Discussion thread: the Democratic convention (or anything else)

August 19, 2020 • 1:15 pm

I’m jammed this afternoon, and so am giving readers the chance to sound off on either the topic below or anything else of interest.

I didn’t watch the Democratic National Convention, as I already know I’m voting Democratic, but I did watch Michelle Obama’s speech on video, which I quite liked.  Now many people are extolling last night’s very short virtual speech by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, calling her “the future of the Democratic Party”. (She was seconding the nomination of Bernie Sanders, an empty gesture but one that she was asked to do; I do recognize that she now endorses Biden.) Ocasio-Cortez, whom I don’t much care for, though some of her stands are okay, was given 60 seconds to speak but used 100 seconds, something that I, as a punctual, keeping-to-time kind of guy, don’t like.

Here’s her speech, for which she’s being touted as “The Future of the Democratic Party.” As far as I know about her legislative accomplishments, that future involves trading insults on social media, and we already have that. Over at HuffPost, people are falling all over themselves to tout her as a future President of the United States.

Well, unless she moves more toward the center (and yes, I want a President on the Left, but not the far Left), I’m not on board.

Discuss this, or discuss the convention in general. Was it successful? What were the highlights (I haven’t heard Jill Biden’s speech)? Does Trump even stand a chance now? RealClear Politics gives Biden a 7.6% advantage over Trump (below), and it’s holding pretty steady. (Remember, that’s a popular-vote poll, while the Presidency is decided by the electoral college. Still, Trump cannot win should these figures hold in November.)

118 thoughts on “Discussion thread: the Democratic convention (or anything else)

  1. I’ll say that I much prefer this sort of convention to the ones with funny hats and buttons that we are used to. (This despite I had been planning to volunteer at the DNC here in Milwaukee this year and am disappointed for the city.)

    1. I agree. Going forward, this should be how conventions are run. The money saved can be used for campaign advertisements.

    2. I agree completely. And I think the Party has used the opportunity well, billing themselves as a party of inclusion in every sense of the word. A welcome contrast to the xenophobia and bigotry of Trumpworld.

    3. Really stupid TV shows ,e.g. something about ‘apprentice’, and more generally entertainment for nitwits e.g. movie stars who become more than California governors, seem to produce the very worst of powerful USian politicians.

      So this suggestion, in the direction of separating USian politics away from entertainment for morons, is obviously desirable. Perhaps even more could be done in that direction.

      I’m a non-USian, so maybe should just shut up, let you make your own bed, and then have to sleep in it. But unfortunately my descendants will have to live with the results of climate change, and maybe even thermonuclear war–maybe even me for the last. That is unless somebody has surreptitiously made sure that Mass Murderer donald cannot actually and effectively order the incineration of most members of the human species.

  2. Just a couple of thoughts on AOC – not her comments last night, but her overall performance so far. First of all she is young and I think, at times, somewhat naive. Having said that, however, I would suggest that folks track down YouTube videos of her performances questioning witnesses in Congressional hearings. She comes highly prepared and comes across as whip-smart. And remember also that in 2018, although she made noises about opposing Pelosi for speaker, she ended up supporting her. Finally, she handily defeated a well-funded opponent in the primary this year, so her position in Congress seems secure. So my opinion? She needs experience, yes. But she has the makings of a very savvy and effective politician. Give her a little time.

    1. I also have seen her at interrogation of witnesses and think she does a terrific job at it.

      As far as last night’s speech, it was simply a seconding of a nomination, nothing more and there is no reason to read anything into it. Many other speeches were better.

      1. Yes, but AOC presumably inspires the young which is a group the Dems definitely need to fire up in November. Instead she was wasted on nominating a guy who has already lost.

      2. “I also have seen her at interrogation of witnesses and think she does a terrific job at it.”

        I’ll have to check out her skills in this regard. Does she interrupt a witness in mid-sentence and/or move on to another question without letting the witness answer? I trust that that is not the zenith of a terrific questioner. But it seems that Congress-persons all to easily succumb to that tyro tendency. Harris is an example of that. (I want Harris to win. Then, I want to see if she, as VP, can take as good as she gives.) As a matter of principle, I think witnesses, either in the courtroom or the congressional hearing room, should have no less a privilege to fling back responses no less provoking as the questions/digs they receive from these special human primates. Condoleezza Rice was one to talk back and interrupt. How dare she be so uppity with these Masters of the Universe. (“Kick us again if you please, Your Majesty!” “Your servant? Your servant? Indeed I’m NOT your servant!” – Anna, from “The King and I.”)

        The police too. I’m generally on the side of the police, but it is infuriating for police to ask purposefully, gratuitously provoking questions of someone who is simply minding his own business.

        A national park ranger once came up to me one afternoon, asking me, “Did I see you throw something over there?” in an apparent effort to provoke me to get all antsy and nervous and betray some kind of guilt. (The implication was that I threw some sort of drug-related item – what? – a marijuana butt, or whatever it’s called – I’m a babe-in-the-woods about this drug argot stuff.)

