Donald Trump enjoying the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (Carolyn Kaster / AP)

8:45 p.m. PDT: The biggest takeaway from the Republican National Convention? America created Trump, and his rise is a result of the cultural state of America. We live in a short-attention-span world driven by celebrityism, the worship of celebrities. Trump is the celebrity idol who shouts “look at me” the loudest. The majority of Americans would rather consume fast-food entertainment than eat-your-vegetables information. Donald Trump says he is the change agent, the fixer. That’s why he appeals to a lot of people. Many Americans are pessimistic, and they want to believe someone is on their side, fighting for them. They think Trump is outside the system and can’t be bought.

That is the big con. He is part of the establishment, but he has convinced many people that he is everyman. His plan for change is not inclusive. It’s not hopeful. It is not warm. It is filled with a lot of “believe me” and not a lot of “here’s how.” He is the Dark Knight who is going to end Obamacare, build bridges, fix infrastructure, revamp the TSA, end crime, and on and on and on. He never met a problem he couldn’t solve.

Trump is a great salesman. He is a master of the pitch. And his pitch has worked on the Republican Party. Can he win over America? The answer to that question will be a little clearer after we see how Hillary Clinton and her party respond at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week.

8:43 p.m. PDT: Exit stage left. The Trumps say good night to the crowd. The crowd is ready to party.

8:41 p.m. PDT: Was it the most truthful speech, as Donald Trump said it would be? No. Some of his facts were off, but hey, you say potato, Trump says potahto. That is the Trump response. Facts matter, but somehow, accountability does not matter the way it should.

8:36 p.m. PDT: Balloon drop. Trump’s acceptance speech was the longest on record, 75 minutes. He hit every talking point: law and order, fear, death, destruction. A real dystopian vision of America and our world, at times. Will that message resonate with the American people? This isn’t 1968. Economic anxiety is what many people are feeling. Did he make a mistake by focusing on terror?

8:34 p.m. PDT: The entire Trump family joins the nominee on stage. You know what would be entertaining? A “Family Feud” episode with the Trumps versus the Clintons, hosted by Steve Harvey. Who you got?

8:33 p.m. PDT: Trump is making a lot of promises. I am with you. I will fight for you. And I will win for you. Is “you” everyone? Or is “you” only some of America? We will make America strong again. We will make America safe again. We will make America great again. Can we trust Trump? Do you trust Trump?

8:32 p.m. PDT: Hillary’s pledge: I’m with her. She wants people to be with her.

Trump’s pledge: I’m with you. He says he is with the American people.

8:30 p.m. PDT: Trump says he wants to end the petty politics. He wants to end the rigged system. America is a country of believers, dreamers and strivers, not censors, critics and cynics. That’s some fresh writing from the speechwriters.

8:24 p.m. PDT: The Academy Award portion of the speech has arrived: “I would like to thank the NRA,” Trump says. “I would like to thank the evangelicals, even though I may not deserve it.” He moves on to his family: “I would like to thank my wife, Melania, my kids Don, Ivanka, Tiffany, Eric, Barron. My mother. My sisters. My brother. My late brother. I always will give you my love.” There are moments when Trump sounds like a decent human being.

8:17 p.m. PDT: Trump and his family have won over Martin Shkreli, the poster child for entitled jerks. This feels meta.

8:14 p.m. PDT: Some of the politicians in the building support the trade deals Trump is deriding. Ironic.

8:13 p.m. PDT: “We will never sign bad trade deals,” says Trump. Do you believe him? He says he will sign “individual deals. No more 1,000-page deals that no one reads or understands.” Trump says he will renegotiate terrible trade deals with China, and NAFTA. “If we don’t get a deal we like, we will walk away.” Again, the million-dollar question — make that the billion-dollar question — is this: Do you believe Trump? Can he do any of the things he says he will?

8:05 p.m. PDT: Talk turns to the wall.

A wall is a terrible idea. It would not work. It is not a realistic solution. But that does not prevent some people from loving the idea. Kind of like having Donald Trump run the United States.

8:03 p.m. PDT: The cameras show Barron Trump, Donald Trump’s young son. The 10-year-old doesn’t look happy. He looks like he would rather be anywhere else than at the Quicken Loans Arena. Can you blame him? If you were 10, would you want to listen to your 70-year-old dad give an hour-long speech? The kid probably wants an iPhone so he can surf YouTube, play a video game, get on a social network.

7:56 p.m. PDT: Trump’s plan to win the war on terror: 1. Gather the best intelligence. 2. Abandon failed policy of nation-building and regime change. 3. Work with allies who share our goal of destroying Islamic State and radical Islamic terrorism. 4. Work with Israel. 5. Stop refugees who don’t share American values from coming here. “Anyone who endorses violence, hatred or oppression is not welcome in our country,” he says.

7:47 p.m. PDT: Donald Trump makes an appeal to Sanders supporters. “The system is rigged. That is why Bernie Sanders lost.” How many Sanders supporters will vote for Trump? That will make the difference in the election. If Hillary Clinton doesn’t get the majority of Sanders voters on her side, Trump could win. From reality TV to the White House? Only in America.

