The Republican National Committee today announced that its Site Selection Committee has voted to recommend Minneapolis-St. Paul to host the 2008 Republican National Convention, pending the successful negotiation of the Site City Agreement. The full RNC will vote on the recommendation at its Winter Meeting in January, 2007. The convention will be held September 1-4, 2008.
I'm disappointed that it's not New York, site of the last convention and one of the three candidates passed over (along with Cleveland and Tampa/St. Pete). I enjoyed the 2004 convention, not only because I got acquainted with a great group of NY-based conservative activist bloggers, but because it's a great city for conventions. Everywhere I needed to be was packed into about a square mile, and the rest of the city was a short subway ride away. I didn't have to think once about parking a car. When the convention sessions were over at midnight, we could still find a good place to eat, and twice we ended up at O'Lunney's, an Irish pub just off of Times Square that keeps its kitchen open until 3 a.m. (Warning: That's an annoyingly Flash-ified web site.) I have the feeling that, in the Twin Cities, many of the delegates will be bused to hotels in the suburbs, and the late night dining choices will consist of Denny's and the all-night drive-thru at McDonald's.
Still, some of the New York blogger activists will make their way out to MSP, and there will be plenty of interesting locals to meet. Minneapolis has its own powerful contingent of right-leaning bloggers, many of whom were at the 2004 RNC. There's Power Line, Captain's Quarters, and the rest of the Northern Alliance. And then there's James Lileks. The legendary Minnesota State Fair will be happening the same week, and the weather should be perfect.
The RNC's choice of Minneapolis cuts the Democrats' 2008 choices down to two, New York or Denver, as Minneapolis bid on both conventions, but can't support both in back-to-back weeks.
This news is about a week old, but it escaped my notice at the time; perhaps you missed it, too. It reinforces my sense that the Republican Party's leaders at the national level fail to understand the source of their strength and electoral success, and that there is a structural basis to this failure that needs correction.
During a conversation this morning at church, I received the disappointing news that an abortion advocate has been elected by the Republican National Committee as its new co-chairman. JoAnn Davidson of Ohio was nominated to the post by new RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, who had been the chairman of Bush's re-election campaign and was nominated by Bush to replace Ed Gillespie as head of the committee. Davidson has been a board member of Republicans for Choice, the pro-abortion pressure group within the GOP, since that organization's founding in 1990.
Davidson's nomination received opposition from pro-life members of the RNC. In order to gain the desired unanimous approval, she promised committee members privately not to speak at organizing or fundraising events for pro-abortion groups and to back the President's agenda publicly. In other words, she'll keep quiet about her abortion views and focus on political nuts-and-bolts, for which she's reputed to have some talent. From news reports I learned that her predecessor was also a supporter of abortion rights, news to me -- so it certainly is possible for someone to serve in that position and be a good team player by keeping quiet on matters of disagreement with the mainstream of the party.
Her colleagues at Republicans for Choice have higher ambitions for her tenure as RNC co-chairman. Their home page declares: "We look forward to working with her to help make sure the concerns of pro-choice and moderate Republicans are heard within the Republican National Committee Headquarters..."
(More about Davidson, and why this move is wrong on principle and wrong politically, after the jump.)
You just thought the 2004 election was over!
Louisiana has a unique election system. There are no party primaries, but all candidates of any party face each other on election day. If someone gets 50% of the vote, he is elected; otherwise, the top two candidates are in a runoff a few weeks later.
This year two Louisiana Congressional races are on the runoff ballot this Saturday (another Louisiana peculiarity), and Republicans are poised to win both and achieve a 6-1 lead in the state's U. S. House delegation.
This Wictory Wednesday, BatesLine joins hundreds of other blogs in asking you to contribute to Dr. Charles Boustany, Republican candidate for Congress in southwest Louisiana's 7th District. You can donate to the campaign by following this link. Dr. Boustany is a heart surgeon and, if elected, would be the first Republican ever elected from the district.
You'll find a list of all the Wictory Wednesday blogs on the lower right of my homepage, along with information about how bloggers can participate.
We, the bold, free-spirited peoples of the Diverse Lands of Blue America, hereby contract with you, the safe, ordinary drabs of the Nearly-contiguous Lands of Red America to exist peaceably and amicably in the manner to which we've become accustomed....
We need a tremendous amount of ever-changing, ever-improving goods and services. We will need you to provide manpower for industries and meet these needs. As such, we will need you to raise respectful, honest, hard-working children. We don't care how you do it, but please don't tell us how. If it has anything to do the preservation of the "traditional family unit" or instilling "moral values" we really, REALLY don't want to know. ...
We are your story-tellers, and we will present constant meretricious offerings concerning nihilism, the insanity of living and the horror of dying. And just to let you know that we're in touch with your boring little lives, we will occasionally tell you your own story through movies about people that can't wait to leave their backwater towns and girls that have babies in Wal-Mart. Please attend these movies in herds so we can turn around and do ones about the salvific qualities of lawlessness, sexual promiscuity and abortion.
Speaking of Wal-mart -- STOP GOING THERE. We are really, really serious. We would never set foot there ourselves, but it bugs the crap out of us that they exist, seeing as how they run out of business your quaint little shops that we also were never going to.
A commenter adds:
"And we'll of course need you to provide us with a constant supply of food."
And Moxie helpfully provides a travel guide for liberal visitors to Jesusland.
Kevin McCullough links and comments on Walter Shapiro's USA Today column, analyzing the Democrats' dilemma. Shapiro says that the Democrats are really four parties in one, united only by opposition to the Republicans. He names the four factions as "the Party of Cultural Permissiveness," "the Anti-War Party," "the Party of Economic Justice," and "the Status Quo Party." "Status Quo Party" refers to the Democrats' habit of frightening certain constituencies into voting against any change to their pet government programs.
I think he's missing one faction, somewhat related to the "Status Quo Party." That's the "Perks and Power Party" -- the faction devoted simply to doing whatever is necessary to remain in power and enjoying the fruits thereof.
My feeling is that the "Party of Cultural Permissiveness" is on the rise in the Democratic Party, and that if you scratch beneath the surface of many in the other factions, you'll find that cultural issues ultimately motivate their opposition to the Republicans on the war, the economy, and government programs. Increasingly voters sort themselves between the parties based on cultural issues more than any other issue.
Wictory Wednesdays roll on. As we savor last week's big wins, we have to lay the groundwork for future victories. The Republican National Committee does some of the groundwork that helps Republican candidates at every level of government. The appeal for this Wictory Wednesday is to contribute to the RNC, which you can do by clicking this link.
You can find a list of the blogs that participate in Wictory Wednesday on the right side of my homepage at the bottom of the sidebar.
Someone, presumably Sarah Seward, who put the map on the web, observed that all the states that John Kerry won (except Hawaii) are contiguous with Canada. So if I understand the map, the idea is to have the Kerry states (appropriately pink) secede and merge with Canada to form the United States of Canada, while the remainder of the US (a green and pleasant land) would be renamed Jesusland, in honor of the Carpenter from Nazareth whose claims to Lordship are taken seriously by a lot of people in the proposed new nation.
You might not think that Jessica, a young Jewish woman from New York City, would feel comfortable in Jesusland, but you'd be wrong. In fact, she tell us that she hearts it. Follow that link to find out why.
Meanwhile, OkiePundit, who's from Jesusland, doesn't seem that pleased about it (a bit of litotes there), and thinks that evangelicals "are not only one of the greatest dangers to a liberal democracy in the United States but a threat to the world at large if they take control of this superpower." But in the same entry he tells us:
Jay Cost, the Horserace Blogger has the first two installments of his post-election analysis up. I think he has the Bush/Cheney campaign just about right.
Jessica of The New Vintage, one of the New York Republican bloggers I met during the Republican National Convention, went to Iowa to help during the last few days of the campaign. She is back home and starting to write up her experiences here. One of her first stories is of handling ticket check for the VIP section at President Bush's appearance in Sioux City, and seeing the whole first family up close. She says she has the pictures to prove it -- let's see 'em.
Meanwhile, another blogger I met in New York City, Dawn Summers (aka Evil Dawn), who is anything but a Republican, writes of her experiences campaigning in Arizona (which was anything but a swing state, as it turned out) here.
Karol of Alarming News worked for the Republicans in Durango, Colorado, and posted way too much for me to link to everything she wrote about her time there. She has also posted a pile of pictures. I imagine she'll be writing more once she's gotten some sleep.
Let's hope that the New York Republican Party can get its act together sufficiently that these young Republicans will be able to stay home and make a difference in competitive races.
Katherine Bates stamped 101 mailers...
and Joseph Bates stamped more than 1000, and helped tag the bulk rate trays...
and a lot of other boys and girls, moms and dads, college kids and retirees made phone calls, dropped flyers on doorsteps, talked to their friends, and sent e-mails.
Take a look at that photo and at all the youngsters working in the background. Stay-at-home moms brought their kids after school, homeschool moms built campaigning into the curriculum. This is the Roe effect at work -- coming generations are going to be more conservative than the Baby Boomers and the Gen-Xers. The kids who helped with Tom Coburn's campaign were born to parents who place more value on life than on convenience and career, parents who understand the importance of acting on one's beliefs, and these children are learning to embrace the same values.
It's not just the unwashed hippy peaceniks who have time for political action in the middle of the day. If the lefties ever understand the political power of families, they'll probably try to mandate day care and 10 hour days in public school.
(Photos by my lovely wife, the proud mom of these kids.)
and Katherine says hooray!
