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[In the first half of this page Victoria explains the rationale behind the banner; in the second she recounts the story of the banner project.]


by Victoria Compton

A five word headline. A seven word subhead.

Never in my life have I galvanized so many people with so few words.

A few islanders have asked me why. Why did you risk the wrath of the apoplectically conservative of the San Juan Islands? Why did you choose such a distressing photo to use on your banner? Why don't you believe in the power of the Republican Party anymore?

I'll tell you why, using just 10 "line items" that say more to me than any warmongering slogan, more than any sound bite, more than any dubious military record. All of these items should be of great interest - especially to Republicans.

1. From a surplus of $230 billion, the federal budget is now overdrawn by over $450 billion, which we'll be trying to pay off for decades. This is simply not good business.

2. While Osama bin Laden, the real instigator of the 9-11 tragedy remains at large, we have invaded Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the attack, killing thousands of their citizens and nearly a thousand of our own soldiers in an invasion that the Bush administration had planned well before September 11, 2001.

3. And ironically, while we spend billions crushing the citizens of Islamic nations and rightly angering them, the Bush administration is doing very little to protect the "homeland" from terrorist attack. Just ask our friends down at the Port of Friday Harbor, or the Coast Guard.

4. Every citizen interested in liberty should be terrified by the Bush administration's Patriot Act. It allows the FBI to monitor everything from e-mail to medical records to library accounts. They can now legally wiretap phones, break into homes and offices and access financial records without probable cause.

5. The 9-11 Commission has proven that the Bush administration had been warned about the coming attacks and chose to ignore the warnings. In itself, this fact shows only incompetence or naïveté - neither of which is particularly reassuring coming from the top of the United States government. When you consider also that the Bush administration lied when they told us "no one could have imagined terrorists using aircraft as weapons" (Condoleeza Rice, press conference, May 2002), you have to wonder "why did they lie?"

6. Over two million people have lost their jobs under George W. Bush, the first president since Herbert Hoover to post a net loss of jobs.

7. Forty-three million people in the United States are without health care.

8. The Bush administration does not follow the Geneva Convention.

9. Think the Bush administration is the friend of our troops? Think again. Bush proposed to cut the pay of the same soldiers he's sending out to the battlefield in Iraq. As The Army Times noted, "the administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay from $225 to $150 (a cut of 33%) and family-separation allowances from $250 to $100 (a cut of 60%) for troops getting shot at in combat zones." The Bush administration also closed seven VA hospitals.

10. The citizens of the United States are now responsible for footing the bill for Superfund clean-up sites - in one of the most egregious forms of corporate welfare seen to date - because the Bush administration dismantled the process for collecting Superfund monies from polluting companies. And if you figure, "that's ok, it's just polluting the mainland", you haven't seen the deformed salmon swimming up to other shores.

Bonus! 11. The Republican-written prescription drug benefit of Medicare has no premium caps tied to Social Security COLAs, meaning that prescription drug costs (which have risen far faster than the Consumer Price Index) will consume a large chunk of seniors' COLAs…possibly even reducing the size of their Social Security checks.

Oops, I just can't stop! 12. The Bush administration has reshaped the Endangered Species Act in ways which have sharply limited the impact of the 30-year-old law aimed at protecting the nation's most vulnerable plants and animals. This affects our wildlife, too: our Orca whales, our eagles, our native-only-to-the-San-Juan-Islands tiny cacti.

The list goes on and on.

Republicans, Democrats, Independents, can't you see? We are being lied to. Lied to by the most adept organ grinders this country has seen since around the turn of the last century.

The Bush administration calls its programs "Healthy Forests," "No Child Left Behind", "Clean Skies". What we as the American people get is clearcuts, kids left without lunch, factories belching smoke and run-off into our air and streams.

Can we afford to reelect a liar?

