3/22/03 Columbia County, NY While 187,500

3/22/03 Columbia County, NY

While 187,500 protestors took to the streets around Washington Square Park today, the other 5 million or so folks flocked outside just to breathe real oxygen and enjoy an amazing spring day. After last night, I felt that in a time of such worldwide anguish, it is entirely acceptable to bathe in moments of happiness when you can get them.

7th Ave and Lincoln in Park Slope, Brooklyn

I say 187,500 because that’s the median between 250,000 (the estimated number of demonstrators according to the protest organizers) and 125,000 (the number according to the police). I understand why anti-war demonstrators are prone to exaggerate their numbers a bit, but I don’t fully get why the police seem to under-report them, unless it’s a small taste of the disgust the cops had for hippies demonstrating outside the ’68 Democratic convention in Chicago. Either way, it was a fuckload of people, and it got ugly in the end; demonstrators were sprayed with pepper spray, and the police were sprayed with mace. I’m not sure which is worse. They’re probably both bad if you’re wearing contacts.

I wanted to be a part of this demonstration, but to be honest, both Tessa and I are feeling like it’s the wrong impulse. At this point, when our voices are obviously not going to be heard, it feels best to just hope that our campaign over Baghdad is very successful and very fast. And that we put the pieces of Iraq back together very carefully.

I don’t trust Bush or his advisors to do anything that doesn’t reek of contempt, xenophobia, and hamfisted, childlike hubris but hopefully we’ll get the NGOs and the UN involved and come up with something better than Hussein (which shouldn’t be hard, even with our dumb-as-a-brick-of-Gouda Commander in Chief).

Best-case scenario? Okay. We catch a few more upper-level Al-Qaeda terrorists and further dismantle their ability to use our Iraq strike as a recruiting tool. We get some great footage on Al-Jazeera of happy Iraqis cheering American soldiers as they are being “liberated.” The smart bombs do their jobs with very minimal civilian casualties (which seems to be happening). Hussein is either captured or killed before he uses any of the big stuff on Israel or our troops. A massive humanitarian effort gets underway that will be as Shock’n’Awe as the bombing. We negotiate a sweeping peace deal with the Palestinians and ensure them their own sovereign country. Then, when we’re sure everything is ship-shape, we dismantle our military bases in Saudi Arabia, and get the fuck out of their holy land.

Oh yeah: most importantly, we do a thorough sweep of Iraq and come up with absolutely no weapons of mass destruction; Bush and his team are humiliated on the world stage. Americans begin to think he’s a liar. To distract us from this, he tries to enact some draconian conservative agenda (reversing Roe vs. Wade, etc.) to shore up his religious base, but miscalculates dreadfully. Then, one of any roiling scandals (Cheney’s Halliburton, Perle’s defense contractors, etc.) blows open, and a yet-to-be-named Democrat smokes him in a debate so thoroughly that even hard-core Republicans jump ship. Bush gets shellacked in 2004 and we all wake up from a terrible dream.

Wow, was that the Celexa talking? That felt good!

Fact is, nobody will beat Bush unless they can figure out how to own the national security issue, have a solid plan to rescue the economy, and radiate a modicum of charisma. My buddy Salem says “Democrats can talk about the popular vote until they are blue in the face and it will not change the fact that they are all hanging out in the same overpacked, firecode-violating club where everyone shares the same opinion.” He’s pretty much right; nobody I know is pro-Bush, but he has an approval rating of 79%.

Capturing the electoral college “sea of red” on election night is a rough thing for a Democrat these days; fact is, people are two things: racist and scared, and I include myself in there too. I don’t pretend to have the answers.

Three things make me wonder why I bother caring:

– 45% of Americans think Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11

– Election Day 2002 made me break down and cry in the shower

– spousal abuse rates skyrocket in the hours after the Super Bowl

That, my friends, is America. I’m serious when I say I might do what my Uncle Chuck did when Nixon bombed Cambodia: he looked for property in British Columbia.

Thank god we have this little farm. It’s the only emotional respite we have, and I intend to share it with every friend we’ve got. The picture above is the roaring Roeliff-Jansen Kill, the stream running behind our land (“kill” is Dutch for “creek”). Usually quite shallow, it is now 4-5 feet deep and churning from the rains and the melting snow. While Tessa tried to calm down our crazy shut-in dairy farm neighbors (barely seen in the background), I leaned my head against a post, listened to the rush of the water, and let my worries evaporate.

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