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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.

Happy New Year!

I heard that OWS retook Liberty Park (Zuccotti Park) last night.

Looks like fun!  Wish I had been there.  But I’m going to the January 17 Occupy Congress event so there’s plenty of fun coming up.

In fact, I see signs that many people are starting to feel their Cheerios this year.  The VastApostateArmy of former Jehovah’s Witnesses have an event planned in February that I will tell you more about later because it deserves it’s own post.  If you are a former JW, you won’t want to miss this one.  The thing that set it off is an upcoming lesson in the February 2012 Watchtower and it will make your blood boil. Heads up New Agenda, The Feminist Majority and Freedom from Religion Foundation, this is a protest worthy of publicity.

I’m really enjoying the VastApostateArmy direct action videos.  For years, apostates and disfellowshipped members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been told they’re mentally diseased because their consciences choked on false dogma and coercive compliance techniques.  They recently have taken to youtube after years of shame as if to say, “Hey, wait a minute.  We’re not insane.  The Watchtower really is a greedy cult pretending to be a religion” (More on that angle later as well)  They have banded together on a rescue mission and seem to have taken inspiration from the Occupy Movement.  So, good job, OWS, it’s working.

As the 1% seem determined to keep a stranglehold on our money and our lives, the 99% are pushing back.  Jane Caro, Australian writer and former advertising creative said recently, what we are seeing is “a struggle between authoritarianism and small “l” liberalism”.  I find it very interesting that both Caro and the guy who started the Occupy movement, Kalle Lasn of AdBusters, were formerly in the ad business.  But this makes perfect sense because they recognize the campaign against us.  The ad business is all about persuasion and emotion and the authoritarians have the money to conduct a massive ad campaign to make us eat a high control culture.  They’ve been at it for decades now and they are pretty close to achieving their goal.  This may be the pivotal year where we either band together and push back hard to reassert the principles of the Enlightenment or we submit to authority once and for all and the opportunity never comes up again.

Maybe the Mayans were right.  But if they are, let’s not go down quietly.

Are you with me?  All right, Let’s fight.

Imagine if the US Media had covered the Occupy Movement like this…

It looks like Hillary has been provoking the Russians again.  They’ve taken to the streets in protests of the recent fraudulent elections that put Vladimir Putin’s United Russia ahead going into the general election in March.

MOSCOW — Tens of thousands of protesters gathered here on Saturday afternoon for a second large antigovernment demonstration, as a wave of new activists struggle to convert an inchoate burst of energy into a durable political force.

Demonstrators massed in Moscow on Saturday, sustaining their protests of Russia’s legislative election results.

Organizers hope to build on the success of the Dec. 10 protests, which mobilized a broad collection of previously apolitical middle-class Russians angry over parliamentary elections earlier this month that many rejected as fraudulent and slanted in favor of the ruling party, United Russia. If the movement can sustain its intensity, it could alter the course of presidential elections in March, when Vladimir V. Putin plans to extend his status as the country’s dominant figure to 18 years.

The crowd began forming more than an hour before the beginning of the protest, for which city authorities granted a permit for up to 50,000 people. Organizers estimated the crowd at 120,000; the police offered a lower estimate of about 29,000.

The NYTimes is supportive of these protestors, who are portrayed as generally apolitical middle class Russians, compared to the dirty hippy types in Zuccotti park and they’re union sympathizers.  (Oh, they’re only *union* people.  Well, let’s just undercount them then.)

But here’s a curious thing, some of these protestors previously engaged in electoral fraud. Imagine if the Obot contingent had grown consciences over the disaster they helped create when they f%^&ed with the caucus system in Iowa, Texas, Nevada and other states.

Pavel Morozov, 23, said he had come as an act of penitence: two years ago, he had stuffed a ballot box to bolster the results of United Russia, while working at a polling station. Mr. Morozov said that he realized his quality of life would suffer if Mr. Putin was dislodged, but that he was prepared for that.

“I can say for sure life will be worse for those of us who are now well off, but we need some kind of change, because what we have now is stagnation,” he said. “Anyone now but Putin. It will at least be different and for the youth, this is better than stagnation.”

