Wednesday, September 08, 2004

WELL, AT LEAST THE MAYOR'S WHITE. The heavy precipitation in our area today caused several subway lines to be delayed and one line, the M, was knocked out of service.

I'm showing my age with this, but I remember when the subway ran normally even during rainstorms. And now the MTA wants to raise fares.

You realize, of course, if Sharpton were mayor the City Journal would now be decrying our descent into chaos.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I LOVE A PARADE. Yesterday's West Indian American Day Parade in Crown Heights -- huge crowds, hopping music, booming soundtrucks, jerk chicken and pigeon peas, many happy people waving many flags (reflecting the hyphenated divisiveness with which I hope to destroy this country!), and, best of all, sturdy girls in skimpy costumes -- put me in such a persistent good mood that nonsense like this --
I said elsewhere that Democrats don't care about foreigners, and indeed this does seem to be the case: the party that prides itself most upon inclusiveness seems curiously indifferent to the fates of strange peoples in faraway countries of which they know nothing.
-- still seems to be happening on another planet.

GALLEONS OF SPAIN OFF JERSEY COAST. Tbogg has fingered a few recent examples of the "You can't fact-check an anecdote" genre, whereby National Review writers say Mister, I met a man once and proceed to recount some flattering tale about their own kind. The variants cited by Tbogg involve "reader mail" -- a perfect double-blind for this sort of operation: not only do you get an extra layer of protection against detection, you also get to frostily inform challengers that, while the identity of your correspondent cannot be revealed, you can personally vouch for his authenticity and veracity, and all the proof any man should need is the word of a paid political operative. Then, as your challengers sputter in outrage, you run off to audition a new Swift Boat Veteran for Truth or something.

Well, two can play at that game! Here is a letter from a Very Trustworthy Person whose name is none of your business, forwarded to me by an equally unimpeachable source, who found it in a hollow log to which he was directed by God Himself:
I am continually amazed at the level of quiet support for Kerry here in Fritters, Alabama. Though some few of our citizens regularly drag his flaming effigy along the dirt track we call Main Street, among the mobs that turn out to watch these spectacles I see many who are not literally flaming from the eyes with hatred, and even some that decline to hurl their own feces at the effigy. These fine men and women I'm sure will support our candidate in November.

Just the other day I spoke to a schoolteacher, who told me, "During the Convention I was beaten, spit on, and gang-raped by Republicans for teaching evolution. Though I have always voted for Republicans in the past, I shall mark my ballot this year for John Kerry." I smell a landslide.
I have many old but equally authentic letters that can also be used in a pinch.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

LOOK OUT LIARS AND YOU HIGHLIFE SCUM.... In the New York Post, Ryan Sager, echoed by Republican operative Perfesser Reynolds, pretends to misapprehend last week's New York protest against Fox News:
It's enlightening to see just what the hard left's message is in this election. In two words: "Shut up"...

There, the crowd of protesters — many of the same people who have cried foul every time they've been denied a permit or asked not to lie down in the middle of an intersection — chanted this free-speech mantra at a news organization:

"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"

I moved through the crowd asking protesters to reconcile their demand to be heard with their demand that people who disagree with them shut up...
Later -- much too far down for the topic-sentence readers who get their news from the Post to see it -- Sager affects to learn "that the shut-up chant was meant to mimic how Fox News host Bill O'Reilly treats his guests."

No Sherlock, shithead. I attended this protest and the idea was clear as glass to anyone of normal intelligence -- presumably including Sager -- who observed it.

(It was a fun little protest, BTW, which drew cheers from midtown gawkers, especially when the cheerleaders danced and the Bush-effigy truck came around.)

You'd think by now I'd be more phlegmatic when these guys flat-out lie to advance their agenda. It does bring up my phlegm, but not in the way Ben Jonson intended.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

THE INFORMATION. Michael Ledeen, normally involved in expanding our military adventures to new countries, has turned to media criticism. He thinks Zell Miller at the RNC went over a treat, and that this reflects a change in the state of the media:
[Marshall McLuhan] stressed that tv was "cool," and that "hot" personalities would do badly on it...

