Friday, July 30, 2004

Day 4: Day for which I can not think of a title

On Tuesday, I headed first to the "Very very Democratic Bazaar", organized by Black Tea Society. But when I emerged at Park Street and headed towards Charles Street, I first encountered the incredible exhibit and protest by practioners and supporters of Falun Gong. About 200 people seemed to be involved in the exhibit or around it.

The banners read simply "This is Happening in China". Right up against the sidewalk of Tremont street, more than half a dozen scenes of torture were depicted. Most featured a man dressed as a Chinese prison guard and a woman dressed as a victim. In some cases they were completely still; in others the people acted out the torture in repeated slow-motion. The first I noticed featured a man placing a dowel in hot coals and then burning the victims knee, over and over again. Everything about the scene (not just make-up and costumes but expression) was done so well and was so moving.

I don't know anything about Falun Gong but I is the general strategy that we should use our trade leverage to stop them from abusing human rights? I ought to read the pamphlet they gave out.

I was at the Bazaar for just part of it's first hour that afternoon, so I probably missed a lot that came later in the afternoon or early evening. There was music. There was a car running on vegetable oil. There was free food, free clothing, but also lots of stuff for sale. I like the woman from the Beehive Collective who, whenever she appared during the weekend, somehow looked as if she had just emerged from a forest. I saw Mark, and then Zach.

I had to run from the bazaar, though, to be at a forum I had to table at. But then I ran into Sadownik on Cambridge Street. We seem to have a habit of running into eachother in Beantown.

I wasn't needed at the forum so instead I went to the Campaign for America's Future (Taking Back America, I think they called this specific event) event over in Cambridge... which you probably already read about on Aerob's blog. Since the main room was way overflowed, each of the speakers would step out on the back deck of the hotel after they finished and give a second speech to the crowd gathered outside. I caught the end of Howard "a crowd pleaser as always" Dean, Robert "should be running for Kerry's seat in the senate but doesn't seem to be" Reich, Carl "I'm the president of the Sierra Club, and an ultra-boring speaker" Pope, and part of Barbara "kicks Tom Friedman's ass" Ehrenreich. I liked Reich a lot, and Ehrenreich was sounding very good, too -- on how it was 1992 when womens' issues were central to the platform (or something like that), and now it's just masculinized words about 'strength', etc.

Oh, and there in the crowd giving out fliers about the RNC demo was none other than Leslie Cagan, the head honcho over at UFPJ. I asked about the rally site, and she said something about how it shouldn't be as big a deal as it is made out to be, and it's just not what is most important right now.

Then on to another event, and then back to NYC and home a few minutes after midnight. Whew.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The John Kerry drinking game

In preparation for Thursday night's speech by Kerry, here's a John Kerry Acceptance Speech Drinking Game (JKASDG).

Have one drink for each time you hear:

-hope is on the way
-one America

that should be plenty.

Day 3: Tikkun, and the scene on Causeway

[AAAA, sorry to be so far behind. I am generally behind on life right now. Hmm, I ought to catch up. Day 3 refers to my third full day in Boston, which was Monday.]

First things first: I renewed my driver's license. Excellent. Then off to an event mainly sponsored by Tikkun, featuring Medea Benjamin, Cornell West, Michael Lerner, and others. Something about how Kerry needs to be tough and not adopt the Bush or AIPAC agenda. That's great and all, but Tikkun was just so spiritual and depoliticized that the event -- or as much as I heard of it, since I mostly had to be tabling outside -- was rather slow. They're not big into hard politics, but rather into spiritual and feel-good long speeches. Michael Lerner is not exactly the most exciting guy on the circuit, though the older audience did seem to appreciate him. Cornell West was the real show, though. I don't remember what he said, either, but at least he was exciting.

After that, I spent a few hours in the early evening outside the Fleet Center, both on Causeway and Canal streets and in the Free Speech Zone (FSZ). The Palestine rally was scheduled for 5-7, and I was there for most of it. The scene was very small -- maybe a couple hundred at the peak. Then pen was very pen-like. Two layers of fences, and one of them with netting on it. Bad scene. A majority of the delegates, I believe, came in by busses, which dropped them off in an area behind the pen, but of course separated by those fences. All the delegates who came by taxi or foot, though, walked the gauntlet down Causeway street, though, where anyone was free to solicit them or whatever. I wandered around the area. On the street, there were chalkings -- from the first amendment to anti-abortion stuff. Yay chalk. A small crowd gathered around where delegates were entering by foot, but not even that large a crowd. Many of the delegates gave sympathetic looks to the protesters, including a few anti-war folks, who were there. They didn't appear angry at the protesters.

