The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age


    Share your thoughts and chat, because this, despite the previous two great nights, is really the big one! 



    And so it begins,

    As James Taylor took the stage at the Democratic National Convention a few minutes ago, he motioned toward the chair set out for him and said to the crowd, "I know it's an empty chair. Makes you nervous, doesn't it," a reference to Clint Eastwood's bizarre appearance at the Republican convention last week.

    He then launched into "Carolina In My Mind."

    Barney Franks calls out Mitt Romney be saying it should be not Mitt, but Myth.

    Rep. John Lewis spoke about the "unbelievable" Republican efforts to restrict voting:

    "They are changing the rules. That's not right. That's not fair. That's not just."

    "And we have come too far together to ever turn back. So we must not be silent. We must stand up, speak up and speak out. We must march to the polls like never before. We must come together and exercise our sacred right. And together, on November 6, we will re-elect the man who will lead America forward: President Barack Obama."

    Retired Army Cpt. Jason Crow declared that President Barack Obama "did the right thing" by ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

    "President Obama knows that the military is the standard-bearer for American values. It was wrong that men and women I served with could be told they weren't good enough just because of their sexual orientation. Soldiers who I trusted with my life, and fought alongside with, could be discharged because of who they loved," Crow said.

    I'll do this thread!

    So far I am astonished by how energized the dems are on MSNBC--by the by MSNBC has won the ratings war for the first time EVER!

    Chris has never been more of an outspoken champion of the Democrats since I first saw him thirty years ago on PBS!

    The Democratic Party represents so many groups and so many interests--some of them conflicting--and yet, they all seem to be together except with this Israeli plank issue.

    The people who have shown up in NC are on fire.

    And the entertainment is extraordinary!

    If the dems come together over the next couple of months like these participants in the convention--we win!

    Mathews was very powerful in pointing out the race-baiting done by Romney and the GOP. Romney lies about Obama cutting welfare requirements to a reporter on Fox News. He noted the 32 states involved in voter suppression. The Republicans played a game of making Obama show his papers to prove that he was truly qualified to be President. It is the Romney campaign directly running political ads that lie about welfare work reductions. The ads are the modern version of ads that Jesse Helms used against Harvey Gant. The role of the press is to inform the public. Mathews is doing his part.


    YES, that is exactly right on point!

    Well done!

    I could go on and on but the points have been well made during this convention. I mean Romney's old man was born in Mexico for chrissakes. Who asked for his papers? McCain was born in Panama....who the hell asked for his papers? Hell, Trump might well have been born in South Africa and who ever asked for his papers?

    Enough of that!

    Jesse Helms knew damn well how to play the racist card and he always won!

    But I am really taken by this Convention.

    I mean Hispanics and Blacks and Indians and a host of others have taken the stage and the people on the floor just love it!

    I am beginning to think we have a chance. ha!

    The convention did show all the colors of the rainbow. I have heard some pundits suggest that this is the last year that the Republicans can run a race focused only on white voters. I'm not sure how the GOP can change given the number of red meat voters they have allowed to have influence. Those voters may double down by sending even more rigid Right wing politicians to D.C.

    I don't know how divided democrats are on the Israeli plank issue. It could be those voting no were voting not to let faux news brow beat us into changing. If I were a delegate I could see myself possibly casting a fuck faux news vote.

    Not a dry eye in the house when Gabby Giffords entered--including in this one.  What a beautiful moment.

    Jennifer Granholm is just GREAT tonight!

    I am crying following Gabby's appearance and then Jennifer shows up recording the number of jobs saved by the auto investment (bailout, crap) by this Administration.

    We got our money back; we have more jobs; and we have better cars.

    Granholm has always been dynamic.  She was our gov. for eight years before she went to Current.  But she has grown as a force to be reckoned with.  She KILLED tonight!

    Jennifer Granholm is officially the hardest working Dem at the DNC:

    Gov. Granholm, you may now jump back and kiss yourself.

    Wow.  I am going to have to find her entire speech so I can see it:)

    I saw it and was simply truly amazed and awed. She made Maggie Thatcher look like a simpering wimp in comparison. A feminist's dream, well, at least this feminist. It was like this: a new kind of female politician is born....

    But she's Canadian! Quinn will be on soon claiming her as brilliant and northernish.

    I was crushed when I learned that.

    I thought she'd be the perfect candidate for the Dems.

    George Will was so smitten with her a few years back that he wrote a column in support of repealing the Constitutional ban on electing a foreign-born president.  This was when Schwarzenegger's stock was higher, so he was spinning it as something of a partisan trade offer: amend the constitution so that either Ahnold or Granholm would be eligible for the presidency.

    I despise Christie but this Charlie Christ--

    I like him a lot!

    A lot of substance in what he says.

    Repubs love to highlight our traitors.

    Christ aint a normal traitor.

    He was attempting to save Florida and embraced some of Obama's policies to his detriment.

    Always do right, you will gratify some and astonish the rest. (MT)

    Not really.

    Sometimes you do right and you receive nothing but attacks from those who refuse to acknowledge right or wrong.

    Nice speech.

    Charlie is a good man!

    Christ is laying the foundation for another run for Governor and he will win. Polling shows him beating Rick Scott. Actually I think my cat could beat Rick Scott. Christ was good for Florida when he was in office.

    Sorry but Senator Kerry who was humiliated by repub liars and plagued with slander and libel stands up and supports our President.

    Just ask Osama Bin Laden:

    Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

    Great line!

    John Kerry is fantastic.  Takes it to Romney on Foreign Affairs and global representation.  Had the crowd revved and cheering.

    I think it says it all that the Fox News pundits could just say it was an audition for the Sec of State position.  They didn't touch on a single point he made.

    Oh Mrs. Biden is soooooooo very sweet.