But I think that era is over now. First of all, because of the net, which has diversified our sources of information so dramatically. We no longer need the networks or the various Post's and Times's. We can just log on. And secondly, tv has gotten a lot hotter. Probably a lot of that is due to MTV and other such, but in any case the screen is now a much less antiseptic thing than it was a generation ago. People now argue and fight on tv, the decibels are higher, and the broadcasters are changing their style. They are competing for audience rather than monopolizing it. And so they change.
We may argue whether the content of television programming is generally "less antiseptic" now than it was in the days of Playhouse 90. But it is observably true that televised political discourse is significantly more jacked-up now. I just saw a promo for Hardball prominently featuring the ravings of Miller on that show. You certainly didn't get that in the days of Lawrence Spivak.

One night reasonably ask whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. Certainly Ledeen thinks it's good:
I suspect that when the cultural history of this period is written, the two big names will be Rush and Drudge, both of whom dramatically undercut the power of the Old Media, and gave the American people something they desperately wanted: the information that the Old Media monopolists didn't want to reach us.
Leaving aside the gruesome idea that the "cultural" achievements of our era will be exemplified by Matt Drudge, is it true that the Old Media filtered information?

Of course it is, in a way. No one with a Huntley-Brinkley sized public megaphone amplified the infidelities of, to name one example, Martin Luther King -- certainly not with the heavy funding, political acumen, and persistence of such efforts today. Had there then been a vibrant talk radio and screaming-head TV circuit, equivalent in reach and temperment to our own, we might have had television ads from the White Citizens Councils for Truth testifying to King's failings. These folks might eventually have wound up on Meet the Press and, sticking to their talking points, brushed aside all egghead talk of racial equality by asserting that no one of such dubious character -- one who had flourished his credentials as a clergyman, no less -- deserved a hearing from the American people.

Or imagine a similarly powerful popular movement, enabled by citizen's band or ham radio, operating at the time of the Watergate Hearings. The prior racial insensitivies of Sam Ervin might have been bigger news than the malefactions of the Plumbers, and a rowdy group of Republican operatives crying "Shut It Down!" outside Ervin's committee room might have helped direct the tide of events a different way.

And if a fellow like Rupert Murdoch were able to obtain a network like Fox ten, twenty, or thirty years earlier than Murdoch himself did, all sorts of scenaria are enabled. At the very least, our diplomatic relations with China would have been accelerated.

We could discuss for a good long while the extent to which "Old Media monopolists" deprived us of "information" (which is not always, I hasten to add, a synonym for truth), but our findings would not be of much use. That genie is out and its bottle is broken. Ledeen has a point. The temperature is rising. We will see soon enough whether this results in incubation or incineration.

SKILLS. I teach English on Saturdays. I think I'll print some of these out to instruct my more advanced students on the proper use of similes:
The Bush twins came out and embraced their dad, but it was an affectionless embrace, like those brief pats the American girl gymnasts gave each other after a routine...

But a volcano is stationary, like Dennis Hastert after a big lunch.

Memo to Jim Lehrer: Take naps on those days when you have to stay up late. There's no excuse for doddering from question to question like someone sitting in front of Floyd's barber shop.
Years ago, I read an account of a brief players' strike by the Detroit Tigers, which had obliged management to field a pick-up squad for a few games. Some contemporary sportswriter said the new outfielders' approach to fly balls was "like kittens going after bees." That scribe's name is lost to history, but James Wolcott is now posting regularly, and, as of today, on our blogroll.

Friday, September 03, 2004

GOODBYE TO ALL THAT. When I stepped out of work this evening, what a wonderful feeling of calm I got from Times Square. That may sound strange if you weren't around for the RNC. Even a dozen blocks up from the Garden, we had thousands of extra cops hanging around this week, and even if you like cops that's an eerie thing, especially with the flight of many citizens during the Convention further disturbing the usual police-civilian balance. The protest-related tensions made things weirder still. Customary disturbances like the tree-lighting at Rockefeller Center are one thing, but five days of virtual occupation are something else again. Now it's over, the barricades are coming down, and it feels like our New York again.

Matthew Yglesias admits that the Convention made him a little nuts*. I could say the same for myself. I normally enjoy visitors, and it was depressing to harbor a resentment toward so many of them, even if they are Republicans. (I don't hate Republicans, I just like it a lot better when they're not around.)

