Man this is one weird party convention town, made all the more strange by the whole twin cities thin – Minneapolis and St Paul, two seperate cities that fused together around 1910, a sort of urban fistula.

We’re in Minneapolis – the cooller, bigger part, founded by Scandinavians, full of funky modern architecture and art collective, and – this week – most of the actual delegates, at the Paulapalooza, the RonPaul.alt convention which is hilariously enough, storming on with an SRO crowd in the 10,000 seat Target Centre.

Paul, whose quixotic crusade has attracted every insurgent, maverick and most of all fruitbat in the libertarian hinterland, has benefitted from a phalanx of supporters who might otherwise have found themselves, with a bit more pushing, dodging the tear gas down the road. Paulapalooza is a one-day event with everyone from right wing creep Grover Norquist to the ever entertaining former governor/wrestler Jesse Ventura along for the ride.

Watching most of it on live feed from across the road at the Hard Rock cafe, it’s hard not to like the Paultards, no matter what hideous thoughts about abortion, Jews, the Illuminati etc are lurking beneath the surface. It’s the only game in town where you can find some 19-year-old kid in a blue suit and a party riband, talking to a guy in a hemp shirt, with an ‘I brake for hallucinations’ button. In the hall, Aimee Allen – some sort of christian/ alt/ fugknows act – is rocking it out, and though it appears that at least two songs are devoted entirely to various amendments of the constitution, there’s energy, there’s life.

Meanwhile, the CNN live feed is showing the warm ups before the convention starts at 6.30 central time – the band’s warming up. Dems had a hot house band, somewhere between parliament-funkadelic and earthwindandfire, and the GOP has got … smooth jazz. Kid you not. Smooth jazz. It is like something between the on-hold muzak in a dentist’s office and the theme to a cancelled sitcom.

Delegates in the crowd are waltzing to it. Christ if only the nation at large could see this, the GOP would not get nine seats. If funeral parlours had waiting-room music this would be it. Everything plastic, s-xless, deracinated, lifeless, safe, deadened is in this music. It’s like one of those old dog turds from the 70s, comes out brown and turns white in the sun.

The dudes playing it are not into it. Black guys in suits, they’re playing with that tight-lipped contempt you see in bands for weddings held in places where the reception centre looks like the cake, all white frou frou and fake columns.

The drummer has a ponytail.

I rest my case.

The GOP promised us a full day today, with hurricane Gustav having turned into a boring old big rain storm, and the other three hurricanes racked up off the coast, feeding off high sea temperatures – WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GLOBAL WARMING YOU WARMENISTS – but it hasnt eventuated. With half the delegates never turning up, and another bunch turning round and going back home on Sunday, the party could only put together an evening’s entertainment, culminating in Dubya addressing the crowd by video, which seems to neatly defeat the one advantage of the truncated convention – that nothing Bushesque except the botoxed Laura would be here to remind the public that there was any connection between the current administration and the Republican party.

God oh god, the Convention has started, and CNN cameras are panning the crowd as the minority leader – some bloke with not so much hair as a central parted helmet speaks. The cameras are scanning the crowd finding other collections of people with similar plastic-molded hair. Buzz Lightyear enters the toy store.

“Please stand for the official Convention photo – would all delegates please stand and face to the back as the panoramic camera takes the shot – this should take a minute or so …” Good god. These people want to be on The Daily Show.

Rage in the Machine is playing a free concert at the St Paul capitol and I’m in the Hard Rock cafe, watching Republicans facing backwards and smiling rictus style. It’s like a Devo film clip.

Two hundred arrests at the protests yesterday, 80 of them on felony charges, most of those the catch-all ‘conspiracy’ charge – if there were half a dozen acts of property damage that was it. Not a great day as it turned out.

