Tuesday Reads: Democratic National Convention, Day One

Michelle Obama, shining star

Michelle Obama, shining star

Good Morning!!

I want to begin today with some excerpts from Michelle Obama’s brilliant and inspiring speech last night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. In talking about her children and the nation’s children, she delivered a stunning rebuke to the ugly, divisive and racist campaign of Donald J. Trump.

A journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington when they set off for their first day at their new school. I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those men with guns. And that’s all their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, What have we done? At that moment, I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation of who they would become. And how well we manage this experience could truly make or break them.

That is what Barack and I think about every day as he tried to guide and protect our girls from the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight. How we urged them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. Our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are the most important role model.

Let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls but the children across this country. Kids who say, “I saw you on TV,” “I wrote the report on you for school.” Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, Is my hair like yours?

I’m tearing up just reading her words on my computer screen.

On Hillary:

I trust Hillary to lead this country because I have seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children. Not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection, but every child who needs a champion: kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who wonder how they will ever afford college. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but dream of a better life; who look to us to dream of what they can be.

Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless work to actually make a difference in their lives. Advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer, fighting for children’s health care as first lady, and for quality child care in the senate.

And when she did not win the nomination eight years ago, she did not get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home because … Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own disappointment. She proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe. There were moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being [torn] apart for how she looked, or how she talked, or even how she laughed.

But here’s the thing: What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure.

She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life. And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls and all our children, that is what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere.

Yes, Hillary has persevered. There was a time when Michelle Obama didn’t have nice things to say about her. But Hillary didn’t quit. She wholeheartedly supported Barack Obama in 2008 and then became his Secretary of State. And she apparently won Michelle over with her efforts.

And finally these beautiful and heartbreaking words:

Leaders like Tim Kaine, who show our kids what decency and devotion look like. Leaders like Hillary Clinton, who have the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in the highest and hardest glass ceiling until they finally break through, lifting all of us along with her.

That is the story of this country. The story that has brought me to the stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, who kept on striving, and hoping, and doing what needed to be done. So that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters — two beautiful intelligent black young women — play with the dog on the White House lawn

And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great. That somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.

Can we as a country truly rise above our long history of slavery and exploitation of people who are not rich white men? Michelle seems to believe it is possible. But only if we defeat the fascist menace of Donald Trump and elect Hillary the first woman President of the United States.

Without once mentioning Trump’s name Michelle Obama destroyed his childish Twitter campaign by saying this of Hillary:

Somebody who knows this job and takes it seriously. Somebody who understands that the issues of our nation are not black or white. It cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.

That speech deserves to go down in history as one of the greatest political speeches ever.

I also thought Cory Booker’s speech was magnificent. If you missed it, you can read the transcript at that link. Bill Clinton was as transfixed as I was.

Sadly, Bernie-or-busters did the best they could to damage the Democrats’ chances of defeating Trump by screaming their childish chants right through all the speeches, including those of Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. They even crossed out the word “love” in the “Love Trumps Hate” signs and wrote in “Bernie.” This morning Sanders tried to speak to his fans in the California delegation, and they shouted him down once again. Sanders has now cancelled several events that he had scheduled with “supporters.”

Sanders did the best he could to get his fans to accept reality and realize the dangers Donald Trump poses; but it was far too late. He encouraged their bad behavior for the past year, and at least 10 percent of them are still acting out. Many people who tuned in to the campaign for the first time last night wondered what all the fuss was about.

Sanders also announced this morning that, despite Jeff Weaver’s statement that Bernie is now a Democrat for life, he’s going back to being an independent.

He also announced that he will not raise money to support Hillary’s efforts to beat fascism.

Despite rumors that he would release his delegates, Sanders insisted on a roll call vote today, so erasure of Hillary’s enthusiastic supporters will probably continue on the cable channels. I think it’s very sad that Bernie can’t join with the rest of us in celebrating the nomination of the first woman in American history ever to head a major party ticket.

Last night I went to bed after watching MSNBC and CNN highlight Bernie-or-busters and denigrate the woman whose nomination this Convention was designed to celebrate. I woke up this morning determined to give him the benefit of the doubt, but now I know he’s not going to join the fight with the rest of us. But that’s his choice. Ninety percent of his supporters have already joined us, and the rest were never Democrats to begin with.

Some headlines to peruse today.

As usual, it was extremely difficult to find anything positive about Hillary in the media, but I found one at WBUR in Boston: Hillary Clinton’s Call to Public Service Came Early.

I found this at the WaPo, but I haven’t read it yet. I hope it’s positive: To understand Hillary Clinton, don’t watch the convention. Read her memoirs.

Ed Kilgore writes down his delusions: Bernie May Have Broken the ‘Never Hillary’ Movement Once and for All.

Jonathan Chait: How Bernie-or-Bust Fanatics Dominated the First Day of the Democratic Convention.

Sarah Kendzidor: The Democrats’ America on display: Flawed but not fatalistic.

CNN: Bernie Sanders: ‘I am proud to stand with her.’

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker: Michelle Obama’s Message: Trust Hillary Like I Do. Davidson is unconvinced.

NYT: Attack on Church in France Kills Priest and ISIS is Blamed.

That’s all I can write for now, folks. I’m very sorry that I’m so angry and disappointed. To me Hillary is a beacon of light in a dark world. I can’t even begin to describe how enthusiastic I am about her becoming the Democratic nominee–and I hope the President of the United States. For my entire life I’ve dreamed that women could eventually gain equality with men. Now I know that will never happen in my lifetime; but having a woman president would be a beginning.

I knew this year was going to be difficult; I knew that the misogyny and CDS of 2008 would be magnified 100-fold. But today, I’m having a hard time with it.

I’m afraid the Bernie-or-busters will attack Bill Clinton tonight, and I hope he has been well prepared to handle it. I can’t imagine how painful it must be for him to see his beautiful, talented, hard-working wife treated so horribly by the media and by supposed “progressives.”

I hope and pray that on Thursday night MSNBC and CNN will stop talking about Bernie Sanders for just a few hours to at least tell their viewers they are watching history in the making.

Over to you. What stories are you following? If you can cheer me up a bit, I’d be very grateful.


Live Blogging and Watch Party Part II

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Wow!!!!