In the rally, the speakers were either way too loud, or inaudible, depending on where you stood. The speakers were a mixed bag, but the venue didn't help it all; it didn't have that much of a rally feel. The emphasis was heavily on the situation of the protest itself, which was hard not to think about.

As things in the pen winded down, my mom and I left. We stopped by the NLG office, where a few young volunteers were at the ready for phones that didn't seem to be ringing much, and then it was home for burritos. Then Aerob came over and we went to a bar up the street. :)

Monday, July 26, 2004

Day 2: Four subway tokens well spent.

We arrived at the ANSWER march at about 12:30. As we walked down the path into the back of the rally, we were acosted full-time with varoius Red newspapers. On each side of the path was the table for Red group after Red group. I mean, there was like the Revolutionary Socialist Maoist Communist Freedom Liberation Party, or something like that. Parties I had never heard of. There among the mix was of course the 9-11 truth table, staffed in part by none other than Adam. I don't think I had seen him for a year or more. He's living somewhere out in western MA and gets paid by one of these groups. He was, unfortunately, a bit too busy with his table to really chat.

The rally was 1/3 media, 1/3 sketchy Red groups, and 1/3 people who were actually there for the rally. The media included tons and tons of out-of-town reporters and photographers, and even some out-of-town local tv. The crowd was very light, and you could easily walk very close to the stage before the crowd even got somewhat thick. By the time the march took off, though, it got and/or seemed significantly bigger, and like a decent size. The AP and the NYT went with a police estimate of 3000 people, and that sounds about right to me.

The march was good on most fronts. The route took us down to Causeway Street, right near the Fleet Center, though the huge fence in the street actually kept us just on the far sidewalk of Causweay, in a rather narrow stretch. When we turned back right, the road widened up and we passed the entrances to the FSZ that essentially all major groups except for Monday's Palestine rally have vowed to boycott (the moderately large demonstration planned for the final day of the convention, for example, is just going to take over the streets in that area -- or something like that).

The chants at the march mostly weren't too sketchy; the speakers at the march had already taken care of that, what with their calls for "long live the intifada" (neverending violence is what the Palestinian people want? I thought that's only what the right-wing tries to tell us) and diatribes about how Kerry is no different from Bush.

I saw very few people I knew at the ANSWER march, and I also heard that many fewer people were at the Social Forum on Sunday then on Saturday. It sounds like a lot of people just sat at home, or were busy organizing other demos later in the week.

When the march returned, we went to Cambridge to check out the Cambridge World Fair for a while, which was fabulous as always. Then I went to Jamaice Plain for the "people's party", which was super-duper low-key and like a very small festival, heavy on JP people. There was a stage that the few hundred people gathered around, and Couscous (Dennis Kucinich) made an appearance. His speach was very short and passioned, almost a bit much so. It had a bit of that quasi-religious flair to it that Beth finds sketchy, and it bordered on cult-like.

Anyhow, the Backbone Campaign had a strong presence and they had brought their huge, long, backbone with them. It's hard to describe, but it's like a really long puppet. Um, the whole 'backbone' theme is supposed to be the idea that the Democrats need to stand for something, and something progressive. They seem to be a group of at least some prominence.

Oh yeah, then most of the people went on a small march up the sidewalk to somewhere else in JP, while maybe 50 or a hundred stayed back. I ran into EDoug and talked to her for a bit before I had to run. Then these thirty cops showed up on motorcycles and started stalking the event. Bad scene. Random, and out of nowhere, and this was when the main festival was over. After I entered the subway, I could hear what sounded like a helicopter overhead.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Day 1: The BSF

Today, Saturday, was the biggest day of activites at the Boston Social Forum, which began on Friday afternoon and runs through Sunday. I said to myself that I was going to get up at some awful hour and make it to a workshop at 8:30am. That  turned out not to be true.

