This weekend marked the beginning of the Republican Convention in New York City leading up to the presidential election this November. Many people here have been dreading this convention for weeks now: New York is enough of a terrorist target as it is without adding W and his motley crew to the mix. The police know this too, and have several whole city blocks around Madison Square Gardens cordoned off to vehicle and even pedestrian traffic. Scary stuff... I'm sure tomorrow will be even worse as people try to make their way to work.
Today, it seems, was protester pilgrimmage day. All the Bush-Bashers from across the country seem to have converged on Manhattan for a massive protest. We had anti-war protesters, pro-choice protesters, environmentalist protesters, gay-rights protesters. You name the cause, they were probably here this weekend. Some of the protesters had applied for a permit to use Central Park for their rally, but the city parks department wouldn't let them use it (go figure, Mayor Bloomberg is a Republican....). So, the protesters had to settle for snarling up traffic all over the city. Some environmentalist protesters held a bike-rally and blocked traffic at busy intersections all over the city. Some AIDS activists held a naked protest march (probably the only protest this weekend that would have been fun to see). The pro-choice people blocked traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, and some others went up and down Broadway randomly abusing theater-goers (figuring at least some of them were Republican delegates).
So, New York has been taken over by the Republicans and the Bush-Bashers. It seems most of the real New Yorkers who could high-tailed it out of town late last week.
The one question all of this calls to mind is this: what the hell were the Republican Convention planners smoking when they decided to pick New York for their convention? They say my home-country of Canada is known for a very potent grade of marijuana called "BC Bud", but whatever these Republican planners were smoking when they picked this city for their convention must set a record. I can see the convention planning meeting now... "(cough cough)... yeah man... this is some strong weed..... hey, why don't we hold this thing in New York... they never vote for us anyway, so if we piss them off it can't hurt us much.... it'll be fun...."
I mean, of all the cities in the United States, why did they have to pick this one? Most other cities could handle this whole rush a lot better than here, and would probably appreciate the influx of money. Look at what they did with the G8 conference down in Georgia - they held it on an island offshore - all the protesters could do is sit on a distant beach and look at an island far away. Why couldn't they do the same thing with the Republican convention? Why did they want to do it in the middle of the biggest, most terror-prone, and one of the most traffic-clogged cities in the United States? Some people have argued that New York would benefit from the money being spent by the delegates, but when you look at all the tax dollars being spent on security, all the money being taken away by the New Yorkers leaving town this week, and the inconvenience and wasted time of the New Yorkers who are staying, this whole debacle is costing the city a lot more than it's making.
Maybe the Republicans figure if they hold their convention in New York, they don't have to worry about pissing off their own constituents (New York always votes Democrat anyway). Or, maybe they figured they could blackmail New York: "Vote Republican or we'll be back in 4 years." Or, maybe they wanted a big marketing venue for their new brand of marijuana: "Bush Weed".
Either way, I'm looking forward to next weekend when things get back to normal around here.