March on Washington this Saturday (Jan. 27)

This Saturday should see the biggest antiwar demonstration in Washington since September 2005. Details here.

I will be heading down to the big show. When I go to these events, I tend to saunter more than march, savoring the circus elements of these festivities and spending lots of time on the periphery.

Stopping Bush from expanding the Iraq war and from attacking Iran are by far the most important short term issues in American politics. War unleashes presidents to do their worst, with scores of millions of Americans guaranteed to cheer any new oppression of their fellow citizens.

Some people might avoid this march because of differences with the sponsoring organizations. Shizam, if I paid close attention to the words from the podium at these events, I might never go to any of them. I have been struck how often the demonstrators seem significantly more serious and reasonable than the speakers. But people are there to oppose the war, not to swear allegiance to every nitwit  who nabs the microphone for 2 minutes.

Likewise, some people might avoid publicly protesting because they want to avoid being in the same square mile as the fringe elements that show up for these events. I’m not talking about the undercover policemen. People who incite violence may be getting paid time and a half for working on Saturday.   There is no collective liability for all the ideas at the protest.  People who show up to oppose the war are not culpable because someone else shows up with a sign advocating bombing whomever.

 On the other hand, some of the people there might look at me and also shake their heads ruefully.   (“Antiwar event attendees are supposed to be clean shaven. Is it really necessary to be chomping on a cigar? And where did he get that hat? No one wears hats like that in Brooklyn.”)

Attending an antiwar march is one of the easiest ways to drive neoconservatives visibly insane. The New York Sun suggested in February 2003 that the New York Police Department “send two witnesses along for each [antiwar march] participant, with an eye toward preserving at least the possibility of an eventual treason prosecution” since all the demonstrators were guilty of “giving, at the very least, comfort to Saddam Hussein.”

Political entertainment doesn’t get much better than an editorial like that.

The forecast for Saturday is   49 degrees and Sunny.   Fine weather for a tromp around the city.   The last time I checked, all the local breweries are scheduled to be open.

I don’t know how much good it will do but this is one of the most visible legal means of protesting government policy.  Enjoy it while it lasts.

Feel free to post your thoughts on marching – or not marching – here.


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62 Responses to March on Washington this Saturday (Jan. 27)

  1. Peter January 23, 2007 at 12:31 pm #

    I ain’t marchin’ anymore!


    recording (RealAudio stream) at the bottom.

  2. Original Steve January 23, 2007 at 12:51 pm #


    Please consider giving us a liveblogging experience if you can swing it.

  3. Original Steve January 23, 2007 at 12:52 pm #

    and do be careful

  4. Jim January 23, 2007 at 1:56 pm #

    Thanks, Steve. I’ll make sure I take extra cigars.

    On the liveblogging – I’ll keep that in mind – haven’t done that before. May get some good photos…

  5. klyde January 23, 2007 at 2:41 pm #

    The only problem is that when you have a huge group of people like that the MSM is going to focus on the Vegans for Life, Womyn(sic) to Smash Patriarchy and of course the Free Mumia crowd thereby blunting the anti-war message to Ole’ and Lena.

  6. Tomas January 23, 2007 at 2:54 pm #

    I’ll try to make it, I technically live in the DC metro area so I might as well while I still have the chance; in a shirt and tie with a pro-peace & trade sign to boot! Anyone else besides Jim coming to see the festivities?

  7. Tomas January 23, 2007 at 2:55 pm #

    I’m sorry, as in like anyone else from the persuasion?

  8. Jim January 23, 2007 at 2:59 pm #

    klyde – so you doubt that Fox News will give the demonstrators a fair shake?