This is what we need.  We need the remaining Obot Democratic party loyalist lackies, like Thereisnospoon, to tell the party to go Cheney itself and walk away.  By the way, did you notice that Romney and Ron Paul are the only Republican candidates who actually have the organization to get their names on the primary ballots?  Organization counts.  If Gingrich and Perry are hoping for a miracle in Iowa that would force them onto the ballots in other states by public demand, well, I wouldn’t be too sure about that.  Once the ball starts rolling on the R side of the ballot, frontrunner status solidifies itself pretty quickly so they can concentrate on the general election.  The Republican voters will fall into line behind their nominee by January, while the Democrats will still be pretty pissed off about theirs.  Just sayin…

The holiday atmosphere of the first gathering has hardened into something more urgent in the two-week lull. The crime novelist Boris Akunin, who returned to Moscow this month from his home in France to participate in the demonstrations, told the crowd to gird itself for a long haul.

“We will have a difficult year,” Mr. Akunin said. “But it will be an interesting year. It will be our year.”

When I was in my 20s, a demonstration like this in Russia was unheard of.  Russians lead lives of gray dreariness and oppression under the Soviet system where the KGB followed dissidents and sent them to Gulags and Siberia for stepping out of line.  Now, it’s the United States that is slipping into gray dreariness for the vast majority of people whose cell phones are bugged and can be indefinitely detained for stepping out of line.  Here in the US, it is now the average middle class voter such as myself who is villified by the press for being occupiers who inconvenience others.  Here in the US, public *camping* is a major crime necessitating the use of riot police, pepperspray, sound cannons and pain.  Funny how we aren’t having this reaction to the anti-choice demonstrators who aren’t even nice about the way they viciously inconvenience and harrass young women who have enough to worry about.  We haven’t broken up and evicted their permanent encampments even when they have been known to fire bomb clinics and shoot doctors.  That’s ok as long as they didn’t bring a water proof shelter with them.

Well, let’s see if the protests in Russia have any effect on the way that Occupy Congress is covered on January 17.  I’ve made my reservation on the Trenton, NJ bus and am planning to meet up with Marsha and Katiebird (if we can nudge her out of Kansas.  See our donate button if you want to help dislodge her.  $10.17 is the recommended donation.).  Are you planning to go?

“We will have a difficult year, but it will be an interesting year. It will be our year.”

This is personal:  I look at those images of protestors holding up flags and getting dragged to the ground by police and my blood boils.

I’m sure we all have vague fuzzy memories from when our consciences started to flicker to life.  I have some that stand out in my mind: my mother walking into a room and leaving in disgust, Christmas lights, the long icicles hanging from the strata of shale and earth as I looked out the window of a car, of  holding onto my dad’s two fingers as I toddled beside him in the snow, the image of accidentally pushing some little girl down a flight of stairs, my mother’s baptism into the Jehovah’s Witnesses in a natatorium in Cleveland, Ohio, giving my days old sister a piece of candy.  But they’re flashes, catching a signal from an old antenna between the static.

My absolute clearest memory, the one that stands out for me as the moment the signal to my conscience came online and began its linear narrative that leads me to this day is of a clear winter day in Norfolk, Virginia where my dad was stationed during the Kennedy presidency.  We were on the front lines of the cold war, Norfolk is *the* east coast port of the United States Navy.  We were going to be vaporized first.  Somehow, I think I knew that.

There was a large field between the rows of houses.  There was a playground in that field surrounded by clotheslines.  There was a sandbox in that playground.  I was wearing a round wool hat that had ear flaps and tied underneath my chin, long pants, and a bulky jacket combination with too many layers beneath it but no gloves.  I can see the shadows of the monkey bars cast on the ground by a cold sun and I am staring at Bobby Harris, my best friend who just told me to shut up.  I raised my fist in the air and shouted,

“This is a free country.  I can say anything I want.  You can’t make me shut up.”

True story.  The first words I ever remember hearing myself say were a protest.

Monday: Hungary, Occupy Congress and other stuff

This morning, Paul Krugman had a guest poster, Kim Lane Scheppele, to explain what is going on in Hungary.  Remember how excited we were 20 years ago when Hungary escaped the tyrannical clutches of Communism?  Unfortunately, they have fallen into the hands of what looks like fascism:

In a free and fair election last spring in Hungary, the center-right political party, Fidesz, got 53% of the vote. This translated into 68% of the seats in the parliament under Hungary’s current disproportionate election law. With this supermajority, Fidesz won the power to change the constitution. They have used this power in the most extreme way at every turn, amending the constitution ten times in their first year in office and then enacting a wholly new constitution that will take effect on January 1, 2012.

[...]

In the new constitutional system, the legal supervision of elections has also been changed. Before the last election, the norm was for the five-member Election Commission to be politically diverse and for the government of the day to consult the opposition before nominating candidates. But the rules were changed last year so that each new national election is now accompanied by a new choice of election commissioners. As a result, the existing commissioners were removed from their offices without allowing them to finish their terms and now the Election Commission consists of five members of the governing party.