    She runs through the tragedy of Joe's first national election as Senator from Deleware when he barely made the age limit according to the Constitution and then almost loses it all.

    He loses his wife, he loses his daughter and he almost loses both his sons.

    Five years later he finds this new love and his sons are healthy and he is no longer a single parent taking the train home every night--except habits are hard to change and he continues to come home every night and his kids call Jill 'Mom'.

    And these two folks have a daughter together.

    What a fairy tale.

    People attack our Vice President as being an idiot.

    And yet Joe is one of the greatest Senators to ever grace Congress.

    I have always loved Joe Biden and I await his debate with a nobody!

    Biden's remarks to his wife...Ryan is toast.

    You know, I have run two marathons; both under 4 hours (which is the real test) and one at 3:31--actually recorded.

    But Joe has run a marathon for forty years!

    This guy has forgotten more about humanity than Ryan will ever learn in two lifetimes!


    You got it right Trope!

    I think Biden will do better against Ryan than he did against Palin (in part he doesn't have to worry about the gender issues)

    Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said  that Republicans believe Americans are "all in this alone." Democrats, he said, know better. "American knows better," he said. "History and this president have shown us we are stronger when we are all in this together."

    I don't care if we have that many comments.

    Joe is just great!

    Love to see how repubs attack this great speech!

    Oh he plays with the audience and the applause.

    Osama is dead and GM is alive!

    This is good stuff!



    watching it on Fox News so I can see him speak with the Fox logo next to him.  Hahahahahaha!

    "promote the private sector not the privilege sector"  - expect that to gain traction

    Jill Biden: Joe Saved Lives With Violence Against Women Act

    "Folks I've watched [Obama]. He never ever backs down. Asks, 'How will this affect average American?"


    I loved that "how will it affect the average American" line.  Socked it to 'em.

    Watching Biden truly choke up talking about the sacrifice of those who serve our country...Ryan doesn't stand a chance.  Biden is all in. This is election is his passion.

    I doubt that anyone could ever question Biden's humanity and genuine concern for members of our military or any of his 'fellow men and women'.  I think I'm prouder of  and trust him more than any other VP in the last few decades. 

    OMG The looks on the peoples faces when Barack came out speaks to the degree of feelings and dare I say, adulation that resonates.

    Okay, I'm just going to say it.  I'm not moved by Obama's speech so far.  Sounds too much like every other speech he's given this year.  This one should be awesome and it's not.

    Five minutes later and he takes it home.  Ignore comment above. 

    He's definitely rockin' it.  Not a single domestic or foreign issue ignored. I mean, really, can one imagine in good conscience taking the WH keys from him and giving them to Romney and Ryan.

    Not sure he really addressed the jobs issue, however.

    I keep hearing there's this big mismatch between jobs and skills. Plenty of good jobs, but no one with the right skills to fill them.

    Shouldn't there be a massive Public-Private Retraining Jobs Clearinghouse to get people the skills and then match them up with employers?

    Maybe the potential has been overstated, but someone on C-span opined that we might be able to drop the UE rate by 33%.

    I think he's gettin' there, really good last two minutes IMO.

    He's hot now.  He's talking to the poor and middle class and he's being specific about what he'll refuse to do.  That's what he needed to do all along.

    I can't wait for the debates.


    • From the pool report of the Paul Ryan fundraiser in Beverly Hills this evening, via my colleague MJ Lee, some awfully colorful remarks from former California Gov. Pete Wilson:

      And then this about the upcoming debates:

      "We all believe in fairness and there’s one problem. Paul is going to be debating Joe Biden. And friends, that’s just not fair. That’s not a fair fight. You’ve got: an ageing lightweight against a youthful heavyweight. ... God, sometimes I think he must be a Republican: he gave us Joe Biden. (laughter) Who is good for at least one gaffe a day. How would you like to be his keeper? You’d need a year’s worth of valium.”


    Here he comes!

    Just a day before, she reminded me how important

    Thank you Joe Biden for being a strong and loyal friend.

    I accept...

    (okay here goes....)

    No aaahs or far

    SNL gets nowhere with this so far.

    Grandma and Grandpa and....

    ooooooooooh this is good

    I saw that basic bargain slipping away...

    They want your vote but they do not wish you to know their plan...

    Feel a cold commin on?

    Take two tax cuts and call us in the mornin....

    (oh no, he is on tonite!)

    Our problems can be solved....

    I am asking you to rally...

    And there are White Kids and there are Black Kids and there are Hispanic Kids cheering and crying and laughing and...

    ....made in America!


    Oh he has the floor...

    No he is good tonite




    No hesitation whatsoever....

    And have to do the work!

    Now we pay tribute to the real people who have sacrificed....

    When you take off the uniform we shall help you....We shall not ignore you.





    Obama: "I’ll Build Roads, Bridges With Money Romney Wants To Spend On Wars!"

    Obama: ‘I Will Never Turn Medicare Into A Voucher’

    Obama's speech culminates the whole couple of days of great speeches about a vision between those who see winners and losers, and those who see us as a community, working together.  The Democrats are about working together, giving a hand up. That scene in Witness of the barn raising sums it all up to me.

    OH I am such a sap....

    But damn they sure liked it on the floor and MSNBC is in rapture!

    Nice metaphor Trope.

    Let us build it together!

    And Fox News was stumbling over themselves to downplay it.

    Hate to have to say this but... while I agree with the intellectual content of his speech, in terms of delivery and enthusiasm and atmosphere, he was upstaged by not only Clinton and Michelle, but by a whole lot of people, with the exception of Biden.

    The moment where Barack tried to quote Clinton about arithmetic, and then restated the quote as "math," was not good.

    Biden droned.

    This was a smart speech but a better essay.  He has reason on his side, but his delivery lacks seduction.

