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Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tour de France: Microbe & Gasoline ***

By Dennis Hartley

I guess I’m mellowing with age. The first sign was when I saw a Wes Anderson film…and actually liked it. As I wrote in my 2014 review of The Grand Budapest Hotel:

I have been somewhat immune to the charms of Wes Anderson. I have also developed a complex of sorts over my apparent inability to comprehend why the phrase “a Wes Anderson film” has become catnip to legions of hipster-garbed fanboys and swooning film critics […] Maybe there’s something wrong with me? Am I like the uptight brother-in-law in Field of Dreams who can’t see the baseball players? […] To me, “a Wes Anderson film” is the cinematic equivalent to Wonder Bread…bland product, whimsically wrapped.

Mr. Anderson isn’t the only director I’ve had this “problem” with. Enter Michel Gondry, who I’ve always viewed as Anderson’s French cousin (i.e. a purveyor of bland product, whimsically wrapped). As I lamented in my 2014 review of Gondry’s Mood Indigo:

Not that I haven’t come to expect a discombobulating mishmash of twee narrative and wanton obfuscation from the director of similarly baffling “Romcoms From the Id” like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, but…enough, already.

I seriously doubt that Gondry literally read my silly little review and took it to heart, but I’ll be damned if he hasn’t dropped the twee narrative and wanton obfuscation for once, and made a film that I really enjoyed (hey wait…when did those ball players get here?!).

Microbe and Gasoline is a straightforward coming-of-age/road dramedy about two nerdy 14 year-old school chums who embark on a decidedly offbeat summer adventure. With its socially awkward protagonists and gentle comedic observations on the emotional (and hormonal) turbulence of young adolescence, the film is a mélange of Small Change, Gregory’s Girl, My Bodyguard, and Breaking Away, with a just a hint of Weird Science.

Daniel (Ange Dargent) is a daydreamer and budding artist who sketches portraits of his classroom crush Laura (Diane Besnier) in lieu of paying attention to the teacher. Small for his age and slightly built (hence the nickname “Microbe”), he is frequently mistaken for a girl. This makes him a natural target for bullies. Theo (Theophile Baquet) is the new kid at school, which automatically makes him an outsider. Theo (dubbed “Gasoline”, because he helps out in his dad’s auto repair shop) is more boisterous than Daniel, but generally shunned by the other kids because of his caustic wit, which he uses as a shield.

Bonded by their shared insecurities and outsider status, Daniel and Theo become fast friends. Theo mentors Daniel on strategies to get Laura’s attention (although he’s obviously not speaking from experience) and how to handle the bullying (of which he undoubtedly does speak from experience). “Remember,” he sagely tells Daniel, “today’s bullies are tomorrow’s victims.” When school’s out for summer, the two decide to split Versailles and hit the road, Jacques. The only problem with that plan is that they are too young to hold driver’s licenses. So, combining Theo’s mechanical savvy with Daniel’s vivid imagination, they design and build their own vehicle…a wooden shack on wheels.

Best described as an outhouse set atop a go-cart (or perhaps a mini-version of Howl’s Moving Castle), the theory is that if they encounter any gendarmes on their journey, they simply pull over to the side of the road and, voila! It’s just a shack on the side of the road. This element of the narrative is Gondry’s sole acquiescence to his innate twee tendencies.

This is the director’s most accessible film, with great performances all around (although Audrey Tautou seems underutilized in her relatively small part as Daniel’s mom). Parents should be advised that the film has an ‘R’ rating (one scene in particular, in which Daniel wanders into a massage parlor for a haircut, assures that this one will never pop up on The Disney Channel). It’s a simple tale; but if you hit the right notes (as Gondry does here) there’s eloquence in simplicity. It may not win a prize for originality, but in the midst of a summer movie roster rife with murder and mayhem, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Previous posts with related themes:

More reviews at Den of Cinema

--Dennis Hartley

Shorter Halle and Chomsky

by tristero

Shorter Halle and Chomsky: vote for Clinton, especially if you're in the swing states.

Adding: Like Michael Moore, I did not wish to vote for Clinton (because of her inexcusable vote for the Bush/Iraq War resolution among other things). However, given the alarming policies and character of all the Republican candidates, I decided during the primaries I would vote for whichever Democrat won the nomination (I'm a lifelong Independent).

From the "you can't make this stuff  up files"

by digby

Pence sounds as delusional as Trump now. It must be catching.
Mike Pence chastised President Obama on Friday for indirectly referring to Donald Trump as a demagogue, saying — perhaps ironically — that "name calling" has no "place in public life. 
Pence, responding directly to the president's comments about Trump at the Democratic convention on Wednesday, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt: "I don't think name calling has any place in public life, and I thought that was unfortunate that the president of the United States would use a term like that." 
Pence's remarks backed up against his own running mate's use of derogative nicknames over the last year on the campaign, including: "Little Michael Bloomberg", "Crooked Hillary" [Clinton], "Corrupt [Tim] Kaine", "Liddle Marco [Rubio]", "Lyin' Ted" [Cruz], "Crazy Bernie" [Sanders], "Goofy" [Elizabeth Warren] and "Low Energy Jeb" [Bush].
Lately he's been saying "HIllary Rotten Clinton." Yes, he has the mind of a 12 year old.

