DNC: First Steps to Victory Part 2

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Grumpy: Wow Mouse, what an emotional night.

Two surviving women of the Mother Emanuel Church shootings gave heart wrenching testimony about their ordeal followed immediately by Captain Mark Kelly introducing his wife Gabby Giffords who was struck down by, but survived, an assassin’s bullet. As she acknowledged, talking is hard for her now. It seems like every word must be forced to her lips, but once she does force them out they speak a powerful message urging the nation to take action to curb gun violence through better regulations.

With all that emotion leading us up to the headliners for the night I knew to keep the tissue box close.

Mouse: Yeah, I bet tissue sales are sky high this week. I’m reapplying mascara like there’s no tomorrow and I need more of those eye drops that keep the red out. I couldn’t be happier and no one can wipe the smile from my face.

One sad and touching moment was the tribute to the Democrats we’ve lost in the last four years. Sadly among them was Joe Biden’s son Beau.

Grumpy: Before we got to the headliners we heard from Rear Admiral John Huston (Ret). The Admiral, looking straight into the camera and pointing his finger to tell Trump he isn’t fit to polish John McCain’s shoes, was one such moment. To use a cliché, he brought down the house.

Uncle Joe, what can you say to describe VP Biden that hasn’t already been said. He was damned near perfect. He talked about friends and family putting the important things in life first and in so doing reminded us why the political decisions we make have importance and meaning. He talked about ordinary people doing extraordinary things calling them the heart and soul of the country. He also talked about the Hillary Clinton that he knows well. He reminded us that her life story shows that she has always been a champion for those with dire needs, especially children. As for Trump, Joe summed him up with one word: malarkey. As only Joe could do, he went off script at the end. He waved both fists in the air extolling those present and the rest of America yelling, “Come on! We’re America!”

Mouse: Malarkey is such a good word. It should be use more often this election season, especially when we’re subjected to any Trump speech.

Grumpy: Michael Bloomberg made the case against Trump in a way that no Democrat could. He admitted that his would be a most unconventional convention speech and he was correct. He didn’t come the convention to talk to the Democrats assembled there. Instead he addressed Republicans and independent voters. He summed up his own message that it was time for us to put aside partisan differences for the good of the country and unite against a dangerous demagogue. He closed with a very strong condemnation of Trump, “….let’s elect a sane, competent person with international experience. A unifier who is mature enough to reach out for advice, to build consensus and to recognize that we all have something to contribute. So let’s elect Hillary Clinton…”. Without mentioning his name Bloomberg called Trump insane, incompetent, inexperienced and immature. That gets a thumbs up from me.

Mouse: Hmmmm… those words are as good as malarkey. I’ll use them too.

Grumpy: I thought Tim Kaine got off to a shaky somewhat nervous start but he recovered well. Talking about his family seemed to relax him. He obviously is proud of his family. He pointedly took on Trump and he will be a good attack dog on the stump. It has to be driving the Trumpsters crazy to hear him slide into Spanish so easily, how can you twist a message you can’t understand? Kaine wasn’t just an attack dog though. He didn’t take too long with his personal story, just long enough to highlight the lessons about service to others he learned from his Jesuit education. I liked his line telling Republicans who might be disappointed in the direction of their party that they could find a welcome home in the Democratic party. Gun Violence had to be an important part of his address having been Governor of Virginia when the Virginia Tech Massacre happened. That event became central to his advocacy for gun control reforms. Tim Kaine is not Uncle Joe but he’s going to be a good advocate for the important issues facing America. I’ll sum up Tim as he summed up Hillary, “listo”! Ready, prepared, smart, battle tested, rock solid and never backing down.

Mouse: I like Tim Kaine too. I can’t say I was familiar with him before but now that I’ve heard him speak I look forward to hearing him again. We Democrats have a new uncle!

Grumpy: I think the choice of speaker to introduce President Obama says all you need to know about the man, our President. Sharon Belkover doesn’t come from high society. She isn’t an elitist Wall Street banker. She is a Gold Star mother from small town Ohio. Her son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 and she first met the President at Ft. Drum when he took time to meet with God Star families. She met him again at an event in Ohio one year later and the President asked to see her. Again he comforted her. She became inspired to help her community and ran for school board in her home town at the age of 73. When she won her election the President took the time to send her a hand written letter of congratulations.

