Dispatches From Cleveland: Day 1

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Demonstrators march by police during the Shut Down Trump & the RNC protest on Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland. The Republican National Convention starts Monday. 


Convention: A City on Edge

The passengers on the streetcar inching along in downtown Cleveland, the waitress in the corner lunchroom, the riders on the train to the city’s far suburbs—they’re all nervous.

The waitress, who served some colleagues and me as the news broke of the murder of three Baton Rouge policemen, was visibly upset and all but trembling about the coming four days. The passengers on the streetcar, one of whom worked a few blocks from the Quicken Loans Arena, site of this week’s Republican convention, segued from what they feared would be the near impossibility of getting around town, or just to work, during the convention to the general apprehension of what hell might break loose. The riders on the train to the ‘burbs alternated between excitement and presentiment.

Cleveland is not an armed camp—at least not visibly, at least not yet. Read More.



As Maine Goes

Other Republican governors have cut budgets and services, demonized holdover public officials, and given tax breaks to the rich. What makes Paul LePage an outlier, even among current GOP governors, is the combination of his personal slash-and-burn style, off-with-their-heads retribution against perceived enemies, and policy incoherence that often undermines the goals he professes and harms the constituents he purports to serve. In this respect, LePage is a state-level preview of Donald Trump.

“Just think of Paul LePage on steroids with a big bank account and then you’ve got Donald Trump,” Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said to cheers at the 2016 Maine Democratic Convention in Portland in May. “I shudder for my country. The Trump-LePage method of government is intentional stalemate, paralysis, and oligarchy.”

Maine is a microcosm of the havoc that a right-wing populist can wreak on a state. Read More.



Trumpapalooza Should Be One Hot Mess of a Convention

In most election years, you can count on at least a few pundits to lament that all the time, effort, and expense of the party conventions is for little purpose other than airing a four-night-long advertisement for the nominee, an endless recitation of already-tired talking points issued to drunken delegates while journalists prowl the hall in a fruitless effort to find some interesting news to report. But not this year! The Democratic convention in Philadelphia may turn out that way, but the Republican gathering in Cleveland promises to be as much of an angry, chaotic mess as the campaign of the man the delegates will raise up. It should be great fun, provided no one actually gets killed. Which isn't out of the realm of possibility. Read More.



Cleveland Protests Begin on Peaceful Note

Even before the Republican National Convention came to town, and before a string of racially charged shootings in Baton Rouge and around the country, the majority-African American city of Cleveland was grappling with the issue of police violence against black men.

The Cleveland Police Department is currently under a consent decree from the Justice Department, after a federal investigation found that its officers had a history of “unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force.” The investigation followed the November 2014 shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in a Cleveland park, among other incidents.

Cleveland residents voice mixed feelings about whether widespread fears of convention violence are overblown, but the police department isn’t taking any chances. Read More.


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