Not a dime's worth of difference?

by digby

Via Think Progress:
Clinton said: “I believe climate change is real and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs.”

“I am proud we shaped a global climate agreement,” she said later in the speech. “Now we have to hold every country accountable to their commitments, including ourselves.”

A five-minute video called “Not Reality TV” played at the DNC on Wednesday night, narrated by Sigourney Weaver and produced by James Cameron. It showed the impacts of climate change, touted Hillary Clinton’s clean energy priorities, and attacked Donald Trump for his “reckless denial of climate change” that is “dangerous, a threat to your livelihood, your safety, your children and the prosperity of this nation.”

The video features former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), former President George H.W. Bush, and Pope Francis all expressing varying levels of concern about climate change. This provided a clear distinction with the current GOP nominee, who has consistently denied the reality of climate change and the science that backs it.

Cameron said earlier in the day that Trump was “a madman” and “incredibly reckless, incredibly dangerous” due to his climate denial.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said on Monday night that “Hillary will fight to preserve this earth for our children and grandchildren.”

Clinton’s onetime rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), made the case for Clinton and against Trump when it comes to the climate crisis:

This election is about climate change, the great environmental crisis facing our planet. And the need to leave this world in a way that is healthy and habitable for our children and future generations.

Hillary Clinton is listening to the scientists who tell us that unless we act boldly to transform our energy system in the very near future, there will be more drought, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, more rising sea levels. She understands that we can create hundreds of thousands of jobs transforming our energy system.

Donald Trump? Well, like most Republicans he chooses to reject science. He believes that climate change is a hoax, no need to address it. Hillary Clinton understands that a president’s job is to worry about future generations, not the profits of the fossil fuel industry.

Sanders’ appointees to the party platform committee were instrumental in helping to write thestrongest climate platform in party history. It did not call for a fracking ban — a key Sanders goal — but it did call for a carbon price, a goal of 100 percent renewable energy nationwide, and an outline for steps to exceeding our Paris commitments.

The Republican platform, however, now denies the reality of climate change — a reality the same document treated much more seriously just eight years ago.

Trump says it's all a conspiracy:

Donald Trump offered a new explanation this week on why he believes climate change is a hoax. Past explanations have includedblaming China for making up climate change for their benefit. But that was before being nominated for President. So what’s his position today?

Speaking with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News, Trump gave an updated account of why he thinks global warming is a hoax.

O’REILLY: Did you ever call climate change a hoax?

TRUMP: Well, I might have because when I look at some of the things that are going on, in fact if you look at Europe where they had their big summit a couple of years ago, where people were sending out emails, scientists practically calling it a hoax and they were laughing at it. So, yeah, I probably did. I see what’s going on and you see what’s going on.

The Discredited ClimateGate Conspiracy Theory

Trump appears to be referring here to the illegal hacking of scientists’ emails in 2009, which climate skeptics gleefully dubbed “ClimateGate.” These conspiracy theories have been thoroughly debunked (see for example FactCheck.org , Union of Concerned Scientists, and Politifact). After the emails were released, every investigative report — from the National Science Foundation Inspector General, NOAA’s Inspector General, Penn State University, University of East Anglica, and the UK Parliament — reached the same conclusion: nothing in the emails in any way altered the overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is warming due to increased levels of pollution.

Illegal Hacking Timed to Disrupt Climate Talks

Despite the thorough debunking of these attacks on scientists, the conspiracy theories gained traction in the media and, as Trump demonstrates, remain a convenient go-to point for skeptics today. The hacked emails were mysteriously dumped in 2009 on a server in Russia at an optimally timed moment as President Obama and world leaders were preparing to head to Copenhagen forge a new global climate agreement. The scientific community was instantly judged guilty in kangaroo courts led by Fox News and other media outlets who chased the story before investigating the facts. Fox News’ Sean Hannity helped lead the charge, declaring:

HANNITY (2009): “it is safe to say that ClimateGate has revealed that global warming and that movement is run by hacks and frauds.”

Fast forward to 2016

Today, NASA says there is a 99 percent chance that 2016 will be the hottest year on record, following the previous record set just last year.

The Democrats are imperfect on this issue. But please ... as Wired points out this is the first time any political party has put climate change up front as one of its defining issues. And that party is not the GOP.

If you could see the future ...

by digby

I had seen this old movie "The Dead Zone" before but it was on the other night and I had it on in the background. It struck me as an interesting flick for the current period:

A high school teacher and soon-to-be wife winds up in a fateful car crash that turns his life upside down. When he awakens from a five-year coma, he discovers that through physical contact he can predict a person's ultimate fate. This power can serve to be a gift, or a curse, as Walken soon realizes when he shakes the hand of a power-hungry politician.

Martin Sheen really chews the scenery in this one as the megalomanic politician. And to think he had never seen Donald Trump at the time ...

This is a re-run of an earlier post. I think I'm going to re-run it once a month until November.