    I have to totally disagree with you. Obama came out and showed himself as our Leader, which is not the same as Inspirer in Chief. In other words, was it the greatest slickest political speech? No. But does it make me want to go out to work to get him and other Dems (re-)elected? Yes, indeed.  Will I do everything I can to ensure he is in the WH and not Romeny? Yes, indeed. 

    Good to hear, Trope.  Maybe I let my worry get to my ear.

    A lot of people have commented on the enthusiasm at this convention that is almost unmatched or just equaled in the modern age.  I kind of yawned through the 2008 convention and I have cried and clapped so many times this year.  The last few months, inc. the choice of Ryan and the comments of Aikin, have put into high relief what is before us.  And now people are proud to be Democrats more so than ever before.


    It was not the huge fireworks finale of an incredible three days but there were enough good lines that it'll be okay, I think.  It sounded too much like every other speech to me and that could be a problem.

    Still, there were no clunkers, no embarrassing moments, and enough substance to satisfy everybody.  "No vouchers", "You did it", "I'm the president", and a seemingly clear understanding of what people are going through. 

    I hope that's enough.

    There were definitely not errors, you're right. 

    But, when he tried to quote Clinton on arithmetic and kind of messed it up, I was reminded of Oxy's post.

    Really, for most voters, who is going to remember that, let alone based that on who they choose to vote for?  I mean, really?

    I disagree.  This was a Presidential speech and so much obviously touched the people there.  He was rebutting Romney bravely and with class.  He was concise and clear about what he would not do, he didn't make grand promises, used 'we' much more than 'I'.  Unlike Clinton, Obama is the President and to me, he spoke like one who is committed to the people and working towards a better future, without the pie in the sky declarations but with substance of issues that is needed. 


    My favorite line was cold war time warp.  Let's do the Time Warp again!

    I don't see any reason to beat around the bush; partly because of regrets that I did so in 2008.

    It's very clear to me that the major theme of the speech:

    i.e. "you did that" and  stuff like "if you turn away now, change will not happen"

    was blatantly intentionally talking to his original base, revisiting all the 2008 stuff, and their possible disappointment.

    It was so blatant that I zoned out and couldn't pay attention (most people who know my opinions from 2008 era know I was never that impressed with his oratory,)  when I found many of the other convention speeches that I caught  very interesting, to my own surprise!

    To me it was what the 80's graffitti artists called SAMO. Actually, what he has been doing rhetorically lately is so SAMO, destor, that an anti-Obama group has done a devastating ad with a mash-up or repetitions of 2008 in 2012: We've Heard It All Before.

    Clinton's speech was the one targeting the independents and undecideds, very clearly. And Obama didn't try to do that at all.

    Looks to me like someone made the decision that Obama shouldn't do that, needn't try, or something like that. That his job is to re-inspire his base to GOTV (and some more money,) to get them back to the state they were in 2008: hoping, inspired. All his "you's," that seemed clearly him talking to his base and not the American public at large.

    To others, there were parts that might sound preachy. There was also a bit of his sarcasm, something I prize in friends and family and even in national politicians like Barney Frank, but I don't think serve a president of" all the people" very well. And again, there was so much "SAMO."

    This syncs with what analysts have been saying that this election is going to ride on getting the base of each party out to vote.

    All that said, I am very impressed with how much livelier, positive and energetic  the entire convention seemed to be compared to the GOP's, and so were several GOP pundits I saw comment on the teevee. (Also took a glance at Joe Scarborough's tweets, and he was like: whoa we are so pitiful and they so have it together!)

    I think much is due to Obama's team, they're real good at what they do with the candidate they have to work with! And he hired them, so in the end, I think: this is not the worst thing that could happen to us.cheeky


    Wasn't exaggerating about Scarborough:

    A good analysis of "how Clinton does it", which makes for more understandable and moving speech.

    Not good enough. It won't have offended anyone or cost him any votes. But I didn't hear anything which would have caused me to switch if I were leaning towards


    Hope I'm wrong.


    The question is if you're leaning Romney at this point, why are you still leaning?  Why aren't you a full Romney supporter?  What causes you to linger in your commitment?

    I'm not sure what you feel he didn't do and what he should have said that he didn't.

    The voters leaning toward Romney wouldn't be listening, anyway.  It's not in their best interests to dissect the president's speech.  He's talking to Democrats and independents, not Republicans.  They know who they're voting for.

    For those independents who voted for him in 2008 but were feeling a little hesitant about it this year, this speech, and the convention floor, eased those feelings.

    I know who I'm voting for, I just donated in response to Obama's and Biden's speeches.  cheeky

    I agree that the speech will encourage his strong  supporters.And will cause some luke warm supporters to vote.

    I disagree that leaners towards Romney wouldn't be listening. And to shift them he would have had to take some issue or issues that worry them and provide something that would make them more  comfortable. I didn't hear any of that.


    BTW he knows the employment figures that will be announced tomorrow morning. My guess is that they are disappointing.

    This comment has nothing to do with the political effectiveness of the speeches. I'll leave that to the pundits.

    I just wish--for my own sake--that Obama had said more about what he will do with four more years. Maybe that will come. There was talk of education investment and domestic job creation. Perhaps Obama will fill in these placeholders. But I worry that he will fill them with more of the small-bore proposals that have characterized the second half of his first term. With the health care act passed, the wars winding down, and the don't-ask-don't-tell repealed, it seems like Obama and the Democrats have few ideas beyond rebuilding more bridges, hiring more teachers, and preventing Republicans from gutting Medicare. And oh yeah, more green jobs.

    What did you want him to state specifically that he didn't?

    He promised a million new manufacturing jobs, reducing oil imports by 50%, etc, all of which even CNN asserts are all possible.