        I saw it for what it was and replied, “Sir, you are welcome to look anywhere in my van.”

        (I had in my van some of my grandfather’s personal effects I had picked up at the nursing home earlier in the day, my grandfather having died early that morning. I had gone into the national park for a bit of quiet solitude and reflection, taking in the arboreal ambiance. I had been lying on the ground next to my van, playing my guitar. I speculate that, to the eyes of a passerby, who apparently reported me, this was a no-no. I was obviously acting suspiciously.)

        He glanced around a few seconds, the wind having been taken out of his sails, and then left, with not a “thank you” or “good day” or “Sorry to trouble you.”

    2. I agree, Bruce. Someone in AOC’s position is bound to misstep and blunder a bit while growing into the role of a U.S. Representative. She is impressively smart and she is motivated to serve the public with integrity. Her best years are ahead of her, and I regret that she doesn’t represent my district and state. The political right has been obnoxiously vicious and abusive towards her, and rather than take their abuse, she fights back.

    3. Yes, exactly what I was going to say. AOC was excellent in questioning witnesses. She comes prepared and didn’t squander her minutes giving a speech. I hope others learned from her.

      The choice to have AOC to nominate Bernie only seems a poor one. I wonder how the negotiations went on this. Did she say this was the only way she would participate? Or was that some party leader’s idea of keeping her leftish impact as low as possible? It’s a head scratcher.

        1. Certainly Sanders might want AOC to nominate him but AOC should have argued for a more impactful role in the convention. The party should have wanted it too. Perhaps she’s trying too hard to pull the party to the left and this is the result. She won’t come out against Biden, of course, but perhaps she’s sidelined for now.

          1. She likely did want more time. But she’s not making the rules yet. That’s pretty much the prerogative of the DNC and their main focus is getting everyone on board to vote against tRump. Allowing simmering internal conflict would not serve that end. A freshman congressperson can only expect so much, even a rising star.

      1. Maybe Sanders picked who nominated and seconded him. That would make sense.

        The 100 seconds vs 60 is nonsense. All the speeches were pre-recorded, including the delegate count. Some were in afternoon daylight even though it was evening.

      2. I can disagree with her, and I am not fully on board with the die-hard progressives to which she identifies. But I have been impressed by her many times. The future of the Democratic Party may be of that sort, and I can’t say I’m against it if it excites young people to be more involved.
        There is this terrific tweet of hers which is very famous: https://www.reddit.com/r/AOC/comments/az1in1/most_inspiring_tweet_ever_thank_you_aoc_for_being/

        1. Yes, that tweet was a pretty good one. Though, to be honest, that’s not really how the world works. As jobs go, representing your state in Congress is more highly regarded than waitressing. I think people are still processing the idea of equality of opportunity while simultaneously rewarding merit. Perhaps we will always have trouble with it.

      3. I think the fact that she represents the future of the party *TO CONSERVATIVES* means giving her a bigger platform would be throwing raw meat to the wolves. The conservative outrage machine would be all over it, and it would be a distraction, especially on a night with a lot of republican and ex-republican supporters being given a voice.

        1. I’m not a fan of AOC, but it seems odd to me that Democrats should be frightened of what people on the extreme right would say.

          It doesn’t matter who Democrats choose as a candidate, the Right is going to find some mud to fling at them. You need to deal with it, because you can’t stop it.

    4. Representative Yoho from Florida called AOC a “fucking bitch” while they passed each other on the capital steps; he then later denied saying it (even though he was on tape) and then gave a non-apology decrying that a husband and a daughter’s father wouldn’t say such things. Since Yoho used his wife and daughter to bolster his non-apology, AOC decided to speak out on the House floor. Her speech was incredibly powerful and moving. If this speech doesn’t show AOC’s critics how eloquent, mature and tough she is, I don’t know what would.

  3. Michael Goodwin has a piece in the New York Post about the convention saying, bascially, we get it, you’re against Trump, but what are you for? I am waiting to hear that, too.

    1. That would be a good thing, of course. I’m not sure this year it matters as much from a purely political point of view. The election is a contest between insanity vs. sanity and entirely about getting rid of the Orange Menace and his enablers. Policy issues take second place under these conditions.

    2. I’m not watching the Convention each night. I read the available news on it the next day and use YouTube or some other source to watch it afterwards. Then, if there are presentations I’m not as enamored of, I can skip them. I’m looking forward to seeing night 2 this afternoon.

      As to the Democrats telling us what they plan to do if they achieve office, if they’ve done this in previous conventions, I can’t recall it. I expect that most of us have been following the disastrous governance (?) of
      tRump and his minions the whole time they’ve been in office. I think we know what needs to be done by the Democrats. It is my hope that Biden and crew have put together Subject Matter Experts that have already reviewed what all needs to be undone that tRump has done, and that they’ll get to work immediately in January so we can get back to taking care of our people and engaging diplomatically (powerfully) with the world.