What more can I say! This has been an amazing night. Paul Simon was amazing. Cory Booker showed why he may be President someday. Michelle Obama was just magnificent. Next up, Elizabeth Warren.

Here’s a fresh thread to keep right on discussing what’s happening in Philly.

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Clinton-Kaine vs. Trump-Putin

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Good Morning!!

I woke up this morning feeling very good about the Democratic ticket. I know I have been saying Tim Kaine is boring; but now I that know more about him I realize I was wrong. He’s not a screamer, and he won’t get the Bernie-or-busters excited, but there aren’t that many of those selfish jerks and they aren’t going to vote for Hillary anyway. But Kaine is a lot more interesting than I originally thought.

Here’s Hillary herself on why she chose him (from campaign email):

Tim is a lifelong fighter for progressive causes and one of the most qualified vice presidential candidates in our nation’s history.

But his credentials alone aren’t why I asked him to run alongside me.

Like me, Tim grew up in the Midwest. During law school, he too took an unconventional path — he took time off and went to Honduras to work with missionaries, practicing both his faith and his Spanish.

When he returned to the states and graduated from Harvard Law, he could have done anything. But instead of going to some big corporate firm, he chose to fight housing discrimination as a civil rights lawyer in Richmond. He and his wife joined a church, built a home centered around their faith, and raised three beautiful children. Then, after 17 years of practicing law, Tim ran for city council — and won.

Tim says his experience on city council taught him everything he knows about politics. To the people in Richmond, an underfunded school wasn’t a Democratic or Republican problem. It was simply a problem that needed fixing, and his constituents were counting on him to solve it. So Tim would do it. He’d roll up his sleeves and get the job done, no matter what.

He’s a man of relentless optimism who believes no problem is unsolvable if you’re willing to put in the work. That commitment to delivering results has stayed with him throughout his decades-long career as a public servant. So I could give you a laundry list of things he went on to accomplish — as mayor of Richmond, governor of Virginia, and in the United States Senate.

But this is what’s important: Tim has never taken a job for the glory or the title. He’s the same person whether the cameras are on or off. He’s sincerely motivated by the belief that you can make a difference in people’s lives through public service.

 

Emily Kadei at Newsweek (July 15, 2016) says Tim Kaine is not a “boring” choice.

Personable but unassuming, he’s not the type who, like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, will engage in Twitter wars with Trump. In Virginia, he built a reputation as a consensus-builder, not a bold thinker, while governing as a Democrat in a traditionally conservative state. Dig beneath the surface, however, and another picture starts to emerge, one that’s a lot more colorful than the vanilla first impression. It turns out that this career politician actually has a pretty radical streak running through him: a fierce, Jesuit-inspired commitment to social justice and racial equality that was very much at odds with the consensus in his Southern state at the time he was building his career.

Kaine declined to be interviewed for this article, but in the past he has credited his deep Catholic faith and a life-changing year as a missionary in poverty-stricken Central America for his foray into public service and politics. Speaking to Charlie Rose in 2008, Kaine said the year he took off during law school to volunteer with Jesuit missionaries in rural Honduras “really reenergized my faith, it gave me a role model…it gave me a sense of mission generally and specifically and it taught me a lot about our country.”

He harkens back to the experience regularly, including on Thursday. Speaking at a community college in Northern Virginia with Clinton looking on, Kaine recounted, “When I lived in Honduras, the best compliment you could make to someone…was to say that they were ‘listo,’ to say that they were ready”—a reference to the Clinton campaign slogan “Ready for Hillary.” Showing off his fluent Spanish, he explained, “What ready means is more than just on time, it means well-prepared, it means they’re ready to get on the ballot!” The crowd roared.

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Kaine spent 17 years as a civil rights lawyer in Richmond, VA.

Kaine’s time in Honduras also pointed the way toward the civil rights work he did in Richmond. It was there that he read the famous Martin Luther King Jr. line: “the most segregated hour of the week is 11 o’clock Sunday morning.”

“When I read that, you know, my experience growing up in a very white suburb of Kansas City, and not really knowing many people different from me, boy the scales really fell from my eyes,” he recounted to Rose. “I just decided whatever I did I was always going to try to make racial reconciliation a core of what I did.”

Kaine’s wife Anne is also a fighter for social justice.

Her father, former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton, made national headlines in 1970 by sending his daughters to a predominantly black school as part of a push to desegregate Richmond’s public education system.

Tim and Anne embraced a similar ethos in the life they built together in Richmond. They joined St. Elizabeth, a Catholic church in the low-income Highland Park neighborhood, at a time when few white people were part of the parish. Even now, the neighborhood is “mostly black folks,” says Rev. James Arsenault, St. Elizabeth’s pastor. The Kaines play an active role in the church, with Tim even being known to sing with the gospel choir from time to time. “I know they’ve been godparents for some kids from the parish and go to graduations and wedding anniversaries,” Father Arsenault says. “They’re friends, people call them Tim and Anne.”

After reading that, I can understand why Hillary chose him. His social justice Catholicism is a very good match for her social justice Methodism.

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The USA Today Editorial Board: Tim Kaine is the right pick for veep: Our view.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is not Mr. Excitement, as he’d be the first to say, but he is the smartest vice presidential pick Hillary Clinton could have made.

Kaine is not going to fire up the Bernie-or-bust crowd and he is, there’s no way to avoid noticing, a middle-aged white guy  (58, to be exact). But he does have the virtue of checking every other box on Clinton’s wish list – starting with the confidence that, as she put it in an interview with Charlie Rose, her running mate “could literally get up one day and be the president of the United States.”

She called that her top priority. It is ours as well.

If resume is destiny, Kaine was inevitable. He is a former city council member, mayor, lieutenant governor and governor who has become a student of war and foreign policy in the Senate. As governor he even had to prove himself in the tragic role presidents must play all too often, as consoler in chief after a mass shooting (the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 people dead).

