LiveBlog – Letters to the Willy Street Co-op Reader

The Sockrates Sock Puppet Carnival of Morals and Logic at Mother Fool’s

Courtesy: Kia Karlen via Facebook

Courtesy: Kia Karlen via Facebook

The Willy Street Blog followed live a recent performance of Yid Vicious and The Sockrates Sock Puppet Carnival of Morals and Logic read Letters to the Willy Street Co-op Reader at Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse on May 31, 2014. Here is what happened…



The puppet on the left represents the reader, then the puppet on the right, shown behind a desk represents the Co-op's response. As the answers grew more emphatic, their movements blur. Many of the puppet's arms were attached to sticks.

The puppet on the left represents the reader, then the puppet on the right, shown behind a desk represents the Co-op’s response. As the answers grew more emphatic, their movements blur. Many of the puppet’s arms were attached to sticks.

Following a second set of beautiful klezmer music, the puppeteers returned for a final raft of letters. Picking up on the composting rant, one reader after expressing exasperation with the Co-op’s response to the earlier composting question, admonished the co-op with a true midwestern phrase of disdain.

“Your readers will think that composting is some sort of chore…shame on you!!!”

The sharp corners of the planters debate was also another recurring motif, as was the expectation that the co-op should make outsized accommodations for people with rare conditions such as those who are sensitive to chlorine.

“We also regularly vacuum the ventilation grates,” a Co-op employee responded. “I am unable to find an air freshener that is acceptable to our chemically sensitive customers that is also environmentally friendly.

One of the better readings was a beatnik poetry interpretation of a letter about why large quantities of Klarbrunn brand water was stacked near the door of the Co-op. The most laughs came from a well-known letter about a reader who implored the benefits of urine which engendered this response.

“We feel its best that bodily fluids stay out of our customer’s food”

Finally the most scatalogical letter of the night was a reader who began the letter riffing about the genius of classical music composer Franz Schubert while simultaneously complaining about the sandwiches in the deli. They finished with this urgent request.

“Tell the sandwich guy I meant what I said about Schubert!”

The Co-op’s response began with addressing Schubert before a rather standard response about the deli with a few puns thrown in. It just goes to show, with all these letters, co-op employees in every department, in regards to criticism seem unflappable, at least in public.

“I am unsure about Schubert’s symphonies, but I am familiar with his piano interpretations.”



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Klezmer fabulous

Sockrates puppeteer Jonathan Zarov joins Yid Vicious on the bags.

Sockrates puppeteer Jonathan Zarov joins Yid Vicious on the bags.

Yid Vicious is now in their second set and the sounds of the clarinet harkens the return of the glorious klezmer sound. In a twist Jonathan Zarov joined Vicious on stage for a little experimental music using two plastic bags to provide the whooshing, swishing sound normally heard by brush drumsticks.

Zarov’s emphatic gestures to make the bags sing caused him to heave and grimace as they inflated and deflated with each exaggerated movement at the end of the song he was happy but exhausted while Kia Karlen announced that it was 9 p.m. which meant last call for soup.

Must be a coffeehouse thing.

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The First Act

Jim Goronson of the Sockrates puppet troupe acts out a Co-op Reader letter at Mother Fool's Coffeehouse May 31, 2014

Jim Goronson of the Sockrates puppet troupe acts out a Co-op Reader letter at Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse May 31, 2014

The Sockrates Sock Puppet Carnival of Morals and Logic read some classics from Willy Street Reader issues past. While many of us can sense the rage, cynicism, cluelessness, hubris by just reading the words; the puppeteers seemed have made a vulcan mind link with the writers and respondents.

Jonathan Zarov, Kia Karlen, and Jim Goronson were joined by three other puppeteers as they took turns acting out the missives. Rants on hummus, how far checkers should push the food towards the baggers and the location of the video return box were acted out to recorded voices reading the letters.

Several legendary letters were brought to life including one about the printer ink in the register receipts, and the height of candy above the floor so children won’t climb the shelves.

The best reading was a store employee response to a reader who complained that the co-op isn’t doing enough to be “green” with their compost. The imagined response was of an exasperated employee who emphatically ranted on about the ratio of brown to green waste in the digester and the 16 hour job it takes to clean it out.

The quote of the night came during a live reading of letters from a spring issue in which a reader and co-op member since 1974 complained about how things are being run and finished with the blast:

“Please remember who upon the backs you are building your community legacy!”

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Yid Vicious debuts vibraphone

Yid Vicious plays to an overflow crowd at Mother Fools, May 31, 2014.

Yid Vicious plays to an overflow crowd at Mother Fools, May 31, 2014.

Kia Karlen (french horn) announced that tonight Yid Vicious is debuting their first ever vibraphone performer. The place is overflowing and the mood is still good. Three pieces so far including a Romanian tune that means “with onions”.

The music is fun and smooth and lilting at time. Perfect for a warm late spring evening after a day of sun we just haven’t been used to.

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The Book of Willy

The binder is not full of women but rather music, the great book of letters is waiting beneath.

The binder is not full of women but rather music, the great book of letters is waiting beneath.

After speaking to Sockrates’ Kia Karlen, they will play a music set, then the puppets will read some letters.

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Show prep

imageTalked with the performer Kia Karlen. Yid Viscious tonight consists of Matt Appleby on guitar, David Spies on Susaphone, Jeff on vibrophone and Kia on french horn. The sock puppets are resting before going on as noted in the photo above

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Stuffed Socks

This wide shot was taken minutes before every seat was spoken for.

This wide shot was taken minutes before every seat was spoken for.

