Excuse me, but what year is this?
I mean, I was pretty sure it was 2008. It sure looked like it last week, when the Democratic Party confirmed as nominee an Illinois senator who doesn't remotely fit the "middle-aged white man" demographic. The party's convention was well run, the speeches were inspiring, and even Fox News was hard pressed to find anything negative to say. The DNC could not have been more different from the 1968 one, and if there was any major misbehavior by police or protesters or garden variety bigots, I didn't hear about it last week.
McCain picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Hurricane Gustav was only one of the storms that followed that announcement.
Aside from the strange, nearly unfathomable saga of the recent Palin family pregnancies, Sarah Palin has already racked up an interesting collection of scandals, from an alleged attempt to get her sister's ex fired as a state trooper, to touting her opposition to a "Bridge to Nowhere" that she initially lobbied for, to her former membership in a group that wanted Alaska to secede from the United States. I don't want to pile on here, but good grief! And that's before we even get to the substantive stuff, like the nonsensical claim that Palin is better qualified for the presidency than Obama, because she's held executive office, and, well, Russia is practically right next door! I wonder how anyone can say with a straight face that being governor of Alaska for two years is better preparation for the presidency than being a senator for four years.
That's not the part that makes me wonder about the year. No, that's all very modern, new-media-driven stuff. But not so the other political news of the weekend.
When I got into the car at 5 PM on Friday, John showed me a printout of the following image:
This is from a recent Republican ad, which falsely claims that Obama will raise everyone's taxes. But that's not the scary part. Look at the signs in the back, spelling out the word CHANGE. Because of an oddly-applied darkening of the edges of the image, which for some reason is much larger in the upper left than elsewhere, the C is nearly gone, and the E is completely missing. Without those two letters, what do the remaining four letters spell?
What year is it again? 1958? Are there still people out there that want citizens to "HANG" uppity black men?
And then on Monday, two producers of the left-wing Public Radio International news program Democracy Now! were arrested while covering the protests outside the Republican National Convention, roughed up, and charged with suspicion of rioting, a felony. When the show's host, Amy Goodman, who like me is 51 years old, left the convention floor to go ask the police what was going on, they arrested her too, and charged her with obstruction. (All three have since been released, but the criminal charges stand.) Meanwhile, an AP photographer was also arrested, and hundreds of protesters were tear gassed and arrested, partly in response to bad behavior by a smallish group of allegedly self-proclaimed anarchists. Local residents report that conditions in their neighborhood amount to martial law.
I remember the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. And now I'm having flashbacks. It's especially stupid because it's counterproductive for both sides. If you don't want to confirm a radical journalist's belief that the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights are being violated, the worst thing you can do is arrest that journalist and her co-workers for being present at a news event and asking questions. And if you don't want overzealous police to feel justified in their actions, you don't throw bricks and small bombs, as a few protesters did.
And here's what I wanted to say about all this. It's probably a good thing that I usually take my politics in carefully controlled doses, because too much of the stuff disorients and upsets me. I don't understand why anyone would apply that oddly-shaped dark filter to that convention image, except as a deliberate attempt to make its subject seem dark and menacing, and quite possibly to spell out a word that should have no place in modern political discourse. I don't understand why it's barely been reported, and why only the radical right and left seem to know or care about Goodman's arrest. In the end, I'm left with a strong impression that Republicans have let off some stray shots in the direction of their own feet this weekend, and yet the only people who notice the resultant hopping around will offer their strong support. Will any of it make a difference in the end? I have no idea. It ought to, but it might not.
And frankly, one of the reasons I seldom post anything political is that it can easily attract hateful comments from some barely-literate right-winger. (I realize there are lots of charming and intelligent Republicans, but they're typically not the ones saying nasty things on blogs.) I don't understand why anyone would do that, either.
Although it's problematic, I find it easier to deal with doggie politics. It's fairly easy to understand what Cayenne and Pepper are doing and why. They sit or lie down facing the bedroom door, wanting to get into the A/C. They run into the kitchen, hoping for a dog biscuit. And they try to steal each other's dog biscuits or place on the couch, trying to establish dominance over each other.
That all makes a fair amount of sense to me. But all this human stuff, not so much.