- As usual our state (NH) Portland Herald, newspaper missed
it in today's editorial, Jan 22-'05lauding Democracy In Action-(Inauguration
- "While the residents of other countries see their
governments come and go in hails of gunfire and rivers of blood, here we
celebrate with pomp and circumstance, and even some humor".
- What a difference a decade makes or for that matter just
a few years! Watching the entirety of the inauguration and parade, I was
struck at the similarity and the great difference from 1993, when my husband
and I attended the first Inauguration ceremony of President Clinton. That
too was a garish affair costing upwards of 33 million. Except for a small
area of chairs in front of the podium ('93) the rest of the area was for
- We arrived early and were able to secure standing room
within yards of the reserved seating. Regretfully, we missed the entirety
of the swearing in, as the elderly Black gentleman standing next to us
suffered, what appeared to be cardiac arrest, just as Mr. Gore was being
sworn in. (Another impossible story this whole experience). Afterwards,
we walked over to where the parade route was, and were dutifully informed
that one needed tickets.so all we saw was the President's limousine speeding
- We then decided to visit the mall area where various
tents had been set up for the 'public' to partake of various musical shows,
food, and exhibits (for free). My husband (hardly the professional photographer
or video expert) was filming some video, when six goons surrounded him
and ordered him to STOP! The reason given was that the only video filming
permitted was for MTV. We left our grand Inaugural experience and walked
back to our hotel.
- Blocks from the extravaganza; there was little sign that
anything of importance was happening. There was a small pocket park beside
our hotel, and I noted as we approached, a couple dozen men, mostly African
American (a few elderly white gentlemen), in rag tag attire, shuffling
around the empty park. I suggested to my husband that we pay them a visit.
Chatting with them it became apparent that they were waiting for the daily
soup truck that made the rounds in Foggy Bottom (Washington D.C.). I thought
of the irony of this; what with the palatial wining and dining going on
only a mile away. The truck arrived and they lined up for a Styrofoam cup
of vegetable soup and a slice of bread. I spotted a delicatessen across
the street and sent my husband and a few of the men over to buy some roast
beef grinders and coffee for them. A small cup of soup seemed hardly adequate
for those exposed to the elements.
- As we all sat there eating our Inauguration day fare
(it was a tolerable 45 degrees) I asked them if they felt any hope with
Clinton coming into office. An elderly Black gentleman, his coat held together
with huge safety pins (veteran of WWII), remarked between gulps of coffee."Child,
we've seen'em come and we've seen'em go, don't make no never mind to us,
they's all the same, they's don't even knows we's alive". The others
murmured in the affirmative. I'd been sitting on one of the park benches
beside a quiet white gentleman who was probably in his mid-seventies.
- He had a grizzled beard and was dressed in layers of
sweaters, and pants. His lined weathered face, and deep blue eyes, held
a resigned peacefulness over his predicament. He tugged at my sleeve and
asked if I wanted to hear a song? I at first thought he meant to singbut
no, he had held tight in his hands (in a garbage bag) a violin. The other
men encouraged him to please play them a song. Apparently Johnny played
only rarely. He carefully took the instrument from his bag and put it under
his chin. I noted that it was held together with duct tape and baling wire.
In the quietness of that small park with these homeless men gathered round
Johnny played Hail To The Chief.da da da dum screech da da da da dum..screech.
Johnny told me afterwards that he'd had this violin since he was five years
old and that it was the only thing he possessed. I thought of the concerts
and professional musicians entertaining the in-crowd and was thankful that
we'd had the best seats in Washington that day. I shall never forget the
most memorable of Inauguration Days.
- Before leaving for home, in nearby Gettysburg, Pennsylvania,
we drove all around Washington. What most people don't realize is that
outside the manicured lawns, the museums, the opulence of the Capitol and
White House (various memorials) is abject poverty. Just a few blocks away
(far from sight) is a block long shelter, housing projects and decaying
housing. Mostly I felt a terrible ache that all we could offer the men
in the park was a sandwich and coffee.
- The biggest difference from that 1993 Inauguration and
today's Jan 2005 spectacle was the fortress-like atmosphere. In '93 we
saw an occasional policeman directing traffic or offering advice but that's
all changed. One hundred square blocks were cordoned off in an end of the
world like scenario. In '93 my husband and I walked all over Washington-in
today's militaristic world that was not possible. What wasn't evident on
the TV showing of this opulent display of arrogance were the numerous streets
closed and pedestrians severely restricted. The streets were swept clean
of any homeless (much like the Republican Convention in New York City)
and programs meant to serve their needs (soup kitchens etc.) shut down.
