First, the WARNING FOR TODAY: The game plan keeps changing and the public is not being told what the new rules of the game are. If we were, they couldn’t catch us breaking the rules we don’t know about. If you are visiting or live in Manhattan, DON’T PHOTOGRAPH AROUND THE HARBOR, THE RIVERS, BRIDGES, OR ANYTHING TO DO WITH WATER. IF YOU DO THE COAST GUARD IS GOING TO GET YOU. This is part of the new security against “terrorism.” Never mind how irrational this is, the tens of thousands of photographs that exist, that the New York City waterfront is a major tourist attraction, or that it happens to be very beautiful. This restriction may not end when the Convention ends.
Out of a sense of duty, I’ve been keeping track of the Convention — and the demonstrations. First, the demonstrations. These have been greeted with the usual paranoia and overkill. Down by the WTC, where a group had negotiated with the police to march for a reading of the names of those killed in the attack and in the war in Iraq, it seems that someone stepped off the sidewalk curb. So having gone about half a block, not blocking any traffic, even on the sidewalk, the first three hundred were immediately arrested. I don’t know the exact figure as of this Thursday morning, but as of yesterday roughly three times the number arrested in Chicago in 1968, at least 1600, had already been arrested. Some of the arrests were bloody but I don’t know how many have been injured.
About something you’ll see on TV — the black guy stomping a policeman. Yeah, that’s a real video. He did that. What you aren’t going to see is the video of the policeman in plain clothes riding a motorcycle into the crowd and the terrified look on the faces of the people he was attacking. Nobody knew this was a cop, but, cop or not, he shouldn’t have done that. Yeah, the guy shouldn’t have stomped him once he was down, but pulling him off that motorcycle was self-defense, and defense of the rest of the people there. Real video can lie, too. You see the image, you believe it. Like with the Dean scream. It’s wonderful what editing can do. I hope I get jury duty for that kid’s trial.
The demonstrations have mostly been announced well in advance. At the NY Public Library, at 42nd St., a gathering place announced in advance, the police were ready. Not only was anyone who happened to be on the steps arrested, whether there to demonstrate or not, but people were knocked to the ground as they came out of the subways. The 42nd St. station is a major transportation hub. The routine used is to surround people with orange netting, sometimes keep them trapped for hours before arresting them. Those arrested seem to — vanish. My next door neighbor’s daughter called her mother Tuesday evening to say she thought she might be arrested. After that, nothing until late in the afternoon yesterday. We frantically called everywhere. Central Booking seems to have its phones off the hook. The lawyers supposed to look after demonstrators hadn’t been allowed to talk to anyone. Her cell phone had been confiscated, she was finally at Central Booking when she called, she thought she’d be kept for at least 24 hours. I’m not sure she’s home yet.
Meanwhile, demonstrators managed to get inside the Garden and disrupt the Convention at least four times yesterday. What kind of security is that? Paranoia, hysteria, intimidating and terrorizing people, public displays of how tough we are and how we mean business do not equal good security. Obviously, a well-trained terrorist could have gotten in there and killed people. That this didn’t happen was pure luck, not good security.
As for the convention itself — where’s the beef? Day One — our glorious president got us through 9/11. Yeah. After he finally surfaced, and I don’t mean that seven minute delay so he wouldn’t scare the school children. I mean the several days he was — well — not available for comment, and definitely not acting as Commander-in-Chief. Leadership. Courage and strength, eh? That seems to be the message we’re supposed to take away with us. Giuliani managed to get to the WTC immediately, almost got himself killed. Even Pataki managed to show up and he had to come down from Albany.
Second day — compassion. Yeah. You can tell when you’re dealing with passive aggression because it makes you choke with anger you can’t express because the other party’s being so “nice”. Republican delegates went around the city to teach us New Yorkers how to be charitable and do the compassionate conservative thing. Nice photo-ops. Painting walls in one of Carter’s Habitat for Humanity houses, as though that’s not a volunteer project, Serving food to Senior Citizens. Who did they think those people working next to them were, anyway? And the speeches — Good God! The Muscle Man telling those unemployed because of Bush policies not to be girly men? Laura Bush (does she own any clothing that’s not powder blue) telling us how sweet her husband is? We’ve already seen three years of this kind of compassion, thank you.
Third day — pure, spitting hatred. The religion of hate. How is this different from the Islamic fundamentalists? I’ve never seen such hatred spewed in one place before. Even Hitler was FOR something, loved his Master Race, dogs, and blond children, So far as I can see, these people need an exorcism. The Devil’s got em.
Obviously, I’m depressed. Can’t wait for tonight’s display! What are we supposed to take away with us? Oh, yeah. Leadership, courage, strength, compassion, vote for us, and the other side ain’t go any of it. Hate, lies and deception. Outside on the streets, hate, paranoia, hysteria, macho men in uniforms with machine guns, attack dogs, no genuine security. This bunch is gonna protect us from terrorists? Terrorists are rational and intelligent. They are watching this sham and see the holes in it; the unprotected chemical plants, the rear of airports not guarded, wide-open ports, the vulnerable nuclear establishments, how easy it is to get into the convention hall.
And where’s the social policy? So far as I can see, there isn’t any. Carrying meals to the tables of Senior Citizens doesn’t cut it, doesn’t even look so good on TV. What about the elderly who can’t get around and can’t afford food or medicines? What about the homeless in a city where the average rent is $3000 a month for places I wouldn’t put a cow in? What about health care, the failing economy, where’s the plan? Lies and deception. Don’t I realize that everything’s coming up roses?
I can’t eat roses. We’ll see what tonight brings.