Evidently the 170 protesters corralled into a patch of land along Northeast Columbia Boulevard failed to get the message from Boston. On the same night Bill Clinton promised the Democrats' campaign against his successor would be full of substance and free from personal attacks, local Bush beaters were giving Veep Dick Cheney a welcome that was light on policy analysis and heavy on one-liners.
As was the case during his last fundraising visit, on Jan. 13, Cheney was smart enough to avoid downtown Portland, where the ample public space gives protesters an advantage. Instead, he hosted Monday's $1,000-per-person party at the Embassy Suites on Northeast 82nd Avenue, allowing authorities to restrict the lefty riffraff to a barren stretch of airport hinterland bordered by a suburban-esque business park.
As usual, Portland police were at the ready, with a contingent of cops in full riot gear, 16 motorcycles, four ATVs, eight horses, a riot van, a few requisitioned TriMet busses, rooftop snipers and, just to be safe, a helicopter. According to Police Bureau spokesman Brian Schmautz, there were no arrests at the protest.
As a concession to protest organizers, the cops agreed to ditch the chain-link fence that was used in January to surround the "free-speech zone" and instead put up a waist-high barrier free of barbed wire. And what were those on the other side of the fence doing? Here's a sample of our favorite slogans and gimmicks.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
"Putting the con in conservatism"
"Your war, our children"
"Read between the pipelines"
"Get the right wing monkey off our back"
"Stop the Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
"Vote for Bush and you get Dick"
Grant Remington, a 56-year-old self-employed computer technician, carried a modified American flag with the stars replaced by a peace sign. Remington, who served as a helicopter mechanic in Vietnam, believes Bush's "faith-based planning is no way to win a war."
Scott Ballo, 33, and his Democratic activist pals set up a "Halliburton Lemonade Stand," offering drinks at $40 a glass and $80 a cup. If patrons couldn't pay up, they were offered a chance to spin a wheel of fortune, which inevitably won a Halliburton contract, redeemable for lemonade. "Here you go, soldier," they yelled, handing out the now-free lemonade. "Nothing like gouging the military."
Rale Sidebottom, 35, a puppeteer with Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre, carried around a massive pink cigar-smoking pig, the antagonist from a play titled The Great Warrior, in which the hero fights and defeats the capitalist swine.
Destiny Gondara, 11, wore a T-shirt with a likeness of Cheney and the VP's own recent advice to Sen. Patrick Leahy: "Fuck off or go fuck yourself."
Ivan Maluski, a 32-year-old veteran eco-warrior, passed out kazoo-like duck callers, much to the crowd's cacophonous pleasure. "We're out here hunting for answers," exclaimed Ivan Maluski, while his Sierra Club sidekick Nat Parker chimed in with the punchline, "Cheney keeps ducking the question."
Rolf Skar, 29, a conservation campaign coordinator in Southern Oregon, endured the baking sun in logger-like Carhartts, a long-sleeved flannel shirt, a mesh hat and a George Bush mask, in order to bring attention to the Bush administration's plan to log the site of 2002's Biscuit fire.