Inside this "security zone" meal deliveries for shut-ins and
the elderly were also canceled.
- As one organizer, for this the most expensive inauguration
in our nation's history, bragged, "This is the Super-Bowl of the elites.
Washington, D.C. is an ethics free zone these next few days". The
only free event was some Texas Fair set up in a removed building, complete
with spangled outfitted cowboys and grotesque stuffed bulls, that you could
have your photo taken on! The standing room for ordinary citizens at the
swearing-in ceremony had been replaced (2005) with thousands of chairs
(cost $5000.00 a piece). The regular folks were located far down the mall
behind barricades manned by rows of security police.
- There were no tents or exhibits for the people on the
mall just numerous check-points. Nobody but nobody was entering into the
'security zone' without being checked. Ten-foot high barriers lined the
park in front of the White House with 100 city blocks closed to traffic.
Those having to work for a living were told to stay home, (naturally without
pay). Subway stations were shut down forcing people to be herded in only
certain directions. "Democracy in Action" had sharpshooters deployed
on the roofs of all centrally-located buildings, with bomb sniffing dogs
working the streets.
- Police helicopters hovered overhead and anti-aircraft
missile sites were scattered throughout the city. In total there was a
13,000-strong security force composed of 7,000 military and 6,000 police
(from all over the country) and Secret Service members on hand. Cutting
edge surveillance cameras sent pictures of all parts of the crowd to a
specially-established joint command center in a secret location in northern
Virginia. I couldn't help but think at all this security and high-tech
protection for the elites "Super-Bowl" partying and celebrating
of Sept 11-2001, when thousands of ordinary citizens (fire-police-rescue
personnel) died as planes careened across the country for hours; with apparently
no 'command centers' on duty? Astoundingly, with trillions spent on supposed
defense these past decades, the white wash 9/11 Commission found nobody
- Common sense might surmise that New York City (financial
capital) and Washington D.C. might be prime targets, most especially when
the towers had already been bombed. Apparently, there's a lot more care
and attentiveness in protecting inaugurations-parades-numerous balls-private
parties-and exclusive dinners; for the gathered elite of the nation. The
airspace around Washington was severely restricted with planes forbidden
to fly within 23 miles of the capital's three major airports. The one exception
was for private planes flying under instrument flight rules. This sounds
reasonable or how else would the numerous elite (not hindered by security
checks at airports) flying in on corporate jets get to their parties!
- The $17.3 million to secure this party zone will be paid
(really by us) from the Homeland Defense money of the District of Columbia.
The Bush administration responded to the District's complaints with the
usual indifference. It told city officials that in order to pay for police
overtime, security fences and parade route bleachers they should dip into
their share of federal homeland security funds otherwise allocated for
hospitals, fire-fighting and transit command centers. Eleanor Holmes Norton,
the lone delegate voice from the District of Columbia (ignored) stated,
"If we are asked to pay for the inauguration out of our Medicaid money
or out of our money for mass transit, everyone would understand that's
quite inappropriate. It's worse to have to pay for the inauguration out
of funds that have been designated for homeland security priorities to
protect the nation's capital from terrorism." I fear that Eleanor
didn't realize that the millions upon millions in corporate donations to
this hullabaloo; were to garner future favors in legislation and lucrative
military industrial contracts et al. As for herding the multitudes into
'security zones' that tab could be picked up by those being herded. After
all, in the event of any future terrorism, the elite would be far from
Washington or whisked off to bunkers.while District residents got out their
duct tape and plastic sheeting.
- While the Portsmouth Herald opinioned over "free
speech as part and parcel of the democratic process" they apparently
missed the court actions and efforts it took for groups to secure a distant
section along the parade route. Having to stay on site to secure this small
section of bleachers, they were not permitted to even put up a warming
tent.(for fear of what would happen behind tent walls). When A.N.S.W.E.R.
offered to put up a tent with see through plastic sheeting; even this was
forbidden, in the event that a glare from the sheeting might blind security
forces eyes for a moment in time. This shows you the insanity of the times.
- While I have read of other events taking place miles
from the downtown; none of these were shown on the media. They might as
well have saved themselves the long trip; if they thought their efforts
would be seen by the multitudes. As it was, the protest that was held at
the beginning of the parade route was crushed into a small area, with a
variety of different issues being addressed. This is confusing for those
out in the hinterlands who are ill-informed or not informed at all.
