Killing dissent softly at the DNC

I like to run the streets to calm the demons in my head before bedtime. It’s like meditation or prayer, except you need good shoes and plenty of water, especially during heat waves like the one we endured while the Democratic National Convention was in Philly.

As I mentioned last time, the DNC took place near Broad Street, at the Wells Fargo Center, not far from the swamp where I live. It was capped Thursday night by Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech, which had an intro from her daughter Chelsea, who raised the event to a new level of kitsch while reminiscing about Mom and Dad and even Grandma, who would have been “so, so proud” of Hillary last night.

After a few minutes of her dreck, I left the house and ran to Broad Street and was serenaded by droning police helicopters to the south, circling the convention site, where protesters had gathered for the fourth straight day to show contempt for the Democratic nominee and the nomination process.

I knew the humidity was high because I could feel the sweat dripping off my fingers, and that protesters were active because cop cars were racing down Broad, followed by a big white police bus used to haul large groups of prisoners to jail.

And I knew from being at the site on previous nights that the protesters — there may have been a few thousand at times — wouldn’t get anywhere near the convention center because the “protest zone” created by the feds was hundreds of yards away from the center and fenced off like a cattle pen.

So I ran a few miles and went home just in time to see the end of Hillary’s dreadfully well-rehearsed speech. Then she and hubby Bill and other luminaries, flashing ultra-bright grins, pushed and poked at red, white and blue balloons, which had been released by the thousands after the speech.

The point is, convention planners made sure nothing inside or outside the convention venue was spontaneous or real — at least not for long. Even the balloon-poking seemed rehearsed.

Kudos to the cops for not engaging in the heavy-handed tactics that made Philly look bad during the 2000 RNC convention. This time around, in the name of keeping the peace, and with lots of help from the Democratic National Committee and federal agents, they smothered dissent almost before it could rear its feeble head.

America can breathe easy now. The homeland is safe from those bomb-throwing Bernie bros. Everything is under control. We’re all in the same cattle pen.

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The DNC celebrity fest, from a distance

This year’s Democratic National Convention is at the Wells Fargo Center –the same building that hosted the RNC in 2000, but with another corporate name. It’s one of several sports venues on Philly’s southern fringe, far removed from any actual street life. You can see for miles down there, but all you can see are parking lots, ballparks and arenas.

Hardcore Bernie loyalists, Jill Stein supporters and other protesters are permitted to march down Broad Street and gather in FDR Park, to the west of Wells Fargo Center, in the unrelenting July heat, but fences prevent them from getting anywhere near the center itself.

In fact, they can do little more than march past one another chanting slogans — preaching to the choir, as it were — with the knowledge they could be herded into police vans and face federal charges if they do anything cops deem disruptive.

There are many fewer arrests this year. Police have the mastered the trick of keeping protesters at a distance from big events without generating bad publicity for themselves and the city.

Philly is my hometown. I’ve biked to the convention scene several times to join the protesters, but the setting raises an age-old question: If thousands of protesters chant in a place where no one else can hear them, do they really make a sound?

Inside the convention center rich celebrities, one after another, have taken the stage to tell us commoners why we should vote for Hillary, who in the past has taken exactly the wrong stand on many issues important to progressives.

Paul Simon sang and so did Alicia Keys. Meryl Streep’s speech was a testimonial for Hillary. And so on. The message of the event is that Democrats must unite in order to make sure Donald Trump is defeated. A good message, but why all the celebrity kitsch?

On Monday, former Bernie supporter Sarah Silverman went so far as to admonish nay-sayers in the building. She said, “To the Bernie-or-bust people, you’re being ridiculous.”

To which I would have replied, “To me, Sarah, the fact that you can scold Bernie die-hards on national TV, just because you’re a celebrity, is ridiculous. Your presumption that you can influence my vote, just because you’re a celebrity, is insulting. Vote for whomever you prefer. Meanwhile, please shut the fuck up.”

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The art of the heel

This week it’s the Democrats’ turn to make empty promises while they officially nominate a candidate almost as unpopular as Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is a war hawk in the style of her friend Henry Kissinger; a shapeshifting phony on issues ranging from gay marriage to TPP to the minimum wage; an elitist who made speeches to Goldman Sachs at $250K a pop and sat on the board of freaking Walmart.

However…she’s not Trump, the cartoon fascist and the first truly postmodern candidate, in that he has no ideology and thumbs his nose at the very idea of truth. What you see is what you get — a raving narcissist who stokes fear and resentment, or gales of laughter, whenever he speaks. A fraud who doesn’t have enough business sense to make casinos profitable.

Trump needed a lot of help from the media to create his image as a great dealmaker, and he got it. Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s bestseller The Art of the Deal, put it this way in his confessions to the New Yorker:

I put lipstick on a pig. I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.

But it doesn’t matter at this point what anybody in the media says about Trump. Thanks in part to the nonstop positive coverage he received over the years — except from a few truth tellers like David Cay Johnston — millions of know-nothings are convinced he’s the only force that can save America from blacks and Mexicans, ISIS, taxes, cop killers, China and NATO and maybe even the Dark Lord of Mordor. He is not Hillary. He will make America great again.

Here’s The Intercept quoting Plato quoting Socrates in The Republic:

This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs: when he first appears above ground he is a protector.

There’s nothing really new about our home-grown would-be tyrant except for the orange skunk pelt on his head. But how can you know this if you’re a know-nothing?

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Update on Melania’s plagiarism – the ballerina did it!

I was updating Swamp Rabbit on the screw-up at the RNC, where Melania Trump made a speech that was partly cribbed from Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 DNC.