The 'rents and I pulled in some time around noon. The BSF was amazing. Everyone and their mothers were there. I said hello to several Wesfolks. The tabling was so extensive that it spread into three seperate buildings, not only in the lobbies but well into various halls, and this in addition to at least two large tabling areas outdoors. No Sweat had their new union-made sneakers available, and news that they are about to move beyond just the color black. The Red groups were out in force, newspapers and all. And outside there was live music, puppet shows, and of course a large banner from the Beehive Collective.

There were way too many workshops to choose from. Many seemed to be spilling out the door. I went to one by Ross Gelbspan, global warming dude and author of the new Boiling Point, on how we're in pretty bad shape and everything that even mainstream environmental groups are aiming for would still have us all extremely screwed in just a few decades. Great. 
Then I went to one on youth organizing in New England. It was mosty just people sharing what they are doing (well, I had to leave 15 minutes before the end, but I can't imagine too much networking happening in that much time -- you know how these things are), but it was interesting and worthwhile none the less. Lots of people working on lots of cool stuff.


Meanwhile, in the morning, the Black Tea Society had a press conference at the 'free speech zone', about how messed up it is. It had rained a bunch, flooding parts of the FSZ. All the cameras were apparently there to catch it. Code Pink and other out-of-town hot shots joined in at the press conference, and by the evening the issue of the FSZ was the top story on

Here's one of the three entrances to the FSZ:

That's right -- according to news reports, taller people will have to duck to use this one. I'm sure it's a perfectly safe way of exiting in an emergency.

Here we have one of the Code Pink people at the press event:

In an interesting twist, the organizers of a Palestine rally on Monday evening have, last I heard, embraced the FSZ: the decrepit conditions will be used to make a connection to how Palestinians are being treated, and on top of that there's the fence. Clever.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Live from Boston

What a cool city! I hadn't been here for more than seven weeks, and it seemed like forever. No offense to the 'ol A train, but riding home on the Red Line was such a delight -- speedy, sleek-looking, and comfortable. I was thinking about buying an "A" train t-shirt, but now I'm thinking I'm gonna stop by the store in Park Street (?) and check out the prices on the Red Line shirts. I have to declare my true allegiance one way or the other.

So it's going to be a crazy week of events here in Boston. I'm here through Tuesday evening. I'll try to post once a night.

Friday, July 23, 2004

West Side Highway, here we come

On Wednesday, United For Peace and Justice announced that it is accepting Bloomberg's site for the rally on Sunday, August 29th. In defeat, UFPJ said that " We did not make this decision lightly. " Their full statement about the issue is available here.

I think they make some good points for why they did this, though I'm certainly frusturated. Of course, it's easy for all of us who aren't actually organizing the thing to comment from our armchairs that they should have fought it out to the end.

The way they conceded defeat, though, was ineffective, and further backs them into a corner. With their statement they include four demands. One demand, for example, is that the city provide shuttle bus transportation from the rally site to the subway, as the rally is not very close to any subway stops whatsoever (which looms as nothing less than a tremendous problem).

But what does UFPJ have left to barter with? Nothing. UFPJ could have at least tried to get a deal out of the city, somehow. But now they've given up the moderate amount of threat-power they had, and the city now has no reason to give them any of their four requests.

One of the requests looks to be a huge tactical mistake: demanding that the city not use pens. It was just a few days ago that a court ruled that the city can't use pens, unless it has a specific threat. By now demanding that city not use pens, the organizers are already ceding the idea that the police will completely ignore the court's ruling.


Meanwhile, in Boston, a judge gave one positive and one negative ruling on Thursday in regards to DNC plans. ANSWER's march on Sunday will now be able to go on Causeway Street, right near the Fleet Center, but the "free speach zone" somewhat near there will not be physically ammended in the ways organizers had argued for, and in fact the allowed crowd size will be decreased to one thousand. If you're the 1001st protester, you don't even get to be in the [dirt field surround by serious fences and tall netting that isn't even within view of where the delegates will be going in and out of the convention]!

