The Democrats' looming debacle in Boston

What if they had a national political convention, and the arena wasn't ready? The elaborate podium, with its mini—elevator to make every speaker tall enough to look authoritative, the network skyboxes, where Dan, Peter, and Tom deliver their usual profundities, and the press center, with its laptop links, telephone lines, and free coffee, all of them not completed, while the delegates meet to nominate their candidate?

These are at least theoretical possibilities seven weeks from now in Boston. The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, the labor union representing the Beantown boys in blue, is locked into a contract dispute with the city, and has been picketing The Fleet Center, where the convention is to be held, blocking delivery of construction materials and the work of carpenters and other tradesmen, who are to do $14 million of construction over the next seven weeks.

At this stage, nobody is predicting convention chaos, pointing out that the other unions currently honoring the police picket lines stand to lose a lot of money if they honor the picket lines beyond the first few symbolic days. That's work which will disappear forever, once the convention date arrives.

On the other hand, of course, crossing a police picket line can be a difficult decision, as the label 'scab' could gain a literal component after a day or two.

"They were yelling 'scabs' and all kinds of names, and I think my drivers, they were afraid," said Edward O. Owens, president of the moving company. "I mean this is the police."

Keep in mind, also, that Boston has a distinctive tradition of police unionism, having suffered a police strike in 1919, bringing upon the city 48 hours of looting and rioting. The forceful reaction of then—Governor Calvin Coolidge launched the conservative Republican governor into national prominence, eventually landing him in the White House.

The specter of a labor union picketing the Democrats is the stuff of Republican dreams and Democratic nightmares. The Maine delegation is already indicating it will not cross a picket line to attend, and other state delegations, in hoc to labor unions for funding and manpower, would be loathe to engage in defiance of labor's most sacred ritualized weapon.

It is enough to drive a Boston Globe (corporate kid sister of the New York Times) columnist, Joan Vennochi, into a denunciation of labor greed and intransigence.

Labor problems are but one facet of the troubles facing the Democrat get—together, problems mostly deriving from the activities of their very own constituents. Marxists used to call such problems 'internal contradictions,' a term which will surely have considerable appeal to Republican ironists.

The Democrats were offered a brand spanking—new convention center, in South Boston, safely away from the vital transportation arteries which will have to be shut—down during the convention, virtually forcing downtown Boston businesses to declare a holiday, and delaying commuters, shoppers, travelers, and other ordinary folk. But the big broadcast networks, another de facto member of the Democrats' base, preferred having sky—box facilities in The Fleet Center, from which to look down upon the convention floor. So the Democrats said 'no' to the convention center and ordinary Bostonians will suffer the consequences.

Meanwhile, the ACLU, effectively another member of the Democrats' camp, is doing its level best to impair the security against terror attacks on Boston's trains and subways. Police have announced plans for random searches, but the ACLU is warning that they must be truly random, with grandmothers on walkers equally likely to be searched as young males fitting the description of the 9/11 hijackers. Most remarkably, the ACLU baldly admits the effects of what it is doing, perhaps lulled into security by the fact of speaking to a friendly reporter from a friendly paper, The New York Times:

Carol Rose, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the police raised constitutional concerns because the Fourth Amendment would require that the bag searches be either completely random or the result of officers having a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

"It's an excuse to exercise discretion without cause, and it becomes a guise for racial and ethnic profiling," Ms. Rose said. "If they are going to instead institute a random policy, that means they cannot use any discretion at all in a random checks. The problem with total randomness, if it is totally random, is that it's unlikely to catch terrorists." [emphasis added]

Perhaps the Massachusetts convention planners will be able to untangle all of this, and put on a flawless television show, unmolested by terror, and persuasive to undecided voters.

But the very fact that it is their own constituents who are creating serious problems raises some interesting questions. Could it be that John F. Kerry's widespread unpopularity in Massachusetts political circles is also a factor? The elitist heiress—marrying resident of Lousiburg Square (among other tony neighborhoods nationwide) has never been much of a back—slapper. Somehow, if it were Tip O'Neill, beloved of ordinary working stiffs, who was about to receive their party's nomination, I have to wonder if the boys in blue would be acting up, not to mention finding so much support from other unions.