No more Mr Nice Guy

by digby

He's just losing it. He started off his rally yesterday morning pissed off at the fire marshal for refusing to let too many people into the room because these people "don't know what the hell they're doing"  --- and they might be Hillary people. The fire marshal.

Then there was this when the lock her up chant started:

"I've been saying let's just beat her on November 8th. But you know what, I'm starting to agree with you," Trump said.

The comments, which came in his first public appearance since Clinton ripped him in her speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, marked an about-face for Trump, who in the last week has resisted joining in on his supporters' chants and instead urged them to channel their anger at the ballot box.

"You know it's interesting. Every time I mention her, everyone screams 'lock her up, lock her up.' They keep screaming. And you know what I do? I've been nice," Trump explained to his supporters in this evangelical bastion of Colorado Springs. "But after watching that performance last night -- such lies -- I don't have to be so nice anymore. I'm taking the gloves off.

Needless to say he's lying. His Nuremburg rally speech at the RNC was the first time he ever said "lets beat her in November." He's been saying for months that she should be in jail:
After months of insisting that Clinton was "guilty as hell," Trump argued in June that Clinton should "go to jail" over her email use, which Trump and Republicans allege may have compromised national security.
Meaningless, I know, to point such things out anymore. It's actually more useful to point out the rare times when he isn't lying or bragging or otherwise being a cretin.

Yes, he also said he wanted to hit someone (Bloomberg) for saying mean things about him and he says he takes these insults personally.

But nothing, nothing comes close to this batshit crazy comment:
I was curious to see whether she’d do a class act and not mention my name,” the Republican nominee said at a rally with supporters in Colorado. “Or mention it with respect, like, say, ‘I’d like to congratulate my Republican opponent for having done something that nobody has ever done in the history of politics in this nation.’”

“See, I thought she might do something like that. I thought she'd give me a big fat beautiful congratulations. If she did that, would that have been cool? Would that have been great?,”
Yes, he actually said that. And it wasn't a joke. That's the weirdest projection I have ever seen. Twisted, bizarre, freakish. He think he's the one who has "done something that nobody has ever done in the history of politics in this nation." And he's angry that Clinton didn't congratulate him for it.

The mind boggles.

By the way, here's what John McCain did when Obama won his nomination in 2008:


Outwit. Outlast. Outplay. Outorganize.

by Tom Sullivan

Have been observing the aftermath from the Democratic convention among grassroots supporters of both Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. It is a small sample, but feelings are still raw.

A friend who worked the 2008 Obama campaign (and numerous others since) had some advice for Clinton supporters in the virtual space. They need to be graceful winners and less gloaty:

To my friends that are being mean to BernieOrBusters:

Point I'm trying to make is that most of these BernieOrBusters are either first time voters or sporadic voters, not solid Democrats, with some notable exceptions. And these voters kinda need to be coddled and nurtured into growing from sporadic voters to precinct organizers. And the DNC, to this point, has told them to fuck off. My experience is that more fuck off will not turn their heads. Telling them that they owe us their vote -- also not a winner. Telling them that they owe this to themselves -- that has a shot.

Remember the recent lesson of G. W. Bush. In 2000 Gore lost New Hampshire partially due to a successful Green Party movement that splintered off enough votes to give the state to Bush. If Gore had won that state, then the fuckery in Florida wouldn't have mattered, and probably wouldn't have even taken place. The Democrats first solution was to whine about it for four years. The result was a Bush reelection. Yes, there was some fuckery in Ohio, but Bush won that election.

Enter Howard Dean as chair of the DNC who decreed that we will stop blaming voters whom don't vote with us and instead, explain why it's best for them if they do, everywhere. Result: took back both houses of congress and the majority of state governments in the very next cycle and gave the Democrats their first landslide presidential win in a generation the cycle after that.

So please stop calling BernieOrBusters shitheads, 'cause we need them and you are tired of doing all of the precinct organizing and voter registration yourself -- you are doing those things, yes?
"Coddled" might not sit well with people. But his point is taken. Bernie Sanders' grassroots supporters have energy and a fire in their guts that Democrats will need, not just for this coming election, but beyond. Losing is always tough. The trick is to learn from it, to pick yourself up and channel that energy. Besides, as one Sanders delegate told a friend after the convention, "We may have lost the battle, but we won the war."

Colleague David Atkins (who has won a few and lost a few) seems to concur (above).

The counterpoint to my friend's comments above is that Sanders supporters are now positioned to leverage the knowledge and experience they've gained and the networks they've built into party leadership and renewal, and into legislative gains around the country. If. They. Stay. Engaged.

Progressives politics is an unending struggle to advance the ball, to make this world a better, more inclusive place for more people, and to be a check against those corrupted by power. That's what democracy is. That's what Bernie supporters have worked for. It is a struggle for the power to enact change and to displace or co-opt those with whom we disagree.

Already some of my Bernie friends are re-registering as independents, unwilling to participate further in the Democratic Party after an election contest in which, one supporter alleged, the party "wouldn't let Bernie win."

Seriously? Seriously? Letting your opponent win is called throwing the fight. That’s not how elections work. Think opponents across the aisle will be so nice?

