Thursday, August 30, 2012

Party Punishment or Poor Planning?

August 30, 2012
On the way to last night’s convention, I boarded a bus from our hotel with my Uncle Bill who is a resident of St. Petersburg, Florida. One of the first things Uncle Bill said once the bus left the hotel parking lot, headed for the Republican National Convention was, “Where is he going?” Followed up a few minutes later with, “He’s going the long way around. Why isn’t he taking the direct route?” and “This bus driver must not be from this area. He must just be following signs and will end up getting us there much later than we should.” Uncle Bill was correct, the bus ride that should have taken 25 minutes, took 40 minutes. We were the lucky ones. The other bus, which happened to be carrying most of our delegation and which left the hotel within a couple of minutes of the one I was on, took 3 hours to reach the Convention Center. One of our delegates who was on that bus and riding in the seat immediately behind the driver and immediately across the aisle from an armed security guard, overheard the guard speak into his walkie-talkie reporting that their bus was lost after they had already been on it for an hour and a half. The bus driver had two, yes two, GPS units guiding him.
All of this could certainly be purely accidental, a bus driver who was brought in at the last minute from some far away state to transport people to and from the Convention Center without knowing the roads. Except it was not just this bus. I was waiting outside the Convention Center to receive delegate credentials for one of our delegates who was staying off site and did not want to waste the fuel and the time to drive all the way to the hotel that morning to pick up his credentials. Since I was waiting outside, I was visiting with many of the volunteers who were stationed to check credentials as people were entering, and was standing where all who entered must pass right by me. Buses were coming in in waves, four or five at a time, and did not cease until after 8:00 p.m. The Convention convened for the day at 7 p.m.
Maybe it was purely coincidence and poor planning on the part of the RNC, but within the early line-up of last night’s business was a tribute video to Congressman Ron Paul and a speech by his son, Senator Rand Paul. Neither of these, nor any of the other early speakers of the night, were well attended due to the late arrival of so many delegations. Once again, I am not going to claim a vast conspiracy by the organizers of the RNC to ensure that these events were not well attended, but considering that the two fights from the previous day were led primarily by Ron Paul supporters, it does seem incredibly coincidental that this snafu happened on the night of these two events. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that they sorted Ron Paul supporters out and just held them up. It was all delegates, from all delegations who were held up. If this were intentional, it would have had the effect of ensuring that there was a small audience for the tribute video and for the speech of his son.
After the fact, I heard rumors of an accident on one of the bridges where a car caught on fire. I have not heard whether or not this is true, it was a rumor. I also heard that one entire road was shut down because of a couple hundred Occupy Wall Street protestors which caused several buses to be rerouted. Again, this is a rumor and I do not know the accuracy of same. There could be legitimate reasons for the snafu and, if so, I hope the RNC gets the problem fixed tonight.
Shortly after the majority of the delegations did finally arrive, many delegates, from many states, led by the Texas delegation, led a protest of the new rules that were forced upon us by walking around the Convention Center. This protest was designed to give an idea of just how many delegates were not pleased with the rule changes and the behavior of the leadership on the preceeding day. It remains to be seen if they take notice.
In spite of all the snafus, hold ups, and protests, the Convention was electrified. In deference to the 5th commandment, I secured a delegate badge from one who was leaving early and got Uncle Bill seated on the floor with the Colorado delegation. Although we are philosophically opposed in our political ideology, he is my uncle and my elder, so I did what I could do to give him the opportunity of his lifetime. If nothing else, I feel strongly that we need to treat each other with respect, even when we don’t agree with them. This is the only way that we can educate others to the message of liberty: be respectful, build relationship, educate. It is difficult to educate without relationship, and relationship only comes when there is mutual respect.

Convention Corruption

Where to begin? If there is anyone who actually watched the blood curdling drama of the Republican National Convention on C-Span yesterday, then you might have gotten the smallest inkling that this was not a party united. However, I feel that I can confidently say that whatever feeling may have come across through the camera lens is most definitely not even giving even a glimpse of the real feeling there on the floor of the Convention. To begin the day, the Rules Committee was going to meet while the preliminary speakers were keeping the crowd entertained, in an attempt to hammer out any differences with the goal of avoiding a floor fight that might embarrass the GOP on national television. The leader of the opposition is a very well known, highly respected delegate out of the state of Virginia, Morton Blackwell. The Virginia delegation bus arrived at the Convention center, and was routed by security out and away from the Convention center. After driving around for approximately an hour and a half with fully half of the Virginia delegation on board, the bus was finally allowed to return to the Convention center where the Virginia delegation was allowed to then go through the security screening and enter the facility. Needless to say, by the time they arrived, the Rules Committee meeting was over and Mr. Blackwell was unable to speak about any changes to the proposed rules.
Shortly after the Virginia delegation arrived, the RNC finally got around to the first official item of business, approving the credentialing committee report. The RNC knew that this vote would be controversial since they illegally unseated duly elected delegates from many states, especially Maine. When the chairman announced that the results of the voice vote were in favor of the ayes, the floor erupted with a show of support for the displaced delegates. In response to this display of resistance to the illegal activity, the establishment Republicans on the floor acted like good little communists and started chanting “USA” in an attempt to shout down their contemporaries who believe in the rule of law and who were seeking to have their voice heard.
Within a couple of minutes of this “vote” it was time to vote for the controversial rule changes. Once again, the voice vote was incredibly close, and it was clear to the chairman, and all who were paying attention, that even alternates, guests, and the paid Romney staffers who were stationed around the entire forum with each state delegation were voting. At this point in time, the chairman should have called for a roll call vote to ensure that the vote accurately reflected the will of the people. What the chairman did, however, was to continue to read from the script in front of him, whereby he read, directly from the teleprompter, “In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.” It is fascinating to me how the programmer of the teleprompter knows what the results of the vote will be before the vote is actually taken. It is also somewhat unfortunate for the RNC that they placed the Colorado delegation where they could read the teleprompter right along with the speaker.
Ahhh, but the show must go on, and we cannot let minor details such as “rule of law” and “the will of the people” impede progress. Let’s just bring up the next speaker please. What may be the ultimate irony of this entire situation is that the Republican party is the party that is vocal about the need to eliminate voter fraud. They are the party that is seeking to require all voters to provide photo identification before being allowed to cast a vote. How can the Republican party, and any Republican legislator, ever again speak of this with a straight face when they refuse to practice vote integrity within their own party? And how can they hope to win an election when they, through such corrupt practices, disenfranchise fully twenty percent of their base?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Use the Force, Luke