- People are impressed watching vulgar and lavish ceremonies
be it the Queen in England or our own poor imitation. They are enraptured
by the show of wealth, the pomp, pageantry, designer gowns, and exquisite
luncheons. One newscaster proclaimed "These people are celebrating
success". Yes, indeed, I thought-the success of the few at the expense
of the many. None seated in the expensive reserved areas, the reviewing
stand, nor the exquisite dinners, had any inkling of war and its horrors.
Their children were not coming home unheralded (except by friends and family)
to a hanger in Dover, Maryland. Their children were dressed in designer
gowns and tuxedoes; while the children of the dispossessed, unemployed,
ghetto youth, green cards, and small town America (men and women) were
dressing in war duds.
- As one watched the meticulous care to protect the few
celebrating their "success" (business-politics-corporate chicanery)
one couldn't help but reflect on the parents buying protective vests for
their youngsters, or of our military scrounging in junk piles, for pieces
of scrap metal, to protect their vehicles. Not on Pennsylvania Ave; where
all limousines were heavily armored, with special bullet proof windows
and numerous armed security personnel. One wondered where the homeless
had gotten themselves to; as the 'successful' few made their way into a
heated (temporary) multi-million dollar reviewing stand. I thought of the
thousands who'd been kept waiting (parade participants-military-visitors)
in the bitter cold as the ceremonies ran late. Our new "democratic
process" allowed no knapsacks, no thermos bottles, no signs (except
hand carried ones), and no threatening terrorist puppets! It's not like
one can stop in at a local diner or restaurant (none available in this
area) to get a hot drink or warm oneself.
- Perhaps that's what most appalled me.this blatant, arrogant,
indifference to the multitudes. Oh, its not that it's not a fact of life,
but to see it televised in such cold contempt, makes it all the more glaring.
Frankly, I thought the best protest would have been for nobody to show
up. It would have looked pretty silly watching those thousands of troops,
snipers, a war room, and riot police; having nothing to do but escort the
fur draped dignitaries from event to event. Without the multitudes of hirelings
for the day (police,military,those manningmissiles,limodrivers,secret,police,cooks,waitresses,
al) one wonders how the elite would make it through a single day. They
wouldn't. Just as there would never be a war-the guarding of oil fields-the
spraying of forests with defoliants-prison guards-or contract workers;
if not for the less "successful" (not invited to the Super-Bowl)
poor, disenfranchised, immigrants, and various minorities.
- TV didn't show the long lines, those sprayed with pepper
spray, the corralled herding (in this the land of the free) those kept
out from the 'security zone', or the empty, echoing, 100 city blocks; cleared
of people to assure the elite of the utmost security. They only saw the
pomp and pageantry, the limp wave of a hand, the plastic smile, the hustle
from a warm opulent residence, to a warm armored vehicle, to a warm candlelit-
pig fest. I thought of the military families on food stamps, the Iraqi
civilians without food, electricity, kerosene or gas (in the land of oil).
I couldn't help thinking of what a selfish-surreal- cartoon world we live
- In a time of war, of massive unemployment, rusted mills,
shuttered plants, $5.15 an hour (NH) minimum wage, closed hospitals, overcrowded
shelters/soup kitchens, 45 million without health insurance, pensions robbed,
and robber baron pharmaceuticals; ripping off the elderly and everyone
else- decorum, might have wanted to tone down the extravagant, vulgar,
obscene, excesses! With multitudes limbless, blind, and shattered at nearby
Walter Reed; one would have thought a little sensitivity might have been
in order for those whose lives are forever altered. But then lack of fuel,
medicine, shelter, wages, medical care, food, or jobs doesn't touch the
detached-indifferent-successful-and wealthy. Jeweled sausage fingers, grasped
at tumblers of thirty year old Scotch, as the announced "successful"
amongst us slurped from event to event. I for one am dutifully unimpressed
with this new militarized-hogified-plutocracy disguised as democracy.
- I'm sorry, I didn't have the opportunity to attend, what
was probably the last hurrah of gathered democracy; on Oct 26, 2003. It
was then that 200,000 people gathered in Washington to say "No"
to war. A look at the Rally and March article; and great pictures will
show you what once upon a time "freedom of speech" looked like
in our nation's Capitol. In no way does it resemble the orchestrated, managed,
police state of today. http://www.wand.org/issuesact/iraqpix.html
- Our new "democracy" means to end "tyranny"
throughout the world. "From the day of Founding (not exactly jm),
we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and
dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker
of Heaven and earth. Our goal is to help others find their own voice, attain
their own freedom, and make their own way. The great objective of ending
tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the
task is no excuse for avoiding it. By our efforts we have lit a fire as
well-a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it
burns those who fight its progress. Make the choice to serve in a cause
larger than your wants, larger than yourself. When the Liberty Bell was
sounded in celebration, a witness said, 'It rang as if it meant something'.
