RNC 2004: August 2004 Archives

Perfect ending


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.

We can't hear you!


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 :)

Over the top


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.

Turn it down!


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.

Wall-to-wall Corner


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?

Moore than enough



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.

Radio row, bloggers' corner


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.

Media blogrolling: New York Sun


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.

Luck of the draw


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.

It's good to be a B


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.

A star-studded night


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.

Rules are made


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.

More Commies for Kerry


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.

Embrace your inner bolshevist!


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 Commies for Kerry rally


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.


Convention boogers arrive


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.

You can find Tim Blair's blog here. He has interesting plans for Sunday's protest. And here's Right Wing News's interview with Tim.

And you can now find both their blogs and the Reason conventions blog on the blogroll on the right side of the home page.

Platform committee coverage


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.

Superdelegate kryptonite


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.

Disclaim this!


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.

Bryant Park Blogging


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.

Primitive tribe invades NYC


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.

Jessica also features a minute-by-minute account of a protest last weekend by Communists for Kerry.

RNC bloggers profiled

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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.

More anti-delegate discrimination


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.

Palestinian pal


(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.

Perils of phone blogging


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.

Who's in charge?


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.

On my right


...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.

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