Saturday, November 04, 2006

Protesting Bush's Visit

Photo courtesy of River City Mud
"Movement for Change President Leroy Boyd said between 50 and 150 members of the sometimes-controversial grassroots organization plan to march outside the [Pensacola] Civic Center during Bush's visit."
Monday, George W. Bush visits what he hopes is still Bush country. Pensacola certainly is among the last to lift the blinders from its eyes, but even here signs of discontent are everywhere. Some suspect a near-majority would like to see Bush leave. Leave Pensacola ... leave Iraq.... leave the White House... and leave our Bill of Rights alone.

Bush's decision to spend more time in this normally blood-red locale just before next Tuesday's congressional election is curious, indeed. Of late, he's been touring mostly small burgs in districts that ought to be secure G.O.P. strongholds. Conventional wisdom would have had him helping out in more populous places where Republican incumbents are running neck-and-neck with their challengers.

Women and Children First

So, why Pensacola? Some say it's a sign that things are no longer bad for the Republicans -- they're downright catastrophic. Almost every Republican is in trouble, so Bush is trying to save the women and children first, those who should have had an easy walk to reelection.

Enthusiastic supporters of Democratic candidate for Congress Joe Roberts are circulating the claim that outside polling organizations are finding local Republican incumbent congressman, Jeff Miller (R-Insipid), is doing poorly. That has to be taken with a several grains of salt since no one seems to have seen the actual polling data or exit polls from early voting stations. Even if only half-true, however, it would explain Bush's decision to return to Pensacola for the fourth time in less than two years.

Polls or not, Roberts wisely is using the opportunity to drive home his own message. As he told reporter Stewart for today's paper:
"The bottom line is Miller is an extremely unpopular congressman, and now he's bringing in one of most unpopular presidents in history to try and dupe people into voting for him."
'Small Town Media' Strategy?

The official White House spin also needs a lot of salt to be digested properly. The official claim is that Bush is being sent --
...for the last stretch going into Tuesday's election small communities where a presidential visit can have a big impression... . He can create a buzz, excite voters for the GOP ticket and draw extensive coverage from the local media.
Yeah, sure. Friday, he found himself in Le Mars, Iowa (pop 9,337). Someone should have told Bush's handlers that LeMars is Dutch Reform country. Old-time Calvinists to you. Nothing "excites" them more than a full day of back-breaking work followed by a supper consisting of a ragged hunk of bread torn off a week-old loaf.

As the cows say in the empty cornfields of Plymouth County, Iowa, as Le Mars goes so goes Elkhorn Township. Media centers, both.

Depression in Pensacola

Here at home the incumbent congressman, Miller, has a weirdly different slant. Friday, he actually said to PNJ reporter Michael Stewart --
"The president obviously wants to show the Republican base is not depressed as the national media would portray it."
Not "as" depressed, perhaps? Just how depressed does Miller think "the base" would have to be before Bush passes them by?

Bush isn't coming to Pensacola to tout the work of local psychotherapists. Nor is he coming here to show "the media" anything about our collective psyche. If that were his purpose, he'd invite the whole town to join him on camera.

But he won't. Only rabid fans who aren't paying attention to the world around them will be allowed inside the civic center to cheer him on.

Un-free Speech

We are living in the Bush administration era of walled-off "free speech zones". Invited to join the audience are only those who thrill to Dear Leader's every syllable, uttered in that phony Texas cowboy accent that turns on and off as easily as a Christian evangelist with a gay prostitute. Others will be shunted far away from the crowds and most especially the cameras.

So, how can local dissenters signal they're not "depressed" but are disgusted with Bush administration policies? Unfortunately, the usual means for exercising First Amendment freedoms have been choked off by this administration.
For the rest of us, that leaves few effective options. You can fly the American flag in the approved distress mode (upside down) as was done in Memphis (see photo above). You can "stand along the highway" far from the action as they were forced to do the other day in Houston and also in Sellersburg, Indiana.

The anti-Bush crowd that gathered along a main street in Richmond, VA. far outnumbered Bush supporters. There, some minor good may have come from waving at "the passing cars" that "honked, flashed thumbs-up or peace signs, and even joined in the chanting whilst waiting for the stoplight." But as a number of eyewitnesses are reporting, Bush himself was shielded from it all by strategically-parked buses and police vans.

Don't bother teaching your 3-year old to say, "Boo, Bush!" It turns out toddlers -- the smart ones anyway -- have learned on their own to say, "Mr. President, that's enough. You need a time out." It doesn't do any good. George W. Bush just won't listen -- to anyone.

In Bakersfield, CA they had an old-fashioned march -- far from the Bush entourage. In Seattle (photo below) a number of protesters dressed up in Bush Criminal Cabal costumes. Bush never saw them. And in Greensboro, N.C.:
"Almost all the protesters wore an orange ribbon and some dressed in orange to show their opposition to the recently passed Military Commissions Act of 2006 which legalizes torture. The act also strips away the right to habeas corpus to anyone Bush declares an enemy combatant, among many other unconstitutional aspects of this new law."

Our favorite post-modern protester remains the Freeway Blogger, who has inspired so many others to capture the attention of daily commuters from Long Island, N.Y. to San Rafael, Cal. and from Portland, Me. to Seattle. In Pensacola, however, the elevated freeway Bush might take would be mostly inaccessible to pedestrian bloggers.

So, what's our own view of the most effective way to protest? Here it is:

Vote Tuesday!

Protest on election day by throwing all the bums out of Congress who enabled Bush, starting with incumbent U.S. Congressman Jeff Miller.
Sure, his Democratic opponent, Joe Roberts, is a long shot. But an even worse bet would be sending the ineffectual Miller back to Washington where he would "stay the course" as an obscure and powerless supporter who reflexively votes for the incompetent Bush administration's most disastrous schemes.

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