“You were part right,” I said. “Melania rejected the original speech, written by two guys who used to work for George W. Bush. Then she apparently did a rewrite with Meredith McIver, an ex-ballerina who helped Trump write some of his books.  Yesterday, McIver  took responsibility  for the plagiarized sections.”

Swamp Rabbit gnawed on a carrot. “But why would the ballerina want to crib from a speech by Obama’s wife, of all people? Republicans think Obama is the Great Satan.”

“It’s complicated,” I said. “The ballerina said she put in the Michele stuff, almost word for word, then forgot to remove them from the final draft.”

The rabbit spit into the swamp. “That don’t make no sense. Why did she put them in there in the first place?”

I shrugged. “Because Melania liked Michelle’s speech. I think it gets back to what I said yesterday — Donald Trump is too stingy and disorganized to hire reliable staffers, or to check on what they’re up to. He doesn’t understand it’s dangerous to let cronies and family members make campaign decisions. He has the attention span of a gnat, and he’s too vain to own up to mistakes.”

“So are you,” Swamp Rabbit said. “You thought Melania might be the victim but she’s the one did the cribbing. She let the ballerina take the fall instead of owning up to it. She and her freaky husband deserve each other.”

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Melania’s rude awakening?

Here’s my friend Swamp Rabbit imagining Melania Trump and the Donald after she found out part of her speech at the 2016 Republican convention was lifted from Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic convention:

“How could you do zis to me? All over country zee peoples are laugh-ink.  Vy you hire writer who is thief? Do not touch me. I sink maybe you are mad man.”

“The accent’s not quite right,” I told Swamp Rabbit. “You sound like Zsa Zsa Gabor. Melania  is Slovenian, not Hungarian.”

“Same difference,” he said, opening another bottle of Wild Turkey. “The point is she’ll never forgive that goofy-looking bastard for trotting her out there to make a fool of herself on national TV.”

He tried to pass the bottle but I declined the offer. “How do you know she didn’t steal those words on her own?” I said. “Before she gave the speech, she told reporters she wrote it.”

“Hahahahaha,” he said. “That’s what they all say. But why would she dip into a stream of cliches — reach for your dreams, work hard, keep your nose clean, blah blah — from Obama’s wife, of all people, and recite them almost word for word on national TV? No way, dude, somebody did this to her. Probably some hack who was hired because Trump is too cheap to fork over the big bucks for a good speechwriter.”

I told Swamp Rabbit he might be right, but I predicted Melania wouldn’t stay angry. She’ll remember that her hubby, the self-obsessed fraud with the Orange Crush! weave, has the attention span of a gnat. He says the world is flat one day and round the next. He praises his wife as he sends her out to deliver a plagiarized speech. Then he asks his fans who they believe, him or their lying eyes.

Swamp Rabbit nipped at his bourbon and said, “I sink maybe he is a mad man.”

“Could be,” I replied. “But what’s that say about the millions of people who voted for him? What’s it say about Melania?”

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Fear Hillary’s ideology, not her email servers

Hillary Clinton  fans are crying foul because she was accused last week of carelessness by James Comey, the FBI chief. They should be breathing sighs of relief.

Imagine how Hillary  would have fared if she wasn’t joined at the hip with the secrecy-obsessed Barack Obama, whose administration doesn’t look kindly on government employees who mess around with classified information — unless they’re in with the in crowd.

As Glenn Greenwald noted:

Had someone who was obscure and unimportant and powerless done what Hillary Clinton did — recklessly and secretly install a shoddy home server and work with top-secret information on it, then outright lie to the public about it when they were caught — they would have been criminally charged long ago, with little fuss or objection.

But I’m with Bernie Sanders, who months ago declined to make a big deal about Hillary’s emails. There are so many more important reasons to wince at the idea of Hillary as president — for starters, her warmongering history as secretary of state; her reciprocal love affair with Wall Street banks and corporations like Walmart; her promise to task Bill Clinton with “revitalizing the economy, because he knows how to do it.”

I know, anybody but Trump, but who really thinks Hillary will be a force for good, given her nostalgic attachment to the discredited neoliberal policies that ultimately benefit no one but the rich and powerful?

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Britain’s PM seeks to ‘steady’ the Titanic

Here’s David Cameron using an unfortunate nautical metaphor to announce his resignation after a majority of Brits voted this week for the Brexit:

I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.

That would be a neat trick, steadying the Titanic now that it has already hit  the iceberg. Britain is going down, thanks to Cameron and his fellow austerity freaks who thought the way to weather the recession was by imposing further hardships on the poors while helping the rich get richer. And who stupidly assumed most Brits, especially in the poorer parts of England, would vote to remain in the European Union, even though they needed someone or something to blame for the fact that their quality of life is, at best, stagnant.

Last year a British journalist put his finger on the problem while poking fun at The  Sunday Times so-called Rich List:

The Rich Listers are over 100 per cent better off than they were 10 years ago, this despite most of the decade being taken up by the worst recession since the 1930s. By contrast, the average Briton is only as well off as they were before the financial crisis (by some measures they may be worse off). If things have improved for the rich over the last decade, over the last year, they’ve really powered ahead. To join the Rich List this year, you need £100m, a rise by £15m since 2014.

Cameron is on the same ship with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and other neolib Democrats in America who know the natives are restless but think they can still win elections by fooling them into believing renewed prosperity is just around the corner.

Stating the obvious, Hillary is damn lucky she’s running against the boorish and blatantly bigoted Donald Trump rather than against a smarter demagogue who would know how to more effectively capitalize on the hypocrisy and cowardice of the Dem establishment.

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