Here's the story on the two rulings, from the AP.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Cookies and Corporations and Crazy Libertarians

This is a bit old, but apparently every year the wives of the presidential candidates have a cookie recipe contest. Uh, right. The recipes are here:

The Boston Globe said Bush's recipe, with seven cups of nuts and berries and stuff, becomes unwieldy, and that eight dozen cookies is a bit much (cut it in half, perhaps?). They also say that after all the ingredients are added, the final cookie ends up tasting only like the chocolate chunks. (So..?)

Kerry's recipe -- with pumpkin and nutmeg and stuff -- is labeled a bold move, as it is clearly more of a fall kind of a recipe, and though the election is in the fall, it's summer now, and voters in whatever magazine's poll are voting now. They also say that going for a cookie without any chocolate is dangerously bucking the trend.

The Globe says that each year so far the winning cookie has led to the winning ticket, starting with the first contest in 1992..


MoveOn PAC sent an email today soliciting donations for their newest TV ad. The freeze-frame they give shows a picture of Bush, labeled "The Corporations' Choice", followed by a picture of Kerry, labeled "The People's Choice".

Uh, right. Oh MoveOn, you are showing your true colors, and they're rather dissapointing.

One could defend them saying that it's in fact true that the vast majority of large American corporations have given more to the Republicans than to the Democrats, and in terms of direct donations to the candidate from employees it's generally higher for Bush. But that in fact makes *both* candidates the choice of the corporations.


Lastly: We've all heard about those crazy libertarians who want to take over New Hampshire, right? Globe columnist Alex Beam has the gripping story:

Land of the Free 

Monday, July 19, 2004

What the Senate Intelligence Committee report really means

While the Senate Intelligence Committee declared that the CIA screwed up the Iraqi weapons dealie, it is a seperate matter from whether the Bush Administration overstated the threat beyond what the CIA presented in the NIE. The Committee has not yet given a verdict on that, and there is in fact no reason to believe that by harshly criticizing the CIA the Committee is ipso facto saying Bush did no wrong (I just wanted to use 'ipso facto' because I remember that Patrick R. used to use those words). And, on top of that, we have to remember that the CIA criticism is all about the NIE -- and the Bush administration started hyping the Iraqi threat 2-3 months before that came out.
You can read about this all in Andrew Rosenthal's Editorial Observer in Sunday's Times:
Decoding the Senate Intelligence Committee Investigation on Iraq
I don't usually like Editorial Observers, and if I'm not mistaken Rosenthal was a (the?) top foreign editor before, during, and immediately after the Iraq war, and a big defender of the Times' coverage that parroted the Bush Administration line.. That said, he seems to be saying something that few others are saying right now.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

A quick look at Sunday's headlines

Post: "1998 Memo Cited Suspected Hijack Plot by Bin Laden"
Apparently Clinton received a PDB in 1998 titled "Bin Laden preparing to hijack U.S. aircraft and other attacks." No one in Clinton's gang did too much about it, the story goes, and then when the Bush Administration took power, they say they didn't hear anything about it until the Aug 6 2001 PDB (at which point they still didn't do anything). Hmm.
But what's really curious about this all is that it's an EXCLUSIVE, yet on page SEVENTEEN (ok, Newsweek is publishing this developement simultaneously, but that looks like it). When newspapers have big exclusives that are not on the front page, it can only mean one thing: something is fishy.
Times: "New Reports Again Question Whether Iraq Sought Uranium in Niger"
This story is just as hard to sort out. It's about two new reports suggesting that the claim of Iraq trying to get uranium from Niger may have had some merit. But hop down to the end of the 6th paragraph of the article, and you'll find this rather key point:
"Neither report, however, found evidence that Iraq had actually purchased any uranium from Niger. "
Right. So, um, why are we even reading this article, and why is it even here?
And lastly, a flashback to Friday, when the Times featured an article, "Kerry Seeks Inspiration By the Sea", about Kerry writing his speach, supposedly with pen and paper. But campaign-generated romanticization aside, the story found an opportunity to remind us that Kerry is, of course, uh, French:
[[''Got to finish writing -- working my butt off,'' he said aboard his campaign plane, in the fragmented patois Mr. Kerry slips into these days when talking about himself to reporters.]]
Patois??? WTF. I didn't even know what a 'patois' was, though it certainly sounds French. And after all, French means weasels and sympathizers with the terrorists. 