Earlier in the evening, from 7 until about 10, I was doing "color commentary" on News Talk 1170 KFAQ, live from the Republican watch party in Tulsa, and I was three feet away, but without my camera handy, as Tom Coburn got the word that the networks were predicting him to win the U. S. Senate race.
I'll be on KFAQ again in the morning, from 6 until about 8, sifting through the results.
It was frustrating to see how slowly the state election board results were being updated. Tulsa results were very late to come in. The results look great for Oklahoma, and things look very hopeful nationwide.
Unless something extraordinary happens, don't expect an update here until midday tomorrow at the earliest. In the meantime, you can watch the remaining Oklahoma results trickle in here.
And Jay Cost's Horserace Blog has some fascinating coverage, looking at county by county results in the battleground states and comparing them with the 2000 results. Things don't look good for the President in Iowa or Michigan, but things are hopeful in Ohio and Wisconsin.
(ENTRY POSTED 8:10 PM, Monday, November 1, postdated to remain at the top through election day.)
The Tulsa County Election Board website is here.
Here is a precinct locator: Enter your address, and the locator will tell you what precinct you're in, where you vote, and what districts you're in. There's even a photo of the building that hosts the polling place.
Nationwide, you can go to MyPollingPlace.com to look up your precinct location. The result will also tell you what kind of voting device is used and how to make sure your vote is counted in that kind of device. They tell you the hours that your polling place will be open. They also provide a phone number for the county election board and a link to the state election board website.
You can look at PDFs of the different ballots that will be seen in Tulsa County here.
Some voter's guides that may help you:
Oklahoma Family Policy Council (all offices plus state questions)
Christian Coalition (PDF -- Presidential and Senate races only)
Oklahomans for Life (4 MB PDF -- all offices)
Oklahoma Libertarian Party
Oklahoma Prosperity Project
(ENTRY POSTED 6:59 PM, Monday, November 1, postdated to remain at the top through election day.)
UPDATED 12:00 AM, Tuesday: I've moved off dead center on 707.
Here's how I'm voting tomorrow -- click the link below, for my choices with links to what I've written about them:
Here's my guess as to the result, with the help of the OpinionJournal.com electoral vote calculator:
You might imagine that a busy blogger like me would decide that I'm too busy to get involved in hands-on campaigning. It would be easy enough to rationalize not getting involved, but all the blogging in the world is useless if people don't turn out to vote for the candidates I support.
So Saturday evening I spent about three hours making calls at Tulsa County Republican HQ, 15th & Denver. It was easy work. We had a simple, short script, nothing that would tie up a voter on the phone for too long. A few people hung up, but most people responded positively. Our reward -- a cool T-shirt and dinner brought in. We lucked out: The organizers were sick of pizza so they brought in food from Atomic Burrito. There's a big need for callers today and tomorrow -- stop by 15th & Denver, 52nd & Harvard (in front of Mardel's), Coburn HQ at 61st & Memorial, and at 2191 E. Kenosha in Broken Arrow (near County Line Road/193rd East Ave). Call 627-5702 (Republican county HQ) or 313-4516 (Oklahoma Victory 2004) if you
Sunday afternoon I got out in the rain on the streets of Owasso with some ORU students, dropping off campaign literature. The list of homes to target was tough to use (it treated different spellings of the same street as two different streets), and it didn't help that we were in the Cone of Confusion -- those places in the Tulsa street system where the numbers of the east-west streets are very close to the numbers of the north-south avenues. It can make your head spin to be at the corner of North 108th East Place and East 108th Place North. Still the five of us managed to distribute 600 literature bags, containing flyers for many of the Republican candidates in the course of about three hours. The rain stopped after the first hour, which was nice.
Scott Sala of New York-based Slant Point headed across the Hudson yesterday to campaign for Bush-Cheney in New Jersey. He's got a nice write-up and photos of the experience here. He's very optimistic about Bush's chances in the Garden State.
Even if you only have an hour to spare, that's enough to make a difference. Show up and ask what you can do to help get your candidates elected.
I've received two e-mail messages tonight on several different addresses -- one trying to connect Tom Coburn with an extremist group, the other containing a Shockwave animation encouraging the reader to visualize a Kerry victory on November 2. Earlier I got spam from disgraced Democrat and former Gov. David Walters encouraging me to support Carson, in which Walters claimed that his progressive policies are why he only won one of his three statewide races.
And so Little Boy Brad Carson's smear campaign continues -- on the radio, on the phones, on TV, and now in e-mail. I know there are "ends justify the means" types in the Republican Party, but they're on the fringes and they have the disrespect of elected party officials and grass-roots volunteers. On the other hand, the "win at all costs" mentality seems to have captured the heart and soul of the Democrat Party.
Truth to tell, the contemporary Democratic Party has become a gathering-place for all sorts of conspiracy-theories, esoteric quasi-religious devotees, insurrectionists, and con-men. Consider its cult-like characteristics:
* Blind, amoral devotion to a leader that completely disregards and/or excuses the sexual, financial, and ethical evils of the leader(s).
* An apocalyptic intensity fired by a worldview -- more or less Marxist -- that sees everything as a titanic battle between the forces of Repression (Christianity, constitutionalism, heterosexuality, monogamy, and property-rights) versus the forces of Liberation (them).
* An all-out selling of soul to ends-justify-the-means, operationally married to "ethics" only when and if it has some helpful persuasive PR effect.
* An underlying anti-God-ism, taking various forms -- materialistic atheism on one extreme, and variety popsicles of animism/polytheism/pantheism/gnosticism on the other, with evolutionism as a common bridge between the two groups.
I don't think this is so characteristic of most grassroots Oklahoma Ds, like the folks I met walking for City Councilor Roscoe Turner, but it seems to fit the activists that now dominate the party machinery.
. . . There were police all over the street. More than were necessary, and more than I thought actually existed. I am sure they had a major recruitment rush before this week, because their uniforms were ill-fitting and too new, and they all had an awkward nervousness to them. Every once in a while, you would see a grey suited delegate speedily walking alongside on the other side of the barrier. Often, they would be hiding their badges with their hands as they almost ran back to the safety of Madison Square Garden.
There was a small group of delegates sitting near the entrance, watching the enormous crowd go past, with glum but semi-stunned looks on their faces, as if they were watching their empire crumble, which is exactly what was happening.
Nice attempt at mindreading there, Margaret.
Now this protest occurred on Sunday, the day before the opening of the convention. Delegates didn't go to Madison Square Garden on Sunday. There was nothing for a delegate to do there, and I doubt that delegates would have been admitted. The only thing that would have been happening there on Sunday was last minute preparations for the start of business the following day. Delegates and guests had a separate credential for each session -- numbered 1 through 5. Number 1 was for Monday morning, the only morning session. We didn't have a number 0 credential.
Where were the delegates? Were we being protected from reality, as Mike from Little Axe suggests?
On Sunday afternoon, delegates were still en route to NYC in many cases. Those of us who had already arrived were going to church, sightseeing, attending welcome brunches, and getting ready to see a Broadway play -- the NYC host committee provided matinee tickets for all the delegations. And I doubt that many delegates were wearing grey suits on a warm summer Sunday afternoon.
After reading some of the protest websites before the convention, I told people that the radicals seemed to think that we would stroll the sidewalks of New York looking like Rich Uncle Pennybags, with cane, top hat, tails, monocle, spats, and furs. All of us members of the Halliburton board of directors, we were undoubtedly assembling to plot the next round of plunder, rape, and pillage, but the mighty protestors would confront us and shock us and send us scampering back to the Hamptons (um, no, all rich liberals out there) or Bel Air (ditto).
So Margaret Cho spotted a hotel manager or a security supervisor or a salesman from Macy's mens' department, taking a break and watching the wackos pass by, and imagined him into a plutocrat quaking with fear at the fall of the ancien regime.
If it makes you feel better, Margaret, you're welcome to believe you made a struck a blow against the system and left a deep impression on the nation's kingmakers, but the reality is that we delegates (who aren't very powerful anyway) were busy having fun that day, and we missed seeing you. Sorry. Better luck in four years. If I see you then, I promise to sneer at you through my monocle, whack you in the shin with my walking stick, and leave you in a cloud of exhaust as my Bentley speeds off, so you can feel properly victimized.
"The Republicans came to town with the Ten Commandments in one hand and a $100 bill in the other, and they didn't break either." -- New York State Senator John Sabini, Democrat from Queens, in the September 4, 2004, New York Post.
Local politicians love to be able to tell voters that they've created jobs, and for forty years or more, the pursuit of convention business has been a favorite way to spend city dollars in hopes of drawing tax dollars to the city from visitors -- people who come, stay, spend, and leave before they become a burden on the city's infrastructure. Despite plenty of evidence that cities rarely make back in increased tax revenues what they spend on the operating cost of convention centers, not to mention the initial capital cost of building or expanding a convention center, or the extra financial incentives offered to major conventions, local politicians still push for higher taxes to finance ever bigger and fancier convention facilities, adding to a glut of underutilized facilities.
I've followed the antics of convention center promoters for many years. In 2000 I led a successful opposition campaign against a convention center expansion and new arena for downtown Tulsa. The project was to be funded by a city sales tax increase and it was sold as a way of generating new convention business for Tulsa, filling empty hotel rooms, and preventing us from becoming a "fourth-tier" city in the competition for national conventions and trade shows. If we voted for the expansion, we were told to expect $100 million in additional direct spending annually -- a threefold increase over the actual direct spending numbers at the time. In debunking their numbers and making our case, we depended heavily on the research done by Heywood Sanders, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the nation's leading expert on convention center economics, who has made a career of comparing the claims of feasibility studies to the results produced by new and expanded convention centers.