If you haven’t left to come to Mother Fool’s for the sock puppet show you are  are too late for a seat. WSB arrived right at 7 p.m. and got the last table and seats. Mood is still jovial.


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Hamsters rock The Red Carpet as McMullen-Boyer Dances for Dollars

Trivia 2013: A Space Oddity finished in fine style at The Red Carpet with the Hamsters covering tremendous territory in a nearly four-hour show. Over the course of the weekend Trivia’s in-house band blasted out seven songs including “The Tale of the Trivia Blizzard” (set to Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald”) which was actually a re-recording of this tune since the original, recorded by Nature Hamster years ago on CART, was lost.

Even if the CART copy of the song was still around its questionable in this digital age KVSC had a working CART machine in which to retrieve the song. However Jeff Engholm (featured on keyboard in the video below) did some digging and located the lyrics to the song and with modern technology the song was re-recorded this past weekend.


During the Hamster’s peformance at the Carpet, KVSC Station Manager Jo McMullen-Boyer was pressed into fundraising mode by the band. She was called to the floor to participate in a wedding-style dollar dance and around 10-15 people lined up as the Hamsters played melody. Jo’s husband Dave Boyer kindly served as enforcer, tapping the shoulders of the dance partners after an undetermined interval that it was time to move on.

KVSC Station Manager Jo McMullen-Boyer performs an impromptu dollar-dance to raise a bit of money for the station.

KVSC Station Manager Jo McMullen-Boyer performs an impromptu dollar-dance to raise a bit of money for the station.

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 How Hamster magic is made

We took a few moments to drop in on the Hamsters Saturday while they were rehearsing their new single “Stupid Guy” set to the music of “Superfly”. The song debut later that night. Here is the full band practicing one last time before pressing record.

See photos of the Hamsters in action here

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A Visit to Stephan’s Dream and Voodoo/Panties

KVSC-FM station manager Jo McMullen along with the Goat Posse’s Capt F. visited Stefan’s Dream XIV: Stefan’s Re-Entry Saturday night to see how their team is handling first place in the standings. Earlier they stopped in on long time teams Voodoo Dolls and Panties Waaay Too Tight decided to merge this year. KVSC Station Manager Jo McMullen stopped by to ask them how the new team was doing.

See photos of the Team HQ visits here

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Goat Posse’s “Major Digression” to debut during Trivia’s Classic Rock show

In a follow up to their debut single “I Just Had Corn”, the Goat Posse has finished their second Lonely Island parody “Major Digression”  and will debut it during Trivia’s Classic Rock show. Writing on the song started Friday night and the first tracks were laid down Saturday night after the Hamsters vacated the multitrack studio for the evening.

The Rhyminister, Dude, and Phal returned on this track, and was joined by newcomer Tricky D whose nimble delivery rolled his words through the club like freight train. Check out this snippet of the Rhyminister laying down his lines.

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The Posse: A photo essay

The Posse is staying busy as eight productions have already been aired. The Posse has been busy producing original audio, hosting Trivia shifts, and raising general mayhem with the other student media arms. View this gallery to see what we have been doing and try to avoid being trampled.


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The Making of: Yip Yip Phone Bank Slaves

The popular Sesame Street characters the Yip Yips made a visit to Trivia and worked the phone bank. See how the Posse puts together their skits. Voice acting by Phal, Bear, and Princess Buttercup. Directed by Dude.

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Inside the House of Hamster

We take a peek into the studio as the Hamsters prepare another song to debut later on Trivia Saturday. View the photos here

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Voice acting by a real Pro

The Goat Posse’s Phal gets deep into character for a Star Trek themed promo during Trivia 2013: A Space Oddity.

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Hour 5: The Phone Bank

The Phone Bank was humming in the first few hours. See what happens on the other end of the line. View the Gallery here


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Hour 1: The natives are partially restless

Hour 1 started normally, until teams realized that the info line could not read-back common spellings to teams. Meanwhile in the studio Jo McMullen and Cheyenne trucked through Hour 1 on the air. See what it looks like from behind the mic.

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China is Now on the Clock

Romney basically states very similar policy approaches with China as the President, however he appears competent because he does know business. His approach would be similar to what he would take with Iran, except it would be economic bluster.

The President is at a disadvantage because many of Romney’s points have an emotional appeal even if its not the best course, since Romney’s initiatives would just inflame a sometimes tense relationship with China.

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Helping Veterans

First real mention of helping veterans comes from the president who said that as we transition out of Afghanistan it frees up resources to help veterans to assimilate back into society. An interesting anecdote was of a combat medic who returned to the U.S. and could not find work because there was no way to convert his experience to a nursing certification; he was forced to start over.

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*Yawn* Romney

Romney is still flogging the “Apology Tour” horse in hopes that visiting Arab countries as president, many for the first time in years, is somehow a bad thing.

Israel should be happy tonight, both candidates can’t love them enough. It has been said about 30 different ways already.

Romney’s foreign policy debate strategy is best summed up by Bill Maher, “What he just said, but from a white guy.”

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Romney’s Tough Road

The debate has just wrapped up a discussion on Iran and all he can really do is agree with what the president has already done.

“I’m glad Governor Romney that you agree with what we have done with Iran, but you only would say it louder,” the President said.

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The Military is not a game of battleship

The President owns Romney with a withering and mildly condescending explanation of how the military has evolved.

“We now have ships that are called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them”. Which was a response to an argument Romney made about the number of ships the Navy currently has, which he felt was too low.