Mouse: She was amazing. I couldn’t help but think how calm and confident she looked speaking in front of a huge crowd and all those cameras.

Grumpy: From the moment the movie introducing the President started I was so glad to have those tissues close at hand. I am glad they are nearby now as I type this. It was 2004 that Obama burst onto the national scene at the convention in Boston as an Illinois State Senator. Only 4 years later he spoke again to Democrats in Denver as our nominee for President and again in 2012 in Charlotte as President. I am sure we have not heard the last of President Barack Obama at these gatherings but it still has a feeling of finality this year. That movie touched on many important moments in his Presidency but the one that sticks out the most to me was at one of those all too frequent memorials for the victims of gun violence. An obviously choked up Obama seemed to struggle to continue with his prepared remarks and instead began to sing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”.

As usual our President hit all the right notes last night. Passionate, funny, happy, serious, sincere, optimistic and, as always, loving.

No one could blame him if he just used the speech to reminisce but that wasn’t why he was there last night. He knows we have more work to do. He knows the only path forward to continue “perfecting our union” is by protecting us from, what Bloomberg earlier called a dangerous demagogue, Donald Trump. He knows that the only person standing in the way of that demagogue is his good friend, former political rival, now ally and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He talked about having a front seat view for 4 years to “her intelligence, her judgment and her discipline.” He talked about her work for the Children’s Defense Fund, for fighting for funding to help 9/11 first responders and about how she fought in favor of the mission that took out bin Laden.

President Obama wants us to know that Hillary is the most prepared person to ever stand for the office of President. Much to the chagrin of President Clinton he included himself and President Clinton in that group of “less prepared” candidates.

Our President turned to attack dog taking on “The Donald”. He started on the economic issues hammering hard at Trump’s record of stiffing people as he amassed personal wealth. National security also got his attention. Hillary is the one ready to take on ISIL without resorting to torture or banning entire religions. Trump, on the other hand, calls our military a disaster. “Apparently”, Obama points out, “he doesn’t know the men and women who make up the strongest fighting force the world has ever known.”

“America is already great, America is already strong”, he truthfully proclaimed before declaring that the greatness and strength does not depend on one person, does not depend on Donald Trump. Our strength comes from the declaration that “We hold these truths to be self evident. That all men are created equal. That we the people can form a more perfect union. That’s who we are, that’s our birthright, the capacity to shape out own destiny.”

Harkening back to John Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you” speech the President continued, “Americas never been about what one person says he’ll do for us. It’s about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard and slow and sometimes frustrating but ultimately enduring work of self government. And that’s what Hillary understands.”

This was the strongest endorsement by an outgoing President for his chosen successor in America’s history but it didn’t end when he said “God bless the United States of America”. It continued when Hillary joined him on stage. They shared a smile, a word and a hug before they turned to America to wave in solidarity as current and future Presidents. United in service to America. United in faith in our future. United to insure a hateful demagogue will not sit in the Oval Office in January 2017.

In closing I’ll just quote our President one more time for when you think about the alternative to Hillary this fall:

“Don’t boo, vote.”

DNC: First Steps to Victory in November

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Grumpy: I had my fears about the Berners and the coverage going into day one. In the beginning of the night I thought my fears would be realized. In part I guess they were.

The coverage certainly fulfilled my worst expectations. I tried the more palatable options of CNN and MSNBC but they were, as usual, doing more talking between themselves than letting the convention speak for itself. They were enamored with the email controversy and the boisterous displays by the minority of delegates in the thrall of Bernie and their own waning power. In the end I abandoned them for CSPAN and was treated to many voices of reason and hope that the others talked over and completely ignored.

Mouse: I also turned off the major networks in favor of coverage without the talking heads. What a joy! To be able to watch what happens at the convention when the networks would be showing commercials, to see people dancing in the aisles, seeing them smile when they realize they’re on camera, it’s like being there myself.

