Goodbye Nominating Conventions, Hello Hollywood

At 2012’s Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair, addressing President Obama. In 2016, the empty chair spoke–through the mouth of Donald Trump.

Goodbye nominating conventions. Hello Hollywood.

There’s never been a clearer signal that the day of political nominating conventions in America is over. In 2012, Ron Paul supporters were suppressed using the convention rules and RNC staffers, rendering state delegations neutered as Mitt Romney ascended to the nomination. In 2016, even more draconian methods were employed to squash the will of delegates.

When the indications first started that a rules vote was potentially in the offing, the whip team sprang into motion. They knew exactly every person who had signed a petition to force a roll call vote. They approached all of these people personally and asked, “Okay, what is the problem? What don’t you approve of in terms of the rules? How can we help answer your objection?” If this didn’t work, cajoling and threats to state funding were employed. If the initial whip was not able to persuade the renegade delegate, then a higher level whip would be employed with increasing levels of pressure. The whips knew they did not have to flip many people and they were ruthlessly effective in their objective.

Let’s be honest. More actual business is transacted during a Shriners or Legionnaires convention than the RNC or DNC nominating conventions. The platforms are uniformly ignored. Voice votes are rigged, and efforts at real accountability for the leaders are crushed. The delegates are what Leon Wolf called “window dressing.” They are mere vote-bots.

The convention is just a show for ratings.

Trump’s coronation garnered an average of 22 million viewers for primetime coverage through Wednesday. Thursday’s ratings for Donald’s great big terrific speech haven’t come out yet (that I could find as of this writing), but it’s likely to be in line with the previous days, and possibly more. Trump is tracking better than 2012 according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Democrats will now have their show, complete with speechifying, anti-Israel invective and enough safe space to park all the kindergartens in America.

I think it’s time to recognize the futility of having a primary and nominating process drawn out over months. I think we should look at either an online voting method or a national primary, and cut out all the ridiculous Potemkin democratic process that doesn’t exist at the conventions. The Democrats use super delegates to thwart anyone the leadership doesn’t like (even so, Bernie gave Hillary a run for her money). Now, the Republicans have shown over the last 8 years that there’s no overcoming a rigged system.

Trump is right–it’s rigged. But he’s okay with it being rigged in his favor. Just like he wants to rig everything to benefit his friends and people who support him, while others pay for his thumbless grasp of the most basic economic and global facts.

 

The Trump Circus Really Does Induce Vomiting

I’ve heard enough comments from friends who have turned their TV’s off at the sickening events of the Republican National Convention, a.k.a. the #TrumpCircus. But a gaggle of California staffers have actually become sick with the dreaded norovirus.

Norovirus is the bane of large gatherings and cruise ships.

The virus causes extreme vomiting and diarrhea and has been known to spread explosively through people in closed places, such as cruise ships, schools and nursing homes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[California GOP Chairman Jim] Brulte said that, so far, no delegates or alternates have shown symptoms. He said his delegation will continuing to attend the convention at Quicken Loans Arena, where the Californians sit next to the Maryland delegation.

Hand sanitizer, please!

But it could be fortunate for those who have to put up with 48 hours of living hell, in that they don’t have to endure the living hell at Quicken Loans Arena.

I’m not sure which is worse: Watching the Trump circus unfold, or puking your guts out. It’s really a close call.

Melania Trump: Winner

I am a well known critic of Donald Trump. I will not be voting for Trump or Clinton in November, probably writing in Peyton Manning instead. He, at least, is a real winner with good character. But I have to declare Melania Trump the winner of the night.

Donald Trump actually did a great entrance to introduce his wife. She came on stage and was stunning. But it was not just that she is an objectively gorgeous lady, she was proudly American.

She was not ashamed of where she came from. She was not ashamed of her family. She was not ashamed of her native country. But she was proud to be American. She was proud to be on that stage. It was all so very refreshing.

When John Kerry’s wife came out of stage in 2004, she was aloof and distant. Melania Trump was anything but. She was personable. That counts for something.

She won the night.

An Open Letter to the Delegates

This was just sent to me from some of the delegates fighting for changes to the rules and the power the RNC rules.

Time to vote “No” on the rules package when it hits the floor.