      But, more immediately, we need to ensure that the Post Office is protected and reinforced. We need assurance that the sorting machines that were removed will be reinstalled ASAP and that PO Boxes that were removed are repositioned where they were. For whatever good it may do, I’ll be writing my congress people today. It also has been suggested by John Oliver and the actor that used to plat Cliff Klavan the mail carrier on Cheers, and AOC (I think), that we all buy stamps to help in whatever way we can to fund the PO. Don’t know how useful that would be given the amount of money they need, but it’s an idea.
      We also can make certain we know when ballots will be sent out in the mail to voters, sign them properly, and get them back out in the mail ASAP.

      1. posting at 10:30 p.m.
        — gun control/gun violence led the way.

        –Reframing global warming as an economic opportunity for manufacturing and blue-collar jobs. I was glad to see this. I’ve wondered why it hasn’t been put to voters & lawmakers this way for years. If Exxon et. al. can’t move away from fossil fuels, they deserve to go bellyup.


        –Immigration, especially DACA

        –Health care coverage.

        –Violence against women act.

        The first night was anti-trump, but it was also pro-woman, and I think that was relevant because it’s the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. And it was hugely pro-diversity, which is an important message.

        As to the anti-trump stuff, it seemed to me more of outlining a contrast between a selfish, spoiled brat and a compassionate hard working man who has a spirit of generosity toward others and a good heart. There’s nothing wrong with that. A lot of people don’t vote on policy (which is not a given anyway, considering how policy actually gets executed), but on how they feel about a person.

    3. I’m not. Right now Trump would love to have something concrete to drop on Biden’s head. Stuff that can be turned into videos and the like. Biden would be foolish to give him something solid to twist. As it is Trump has to make stuff up and he’s not really very good at it. I can’t see too many on-the-fence voters being convinced by Trump’s claim that Biden will allow the country to be overrun by China. The one issue that is firing everyone up right now is getting rid of Trump. Biden would be stupid to turn focus elsewhere.

      Biden should have policies but should express them as little as he can get away with. I would even be ok if he said that he was going to do the opposite of whatever Trump has done. This would be a great policy to a first approximation.

      1. Exactly. The convention is a time to introduce the public to Biden and Harris. Getting bogged down in policy positions is just stupid. If dems don’t take the Senate, all the “promises” will be empty anyway. Stick to the feel good messages of inclusion, empathy, hope, love and humanity. And keep talking about how we need to come together, and heal as a nation from the ravages of Covid and Trump’s hate and division.

        1. What to do is simple to start: January 21- undo every single Trump executive order; start to undo all the department and agency changes by Trump swamp dwellers and criminals and start repairing foreign policy; that will take us until the end of 2022. Meanwhile start deliberating on health care, jobs, racism, climate change. That will take us to 2027.

          1. “What to do is simple…” Agreed, and this is a libertarian talking, so…as they say, strange bedfellows.

            But what your plan leaves out is something basic–if the Dems take the Senate, most of this can be accomplished by the end of the afternoon of January 22nd (including letting RBG retire, and filling her place with someone even more hated by the Trumputos). If they don’t take the Senate, all bets are off.

            That’s why I’m concentrating my political donations on Dem Senate candidates.

            1. Assuming a Democratic Senate, they will need to eliminate the filibuster. I didn’t use to think so, but Republicans so exploited it that nothing will be accomplished in that body if it remains.

  4. Democrats need to learn to express what they are for, not just what they are against. They seem to be repeating the strategy of 2016, which is to say ‘Look at who we are not.’ Obviously I am voting for Biden, but this schtick is getting old. I am not convinced that Biden is a capable leader. I am not a fan of Harris. And I still don’t know what they plan to do, other than not be Trump. Some polls show the race tightening, which is distressing. I don’t want to see another shock Trump win.

    1. And I still don’t know what they plan to do, other than not be Trump.

      And not being Trump is all I need to know this time around; this election is a repudiation of Trump and his sycophants. Once he’s gone, we can start the difficult work of rebuilding what’s been broken and make Biden a better President by democratically directing his policies. Just like we did with Obama.

      1. Agreed entirely. I wouldn’t think that Biden would be much more than a mediocre Prez. Except for this–I am SURE that he will immediately name a Cabinet full of people who are actual experts and not actual felons. (And the same as to high-ranking bureau personnel, etc.)

        A Prez doesn’t have to do much else if he or she can just do that. And Biden can get that done by the afternoon of the January 24th.

        In fact, if Biden doesn’t ALREADY have a pretty good idea of his first 100 or so appointments, ready to go the afternoon that he’s sworn in, then we already have a big problem.

  5. I pay almost no attention to the conventions as they are mostly meaningless. They have been for many years since the invention of the primaries. Just as the AOC comments seemed to upset a lot of people, this just shows what nonsense politics has become. My understanding of her comments was – she was basically seconding the nomination of Sanders. Maybe meaningless but a requirement in the schedule. So give her hell for doing what she was suppose to do.

    Next week the republicans, or what is left of the party will do their convention. It will be an all Trump show so be sure and miss this one.