    Maybe if the organizers set up tasteful booths along the march route to serve white wine (in bona fide certified crystal glasses) to people with press credentials…

  9. John Lowell January 23, 2007 at 3:10 pm #

    Afraid to be identified with the CPUSA and the Socialist Workers, Jim? What’s a matter, chicken? What would a peace rally be without a few clenched fists, a red flag or two and a little gratuitous violence? 🙂

    John Lowell

  10. Jim January 23, 2007 at 3:12 pm #

    John, just a durn shame that my old Boy Scout uniform no longer fits. What a perfect counterpoint…

  11. Jim January 23, 2007 at 3:19 pm #

    I biked around the September 2005 antiwar march. There were sawhorses all over the place, so it wasn’t really clear which streets were open and which weren’t. As I was coming down 17th St. by the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House, I was perplexed when I saw a fat cop hieing himself into the middle of the street as he raised his five foot wooden pole over his head. I noticed that he appeared to be staring at me intently and realized that he was getting ready to take a swing at me. Some other cop grunted something about how the street was closed, and I veered off and left ‘em in the dust.

    There were masses of demonstrators on the other side of the White House. But the cops were not aggressive there because of the pervasive camcoms to capture their public service.

  12. JC Shakespeare January 23, 2007 at 4:58 pm #

    I’ll be back to your blog to see how it went. I’ve got friends going, and I’ll be keeping track on my blog, Peace Meme . . . also a march in Austin the same afternoon.

    Stay peaceful!

  13. paulie cannoli January 23, 2007 at 8:04 pm #

    “Taxes of Evil” flyer you can use at the march, about how taxes are a form of draft and fund the war machine

  14. Joe Brandt January 23, 2007 at 8:57 pm #

    Protesting is all well and good, but I wish everyone attending would follow up with phone calls, letters, or visits to their representation in government.

    Widespread lobbying of Congress is scheduled for Monday 1/29. Come join us!
    See the of for details.

  15. klyde January 23, 2007 at 9:40 pm #

    Don’t forget the cocktail weenies. The inside the beltway boys and girls love their cocktail weenies

  16. Jim January 23, 2007 at 11:10 pm #

    You’re right. Putting out those little tofu cubes with authentic Thai dipping sauce will have the media eating out of their hand.

  17. Tom Blanton January 23, 2007 at 11:58 pm #

    I might drive up from Richmond – then again I might not. The freaks there don’t bother me – I sort of like them if they don’t smell bad. The cops are far worse – I’ve had them beat the shit out of me and throw me in jail there. But, I’ve been back to vent in DC many times since that nastiness. The truth is that I’m old and lazy – and so is my car.

    I may go anyway.

    Let me offer some tips:

    1. Park in Virginia and catch the Metro into town so you don’t get ticketed or towed.

    2. Stay away from cops – especially the Park Police. They are often sadistic inbred thugs who couldn’t get a security guard job at Wal-Mart. They rule the mall and can be very ugly.

    3. Coolers are subject to search (drinking in public is not allowed). Backpacks may be subject to search as well as aluminum briefcases, ammo boxes, etc.

    4. Signs deemed to be weapons may be confiscated. Keep signs small and don’t use large scraps of lumber for sticks.

    5. Guns are illegal in DC.

    Also, check out the flyer Paulie has linked above – it’s pretty good.

    The site that Joe Brandt mentions has some good options for contacting Congress weasels at:

  18. Jim January 24, 2007 at 12:15 am #

    Tom – thanks for the excellent suggestions for demonstrators.

    I will definitely not be toting any ammo boxes to the event.

    Folks who doubt your comments on the DC police may want to read up on what they did a few Septembers ago when they cordoned off an entire park and arrested everyone in it, roughing them and locking them away for 24 or 48 hours. There were some peaceful demonstrators in the park – along with a bunch of tourists and nurses visiting DC for a convention. Didn’t matter. The DC police chief made comments at the time (or afterwards) about how the mass abuse was all part of a plan.

    And that sonuvagun kept his job.

    Any details on how/when the cops assaulted you when you were demonstrating?

    If you come, I hope to see you. I may be the only demonstrator there smoking a ceegar.

  19. Jim January 24, 2007 at 12:16 am #

    Does anyone know if libertarian organizations or the Libertarian Party is doing anything related to this antiwar protest?

  20. paulie cannoli January 24, 2007 at 12:44 am #

    Not the LP per se but the LP Radical Caucus will be there.

    And I’m sure probably Libs4Peace

    Kubby will be at one of the events, probably San Fran.

    Not sure about non-LP libertarians but would love to know.

