Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Democracy (For Members Only) 

Daily Kos received an e-mail from three residents of Denver who were ejected from one of the President's (taxpayer-funded) "town hall meetings" on Social Security after GOP functionaries discovered an antiwar bumper sticker on their car. They asked the Secret Service for an explanation, and remarkably, they got one:
But Monday, March 28, the Secret Service called three everyday people into their offices to discuss why we were kicked out of a presidential event in Denver last week where Bush promoted his plan to privatize Social Security. What they revealed to us and our lawyer was fascinating.

There we were - three people who had personally picked up tickets from Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez's office and went to a presidential event. But as we entered, we were told that we had been "ID'ed" and were warned that any disruption would get us arrested.

After being seated in the audience we were forcibly removed before the President arrived, even though we had not been disruptive. We were shocked when told that this presidential event was a "private event" and were commanded to leave . . . .

The Secret Service revealed that we were "ID'ed" when local Republican staffers saw a bumper sticker on the car we drove which said "No More Blood For Oil." Evidently, the free speech expressed on one bumper sticker is cause enough to eject three citizens from a presidential event. (Similarly, someone was ejected from Bush's Social Security privatization event in Arizona the same day simply for wearing a Democratic t-shirt.)

The Secret Service also revealed that ticket distribution and staffing of the Social Security event was run by the local Republican Party. They wanted us to be clear that it was a Republican staffer - not the Secret Service - who kicked us out of the presidential event. But this revealed something else that should be startling to all Americans.

After allowing taxpayers to finance his privatization events (let's call them what they really are after all,) and after using the White House communications apparatus to set them up, Bush is privatizing the ticket distribution and security staffing at his events to the Republican Party. The losers are not just taxpayers, but anyone who values the First Amendment. Under the banner of a "private event" the Republican Party is excluding citizens from seeing their president because of the lone sin of expressing the wrong idea on a bumper sticker or t-shirt. The question for Americans is - will we allow our freedom to be privatized?

Karen Bauer, Leslie Weise. Alexander Young
Denver residents
You may recall that on his recent trip to Europe the President cancelled a scheduled "town hall meeting" when German officials would not let him screen the questions in advance. The substitute event, a "roundtable discussion" with a group of twenty young German professionals, opened with this memorable exchange:
Q: Okay, once again, welcome. Mr. President, you said in a recent interview with The Washington Times that if people want to get a glimpse of how you think about foreign policy, they should read The Case for Democracy, by Netan Sharansky. In this book, as you know, Sharansky suggests the so-called town square test.


Q: Can a person walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fearing arrest or physical harm. My question for you: Did Sharansky's book have influence on your approach toward Russia?
One wonders why the Dauphin persists in touring on behalf of privatization: he stands no chance of converting skeptics, since skeptics are barred from attending, and in fact, according to the polls, each time he opens his mouth on the subject he creates brand-new skeptics out of the carefully selected Bush-lovers in the audience.

To what lengths will his regents and courtiers go to spare him from the inevitable realization that the old magic is no longer working?

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