Well, they're gone now, and Labor Day weekend is upon us. Back to the usual tolerable tension levels.

*UPDATE. Here's a more eloquent account of RNC blues by Alex at Broken Type. (I don't think he's quite over it yet, though.) Thanks for the tip, Margaret.

MORE REASONS TO HATE OUR RECENTLY-EXPELLED OCCUPIERS. Reason #356: Even the Republican ass-sucking New York Post had to admit that the delegates were tight with a buck -- especially when it came to tipping.

This is of course the traditional difference between New Yorkers and outlanders on that subject; we figure, "If I can't afford to tip, I can't afford the restaurant"; they figure, "Ah spent too much on this here meal to give anything to that funny-boy what brung me mah food."

UPDATE. OK, that was unfair. Maybe RNC delegates are lousy tippers, but that doesn't apply to everyone from outside the zone. I worked in New York restaurants for a number of years, and old generalizations die hard. If you want to know who really doesn't tip, go here.

DOOR. ASS. FIGURE IT OUT. From the excellent if erratic Matt Yglesias, among the Republicans:
Overheard in a hotel lobby: "I get the feeling these New Yorker liverals just don't understand how 9-11 changed things. It's like they don't even remember it." (No, fuck you).
Could you hicks maybe catch an earlier flight out of town? Pretty fuck you please?

HOLY SHIT. I've given the Big Stiff a hard time in the past, but check him out now:
For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and even my fitness to serve as Commander in Chief. Well, here is my answer to them: I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and who misled the nation into Iraq... The Vice President even called me unfit for office last night. Well, I'm going to leave it up to the voters to decide whether five deferments makes someone more qualified than two tours of combat duty... Let me tell you in no uncertain terms what makes someone unfit for office and unfit for duty. Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit for duty. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without health care for four years makes you unfit to lead this country. Letting the Saudi royal family control the price of oil for Americans makes you unfit to lead this country.
Give 'em Hell, Kerry.

Okay, part two is different. I kept thinking: 1943. Between the dark beginning and the first cracks of light. 1943.

Have you bowled? Then you know the guys who try to win by throwing the ball as hard as possible. They get bedposts. You want a strike, you roll it down the middle and curve off left or right at the last minute. Most of the pins go down. A few wobble, and look like they’ll remain standing. Then they fall, too.

“He said United States!” Gnat said while watching the speech. “We have that puzzle!” That we do, child. That we do.
The kinda sweet thing about Lileks is: for all his cultural references, he has yet to realize what self-parody is.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE. Scumbag ex-Mayor Giuliani is on the Letterman show, saying, between self-referential remarks, that the job he's most interested in now is "Manager of the New York Yankees."

Let us try to imagine it:
In the absence of a cabaret license, Manager Rudolf Giuliani bans "The Wave" from Yankee Stadium. Fans who attempt to start up the longtime ballpark favorite, and even those who merely wiggle in their seats, are arrested and quickly taken to holding facilities on Arthur Avenue. "It should have been done a long time ago," says boss George Steinbrenner.

Manager Giuliani orders fans not to allow their cheers to rise above 140 decibels. Waves of arrests follow. "A cruel man, but fair," says boss George Steinbrenner.

Manager Giuliani orders the arrest of hundreds of fans for flouting the Open Container Law. "Bad enough a beer costs eight bucks," says one spectator as he is beaten by police, "but this?" "Heads will be broken," says boss George Steinbrenner, "but if that's what it takes to win a pennant, okay."

With the Yankees trailing badly in the American League East, Manager Giuliani exercises his plenipotentiary powers to arrest Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez for pitching inside. "This is why we brought Giuliani to Yankee Stadium," says boss George Steinbrenner.

Manager Giuliani institutes Cheney Night at Yankee Stadium for a Yankees-Indians twi-night doubleheader. Ticketholders are required to sign a loyalty oath before entering the Stadium. "The man knows what he's doing," says boss George Steinbrenner. "Have you forgotten September 11?"

