Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The view from the expensive seats

I somehow got stuck in some of the best seats in the house. The place is packed. Bill Frist, the senate majority leader is giving a speech on the subject of health insurance. He denounced John Edwards as a preditor and and attacks Kerry again and again about the damage that the raising of malpractice insurance rates has hurt the industry. Edwards will have to respond to that, and no doubt he could do it.

A "CJ" interviews a couple of delegates and the then someone else starts speaking. Something has happened to the sound system and you can't really hear what she is saying. Right now I'm sitting next to A delegate from Virginia and who gave his credentials to an alternate and he's a lawyer who's doing some malpractice cases..he here to lobby some of the senators who are considering the judicial nominations in his state. The secretary of education is speaking, and as far as I know he's the only one in the cabinet who's speaking at the convention this year. I've got a really good view of the presidential box, where Bush sr and his family are watching the show. I can't really hear a thing as the delegates are talking about trading credentials and getting on the floor. I've done it once already and I guess I don't have to do it again, especially as I have a really good views of the arena.

The guy next to me and I discuss frivolous lawsuits and what it's done to West Virginia, there seem to be no doctors left in the state. We also talk about travel and how to get around the city. He's actually a very nice guy for a Republican.

Some other people talk and we seem to notice how bad the acustics are. We either can't hear all that well, or what's being said is soo boring that we can't really listen properly. The Leutenant Governor of Maryland denounces the Democrats and the crowd eats it up. Everyone's waiting for the main event....the governator.

He's not a particulary good speaker, but he gets a lot of applause as he calls the Democrats "girlie men." He gets a standing ovation when he mentioned Richard Nixon, the first time I heard his name mentioned in Decades at one of these things. The guy sitting next to me reminds me to mention that it was what Nixon stood for that was being applauded for, not the man himself. In deference to him I'll do it, but I don't believe it for a minute. Arnie spoke for the better part of an hour and the hall was ecstatic. As Arnie left with the sound of thuderous applause in his ears, so did I.

Meanwhile...

Right now, I'm at the first debate of the fall campaign, David Cobb of the Greens and Michael Badnarik of the Libertarians, they're on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Since they're not anywhere near getting elected, they get to take positions on such weird issues as constitutional amendments and whether or not to get rid of social security. Badnarik is for privitizing social security and Cobb thinks that's dumb, although he says it isn't just for the rich, although it is, he says, being looted by same.

He's for more government spending, although...

Niether like the current system. They like the French system, and instant runoff voting, much like Ireland and proportional representation something like Israel or Italy. The Libertarians damand to be in the big TV debates with Kerry and Bush, and who can blame them?..Now to go back to the con and have dinner....
Someone got arrested about an hour ago in Union Square park. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but someone allegedly did something to a member of the media and got arrested. The way to the park was blocked and I had to get in elsewhere.

After trying to get a damn wai fi signal that I could get and not being able to I went down to the southern end of the park, where there was a rally of about five or six hundred people. Most of them were regular people who had nothing better to do and wanted to relive the sixties. Nothing wrong with that, then there were the hawkers, most of whom were communists.

Now I know what you're gonna say. "C'mon! These people aren't Communists. Stop calling them that!"

Well, they actually are. The Worker's World party, who were handing out newspapers, were a faction of the Socialist Worker's Party who split back in the 1950s in order to support the Soviet Invasion of Hungary. Then there's the Communist Revolutionary Front, you can't say they're not communists can you? Then there's the people selling copies of the "Revolutionary Worker," Who are part of the Revolutionary Communist party. They were also giving out flyers for "Revolution" a film of a lecture by Bov Avakian, who considers himself America's very own Chairman Mao. The group keeps body and soul together by the fact that their Revolution bookshop has done good business for years and years.

Then there's a couple of people giving out copies of the Daily World, put out by...you guessed it!!!...
The Communist party USA. The same people who gave us Gus Hall and William Z. Foster. You can't say THEY'RE not communists can you...

Well then there's the various Trot groups and to the right of them there's the various pseudo-anarchist groups just selling souvenirs. Many of the people in the crowd were just Democrats and Republicans with a few dozen police looking very menacing on motorbikes.

However most of the people here are just locals and passersby who want to look at that show called history. There are women selling tee shirts that have pictures of Wonder Woman and the slogan: Reign in the Cowboys" and Lictensteineque pictures of a woman thinking "I forgot to vote, now Bush is reelected for four years."

A dance troupe tries to excorsize the Republicans through music. The draw in quite a crowd. So far there is no parade. It's all very cute....


So we're back on the far west side, where the progressive bloggers are now getting ready to observe the pregame show on a projected screen TV. The place is packed to the gills...at least the wai fi works...tonight they're going to have the governator speak. That should be a hoot...I hope I'm still awake for that...

Half past noon.

Right now I’m at the "progressive tourist bureau" which is one of the places where the anti-RNC bloggers are supposed to hang out. The reason I’m here is that I went to "blogger’s alley" in the Garden, but while they had room, they wouldn’t let me use the ethernet cable for half a minute. So I went up here.

Now, nothing much is happening this afternoon. The A31 protests are just going to start "spontaneously" around four. The main points of departure are Union Square and the
main branch of the Library on 40th and fifth.

At the same time as that is the first debate, which will take place at the Sts. Cyral and Methodus church at five or six in the evening. The presidential candidates of the Green and Libertarian parties are going to attend, but Nader and the "real" candidates won’t.

This is to be expected.