Kaine’s political credentials are also unmatched. A former national party chairman and a former Catholic missionary to Honduras, he has never lost an election and has asolid approval rating in his state. He may not be Hispanic, but he speaks fluent Spanish. He comes from an important swing state with 13 electoral votes – more than twice as many as Iowa (home of another finalist, Agriculture secretary and former governor Tom Vilsack). And, key to Democratic dreams of a Senate majority, Kaine’s successor will be named by a Democrat — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Frankly, Hillary is not going to need her VP to be an attack dog against Trump and the Republicans. She will have Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and yes, Bernie Sanders to fill that role. Kaine is said to be very loyal and self-effacing; he will not overshadow her, and that is very important for the first woman to run for POTUS on a major party ticket.

Hillary and Tim’s optimism and competence will be a welcome contrast to the negativity of Donald Trump and the anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-labor Mike Pence.

Finally, Al Giordano loves Tim Kaine.

More tweets:

 

And on the other side of the 2016 presidential campaign . . .

The Washington Post editorial board: Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy.

DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.

Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.

Why are we so sure? Start with experience. It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. That experiment turned out pretty well — but Mr. Trump, to put it mildly, is no Dwight David Eisenhower. Leading the Allied campaign to liberate Europe from the Nazis required strategic and political skills of the first order, and Eisenhower — though he liked to emphasize his common touch as he faced the intellectual Democrat Adlai Stevenson — was shrewd, diligent, humble and thoughtful.

In contrast, there is nothing on Mr. Trump’s résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington. He was staked in the family business by a well-to-do father and has pursued a career marked by some real estate successes, some failures and repeated episodes of saving his own hide while harming people who trusted him. Given his continuing refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with a long bipartisan tradition, it is only reasonable to assume there are aspects of his record even more discreditable than what we know.

The lack of experience might be overcome if Mr. Trump saw it as a handicap worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance. He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact. Throughout the campaign, he has unspooled one lie after another — that Muslims in New Jerseycelebrated after 9/11, that his tax-cut plan would not worsen the deficit, that heopposed the Iraq War before it started — and when confronted with contrary evidence, he simply repeats the lie. It is impossible to know whether he convinces himself of his own untruths or knows that he is wrong and does not care. It is also difficult to know which trait would be more frightening in a commander in chief.

There’s a whole lot more of this kind of analysis at the link.

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Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard (!): Donald Trump Is Crazy, and So Is the GOP for Embracing Him.

Yes, Donald Trump is crazy. And, yes, the Republican party owns his insanity.

Fewer than twelve hours after Republicans rallied in support of his nomination for the presidency, Trump once again implied that Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s father, was involved in the JFK assassination. At a press availability during an event to thank campaign volunteers Friday morning, Trump revived suggestions that the elder Cruz was an associate of Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s assassin, and that they two were together months before the assassination.

“I don’t know his father. I met him once. I think he’s a lovely guy. I think he’s a lovely guy. All I did was point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead, he said Donald Trump—I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that, frankly, in many respects should be very respected.”

He continued: “Did anybody ever deny that it was the father? They’re not saying: ‘Oh, that wasn’t really my father.’ It was a little hard to do. It looked like him.”

Trump is still running against his GOP primary opponents! Read more at the link.

Quite a few journalists have begun examining Trump’s ties to Russia and his vocal admiration for Vladimir Putin. Some examples:

The Washington Post: Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin.

The NY Review of Books: Trump’s Putin Fantasy.

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump, the Siberian Candidate.

Jeffrey Goldberg: It’s Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin.

So . . . What do you think? And what other stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads

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Good Afternoon!!

This is what we’ve come to folks. We have a nominee of a major political party and his surrogates calling for the opposition candidate to be thrown in prison, hanged, or shot by a firing squad. Talking Points Memo: The Trump Campaign is Now Wink-Winking Calls to Murder Clinton.

As our reporters on the ground in Cleveland are telling us, the “lock her up” theme of the Cleveland convention is pervasive. Signs, T-shirts, memorabilia – it’s pervasive. It’s not just a chant on the convention floor. The campaign isn’t just comfortable with it. They’re actively pushing it. We noted earlier that a New Hampshire Trump delegate, who’s also a Trump advisor on veterans issue has just said Clinton should be “shot for treason.” He’s now being investigated by the Secret Service for threatening the former First Lady and Secretary of State’s life.

But there’s a part of this story that’s been overshadowed by the shocking nature of what Al Baldasaro said. That’s the response from the Trump campaign. In response to Baldasaro’s attack, Trump Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said: “We’re incredibly grateful for his support, but we don’t agree with his comments.”

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I’m not sure why no one has referenced this. But this is the kind of statement one usually hears about a policy disagreement rather than a demand to murder the opposing party’s nominee.

Calls for violence or the killing of a political opponent usually spurs the other candidate to totally disavow the person in question. Frankly, it’s a pretty new thing for a prominent supporter of a prominent politician to call for killing opposing candidates at all. But the Trump campaign is still “incredibly grateful his support” even though “we don’t agree” that Clinton should be shot.

This too is not normal.

Maybe you didn’t notice her statement until now. I assure you Trump’s more rabid supporters have – or at least noticed the conspicuous lack of any clear denunciation.

Yesterday, Melissa McEwan had a great post at Blue Nation Review on the unforgivable media complicity in this : WE’VE REACHED PEAK HILLARY HATE (Thanks to Our Noxious Media). And she provides plenty of linky goodness.

The national media’s treatment of Hillary has never been great. Whether it’s endlessly discussing her “likability,” or casually referring to her as “Godzillary” or “a Lovecraftian monster, the Cthulhu of American politics,” or depicting her with devil horns, or portraying her as a towering man-crushing monster, or constantly subjecting her to Remember Your Place pictures, or saying she “must be stopped,” they have long been prominent purveyors of narratives about Hillary being History’s Greatest Monster.

But their coverage in 2016 has been a total disgrace. A complete and utter embarrassment, culminating with this now-scrubbed headline care of the Washington Post: In Trump’s moment of triumph, Clinton is in the crosshairs.

Not only are the WaPo’s editors evidently watching a different convention than the rest of us if they imagine Donald is having “a moment of triumph,” but where is their sense of decency that they would say Hillary is in “the crosshairs”? Using such violent rhetoric at any time would be extraordinarily cruel, but to do so in the middle of a national nightmare of mass shootings is truly breathtaking.

And the replacement is hardly any better: Trump captures GOP nomination as focus their fire on Clinton.

“Focus their fire.” This is truly unconscionable.

