Â Â Â A couple of hundred citizens gathered outside the county courthouse on Monterey Street Tuesday afternoon to protest President Bush, who was delivering his State of the Union address that same evening. The people of San Luis Obispo have spoken, but G. W. â€” despite his surfeit of unconstitutional surveillance devices â€” did not appear to be listening.
Â Â From the crowd, handheld signs and clever t-shirts called for the impeachment, indictment, and imprisonment of the president, as many protesters believe that Bush has overreached his executive powers â€” through spying, war making, and the use of torture â€” in the name of a nebulous thing called the war on terror.
Â Â A handful of public speakers came to the podium delivering the predictable rhetoric, suggesting America might have spent $87 billion on schools or health care rather than in Iraq, and calling Bush names like terrorist, liar, hypocrite, and practitioner of death. San Luis Obispoâ€™s left-wing laureate, Eric Greening, was in attendance, indoctrinating the impressionable youth with his shrewd analogies and pearls of political wisdom. A few other local groups had tables set up at the event, collecting signatures to recall the governor and disseminating information on civil rights and the separation of church and state.
Â Â Many attendees also seemed concerned with the separation of oil and state, particularly with the timely announcement of Exxonâ€™s fourth quarter profits, in excess of $10 billion, making it the most profitable company in the history of the world. In his speech, Bush called for an end to Americaâ€™s dependency on foreign oil, but as a direct beneficiary of that industry, it will be interesting to see how exactly he will take these oil companies to task.
Â Â In the face of multi-trillion-dollar defense and energy industries, many of the protesters were all too well aware of the futility of their actions. â€œWe all get together like this and publicly bang our heads against the wall, and I think it just emboldens the other side,â€? says one participant, declining to give his name. â€œBut if youâ€™d said five years ago that weâ€™d be here today, peopleâ€™d say youâ€™re crazy. Three more years and weâ€™ll probably have gulags and internment camps.â€?
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