Chinese Commies and Others
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.