Friday, August 31, 2012

Ta Ta, Tampa

I am not hung over from the tempest in the tea party pot because I did not indulge in the mendacious merriment. Well, not a lot anyway. I had the equivalent of about half a drink. My daughter and I wasted an hour last night, turning the sound down on the TV, and making up our own dialogue. For example, when Newt and Callista appeared, we had them selling their 498 Regnery books, discussing hairspray and its effect on their brain cells, shilling religious DVDs and autographed pictures, and generally talking dirty. But we turned the volume back up when the Mormon people came on with stories of how Mitt would occasionally deign to visit their relatives in the hospital. Particularly heart-rending was the one about how he helped a dying 16-year-old draft his will so that he could legally leave his gun to his little brother. Another time, he showed up at a congregant's house to help him move, even though he had a broken collarbone and was totally useless. An audience of millions of people were told that the self-effacing Mitt never, ever advertises his good deeds. We learn about them through osmosis. 

Gail Collins of the New York Times quipped that Mitt is the type of annoying neighbor who keeps showing up at your house with unwanted offers of help and all you can think is, My God, now I'm going to have to invite the guy over for dinner.

I finally watched the Clint Eastwood monologue. It's a conversation with an invisible Obama, with a non sequitur about getting out of Afghanistan tomorrow thrown in for good measure. At first you think you're watching an Aricept commercial. Then again, since the whole Republican campaign involves raving about a socialist Obama who unfortunately has never existed in the real world, maybe Clint is just funning with us, performing a parody of the typical Republican senile white guy. Here's the clip in case you're interested.

The much-touted outbreak of anarchy and terrorism in the streets of Tampa did not occur. It was confined to the arena itself. The "I Heart Mitt" signs, the funny hat people, the enraptured faces of the conventioneers, the grimacing Nixon-masked Romney were the real scary deals. Therefore, it was somewhat confusing that the only people ousted were the Code Pink hecklers. It turns out that there were more paramilitary thugs guarding the infrastructure than there were protesters. The looming hurricane reportedly kept the busloads of ordinary human beings away. 

 I am paraphrasing somebody (Dorothy Parker? Molly Ivins?)* when I think I can safely say that the only truthful words spoken during the entire Fellini-esque nightmare were "and" and "the." And even those two are debatable.

*(It was Mary McCarthy dissing Lillian Hellman. Thanks to Robert S. for this link.)


Anonymous said...

Excellent as always......loved your comment in the NY Times today on Krugman's column...

Chris Doyle SF Ca.

Valerie said...

These conventions would be laughable if so many people didn't take them so seriously. YOUR political convention at the Garcia domicile, on the other hand, sounds like a party I would have enjoyed attending - far more intelligent and honest.

Denis Neville said...

The triumph of the Bush/Cheney administration torturers.

When you want to avoid attention, release bad news at the most moribund point in the entire news calendar: just before the Labor Day weekend, when no one is likely to be paying any attention.

Scott Horton, “Holder Holder Announces Impunity for Torture-Homicides”

“Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that no one would be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the C.I.A.”

“The Durham investigation appears to have been prolonged for at least eighteen months beyond its actual conclusion in order to provide a pretext to block related foreign criminal investigations.”

The accolades for Condoleeza Rice’s RNC speech, defending torture, were an all but unnoticed triumph of the Bush/Cheney administration torturers.

The United Nations chief investigator for torture had called on the Obama administration to formally investigate complicity in Iraqi abuse, "if leaked U.S. files on the Iraq conflict point to clear violations of the UN convention against torture, Barack Obama's administration has a clear obligation to investigate them," and "under the conventions on human rights there is an obligation for states to criminalize every form of torture, whether directly or indirectly."

But the last thing the Obama administration wanted was a discussion of the legal obligations to investigate torture and bring the torturers to legal account, and how we not only allowed, but participated in the very human rights abuses which we claimed, and still claim, our military actions would stop.

Read Scott Horton’s “When Lawyers Are War Criminals” marking the anniversary of the Nuremberg Tribunals:

“I come to the example of Moltke…namely that he very properly puts the emphasis not on the simple soldiers who invariably operate the weaponry of war, but on those who make the policies that drive their conduct. And in that process, his stern gaze falls first on the lawyers. In a proper society, the lawyers are the guardians of law, and in times of war, their role becomes solemn. Moltke challenges us to test the conduct of the lawyers. Do they show fidelity to the law? Do they recognize that the law of armed conflict, with its protections for disarmed combatants, for civilians and for detainees, reflects a particularly powerful type of law – as Jackson said “the basic building blocks of civilization”? Do they appreciate that in this area of law, above all others, the usual lawyerly tricks of dicing and splicing, of sophist subversion, cannot be tolerated? These are questions Moltke asked. They are questions that the US-led prosecution team in Nuremberg asked. They are questions that Americans should have been asking about the conduct of government lawyers who have seriously wounded, if not destroyed, the Geneva system.”

“Why, a four year old child could understand this! … Run out and find me a four year old child.” – Groucho Marx

James F Traynor said...

I cannot stand these conventions. Or the campaign season in general. Bill Moyers has a great video on Reed, Madoff, Norquist and the trio's machinations with a dash of Rove. Now I'm going to clean my boat, try to get back to studying linear dynamic equilibria, and go to the gym. Going Athenian to get my brain and body to focus on something other than the collective insanity of American society. Forget Athenian, the Peloponnesian War was a real bummer brought on by the likes of Pericles. Jesus, you just can't get away from these idiots.

spreadoption said...

Don't we all, here, share James Traynor's frustration with the state of our (dis)union? While I wrack my brain daily trying to figure how (or whether) I'll vote, my 25-year old son (whose nascent wisdom I appreciate) advises me to "fuggedaboudit" - for as George Carlin put it, "They own this place, it's a Big Club, and you ain't in it."

Actually that clip by a genius comedian sums up where we're at, as far as I can tell. But what bothers me the most of all is the mentality of the American people, when about half of us are going to vote for Rmoney-Ryan. That’s a lot of otherwise good people who are totally wrong-headed about how to live and thrive within a society. I hate to think it, but are we unconsciously drifting the same way the German people did pre-WWII? Different factors but same direction?

Think globally but act locally, my son and others advise. Don’t waste yourself on something you can’t control. I guess they're right, though it’s hard to swallow. I’d rather fight but don’t know how to win. So for today, like James, I'm gonna catch an Oregon football game, try to balance global macroeconomics with implied volatility, and lift some weights in the garage.

Life is good locally but our country is going all to hell and I don't know how we stop it.