Go to previous post:

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:
Open thread 9.

Our Admirable Sponsors

August 25, 2004

Theater arts. Given that we live right under a major approach path to LGA, suddenly I’m sorry we have the ground floor and basement of our building, but not the roof:
Bright blue tarps, painted with glaring yellow letters, are going up on dozens of rooftops in Brooklyn, under the flight paths into busy New York airports. Thousands of delegates and convention guests peering down at the city might see messages like “No more years” and “Re-defeat Bush.”
Certainly this is a smarter piece of political communication than the sort of “direct action” examined by Rick Perlstein in this piece in the Voice:
The War Resisters League, like A31.org, cites a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that includes these words, offered as if a taunt: “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

It would have taken all of King’s powers of Christian love, I think, not to laugh in these people’s faces. King would never ever simply say, “We need to do what our conscience tells us is important to do,” and somehow leave it at that. King planned his insurgencies with the strategic care of a military general, and with the characteristic obsessions of a top-drawer publicist: no risk of arrest, of violence—even when arrest or violence was welcomed, embraced for its communicative power—was ever left to chance. (Today’s protesters revel in their embrace of improvisation, as if it were a good in itself.) And he never left the field of battle satisfied with mere moral victory, that his side had demonstrated more righteousness than the other. He always had a concrete political goal, that concrete goal but a step toward his continually evolving transcendent goals. […]

[Protest organizer] Rae Valentine is even right, in a cosmic sense, when she says that “people understand that the so-called chaos of streets being shut down by protesters or even a window being broken is nothing compared to the day-to-day chaos and destruction of people being able to afford housing, or health care. That’s where the real violence—in the system—lies.”

But she is not right in the sense that matters: the political sense. “I think people understand,” she says. Linger on that formulation. It is only inane arrogance that gives someone the confidence to pronounce that, magically, “people will understand.” They might not understand at all. Instead, what they might understand is: “Bush is better than anarchy in the streets.” It ain’t fair. But if it all goes down as unplanned, there’ll be a whole lot more unfairness coming down the pike in the next four years.

As ever, it’s the difference between wanting to actually accomplish change, and merely looking for opportunities to enact your beliefs. [10:55 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Theater arts.:

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 11:48 AM:

Signs below flights will actually accomplish something?

I'm reminded of the final scene of _Dick_, when Nixon's helicopter goes over Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams's sign. It wasn't the sign that accomplished anything--it was their actions as Deep Throat that =resulted in= the sign.

Don't disagree with the general premise--as an old friend pointed out, "me and 100,000 of my closest friends" gathering before Gulfstream War Haliburton had no effect--but I do fail to see how the signs will "accomplish change." They can be disparaged by commentators just as easily, and won't change the minds of the delegates.

Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 11:58 AM:

I think that there's a real disconnect in this generation in regards to what protest is actually about. I come from a generation that hasn't had to sacrifice a single thing for the good of a greater cause in their lives, thus they don't understand how thoughtful protest can bring about actual change. I thought that 9/11 would help drive home the idea of what it means to sacrifice for your country and beliefs, but with bush in charge, it was a huge failure. In fact, he only seemed to reinforce the belief that it's everybody for themselves.

Hmm...I don't think that made sense. I'm sleep-deprived.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 12:01 PM:

The signs probably won't accomplish anything, but (here's the important part) they'll do no harm. Unlike disorganized street protests, they won't run the risk of escalating (or being escalated by the cops) into a violent riot which provides an image of frightening lawless chaos to midwestern swing voters watching on TV.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 12:04 PM:

As usual, Ken Houghton and I live in different rhetorical universes. I didn't claim that the rooftop signs were some sort of hammer blow for justice; I said the idea was amusing and "a smarter piece of political communication" than rowdy protests in Midtown.

What do we get out of the rooftop signs? Well, a bunch of anti-Bush Brooklynites hook up with one another; they get a little media attention and push home the message that anti-Bush sentiment isn't located only in the fashionable neighborhoods of Manhattan; they remind folks that outer-borough New Yorkers with houses dislike Bush too; notably, they don't create images of civil disorder; and maybe they'll give a twinge to an incoming delegate or two.

Compare and contrast: broken windows, fights with cops, etc.

Yes, of course, real political work involves canvassing, registering voters, and other hard slogs. However, people also need theatrical gestures--all work and no enactment makes Jack a dull activist. My point is that this kind of gesture is a lot smarter than scuffling with police in front of Madison Square Garden.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 12:29 PM:

So, maybe you could ask that great new landlord of yours if you could put one of these things on the roof. Or the upstairs neighbors, if they're the ones with rights to it. Of course that would require the cardinal NYC sin of talking to your neighbors, but your last comment encourages me to believe that you may be willing to commit it!

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 12:47 PM:

[smartass pedant]
[/smartass pedant]

Hang in there and keep cool, oh dwellers of Gotham.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 12:54 PM:

I bet they considered LAG and rejected it...don't want to remind people of the downside of air travel. Is there an airport whose code is BOM? How about OBL?

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 12:55 PM:

Oh, as noted I'll definitely take the trade; I was taking your closing line as contrasting the two quotes, not "just" as a comment on the Voice piece.

No question: Anyone who wants to accomplish something and has the free time next week would be working on a "get out the vote" campaign in FL or PA or OH, not getting into fights with cops on 32nd Street.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 12:56 PM:

OK, BOM is the code for Mumbai (aka BOMbay); OBL isn't an airport code as far as the site I checked can determine.

Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 12:57 PM:

LAG, however, is an airport code - for La Guaira, Venezuela.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 01:08 PM:

Ooops. Didn't check that. But what's the Spanish word for jet lag, huh? Bet it's not 'lag', is it? Huh?

Or maybe it is. Nuts.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 01:44 PM:

Airport code fixed. Thanks, Stefan.

Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 02:03 PM:

For no particular reason I note that PNH is the code for Pochentong Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Thus illustrating the dangers of monogrammed luggage.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 02:10 PM:

The Scene: Mr. and Mrs. Average Republican Midwesterner, watching the evening news.

The story on the evening news: Colored tarps on roofs, spelling protest messages.

Mrs. Midwesterner: "My, how, clever! I am, at worst, completely unaffected by this protest, and at best, moved in some infinitesmal way to become more likely to vote for Kerry!"

Mr. Midwesterner: "I quite agree, dear."

Meanwhile, back in the real world:

The Scene: Mr. and Mrs. Average Republican Midwesterner, watching the evening news.