7:46 p.m. PDT: Donald Trump explains why he joined the political arena: “So people can no longer beat up on people that can’t defend themselves. No one knows the system better than me, which is why I, alone, can fix it.” This confidence has been constructed from a lifetime of gaming the system. The irony is rich with this one.

7:44 p.m. PDT: The topic has turned to corruption and Hillary Clinton. Wherever Hillary is watching this speech, she has to be thinking, “I thought we were friends. Can we get back those china plates, that wedding gift we gave you and Melania?”

7:43 p.m. PDT: A Code Pink protester is removed from the convention hall by police. On cue, Donald Trump pauses to praise law enforcement.

7:29 p.m. PDT: Trump brings data to slam Barack Obama. Nearly 40 percent of African-American children are living in poverty, while 58 percent of African-American youth are not employed. Two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when Obama took his oath of office in 2009. Nearly 14 million have left the workforce. Household incomes are down $4,000 since 2000. Our trade deficit was $800 billion last year. Our national debt is $19 trillion and growing. Call the fact checkers.

7:20 p.m. PDT: Trump leads a “USA, USA, USA” chant at the Republican National Convention as the GOP presidential nominee. It’s official. We are living in “The Twilight Zone.”

7:17 p.m. PDT: Donald Trump enters.

7:16 p.m. PDT: My wife during Ivanka’s speech: “This is how Hitler came into power.” I don’t know if that is true, but Trump’s children are helping to humanize him.

7:03 p.m. PDT: Welcome, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter. She seems like a nice, well-adjusted young lady. Like her brother, Donald Trump Jr., she is a good public speaker. “My dad is a fighter, and he will fight for America. … My father taught us to strive for excellence. … One of his greatest talents is that he can see the potential in people before they see it in themselves. Throughout my entire life, I have experienced his empathy. … He has strength to lead America. He also has the kindness and compassion to be the leader this country needs. My father has a sense of fairness. … I have seen how he operates as a leader. He is colorblind and gender neutral. … He listens to everyone.”

Wow. Sounds like a great man. Are we sure Donald J. Trump is Ivanka’s father? Somebody call Maury Povich. We need a DNA paternity test.

6:59 p.m. PDT: For anyone interested in watching video of the convention, here’s a live stream:

6:52 p.m. PDT: An NPR reporter interviews a Ted Cruz fan, and he says Cruz supporters are getting ready to come to the dark side. In other words, they are inching closer to supporting Donald Trump. More proof that anything is possible in this world. Over/under on Cruz himself endorsing Trump is 33 days.

6:47 p.m. PDT: Some North Carolina Republicans in Cleveland were offended by Peter Thiel’s comments about transgender bathrooms. It would not be a Trump event without offending someone. Can’t please everyone. Good line from NPR senior editor and political correspondent Ron Elving: “One’s person unity is another person’s anti-diversity.”

6:21 p.m. PDT: Peter Thiel takes the stage. The venture capitalist is a Silicon Valley tech billionaire who co-founded PayPal and was one of Facebook’s first investors in 2004. His speech begins by focusing on the decline of the United States. Then he talks about transgender bathrooms and says, “Who cares?” He gets applause from the crowd. Times have changed. Republicans are cheering transgender acceptance from a gay man. Thiel bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s recent legal battle with Gawker Media, which outed him as gay a few years ago. “I am proud to be gay,” says Thiel. “I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American. … I urge all of my fellow Americans to stand up and vote for Donald Trump.”

When did the Republican Party become the Democratic Party?

Gotta give Donald Trump credit. In some ways, he has injected some humanity into the cold Republican Party. It’s like the “Bizarro” episode of “Seinfeld,” in which Elaine has a new group of friends that are the opposite of Jerry, George and Kramer:

Welcome to our new America. What’s up is down. What’s conservative is progressive. What’s Republican is Democratic.

Quick, get Rudy Giuliani on the horn. We need more red meat.

6:18 p.m. PDT: Trump has arrived. He is shown entering Quicken Loans Arena with his wife, Melania, and their young son. The focus of his speech reportedly will be law and order. He is the man to make America safe again.

6:11 p.m. PDT: Reince Priebus closes his speech with the story of William Knudsen, an automobile executive and World War II general. Knudsen is portrayed as a selfless leader, just like Trump. Priebus lays out the case for why Trump should be president. Talk about being a team player. Maybe Priebus can get a weekend comped at one of Trump’s hotels.

6:03 p.m. PDT: Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman, is up. “We are the party of new ideas. We are the party of the grass roots. We believe in better schools, a better health-care system. Most of all, we believe in a better chance at the American dream for everyone. The Republican Party will not stop until that becomes a reality for everyone.” Who knew? In the time it took Priebus to say that, he raised $1.5 million and Trump paid himself $250,000.

Enough about Republicans. Priebus has turned to their favorite punching bag: Hillary Clinton. She lied. She’s corrupt. She’s a hypocrite. All of that may be true, but it would be nice if the Republicans could talk about something uplifting instead of always resorting to mudslinging.

