"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Why Anti-War Action is Necessary

Been noodling on the "protesting is tratorous" meme for a while today. While the exercising of rights is hardly un-American, I've been looking for the communicable reasoning behind my intuative comment to a women at last weekend's march that I'm doing this because I love my country.

RonK, from Seatte (the original), who I've been reading in the comments of Daily Kos has a piece of the action: because we need to convince the world that this is not the real USA. This isn't the whole story. There's the bit about standing up for what you believe in, creating your own reality, taking meaningful action to be an active participant in your own existence, but this is a critical element. The world must know that what is going on now is an abbaration, so that when we bench Team Bush and bring some sanity back to the White House, we'll have a leg to stand on international credibility-wise. Protest. Do it for the future.

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Refresh Connections

I've been trading a few emails with Luke over the past day or two. He's on Spring Break now, and doing some fine extracurricular sociological studies on the war polls. We've been discussing protest tactics and the utility of Civilization II as a tool for educating world leaders. I pointed out that it teaches some important lessons about power and the peskyness of partisan and fanatic millitary units. Luke responds that going to war as a democracy without the UN wonder of the world is usually political suicide, and perhaps the game needs re-designing given recent events. I say wait and see.

I'm also making plans to sublet the spare room in his apartment for much of the summer. Hopefully Peter and I will be landing a fairly hectic bit of consulting work, which would keep me busy and give me the necessary bank to make that a reality. Not counting any chickens yet, though.

I've also been doing some phone-tag with "The Girth". He's in touch with our USAF-enlisted man JD, who's alive and well in some undisclosed middle-eastern location. Thinking about him, I'm glad he ran up all that credit card debt. See, when JD enlisted a couple years ago, it looked like he was going to be on the forward intelligence/special forces kind of track. But it turns out he has bad credit, which apparently makes you a security liability, which means he's flying in cargo aircraft, which means he's a lot less likely to end up full of holes, which is good news from where I'm standing.

Spent last night in stitches with Sasha. That woman cracks me up something fierce.

Finally, Mark made noises which would suggest he'd be returning from Equador in the next month as well. Perhaps a grand reunion at Ren Fayre is in the cards? I can only hope so.

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Notes from a Defeatist

On loan from Franker, I just finished the latest collection by Cartoon Genius Joe Sacco -- another fine product of the Oregon experience -- and in the spirit of that (and reports of Turkish incursions in the North and bussloads of Syrian Voulenteers on their way to Baghdad), I invite everyone to once again try their hand at the game all the world is playing. Yes sir, step right up and take your best shot, it's the hottest attraction on television and the internet. It's faster than the breaking news. Could be your lucky day kid. That's right, for the low low cost of $80 billion a month, you to can test your mettle. Get ahead of the curve with Gulf War II!

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Salam Pax Alive

Salam Pax has an update from within Baghdad. Good to know he's safe. As I thought, the internet was out for a bit during Shock and Awe.

Also, on the propaganda watch, here's what's coming out of the American Enterprise Institute. Key quote is the second paragraph, "The American campaign in Iraq is barely 60 hours old, but already it is inflicting terrible casualties upon the deceptions and delusions of the pre-war period." Sounds good, except that it's not about how the PNAC-sponsored visions of rapid surrenders and a war that's over inside a week are being gruesomely ripped asunder. It's about how predictions of doom and gloom were out of whack, and protesters are supporting tyrants, and all that other nonsense. Fuggin' disgustin'.

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More Bad News

Sorry to follow up the Oscars with more bum-out material, but this meme bears propogation:

Marines seem to be genuinely surprised that the Iraqis aren't surrendering. This bespeaks of a horrible misleading load of bull coming from their intel people at the near end, and the administration/CIA at the other... There was a point, early on, where Rumsfeld and cronies were telling General Franks (several months ago) that his request for a TOTAL force size of 250K was 'way out of line.' Ari Fleischer actually said that Franks wasn't invited to the next strategy meeting because "the president doesn't have time to listen to what the president doesn't want to hear." We hear Rumsfeld and crew have been turning down requests for additional combat power in theater, and perhaps even advancing schedules with the 'decap strike' to the point that the 4ID couldn't even make it onto dirt. Given the trouble we seem to be having with even the forces we have now, how can Mr. Rumsfeld and company explain their earlier intransigence, and more importantly, the apparent massive lag in introducing what appear to be needed reinforcements?

