What’s that man movin’ cross the stage? It looks a lot like the one used by Jimmy Page Its like a relic from a different age Could be . . . oo-ee . . . If there’s rock show at the Concertgebow They’re got long hair at the Madison Square You've got rock and roll at the Hollywood Bowl, We'll be there . . . oo yeah . . . -- Paul McCartney Maybe it was a good idea after all to put the Republican National Convention in New York City this week. New York can not only handle anything, it's at its best when things get weird. Dwellers of the city can seem like a gruff old bunch of goats, and the cabbies are lunatics. But unplug the electricity, shut down the subways or smite the place with an unthinkable disaster and it becomes a small town, a totally organic environment where everyone is old friends pretenses are off. New Yorkers are not stupid, and they are not conservative. If they are conservative, it's the old kind: reserved, with the general attitude of you do what you do, I do what I do. The place was founded by the Dutch and, as a cab driver reminded me a few weeks ago, was originally called New Amsterdam. The spirit of freedom and tolerance of the original Amsterdam was brought by Peter Stuyvesant to the new world and, despite assorted Rudy Giulianis, Michael Boombergs and Mohammed Attas who have tried to make their mark, still thrives today. I read about a survey last week that said 11% of New Yorkers polled planned to come out to protests. With population of eight million, that's a nice crowd. These days, I miss the place like never before, even as I roam the capital cities of Europe. I long for 34th Street and 6th Avenue. The image and feeling of Madison Square Garden goes back a long way for every New Yorker. It's the place the circus comes when you're a little kid. My dad even took me to the rodeo a couple of times. Then adult tastes take over. Depending on who you are, it's where you go to see the New York Rangers play hockey, the Knicks play basketball, or rock concerts that are the highlight of every tour. It is New York, after all, and people are used to the best entertainment. I saw both Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead for the first time there, as well as the No Nukes concert, and many others. For New Yorkers, the Madison Square is good times. Good times indeed. So now, to think that George Bush and Dick Cheney are going to show up and spew their lies from the pulpit is basically laughable. William Rivers Pitt of http://truthout.org was sharing his impressions of the city in a column yesterday. Even as a native Bostonian, he was relating how overwhelmed he felt by the psychic energy of the place: "It's a lot of town," he said. He described the fear in the eyes of the Republican delegates as they arrived. People from lots of secure, sleepy, middle-American places are going to get a dose of the 24/7 reality that New Yorkers so often miss when they leave the city for more than a weekend. Plus they will meet, see or at least hear from some of those 11% who have something to say. So, reality. Here is something to ponder. Last week, CNN.com was advertising that Bush and Kerry were in a "statistical dead heat" -- essentially, tied. Let's presume that's true; let's presume that it's not a totally fraudulent, nifty statistical setup that will make Bush stealing the election again seem slightly more plausible. When all the votes were counted last time around, Al Gore won the 2000 election. He got more than half the votes in a supposed democracy. And, as many have documented, Florida's election was so badly manipulated and the final, twisted and Supreme Court-halted vote tally was so close that we can, being extremely generous, call it a tie. Sure, there are questions. The Fox News announcement of a Bush victory by a Bush cousin. All those minorities being deregistered for felonies like parking tickets or having the wrong name; all the old Jewish ladies in Dade County mysteriously voting for Pat Robertson, a vicious anti-Semite. You get the picture. But let's make believe and be extremely generous and call 2000 statistically even. Then Sept. 11 happens. Somehow the president gets gold stars for this, at first; but then the truth starts to come out: all the warnings of the attack that The New York Times says were "pouring into Washington" the summer of 2001; all the hard-working federal agents who tried to do something but were stopped; the terrorists unnoticed in flight schools; the utter failure of the White House and the military to respond sensibly or quickly the morning of the 11th. Then the motives come out, in the form of World War III being declared. The war on terrorists is abandoned for a war of convenience: the Iraq agenda, and Halliburton, Carlyle Group, Unocal and Bechtel all profiting wildly. Everyone knows this. Then, other foreign policy catastrophes mount, one on another -- Israel, for example, or all our credibility and troops being ditched in the desert when they might be needed, perhaps, to assist South Korea. There is the little problem of the Iranian nuclear program, or so we're told. Meanwhile, the Republican White House and Congress go on a mission to shaft everyone they can, as often they can, and as fast. The middle class providing a big, involuntary payback to the rich in the form of tax cuts. Old people getting shafted through Medicare; veterans getting shafted; military families getting screwed over; the PATRIOT Act Part One going through and Part Two being snuck through in pieces, featuring attacks on basic liberties that would make old Dick Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover lust with jealousy. I am leaving out a million examples. There are all the ways that environmental ruin has been accelerated by new policies and old ones being gutted; there is the policy of ignoring the atmosphere heating up; there is the other policy of ignoring alternatives to fossil fuels and instead, burning all the oil they can get us to burn for as high a price they can sell it for. Then the Iraq war turns into a complete disaster that anyone with one-third of a brain cell knows is creating, not stopping, terrorism. Nearly a thousand American soldiers die and more than 6,000 are injured in the invasion and occupation of a country where half the population is under 14. There were no weapons and Saddam was no threat. The war has cost nearly a quarter-trillion dollars so far. The national surplus turns to a new national debt that will take a generation or more to deal with. Everybody knows nobody is any safer for the toppling of the Taliban or the arrest of Saddam, or for all the guys guarding us with cool machine guns or all the hassles at airports and all the flags flying everywhere. Then the Iraq prison scandal comes out. Innocent people, including kids, held in POW prisons, are being raped and tortured, with photos, testimony and Army documents to support the allegations. It was government policy. Shortly after that, Fahrenheit 9/11 comes out like a four-year national news roundup and puts many of the pieces together in context for anyone to see, and lots of people see it. And then, when they survey the good, hard-working people of America after ALL of this, CNN finds out and dutifully tells us that Bush and Kerry are in a statistical dead heat. In the purported, alleged mind of the supposed electorate, nothing has changed. It's still even-steven. All that stuff that happened the past four years was totally cool. No sweat, man, kill, rape and torture anyone you want, like all you want, and we'll just let you kill some more people and run off with billions more of our hard-earned tax dollars. I really think we need to talk to our neighbors about this. I think we need to bring this up at the PTA. And as for those paperless ballots made by the certified, stump-speech giving Republicans at a company called Diebold? Um, don't remind me please. Now, I offer you this to consider. When the Republican bigwigs step up to the international microphone and make their speeches this week, standing on the stage graced by Jimmy Page and John Lennon and Stevi Nicks, when they blow their horns and sound the assault, they are not going to catalogue their failures or confess to their contempt for the world, and for you. They are going to tell us how wonderful they are, in fact how fabulous they are, how effective their policies are and how safe they are making the world. They are going to appeal to our ideals and our sense of justice and our desire for freedom. They are going to eat steak and drink expensive liquor and go home to their hotels. They are not going to say, "Hi, my name is Dick Cheney, and I work for Halliburton. I'm here to screw over you, your kids, your grandkids, your parents and your neighbors." They will be taking your ideals and your dreams and your sense of fairness and justice, and your desire for peace and a good life, and selling them back to you at a very high price -- a price, it seems, half the country is willing to pay, and the rest seems not quite sure what to do about. More than any other Americans, New Yorkers have paid the cost for the sins, lies and incompetence of the Bush administration. They have seen their pain, grief and loss commercialized and politicized and turned into an excuse to bomb innocent people for the profit of others. Now, let's see what happens. New York loves a good show, and it knows how to put one on. ++ - Eric Francis is an investigative reporter, columnist and editor of PlanetWaves.net