Thursday, January 08, 2004"Quarantining Dissent: How The Secret Service Protects Bush From Free Speech," from the San Francisco Chronicle (Thanks to Margaret Cho's Blog.) Apparently Dubya' doesn't like people who disagree with his policies to be anywhere within sight and earshot of his public appearances:
"When Bush went to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, 'The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.' The local police, at the Secret Service's behest, set up a "designated free-speech zone" on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush's speech.More gag tactics? Even the conservative Washington Post released the development of this sneakily totalitarian administration move: the Bush administration has banned media coverage of dead soldiers' caskets returning from Iraq. (Thanks to Friday FishWrap)
The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, but folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president's path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign.
The Secret Service is duty-bound to protect the president. But it is ludicrous to presume that would-be terrorists are lunkheaded enough to carry anti-Bush signs when carrying pro-Bush signs would give them much closer access. And even a policy of removing all people carrying signs -- as has happened in some demonstrations -- is pointless because potential attackers would simply avoid carrying signs. Assuming that terrorists are as unimaginative and predictable as the average federal bureaucrat is not a recipe for presidential longevity. "
Random Surrealism of the Day: "Is it an arrow? Is it a terrapin? No, it's poet-Man! More north-facing than an orange-flavoured Guinness truck, able to explain quantum mechanics to lethal mandrills in a single chequebook!"