With less than three weeks to go until the Propaganda Exhibit begins, the cadres are hard at work making sure the tapestry of the nation is on perfect display, but there is still some significant fraying at the edges - largely due to the Communists' efforts themselves, much like repeated vacuuming can damage a carpet (OK, maybe that's just my carpet, but I digress.
The Harmonious Society Department has been hard at work repressing media (Boycott 2008, Epoch Times, and the Washington Times), but as one would expect, the media is making their unhappiness plain, defeating the purpose of the initial restrictions. Meanwhile, a slew of arrests have turned the pre-Olympic buildup into ongoing accounts of the police state (Between Heaven and Earth, Epoch Times, Washington Post, and the Weekly Standard). All of this was before the embarrassing order barring Mongolians and Africans from Beijing bars during the Games (Asia News and World Net Daily) - perhaps Robert Mugabe is exempted (London Telegraph). Then there are the land seizures (BBC) and the bans on foreign entertainers (Int'l Herald Tribune).
Even the "normal" parts of the Olympics (athletics, commerce, and the notion of worldly reconciliation) are hitting snags. The cadres are being exposed as medal-hungry brutes (BBC), commerce-killing paranoids (Washington Times), and Taiwan-hating radicals who have even managed to alienate their friends in Kuomintang (Taipei Times).
Still, as much trouble as the Olympics have been, it's nothing compared to non-Olympic issues.
The cadres are resorting to outright bribes to quite parents of earthquake victims (Epoch Times). The people of Macau and Hong Kong continue to resist one-country, one-and-a-half-systems (Epoch Times). The World Trade Organization (of all people) insists that globalization be a two-way street (BBC and Washington Post).
Even foreign policy issues - long the crutch upon which cadres and appeasers have leaned - are turning on the regime. An espionage scandal straight out of a bad spy novel hits Britain (Times of London); the Long Arm of Lawlessness continues to alienate New Yorkers (Epoch Times); and even the Korean colony is getting serious blowback (One Free Korea).
Whether or not these will all combine to disrupt or detract from the Olympics is unclear (not that I'd bet on it), but it is fairly certain that these will continue to give the cadres headaches long after the "triumphant" Games turn into an avalanche of corruption.