Four years ago we shut down the city. None of us who were there will ever forget it: so many peaceful protesters showed up that the police had to close down Market Street. Mission Street was pretty much the same way. You couldn't get anywhere downtown; nobody seemed to be at work. The police were, in more than a few instances, out of control but there were no water cannons or rubber bullets, just a lot of arrests. Overall, it was a day of joy: the United States was going to war, and San Francisco would have no part of it.
The anniversary protests, while exuberant, weren't quite that dramatic. I understand: it's been a long, long war, and we've all be fighting for a long, long time, and things just seem to be getting worse. The antiwar movement, and the frustration of the nation at a conflict that has dragged on longer than US involvement in World War II, tossed the Republican majority out of both houses of Congress, but the Democrats are still talking about nonbinding resolutions and incremental plans that can't be backed up. The war seems to be without end. Even the New York Times, that voice of mainstream moderation, is starting to sound pissed off: the March 18 lead editorial referred to "the unnecessary, horribly botched and now unwinnable war."
I know this doesn't help the families of the more than 3,000 already dead soldiers or the tens of thousands more who are still stuck in a desert quagmire, but the good news is we've won the debate. Almost nobody running for president wants to say the war was a good idea, has been handled well, or ought to continue much longer. The only question on the table now is how best to get the hell out. And in the long term, this really has become the new Vietnam just as the very name of that southeast Asian country struck fear in the hearts of American imperialists and military adventurists for a quarter century, the legacy of Iraq will almost certainly be stricter controls on the ability of rogue presidents to invade countries for their own geopolitical agendas.
So let's keep the pressure on the likes of Nancy Pelosi (it's so heartwarming to see protesters camped outside the house of the new House speaker and it's stunning that Pelosi has been such a jerk and refused to be civil to them). And take heart: we can still end this war and go a long way toward preventing the next one.
And on a totally different note: I was somewhat amazed to see that the Hearst Corp. and MediaNews Group the companies that own all the major newspapers in the central Bay Area have come up with a new tactic to get rid of that pesky antitrust suit filed by Clint Reilly.
The suit charges that the deal giving two giant corporations control of so much of the region's media will deprive readers of diverse viewpoints and advertisers of competitive alternatives. The evidence in favor of Reilly's claim is pretty strong.
So now the newspaper barons are taking a new tack, arguing that Reilly has no standing to sue. He's just one person; what's the harm to him?
Well, gee, if one person who cares about the community has no standing to sue, who does? Hearst and MediaNews, I suspect, would like to leave that to the state and federal attorneys general. And look how that's worked out. *