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Occupy Congress: You had to be there

Marsha found this video.  We scheduled a meeting for several hours while some of the marches happened.

Great video.  The music is The Funeral by Band of Horses.

 

Occupy Congress Continued

Thanks to all of you who contacted your Congresspersons and Senators about SOPA and PIPA.  What these bills seem to be attempting to do is two things: promote private ownership of internet content and to sharply censor the non-conformists under the pretense of protecting property. SOPA looks quiescent for now but it’s going to take constant vigilance to make sure it stays that way.  PIPA is still in play, as far as I can tell.

One thing I learned when I was on the board of ed is that politicians will back down and even do a 180 if opposition is noisy and persistent.  This is probably why our political class is quite content to cast the Occupations in a negative light.  They’re noisy and persistent but if they can be made to look dirty and violent, their message doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

I had some connection problems in our room in Washington and on the train on the way back so I wasn’t able to upload my pics or process my video yet.  Then I found out from the insurance claims adjuster that all of the siding on one side of my house needs to be replaced including vapor barrier, weather stripping around the windows and the shutters as well.  The claims adjuster said her own house had suffered some structural damage from the wind storm as well, although nothing this extensive.  We both think the wind came from a different direction since neither of us had ever seen anything like it before.  Anyway, it’s been an interesting week in a Chinese proverb way.  So, I am uploading a few pics tonight to try to catch up.

Some interesting tidbits: we met a ragtag triplet with the letters “SD” on their shirts.  They reminded me of the stereotypical fife and drums trio from the Revolutionary War.  It turned out that they were three of the contingent from San Diego who were thrown off the Greyhound bus in Amarillo, Texas.  That’s not quite accurate.  What *really* happened is that the bus driver pulled over, got out of the bus – and locked them in.  Then he unloaded their baggage and forced them off the bus leaving them stranded in Amarillo.  But here’s the great thing about the Occupation.  The deserted in the desert contacted Occupy Amarillo and Amarillo came to their rescue, picked them up, gave them a place to stay, fed them and sent them on their way to Washington.  That’s a heart tugging story with a happy ending.

Then there was a contingent from Walla Walla, Washington.  They were senior citizens who had become very active in the Occupy movement and had canvassed their neighborhood advocating the protection of Medicare.  They struck some kind of deal with their city officials so that their site remained intact and free of harrassment from the local constabulary.  They say they are getting an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone they have talked to about Medicare.  Another success story of people sticking up for each other.

Then there was the not-so-good stories.  One woman from Portland told horror stories about the Portland police.  It sounds like the whole Portland police force is made up of sadistic automatons.  Their attitude seems to be “crack heads first, ask questions later if they’re conscious”.  She said that she had a concussion from one of her unfortunate encounters and she hadn’t done anything to provoke it except be present.  The police attack without warning and in as brutal a fashion as they can get away with.

We spent much of the afternoon in conversation between the four of us, Lambert, Marsha (CoyoteCreek), DCBlogger and me, and went back to the Capitol lawn at about 6:00pm.  There was a festive mood and music playing.  It was hard to tell how many people were there because there was no lighting except flashlights.  We sat on the muddy ground on plastic rain ponchos and took it all in.  It’s a different mood in Washington than it is in Manhattan.  The police are a lot less menacing and they don’t seem to outnumber protestors.  They ride around the city on bikes in colorful jackets and blue helmets.  They’re, dare I say it?  Friendly.  Really weird.  And also a nice change.  You would have really had to get up into their grill to get your ass hauled away.  In fact, early in the day, one occupier got righteously indignant about all of the fencing around the lawn so he started to tear it all down.  They let him.  The occupiers either rolled up the fencing neatly and moved it out of the way or used it as ground cover over the muddy ground so they could erect their makeshift structures.  There was a staging area, a kitchen and a medic area.  The kitchen served oatmeal, bottled water and fresh fruit for breakfast.

The GA took awhile to get started.  I blame the location.  It’s a wide open space with no natural acoustical advantages.  The voice dissipates quickly.  We tried a double mic and it took several attempts to get it to propagate.  The GA read the agenda and the plan to visit representatives.  Each congressional office building was assigned a color.  To visit your rep, all you needed to do was find the color of his/her building.  We decided to go have lunch at this point since Marsha hadn’t eaten anything all day, so we didn’t participate.  Later, we heard that the occupiers found the offices deserted for the most part.  Maybe they were busy, I don’t know.  But the vast majority of occupiers are old enough to vote.  They are constituents.  They deserve some respect.  I can only imagine what those nice elderly gentlemen from Walla Squared are going to tell their neighbors about their visit to their congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rogers.  From what they told me about her, they were not impressed with her or the fact that she always seems to be standing behind John Boehner when it’s picture time at the Capitol.

