From City to Valley

Monday, June 28th, 2004: I listened to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now show at 9:00 which I can only listen to while in the city, so it is a big treat. I took notes as usual, and it was a special morning what with the surprise turnover of Iraq two days ahead of time, and so forth. It was another historic occasion. She was broadcasting from Kansas City, a swing state associated with John Ashcroft, and the sound kept disconnecting. My man Errol, kept coming on to fill the long gaps, his deep, mellifluous voice filling in the break like a barry sax solo, returning by popular demand every so often for an encore.

According to Errol, WBAI, at 99.5 FM is the “peace and justice radio station,” and I say that [Peacefile] is the “peace and justice weblog.” Some of the announcements: UN weapons inspector said that Israel had nuclear weapons but has never admitted to this. 40,000 protested Bush in Turkey yesterday, at NATO conference. There were 10,000 protesting Bush in Ireland, at Shannon Airport in Dublin, where Bush stopped off. Amy G. reported there were over 700 secret service men accompanying Bush, with over 4,000 police. Facing such overwhelming odds, the protesters resourcefully blocked the press corps from reaching Bush for over a half hour, delaying his progress, as they knew he would not leave without a photo op! There were some of the most creative protests yet, including a witch casting a spell to drive Bush from Ireland and a remake of MacBeth, (Mc Bush?) involving a mass march from a historical site associated with MacBeth to the airport. There was also a lengthy public reading of all the names of all the allied dead.

It was also announced that NYC will close off two dozen city blocks surrounding the Convention Center, so that protestors will be kept away. No permits have been approved, which means that any who protest may be subject to the Patriot Act and treated as terrorists. We’ll see about that. She mentioned the Green Party did not nominate Ralph Nader, a big break for Kerry. There are 138,000 Allied troops in Iraq at this time, and that number will go up, not down, as the war atmosphere continues. In fact, there is talk of sending 25,000 more troops in to mop up. The U.S. has created the world’s largest embassy in Baghdad, by the way, and it still controls the oil fields.

There was a secret ceremony in Baghdad about 10:26 AM Iraqi time, 2:26 our time, inaugurating the un-elected government of Iraq. Iata Illawi (spelling mine) has ties to the CIA, to the Saudis, to Iraqi intelligence under Saddam, and also is Shiite, (Coburn called him a “CIA stooge”) however it was noted that he is hated by less people than the other possible appointees. U.S. officials are exempt from the new laws, basically written by the U.S. The heads of cabinets were chosen by U.S. advisors and will stay in at least five years. There is a seven member U.S. appointed commission which can disqualify any parties or candidates they don’t like, rendering any real democracy impossible.

There was talk of a book Full Spectrum Dominance which she found relevant. The most interesting tidbit was a story of Alani Huett Vaughn who served a three year sentence for dissenting as an officer at Fort Leavenworth under a man named Lay Kotter. This man had gotten into trouble on several occasions for his unconstitutional manner of dealing with prisoners, and was sent from one base to another, ending up as a private contractor. Finally he was recommended by John Ashcroft, an old friend from Missouri days, to head up things at Abu Greib. And funny how the investigation only looked at Rumsfeld and found no direct link!

Then I walked around the city a bit, and had a hot dog at an underground hotdog stand called….appropriately enough…The Underdog. I always favor the underdog, so I had to have one. It was on Bleeker Street.

On the way home, I had four pieces of luggage, one of which was a bull horn. As I was running to the Metro North train with two minutes to go, the siren went off twice. It’s a flaw in the design; the switch for the loud siren slides too easily to ON. A Medic was behind me and he started running like mad, apparently thinking it was 9-11 all over again. He was gone before I could catch up lugging my four pieces of luggage (all of which I used in my various presentations, so no “excess baggage:” armchair shrinkos, okay?). I jogged the rest of the way the train holding the bull horn up in the air to avoid this happening again, but that was also the hand holding the suitcase, so it was a real strain! I made the train by seconds, but had to walk through the filled train to find my seat. People had their four pieces of luggage all over the empty seats so I couldn’t sit down and lay out my four pieces of luggage. New York is nothing if not territorial. I rested and wrote notes for future essays.