5:52 p.m. PDT: What are the key election issues? According to a recent Pew poll, 84 percent of registered voters say the economy is the most important issue, followed by terrorism (80 percent), foreign policy (75 percent), health care (74 percent), gun policy (72 percent), immigration (70 percent), Social Security (67 percent), education (66 percent), Supreme Court appointments (65 percent), treatment of minorities (63 percent) and others.

5:49 p.m. PDT: Trump is “getting more presidential,” says a millennial supporter from Florida. All those daily self-affirmation exercises of standing in front of a mirror and saying “Hello, Mr. President” appear to be paying off for the tycoon.

5:44 p.m. PDT: The Republican Party itself acknowledges that work needs to be done. Republican spokesman Sean Spicer thinks Trump has to do two things with his speech: 1. Explain in greater detail his planned policies and how they contrast with Hillary Clinton’s. 2. Show who he is as a man, a father, a husband, a person. People know Trump as the reality-show celebrity personality. He needs to go beyond that. That is logical, rational advice. We’ll see if Trump, Mr. Wonderful Narcissist, is capable of doing that.

5:40 p.m. PDT: “Radical Islamic terrorists” has made its way into the program, thanks to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who says Donald Trump will bring peace through strength.

5:22 p.m. PDT: Former University of Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight makes a brief appearance by video. The gist of his remarks: “When I was a coach, my job was to win. Donald Trump knows how to win.” No chairs were thrown.

Fran Tarkenton, the former NFL quarterback, also made an appearance. Tarkenton also made an appearance for Richard Nixon.

5:21 p.m. PDT: A polling company last year said Donald Trump had a 1 percent chance of becoming president. He now is 3 points behind Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head RealClear Politics poll.

5:14 p.m. PDT: How would Donald Trump work with Congress? No one knows. But many people believe he is just the type of outsider who can shake up the U.S. government system in Washington, D.C.

5:11 p.m PDT: When interviews are done with Trump supporters, he’s presented as some kind of conservative superhero. What will he do to make America great again? Repeal Obamacare. Build a border wall. Destroy Islamic State. The list goes on.

5:05 p.m. PDT: Pastor Mark Burns, Donald Trump’s top pastor, kicks off the PBS broadcast with a fiery chant of “All lives matter.” So we know where this is going.

4:26 p.m. PDT: There’s no truth to the rumor that Ted Cruz is considering writing a book called “How to Alienate Friends and Upset People.” Earlier in the day at a breakfast forum in Cleveland, Cruz explained why he didn’t endorse Trump during his speech at the GOP convention on Wednesday night. “I addressed the convention because Donald Trump asked me to,” Cruz said, according to The New York Times. “And when Donald Trump asked me to, he didn’t ask me to endorse. We don’t just put on red jerseys and blue jerseys. This is about principles and ideals.” Not everyone in the audience appreciated Cruz’s principles. One person raised a “Clinton-Cruz 2020” sign.

12:42 p.m. PDT: If you’re having trouble deciding whether to vote for autocrat Donald Trump or corporate hawk Hillary Clinton, Truthdig’s Editor in Chief Robert Scheer has some advice: Consider voting for a third party. The Green Party’s Jill Stein is an option. She visited Truthdig in June.

12:31 p.m. PDT: Is the Republican Party or the Democratic Party the Goldman Sachs Party? The answer might surprise you. The new GOP platform wants to revive the Glass-Stegall Act of 1933 and break up the big banks. Finally, Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren can have a civil discussion.

Thursday, 10:15 a.m. PDT: Day 4 of the Republican National Convention has arrived, which means the end is near. The Grand Old Party wraps up its scripted, staged, expensive private party in Cleveland on Thursday evening. Don’t shed any tears. This is not the last time we will see or hear from Donald J. Trump.

The GOP presidential nominee is the headliner for the conclusion of the convention. The theme is “Make America One Again.” Trump’s team is reviewing his speech and removing any words that Barack Obama said in his 2008 talk at the Democratic National Convention. Here is a preview of what we can expect:

Before we see the real deal, let’s recap what we’ve learned so far this week — inside and outside Quicken Loans Arena.

Day 1 Inside: Rudy Giuliani likes red meat. Life was hard for Melania Trump growing up as a black woman in America. Outside: Cleveland has the best security $50 million can buy.

Day 2 Inside: Hillary Clinton is the devil. Defeating the devil is how we will boost the U.S. job market. Outside: No reported arrests, but many acts of protest and civil disobedience.

Day 3 Inside: Mike Pence could be the future CEO of America. Ted Cruz still doesn’t like Donald Trump. Outside: Anti-Trump and pro-Trump camps keep filling the streets of Cleveland. Police make 17 arrests.

What will Day 4 bring? Lots of chants of “USA, USA, USA” and “We’re No. 1.”

But that’s not all. Tune in to Truthdig for news, analysis and commentary as we live blog the Trump Show.


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