b Papa Dog's Blog: Eine Kleine Nacht Slimebath

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Friday, September 03, 2004

Eine Kleine Nacht Slimebath

As I think I mentioned earlier, I didn’t watch the Axis of Evil meeting in NYC this week, largely for the same reason I tend not to watch Fox “News” or listen to any of the widely available species of right-wing hate radio, even out of really morbid curiosity. Life’s too short to spend it watching a bunch of trained seals bluster, scowl, and lie for their fish.

Still, I’m sorry now that I missed Zell Miller’s rant on Wednesday night, as it sounds like it was one of the more wild-eyed displays of demagoguery and just bizarre enough to be worth seeing. I have to admit I was a little unclear on the Zell Miller story before this week. I knew his name and party affiliation and that he generally voted with the bad guys, but I didn’t know the whys and wherefores. I figured he was probably just transitioning himself to a party switch because he realised that he couldn’t get elected as a Democrat in the south anymore. Or that maybe he was the last of the racist Dixiecrats to figure out that the Republican party wasn’t in the slave-freein’ business anymore. None of the above, evidently. Found a decent summary of his conversion on the Road to Walmart here.

Anyway, last night we decided that we just couldn’t let an entire week of potential televised scab-picking go by without taking a look at the finale. In addition to ol’ Zell, we missed Blofeld (compare here and here - I forget which one’s which – can you tell the difference?) on Wednesday night, but decided to watch his trusted #2 mouthing his words at the end of the convention. There was always a chance, after all, that #2 might fail him publicly and get dropped into the shark tank in mid-beady-eyed-smirk.

Tuned in just in time to catch George Pataki, who has to rank as one of the worst public speakers I’ve ever seen. He told "inspiring" stories about how people from swing states helped NYC following 9/11 – remember, 9/11, the thing that had absolutely nothing to do with their selection of NYC as a site for their Axis of Evil meeting? – and he delivered the whole thing in this hushed bedtime story voice. Then he shifted on to his introduction of Dumbya, and continued to use those same hushed “once upon a time” tones – which was entirely appropriate, since nothing was coming out of his mouth but fairy tales. In an attempt to contrast Dumbya’s record with the RNC’s characterization of Kerry’s “flip-flopping,” he listed a bunch of campaign promises and policy initiatives put forth by the junta, and followed each one with the mantra “He said he’d do it and he did!” Only thing is, in each and every case, Pataki was describing an unkept promise or a nasty bait-and switch. I guess “He claimed he’d help you, then he anally raped you” wouldn’t have made such a chantable refrain. Pataki then jumped into the usual Republican paralogia concerning 9/11 and Iraq. He quoted Kerry’s line about the U.S. going to war only because it has to, not because it wants to, and said something about how the firefighters who died in 9/11 didn’t die because they wanted to, didn’t even know they were in a war. Well, yeah, true enough, but what in the fuck does that have to do with what Kerry said? He was talking about the invasion of Iraq, a country which as has been repeatedly demonstrated had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. It makes as much sense as saying, “Hey we went didn’t go into Iraq just because we wanted to – did those kids at Columbine want to get killed?” That’s the Axis propaganda mill all over, though; if you call a fly a dinosaur often enough, it becomes a dinosaur. Before launching into a garbled version of recent history filled with the usual distortions, fantasies, and outright lies, Pataki had this to say: “These are no ordinary times, and George W. Bush is no ordinary leader.” Again, no argument here – but you could say the same for Pol Pot. Or Babar.

After some crap narrated folksily by Fred Thompson, the chimp himself scampered out and launched into slightly more than an hour’s worth of lies, evasions, and misrepresentations. I started off keeping track of individual lies, but found after the first dozen or so that it was hard to keep up. Here are a few: “I am fortunate to have a superb Vice President,” (Has anybody else noticed how Dumbya likes to say “superb?” I’m guessing someone on his staff told him it’s better than “awesome.”) “America’s schools are getting better,” “we strengthened Medicare,” “I believe that government…should not tell people how to run their lives.”

I’ll have to grant him this…he’s getting his words out better and more clearly than he did four years ago. I guess he’s had some practice.

A few random things – he mentioned a proposal for “opportunity zones” in low income neighbourhoods. Maybe it’s cynical of me, but I can’t help but think this is the same sort of Orwellian language that calls a cordoned area meant to stifle dissent a “free speech zone.” The only thing that baffles me is what method they could have possibly devised to even further deprive the poor of opportunity. Time will tell, I suppose.

Quoth the chimp: “I support the protection of marriage against activist judges.” Hey, great! He’s backing off his anti-marriage stance! Does this mean he’s withdrawing his support for that constitutional amendment to deny marriage to a tenth of the population?

It took longer than I thought for him to get to the really slimy 9/11 pandering, and by that time I was just exhausted from the effort of translating the solid string of Repulicanese back into English, so I stopped taking notes.

A few brief observations from the shots of the crowd…I assume it’s CNN and not the RNC calling the camera angles, but they seemed to be working to bolster the Axis of Evil’s attempt to portray itself as inclusive of all rich people regardless of race, colour, creed, or religion. By and large, the crowd was the usual collection of slicked-back stockbrokers and fat ugly white people, but the cameras kept cutting to the same half dozen African-American delegates, the three Asians, and the Latina. I think I even saw a Sikh at one point, during the 9/11 pander.

Lots of Republicans seem to chew gum. Is it because they can’t smoke their cigars in Madison Square Garden?

When Dumbya made a comment about welfare reform, the camera cut to a group of children, waving flags. “Yay, welfare reform!” I’d like to check back on those kids in ten or fifteen years after they’ve been laid off and see how happy they are about it then.

Okay, that’s about it. But here’s a nice quote from Lewis Lapham in the latest Harper’s. Check his essay, “Tentacles of Rage,” about the right-wing propaganda industry.

“During the course of the 1990s I did my best to keep up with the various lines of grievance developing within the several sects of the conservative remonstrance, but although I probably read as many as 2,000 presumably holy texts (Peggy Noonan’s’ newspaper editorials and David Gelernter’s magazine articles as well as the soliloquies of Rush Limbaugh and the sermons of Robert Bork), I never learned how to make sense of the weird and too numerous inward contradictions. How does one reconcile the demand for small government with the desire for an imperial army, apply the phrases ‘personal initiative’ and ‘self-reliance’ to corporation presidents utterly dependent on the federal subsidies to the banking, communications, and weapons industries, square the talk of ‘civility’ with the strong-arm methods of Kenneth Starr and Tom DeLay, match the warmhearted currencies of ‘conservative compassion’ with the cold cruelty of ‘the unfettered free market,’ know that human life must be saved from abortionists in Boston but not from cruise missiles in Baghdad? In the glut of paper I could find no unifying or fundamental principle except a certain belief that money was good for rich people and bad for poor people. It was the only point on which all the authorities agreed, and no matter where the words were coming from (a report on federal housing, an essay on the payment of Social Security, articles on the sorrow of the slums or the wonder of the U.S. Navy) the authors invariably found the same abiding lesson in the tale—money ennobles rich people, making them strong as well as wise; money corrupts poor people, making them stupid as well as weak.”


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