What to say about the Republicans gathered in Minnesota? These people are crazy people. I love that the Republicans are running a “just folks” campaign against Obama. Like the Dems they are running on “change” (never mind that they have had the Presidency for 8 years, 6 years of which they also controlled the House and half of which they controlled the Senate too). The main chant was for the oil companies: “Dig, baby, dig!” Our poor neglected oil conglomerates, one wonders how they have ever survived.
We heard a lot of “small town” versus the “cosmopolitans” as well. “Cosmopolitan” just means non-white (or occasionally, gay). This is a changed nomenclature from the “culture wars” of previous campaigns but amounts to the same racist attack. An attack on the city has been an attack on black folks since a generation or more. Ask a Detroiter.
Most workers, like most Americans, live in cities and their environs, hunting for parking spaces not moose (or wolves from the platforms of helicopters as Palin supports). Farmers live in the country. Duh. The working class is nothing like the caricature both parties attempt to “relate” to.
Note to campaign managers: The “average American”, i.e the US worker, does not live in small, all white town of family farmers huddled around the hearth. The average worker is not the NASCAR Dad. Most are not white racist rubes. In fact most workers aren’t white men at all.
Workers die in wars. Most of those who have died in the current wars were not from small town, rural America; they were from the metropolitan corridors in states like Ohio, New York, Texas, California, Illinois and Pennsylvania (Massachusetts claims twice as many dead as Mississippi), many from areas devastated by the neo-liberal offensive of the last 25 years.
The fact that the Republicans are running neck and neck with Obama and able to paint the Dems as elitist effetes “out of touch” with (white) America is testimony not just to the racism of the Republicans and a layer of white folks beyond them, but the failure of the Democrats to relate to the class anxieties, in real terms, if not interests of workers. The Republicans attacking anyone for being in the service of the elites is laughable. “Dig, baby, dig!”
There were a couple of “We are all Georgians” speeches and some tough talk on the Islamic enemy. Now the rest of the country might not be inclined for a second round of wrestling with the Bear, but apparently Washington (which has sent warships to the Black Sea along with 1 billion dollars) is. Saakashvili seems to have been, at least in part, a McCain personal project. “Fightin’ Joe” Biden, himself an old cold war liberal, is also rolling up his sleeves in anticipation of wrestling with the Russkies.
Why would Russia feel like there was a confrontation with the west? Well, since the fall of the USSR NATO and the Americans (who opened for Herman and the Hermits back in the day) have been busy redefining the frontiers of Russia’s accepted zone of influence. From missiles in Poland (to defend against Iran?!?) and NATO bases in the Balkans to the air bases in Tajikistan a line of US clients, bases and interventions seems to have encircled Mother Russia’s eastern and southern flanks. There you are and there you stay.
Putin’s Russia is now home to a gangster capitalism that wants access to and control of resources and markets on its periphery. The US would like to define that periphery differently. Militarily, the second Chechnya war wasn”t as redeeming as Putin thought it would be to the battered military of the former Soviet Union. Borders had to be crossed to prove Russia’s reach.
That Russia pulled the “humanitarian” card from the NATO play book in Russia’s defense of the “small nations” of the Caucuses is only as cynical as NATO’s use of said arguments in Kosovo. The ease with which they plowed over the US’s client regime in Georgia must have been disheartening for the imperialists. Israel’s vaunted military, who was contracted out to train the Georgians, has also been embarrassed…again. It is just so hard to get good help these days.
Putin is a creepy guy. Always eager to flex in public, a few days ago as he happened to be wandering through the Siberian taiga, his shirt open and in fatigues, he dropped a tiger lunging at a television crew with a dart gun (at least as reported). Putin’s Russia is certainly fishing in imperial waters even if their rod and reel is of a different vintage. Putin prides himself on having shoulders broader than James Caan; who gave Sonny Corleone the keys to the Kremlin?
And the hat in the photo above is an actual souvenir from the RNC. I know the Cultural Revolution was, well, complicated to say the least, but I couldn’t help but smile when thinking of what a young, energetic throng of Red Guard might have accomplished in the tightly packed convention space at St. Paul.