And these are the MODERATE protesters.
And these are the MODERATE protesters. Marie Kanger Born /

We're less than a week away from the start of the Republican Convention in Cleveland (it begins Monday), and it's shaping up to be a real carnival of pleasures/horrors.

My favorite planned event: one hundred nude women will stand outside the arena and point giant mirrors at it, like one of those desert solar-panel plants known for setting passing birds on fire. It's an art project by Spencer Tunick, who's been doing mass-nude photo projects for years. Of the project, he told Esquire, "I feel like doing this will sort of calm the senses. It brings it back to the body and to purity."

Yes, if the GOP seems open to anything right now, it's calm senses and purity.

Nudity is illegal in Cleveland — especially for women, who are not even allowed to show the bottom of their breast — so this art piece may conclude with one hundred arrests. But this is just one of many fuses wriggling their way out of the powder keg. You may not be allowed to brandish a boob in Cleveland, but brandishing a gun is perfectly legal.

Nearby hospitals are gearing up, telling staffers to remain on-call for the entire week and even stockpiling medical supplies in case they're cut off. Police are stockpiling, too: they got 2,000 shiny new batons. It would be a shame if they didn't have an opportunity to put them to use.

The racist Traditionalist Workers Party will be there. The New Black Panthers (which the Southern Poverty Law Center calles "virulently racist and anti-Semitic") plan to show up with guns. And a paramilitary group called Oath Keepers is planning to show up with guns, which is slightly less fun than naked women.

Some prominent Republicans are skipping the event altogether, but others can't wait. Senator Tom Cotton will be popping by, taking a break from whatever it is he does in the privacy of his home (which is, I'm just going to guess, pressing himself against his wife while they both wear wool sweaters filled with custard).

"I look forward to talking about our military and our veterans," Cotton said while emitting a faintly sweet smell.

The whole situation reminds me of the day or two before Katrina hit New Orleans, when forecasts were streaming in and the residents who could flee the city were clogging the freeways out of town. I remember thinking, "Oh man, this seems like it's going to be bad," as if predicting a disaster softens the blow when it actually hits.