— Bud Norman
— Bud Norman
There was no Republican convention on Monday, with the day’s scheduled proceedings blown away by the same tropical storm system that is now threatening New Orleans with another hurricane, but it’s likely that few noticed.
Young people will find it hard to believe, but the two major party’s quadrennial get-togethers used to be the best shows on television. They were the only shows on television at this time of the leap year back in the days of three networks, another fact of the dark ages that will astonish the youngsters, but the conventions would have fared well against any competition. Conventions used to have drama, suspense, intrigue, convoluted sub-plots, and people in funny hats, all with the added rooting interest of a big time sports event.
That all changed after the Democrats’ debacle of a convention in Chicago in ’68, when the hippies rioted and Mayor Daley’s cops knocked enough hairy heads together that the parties were shocked into adopting a more small-d democratic system that took the power away from smoke-filled rooms full of party bosses and handed it over to the sorts of ideological voters who actually show up for primaries and party caucuses. The debate still rages about the relative advantages of the two systems, and of course the rooms would be non-smoking now, but it’s worth noting that exactly half of the old-time conventions picked losing candidates and even the winning tickets often fell short of the ideal. Whatever the political merits of the current system, though, there’s no denying that the old way provided far more satisfying television viewing.
With the sole exception of the ’76 Republican gathering in Kansas City, where Ronald Reagan still had an outside chance at unseating the incumbent Gerald Ford as the delegates convened, every convention since ’68 has been a foregone conclusion and a rather boring affair. The networks continued to provide “gavel-to-gavel” coverage for several election cycles, apparently out of habit, but as the conventions degenerated into ever more slickly produced infomercials for the campaigns the networks began losing viewers to the cable competition and started cutting back on the hours of airtime devoted to the speeches and other machinations. Now the day-long coverage is relegated to the cable networks, with the networks interrupting their usual fare only for an hour or so a night, and it’s probable that the only people tuned in are the political enthusiasts who have long since made up their minds about who they’ll be voting for.
Those few hours of prime-time network coverage are still considered important, however, and we read that some savvy political operatives even regard Mitt Romney’s upcoming acceptance speech “the most important moment of his campaign.” If so, we except that he’ll make the best of it, not just because he’s a capable orator with a strong argument for his candidacy but also because the Democrats have gone so far over the top in their attempts at character assassination that he’ll allay many fears just by showing up without horns, a tail, and a pitchfork. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie should also draw a few persuadable voters during his keynote address, and we expect that his famously blunt style of oratory should be successful in laying out the dire facts of life that justify the Republican’s hard medicine.
Thus far it seems unlikely that the loony left will be able to mount any protests that rival the newsworthiness of the ’68 fiasco, which is disappointing. We had hoped that the remains of the Occupy Wall Street or some other fringe movement would provoke the same disgusted reaction that helped propel Richard Nixon to victory of Hubert Humphrey, but on Monday the best the left could do was a couple of hundred protestors, a few vagina costumes, and one measly arrest. The protestors are blaming the bad weather for the meager effort, but in fact they’re just far lazier than the hippies ever were, and that’s a pretty damning indictment
— Bud Norman
May Day has come and gone, and apparently so has the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Trend-watchers will recall that the anti-capitalist movement was all the rage last summer. “Occupy” protests popped up in cities across the country, politicians such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama praised the youthful protesters, adoring media lavished attention on the cause, and celebrities showed up to be photographed at the latest cutting-edge event. The protesters were a pretty cocky bunch back then, with members of the local affiliate assuring us it would be a short time before the “occupiers” had transformed America into some unspecified sort of utopia.
America is not there yet, so far as we can tell, and instead the Occupy movement has been transformed into last summer’s fad. The decline began when some of protests turned violent, the encampments in public spaces turned into eyesores filled with crime, disease, and petty annoyances to the neighborhoods, and the press began reluctantly reporting the problems and the politicians suddenly stopped being so outspokenly supportive. Then the winter came, and even though it was a mild one in most of the country it was sufficiently cold to make the occupiers began occupying homes heated by evil gas and electric companies.
What was left of the movement vowed it would be back in full force when spring arrived, and announced May Day as the official re-launch. The date was chosen not just because it unofficially marks the beginning of spring in much of the country, but because it’s the official commie holiday, a point that might be lost on some of the younger participants but was no doubt in forefront of the organizers’ minds.