In our time it means something still. We are ready for the greatest achievements
in the history of freedom". Part of Inaugural Address 2005.
- I was trying to make sense of this shallow rhetorical
speech (labored over by an army of speech writers) and its implications
for the future? Vice-President Cheney, on MSNBC Inauguration Day, gave
Israel the green light to take out Iran; it being next on the list of "ridding
the world of tyranny". It appears that our "security" is
dependent on our aggressive expansionism? The President's vision spoke
to "the concentrated work of generations". Those being called
thus far; in this global thrust of "serving a cause larger than your
wants", wasn't targeted to those in the $5000.00 seats or those blowing
into town in their private jets. But then, it seems apparent that their
"wants", at least materially, seem to have been met? I thought
it really righteous of the President to speak to the "rights, value,
and matchless value of every man and women on earth because they bear the
image of their Maker." I did a John Stewart (Comedy Channel-Daily
Show) and rubbed my eyes!
- Seems pretty blasphemous to have those; "bearing
the Image of their Maker" being stacked in naked pyramids, kept in
cages in Guantanamo Bay, engaged in lewd sexual acts, lit up at checkpoints-(whole
families), napalmed, slaughtered, and their towns pulverized. It appears
to me that the "Image of our Maker" is being pretty maligned
and desecrated with cluster bombs; shredding the limbs from children and
being referred to as "collateral damage, sand niggers, rag heads,
towel heads, and camel jockeys". I wondered if the President was referring
to Shock and Awe as our, "efforts that have lit a fire". If the
ending of "tyranny" is a "concentrated work of generations";
it appears that we're talking Orwell's Ingsoc principles of War is Peace,
Ignorance is Strength, and Freedom is Slavery. In today's world Liberation
is Annihilation, Occupation is Democracy, Evil is Good, and Religion is
Patriotism/Nationalism. Why Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.
- Before war with Iraq there was Afghanistan and before
that we were at war with the evil Soviet Empire and the Sandinistas of
Nicaragua. In the 60's and 70's it was Vietnam, before that North Korea.and
back through the generations. Forward we go to an announced "generational
war"; which proclaims to the multitudes that the children they bring
forth are merely being incubated for future wars. Not all children of course;
only those poorly educated, those hoping for that college degree, minorities
and the multitudes of immigrants. Youngsters, who are naïve to war,
easily led, easily intimidated, and easily conditioned in groupthink. The
children of those who order war, who profit, who celebrate their "success"
every four years; are trained up for their chosen professions, in exclusive
private schools with special attentions and opportunities. There is besides
'generational war', (for the poor-working class) generational entitlements
and favoritism, for those mostly chosen from birth.
- The President tells us that the Liberty Bell 'still means
something'. Not so much, that after residing in Independence Hall from
the 1700's, it was usurped by a bell gifted from England in 1976, and moved
down the street, along with its revisionist history. It now resides in
a pavilion much like the rest stops one sees on our nation's highways.
Perhaps the crack which happened when it was first hung and tested was
prophetic in nature? With the Scripture verse (Leviticus 25:10) "Proclaim
liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof".refused
to ring forth a lie?
- With ethics apparently regained, the celebratory imitation
coronation (minus scepter and crown), ended in a solemn Prayer Service
at the Washington National Cathedral. No metal utility church building
this place, with cheap metal folding chairs. This magnificent gothic structure
was completed in 1990 and sits on 57 manicured acres in Washington. Even
worship for the elite is done up in grand style. Wishing to offend none,
the service was multi-faith, with blessings and prayers for the President/Vice
President given in abundance. Prayers were offered for a "clear mind,
a warm heart, calmness in the midst of turmoil." Reverend Billy Graham
(86 years old) prayed, "Renew our vision, and restore our desire to
love and to serve all humanity." The organ thundered forth over the
gathering of politicians and favored guests; as Irish tenor Ronan Tynam;
was the one voice (my opinion) that touched men's souls (at least the souls
of those watching on TV). Psalm 29 was read with some Cardinal speaking
of love your neighbor, love your enemies etc. Reverend Craig from Dallas
ended by telling the importance of the 86,400 seconds in a day and our
choice in using these seconds for good or ill. He then proclaimed God's
love for ALL the children of the world.