Tulsa's arena and convention center package was ultimately sold to the voters in 2003 as part of a billion-dollar package of corporate welfare ($350 million to Boeing for an aircraft assembly plant), parks, university facilities, street improvements, and assorted other pieces of pork, collectively known as Vision 2025, and funded by a 1% sales tax. In the 2003 vote, promoters talked as little as possible about the convention center and arena, and instead pointed to the city's dire economic circumstances -- second only to San Jose in job losses in the wake of the tech bubble's bursting -- and convinced the voters that "we have to do something," never bothering to provide an economic rationale for their claims that Vision 2025 would pull us out of the doldrums. When they did respond to projections that the convention center would run an even bigger operating deficit after expansion, the convention center promoters would claim that increased sales tax revenue generated by additional visitor spending would more than make up for the deficit.
For all that I've read about convention center economics, I don't often go to conventions, so it's been interesting to have an inside look, as a delegate, at a "pearl of great price" in the convention industry -- the kind of event that cities would give everything to attract. And they often have.
New York City has been a great host, and I would love to come back to New York for the 2008 Republican convention, but I wouldn't blame New Yorkers for rolling up the welcome mat. Mind you, not because of political differences, but because an event of this magnitude may cost far more than any economic benefit.
Early estimates from New York City's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) put the net economic impact of last week's Republican National Convention at $255 million, but the numbers are based on economic models and standard industry figures for delegate spending, not actual receipts, using $220 per person per day for five days as a spending estimate for the 47,000 visitors. And that $255 million is a net number -- $341 million in spending, less $86 million in lost retail activity.
It's hard to tell how close those numbers are to reality. Our room was $155 a night, and I'd estimate that my wife and I spent another $50 a day on food and taxi or subway fare, plus incidentals. Four young women in our delegation shared a single hotel room to save money. A lot of additional money was spent on us by various corporations and politicians at the breakfasts and receptions we attended, but I suspect that would still leave the total well shy of the number used by the EDC. Last month, New York City's comptroller estimated that the city would lose $309 million on the convention, the result of all the disruptions and inconveniences connected with the event.
Looked at through the eyes of a convention planner, a national political convention is an odd combination of a trade show and a SMERF event. SMERF stands for social, military, educational, religious, and fraternal organizations. These are the least coveted conventions, because delegates are attending on their own behalf and are spending their own money, not traveling on expense accounts, and accordingly they stay at budget accommodations (or double up in luxury accommodations) and look for restaurant bargains. Like delegates at most SMERF events, RNC delegates paid their own way to New York, as did thousands of volunteers. But then there were also thousands of media staff, campaign staff, and Republican party staff who were at the convention for business reasons and so were traveling on someone else's dime. Economic impact calculations had better take the dual nature of these conventions into account.
The New York papers have had fun recounting delegate penny pinching. A New York Post article featured complaints from hotel concierges who were getting "God bless yous" instead of gratuities in thanks for their assistance. One indignant concierge blasted the thrifty delegates: "They even ask where the nearest Laundromat is so they can wash their own clothes. Look, if you can't afford to travel, don't come." We didn't go to the laundromat or let the hotel do our laundry -- it would have been cheaper to buy replacements. As a way to save money on drinks, we brought along an insulated, leakproof piece of luggage which can be used as a cooler. We bought 6-packs of Diet Cokes for $2.99 each from a nearby drugstore, and filled the cooler with just enough ice from the hotel's machine to keep the sodas cold.
Merchants and restaurateurs near Madison Square Garden suffered badly during the convention, as did Broadway. I wonder, too, about the impact of a nearly empty Javits Center. The Republican committee meetings the week before the convention used only a tiny fraction of the Javits Center, but the rest of the cavernous center was left empty, presumably for security reasons.
New York City taxpayers bore a large chunk of the security costs of this convention -- as much as $15 million out of an expected total cost of $65 million. (The rest of the money comes from the Federal Government.)
Unlike most cities that chase convention business, New York City can plausibly claim that even losing money on this convention, particularly one that draws from every state in the union, can help the city in the long run. Thousands of delegates who had never been to the city, or hadn't been since the bad old days, pre-Giuliani, came away with very positive impressions of the city and are more likely to return and to excite their friends and relatives about visiting. Someone attending a convention in Wichita, let's say, might feel that he had exhausted the tourism potential of the city in the course of a week-long meeting. Nice city, but no plans to return. Most Republican delegates in New York left with a sense of unfinished business, unable to exhaust the possibilities that New York City offers in the handful of free hours we had each day. We will be back.
Beyond the economic impact, the presence of tens of thousands of Republicans had a positive impact on the small but mighty band of local conservatives. Blogger and political consultant Karol Sheinin wrote, "I love the convention being in my city. All the regular rightwing events are on steroids, with more people than ever and a great vibe." Beyond regular events, like the New Criterion's Tuesday evening gatherings at Fitzgeralds, special events connected with the convention, like the National Review cocktail hour cum mosh pit at Turtle Bay, "The Right Stuff" comedy show, and the Club for Growth's events, gave local conservatives a chance to find each other, as they emerge from the catacombs.
Who knows but that a few more such boosts may help develop a thriving conservative social scene in New York City? Shouldn't the capital city of capitalism be the capital of conservatism, too? Conservatives from the rest of the country should offer, out of the goodness of our hearts, to gather annually in Manhattan for a major political shindig -- not so major that it shuts down whole neighborhoods, but major enough to draw the biggest names and the brightest rising stars, a week-long celebration of conservatism. Just like a national convention, but minus the convention sessions, which just get in the way of all the parties and receptions. Yes, we could have it on some cruise ship in the Caribbean, but it would encourage our New York brethren more to have it in their midst. I'm willing to sacrifice for the cause. How about you?
"Except for ending slavery, fascism, nazism, and communism, WAR HAS NEVER SOLVED ANYTHING"
"Protect Islamic Property Rights Against Western Imperialism -- SAY NO TO WAR!" -- the poster depicts a woman in a burka being dangled from a choke chain.
My wife met one of the Protest Warriors on her flight to NYC -- an aviation science student at Oklahoma State University. He dropped me a line yesterday, pointing me to some links to photos and anecdotes on the Protest Warrior website:
As far as anecdotes, we were called fascist and Nazis quite often which are both leftist theories contradictory to conservative ones and, when trying to explain to them this fact they would turn violent. They don't really care for being cornered in a debate. One notable event that comes to mind is a group of protesters protesting for free speech were telling us we didn't belong there and that we shouldn't be allowed to say what we were saying. Others were saying stuff such as: capitalism is for the greedy and socialism is the only true way to go about things. These are people that have jobs and are consumers of goods and services, plain hypocrisy if you ask me.
There were complaints in the press and on various gossip blogs that Republican delegates are a bunch of dull party-poopers -- we didn't stay out late and we didn't attend parties. Here's an item from Friday's Page Six column in the New York Post:
September 3, 2004 -- THE Republican delegates seem to have run out of gas when it comes to parties. An Independence Bank bash at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden was canceled at the last minute yesterday for lack of attendance. "You can't do a party there for less than 125 people at approximately $125 a head. I'm told that 200 to 300 conventioneers were originally expected," said our source. RNC parties at the Bronx Zoo, Snug Harbor on Staten Island, and in Queens were also under-attended. "The only party that was packed today was the governor's event at the Fulton Ferry Pier in Brooklyn, right in front of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory," we're told. Not only the outer boroughs are being shunned. Gov. Pataki invited 800 GOP backers Monday night to Tupelo Grill, right across from Madison Square Garden, to eat, drink and get merry while watching Rudy Giuliani's speech. "Only 50 people showed up," said our informant. "But the gov didn't exactly lose his appetite. Instead of savoring the mini-quiche made especially for the occasion, he demanded a cheeseburger with all the fixings."
And this bit from Cindy Adams in the same paper:
CONVENTIONS run from 7 to 10 p.m. Theoretically. Because BS flows like Niagara, they last through 11 p.m. Result? The after-parties, like for Rudy, Arnold, the Bushes, the gov, all begin at midnight. Everyone's exhausted and hungry. Restaurants lose money, since this kills the dinner hour. The original 7-to-10 p.m. concept was for prime-time newscasts. There's no longer nightly network coverage because no longer are folks glued to the screens unless they're TV repairmen. These rah-rah conventions no longer even have a raison d'etre because all's decided beforehand so I asked "Law & Order" actor/Sen. Fred Thompson why not change that 7-to-10-p.m. deal? And he wisely replied:
"I have no idea."
Cindy's a bit off on the timing -- the convention was planned to end at about 11:00 pm EDT every night. That was not an accident. The aim was to get the main speakers -- Giuliani on Monday, the First Lady on Tuesday, Cheney on Wednesday, and the President on Thursday -- going right at 10:00 pm EDT. That would maximize live viewing across the country -- 7 o'clock on the West Coast, and toward the end of prime time everywhere else. This was typically the only hour carried by the major networks. The President was the only one to go beyond 11, and that just barely, followed by another 15 minutes or so of the balloon drop.
But what worked well for the networks didn't work well for the delegates. After the session it was far easier to get on our buses, rather than wander out into the city beyond the barriers. Monday afternoon at the end of the first session was the one time I tried to walk directly out, and I got stuck trying to cross 34th Street at 7th Avenue, as the police were giving priority to the convention buses -- I finally backtracked and walked around to 8th Avenue.