Plus, why would anyone expect human dynamics inside a political party to be different from politics in any other organization? You can find assholes anywhere. Families feud. Clubs have fallings out. Churches have schisms. Team members don't get along. Parties have internecine struggles. So it goes.

Parties are like unions. Joining doesn't mean you are signing away your immortal soul. You don't join a union because every provision of the charter perfectly aligns with your deepest principles, or because you agree with the union president, or because you like everyone you work with or stand beside on the picket line. People join political parties for the same reason they join unions: to find strength in numbers. That's why I did.

Now, not everybody is a joiner. (By nature, I'm not.) Non-joiners prefer to stand apart, and politically independent. Sometimes defiantly so. That's their choice. But if having less of a voice in the political process makes them feel marginalized, they are marginalized by choice. They are not being excluded. To riff on that old Irish joke, it's not a private fight. Anybody can get in. All they have to do to join is register. All they have to do to participate is show up and work. Sometimes alongside people they don't much like.

Gaining influence, credibility, authority? That is something else. You don't walk into a church for the first time and expect people to ask you to preach the sermon. You don't walk in a third time and expect people to ask for your sage counsel. We all understand that. So we don't get offended when they don't. So it is in party politics. Bernie friends say they want R-E-S-P-E-C-T. What they really want is to be taken seriously. But credibility is not conferred by registering at the DMV. Credibility, you have to earn over time.

Nothing gets accomplished, resolved or advanced by leaving the game after your first setback. So to those ready to bail, which is truer? Your opponents wouldn't let you win, or by abandoning the field you let them beat you?

This ain't the Montessori School. Jumping into this fight, would-be revolutionaries are vying to lead the most powerful country on the planet. You are promising voters you are going to take on and subdue the most powerful corporate entities in the world. Are you going to run home now because Little Debbie was mean to you? Give me a fucking break.

After the starship Enterprise's first disastrous encounter with the Borg, the entity Q tells Captain Jean Luc Piccard:
Q: If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid.
People’s futures are on the line. The world is. If you expect to win at this game, first learn how to play it. If you expect to advance your agenda and defeat your rivals inside your own party – any party – you'd best learn how they play it. Better yet, cooperate with and win them over. Or else outwit, outlast, and outplay them. But this isn't "Survivor." This is for real. And in the long run, that’s what it takes to win. Plus allies. Lots of allies.

This is democracy, warts and all. At the end of the day (and on Election Day it is the end of the day) we count votes. That’s how we determine winners and losers. There is math involved. We don’t count passion or ideology or likeability or past decisions or check-off boxes on candidate questionnaires. Politics is a competition. It’s a contest. You must be present to win. If you don’t show up to play, you forfeit.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday night soother: Good people

by digby

Via the Dodo:
It pays to have friends, especially ones with such big hearts.

Last weekend, the Montez family got a call they had long given up hope of ever receiving. Their dog, Corky, who'd gone missing in 2009, had been found and rescued nearly 7 years later. He was brought to the Humane Society of North Texas after being picked up as a stray wandering along a busy street. Thanks to a microchip, rescuers were able to track down his rightful owners.

"We were in shock when we got the news," Corky's owner, Jimmy Montez, told The Dodo. "We just couldn't believe it."

Corky has been back with his family for less than a week now, but it's already clear that things wouldn't be complete without Captain there, too.

"They're as thick as thieves. Wherever Captain goes, Corky is right there with him," Montez said. "I think Corky had been helping him out on the streets because he's missing an eye. He always lets him eat first and they always nap together. Corky looks after him."
And this:

It just wasn't that long ago...

by digby

... that women were literally second class citizens.

Retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski was celebrated at the DNC as the first Democratic woman to become a US Senator in her own right. She wasn't young when she won the seat. She was already 51. (Republican Margaret Chase Smith had been elected in her own right back in the 1950s when Northeast republicans were the country's leading liberals.)

Only fifteen women had ever served in the Senate before Mikulski got there, almost all of them appointed or serving in their late husband's seats. There have only been 30 in the years after she arrived.

Mikulski was first elected in 1987, only 29 years ago. That is not ancient history.

And then there's this:

[T]here are no fewer than 400,000 women in the United States [who were born before women got the right to vote.). In the Census Bureau's 2015 estimates, some 428,000 women were born in 1920 or earlier. The 19th Amendment was ratified in August 1920. Of course we've lost some of those women who were alive in 2015, but there are still hundreds of thousands — more than 1 out of every 1,000 people in the country — who predate suffrage and can vote for Clinton.
My own mother was born before women could vote. (Black women who lived in the south, like black men, did not get the unequivocal right to vote until even later, of course.) She didn't live to see this day but I'm sure she would be pleased. She was a very smart women and women of her age suffered many insults to their intelligence and were often infantilized throughout their adult lives. As a divorced woman in the 1950s she suffered many indignities, including having to get her father to co-sign for a checking account when she was in her 30s.

Here's one of the 400,000. 102-year-old honorary Arizona delegate Geraldine "Jerry" Johnson Emmett gained attention July 26 for her enthusiastic announcement of her state's support of Hillary Clinton:

QOTD: Stopped clock edition

by digby

David Brooks:
This week I left the arena here each night burning with indignation at Mike Pence. I almost don’t blame Trump. He is a morally untethered, spiritually vacuous man who appears haunted by multiple personality disorders. It is the “sane” and “reasonable” Republicans who deserve the shame — the ones who stood silently by, or worse, while Donald Trump gave away their party’s sacred inheritance.