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Melissa goes on to write about the media’s refusal to acknowledge the millions of people who support Hillary and are excited about the prospect of her becoming the first woman POTUS.

The fact is this: despite all the vitriol, Hillary is a popular presidential candidate. How can I make such a controversialclaim, in spite of her high unfavorables (ahem) and relentless articles detailing how unpopular she is? Because she won.

Because in winning her party’s nomination, she defeated Bernie Sanders, who himself was a popular candidate, by millions of votes and hundreds of delegates. Because she was a popular First Lady. Because she was a popular Senator. Because she was a popular Secretary of State. Because she has been the most admired women in the world for two decades.

And, no, that’s not hyperbole.

But you wouldn’t know that Hillary is popular, if you depended exclusively on corporate media for your news—because there is a seemingly endless parade of stories about how unpopular she is (whoops!); how unliked she is (bloop!); how little enthusiasm there is for her candidacy (uh-oh!).

There’s much more at the link, so please go read it if you haven’t already.

Tony Schwartz

Tony Schwartz

Also yesterday, Tony Schwartz, who wrote Trump’s bestselling book The Art of the Deal, discussed his experience of GOP nominee in an interview with The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer.

Schwartz had ghostwritten Trump’s 1987 breakthrough memoir, earning a joint byline on the cover, half of the book’s five-hundred-thousand-dollar advance, and half of the royalties. The book was a phenomenal success, spending forty-eight weeks on the Times best-seller list, thirteen of them at No. 1. More than a million copies have been bought, generating several million dollars in royalties. The book expanded Trump’s renown far beyond New York City, making him an emblem of the successful tycoon. Edward Kosner, the former editor and publisher of New York, where Schwartz worked as a writer at the time, says, “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.”

Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. Until Schwartz posted the tweet, though, he had not spoken publicly about Trump for decades. It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.”

It seemed improbable that Trump’s campaign would succeed, so Schwartz told himself that he needn’t worry much. But, as Trump denounced Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” near the end of the speech, Schwartz felt anxious. He had spent hundreds of hours observing Trump firsthand, and felt that he had an unusually deep understanding of what he regarded as Trump’s beguiling strengths and disqualifying weaknesses. Many Americans, however, saw Trump as a charmingly brash entrepreneur with an unfailing knack for business—a mythical image that Schwartz had helped create. “It pays to trust your instincts,” Trump says in the book, adding that he was set to make hundreds of millions of dollars after buying a hotel that he hadn’t even walked through.

In the subsequent months, as Trump defied predictions by establishing himself as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Schwartz’s desire to set the record straight grew. He had long since left journalism to launch the Energy Project, a consulting firm that promises to improve employees’ productivity by helping them boost their “physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual” morale. It was a successful company, with clients such as Facebook, and Schwartz’s colleagues urged him to avoid the political fray. But the prospect of President Trump terrified him. It wasn’t because of Trump’s ideology—Schwartz doubted that he had one. The problem was Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered.

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Please go read the whole thing. As soon as the article was published, Trump sent him a “cease and desist letter.” and demanded that Schwarz return all of his royalties from the book.

You may have seen Rachel Maddow’s interview with Schwartz last night in which he called Trump “a black hole,” and a “sociopath.” Steve Benen writes:

Schwartz is eager to tell the public about what he learned about Trump after their collaboration.
As Rachel discovered last night, Trump’s lawyers have a different plan in mind.
Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” told MSNBC Wednesday that the Trump campaign sent him a cease and desist letter in response to his comments about the Republican candidate.
Schwartz, a former journalist, was employed by Trump to ghostwrite his memoir in 1987. In an interview with MSNBC, Schwartz described the Republican candidate for president as “having no heart and no soul.”

“This notion that I didn’t write the book is so preposterous,” Schwartz added. “You know, I am not certain that Donald Trump read every word, but I’m sure certain that I wrote every word. And he made a few red marks on the manuscript and sent it back to me, and the rest was history. The idea that he would dispute that is part of why I felt I had to come forward. The notion that if he could lie about that he could lie about anything.”

Benen says the New Yorker article is a must-read, and I agree wholeheartedly.

More stories to check out:

TPM: Ted Turns the Tables on Trump–Hard.

NYT: Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack.

CNN: Defiant Ted Cruz stands by refusal to endorse Trump after being booed during convention speech.

Jonathan Chait: Republicans in Chaos Must Decide Whether to Elect a Madman.

Slate: Newt Gingrich Probably Just Gave the Last Major Speech of His Career.

HuffPo: Tim Kaine Calls To Deregulate Banks As He Campaigns To Be Clinton’s VP.

NYT: Bill Clinton Said to Back Virginia’s Tim Kaine for Vice President.

NBC News: Cops Shoot Unarmed Caregiver With His Hands Up While He Helps Man.

The Guardian: Roger Ailes accused of harassment by at least 20 women, attorneys say.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!


Tuesday Reads: Disastrous Day One of the Republican National Convention

Good Afternoon!!

After the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, there’s good news and bad news for the Trump campaign. The bad news is that the big story today is that Melania Trump’s speech last night was basically a light edit of Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 with a few paragraphs thrown in to make it look like it was about Donald Trump. The good news for Trump is that this story is distracting the media from the racist, misogynist, and xenophobic content of the rest of the Convention speeches.

The Washington Post: Republican National Convention: Scrutiny of Melania Trump’s speech follows plagiarism allegations.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign came under new scrutiny Tuesday after it became apparent that part of Melania Trump’s primetime address Monday night at the Republican National Convention bore conspicuous similarities to a speech delivered by first lady Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic convention.

The plagiarism charges have cast a shadow over Trump and his campaign on the second day of the convention here in Cleveland, where Republicans are making the case to a skeptical country that the celebrity billionaire —the most unconventional and impulsive major-party standard-bearer in modern history — could be a credible and steadfast leader at a time of terrorist threats abroad and senseless tragedies at home.

Trump’s campaign and allies rushed to defend Melania Trump on Tuesday morning.

“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” wrote senior communications advisor Jason Miller in a statement. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.” ….

Melania Trump had previously indicated that she wrote the speech herself.h. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort pretty much threw Melania under the bus by sticking to the story that she wrote it herself.