Particularly from Tuesday night on, with protests near the convention site, we faced the choice of riding on buses with police escorts and traffic priority returning us straight to the hotel, or leaving the secured area on foot and walking into the middle of a police-protester confrontation that might keep us from going anywhere for a while. The easy choice was to take the bus and leave from the hotel if we wanted to go out.
Scheduling and security worked together to dampen attendance at outside events, whether during the day or late at night. The evening sessions gobbled up a six-hour block of time from the time we left the hotel until we returned -- all of which was spent within the security perimeter or on the bus. Once you were inside the Garden, the thought of passing through security again was a strong disincentive to dropping in on another event. For the same reason, delegates tended to avoid MSG during the day -- you showed up as late as possible while still arriving in time for the speakers you wanted to hear.
As for parties, we were invited to some afternoon and early evening events -- all but one of them specifically for the Oklahoma delegation, and that other invite came from our congressman. There were rumors of some great after-parties -- John McCain hosted a "Wednesday Night Live" party headlined by SNL star Darrell Hammond -- but no one I knew was invited. The master schedule we were given at the start of the week had long lists of events, most of them labeled "private". I started to go through the whole schedule and mark interesting possibilities, but so many were marked private that I dropped the idea. We might have been daring and shown up to crash a party, but we were too worn out and hungry to waste time and energy showing up at an event only to be turned away.
That's the general, here are the specifics. Let me take you through my week and I think you'll understand.
To the folks who inhabited Blogger's Corner this week: If you think it was distracting to write in a small poorly lit area, surrounded by a dozen other bloggers, next to the main entrance to the media area, try blogging with Sesame Street's Elmo chatting up a storm on the computer game my daughter is playing in the next room.
Back home on the non-stop from Newark today with Mikki and a few other delegates including Mayor Bill LaFortune, who spent most of the flight snoozing in an aisle seat near the back. I was envious -- I had only had about 3 hours of sleep but could not sleep on the plane because of the continual traffic up and down the aisle. (I could comment about the irony of the Mayor of Tulsa being on the non-stop flight, which was on Continental -- the result of a company responding to market opportunities -- and not Great Plains, the airline that lobbied for millions in government support on the promise of providing direct flights to the coast, a promise it never fulfilled. But I won't.)
I return home with a pile of newspapers I never got through during the convention. Because I was in the middle experiencing the event directly, I haven't had much time to find out what other observers have been saying. I'm especially interested in the feature stories that have been written -- how the delegates responded to New York and vice versa. I want to take another couple of days to sum things up -- what it's like to be on the floor, how a major convention affects a major city, delegates as party-poopers and lousy tippers, the rumored contenders for '08, the moderates who spoke.
Mikki and I finished packing this morning, shipping a box of convention stuff back and just getting our checked luggage under the weight limit, thanks to all the tote bags and books we were given by various sponsors.
Before catching the shuttle to the airport, Mikki and I had time for a brief visit to Ground Zero, a chance to remember September 11, and to remember Jayesh Shah, a graduate of Tulsa's Memorial High School and the University of Tulsa, who was in his office atop the north tower when the plane hit. Jay left behind a young wife, two daughters and a son, and a younger brother who was his nearest and dearest friend. I prayed silently for his family, and looking at the list of heroes, I picked a name at random and prayed for that family too. We spent some time at the east fence, then walked down to Battery Park to view the globe that once stood on the World Trade Center plaza.
This election is about one thing and one thing only -- winning the war on terror. Whatever other disappointments I may have in the administration, George W. Bush is committed to preemptively defeating terrorism while John Kerry seems to want to wait for another attack.
Finally got pointed to the photos of my wife Mikki that were in the Daily Oklahoman earlier this week. We rode to Newark airport with Oklahoman assistant photo editor Steve Sisney, who showed us a slideshow of the photos he took of the convention, and pointed us to the Oklahoman's online gallery which currently features Steve's photos of RNC events. Mikki's two pictures are here and here. And here's Real Media video from KWTV channel 9 in Oklahoma City.
And you can find an archive of Daily Oklahoman coverage of the RNC by going to their homepage and clicking the RNC tab.
The photos were taken at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, where volunteers from several delegations boxed food Tuesday morning, as part of the convention's "Compassion Across America" emphasis. (Mikki went; I stayed behind to try to get my phone upgraded so I could blog from the convention floor.) Throughout the summer leading up to the convention, each state delegation was asked to adopt a local charity, with every delegate giving time, materials or money to the cause. The organizing committee in New York City was also engaged in service projects around NYC all year long. (Here's a press release about the emphasis.
People who went agreed that the trip was worthwhile, but there was some disappointment because in the end only about 25 minutes was spent working. There were problems finding the location, which added another hour or so to the ride over, and no one had a point of contact to call for directions. Once there, they were given an introduction to the work of the food bank, which was informative, but cut into the time available for work. They had to leave early enough so that the First Lady of Oregon could get back for an event at 2.
A contributing factor to some of the difficulties was the inability of the organizers to meet on Sunday to finalize plans and work out details. The planned meeting at Madison Square Garden couldn't happen because the protest parade had stopped in front of the Garden, and security locked the building so that no one could go in or out.
As Mikki noted in the KWTV story, the people who came for the convention are active back home in their communities in many different ways. This event could only dramatize in a small way the more significant contributions that are made the other 51 weeks of the year back home. I'll add that the political efforts made by the delegates -- running for office, organizing, campaigning, contributing money to candidates, and the giving of time, money, privacy, and energy involved -- are an expression of compassion toward their fellow citizens, even if it can't be deducted as a charitable expense.
The story of the convention is this: The convention closed last night without a major incident. No attacks, no riots, no explosions. Just a handful of hecklers in the hall, drowned out by delegates who started chanting "Four More Years" at the first sign of a disturbance. The speeches hit the marks and made the points that needed making. In the end, the delegates felt like we were doing our job as well, providing support with our cheers and applause.
New York City did its job. I would have the 2008 convention back here, if New York would have us -- but I would understand completely if the people of this city didn't want to deal with a summer of preparations and a week of serious inconvenience.
I'll write more later. We fly home later today.
There's a lot of competition for the time and attention of delegates - more events and special exhibits than delegate-hours to go around. One of our delegates, Rodd Moesel, went on a "green tour" of lower Manhattan - he was the only delegate along with 15 city officials. He met a rep from General Motors' Allison division, who asked if we might have use for a couple of buses. They were looking for opportunities to show off their new hybrid vehicle technology in the form of these diesel/hybrid buses, particularly to city leaders.
One of the buses took us up to the New-York Historical Society for a tour of their new exhibit on the life and death of Alexander Hamilton. This impressive exhibit includes portraits of his contemporaries by Stuart, Peale, and others, documents from his life and career, and the pistols used in the duel 200 years ago this July. There's a wonderful love letter he wrote to his future wife and the farewell letter he left for her before the duel should he not survive. There are two life-sized bronzes of Burr and Hamilton in firing position - Hamilton is shown wearing sunglasses.
These artifacts give you a sense of the political reality of the day - the turn of the 19th century was not just marble busts and powdered wigs.
The exhibit opens next week and will run for 6 months, then it will tour 40 cities across America, with facsimiles instead of original documents. Mayor LaFortune spoke to the curator about bringing it to Gilcrease - it would be a great fit with Gilcrease's collection of early American documents.
Over on MSNBC's website, they present side-by-side videos comparing delegates dancing at the Republican and Democrat conventions. The Republican video begins and ends with two Oklahoma delegates -- Erica Lewis, a career consultant from Stillwater, and Joy Pittman, an attorney from Tulsa. Joy was also on the convention platform committee.
I got an inordinate amount of camera time last night because I happened to be standing right in front of the two delegates mentioned above and three or four more attractive young female delegates.
Meanwhile, John Derbyshire reports his experience being in the hall for last night's proceedings:
The delegates were whooping and hollering, punching the air, jumping up and down. Readers, **I** was jumping up and down. The heck with that British reserve — I'm an American now, and a Republican, and I can holler and jump with the best of them. Zell Miller, unfortunately, is not a Republican — but he had explained that point to everyone's satisfaction, and no one held it against him. By the time he finished, nobody in the hall held anything against him. Whatever he was for, we were for. Whatever he was against, we were against. This was a real star turn, the best speech of the convention so far — better than Arnie, better than Rudy. It was an honor and a privilege to be in that hall when Zell Miller spoke.
Now if we can just get Derb in a chorus line with the Oklahoma delegation....
(Here's the direct link to the Shockwave file.)
Wizbang's Kevin Aylward has a great summary of Zell Miller's responses to Hardball's Chris Matthews and his usual rude interviewing style. Sorry I missed it, but Kevin's selection of quotes from Miller makes me feel like I was there. My favorite: "I wish we lived in the day that I could challenge you to a duel."
Redstate and Captain Ed both wonder whether the Miller speech was too fierce. I really appreciated finally hearing a speech delivered with passion, but I understand that we live in Pony-Tail Guy's world now, and we don't like politicians who say harsh things or speak in harsh tones. The Republicans (me included) loved it. Zell in '08!
That's all for now. Check out rncbloggers.com for more.
I heard some outcry - not loud at all - and then a rush of security, followed by a rush of press. Whoever it was was quickly hustled out gate 67.
I wonder if it would have been less distracting to let the fool holler. A single unamplified voice doesn't carry very well in here.