Grumpy: As for the Bernie contingent, they were everything I feared in the beginning but as the night rolled on I heard their voices less and less. Perhaps they just got hoarse and couldn’t sustain but I think that for many the reasonableness of the response from the podium and the messages they heard through their yelling may have quieted their fervor. One can hope anyway. I think the most surprising moment came from noted Bernie supporter Sarah Silverman. She and Al Franken were at the podium admittedly stretching their introduction when unscripted she told the “Bernie or Bust” people “you’re being ridiculous”. Bravo Sarah!

Mouse: Yeah, I was worried too when I heard all the shouting. I was especially annoyed when they showed disrespect by shouting over a great man like Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Grumpy: Oh what messages we heard. From the opening choir singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic to the disabled girl who had been inspired by Hillary to always be brave or the brave immigrant girl who Hillary had held in her arms, we heard one inspirational story after another.

Trump was not ignored of course but at times it seemed like he was an afterthought. Something that had to be addressed no matter how painful it might be. Jim Kenney, the Philadelphia mayor, put the Trump and GOP into historical perspective with an apt comparison to the Know Nothing Party of the 1800’s and later Sen. Elizabeth Warren put the skewer to Trump as only she can.

Mouse: Can I say “Michelle Obama 2024”? I’m still feeling a bit teary when I think of her speech. And I tear up even more when I remember the Obamas are leaving the White House.


Grumpy: It was like night and day, the difference from Monday to Tuesday. Monday was all loud voices, interruptions and generally mild chaos. The media certainly made it seem like more than mild chaos but they thrive on drama. By the end of Monday night they were sending reporters out onto the floor to try and find who the booers were and how many were left.

Mouse: I was glued to the TV all afternoon watching history being made. To say it was incredibly wonderful and exciting and moving would be a tremendous understatement. I had to giggle at Elizabeth Banks mocking Trump’s entrance to ‘We Are The Champions’.

Grumpy: Tuesday of course was the roll call for casting votes for the Presidential nominee. Bernie got every, you read that right…. EVERY, vote he had earned and after all had been cast he stood like a man and moved to make it unanimous. It was loudly seconded and voted and Hillary is now the first female Presidential nominee of a major political party in US history. Sorry Dr. Jill, your Green party is still an afterthought in American politics.

After the vote things got much less raucous in the hall and a quick check outside told the story of why things had changed. The leadership and the most boisterous of the “Bernie or Bust” group had marched out in protest. A move that seemed to go largely unnoticed so, to get attention, they marched through the media tent. I doubt they were very welcome in what had to be a beehive of activity by harried reporters trying to produce copy on a deadline.

Mouse: It was the temper tantrums of spoiled children who’ve never learned that we don’t get everything we want in life.

Grumpy: I will admit to some disappointment with the night’s activity. I really looked forward to hearing from the Mother’s Movement women and I thought their part was too short. Still, there was no one of their caliber anywhere near the RNC stage in Cleveland. Another group getting attention was America’s disabled community. The achievements of many, in no small part thanks to the ADA, were celebrated on the DNC stage in sharp contrast to the mocking of a disabled reporter by Trump.

The story teller in President Clinton was on full display as he tried to boil down a lifetime history of achievement by his best friend and partner Hillary into a short 50 minute time slot. He was as his best, weaving personal family history together with Hillary’s many public successes. He spoke of trying to get her to say yes to his proposals even as she busied herself advocating for the poor and the children in need. He talked proudly of Chelsea while stressing how important the job of mother had been to Hillary while still working at a very active political and social justice agenda. He ran down her tireless work as the first lady of Arkansas, later of the United States and Senator from New York while still keeping Chelsea her primary focus.

Mouse: It sure was good to see President Clinton #42 looking healthy and speaking in the way we remember fondly. I could listen to him for hours and yeah I know, he’d happily speak for hours too.

Grumpy: It was an historic night for America filled with many important voices. It still seems incredible to me that I, that we, are here to see both the first African American President and soon the first female President. How much more “revolutionary” could this moment be. These are the people and the moments that history will write about while haters like Trump and erstwhile revolutionaries like the Bernie or Bust folk will be footnotes in that history.

Peeves, Prayer, And Grief

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Sunday Talks for 7/10/16

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