White Republicans Don’t Dance

So Hurricane Gustav, while bad, was hardly as bad as first feared. That means that the Republican national convention is now back on, as of yesterday, at full force – or at least at as full a force as they can muster while belatedly and unexpectedly putting things back in motion for what is now a three-day assembly. Philippe Remarque is there on the scene in St. Paul, MN for De Volkskrant (a Dutch newspaper, of course; yes, Remarque may have an ultra-French name, but he’s a Dutch reporter), and reports (Republican convention: more whites, less dancing) that the contrast he finds there with last week’s Democratic convention in Denver is like night and day.

Democratic convention: plenty of black-, brown-, etc. skinned people hanging around, many of which female; Republican convention: Very few of these; instead, relatively many “sturdy to fat white men,” in clothes more formal than he remembers seeing in Denver. Democratic: live band in the hall, lots of dancing; Republican: piped-in music, about the only dancing being that routine with all their identical cowboy hats that the Texas delegation performs. Democratic: a high-tech podium with a large video-screen upon which you are sure to see the live head-shot of someone being mentioned in the speaker’s speech, if said subject-person is at all to be found in the convention hall; Republican: an installation not so technically adept, basically calibrated to display humongous photos of a young, wounded John McCain. (Say, did you know that he spent quite a few years captive in Hanoi as a North Vietnamese POW?)

C’mon Levi – Lose the Kid Already!

Remarque actually uses the majority of space in this blog-post of his to grouch about his lack of access to those whom he really would like to interview. I guess that’s about what we can expect from such a rank journalistic outsider (“Interview request from the Volkskrant? Who dat?”), but he also does not help his cause with his rather eccentric choice of subjects. He wants to interview the McCain boys, because he remembers reading in John McCain’s autobiography about how McCain really didn’t want to go into the military, but felt he had no choice because both his grandfather and his father had become highly-accomplished naval officers. They have also gone into the military: do they feel the same way? And he also desires dearly the opportunity to pose a question to another figure scheduled to show up in St. Paul, one cast into public renown only recently, namely Levi Johnston, that hockey-mad Wasilla High School senior who got Bristol Palin with child. And the question would be along the lines of “C’mon Levi, what if your future mother-in-law didn’t happen to be the right-wing, anti-abortionist Alaska state governor: would you still be getting married and having the kid?” From the indication on Levi’s MySpace page (“I don’t want kids” – MySpace profile since taken down), he rather suspects the answers would be in the negative.

Remarque also has includes a head-shot of Levi in this article, and he is indeed said to be a hunky redneck, but ladies (and you non-traditional males), there’s no need to click on Remarque’s link just for that. That very same head-shot, plus another photo of him in action on the hockey-rink, plus a demure portrait of the mother-to-be in hoodie-sweatshirt, and then of course all the details about the love-affair known as of this point are available in English courtesy of the New York Daily News. (Britol Palin’s pregnancy was an open secret back home, and the lede: “He’s a superhunky bad-boy ice hockey player from cold country; she’s a chestnut-haired beauty and popular high school senior.”) In fact, if you compare them you can tell that that’s the same photo of Levi that Remarque uses on the Volkskrant page, but it’s somewhat distorted. Oh, and check out the hockey-rink picture, specifically the advertising hoarding to the rear. “Supporting Valley Hockey: Valley Urology“: Alaska really does seem to be some sort of different country, doesn’t it?

Street-Fighting for Universal Health Care?

Speaking of a different country, let’s turn briefly now to France, to the French Communist Party organ L’Humanité and its coverage of (as you might expect) the street-demonstrations happening outside the Republican convention itself (Wave of arrests at the Republican convention; no by-line). The article writes of 10,000 showing up to protest on Monday even as the convention itself was reduced to the bare administrative minimum out of consideration for Hurricane Gustav. According to L’Humanité, those protestors were objecting to the War in Iraq, which is also how I heard it elsewhere. On the other hand, yesterday’s (i.e. Tuesday’s) protestors were said to be demonstrating “for universal health care, better social protection, and free university tuition.” Those are all things the French Communist Party stands for, but somehow I tend to doubt that this is an accurate portrayal of their policy platform. The article does also note how these demonstrations in Minnesota sparked a number of violent confrontations with the police, as compared with the demonstrations at the Democratic convention in Denver which passed without any such incidents. It also mentions three journalists who were arrested while covering the demonstrations (against “this convention,” as the article puts it, “which would not suffer any criticism”), including the founder of Democracy Now, Amy Goodman.

This is all good red-blooded leftist journalism, from a source which, even if foreign, George W. Bush would still also be glad to label as the “angry left”, describing circumstances that certainly lead to violent confrontations between demonstrators and police (although the question remains open whether that violence was mainly the fault of the former or of the latter). I was disappointed, though, because it seems there was a deliberate wave of preventive searches and arrests that occurred last weekend, before the convention even started. Talk about your violation of First Amendment (and Fourth Amendment) rights, talk about intimations of an incipient police state: L’Humanité could really have had a field day reporting on that! I’m sorry I didn’t see anything like that, but perhaps I just missed it – remind me to go back and search through my RSS reader again.

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