Nine fifty AM

They towed all the cars from my street, this presages another demonstration raging along my street. We’re going to be more diligent today, as I’ve decided to unplug my laptop from my printer and a dozen other appliances and head up to the Garden where they’re going to have the morning press conference. Today’s special guest: The Secretary of Education. I’ve brought my friend and associate Bob, no relation to my cousin Bob or the guy from the NBR who kicked me out of that formerly august organization. But that’s neither here nor there. What is is that when we got here they had pro-wrestling on the giant plasma screens on either side of the podium.

As they do the sound checks, the channel is changed and the default picture is now on the screen. The speakers have shown up and everyone is just sitting there waiting for a critical mass of people to show up. Either that or they’re following some arcane tradition…they’re having problems with the telephone hookup. Ron Paige, our hose apologizes for the delay.

The theme of the day is "compassion" which means that they’re going to be as hypocritical as possible. This afternoon, each of the 55 delegations will do charity work to show that they’re not all greedy shits. Tonight, it’s expected that Bush is going to be denominated.

The Secretary of Education says that we’re on a hinge time, and he’s right, but he’s discussing his portfolio. Rudman and Hart’s 2001 report that education is a national security issue. He says that we need a new approach to education. "This is no time for us to go to sleep on education." True enough, but so far that he’s have no idea what to do about it. He says there’s a crisis. But he says nothing about what the administration’s going to do about it.

A reporter says the podium at the convention looks too much like a pulpit and it looks like two crosses. Hmmmmmmmmmmm……

A question is asked to the Secretary about the status of the "No Child Left Behind" act.
He claims that several think tanks say that funding for it is on target.

The perils of oversleeping

The second session of the RNC was for the most part rather boring. The reason for this was mostly that the good speeches started rather later than they were supposed to and the tributes and "rolling roll call" tended to make one's eyes begin to feel heavy.

The two "real" speeches, I'm gave up and went home and watched McCain on TV, were far more partisan than they were in Boston. I didn't like Hastert's speech at all, McCain was far better. I couldn't take it anymore so I went to bed and woke up ten hour later. I missed Guliani entirely. There's a clip of it at AOL, but they won't let us with Macs see it. Damn them!!!!

If there's a riot, it's going to happen today. The A31 coalition is planning it's "takover of the convention this evening and it might indeed get hairy. In the meantime, I'm going to get more coffee....

Monday, August 30, 2004

The first sesssion of the RNC

I missed it. I was at the Republican Convention, so I missed it. The big protest March was rerouted at the last minute and fifty to seventy thousand people marched in front of my apartment building. I saw the tail end of it while getting out of the subway. The sanitation department was right there cleaning up the mess from the streets. The homeless handyman who lives on our block said, "I’ve never seen anything like it." Damn!!!

But that was later…

Let’s flashback to this morning, getting off the subway at half past eight in the A.M, where we find the entire area around 8th avenue blocked off. I had no trouble getting in, they borrowed some security people from the airports and it was a breeze. After picking up some magazines, I headed over the bridge to the Garden, this after going through another metal detector, there we went directly to the press conference area, and the guy who was police commissioner on 9/11 gave a statement on the security situation, which was, he said, much better than prior to the notorious attack.

Someone asked about when Cheney was going to be nominated and the briefer didn’t know. So with obfuscation fuzzified like never before, we the press scattered to the winds.

I first went to the radio row section, which is always one of the best sections of these events. You get to see celebrities and stuff! I saw G. Gordan Liddy sitting there with a shiteating grin on his face. Then some people I know from Pacifica radio.

Finally, I went to the Bloggers area. Being one myself, I figured that I should find out why I couldn’t get one of those cool buttons they were wearing. No one had an answer, but they were all very nice and full of good tips as to fixing my screwed up software problems. This despite the fact that their aethernet connections weren’t yet working.

When last I checked they were working at last.

Finally, I went up to the seventh floor and headed out to the bleachers to find my seat. It was the very worst one in the entire arena. Fortunately, the place wasn’t that full, so I just sat down in front of a good view, where I watched Ed Koch give a really mediocre speech as to why he was supporting a guy with whom he disagreed about everything.

"Why am I here?" He asked. "To convert You!!!!" If only he were.

This was in fact a double introduction. First he introduced a short film about how wonderful New York is, then he introduced Mayor Bloomberg, the only Billionaire for Bush who’s not joking when he says that. His speech was genuinely awful. He, and quite a few other of the speakers invoked Lincoln, as if the fact that Dixiecrats and neo-confederates hadn’t taken over the party decades ago never happened.

The Co-chair of the party, who’s name I don’t remember told some inspirational stories about some of the volunteers at the convention. There was one that got me teary-eyed.

There was this little girl named Rita, or at least I think that’s what her name was. She had been in a hurrendous car wreck and was undergoing surgery to save her life, when her lung suddenly collapsed. It turned out she had a tumor growing between the lung and her heart. Of course the doctors cut it out immediately, and she’s on the mend, but even though she’s very week she insisted on coming to New York. "I have to help President Bush get re-elected!" she said. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww……

Then in came Dick Cheney himself. The crowd didn’t exactly go nuts, but there was a lack of restraint. He was there for a very specific reason. The nominations!

Nominating speeches are a grand tradition in the history of political conventions. Some of the greatest oratory in the history of the english language could be found in them. But not this time. They just had a guy from Ohio give a thirty second speech from the floor. The nominating speech for Cheney for Veep was even shorter.

Then the first part of the roll call of the states began. The Republicans, with no opposition to the pre-selected candidate, have decided to cut the voting into little pieces part this afternoon, part tonight and part tomarrow. One wonders what would happen if there was a deadlock….

So when that ended I left. Then I got out of the train and saw the protesters leaving my street. I need a nap.

Aug 30th 8AM

The Bush twins were a waste of time. There we were waiting in the back when it turns out they arrived in the front. I applied for credentials to get in but my name wasn't on the list and everybody was on the wrong side.