The story on the evening news: Unruly protests in Manhattan during the Republican National Convention.

Mrs. Midwesterner: "Aaaaa! Panic! Those long-haired commie homo hippies are at it again! I only wish we could vote for Bush NOW, and didn't have to wait until November! He must save us!"

Mr. Midwesterner: "And some of the boys at the lodge said that an Actual Democrat had moved into our town! I'll get the flaming torches and hangin' rope!"

Daniel Geffen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 02:11 PM:

Leaving aside the airport code question, and returning to the Perlstein article, I've had similar thoughts. I'm worried that the protestors' focus on a particular means is going to result in some unpleasant ends. I've considered (in kind of loosey-goosey fashion) a potential way for the Kerry campaign to minimize any damage. Thoughts appreciated.

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 02:12 PM:

It sounds like fun. So much of the protesting stuff can be gloomy and (dare I say it?) borrrrrrring.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 03:29 PM:

I fly out of PDX, which sounds like something a Lensman might append to a command he wants done right away.

(In the Lensman universe, all protestors are agents of Eddore, and liable to be targeted by the poignant, semi-solid beams of energy from a Marauder.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 04:02 PM:

Apropos of nothing, why do so many bicoastal types (I'm lookin' at you, Mitch) identify something called the "Midwest" as the seat of American conservatism? Take a look at the electoral map. Bush's base is the South and the Rocky Mountain West. Of all the states that sometimes get called "Midwestern," only the western column of sparsely-populated Great Plains states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas) are solidly in Bush's column. The upper Mississippi Valley states are either battlegrounds like Wisconsin and Missouri, or Democratic bastions like Illinois. East of the Mississippi, only Indiana is reliably Republican.

The idea of the Midwest as a place where Mr. & Mrs. Average are Republicans is an artifact of American politics fifty years ago, not today.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 04:16 PM:

We live on the approach to Westchester County airport and have a roof, but I don't think that would do it.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 04:34 PM:

I wish they had photos of those tarps. I've got maybe 10-by-15 worth of sky-pointing roof right outside my bedroom window. I don't know if I'm under a regularly used approach path, but I'm right under the path that UA Flight 93 took on the way to South Tower.

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 05:05 PM:

Thanks, Patrick, for the note about us midwesterners.

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 05:15 PM:

Thank you, Patrick, for the note to Mitch (saving this old Midwesterner from having to say it).

Mitch does bring up an interesting point, in his way: given that there will be "trouble" at the protests (think FL during the recount), will there actually be a CHANGE of voters (or will people who are undecided conclude that they should vote for Bush because a couple of people get bloodied in NYC)?

We don't need to care about the people who are going to vote for Bush in November anyway--they won't be converted by any signs of unrest or unruliness.

I've seen a lot of members of the press talking about how we're heading for 1968 redux. In 1968, we had rioting at both conventions [Miami and Chicago], marches on Washington, DC, and general signs of unruliness and civil unrest throughout the country. In such an environment, no great surprise that middle-class White guys did their equivalent of "wilding"--voted Republican/Wallace.

But this is 2004. Boston was peaceful. No one has taken to the streets of San Francisco, except those who prematurely expected that they could expect to be treated as equal citizens under the law. No one has scheduled a mass protest in DC, not even for September 11th, the day after the assault weapon ban expires.

Are a few protestors getting into a scrape with NYC police (they known for excessive force [e.g., Baez] and poor shooting [41 shots, 19 hits, at close range]) really going to convince voters?

Granted, I'm not crazy about taking the chance--there is no upside to being a rabble, and relatively little to protesting, especially compared to the alternatives--but I'm not convinced the downside AMONG THE UNDECIDED is significant, assuming there are not "follow-up" riots.

Gareth Wilson ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 05:56 PM:

"The signs probably won't accomplish anything, but (here's the important part) they'll do no harm."

Except eyestrain, perhaps. I appreciate the need for colour, but is yellow-on-blue really the best choice? I recommend black on warning-sign orange instead.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 06:11 PM:

It's probably the cheapest effective combination, Gareth, considering that inexpensive tarps these days are almost universally blue.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 07:35 PM:

You're not kidding about living right under the pattern. The IAP (Initial Approach Fix) for landing on Runway 4 using ILS is called "GRENE". One guess what it's named after. The actual point is at 40D37"31.31N, 74D00'00.980W, or, in real world terms, at 13th Ave and 62nd St.

In good weather, there's a visual approach (EXPRESSWAY VISUAL RWY 31) that follows the same path (the route states "overfly Prospect Park to the extent practical), until you hit the Long Island Expressway. You then turn right, follow the LIE to Flushing Meadows Park, then turn left and land on Runway 31L.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 08:00 PM:

Al Franken suggests that people scream out the window ("Fugeddaboutit" or equivalent regional squall) at the beginning of Bush's speech:


Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 09:12 PM:

I think if people can't demonstrate on the Central Park Lawn because of grass damage, then they shouldn't be able to demonstrate on DC's Mall, where we re-seed constantly.

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 10:10 PM:

Does Eric Olsen's knowledgeable post automatically get him added to the Justice Department's watch list?

And why am I paranoid enough to think it might?

Will a Kerry presidency ease that paranoia? Probably not--but the man who investigated BCCI gives me a slightly warmer, marginally less fuzzy feeling than the man who was taking money from them.

"Fuggedaboutit!" is nice, even if it might get that Clinton/DeNiro video back on television. Still it's better than "We're mad as hell and not going to take it any more" from a spin cycle perspective.

Mris ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 10:57 PM:

Thanks, Patrick. Much appreciated. I spent the whole time we were moving back to Minnesota fielding incredulous California whines: "How can you move back to the Midwest? It's so conservative." I got to the point where I would snap, "Paul Wellstone!" at all comers. Minneapolis. Is so conservative. Riiiiiight.

I now point out the elected governor of California when I hear about Midwestern conservatism.

I think one of the problems my generation (I'm 26) has with protests is that we are prone to overusing them. Ditto "consciousness-raising exercises." Every other week, someone at college was protesting something, and we had a student body of less than 3000. Some of that is self-selecting liberal arts college do-gooder stuff, but it's still an astonishing amount to protest without a heck of a lot of effect. Homelessness, for example: what, exactly, was the administration of my college going to do about homelessness? How was a protest supposed to change their actions, and towards whom? No one seemed to know or care.

