I gave platelets yesterday. So should you…

red cross

Or maybe you could just give whole blood, which instead of taking a couple of hours can take as little as five minutes.

YOU could do that. It’s too late for me. Sometime during the first hour of my platelet donation last night, I mentioned that maybe next time, I would do whole blood instead of platelets.

“No, no, no, no, no!” said the nice lady attending me. “We need people to convert from whole blood to platelets, not from platelets to whole blood.”

Sigh. But maybe you can get away with it. Make an appointment, and give. If you can’t figure out how from this website, let me know and I’ll get you set up.

By the way, I don’t know about my donation last night, but I got this advisory concerning my last donation a few weeks back:

Thank you for being an American Red Cross platelet donor. Your platelets may be a lifesaving gift to patients in need, including cancer and trauma patients, individuals undergoing major surgeries, patients with blood disorders and premature babies.

After first ensuring local needs were met, your donation on 6/28/2016 was sent to University Of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC and Hospital de Veteranos in San Juan, PR to help patients in need. Your donations are on their way to change lives!…

Cool, huh?

Here’s what I mean when I say I’m a ‘centrist’

I’m trying to blog smarter by converting long comments into separate posts. Here’s the latest.

In this case, I had — in the interest of using words economically — referred to myself as a “centrist,” as I frequently do. Both Bud and Harry Harris took exception to the reference.

I replied

Dang, dang, dang! I wrote this somewhat involved, extremely insightful comment a little while ago on my iPad, and lost wifi in the middle of saving it. Let me see if I can reconstruct…

Of course I’m a centrist, to the point that the term has meaning (more on that in a second). I’m an adherent of the postwar governing consensus, the area that Clinton and Blair tried to get us back to in the 90s. I disagree with those who would pull us way from it.

That said, “left,” “right” and “center” are fairly silly terms. I really don’t HAVE a comfortable place on the artificial left-right continuum, and trying to place me, or anyone who THINKS about issues rather than buying them off the shelf prepackaged, on that line can present problems. But since I’m not “left” or “right,” “center” is a convenient term to use.

It’s also convenient because I am for CORE values, not those on the fringes. Here’s what I mean by that…

Government is about solving problems together, or at least efficiently providing those basic functions that we have general agreement government should handle. So I’m interested in areas where the parties overlap, not the areas where they pull away from consensus. We need to identify and build upon those areas where we can work together. And if we get good enough at that, maybe we can branch out to some of the tough subjects.

For that reason, I generally don’t like dealing with Culture War stuff, and get upset when it looks like an election is going to be about such things. Bud says, for instance, he assumes I “still advocate” for traditional marriage. I wasn’t aware I HAD been advocating on that subject. At all. He also mentioned Blue Laws. At one point some years back I made a gentle, passing reference to the fact that opposition to blue laws is one of the sillier overinterpretations of the 1st Amendment’s Establishment clause. Having a sensible agreement to have a day without commerce and hustle-bustle is hardly thrusting a particular form of religion on anyone. It’s just a gesture to basic human sanity. And I say that whenever Doug and Bud bring it up, which they do a LOT, because such a sensible suggestion is DEEPLY offensive to their libertarian reflexes. But I can’t recall advocating or campaigning for such. The most I’ve said is that it’s a shame to see such a life-calming custom go away.

Seriously, when I start campaigning for something, everyone can tell. (See: Confederate flag.)

But back to my point — I don’t see it as productive to invest a lot of political capital in those things, because the fights over them drive us apart and make it harder to agree on the things that should be easy.

The problem these days is that the parties and associated interest groups have polarized us so much that the area of consensus has gotten smaller and smaller.

Bud thinks this is a GREAT year. Well, in a couple of ways it is, but not the ways he thinks.

First, among thoughtful, informed participants and observers, there’s a greater willingness to step out from the stupid left-right, Democratic-Republican dichotomy and consider candidates on their merits. Once people do that, you see the Bushes (whom Bud despises so much), Graham, Sasse, Romney, et al., distancing themselves from Trump or opposing him outright. The latest encouraging manifestation of that is Meg Whitman declaring for Hillary, and the formation of a PAC to encourage Republicans to vote for the lesser of two weevils.

