So...China. Like, oy, right? Yesterday San Francisco rained on the protesters' plan to rain on the Olympic torch relay, but so many questions remain. Where did all these angry Crouching Tiger bridge scaling people come from? Isn't Tibet a kind of nineties cause? Are the protesters just holdovers from the anti-WTO movement who somehow made the massive logical leap from "thinking globalization is evil bc Starbucks" to "thinking globalization is evil bc lead toys and monk beating"? Who are the mysterious men in blue? And who beats up on the torch bearer in the wheelchair? And if even the Chinese press is covering the wheelchair thing, and the Dalai Lama himself is saying he's all in favor of the Olympics...could the whole thing be a sinister inside job? Megan and I ask each other these questions and more with occasional pauses to Google answers for answers after the jump.
MEGAN: Good morning! I'm caffeinated this morning!
MEGAN: There will be a lot of exclamation points!
MOE: I'm...HUNGOVER! And it's kind of late. Did you have sex or something? Wait don't answer that in public!
MEGAN: Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you just said. Oh, well. Wanna talk about the news?
MEGAN: I feel like being a rapist, accomplice or apologist is practically a checkbox you have to have before going to Iraq for KBR these days.
MOE: Okay China is saying it broke up a terrorist plot to kidnap Olympians.
MOE: And yeah, we don't want the Crappy Hour to get too rapey
MEGAN: Yeah, I was listening to that this morning.
MEGAN: This terrorist plot to supposedly kidnap athletes and foreign journos is probably why China shouldn't have censored the movie Munich. I mean, other than the hottness of Eric Bana and Daniel Craig and that French guy from Amelie, that is.
MOE: Dude, I never saw that movie, dammit. I wonder if it's OnDemand. Fuck New York and all its deleterious outdoor social obligating. Here's the thing about the Olympic protests: they really did seem to come from nowhere, right? Even the Dalai Lama seems surprised.
"Right from the beginning, we supported the Olympic Games." Speaking of pro-Tibetan protesters, he said nobody "has the right to tell them to shut up.
MEGAN: Nobody does have the right to tell them to shut up, but trying to grab the torch from the athlete in the wheelchair is tacky. Like, really, really tacky. Plus, what does it prove? Why is it that like a silent back-turning protest as it passes is deemed not good enough but turning people like me off by grabbing it from disabled people is helpful to your cause?
MOE: I guess that's what the Dalai Lama is pointing out? I mean, he's thrilled y'all figured out how to scale the Golden Gate, really, but...
MOE: who were those guys anyway? Do we know? They haven't scored any decent Olympic interviews on my Fox News.
MEGAN: The Golden Gate bridge people should be in the Olympics. That was some epic shit.
MOE: Uh-oh, the wheelchair girl was interviewed by the Chinese press. I can't figure out whether that's good or bad.
MEGAN: I mean, it seems like a lot of the torch runners are Asian, so maybe it's designed to highlight the Chinese diaspora? Is there such a thing?
MOE: And then in London you had the horrible Chinese thugs issue..
Miss Huq, one of 80 torchbearers said: "The men in blue perplexed everyone. Nobody seemed to know who they were officially or what their title was. They were very robotic, very full on, and I noticed them having skirmishes with our own police and the Olympic authorities before our leg of the relay, which was confusing.
"They were barking orders at me, like 'Run! Stop!' and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, who are these people?'
"They kept pushing my hand up higher when I was holding the torch, so they were...interesting."
Miss Huq was nearly knocked to the ground by a protester as thousands of campaigners disrupted the procession to demonstrate against China's human rights abuses and brutality in Tibet.
It was reported the men have been recruited from Chinese special forces brigades. Some came from the feared Flying Dragons and rthe Sword of Flying Dragons counter-terror units.
MEGAN: Yeah, it seems weird to have the Chinese Special Forces providing security for the torch relay, like, really, really bad PR. Plus, what sort of arrangements did they come to with the other governments about that sort of thing? Are they photographing protestors?