    Well, if one is looking for a total take over of the economy by federal government (ie establish pay rates etc), those little things you mention is the way that the federal government not only impacts the here and now economy, but also establish a foundation for the private sector economy.

    Isn't the very zeitgeist that this kind of small bore, down-the-middle stuff is the best we can hope for?  Hell, I almost got excited listening to this stuff.  If bold vision is something we won't get from either party (well, at least not bold, sane vision) then I guess I'll take enthusiastic reasonableness, terminal as it might be.  I've got no other options, right?

    Maybe so, but that's depressing.

    I agree.  I'm trying to come around to A-man's view that Obama and the Dems still put us on a better arc, so to speak, even on issues that they aren't really speaking to.  I think that's pretty much true, that possibilities are better down that road, that arguments are easier to win among that tribe.  I also think that still might leave some important things more or less unaddressed for quite some time.  I think there are better solutions to pertinent problems that are at hand that we just don't even take up because it's so often deemed to be out of the realm of the possible in our politics.  Hope we're right about that.

    What would change that picture?  I think there are quite a few reforms that we could make to our democratic process that might help.  There are many options: getting money out of political campaigns, implementing some kind of Condorcet method or similar for voting, reforming the Electoral College, implementing proportional representation.. even expanding voting hours or creating a voting holiday might help us approach something like a reasonable rate of participation.  Outside of those kinds of reform, we're going to be faced with two options, one of which has decided to wander so far off the reservation as to be completely useless.

    And yet, I don't see how we get any of those reforms made outside of the Democratic Party in this system.  None of that stuff benefits the GOP demographically.  They know this.

    Maybe it's time to just stop worrying and love the Democratic Party.  To hell with you, Herr Chomsky.  My heart belongs to Mein Fuhrer!

    To be clear, I am neither advocating nor personally considering abandoning Obama or the Democrats. I am simply bemoaning the fact that neither seem to have any substantive ideas that would accomplish beyond maintaining the status quo. That is a big problem. It's a problem for the party because it concedes the Big Ideas space to the Republicans and transforms the Democrats into the tepid "safe" party. And it's a problem for the country because without big ideas, we will continue on our current trajectory--a slow crumbling of our institutions, standard of living, and international prestige.

    Some may be more comfortable with this than alternatives, but it's also inevitable, given where our politics and society are, when we choose divided government.

    I was wondering whether there would be any hints or signals of the improbable--that Obama might give even a faint hint of what he would do if the voters give him a constructive Congress.  I did not hear that.  For me, his declining to make any case for it amounted in effect to a concession by him that the House will remain Republican. There are heavy odds against that big of a swing back.  The (slightly elaborated) implicit calculation seems to have been "The House is going to remain Republican.  That means small bore, at best.  Nothing major on many of the issues the voters care most about--immigration a possible exception--will get done as a result of government initiatives that require Congressional approval.  So don't suggest what you might do IF, when IF isn't going to happen.  You'll end up looking like you're promising what you're not going to be able to deliver, at least for the next 2 years."

    Just noting that the alternative of making a forceful, explicit case for a change of Congress--by saying what could be done if that is what happens--was not chosen.  So we were left with efforts to try to celebrate small bore at best and hope for gradual improvement on jobs and the economy.  Small bore was what Bill Clinton's presidency became about after he and his party got shellacked in 1994.  It was something he was remarkably well-suited to: even now, Bill Clinton is liked by many progressives, including me, who think some of his important policies were wrong (financial deregulation, NAFTA-style trade policies as two examples) as well as centrists and moderates who are more afraid of the extremism of today's GOP than they are worried about any possibility that progressives might ever get enough power to be able to put in place policies they support. 

    Implicit in his presentation was that he accepts responsibility for his conduct in office.  He is very much the adult in that way.  He also asks at least some of the voters--we can quibble over who he was "really" addressing last night--to accept responsibility for their decisions.  What he did not attempt to do was make a case, even an implicit one, that part of what voters need to take responsibility for is whether they choose to send back to Congress some of the same people whose actions, he believes, have made the task of economic recovery as well as needed action in a number of other areas, much more difficult where not impossible. I don't say this would have been an easy case to make, given other things he was trying to accomplish with his speech.

    There is a big difference between compromising on small bills because that's the best you can get and campaigning for the small bills in the first place. This was the national party convention--a time to stand up and shout about what the Democrats stand for, even if it's necessary to compromise those ideals next year.

    The Democrats shouted plenty about their ideals. They shouted plenty about Obama's record. They shouted plenty about the policies they did NOT stand for. But they did not shout much about the policies they did stand for.

    I don't think they hesitated because they figured the big ideas wouldn't work. I think they hesitated because they're flat out of big ideas.

    I was shocked and surprised that neither Obama nor any speaker at the DNC recognized and gave thanks to the selfless service to country that Mitt Romney's fine young sons have been performing day in and day out, in essence putting their Wall Street careers on hold.

    It sounds like you want him to talk more in-depth about policies, but the problem with the Genghis is, you lose the majority of people when you talk hard core policy. Politics just doesn't work that way, if he were alive you could ask Adlai Stevenson II about how well that works for a Presidential campaign. All of those policies that you want are available to you if you really wanted them, let's take energy for instance, even if you didn't mention it, first of course the administration did up the CAFE standard requirements for vehicles, reducing carbon emission from automobiles over time, The administration  created incentives for individuals to invest in solar electric, wind power, and geo thermal heat pumps, these are tax credits of course which is a fully developed policy to encourage home owners to invest in green energy, thereby creating jobs in the field of green energy, whether it solar panel and converter manufacture, wind mill manufacturing, geothermal heat pump manufacturing, in turn the federal government through the use of their granting process are supporting the efforts of state, county and city governments  to power their building using alternate energy systems, which supports the manufacture of those products  as well as an industry that installs the equipment. This information is readily available to all American citizens on-line.