I think the problem, Randall, is not that we don't know how to sacrifice so much as that we don't know what to sacrifice, or when. It's not that we/they haven't seen meaningful protest changing things. It's that we saw it (on film, mostly) and learned the wrong lessons.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2004, 11:18 PM:

Good points, Mris.

Although (to reverse course) the liberalism of Minneapolis can be overrated, too. It has an awful police department, shot through with racism. And every time Teresa and I visit the Twin Cities, we're struck by something about the persons-o-color we see on the street: they look angry and scared.

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:12 AM:

Mris, Patrick: Almost everybody I know in Minnesota is liberal. Almost everybody I know in Minnesota is a fan.

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:41 AM:

Mitch does bring up an interesting point, in his way: given that there will be "trouble" at the protests (think FL during the recount), will there actually be a CHANGE of voters...

This point gave me pause. I have talked with (both online and in person) a not insignificant number of people who either believe or purport to believe that the Democrats, and only the Democrats, "caused trouble" during the Florida recount. This despite the fact that the only documented violent protest there was caused by employees of Republican politicians, at the documented order of their supervisors.

No matter what actually happens in New York over the next week, the public perception of the events is going to follow whatever Story the press forces the events into. We have an overabundance of evidence from recent months that whatever happens, the Story is going to favor the Republicans, even if it's in total contradiction of all the facts on the ground. How can the sane people force the Story into a flow that supports democracy and opposes Bush?

This isn't a note of despair, but I am more concerned about this than I am about the actual protests.

Timothy Burke ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 08:05 AM:

Nice to see Rick Perlstein (and PNH) stepping up on this issue. We'll see what effect is has: the protest-no-matter-what crowd is just as unpersuadable as a core Bush voter.

There's really only two reasons for mass protest: 1) as persuasive theater and 2) as serious attempt to cause the functioning of a particular government or institution to come crashing to a halt until it meets some concrete demand (which might include surrendering the government).

If it's 1), well, be persuasive then. This does not mean persuading yourself and your immediate circle of protesting friends that you're really righteous, because you're already persuaded of that. You could accomplish that persuasion just by having a cocktail party at your house and screaming, "FUCK BUSH!" in between sips. So who are you trying to persuade right now? 1) The few swing voters that remain. 2) The moderate Kerry voters who need to *not* be persuaded to drift away. 3) The moderate, wavering Bush voter who might defect or might at the least not bother to show up at the polling place (the more likely of the two results). 4) Naderites. Of these, only #4 is likely to be impressed with the kinds of protests that Perlstein is criticizing. 1-2-3 might all be lost by the wrong kind of theatre staged in the wrong kind of way. And don't blame the media: protesters are to blame when they stop traffic, pull all sorts of no-business-as-usual crap, and carry ANSWER-level fringe slogans on their signs.

If it's the second option--an attempt to bring government crashing to its knees--don't make me laugh. I suppose protesters who were sufficiently canny and organized could pretty well bollix up NYC's municipal government for two or three days during the convention, but that's it.

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 08:42 AM:

Marilee: almost everyone I know in the entire US is liberal. It's so hard to blame the whole repressive apparatus on just Joel and Pete that I decided there must be a sampling error somewhere...

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 09:14 AM:

Thank you for the correction, Patrick. I regret that I slurred the fine citizens of an entire region of the United States. And, more importantly, I regret that I missed the opportunity to write in cartoon Southern dialect.

Mris: I think one of the problems my generation (I'm 26) has with protests is that we are prone to overusing them.

I have thought the same thing for a while now. Indeed, I've wondered if protesting nowadays serves any useful purpose anymore?

Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 10:12 AM:

I worry about protester violence, but I worry more about police/security violence. My bet is that they'll have been prepped and told to EXPECT violence; they'll be so pumped-up, on-edge, over-ready to react to ANYTHING (a flash of light off a window, a loud noise) that even a peaceful crowd might suddenly find itself being gassed or charged without notice.

(I've been wondering if you and Teresa were going to be at any of the marches or protests. Also wondering if I shouldn't send a donation towards body armor, or gas masks.) (Although, on second thought, anyone appearing to be wearing or carrying protective gear will probably be ESPECIALLY targetted by police.)

An idea I've been trying to push elsewhere is that protestors should, if at all possible, carry a large and/or clearly visible American flag. If police strike down protestors, they'll have to strike down the American flag too. If blood is spilled, police will have to bloody the American flag too. Not a visual image the GOP would like to see on TV.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 10:27 AM:

Teresa and I won't be at any of the protests. The RNC is Monday through Thursday. The Worldcon is Thursday through the following Monday. We're taking off to visit friends near Boston a few days in advance of Worldcon, and avoiding the RNC altogether.

We've arranged for our apartment to be looked after and we'll be well-connected to the internet throughout, so we won't be off the grid.

James Angove ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 10:42 AM:

Mris: I think you've come close to hitting the problem on the head. One of the things I've noticed about a lot of the protest-as-primary-political activity crowd is that they are caught up in the romance of it all. Its not fun, exactly, but its terribly noble and all, and they are going to go out and get beat down by the establishment just like in 68, and won't that be a story to tell, about how they fought the good fight against an overwhelming force.

That internal narative tends to limit their ablity to interact with questions of purpose, which is a necessary first step in contempating tactics. They know protesting is good, therefore it must be able to have good effects, therefore if it does not have good effects it must be because the establishment is supressing our message, therefore we must make even more noise and show even more contempt for the establishment.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 10:44 AM:

As Rick Perlstein points out, Martin Luther King would have asked some searching questions about this, like, what exactly to you wish to accomplish? And how will this help accomplish that? No, spell out the intervening steps, please.

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 11:54 AM:

Mitch, one useful purpose I see with protesting these days is the way it makes the participants feel as though they aren't alone.

Not sure if I'm making the point well, but I lived on the line of the million woman march in Philadelphia and all the women seemed very cheered to see all the other women together as a body in force and not singled out and alone.

Personally, I prefer things like MoveOn ads that actually compell swing state voters.

enjay ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:03 PM:

Leaving aside the question of whether protest can generate real change, it seems to me that one of the points of protesting by anyone at any time is to deny the premise invariably presented by those being protested against, which is, "I speak for all." Protestors emphatically say, "You don't speak for me."

Because much current political protest is only permitted in tiny, limited locations where no one can see it, even that message is lost. The tarps can't be made invisible in the same way.