Sure, there are still plenty of Republicans out there who think this is a normal, left-v.-right election and anyone who would support anyone but Trump is a liberal Democrat and therefore the enemy. But I prefer to celebrate the people out there who GET IT.

Also, with Trump as their standard-bearer the GOP has so abandoned the flag-and-country ground that the Democrats were able to co-opt it and position themselves as the party of traditional patriotism last week. In other words, the Dems celebrated the things that used to unite us all, rather than just concentrating on differences (the usual Identity Politics and class warfare stuff).

Of course, this deeply offended the centrifugal forces of our politics, who want to see us fly apart. For instance, Gen. Allen’s speech offended both the military-hating portions of the left and the Democrat-hating elements on the right.

But these are positive developments, to a “centrist” like me…

allen

‘Smoke-filled rooms’ would have been a blessing in 2016

smoke-filled-room-02

On a previous post, one of our regulars (Bart) made a reference to “smoke filled room politics” that was, as usual when the phrase comes up, somewhat disparaging.

I’m going to run against the grain here, although I’m not claiming this as an original thought by a long shot…

This is the year in which we could have used some “smoke-filled-room politics.” We wouldn’t have been in nearly the fix we are in.

First, we absolutely would not have Trump as the GOP nominee. It would never have come even close to happening. Nor would Cruz have ever been a possibility. Had GOP leaders been able to meet behind closed doors and choose the nominee, we’d have ended up with Jeb or maybe, if the party elders had wanted to be bold and reach out to a new generation, Rubio. Or if they’d deadlocked and we got really lucky, John Kasich.

Kasich. That would have been great. And Jeb or even Rubio wouldn’t have been bad at all. Nightmare averted.

The difference on the Democratic side wouldn’t have been nearly as dramatic. Hillary would still have been the nominee (unless the leaders, worried about her baggage, had prevailed upon Joe Biden to accept their nod). But… and this is not a difference to sneeze at… Bernie would never have been a factor, even for an instant. Most of us would probably still not know his name, unless we were into trivia. And the impact of that? Hillary would not have been pulled to the left, and she’d be running a far more solid, viable general election campaign reminiscent of her husband’s embrace of the Third Way in the 90s.

So we’d be better off all around. We wouldn’t be staring into a black hole of despair on the Republican side, and the Democratic candidate would be more appealing to a broader swath of the country.

But perhaps you disagree…

What would you do if Trump won (and money was no object)?

Curl up into a fetal position until it's all over?

Curl up into a fetal position until it’s all over?

After Columbia hosted the Preppers expo over the weekend, this might be a good time to raise the question, “What would you do if Trump won?”

  1. Leave the country?
  2. Start a resistance movement?
  3. Curl up into a fetal position until it’s all over?

The standard answer, of course, is the first one. And that’s the one I propose to discuss.

I’ve thought about it.

But personally, I would not be able to seriously consider leaving the country. I couldn’t afford it, and all my family is here. But say those weren’t obstacles. What if I were, say, a billionaire (which would make Bernie Sanders hate me, but I could live with that) and could just buy a nice island and move all my family and friends there with me?

Would I do that?

I don’t think I would. I’m not trying to make myself out to be noble or anything, but I couldn’t abandon my country that way. I could maybe do something like that, at least for a time, if everything was fine back home. As a sort of extended vacation. But if the political order is collapsing? I don’t think I’m that big of a rat.

I realize there’s very little I would be able do to affect events by staying, but I would have to stay on the distant hope that I could do something by being here, even if it’s just as one voice among the millions. Even if it’s just my little blog, crying in the wilderness.

Also, Trump’s election would be a disaster for the whole world, perhaps every bit as much as for this country. Having someone like that with that kind of power would be extraordinarily dangerous internationally. And I’m not just talking about the possibility of war. He is so ignorant and willful he would wreak all sorts of havoc in all sorts of areas — think, just for one example, of his plan to “renegotiate” U.S. debt, throwing out the full faith and credit of our nation, upon which so much of the international financial order depends.

I couldn’t make like Prince Prospero in Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” walling myself off from the collapse of the world around me. It would be wrong. And besides, I don’t think it would work any better than in Poe’s version. “No man is an island” isn’t just something I say to bother the libertarians; I see it as a fundamental truth defining reality.