Big media day for the Bateses. I've been profiled by Gawker. The Daily Oklahoman has a picture of Mikki on the front page, packing boxes at a food bank as part of Tuesday's "Compassion across America" event. If the photo is online, you'll find it at www.newsok.com. I'm told that I'm in a picture of the Oklahoma delegation in the Tulsa Whirled. And Scott Sala of Slant Point has posted an interview with me about last week's committee meetings.
The laptop has been in and out of a coma all day, so I have been unable to update, to fix a couple of glaring errors in earlier entries (apologies to Jay Nordlinger for linking his name to Derb's archive), and to link to the excellent coverage by the other convention bloggers. Go over to RNCbloggers.com for all their latest.
and the MSG floor is bouncing.
What's the resonant frequency of this floor?
Harlem Boys Choir singing Peter J. Wilhousky's setting of Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Would have been even better if people had been quiet so it could have been heard.
I'm up in the cheap seats with my wife at the moment - have been here through Brownback's & Frist's speeches. I was still on the floor during Liddy Dole's speech. People aren't paying close attention to any of these speeches. That's partly because the audio seems muffled and subdued when someone is speaking from the front, and when people can't hear they mill around and chat . When the music is playing, it seems twice as loud, and people quiet down.
Too bad because these were good speeches enunciating our social platform. Rod Paige (Sec'y of Education) and Michael Steele (Maryland Lt. Gov.) have delivered their speeches with more energy than the earlier speakers and seem to have the audience more engaged.
These speakers are suffering as well from the lack of a formal introduction to create anticipation in the audience and focus attention. And a rap of the gavel isn't a bad idea once in a while.
Steele really got us going - well-written speech beautifully delivered - and of course instead of building on that momentum, we get blasted with another over-amped tune. But then Arnold should do fine :)
As I suspected, all the passing in the roll call by larger states was to give a key swing state the chance to clinch Bush's renomination. I suppose it's close enough there that the little bit of press they'll get out of this back in Pennsylvania could be the margin of victory.
The "spontaneous" demonstration fizzled -- we weren't quite sure when we were supposed to wave the "4 more years" signs, and the word finally reached us to wait until Pennsylvania's turn, but I don't think everyone got the word. It's hard to keep that up without someone leading from the front.
I'm down on the floor - wireless web is working agan - and we are being blasted by the convention band, to the point that we can barely hear.
Mikki (my wife) and I attended the NRO Corner bash at Turtle Bay. They were giving out buttons saying things like "Save a Hamster / Vote for Kerry" -- someone though that had to do with that old urban legend, but it's a reference to one of Kerry's daughters speech about her dad givning CPR to a hamster.
Got to meet and chat briefly with NROniks John Derbyshire, Jim Geraghty, who writes the "Kerry Spot", and Jay Nordlinger, who writes Impromptus. Might have met more NR people, but the place was absolutely jammed with people. We saw fellow bloggers Karol, Lisa(Happy Birthday!), Roger L. Simon. Nearly a dozen other bloggers were arriving just as we were headed to another event.
We also met John P. Margand, executive director of Project REACH, an organization that provides support to crisis pregnancy centers, and Eric Metaxas, who used to be a writer for Veggie Tales (a favorite of all ages at our house).
Here are a few photos -- Jonah Goldberg holding court at the bar:
Derb in discussion:
And a picture of the vast throng that assembled:
I like what Karol had to say:
I love the convention being in my city. All the regular rightwing events are on steroids, with more people than ever and a great vibe. I had my doubts about the convention being in the city, I thought that the protestors would be a downer but its been so great, the protestors are like crazy cousins who you tolerate but all the good times happen without them.
You mean the New York conservative scene isn't like this all the time?
At about 9:30, an Oklahoma delegate returned to our section and told us that she had been stuck for 15 minutes. She and others were herded into a lounge, and the curtains were drawn while a VIP passed. The VIP, a rotund gentleman, had a security detail two deep on both sides. One onlooker stepped out in front of the VIP, and a security officer grabbed him by the jacket and said, "I said step back, and when I say something you listen!" GOP delegates were penned up for about 15 minutes to make sure Big-Lie-er Michael Moore wasn't confronted with angry dissent.
This must have been about the time that Moore was making his way to the press box at stage left. Shortly after our fellow delegate's breathless report, someone spotted Moore's red cap and spherical form. This was before John McCain began speaking. Some few people tried to get a chant going -- "Go home, Michael Moore" -- but it didn't catch on.
But then when John McCain uttered the words, "And certainly not a disingenuous filmmaker" -- the crowd turned toward Moore, booed loudly and some began chanting "you! you! you!" while sharply pointing fingers at him. (All right, it wasn't just some -- it was me, too.) The boos lasted for what seemed like a minute -- almost a "Two Minute Hate" -- until McCain interrupted by saying that the line worked so well he was going to repeat it.
In response to all this noise, Moore grinned and tipped his cap. Clearly he had read the reference to himself in the advance copy of the speech and decided to be in the arena to milk it for all it was worth. We gave him exactly what he wanted, and I'm sure he'll have a field day with it in his next USA Today column.
McCain's speech was well-done and well-received on the floor of the convention, Giuliani's even more so. The chanting of "flip flop" -- which I could just hear on the C-SPAN broadcast -- in response to Giuliani's accounting of Kerry's record on the war was utterly spontaneous and seemed to start in our part of the hall.
Did you notice the warm applause when Giuliani said at the beginning of the section of his speech about Kerry, "I respect him for his service to our nation"? If you're wondering, no one told us when to wave signs or applaud. That was spontaneous, too.
The other feature of the evening that got the crowd going was the tribute to the armed services, which featured the song of each service. Everyone around me was singing along along, to the extent that they could remember more than the first line or two. (Lyrics and a bouncing ball on the big screen would have been nice.)
OTHER VIEWS: Scott Sala was moved by his experience on the floor. Karol Sheinin loved McCain's anti-Moore line enough to forgive McCain for praising his Democratic "friends". Rick Brookhiser on NRO evaluates Giuliani's speech, career, and prospects.
Spent some time before this morning's proceedings came to order and during the some of the duller moments rambling through the media area. Bloggers' Corner is in a prime location to catch dignitaries as they pass by, and they are right across the aisle from where Sean Hannity will be broadcasting. As I came up, the credentialed bloggers were still working to get connected to the Internet -- no WiFi here. I saw Scott Sala and Karol Sheinin, whom I had already met around town, and Kevin McCullough introduced me to Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics, Kevin Aylward of WizBang (who was kind enough to add me to the RNCBloggers aggregation site), Roger L. Simon, John Hinderaker of Power Line and Captain Ed Morrissey.
I got there just in time for the bloggers' chance to interview former Mayor Ed Koch, whose first remark was "What's a blogger?" and after being told it involved publishing opinion and news on the internet, he said he sends out an e-mail newsletter and asked if that made him a blogger, too. He was told that he's halfway there.
Koch had been warmly received up on the convention floor a few minutes earlier, where he told delegates, "I'm here to convert you... for the 2008 election." For him the election comes down to who's willing to fight the war on terror.
Over the course of my time on radio row, I spotted Neil Boortz, Tony Snow, G. Gordon Liddy, Pat Buchanan, Al Franken, and Biff Henderson of the Letterman Show. The Gatlin Brothers, who sang the National Anthem this morning -- the way it should be sung, at a moderately fast tempo and without all the diva-esque sliding around that most anthem singers use, but with wonderful three part harmony -- were appearing on various talk shows and occasionally bursting into song. (I will add that the Gatlins sang the anthem in a way that invited the delegates to sing along, which was a refreshing change as well.)
I happened by Kevin McCullough's booth a bit later at a time when he was between guests and I had the chance to talk to his listeners here in NYC and over the web for a few minutes. I was caught off guard when he asked if I had a chance to listen to his show yet, so I hope he doesn't think I'm uninterested, it's just that I was in the platform and rules committee meetings during his timeslot. I have listened to his broadcast over the web (the latest show is repeated 24/7 -- follow the above link, or the blogroll link to his website), and it's a great show.
Many thanks to New York Sun columnist Gary Shapiro for his kind mention of me in his column today:
KNICK-KNACKS Tulsa-based software engineer Michael Bates arrived in town as an Oklahoma delegate. He blogs at www.batesline.com where he reported seeing the pro-Bush political theater group “Communists for Kerry”perform in “Soviet Union Square.”They shouted slogans such as “End the two Americas! Create one homogenous welfare state!” and “End tax cuts! Stop the menace known as ‘success’!”
The Sun is New York's fastest growing newspaper and it has fraternal ties to great newspapers worldwide like the Daily Telegraph of London and the Jerusalem Post. I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Gary last week, and am grateful for the tip of his fedora.
Remember, folks, "Papa says, 'If you see it in the Sun, it's so.'"
There was very little objection voiced to a rules amendment granting the Republican Party of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas equal status with the 50 states, D.C., and four other territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and American Samoa). This would give the territory three seats on the Republican National Committee (chairman, national committeeman and national committeewoman), and two seats on each of the convention committees, the same number as each of the states, however large or small.
The Commonwealth enjoys the same relationship with the US as Puerto Rico, but while Puerto Rico has nearly four million people, the Northern Marianas has only 78,252 inhabitants over less than 200 square miles. That's fewer people than Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, but a little more than American Samoa with population of 57,902.