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 12:35 PM:

Saul Alinsky would have asked the same questions. The point is not making a noise, the point is making a noise to help achieve your ends. If the effects of making a noise do not help you achieve your ends, then whose cause do they aid?

Anyone can make noise.

"One of the things I've noticed about a lot of the protest-as-primary-political activity crowd is that they are caught up in the romance of it all."

Too often, we don't want to do things, to act on and affect the world about us; we want to have the experience of having done these things. It's not just a problem of the young; I'm in my forties, and I hear people my own age and older talk, not about having done, or wishing to do something, but about having the experience. Maybe it's part of that insecurity that, in so many people, needs constant validation--we're unsure of the effects of our actions, and so need to clutch onto the memories of having acted, and in the end, confuse the experience of acting with the effects we desired to achieve. I am grasping at words here, but this is a sharp crowd, and I have faith someone can untangle some useful meaning here. Naivety and sheltered lives may have something to do with it, as well--again, something the young don't have a monopoly on.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:47 PM:

Whatever you do, don't give how the media or the GOP will report it a single thought. No matter who you are or what you do, it will be reported in the most negative light possible. Period.

You can't win that game. Don't even try. The fix is in.

I remember a couple from Brooklyn who went to Washington to protest. I know a couple from Brooklyn who are leaving NYC to avoid protest.

I wonder if they are, honestly, the same couple?

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:51 PM:

Jo, you are right. The USA is, when it's not scared to death, moderately liberal--remember that Al Gore was actualy a centrist candidate. US political parties, being geographic coalitions rather than representatives of particular positions or groups shift; I know anarchists who vote Republican, because their political loyalties come from the times, now long gone, when the Republican party had a mildly anarchist liberal wing.

"I worry about protester violence, but I worry more about police/security violence."

The NYPD and, especially, the NYFD have very little love for the Bushies--they remember getting stiffed after 9/11. It's possible we're going to see some internal conflict among the police forces during the RNC--it may even be that some of the city police will support some of the protesters.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 01:59 PM:

I have to say, I have the vague sense of having had my integrity challenged by Erik Olson, and I can't say I like it much.

Protesting in DC in January 2001 and January 2003 was political useful. Getting into "direct action" scuffles at the RNC seems less likely to be. This is called "making a distinction."

I'm not sure what Erik thinks we ought to do. Perhaps he can begin by clarifying exactly which clashes with armed police officers my semi-disabled wife should volunteer for.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:17 PM:

You're stating that every protest in New York will be violent.

Is this true? Is there nothing you can do, you can say, you can state -- even a steely glare -- that isn't automatically putting Teresa in combat with New York's Finest?

And, I must ask you, was 2001 and 2003 politically useful? And why isn't 2004?

In you own home, for god's sake, Patrick! They've chased you out of your own home.

How can this be good?

Your integrity is unquestioned by me, Patrick. Your methods, your logic, maybe, but the one underlying truth is you've always tried to do the best you could, and do the most right you could. You are, in many ways, the living embodiment of "Do Good, Avoid Evil, Throw a Room Party."

I'm just -- I don't know, I can't even find a word for it -- that you'd let them win like this.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 02:35 PM:

First, thanks for the clarification. I like you too.

Second, no, I don't think every protest in New York will be violent. I just suspect that the bad guys are hoping to make some of them work out that way.

Third, the mass DC protests in Januaries 2001 and 2003 were useful because the world needed to see the scope and breadth of opposition, first, to the way the Bush regime took power; and second, to the impending war. In August 2004, it's not news to anyone that about half the country is vigorously and loudly opposed to the Bush regime. And it's really not news that a bunch of New Yorkers feel that way.

Fourth, on the question of whether there's "nothing you can do, you can say, you can state--even a steely glare", I can offer you the happy news that over the last few days, I've noticed lots and lots more New Yorkers donning anti-Bush buttons and t-shirts, including rude ones. Being disinclined to get drawn into the stacked-deck game of Confront The Cops doesn't mean New Yorkers are cowed.

That's it, really. Feeling one has to get into a nasty physical situation because otherwise "they've chased you out of your own home" and you'd be "letting them win" is George W. Bush logic. It's the way they think and it's the way they hope to force us to think. Talk about playing the other side's game.

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 06:53 PM:

I hereby grant PNH and TNH permission to leave town whenever they want to, in order to visit friends in Boston, or for any other purpose they desire. I declare that such departure will not, in any way, reflect poorly on their committment to their political beliefs or their stature as upstanding citizens of their community.

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 07:08 PM:

Tsk, Erik, if for no other reason, avoiding protest immediately before Worldcon is a good idea. Unless you're young and healthy and never need to sleep.

I've been wearing my buttons from thenation.com and people will look at them and then sort of back away as if I'm nuts. This area is pretty conservative.

(I've just seen two polls -- one was 49% for Kerry, 47% for Bush, the other was the opposite. The first didn't give a margin of error, but the second was 3.5%, so they're essentially tied.)

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 09:33 PM:

We'll, now that Bill has granted absolution, and Marilee has implicitly declared the Worldcon of primary importance, I guess this really doesn't matter. But.

Feeling one has to get into a nasty physical situation because otherwise "they've chased you out of your own home" and you'd be "letting them win"

The world is often not a zero sum game -- but, many times, it is.

There will be only one winner. The GOP, or not the GOP. I thought you knew that. Hell, you've lectured me, and Nader supporters, and countless others on this very point. That it was us, or them. It is us, or them. This is why military heros are dragged through the mud-because they aren't them.

But now, suddenly, "letting them win" is George Bush talk?

That's exactly what George Bush wants to hear.

I hope you have enjoyable trip, and pray you have a safe return to your home, and I hope that, someday, you'll see New York as something else other than the scene of George II's truimph over the dead bodies of your citymates.

