Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chinese Commies and Others

I had an essay half-written on the Olympics before my life got busy, and then the Olympics were over, and the whole effort became irrelevant. But it's suddenly grown a strange resonant pertinence, so here I go.

I intended to comment on the various Chinese attempts to control the Olympics and its public perception, and how so much backfired because autocratic Chinese officials were so deeply clueless as to the new technology, and to how a free information society operates. They figured they could have an actress lip-synch the opening song without anyone noticing, and that no one would check to see if the children representing China's 56 ethnic groups actually belonged to those groups, and pass off an obvious 14-year-old gymnast as a 16-year-old without someone like Stryde Hax looking into an online archive and finding the actual government documents proving otherwise.

I mean, they gave her a passport. That makes it official. Right?

Boy, I was gonna write, they sure are dumb, thinking they could keep this a secret. But at least they could rely on a compliant press to spread the official word to their own 1.4 million.

(And the lip-synch decision went all the way to the Politburo. Apparently those old geezers have nothing better to do.

(Which shows you, by the way, how weak the Chinese government actually is. They're powerful enough to go after any domestic opposition they care to, and they can reach consensus on what entertainer to use at the games, but there's no way they can actually steer over a billion people. They're just desperately hoping the 21st Century doesn't run away with them, like it's running away with everyone else.)

The Chinese did in fact allow for peaceful protest. They just said that all people planning to protest at the Olympics had to register ahead of time, and do their thing in "protest zones." After which they were all rounded up and held without charges. (In China, you can be sent to prison for up to three years just on the word of the local authorities, no trial necessary.)

But anyway: that's last month's news.

This month's news is about the Twin Cities being turned into an armed camp, complete with arrests of those who had filed for permission to protest the Republican National Convention, by sheriff's department deputies dressed up as SWAT members and brandishing assault rifles (but not warrants, apparently). The (notoriously unprofessional) sheriff's department was presumably acting at the behest of the federal government, who were acting on information given by convicted criminals who were given lighter sentences if they agreed to infiltrated "vegan groups," and who are paid by the arrest.

After the arrests, the police showed "caltrops," which turned out to be roofing nails, and "buckets of urine," which turned out to be greywater used to flush toilets in eco-conscious homes.

There actually was a riot complete with property damage, but the rioters who caused damage were not arrested. (A mind far more cynical and paranoid than mine would wonder if this is because the actual rioters were police provocateurs.) (The actual anarchists helped clean up the damage, cuz, like, whoah, broken glass can be dangerous.) Instead of arresting those who had caused the trouble, the police amused themselves by arresting journalists (including Amy Goodman, charged with conspiracy to riot), arresting and gassing peaceful protestors, unplugging the concert by Rage Against the Machine, and repeatedly pepper-spraying a woman trying to hand them a flower.

Wow. Even the Politburo doesn't have balls this big!

And, like the Politburo, the Powers that Be are totally clueless when it comes to modern information technology: cellphones, blogs, vidcams, Twitter, etc., that can document all these charming little actions as they happen. Christ, no one remembers Rodney King?

And also like the Politburo, the Powers that Be can count on a compliant press keep the world from getting too excited about any of this. Tom Wolfe notoriously remarked in the Sixties that the press is a sort of Victorian gentleman, who automatically avoids anything that might be thought unseemly. They glide serenely over the landscape, pausing to focus every so often on Britney's undies or Palin's pregnant daughter. (Who I don't care about, except by way of pointing out that faith-based contraception is notoriously unreliable.)

Our Victorian gentleman of the press explain why the Iraq war is the most under-reported war in the history of our nation. We might be depressed, we might be disturbed, we might change the channel.

Republicans. Chinese commies. More in common than you'd think.

9 Comments:

Blogger halojones-fan said...

You're aware that there were protests, arrests, and Free Speech Zones at the DNC in Denver, right?

Oh wait I forgot, only Republicans ever do anything evil, because Republicans are evil evil EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL!!!!! And except for funding the development of all modern aerospace technology and also the Internet, they've never done anything worthwhile.