At first I thought it was nice for them to be included, as an acknowledgement of their status as a commonwealth and the strength of the local GOP. There were two gentlemen in the gallery whom I took to be Marianans -- they were very pleased with the result of the vote and were being congratulated by the Rules Committee members from the other territories.
Thinking about it further, it doesn't make much sense for any of the territories to be extended equal status with the states in the Republican Party. The Republican Party exists to fight federal elections for Congress and the presidency, and these territories aren't involved in that process. Unlike the territories of the past, these territories are unlikely to become states and their current status seems permanent. It would make more sense for the Republican National Committee, representing the 50 state parties, would establish a fraternal or affiliate relationship with territorial parties, which would be autonomous.
There's something silly about the tiny Northern Marianas having the same say as Texas in governing the Republican Party and setting its platform and rules. True enough, the final say is given to the convention as a whole, in which the size of state delegations is dependent on population and the success of the state party in electing Republicans to office. But the rules are such that the convention only ever votes up or down on the recommendations from the Rules and Platform Committees. It is just barely possible to bring an amendment from the floor, but it requires a suspension of the rules, and that means the support of a majority of six state delegations just to move for a suspension, and the support of two-thirds of the delegates to approve the suspension and allow you to bring your amendment. For all practical purposes, the decisions are made by the committees, and it would require a good deal of pre-convention organizing to successfully break through that barrier. There are considerable barriers to doing pre-convention organizing, but more about that later.
One of the more intriguing proposals put before the Rules Committee on Friday came from Utah State Senator James Evans. Sen. Evans proposed a rule that would reserve four convention speaking slots for delegates selected at random. Evans argued that the grass roots are the strength of the party, and this would be a way to highlight that strength. He argued that delegates are informed, passionate about the party, and any one of them could speak for a few minutes about why he or she is a Republican. Presumably those who would not feel at ease behind the big podium could opt out of the lottery.
The opposition came mostly from the northern states. Those committee members expressed concern that randomly-selected delegates might not "stay on message," and that it was important to use every hour of the dwindling amount of network TV coverage to put the nominee's message across. Never mind that the reason for the dwindling amount of coverage is that nothing unscripted is allowed to happen. Evans tried to calm the control freaks' fears by saying that the RNC would still be able to vet these random delegate speeches, as they vet every other speech.
The proposal was defeated by about a 2-to-1 margin. The lesson that Republican leaders took away from the 1992 defeat was not, as it should have been, "don't renege on a promise not to raise taxes," but "no more Pat Buchanans" -- everything must be scripted and nothing must deviate, down to the signs that the delegates will be instructed to wave. (I don't however believe there is any truth to the rumor that convention organizers studied North Korean political rallies for ideas.)
Evans voiced the heretical notion that the convention is not only for the nominee but for the delegates and the whole party. The question in his mind was one of trust -- why wouldn't we entrust a short speaking slot to a delegate who has given time and talent in support of the party?
Through this debate and several others, I kept hoping one of the rules committee members would acknowledge the elephant in the living room -- the party is being run by control freaks whose control freakery hasn't actually been all that successful over the last few elections. Recall that Republicans haven't won the popular presidential vote since 1988, but we've done remarkably well in congressional and state legislative races, where our candidates are less likely to be polished and professionally managed, and more likely to say something off-message.
I was going to post this from the front row of the "dress" section of the Ford Center (the old Lyric Theatre on 42nd Street, not the big mostly empty arena in Oklahoma City), but I still can't get Sprint's wireless web to work.
My wife and I had great seats for the musical "42nd Street" thanks entirely to the fact that I am the first Oklahoma delegate in alphabetical order. Oklahoma had the right half of the first balcony, sharing the theatre with delegates from Texas, Nebraska, and Kansas.
We left the hotel just after 3 and wisely decided to walk the three long blocks rather than take a cab.
Did not see a single protester today. Not a one. Some friends went to Columbus Circle to catch the "big" protest and said there were maybe 100 people there. They weren't there when we arrived at the theatre, and they weren't there when we left. Times Square looked pretty normal, with tourists milling about.
At the theatre, they had free soft drinks, champagne, and bottled water for us, courtesy the New York City host committee, and on each chair was a New York Times tote bag full of goodies, including Fodor's New York Flashmaps -- an extremely useful and portable guidebook -- some cough drops, and a very small New York Times T-shirt. As if I'm going to let my kid wear that.
I should add that starting with our official check-in with the delegation on Saturday we have been loaded down with stuff -- a tote bag from the host committee with Rudy Giuliani's book, a book on New York landmarks, a box of special Republican Convention Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, with elephant noodles. Congressmen Istook supplied a tote bag with Istook logo merchandise -- ball cap, beverage mug, and that sort of thing. This morning we had a Sunday Times on the doorstep, plus a packet with NR, TNR, The Hill and Roll Call in it. I've heard we'll be getting a New York Sun every morning. (I know I should italicize all that, but I can't be bothered right now.)
RNC chairman Ed Gillespie welcomed us, then introduced Rudy Giuliani to a standing ovation. Giuliani spoke briefly about the importance of reelecting this president, who after 9/11 understood the need to go on offense against the terrorists, not just play defense. We had a fifteen minute gap after Giuliani spoke, during which someone got the idea that our delegation should sing "Oklahoma!" which we did, with gusto. Then the Texas delegation in the orchestra section did some sort of bizarre ritualistic chant while they made a evil-looking gang sign involving the extension of index finger and pinky. We attempted to reverse any bad vibes by displaying the Texas sign upside down. Way up in the nosebleed section we heard the chanting of "Big Red! Big Red!" and we started to chant along until we realized that it was the wrong Big Red -- it was the one from up north, where they have an "N" for "nollidge" on the sides of their football helmets. So we drowned them out with a hearty "Boomer Sooner" chant. The Kansas folks sang "Home on the Range," the nation's least specific state song. Then there was a halfhearted attempt at "Deep in the Heart of Texas" from the folks from Baja Oklahoma, which was mercifully cut short by the overture.
Starry-eyed radio talk show host Kevin McCullough reports (with photos) on the wonderful evening he and his wife had at Saturday night's media reception (I like the Don King / John McLaughlin photo), and an exciting chance encounter walking home from the bash.
This afternoon my wife and I spotted G. Gordon Liddy in the hotel lobby, but we didn't stop as we were worried about being late for the play. I am happy to report that there was no electrical tape on our hotel room door when we returned.
On Friday I attended the Republican National Convention Rules Committee meeting. This committee, made up of one male delegate and one female delegate from each of the fifty states and five territories (D. C., Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands), met for five hours to approve a set of rules governing this convention and the party for next four years. Rules Chairman Bob Kjellander, Republican National Committeeman from Illinois noted in his opening remarks that the Democratic National Committee can alter their party's rules willy-nilly at any time, while the Republican rules can only be changed by the national convention.
Take note of that distribution of seats at the table, because it came into play several times during the committee's deliberations. States and territories, big states and small states, states with strong Republican Party organizations, and states where the local Republican Party is nearly dead -- all have the same amount of representation on the Rules Committee, the Platform Committee, and the Republican National Committee, which governs the party between conventions.
Like the Platform Committee, the Rules Committee met at the Javits Center, a massive convention center on the Hudson River three long blocks west of Madison Square Garden. The GOP committees were the only activities in the building, which meant that at most you had 500 people meeting in a few conference rooms downstairs while the cavernous exhibition hall went unused. I wondered who picked up the tab for reserving the whole hall. Javits is in the deadest part of midtown Manhattan -- very little foot or auto traffic, very few nearby restaurants, the nearest subway access is half a mile away at least. Committee members were delivered to and from Javits by bus.
The Platform Committee was set up for TV, with the committee members on risers facing the gallery, microphones in front of each pair of delegates, and bright TV lights on both the delegates and the committee chairman and co-chairmen. The Rules Committee had no risers, only three microphones, which were set up in the aisles, and the committee members were facing away from the gallery and toward the chairman who was up on a dais. There were a lot of reporters and cameras at the platform hearings; the only reporter at rules committee seemed to be Bob Novak, who was taking notes, answering numerous cell calls, and visiting with Morton Blackwell and one other committee member whom I didn't recognize.
The real deal this time. From the Communist Party, USA, website:
[A] victory by Kerry and the broad democratic movement that supports him would be a body blow to the extreme right, bring some relief on bread and butter issues, and lift the siege on our nation's constitution.
It also would create a much more favorable political terrain on which the people's movement could struggle for its agenda, beginning with an end to the occupation of Iraq. ...
The biggest danger in this election is not that people have unrealistic expectations of a Kerry administration, but rather that a substantial section of voters still believe that it doesn't make much of a difference who they vote for on Nov. 2. The responsibility of left and progressive people is not to spend their time bellyaching over Kerry's shortcomings, but to convince millions of people that there is a choice and that the outcome of this election will have enormous consequences for our nation's future.
You might want to be sure to obtain a "Get Out of Gulag" card, while you still can.
The revolution is glorious, Comrades!
I have returned from the Communists for Kerry rally in Soviet Union Square, during which the message of world revolution went forth, despite the best efforts of agents provacateurs posing as socialist agitators, claiming that the comrades were agents of Fox News, or Karl Rove.
Comrade Lenin harangued the masses, explaining that getting John Kerry into the Red House is only the first small but necessary step toward true revolution.
Revolutionary slogans echoed through the gathered throng:
"Embrace your inner bolshevist!"
"Only one thought, happy thought! Let the Party do your thinking for you!"
"Red is the new black!"
"We cure weak liberalism with strong communism!"
"End the two Americas! Create one homogeneous welfare state!"