To couteract declining attendance at Yankee Stadium, Manager Giuliani ships in Rikers Island inmates to fill empty seats. In the seventh inning of a 10-1 Red Sox rout, Giuliani pulls Daryl Strawberry from the stands to pinch-hit. After Strawberry hits into a double play, Giuliani pleads with a judge to add five years to his sentence. "I loved that Strawberry kid," says a tearful boss George Steinbrenner afterwards. "But justice is justice."

Manager Giuliani has cost the Yankees over $100 million in legal fees and settlements in a single season of overturned arrests and resulting punitive damages. "Maybe I was wrong about Giuliani," says boss George Steinbrenner. "Maybe it's time to exhume the corpse of Billy Martin and strap it to the back of Sweet Lou Pinella."

Manager Giuliani announces that he is leading a team of Federal prosecutors looking into corruption charges against boss George Steinbrenner. "Nobody fucks with Rudy Giuliani," says the Manager, warning reporters that this is off the record.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

PREZNIT SPEAKS. Well, it's 9/11 from the get-go. "A shaken economy rose to its feet.." Well, it's early yet.

"Americans have been given hills to climbs and found the strength to climb them... We will build a safer world... and nothing will hold us back." See, it's positive. Props to Cheney: "Calm and steady judgement.." Yeah, well, if he didn't keep it "calm and steady" his heart would pop out of his chest. "We love our First Lady.... two spirited and intelligent and lovely young women... sister and brothers... George and Barbara Bush..." Just like the Adamses.

"Federal education reform... nothing will hold us back." You don't have to help your kids learn, we'll learn 'em for you. "Honor America's seniors... Medicare... perscription drug coverage... nothing will hold us back." How about bankruptcy? "Largest tax relief in a generation... nothing will hold us back." Hey, where's my wallet? "Protect the American people... drift... will not happen on my watch." As opposed to the methodically planned-out course we're on now. "Build a safer world... compassionate conservative... steady, consistent, principled leadership..." Great! When do you start?

"Story of America is the story of American Liberty... reach further and include more... extend the frontiers of freedom.." I saw 10,000 cops on my way home. When do we get some? "Workers of our parents' generation typically had one job... often with one company... today workers change jobs, even careers, many times..." Yuh don't say. "Great opportunity..." If you say so. "Government must take your side." Please do! "Worker training... created for the world of yesterday... make your own choices..." If you have a choice. "A growing economy... global market... new competition... America must be the best place in the world to do business..." Hire this American worker! He's cheap! "Reducing regulation..." And he's gonna get even cheaper!

"Less dependent on foreign sources of foreign sources of energy..." Ha ha ha. "Explosion of frivolous lawsuits..." Got your guts sucked out by a pool pump? You get one dollar. "Bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the Federal Tax Code..." Wait, you mean there'll still be Democrats? "Job training... increase funding for our community colleges..." My wallet! "Compete with anyone, anywhere in the world..." Even Bangalore!

"Poor communities... lost manufacturing... American Opportunity Zones..." So it's an emergency? "Worried they cannot afford health care... uninsured... small companies.. purchase at the discounts available to big companies..." Buy in bulk, save even more. "Tax credit... health savings accounts... low-income Americans... security of insurance... tax-free... take your account with you..." Like COBRA -- which helped drive me into penury! "Insure every poor county in America... rural health center..." Wahl, hoss, you's sick, and you's fucked! Take this heah aspirin. "High cost of lawsuits... must pass Medical Liability reform now..." It's the lawyers' fault, see! Big Pharma is on your side, but John Edwards and his pool-suckin' lawsuits wants to fuck you over!

"Comp time and flex time... laws should never stand in the way of a more family-friendly workplace." Your wife will still have to work 60 hours a week. "Home ownership... all-time high... seven million affordable homes in the next ten years..." And seven decades of debt for each. "Ownership society..." Something to strive for! "Baby-boom generation... strengthen Social Secuirty... personal accounts... government can never take away..." Hey, the market dropped -- don't worry, government can never take away your remaining 11 dollars of coverage!

"More freedom and more control over your own life.." How Goldwater, not. "Your school will be the path to promise..." And we know what promises are worth. "Standards... results... local people are in charge of their schools..." Hey, sounds like Ocean Hill-Brownsville. "Record funding..." My wallet! Nice story about a poor, Hispanic school. "Soft bigotry of low expectations." See you kids in five years at the job center.

