Sanders didn’t provide any examples of campaign donations influencing my vote, because there aren’t any.”  Applause.

9:07 pm: Secretary Clinton really is a better debater than Senator Sanders.  She digs in in response to Wolf Blitzer’s question to Sanders about his angry claim that Secretary Clinton was “not qualified” to be President; she burnishes her record as the twice-elected junior Senator of New York–a point which goes over well–and says in response to Sanders’ previous put-down that “I’ve been called a lot of things, but never that.”  Clinton reminds the audience that President Obama trusted her judgment enough to appoint her Secretary of State!  She isn’t just a stronger debater on points, but she’s also a more-bellicose debater; she doubles-down on attacking Sander’s qualifications to be President!  She refers to Sanders’ rather embarrassing Daily News interview, in which he seemed to be thinking out loud without an abundance of rigor about questions on foreign policy and even on systemic risk issues involving the largest banks.

Sanders’ response is angry (which is understandable), but he attacks Clinton on her Iraq War vote again.  We know she voted for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.  We also know that Senator Sanders doesn’t like super-PACs.  It’s impressive as a way of proving his accountability to the average voter that he has managed to fund his campaign through small donors, but Clinton fires back compellingly, noting that President Obama organized a super-PAC (Do not insult President Obama before this audience) and she says that “A President has to have the ‘judgment’ (read: knowledge) on Day 1!”

 9:06 pm: “Does  Secretary Clinton possess the experience and intelligence required to be President?  Of course she does.”  Thanks, Bernie, I guess we can go home now.