Politics: July 2004 Archives


In spite of all reported sightings to the contrary, Ben Franklin is not in Boston this week. Can't say that I blame him.

This image was captured in downtown Portland yesterday. This city was founded by New Yorkers and New Englanders in the mid-nineteenth century, and it remains a very sensible and very liberal society, so maybe there's some logic to Franklin's visit (or move?).

While it looks like he's now in a serious stretch from his sober sartorial habit (his Parisian friends would love it), he still wears the same glasses and he still seems to be interested in journalism.

on the Oregon coast yesterday afternoon, just north of Otter Rock

We made it to the Pacific, but when we got there everbody was gone.

Actually, Barry and I are staying in Portland this week, where he's attending a tech conference, and after that we'll be in Los Angeles for a week. Yesterday was free, so we drove to the coast, much of the time through an almost abandoned wilderness, to stick our toes in the Pacific.

It's a long drive for one day, so while we didn't have much time to explore, the town of Newport looked like it would worth more than a detour.

We had a great lunch at the Chowder Bowl above Nye Beach: tiny shrimp in a thick clam chowder, followed by oysters and chips (clams and chips for Barry), the crustaceans all from local waters. Yes, they had good beer and wine, but most of the families sitting around us took a pass on the grownup stuff and finished quickly; they must have found the calories which fed their very ample American forms elsewise.

Another thought from a New York innocent abroad: This part of the world is very middle class and white, very clean and very civic. Why is it that away from the East Coast this country seems to be able to provide clean restrooms almost everywhere and such essentials as well-cared for parks or other public amenities, while in the Eastern cities you have to be a sneak or a sleuth to find a bathroom, and even a successful search will rarely uncover a clean, decent-sized facility? And in so far as parks are concerned (at least in New York City), unless you can get corporations to sponsor them, including their maintenance, your neighborhood is just out of luck.

As a nation are we able to provide for the public only if that public is perceived to be composed of a homogenous class and ethnicity?

Of course there are some parts of America which do have homogeneity, but still don't think anything should be provided to the public. If you're from such places, or visited them, you know where they are. Those are the areas from which most decent people flee as soon as they can - sometimes ending up in Oregon or New York.

detail from Julia Scher's video, "Guard"

The third of White Box's planned nine weekly curated (RNC-oriented) shows opened tonight with a video and window installation by Julia Scher curated by Michael Rush.

Everything is on the outside of the gallery for these summer shows. This week the window reveals a real chain link fence topped with the ubiquitous razor wire, but this time everything is in pink, the whole threaded with a blue text welcoming the Republican National Convention to New York. The video installation next to the window is composed of two looped tapes (43 minutes total) each showing a solitary pink-uniformed security guard stationed, presumably, in front of a bank of monitors showing images of the viewer.

Scher has worked with surveillance issues for years. In 1991 she wrote, "The monitors of surveillance are the eyes of a social body gone berserk." Today we cannot even imagine an escape from that insanity.

It's a very good show. It'll be there for only six more days, but the real surveillance is only getting started.

. . . until, whatever

I wrote these three paragraphs as part of my ruminations on the eve of the last Congressional election, in 2002, prior to the monstrous Iraq War but just in time to see Hussein used as the bogey from which we needed the Republicans to defend us. The post was titled, "rigging the election."

Almost two years ago, in the months after the 2000 elections, I bored or frightened my friends with my prediction that we would never have another Presidential election, and we would very likely be relieved of the messiness of another congressional election as well. I believed that the Republicans would never give up what had been so ill-gotten in the winter of 2000-2001.

I was certain that some pretext would be invented to distort the electoral process, or even entirely suspend the Constitutional niceties providing for the election of a Congress and a President, in order to protect us from enemies at home or aboad.

If they get away with it this fall, a Republican executive, a Republican Congress and a Republican judiciary will virtually guarantee their success with a frightened and gung-ho citizenry in 2004. Dictatorship accomplished.

If some were ever bored by cries about the sky falling, none of us are today, but we are all certainly frightened.

Going forward, I expect to append certain posts with the seven words, "We will never have another Presidential election." I would be delighted to have to admit I was wrong, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen.

[image from ICSC 2001]

Dictatorship will be the answer.

Why of course we can't go on as a constitutional republic if a terrorist act occurs within our borders - or so the Administration would have us believe. Essentially it's what has already happened since September 11, but now the only people who profited politically from the events of that day now want to make it official.