It as actually America's inheritance that they thought they owned but whatever. He's right about Pence and all the others who have shown their cowardice and their willingness to put their parochial self-interest above their country. #Neverletthemforgetit

They didn't like him, they really didn't like him

by digby

I don't know how people will respond to Clinton's speech but we know how they responded to Trump's:

Trump's speech got the least positive reviews of any speech we have tested after the fact: 35% of Americans interviewed last weekend said it was excellent or good. Of the nine previous speeches we have rated, the top one was Barack Obama's in August 2008, which 58% of Americans rated as excellent or good. The lowest-rated speech other than Trump's was Mitt Romney's in 2012, with 38% excellent or good.

It goes on to point out that he received better reviews from people who watched the whole convention which one might assume was Republicans. This is pretty brutal:

Of those who watched very little or none of the convention, 19% rated Trump's speech as excellent or good.

And this:

The self-reported net impact of the GOP convention was also negative. Overall, 51% of Americans say the convention made them less likely to vote for Trump, while 36% said it made them more likely to vote for him. This is the highest "less likely to vote" percentage for a candidate in the 15 times Gallup has asked this question after a convention. The previous "less likely" high was 38% after both conventions in 2012, and after the GOP conventions in 2004 and 2008.

They pulled out 2004 (barely) but haven't been too successful since.

We'll see how Clinton did. Considering polarization and many people's general loathing of her as a speaker, I won't be surprised if her numbers aren't any better. But Trump's Nuremberg Rally speech didn't test well at least and that's a big relief.

Meanwhile, like the emotional 12 year old he is, nothing is ever his fault fault:
After promising a “showbiz” Republican National Convention that would dazzle the American public, Donald Trump shrugged off responsibility for staging it after seeing the higher ratings and production values the Democrats' convention had to offer this week in Philadelphia.

“I didn’t produce our show — I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday,” Trump told The New York Times in a phone call this week.

Trump actually broke with tradition by making multiple appearances during the Cleveland convention, coming on stage to introduce his wife Melania on the convention's opening night and appearing onstage with running mate Mike Pence, who followed Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) non-endorsement speech on the convention's third night.

He also dialed into Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show while a mother who lost her son in the Benghazi terrorist attacks described her experience on the RNC stage.

The real estate mogul acknowledged these other unannounced appearances but told the Times they didn’t distract from the convention programming because “nobody even knew” he would be making them.

His claim that he had no hand in the convention programming was also eyebrow-raising, given that campaigns typically dictate the speaker roster and many of the RNC speakers had direct ties to Trump. Among those were five members of the Trump family, the manager of Trump Winery and ‘80s sitcom star Scott Baio, who said Trump personally invited him to speak at a campaign fundraiser.
Fun fact: Paul Manafort produced Reagan's Morning in America convention.

A unified hatefest

by digby

Someone should tell Republicans to delete all their Twitter accounts. They don't have a sense of humor and they just end up embarrassing themselves:
The chief strategist of the Republican National Committee (RNC) accused Hillary Clinton of plagiarism in her speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination.

Spicer’s tweet references a portion of Clinton’s Thursday night address where she seemingly paraphrased Alexis de Tocqueville, the political scientist who wrote “Democracy in America.”

“But here’s the sad truth: There is no other Donald Trump — this is it,” Clinton said in Philadelphia. "And in the end, it comes down to what Donald Trump doesn’t get: that America is great — because America is good.

“So enough with the bigotry and the bombast. Donald Trump’s not offering real change. He’s offering empty promises.”

“America is great because she is good” is often quoted from de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America.” According to an analysis from The Weekly Standard, however, the passage does not actually appear in de Tocqueville’s work.
And this too:

That's adorable. And it's true. Except for the #NeverTrump movement and the delegate walkouts and the Major Party figures refusing to vote for him and the runner-up showing up on the stage in prime time and refusing to endorse him it was a model of party unity.


Here's a quote for you

by digby

I just ...
During her headline speech on Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Clinton noticeably cleared her throat twenty-two times. In and of itself, it could be written off as temporarily being under the weather. Given its persistence, however, questions arise about the Democrats' presidential nominee. She seemed to have deliberately timed her throat clearing during manufactured applause directed by her audience managers.
These right wingers are going to keep talking about her "health." They have been saying she's having strokes and had some kind of brain damage already. I would look for Trump to pick it up soon.

It's all about portraying her as old and decrepit. Trump is older than she is but there's this so no problem:
Donald Trump's personal physician released a statement on the GOP presidential candidate's medical history on Monday, declaring that the real estate magnate would "be the healthiest" president ever. 
"If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency," said Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, a gastroenterologist from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. 
The full letter is written in true Trumpian fashion, full of hyperbole and boasting of greatness. Bornstein calls Trump's blood pressure "astonishingly excellent" and Trump says in his own statement he was "fortunate to have been blessed with great genes." The physician also says Trump has "no history of ever using alcohol or tobacco products."