But as bad as it was for the armies of the night, it weren’t nothing compared to the saga of Sarah Palin, which, by mid-morning, had political betting sites, opening up odds for a quit/sacked result. The pregnant teenager, the trooper intimidation case was only the beginning of it apparently. To add to that there was her early membership in the Alaska Independence Party, which claims – with perfect reason – that the 1959 passage of the place to statehood was a con job – her enthusiastic lobbying for ‘earmarks’ (pork attached to legitimite bills as the price of getting them through), her near-recall as mayor of Wazilla, her comments that Iraq was a ‘war for oil’, her support for abstinence-only s-x education, and on and on and on it went. Levi Johnston, Bristol Palin’s baby-daddy was a good place to start, a dude in a football jersey with a haircut that screams ‘roped in to a year 12 production of Footloose’ and a MySpace page that reads – I kid you not – ‘in a relationship but ‘I don’t want kids’.

Bad luck dude. You Juno’ed the daughter of the first citizen of Juneau and you have either hit the white-trash jackpot or just got yourself anchored down in Anchorage for a long long time.

By now the whole thing has become well-meta with the main story being the pitiful failure of the vetting process, the suggestion that McCain dug his heels in so long – he basically wanted his mancrush Joe Lieberman and wouldn’t take no for an answer until very, very late – and facing the invidious choice of either saying ‘yes I was bamboozled I didnt know any of this stuff’ or ‘no I was aware of it all the time and I selected a 44-year-old mayor of a place with the population of 40 blocks in Manhattan, who publicaly suggested the job is pointless, is currently under investigation for misuse of power, and all that other crap as well. Next question. Hey let’s put sugar in the tank of the Straight Talk express”

Would team McCain actually ask Palin to resign? Would she resign of her own accord, given the heat now coming down on her family? The fact that this sh-t is even possible is a measure of just how unbelievably dumb this choice was. Hang on to her, or drop her out the bombbays. Either way, it’s a helluva choice. This may be the worst executive choice since Aaron Burr, who actually tried to kill his boss.

Barry Goldwater junior now speaking to the Paultards. ‘We will take back the Republican party.’ They might at that.

At the GOP, 18yo Ashley Gunn from Brandon Mississippi, a teen blond in turquoise has come out to talk. ‘A famous philosopher Socrates once said’…. odfhelpus can the swimsuit competition be far behind?

Blues rock at the Paultardapalooza now. ‘Down with big brother I got the big brother blues’. Bless.

And Obama’s now back with a 7% lead in the poll average.

fzzzt.

Nine pm here now. Dubya addressing the Republican troops beamed from his undersea headquarters in Crawford. Paul has just addressed the troops in a damn powerful speech, which had about the only measure of plain common sense heard in this campaign.

Dubya’s as wooden as hell, like someone giving a testimonial for an unpleasant tasting cough medicine. ‘John’s an independent thinker – I know.’ Translation: c-nt c-nt c-nt c-nt c-nt.

Almost nothing to Dubya’s piece – 10 minutes tops? Something about a picture on the wall with sunrise on the mountains ‘and americans have all lived on the sunny side of the mountains’

Laura’s giving Cindy the wrap now – ‘Cindy’s visted refugees, war zones, Georgian crises’ – so many disaster areas, so many painkillers.

Laura wrapping it up now, and we’re seguing into a film tribute to Reagan who HAS BEEN DEAD FOR TEN YEARS. Or so.

Real contrast to Paulapalooza where the energy was phenomenal, and the candidate gutsy – if you don’t dig too deep – in his thorough denunciation of his own party, and his call for civil disobedience in the face of future wars. And of course his defence of hemp as an alternative fuel source.

Fred Thompson’s on now and to be fair he’s punching it home, even though his voice seems strained. Still, at least he’s got an actor’s delivery. Even if you find this whole worship of military casualties in unnecessary wars a bizarre cult of death, he’s giving it a bit of life.

Strange days, strange days.

“John McCain has a face that says ‘yes’,” some stooge said earlier at the GOP. Yeah, dude, but sadly, so does Bristol Palin.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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