    I'd work on the other things you asked, but I don't know why I should, since an acceptance speech at a political convention is meant to inspire people to vote, to get them all riled up, not lecture them on the benefits of deep policy thinking.

    Re-reading your comment, I wanted to respond on a different level.  As you say, you commented on what you wanted to hear for your own sake.  I very much agree with your take, as you can probably guess from my other comment.  However, I also wanted to put another comment out there.

    On a personal level, I actually felt like a I heard a very sustained, convincing and, perhaps most importantly of all, emotional argument being made at the DNC this week.  One of the criticisms that has often been heard of the Dems, and one that I know I've made, is that they often fail to connect on a visceral level.  Sometimes it's said that they don't have "backbone" or something similar.  Joe Biden, in fact, made a comment about the unyielding nature of Obama's backbone specifically.  Sure, it was rhetoric, but it stood out to me because it really made me take notice of the overall tone.  I don't think I've ever personally been witness to a Democratic messaging machine that was as sharp as the one I saw this week.

    The policies could be better.  Should be better.  There's definitely room for more bold vision.  There's a chasm of room for semi-bold vision.  Even so, I think I witnessed the Dems firing on all cylinders in campaign mode this week.  They made arguments and marshalled facts and even had Bubba out to wonk-spank Paul Ryan, but they did it all with an eye for saying something about what it's all worth and why it all matters in a way that seemed to have lots of punch to me.

    We know Obama can push emotional buttons with speeches, but the thing the GOP has excelled is selling their policy.  That's what the Dems have lacked most of all.  I saw some seriously potential for doing just that this week.  This was some four-on-the-floor, broad-base politicking that just didn't manifest last week in Tampa.  Is it selling my vision precisely?  No, but it conceivably could.

    We know Obama can push emotional buttons with speeches, but the thing the GOP has excelled is selling their policy.  That's what the Dems have lacked most of all.  I saw some seriously potential for doing just that this week.  This was some four-on-the-floor, broad-base politicking that just didn't manifest last week in Tampa.

    Yes, I saw some of what you saw as well.  A much clearer embrace of the bracing, salutory and correct view that in a society such as ours there is only better or worse politicking, not some illusory, above-the-fray no politicking that considers the pursuit of power for constructive ends too dirty a thing to stoop to.  (As an aside, Ross Perot's independent candidacy in 1992 reflected in tone, at least, an appeal to elect a benevolent dictator, the better to do an end run around messy pluralistic politics.)  Which amounts to a willingness to fight--even for what is likely to be small bore, at best, as the least unsatisfactory option just now and for the next 2 years. 

    I think, in reference to my more extended comment above, there is/was also a case to ask for a new Congress for purely defensive purposes, if nothing else.  We're talking in this thread some about small bore if things go as they seem to be headed.  That might be overly optimistic (can't remember where, but I saw a piece over the last couple of days making the case that the scenario Obama is said to have painted with some earlier remarks, of the Republicans in Congress becoming less hostile and more reasonable, is, if he really believes that, a bit disconcerting to those of us who have felt he has been slow to understand the depths to which Congressional Republicans are willing to descend).  It could become even much uglier going forward than it's been to date, especially if the Senate flips.

    That, too, would have been an argument for making at least some explicit reference to how this election is not just about the presidency, but about Congress.  If he feels--correctly--as though the public has placed too much of the relative share of blame for things not getting better sooner on him, and not enough on the behavior of some in Congress, then should he avoid saying that or under-emphasize it, out of fear of looking as though he is passing the buck and hurting his own cause?  

    Perhaps  last night wasn't the time to do that, I don't know.  Maybe he will say something on that in the debates or in an extended time paid ad farther down the stretch.  But the voters cannot be left with any wildly inaccurate notion that the only important federal-level outcome in November is that of the presidential race, and that the consequences of installing a next Congress much like the last one, or worse, are somehow only dimly connected to whatever they are hoping happens in Washington the next 2 and 4 years.   


    I agree with you, A-man, and others that the convention was politically effective. But I introduced my comment with the caveat that I was not addressing the political effectiveness of the speeches.

    The convention is a political event, of course, and the Dems did it well. The politics just happened to underscore what's really missing from the party and the country.

    PS I'm chagrined to admit it, but David Brooks made the same point today.

    This is a refrain that I keep hearing.  It's definitely what's been coming out of everyone's mouth on Morning Joe for weeks on end.  Where, oh where, are the big ideas?  As much as I agree that I think there could and should be bigger ideas at play, how do I square that desire with the reality that one half of our political system is going to do whatever it can to make sure nothing like that ever happens?  I'm not surprised to hear that complaint from Brooks, but that's because this is his wheelhouse: constantly issuing the same vague complaint that we just don't hear enough big, bold policy specifics from the candidates.  Yet Brooks has absolutely no understanding of what shape policy is required.  Would he even know if heard it?

    I think you would, but I guess I'm wondering what exactly you thought there was room for that you didn't hear.  Brooks is a toolbox who would applaud and has applauded vague bullshit from people like Paul Ryan as bold and specific.  Stuff that is, on its face, completely not specific, though it may be worthy of bold simply for the brass ones it took to come up with.  So when I hear it from him, I just laugh - my typical response to Brooks et al.

    You, though, probably have something better in mind.  I'm just not sure what that would be myself.  What does America really need right now?  Well, we've pretty much played the waiting game on climate change, so we need policies that will help us adapt to it rather than help ameliorate it, but what exactly will those be?  We need to be prepared to deal with things like drought and extreme weather.  To a large extent, we are prepared for much of that, but is there a broad, bold specific policy that helps us here?  I dunno.