Here’s hoping we never have to find out, but what would you do?

Open Thread for Monday, August 1, 2016

nyt front

I’m back from vacation, although I’m still stubbornly refusing to shave. Here’s what we have today:

  1. Obama goes after Trump: ‘I’m tired of folks trash-talking America’s military’ — Don’t you love the way Trump’s GOP has ceded the rah-rah flag-waving stuff — normally their forte — to the Democrats? I love me some irony, and this is Grade A. Oh, and the criticism from Republicans that I wrote about this morning is currently leading the NYT (see above).
  2. Pope Francis Says It Is Wrong To Identify Islam With Violence — Just so you know…
  3. Looking ahead to the Rio Olympics — There was a thing about this on public radio today and I missed it, but we can have our own discussion here. One important health warning, though: Comment all you want, but keep your mouths shut while doing so…
  4. His friend disappeared while tubing; he had a ‘couple of beers’, then called police — That’s all. Just thought I’d share that headline. It’s stuff like this that caused Mark Twain to want to give up on humans.
  5. U.S. Targets ISIS With New Round of Airstrikes in Libya — I mentioned this earlier today, but thought I’d give you another crack at it. Somewhat to my surprise, the WSJ is the only paper leading with it at this hour. (See below.)

WSJ front

The habitual skepticism of the BBC, taken to new lengths

EDITOR’S NOTE: DUH! Someone point out that maybe the Beeb was saying “so-called Islamic State” instead of “so-called Islamic State TARGETS” — in other words, rightly doubting the terrorist’s legitimacy as “the Islamic State” — which is an appropriate form of skepticism — rather than doubting that the targets were actually associated with the terrorist group. This seems likely. In which case, I am officially an idiot. Never mind…

“If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

That’s the rule tyro journalists are taught from the start: Take nothing for granted; believe nothing that you haven’t checked.

But as much as American reporters may have internalized that, no one in this country takes it to the extremes that British media do. Even in their headlines, they attribute things that American media would not, putting the most routine statements of fact in quotes. For instance, today they have a headline that says, “Top Nigerian ‘internet scammer’ arrested.” Because you have to be careful — it may turn out he really IS a deposed minister who wants to share several million dollars with us.

This practice reached a new level today. I received this news alert today from The Washington Post:

WP alert

And this one right after it from the BBC:

BBC alert

I could see putting “Islamic State targets” in quotes, as the Beeb often does with government statements.

But “so-called”? To me, that’s just a few shades short of “liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Did the Beeb have some particular reason to doubt that these were actual ISIL targets in this instance — reason that escaped other news outlets?

The thing is, they had already covered themselves with “Pentagon says.” If the Pentagon had said we’d shot down pretty pink winged unicorns, you really wouldn’t need to distance yourself further, as long as you included the “Pentagon says.” No matter how scrupulous you are.

There’s such a thing as being too scrupulous by half, and I think the BBC accomplished that today…

Oh, by the way, in case y’all want to talk about the alleged U.S. airstrikes in Libya (“alleged” because, for all we know, there were no airstrikes at all!), this would be a good place to do it. Just ignore my pedantic ramblings…

Graham, McCain on Trump and the Khans

Khan

OK, vacation’s over and I’m back in the saddle, and we are in mid-outrage over the latest deeply offensive nonsense from Donald Trump. And, as is so often the case, the most pointed criticism is coming from leading members of the party that nominated him week before last for POTUS:

Already, the party’s leaders in the House and the Senate have distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks, and other Republican figures are attacking their nominee forcefully.
Sen. John McCain issue a very personal statement Mondaay blasting Trump’s comments about the Khans and paying homage to their son Humayun’s sacrifice. McCain noted that his son also served in the Iraq War and the McCains have been serving in the US military for hundreds of years.

“It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party,” McCain said. “While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.

“Lastly, I’d like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: thank you for immigrating to America. We’re a better country because of you. And you are certainly right; your son was the best of America, and the memory of his sacrifice will make us a better nation — and he will never be forgotten.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said in a statement: “This is going to a place where we’ve never gone before, to push back against the families of the fallen. There used to be some things that were sacred in American politics — that you don’t do — like criticizing the parents of a fallen soldier even if they criticize you.”