As ever, itís the difference between wanting to actually accomplish change, and merely looking for opportunities to enact your belief.
TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 10:54 PM:

The Nielsen Haydens have already done a great deal to protest the RNC coming to town. What else do you think they have been doing in this topic? The idea that the future of western civilization is somehow dependent on these two people putting their bodies on the line, this very week, is just plain silly. It might make a bad fantasy plot, but this is the real world. New York is a big town, and everybody can do their part. Even though the Republicans are coming, the Republicans are coming, people still need to eat and sleep and do their jobs and hang out with their friends. We should not let ourselves be consumed by fear of terror (or is it the terror of fear?) as the Republicans would have us. Neither should we let ourselves be consumed by fear of the Republicans. By all means, let's denounce their lies and smear tactics, and vote the bums out in November, but that should give you an clue, that the real battleground is in the media and in people's minds, not in the streets of New York. The Nielsen Haydens have a professional responsibility to be in Boston for the World Science Fiction Convention. They have to do it. That many of their friends will be there, and they should have a good time while they are at it, is only more reason for them to go. For what it's worth, this is not me giving permission, just trying to explain what should already be obvious. I would like to thank both Patrick and Teresa for their lively and level-headed discussions of politics, publishing, culture, and what have you. I am personally glad because it has reconnected me with things I needed to think about at this time. Also, I feel that we can never know all the good that happens just because there was a civil place to nurture it.

P.S.: TNH is Tonghua, China.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2004, 11:20 PM:

Hrm? So now Patrick and Teresa staying in NYC to protest is the hinge upon which the election will swing? Holy crap! When did this happen? Is this like one of those old Star Trek episodes, where Patrick will have to fight off the resurrected shade of Richard Nixon while Teresa improvises a cannon out of raw sulphur, diamonds, and citrus fruit?

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 12:29 AM:

And they would, too...


Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 02:05 AM:

Erik: Marilee has implicitly declared the Worldcon of primary importance

No, I'm declaring their professional obligations of primary importance. Everybody wears out at Worldcon, they have to be professional at the same time.

david ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 03:51 AM:

I'd like to say that the violence in Seattle has not obviously lessened the weight given to "anti-globalization" or whatever it's being called. Seattle, despite the ugliness and the bad press it generated, does seem to have focused attention, generated debate, and even won some points. So Burke's limited account of protests seems pretty thin.

That said, you're right on NYC. no chance of that sort of protest taking hold by November, and the immediate backlash could very well screw us all.

Mris ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 08:16 AM:

Didn't we go through all the "letting them win" permutations with "letting the terrorists win" a couple years ago? Didn't we learn to see when that's a little ridiculous? How about "if you let George W. Bush force you to do the work you love poorly, you're letting him win?" I'd like to think this isn't a win-win situation for Bush. It certainly shouldn't be.

We need to be able to see the difference between "not doing this specific thing" and "doing nothing." We should see the difference between "one person doesn't make any difference" and "I have somewhere else to be making a difference." Certainly every person matters, but they don't all have to matter in the same way on the same day.

Connie ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 10:04 AM:

I work in downtown Boston, and fairly jumped at the chance for work to send me to Minneapolis for part of the DNC, thus avoiding a whole bunch of commuting hassles, and incidentally the chance of injury from terroristic sabotage or attack. Should this be construed as implicit support of Bush?

Two less people commuting to work, taking up space on the streets and subways, both frees up maneuvering room for peaceful protesters (and lessens the hassle of getting about, which helps keep them peaceful) and for police to do their work of keeping mischief from breaking out.

I wasn't too apprehensive about terrorist action during the DNC, as it seems to me that the real target of opportunity, the one that has more of the eyes of the world upon it is the RNC... and it is also more likely to have positive results for Al Quaida et al, i.e. like waving a red flag to a particularly stupid bull so it attacks you in exactly the way you want.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 11:57 AM:

You know, Erik, somebody who has washed their hands of worldcon because you, personally, can't ignore the inevitable politics involved, has a lot of damn gall to lecture anyone else on their political responsibilities. I think I speak for more than myself when I mention we're really rather tired of your holier-than-thou, I know better than you, no one is wise/pure/ethical enough for me. Get over yourself.


TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 12:27 PM:

I'd like to say that the violence in Seattle has not obviously lessened the weight given to "anti-globalization" or whatever it's being called.

Seattle was totally non-violent, with two exceptions: the police reacted violently to non-violent action, and some kids in black calling themselves anarchists, but really nihilists, smashed a few windows and ran around. During the day the nihilists were restrained by the demonstrators. Once the police cleared the demonstrators out of the downtown area, the nihilists ran free. Funny how it worked out that way.

Seattle, despite the ugliness and the bad press it generated, does seem to have focused attention, generated debate, and even won some points.

There were a huge number of people who came to Seattle and participated in peaceful and productive discussions and demonstrations. The unions were fully involved. President Clinton was using the demonstrations as justification for getting greater concessions on environmental and worker protection. Seattle was not just ugliness and bad press with some redeeming value. It was an extraordinary moment that could have become a movement. The ugliness and the bad press were the response from the establishment, which does ugliness and bad press quite well, and does it all the time. The lesson from Seattle is that media control trumps massive popular support. Most people, even many people on the left, believe the official story, and have no idea what really happened.

Seattle was a turning point, a major defeat and loss of initiative for the left. The globalization debate was stopped dead, even while the protests continue. I don't think any points were won. The debate has started up again only with the debate over off-shoring, and that was through traditional political channels, and years later.

Since Seattle, it's been much harder to have a traditional street protest that is effective. I think the protests against the war in Iraq were effective, because they were so large they stunned the media into reporting the truth. The smaller protests have been pretty much neutralized or turned around by government and media misrepresentation. That doesn't mean we shouldn't protest. Not protesting will be reported as evidence of a greater failure of resolve on the left. But I hope the protesters will be careful, and keep in mind that they are up against a power elite that fights dirty and plays for keeps. Their response to demonstrations is practiced and routine. We need creative ways to get the message out, ways that will get reported straight, and that can't be spun into a violent confrontation. Signs on rooftops are a wonderful idea.

david ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 01:06 PM:

The ugliness and bad press I referred to was the establishment reaction -- I think we are pretty much in agreement about what went on on the street TomB.

Total disagreement about the results. Look what's happened in international negotiations over various trade agreements since then. Look at the entrance into the discussion of people like Stiglitz. The rethinking by Krugman, etc. Seattle played a big role both in promoting advocates' activities outside the US, and in questioning government action within the US. I think Lula's success in taking office had some roots in Seattle. Maybe I'm just starry-eyed, but what looked then like a classic law-n-order smackdown of whackos looks now like a decent starting off point for many things that have happened since. More has to be done, but when will that not be true.

Off-shoring is a tangential issue.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 01:32 PM:

david, you could be right. I've not been in the best mood for the last few years. I agree that some good things are developing because of Seattle, but I am still waiting for the day when the country as a whole appreciates what happened there.

Off-shoring is a big deal here in Silicon Valley. It's a gut check for professionals who thought, because they were indispensible, that their bread was always buttered on the corporate side.