"Time of change... two years of college... one in four students gets there... early intervention... math and science..." But they can't spell! How -- "Vigorous exam... Pell Grants..." Oh. I get it -- money again. But my wallet's still missing.

"Lead an aggressive effort... government health insurance programs..." Please vote for us! We'll pay you! Not much, but -- "" -- Does it have a bulletin board?

"Expanded opportunity... choice... my opponent..." Time for the "flipflop" thing. "Opposed... opposed..." The boos are coming up. "There are some things my opponent is for... federal spending... Senator from Massachusetts..." Why didn't he say 'Taxachusetts'? Missed a chance there! "Tax and spend, expanding government... politics of the past..." Where have I heard this before?

"Some things do not change... institutions... family commitment... welfare reform... that requires work..." You fucking bums, go starve. "Value its weakest members... unborn child..." Here's your red meat, hayseeds. "Religious charities... never discriminate against them..." Poor, persecuted Christians! "Man and woman... protection of marriage..." Gobble it up, hicks! "Continue to appoint Federal judges..." Yeah yeah.

"My opponent... if you say the heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood..." What the fuck? "Voted against the Federal Marriage Act... calling the Reagan Presidency eight years of moral darkness..." I see you Gomers need MORE RED MEAT! Heah be the shovels -- Feed! Feed!

"Continuing danger of terrorism..." Here we go. Convert text to Black Letter Gothic hereafter.

"September 11... ruins of the Twin Towers... workers and hard hats... 'Do not let me down'... wake up every morning... never relent... whatever it takes." My Pet Goat my ass motherfuckers! I'm the Big Dog now and you can shove your medals up your ass!

"Fought the terrorists... tripled funding... transforming... reforming... staying on the offensive... striking terrorism aborad..." And that's all the explanation you need.

"Pakistan... Afghanistan... Iraq... Al Qaeda...." Protestors on the floor. Let's wait for the ad lib. "Today the government of a free Afghanistan..." We gotta wait some more, I guess. "We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer... careful diplomacy... tough decisions... Iraq.." Tell us again, or for the first time. "September 11..." Ah, I see. "Confront threats to America before it is too late.... in Saddam Hussein we saw a threat..." More protestors? Jesus. "Including my opponent... voted to authorize... UN... leaders in the Middle East... a final chance... I faced the kind of decision that comes... must be prepared to make... Do I forget the lessons of September 11?" Well, what else is he going to give 'em? An explanation? "50 million people have been liberated... democracy is coming... intimidate people... Afghan.. 10 million citizens have registered to vote..." And their votes just might count! "Iraq... national elections... January..." There too!

"Free societies in the Middle East will be hopeful societies... free governments fight terrorists, and that helps us keep the peace." Better. "Move toward elections... then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned..." Which will be when? Date? Time? "Our troops... one Army specialist wrote home..." A letter from a serviceman is a poor substitute for a plan. "A superb job for America." Etc.

"... to all of them: you are involved in a struggle of historic proportion... people of Iraq no longer fear... the world is more just and will be more peaceful... our thanks... we will give you all the resources and all the tools and all the support you need for victory." Whatever, in this context, that might be.

"My opponent... $87 billion..." Time for the retard dance! "... 'before I voted against it'..." Haw haw. "...nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat!" Boo yah! "Prime Mister Howard... Berlusconi... Blair..." Yay, good furriners! "MY opponent... 'coalition of the coerced and the bribed'..." He reads the list -- shorter than at the SOTU; it's a big night. "Deserve... not the scorn of a politician." See, when you edit him, he sounds more classy. "America will not forget." We'll send the Netherlands a bouquet. Not that that's a bribe!

"Seven Iraq men came to see me..." The one-handed guys -- a good choice. "A Prayer for God to bless America.... the hope for the oppressed..." Banking on our soft hearts for the underprivileged -- overseas, anyway. "Radical ideology of hate... kill the innocent... fighting freedom... all their cunning and cruelty... freedom is on the march.... wiser use of American strength is to promote freedom... example will send a message of hope... Palestinians... peace with our good friend Israel." See, Kerry forgot that bit. "Young women... their day of equality..." W is for women. "...dream of freedom... America will be more secure and the world more peaceful." Or maybe W is for wistful?