Obama accused Romney of not understanding how the military works telling him that they no longer use horses and bayonets. Romney had told Schieffer earlier that if he had visited his website he would learn about how he would fund the military. At the end of Obama’s schooling of Romney he was able to get in one last hit on Romney’s funding math.

“We visited the website quite a bit and it still doesn’t work”, Obama said.

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Funding the Military

Romney continues to want to expand the military but he doesn’t give a good reason why it needs to be. The President noted that military spending has never decreased during his tenure. “We have a military budget that is based on strategy and not on politics”, the President said.


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The Syria Quagmire

The President is asked a question about what is America’s policy with Syria since the uprising has devolved into a civil war in the past year and a half. In the first months President Obama and decried the killings but the U.S. has had very little visible engagment since then.

Obama responded by saying that nation-building through military action is not the answer. Romney basically agreed. That set off a a series of discussions about Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Iran where the President said what he has done and needs to be done. Then Romney would start by agreeing with his actions but then saying we need to have a better plan.

Its a cynical argument to co-opt a mostly successful foreign policy, but then call it a failure because he [Romney] didn’t lead it.

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The Arab Spring

Romney is trying to hit Obama of a scatter-shot foreign policy by blaming him for the Arab Spring and not managing it. The President hit back not only what he has done but what he plans to do militarily and diplomatically. Republicans have been complaining Obama has been light on future plans for anything; here Obama gave a rare “future policy” point.


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“The 1980s called and want their foreign policy back”

The president lands a good punch by bringing up Romney’s previous statements about Russia being America’s biggest threat. Romney is staking his argument on Al Qeada as a bigger threat than it probably is.

Romney responds to the President’s Russia crack with some decent rebuttals, but gets a bit testy and appears slightly angry saying that Russia is a geopolitical foe while Iran is a national security threat. Then he falls back to some of his debate bullying behavior by talking over everyone.

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“We can’t kill our way out of this mess”

Romeny starts off with an awkward reference to the Al Smith Dinner and transitions into his philosophy on foreign policy…which continues to remain vague. He credited the President with killing Osama Bin Laden in hopes of taking that argument away from him. He said, “We can’t kill our way out of this mess”.

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Welcome to Florida

Bob Shieffer is now introducing the candidates. Kind of miss him on the CBS Evening News, he is one of the last of old-time newsmen. He should be a fair and firm arbiter of this discussion. Mitt Romney and President Obama both are wearing black.


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Fever Pitch

He started a little slow, heavy on detail that might have lost the casual viewer. But he finished with inspiration, talking about what in his fellow Americans, through this tough economic time, that gave him hope. And he made a direct appeal for their vote.

While the ideals, the policy, and the contrast with his opponents were the most powerful arguments for re-election, his oratory left little doubt about his resolve, and left the arena in a joyful tizzy as the confetti fell and the families filled the stage.

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I am the President

Social issues are next as the President reinforced his recent bold policy statements and moves about gay marriage, women’s health care, and immigration.

“Politicians should not be deciding who you can marry…or making the health care choices that Women can make for themselves”

In recognizing he has changed his position he made a powerful statement which was likely meant to show that he had evolved and that he is no longer some inexperienced community organizer but a battle hardened, accomplished and effective leader.

“I know times have changed and so have I…I’m no longer just a candidate…i’m the President.

He also spoke briefly about the heavy weight he carries as president and commander in chief…quoting one of his key influences, Abraham Lincoln,

“I’ve been driven to me knees many times with my conviction that I have no place else to go.”

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Drawing the line at the Middle Class

The president stakes out his position on taxes, health care, medicare, and education with specific promises. Its not a huge risk considering that Romney has given basically no specifics. But it does allow Republicans to focus on his promises.

Either way, the president has effectively restated each of the Republican lines of attack and policy proposals and shown how each of then are patently absurd. Ye he also made a call for bipartisanship on the economy saying, “I want to get this done.”

Addressing the Republican principals of smaller government and solving problems through deregulation or going after the corners of our society and civil liberties.

“We don’t think that the government can solve all the problems, but we also don’t think they are the source of all the problems, or welfare recipients…or gays…”

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Heavy on the details

A very policy heavy speech, in sharp contrast to Mitt Romney’s which he spent only a few lines at the very end of his speech. Its all good proposals, but it may lose a few people in contrast to all the focused and  inspired rhetoric that was used by previous speakers to build him up.


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Energy independence reaffirmed

The President reiterates his multi-facted approach to energy that includes higher efficiency  standards, increased natural gas exploration, and more investment in renewable energy.

“I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan…and we need to end corporate welfare for oil companies.”

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Republican Rx

President Obama reminds the convention about the lack of solutions from Republicans and those that have been offered are awfully stale; saying their prescriptions to solve America’s problems don’t work.

“Have a cold? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call us in the morning.”

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All about the benjamins

Barack Obama laments the money race that has taken hold of our elections.

“If you are sick of hearing me ‘approve this message’, so am I”

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Enthusiasm gap

Its interesting to note, that its just incredibly loud inside the arena. Some of that can be attributed to staging of the seating. But Ryan, Romney, not anybody last week received the kind of energy that has been doled out this week for each speaker…and especially when the president walked out just a few minutes ago.

And a nice touch to show his family side…he told his kids in the front row that they had to go to school in the morning.


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Lets get ready to rumble!

Michelle Obama introduces Barack Obama…he comes out clapping like a coach…like he always does. Coach-in-Chief!



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Romney’s bad 10,000 dollar bet

In summing up Barack Obama’s dedication to his fellow citizens he said,

“You never quit on America and you deserve a president that will never quit on you”

And in one more rhetorical blast, Biden makes a populist argument as to why the Republican ticket doesn’t understand the American people.