    BTW mace is also a “weapon” acording to
    Metro Pig Department and subject to confiscation. FYI.

  21. Tom Blanton January 24, 2007 at 1:12 am #

    Jim – the LP Radicals might be doing something.

    My incident with the DC Park Police happened on July 4, 1978 at Lafayette Park across from the White House. I was standing at the police barrier and had words with an officer. When I turned my back, cops grabbed my ankles from behind. My head hit the sidewalk and then they beat me with sticks. I was thrown in a paddy wagon where a guy with a necktie punched me some. Then they took me to jail. The next morning I was charged with felonious assault of a federal officer, possession of dangerous explosives (firecrackers), and possession of marijuana. Despite an outburst in the court, I was let loose.

    The felony charges were eventually dropped despite my formal complaint to the White House about the matter. My lawyer said this act had really pissed off the cops and the prosecutor.

    The moral of the story is if a cop calls you a piece of shit, walk away. Don’t remind him that he is a nazi asshole. If you just can’t restrain yourself, don’t turn your back on him. Keep away from cops. Cops on horses and motorcycles are dangerous. Groups of cops are extra dangerous. I’ve witnessed cops on horses trampling people and I have seen motocycle cops drive into occupied tents. One DC cop who was actually being friendly said that “the rules change after dark”.

    I have no idea what that means. The “rules” are bad enough during the day. The best bet is to avoid cops, don’t cross their lines, and don’t go where they don’t want you to be.

  22. Jim January 24, 2007 at 8:09 pm #

    I reckon you’ll never get hired as a public affairs spokesman for DC-area police.

    Thanks for relating the story. And it is good that folks have a jolt of realism as they step out to oppose Bush…

  23. step/hen January 25, 2007 at 5:00 am #

    Marching on D.C. is bull.
    These people marching are always looking for someone to lead.In a real democracy people don,t need leaders.If you don,t understand what I just said your one of them!!

    People in this country are not free,they only think they are,and thats the problem.People you need more then ever to wake up. Government in this country is nothing more then a con game run by the powerful elite groups who really don,t give a sh**t about you, democracy, or your silly marches.Are you who march trying to do good, or feel good? It,s the latter isn,t it!
    You know in a country where everyone is blind,the one eyed man is king,and thats the elite who control us And most of you have two eyes and still can,t see,isn,t that sad.Were losing our country while you play games!!

  24. Jim January 25, 2007 at 7:53 am #

    But if people don’t come to Washington, then how will they find the leader that can save them?

  25. step/hen January 25, 2007 at 11:23 am #

    You havn,t understood a thing I said have you?

    Were in this mess, because from the very begining,we gave are freedoms away to those parasites, who aways want to lead us down the garden path.

    Go to Washington,just remember what i,ve said,You people go to marches because, someone even lead those don,t they?
    You people are not looking for freedom,your looking for someone to tell you what line to stand in,and thats what you will be doing in Washington if you go. the government is waiting for you their ready,so good luck!!

  26. Jim January 25, 2007 at 11:36 am #

    As far as what I’ll be looking for in Washington – did you miss my comment regarding breweries?

    As far as “we gave our freedoms away to those parasites” – -I have never given away any freedoms.

    One reason I will show up Saturday is to signal my opposition to any political power grab at home or abroad.

  27. step/hen January 25, 2007 at 11:53 am #

    Another thing Jim,

    If you were in a city,and lost,wouldn,t you ask someone the way to where you want to go? So now you follow his/her directions,and when you get their it,s not the place.Your pissed.Well that is what your so called leaders are doing all the time to we the people.Talking one way / then doing another.[Thats a leader?][notin my mind.]


    Waking up is opening your mind,not just your eyes.Even a blind man knows better then to play this stupid game!!

  28. Jim January 25, 2007 at 11:57 am #

    I have faith neither in leaders nor in “THE PEOPLE” as some type of collective or cosmic entity.