So much for that. I also attended a speech by Congressman Rob Simmons of Connecticutt at the forum for a Republican Majority, which is the leftist fringe of the party. He gave a good speech on how the Republicans, in the old days, were in fact rather progressive on some issued. But that was a century ago and before the Dixiecrats took over. Still they gave out free sodas....

Sunday, August 29, 2004

So there wasn't a seige....big deal!

So around eleven I ventured out of my apartment and down the street where the crowd was gathering. While almost no one was on the west side of the street, the east side venues were beginning to fill up. Little girls holding signs chanted anti-Bush cheers while grownup protesters coo-ed "aren’t they cute. The Communists were out in force, selling books and tee shirts while people dressed in their Sunday best, so to speak. There was a platform on 17th street, where a few speakers gave short addresses to the crowd. Screams went up as if people were doing the "wave" at a sports arena. I went west on 17th to see if the western venues were beginning to fill up. They weren’t So I headed up eighth avenue until I hit 23rd street and headed east to join the throng, which had finally begun to move.

Up we went through the 20s and then around 30th street, we began to see resistance. Not much, but we couldn’t go on the sidewalk any more. Madison Square Garden was in view, and people stopped to chant and get a good view of the ediface, where the marquee had an animated "thank you New York" doing a dance on the screen. What did it mean exactly, who in the city were they thanking? The Republicans? The protesters? What?

The way north was blocked, and thus he had to head east along 34th where we were to go before heading south on Fifth avenue and Union square park where we were supposed to disperse. There was a long line at a Sbarro’s restaurant by people who had to go to the john. The sign said "customers only" but who was gonna stop us? We had to go and this is a protest march, right? So we headed south, and when we got to Union square, the protestors, like good little boys and girls, dispersed.

Oh, yeah. The best stickers read: "Republicans for Vordmort." Harry Potter would be proud!!!!

The march was a success. After all, while they didn’t get the quarter million advertised, they came quite close. That’s impressive. It was hot and sticky and I really needed a nap and a shower. There’s the official broadway plays and receptions for the delegates at five and an anti-convention barbecue at six….

The Siege. Part one

So, I managed to get my credentials with no problems whatsoever, although the combination of what exactly is needed to get where is still a bit fuzzy. There is one outside credential for each day and one each for the Farley building and MSG. I think. I don't know if the MSG tickets are good for the Farley building or not or whether you need MSG tickets PLUS the limited access tickets in order to get into the Farley building...I'll find out this afternoon.

Meanwhile...

It's eight minutes after the assembly time begun. I'm sitting in my office blogging away while looking out the window. There's crowds on seventh avenue, but not that many people in front of me. One group is in it's assigned space while everyone else is just walking on by heading for their usual Sunday haunts or where the action seems to be.

things may change in an hour or so, or were my warnings all for naught? Will there be a siege? The leader of the Republican youth brigade was addressing his troops up at the Pennsylvania hotel, telling everyone not to be negative. It's eerily quiet, which I guess is a good thing.

The official press reception at the Time Warner building

Lulu works for the Oxygen network, so since she had press credentials, I called her up and asked if she wanted to go to the official press soiree at the Time-Warner mall on Columbus Circle, that’s 59th and 8th for all those of you who’re not residents of my fair city… much to my surprise she said yes. Proving once again that everyone has their price.

Now the Time-Warner center was built on the site of the Coliseum convention arena, which had closed down back in the ‘80s and just stood there empty for decades while people fought over what to do with the site. They even opened it again a number of times because it was possible that nothing would ever be built there.

But Donald Trump managed to finally get the thing built. It’s huge, and has a borders bookshop, a few dozen chi-chi stores and a very chi-chi supermarket in the basement.

…so was it the perfect place for the opening press reception? No. The mall is a mall. There are places to hang out, sure, but for the most part the halls between the stores are hall between the stores and aren’t a very good place to have buffets.

The two of us got through the security without any problems whatsoever and were met with some people dressed in orange tee shirts decorated with quaint Big Apple phraseology such as "center of the universe" or "forgeddaboutit" who served us white wine or something with vodka in it. This was a perfect place for celebrity watching. We saw Larry King and Judy Woodruff looking very stately and saw Mayor Bloomberg glad-handing those who outranked us in the cosmic pecking order.

The food wasn’t all that good. Not that is was BAD goodness knows, but the simple fact is there was nowhere to sit, the portions were TINY[glorified h'orderves] and while some of them were quite tasty, this is not anywhere as filling as it’s counterpart in Boston a month ago, or the party on the Navy pier in Chicago in ’96, or the one here in New York four years before that.

But the scenery was quite nice and booze flowed freely and all had a good time. Now for the hard part…

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Saturday five PM

The anti-convention is beginning to pick up steam. I went to Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn for the "March For Women’s Lives" sponsored by Planned Parenthood. It basically started like pretty much everything else of this type, with some speeches and music. This part was mostly inoffensive except for one of the chants, which went "racist sexist anti-gay! Born again Christians GO AWAYYYYYYYYY!!!"

If they specifically mentioned Jews or Moslems, there’d be hell to pay, of course, but I guess they didn’t think there’d be any born-agains in the crowd.

I dunno. Maybe there weren’t.

Well, we did see a few roped off when we crossed the bridge into Manhattan. About two dozen antichoice protesters showing pictures of dissociated dead fetuses, nobody was really looking as the temperature was getting really hot and the sight of port-0-potties in the distance began to quicken the pace of the over ten thousand marchers heading for the second rally in City Hall park. As the first speech began, I decided to head off for my next rally….