MOE: Actually on balance I'm really psyched about the protests. I thought Tibet was, like, such a nineties issue and now what with tortilla riots and Iranian nuclear proliferation and mercenary rape wars in the Iraq people would have just kinda given up on it but now we learn that is not true, that actually, in the meantime, they are learning to scale bridges.
MOE: To answer your question though I'm pretty sure the Chinese don't generally exist in a universe where they recognize "bad PR."
MOE: In terms of "arrangements," I would bet the IOC helps fast-track this sort of shit, which is why Lord Coe got his drawers in a bunch about it.
MEGAN: I mean, who wouldn't have their panties in a bunch about another country's security forces having operations on their soil? Like, where the hell are our panties? Oh, wait, they're all made in China along with everything else.
MOE: Obama joined the boycott bandwagon. Angela Merkel isn't showing up, incidentally.
MEGAN: Or Gordon Brown.
MOE: Yeah, but he's attending the closing ceremony? I guess since London gets the Olympics next there's probably some important torch duty to attend to there. Anyway, meanwhile in China executive compensation is stoking outrage!
MEGAN: Hahaha. So much for "Communism" suckers. Faux meritocracy FTW! You'll get your own mortgage crisis just as soon as the government lets the peons own property!
MOE: Well, um, the government lets the peons own property, they just get backsies if someone wealthier wants to build there. What's interesting is that these "multimillion yuan" salaries are inciting such a huge outcry from Chinese citizens. Do they have any idea of the magnitude of the pay packages of the Western executives who created all that shareholder value outsourcing all their operations to China? I wonder how, or if, the Chinese press covers American corporate culture/excesses/etc.
MEGAN: I have to think they cover it to some degree, right? I mean, the Russians propagandized the hell out of that shit.
MOE: Yeah, but it wasn't an iconic Soviet autocrat who said "To get rich is glorious."
MEGAN: Oh, sure, but not to to people he was oppressing, I think. It's all lifting every boat and shit, work for your comrades, blah blah blah while the people at the top of the hierarchy convince you and themselves that they "deserve" to live better lives because their work is, like, harder and stuff. Just like here!
MOE: And speaking of, the dollar dipped below seven yuan. This is big news because the central bank sets exchange rates.
MEGAN: Wait, so they're actually letting their currency appreciate! Tell the unions! Shout to the steel lobbyists! Inform Congress immediately that there's no need to pass legislation to impose sanctions China for its exchange rate policy, not that it will have any effect on anything whatsoever because it's all about perception in Washington rather than actuality.
MOE: Well yeah and it's not like their policy changed, per se.
MEGAN: Yeah, it's just this thing in DC that has annoyed me for years as though China's the only country on the face of the Earth that doesn't manipulate its exchange rate. I mean, we don't but we sort of do, but the VAST majority of countries in the world don't float their currency.
MEGAN: It just gets shouted about in Washington because it's something to hang a political hat on because no one knows anything about exchange rates and you can make it sound really unique and unfair when it comes to China and the same people shouting about it have no idea of the downstream consequences to our own economy.
MEGAN: [/rant] Caffeine!
MOE: China has kept theirs artificially low, which for us, has been sort of like a reverse mortgage.
MEGAN: Just another way we in effect financed the universal right to a flat screen. Made in Korea.
MOE: Here's a decent piece on the Olympics and China and what it all means. Although by decent I do not mean "universe altering." Anyway, can anyone tell me, getting back to San Francisco, who were those guys?
MEGAN: They were members of Students for a Free Tibet. All but one of them was over 30.
MOE: Holy shit:
Reached by cell phone as he dangled from the bridge, Sutherlin said he was worried that the torch's planned route through Tibet would lead to more arrests and that Chinese officials
MEGAN: Dude, I am wicked afraid of heights. I am dubbing this the most awesome scary protest of the year. Plus, who knew you could get cell phone service halfway up the Golden Gate Bridge's suspension cables? I can't get it from inside the karaoke bar I was in last night. Goddamn AT&T. More bars in more places my ass.