Patriotic Doody

Buffalo’s Bout with Bush

by Al Uthman

"For the local authorities, my only advice is make sure you fill the potholes. Empty the garbage. Answer the phone calls."

-From George Bush’s opening remarks at Kleinhans, 4/20/2004

The news that Bush was coming to town seeped in late, giving local activists little time to organize an appropriate protest. But rising levels of hatred and exasperation motivated many marginally conscious citizens to show up spontaneously when Bush was scheduled to arrive at Kleinhans. Personally, I couldn’t pass up the chance to view the event, and to feel what it was like to be corralled into a Free Speech Zone.

I arrived at Kleinhans, or rather the quadrant of symphony circle that the unwashed masses were allotted on April 20th, typically late and groggy at 10:00am. This is one of the problems with the left; they tend to oversleep, and the powers that be can take advantage of this by holding objectionable events early in the morning. I’m sure that, had the speech been scheduled for a more civilized late afternoon hour, there would have been thousands there to greet me. As it was there were a few hundred, only the staunchest of the opposition.

Most of the protesters had already arrived and commenced behaving oddly and shouting things. Anarchists played hockey in the street. People were giving speeches on a hopelessly underqualified PA system, but not many appeared to be paying attention. Some lady, apparently a singer of some description, got hold of a megaphone and proceeded to irritate the crowd with relentless and obnoxious chanting. A few reasonably attractive young hippies distracted otherwise earnest protestors with slightly provocative dancing.

I don’t do very well at these things. My basic fear of conformity prevents me from throwing myself into the mix very enthusiastically. I can’t bring myself to chant any slogan along with a big crowd, nor have I ever taken the time to construct a placard or a clever message to be written upon it. Basically, I just look around, wander, and am probably often mistaken for a disguised intelligence officer. My civil outrage tends to take the form of a constant low-level panic.

The massive police presence included a hovering helicopter which many eyed warily, half expecting a few short range missiles to stream out of it toward the ragtag liberal horde. With the fences limiting our freedom to move, there was an impotent sensation of pissing into the wind. We were there, but there was no ‘there’ there, no one to protest. Bush came around the back way; no one even got to see him. There was a procession of black suits and red ties far in the distance, but these may also have been the lucky invitees arriving at the ball. This frustrating feeling of not even being having the power to directly confront the intended object of protest was strange; the effect of a freshly castrated constitution and the growing fashionability fascist security measures.

Adding to the surreal nature of the event, there was a big yellow tent full of Scientology drones in yellow raincoats, doling out the worst coffee I’ve ever tasted, along with their spirit-lobotomizing literature. They kept going in and out of this big house inside the FSZ. Beast publisher Paul Fallon got a cup, declaring "I’ll take your coffee but I won’t take your bullshit." Others wouldn’t drink the coffee, suspecting that it might be laced with sodium pentathol or brain-restructuring nanobots.

When Bush left, or at least when we thought he was leaving, the whole crowd broke in to a rousing chant of "Aaaasssssshole! Aaaaassssshole!" It was the emotional crescendo of the event, a chant even I could get behind, revealing the bare-toothed contempt for the current coup-happy administration that brought this disparate collection of people together in the first place.

Once he was gone, the leftover mainstream press descended upon the penned-in dissenters, along with, no doubt, one or two feds snapping pictures of protesters for tracking and identification purposes. A Fox News reporter had to abort his ‘on location’ television spot and relocate when he was amusingly shouted down by chants of "Fox News Sucks!" As the crowd thinned out, things started to get uglier. The lady with the megaphone showed no signs of letting up. Some latecomer in an army jacket started berating the crowd, shouting infuriatingly familiar dogmatic logical contradictions that are the weak heart of every Bush supporter’s stance. You know, "They hate us for our freedom," "We have to get the terrorists before they get us," that kind of stuff. He seemed to enjoy being the sole remaining focal point for the crowd to direct its rage at. For a brief, shining moment in this insignificant nimrod’s life, he was paid serious attention by civil rights lawyers, alternative media journalists, young hipsters and college girls—all members of groups that usually wouldn’t give him the time of day.

I left. The increasingly sordid and pointless verbal melee sent me scurrying home, pondering the value of such ‘activism.’ It was, I still think, important to show up, even if it only merited a casual protest cameo on the local news broadcasts. At least people know someone was there aside from star-struck ‘first responders’ and ass-kissing public servants like Jack Quinn, whose comment that the Patriot Act "doesn’t take anything away, it just makes it easier for us to communicate" was either tremendously ignorant, deceptive, or both. The local anchors also predictably took their turns kneeling before our befuddled ruler, making asinine comments about George’s "very impressive performance" (Keith Radford) and his "very intelligent, very articulate, very glib" demeanor (Maryalice Demler) in the entirely scripted event. The excessive use of "very" belies our local newsmonkeys’ overcompensation in the face of Bush’s by-now oppressively obvious idiocy.

In fact, I’m almost certain at this point that Bush, after years of fruitless coaching, has finally been fitted with a totally concealed earphone by his frustrated puppeteers. Think about it: the uncomfortably long pauses between questions and ‘answers’ at his recent press conference, as well as his far-away stare during said pauses, could be easily explained by such an arrangement. Keep the possibility in mind the next time you see him answer questions…it’s creepy. The anomalous press conference could have been their trial run. Perhaps George will get more and more "articulate" as he grows accustomed to the process.

As for his appearance here, theories abound: many say he was here to defend the Patriot Act against a possible reversal of temporary provisions, which would occur after the election. This seems uncharacteristically forward-thinking for Bush’s cabal. Others say he was here campaigning, but even he has to realize that he might as well be attempting to drum up the vote in Falluja. Maybe the whole thing was dreamed up by Condi and Cheney so they could get some serious world domination strategizing done without having Junior underfoot all the time. All I know is the cops wouldn’t let me walk around freely in my own damn neighborhood, and I hope the nation follows the president’s advice this November—take out the trash, starting with the ‘patriot’ himself.

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© 2004 The Beast