This cometh from the comments over at dailykos, quick becoming one of my favorite spots to read and post. Rumsfield. He ain't pretty no more. Also, I no longer trust the US media. BBC all the way for me. They let reporters blog, after a fashion (unlike the goons at CNN). They don't have press blackouts and they aren't trying to protect their home population from negative coverage -- few in the UK support this war, so there's no reason to try and project a rosy picture.

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Oscar Notes

Steve Martin is a good man. A sardonic "nice to see they cancled all the glitz," the line that leads off the show. After all the talk of restraint and no red carpet, it was tits and tans and shiny stuff everywhere. But that's Hollywood. (Sincerely) "I just want you to know, the proceeds from tonight's events will be split up and shared amongst several enormous corperations." Genius. This man has wit to spare.

All the chesty women with healthy looking arms and backs were a welcome sight, making the willowy wisps that traditionally dominate the scene look positively twiggy. Perhaps bulimia is finally going out of fashion. Fertility is in, a victory for life. Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

In spite of a more or less unspoken moratorium on politicizing the event, there were inevitable references to global events. Two ABC news updates on the war didn't help the suspension of disbelief. Hardly a segment went by where one wasn't reminded as to the context in which this very American ritual was unfolding.

In all the statements made, I was reminded again of the difference between artistic and bare-knuckle politics. Michal Moore -- who I was happy to see win for Bowling for Columbine, though I'm not sure it was a "documentary" in the traditional sense -- made some heavy-handed statements that seemed hokey and rehearsed. Got booed for it too, even if he was more or less telling the truth. The atmosphere in the room reminded me of yesterday at the protest when I saw a man pick up some sticks and prepare to fling them at the cops. A chorus of, "no!"s arose from the crowd, and he was physically restrained from completing his act.

Moore's comments seemed similarly pointless and confrontational given the context, and while there's a wide gulf between tossing sticks at police officers and calling Bush's election fictional, at this juncture they serve about as much purpose. Had he bothered to work his way around to it artfully it might have gone over, but his language was that of a protest rally, not an acceptance speech. It was a disingenuous use of the platform, and as such it suffered.

On the other hand, Adrien Brody, Best Actor of The Piano, pulled off some kind of king hell trifecta; winning the Oscar, kissing Hallie Berry full on the mouth, and then running long in his acceptance and shuting up the orchestra to deliver a spontanious and deeply honest statement wishing for peace and safety to all in Iraq. Standing ovations all around, a clear expression of what needed saying in the way it aught to be said under the circumstances. It was for me the high point of the proceedings. There's video popping up here (currently you can review Moore, but not Brody).

Sarandon scored points in my book as well for flashing a peace sign and then seductively and poetically invoking the necessity of art as a transformative force. Many others made nudge-nudge wink-wink statements against war, or at least in support of peace.

Finally, Peter O'Toole reminded me that spoken language is fast becoming a lost art in this country. Not only are we a nation which cannot listen, we are fast becoming a nation that fails too at articulation. We have little enough of worth to say it seems, and are forgetting even how to say it, how to form the syllables, in the words of the Bard to "Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue." Sad bit, that.

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Protest Notes

Broadway was full
Broadway at about 10th stree. It was like this all the way back to Times Square.
Plenty of folks lining up for falaffel after we got to the park.
Plaincothes bust
Plainclothes cops bust some random kid for no apparent reason.

Photos are here!

Protest march was fantastico. People were filling B'way from 42nd to Washington Square Park, no idea how to estimate the numbers. While most cheered, a few people lining the road were not enthusiatic. One young man held an American flag and looked tense. I pointed to the flag patch I was wearing, looked him in the eye and gave a thumbs up. One old woman said, "you're all traitors." I responded, "I'm here because I love my country." That's the truth, kids.

The crowd was pretty diverse. I saw young people and old people, white people and brown people. There was a contingent of monks there doing some cool deep chanting that I felt like joining in with but didn't for fear of getting it wrong. There were hipsters and Jim Jarmush and Amiri Baraka and a contingent from el Puente (the primarily latino neighborhood in south w-burg). It was a good group, with lots of witty signs and positive vibes.

I also met a few people who liked to talk politics. Some kid who's studying to be a tour guide and who was all for hearing about real alternatives to war. I talked to people about how this has to all lead up to the 2004 election. Many were skeptical about who among the Democrats would stand up to Team Bush. I told them about Howard Dean and his spot on anti-war/pro-america message. Hopefully that movement will continue gathering steam.

Dean on the War:

"The threshold for what America does militarily has got to be higher than anyone else's. America has always set the moral tone in foreign policy. And if we attack a nation unilaterally that's not a threat to us, it means that someone will try the same thing, somewhere down the line, and justify it by our actions."

All and all it was a pleasent and eventful afternoon. Once we hit the park we were told to disperse, but of course that didn't happen. Washington Square had a festival atmosphere, full of people and music and the energy of spring. I got a falaffel and stooped it on W4th for a while with joe Felice and a few others. Met up with Henning and her crew eventually. It was a beautiful afternoon.

Later on I swung back through and the inevitable clashes with the Law were underway. It's like high school: some protesters want to fight, and so do some cops. They antagonize each other, offering little provocations back and fort until finally someone snaps and there's a flurry of activity. The air was pretty tense for a while as the NYPD moved to clear Washington Square West. I was a bit disturbed watching a couple of plainclothes cops bust some kid at the back of the crowd for no reason I could detect. He was simply taken out seemingly at random, thrown to the ground and arrested. A few things were thrown at the cops -- plastic water bottles, signs, a slice of pizza and one glass bottle -- but the crowd did a pretty quick job of self-policing, so that didn't really escalate too much. Some people near the front got the old mace in the face.

Afterwards I went to Julia's and we watched the sunset from her roof, a stunning and inspiring view of our fair city. Strange days are coming, it seems.

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In the war-journalism department, Christopher Albritton of Back to Iraq plans to leave for Kurdistan as early as Wednesday. On the flip side, Kevin Sites has been asked by CNN to discontinue his independent reporting from the field. The contest for honest war coverage is on.

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Friday Night

Anxiety of all kinds is still running strong. I've been falling behind on everything this week, enervated by war and desperation. Jeremy hooked me up with free tickets to the current Richard Foreman show, which is miles better than the last. Foreman is strange, such an un-checked barrage of stuff coming from deep in the root of his twisted mind and onto the stage, you kind of have to let it wash over you and take what you can get. Sometimes it hangs together, sometimes it don't, really all depends on the signal to noise ratio. This one got me for a few good stretches, but left me idling for others. Still, good show vibe at the end.

In one of the down moments where my brain returned to personal stuff, I flashed on some unpleasant perspective about what's going on in the world now. I thought about victors writing history, about how a lot of young people are for this war, about how Team Bush was able to frame the debate, about how anti-war people are often called pro-Saddam. I thought that if it goes well how the history books would record the resistance as a footnote, if that. It was melancholy, but also somehow peaceful to imagine the moment as seen through the rose glasses of history.

Afterwards we repaired to good old Sahara East for great chow and hookah. It felt upliftingly cosmopolitan to munch on humus and drink some Turkish coffee and bob my head to Egyptian music. A little alice in wonderland nicotine buzz to float it all and I was in heaven until a little static with Sasha iced my mood. It was nothing really, but a kind of sobering moment to realize where I am if one 30-second phone call can give me an additudinal 180 like that.

And now I rest for tomorrow's protest. I will take pictures and tell you all how it goes.

Semi-Random links: Pro War civvies can loose their cool and, to be fair and balanced, so can I (scroll down about 5 comments, look for the all-caps screaming).

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