Timothy Burke ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 01:42 PM:

Eh, since we're talking about Seattle.

1) The idea that the Seattle protestors were, might have become or are "the left" and anyone else wasn't is one of the reasons no "movement" came out of it--because some progressives legitimately don't think that anti-globalization as it manifested there, and I'm NOT talking about the fringe anarchists, is a particularly progressive movement. So for one, if Seattle didn't engender much in terms of a triumphant social movement, it's because the driving arguments presented in the streets at that moment raised objections even "within" the left.

2) The fact that Stiglitz and many others have spurred reform of major international institutions that the anti-globalization activists targeted was not caused by Seattle. It wasn't wholly unrelated to it, either, but there's a very subtantial disconnect between the transformation of multilateral international institutions in the past decade and the general sentiments of anti-globalization activism.

3) Anti-globalization activism as it manifested in Seattle and since also had some serious internal tensions (quite aside from the tensions between 'pro-globalization' progressives and anti-globalization ones). The unions were, if you listened carefully, actually arguing for *more* globalization inasmuch as their driving argument was to make international labor regulations and enforcement of labor rights much stronger. Other groups there were narrowly concerned with particular forms of multinational capitalism, whle still others take a much more totalistic, pseudo-nationalist line on all manifestations of globalization, including the vast array of phenomenon glossed as "cultural imperialism".

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 02:44 PM:

You know, Mary Kay, washing my hands of the Worldcon because of the politics is easy, because, in the end, the Worldcon is incredibly unimportant.

Washing my hands of New York City, or my Country, is different. I was lectured, here, by this blog's editor, that my action do count -- even for those who can't even vote, because they are not citizens of the US.

Comparing the two isn't even on the "bad joke" level. The number of people who will die if Irv Koch takes over the Worldcon is 0. The number of people who have died because of the GOP is much higher.

But, in fact, I am washing my hands of it. I won't be in New York now. I was hoping to make my voice heard -- and to keep the idiots, who will be there, and the bad guys, ditto, from ruining everything.

But after hearing a series of New Yorkers tell me why they won't be there -- why it's more important for them to be elsewhere, well.

I would have stood with you, and maybe done some good. But I won't stand for you.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 02:57 PM:

Eric --

I think your sense of tactics is leaking.

The Republicans do not want media focus on their platform; it costs them a net loss of votes. A totally dull convention where the only things to report are 'gosh, what a lot of New Yorkers are wearing anti-Bush slogans' and 'yep, same old repressive platform' is of net benefit to the folks who do not want Bush to be elected.

It's not like street protest is going to accomplish anything other than a PR disaster; the only thing that has been shifting Bush's rating up has been the fear of imminent death, and pictures of mass civil violence play into that.

It doesn't matter why that violence took place, how good the reasons for it are, anything. None of this stuff matters; what matters is how people's very basic social conditioning makes them react to the violence on television.

And yes, there will be violence, given the slightest opportunity; so the only real solution is to not present the opportunity.

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 04:44 PM:

Erik, WorldCon may not matter to you, but Patrick and Teresa still have a day job. Whether they derive personal satisfaction from it or not, WorldCon is an important place for them to be, as editors, to meet with their writers and other editors and be a presence for Tor.

Patrick is a serious and effective political activist. The only way to stay effective, over the long term, is to give yourself permission to not have to fight every single battle. He and T will have other chances to act, before voting day. I'd say that at least as impt as protesting the RNC is doing what we can to get people registered to vote, for instance.

Let each make a contribution according to his own measure and desire, says I. As long as we're all doing something, it will help in the end.


TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 05:03 PM:

The idea that the Seattle protestors were, might have become or are "the left" and anyone else wasn't

Where'd you get that idea? It sure wasn't here. I was writing about a broad movement that was broadly inclusive. Asserting that it was just another holier-than-thou exercise in definitional exclusivism is not only nonsense, it is highly offensive nonsense.

is one of the reasons no "movement" came out of it--because some progressives legitimately don't think that anti-globalization as it manifested there, and I'm NOT talking about the fringe anarchists, is a particularly progressive movement.

If you want to blame the usual fracturing on the left for the lack of a movement coming out of Seattle, that's an easy target, but it doesn't help explain anything. There are people on the left who can't agree on anything, even whether to vote against Bush. By contrast, the movement that began in Seattle was classic coalition politics, many diverse groups, from across a broad spectrum of society, that found a reason to work together. It was a progressive movement, even if you don't think it was a particularly progressive one. Whatever. It dragged the center of the American political system a few yards to the left, for the first couple of days of marches and workshops. Then it was stomped out.

The unions were, if you listened carefully, actually arguing for *more* globalization inasmuch as their driving argument was to make international labor regulations and enforcement of labor rights much stronger.

That would be an argument for more progressive globalization, not for more globalization.

So you think the protesters weren't really progressive, because they were only against globalization. And you think they weren't really against globalization because they were only progressive.


Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 05:48 PM:

Laura, they had that day job in 2001 and 2003 as well.

That noted, I'm in perfect agreement that attending protests in NYC this week--heck, ENTERING midtown Manhattan this week--is going to be pointless, and would point to the descriptions above of what happened in Seattle in comparison to the public perception of same. Or the delusions of janegalt and others to which Kevin referred above regarding who the "troublemakers" were in Florida.

The worst anyone could do in 2001 or 2003 was (choose or combine appropriately) a) undercount the demonstrators, b) disparage the demonstrations because of their organizers, c) ignore the event entirely, or d) act as if it happened but was unimportant. (The latter is apparently the Washington Post's current argument.) The best anyone could do was stand up and be undercounted and reinforce for people that they were not alone in opposition.

The worst--and expected--possibility of NYC 2004 is that a few people will cause damage or have an encounter with NY's Finest, and the rest of the attendees will be tarred with having "being party to" an "anarchist" activity.

We and the rest of the world already KNOW that a large number of like-minded souls oppose the current administration. Leaving town and explicitly denying the city its expected revenues--or even just going in, doing the job, and going home as if there were nothing more important than a late-season Knicks or Rangers game happening at MSG next week--is a sufficient protest for the moment. (Not to disparage the signs, lights, chants or pantie-flashings, none of which depend on gathering sitting ducks all in the same location.)

