Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fun with Political Platforms

When primary voters elect delegates to a party convention, their major work is to approve a party platform and affirm the candidate with the most votes as the nominee.  But there has not been much of a floor fight since the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City or an open convention since the 1952 Democrat National Convention in Chicago.  So political conventions tend to be big parties for partisans, while a few wonks work in back rooms to develop a party platform to which  no-one pays attention.  So much so, some modern pundits have speculated that 2012 may be the last time there are the grand scale political conventions as they exist today.

But platforms have caused some trouble both for Republicans and Democrats this year.  In Tampa, there were some hard feelings by base Repubicans and some Paulistinians who chaffed at a inside-baseball platform item which allowed the Republican National Party to pick their delegates for primary winners.  This represented a shift away from state parties to the RNC.  Activists fear that elites might choose moderate RNC party favorites rather than conservative Tea Party types if that is what voters elected.  Morton Blackwell, a stalwart of the conservative wing of the Republican Party was incensed by the move.  Paulistians have been looking for their leader, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX 14th), to bolt from the GOP and launch a quixotic last minute Libertarian run, but he has demurred.

On the Democrat side, there was considerable consternation coming from the Republican opposition that the DNC rules committee had dropped any mention of God in the 2012 Democrat Party Platform.  Moreover, the DNC conscientiously dropped the plank  affirming Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel, which was in the 2008 DNC party platform.  This move highlighted President Obama’s wafffling over  what was  the capital of the state of Israel, despite clear Congressionally passed legislation on the question.

To stifle the mounting criticism over the issues, party officials quickly drafted a substitute plank which affirmed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and also inserted God back into the platform.  This was done over an emergency 15 minute meeting on Wednesday afternoon.  DNC Convention Chair L.A. Mayor Antonio Virraigosa (D-LA) offered the measure expecting an easy voice vote approval from the delegates.

Well, not so much.  Maybe the third time was the charm or more likely the sound meter did not matter for a CYA measure from the Democrat intelligentsia.

 But the loud sustained boos from the delegates, particularly the Arab-American coalitions (and presumably the aggressive atheists) will not endear the DNC to these constituencies in the general election campaign.

Usually, party platforms collect dust.  Sometimes the arcane rules changes matter only to party activists, like the National Republicans choosing delegates. The minutia over mentioning God or designating foreign capitals should not have mattered, except in their absence.  So correcting the omissions only drew more attention to the changes.  Moreover, the phony vote on the platform change and ignoring the will of the delegates show how Democrats govern, even in their own house.

So contrary to popular perceptions, platforms do matter.

Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Munich Olympics Massacre

Masked Black September terrorist holding hostages during 1972 Munich Summer Olympics

Forty years ago, the International Olympics movement was stained in blood by terrorism by by one day in September during the second week of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany.  In the second week of the XX Summer Olympiad, a group of Palestinian terrorists known as Black September killed two Israeli athletes and took nine Olympians hostage.  None of the Israeli hostages returned home alive.

The terrorists demanded that the Israeli government release 234 prisoners. The Palestianian gunmen also demanded that the Federal Republic of Germany release two inmates from their prisons.  To prove their resolve, the Black September terrorists tossed the body of wrestling coach Weinberg out the door (although the coach had been killed during the Palestinian terrorists raid).  

Initially, the games continued during this terrorist hostage situation. Twelve hours after the hostages were taken, Munich Olympic officials suspended the games. Negotiators offered an unlimited amount of money or substituting high ranking Germans but the Palestinian terrorists reply reportedly was "money means nothing to us; our lives mean nothing to us."  

A small squad of German Police tried to slink into the Olympic Village dressed in Olympic sweatsuits and carrying sub-machine guns.  As the redeployed border guards took up positions, the media broadcast the scene, giving the terrorists real time tactical information.  In response, the terrorists threatened to kill two hostages and the police presence disappeared. 

[L] Kehart Schorr [R] Andre Spitzer held hostage
 During the two days of being held hostage, negotiators wanted to have direct contact with the hostages to prove that they were still alive.  Fencing coach Andre Spitzer and shooting coach Kehat Schorr briefly had a dialogue with German officials from the second floor balcony as the Palestinian abductors held guns on them. Spitzer was fluent in German so as he attempted to answer a question, he was clubbed with a butt of an AK-47 machine gun and was pulled away from the window. Shortly afterwards, the German Interior Minister and the Mayor of the Olympic Village briefly spoke with the abducted Olympic athletes.

German officials feigned agreement to demands and convinced the Palestinian terrorists to be evacuated at Fürstenfeldbruck NATO airbase. The German military had planned an ambush on the airplane but decided to abort without informing the whole team. The Black September terrorists broke their word as they took the German helicopter pilot hostage as the shuttled their Israeli hostages in staggered groups. When the two lead terrorists realized that it was a trap, they headed back towards the helicopter.  The snipers failed to fell the Black September leader and just grazed the other terrorist. In the ensuing chaos, five of the eight terrorists were killed, a West German policeman died in the firefight but the terrorists tossed a grenade in the helicopter killing the remaining bound Israelis.

During the five hour Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, they could not find one minute to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre.   Officially, International Olympic Committee Chief Jaques Rogge stated that a moment of silence  for the Munich Massacre: "[W]as not appropriate".  During the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the script was rewritten to commemorate the death of a luger the day of the Opening Ceremonies. What was more likely is that the IOC feared a boycott or withdrawal from the games by Arab countries.  The  head of the Palestinian IOC team labeled the Munich Massacre minute of silence campaign as "racism".  

So many of those interested in the Olympics will enthuse about the Olympic ideals and international brotherhood.  The silence of the Olympic movement for not remembering the barbarism which stained the Olympic ideal speaks volumes.

Despite the fecklessness of the IOC and the London Olympics, the dignity of the murdered Israeli Olympians has not been forgotten, nor the barbarism of the terrorists. The silence of the international community shows the true character of the idealism of the Olympics. Moreover, the intolerance displayed by the Palestinian IOC is quite revealing to those who are willing to take off their rose colored glasses.