Brief update on outside-DNC shenanigans

After a bit of a late start yesterday, I spent most of the afternoon with other members of the intrepid Peoples Press Collective, looking for activists and protesters who were particularly interesting. Hot Air's Jason Mattera did some great under-cover work dressed as an anti-Guantanamo protester, in an orange jump suit, and got into some typically hilarious and revealing conversations. (I'll link to some videos when they're up on the web.) We had gone out to "Tent State University", which looked something like the way a low-budget street fair would look just before it was about to end. That is, some bored looking liberals (Veterans for Peace, Amnesty International, random stoned 20-something white kids) waiting around for something to happen. Some people were setting up a stage for someone to give a talk...I overheard something about the subject of "the racial income divide", but nobody was around to care. Amnesty International had set up a model Gitmo cell, which Mattera proceeded to occupy as if he belonged there. After returning to Civic Center Park, I interviewed some protesters and activists but there wasn't a lot to choose from during a very quiet day. One man, a 69-year old poet/activist named Rick Burnley, was selling t-shirts that said Gulag Amerikkka which, despite the three K's obviously plagiarized from Jeremiah Wright, did have a message that I had some sympathy with. Namely, that America imprisons too many people, particularly for minor drug crimes. Despite our disagreement on some political issues, Burnley was a very pleasant guy. I can just picture him sleeping in his car in Brooklyn, as he described, without two nickels to rub together, trying to make enough playing music and reading his anti-establishment poetry (which wasn't too bad if you're into that sort of thing.) I spoke with some 50-ish year old women imported from San Francisco working at the Amnesty International tent. They were certainly committed radicals, self described "radical socialists leaning toward communism." Like many of the protesters I've spoken to or overheard, they're not much more interested in Obama than in McCain, thinking that Obama isn't enough change. One woman said her favorite choice right now is Cynthia McKinney, running on the Green Party ticket. When I suggested that she was a racist, they said that was just the media's biased portrayal. (I beg to differ.) One of the San Fran ladies said "What's wrong with socialized medicine? Congress has it and it works great for them. Now I want mine!" She wasn't kidding, and within her own deluded mind I suppose I can see her point. When I asked whether she was worried about the cost, she gave the usual answer: Just stop all wars and stop maintaining a military and we could then afford health care. When I suggested to her that Medicare was already going to bankrupt the country and was much more expensive than the War in Iraq, she didn't even comprehend what I was saying, and not because she's stupid. Her mind is simply closed to anything based on fact. One woman said that capitalism has a fatal flaw and that it tends to "eat itself alive from the inside." I asked "hasn't Communism done exactly that every time it's been tried?" Her answer, the answer of leftists from Dewey to Marx to Mao throughout history, was that "Russia and China were dictatorships, not truly communism" and that "it needs to be done with more of a scientific approach". Is it not amazing that they don't see the connection between forcing people to adhere to somebody's "scientific approach" and the dictatorship that such force must inevitably become?
  • unmarshal
    Comment from: unmarshal
    08/27/08 @ 05:19:34 pm

    Hi, saw you on Reason TV. Excellent excellent project you have going here. Wish I could join you guys in Denver. Keep it up!

  • Kevan McNaught
    Comment from: Kevan McNaught
    08/27/08 @ 10:45:51 pm

    The underlying idea that the "San Fran ladies" espouse without trying is common to post-hippie progressives, namely that human kind is essentially good & perfectable. It's just that the right organizational structure hasn't been used. Therefore, we need only try one more method, & this time we'll get it right. History tells a different tale, that humans are basically selfish, and will consistently act only in what they believe is in their own interest. The summation of Adam Smith, Hayek, Friedman, et al is that freedom trumps coercion, individual choice wins over collective action, and that the worst capitalist will unintentionally do more for his fellow man than all the well-meaning altruists put together. Winston Churchill put it best, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

  • Nick R
    Comment from: Nick R
    08/28/08 @ 01:01:15 pm

    Big Beantown thanks to you...Great site, thanks for taking the time to put the blog/pictures/reporting together of the convention...looking forward to reading the archived posts...keep up the good work.