And it would be, pace Eric, even if Worldcon didn't overlap.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 06:14 PM:

On the not necessarily off chance that some of you won't read the WSJ:-

Yesterday, four days before the Republican Convention opens, protesters were already out in force, helping the Republicans by showing the world the face of the opposition. And not just the face, as the New York Sun reports:

The group of naked people with slogans painted all over their bodies broke the morning routine of commuters at Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street, near Madison Square Garden, while they chanted "Drop the Debt. Stop AIDS" and held up signs. Some of the protesters from AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power escaped arrest by donning clothing and slipping into the crowd, but police caught 11 of them, including two who stood on top of a truck. The group is trying to get additional funding for AIDS research.

What better way to draw attention to a serious problem like AIDS than by taking off your clothes in the middle of midtown Manhattan? Some photos of the disrobed demo (warning: nudity) have been posted at the far-left site Indymedia.org.

Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 06:17 PM:

I'm actually in favor of the sorts of protests that don't actually involve going too far out of your way. I like the "Great American Shout-Out" idea of everyone going to their window just before Bush's speech and shouting, "Feggeddabout it!" and keeping lights going all night and candle-lit vigils and stuff like that, but I don't like the idea of lots of people marching through the streets or anything else that involves confronting the cops.

I am also in favor of people taking into account such things as what they are physically up to (I'm no longer young and strong and up to marching), and the requirements of their profession, and stuff like that.

So I have no problem with P&T not marching.

But I don't understand the idea that someone who thought he should march has decided not to because P&T aren't going. I can think of a number of reasons not to march, but "Some people who I think should march aren't going to" is not one of them.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 07:45 PM:

We would probably not be having this worthy conversation about politics were in not for the social network afforded by the science fiction community, of which Worldcon is a central part.

I don't actually like Worldcons (at least not those in the US). But I'm going.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 08:19 PM:

Erik -- I was not comparing the 2. I was suggesting that if you can't stomach that level of politics on a personal level, you shouldn't be pointing out motes in another's eye. P&T both run blogs where important conversations take place. They publish subversive books. They have demonstrated and volunteered and will do so again. Me, I'm donating time and money and encouraging others to do the same in an attempt to actually make something happen. I've registered voters; I've made phone calls; I've gone to my pecinct and district caucuses; I've volunteered for campaigns. I'm not protesting in NYC either. My knees won't take it and I've decided that my other activism is fine.

I've pointed out to you before that yelling at people isn't going to convince them. Neither is insulting them.


Timothy Burke ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 09:10 PM:

TomB wrote: "Seattle was a turning point, a major defeat and loss of initiative for the left." Hence my complaint that "the left" might really not have been at stake in Seattle, just "anti-globalization", which I submit is a much smaller set.

I think that some of the Seattle protesters were against globalization, period. Some were for globalization if it was progressive. That's a pretty big difference that all the talk about a "coalition" can't paper over, nor all the attempt to blame the media or some other boojum for the failure of Seattle to bloom into some grand social movement distract from.

Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 10:36 PM:

I've never met anyone who was against globalization per se. I've met a lot of people who were against globalization the way we've been doing it - globalized privatization without globalized labor standards.

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 12:19 AM:

Ken Houghton, when P&T protested in 2001 and 2003, it didn't conflict with Worldcon.

And speaking of imminent death, there's this idiot astrologer who posts to sci.astro (nobody's been able to convince his ISP that astro is astronomy) who believes something like apocalypse is arriving when Bush speaks at the RNC convention. Look here:


(Teresa, belt in before you read.)

Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 01:22 AM:

Hrm? So now Patrick and Teresa staying in NYC to protest is the hinge upon which the election will swing? Holy crap! When did this happen? Is this like one of those old Star Trek episodes, where Patrick will have to fight off the resurrected shade of Richard Nixon while Teresa improvises a cannon out of raw sulphur, diamonds, and citrus fruit?

Quoted in toto because it's so damn' beautiful. Gosh it's a lucky thing I had already swallowed my selzer. The Comedy Intellectual irregulars ride again, by golly.

Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 01:45 AM:

I would have stood with you, and maybe done some good. But I won't stand for you.

SFX: Eyes rolling loudly.

Erik, get a grip. The RNC is not the last stand. You want to "stand with" us? You want to do some good? Take that time you were going to spend in NYC making noise and go devote it to volunteer work in a swing state for America Coming Together, or MoveOn's No Voter Left Behind project. Go door to door for your local Democratic candidate(s). Give the money you would have spent in New York to Tony Knowles Senate campaign. Or any of the list of sponored candidates at kos or Eschaton, or one of the Dean Dozen(s). Buy a couple of lending copies of The Corporation and lend them around to people who are waffling about how to vote in November. There are dozens of ways to make a difference that will make more of a real difference than making a pilgrimage to New York so you can get a solidarity high.

And while we're at it? The Worldcon is one of the seats of my community. It is the gathering of my tribe. That tribe, that community, and feeling connected to them, and sincerely attached to the Nielsen Haydens among others, is unquestionably the reason I am as informed as I am, as mobilized as I am, and as empowered as I am in this election cycle. If you don't think that's important, you have a lot less political acumen than I credit the RASFF "Libertarian" of your choice with.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 01:55 AM:

Oh dear. Oh dearie dear. I just read that page Marilee links to. Oh my goodness gracious me. Thanks, I needed that.


Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 05:05 AM:

Marilee, as Larry Wall keeps reminding Perl hackers, an apocalypse is just a revelation, so maybe that crank is warning us that Bush will reveal what he really is when he accepts the nomination.

I think the tarping of the roofs is brilliant, and will remind all the Party Faithful that New Yorkers don't appreciate people trying to cash in on their dead.

tavella ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 11:43 AM:

The Republicans do not want media focus on their platform; it costs them a net loss of votes. A totally dull convention where the only things to report are 'gosh, what a lot of New Yorkers are wearing anti-Bush slogans' and 'yep, same old repressive platform' is of net benefit to the folks who do not want Bush to be elected.

I think anyone who thinks a quiet convention would have resulted in the popular press, especially TV, paying any attention to the platform is delusional. I'm sure there will be long serious thinkpieces in the Serious Dailies that no one will read. The coverage that people will see will be adoring coverage of Bush the Great Leader and his Steely Glory. The Republicans are quite good at setpiece political theater, and the media, as we all know from the last bitter decade, whore to those they are owned by.

I'm not sure I'd go quite so far as Erik, but there's a certain point to putting down a marker for history. I know I was certainly cheered when I saw the inauguration protests in 911 -- I had no idea they were so extensive. If Bush gets reelected and things get as bad as they look like they might, it's nice to at least have recorded that not everyone rolled over for it.