"There've always been doubters. In 1946... New York Times wrote this..." A comparison to the Iraq occupation. "Maybe that same person is around writing editorials." Ha ha. Fuckin' New York Slimes! Real patriots read thuh pennysaver an' maybe some books by Tom Clancy! "Because that generation of Americans..." The Greatest Generation, we need not add. "...safer world today." See, Iraq is just like WWII. Only you need jokes to prove it.

"Settlers on perilous journey... colonies to rebellion... aid the rise of Germany, Japan... noble story goes on... lead the cause of freedom... millions in the Middle East plead in silence for freedom... freedom is not America's gift to the world, it is the Almighty's gift..." Very pretty. If only you could believe the guy.

"Seize this moment and used it to build... future secuirty... depend on us... stand with me." Well, who else? That flipflop guy? This'n will keep queers from marryin' each other!

"Last four years you and I have come to know each other... you know what I believe... I have a few flaws... correct my English... Schwarzenegger..." Haw. "A certain swagger, which in Texas is called 'walking.'" First good joke of the night. "A little too blunt..." It ain't braggin' if you pretend it's self-deprecation!

"Tried to comfort Americans who lost the most on September 11... learned firsthand that ordering Americans into battle... returned the salute of soldiers... held the children... met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag... how can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride?... liberty was precious to the one they lost." Not bad. Peggy write it? "Three miles from here... lifted a flag over the ruins... for as long as our country stands... resurrection of New York City... here a nation rose."

This, of course, is why they came to New York: to soak up the blood and feed on it.

"Our military... veterans... young people... heroes... workers and entrepreneurs... optimism... having come this far, our tested and confident nation can achieve anything.... to everything we know, there is a season... now we have reached the time for hope." I know what I'm hoping for.

"Safer world... liberty at home... a calling from beyond the stars..." In a galaxy far, far away, Luke Skywalker battles heavy-breathing military man, but prevails because he has the Force and the wisdom of a gnome called Rova.

"Grateful for our freedom... confident... may God bless etc. etc."

Somewhere David Brooks is kissing his ass. Thanks be to God it's over, and please leave our City as soon as possible.

BULLHORN, BASEBALL, AND BULLSHIT. George Pataki is giving 9/11 thanks to Bush, America, et alia on behalf of New York -- New York State, that is. This is like what Pataki does in the "I Love New York" campaign -- tell the country that, sure, the City's nice, but Poughkeepsie, Peeksill (where he's from), and Podunk (yes, we do have a Podunk) are every bit as important. Piggybacking, cultural and economic, is his stock in trade.

The "flip-flop" chant seems to energize this crowd, as the Tomahawk Chop energizes Braves fans, and seems already to be every bit as tiresome.

Another fake New Yorker, Fred Thompson, narrates a Bush film: "What do a bullhorn and a baseball have in common?" Let's puzzle over this mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma a while as we wait for The Leader to speak...

AROUND TOWN. After a long day at work I went over to see how the protests were going. The City wasn't making it easy to reach the intake point of the ANSWER march at 31st and 8th. I went down 8th Avenue to 34th, where I was blocked; cut down 9th, and found no access at 31st. On to 10th Avenue. People carrying signs, looking around. People on cell phones: "They're making us walk down. Probably to 23rd Street." Guys lounging in front of the Verizon building. One yelled, "If y'all stood up in 2000, you coulda got ridda the motherfucker then." Tons of cops, cop cars, cop bikes, cop motorbikes, cop scooters, cop trucks, and undercover cops (and something I'd never seen -- an AMTRAK police van).

Finally at 10th and 26th Street I got to turn with a bunch of people with signs ("You on strike?" asked some neighborhood kids) onto 8th, where I could see about 300 protestors massed five blocks uptown, hooting and waving signs and listening to a recording of "War (What Is It Good For)," and a huge maze of police gates lining and clogging the streets behind them. It looked like a trap.

