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Blog: Protesters are no show

Deb Marquez
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” That’s it, the dog is giving up! What is he giving up, you ask gentle reader? He is giving up on finding any protesters in this city.

Sure, sure there were some vegan teens in Civic Center Park that the DPD roughed up (Colorado Brahman has a possible scoop on this, watch for it tomorrow) but as for throngs of anarchists and massive disruptions of the convention, not so much. Really, if you lived here you would be expecting The Great Khan and his hoards to have descended on the hapless DNC.

We had the city of Denver being sued by the ACLU over the terms of the aptly named Freedom Cage where the hoard would have to stay if they wanted to get within a parsec of the Can. Given that both the city and the ACLU spent time and money on this you would reasonably think that there would be protesters that would need either confinement or protection, depending on what side of this issue you come down on, but you would be wrong in your reasonable assumption.

The dog has looked, the dog has searched, hell the dog has offered his fellow bloggers $10 if they could point him to a real throng of protesters. But as they say, there is just n there, there. In the last two days, the dog has found the following protesters:

There were these folks, chanting the standard “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Real Soon! (Okay, they said Now, but the dog has to have some fun). There were about 15 of them, walking and chanting in Civic Center Park on Monday afternoon.

Then later in the day I found these scary looking fellows with a pretty good sign. When I asked if I could take their picture, they said sure, but they wanted to stage it with some police. After about five minute of trying to find some officers we had to settle for a SUV with police marking.

Now this is not enough to deter the dog, after all he woke up this morning to the news that 100 vicious, hardened protesters were rounded up just last night, so he knows that there must be protesters somewhere, the dog just needed to hunt them down!

What better place to start, then at the Freedom Cage! There must be tons and tons of interesting photogenic protesters to talk to! So, it was off to find this edifice for the dog.

He started by going to the delegates entrance closest to the Big Tent. The volunteer checking credentials did not really know where the cage was, but thought it was a few blocks north of where we were. Onward! So the dog schlepped his way up town finally finding a police officer that was willing to point him in the right direction.

The right direction turned out to the long way around the Pepsi Center. Sure you could see it, but it was not very close. One of the things the city promised the protesters was the even though they would not be close to the entrance of the Can, they would be along the route that delegates traveled to the convention.

Which was true, as far as it went, there indeed were delegates that were walking along the route. The dog counted a total of 22, but they were a small fraction of the total headed to the convention. That is a little disappointing, but surely single-issue voters would stick to their guns and protest, right?

Wrong. When the dog arrived at the Freedom Cage protest zone, there were exactly two protesters there, and they were leaving! Okay, not being one to quit, the dog approached (cautiously, they are protesters after all, and they did need a steel cage to keep the delegates safe) them and started a conversation.

These intrepid dangers to the public peace were 19 and 17 respectively. It turns out they were as disgusted as the dog with the lack of true believers protesting the convention. The young lady had even gotten a text message to show up at the Cage, but maybe it was a prank?

The dog asked them what they were there to protest? “Human Rights, man!” The guy went on to say that he was definitely voting for Obama, but they thought that the Dems were not going far enough.

Really they were nice young folks looking for a little exciting trouble. As they and the dog walked by towards town, the girl treated us to 10 minutes on the failings of the anti-choice crowd. Not exactly the fire breathing Mongol hoards that we were lead to expect.

So the dog is giving up on this. Is it possible that he missed protesters? Sure. It is likely that the protesters we saw in New York and Boston could not afford the gas to come this far west? Maybe. Did the city do such a good job of making the space that they could use useless and pointless that they decided to bag it? That is the one that the dog is betting on.

One of the dog’s main premises in life is that complex problems require complex solutions. This morning this was confirmed for him in a trip that Ecoflight and The Wilderness Society were kind enough to offer. The dog and a couple of other bloggers went up in a Cessna Centurion airplane to get an aerial view of the Pine Bark Beetle infestation in high country of the Rocky Mountains.

For those of you that don’t live in Colorado, the pine beetle is this very little bug that is attacking and killing large numbers of lodgepole pines. When the trees die the needles turn this very ugly, burnt-orange color. In the high country we have thousands of acres of these trees. So there are whole mountain sides that are covered with this ugly orange.

Now, before the dog knew anything he thought, quite reasonably, to get in to these areas and cut these trees down ” after all they are a fire hazard, right? Wrong actually; the lodgepole pine is a very flammable tree to start with. When they die and the needles are still on they are a little more flammable than the live trees.

There is also a problem with going out to cut them down. To cut down trees you need to get the equipment to do it in, and the trees out (and here that dog though that it was burly guys with axes, beards and curiously blue oxen). This means roads, and road cause their own problems. Fires travel along roads, so do pests (you know like the pine beetle) so in some cases you would be making things worse.

This is one of those times where you have to know the whole story before you make any policy choices. Lodgepole pines are one of the trees that needs to burn to complete its life cycle. Not only does it burn, but the whole tree burns, then others move in to take their space.

In fact the beetles are part of the life cycle too. They only attack the mature trees, those over 100 years old that have become weakened. They thin the forest and allow other trees to grow.

So, why are there so many being killed? Well, you could take a lot of guesses but you would most likely be wrong. Here is the story; in the late 1800s, when minors came to Rockies, they would often burn a whole hillside in order to see where the veins of minerals were. This makes large stands of the lodgepoles are all the same age (at least partially because we have suppressed fires) so when a drought came along and weakened all of these mature trees, it was party time for the bark beetle.

So, what does this have to do with the Democratic National Convention? A lot, if only tangentially. Sure, the convention is about nominating our candidate, but it is also a time where issue workers like Suzanne Jones and Bruce Gordon get in contact with politicians and media folk and make their complex issue known, so we are not tempted to simple solutions.

Deb Marquez’s blog: http://greenchiledems.soapblox.net/


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