Send in the Clowns...

"Terror Drills" along Fifth Avenue/Bryant Park, June 2004. Photo éBrian Molyneaux.

A dark cloud looms over the late summer horizon. Like it or not, the Republicans are indeed coming to town. At first thought, exactly what achievements they will be celebrating may seem elusive, but here are my speculations.
Perhaps they will celebrate their robust defense of the city and the nation on 9/11. Or the EPA’s comforting reassurances about air quality in lower Manhattan in the days, weeks and months after the attack. Or maybe the generous tax cuts for the rich that—in true Reagan-style—have been combined with massive increases in spending in order to produce a whopping budget deficit that will provide the rationale for slashing and/or privatizing any remaining social programs. Ok, this last one’s kind of complicated, so it’s more likely that they’ll simplify it to something like "we hate taxes!"

Surely the Republicans will celebrate the stirring success of their elective war on Iraq. Somewhere along the way they may even proudly admit that initially it was a war on the U.N. Maybe they'll toast to the triumph of crony capitalism in Iraq's postwar reconstruction. Or to the diligent intelligence-gathering that the do-gooder crowd prefers to call the torture at Abu Ghraib. You can bet that they will hoist a few to Iraq's grand new sovereign government, even as they acknowledge--only to each other, of course--that in reality it's just a good old-fashioned puppet regime.

And what will the convention's host, Mayor Bloomberg, be telling his invited guests during this time? "Get away from me, Ralph Reed!"; "I said 'no photos!'" And "I know at least a couple of people in the Party who don't want to bash gays!" To critics like Bill Dobbs of United for Peace and Justice, who rightly call him a "menace to the First Amendment," Mayor Mike may say, "So what? The G.O.P. doesn't stand for the Bill of Rights--no, it stands for Grand Old Party!" Whatever he says, and whomever he throws a party for, you can rest assured that media observers around the city will still treat Mike as just a progressive guy who happens to belong to an ultra-reactionary party.

On the streets outside Madison Square Garden, as well as all over town, I suggest that the rest of us should celebrate one thing, and one thing alone--that we’re not inside the Republican National Convention.

All of us at the Rail are honored to announce that Jonas Mekas has agreed to serve as our new Film Editor. He brings to us wisdom, exuberance, and a life-long love and respect for the art of making films and much, much more. Welcome aboard, Jonas!


--T. Hamm

Contributor

Theodore Hamm

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