“If you’re going to be leader of the free world, you have to be able to accept criticism. Mr. Trump can’t,” Graham said. “The problem is, ‘unacceptable’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.”…

As I noted last week (you’ll recall that I did spend most of my evenings blogging despite being on holiday, because I’m just that kinda guy), a lot of the Democratic Convention consisted of fare and themes we normally get from the Republicans — upbeat “Morning in America” patriotism, appeals to fundamental, traditional American values and the like.

Which has to be eating at Sens. McCain and Graham almost as much as anything else. Their values used to be what their party was all about. In recent years, that’s been changing, as ideological loonies have been squeezing them out. It was happening already in 2008, which is why I wrote this column, “Give me that old-time conservatism.” In 2012, the “base” (can an insurgency be called “the base?” Oh, yeah, I guess it can) reluctantly settled for the sane Mitt Romney after spending much of the primary season flitting from one extreme to another.

And this year, of course, it went screaming off the rails, which is why people such as McCain, Graham, Romney, John Kasich and the Bushes did not attend their party’s convention.

Just this one more night, and we’re done! Live-Tweeting Hillary

night 4 crowd

Boy, I could have done with having this convention some other week, when I’m not trying to have vacation. But them’s the breaks.

Here’s hoping I like Hillary Clinton’s speech better than I did this one back in 2008.

First step, please don’t say you’re going to “fight” for me. I hate that.

Another thing I hope she doesn’t do is talk like this is all a Democrats-vs.-Republicans thing, partisan business as usual. She knows better. The picture she must paint is one that reflects the reality that we’re facing: A choice between her, a fairly conventional center-left politician with very good credentials. (Not “the best ever,” as some would have it — she can’t beat a G.H.W. Bush or an Eisenhower — but very, very good.)

No, she has to reach out to independents like me, because she needs every one of us. She needs to reach out to all those Republicans out there who are deeply disturbed at what has seized their party’s nomination, and unfortunately have a problem with voting for her — a sort of Hillary Derangement Syndrome.

That takes some mighty reaching — stretching that might challenge Mr. Fantastic or Plastic Man. But she needs to do it. The country needs her to do it.

As David Brooks said a moment ago, her party has done a decent job seizing the ground that the GOP abandoned last week — the role of the patriotic party, the Morning in America party, even in a sense the culturally conservative party, in terms of embracing traditional American values.

She needs to close the deal. We’ll see.

If the internet keeps working — it’s been on and off today where I am — you’ll see my Tweets more or less in real time below, in the comments. If you just can’t wait a few seconds for them to show up here, here’s my Twitter feed

Tweeting the Democratic convention, Wednesday night

crowd

As I did last night, I’m going to post my Tweets here as I post them, and y’all respond as you are moved to. I’m getting some good reactions on Twitter so far tonight.

As I type this, Biden and Bloomberg have spoken. POTUS and Kaine still to come. Just saw a PBS interview with Leon Panetta that makes me sorry I missed his speech. He apparently talked about the most important consideration (which too few in that hall, and at the GOP convention last week, think about or understand) — how extraordinarily dangerous Trump would be for the whole world.

Anyway, back to Twitter…

Open Thread for Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The most memorable image of the Reagan assassination attempt. In part, I recall it as the first time I ever saw an Uzi.

The most memorable image of the Reagan assassination attempt. In part, I recall it as the first time I ever saw an Uzi.

Let’s look at some headlines before the convention evening gets rolling:

  1. Trump urges Russia to interfere (again) in U.S. politics — Yet another thing that, taken all by itself, would sink the hopes of any candidate in any normal election year. But watch — it won’t slow down Trump? Why? Because anyone who would consider voting for him doesn’t understand how outrageous what he said is.
  2. Prison minister, family vouch for serial Columbia child molester’s freedom — Do you think a child molester should ever, EVER be free again? This is a crime that tests my opposition to the death penalty, that makes one almost doubt the wisdom of the Constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Seems like the very least we could do is make sure such people are never in a position to get near a child again…
  3. Man Who Tried to Kill Reagan in 1981 Will Be Released — I’d let this guy go before I’d let a child molester go. Which is moot, because I wouldn’t have let this guy go, either.
  4. All Charges Dropped Against Officers in Freddie Gray Case — Not sure what to say aside from the fact that this seems a logical outcome based on what I’ve heard about the evidence in the case. It’s ironic — there have been some truly horrific cases in which cops have wrongly shot black men. The case in North Charleston comes to mind. But the weird thing is, two of the cases that initially launched Black Lives Matter were based on protesters leaping to shaky conclusions.
  5. How Tim Kaine Went From City Council To Vice Presidential Candidate — Tonight will be our first good look at the guy who will be vice president unless the majority of voters really do go stark raving mad in November.

If the Martians come, could they take Trump with them?

"Take me to your Donald!"

“Take me to your Donald!”

From The State today:

Asked about the odds of Hillary Clinton winning South Carolina in this fall’s presidential election, Clemson University political scientist David Woodard replied: “It’s more realistic that we’ll be invaded by Martians.”

South Carolina has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in four decades, and pundits do not expect that streak to end in November….

I don’t expect it to end, either, especially when the Democrat is one who sometimes seems tied with Obama as the one the SC right most loves to hate (since Ted Kennedy is no longer around).

But if only there were a way that South Carolina could refuse the win to Hillary without giving it to… the Creature.

Since it’s more likely that the Martians will invade, let’s hope that when they do, we repulse them and in retreating, they take Trump with them. Which would be a double victory for Earth!

Waiting for Bill to speak

Bill

The grandchildren are in bed — the littlest found excuses to get up four times, but he’s good-naturedly settled down now. The girls, a bit older, are settling.

So I’ll take a look at the convention now:

But the main event tonight is Bill Clinton, and my expectations are high.

As I said four years ago, his 2012 speech was the best political speech of this young century.

So can he do the same for his wife? He’d better….

I’ll be commenting on Twitter. Maybe I’ll post them below, since so few of y’all do Twitter. Join in if you’d like…

Open Thread for Monday, July 25, 2016

WAY better than watching political conventions...

WAY better than watching political conventions…

If you’re wondering “Where’s Brad?,” I’m on holiday, as our friends who recently exited Europe would say. And it’s kind of a hassle to find a table near an electrical plug and crank the laptop up. Hard enough even glancing over essential email, much less write.

But there are topics that need addressing:

  1. President Trump? — Nate Silver is trying to terrify us, and succeeding. A 57.5 percent chance that Donald Trump will become president of THESE United States, not the United States on the Bizarro World. I hereby delegate it to all of y’all to freak out (as I see some of you have been doing already) for me, as I am, as previously mentioned, on holiday.
  2. Wikileaks hates America even more than we thought — We knew Assange was all about damaging the United States any way he could, but this DNC thing, with this timing, apparently in League with Trump buddy and Snowden protector Vladimir Putin, is the most diabolical attempt to sabotage this country’s electoral processes ever. I cannot imagine anything more evil than trying to rig the American election so that Donald Trump wins. Oh, as for the substance of the leaks — well, I would certainly hope the Democratic National Committee was rooting for the only Democrat who was seeking the party’s nomination. Wouldn’t you?
  3. Sanders supporters need to grow the ____ up — Of course, the implied word there is “heck.” Seriously, booing every mention of Clinton on the first day of the convention? OK, so now the list of people who have swung to the Trump camp includes Wikileaks, Putin, Russian hackers… and Sanders supporter.
  4. The convention itself — I hear that the schedule for tonight features speeches by Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. So, there’s probably not going to be a lot that I want to hear. And did I mention that I’m on holiday? But my wife and son have already tuned one of the house’s TVs to the thing, and I don’t suppose I’ll manage to miss all of it. If that’s the case, then you’ll see comments from me on Twitter. But for the moment, I’m going to slip into another room and see what my grandchildren are doing. I never find anything they have to say offensive…

WashPost gets it exactly right: ‘Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy’

That’s one of the best, clearest headlines I’ve read on an editorial in a while. It states the case cleanly and well.

I’ll just quote the first graf:

DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew….

That is a wonderfully well-crafted bit of truth-telling, and every word of it is skilfully back up, in 13 more paragraphs that are just as good. You should go read the whole thing.