8:39 AM  
Blogger ahclem38 said...

Republicans are evil. This is news?

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Stacia said...

halojonesfan, 2 people were arrested at the DNC protests. One, Alicia Forrest, was routinely vilified on right-wing blogs like LGF for "deserving it" by being "too aggressive". The bloggers who wrote about the arrests and Forrest were almost uniformly liberal/Democrat. Any pro-Republican who wrote about it did so in the standard "see, Democrats are evil, too!" way, just as you're doing. Only those already pro-Republican are moved by that kind of rhetoric.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Mike Crichton said...

halojonesfan, 2 people were arrested at the DNC protests.

See, that just PROVES how much worse the Danmned Lib'ruls are, that so many of them had to be arrested at the Republican convention. or something. :-P

1:14 PM  
Blogger dubjay said...

Now I ask you: would any mother in America accept the following excuse from her offspring:

"Donny Democrat did it! So it must be okay!"

Bull-fucking-shit.

Nor did I call the Republicans evil. I strongly implied that they were a bunch of clueless, corrupt authoritarians with their brains in another century, but I didn't say that was evil.

On the other hand, they:

Deny global warming,

Deny civil rights,

Snuggle their party up to
Southern racists,

Preach the gospel of fear,

Corrupt the justice department,

Want to deny gay people equal rights,

Hand billions of dollars in government contracts to their friends for basically doing little or nothing,

Want to deny choice to women,

Have presided over a widening gap between rich and poor,

Promote "creation science,"

Start wars which they then run incompetently because they don't know the difference between waging war and giving billions to their friends.

Hey, you know what? They are evil!

I wouldn't have known if you hadn't brought it up!

As for modern aerospace technology, allow me to remind all that the Democrats controlled congress from 1954 to 1994, so I think they share credit.

And I believe it was that Kennedy guy and that Johnson guy who did that whole Moon rocket thing. Were they Republicans?

And I believe the Internet dated from that period 1954-1994, too.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Melinda Snodgrass said...

You go, Walter! This is what happens when someone brilliant and erudite ie Walter, debates with a moron. It's rather sad really, sort of like puppy roadkill.

And Walter, you forgot the trashing of Due Process and Habeus Corpus, torture, rendition, domestic spying. I could go on, but it's too depressing.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Elf said...

Then there's New Orleans. Just saw "Trouble the Water" if you want to blame something else on the Republicans. Except maybe it's everyone.

Also, there was a preview for a film coming out in September: "W." (a biography with actors playing all the parts, including Dubya as a young man and all). By Oliver Stone. This preview for an audience who came to watch Trouble the Water. You should have heard the laughter in the theater.

9:06 PM  
Blogger halojones-fan said...

"And I believe it was that Kennedy guy and that Johnson guy who did that whole Moon rocket thing. "

Oh, please. Eisenhower was responsible for the development of modern American aerospace technology. Corona? Explorer? Oxcart? The International Geophysical Year? These things didn't just happen, and they didn't happen during Kennedy's term. Kennedy proudly took credit for the accomplishments of others, and the Moon Shot was never more than a jingoistic piece of grandstanding.

Look, I get it. I understand that you're really, really deeply offended by the idea that George W Bush is President and you are not. But you need to recognize the emotional component of your belief, and keep it under control. I'm surprised that a Black Belt would not realize that.

9:17 PM  
Blogger dubjay said...

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

After your lengthy series of rude and bellicose posts, of which the first in this column is sadly typical, you accuse =me= of being overly emotional in my responses?

At first I figured you were just young. But then, after you made some rather perceptive remarks, I figured you were older, but just did much of your blogging while drunk.

As far as the SR-71 and Corona go, you'll have a hard time convincing me that Democrats wouldn't want to spy on the Soviet Union. And Explorer was put in orbit by what was basically a V-2, so you can give credit as much to the Germans as anyone.

And, FWIW, I have no ambitions for higher office, but I could hardly do a worse job than our current Decider-in-Chief.

9:11 PM  

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