On Tuesday morning, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort denied that there had been any plagiarism, despite clear similarities between the two speeches. Some parts of the speeches appeared to be the same, word for word.

“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values that she cares about, her family, things like that,” Manafort said on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning. “She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night, she knew that, to think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”

The sections in the video are only the beginning. There are similarities to Michelle Obama’s speech throughout. Even the final lines claiming “he will never turn his back on you” were borrowed from Michelle. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort pretty much threw Melania under the bus by sticking to the story that she wrote it herself.

Oh yes, and Manafort also blamed Hillary for the mess the campaign is in. Think Progress: Trump Campaign Manager On Melania’s Plagiarism: It’s Hillary’s Fault

Donald Trump and his campaign are scrambling to address the apparent plagiarism in Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech, which replicated specific language from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Trump’s former rivals-turned-surrogates Ben Carson and Chris Christie both refused to acknowledge the plagiarism.

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort went even further. He not only denied the speech was plagiarized, but accused Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton of spreading the storybecause she hates other women.

“This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton she seeks out to demean her and take her down,” he said. “It’s not going to work.”

Manafort repeated the sexist attack in a press conference a few hours later. “When Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person,” he told reporters.

There are now rumors that Trump is furious with Manafort. Perhaps he’ll be looking for a new campaign manager soon–right in the middle of the RNC.

Wow! That’s some heavy duty misogyny there.

Some folks on Twitter have been digging up tweets from Mr. and Mrs. Trump that suggest plagiarism is nothing new for these two.

And check this out:

Unbelievable.

And what about the parts of Melania’s speech that weren’t plagiarized? Isaac Chotiner at Slate: Melania Trump’s Pathetic Attempt to Humanize Her Husband.

The traditional role of the first lady is, in the clichéd language of our politics, to “humanize” her spouse. Melania Trump may in some sense appear to be nontraditional for the wife of a Republican nominee. But in her speech on Monday night she set for herself the same goal: showing a side of Donald Trump that voters had not seen. What she delivered, according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, speaking from the convention floor, was the speech of the night. The CNN panel gushed. Hugh Hewitt got excited on MSNBC. But don’t believe it: Melania’s speech was just as morally questionable as Rudy Giuliani’s Mussolini-not-so-lite speech that preceded it.

The most striking feature of Melania’s speech was the lack of specifics: Perhaps because her husband is a gruesome demagogue rather than a halfway-decent person, there were no humanizing anecdotes or sweet stories to tell. The candidate’s public personality is clearly more than an act; those who know him have nothing truly nice or personal to say about him, just as he has nothing nice or personal to say about them. (People he likes in his orbit tend to be “absolutely terrific.”)

I noticed that last night. Melania didn’t provide a single specific anecdote to illustrate her husband’s supposed generosity, kindness, and other positive qualities she claims he has.

This morning Ivanka Trump told the AP that her dad wants her to make sure everything in her speech introducing him on Thursday is in her own words.

Could there be trouble between Trump’s third wife and his children from first wife Ivana? Joy Reid tweeted today that Melania refused to attend the introduction of Mike Pence and his family because she was angry with Donald’s children for pushing him to name a VP candidate that he didn’t really want.

Reid also cited a Daily Mail article that suggests trouble in the Trump extended family: ‘She can’t talk, she can’t give a speech’: Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana slams his current spouse Melania and suggests she would make a better First Lady.

Trump’s first wife Ivana, who was married to the Republican presidential front runner from 1977 to 1991, said Melania ‘can’t talk’ and ‘can’t give a speech’.

The 66-year-old – who had three children with the billionaire – reportedly said she would have made a good First Lady and backed her ex-husband to be a ‘great President’.

Ivana was told at a recent party in New York that she would have been a good First Lady.

According to the New York Daily News, she laughed and replied: ‘Yes, but the problem is, what is he going to do with his third wife?’

Referring to Melania Trump, Ivana continued: ‘She can’t talk, she can’t give a speech, she doesn’t go to events, she doesn’t want to be involved.’

Ivana also said Trump would be a successful President and backed him to win the Republican nomination.

‘He’ll be a great President,’ she said. ‘He’ll surround himself with the right people. He was always meant to be a politician.’

She added that she had backed Trump to run for President in the 1980s, but ‘then he got involved with Marla Maples and America hated him’.

ROFLOL! Most of America still hates him.

I’m going to wrap this up soon, because I’m completely exhausted after driving nearly 1,000 miles over the past two days. But I want to include stories about one more speech from last night.

screen-shot-2016-07-18-at-10-23-30-pm (1)

If you missed Rudy Giuliani’s crazy address to the convention, you really need to watch it. You can do that at Slate, where Fred Kaplan writes about it: What Has Happened to Rudy Giuliani? He used to be a pragmatic moderate. Now he’s spewing nonsense.

Exactly 20 years ago, as the Boston Globe’s New York bureau chief, I interviewed Mayor Rudy Giuliani in his office in City Hall. The 1996 Republican Convention was going on in San Diego, and I asked him why he wasn’t there. “It’s not my sort of thing,” he replied. “I’m much closer to moderates in both parties than to extremists in either.”

That was a long time ago….

Self-righteous and bombastic as he has become in recent years, I have never seen him—I have never imagined him—huffing and puffing with such fire and brimstone. Or spewing such rank nonsense.

Boasting that he changed New York “from the crime capital of America to the safest large city in America,” he said, “What I did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America.” Stipulating that he played a role in cutting crime in New York (and I think he did, to some extent), what did he do? Most pertinent, he appointed William Bratton as his police chief, who tracked crime with daily computer statistics (before then, there were only quarterly statistics), then instantly redeployed cops to neighborhoods where crime was spurting. He also arrested people for committing small crimes, and many of those people, it turned out, were wanted for large crimes. Other things were happening in society, too. But these techniques and the surrounding circumstances have no application to the fight against global terrorism. Nor does the sophisticated approach that Giuliani and Bratton brought to urban disorder have any resemblance to Trump’s attitude to anything.