  6. I know that Bernie, AOC et al are considered “far” left in the US. I still can’t get used to that label. By Canadian or European standards they are left but not far. Raising taxes and cutting defense are pretty mainstream left-wing positions. Overturning Citizens United is just mainstream — no other democratic country has this abomination. On healthcare they are to the right of Boris Johnson, per BBC. Free college is one thing that maybe can be called “far” left, but if any of them is elected it’s probably going to get watered down to subsidized tuition, which is the norm in developed countries.

    1. I’d say that someone like AOC can be considered far left in her opinions that align with some of the SJW opinions. The post modernist thinking. Other than that from a policy perspective, in Canada they would just be considered liberal but remember that the US is always to the right of Canada. The Democratic party is not at all like the Liberal party as the Liberals are much more left and the NDP and Greens even more Left (and I wouldn’t call those parties far Left). Same with the Republican party – it is far more right of the PC party in Canada and even the PC party supports universal health care and abortion (though many of it’s constituents feel differently)

        1. If you call that interesting. It’s a minority government so the Conservatives, and especially their leader, have been looking for every reason to call an election but really who wants a stupid election right now in the middle of a pandemic when the US is imploding? And the Finance Minister got in a fight with the PM and now our Deputy PM is also the Finance Minister and I have no idea how that’s going to go because I really liked her negotiating power with Trump so how is she going to do all this stuff at once? But if we are going to go to the polls, I really wish the PCs would just elect a new leader like they were working on before the pandemic so at least we can have the possibility of having someone not so infatuated with a personal vendetta against the PM and have instead someone who is interested in running Canada. During the beginning of the pandemic, the opposition party did its job and pushed back on legislation that was going too far without controls. For the first time in years I said “Finally, the opposition does what it’s supposed to do instead of just fighting the government on everything simply to do so.” I hope we get back to that. There are so many things to look after that I just don’t care about what often amounts to partisan BS.

          1. I meant the Boris Johnson-style prorogation to avoid embarrassing political issues after the Liberal Party promised in 2015″ not to use that power to “avoid difficult political circumstances”. My apologies if that was what you were addressing and I didn’t recognise it because as a Brit I’m not familiar with the personalities and details.

    2. “..subsidized tuition, which is the norm in developed countries.”

      My understanding is that post-secondary education is completely tuition-free in Germany and Norway, and likely many others.

      And it certainly was in Britain for a long time as well, but Thatcher (and earlier as well) turned it into a bit of a US copycat in many ways, particularly in economics.

  7. Didn’t watch the Convention and almost never do. Political theatre is not my cuppa.
    Let us hope that AOC’s star burn out long before she has a shot at running for president. Her nomination would quite possibly push me into voting Rethuglican for the first time, unless they fail to learn from their mistakes and manage to dig up another orange moron . More likely however would be my choosing to sit out that election completely. But that’s a bit too far into the future to be worried about. Harris is the most likely next big thing now and I can tolerate her, mostly.

    What is much more interesting to me is where does the GOP go from here (assuming the end of the tRumpster)? Do they double down and go full-moron again in 2024, or do they wise up, return to their conservative ideals and go with a McCain or a Bush sort of candidate? How much damage has the P*ssy-grabber-in-chief done to the party?

    1. It appears the Republican Party sold its soul a while ago. The Tea Party and the gerrymandering was the first obvious indication of this. I wonder if it’s just too late to reform it and perhaps the Republicans that aren’t bat shit crazy need to start their own party and take whatever power they have away from these doofuses.

      1. The republican party went sour long before the tea party. It was already going downhill with Reagan and he accelerated the fall.

      2. You can find it earlier than that. 1968 saw the Republicans devise the Southern Strategy that relied on racist dog whistles and pandering to the religious right. And it is no coincidence, I think, that it delivered Richard Nixon to office.

        1. Yeah, I think it dawned on them that the only way to win was to cheat because their views are minority views in the country….at least since the 60s. I just don’t know that it’s redeemable now. They’d really have to expunge a lot of people to get back to what they were and maybe they don’t even want to be that anymore….maybe they want to openly be this new thing.

          1. I guess the republican rot probably started long before I was aware of politics, perhaps before my birth if Nixon is any guide. But for my lifetime, limited to Reagan/Bush/Bush, the rise of Palin and the Tea Party seemed a significant sea change. They had certainly stopped being the Party of Lincoln long before that, but to change so quickly, so dramatically from the party of Reagan… from fighting communism to a Putin love fest, I still cannot fathom how that happened. Now it’s less a sea change than a final swirl ‘round the toilet bowl.

              1. And most likely, the first QAnon representative (Marjorie Greene) will be elected to Congress from Georgia. She is the embodiment of bat-shit crazy.

              2. There is a disturbing tendency for republicans to say “oh, you think that was stupid? Hold my beer and watch this!” Maybe instead of a convention they should just release an internet fail video.

            1. The Tea Party and tRumpism was decades in the making. The rise of fundamentalist religion in the Party began in the Nixon days but grew as the Party found that they could rely on these delusional voters by pandering to them. Remember, evangelical Christians are trained from birth to be suspicious of outside information and to believe in profound absurdities. They grew their own media ecosystem around talk radio shows around the country and, of course, their own alternate-reality TV news network. More sensible Republican leaders thought they could keep this arrangement forever without losing control. The joke was on them, though.