Now this was really pathetic. After seeing thousands and thousands of people on the Brooklyn/Manhattan border, the mere two hundred or less listening to the speakers for the Green party was, well, dissapointing in the extreme. Green Presidential Nominee David Cobb spoke, but nobody seemed to be listening. I mean, when your own supporters aren’t enthused AND your a fringe party candidate, you’ve got major problems.

There were mostly people with tables selling buttons, stickers and tee shirts, ranging from the extremely good "Thinking is Patriotic" and "What would NIXON do?" to the moronic "Fight the illuminati" and Vote [swastika] Republican. As the temperature began to hit the uppermost 80s, I decided to head off in search of air conditioning. This evening, we’re going to the swanky press welcoming reception, which is going to be fun in a different way.

The Green party is having a thing too...

Washington square park at 11 AM

Saturday morning....

The events are coming thick and fast now. While about a hundred bikers were arrested for blocking traffic right near my house yesterday evening, I went down to Staten Island in order to see a group of people calling themselves "Green Dragon" doing some peaceful street theater on the ferry.

We got on the ferry at 1:30 or so and headed down NY harbor were we met up with a huge amount of press and a dozen or so protesters decked out in faux 18th century costume. They read a proclamation then everyone boarded the same ferry we came on and soon everyone involved was at the front of the boat where another proclamation was read and songs sung. The protesters then went to the port side of the boat and saluted the Statue of Liberty before marching around the boat again. We docked at the terminal and followed the procession back onto dry land where another group calling itself "Billionaires for Bush" was waiting for us. They’re just as left as Green Dragon but like to dress in formalwear and spout faux Republican slogans.

They were all "captured" and loosely tied up, and the whole band, followed by a couple of dozen reporters, marched up to Frauces’ Tavern, where everybody bought a beer and sang some more songs. Fun was had by all and no one was arrested.

The floor of the convention itself is just about ready. It’s built on a platform about nine feet from the ground where there are about ten thousand miles of wires and hydraulic lifts. The latter is for the entertainers between speeches, who are going to come up from underground and do their thing while the commercials are being played on the tube. Also the "CJ’s" are going to interview people. One could see where the balloons are being stored from the floor.

I’m not exactly sure what the Republicans are doing at the today, but the anti-Republicans are going to be all over the place. Planned Parenthood is going to have a march at eleven over the Brooklyn bride at eleven and then there’s some marches in the east village plus the unconvention at 7p o Warsaw, 261 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn

…plus, there’s the Seven-day program NY 9/11 TRUTH CONVERGENCE SPACE At The Brecht Forum Manhattan 122 West 27th Street, 10th Floor (between 6th & 7th Ave.) This is supposed to be some whacked out conspiracy theories blaming anyone but Bin Laden. Take the 1/9 & N/R subway to 28th St. D/B/F to 34th St. . Tel. 212.242.4201.

There’s also some stuff at St. Mark’s Church 131 E. 11th street.
Go here for more info;
http://www.rncguide.com/calendar/august27.shtml

Friday, August 27, 2004

ten a.m.

I missed the streaking incident yesterday morning, but I went to the kangaroo court at the Martin Luther King High School on west 65th street. It was what I expected. Accusing Bush of violating nonextistant international law and attacking the US for being the only fount of evil in the entire world save Israel. One of the guys giving a workshop couldn't even ADD. He said that this year marked the 100th (!) anniversary of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Ed ruling. Fancy that.

I heckled a bit and was asked not too.

"This is a private teach-in" I was told.
"I thought it was a public tribunal" I replied.
He didn't say anything back.

The kangaroo court gave it's findings, to no one's surprise, Bush was found guilty of violating a statute that they had written themselves. [to be fair, that was the Japanese branch, I was so disgusted I left before it was over].

This morning, I took some colleges to the floor of the RNC in MSG for a press conference. This was to be told about the in-house entertainment between the major speeches. Five picturesque "Cee Jays" will interview delegates and discuss trivia with the delegates and be shown on the con's big screen TV. Soon I'll go back and see the balloons...Or not.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Nothing much at the moment

The first march is this afternoon. Things are beginning to get busy. Good. The Convention press office is open for business already and the anti-convention press office will open officially tomorrow.

I took a look-see at the construction inside the ‘Garden. It wasn’t nearly as finished as I expected it would be. I got to stand on the stage and everything. Getting into the Farley building is going to be a real pain. The anti-convention digs are easier to get too, but not much. You have to get through several security posts as well. I guess it’s to keep the FBI and Protest Warriors out. Who know?

Monday, August 23, 2004

C-MINUS one week

So the circus is coming to town at last! The congressional press office has opened up it’s RNC branch at the Hotel Pennsylvania and while they didn’t have any actual credentials to give out [we get them on Thursday], the guy in charge did indeed have something to give away. The official goody pack!

The official goody pack contains: One official tote bag with the RNC logo on one side and New Balance, don’t ask me what the hell that is, on the other. Within this tote bag is:

Three guidebooks
Official RNC commemorative Macaroni and Cheese
A copy of "Miffy Goes to New York" ["My Pet Goat" would seem goash at this stage]
A phone card with an hour’s worth of time on it
A disposable camera curtesy of B&H photos
RNC commemorative M&Ms
A pedometer
A Con Ed key chain
Dunkin Donuts coffee

This is the press pack, the delegates and alternates get slightly better ones and the high rollers get valuable prizes. The GOP’s firs official press conference of the Convention is tomarrow. There is also some other stuff which will be revealed tomarrow.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Some golden oldies....

