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Friday, April 21, 2006


San Jose says "No" to Bush!

Five hundred or so people showed up to "unwelcome" George Bush to San Jose today. More were expected, and in fact more actually came. Thanks to the (entirely deliberate) last minute announcement of the trip in the first place, the failure of the police to negotiate a "not-so 'free speech' zone" until late yesterday afternoon, the closure of the location from three directions, and the need to walk more than a half-mile to get there in the first place, only the most "connected" and the most dedicated managed to get to the right place; others were scattered in other, even less accessible and "unapproved" locations. But show up we did.

And what demonstration would be complete without this total waste of taxpayers' money:

Here's the funny thing. That building behind the line of cops? That's not where Bush and Schwarzenegger were at all! They were in a building far to the right (and actually behind) me as I'm photographing the cops. They were so far away from us that, had we decided to "rush the building" (why, I don't know), jets could have scrambled from the nearest air force base and probably beat us there. This kind of show of force isn't about protecting Bush, or protecting the precious Cisco buildings for that matter. It's about intimidating the protesters, making people feel uneasy and in some way "guilty" about exercising their First Amendment rights. Of course it doesn't work with the people who do show up at a demonstration like this, but imagine the effect it has on some people who see this kind of thing on TV, figure that "where there's smoke there's fire," and that they'd be better off not coming to such a potentially dangerous place.

Update: That one-woman protest against Chinese President Hu yesterday? WIIIAI tells us she's been charged with "harassing, intimidating or threatening a foreign official," carrying a penalty of up to six months in prison. I wonder what you can get for "harassing or intimidating" George Bush? I left out "threatening," because I'm pretty sure that could land you in Guantanamo for life.

2nd Update: I forgot the most interesting story. As I was leaving, an acquaintance told me about a friend of hers that works at Cisco (where the speech occured). They had received a memo saying, in effect, "If you are a supporter of George Bush, let us know and we'll consider you for admission to the speech." Has there ever been a President who was as big a coward as George Bush? I seriously doubt it.

Update #3: After leaving Cisco, Bush was supposed to pay a visit to the Hoover Institution on the Stanford campus. But, as the San Jose Mercury News reports, he didn't:

At Stanford, where Bush ended up canceling an appearance at the Hoover Institution, a peaceful but spirited group of about 1,000 students and community activists gathered to await Bush's arrival. Many waved placards and chanted against U.S. involvement in Iraq.
But the Mercury News isn't telling the whole story, which I saw on NBC Nightly News. Bush didn't "cancel" his appearance (which he might have done if he had been running late, for example); he had to abort his visit because the Hoover Institution was surrounded by Stanford students!

And now Bush is further north in St. Helena, where he is being greeted by still more protests. No justice, no peace!

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