 

GOP Rules Members for Fairness & Transparency

July 17, 2016

Dear Fellow Delegates,

We Rules Committee Members were eager to come to Cleveland and represent you and the Grassroots in our home states to create fair and transparent rules that would guide the Republican Party for future elections.  Instead, we arrived to see Republican National Committee (RNC) staff instructing us to transfer power from Convention Delegates to the 168 members of the Republican National Committee, and specifically to the RNC Chairman.

It is unfortunate that the Rules package produced last Thursday empowers the RNC at the expense of Convention Delegates themselves.  It does nothing to give regular Republicans – and those we wish to attract to our Party – faith in our bedrock principles.  Rather, anti-grassroots actions in both the 2012 and the 2016 Rules Committees erode confidence in our Party’s leadership.

We opposed abuses of power, such as:
· The Centralization of authority solely in the Chairman’s office;
· Preventing Republicans from contacting their elected RNC Rules representatives by hiding their contact information;
· Denying RNC Members the needed opportunity to review Rules changes before they go to an immediate vote.

After a highly competitive primary season, the RNC leadership had the opportunity to unify grassroots activists and prove we are the party of fairness, transparency, and Rule of Law.  Instead, we were force fed a Rules package we simply cannot support.  We encourage our fellow Convention Delegates to vote against the Majority Rules Report.  We hope you will stand with us.

Respectfully,
Nicolee Ambrose (MD)
Morton Blackwell (VA)
Fred Brown (AK)
Jim Crawford (MD)
Anne Gentry (VA)
Lora Gervais (ID)
Harriet Hageman (WY)
Graham Hunt (WA)
Marlys Popma (IA)
Cindy Pugh (MN)
Norm Semanko (ID)
Guy Short (CO)
Kendal Unruh (CO)
Janssen Willhoit (VT)

Republican Delegates Should Reject The Rules

Right now eleven state delegates have come forward with enough signatures to force a roll call vote on the rules package pushed out by the establishment. The secretary of the convention has gone into hiding to try to avoid accepting the signatures, but it will more likely than not happen.

Every Republican delegate should reject the rules package. The people who do not want Trump, but say they have to vote for Trump because of the rules, can unbind themselves and will be using the very same logic they’ve embraced to compel their begrudging vote for Trump.

If you are a conservative activist, you should contact every delegate you know in Cleveland and encourage them to reject the rules.

Paul Manafort to John Kasich: F.U.

This is the way to unite the party.

Paul Manafort is unhappy that John Kasich will not show up at the convention. Actually, Kasich would have showed up to welcome everyone, but the Trump campaign insisted on an endorsement first, which Kasich will not do.

Interestingly, Manafort says, “people who are part of the future of the Republican Party are, frankly, going to be here participating in the program.” That is demonstrably untrue.

Most all the people who came out aggressively in support of Trump are Republicans at the end of their career with nothing to lose, unless Paul Manafort is implying that the GOP is really going to become the party of old white guys and purge from its ranks the Nikki Haleys and Marco Rubios and Tim Scotts of the world.

Update from Cleveland

From a delegate at the convention:

What’s going on in Cleveland? There is a full-scale effort by the RNC to join forces with Trump forces to quell any rebellion… or, frankly, any disagreement whatsoever.

That is somewhat understandable. But it’s not just defending against attack – it’s tamping out the spirit of the Party faithful… and actually weakens Trump. He cannot lead the minds and hearts of the Republican faithful… much less a broader coalition of Americans… if he is joining forces with the very establishment Party bosses who have long been tamping out the voice of the grassroots and any truly dissenting voice within the Party.

So what else is going on in Cleveland? Well, it’s not over til it’s over. For the next 24 hours – there will be a concerted effort by a not-insignificant block of Republicans to try to take the Party back from the establishment leadership. To be clear – this effort is a direct result of that establishment leadership taking overt steps to crush dissenting voices. Strong arm tactics – threatening calls – an orchestrated rules committee meeting which tamped out reasonable offers of settlement… and more.