Saturday, July 17, 2004

How did your representative vote??

A few days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) 14-1 ruling condemning Israel's wall in the West Bank (the one dissenting vote being the American judge), the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning that ruling. That's right: boo to international courts, and boo to ever criticizing Israel!
Here was the breakdown of the votes:
Yeas: 361
Neas: 45
Present: 13
Not Voting: 14
Here's how they voted:
Rosa DeLauro voted YEA. Give her a call on Monday to let that mofo know what you think.

Friday, July 16, 2004

A People Adrift

Check out James Bennet's two-part series on Palestinians, "A People Adrift", in the New York Times. It ran on the front page of yesterday and today's papers.
-In Chaos, Palestinians Struggle for a Way Out
-Isolated and Angry, Gaza Battles Itself, Too

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Because everyone else is doing it

At least I'm admitting right off the bat that I'm only doing this whole 'blog' thing because everyone else is doing it. And that "at least" is the most eighth-grade-comeback way to start a sentence.

On the subject of eighth graders -- or people who were in eighth grade several years ago: They were all outside the Irving Theatre in New York this morning, several of them having slept in line overnight. But what for, you ask??

Just think: band they were obsessed with five (more than that?) years ago.. Who they still lust for even though one or two of them is married.. That's right, it was Hanson! mmm-bop-alicious! And if you missed it tonight, I think they're playing again tomorrow or the next day.

On Tuesday night I went to the world premiere of 'Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism', at the New School University. It's the new documentary sponsored by MoveOn and the Center for American Progress (CAP) and all them about how Fox News Channel sucks (right, because we needed CAP to come in and save the day with that timely new analysis).

Michael Tomasky of the American Prospect welcomed the crowd and gave a "special welcome to the News Corporation lawyers in the audience" -- who gave a warm holler back. Or maybe it was someone else yelling back; I didn't quite get that. Well, they haven't filed suit yet for the copyright infringement. Anyway, the film was preceded by a panel discussion, in which Arianna Huffington opined that "we Greeks gave you democracy, and you screwed it up!".

Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was apparently in the crowd, but I wouldn't know what he or the other hot-shots looked like. Al Franken, though, was unmistakable -- from the way he walked. Not that I've ever seen video of Al Franken walking before, but he walked in that goofy way you'd think Al Franken would walk. You know what I mean.

The film featured FNC internal memos that were revealing of the way the channel sets out its agenda and then finds footage and commentators to try to construct that pre-made story-line. But a lot of the movie was filled with garbage that tried to re-inforce a notion that the rest of the media is just dandy. For example, the movie criticized the way FNC followed the RNC line in labeling Kerry a "flip-flop-er". What the movie didn't say was that just about every major American media outlet did the same thing. It was the Times, not Fox, for example, that had the gall to imply that Kerry flying over the Continental Divide (get it, like, two sides?) had something to do with him flip-floping.

Anyway, in other news, even Republicans drink from Nalgenes! See it for yourself:

My question is, why does he have a Dasani, too? Multiple identify disorder?? Conflicted politics?? Could it be he's an infiltrator from the left who just added the Dasani to try to fit in? Or is it that Nalgenes are a phenomena of a somewhat broader range of young people, and not just outdoorsy / liberal arts collegey young people?

Finally, I couldn't help but notice an article in Wednesday's Boston Globe about traffic changes around the DNC. You see, I-93 is going to be completely closed in the city, so they decided that they'd also bring it down from 3 lanes to 2 just outside the city, which they say makes sense for various reasons. Fair enough. Here's what the state police spokesman has to say about the changes south of the city:

[[South of the city, Mucci said, State Police will be monitoring traffic flow at Exit 20, where drivers can go either east or west on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90), or take Frontage Road to downtown. If gridlock develops, troopers will divert traffic off I-93 further south, possibly at Columbia Road, where drivers can be turned around and sent back southbound on I-93, Mucci said. North of the city, planners..."]]

Wait, hold up!!! What happened to the northbound drivers who were forced to exit, and TURN DIRECTLY AROUND at the Columbia Road exit? Is that not, like, a problem? What, are they just supposed to go home for the day at that point? What would you do?