“America is not in delcine. I’ve got news for you Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan…It never makes sense..its never been a good bet, to bet against the American people. Never…and we have no intention of downsizing the American dream.

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Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive

Pivoting from auto industry to national security, Biden talks about all the hard calls President Obama had to make in sending special forces into Pakistan to kill the mercurial terrorist leader. In tying it up all in a little bow, he made clear that two herculean tasks had been accomplished, a point that has been glossed over in an attempt to show that Romney should be elected due to national security and economic negligence.

To thunderous applause Biden stated a line he has been using for the last 10 days:

“Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”

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…wait for it

Joe Biden starts his rebuttal of the Romney attack about the auto bailout with a softly delivered missive about how Romeny is not a bad person, that he is from Michigan and knows about the car industry, especially since his dad ran a car company before he was a governor of Michigan.

But he deftly pointed out how tone deaf Romney was about the imagery of letting the auto industry fail as he advocated in 2008 during the crisis.

“I don’t think he understood…that saving the automobile worker, saving the industry…what it meant to all workers…he saw it the bain way. It may be the best way to bring your company profits but its not the way to lead from the highest office”

And turning Republican criticism about President Obama’s tour of the Middle East during his first year in office (dubbed the apology tour by conservatives) on its ear he noted that like that tour, saving the auto industry was about saving the American psyche.

“He [Obama] understood that it was about restoring America’s pride.”


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My friend Barack Obama

Joe Biden makes his pitch to the American people by talking about his relationship with President Obama. How he has worked closely with the president and how he has observed the depth, intensity and compassion he has taken in approaching his job.

Some key quotes so far:

“I don’t see him in sound bytes, I walk thirty paces down the hall and I see him in action.”

“When he sat down for the first time in that Oval Office, he new…e had to restore not only the confidence of a nation, but the confidence of the world.”

“You know Barack and I over these last four years, we learned about one another, a lot about one another. I learned about the enormity of his heart and he learned the depth of my loyalty to him”

In talking about his approach to the economy Biden says Barack Obama asks some simple questions: “How is this going to affect the average american? How is this going to affect their lives? That’s whats’ inside this man.”

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Biden has entered the building

Joe Biden, after a lengthy infomercial video lauding him, starts by giving love right back to his wife Jill Biden who had just introduced him.

“I accept…it will be my pleasure, I accept” Biden says in regards to his nomination to be Vice-President of the United States.

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Kerry gives Romney a Swift kick

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry ran for president in 2004 and lost to George W. Bush, partly due to the famous “Swift Boat” attack ads that called into question his Vietnam War record which was incredulous since it was unimpeachable.

Additionally, held up against the non-existent war record of Bush and his Vice-President Dick Cheney it was galling to think that somehow a democrat who served in war was not good enough even though military service had always been held up by Republicans as a sacred prerequisite to be president.

Kerry, who has worked for years on foreign policy issues in the Senate, gave what MSNBC’s Ed Schultz called the best speech of his life has he defended the Obama Administration’s record in this arena. The take away line from the speech, which illuminates the distracted and wandering stances Mitt Romney has taken so far, is another in a series of punishing rhetorical blows democrats have leveled this week.

“Mr. Romney here’s a little advice. Before you debate Barack Obama on policy, you better finish the debate with yourself.”

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Crist-tal clear logic

Charlie Crist, former Republican governor of Florida, tried to run for one of Florida’s Senate seats in 2010 as an independent but lost to Republican Marco Rubio who was a darling of the Tea Party.

Crist, in addressing the democratic convention says what many democrats have said is the reason why its been tough to compromise with Republicans since Barack Obama was elected.

“I didn’t leave the Republican party, the Republican party left me.”

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Love in an elevator

Courtesy: APFormer Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm took the stage to offer a defense of the Auto Bailout which the Romney campaign has taken several positions on its validity and effectiveness.

The key line given by Granholm encapsulates the contrast the democrats are trying to make. That Mitt Romney is floating in his own monied fantasy world, and that he doesn’t care for the working class. She referenced Mitt Romney’s statements about loving Michigan’s trees and automobiles and how he has several of them need their own elevator.

Granholm reframed that image by saying, “But the people who design, and sell, and build those cars…In Romney’s world the cars get the elevator and the workers get the shaft!”

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Gifford’s Long Road Home

Former Arizona Congresswoman Garbrielle Giffords, in a powerful moment, walks on stage in Charlotte to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Giffords was nearly fatally wounded 18 months ago by a gunman at a campaign event in Arizona. Her recovery has been a long an arduous one after being shot in the head.

The fact that she can walk on her own and speak, while somewhat haltingly, is incredible.

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Bill Clinton crescendos his forty-five minute thrashing of the Republican attacks, positions, and a vigorous defense of the President’s policies and some of his own that the President has championed.

As he finished his speech, President Obama walked about which brought the crowd to a noise level I didn’t think was possible. They embraced and it lingered longer than expected which illuminates the changing relationship the two have.

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Bill Clinton tells the story of how he answers when people ask him how he brought budget surpluses to Washington.

He simply answered, “Arithmetic”.

Its a beautifully simple answer to illuminate the differences in budgeting philosophies, how an economy that doesn’t involve increased tax revenues will not work.

“We can’t let them double down on trickle down!”

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The Wonk walks America through the health care/welfare debate

What better person to sell health care than a policy wonk president who tried to pass national health care 20 years ago. Clinton knows the ins and outs of the national health care system and can rebut with unimpeachable credibility the Republican arguments.