Victoria Compton


Hello, fellow islanders (and a few mainlanders)!
First off, I'd like to thank those of you who contributed to the banner fund.  I could never, ever have made such a big splash without you.
Here's the scoop:
As most of you know, I had planned for weeks to participate in the protests during the Republican National Convention in New York City.  In discussing my plans with my island friends, I realized that most of them would also love to have their voices heard during the marches, but that they simply couldn't afford the time or cost of getting to NYC.  I decided to become the representative for all of the concerned islanders whom I know, and deliver our message myself.
I started working on a banner, and got donations from over twenty islanders - just enough to cover the cost.  I wanted the banner to announce to George W. Bush the thing that we were the most upset about:  the fact that he was taking our tax dollars and trust to invade Iraq in our names, killing thousands of innocent civilians in the process and sullying the name America across the globe.  Invading Iraq with the flimsy and fallacious excuse of the presence of WMD's.  Yes, he's tanked the economy...yes, he's destroying the environment...yes, he's starting to tinker with social security...yes, he cut school lunch funding...yes he delayed reacting to the 9-11 terrorist attacks (even before the attacks), but the most important sin he's committing is murdering babies right now, in my name, with my money.
A few days before I left San Juan Island to start the trek across the continent with the banner, I got a call from Nina Mohi at the Democrats' HQ in Friday Harbor.  Two days earlier, I'd asked her if she knew of anyone I could stay with in NYC.  She said, no, but that she'd keep her ear to the ground.
The day of her call to me, a man had come into the Dems' HQ and announced himself as a New York City resident, here on vacation with his family.  Nina told him about my plans, and the New Yorker kindly invited me to stay with them.
Miraculous!  Just goes to show you that the universe would never vote for Bush...even if he does think that he was chosen by God ('I feel like God wants me to run for President" is what he said to James Robinson on the subject, to be precise).
So, I set out on the 3,000 mile journey with the banner (and my mom - who had to leave before the protests, unfortunately, and Muttley) riding shotgun.  Saturday morning, the day before the biggest scheduled protest, I showed up at the home of the John Sullivan family - a fantabulous flat on Central Park West (the universe was VERY kind to this protester). 
They welcomed me with open arms and open larder, and then took me on a tour of the city, a show, then a yummy dinner at a delightful French restaurant. 
That evening, John and I put together a pre-game warm-up:  a tour through Times Square with signs.  One read, "Send Bush to Abu Ghraib"; the other, "Enjoy NYC...and then go home and vote for Kerry".  John estimated at least 10,000 people saw us and our signs, and we were extremely well received by nearly all of the bystanders (though a few militant Republican youth started a shouting match with John).
We got back around 1 a.m. and hit the hay to rest up for the big event.  250,000 people were expected to show up for the march through 3 miles of city streets, past Madison Square Garden (where the RNC started Monday).  We'd be there to join them - with the message I was delivering for San Juan County.
Two hours before the start of the march, I, John, his son Alex, Alex's fiancee and a few friends of theirs met up at the corner of Seventh & 14th, where tens of thousands of protesters already stood, ready to wear out some shoe leather in the name of regime change. 
Another miracle:  all of these amazing New Yorkers - the Sullivan family and their friends - volunteered to help me carry our banner through those three miles on the hottest and muggiest day of the year.
We waited for the march to start, talking to people around us, chugging water in the 87 degree heat, smearing on sunscreen, watching the police helicopters milling overhead.  From time to time, someone at the back of the tens of thousands already there would start a battle cry, and the roar would come up from behind us in a nearly palpable roared wave, reaching a crescendo as the people around us and ourselves picked it up, then fading in a few minutes after infecting the people in front of us.  A human, slow-mo Doppler effect!
We chanted:  "Four more months!  Four more months!"  and "No Bush!  No Bush!" 
Protesters staggering under piles of t-shirts for sale, under a small tree's worth of protest literature, under armloads of stickers.  They loaded us up with the political newspapers, the ACLU's guide to what to do if you get arrested, the United for Peace and Justice flyer and dozens of other postcards, flyers, tabloids, stickers - all bearing the same message:  Dump Bush.
A little after noon, the crowd in front of us started to move a little, then we were all off.  A little bubble of space formed in front of the banner as people saw us trying to show the message to bystanders and the media.
And, boy, there were certainly thousands of bystanders and hundreds of members of the Fourth Estate.  John fielded questions from the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, I talked to a woman from a Danish paper.  Press photographers took thousands of photos - jostling bystanders to try to get a good angle of our banner (CNN, C-SPAN, ABC, US News & World Report all got great shots, and all of the major newsmedia from every city in the nation was there).  Later I chatted with Margot Adler, NPR's host of Justice Talking.  
Everyone who saw us there was astonished and so pleased that San Juan County felt strongly enough to send our message to New York City.  One police officer even cleared the way for us (isn't that incredible?), so that we could get our banner through a knot of people.  (I talked to another police officer at the end of the march, who - though he wouldn't commit to the idea of voting for Kerry - was extremely torqued by the fact that he earns less than $32,000 a year because NYC's Mayor Bloomberg (a Republican) is stalling giving the NYPD a raise, and the fact that he may have just lost the right to overtime because of Bush's overtime restructure).
A protester with a radio told us the latest:  400,000 marchers had shown up - nearly two hundred thousand more than had been expected.  We were moving in a mass of people nearly as large as the population of Seattle.
We made it past Madison Square Garden, where a small army of press photographers shot candids of us and the thousands around us.  Organized groups with color-coordinated outfits, with marching bands, with perfectly rehearsed and pithy chants swelled and ebbed around us. 
We saw the "Billionaires for Bush" - dozens of top-hatted and white-gloved protesters bearing placards with messages like "Four More Wars!" and "Free the Enron Seven" emblazoned on them; the Still We Rise group; a couple of thousand people carrying nearly a thousand flag-draped coffins (one coffin for each of the soldiers who fell in Iraq); hundreds of individual families; little old ladies in wheelchairs; mothers of soldiers now stationed in Iraq; little kids in strollers; retired people; folks bearing banners and placards from the understated to the outrageous; WWII veterans...people from every walk of life.
Nearly four hours later, we arrived at Union Square, the end of the march, tired, sunburned and dehydrated.  We went back to the flat, rested a while, and then John and I decided to hit the road for Central Park, where an unofficial rally was taking place.  We brought the banner, and rolled it out on the Great Lawn.
John (whom we owe a huge beach party when he and his family come back to the islands) stayed with the banner while I wandered the crowds looking for anyone with a press badge.  I tugged back to the banner reporters from Reuters, US News & World Report, the New York Daily News,, Manhattan Magazine (a local TV news show), the New York office of Indy Media, and a couple more that I can't remember anymore - back to take pictures of our banner to talk to them about why I was there, and why so many islanders had chipped in to buy a 20' long, full color message to Bush. 
Each one of them was delighted to talk to me...with luck their photos and our message to George W. Bush will be published in a few places (and we know that the universe is working in our favor, so I'd say we have a good shot at it).
This morning the New York Times and the NYPD confirmed that over 400,000 peaceful protesters had showed up to march...TWICE the number that was expected to show.
A big day for an islander, in the Big City!
Anyway, thank you again for your contributions, for your help, for your well-wishes.  All of us can be proud to have been heard in the biggest convention protest in history.
I'll keep you posted...