We can only wonder if, in selecting this site, the entire RNC had lost its collective mind. The Republicans at all levels of government managed to do everything that they could possibly do to ensure nothing less than a hostile reception in this city. The administration has upset labor unions, including New York’s bravest and finest. Bloomberg was forced to lay off workers as the Bush administration stiffed the city out of the $20 million that it promised after the 9/11 attacks. Just up the island is Greenwich Village, home to thousands of unmarried and unhappy homos who can raise an army of supporters from sea to shining sea. MSG is not that far away. Anyone in manufacturing who has lost a job to China might have a gripe as well, even as George W. tries to persuade anyone still employed that it’s OK to get time off instead of being paid time and a half. Any veteran who actually served time in the ‘Nam might have something to say. Dick Cheney used four or five deferments, claiming that, at the time, he had “other priorities,” besides getting blown to bits in some rice paddy. No one is sure where George W. spent the war. I doubt if he himself remembers.

John Kerry may have his GOP bought and paid for critics, but at least he was there.

Besides labor, gays, veterans against the war (and Bush), there remains a long list of students, environmentalist, and health and political activists who have a gripe against Bush’s misguided adventure in Iraq.

It is anticipated that more than 250,000 demonstrators will find their way to New York for the convention.

Legendary Madison Square Garden is the place, and the elite of the GOP will grace its stage for the George W. Bush love fest. The prime time speakers include the top of the heap. Leading off on Monday night will be Mayor Mike Bloomberg himself. In the number two slot will be former mayor Rudi Giuliani, to be followed by slugger Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). On Tuesday, we see First Lady Laura Bush, Education Secretary Rod Paige and the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I can’t understand this choice. Even though anointed by Lord Rothschild himself, Arnold is new to elected office. Perhaps the hundreds of thousands of legal and illegal Hispanic voters in California have something to do with his appearance. Perhaps they believe his speech will hasten the arrival of their driver’s licenses. Wednesday finds Lynne Cheney speaking, followed by the Darth Vader of the GOP, her very own husband, Dick Cheney. After Dick speaks, Senator Zell Miller, a DEMOCRAT from Georgia will try to follow his nastiness. Miller must be thrilled indeed to follow the vice president. I’m sure that the entire convention will be interested in hearing every word from a turncoat southern DEMOCRAT who has dared to defile a REPUBLICAN love fest.

Thursday night is the main event. Our very own Governor George Pataki will speak just prior to the acceptance speech by the wooden puppet who wants to be a real live boy: President of the United States George W. Bush.

It is a formidable lineup, a political murders row of unprecedented power. The late Lee Atwater would have been impressed. Richard Nixon would have only sighed and wished for what could have been.

Guess who’s not coming to party???

Secretary of State Colin Powel will not make an appearance. Deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said on Tuesday that “The secretary does not plan to attend.” This decision demonstrates that the secretary, unlike the RNC, has not lost his mind. But his absence will raise many political eyebrows. Is he trying to save what little credibility he still has? After he was ill used by the administration before the WMD fiasco at the UN, Powell has taken a back seat to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon in matters of foreign policy. Perhaps he knows that his tenure ends with a Bush re-election, and he is rebuilding some political capital. Perhaps he also knows that an escape from New York, with thousands of upset protesters lurking at every corner of mid-town Manhattan, might be a little bit difficult.

The Guns (and heat) of August

Summer in Manhattan is second only to summer in Washington, D.C, for its sweltering heat and humidity. Heavily armed and armored Robocops will not be in the best of humor as they try to contain the hundreds of scattered protests by the thousands of equally unhappy opposition members. Heat casualties could be heavy on both sides of the lines. The Robocops will have the advantage of interior lines, with supplies continually available. Protesters will have to fend for themselves. Rank and file New Yorkers may have little use for the Bushes. But they may resent having their downtown turned into a combat zone. The good news for the protesters is that tear gas may not be used. The bad news is that the police may use rubber bullets. At close range, the phrase “rubber bullet” may suggest something benign. But propelled by a 12-gauge shell, the close quarter effect will not be so. Ask those who participated in the WTO protests in Miami last year. A puppet will give little cover.

The Opposition

On Sunday, August 29, the protesting begins in earnest. The World says No to the Bush Agenda: United for Peace and Justice will “host” a march past Madison Square Garden, followed by a rally. On Monday, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and the Still We Rise Coalition are co-sponsoring a march and rally to support HIV/AIDS health care, welfare reform, immigrant issues, housing/homelessness, and criminal justice issues. There are enough social issues to attract thousands of protesters. How they will all fit together remains to be seen. Perhaps the point is for them not fit but to spill out all over Manhattan. At the same time, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union presents another march, beginning at the United Nations and ending at Madison Square Garden. It is hoped that they won’t collide with the folks just mentioned.

Tuesday could see some eye-to-eyeball confrontations. The One Million Yeses and One NO! people are planning a direct demonstration against the Free Speech Zones (police pens). There could be some major league action here. At the same time, the noRNC Youth are calling for “a youth day of action.” What this could be is anybody’s guess.

On Wednesday, the New York City Labor Council will host a massive union rally and march.

These are the main events. There are hundreds of other organizations that are planning to head to the Big Apple to join in the festivities. Manhattan could well become more densely populated than Bangladesh.

Adding to the population will be about 20,000 Republican Party delegates, donors, and officials, who are expected to attend the convention. Following all the action will be a press circus, featuring 15,000 members of the various media. Getting to the center of activities should be easy for conventioneers as the majority of the delegates’ hotels are within a one-mile radius of the convention center.

Delegates and media should expect to meet up with most of the protesters. More than likely, all three groups will meet to discuss the various burning issues of the day.

Bloomberg’s office has issued a press release describing all of the street closures around the vicinity. Many will be closed to all vehicular traffic, and many areas will be restricted to pedestrians who have a “business-related” reason to enter. A designated protest area has been set up on 31st Street at 8th Avenue.

The robocops are busily preparing, as well. Details are, of course, classified, but one can imagine the preparations. Robocop will have plenty of back up.

Meanwhile, the Counter Convention organization is estimating that the protests around the Republican Convention could very well be “the largest in history.”

There is no reason to doubt their prediction. By Grady Hawkins

What some people have claimed to be the most anticipated political event in American history, namely the 2004 Republication National Convention, begins on August 30. Everybody who is anybody will want to be there; as a matter of fact, at least 150 individual organizations are vying for a piece of what will certainly be the protest action of the year or perhaps the decade. This is the big league, the mother of all protests, with only the best in the biz able to survive these four days in August. As a public service, Alt has put together a guide to all those who wish to venture into the belly of the beast.

New York City will be the scene of the convention. This is a source of great glee to Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his cohorts, who hear cash registers ringing in their heads as they happily anticipating a $250 million shot in the city’s economic arm. Another group that is looking forward to the pachyderm parade is the small army of hookers flying in from around the globe, ready to service a mob of randy Republicans. Both groups may be in for some disappointment, however. Other than the mayor, his cohorts, and the sex workers, there seem to be few others who plan to welcome the Republicans in the way that they hope. Thousands of protesters are expected to move in to attempt some coitus interruptus.