He also brought up Paul Ryan’s assertion that the President cut medicare when he actually cut payments to insurance companies. Clinton noted this was especially disingenuous considering Ryan’s own plan cuts payments the exact amount as the President proposed except his are to recipients.

Clinton said, “That was the coldest power play…I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

and  followed with this zinger, “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you just did.”

He made the same argument about welfare reform which Clinton passed during his presidency. Again, cagey move to chose the man who is credited with welfare reform to counter all the lies put forth by the Romney campaign.


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Clinton makes the Key rebuttal argument for this fall

“No one could have fully repaired all of the damage that was done in just four years…But he has laid the foundations for a new modern successful economy, and  a shared propsperity.  If you renew his contract as President, you will feel it.”

He added, “I want you to know that I believe it…with all my heart,  I believe it.”

This argument can only have credibility and resonance if it comes from a person who has also run the world’s largest economy.


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Not really a fair fight

Its not really fair for the Republicans when two of  the best oratorical presidents have served in the last 20 years. One is still revered despite some of his more dubious actions and has rehabilitated  his image enough to be asked to re-nominate the current President.

The Republicans have already had their chance to present their arguments, and now Bill Clinton is up in prime time shredding all of their arguments. Bill Clinton can present with emotion as well as bludgeon with details, and without an teleprompter.

Clinton his up there right now just slaying them without notes.

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“We are here to nominate a President”

Bill Clinton starts out his speech to say he is here  to nominate a president and, “I’ve got one in mind.” Clinton starts off his speech with a refrain gimick, “I want to nominate a man,”

“… that is cool on the outside but burns for American on the inside.”

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Nomination Process is Starting

A video is playing to introduce Bill Clinton, using his campaign theme song from 1992, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”

Bill Clinton will speak shortly to place Barack Obama’s name in nomination.

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Warren Gets Chance to Make a National Pitch

Massachusetts Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren addresses her first Democratic convention.

“He is an amazing man and had the good sense to marry one of the coolest women” Warren said  of Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary.

Warren was tapped by President Obama to form the Consumer Protection Bureau and was nominated to head it when Republican opposition derailed it. Warren is known as a very bright Harvard scholar and her work in economics is highly respected.

As she was being sidelined for the CSB, buzz started to grow for her politically. Her unvarnished speeches and appearances on television speaking truth to power about the rigged economic system vaulted her to front runner status for the Senate.

She is in a dog fight with barely moderate incumbent Scott Brown and is currently down four points in the polls.


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The “Slut” Takes the Stage

Sandra Fluke is now speaking, reminding everyone that she testified in a congressional hearing about women’s health where at first not one woman was invited to testify.


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Lawrence O’Donnell just interviewed Minnesota Senator Al Franken. The comedian turned liberal talk host to Senator is both witty and very politically astute…but he kinda sound drunk…or maybe he’s just old. But he’s always had a thick drawly delivery.

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Bain Bashing

The DNC has trotted out  a series of speakers that used to work for Bain Capital, the company he headed until 1999 according to Romney but at least 2002 and beyond according to SEC documents.



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DNC’s Own Surprise Guest

Still to come tonight, Sandra Fluke who became famous after Rush Limbaugh called her a slut. She had testified before a congressional panel about the cost of birth control which prompted Limbaugh to wonder why she needed birth control.

Also at some mysterious point, President Obama will make an appearance at the hall. The official nomination vote is tonight and after the nominee is confirmed by the voting delegates, usually the nominee makes vanity appearance and waves. It is not apparent if this is when he will appear or if he will take-in  the speeches from a box.

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The Rhetorical Power of Beer

It came out recently that the White House had released some recipes of beer they had been home brewing. Bill Butcher of the Port City Brewing Company of Washington D.C. just made a short speech about being a small  business owner.

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Countdown to Kickoff

Courtesy: The

Hard to compete with  Giants-Cowboys…but the NFL is committing season creep by now starting on Wednesday…its like the preseason never ended.

Sister Simone Campbell (@sr_simone) of Roman Catholic Social Justice Organziation, NETWORK just finished speaking about how you can be pro-life and still have a choice.

The sisters have been on a bus tour to protest the Paul Ryan budget and Mitt Romney for supporting it. Their stance and activism has caused friction between them and the Bishops the work with in the Roman Catholic Church.

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The Ball Cleared Waveland Avenue

Michelle Obama has not been known before tonight as a great orator, but now she will be. It helped that she was speaking a personal story in parts; but she knew how to communicate the emotions behind what has shaped hers and her husband’s values as they grew up and how they raised their children.

She hit all the key democratic policy priorities, but put them in the context of how central they are to who they are. While she came across as smooth, it was too genuine to be rehearsed, forced, or cynical.

And it was a personal speech. She talked of her apprehension about putting her family through a presidency but then accepted the reality and the embraced the experience and how important their own values would inform what the President is trying to do with the nation.

In the end, she brought it back to what was truly important to her, and that is her family. Which was the goal of the speech, to remind the nation of what the Obamas are,  a real American  family that has had the shared experience of so many in this country.

“At the end of the day my most important title is Mom-in-Chief”


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Redefining American Exceptionalism

Michelle Obama is taking the Republican argument about American exeptionalism and turning it on its ear. She carefully couched what it means to be American in terms that regular Americans can relate: With student loans, studying, parents supporting them.

“We can give everyone a fair chance at that American Dream”.



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Our Bodies, Our Selves

“We were so young and so in love and so in debt”.

The First Lady is just killing it both in style and substance, hitting all the right policy notes and putting it in a personal context.