"Stop the economic boom created by G.W.Bush!"
"End tax cuts! Stop the menace known as 'success!'"
RNCBloggers.com is an aggregation of the latest posts from credentialed and non-credentialed bloggers covering the Republican National Convention. Many thanks to RNCBloggers for including me on the list. I notice there's another blogger who is here as a convention participant -- the wife of an alternate delegate from Ohio, who writes at white-pebble.net.
While I will mainly be writing about the Convention, there is still a lot brewing back home in Tulsa politics, which is my usual beat, so bear with me if I deviate into local politics now and then.
Off to Soviet Union Square to join the proletarian uprising in support of Comrade Kerry. Meanwhile, here's a puzzler for my Tulsa readers:
"We don't need the diversity of opinions, things get done more efficiently without the meddling of intellectuals!" Who said it?
A. Tulsa Whirled editor Ken Neal.
B. Bloodthirsty Cambodian dictator Pol Pot.
Had the pleasure last night of spending some time with Dawn Eden, and through her (influential person that she is) got to meet Matt Welch and Tim Blair, who will be covering the RNC on the convention blog of Reason magazine.
Matt is an associate editor of Reason, a Los Angeles-based libertarian monthly (and an excellent source for free-market perspectives on local government policy). You can find his blog here with a preview of his convention coverage and links back to columns he wrote about the DNC.
And you can now find both their blogs and the Reason conventions blog on the blogroll on the right side of the home page.
I'm about to run out of battery power, so I'll comment later, but here are a couple of stories on NRO about some of the more interesting platform committee debates.
Tim Carney of Evans and Novak Political Report writes about the education platform plank that praises the Republican Party for spending more than LBJ.
Conservatives in New York this week knew there was trouble once they read the first sentence of the platform on "No Child Left Behind." It read: "Public education is the foundation of civil society." (In comparison to "family," which earned the description of being the "cornerstone.")
The second sign of trouble was learning that the subcommittee handling education was chaired by Rep. Phil English (R., Penn.), a key ally of Arlen Specter this past spring, and had the endorsement of the National Education Association.
The two days of platform debate confirmed the suspicion that the GOP has become the party of Big Education.
And that's a winning strategy for alienating our base while completely failing to impress the educrats of the NEA, of which the Democrat party is a wholly owned subsidiary.
Mark Krikorian writes about Wednesday night's debate over immigration policy:
Before the draft Republican platform was released yesterday, the immigration plank was being billed as an independent effort, not directed by the White House. The selection of Pennsylvania's Rep. Melissa Hart to head the subcommittee that would address immigration was spun last week as a concession to pro-control conservatives, despite her mediocre voting record on immigration. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the platform committee co-chairman, denied that the White House was writing the platform immigration plank, telling the Washington Times that "I have talked to Karl [Rove] about the platform for a total of less than two minutes since I began working on this in the last month."
They must have packed a lot of information into those two minutes, because the draft platform's immigration section echoed in every particular the president's call for a massive guest-worker amnesty. It included the very same language, about matching "willing foreign workers with willing U.S. employers," and the same disingenuous disavowal of amnesty.
Krikorian goes on to compare the draft platform language with that of previous conventions going back to 1992.
The most important issue of this election is the War on Terror, and George W. Bush is still the right man to finish that job, but more and more conservatives are unwilling to overlook the administration's rejection of long-standing conservative aims in these and other areas. They aren't angry because he's deviating from the party line, but rather that he's deviating from policies that these grass roots voters believe are best for the country, and embracing policies that take us in the wrong direction.
More from today's Rules Committee meeting:
Morton Blackwell, Republican National Committeeman for Virginia, moved to eliminate the automatic delegate slots given to the three RNC members from each state. Blackwell objects to the fact that an RNC member elected in 2004 will go as a delegate to the 2008 convention without facing voters in 2008. The superdelegate provision was added in 2000 for 2004.
Rodd Moesel from Oklahoma gave a great speech in support of the motion, pointing out that the Democrats have a large and increasing number of "superdelegates" - officials who automatically get a seat at the convention without the support of the grass roots. It's a distinction of the Republican Party that the grass roots elect all our delegates, something we can boast about.
Blackwell's motion would not have reduced the total number of delegates, and in nearly every case, the three additional at-large slots called for in the Blackwell amendment would go to RNC members, but the state convention would have the option of sending someone else, if an RNC member should become unacceptable in the four years between election and the next convention.
The motion was defeated, with strongest opposition from northern states.
Ever received a fundraising letter from the "Tulsa County Republican Fund Drive"? Did you know that none of that money goes to the Tulsa County Republican Party?
This has long been a complaint of local party leaders, who have to go to the same donors who have received these solicitations and ask for money to fund a local party office, a part-time office manager, grass roots activities, and assistance to local candidates. Most donors assume their contribution to the RNC will help the local party too, so county chairmen have to disabuse them of that assumption.
This morning at the Republican Convention Rules Committee, someone tried to address this problem. Patricia Carlson, delegate from Texas and Tarrant County, wanted an amendment to force the RNC to include a disclaimer in RNC fundraising letters, explaining that none of the money stays locally. The amendment was killed by being tabled by a bare majority vote. Thanks to Mrs. Carlson for making the attempt.
This has been a rotten day for blogging. There was plenty going on in the Rules Committee meeting worthy of reporting, but the SprintPCS wireless web network was down. When I called the help desk, they said their whole corporate network was down -- call back in a couple of hours.
(By the way, for those who are curious, I have a Kyocera 6035 SmartPhone, which runs PalmOS, and I use mo:Blog, which so far is the only Palm app for blogging I've found that doesn't crash or lock up my phone.)
All right, so I'll blog back at the hotel. The dial-up connection is pretty good -- 40 kbps and no dropped connections. Then I notice the rate card by the phone by the bed (which I hadn't used yet -- there's no rate card by the phone on the desk). The hotel wants $1 a local call, up to 10 minutes, plus 10 cents a minute thereafter. Oops.
Hotel's got high speed internet, too, but it's $10 a day. I thought about buying a month of Wayport access ($50) which would bring the cost down to about $5 a day, but the Wayport website refused my credit card. (I double-checked with the credit card company, which said Wayport hadn't even tried to bill my card, so the problem is with Wayport.)
I don't know why expensive hotels with hard beds and tiny rooms and limited cable service add insult to injury by charging for local calls and high speed net access. The nicest places I've stayed are the midrange suite hotels that are cheaper than full service, but have a fridge, a microwave, the full local cable lineup (yay C-SPAN2!), free high speed wireless, and beds that are actually comfortable.
But I have found a nicer place from which to blog. Bryant Park is just a few blocks from the hotel, just behind (west) of the New York Public Library, and it offers free WiFi access. The park is bustling with life. Some parks are dysfunctional -- the space isn't inviting, isn't comfortable, so people don't stop and use it. It's really easy to build a park that doesn't work. (Nota bene, you pocket-park planners in Tulsa!)
Bryant Park was once a dysfunctional park, a scary place to be avoided, but no longer. I'm sitting on the terrace, on a chair with the laptop on the table. If I felt like it, I could move the table and chair somewhere else. There are chairs and tables all over the grassy area and on the plaza around the fountain. Some of the chairs are like school desks with an attached writing surface and a drink holder. People are reading books and newspapers, doing homework, writing letters, meeting friends or just watching the passing parade. There's a little carousel on the south edge of the park. A double-row of trees -- birches, I think -- buffer the park from the surrounding city blocks but don't make you feel cut off or hidden. Very nice.
I don't know about my fellow Oklahoma delegates, but I don't feel at all like a fish out of water in the big city. I lived in Boston for five years and walked or rode the subway everywhere. It's great to be back in a truly urban place for a few days.
The last couple of mornings I walked from the hotel into Grand Central Station to catch the subway for part of the trip to the convention committee meetings. To see the streams of people rushing in every direction, crossing without colliding, and then to jump into one of those streams isn't at all scary to me. It's exhilarating. Between the rush of the people and the sight of Grand Central's beautifully restored interior, I have had a silly grin on my face, which I'm sure would betray me as a bumpkin from the sticks, if anyone actually made eye contact, that is, which they don't.
Bryant Park is as relaxed as Grand Central is frenetic, but that silly grin still made an appearance at the sight of this beautiful park and all the people who are enjoying it.
NYC blogger Jessica is on "crazy protester watch" and she thinks she's made her first sighting:
The other girl, with even messier dreads than the first, took out a can of sliced peaches and concentrated on opening it with an unidentified object. It seemed like an object not meant for opening cans, or at least for opening cans very poorly. She would suck out the juice as she slowly made her way around the circle, and would wipe her hands on her dirty pants. The last guy was trying to talk to his companions about a book he was reading. He was analyzing the way the author described primitive human beings, and I could not for the life of me make any sense of his argument. Maybe because he was distracting me by going off on his little tirade while playing jungle gym with the handle bars. The dude looked like a human monkey as he lifted himself up and hung from the ceiling of the subway car.
This is going to be a fun week.
Seriously, without going into any details, I have seen a very significant police presence around town, and contrary to one report I read, the officers look to be vigilant, not goofing around.
The Wall Street Journal has a nice profile of most of the bloggers credentialed for the Republican National Convention. It looks like a good group, certainly a sympathetic group, for the most part. I'm looking forward to meeting them next week. I've already met one of them, Karol Sheinen, who has a great blog called Spot On, and who is a political consultant who worked on Herman Cain's Senate campaign in Georgia. In the WSJ piece, she mentions hoping to hear him speak at the convention -- that would be electrifying. His loss in the primary was a big loss for the party, although we should still take over that open seat from the Democrats.