These are some classics from the first two weeks in September 1988:

Roper

Dukakis 48
Bush, Sr. 40

ABC/Washington Post

Dukakis 48
Bush, Sr. 45

LA Times

Dukakis 47
Bush, Sr. 47

Gallup

Bush Sr. 49
Dukakis 41

CBS/NY Times

Bush Sr. 47
Dukakis 39

The polls were done for the most part simultaniously. I think that this debunks the myth that says whoever's ahead Labor Day will win the election. Gore was ahead on Labor day as wel...oh, yeah....he WON the election.

Some other polls that were really wrong were the last ones in 1980, they all showed Carter ahead or Reagan with a tiny lead. Then there was 1936, when the Literary Digest had a poll showing Alf Landon ahead of Franklin Roosevelt, and remember President Dewey....

The convention office opens for business tomarrow afternoon.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

August 21 one in the afternoon

Yesterday I discovered that the Indymedia people were handing out thecredentials for those who reserved space in their "alternative press room"on Church street, it was at their "infoshop" in a gigantic art space calledthe "Gigantic Art Space" (GAS). They were very nice, although they couldn’tget their machine to work. I plan to try again today. From there we tookthe #6 train up to Hunter college where the opening event of what the NewYork Post calls "the anarchists’ war council," the "Life After Capitalism"confrence.

The place was packed. It cost ten bucks to get in, which being part of the [non-corporate] press I didn’t have to pay. The reason forthe cost is because Hunter demanded they get three million in insurance incase the place was raided or something. They called it extortion, and itprobably was to some extent. These are dangerous times, after all.

SoI came down to the front of the theater and prepared to treat myself to a feast of interplanetary cosmic bullshit. I was not to be disappointed. Not in the least.

Webegan with our moderators giving an enthusiastic welcome to the audience.I never actually caught their names, but one was a really hot honey wearinga small slip of a dress and lots of hair and a fat black guy in a tee shirtand jeans. They gave a cute spiel quoting Zapatista leader "subcommandante Marcos" before our first speaker was to take the stage. actually, it wasn’ta speaker at all, but a trailer for a propaganda documentary called "The Fourth World War" which showed groups of demonstrators from all over theworld overwhelming the army of whatever country they were in at the time.This included a shot of the victorious Palestinians running for dear lifefrom an unseen Israeli army. Was it because the front lines had Arabs shooting first and ruining the message? Probably.

It also had some footageof the chaos that was Argentina when the economy collapsed and they had sixpresidents in two weeks. They said capitalism was finished there, but ofcourse it isn’t. Incompetence is incompetence. Be that as it may, this proved nothing.

But this false impression and it’s message of "if you dance enough, they will fold" was rather powerful. The audience ate it up.

Thenour hosts gave a poetry reading, followed by a commercial for one of theplanned marches, the person, a twenty something Asian lady, mentions something about this being war right here in New York City. This was to be the generalpattern of what can only be called a pep rally.

Our first real speakerwas an Indian American [as opposed to American Indian] named Varje Parshad,who is the first to use the f-word: fascism. He says that the American regimeis "friendly fascism" and called Kerry a fascist, but since he lives in aswing state, he’ll vote for anyway. He also advocates the s-word, socialism.The mask is off, although it never was really on. What he talks about strategyand why the movement should in the future begin to concentrate on taking over local governments before getting more ambitious. He was actually a pretty good speaker. I was surprized.

This was followed by another commercial,this time for United For Peace and Justice, who’s having that huge lawsuit over whether to use Central Park for their big rally A week from tomorrow.The world would be such a better place if we join them in front of my friggen’window.

The second featured speaker was one Michael Albert, one ofthe top honchos of "Z" magazine, one of the top ultra-lefty journals. NowHE was clueless. The speech began in a rather cute way, in which he describes a thing in which people wither and eventually die and calls for a movementto ban…aging! Of course he says, that’s ridiculous, as would a movement toban gravity. Then with the humor part over, he compares it with the problemsof AIDS and poverty, and goes on to describe his version of a socialist utopia.That was expected. But then he begins to wonder our loud why the movement isn’t what he calls "sticky." Complaining that if everybody who had flirted with the far left has "stayed the course" there would be a movement fifty million strong at least. He admits to being in his late fifties. Is he really THAT na├»ve after all these years? After giving it the old college try, heyields the floor to our hosts to give it to two rappers from "And still we rise" who are sponsoring the march on Monday.

Then the A21 committeemakes it’s pitch. They’re the ones who are going to try to "A radical 31st,two days before the renomination of George W. Bush, we are calling for aday of non-violent civil disobedience and direct action." If there’s goingto be a genuine riot, it’s going to be then. Then some organizers are givena chance to take a bow.

This is followed by a speech by Niomi Klein,who rote a book called "No Logo" which is considered to be a bible of the movement. She thanks everybody who deserved to be thanked and then goes onto the real business of the talk. She praises Mr. Sadr and he people in Iraq,denouncing the American soldiers for desecrating Moslem holy places" before obliquely coming out in favor of Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. She callsfor REVOLUTION both here and there.

I’m sure the undercover cops in the audience were taking copious notes at this point.

Aftershe was finished denouncing both Kerry and "those retired hippies who wantus to behave ourselves," our hosts introduced two kids who read an excerpt from a thing called the "Liberation Charter" which basically denounces everything the US stands for and calls for it’s destruction. This is followed by ourlast major speaker, one Robert Kelly.

Kelly’s thesis was that therewere too many whites in the movement and thus they couldn’t get enough solidarity for people of color and smaller projects that would allegedly help same."Protests alone can’t deliver…" he says. At least someone gets something right.