Here are some pictures from our day.  Be sure to check out updates from Lambert, CoyoteCreek and DCBlogger at Corrente.  Also, Lambert hosted Virtually Speaking during the pajama party in our room last night.  Check it out.

Setting up:

Occupy Applique:

The GA tries the double mic:

{Ok, I started to video this with my iPhone and thought I stopped recording when I put my phone in my pocket.  Ha-Ha.  Always double check.  Yes, that is my voice.  I couldn’t always hear what was being said and mostly just caught the tail end of each statement.  Still, this gives you an idea of the challenges of doing a GA on the lawn.  If I were the occupiers, I’d walk down the mall and look for a circular concrete plaza on the right side a couple blocks up.  I think it’s the Naval Heritage Center. It’s a much better space for a GA.  Don’t know what the rules are for occupying it for that purpose but it didn’t look like anyone was using it.  hint-hint}

The Agenda:

Night on the Capitol lawn:

Occupy Congress

Lambert is making fun of me for being a geek and posting on my iPad. Marsha is here as well. beeyoutiful and has eyes the color of purple pansies.
So far, we have been interviewed by Agence France Press, met the guys from San Diego who got thrown off the Greyhound bus in Amarillo, Texas and some nice seniors from Wallace Wallace Washington who are stirring up other seniors over medicare. This is a mixed age group.

We’re just now starting the GA. They’re going over the finger signals right now. I’m attaching some pics to the bottom of this post. We will have a lot more stuff to share a little later.

Weather here is gray and lightly rainy. The ground is a mud pit. We are having fun.

Occupy Appliqué

20120117-125541.jpg

20120117-125717.jpg

#J17- Happy Birthday OWS. Let’s Occupy Congress!

In Chaplin’s speech, he quoted the Gospel of Luke, which I think is so much better than John 3:16.

“The kingdom of God is in your midst”

I’ve got a ticket to ride.  Gettin’ up at 4:00am to be there when Congress opens tomorrow.  I’ll be meeting with Marsha, Lambert and some of the other Correntians.  If I’m not mistaken, Lambert is also planning a Virtually Speaking broadcast with Avedon Carol tomorrow night at 9:00 EST so be sure to check that out.

If you would like to help defray the cost of the trip, please see the donate button to the upper left side of the screen.  We should have just enough in the PayPal account to cover it but it never hurts to plan for unexpected incarcerations and bail.  Recommended donation is $10.17.  I’d like to say thank you to all of you who have contributed.  It means a lot to me.

So, I will be packing my chargers tonight and turning in early to get up even earlier.

For those of you who want to hear more Charlie Chaplin, here is the entirety of his speech from The Dictator.  He wrote this himself.  Enjoy!

What we’re up against

Chosen for you

I had lunch with some former colleagues last week and told them I was going to Occupy Congress next week.  Some of them looked like I had lost my mind while others were curious.  One of them grew up in the former Soviet Union.  Once I assured him that I wasn’t marching for a grand socialist solution, we had an interesting conversation. He told me that in his country, the KGB put a label on you, he gestured to his forehead, and never let you alone.  He said, “Don’t misunderstand me, I am on your side, but what you are dealing with is not just in this country.  It’s global.”  And then he gave me a knowing look and, ya’ know, I think I got it.  That was a weird feeling and not necessarily in a good way.

I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating, we are now engaged in a struggle between global authoritarianism and small “l” liberalism.  This is a global event.  It’s the shock doctrine on a universal scale.  It’s why there’s a push for austerity everywhere.  Too often, Americans see their politics on a small scale, as if what happens here is just like the political superbowl between two teams that meet every four years.  The media covers the players in the same way with statistics and color commentary.  The primaries are like the playoffs leading to the big one in November complete with nachos and guacamole and a lot of beer.  It’s a process unique to Americans, just another Detroit vs Green Bay.

But that’s not what’s happening anymore.  Our electoral process seems local but it’s part of a global pattern where the players are picked by a small evil group to which no one we know belongs.  And they are presented to us in a process where the outcome is pre-ordained.  In fact, I don’t think we Americans have actually picked our president since 1996.  In every electoral contest since then, the good guys have lost.  I am not referring to McCain.

You THINK you have a choice but you don’t.  It’s time to face up to that fact.  If progressives were smart, they would stop playing this game and at least expose it, even if they feel (incorrectly, IMHO) they can’t do anything about it this go around.  As long as they still think that this is a contest between Barack Obama and whoever the Republicans pick, progressives are dooming us whatever the authoritarians want.  The answer is not to try to influence the Republicans.  You are wasting your time and playing their game.  The answer is to try to put the screws to the Democrats.   And it is a very good idea to find out who the authoritarians most fear.