I continue to be astounded that some Democrats as well as Republicans are falling into the usual patterns of thinking this is a normal election, and that normal voting patterns should apply. Democrats speak in terms of Republicans ALL being as bad as Trump, and some perhaps worse. Republicans say he may be no gem, but he’s certainly no worse than Hillary Clinton, if not better.

They are all tragically, grotesquely wrong, and this editorial clearly states why.

The point of it is the same I’ve been making here about the unique horror that Trump represents.

Please read it, and take what it says to heart.

Open Thread for Friday, July 22, 2016

I like the Reuters image The Atlantic used with their report.

I like the Reuters image The Atlantic used with their report.

I realize that at this hour on a Friday I won’t have a lot of takers, but here goes:

  1. Shooting Kills 6 in Munich; City Shuts Transit to Hunt Gunmen — So not ALL mass shootings occur in this country. It’s interesting — it’s harder to get guns in Europe, yet otherwise it seems easier for terrorists to operate.
  2. “I Alone Can Fix It.” — Here’s a place for y’all to comment on the speech last night by the Great and Powerful Oz. Here’s what his team did for that speech: They took all the stuff he likes to say, and wrote it into complete sentences. Same crazy, but more coherent. Amazingly, he actually read it. For more observations from me, go to Twitter and scroll down to last night’s stuff.
  3. Clinton is getting ready to pick Kaine as her VP … we think — I hope that’s right. He seems the best of the lot in the short list.
  4. My name is Michael Caine … actor changes name due to Isis — I love this. His real name is Maurice Micklewhite, but airport security people refused to believe that, so he’s legally changing to his stage name.

Virtual Front Page for Thursday, July 21, 2016

Got that T-90 fueled up and ready to roll? http://vitalykuzmin.net

Got that T-90 fueled up and ready to roll? http://vitalykuzmin.net

The big stories at this hour:

  1. Trump says US may abandon automatic protections for NATO countries (BBC) — WOW. In other news, the United States of America is changing its name to Country That Ran Out On the Whole World. He’s got great timing, doesn’t he? He says this the week of the convention, on the eve of his acceptance speech? And you know what? His supporters will go, “What’s the big deal?” Yo, Putin! Your BFF’s planning to lower the gates for you; are the tanks fueled up? Go ahead and roll into the Baltics, unless you want to finish Ukraine first. Your call…
  2. 10 Brazilians Arrested, Accused Of Plotting Terrorist Attack On Rio Olympics (NPR) — I hope they got all of them.
  3. Cruz digs in on refusal to back Trump (WashPost) — Even though, also according to the Post, he’s paying a price for snubbing him. Big deal. This isn’t about 2016 for Cruz; it’s about 2020, 2024… You see, he may look like Grandpa Munster, but he’s ridiculously young. Someone on the radio today noted that in 2036, Cruz will still be younger than Hillary Clinton is now. There’s something to keep you up nights: Ti-i-i-ime, it’s on his side….
  4. Inmate killed at Lieber Correctional Institution (The State) — Here we go again. Remember the one the other day? The chickens are coming home to roost in our underfunded, neglected prison system.
  5. Ailes Resigns as Head of Fox News; Murdoch to Step In (WSJ) — Wait — hadn’t that horndoq quit before now?
  6. Game of Thrones: Republicans hate it, Democrats love it – supposedly (The Guardian) — Consequently, at a critical moment — Cersei seizing the Iron Throne; the Khaleesi on her way across the water, Winter really, really about to come — the burning issues of Westeros are being woefully neglected at that convention in Cleveland.
And the Republicans don't even CARE...

And the Republicans don’t even CARE…

Today, I’ll just cheat and post my Tweets from the RNC last night

Sorry, I just don’t have time to write a separate post.

Here are some Tweets from last night. You may find some worth responding to. Otherwise, treat this as an Open Thread…

While Ted Cruz was talking:

I think this is during Eric Trump’s speech:

This was Callista Gingrich:

Finally, Mike Pence:

A postscript from Bryan:

Khris Khristie’s Kangaroo Kourt

CHRISTIE TWO

I didn’t watch a whole lot of last night’s RNC festivities, because… Well, I can only take so much of any party’s convention these days, with all the morally and intellectually offensive blackguarding of the opposition, which tends to lower my opinion of the human race.