“Barack Obama is the same man I fell in love with so many years ago.” as she talks about what he still believes-in.

In a mild dig at Romney’s focus on his monetary success, she re-frames what success is.

“Success is not about how much money you make but how you make a difference in people’s lives.”



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Thats who we are

Michelle Obama begins her keynote talking about the caring nature of her family and that of  the president’s. She highlights how she and Barack Obama were raised and the values that were instilled in them.

“We learned about gratitude and humility.”

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Bringing it full circle

Conservative columnist David Brooks said it best, the speech had plenty of zingers but was very ‘short on policy’, which has always been the case with Romney. Brooks added that in order to get elected you must have a mandate and that means getting specific.

Getting specific could be fatal for Romney because it will expose the many shortcomings in his ideas

Well folks…its on! See you in Charlotte!


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Pastels everywhere!

Republicans go with predictable imagery after the speech, a flood of families on stage to show they can breed and look perfect.

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Frightening foreign policy ideas

In talking his planned posture with rest of the world and being “less flexible and with more backbone” is returning to the “I’m gonna skull fuck you” foreign policy.

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Its getting ugly and predictable

The Romney foreign policy: “Less flexibility and more backbone”. An awful applause line that somehow holds up Bush foreign policy as successful and Obama foreign policy as a failure despite acknowledging that Obama gave the Bin Laden order.

Even though more dictators have fallen under Obama than Bush.

And Romney hits the God refrain, that “our creator” is somehow in the constitution, he actually said “codified”. Very scary stuff here.



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The 12 Million job fantasy

Oooo! A 5-step program to prosperity! I didn’t think it was late enough for infomercials! The 12 Million job figure has already been debunked by respected economists as pure fantasy and wholly unattainable. Its like the 9-9-9 Cain economic plan, an easy slogan to put in your pocket and carry it around, but doesn’t fix anything.

So the five steps:

Keep drilling for fossil fuel and pillage the environment even though increased domestic production will not keep prices low since its global demand that sets prices.

Keep taxes low for everyone but not pay for it, except to decimate the poor.

Open up free trade so that corporations can continue to find cheap labor over seas…shall I go on?



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My redistribution is better than yours

Romney invokes naked capitalism again in the cloak of free enterprise, and warns of the evils of redistribution. He neglects to mention that the naked capitalism presided over by the Bush presidency helped redistribute all the wealth to the few. Now why is that not bad redistribution?

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He said H-E double-toothpicks!

Romney better be careful, he is telling investment-business jokes. This is the territory of the ,000 bet, the Ann has ‘couple of Cadillacs’, and all the horse talk.


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Every rose has its thorn

Romney is tearing up now, telling the story about the love their parents had for each other. His dad gave his mom rose every day…must be nice to have the money to afford a rose every day.

He turned on the tears just right and pivoted to name ALL the women in the Republican party…didn’t take long. Of course just like with all the Spanish speaking tonight…it won’t fix the yawning gender and minority gap the Republicans have.

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Mitten Freedman Romney

“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I wanted America to succeed.” The entire premise is that the current administration has failed because they didn’t roll over and accept without compromise Republican legislation.

Romney conveniently leaves out that Republicans were not interested in governing, but just opposing everything. They seem to believe that the best way to fix the country is to just just chant USA! USA! long and loud enough and somehow the economy will just fix itself.

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Wait for it….

“I accept your nomination for President of the United States.” And with that we are off and running. Lets see how many distortions he can throw out there. How many vague solutions, painted with broad patriotic brushes that cover over those pesky details.


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Come on down!

Mitt Romney breaks the fourth wall, walking in from the floor to show he can touch regular people. He still looks a little stiff…he’s only used to looking down from the balcony of his 20-room house.


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We are special

“We’re special not because we have more rich people here…” Actually Republicans feel that only rich people are special and are the only ones that deserve special and unlimited tax breaks, special access to the legislative process, and special rules for influencing elections.

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School Night

I wish Rubio would hurry up…I have to be at work at 5 a.m.

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Here comes God again

Rubio invokes God as an American value, even though it appears nowhere in the constitution.

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‘I was an American’

It is interesting that Repubs applaud Rubio for being an American, but doubt the President is an American, even both they both have parents with 1st world roots.

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The almost VP

Marco Rubio is introducing Romney now. He immediately invokes Cuba and its apparent that the Republicans are still fighting the the Cold War; however its not sporting to claim victory when the enemy is old and near death.


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More lame imagery

The bring out Clint Eastwood who immediately tries to say that there are conservatives in Hollywood, but he only needs one hand to count them.

But of course they have the image of Eastwood from one of his spaghetti westerns super imposed behind them. Of course the “Outlaw Josey Wales”, which was ages ago, feeds into the conservative pathos of machismo and toughness, but its all very hollow when you compare it to all the cowardly legislation.

Clint Eastwood is a waste of resources, because I think he thinks he is at some Hollywood  roast and he is telling a story instead of on live national television. Or is he giving some acting class about how to imagine your stage mate is on stage when he talks to the chair next to him.

The sad part is, this was planned…because normally that chair would not be out on stage, unless Clint is going to sit there and be serenaded by Mitt’s policy proposals.

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Aviation Party foul!

Lockheed Constellation has piston engines

Okay! I am crying foul! In telling a story about Mitt arriving at the airport to meet Ann…the video editing idiots used a still of a Lockheed Constellation which is powered by piston engines turing propellers.

However they use an SFX of a jet engine! Its like in the movie “Airplane!” except there the juxtaposition was on purpose for laughs!

