Thursday, July 15, 2010


(DATELINE: Washington, Deceit.)  
            The sweltering heat has perhaps blessedly fused memory of the ‘health care‘ fiasco into any remaining ‘hope and change’ ganglia not impacted by Alzheimers.  Those still sentient may read on about renewed license to protest even outside the Obama White House.  
           And thank Cindy Sheehan her co-defendants, and their devoted attorneys.  
           This week we are wisely reminded that Democratic party sellouts to big ‘medicine’ (Congress members) were due at the Obama residence March 20th at 4 p.m..  Cindy Sheehan, Peace of the Action (POTA), Answer Coalition, and others planned to give the overly-insured ones a fitting welcome. If you’d like to know what signs they were carrying, do a FOIA request of Park Police spies.  
          They taped the whole thing--signs, faces, even a socialist newspaper.  
But not from the right angle, turns out.  Had they videotaped Sheehan, or even scoured the web for POTA video, they would found evidence of The Peace Mom’s intent to engage in free expression.  Sheehan, writing in a blog cited by Prosecutor Sarah Branch as evidence she intended to cross that police line admitted the day after her acquittal that she in fact did intend to cross that police line.  
           But it’s a police line which was not needed, and should never have been established. I hope any appeal gets email and radio transmissions regarding what, during brief windows of sanity, is sometimes viewed as abuse of police discretion.  And I would like to see former Lieutenant (now CAPTAIN) Phil Beck‘s bank account records.  He’s no doubt looked at Peace Mom’s, and soon he’ll probably take a gander at mine.  (Journalists’ records have been ‘fair game’ since Reagan--time to level the playing field).   
This week Cindy Sheehan’s intent was on trial.  In an appeal, we may learn the true intent of the police.  And their enablers.
Already it appears obvious these public servants did not want activists ‘interrupting’ a political-message-free ‘tourist zone’ by communicating with their elected leaders.  Or maybe pushing a megaphone into the chest of a menopausal, grieving mother excites them in ways I really hope never to understand.  They injured, jailed for over 2 days, and even threatened and lectured known and emerging protest leaders from 3 generations: Jim Veeder, Cindy Sheehan, Elaine Brower, Jon Gold, Matthis Chiroux, and jubilant bike-rack-jumper LaFlora Cunningham Walsh.  (Watch the video--even irrascible codgers will love that kid.)
           That’s the bad news.  
            The good news is that, it appears even the D.C. establishment is sick of all this post-911 security theatre.  
         I say this not because Cindy Sheehan and others were acquitted.  I say this because a judge admonished the cops to provide a video if they ever again hope to bring such inconsistent testimony and records against protesters.
        I say this because my iPhone and one of the defendants’ accidentally rang in the middle of the hearing and neither of us were arrested nor bounced from the courtroom.  When Sheehan’s buzzed, the judge good naturedly joked, “That wasn’t a protest, was it?”  She cheerfully asserted it wasn’t.  The Federal Marshalls and I discussed the wily ways of the 3GS on recess:  “Unlike the Blackberry, you cannot remove the battery,” and, “If you put it on ‘airplane mode’ it won’t turn itself back on.”  
             Marshalls acting inquisitive, even apologetic?  “I didn’t mean to move you from where you could hear, ma’am,” said one Marshall.  An apology?  From a person with a gun?  This has got to be a sign the security theatre state is abating.  I say this because, until the final arguments of the trial, I and others could aid and abet our aching back muscles by placing a forbidden foot upon a forbidden piece of carpeted knee wall in the gallery.  I even iced a bare, sprained ankle, water dripping on federal carpet.
         The last reason I sense a coming sea change against this military orgy of waste, this 10 year explosion of Jack Webb clones is-- just a hunch.  I sense a rising, silent chant of the protesters’ chorus on that Park Police video.  Was it a chorus of foul-mouthed angels after my own heart?  After the ridiculous 2nd police line--the one imprisoning formerly ‘permitted’ protest leaders onto a stage of pending punishment, the cry of real hope and change arose on Park Police video to an amused courtroom:
Wasn’t that a 6 year mantra from about 1969-1975?  