And I got a headache.

The last straw, for me, was Chris Christie saying, essentially, Hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we play lynch mob, and I whip y’all up to condemn Hillary Clinton?

His excuse was that he’s a former federal prosecutor, so this ostensibly would be an appropriate format for a speech from him. But the fact that he has been an officer of the court is what makes what he did so shameful. As though this were a proper way of finding someone guilty of something. On national television.

The call-and-response in which the mob had the role of roaring “GUILTY!” on cue was… wearying… to watch.

Alexandra Petri tried to have fun with it, and bless her for attempting to lighten things up:

Then Chris Christie took the stage. Christie had honed his speaking style in Salem, 1692, and he opened by announcing that he had seen Goody Clinton with the Devil. (Well, to be fair, he did not literally say that Clinton was in league with Satan, but this restraint on his part was unnecessary, as a few minutes later Ben Carson did.) “Let’s do something fun tonight,” Christie suggested: specifically, hold a mock trial of Clinton. The crowd loved this idea and began chanting “Guilty!” when prompted. Given that much of the convention so far has been dedicated to blaming her for the deaths of Americans (“I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” said Pat Smith) and intentionally sabotaging our prestige in the world, this felt like the logical, fun next step. “How do you live with your own conscience when you reward a domestic terrorist with continued safety and betray the family of [a] fallen police officer waiting for decades for justice for his murder?” Christie asked, to give you a sample. “Hillary Clinton, as coddler of the brutal Castro brothers and betrayer of the family of fallen Trooper Werner Foerster: guilty or not guilty?” “GUILTY!” the crowd shouted.

If the speech had gone on any longer, Christie would have brought out an effigy of Clinton to see if it weighed the same as a duck, then handed out torches on which you could still see the “TRUMP­CHRISTIE” logo that had been hastily scratched out and replaced with “TRUMP­PENCE.”

Yes, this is the party of hope and fresh ideas, the one shouting, “GUILTY!” and “LOCK HER UP!” as it holds a mock trial of its opponent in absentia….

Yep, all that was missing was Christie saying, “She turned me into a Newt!

Anyway, I’ve been busy today, so I thought I’d put up something new for y’all to post comments on.

But I didn’t enjoy it.

Life will be more pleasant when both of these conventions are over. I hope.

I suppose I’ll have to watch the Cruz speech tonight. But I’d rather be watching another episode of “Vikings,” which I did after turning away from Christie last night.

The discussions are on a higher plane, and if someone gets tiresome, our hero bashes his head in or heaves a spear into him. It doesn’t go on and on…

And did I mention it has vikings in it?

Tears and flapdoodle: Thoughts on the convention last night

Trump entrance

You might think, “Wow, that Brad Warthen sure is slow on the uptake, just getting to the first night of the Republican National Convention now…”

Except… I wrote and wrote and wrote about it — 25 Tweets or so, plus side interactions here and there — in real time. And when I gave up on it at about 11, staying up to write a blog post saying all that stuff again just didn’t seem sensible to me. A guy can stand only much fun, you know.

But there needs to be a place for us to discuss it on the blog, so here…

Let’s start with this:

That phrase came from the chapter in which the low-rent professional frauds Huck knows as the King and the Duke have assumed the identities of the long-lost brothers of a man who has just died, leaving an estate that they hope to get their hands on. An excerpt:

Well, by and by the king he gets up and comes forward a little, and works himself up and slobbers out a speech, all full of tears and flapdoodle about its being a sore trial for him and his poor brother to lose the diseased, and to miss seeing diseased alive after the long journey of four thousand mile, but it’s a trial that’s sweetened and sanctified to us by this dear sympathy and these holy tears, and so he thanks them out of his heart and out of his brother’s heart, because out of their mouths they can’t, words being too weak and cold, and all that kind of rot and slush, till it was just sickening; and then he blubbers out a pious goody-goody Amen, and turns himself loose and goes to crying fit to bust….

Now here’s where you tell me how heartless I am for dismissing the grief of people who got up before the convention and poured out their hearts before the assemblage. But I’m not. I feel for them. I’m just asking, as I tend to do under such circumstances, what that has to do with public policy.