Sure enough, the occupiers were back on schedule. Not as many as before, though, and if you measure the effectiveness of a protest by column inches or broadcast time it was a flop. They managed to get a few heckles in at a Mitt Romney appearance in New York City, which isn’t noteworthy, and they smashed some windows in Seattle, which is also getting to be too routine for media attention, but except for the sporadic tear-gassings and a few arrests it generated little attention. By any measure, they fell short of their goal of global disruption of the status quo.
The most widely reported story out of the May Day events was probably the arrest of five men associated with Occupy Cleveland for allegedly plotting to blow up a bridge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The folks at the Cable News Network noted that the police described the men as “self-described anarchists” and mused whether they could truly be associated with a Occupy movement that seems to crave an ever bigger and more powerful government. We suggest that the folks at CNN have a chat with a few self-described anarchists, who these days retain the violent nihilism of their intellectual forebears but have long since embraced the authoritarian government that anarchism once opposed, or that they simply take another look at the pictures of the suspects and draw their own conclusions.
There’s a always a chance that the movement might become fashionable again, and we’re almost hoping so. The Occupy Wall Street folks have provided plenty of hilarity in their brief time on the public stage, and teach such a clear object lesson about the illogical conclusions of modern liberalism. A nice rowdy riot at one or both of the major party political conventions would also be welcome, as it would give the Republicans a chance to remind voters that the Democrats had once encouraged the movement.
We know at least one local Occupier who’s also hoping to re-create the glorious riots of Chicago in ‘68, and he proudly told us that legendary melee turned the tide of public opinion. As we remember it, those clashes with Mayor Daley’s cops turned the public to Nixon’s law-and-order platform, but we didn’t dare tell him.
— Bud Norman
Bullying is a major problem in America, we’re told, even though everyone is against it.
There is no national organization that lobbies for bully rights, at any rate, and all of the people speaking out on the issue share the same disapproving attitudes about it. Yet bullying undeniably remains a common human failing, just as it has been since the dawn of time. The only explanation for this apparent paradox is that the people doing all the bullying don’t consider themselves bullies, as several stories recently in the news illustrate.
Consider the case of Dan Savage, a homosexual rights advocate, author of the “Savage Love” advice column, and the founder of an anti-bullying project called “It Gets Better.” Savage was recently invited to address a national gathering of high school journalism students, which suggests that society has arrived at a rather tolerant attitude towards homosexuality, but he apparently cannot tolerate that others might have religious objections to the practice. Although he was invited to speak to other issues, Savage used his time to launch into an obscenity-laced tirade against the Bible and Christianity, then taunted a large number of Christian students as they quietly walked out.
At least Savage wasn’t demanding the Christian students to subsidize his sexual activities, as Sandra Fluke did when she urged Congress to compel her Catholic University to provide her with birth control.
Then again, at least Fluke didn’t crucify anybody, as former Environmental Protection Agency official Al Armendariz boasted of metaphorically doing to the oil companies he was charged with regulating. Armendariz is now a former EPA official because he told an audience in Dish, Texas, two years ago that his way of doing the government’s business was borrowed from the ancient Roman colonialists who would “find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.” The speech was recently uncovered and created a delayed controversy, especially among the many oil producers in Armendariz’ five-state region who believed that the analogy only slightly overstated his actual methods, and the heat proved too much even for an Obama administration that had emboldened him to be so frank.
More bullying is planned for today by the rapscallions in the Occupy Wall Street gang, who have issued a call to celebrate May Day with “direct action and civil disobedience” and “other creative disruptions against the corporations who rule our city.” It’s not entirely clear what these creative disruptions will be, but the San Francisco branch has contemplated shutting down the Golden Gate Bridge, a past demonstration has shut down the Brooklyn Bridge, and blocking traffic and otherwise interfering with people’s lives has been an Occupy trademark.
In every case these bullies would be surprised and offended to hear that they are, in fact, bullies. They no doubt regard themselves in a more heroic light, thinking themselves fearless defenders of the bullied, but it’s pure self-delusion.
Savage had no way of knowing if any of the students whose faith he insulted had ever bullied a homosexual, and our experience of Christians predicts that the vast majority had not. Fluke was hailed as both hero and victim after a talk radio show host rudely characterized her as a “slut,” but it was Fluke — not the Catholic Church, not the rude talk show host — who was trying to impose her moral values on others. Armendariz might of have thought that he was protecting the environment, but maybe he was only interfering with necessary commerce, and it was up to the law to decide, not him. The Occupy people may think that they’re striking a blow for the working man by delaying his drive home from work by a few hours, but we suspect they wouldn’t be doing it at all if it weren’t so much more fun than working.
— Bud Norman