Thursday, August 23, 2007

Land Of The Free And Home Of The Brave

From the Washington Post:

Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any.

A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country.

But that does not mean the White House is against dissent -- just so long as the president does not see it. In fact, the manual outlines a specific system for those who disagree with the president to voice their views. It directs the White House advance staff to ask local police "to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route."

The protesters can protest, but the president must not see the protesters, for he must remain in his protective bubble, or else what? He will become discouraged, disheartened, reality will intrude into his Alice in Wonderland view of our country, of the people he works for, of the folks who pay his salary. What then? Will he be thrown off balance so that he will not be able to make his speech?

The manual demonstrates "that the White House has a policy of excluding and/or attempting to squelch dissenting viewpoints from presidential events," said ACLU lawyer Jonathan Miller. "Individuals should have the right to express their opinion to the president, even if it's not a favorable one."

This man with such tender sensibilities is our leader. Has he no sense of shame, of embarrassment? What about the folks who write these manuals and implement them? What's wrong with them?

Jeffrey and Nicole Rank wore anti-Bush t-shirts to an event in Charleston, West Virginia, and were arrested when they refused to remove them. They sued the federal government.

The federal government settled the First Amendment case last week for $80,000, but with no admission of wrongdoing.

White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, refused to comment because two similar cases having to do with the manual are pending.

How is such a timid, scared human being able to motivate his staff? Do they laugh behind his back when they are ordered to implement this sort of foolishness? Isn't there anyone on his staff with enough sense and courage to say, "You know, we really shouldn't do this"?

I guess not.


  1. It just makes him feel bad to know some people don't like him. (he couldn't be a pastor, either.)

  2. Diane, perhaps that's true. I can't imagine anyone in your congregation not liking you. Couldn't happen.

  3. Wow. I knew this administration didn't like to listen to dissent, but this is a bit much. Not to be over-dramatic about it, but at what point do we begin to feel as if the headlines are coming straight out of 1984?

  4. David, I began feeling that I was living in a 1984 time warp some time in 2002, in the run-up to the Iraq War. I thought that invading Iraq, a country which had not attacked us, was likely to lead to the bloody disaster that we have on our hands at the present time. Nothing that has happened since then leads me to think otherwise. Time doesn't seem to be moving. We are still in 1984.

  5. Two things in Bush's speech to the VFW yesterday were particularly depressing - the unbelievable bit about how the real problem with Vietnam was that the US cut and ran (this from one of the dynamic duo of whom it is said that the difference between Iraq and Vietnam is that Bush and Cheney had a plan to get out of Vietnam!), and his astonishing statement that the Cambodian "Killing Fields" were a consequence of the US's withdrawal from Vietnam. The root cause of the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge was the destabilization of Cambodia by America's illegal bombing of the country. In reality it was the Vietnamese government that ended the Killing Fields when it invaded Cambodia and overthrew the Khmer Rouge. The American and British governments (Reagan & Thatcher) by contrast condemned the invasion and continued for several years to recognize Pol Pot as Cambodia's head of state. One would condemn this as more of the usual hypocrisy, but hypocrisy requires a conscious knowledge that one is lying, which I believe that Bush, in this instance, lacks. Rather it is proof of Santayana's dictum that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

  6. None of this is new. His separating protesters/ dissenters from the area has been the MO since the get-go. It's so frightening. I sometimes feel as though we are living in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaiden's Tale.

  7. Lapin, I can say with no fear of being proved wrong, that Bush knows nothing of the intricacies of the history of the Vietnam War period. He reads what's on the paper or prompter, and it's spin, pure spin.

    Caminante, I know it's been going on. I like to take note of the insanities from time to time.

  8. Bush's so-called "free speech zones" for protestors is a subject that incenses me to the point I can scarcely talk about it. While the war in Iraq, torture of political prisoners and their lack of access to the judicial system, warrantless surveillance of American citizens, are also on the top of my list of major grievances, the free-speech zones are ... just beyond comprehension, partly because they are so petty and unnecessary while, at the same time, striking at the heart of those freedoms most of us hold most dear.

    Just bringing this up made me run across a couple of good articles, which include:

    American Conservative and this long pdf file from The National Lawyers Guild. Of course there's always Wiki with its references to external sources and some background history. Between free speech zones, torture, and the U.S. Supreme Court appointments (and, yea, whatshisname is still the Attorney General, right?), everything I learned in law school seems to have gone down the toilet.


  9. Klady, I read the first document that you linked to and the foreword and the conclusion of the second. I had to smile at the recommendations to the Dept. of Justice, under Gonzales. Saint Pat labels it the Dept. of Injustice, and I try to remember to use that that title when I refer to it.

    Even the conservatives are getting nervous about the restraints on civil liberties.

  10. The administration's "free speech zones" have been ruled legal. In 2002 an individual I have known for many years was arrested at the local airport for refusing to remain within the designated "demonstration" zone during a presidential visit. His subsequent conviction was upheld by the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The US Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal of that ruling.

  11. We have the Bush maladministration, and the Gonzales Dept. of Injustice. What's an alternative name for the Supreme Court?

  12. Alternative name I don't know, but the correct adjective is "packed".

    On another matter, the Church Times has just published an excellent piece revealing that Archbishop Akinola's recent, highly inflamatory letter to the Church of Nigeria was heavily edited and substantially re-written by Martyn Minns, Akinola's Cuckoo-in-the-Nest bishop for Virginia. V. interesting.

  13. Well, don't you think that television has something to do with this? After all, if the news reporters are following Bush and Bush has to drive past the protesters, then it is all the more likely the protesters will appear as part of the 30 second sound-bite report. That's not to defend Bush, of course, but I suspect the problem is deeper and won't stop when he's gone. Free speech just gets in the way of getting the message out and spinning the latest events to the political advantage of the incumbent. Of course, if the media were really aggressive none of this would matter, but most reporters seem pretty content to just "report" the message, not to evaulate it or challenge it.

  14. Dennis, I'm ready for impeachment. We should start with Gonzales. He'd be the easiest. Then the dike might break once he's gone.

    Lapin, I read about Akinola's ghost writers, Minns and a little from Sugden, from a link at Fr. Jake's.

    John, you could be right. It's hard to figure what's the thinking behind their actions. It could be the press pictures.

    Fox "News" is now pushing an attack on Iran, just as they pushed the war in Iraq five years ago.

  15. Your "take" on these developments is the perfect antidote for fear. It is absolutely pity-full, isn't it?

  16. Carol Gee, thank you. He's a pity-full little man, indeed.


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