Next stop Union Square. Most of the police were massed on surrounding blocks; the 50 or 60 cops on the scene were hanging loose. It reminded me of a cross between the old Avenue C thieves' market and the old Tompkins Square. The south end was mobbed -- at least as many bodies as I saw uptown, in a much smaller space -- mostly with youngsters, chatting and chanting, surrounded by merch tables with anti-Bush stickers and T-shirts (a simple Bush-face-with-"no"-logo was the most popular item; others employed swastikas to make their point). Near a little carpet of abandoned signs ("I am marching for my grandmother and she is PISSED"), a fellow sitting in a lawn chair held a sign commemorating Jesus A. Suarez del Solar, killed in Iraq. The man said Jesus was his son, and he was there waiting for Bush to tell him when the troops were coming home.

On the other side of 14th Street, hundreds of people were milling, eyes on the Square, waiting to see what came next. One guy was practicing break-dance moves on the sidewalk.

A little further north on the Square people lounged at picnic tables, and strolled under the trees. A boy and girl in ratty denims sat cross-legged and very close together on the pavement against a low wall, out of the light, talking softly. All around, bars and restaurants did a brisk trade, and streams of passers-by headed home from work.

SHORTER TACITUS: Why do these New Yorkers insist on reciprocating my obvious contempt?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

CHENEY SPEAKS. I guess you have to be a Republican to get anything out of this. I keep waiting for the Powerpoint presentation. Wasn't he livelier four years ago? Maybe the teleprompter has a warning light hooked up by WiFi to his pacemaker, and Dick's trying not to hit the red.

I'm outta here. Let me know if he has a stroke or something.

CRANKY AS ZELL. Since when is Abe Simpson a Demmycrat? And I see he's trumped Schwarzenegger's Nixon ref by citing Wendell Willkie. I hope we have time for a Herbert Hoover panegyric before this Convention's over.

Zell intimates that America would cease to be a free country if Kerry is elected. Good Lord. How did we get through eight years of Clinton without gulags? If the election doesn't go his way, will Zell take to the woods with his shootin' ahrn?

He strikes me as nuts. Of course, I think Arnold's speech was better suited to a WWF cage match than a political convention. I suppose history may prove me wrong, if we have history.

BOO HOO, THEY HATE US AGAIN. The Right's narrative of the moment is that we New Yorkers have been just awful to our RNC guests:
Many New Yorkers seem to feel that they have to do everything possible to tell the delegates, and the world at large, that they hate Republicans...

Shortly after Sept. 11 -- I mean for like two seconds -- New York was as American and determined as any other town. That seems like an eternity ago. It is barely a dream.
In a way this development is comforting. I imagine it was part of the Republicans' original plan in coming here to represent us citizens to the rest of America as grateful beneficiaries of the GOP's post-9/11 leadership. Obviously that isn't gonna play, so now we are being called ingrates.

Of course this, too, could be a winning strategy for the Bushites. It is very shrewd of the President to accept the Firefighters' endorsement in Queens tonight. Our most popular cop shows, after all, portray New York as a city of skels, held in check only by the nobility and righteousness of cops and firemen, and America may be comforted by the idea that, though Gotham's residents rail against their leader, its uniformed ubermenschen respect his authority.

But at least they understand, if only dimly, that when we say no, we mean no. Though they are perfectly welcome to come back when they stop consecrating their candidates with the blood of our fallen in causes we disdain.

"MOMENTS -- MOMENTS --" There is, too, substantive posting by RNC bloggers! In addressing the Ed Schrock thing (Republican gets outed, quits), GOP blogger Slant Point explains homosexuality:
But really, the gay label is way too simplistic. Each side treats it like an either or, when in fact the truth may be that more and more Americans are engaging in bisexual moments -- moments -- as a result of sexual addictions.

So while the gay community will point to hypocrisy -- the numerous quotes from Schrock's past demonstrate an opposition to the leading efforts of gay activism -- we may simply be seeinng a man who took a sexual problem too far.
This, by God, is a unique approach to the GOP's gay rights issue: there are no gays, no straights -- only sex addicts, experiencing bisexual moments.

Slant Point had previously announced, "My message too will be Republican, but not just for America -- I aim to change NYC itself." If that post is an example of his schtick, I think we can afford to be charitable, and wish him luck.