Additionally, by the time Mitt and Ann were travelling to meet each other, the Constellation had long been taken out of airline service.

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Romney infomercial is now playing, and they are back to flogging the Salt Lake City Games and how Mitt Saved the world, complete with 9/11 imagery. This time the full emotional impact with a highly-edited video piece…but I though conservatives didn’t like Hollywood. Well  it turns out they love Hollywood since Clint Eastwood still in the que to appear on stage.


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Mitt Romney killed Osama Bin Laden after saving the Olympics

Oh great is Mike Eruzione going to say “Do you believe in miracles?” Mike is like Al Bundy, running around saying I played high school football for the last 30 years.

He just found a way to say 1980 Miracle on Ice, Olympic Flame, and Mitt Romney in one paragraph.

And now they have a 2002 athlete tying 9/11 to Mitt Romney, to the Olympics. Its official Mitt Romeny killed Osama Bin Laden!


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Just another day at the used car lot

Its like Saturday morning at the car lot. They have rolled out all these Olympians that have competed in the Winter Games, however very few of them competed in Salt Lake. So how does all these medalists being on stage prove Mitt Romney should be president?

It doesn’t…it just give the crowd to make that ridiculous patronizing chant, “USA! USA!” when its used by Republicans.


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Tension is building  for the final acts

Its 9:30pm Eastern and supposedly Mittens is addressing the convention around 10 p.m. That means there are only a few speakers left.

Meanwhile when I slipped out to get some Coldstone Creamery goodness, someone switched the TV to PBS. I’ve never seen so many sweater-vested academians all in one place. If PBS is trying to combat their image in the eyes of conservatives, get these guys some Ralph Lauren…STAT!

Funny part is that I can throw a rock from my balcony and hit the PBS building. And I’d never thought I would end a post like this…Taylor Hicks just got done gyrating on stage…thankfully Judy Woodruff talked over him.

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Restoring our past

Romney’s Lieutenant Governor during his term finishes her speech with typical themes of “restoring America” and stop “apologizing for America”. Republicans are really the only people that are ashamed, the rest of the country is pretty happy with how it appears to the rest of the world.

It been nice to have a president and a secretary of state that can repair the foreign relations damage that eight years of unilateralism and hubris had caused. I don’t know what we need to restore, other than the moderate wing of the Republican party.

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Pay no attention to that former Massachusetts Governor over there

Romney’s former Lieutenant Governor is talking about how great Mitt Romney governed Massachusetts. Its really too bad that Mittens doesn’t want anyone to know that he governed as a moderate.

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Revolutionizing corporate day care

The CEO of Staples Tom Stemberg is now speaking. It’s likely they trotted him out to extoll the virtues of the benevolent capitalist Mitt Romeny. This is the only qualified example of “He built it” that Romney can claim.

Its kind of vexing that the campaign has not told the story of Staples more often. Staples is a success story that employed people and made Mitt money all at the same time. Unfortunately this private equity story is one of the only bright spots in Mitt’s personal investment experience. There are much more examples of predatory investment projects that are about breaking up and shutting down companies rather than starting them.

To illustrate his point he brings up a company that has “revolutionized corporate day care”. That phrase alone brings shudders.

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God’s Plan is Not America’s Plan

While its great that all the speakers are seeking God’s blessing for Mitt Romney…God’s blessing is not a requirement for assuming the Presidency of the United States of America.


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Oh boy…now Jeb Bush is talking about Scott Walker and the glorious things he has gone for education in Wisconsin…I don’t even know where to start about  how Walker’s moves are NOT a national example.

Jeb Bush’s basic thrust is that Romney believes in giving all the educational control to the states; which means vouchers and privatization and no unions. The state’s rights theme has been a constant this week from the RNC.

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OMG! When Jeb Bush introduced Sean Duffy as a teacher I thought he was talking about our Lumberjack cum Real World contestant cum Congressman Sean Duffy was going to talk about education.

Phew! it wasn’t Sean of WI…it was Sean of Florida, which interestingly enough is a curious choice to talk about education. Just about every Floridian I talk to uses the Florida schools as a punchline. But here is Jeb Bush, on the national stage, holding up Florida as an example of education that works.

However the weird milk analogy to explain why school choice is better than public education and their unionized labor is pretty lame. Now we are hearing from Miami scholarship recipient who got to “choose” his school, and no doubt he chose a non-union school and he is a much better educated person.



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Jeb Bush is now addressing the convention and also says a few words in Spanish. His first words are to mention his family and their role in the public service. He talked of his dad and grandad.

Then Jeb Bush said, “My brother….I love my brother.” He goes onto say that he governed in very tough times and that asked the President to basically “lay off my brother”.

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Craig Romney is speaking now. He opened with about 100-200 words in Spanish. The crowd was respectful and applauded. Yet a short speech in Spanish from a Romney family member is not going to atone for decades of Republican disdain for immigrants, especially Latinos.

Romney, as MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is saying now, has been quite far right on immigration; basically saying to entire ethnic population, “Go away”.

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Still plan to cover tonight’s speeches, taking a moment to watch the final Green Bay Packer pre-season game.

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We’ll be blogging tonight as the Republican Party wraps up their convention in Tampa, Florida. The final speech tonight features Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney who has been sought this moment for the last five years.

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Scott Walker Gets Owned on MSNBC

It was predictable that Walker would be heralded as a conquering hero. Rachel Maddow is calling Walker out about his assertion that President Obama broke his promise to keep the GM plant in Janesville.