Take, if you will, the woman whose son died at Benghazi, who blames Hillary Clinton for it even though numerous exhaustive investigations have in no way supported such an accusation.

I’m going to digress now…

I was reminded of a panel I was once asked to participate in, the subject being the Iraq War. This was maybe a dozen years ago. I knew I’d be in a roomful of people who disagreed with me 100 percent, but that comes with the territory. I did NOT know that the organizers had arranged to ambush me with the mother of a soldier who had died in Iraq.

Which, although I was totally polite about it, ticked me off. These folks seemed to think that they had trumped everything I might say by having this poor lady stand up and speak of her grief. I don’t know what they expected me to do in response — toss my notes in the air and cry, I had no idea! Oh my God, obviously, I was wrong all along?

I’m not trying to have another debate about Iraq here. My point is this: If her son had died playing a critical role in a conflict everyone agreed was necessary — say, if he’d been the first guy to set foot on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 — then he’d still be dead, and she would still be, quite understandably, inconsolable. She would be every bit as deserving of our sympathy. On the other hand, let’s assume that Bud, Doug, Phillip and Brett Bursey were all right about Iraq and I was completely wrong — that would be still true even if her son had come home alive and whole and was thriving today. Her grief therefore was not proof of anything; it did not constitute an argument. It was just what it was, a horrible, excruciating void.

Back to last night… The terrible pain experienced by that woman, and by the man who said his son was killed by illegal immigrants (he was one of three, I believe), is a real and true thing that we must respect and stand in awe of — and to the extent we can ease their pain, we should do that.

But that pain should not be the basis for making policy decisions. Or deciding for whom to vote. Because the fact that this lady, in her grief, blames Hillary Clinton does not negate the fact that there’s no reason to think she’s right, despite the fervid efforts of Republicans to find such reasons. And the fact that at least one illegal immigrant — or three — was a killer in no way demonstrates that the rest are, or that a wall needs to be built. It seems silly to have to point these things out.

And yet those are the positions that these grieving people’s testimony was there to support. Their testimony was intended to prove the rightness of what Donald Trump says — something that works with people who only think with their emotions.

And that sort of exploitation of honest grief is obscene. It’s deeply wrong to use those people so, and it’s even worse to use such tawdry means to seize supreme executive power in the world’s greatest nation.

Oh, by the way, in case you’re confused — those honest, grieving people are not Huck’s “king” in my comparison. They are the Wilks girls, crying honest tears at the loss of their father. Trump is the “king.” And as Huck says of the scene, “I never see anything so disgusting.”

See, this is why I wasn’t up to elaborating on my Tweets last night. It took me almost 900 words to explain that one.

But let’s touch on some other highlights and lowlights from last night, before we go:

  • Rudy Giuliani was the highlight — an actual Made Man in the GOP, passionately singing Trump’s praises. That did Trump more good than anything, although how a Man of Respect could say such things about such a huckster left me amazed. Of course, as the official Establishment speaker of the night (OK, there was Sessions, too, but he was less impressive), he helped illustrate how far the Establishment has moved in my adult lifetime. Remember him tearing into the media for saying bad things about his boy Donald? Once, that sort of thing would have been left to an outlier like Spiro Agnew, nattering about the nabobs of negativity. Now, it’s mainstream.
  • Poor Melania Trump was so nervous that he had my sympathy, and I was relieved with her when it was over. She had had such a buildup — Corey Lewandowski had told us ahead of time that she was a really intelligent, capable person. After all, he said with a straight face, she had “had a career… as a model.” Others were less sympathetic. You know how those awful media people just ruin everything by citing facts? Nicholas Kristof noted that the assertion that Donald Trump “is intensely loyal… he will never let you down” came from, ahem, his third wife… I’m not even going to go into the plagiarism thing; I’ll leave that to y’all.
  • I missed what had to be the nadir of the night — the soap opera actor/underwear model who shared his expert opinions with the nation. And who later said he’s “absolutely sure” Barack Obama is a Muslim. Of course he is — why else would he be there?

That’s enough. There’s another whole night of this tonight. Tune in on Twitter