U.S. counterterrorism officials are looking at an emergency proposal on the legal steps needed to postpone the presidential election in case of such an attack, Newsweek reported on Sunday.
The Democrats will probably sign on of course. Perhaps someone should first point out, as Barry did this afternoon, that even during the Civil War there wasn't an interruption in the election process.

Still, one way or another these people will see to it that there is no real election, this November - or ever.

where will your vote go when you leave the booth?

We observed the 4th of July holiday yesterday by watching Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." [I just can't imagine how anything traditionally celebratory could be appropriate just now.]

Because I haven't been tied up in a cellar for four years, I think I can say I did not learn anything new during those two hours, but when the film's chronological sequence reached the moment that the United States bombed Baghdad I just lost it.

My only thought then was that if we were being watched by a wrathful, Old Testament god he would have instantly crushed our nation for its selfishness, its stupidity and its cruelty. More privileged than any people which has ever enjoyed the bounty of this planet, we have no excuse for the evil we have unleashed upon others. [And no, since we have absolutely chosen ignorance (we have the media we want) there will be no absolution there.]

We are very lucky that old god isn't out there. It now appears that we're waking up and don't like what we have done. I really believe most of us will not vote for Bush in November, but I also firmly believe Bush will be declared winner of the election. They aren't going to let go.

How will this happen? Nothing has been done in Florida to repair the system responsible for that state's abominations in the 2000 election, and meanwhile the possibilities for mischief have expanded elsewhere. But the decisive assault to our voting rights is the introduction in many jurisdictions of electronic voting machines which leave absolutely no paper trail and whose programming remains secret to all but their large Republican-dominated corporate makers. Sophisticated push-button control of the ballot box: the dream of every modern tyranny.

Why are we trying to raise millions of dollars and raise up millions of people, if in the end the election can be fixed? Especially after what happened four years ago, why aren't we hearing about this horrible threat? Even the most energetic opponents of the Administration are not pointing out the danger. Other than to suggest the most cynical of possibilities, I don't have an explanation for that silence.

Because of his film's brilliance and because of its huge popular success, Michael Moore seems to have awakened his audience in time, and he should soon enjoy the highest honors available from a grateful nation. But I'm afraid he has one more job to do, and I say it is his because I cannot imagine anyone else who could get the voters' attention, anyone else who could save us from another, even bigger fix in November.

We're going to have to ask him to help, and we're also going to have to talk it up with anyone else who might make a difference.

Everything depends on it.

It's no longer enough just to pick the right candidate in the voting booth. We have keep our eyes on what happens afterwards.

[image from Dangerous Citizen]


Herds of Republicans in New York?

Can't wait for the excitement of the Republican Convention, still eight long weeks away? Start celebrating this coming Wednesday, and again on each of the next eight Wednesdays, with the people at White Box. They're putting together more than two months' worth of creative events in recognition of the extraordinary significance of this . . . this thing coming to New York. There will be a new curator and a new art installation each week.

The Republicans of course have only one installation, it's hardly art, it's definitely not a hit and the whole set will be struck later this fall.

MAKE NICE will be the theme of the fifth edition of White Box's annual summer series, Six Feet Under. As in previous years, MAKE NICE will consist of exhibitions mounted by critics and curators who will take possession of White Box's exhibition space for the duration of one week each. This year the topic specifically addresses the Republican National Convention, to be staged in New York from August 29 through September 2, 2004. The premise is that the curators, and the artists they select, respond to an ad-campaign featuring Ed Koch in which he tells New Yorkers: "The Republicans are coming, Make Nice."
Meanwhile, it looks like Koch has had real trouble finding New Yorkers to volunteer holding Republican hands. Are we surprised?
Many of the tour guides for this summer's Republican National Convention will be tourists.

The nonprofit committee in charge of making Gotham hospitable to the 4,000-plus delegates has hit its benchmark of recruiting 10,000 volunteers.

But only 42 percent of the unpaid convention guides are New York City residents. The rest are from other areas, including upstate, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to statistics released yesterday by NYC Host Committee 2004.

10,000 guides for only 4,000 delegates? They should be able to spare at least a few of those volunteers for work toward a cause worthy of a human being. I expect that some of those 4,200 or so New Yorkers are in fact spies or moles, so this could get more interesting than the event planners might have imagined.

[image is logo from White Box site]

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from July 2004.

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