Otherwise, we may wake up in mid-November to the same situation they have in Hungary right now where the ruling party has rewritten the constitution and has cemented its future electoral victories in place for a couple generations.

Have courage, friends.  The days of comfort for the soft American are over.

I’m off to Philly today to do some work type things.  Later Taters.

Occupy Congress: How to get there

Update:  Here’s some coverage from TPM on Occupy Iowa Caucuses.  The occupiers are suggesting that Iowans go to their caucuses and declare themselves uncommitted to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the slate of candidates of BOTH parties.  That’s going to have more of an impact on the Democratic slate, IMHO.  And this is not a joke.  It’s not supposed to be humorous.  It’s a genuine statement of disgust and will signal to the parties (especially the party currently in charge) that they cannot serve two masters.  They’re going to have to choose: the masters with the money but not the votes or the masters with the votes and no money.  I’m wondering if Occupy Iowa is going to get an assist of some sort from Occupy Chicago.  The Chicago Occupiers have a knack for clever direct action events.  This should be interesting.

Occupy Congress #J17:

Are you going?

At the Occupy Congress logistics page, you can find several transportation options. There’s no excuse not to go.  Buses are leaving to go to Washington, DC from all over the east coast and even as far west as Texas.  Reservations on an Occupy Bus are cheap.  My reservation from Trenton was a whopping $35.00!  (Thank you very much, contributors).  But if you don’t have the money for even that, consider hitching a ride with someone in your area through Ride Buzz.  And there’s a Mega Bus option that is supposedly giving away 200,000 free rides to DC (Someone generous donor must be footing the bill for this).

The schedule of events for Occupy Congress stretches all the way to January 23, if you feel like winter camping that long.

All you have to do is show up.  That’s it.  Just show up and occupy the space you take up along with the thousands of others who will be joining you.  Let Congress know you’re serious.

Marsha, who is coming in from Tucson to DC, asked what to wear.  So these are all of my suggestions for those of you who are from warmer climates.  This list is based on my experiences skiing and chaperoning a bunch of 8th graders on a overnight field trip to a Y-camp in March right in the middle of a cold snap:

1.) Warm jacket.  I recommend either a warm down parka or a fleece pullover with weatherproof shell.

2.) Thermal underwear.  I can’t stress this enough.  If you are going to be outdoors all day in the winter, these are a must.  You can get them anywhere they sell outdoor sports clothing.  Check LL Bean or EMS if you don’t have a store like this around you.  Some of these items are expensive.  If you’re never likely to use them again, you might want to just opt for a pair of long tights that you can buy at macys.

3.) Socks.  Get lightweight wool hiking socks with liners.

4.) Sweater, fleece or flannel layered over a T-Shirt.  When I go skiing, I wear a performance fabric T-shirt because cotton Ts tend to absorb a lot of moisture when you’re active and it just makes you cold.  Again, outdoor sports stores have good choices here.  They don’t have to be expensive.

5.) Hat, scarf, gloves and mittens.  If you are in the northeast, you’ll notice an irritating habit of retailers to stop selling gloves in the middle of winter.  So, stock up now if you can find them.  The cheap disposable gloves that you don’t mind losing can be found in your grocery store in multiple packs.  Bring them with you so that people from Florida and Arizona don’t get frostbite.  Also, CVS sells little chemical heating pouches for about a dollar a pair.  They last for hours.  Just tuck them into your pockets.

6.) Comfortable shoes.  This is THE most important item you can bring.  I’m planning to wear my lightweight Merrill hiking boots because they are comfortable and you can walk for miles in them without getting tired.

7.) Last but not least, bring a water bottle.  In the other occupy marches I’ve been to in NYC, the event organizers handed out water but then we have to remember to pick up our litter later and find a recycle bin and it’s a bit of a hassle.  So, I recommend this cool collapsible water bottle that you can buy at Eddie Bauer.  Fill it up before your event and stick it in your backpack.  When it’s empty, just roll it up take it back home with you.

8.) One other thing: in Zuccotti park, there weren’t any lights allowed in the evening.  I never camped there but when I do go camping, I take a headlamp with me.  They’re indispensible.

#J17- Occupy Congress

I copied this shamelessly from DCBlogger at Correntewire:

I have a spot on the Trenton, NJ bus.  The more people there, the better.  I’d love to see more chemists and biologists go.  There are so many of us out of work and the country doesn’t know it.  We had good middle class salaries.  Since 2008, the money for research has dried up.  We’re in bad shape up here in the northeast.  It’s not that far to drive from NJ to Washington.  You could be there in 4 hours.  Get a posse together and go.

Marsha and Partition Function are going as are some people from Corrente.  This is a birthday party I do not want to miss.

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