Monday, October 06, 2003

Of Avocados and Kalashnikovs

Today I attended the annual Avocado Festival in Carpinteria, ten miles east of SB. It's a typical "festival," with craft and food booths, live bands, strolling locals and tourists--always with ocean-cooled breezes and late-afternoon warmth. I meandered up and down Linden Avenue holding aloft my sign--a five-foot pole bearing an erasable placard that presently asks on one side, "Hey, Hey, USA, How many soldiers died today?" and on the other, "Bush-Cheney: $87 billion more--R U Nuts?"

The Festival was mobbed. I stood on the sidewalk in silent vigil for some of the time, but mostly walked through it, sign aloft, for two hours. The Democratic Party had a booth; the Republicans too (with a lifesized photo of the Terminator on one side, of Bush on the other), and so I wasn't the only political voice there--although it felt like it a lot of the time. When I first started my stroll, a security guard moved to my side, spoke these words quietly, "Look buddy, I agree with your sign--don't get me wrong. But if you get into a ruckus over it, move away, just move away, okay?" I said, "Okay." He could not have been more direct, helpful and right on. I did not want to lose any teeth or limbs--not with yet a year to go until we get rid of Bush!

Of those who commented on my message, 30% were unfavorable (from "Shove that sign up your ass!" to "Those soldiers are dying for your freedom!" (?) ); and 70% were pro, some with a quickly-flashed peace sign or supportive whisper, some with a kind tap on the shoulder, a few with strident agreement, including, often, the comment, "You've got a lot of guts-right on!" Ninety-nine percent said nothing, indicated nothing. Needless to say, I kept my teeth. Kept my sign, too. Illuminating experience for me. Look for me at your local shopping center.

The side of my sign that questioned the death toll drew the most comments, pro and con, but the side protesting the money thing--the 87 billion--drew comments like, "What a waste," and "What can we do?"

I shrugged, could only shrug. Long ago, when I learned the law (see previous post for my confession that I was a lawyer) I was told that the House of Representatives held the purse. And yet nowadays these humungous monetary sums are presented by the Executive Branch and approved without meaningful hearings and attention by Congress, even though those for whom the monies are being expended are protesting that it's too much! Why indeed must we buy thousands of new rifles for soldiers who already have rifles? Why must we build Iraq from scratch, using American specs, American workers, when there's a hungry labor force in place and an eager industrial base ready to build?

The war was madness. The peacekeeping is madness. The rebuilding is madness. The madness of King George.

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