What if they had a national political convention, and the arena wasn't ready? The elaborate podium, with its mini—elevator to make every speaker tall enough to look authoritative, the network skyboxes, where Dan, Peter, and Tom deliver their usual profundities, and the press center, with its laptop links, telephone lines, and free coffee, all of them not completed, while the delegates meet to nominate their candidate?

These are at least theoretical possibilities seven weeks from now in Boston. The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, the labor union representing the Beantown boys in blue, is locked into a contract dispute with the city, and has been picketing The Fleet Center, where the convention is to be held, blocking delivery of construction materials and the work of carpenters and other tradesmen, who are to do $14 million of construction over the next seven weeks.

At this stage, nobody is predicting convention chaos, pointing out that the other unions currently honoring the police picket lines stand to lose a lot of money if they honor the picket lines beyond the first few symbolic days. That's work which will disappear forever, once the convention date arrives.

On the other hand, of course, crossing a police picket line can be a difficult decision, as the label 'scab' could gain a literal component after a day or two.

"They were yelling 'scabs' and all kinds of names, and I think my drivers, they were afraid," said Edward O. Owens, president of the moving company. "I mean this is the police."

Keep in mind, also, that Boston has a distinctive tradition of police unionism, having suffered a police strike in 1919, bringing upon the city 48 hours of looting and rioting. The forceful reaction of then—Governor Calvin Coolidge launched the conservative Republican governor into national prominence, eventually landing him in the White House.

The specter of a labor union picketing the Democrats is the stuff of Republican dreams and Democratic nightmares. The Maine delegation is already indicating it will not cross a picket line to attend, and other state delegations, in hoc to labor unions for funding and manpower, would be loathe to engage in defiance of labor's most sacred ritualized weapon.

It is enough to drive a Boston Globe (corporate kid sister of the New York Times) columnist, Joan Vennochi, into a denunciation of labor greed and intransigence.

Labor problems are but one facet of the troubles facing the Democrat get—together, problems mostly deriving from the activities of their very own constituents. Marxists used to call such problems 'internal contradictions,' a term which will surely have considerable appeal to Republican ironists.

The Democrats were offered a brand spanking—new convention center, in South Boston, safely away from the vital transportation arteries which will have to be shut—down during the convention, virtually forcing downtown Boston businesses to declare a holiday, and delaying commuters, shoppers, travelers, and other ordinary folk. But the big broadcast networks, another de facto member of the Democrats' base, preferred having sky—box facilities in The Fleet Center, from which to look down upon the convention floor. So the Democrats said 'no' to the convention center and ordinary Bostonians will suffer the consequences.

Meanwhile, the ACLU, effectively another member of the Democrats' camp, is doing its level best to impair the security against terror attacks on Boston's trains and subways. Police have announced plans for random searches, but the ACLU is warning that they must be truly random, with grandmothers on walkers equally likely to be searched as young males fitting the description of the 9/11 hijackers. Most remarkably, the ACLU baldly admits the effects of what it is doing, perhaps lulled into security by the fact of speaking to a friendly reporter from a friendly paper, The New York Times:

Carol Rose, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the police raised constitutional concerns because the Fourth Amendment would require that the bag searches be either completely random or the result of officers having a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

"It's an excuse to exercise discretion without cause, and it becomes a guise for racial and ethnic profiling," Ms. Rose said. "If they are going to instead institute a random policy, that means they cannot use any discretion at all in a random checks. The problem with total randomness, if it is totally random, is that it's unlikely to catch terrorists." [emphasis added]

Perhaps the Massachusetts convention planners will be able to untangle all of this, and put on a flawless television show, unmolested by terror, and persuasive to undecided voters.

But the very fact that it is their own constituents who are creating serious problems raises some interesting questions. Could it be that John F. Kerry's widespread unpopularity in Massachusetts political circles is also a factor? The elitist heiress—marrying resident of Lousiburg Square (among other tony neighborhoods nationwide) has never been much of a back—slapper. Somehow, if it were Tip O'Neill, beloved of ordinary working stiffs, who was about to receive their party's nomination, I have to wonder if the boys in blue would be acting up, not to mention finding so much support from other unions.