Walker sidesteps the question in a way, instead talking about it being closed in two-stages. When asked about the auto bailout Walker said that it should have been a managed bankruptcy like what Mitt Romney advocated. However Mitt Romney has had about five positions on the auto bailout. His first instinct in 2008 was to oppose it and let the industry fail. But earlier this year he took credit for the success of the bailout saying it was his idea.

In this interview, Walker parrots the fallacy that somehow Mitt Romney’s way was better even after Rachel Maddow asked him if there was enough private capital available in 2008 to fund the bailout. Cornered and way out of his league Walker repeated the line that it should of been a managed bankruptcy, continuing the line that the private sector always does it better.

Ed Schultz got into the act, reminding the governor over and over that the Janesville plant was closed in Decmeber 2008 a month before Barack Obama had any governmental power to intervene. Walker glossed over that fact, repeating that plants in Janesville and Kenosha closed, even though he ignores the fact that those plants were marked for death for at least a year and a business man would be the first to tell you that some plants had to clothes.

To blame the president for what decisions where made in the boardroom goes against the central campaign narrative that business can run government better and that government should stay out of the way. Walker should stop trying to debate people who present him with facts and stick to stuff he can handle as governor; like cutting ribbons and showing up at Packer and Badger games when they are in the playoffs.

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Not very impressed

By definition I am not impressed with Paul Ryan, save for his exercise routine. While he gave a solid speech meaning he didn’t stumble or sound nervous; he failed to truly inspire and stuck to dishonest and empty applause lines.

Ryan looks like a young Republican that is great at spewing orthodoxy but is a hypocrite when it comes to his actual record as a 14-year congressman that is deeply ingrained in the Washington legislative two-step.

It may be easy to blame the president for the lack of economic progress; but it rings false coming from a politician that voted for all the policies that created the mess and then refused to participate in the recovery.

Tomorrow I’ll be blogging again when Romney accepts the nomination for President from the Republican Party. It will be interesting to see if Romney can overcome the wattage of Ryan, which has so far overshadowed him at this convention.


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Ryan Trashes Constitution

“Our rights come from God and not from government” Ryan intones to rapturous applause. A fundamental refrain from the new hyper-conservatives believe that rights are derived from a deity and not the constitution.

Of course the founding fathers were extremely religious, but the final document they approved was specific in that the Constitution informed all laws and policies, not a Christian god.

It begs the question, will Ryan follow the Constitution or the Pope? At least Kennedy could be believed when he said he would follow the law. Republicans have consistently shown in actions they would love to impose a theocracy, a Christian theocracy while at the same time railing against the non-existent threat of Sharia law.

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What is on Ryan’s iPod

Ryan tells the audience that he told Mittens that his music interest starts with Led Zeppelin and ends with AC/DC. The campaign was also chastised by Dee Synder of Twisted Sister for using ‘We’re not gonna take it’ as Ryan’s walk-out music.

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Playing the mom card

Ryan sends props to his mom for stepping up after his dad died. A poignant moment no doubt since she started her own business to support the family. However, it was used to pivot into the disingenuous attack on the “You didn’t build that line” where Republicans believe that businesses grow and profit in a vacuum without infrastructure that we all know could only be funded by taxpayer money.

So far we have only heard soaring, fuzzy, shiny-happy rhetoric that works well for applause but as usual is very short on specifics.

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“We don’t need more words, we need leadership…”

Biggest applause line of the night so far when Ryan recalled the president saying he needed to communicate more to the American people. Ryan responded, “We don’t need more words, we need leadership!”


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“A ship sailing on yesterday’s wind”

Ryan says that the president may have inherited the economic problems but has done nothing to fix them…again conveniently forgetting that the Republican congress refused to help govern America out of the crisis.

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Protesters get face time

A few code pink protesters are ushered out of the pavilion. They had a banner but from the camera angle I could not tell what it said. Luckily the crowd didn’t break into annoying and patronizing USA! chants.

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Paul Ryan Lie #2

Another distracting myth is that the stimulus failed. The stimulus actually was working, but because it wasn’t big enough it only lasted so long and that is why the recovery has slowed to a crawl.

Republicans want it both ways, opposed the original proposed size of the stimulus, then blame the president when it failed as predicted by economists.

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Paul Ryan Lie #1

Ryan ticks off all the economic hardships since 2007 and lays it at the feat of Obama. He started with the GM plant that closed in Janesville. However that closed before the president was elected, so clearly his fault.


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Wisconsin on the Big TV

Bracing for all the obligatory shots of the Wisconsin GOP delegation. Already have seen a UW-Wisconsin hat and a Cheese cowboy hat.

Also getting the obligatory shots of the perfect Republican family with smiley wife and kids.


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Paul Ryan is Speaking…

…soon out of both sides of his mouth.

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‘We’re Republicans’

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez is addressing the convention. GOP is sending down an avalanche of women to “appear” as though they like the fairer sex.

Martinez issues a bald-faced lie using a variation of the “They didn’t build that line”. She said the president in 3 years did not pass balanced budget allowed the budget to grow to Trillion to the national debt.

She conveniently left out the fact that the Republican congress refused to participate in passing a budget over those three years and the majority of the debt was from two wars, tax breaks, TAARP funds, all enacted when Republicans owned the White House AND Congress.

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Condi Rice’s First Political Speech?

Condoleeza Rice is addressing the Republican National Convention and it is probably the first time I have heard her make an overtly political speech. It will be interesting to see if her words really matter since she was an ineffectual National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.

A man next to me said, “She hasn’t once attacked Obama”. I think that is instructive, she can’t stray far from her national security experience, which is shaky at best

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