With the pep rally over, the conference will start today.I’m not going to today’s session as there’s too much else to do [laundry,anyone?] There’s some minor activities, like the Howl festival, which has nothing to do with the RNC and some anti-Bush art openings.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Aug. 20th Ten AM

It’s started. The day before yesterday there was something called a "war profiteers tour" of New York, where some of the local lefties showed off where they had protests in the past. It was mostly office buildings where members of the group would read a text explaining how the company who’s offices were there were EVIL and the like. We were escorted by the cops, who in fact turned out to be very helpful, even stopping traffic on 40th street in order to let us finish crossing Park Avenue. It was silly and kind’a fun and this is the sort of thing that they claim the next two weeks are going to be like.

However, the No RNC clearinghouse had a slightly different message. They had a pre-meeting cheering session and they talked about "breaking heads." But I’m sure that’s only rhetoric. I had to leave early for a screening of the "Exorcist" prequel.

Be that as it may, there was lots of information to be had, such as events and the like and that includes the marches. Lots and lots and lots of marches, tying up traffic and causing massive disruptions on top of what the Republicans are already inflicting.

Fun fun fun.

Aug. 20th ten AM

It’s started. The day before yesterday there was something called a "war profiteers tour" of New York, where some of the local lefties showed off where they had protests in the past. It was mostly office buildings where members of the group would read a text explaining how the company who’s offices were there were EVIL and the like. We were escorted by the cops, who in fact turned out to be very helpful, even stopping traffic on 40th street in order to let us finish crossing Park Avenue. It was silly and kind’a fun and this is the sort of thing that they claim the next two weeks are going to be like.

However, the No RNC clearinghouse had a slightly different message. They had a pre-meeting cheering session and they talked about "breaking heads." But I’m sure that’s only rhetoric. I had to leave early for a screening of the "Exorcist" prequel.

Be that as it may, there was lots of information to be had, such as events and the like and that includes the marches. Lots and lots and lots of marches, tying up traffic and causing massive disruptions on top of what the Republicans are already inflicting.

Fun fun fun.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Yet more on propaganda films

Since we're on the subject, here's some more:


Uncovered: The War On Ira/q
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism

Both Directed by
Robert Greenwald

MoveOn.com was founded during the Monica crisis in order to get the country to do what it’s name said. Move on. It wanted Congress to censure then-President Bill Clinton for the crime of…well, you know….it almost went out of business, and had Al Gore managed to officially win Florida it would have.

But as we all know, that didn’t happen and MoveOn.com went ahead with a new purpose: Bringing back democracy to the United States and bringing down the semi-legitimate Bush administration.. So far so good.

We’re in an election year, and as a "571" exemption organization to the McCain-Feingold law, it’s main job is as a propaganda organization, producing commercials and documentaries. For two of them, they hired Robert Greenwald, who’s an old hand at this (he did a really good biopic on the life of Abbe Hoffman a few years back), to create some propaganda films.

With the success of Michael Moore’s "Fahrenheit 911" It’s been decided that instead of having them sent out on DVD and shown in private homes, these will come out in theaters as well and maybe make some of their money back as a plus.

The concept of "objectivity" in journalism is relatively new. Prior to the 1950s and TV’s evening news, the only real objectivity in journalism was in the sports scores. If the Yanks beat the Red Sox 7 to 2 how could any newspaper say otherwise? [Commentary is something else, a few years back, one Japanese TV network had two commentators for sports broadcasts, one rooting for each team]

Slightly over a century ago, the US got into what’s known as the Spanish-American War primarily in order to sell newspapers. You look anywhere in the world and you’ll find that only a few newspapers are truly objective and most of them are here in the ’States. Which brings us to Greenway’s first film: "Outfoxed."

The only real lie Rupert Murdoch told about Fox is that it would be fair and balanced. It’s not and never has been. It has an agenda, it’s conservative, and when it covers such things as hurricanes or the sex lives of pop divas, it’s rather good. However, that’s not what Greenway and the people of MoveOn.com are so angry at. What they’re angry at is that Fox hasn’t been put out of business by government action.

Greenway goes over the usual suspects, Sean Hannety, Bill O’Reilly, Laurie Dhu et al come across as well, the nasty ideologues they are. They’re commentators after all and they’re opinions aren’t ALWAYS wrong,

There’s little that’s revelatory. There’s the thing about the memo of the day directing the path of coverage and how Ronald Reagan’s birthday was deliberately overplayed. How the left isn’t allowed to go as over the top as the conservatives are. But so what? Everyone knows what Fox is. That’s why they’re as popular as they are.

Also, they’re on CABLE. That means they don’t have to deal with the FCC.
If you don’t like Fox change the channel to MSNBC, CNN or CBC Newsworld [which is available here in New York] We don’t need to "stop" them.

Greenway’s second opus for MoveOn is "Uncovered" which is a bunch of military experts going on how the Bush administration "lied" about the situation in Iraq in order to invade. Here nothing is revelatory either. We botched the occupation. Horrible but true. We were never going to get any support from France and Germany anyway or from any of the Islamic countries. We alienated pretty much everyone by insisting on striking back after 9/11. The world press was against us by Sept. 15th.

The film is propaganda. It’s not supposed to be fair and balanced. The people who’ve made this film want America to vote for Kerry in the fall. I will, but don’t try to say that these films have anything to do with objective truth….

...and while we're on the subject,

here's my review of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11

This is as good a time as any to discuss propaganda. Propaganda has always had a bad reputation because…well…most people think that the term means government authorized lying. While this is sometimes the case, it usually isn’t. All advertising is propaganda, and so are most documentaries. Anything that tries to force the consumer to think a certain way is propaganda

Michael Moore is a propagandist. His message: Guns are evil, America is evil, capitalism is evil, Reagan and the entire Bush clan are evil, and if you didn’t vote for Nader last time out, you’re probably evil too. He writes books and movies that do their best to convince you of these "facts."