August 28, 2012
Today’s actual start to the Republican National Convention just may get very interesting. Over the past couple of days, the Rules Committee has been meeting to discuss and hammer out any new proposed rule changes. Although there are 7 different rule changes that are bad, there are two in particular that have raised national attention and much delegate and grassroots ire. The first is Rule 12 which allows the RNC central committee the ability to change rules any time they want without the approval of all of the national delegates at the national convention. This is being promoted as good, normal business for any corporation that has to react to what is happening in the world around it. The two problems with this argument is that the RNC does not have to react to anything new and unexpected outside of grassroots supporters who learn the RNC’s rules better than any member of the RNC knows them. The fix to this problem is simple; the RNC could simply read and learn their rules and follow them. The other problem with this argument is that the rules could be changed at any time, thus allowing the adoption of bad rules, the same ones that are being fought right now, to be adopted in secret and without recourse. This is just bad business. The RNC is not a corporation that has to respond to market forces on a daily level, but is a public, political and, should be, open organization designed to represent the people of this great nation, not just some stockholders.
The second bad rule being fought is Rule 15 (renamed Rule 16) which allows any presidential candidate to “disavow” any duly elected delegate and to have them removed and replaced by cronies/ large donors. Ultimately, what they are wanting here is the ability to shut down the grassroots and to make the party of the “big tent” to be the party of the wealthy and elite who live in the big tent and are served by us peons who grovel at their feet and lick their boots. For some reason, this is not sitting well with many.
You may have heard about the compromise reached last night where they stripped the bad language out of Rule 15 in an effort to avoid a floor fight on the opening of the coronation, I mean convention. This will likely not do anything to divert this floor fight, so today may get interesting.
On another note, I was approached, as was my roommate, Luke Kirk, by the establishment in an attempt to strong arm us into voting for Mitt Romney instead of abstaining. I told them that if they wanted party unity, that they would simply need to allow a true convention, time to share and discuss ideas, Ron Paul a chance to speak for 15 minutes, and they would achieve party unity. Instead, by silencing Ron Paul, stifling all debate, and trying to force everyone to appear unified, they are actually causing greater division within the party. Unfortunately, they are not smart enough to understand this elementary concept. It makes one wonder what they are so afraid of that they will not even allow discussion of ideas and issues.
Today we are going up against the dark side. “Use the force, Luke.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Welcome to the Dark Side

This should be what the banner over the door to the Tampa Bay Times Sun Dome reads. We have seen the enemy, and he is us. The corruption, deception, and greed are so putridly pervasive and ooze out of every pore of the beast we call the GOP that it is incredible that the stench isn’t such that all are aware of it already. Maybe that is the problem, the odor is so strong, so persistent, and has been lingering for so long, that we all have become sensory deprived and can no longer smell it. Never let that fool you, however; the necrotic, decomposing flesh is still there, gangrene has set in, and the only cure is amputation. A surgery so radical that the surgeon, the American citizen, will never even attempt for fear that it might kill the patient. The disease itself will eventually kill the patient himself, but only after driving him stark raving mad, so lunatic that he murders doctors, nurses, family and friends before finally succumbing, but the good physician just wishes to believe that with enough time the putrescence will heal itself. I’m here to tell you that it won’t happen. We have tried to do it with disinfectants, being clean and nice, following the textbook methodology, and we are only losing this battle. It’s time for a change.
I’m sure some of you are wondering what I am talking about. Well, I’m talking about the influence peddling, back room deal making, and outright corruption within this Gory Old Party. As we all know, it didn’t take very long for the Republican presidential race to dwindle to four candidates. Both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich suspended their campaigns back around April, but Mitt Romney and Ron Paul continued their campaigns without interruption. Now, for those of you who don’t know, when a candidate suspends his campaign, he can jump back in at any time, and any delegates he has earned or won up to that point must stick with him through the National Convention. Most candidates who suspend, release their delegates at least a couple of weeks before the Convention so that they can plan accordingly (some may decide not to invest the time and money once their guy has dropped out). If a candidate doesn’t release his delegates by officially ending his campaign, at least a couple of weeks before the Convention, then normally you could be fairly confident that he will not release his delegates at all, and is planning to try for the nomination; or at least a floor fight in order to have his ideas heard and considered by the rest of the party before he goes back into the woodwork. When one waits until just a couple of days before the Convention to release his delegates, you can rest assured that he has been offered some sweet deals for doing so. And you thought elections couldn’t be bought!?!