            2. The Tea Party did indeed mark a significant change in the Republican Party. It marked the beginning of the RP leadership losing control of the monsters they created. That loss of control snow-balled into POTUS Trump. The RP itself (as opposed to merely its constituency), is now thoroughly infested with Trumpers and what’s left of the old school that created the monsters that are eating them are barely hanging on by their finger nails trying to survive. And to that end they’ve gone far beyond selling their souls to the devil.

              Mitch McConnell, the worst person in the US, has been writing a whole new volume of the Dirty Tricks book in an attempt to maintain as much access to power for himself and the old school RP leadership as he can contrive as the Trumpers destroy the government and the RP. But the situation gets more desperate by the day.

  8. I’m not 100% sure I frown upon Ms AOC overstepping her time. Only by 40 seconds, no big deal. On the other hand, it is kinds rude to give a speaker -any speaker- only 60 seconds.

    1. Quite a big percentage of her allotted time that she overran by. I guess the NDC organisers didn’t want her reminding Bernie’s supporters too much about what they won’t be getting.

      1. Bernie spoke to his supporters for himself the day before. If organizers didn’t want her “reminding” watchers of something it is that the future of the party is in the hands of the younger members not those who are the age of the candidate.

  9. I really enjoyed the state-by-state roll call vote. It was really fun to see how people from the different states and territories see themselves.

    (Please forgive me if this is a duplicate. I think the website has “fleas.”


  10. Still, Trump cannot win should these figures hold in November.

    That’s assuming these figures are correct, and I doubt they are. Biden’s 7.6% lead is a Real Clear Politics average and there’s a lot of variation in the data they’re averaging which likely indicates a significant margin of error.

    Given the current political climate, I don’t think all people being polled are giving honest answers, especially conservatives. People who intend to vote Biden have no problem saying so and they have no reason to fear being “cancelled” for voicing that opinion. If I was an American voter intending to vote Trump in November and somebody asked me in an opinion poll who I intended to vote for I really don’t think I’d want to risk admitting that I intended to vote Trump, even in an “anonymous” poll.

    The polls were wrong in 2016. They gave Hillary Clinton a clear lead (again, a popular vote lead which is not the same as an electoral win), but she still lost. For some reason, possibly an overall left-leaning bias in today’s media, polls seem to consistently favour the left wing candidates and parties. The same happened here in the UK prior to the general election last year. In that case the Tories had a lead over Labour but their winning margin in the election was significantly higher.

    1. This is also anecdotal but online I notice no reluctance on the part of Trump supporters to air their opinions. They seem much, much more willing to talk about voting Trump than first time around.

      OTOH, I do notice online that people are reluctant to talk about voting for Biden simply because they know there’ll be a flurry of demented Trump-right commenters raining hellfire upon them if they do.

      I see almost no-one actively saying they’re voting for Biden…I see many people saying they’re voting Trump. And yet when I look at non-verbal clues, like upvotes vs downvotes it’s clear that there are a lot of Biden supporters who just don’t speak up.

      This is all derived from online behaviour, so who knows what happens in the real world. But I think you might be surprised.

      And it could equally be claimed that people are embarrassed to admit they’re going to vote for a boring candidate like Biden and will instead claim they’re not voting for anyone(the protest vote is a tiresomely fashionable choice after all).

      …Yet when they get in the booth they’ll actually vote Biden, simply because his opponent is a gigantic, babbling lunatic with all the warmth and humanity of a syphilis bacterium.

      1. I think that’s probably true. It’s something about more liberal minded people. Perhaps they just don’t want to deal with the QAnon Trump supporters. I know I don’t want to deal with it on my own social media. I simply unfriend or unfollow and I don’t want to discuss anything with these people because they are way too far gone.

    2. None of my family members or associates respond to polls any more.

      There is a cost/benefit deficit to public expressions of political views if your politics run from center left to conservative. That does not indicate a change in resolve at all. Possibly the opposite of that.
      I don’t think many people see the escalating violence and think that the best solution is to vote those folks more political power.

      When we had a BLM/Defund protester shoot a random farmer earlier this summer, it did not swing many folks to the left. It instead caused a bit of a run on ammunition.

  11. I’m in California, so I have the luxury of voting Libertarian in November, and I will.

    But if I lived in Michigan? OK, so Biden wasn’t my 1st choice, or my 5th, or 11th. (I registered Dem this time, just so I could vote in the primary, hoping for a Klobuchar/Buttigieg ticket, but that didn’t get far.) But Biden is, for better or worse, the ONLY choice, and if I lived in a swing state, sorry, LP, but voting AGAINST the Mango Mussolini is just more important this time.

    So since I can’t move to one of the swing states, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing–sending money to The Lincoln Project, Amy McGrath, and Mark Kelly. Among others.

    1. Mango Mussolini is the best Trump summary every. And as a Michigander, I fully agree with your voting strategy (except the LP would not be my go-to third party, but never mind about that).