Then Giuliani delved into the shallowest realm of Trump’s attack on Obama’s (or Obama-Clinton’s) counterterrorism policies—the refusal to call our enemy by their name: as he bellowed it, “Islamic extremist terrorism” (words that drew an enormous ovation). Obama has addressed this critique: It is silly to believe that, if only he uttered those three words (like “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”), the bad guys would turn and run—or anything different would happen whatsoever. “If they are at war against us,” Giuliani roared, “we must commit ourselves to unconditional victory against them.” What does that mean? What does the United States or the West have to do to achieve that goal? I ask Giuliani and others who speak in this language to put forth a three-point outline, a 100-page treatise—some idea of what new policies, tactics, or strategies they have in mind. I honestly don’t know, and I’m pretty sure they don’t either.

Kaplan carefully dissects the entire Giuliani diatribe.  The piece is well worth reading.

I wonder what atrocities Trump and the Republicans will produce in day 2 of the their convention? So far this week looks like it will be very good for Hillary Clinton.
What stories are you following today?

Lazy Saturday Reads

trumppence_071316getty

Good Afternoon!!

This post is extra late, because my internet has been down all morning. I can’t believe how isolated I feel without it! Thank goodness it’s working again.

This morning Donald Trump finally announced that Mike Pence will be his running mate. NBC News:

Extolling Donald Trump as a “good man who will make a great president,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence took the stage Saturday at a New York City hotel to accept the real estate mogul’s invitation to be his vice presidential running mate on the Republican ticket.

Pence, speaking in a plaintive and almost folksy language, said of Trump that he was “grateful to this builder, this fighter, this patriotic American who has set aside his legendary career in business to build a stronger America.” ….

Just before formally unveiling Pence as his pick Saturday following an earlier announcement on Twitter on Friday, Trump spent much of his introduction pivoting from topic to topic about religious freedom, ISIS, Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and manufacturing jobs — while occasionally mentioning the Indiana governor.

Pence will help “fix our rigged system,” Trump said, adding, “He’ll fight for the people, and he’ll also fight for you.”

I wonder who “you” is? He’ll fight for “the people” and also “you?” Trump also said that Pence was his “first choice from the start,” even though everyone knows that he spend 2 days waffling about it.

Philip Rucker at The Washington Post: Trump picks Pence after late hesitation, hoping for a steadying influence.

Donald Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a strait-laced and seasoned conservative, as his running mate Friday was designed to be a soothing overture that could repair the fractured Republican Party and signal a newfound discipline in the celebrity billionaire’s bid for the White House.

But Trump’s apparent 11th-hour indecision and private hesi­ta­tion about Pence, coupled with a delayed and fitful introduction, threatened to undercut part of the rationale for Pence joining the ticket: steadying a turbulent general-election campaign.

Trump announced Friday on Twitter that he had chosen Pence and that they would make their first joint appearance at a news conference Saturday in New York. The social-media proclamation capped a period of extraordinary uncertainty and mixed signals about the selection, just days before the Republican National Convention is set to open here in Cleveland.

Rucker suggests that Pence’s far right wing stances on social issues could shift the focus of Trump’s campaign.

In Pence, Trump has a classically credentialed if generic campaign partner. Trump, 70, will rely on the 57-year-old Midwesterner to shore up support where Pence has nurtured deep relationships, such as on the Christian right and with the conservative movement’s moneyed establishment. A former chairman of the House Republican Conference, the ideological purist was embraced by many corners of the Republican coalition Friday that had been cool to Trump’s candidacy.

But there were also immediate signs that Pence could shift the focus of the overall debate in ways Trump may not intend. Pence brings a visceral ideological edge to what has been a populist campaign centered on economic grievances and strident nationalism.

While Trump mostly avoids social issues on the campaign trail and his positions have evolved over the years, Pence has a history of vocally promoting a hard-line conservative agenda — from opposing same-sex marriage and abortion rights to defunding Planned Parenthood.

We’ll see. Meanwhile liberals are having a field day digging up dirt on Pence’s many horrible actions as governor of Indiana like defunding Planned Parenthood, signing draconian anti-abortion laws, trying to block Syrian immigrants from settling in the state, and, of course, signing a “religious freedom” law to allow businesses to discriminate against gays.

Elizabeth Warren weighed in on Twitter:

Read more of her tweets from this morning here.

The coup in Turkey is apparently over, according to CNN:

Turkey’s government said Saturday it was firmly in control after a coup attempt the night before sparked violence and chaos, leaving 161 people dead.

Friday’s uprising by some members of the military is the latest worrying example of deteriorating stability in a country that a few years ago was being promoted to the wider Muslim world as a model of democratic governance and economic prosperity.
Some 14 years after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political party swept to power in elections, Turkey once again teeters on the brink.
Clothes and weapons belonging to soldiers involved in the coup attempt lie on the ground abandoned on Bosphorus Bridge.
The turmoil exposes deep discontent within the military ranks and a defiant Erdogan has vowed to purge those traitorous elements. But less than 24 hours after the attempted putsch, questions remained about who masterminded it and why they decided to act now.
Turkish military authorities, meanwhile, closed the airspace around Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base — the site Turkey allows the United States to use for operations related to its air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq — a U.S. defense official told CNN on Saturday.
This has led to a halt in U.S. airstrike missions from that location, the official said on condition of anonymity. Turkish officials told the United States that the airspace has been closed until they can make sure all elements of the Turkish air force are in the hands of pro-government forces after Friday’s coup attempt, the U.S. official said.

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The BBC has a feel-good story following the terrible attack in Nice, France: Attack in Nice: Missing baby boy reunited with his family.

A baby boy who went missing during the lorry attack in Nice on Thursday has been reunited with his family after a Facebook appeal went viral.

The child and his parents had become separated during the Bastille Day incident.

Yohlaine Ramasitera, a friend of the boy’s parents, posted a picture of herself with the missing baby on Facebook, and included her phone number in the post.

Yohlaine’s appeal was spotted by her friend Rebecca Boulanger a pastor at Nice’s Victory Christian Church. She was at home with her husband Phillipe and their 18-month-old daughter.

Boulanger wrote a Facebook post in English appealing for help to find the child….

Within two hours Yohlaine was contacted by a local woman who had seen her Facebook post. She said she had taken the baby to her home and he was safe and well.

“It was a miracle.” Boulanger said. “A picture of the child was requested from the woman to ensure that it was him, and then finally the baby was reunited with his worried parents.”