  29. W Baker January 25, 2007 at 12:13 pm #

    Wow, Jim. Some folks (perhaps Step/hen) just can’t comprehend a good time. I must admit I’ve never been to any sort of march. (That sort of thing is socially frowned on in Alabama – especially after the whole 1960’s/70’s thing! Ol’ Bull Connor and his friends in the New York media really sort of took that social scene off the landscape!!) More than anything and despite a good deal of French heritage, we fancy ourselves much too polite to take to the streets!

    Anyway, I would love to go to one of these things just to see the “scenery”! Where else is one gonna find dread locks (sp?), hirsute women, and good folks like yourself rubbing shoulders?!!

    And if Dubdub gets to look out of the nursery window at 1600 PA Ave and has to have a diaper change…all the better!

  30. step/hen January 25, 2007 at 12:23 pm #

    Jim you said,

    I have faith neither in leaders no in “PEOPLE” as some type of collective or cosmic entity.
    Then why are you going? Is it to show your opposition? They already know,70% want this war stopped.They don,t care about your opposition.They will go to war at any time they want,and they will put everyone in opposition to it in jail if need be! The elite control goverment,their the ones in charge.When will we wake to this? Only then can we change anything!!

  31. Jim January 25, 2007 at 12:25 pm #

    Wes, hirsute is in the eye of the beholder.

    From what I have read in academic journals, the younger females these days are excessively biased in favor of the razor.

    On the other hand, it was in Bucharest in ’87 that I realized that I could never be attracted to any woman with a better mustache than mine. 

    I assume that Bush will be at Camp David, nursing his smirk.

  32. step/hen January 25, 2007 at 12:42 pm #

    W Bake,
    Your right I can,t comprehend 0ver 650,000 people dead in Iraq,and I can,t comprehend a so called democracy letting their government kill them in the name of peace!! Go have your fun while you can W Baker it may be your last chance!

  33. W Baker January 25, 2007 at 1:48 pm #


    Thanks for the advice! I can’t comprehend it all either.

    W Bake

  34. Gary January 25, 2007 at 4:41 pm #

    Step/hen, are you goofing off or is your written English really that atrocious? Unless you are a small child, you really should take some time to brush up on your grammar, spelling and usage (and punctuation, too!) It’s ridiculous to try and debate someone in a written forum with such puny writing skills.

    Jim Bovard writes books, for crying out loud. I own several 🙂

  35. step/hen January 25, 2007 at 5:51 pm #

    What your saying is because of my puny skills I have no right to be on this post.”WHAT A GREAT AMERICAN YOU ARE”

    It,s what I say, not how I say it,why didn,t you address that? Now Listen Close, my writing skills are not up to par, or even close.Sill it,s my right to speak and if you can,t understand that then your a damb fool!!

  36. Ike Hall January 26, 2007 at 9:23 am #

    Mr. Bovard,

    Thanks for coming! I’m sure a few of us libertarian types will find each other in the crowd of thousands of socialists. Too bad we didn’t think to set up the right-wing and libertarian antiwar stage. I’m not sure I can stand to listen to those speeches, might have to find something else to do.

  37. David Martin January 26, 2007 at 9:48 am #

    “I have been struck how often the demonstrators seem significantly more serious and reasonable than the speakers.”

    The word you are looking for is “genuine,” not “serious.” A large percentage of the speakers, including the “leaders” and “organizers” can be counted on to be plants and phonies. That will not stop me from going, though, and should not stop other genuine people.

  38. Jim January 26, 2007 at 10:20 am #

    Ike – a libertarian antiwar stage would be great but I rarely see libertarian types at these gatherings. But maybe I just don’t recognize when I see them.

    Some of the attendees will be socialists but I guess there will not be that high of a percentage tomorrow. Likely lots of families – I have been struck by the number of baby strollers at some of the antiwar marches in the last few years…

  39. Thomas Hnarakas January 26, 2007 at 10:22 am #

    Has anyone else noticed that the front runner to replace President Bush is leaving Washington for Iowa just at the moment all of “her supporters” are coming to town?

    Once upon a time they told the people “they favored” Bush and now new “their favorite” is skipping town.

  40. Jim January 26, 2007 at 10:30 am #

    David Martin – I think some of the speakers tomorrow may be pretty good… On the other hand, there are several members of Congress (not Ron Paul, unfortunately) and some renowned blowhards.