    2. American suffers under the abysmal ‘first past the post’ voting system (as does England, the country of my birth). Thankfully, I now live in a country that is political light years ahead with our mandatory, preferential voting system.
      From my viewpoint, voting ‘third party’ – Libertarian, Green, etc – is merely another vote for tRump.
      Why would anyone do that?

      1. fairlycirrus: “why would anyone do that?”

        You forget the effect of the Electoral College. Which is that ONLY swing state voters elect the Prez. I can vote LP in CA because, even if the Dems nominated Pol Pot and Charlie Manson, and the GOP nominated Jesus Christ and Mother Teresa (don’t start with me–I’m an atheist, but you take my point), the Dems would win CA walking away. My vote is worth NOTHING to Biden, or to

        Cadet Bone Spurs (THANK YOU, Tammy!), or to anyone else. It’s a “throwaway” no matter what. So why not make a statement? (Which in my case, as a pragmatic libertarian, is that any proposed government action should be falsifiable, so that we can, at least theoretically, say: “Well, that didn’t work,” and try something else, rather than saying: “Well that didn’t work, so let’s quintuple the budget.”)

    3. “…I have the luxury of voting Libertarian..”

      It is said that a big landslide against Mass Murderer donald is crucial to fend off dangerous nonsense from that 40% of the US which will support insanity (as it was termed by someone above). So enough people with your attitude won’t be too helpful in that direction.

      We had plenty of recounting the faults of Hillary just before November 4 years ago among those who were anti-Trump, even here, and I doubt that was helpful in getting people off their asses to go vote so that the Mass Murderer would fail.

    1. This old lady agrees with you 100%. AOC is amazing. I hope to live long enough to see her rise. Hubby agrees too. The convention is going great. They are doing a terrific job of getting their message out. I’m looking forward to the speeches tonight, especially Obama!

  12. Changing the subject…

    BBC Radio 4 has a new five-part drama about the I Love Lucy sitcom. It’s called “Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom” and is written by Gregg Oppenheimer, whose writer-producer father worked on the original TV show. I never know how BBC Sounds works outside the UK, but if you’re interested you may be able to listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000ltky

  13. I have nothing to add to the above seriously informed comments about the Democratic Convention, so I’m going to change the subject.

    I have spent part of the lockdown re-reading books that I haven’t taken off my shelves for years. Most recently I have had another shot at John Updike, most of whose books I bought as soon as they came out in paperback.

    I have enjoyed re-reading some of his short stories, especially the late collection ‘Licks of Love’, which includes his last-ever novella about his everyman, ‘Rabbit Remembered’. But I have also just re-read ‘Roger’s Version’, his 1986 novel, which I felt has aged very badly. The theme of reason vs faith is not handled as well as many later authors would have treated it, and Updike’s occasional misogynism and incessant sexual obsession seem very dated.

    That said, Updike’s powers of description and characterisation remain as powerful as ever, and I intend to persist! My question is not what people now think of Updike, but the following:

    What books have you re-read during your enforced isolation, and has your view of them changed since you first read them?

    1. I’ve never read any Updike but I’d be willing to accept suggestions.

      I haven’t reread anything in recent memory. The piles of unread books cluttering my shelves and floor, along with the new releases showing up each month keep me from revisiting anything. I suppose I would be up for rereading some Steinbeck (Sea of Cortez, Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday come to mind) or maybe I should revisit my love of Russian literature. Crime and Punishment would naturally top the list since I read it in my mid-20’s. But honestly, there’s so much I’ve not yet read, The Gulag Archipelago, for example, I just haven’t found the time to reread much of anything and my covid/lockdown mind is even more unfocused than usual, thus greatly impeding my intellectual progress.

      1. His themes are Sex, America, and Death. I’d recommend the “Rabbit” series (4). Slice of Americana through the life of an average guy.

        “Bech a Book” and “Bach is Back” are good.

        Not impressed with his poetry.

        Compare to “Bullet Park” by John Cheever

      2. If you have piles of stuff you need to read but haven’t, I’m not sure I would recommend putting any Updike ahead of it. But for what it’s worth, I do think his four ‘Rabbit’ books, written once a decade from 1960 to 1990, do encapsulate something about the (East Coast/post-industrial?) US throughout those decades.

        If you can’t face Rabbit Angstrom, and many people can’t, have a shot at his short stories, of which there are a number of volumes and collections.

    2. I am reading Brian Greene “Until the End if Time”. It’s about nearly everything: physics, chemistry, biology, consciousness, free will, language, etc. and I am only 40% through it.

      1. Greene was interviewed by the physicist Jim Al-Khalili for BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific earlier in the year. He’s a great science communicator. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000hmfm

        According to Wikipedia he has been a vegan since 1997, and was the narrator of the US version of the children’s TV series Maisy (here in the UK it was Neil Morrissey).

      2. I like Greene’s books. He’s an excellent communicator of difficult ideas, which is a real skill. I think it was in one of his books that I came closest to truly grasping special relativity. I still don’t fully get it, not on an instinctive level, but his explanations were simplest and most intuitive.