I’m so glad this one little boy was found safe after all the horror stories we’ve heard.

I want to share a couple of articles that demonstrate what a long way we still have to go to deal with the misogyny and sexism in our society.

Natalie Kon-yu of Victoria University

Natalie Kon-yu of Victoria University

From Literary Hub: On Sexism in Literary Prize Culture: Men’s Writing is Just Writing and Everything Else is a Sub-Classification, by Natalie Kon-yu. It’s a very long piece; so if you’re interested, please go read the whole thing. An excerpt:

For more than a decade, I’ve been researching women’s writing—the assumptions about it and its reception. Lately, I’ve been focusing my academic research on literary prize culture, as I think that prizes show us, quite clearly, whose work we value and whose we don’t. Part of this was the result of reading Evie Wyld’s All the Birds, Singing. I was unsettled that the novel won the Miles Franklin, not because the writing isn’t beautiful or the story isn’t urgent, but because the book features a female protagonist who, for most of the novel, could have been a male character.

When a woman wins a national writing prize, we, as a culture, are prompted to see that as a major achievement for women, an indication that we are living in a meritocracy. So it is troubling when a female-authored book occupies hard-worn male territory, and when it is rewarded for precisely that reason. The novel’s protagonist, Jake, is moody and insular and lives on her own with her pet, Dog, for company. Praised for her physical skills, Jake—already masculinized through her name, short hair and manly clothing—is told by one of the shearers she works with that she is “a good bloody bloke.” In his review, Geordie Williamson writes that “wearing a self-cut fringe and habitually clothed in grimy dungarees, Jake has so successfully erased her gender that the reader is driven to confused re-reading.”

Even more troubling to me, though, is the praise that Wyld’s book elicited from the Miles Franklin judges, who begin their citation by characterizing the book as a “road-movie-in-reverse.” This reading of masculine tropes within the text continues: the novel is also labeled an “upside-down pastoral elegy” and as being “replete with adrenaline-fuelled escapades;” all characteristics that have historically been used to describe men’s, rather than women’s, fiction. This is echoed in the reviews for the book: the Sydney Morning Herald praises Wyld for her skilled use of the “aesthetics of omission” à la Ernest Hemingway, ending the review by stating that “Evie Wyld can look forward to a career as successful and distinguished as that of old Papa himself.” To proclaim this as a victory for women, or for women’s writing, seems highly problematic.

Compare this to Olive Kitteridge, the novel that won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009 (unfortunately the Pulitzer doesn’t publish detailed judges’ reports). The New York Times opined that Olive wasn’t a nice person, citing passages from the book—”Olive had a way about her that was absolutely without apology”—yet the review also noted that as the novel progressed “a more complicated portrait of the woman emerges.” Olive is a complex woman, emotional yet acidic, large and yet fragile. She has a husband and son; she lives an ordinary, yet completely intriguing, life in small-town USA. That Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer for this novel-in-stories about the eponymous Olive can, I think, be seen more clearly as that rare and tricky thing: a win for women writers.

But more often than not, when a woman wins a major literary award, she wins for writing like a male writer, for writing about men, or for setting her work in an unmistakenly masculine environment.

That should give you a sense of what the article is about. It’s both fascinating and discouraging.

Samantha Bee and her team

Then there’s this from Fansided: #EMMYSNUBS ‘Full Frontal’: The Variety Talk Series Category Still A Boys’ Club.

TBS’ Full Frontal With Samantha Bee is more than anyone could have hoped for of the Daily Show alum. When Trevor Noah took up Jon Stewart’s mantle, it was clear that the only way there would ever be a woman in Late Night was if someone took it upon themselves to break that barrier. And the venture has been a successful one, gaining the show at least an Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series nod.

Which is why this snub is not as severe as it could have been but that doesn’t diminish that she was still left out of the top prize. And it’s not just calling into question the fact that the only female late night host was excluded but why?

The real question is not why she wasn’t nominated for an Emmy but what exactly does she have to do to get nominated?

The author suggests that Samantha Bee’s problem is her “lack of a penis.” You can watch some great bits from Full Frontal at the link.

What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and have a terrific weekend!

 


Thursday Reads: The Trump Convention Approaches

Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, 2008

Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, 2008

Good Morning!!

The next two weeks will be fascinating ones for political junkies. The Republican Convention begins on Monday, July 18 in Cleveland, and just a week later on July 25 the Democratic Convention will be held in Philadelphia. The list of speakers for the GOP Convention was released this morning.

The Washington Post: Republican convention’s ‘non-conventional’ list: Model, astronaut and Trump clan.

Donald Trump’s convention will feature an eclectic mix of cultural figures, from the first woman to command a space shuttle mission to the survivors of the 2012 Benghazi attacks to an underwear model.

But while several Republican Party establishment figures will take the stage next week in Cleveland, the national convention to officially nominate Trump will be devoid of some of the GOP’s most seasoned leaders and brightest new stars.

Republican officials released a long-awaited list of convention speakers on Thursday that are billed as “non-conventional speakers” who emphasize “real world experience.”

Barry Goldwater and William Miller at the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco

Barry Goldwater and William Miller at the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco

A small number of elected officials and former office-holders have agreed to speak at Trump’s convention, including Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Marsha Blackburn, Mike Huckabee, Rick Scott, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Jeff Sessions, Joni Ernst, and Asa Hutchison. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is not included in the list of speakers. It’s not clear whether that means he will be the VP nominee or if there is some reason he won’t be speaking. Another notable omission from the speakers list is Sarah Palin.

The unusual collection of non-political speakers seems designed to broaden Trump’s appeal. They include retired astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman pilot and first woman commander of a space shuttle mission; Mark Geist and John Tiegen, two survivors of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya; and Antonio Sabato Jr., a former Calvin Klein underwear model, soap-opera actor and reality-television star.

Some sports figures will take the stage here, including pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White. But some sporting heroes of decades past that Trump has said he would like to see at the convention — former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight and boxing legend Don King — are not listed as featured speakers.

Thomas E. Dewey at the 1948 Republican Convention

Thomas E. Dewey at the 1948 Republican Convention

Trump family members and close friends will also speak at the convention.

The Cleveland convention will be orchestrated to help expand Trump’s appeal to the general electorate. To that end, several member of Trump’s family are expected to give speeches, including his wife, Melania, and his four oldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany.

In addition, other speakers who have known Trump and his family through the years plan to take the stage. They include Haskel Lookstein, a rabbi in New York who converted Ivanka Trump to Judaism; Tom Barrack, a wealthy California-based investor who has worked with Donald Trump on real estate deals; and Kerry Woolard, the general manager of Trump Winery in Virginia.

See a full list of GOP convention speakers at Cleveland.com and a tentative schedule of events at Newsday.

In contrast to the weak list of GOP convention speakers, the Democratic Convention speakers list is star-studded. The Washington Post:

The Democratic National Convention is likely to open with a showcase of some of the party’s biggest stars, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and first lady Michelle Obama, according to a source with knowledge of the convention planning.

Although the speaking schedule isn’t yet set in stone, the jam-packed Monday night is also expected to include Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) will introduce Warren in Philadelphia.

Sanders’s name will be entered into the nomination, prompting a roll call vote of delegates for both candidates.

Percy Sutton nominates Shirley Chisholm at the 1972 Democratic Convention

Percy Sutton nominates Shirley Chisholm at the 1972 Democratic Convention

As we all expected Sanders will continue trying to get as much attention as he can for as long as he can.

According to another source familiar with the convention planning, the night’s theme will be an economic agenda focused on families. The list of speakers is intended to highlight the unity of the Democratic Party in contrast to the Republican convention that will have come the week before.

The night’s programming, including the speakers and videos, will drive home the theme of Clinton’s campaign, “Stronger together,” by highlighting a populist economic agenda.

The convention speaking list is coming together this week, and more speakers are likely to be formally announced as early as this week.

Presumably, speakers also will include President Obama and former President Clinton as well as rising stars in the party.

The Trump campaign announced yesterday that the presumptive GOP nominee will name his Vice Presidential running mate tomorrow morning at 11AM in New York City. The exact location hasn’t been announced yet. NPR reports: Trump Wraps Up Vice President Auditions, Sets Friday Announcement.

The deadline for a decision comes after the presumptive GOP presidential nominee wrapped up both public tryouts and private meetings with the three men believed to be among the finalists — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

After he campaigned with Pence in Indiana Tuesday evening, Trump his family met with Pence at his Indiana home on Wednesday morning, according toNBC News, while Gingrich and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions also flew to Indianapolis to meet with Trump. Christie met with Trump and his family on Tuesday.

Pence, who gave a tepid endorsement to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before his state’s primary, was more gleefully on board with Trump’s campaign on Tuesday night as he introduced him at a rally in Westfield.

“Donald Trump gets it,” Pence told the crowd. “Donald Trump hears the voice of the American people.” ….

Of the three presumed vice presidential finalists, Pence was the only one who gave a direct introduction for Trump before he came to the stage. Trump also campaigned with Christie on Monday in Virginia and with Gingrich last week in Ohio.

Trump praised Pence at the end of what was a meandering speech — attacking rival Hillary Clinton often but also wandering off into other topics such as immigration and trade and back again.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be your governor or your vice president, who the hell knows!” Trump told the crowd, referring to Pence.

Richard Nixon at the 1968 Republican Convention

Richard Nixon at the 1968 Republican Convention

Yeah, who the hell knows? This horrifying man is actually running for president. The other top VP candidates are supposedly Jeff Sessions, Chris Christie, and Newt Gingrich. TA Frank weighed in on each of these choices at The Atlantic: It’s down to four, but does any candidate offer even a smidgen of hope?

At this point, Trump needs a running mate who amplifies his strengths and, possibly, goes some way toward remedying some of the candidate’s most serious weaknesses: erratic behavior, lack of experience, inadequate grasp of history, and almost zero policy chops. He or she needs to believe what Trump believes—but in a way that suggests there will be an adult in the room. Trump’s vice president is likely to be powerful in the White House, so the pick is about a lot more than campaigning. The question remains, however, whether any of the final four offer a glimmer of hope.

Some excerpts from Frank’s assessments of the top four candidates.

Newt Gingrich

Even in the wake of reports that Fox News and Gingrich have parted ways, perhaps to allow him to be vetted for the post, I still do not think this V.P. possibility is for real. Even Trump has said about Gingrich that “Newt is Newt.” That’s what you say about someone whom you accept despite major flaws. As in: Kanye is Kanye. That sort of stuff. And remember that “erratic” thing that we were trying to remedy? Gingrich is not your man for that.

John Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic Convention

John Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic Convention

Mike Pence

Yes, Pence campaigned with Trump this week in Indianapolis and sang his praises. But he seemed about as believable in his Trump-love as Paul Ryan. O.K., he did a little better than that. At least he wants Trump to win, maybe.

But Mike Pence has a fan club of roughly four, and all four have the last name Pence. This is someone who has the capability to be bungling and divisive on dumb social issues—by all accounts pleasing no one in his management of a religious-liberty law in Indiana, which means he angers social liberals, social moderates, and social conservatives. To be fair, that does leave the apathetic or uninformed.

Chris Christie

We’ve been through this. Christie is, I will admit, an excellent retail politician. He’s a superb attack dog. He’s a social moderate. You like him, and he likes you, or thinks he does. But he’s got that bridge scandal to deal with and no one respects him after he turned into a courtier. Trump’s ticket would become the stuff of comedy. Picture it. Now picture it as a silhouette.

Protesters forming a human pyramid in Chicago's Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention

Protesters forming a human pyramid in Chicago’s Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention

Jeff Sessions

Here, I must bring up one more crucial vulnerability of Trump: the suspicion that he doesn’t really mean a lot of the things that he says. It’s all pandering: on immigration, on trade, on budgets, on health care, etc. That’s one more reason why Jeff Sessions would pack a punch: Sessions represents Trumpism without Trump. Selecting him as a running mate would signal that Trump actually means what he’s saying.

Read more from TA Frank at the link.

I can’t resist including this assessment of Trump’s VP choices from Gawker: Which of His Potential Vice Presidential Candidates Is Donald Trump Just Fucking With? Check it out at that link.

So . . . what do you think? Will you be watching next week’s GOP clusterf#ck? What other stories are you following today?