Upon exiting in Cold Spring, I called the computer guys, my team, and they said they’d be open til 6 PM, giving me just enough time to pick up my computer there. I did not dawdle, and made it under the wire, with seconds to spare (actually minutes). Then I did some errands, and shopped for salad food (chipmunks gotta eat too) . As I drove by The Inquiring Mind bookstore, I saw a screen hanging down and the picture of someone’s face on it. Somehow, I knew that this was something important, a hunch, so I went with it. I drove completely around the larger block and parked as close as I could. It was a Democratic Party meeting, and there was an air of disorganization in the room. Apparently I was an hour early, but information was not easily forthcoming. What I gathered was that in one hour Michael Moore would be addressing the group via MoveOn.org’s website, talking about his movie. They were going to have a discussion. Had I seen it? “Of course!” I said. “Its great, its funny, its moving… what is there to discuss? See it!”

I went home, unpacked, made a call to Canada to see how the elections were going, prepared my laundry, ate dinner, and then sped back and arrived at Inquiring Mind by 8 PM. People were doing a sort of “talking feather” discussion, saying what they liked about the movie, or why they were there. One woman recommended we all read “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.” A woman from FAIR was there, who had just written an article on the voting machine problem. Findley and Nancy were there from the Methodists and gave me a warm greeting when they arrived, as did Gary S. and others. The August 14th Democratic picnic was announced; Michael Moore’s film will move to 2000 theaters next week.

We saw our white spot on the great map of North America, all the people plugged into the MoveOn site at that moment. We sent the message, 70 people in Saugerties. It was one of the larger gatherings nationwide, with a total of 26,037 people linked at once into the site. It was apparently the greatest number of people ever linked to one interactive site of this nature at one time; I was a witness to history. Then, after prolonged moments of great expectation, and a few more moments listening to the nerdy voice of the narrator, probably the only one who understood the esoteric programming involved, the voice of Michael Moore came on over the PA, and told us about the reactions to his film; how many who saw it quit the Republican party the same day. One man in San Francisco threw his shoe at the movie screen while Bush was on camera. When asked about Kerry, he said that “being a weak-kneed, wimpy Democrat is a sure way to lose the election.” He said that 62% of the electorate is female, black or Hispanic, and would support a more progressive approach, although he also said, “Kerry would never invade a country.” He also mentioned what Amy G had said: The Green Party had refused to nominate Nader even though he had 6% of the national vote. They nominated someone you never heard of instead. MoveOn now has 2.25 million participants. Someone said that with $26 million in ticket sales, Moore must be on the top of Carl Rove’s list. Someone said he has bodyguards, but that may be rumor. The sound link went silent on two or three occasions, and we believed one visual portion was lost. Not surprising, for a first time event, and not that distracting.

The people in the room cheered at all the appropriate moments, (but not so long as to drown out the information) making this Turn Up The Heat evening a fun event for all. Everyone loved it when Moore kept saying, “people are coming out of the theater saying “Why didn’t I see that on the news?”

Moore encouraged us to take off work November 2nd, and vote and then travel to swing states and work at the polls with our families.

I went home after some networking, and talked to my Canadian contacts, asking lots of questions. As it turns out the French name for the herb “Gold Thread,” Savoyane, is derived from the Micmac word “Tisawayenne.” I had been saying all along that Gold Thread was especially prized by the Micmac, and I was right.

The Canadian election was nothing short of a miracle. I had been praying about it all day, on and off. The right-wing conservative Stephen Harper had been leading by two points all week. Moore’s movie hit the Canadian theaters on Friday (earlier in Montreal) and Harper started to speak off-script, saying some insensitive things about minority groups, and there was a 9% flip back to the liberals in the last two days. Pretty amazing! According to one poll, Bush’s support had dipped to 42% before the handover of the Iraqi government, its lowest point, but Kerry had only 41%. That was before the release of the movie and before Nader lost the Green Party nomination.

Here is my article, drafted this night then completed the following morning … [note: article posted at the main page of peacefile.org]