        There are plenty of physicists who write for the public and yet they have no particular talent for communicating their ideas to the reader. Carlo Rovelli and Lee Smolin spring to mind most readily, probably just because I’ve been reading their stuff more recently, but there are plenty of others.

  14. While watching the Dem National Convention, my thoughts were dominated by wondering what kind of shit-show the Republicans will put up next week. If you like horror shows, it should be pretty entertaining. I can guarantee it won’t be uplifting. Trump was better able to rally luminaries to his cause back in 2016. He’s going to be left with the dregs this time around. He also had the benefit of no one really knowing what he would be like as president. Would he surround himself by people who knew what they were doing? Did it make sense to run the US government like a businessman? Was he really a divisive jerk or just playing one in order to win? (Answers: No, No, Really a jerk)

  15. The author Ali Smith has just finished her quartet of seasonal novels, all based on contemporary events and published very soon after them. The first, Autumn, came out in 2016 and is widely seen as the first fictional work to feature Brexit. It made the Man Booker shortlist. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autumn_(Smith_novel) (Smith, a Scot now living in England, is a remainer.)

    The final volume was published about a fortnight ago, and is set shortly before and during the current pandemic (it also makes a passing reference to the George Floyd BLM protests. Smith’s style won’t be to everyone’s taste, though.

  16. Columnist Tom Friedman of the NYT, probably best described as a centrist or slightly to the left, is very worried, with good reason, that the country “may not be able to conduct a free and fair election and, should President Trump be defeated by Joe Biden, have a legitimate and peaceful transfer of power.”

    He notes:

    “Because if half the country thinks their votes were not fully counted due to deliberate sabotaging of the U.S. Postal Service by this administration, and if the other half are made to believe by the president that any mail-in vote for Biden was fraudulent, that would not result in just a disputed election — not another Bush v. Gore for the Supreme Court to sort out — that would be the end of American democracy as we know it. It also isn’t hyperbole to say it could sow the seeds of another Civil War.”

    Trump has already announced that if he doesn’t win then by definition the election was rigged. He is calling into question the legitimacy of the electoral process by claiming falsely that mail-in voting is corrupt. What is sure is that democracy is on trial. Can it survive? If Trump loses, his cult may take to the streets. If he wins, he will destroy, probably for good, the American system of government.


    1. Friedman: “It also isn’t hyperbole to say it could sow the seeds of another Civil War.”

      Historian: “If Trump loses, his cult may take to the streets.”

      As apocalyptic as this sounds, I can’t fault either of these findings. Which means that there may soon come a time when the anti-gun folks find, to their great relief, that there are a LOT of liberals who own a LOT of guns.

      What to make of the Angry Apricot Asshole having already announced that his dethroning is by definition illegitimate? Friedman is a bit on the cautious side with his “sow the seeds” assessment. In fact, the Civil War has already begun. This time, maybe we’ll be smart enough to let “certain” states secede. I have a list…

      1. Angry Apricot Asshole🤣 Wish the idiot didn’t keep appropriating colors/fruits that I like. I did dig out my bright pink Nasty Woman t-shirt from 2016 the other day. Since I’m in Canada I sometimes have to explain…

      2. “Which means that there may soon come a time when the anti-gun folks find, to their great relief, that there are a LOT of liberals who own a LOT of guns.”

        The relief will be short-lived, since whoever controls the police, national guard, or military will make short work of any individual with a gun.

  17. Tom Edsall is a columnist for the NYT. As an “opinion” writer, I consider him far and away one the best in the business. In contrast to most of his colleagues, he does not express opinions based on feelings. Rather, he consults academic studies and confers with leading scholars in the field of American politics. In his latest column, he discusses how the parties have become so polarized over the last few decades. There are many factors involved, but racial and religious polarization are two important ones. Also, the Democratic Party is now the party of the college educated. The Democratic Party now contains many few white Christians than it did in the 1980s. This should not be surprising with the exiting of Southern whites to the Republicans. Here we see the relationship between race and religion.

    Edsall quotes scholar Robert P. Jones:

    “As the Republican Party has continued to remain fairly homogeneous and has organized itself, fueled by decades of deploying the so-called Southern Strategy, around a politics of white racial grievances, the Democratic Party has become the default party for those who do not share those grievances and has come to more closely reflect the changing demographics of the country. As a result, the Democratic coalition, in terms of race and religion, is notably more diverse today than it was when Biden first ran for president in 1988. And issues of religious and racial identity are more salient today in defining the partisan divides.”

    All this explains why partisanship is so great today. The Democrats are the party of liberals, the educated, the urban, the more racially sensitive, and the less religious. The Republicans consist of conservatives, rural folk, the less educated, and white Christians afraid of demographic changes. It is the future versus the past. But the past is not going down without a fight as it slavishly obeys their cult leader. Thus, democracy is in jeopardy.

    I recommend the Edsall article to anyone who wants to get a quick summary of how the country is divided. Even if Trump goes, the partisan divide won’t.