“You have sacrificed nothing!”

by Tom Sullivan

It was hard to imagine the final night of the 2016 Democratic Convention could be more dramatic than the first three. The heavy hitters had spoken Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: Michelle, Elizabeth, Bernie, Joe, and Barack. Secretary Hillary Clinton's historic acceptance speech as the first woman nominated for U.S. president was expected to be the best of her career. It was. But as she herself admits, "I get it that some people just don't know what to make of me." She does not pretend to be a great speaker. Sometimes it's not oratorical skill that matters.

When the parents of a fallen American Muslin soldier, 27-year-old Army Captain Humayun S.M. Khan, stood on stage to speak of their sacrifice and that of their son, it was the most iconic moment of the convention. I couldn't have been the only one undone by Khizr Khan. Donald Trump certainly was, but not in a good way.

One of the things that most infuriated Republicans in the 1990s about Bill Clinton was how he appropriated what they saw as "their' policy positions. This week, under Hillary Clinton, Democrats took back the flag and patriotism too. One wonders what besides anger and resentment Republicans have left.

Slate provides some backstory:

Humayun Khan was born in the United Arab Emirates and immigrated to the U.S. as a small child, growing up in Maryland and attending college at the University of Virginia. He was a 27-year-old Army captain when he was inspecting the gates of his camp in Baquba, Iraq, and a speeding vehicle approached. Khan told his fellow soldiers to hit the ground and he signaled at the vehicle to stop. He took 10 steps toward the vehicle, which had in it two suicide bombers and a large amount of explosives. The car exploded, injuring 10 of his fellow soldiers and killing Khan. The captain was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, and Khizr Khan believes his son’s actions saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers.

“We still wonder what made him take those 10 steps,” Khan’s father has said in the past. “Maybe that’s the point where all the values, all the service to country, all the things he learned in this country kicked in. It was those values that made him take those 10 steps. Those 10 steps told us we did not make [a] mistake in moving to this country.”
That's all you need to know. Watch.

I got nothin'.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

GOP jerk o' the day

by digby

They just can't help themselves:
When Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday night, the North Carolina GOP thought it quickly spotted something wrong.

“[Tim Kaine] wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag,” the state party tweeted as he was speaking. “Shameful.”

There was one problem: Kaine’s pin, which had a single blue star on a white background bordered with red, wasn’t the flag of Honduras, where he spent a year as a missionary decades ago. It was the symbol for Blue Star Families, or those with members serving in the military.
Typical... Apparently, there was no apology forthcoming when it was pointed out.
What in the world was he talking about? 

by digby

I meant to ask about this yesterday and forgot with all the hoopla. What was he talking about with this comment?
“I was shocked he mentioned the N-word,” Donald Trump told a pool of reporters, before asking them “Do you know what the N-word is? He mentioned it. I was shocked. It’s a total lack of respect for President Obama.” Seconds after criticizing Putin for being such an alleged racist, Trump added “I hope he likes me.”
Some people are wondering  if he's had some conversation with Putin in the last year that nobody knows about because there's no record of him saying it.

But there is this tweet from a Breitbart correspondent who describes himself as
"Hollywood Talent Agent-Turned War Correspondent/Filmmaker, Founder SAFE, contributing journalist at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, Big Peace, Big Hollywood."

The link leads to a blank page now.

Obviously, I have no idea whether this is the national security expert he got this little bit of phony intelligence from but I wouldn't be surprised.

I also wouldn't be surprised if Paul Manafort shared some personal gossip about him with Trump either. He's very tight with Putin's inner circle.

Anyway, it was a very weird thing to say. But what else is new? As Ezra klein argued a few months ago, on of trump's most important disqualifying characteristics is his childlike gullibility.  It's one thing for some Tea Partyer from Sand Point Idaho to believe everything he reads on his twitter and Facebook feeds. Presidents need a bit more skepticism.

RNC sends out email telling people not to watch DNC #Trump ratings disaster

by digby

It looks like Trump's convention was kind of a bust:
President Obama's prime time speech lifted the Democratic convention to its third straight night of ratings wins over the Republican convention last week -- and now the Trump campaign is exhorting supporters not to watch the Democrats' final night.

About 24 million viewers watched Wednesday's DNC coverage on the six biggest channels (CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox News), according to preliminary Nielsen data.

Last Wednesday's RNC coverage drew 23.4 million viewers across eight channels.

The coverage of Obama's speech and Hillary Clinton's appearance on stage spilled into the typically lower-rated 11 p.m. hour, but the ratings results indicate that most viewers kept watching until the very end of the evening.

For the third night in a row, CNN was #1 overall, with 6.17 million viewers between 10 and 11:45 p.m. MSNBC was #2 with 4.92 million. NBC was #3 with 4.17 million.

The Democratic ratings advantage has come as something of a surprise, given Donald Trump's reputation as a ratings magnet.

Last week he touted the viewership for his Republican convention and predicted that no one would watch the Democrats.

On Thursday morning, Trump's campaign sent a fund-raising email urging supporters not to tune into Clinton's acceptance speech on Thursday night.

"Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."

The man who says "Crooked Hillary" has hurt feelings

by digby

He's whining about all the meanies at the Democratic convention.
"Well, they don't all hit me, but some of them do. And they try to hit you as hard as possible. And it's mostly false stuff," Trump said in an interview with Brian Kilmeade on "Fox & Friends" that was taped Wednesday, before the latest night of the convention that saw high-profile speakers like vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine, Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama going directly after the Republican nominee.

Shrugging off criticism, Trump remarked, "I get it. It's the way it goes. It's called politics."

He added, "They're doing their thing, trying to win, justify eight years of horror." 
"You're not taking it personally?" Kilmeade asked.

"I guess I take it a little bit personally," Trump responded. "You can't let it get you down. You have to go out."
The poor little boo-boo.

Trump is Uniquely Dangerous? Hardly

by tristero

Josh Marshall yesterday:
But if you're choosing this venue to boo when we're in the middle of a battle simply to make sure a dangerous - uniquely dangerous - figure like Donald Trump doesn't become president...
As if Cruz would be any better? Or Christie? Or Carson? Or Ryan? Or Rubio? Or Santorum? Or - God help us - the spineless, hot-headed J. Bush? Have we all forgotten already how really bad these candidates were?

Nope. Trump is nothing unique. This delusion that he is is one that Cruz and the rest of the Whole Sick Crew have a vested interest in propagating - in the hopes that they look sensible by comparison. (Spoiler alert: they're not.)

Don't get me wrong: Trump is extremely dangerous, but characterizing him as uniquely dangerous minimizes the ongoing threat from the far right.  Things do not go back to normal if Trump is defeated. Unless and until a new crop of actually sane Republicans emerge, American political discourse will remain alarmingly broken.

Of course, I agree with Josh that "The damage that this man has done simply through his campaign is far more than I think we understand. What would come after his election is unthinkable." But the problem is, in fact, not beyond Democrats and Republicans. It is a systemic problem within the Republican party. The damage that a Cruz, Ryan, Rubio, or Christie candidacy could inflict would be different from Trump's only in kind, not in catastrophic quality. And let's not forget: Cruz and Co. are going nowhere.

To provide Trump the narcissistic thrill he so clearly craves, to call him uniquely dangerous in his odious-ity , is to play a game the right wing wants us to play. It's  a game where Trump is perceived as some kind of bizarre visitation on an otherwise sober-minded Republican party.

And in both the short and long term, it's a game we'll lose.
Come over from the dark side into the light

by digby

I wrote about last night for Salon:

Last night we saw Barack Obama give his last DNC speech as president and it was one of his best speeches ever, which is saying something. It's very unusual for a president to pass the baton with such enthusiasm to his successor. In the past the president either had no respect for the person running to replace him or the new candidate felt he needed to run against the president's record. There was nothing like the full-throated endorsement from Barack Obama last night with Eisenhower-Nixon, Johnson-Humphrey, Reagan-Bush, Clinton-Gore or Bush-McCain. There is no doubt that President Obama is happily entrusting Clinton to carry on his legacy and Clinton is warmly embracing it. For better or worse, these two believe their legacies are entwined.

It was a good night for the Democrats in general. While there were many thematic moments, including some moving testimonials about gun violence and a film about climate change by James Cameron. But coming as it did after Donald Trump held a press conference and invited the Russian Government to do some more hacking on his behalf (among other inhinged ramblings), it was an excellent opportunity for the party to show America that voting for a madman is unnecessary, even if you generally vote Republican. And as it turned out that was exactly what they had planned.

If the first night was the night for demonstrating the party's progressive bonafides, last night was about reaching out to the disaffected Republican moderates who watched that hatefest last week in appalled horror. The first speaker to address those folks was retired Admiral John Hutson, a former Judge Advocate General and law professor. He got right to the point, saying:
 “Donald Trump calls himself the ‘law-and-order candidate,’ but he’ll violate international law. In his words, he endorses torture ‘at a minimum.’ He’ll order our troops to commit war crimes like killing civilians. And he actually said, ‘You have to take out their families.” And what did he say when he was told that’s illegal? He said our troops ‘won’t refuse, believe me.’ This morning, he personally invited Russia to hack us! That’s not law and order. That’s criminal intent!”
There are almost certainly Republicans who are shocked by those comments. Many people with a military background are deeply offended by them. Admiral Hutson was speaking to those people, trying to tell them that there is an alternative.
Former Pentagon and CIA chief Leon Panetta made a similar case testifying to the clear and present danger of a Trump presidency. He was booed lustily by a contingent of anti-war Democrats in the hall, which was probably to be expected. (I wrote about Panetta's propensity for self-serving "maverick" behavior a while back.) So he may have served a broader purpose. If the goal was to reassure certain Independents and moderates, Panetta is a good choice to do that.

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was the one who made the case most explicitly.  He said upfront that he didn't agree with many of Clinton's policies and that he didn't consider himself a Democrat. (This would be more shocking if it weren't for the fact that the runner up for the nomination just announced that he's going back to being an Independent as well! The Democratic coalition is full of them these days.)  And Bloomberg's task was essentially the same as Bernie Sanders' was --- to indict Trump and make the case that it's important that Clinton beat him.  He put it starkly: "Together, let's elect a sane, competent person." The implication of what that said about Trump couldn't have been clearer.