    We need to improve the economic situation, but how exactly?  Well, we need to reduce unemployment, but Congress holds the fiscal keys.  The President proposed fiscal stimulus once and got it.  Unfortunately, it was oversold.  Now, even though it would help people, it seems there's too much resistance to that.  Obama could propose more and bigger, but we both know he won't get it.  In the face of that reality, what's the point?

    We need to reduce the debt, but that's not going to happen on the back of the baby boomers.  They've made that abundantly clear.  So the reality is we're going to live with debt for a while longer.  If we're lucky, Obama will get his way on taxes.  He could propose that we raise them even higher as suggested by a number of economists.  How does a top marginal rate of 70% sound?  He could propose it, but we both know he'll have a battle on his hands just to get Clinton era rates restored on millionaires.  Obama could probably do a lot better here by not playing the debt up as an issue so much, but he's already taken ownership of it.  Simpson-Bowles will be back.

    We need to improve the quality of education in America.  Obama has already done quite a few things to approach this.  K-12 math and science achievement is in the dumpster.  College is getting too expensive.  The trouble is, the school systems in this country are administered on a state level.  Other than big top-level incentive programs, like the stuff we've been trying in various forms for decades now, what does the federal government do?  How do they improve education in states like Kansas and Texas that are hell-bent on flushing science curriculum down the toilet?  By Federal mandate?  I'm sure that would be extremely popular.  Controlling the cost of higher education is probably more feasible, but not when you've got runaway avarice at the highest levels of top flight public institutions like the University of California.  Last year, when protests about tuition hikes raged due to a 32% YoY increase in tuition, the Chancellors voted to double their own salaries from $200k to $400k.  All while they preside over a crumbling system that once provided world-class educational opportunities to anyone with the gumption to work hard and achieve.  What policy proposal at the Federal level fixes this?

    The more I think on this, the more I keep coming back to the same notion: What we need is for Americans to grow the fuck up.  We need reform to our healthcare system that improves access and controls cost.  We also need to get some exercise and stop eating shit that kills us.  We need to improve our education system.  We also need parents that aren't going to accept that their kids just aren't into math and that the system is going to do all the work for them.  We need citizens who can think about the future of energy with more sobriety than "drill, baby, drill."  Hell, we need citizens who even value the concept of citizenship, probably the hardest hit in Obama's speech last night.  What a novel concept!  A nation of people with shared interests.  We are not enemies, but friends.

    Yet we don't really have that, do we?  What we have is a country where somewhere between a quarter and a third of the people think angels are real and climate change isn't.  They think that Obama's improvement to the college loan system is more socialistic, not less.  Some of them don't even think he's a US citizen or anything else that he actually is.  They really regard him as the enemy, the fount of all our problems - even though it's actually them.  They're the empty chair people.

    Unfortunately, we are plagued by the empty chair people.  Obama might not be the hero Gotham deserves, but he is apparently the hero it needs right now.  Much as I think there's plenty of room for bolder, better solutions, I have absolutely no confidence that Americans would actually vote for that given the option.  I guess that makes the analysis political, which you said you were trying to avoid, but that's still reality.

    No, I don't have big ideas either. If I did, I'd be writing about them. But I can give you examples. Universal health care was a big idea. The Democrats fought for it for half-a-century. Obama fought for it in its first term. Having kinda-sorta-almost achieved it, he's got nothing to replace it with, no sequel.

    Your land tax proposal several months ago was a big idea. So is Dan K's MMT thesis. Those may not be the right big ideas for the Democratic Party, they may not even been good ideas, but they have heft. They would change the country.

    Now if you have a big idea that you want to implement, you can't just sit around and wait for the angel-believers to come around to it. You have to fight for the idea, promote it, sell it. You won't make people stop believing in angels, but what you can do, what progressives have done successfully in the past, is give them something else to believe in.

    Some people think the Democrats are cowardly or corrupted--afraid or unwilling to bring big ideas to the table. I don't think that's the main problem. It's not like there are legions of big ideas being crushed by the nervous party establishment. I just don't think they have any big ideas. I wish they did, and I wish I did.

    I generally agree with this and your response above.  A-man has recently pointed to the Democratic party as a platform on which to sell those big ideas.  I think that's more or less correct.  That's very much the way Bill Domhoff sees the Democratic Party - as a potential vehicle for for leftists to create the kind of transformation they seek.  Of course, elections matter as far as that goes, particularly primaries, but selling the ideas is about more than campaigning.

    What we need is for Americans to grow the fuck up.

    THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS. Too bad we aren't going to get that are we.

    Comment from another site:

    As a Democrat I just could not have asked for a better speech.
    President Obama was the opposite of Mitt Romney.
    Where Romney was vague, the President was specific.
    Where Romney offered no plans or direction, the President was clear.

    After this 2012 DNC: Someone, I forget her username, posted this on TPM about what electing Obama in 2008.  Then I totally related. I repost this as what it means in 2012 between voting for Obama Biden and the Dems as opposed to Romeny Ryan and the Repubs.



    I actually hadn't seen this until just now, but his latest vid is even more to the point and reflects this body politic is a number of different ways, and what is at stake in this election. 






    It was me, Trope! Stilli! I'm so glad you remembered it! I feel just the same way. I am still crying. I LOVED the speech. I feel incredible inspired and proud. If anyone who is trying to decide between Romney and Obama would just watch the 2 speeches one after the other, the decision seems like a no-brainer to me.


    Thanks for that original post.  It has always stuck with me (obviously).  In part because it has to do with idealism, but also about the prize we have our eyes upon. I think one of the things that separate the Repubs from Dems, to separate on that large swath, is whether one believes there is an inherent goodness or sinfulness at the core of the human spirit.  I think we know which side of that question Obama and the rest of the Dem fall, and which the video demonstrates so beautifully.