Yesterday Platform Committee staffers were handing out copies of proposed amendments. I asked for a copy and was told that they were only for press. I pointed out that I was a delegate. No dice. I asked if I could have a copy if any were left over. Only reply was a shrug.
I realize that I am not a committee member or a credentialed journalist, but I am a convention delegate and will be voting on this platform in a few days' time. Can't I at least have the scraps from the table?
UPDATE 8/26/2004, 5:00 PM: When education-related amendments were being passed around this afternoon, I gently pressed the issue with another committee staffer, who was kind enough to check with her boss if it was OK for me to have the handout. (There were far more copies than people in the room.) She got the OK, and not only have me a copy then, but made sure I got a copy of a later handout.
Re-reading this, I think it makes me come across as bitter about this, which isn't the case. But the inversion of importance between the media and the delegates does seem absurd, and it's an aspect of the gradual slide of national conventions from real conventions to long-form infomercials.
(UPDATED: 5:20 PM)
Platform committee member Cathie Adams of Texas just gave a stirring speech in support of the removal of a platform plank which calls for a Palestinian state within the present borders of Israel. She did not move to have the platform condemn the idea, just to drop advocacy of the idea.
Colo. Gov. Bill Owens, chairman of the subcommittee on the War on Terror, argued for retaining the language, on the grounds that Pres. Bush supports creation of a Palestinian state and so does Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. (Nevermind that Sharon's support was necessitated by pressure from the U. S. State Department.) That's not really an argument, rather it's an appeal to authority.
Bill Owens, someone I had thought might be my pick for President in '08, just dropped several notches in my estimation. I can't support anyone who will defend the policy of pressuring Israel to commit national suicide.
The motion was tabled with a loud voice vote. I understand that the tabling tactic was used on the issue of embryonic stem cell research as well, to avoid taking an up or down vote.
If you wonder why I feel so strongly about this, you need to know about Abigail Litle.
Ramesh Ponnuru of NRO blogged the platform proceedings (start there and scroll up) as he watched via C-SPAN2. The aforementioned R. Novak has published a column saying that the platform is for all practical purposes being dictated by the Bush campaign. Platform proceedings started later than usual (late Tuesday instead of Sunday), and the draft was kept away from everyone, even the committee members, until the committee convened. The list of committee members was kept under wraps, which made it impossible for them to be lobbied for one change or another.
I'm hearing that the harmony on the family subcommittee I mentioned earlier is a side-effect of a very clever maneuver -- herd all the strong social conservatives onto one subcommittee, then put certain contentious issues, like embryonic stem cell research, in the hands of other subcommittees less likely to deviate from the administration's line.
I don't have a problem with showing due deference to Republican elected officials in the drafting of a platform, but neither should elected officials, not even the President, be allowed to dictate the party's position on individual issues or the priority attached to them.
Sorry for the multiple posts. I am still getting the hang of using moBlog to post from my phone/PDA. moBlog is telling me posting failed when apparently it succeeded.
Either that, or the radical menace that is Communists for Kerry have hacked my site.
Frist has just asked the parliamentarian for a ruling on whether a platform amendment decrying the growth of gambling is germane to this section of the platform. Mr. Chairman, you alone have the authority to make rulings. The parliamentarian can only advise. Surprised none of the committee members made that point of order.
...about seven seats down, Bob Novak. I thought about asking for an autograph or taking a picture, but there's something unseemly about treating a working journalist like a celeb.
Sen. Bill Frist has just called the Committee on Resolutions (Platform Committee) to order, at about 6:05 pm EST.
Before the session, I spoke to Oklahoma's committee members, Joy Pittman from Tulsa and Skip Healey from Davis (seen above). Joy was on the "Protecting Our Families" subcommittee, chaired by Mississippi Governor and former RNC chairman Haley Barbour. It was the first committee to finish its work, at 10 o'clock this morning, earning a special reward from Frist -- a box of Goo-Goo Clusters, shipped up from Nashville.
Joy said that the subcommittee, which dealt with social issues, was harmonious, conservative, and pro-life. The platform section is very similar to the language in the 2000 platform.
The family subcommittee is the first to report. So far the only amendments offered have been attempting to make the platform even more conservative.
Scott Sala of Slant Point, one of the bloggers invited by the RNC to cover the Republican National Convention, caught my earlier entry about security and the situation that the media (including invited bloggers) may be afforded more liberty than the delegates, in terms of what we are permitted to bring with us into the convention hall. He wrote a sympathetic reply:
While I sympathize, especially since delagates are perhaps the most-enthusiastic Republicans in the country, and they merely want to be confortable and have fun and record a few memories for posterity, I understand security concerns as well. I guess I think of it as a sports event, with very much the same policies people are subject to every weekend around the country. Yeah, it sucks, but in many ways that's the world we live in - and it was this way long before 9/11.
But some of this delegate's concerns are due to his discovery that bloggers will be allowed to bring in the items listed above. This of course is due to the status of media being given to select bloggers.
What he says makes perfect sense if you start from the assumption that "delegate" is just a fancy way of saying "spectator," "fan," or "cheerleader." Scott's reference to delegates as "perhaps the most-enthusiastic Republicans in the country" suggests that he makes that assumption. Most people who watch these conventions on TV have never attended a precinct caucus, or a county, district or state convention, and probably haven't given much thought to how the delegates got there, or why they are there. It would be reasonable to assume that the only people who matter are the speakers and the media there to cover them.
The celebration will be fun, as will being there in person to hear the President and other leading lights of the Republican Party, but I'm sure people at home will be better able to see and hear the speeches. I am not going to New York, and spending money on airfare, hotel, and restaurants just to be a prop, a warm body in the stands, or a member of the cheering section. I am going for the same reason I attended the county, district, and state conventions -- to participate in setting the course of the Republican Party for the next four years. The delegates are there to vote on four items -- a presidential nominee, a vice presidential nominee, a platform, and the party rules for the next four years, including the rules governing the 2008 presidential nominating process. The first two items are foregone conclusions this year. The second two don't attract much attention, but they matter greatly.
I learned today from the King of Fools, who attended the Texas Republican Convention as a delegate and with media credentials, that a number of bloggers (including Michele of "A Small Victory", SlantPoint, Wizbang, Captain's Quarters and Matt Margolis) have been offered credentials to the Republican National Convention. The King offers some good convention-blogging advice from his experience -- things like don't forget to eat.
Here's the part of the invite:
For the first time, bloggers will hold an on-site presence at the Republican National Convention called "Bloggers Corner." Positioned near Radio Row, credentialed bloggers will have the opportunity to connect with delegates, guests and other surrogates for interviews, and to provide original content, including multimedia, to their audiences. Through this behind-the-scenes look at the convention's proceedings and events, bloggers will play an important role in telling the story of the 2004 Republican Convention.
Bloggers Corner will be located in Madison Square Garden's Theater Lobby in the corridor adjacent to Radio Row. Electrical outlets, tabled work stations and necessary hook-ups for laptop and other portable computers will be available for high-speed Internet and Intranet access. Main TV monitors will also be accessible in all convention common areas including Bloggers Corner and will carry closed circuit coverage of all floor activities.
Bloggers will be credentialed to move about all media areas with access to the Media Center and the news conference center for briefings.
Now I am pleased to see that bloggers are being accorded this kind of recognition, but as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, I'm starting to feel like a second class citizen. Yesterday, I received a packet of info from the convention, which included a list of prohibited items. These are things we won't be permitted to carry within the security perimeter. Included in the list are laptop computers, camcorders, cameras with long lenses, bags for carrying cameras or binoculars, backpacks of any kind. So it appears that observers of this event -- members of the media, including bloggers -- will be accorded far more freedom and trust than actual participants in the event -- the delegates.
I had really hoped to be able to do some blogging of my own, and even e-mailed someone on the organizing committee asking about the availability of Wi-Fi in the convention hall. I've started to look into wireless web on my cellphone and using Azure or another PalmOS-based Movable Type client as an alternative to the laptop, but there's no guarantee that they won't decide to ban cellphones and PDAs -- the letter emphasized that the list of banned items is not exhaustive.
Most of the other banned items are the sorts of things you're not allowed to bring on airplanes, but the ban on laptops, camcorders, and camera bags strikes me as just not wanting to have to bother screening them, and who cares if the delegates are inconvenienced. It reminds me of the early days of TSA screenings when they were confiscating nail clippers. Umbrellas are banned, too, as are containers of any kind. Given that Madison Square Garden is about a mile from the hotel, I had planned to do what I used to do when I lived two miles off campus in college -- put anything I might need for the day in a small backpack and then plan not to return to the hotel until after the evening session. I suppose I might be able to fit my glasses and contact lens case, Kleenex pack, map and guidebooks, Oklahoma pins for trading with other delegates, business cards, my digital camera, the agenda, platform, rules, and any other bits of paper and ephemera they hand out, and a NY Post somewhere in the pockets of my pants or my official Oklahoma delegation blazer, but a little backpack would make life easier. I'd even settle for one of those transparent backpacks the students have to carry in dangerous schools. It would be nice to be allowed to bring in a bottle (plastic, of course) of Diet Coke and a bag of M&Ms or trail mix, but it looks like that would violate the "no container" rule.
Thanks to SlantPoint for posting the invitation letter, so now I know who at the convention to bug about bringing in my laptop.