Yes, normally, I'd let the election votes put down the marker, but it's no longer clear that they in fact will be an accurate record. A depressing and terrifying thought, but one anyone who has looked into the mechanisms and lack of audit trails in electronic voting has had. It's not just paranoia.

Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 02:04 PM:

Here's a thought: if you're worried about votes not getting counted (as I am), go volunteer to be an election monitor. Give to the ACLUs efforts on that. Work on any of the absentee ballot get out the vote drives. In any district where they've stuck us with paperless machine voting, work toward 100% absentee balloting. Let that be your marker.

What on earth is it about helping to create another Chicago is it that it has to be Custer's last stand? And if they win in November (Bog forbid) that doesn't make it the last stand either. That just means we're going to fight harder, and longer. We're not in a one-protest-does-it kind of fight here. We can't just raise our fists in the air and then go home to ignore politics forevermore. The real deal is that people who care about our country have to get involved in things that work, stay involved, talk it up to others, get them involved, and keep working at it together. Politics, is like doing the dishes. You have to keep doing it, because bad things happen if you just hope someone else will do it for you.

Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 03:58 PM:

And, for what it's worth:

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

"So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

"But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2004, 11:28 PM:

I'm surprised he didn't ask that everyone who placed such a poster on their house to be arrested and put in jail. apparently if one has a ticket to the convention BUT has something on their person that offends like a t-shirt, they can be freaking arrested and go to jail. Because Mr. Bush is a coward and a liar.

I'm soo glad I don't live in New York. And I'm so glad y'all are going up to Boston now and avoid the unpleasantness.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 09:48 AM:

It is funny to watch Ulrika lecture without any facts whatsover.

1) Why would I have spent money? Fares are high to NYC right now, hotels are historically high. This is what frequent traveller programs are for

2) You think Chicago '68 was a disaster that must never be repeated.

3) You have no *fucking* idea where I live, do you? Don't lecture me about working in a swing state. I've been working in swing states for the last decade. Just because you don't see me bragging about my creds doesn't mean I haven't been on the ground.

4) You think Fandom isn't my tribe as well.

So, other than spelling your and my name right, you've pretty much shanked that. Your faith in the election is charming, as well.

Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 10:35 AM:

Erik, you don't by any chance hang around with Nicholson Baker in your free time, do you?

Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 11:56 AM:


1. So you weren't planning to eat or drink while in New York? You don't think airline miles can be donated?

2. This is not a matter of fact but opinion.

3. I'm sorry; I had the impression you lived in the St. Louis area. Missouri is not on my list of swing/contested states. The rest is again a matter of opinion, i.e. that I think your time and energy could be better spent in the unromantic work of the trenches of politics.

4. Work on reading comprehension; nowhere did I claim Fandom wasn't your tribe. What I said was, Worldcon is important, contrary to your claim.

(5.) Re my faith in the election, again, I think you're having a reading comprehension problem.

But that was a nice dodge of the substance of my points. Almost as if you had no good answer for them. Erik, I submit that you are on a self-righteousness high on this subject and it is affecting your thinking. In fact, at this point you've got your ass hat on, and I wish you'd stop it. You're both smarter and more reasonable than this.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 12:14 PM:

Actually, Missouri is on almost everybody's list of swing states, but that's hardly what this argument is about.

Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Actually, Missouri is on almost everybody's list of swing states,

Freshly back from www.electoral-vote.com, I reckon you're right. I must have a blind spot for Missouri, as I have been thinking of it as firmly 'red' all along, and that's clearly not the case this cycle.

but that's hardly what this argument is about.

No, it's not. I think Avedon made the point best anyhow. But hey, have fun at Worldcon. Wish I could be there.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2004, 10:19 PM:

I also wish you could be at WorldCon, Ulrika.

You may have been fooled about Missouri because of their 70-30 approval of a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Which IMO makes the Missouri electorate on record as being 70% stupid, ignorant, coldhearted assholes.

Sure sounds an awful lot like Bush country.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 02:36 AM:

On the other hand, they knew enough to vote for the dead guy instead of John Ashcroft.

Nell Lancaster ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 04:51 AM:

Seems to me that massive, peaceful, beautiful demo accomplished a number of things. Hope CSPAN re-runs its four hours of unfiltered coverage; it was the next best thing to being there.

CBS news piece on demonstrating family members of soldiers killed in Iraq (and the thousand flag-draped coffins) was unusually good for Big Media.

Great message out, great uplift inside the "Bush out" base... and very little of the more vacuous direct action confrontations that the Perlstein article focused on. The rest of the week might feature some sporadic clashes, but the big risk was that stuff clouding the big march -- and it didn't happen.

Nell Lancaster ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 05:35 AM:

Nice selection of atmospheric pics at Needlenose.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 10:22 AM:

Ray, very true. And that's why, despite appearances, they really ARE a swing state. I was getting at the reasons one might make a mistake.

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2004, 01:24 PM:

Not that this will make you feel better, Xopher, but the wording of that amendment was very sly. One of my neighbors voted "yes" for it without even realizing what it was about--if she had realized, she would have voted differently. All it said was that marriage should be defined as a union between a man and a woman. Puzzled by this obvious thing (which is what it is, generally, here) many people clicked "yes" without another thought.

I'm NOT saying they were right. (I sure as heck did not vote for it.) But it didn't say, Ban all same sex marriages. Which is what it was getting at, okay, but unless framed that way, most midwesterners just don't think of other gender options.

It was also very underpublicized. I think so that people would be confused about what the amendment meant.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 03:31 PM:

Actually, that does make me feel a little better. Again the electorate was manipulated by sneaky bastards who don't have the people's best interest at heart. That isn't good, but it's better than 70% of a state making an informed choice to ban same-sex marriage. By 'better' I mean 'less disheartening'.

I'll keep the 'ignorant' tag on them, though.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 07:04 PM:

I have to admiringly say that it was brilliant of the gay marriage opponents to keep hammering at the point that gay marriage will undermine the institution of marriage.

It was brilliant because it was difficult to counter. It was difficult to counter because it was completely unfounded in reality.

If you make an argument based on fact, it is subject to refutation by better facts. But if you make an argument based on superstition, it's hard to refute, except by saying, "No, it's not."

"I'm whistling to keep the tigers away." "But there are no tigers here." "See, it's working!"