How does he do this? He goes verbally beats up on receptionists. He makes fun of security guards, he cuts out an adjective or two here and there and takes things out of context. He’s good at editing and finding cool footage.

He lies by misusing facts.

Let’s look at the beginning of this film we’re reviewing. He gives us a brief tour of the 2000 election scandal. Much of what are the bare bones in the case are true, but by leaving out important facts, such as the vote in the supreme court was 7-2, he gives an false impression of what actually went on.

Does he mention that the Palm Beach county "butterfly ballot?" Does he mention the screw-ups made by the Democratic run election commissions there and in Broward and Dade counties? Does he mention the fact that Gore’s attorneys convinced the Vice President to only demand recounts in places where he would get the most votes insuring that there would be a case against them?

No.

By telling only a part of the story, he tells a big lie. By telling this big lie in front of the "Axis of Envy" in Cannes, he won the Palm d’Or.

On the other hand, this is topnotch propaganda. The story is told well and with feeling. His researchers have combed the film archives and come up with some astonishing footage. Bush makes some really funny quotes at the fundraisers he attended and Moore uses them to great effect. "The haves and the have-mores?" Wow!!! It’s impressive.

He also uses pathos. He interviews a mother who’s son died in Iraq. Yeah, she’s mad. A gold star mother in World War II would probably been pissed off at Frankiln Roosevelt when her son was killed in Europe or the Pacific. The stuff about Ashcroft is only slightly more acid. Yeah, he lost to a corpse, but everyone knew the widow would get the job if her late husband won. Moore doesn’t tell us that.

He does tell us that most congressmen didn’t read the Patriot act. Most Congresscritters don’t read most of the legislation they vote on. That’s what lobbyists are for, after all.

As I’m a Democrat, I think every Independent voter should see this movie and vote for Kerry in the fall. Then, in December, let’s take away Moore’s camera for good.

Aug. 17th: More on propaganda films

As yesterday I mentioned a propaganda film I saw over the weekend, and since I do movie reviews for a living (Sort of) I figure that I'll recount my experience at the New York Underground Film Festival last March:

New York Underground Film Festival is one of the more justly obscure of the many that one can find in this town every week. What you get to see are usually sexually or politically perverse, although you occasionally see a gem.

This time we’re not that lucky.

It was the Saturday before the end of the festival and there were a couple of flims that were overtly political and anti-American, so being that they were the only ones I could fit in my schedule I gave them a look-see.

The first one was "We Interrupt This Empire" which was actually one of three shorts on the subject of the war in Iraq. A very popular subject among young radical filmmakers who believe in the doctrine of Anarcho-masochism.

For example: the opening film was a six minute short called "Footage Of A March 27, 2003 Demonstration Against The U.S. Invasion Of Iraq." It was black and white blurry video which had really no plot and was for all intents and purpouses pointless. We saw some people protesting, and if it wasn’t for the title cards, we wouldn’t know what was going on. Even then we barely had a clue.

It was genuinely painful. At six minutes it was way too long.

Second was a longer short called "About Baghdad" and this one wasn’t bad at all.

"In July 2003, Sinan Antoon, an exiled Iraqi writer and poet, returned to Baghdad and along with his palls Director Suzy Salamy, Maya Mikdashi,, Passam Haddad, and Adam Shapiro and interviewed some of the locals in order to see how they survived the war. It was slightly informative and for the most part rather cute. These people have some talent.

The "feature presentation" was "We Interrupt This Empire" presented by Whispered Media, Video Activist Network, and Sf Indymedi, all of which are lefty wannabe revolutionaries celebrating their taking over San Francisco the day that Bush began bombing Baghdad back in March of ’03.

The quality of the documentary ranges from the merely amateurish to downright awful. I’ve seen propaganda before and this is some of the least convincing I’ve seen in ages. There’s some complete bullshit background reports that are interspersed with reports of the huge protest, which included peaceful marches and the trashing of offices and the pie-ing of innocent TV journalists.

Fun for the whole family? Nah!

Then, after a nourishing early dinner at one of the many bistros surrounding the Anthology Film Archives in the East Village, We attempted to see Andreas Horvath’s "This Ain't No Heartland."

"Is this Smalltown, USA, or one outsider’s highly filtered view of Midwestern America at a historically critical moment?"

I’d like to be certain one way or the other, but God didn’t want me to know. We waited to get into the theater for what seemed like forever. So we got in about ten minutes after the show was supposed to have started. Y’see the theater we were supposed to get into was being used for other things. Fine.

Then the film started. It started with a quote from Herman Georing about how governments can lead their people to war, clearly emphasizing what was going to be the Bush=Hitler theme of the film. Then we meet some moron with a pickup truck spouting off about life. We know he’s a moron as he sounds like one, rambling on and on ending up saying that Americans aren’t free to do drugs…

Then the film suddenly stops for some reason. They fix the video machine, and start again. We see the same clip, then there’s the little glitch we saw before. They stop the film. We wait while they get a different PAL video machine. Someone from the festival offers soda. I should have taken it, but by the time I decide to ask, we get take three. Same exact stuff and same result.

Then they decide to use Yoko Ono’s giant screen TV. This makes things worse and they cannot get the vertical hold to work….we begin to get antsy.

So they go back to the original machine. This time we get past the original moron and then go to a scene at the Iowa state fair, where the people are saluting a different national anthem than the rest of the country. Then we go back to the moron getting into his pickup truck. The director decides that this isn’t the best machine to show the film on and it’s stopped. The management offers everyone their money back and says there’s going to be another try at ten thirty that evening. Which I cannot go to as I’ve got work early the next morning, which is too bad. It would have been fun to trash it.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Aug 16th

So this is exactly two weeks before the opening events of the Republican Convention.
I’m beginning to feel a bit less freaked out by the whole thing about the assembly area for the big anti-con march being right here where I live, I guess I’ll have to live with it.