    1. In a possible very rosy future, if the Dems win big and earn both the House and Senate, they may be able to create two more states — Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. Both will be overwhelmingly Democratic, and that will tip some scales in future elections!

    1. Just looked it up on Wikipedia: “The district has no official representation in the United States Senate. Neither chamber seats the district’s elected “shadow” representative or senators. Unlike residents of U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico or Guam, which also have non-voting delegates, D.C. residents are subject to all federal taxes.[216] In the financial year 2012, D.C. residents and businesses paid $20.7 billion in federal taxes; more than the taxes collected from 19 states and the highest federal taxes per capita.[217]

      A 2005 poll found that 78% of Americans did not know residents of the District of Columbia have less representation in Congress than residents of the fifty states.[218] Efforts to raise awareness about the issue have included campaigns by grassroots organizations and featuring the city’s unofficial motto, “Taxation Without Representation”, on D.C. vehicle license plates.[219]”

      It seems my ignorance is shared by 78% of Americans – no insult intended, but that isn’t necessarily very reassuring. “No taxation without representation”, indeed! (I wonder what an alternative world where the War of Independence and the westward expansion of the British colonies hadn’t happened would look like?)

  18. At the Biden/Harris website, http://www.joebiden.com/joes-vision, Joe BIden’s vision is laid out. Here I am leaving out the obvious COVID-19 items and others:

    Build Back Better:
    * Jobs and Economic Recovery for Working Families
    * Equity Across the American Economy
    * 21st. Century Caregiving and Education Workforce
    * Sustainable Infrastructure and Clean Energy Future

    Joe Biden’s Proposals to Setup Support for Deserving Small Businesses
    The Biden 4-Point Plan for Our Essential Workers
    The Biden Plan to Scale Up Employment Insurance
    The Biden Plan for Bankruptcy Reform
    Lift Every Voice: The Biden Plan for Black America
    The Biden Plan for Central America
    The Biden Plan for Immigration
    The Biden Plan for Veterans
    The Biden Plan for Military Families
    The Biden Plan for Encouraging Unions and Empowering Workers
    The Biden Plan for Campaign Finance and Government Reform
    The Biden Plan for Education Beyond High School
    The Biden Plan for Ending Gun Violence
    The Biden Plan for Violence Against Women
    The Biden Plan for Criminal Justice Reform
    The Biden Plan for Rural America
    The Biden Plan for Older Americans and Retirement
    The Biden Plan for Health Care
    The Biden Plan for Restoring American Leadership
    The Biden Plan for Climate Change

    There are more.

    It is nonsense for anyone to claim that Joe Biden has not said what he stands for, or what his plans are. It does require a lot of reading, though, to take it all in.

    It would nice if some newspaper pundit read the whole thing, and gave us a nice précis that captured it all without bias, but I doubt it will happen.

    People don’t really want to wade through all the details – I sure have’t. We take stock of the candidate, and say yay or nay. I say yay.

    1. I agree. Few voters will take the time to dig into the details. It’s easier to claim he hasn’t said what he stands for. We, and I include myself here, are mostly uninformed and vote based on party affiliation, cheap shot political ads, and gut feelings. Many here, probably more than the average citizen, read the papers, the online news, watch the evening news, and are well-educated but how many are die-hard policy wonks eager to get down and dirty with a political platform? I know that’s not me. I require some form of information interpreter to make heads or tails of it.

    2. I don’t think the site is there for everyone. Just pundits and news people.
      The convention and TV ads will do the rest. As will tRump do his part by exhibiting his incompetence for the next few months.

    3. I couldn’t agree more, it is nonsense to claim that Biden hasn’t said what he stands for. However, a certain percentage of voters always make this same claim about the DP candidate. Go back and look at conversations here on WEIT leading up to the 2016 election and you’ll see people making the same claim about Hillary. Which was completely inaccurate then, just as it is now.

  19. I watched last night and I’m watching now (9:51 EDT) as Hillary Clinton is on. I have always really liked her, and from people I know who have met her, the b**chy stereotype is just not true of her.

    re: AOC. It’s a shame that she’s become a lightning rod for the right (which seems to be Jerry’s source of info here?) Her role was relegated to being the person who officially nominated the loser. How does that make her the “future of the democratic party?” She’s the future of PART of the party.

    The best part was the ballot casting, with videos from everywhere & talking about different planks of the platform. It was a real picture of the variety of viewpoints from the country.

    Tonight, starting with gun violence was also a good move, especially considering how the right wing troll farms tried to commandeer the #saytheirname hashtag by blowing up the story of the murder of a little boy by a mentally ill black neighbor, and claimed nobody cared about it. My facebook friends’ racism really came out when I called them out on that, but I wonder how many smug republicans really think they owned the libtards on that one. Democrats showed that all lives matter to us, vs. idiot repugs who made it clear that only white male lives mattered to them.

  20. Re AOC’s 100 seconds – I heard she was given 90 seconds, not just 60, to make her nominating speech. 90 is bad enough, but 60 would be completely unrealistic.

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