- Again, maybe it was just me, but the lofty words of love,
peace and choosing to do good over ill; didn't connect to the happenings
in the outer world. I couldn't help thinking of little Ali with his amputated
arms (cluster bomb) or our footless child (dead) in her purple sweater.
They and the multitudes of other children-left orphaned with family cars
"lit up" or buried in the rubble of Daisy Cutter bombs rolled
off of planes. As I gazed at the polished pews; filled with designer attired
holiness-tended to by top ranking church officials in full regalia.I thought
of how the reading of Mark Twain's War Prayer would have gone over or some
readings of Thomas Paine's Common Sense (Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession).
"But there is another great distinction for which no truly natural
or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men
into KINGS and SUBJECTS."
- "Male and female are the distinctions of nature,
good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into
the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species,
is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or
of misery to mankind. Men, who look upon themselves born to reign, and
others to obey, soon grow insolent. Selected from the rest of mankind,
their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in
differs so materially (i.e. Inauguration celebrations-balls-jm) from the
world at large, that they have but LITTLE opportunity of know its true
interests, and when they succeed in the government are frequently the most
IGNORANT and unfit of any throughout the dominions." Little wonder
that Scripture dealing with God's displeasure over the people's insistence
of having a King.are not mentioned in various speeches.
- President Bush has stated on a few occasions (2002) that
he would prefer that we had a dictatorship-that it would make things easier-with
him as dictator, of course. What most don't realize or think about is that
the President (and the media reinforces this idea) believes himself the
ruler of the whole of the worldthus his proclamations to end "tyranny"
and pre-emptively (if necessary) instill "liberty and freedom"
throughout the world. Liberty, liberation, image, freedom, values, dignity,
democracy, are all lofty words and noble aspirations; but they are ethereal
and abstract. One can't scrawl "liberty" on a piece of paper
and send it to the gas company. Waving a flag over a shuttered mill, or
echoing auto plant; won't stop corporate hucksters from outsourcing to
China (not mentioned in Inaugural speech). The farmer can't plant Image
seeds-nor can the fisherman bring in a hefty catch of Democracy flounder.
Freedom script won't pay for needed medicine or food, nor will my self
proclaimed "Values" get me that job; when I'm unceremoniously
fired, laid off or downsized! How will 'Dignity' replace a youngster, husband,
father or mother, lost to a cause bigger than them? And how, oh how, can
I, one of the oppressed of the world, celebrate the love of God's, Shock
and Awe "Liberation" without hands to clap or eyes to see my
deliverance from "tyranny"?
- And so we go on enraptured, mesmerized, or frantically
and passionately believing; that a king, ruler, president, or self proclaimed
savior; will save us from imploding buildings, hordes of Muslims, escaped
Mexicans (from a failed NAFTA Treaty), aliens, asteroids, or tsunamis.
With our roll of duct tape, plastic sheeting, jug of water, flashlight,
and color coded fear alert---we wait on those who talk without listening,
with no true thoughts (all PR jargon-or speech writers jabberwocky), saying
what's already been said by others. We wait on the nothings, from nothing
people, far removed from the sight and sound of the elderly couple, who
recently committed suicide (NH) in their despair, the elderly brother and
sister who died of hypothermia in a (NH) small village, the sound of taps
on a lonely Vermont mountain, the anguish of the widow, the fear of the
55 year old man, with his scarred calloused hands out of work, long lines
at shelters, the shut-off notice, those in Ohio unable to afford fuel to
heat their home, the thunder of pulverizing bombs, the screams of the shredded
(military and Iraqis), or the thunder of bulldozers smashing homes to dust,
in the shadow of walled depravity.
- It's hard to hear the cry of those "made in the
Image of their Maker" behind concrete barriers, walls of shields,
in armored limousines, amidst rustling silk, muffled elegance, in guarded
gated estates, private clubs, Trophy home vacation retreats, and the slurp
of toasted "success" in the red-white-and boo of Super-Bowl,
Foggy Bottom, vulgar festivities. It's no surprise, that in our revisionist
history; lauding the obscure and profane that Thomas Paine and his words
have suffered their own downsizing and kicked to the curb obscurity.
- Though he was speaking of England he might have applied
these same words to our circumstances had he stood afar amongst the barricaded
common folks on the mall (Inauguration day-2005).."In England a King
hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which, in
plain terms, are to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears.
A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand
sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is
one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned
ruffians that ever lived". Common Sense-Of Monarchy and Hereditary