    Okay, I am a stick in the mud regarding the president's speech tonight.

    First day of the convention great.  Michelle raised the bar to the roof:

    Second day of the convention speech and more fired up. 

    Clinton was outstanding:)

    I could not watch the full day today I did see from Biden on.

    Biden did a good job.  Hit some good moments.

    Now here is where i got totally distracted and lost focus..

    The president kept looking from side to side so frequently that he seemed to be avoiding looking forward.  He rarely looked directly ahead to the point that it was completely distracting for me and I had trouble paying attention to what he was saying.  I was actually concerned that the benefits of his speech would be diluted for those watching it on television or online... 

    but no one else has commented on this but me.

    I've decided to watch the entire 3rd day of the convention and repeat his speech maybe i will just listen so that I can actually know how I feel about it.

    Hopefully I can find an oline source of the full day to watch.


    Make sure, if you listen to nothing else, Rep John Lewis. 

    Thanks this was awesome!  

    I found Kerry and Gabby Giffords.  Now I need Granholm.  Anyone else I should see?


    Nah, in my humble opinion, you're normal, see my own reaction upthread.

    He was purposely addressing the audience in the room, so his head was bouncing from face to face, he was not talking to you in teevee land, he was talking to the base and the delegates.

    On the myth of the great orator, you shouldn't feel guilty if you don't see it.

    Go back and read Ryan Lizza's New Yorker article on Obama's Chicago years, the part where Lizza covers how the terrible public speaker Barack Obama had to force himself to learn to imitate preachers and the Kennedy style in order to not lose any more elections. It's a myth, really, and it's believed because people want to believe it, some need it, to hear that stuff, just like some like a good sermon on Sunday or a pep rally (some it even gives tingles up their leg because they are such lifelong Kennedy fans cheeky) but others it bores.

    I'm just watching a rerun now, most of it is just such a repeat of same old basic political speech given by many for decades, all the  "hard work will pay off" and "everyone plays by the same rules from main street to Wall Street to Washington DC" and "shuttered steel mills" and "our problems can be solved, our challenges can be meet, I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals" blah blah blah, blah, blah....

    it's just a generic politician's speech! Yes, you have heard it many times before. And yes, it's only some people's cup of tea.

    This will seem off the wall but bear with me.


    A million years ago my wife was pregnant for the second time.Our first child was born 9 months after the wedding ( Ah, Catholicism!) . Like the first in her class person she was/is she made an intensive effort to do this second pregnancy right.. It was going to be "natural child birth". Did the exercises, etc.

    Finally two weeks late, came the pains. Off we went to  Newton/Wellesley . The nurses said something relaxing and went off to relax. I stood next to the bed chatting with her when the baby started delivering herself..

    I shouted for the nurses and the delivery occurred . The expensive obstetrician from the staff of the Harvard Medical School never made it*. The baby was fine. Still is.

    The next afternoon talking to an ADA friend, also a doctor, I launched into a complaint about this failure of the medical profession. He remarked dryly. "but the purpose of the exercise was accomplished ".

    On reflection Obama's speech accomplished the purpose of the exercise. It wasn't an "event" like  2004. Or Clinton Wednesday.  .But it was "good enough". Did the good things described above and didn't give any hostages to fortune to be used against him in the next 8 weeks.

    It wasn't a home run, but it was a ninth inning single with the tie-breaker on third base.

    Sorry for my more down- beat comments above.I should have remembered Steve Post's admonition that a "closed mouth gathers no foot".


    * He refunded our advance payment and we bought a dryer and cancelled the diaper service.





    Flavius, beautiful story and,from my point of view, absolutely perfect description of Obama's speech.

    * He refunded our advance payment and we bought a dryer and cancelled the diaper service.

    Somehow, I think that this part is an important "moral" to your story (as well as the baby being all right, of course.) cheeky

    It disturbed me in 2008 when I saw what I thought of as people expecting one man to be a savior, and putting their all into him as if they just got him elected, they could get back to other stuff, he would handle it all and everything would be all right.

    It disturbs me now when I see people looking for that again. Especially when they are looking for it in words, just words. (Especially when in the past, I myself didn't see those words as extra special words, but basically borrowing boilerplate classics.)

    It's sort of simple what I've come to think about this in general: too many people in this country expect too much from a president. ("Dear leader" style, not my favorite thing.)

    That's not to say that one can't acknowledge talent or genius in that job when it does happen. But that one shouldn't bet everything on it happening. Better to be pleasantly surprised when it happens.

    Right now, I have been pleasantly surprised at the invigoration of the Democratic party, that gives me hope. (And not only that, but as I said somewhere above, the fact that Obama hired some of the people with significant responsibility for that result is also a very encouraging sign.)

    It's interesting. In 2008, I would have called him (and probably did call him) the best speaker in a generation. Clearly, I had selective amnesia--forgetting about President Clinton, Jessie Jackson, and some others. I read most of the comments here quickly before I watched the speech. Then, I watched it and came back to read more carefully. I especially love DF's comment about "enthusiastic reasonableness" because that is exactly why I have always been a huge fan of Barack Obama.

    When I saw him speak in 2008, I was surprised at my reaction. His speech was the regular stump speech that he'd been giving all over the place and it was fine and everybody had a fantastic time. He does mostly hit all the right notes and, with the right crowd, everybody leaves feeling like they experienced something special. I also left that night feeling like I'd experienced something special, but it wasn't anywhere near the euphoria that I felt when I got to shake President Clinton's hand. That night, it was the crowd that inspired me. It was young and old, every color, presumably differing sexual orientations, although I didn't take a poll. It was America at its best. I left that night with the feeling that Barack Obama was just a man. He doesn't have Clinton's giddy charisma or Reagan's aw-shucks fake populism. He's just normal. Reasonable. Smart. I got the feeling then, and I get the feeling now, that in his hands, the country is going to be okay. That he's going to consider all aspects of an issue before he makes a decision. That he's going to ask for advice from experts. That he's not going to go "with his gut" and then go clear some brush on his freaking ranch. For me, for now, that's enough.