            Wasn’t that mantra (applied generously) why the U.S. bi-centennial was hyped so hard? Over-compensation, right?  Backlash, right?  Which perhaps also explains how Jimmy Carter could run for office in 1975 with a ‘My Momma spanked me’ ad.  I digress to explain my belief that a similar window is about to open.  It might allow even less fresh air than did the opening after Vietnam--the last failed U.S. empirical aggression.
           Returning from D.C. on Amtrak, I met a person who remembered the ‘window’--a former Department of Justice spy.  This person recounted photography missions to anti-war demonstrations when he/she was a sweet young thing.  “Turns out all my photos were blurry.”  That reminded me of how FBI files on lower interest ‘radical‘ friends were reputedly (during the middle of furtive, instantly confessional late-night celebrations) thrown away by step-parent clericals.  People are again discussing how the Vietnam War was REALLY ended--massive rebellion of soldiers, perhaps inside saboteurs.   
         Which brings us to Obama 08‘s official and unofficial co-opting and silencing of peace groups big and small.  Imagine South African style Truth and Reconciliation hearings about official spying and unofficial agents provocateurs.  We never resolved exactly what happened around Vietnam, let alone after World War II in that regard.  
Which brings us back to Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey, and why she was forced this week to recount, yet again, her unspeakable loss: the sacrifice of her youngest son for false pretenses.  George Bush never answered her question--the question every newly-minted anti-war mother of a dead soldier is discouraged to ask in a war for empire.  She was banned from the Obama White House sidewalk, still awaiting that answer as the Iraq occupation continued, and as the U.S. expanded: the Afghanistan invasion; torture; rendition, and domestic spying into Presidential sanctioned killings and discussion of an internet ‘cut-off’ switch controlled by the unitary executive.   
So there was defiant Grandma Sheehan--in the dock, on the witness stand--exposing the wound hurling her onto a national treadmill of peace rallies, potlucks, bad air and worse manners.  No national news media coverage of her post-trial self-recrimination for having briefly choked up on the witness stand as she explained how she came to be in D.C. at all.   The prosecutor who disdainfully and triumphantly used the word ‘blog’ to describe Sheehan’s writings does not realize the first class, self-taught journalist she’s become.  So the Washington Post eschewed sending a court reporter.  Does the Post possess a one-word headline writer?  Sheehan coined ‘Slaystation’ for killer drone control panels.  There are journalists who would retire proudly after penning a two-word headline so cogent, so emotive.
Prosecutors read from Sheehan’s online blog how disappointed she was that no one else followed her over that ‘post-permit’ police line. Yet, without a video of the day in question, a kind D.C. judge refused to convict her of possessing the needed intent.  Was Judge Morin really that unschooled of Cindy’s street smarts?  Her will to be heard about genocide?  The beltway media practically ignores her actions.  Perhaps it’s nice to be forgotten.  The next day, there was Peace Mom blogging that Ha! Ha! she’d out-gamed her ‘persecutor’ from D.C..  Sheehan implied that she was guilty as hell.  Of a bullshit charge.  
I think I know why she got away with it.
          The Park Police, uncharged are:  
          GUILTY of suppressing free speech rights;
          GUILTY of openly snooping to the point of harassment upon non-violent First Amendment exercise;
          GUILTY of possibly conspiring to confuse the public record after a ham-handed and needless declaration of a permit-pulling ‘emergency’ situation,
perhaps most importantly:
          GUILTY of Ollie North Fashion Sense (I recall cops dressing suit and tie for court--not wearing full (polyester?) battle rattle of gold-braid trimmed uniform, radio, handgun, mace--oh we get the PICTURE already--you’re a well-shaved killer for pay!).
         Trial transcripts will hopefully show ample grounds for an appeal for Brower, Chiroux, and Cunningham/Walsh.  And if the g-rated chant of “WHO DO YOU PROTECT?”  from the Park Police video ever gets FOIA-ed by ‘real’ journalists, or maybe the Smithsonian, then that post-war-of-empirical-aggression window may remain open long enough to prompt some real change. 
Something we can all believe in. 
And live with.
Sheehan and the defense lawyers speak about the case and its implications in this video: