Saturday, April 22, 2006

Unwelcoming Bush to California

It was Unwelcome Bush day in San Jose, Stanford & St Helena in California and I was one happy camper. Bush doesn't come to these parts much, but he braved it on Friday. For the record, I do not want to meet the current president of the US; there is nothing he could say that would make me believe he understands the pain he has caused millions of people in this country. He cannot say anything to make me believe he has given any thought to what a family experiences when their loved one is killed in his ugly war. I don't think he cares, either.

As I said, I was giddy as a school girl going on my first date. I didn't want to meet Bush or see him, but I really wanted to be in a crowd to let him know we're really not that into him here in Silicon Valley. My friends from Gold Star Families Speak Out had done their part to dog Bush and to let him know that he wasn't welcome in their towns, it was my turn now. I brought my big poster sized photo of Ken, it's the Lt Stripes pose, probably a better pose than Bill Murray ever did in Ken's favorite movie, Stripes. I wore my best shirt with the photo of Ken on the front and his headstone from Arlington on the back. That usually gets my message across.

There was a lot of confusion on Friday morning about public transportation or even private transportation. Where would we park, where could we park? I think the SJ PD liked it that way just fine. We were told we couldn't walk down a very public street to our assigned "free speech area". WTF? The police officer at that intersection told us we could still drive through, though we were told we could drive and a fellow protester told us she would drive us. The very minute we got to the intersection, less than 3 minutes later, they closed the road. Okay, take deep cleansing breathes....We drove for a bit more and found ourselves at yet another roadblock. We were very close to our intended target area as the crow flies, but the police officers wouldn't let us through. I reminded them that we were trying to get to a "free speech" area and that we had permits, so would they PLEASE tell us how to get there. After a few moments of discussion, they told us, make a u-turn, go back around, blah, blah, blah...It didn't seem that convincing to me, but there really was no other choice. It was becoming very apparent how much money this presidential visit was costing our town in terms of security. The closest we could get to the "free speech" area, which was really a penned-in street, was about 1/2 mile hike and there was only one way in. As a result, there were several hundred protesters in front of Cisco Systems in San Jose. We heard later that there were hundreds more who weren't there, because they couldn't get there or they didn't even know where there was. I'm sure the San Jose PD was quite happy with this conundrum that they had created. For anyone who actually got there, we earned our way in! We knew we were in the right place when we heard the drumming and chanting and other political commentary. The Liars Anonymous performance courtesy my friend, Jeff.

Many kudos to the people who organized this event in such a short amount of time, especially the folks from South Bay Mobilization. The World Can't Wait, and several more groups were also in attendance. My friends from Mountain View Voices for Peace and Military Families Speak Out were also there. Because of the president's appearance, most every media outlet was in attendance as well.

Although people were still straggling in, the organizers thought it was time to begin with some speeches. I spoke first

Today is the day we unwelcome George W. Bush to San Jose. Today is the day we let him know that the people of the Bay Area are not alone when we say we want our country back....This week when retired generals are calling for the resignation of the Secretary of Defense, the President made it clear once again that he is not listening to the military of the citizens of this country because HE CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!....We still don't know what the noble cause is. Why are we in Iraq? Why is there no exit strategy? When did Peace become a bad word?.....and I ended with PRESIDENT BUSH, GO BACK TO WASHINGTON, YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!

While people from other organizations spoke, many people came up to me afterwards and thanked me for speaking, for being there. One man, a former police officer spoke to me and told me he had been laying low on the peace movement, he was angry about a lot of things, but mostly he was mad at the individual soldiers. I started to interrupt him, but he continued. He told me that he had heard me speak in Palo Alto at the rally marking the 3rd anniversary of the war, about a month ago. He told me how he was touched by what I had to say then and how it impacted him. I think that was why he was at the rally on Friday. Score one more for the peace movement; all of our voices are powerful AND necessary.

None of us really expected to see Bush and we were not disappointed in that. Instead of arriving via limousine, he flew in via Marine One, the Presidential helicopter. While he spoke about his pro-technology agenda with about 250 business leaders inside Cisco, we continued to entertain ourselves with speeches, songs, drumming and general peaceful protesting.

This peaceful gathering did not warrant the overwhelming police presence in San Jose. By my count there were probably 4-5 protesters for each police officer. There were a nearly 20 officers on horseback. And the piece de resistance was the police officer filming each one of us to document our presence. He tried to look subtle, but how can you when you have a videocamera in front of your face?

Bush & Co took off in their helicopters and headed to Stanford. A big high 5 to the students and others who did such a good job of keeping Bush from his intended destination on the campus. Bravo! They did eventually get to the campus home of George Shulz, a former Secretary of State. Bush was not welcome at Stanford, either.

On Saturday morning, Bush took a mountain bike ride after his overnight stay in the wine country. He told a reporter who accompanied him on the ride "I still ride the mountain bike primarily to help settle the soul and to burn off the excess energy one gets when you're living life to its fullest," I'm so happy for him. He's living his life to the fullest, settling his soul. We sir, are trying to end a war and stop the killing, but I'm glad he can find time for a bike ride. This ain't no war president; he just doesn't care. For that matter, he doesn't even pretend to care. Give him a couple of ibuprophen and maybe that'll cure his case of Iraq fatigue.

There were protesters in the Napa Valley and there were protesters in Sacramento. The President was not welcome there, either.

Go back to Washington, Mr Bush, you are not welcome in California. If you come back, we'll greet you the same.

p.s. Happy Earth Day and Happy Birthday to Gary.

6 comments:

sevenpointman said...

The plan I am sending you has been approved by many prominent thinkers and
activists in the field. Which includes: Benjamin Ferencz, Chief Prosecutor
at the Nuremburg Trials, Tom Hayden, Matthew Rothschild, Anthony Arnove, Danny Schecter,
Tony Benn- Former Member of the British parliament ,Reggie Rivers,
Robert Jenkins, Andrew Bard Schmookler and others.
I formulated this plan in September 2004, based on a comprehensive
study of the issues. For my plan to be successful it must be implemented
with all seven points beginning to happen within a very short period of
time.
I have run up against a wall of doubt about my plan due to it's
rational nature ,and due to it's adherence to placing the blame on the
invaders, and then trying to formulate a process of extrication which would
put all entities in this conflict face to face, to begin to finally solve
the dilemmas that exist.
If you read my plan you will see that it is guided by a reasonable
and practical compromise that could end this war and alleviate the
internecine civil violence that is confronting Iraq at this juncture in it's
history.
I am making a plea for my plan to be put into action on a wide-scale.
I need you to circulate it and use all the persuasion you have to bring it
to the attention of those in power.
Just reading my plan and sending off an e-mail to me that you received
it will not be enough.

This war must end-we who oppose it can do this by using my plan.
We must fight the power and end the killing.

If you would like to view some comments and criticism about my plan
I direct you to my blog: sevenpointman

Thank you my dear friend,




Howard Roberts



A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq




1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces
must be announced.
I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be
applied by all the people involved.

A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to
representatives of both the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite community. These
representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The
individual insurgency groups would designate who would attend.
At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire,
witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually
signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the
foreign press, and the Internet.
B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within
sixth-months of 80 % of their troops.

C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the
effectiveness of the ceasefire.
All incidences on both sides will be reported.

D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations that agreed to the cease fire will
protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells.

E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations will begin creating a new military
and police force. Those who served, without extenuating circumstances, in
the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to
serve.

F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in
increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar
and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary
land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops
will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated
in the theater, if the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly
formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency, and two international
ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a
majority, deem it necessary.


G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they
arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq.

H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after
six-months.

I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six
month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the
designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building.


J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above
mentioned countries.
They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to
the States, Britain and the other involved nations.





2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with
the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making
null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul
Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted.



3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries
will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both
Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity
and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy.
Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board
together, in local elections.


4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that
Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18
autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international
experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the
creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a
voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the
names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives.
When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be
allowed for campaigning.
Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that
province.
When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five
individual members of any of the slates.
The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a
National government.
This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international
observers as well as the local bureaucrats.

During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up
of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US
and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the
temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of
governing.

When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative
duties of Iraq for two years.

Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the
representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister.

A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months
from their nomination.

The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose
their cabinet, after the election.


5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the
principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is
able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace
period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any
structural adjustments.



6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for
its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty
years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as
investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %.


7) During the beginning period Saddam Hussein and any other prisoners who
are deemed by a Council of Iraqi Judges, elected by the National
representative body, as having committed crimes will be put up for trial.
The trial of Saddam Hussein will be before seven judges, chosen from this
Council of Judges.
One judge, one jury, again chosen by this Council, will try all other
prisoners.
All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to
choose freely their own lawyers.

Chancelucky said...

He was in Sonoma County as well this weekend. Somehow when you have to work that hard to avoid protesters, it might be just a bit of a sign that there's a problem of some kind.

brainhell said...

Hooah!

brainhell said...

GSM,

Could you please send me an email at brainhell2003@yahoo.com? I've something I'd like to discuss with you. Thanks.

GSMSO said...

Chance-

I totally agree. I wondered if they told Bush they weren't going to their original destination at Stanford. He probably wouldn't have understood. Sometimes it's just best to do things and not tell; something I'm sure his aides learned long ago! tee!

Mudshow Gal said...

Hi, I'm a Mom too, although a brand new one. I just discovered your blog and I'm 150% behind what you say.
I'm a circus Mom and we were in San Jose until Sunday, but sadly I had no idea that Bush was there or that they were protests (it's hard to keep track with a six-month old and a part-time job and a household, albeit an RV-size one.)
Thank you for speaking out, sometimes this country scares me so much, even though I love it (I'm from France,) and I forget there are people like you as well out there, not just those who elected this horror president twice.