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Happy Loyalty Day

Today is Loyalty Day in America, and we have to admit we wouldn’t have known that if President Donald Trump hadn’t proclaimed it.
So far as we can tell from Wikipedia the first of May was designated “Americanization Day” at the height of the first Red Scare in 1921, intended as a response to all the commies around the world coopting May Day as a celebration of their ideology. Neither the commie version of May Day nor “Americanization Day” really caught on, but during an even scarier Red Scare the Congress declared July 18, 1955, for some reason, to be “Loyalty Day,” and the President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed it ahead of schedule on May First of that year, which apparently necessitated moving Child Health Day to the first Monday in October. Then, as now, the observance invited Americans to reaffirm their commitment to American values.
So far as we can further tell from Wikipedia the holiday has been happening ever since, each year with a presidential mention of some sort, but it entirely escaped our notice until Trump weighed in. He issued a statement that the day is intended to “express our country’s loyalty to individual liberties, to limited government, and to the inherent dignity of every human being,” and of course such anodyne sentiments caused enough of an uproar to push the previously little-noted holiday into in our news feed. Barring some unforeseen developments on the Korean Peninsula or on Wall Street, Loyalty Day should get more than its usual share of air-time today on the cable news and late night comedy shows.
Our liberal Facebook friends who only read the headlines were freaking out about Trump proclaiming Loyalty Day, assuming it was a command to pledge loyalty to his newly formed reich, but that strikes even such conservative NeverTrumpers as ourselves as a wild overreaction. The presidential proclamation clearly wasn’t written by the president, who was almost certainly also unaware of the holiday’s existence, and there’s nothing in any of the suspiciously parseable and superlative-free sentences that equates a commitment to individual liberties and limited government and the inherent dignity of every human being with unquestioning fealty to Trump. The language used in the proclamation is more suited to a Loyal Day card that you’ll never send than fascist manifesto. Our guess is that the administration let the routine holiday observance be handled by the routine writers, who regurgitated pretty much every previously ignored statement by every administration back to Ike, and they simply failed to anticipate that Trump will always get different a kind of coverage.
The sorts of liberals who do read past the headlines seem to have realized that Trump hasn’t proclaimed any kind of dictatorship, and that it’s just one of those serendipitous holidays that comes along on a slow news day, but they can’t help availing themselves of the opportunity to how faithful the Trump administration has been to the ideas of individual liberty and limited government and the inherent dignity of every human being. They’re on firmer ground there, as even such conservative NeverTrumpers as ourselves have questions along the same lines, and even the Russia Today propaganda network that once employed former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn couldn’t help piling on. Although we have no patience for Russian propaganda we won’t mind if a day of loyalty to American values winds up with a widespread debate about current issues.
Such a debate would have been nice back when President Barack Obama was issuing his widely-ignored proclamations about Loyalty Day, which we now note were also rather anodyne yet full of hypocritical words that both liberals and conservatives could have called him out on. For that matter, we don’t doubt that pretty much presidential proclamation all the way back to good ol’ Ike could have been harshly scrutinized.
Nobody’s sending Loyalty Day cards, though, and the local supermarket that’s always filling a whole aisle with things for the next big holiday seems to have overlooked the occasion, and we think that’s probably for the best. Even our most liberal Facebook friends won’t be singing The Internationale and commemorating the Haymarket Massacre, all of our conservative buddies will surely have better things to do than pledge their unquestioning fealty to Trump. Independence Day and Presidents’ Day and Veterans’ Day should provide more tangible reasons for America to reaffirm its commitment to American values, whatever we might decide that means.
Better to spend the day doing some fool dance around a maypole and welcoming the warmth of spring, as far as we’re concerned. The weather’s been crazy around here lately, though, with the spring thus far being much worse than the remarkably mild winter, and our forecast is for further political turbulence. We’ll try to console ourselves that it’s a longstanding American value.

— Bud Norman

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Starting a New Occupation

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