But the early pre-con events have already started.

Last Saturday in Darkest Brooklyn, the so-called "United for Peace and Justice" group had a party and screening of a propaganda training film called the Miami Model, which gives a one-sided picture of the riots that took place in Miami earlier this year. It was rather well made, but then you can do wonders with digital video nowadays.

This was followed by a punk band that who’s name I can’t remember.

The people at the Independent Media Center and some other pseudo-anarchist groups were giving out information and those beautiful maps. I got my hands on the previous Thursday. But that’s only the beginning. We’ve begun to get the lay of the land, so to speak.

PRO-
2004 Republican National Convention NYC
http://www.2004nycgop.org/index.shtml

NYC HOST COMMITTEE 2004
http://www.nyc2004.org/

They’ve got the entire government and all it represents, plus lots of fun and games paid for by all sorts of corporations.

ANTI-
RNC NOT WELCOME IN NYC!
http://www.rncnotwelcome.org/

The Ruckus Society
http://ruckus.org/

NYC IMC: home
http://nyc.indymedia.org/

Counter Convention - Republican National Convention Protest Tools and Resources
http://www.counterconvention.org/

On the third hand, we’ve got some protest protesters, who plan to infiltrate the marches and other protest activities and provide balance…or so they say.

Protest Warriors
http://protestwarrior.com/

This is going to be interesting

Aug 16th

So this is exactly two weeks before the opening events of the Republican Convention.
I’m beginning to feel a bit less freaked out by the whole thing about the assembly area for the big anti-con march being right here where I live, I guess I’ll have to live with it.

But the early pre-con events have already started.

Last Saturday in Darkest Brooklyn, the so-called "United for Peace and Justice" group had a party and screening of a propaganda training film called the Miami Model, which gives a one-sided picture of the riots that took place in Miami earlier this year. It was rather well made, but then you can do wonders with digital video nowadays.

This was followed by a punk band that who’s name I can’t remember.

The people at the Independent Media Center and some other pseudo-anarchist groups were giving out information and those beautiful maps. I got my hands on the previous Thursday. But that’s only the beginning. We’ve begun to get the lay of the land, so to speak.

On the one hand we’ve got the Republicans and the City.

They’ve got the entire government and all it represents, plus lots of fun and games paid for by all sorts of corporations.

On the other hand, we’ve got the protesters, who, if some predictions are to come true, will outnumber the Republicans ten to one. They’ve got lots of activities planned as well.

On the third hand, we’ve got two sets of protest protesters, who plan to infiltrate the marches and other protest activities and provide balance…or so they say.

Nothing of note is scheduled to happen today…

Saturday, August 14, 2004

How to start freaking out...

"On one side are 36,000 cops - a force that city councilman Peter Vallone, Jr calls "perhaps the world's 10-largest standing army". On the other side are at least 250,000 protesters expected to converge on the city from allacross the United States and Canada - a demonstration six times larger than the legendary antiglobalisation protests that rocked Seattle in 1999."

Michelle Goldberg-The Manchester Guardian



WILL THERE BE PROTESTS?
Large numbers of demonstrators are expected to stage protests in the vicinity of the venue. The main demonstration area is on Eighth Avenue extending southfrom 31st Street for as far as necessary depending upon the size of the crowd.Significant crowds could impede the flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic throughout the area. The largest demonstration is expected on Sunday August29th, resulting in the closure of 7th Avenue between 14th and 34th Street,34th Street between 7th and 12th Avenue, and the West Side Highway from 34th Street to Chambers Street.-the NYPD Convention "FAQ

This is going to take place on the street where I live. I physically overlook the midwestern and western assembly areas.

They're going to start in front of my $%^& apartment

There's a major protest march going up seventh avenue on the 29th. They're having "collection areas" on the sidestreets for two blocks on either direction. If they're successful, there's going to be ten thousand people on my block acting angry. Shee-it!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

So we begin with the Republicans

We're going to start with the next convention's countdown with a bit of news from the newspapers: The moron brigade has been at it again: After agreeing to a protest spot, they changed their minds and demanded the spot the originally wanted again. Claiming that their free speech rights had been violated. Suuuuuuure!

They're planning for a riot, for sure.

I'm going to do this daily from now through the convention and then the Toronto film festival.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The following tuesday, four PM

Tuesday three thirty in the afternoon.

I guess I should do a denouement after the week that was. The place was sooo packed that everyone who wasout in the hall going to the bathroom or getting a snack couldn’t get in.This meant Kennedys and movie stars and other celebrities. I stood therewith Lisa Ling of "The View" and National Geographic specials while peoplenegotiated with the deputy fire marshals to get back to their seats.

Kerry’sspeech was decent. I had to watch it on TV in the press room next to thefloor. CNN’s Larry King had to as well, although it was in the "back yard"area where the interns worked. That was good to know.

So that was it for the Convention.

Thepolls told the story of how it was going to play throughout the country.It did nada. Gallup showed Bush taking the lead with 51% although everyone else showed Kerry ahead with a couple of points here and there.

Therewas a terror alert here in New York the other day, Dean said it was bogus,which caused an immediate denial by the Kerry campaign. If he’s wrong, he’sgoing to by lynched by the Democrats before the Republicans get a chance to replay the video tape even once.

It's back to movie reviews before going to Canada for the weekend. I'm going to take the fast ferry from Rochester to Toronto and back. It's cheaper to fly.