    I expect bantering with other folks there will, as usual, be more entertaining than listening to the speakers…

  41. Jim January 26, 2007 at 10:35 am #

    Thomas – I try to remember to be grateful for small things.

    If we’re lucky, Hilary will stay in Iowa for the next 18 months.

  42. DDB January 26, 2007 at 2:21 pm #

    BOvard – this would be an ideal time to rent a Confederate Officer uniform, take your stogies, beard intact and ramble about the benefits of “combat interruptus”, hoping to make the video highlights of CNN, NBC, or at least The Post. If were there shooting cam, I’d make for a play for the cover page someplace.

  43. Jim January 26, 2007 at 2:27 pm #

    Having been raised on the former turf of Mosby’s Rangers, I have always been averse to wearing uniforms.

    But the stogies and beard are certainly doable.

  44. christian January 26, 2007 at 7:32 pm #

    good luck to all the marchers… may not be the answer but atleast it will draw some much needed attention to the crisis the planet finds itself in today thanks to Bush and co.


  45. mistah charley, ph.d. January 26, 2007 at 8:51 pm #

    I’m going to be there, guys – if you see me say hi – I’m the middle-aged white guy with glasses.

  46. Annie January 26, 2007 at 10:32 pm #

    ” I noticed that he appeared to be staring at me intently and realized that he was getting ready to take a swing at me.”

    you do look like a communist, Jim.

  47. Jim January 26, 2007 at 10:40 pm #

    Maybe it was a mistake to use the Photoshop software on that author portrait stuck at the right corner of this blog.

    Having been raised in Virginia, it is by definition impossible for me to look like a communist.

    Actually – back in ’93 (I think) – ABC’s Primetime Live interviewed me on some byzantine agricultural policy snafu. The interview rattled right along and the producer seemed content with it.

    I got a phone call from the guy the day before the program would air notifying me that my segment had been cut from the program.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “Because the senior producer said that you look like Leon Trotsky.”

    I have resisted the temptation to add this to my list of blurbs.

    At least Primetime Live listed me in the credits at the end of the program….

  48. Freedom Lover January 27, 2007 at 4:34 am #

    Wake up, this isn’t the 70’s. NO draft, no pressure. People today are too caught up in their latest techno gadgets. Protest all you want, but the media will not give it a rats ass minute of coverage. I mean, if a tree falls in forest and no one is there, does anyone know (or give a rats ass). So no matter how big and needed the protest, if it isn’t covered, did it ever take place? The Nazzi administration is in total control. Revolution!!! What Revolution?

  49. Jim January 27, 2007 at 9:54 am #

    A gesture of defiance can be bracing both for the individual and the nation.

    Short term, it doesn’t matter if the protests don’t quickly change policies.

  50. Dee January 27, 2007 at 8:46 pm #

    I wish I could march. Im a Canadian and I live too far away to make the trek, but Im mad as hell with the current US administration and I’d really like to have a way to vent my anger in a positive way. Im very tempted to put signs up in my neighborhood deriding Bush’s “war on terror” but it wouldnt make much difference in Canada. It just burns me up that most of the civil world loudly cried “NO!” when Bush declared this war, and saw through his excuse of looking for WMDs, then looked on in pity as he tried to explain that the *real* reason he was in Iraq was to bring democracy to the land. Well, Mr Bush, now that you’ve found those WMDs and brought democracy to the land, dont you think its time to get the hell out before you do any more good? Your president has done more to damage your countries reputation than anyone or anything that has happened in hundreds of years. I think he should be impeached. Now.

  51. JJCIV January 28, 2007 at 2:58 am #

    Can anyone in this group tell me when the current war started? Can anyone tell me when WWII started? If you say Dec 7, 1941 you’d be wrong, the same way if you said the current war started Sept 11, 2001 you’d be wrong. If you honestly believe the current war would terminate with bringing the US troops home, you could be classified as delulsional, the current conflict can be tracked back to 1979, take the politics out of it and look at reality, If we weren’t fighting them over there we certainly would be fighting a larger force here.