    We're so screwed up, so divided, so detached from things that are important, that incremental progress is just fine with me. At least it's progress. And let's not forget, there are some pretty important--gigantically important--things that have happened in the last four years. They're just getting lost in all the shouting. 

    So, when the president takes the opportunity to remind me, reasonably, that America has a clear choice, I think I'll just thank him for that reminder and order my absentee ballot.

    I enjoyed finding and reading your nuanced reply, Orlando.

    John Kerry's speech about foreign policy asking If Bin-laden was better off now than he was four years ago stood in strong contrast to Russian expert and concert pianist Condoleeza Rice blathering about Obama "leading from behind". Kerry's speech fit in nicely with the "time warp" meme. Condi was part of the foreign policy problem.


    Rasmussen bounces down 2 points.

    There were a number of good moments...

    But a president's speech, laden with his actual record, has to be different from an aspirant's speech.

    But two places really made me sit up:

    • When he said, "you did that." Of course, he's said that all along. The idea that he was some kind of savior who was going to put the world on his shoulders like Atlas is an idea he refused from the beginning. But giving the people in the audience the credit for the progress we've made was very powerful.

    • The other was the word: citizen. This is a word you almost never hear in America unless it's tied to the question, "Are you a citizen or an illegal?" We use the word as a category or classification. To me, it was the single most startling word in the whole speech. Utterly new and fresh.

    But the idea of a citizen as someone who self-governs and who has duties, rights, and obligations to self-govern lies very much at the heart of this country's founding experiment in self-rule. We've been at it so long, we forget this. Or we become cynical about our role as citizens having any practical impact.

    Conservatives, these days at least, see the individual as an economic unit (homo economicus), and the government as largely a burden or obstacle, however, necessary, to this unit's performing its function.

    But the individual-as-citizen is deeply involved in self-governing and thus deeply involved in his government at all levels from the neighborhood to the national. He sees government as, in some sense, an extension of himself and thus feels responsible for the things, good and bad, that his government does.

    This, to me, was the power of the way Obama used the words "you" and "citizen."

    I've lived in or near D.C. for the last 40 years and my favorite place is the Mall. The public square, surrounded by all the symbols and working seats of government, and buildings where we've collected the best of what we have done, learned, and created.

    I'm beginning to believe that who you vote for has little to do with facts and a lot to do with how the candidates, and yes, even their support team, make you feel.

    I watched the Republican Convention, having to force myself to stick with it, mentally screaming "you &^%$%^& liar!" more times than I can remember. I noticed with dismay how lily-white the audience was, how angry people seemed to be and I came away from it feeling dirty and deeply ashamed that this is what my country has come to.

    I had already felt a little depressed that the race is so close, when I think Obama should be ahead by double digits. The very fact that these people could be in control soon made me very sad, and honestly, even a little angry that people can get away with all the lies, and the people who KNOW they are lying keep quiet, or resort to "nice" words to describe the dishonesty.

    On the contrary, the Democratic Convention lifted my spirits. It made me feel proud and hopeful. The diversity portrayed the country as a whole, with all the varying shades of skin color. It felt inclusive, not exclusive. Like anyone and everyone could feel at home here.

    Yeah, there probably wasn't a lot of specificity about what Obama's going to do - but does it really matter? Whatever he TRIES to do will be blocked because the American people won't hold the hold the obstructionists accountable. What CAN you do when the monied interests KEEP all that money on the sidelines, hoping they will have one of their own in office next year?

    So really it boils down to who do you trust to be the better steward of the country in this terribly dangerous time in our history? Is it the COMPLETELY empty vessel who will do the bidding of his greedy peers - the candidate with "enough digits to sign the legislation the Congress gives him? The one whose primary accomplishment is that he "fires people" in his quest for the almighty dollar? Or is it the man seems to understand what regular folks are experiencing, because he has been there? The one who has shown such appreciation and concern for the troops he commands? The one who had the "brass" to say "GO!" when he had the less than wonderful odds of getting Bin Laden? The one who is trying to avoid a war with Iran, rather appearing to relish the idea of yet another war?

    Chances are that whoever wins, they will inherit an improved economy, maybe even one that will take off flying, regardless of the policies that are in place. Do you really want a Republican to be able to take credit for that? To then be given 8 more years to make the country even more awful at its core than it is now? Or stay with the guy who is at TRYING to stick up for the little guy, women and children, and peace in the world?

    My vote doesn't really matter because I live in a state that will vote for Obama no matter what.

    But yours might. I hope you get past whatever reservations you have about him. Vote against Romney rather than FOR Obama if you must. But please don't let those, those, those (...what's a nice word for assholes?) anal orifices win.


    This wasn't directed at you, Peter! It was for everyone on the fence...don't know how or why it ended up as a reply to you. Brain fart I guess!

    I read more than one pundit/blogger surmise yesterday that the administration must know that the new employment numbers were going to be positive; well guess what, they were wrong:

    Hiring Slows in August, Adding to Pressure on Fed and Obama

    New York Times, Sept 7, 2012, 11:19 am

    Does put Obama's speech in a somewhat new light...

    P.S. The prognosticators were basing it on the ADP report; here is a WSJ blog  entry explaining why that's not a smart thing to do.

    It seems that the ADP is not a statistically valid number. If the geniuses on Wall Street are incapable of doing such simple analysis of facts, it is no wonder that they crashed the economy. They simply do not know what they are doing.

    Latest Comments