Vice President Joe Biden gave a barn burning speech aimed directly at middle class suburban Republicans who are looking at Trump and wondering just what in the world he knows about their lives. Biden has that common touch and he said it as only he can.
Ladies and gentlemen, let's say the obvious, that is not Donald Trump’s story. Just listen to me a second without booing or cheering. His cynicism and undoubtedly his lack of empathy and compassion can be summed up in that phrase he is most proud of making famous: "You're fired." I'm not joking. Think about that. Think about that. Think about everything you learned as a child. No matter where you were raised, how can there be pleasure in saying, "You're fired? 
He is trying to tell us he cares about the middle class. Give me a break. That is a bunch of malarkey.
He ended his speech saying "come on!"

Finally there was Tim Kaine there to accept the VP nomination and prove to average Americans that the Democrats are the party of normal people.  And he did. He is America's square Dad and that's bound to be reassuring to a few Americans who may be nervous about electing another "first" even as the GOP is offering up someone who appears to be unstable and unqualified. Kaine is the anti-Trump, a self-effacing, modest, obviously decent regular guy.

All of this oblique appealing to the center annoyed some more ideological observers on both sides. Some Democrats found the defense of John McCain and some chants of "USA" discordant and it's not surprising. Republicans were upset to see the Democrats using language they thought they owned:

But Democrats shouldn't be upset about using this kind of rhetoric to advance progressive goals. It's not a capitulation to the other side. Using some of their familiar riffs just makes it comfortable for people to make the switch.

There is evidence that this election may end up finally dislodging the white, college educated demographic from the GOP, which has won them since the time polling first began.  Many of them can see that Trump is dangerous. Last night was an invitation from the Democratic party for them to leave the dark side and come into the light. And they did it with the most liberal platform in history. That's a pretty neat trick.



The real work ahead

by Tom Sullivan

Secretary Hillary Clinton has some tough acts to follow tonight when she accepts her party's nomination for president. There were too many "moments" to count at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia last night.

Vice President Joe Biden's celebration of the American spirit:

The 21st century is going to be the American century. Because we lead not only by example of our power, but by the power of our example. That is the history of the journey of Americans. And God willing, Hillary Clinton will write the next chapter in that journey.

We are America, second to none, and we own the finish line! Don't forget it! God bless you all and God protect our troops.
There was former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (of all people), a self-made billionaire unloading on "dangerous demagogue" Donald Trump, several times Bloomberg's lesser in net worth (that had to sting):
I'm a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one! Trump says he'll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories. He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the US visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages. He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them. What'd I miss here?!
Democratic nominee for Vice President, Sen. Tim Kaine, made a case for why voters can trust Hillary Clinton, and then took down Trump with his own words:
And as he's serving our nation abroad, I trust Hillary with our son's life.

You know who I don't trust? Donald Trump. The guy promises a lot. But you might have noticed, he has a habit of saying the same two words right after he makes his biggest promises. You know the words I mean? "Believe me."

It's gonna be great — believe me. We're gonna build a wall and make Mexico pay for it — believe me! We're gonna destroy ISIS so fast — believe me! There's nothing suspicious in my tax returns — believe me.
And finally, President Barack Obama's remarkable valedictory speech and his full-throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton: "[T]here has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America." Obama stunned the audience when he referenced Donald Trump (not by name) in the same sentence with fascists, communists, jihadists and "homegrown demagogues."

But there was something else Obama and several other speakers mentioned last night. Obama said (emphasis mine):
So if you agree that there’s too much inequality in our economy, and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders’ supporters have been. We all need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done.

If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote – not just for a President, but for mayors, and sheriffs, and state’s attorneys, and state legislators. And we’ve got to work with police and protesters until laws and practices are changed.
Nick Rathod, an Obama White House veteran, echoes what speakers reminded us last night, that there is much more to this election than the marquee race at the top of the ticket. “Trump and Hillary are taking up all the oxygen [but] really where policy making is getting done is the states.” Democrats' 2010 losses were catastrophic:
In Rathod’s opinion, Democrats have only themselves to blame. Even though both President Obama and outgoing Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz started out as state legislators, “The Democratic Party has effectively ignored down-ballot races,” he says. The situation has become so dire that Politico reports the president will campaign for state legislative candidates this fall. He has a lot of catching up to do. Republicans “have made smart and large investments in both state races and infrastructure building that has allowed them this historic control of state legislative chambers and policymaking at the state level,” Rathod says.
This is why (other than Supreme Court picks) our fixation on the top of the ticket – on a savior from the left or the right – is misplaced. Ask me. I live in North Carolina. Ask friends in Michigan, Wisconsin, or Kansas, or those fighting noxious, revanchist legislation in other states.

Mad at the DNC? Fine. Since they abandoned the 50 State strategy they don't exist out here. Take Obama's advice and get out and help Democrats win those down-ticket races. The only way you'll save your state and reform the DNC is from the ground up, not from the White House down.

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