  52. JJCIV January 28, 2007 at 3:13 am #

    It would seem that the public education is certainly failing in America. We were attacked more times from 1993-2000, with no response then anytime in the Nations history. Less then 10% of the Nation makes up our military yet 80+% seem to have all of the solutions to solve conflict. If anyone one can come up with a pragmatic solution to preventing another American from getting killed, please post, Isolaionalism won’t work, look at Pearl Harbor, or Sept.11, so failure to face the enemy is not a solution.

  53. Mike January 28, 2007 at 5:00 pm #

    The job of a police officer during a protest such as this one is two fold. The primary function is to allow all parties to exercise their First Amendment rights. The second function is to prevent property damage and injury caused by the small percentage of demonstrators who are intent on doing so. Unfortunately many, if not most, police officers get the order reversed and become so intent on preventing crimes that they forget the real reason they are there. Added to this is the fact that a majority of police officers live somewhere out on the right wing.

    I’ve been a police officer for almost 17 years and I generally enjoy demonstrations like yesterdays. I would have been on the lookout for you, Mr. Bovard, if I had read about your attendance sooner. Maybe I’ll see you next time.


  54. mikeP January 28, 2007 at 6:18 pm #

    I’m PRO-BUSH, ANTI-WAR. Look as far as I am concerned Bush did his job. THEY knocked down two buildings WE knocked down two countries. THEY killed 3000 innocents WE killed 300,000+. Justice, vengence, what ever you want to call it, Bush did a GREAT JOB. But now its over, its a WIN, Job well done! lets wrap it up and get our guys home!

  55. Jim January 28, 2007 at 8:29 pm #

    Mike – thanks for your comments on the role of the police at a demo.

    The police yesterday seemed fairly relaxed – esp. compared to demos that marched past the White House. I have been amused to see long rows of police decked out in full body armor with riot shields by the White House… with passerbys perplexed at their getups. I didn’t see police in full armor yesterday but did not circle the full march route.

    If you see me next time, give me a holler.

  56. Mike January 28, 2007 at 8:54 pm #

    Nobody had any armor on. Mostly we directed traffic. The guys you see by the White House are generally feds, either Park Police or Secret Service Uniform Division and they usually overdress for the occasion.

  57. Jim January 28, 2007 at 9:45 pm #

    Why do they overdress?

    My impression is that the antiwar protests from 2002 onwards have all been quite tame. (Some of the anti-World Bank protests have been a different story).

  58. Karen January 29, 2007 at 7:00 am #

    I thought the police were very cool. Many of them smiled or chuckled when they say my dog wearing her protest sign “GOOD DOG. BAD WAR”. By the way, if anyone has pictures of her (I didn’t think to take any myself!) please forward to Much appreciated!

  59. Mike January 29, 2007 at 3:39 pm #

    “Why do they overdress?”

    I’m not sure. Part of it is that since they are feds they don’t have anyone to answer to. At least that’s how they feel. There is another reason though. I was at a briefing a couple of years ago prior to a World bank-IMF protest. The folks running the briefing, who were from MPD and not feds, showed video clips of every violent act at any similar demonstration during the previous couple of years. Thre was no video of the tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators, just the few knukleheads. I think that gets officers hyped up and scared. During that demonstration I stood behind a line of officers from an outside jurisdiction and I was the only police officer as far as I could see who didn’t have armor or a helmet on. Maybe my years of dealing with actual dangerous people makes it so I can tell the difference between those who are dangerous and those who are not. Or maybe not.


  60. Jim January 29, 2007 at 11:02 pm #

    Mike, thanks for the insights into police procedures & perspectives.

    I hope the brass listens to you more in the future. I am surprised the MPD brass did not catch far more heat for its great roundup at one of the parks prior/during one of the World Bank meetings a few years ago.

  61. Mike January 30, 2007 at 6:30 pm #

    We’ve paid out over a million dollars so far and had to change some of over policies due to the Pershing Park round-up.

  62. Jim January 31, 2007 at 10:31 am #

    I was amazed that the chief of police did not lose his job after the comments he made about that round-up — esp. regarding the intentional aggravation of the arrestees.