At least one news accounts of the rules committee process (Politico article) paints the dissenters as “asking for too much.” First – it’s difficult to seek too much power devolution from Party bosses, but second, it’s simply not true. The offer on the table from the so-called “Cuccinnelli” group was a reasonable effort to establish a stronger Party and had reflected so many significant concessions that Mr. Cuccinnelli was even maligned a bit by some “for trying to cut too much of a deal.” His efforts were designed to hold together a broad coalition of folks with different interest to make the Party stronger. The efforts of the RNC were to quell the dissent and maintain command and control.

Importantly, the current effort is not all – or even majority – a “never-Trump” effort. This effort is a combined effort of never-Trumpers, skeptics and even Trump supporters who are sick and tired of the establishment effort to silence dissent and demand allegiance to their “pragmatic-lesser-than-two-evils” approach to governing. These are people ticked off at the way they’ve been treated – in Rules committee, and more broadly.

At this moment – there is an effort to build support to vote against the rules majority report that will be sent to the floor. That effort involves a few steps:

A.) Getting momentum among the 2473 delegates to get a majority to vote down the rules when it’s brought to the floor;

B.) Getting the signatures of a majority of 7 states to demand a roll call vote. This effort IS OCCURING tonight at welcome receptions and will occur again tomorrow morning at delegation breakfasts. If you are reading this – you should sign (see below);

C.) Having procedures in places to force the RNC to actually acknowledge those signatures and carry out a roll call vote.

D.) Having a plan for what occurs after that to ensure good rules are in place to give confidence among Party members that their voice can be heard.

The impact of taking down the rules would be several fold – and it should be widely supported, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU SUPPORT TRUMP OR DO NOT. Why?

1. It would punch the RNC in the nose for disregarding the Party faithful;

2. It could cause a concession in compromise to get better rules before a vote on the rules;

3. If the rules were voted down, it would immediately kick out most of the rules (1-25) and leave in place only the remaining rules (26-42), and therefore the Rules Committee would have to meet again and pass better rules.

4. To the extent one accepts that delegates are bound at all… it would partially or fully unbind the delegates (under Rule 16) to free up delegates to vote their conscience (for Trump or against).

5. Should Trump still get the necessary votes – it would result in a stronger candidate after the convention, having been accepted not by force but rather through the will of the delegates.

Is there a chance? About as much as the “Dumb and Dumber” quote would suggest – but YES. And it has the benefit of being the right thing to do. Voting down the rules package gives a chance for the Republican Party to truly survive…

But, the Party will do everything it can to stop it.

The Party will 1) whip in favor of supporting the rules package, 2) act to shut down any effort for delegates to get microphones to voice dissent, 3) threaten anyone who takes steps to dissent, 4) work to disregard the list of signatures received from 7 states should those states choose to submit said signatures and 5) then should the rules be voted down – work to immediately re-adopt the rules in committee with tweaks and jam this through again.

The grassroots have their chance to demonstrate that THEY control the party and not the party staff, bosses and lobbyists.

Voting down the rules gives us the best chance to have confidence in the Party and then to either 1) unify behind Trump after the delegates are able to vote their conscience or 2) unify behind someone else if Donald Trump has failed or fails to win their hearts. If he can’t win a majority of these delegates – then we should pick someone else. If he can, good for him. #NotComplicated.

There is a reason the Republican Party has won precisely ONE popular vote since 1988 and NO change-of-party popular vote since Reagan in 1980. The Party simply does not care to represent the grassroots as part of a broad coalition.

The best path to ensuring NeverHillary is to vote down the rules.

Inspire us, Republican Party.

Signs and Logos: The RNC Trump Fail Circus

You won’t see this logo anywhere–officially–anymore.

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And if you blink, you won’t see this sign anywhere near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

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They are both examples of the great Trump RNC Fail Circus, a.k.a. Stupid Is As Stupid Does. The stunning lack of intelligent thought, foresight and even the patina of planning on display here is beyond my ability to process.

I’ve seen local mayoral and city council races, and local Republican Party officials operate with a higher level of professionalism, sensitivity to current events, and use of two brain cells to rub together than what is going on in Cleveland and Trump Tower.

If this is just a taste of the post-convention general campaign, it will be nothing if not entertaining and fodder for the media. But it’s not going to convince a single undecided voter that the man who would be in charge of the free world is more than a clown dressed in designer suits.