The new election law specifies the precise boundaries of the new electoral districts that will send representatives to the parliament. But the new districts are drawn in such a way that no other party on the political horizon besides Fidesz is likely to win elections. A respected Hungarian think tank ran the numbers from the last three elections using the new district boundaries. Fidesz would have won all three elections, including the two they actually lost.

 Read the whole thing.  These people are like Republicans on Red Bull.  The only reason I can’t say they’re significantly worse than our Republicans is that if Republicans take power in 2012, I wouldn’t put it passed them to start emulating the Hungarians.  Their plan is almost in place as it is, what with The Big Squeeze eroding everyone’s livelihoods and ruining lives and families with crushing debt.  And if I were Republicans in 2013, the first thing I would do after indefinitely detaining the Occupiers is make damn sure that no other party ever won another election or had sufficient representation in Congress to knock them out.  In fact, they’ve pretty much adopted the Hungarian model when it comes to the 60 vote threshhold in the Senate.  Filibusters used to mean something.  Now, no piece of legislation can get past Republicans (and some Democrats) without a supermajority.  The only way to get around the Republicans in the Senate is to reduce their numbers to insignificance and they know it.  Which is why we should expect them to try to reduce ours to insignificance preemptively and forever.
And then there’s this tasty nugget:

The new constitution also accepts conservative Christian social doctrine as state policy, in a country where only 21% of the population attends any religious services at all. The fetus is protected from the moment of conception. Marriage is only legal if between a man and a woman. The constitution “recognize(s) the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood” and holds that “the family and the nation constitute the principal framework of our coexistence.” While these religious beliefs are hard-wired into the constitution, a new law on the status of religion cut the number of state-recognized churches to only fourteen, deregistering 348 other churches.

 You know, Richard Dawkins might come off as a bit of a belligerent, but he’s absolutely right about the damage that is caused by the sanctity of the religious point of view.  You can’t touch the religious without all Hell breaking loose around you.  It’s about time that the non-religious stood up and fought back.  In Hungary, 79% are secular and they are going to have to live under this regime. (That could happen here, although no one can deprive women of their right to abortion.  The state can only deprive them of a *safe* abortion.)  We need to put religion back in its place.
After I read this piece, it struck me that we don’t have much time.  The forces of authoritarianism are already upon us.  And contrary to the Democratic party’s point of view, Obama is probably the WORST person to run for the presidency next year.  If there is a Hungarian style regime in the works, the people who vote for it are definitely motivated to vote against Obama and there are more and more of them everyday as this sorry state of an economy drags on and on.  Wasn’t the Republican plan always to make life about as bad as it could get for the Democratic president and sit on all of the money until we begged for mercy and blamed the Democratic president?  And didn’t the Democratic party take the bait,  thinking Americans were stupid an proposed an inexperienced schmoozer for president?  It looks like all Republican dreams are about to come true.  What we need is to think out of the box, to pull a surprise move, to introduce a little chaos and metaphorically monkeywrench their plans.  Otherwise, we’re all going to Budapest.
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Speaking of going somewhere, Partition Function put up a link to the Occupy Bus for the Occupation of Congress Rally in Washington, DC on January 17, 2012.  I made a reservation for the bus and will leave from Trenton, but I think it would be really cool if we Conflucians could have our own caravan.  And it would be even cooler if Katiebird could go, provided her health holds up.  As you know, she lives in Kansas so it’s a flight for her.  We have a little bit of money in the kitty but to pay all of our expenses, we could probably use a little more.  I’d like to thank everyone for throwing in a bit for my trips to NYC to cover the Occupation of Zuccotti park.  It has taken a load of worry off of my mind.  So, if you would like to help keep us warm and fed, please consider a modest donation of $10.17.  The donate button is to the upper left of this page.
And if you’re planning to attend yourself, check out this page for details about where the Occupy Bus will be departing from a city near you.
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About Occupy: On Saturday, as the Bishop was scaling a fence in his magenta cassock, someone with the system password put up a greeting from Mumia Abu-Jamal on the OccupyWallSt.org page.  At first, I was pretty pissed off.  It seems that no matter how hard ordinary people who are not authoritarian religious nutcases try to defend a different point of view, they are always brought to a screeching halt by naive defenders of Mumia Abu-Jamal.  I have seen it so many times in the past couple of decades that I feel a deep sense of despair when this kind of crap shows up again.  Suddenly, no matter if you are against a stupid war or against indefinite detentions or rigged elections or any other important thing, you are conscripted to defend this convicted murderer.  It’s at that point that the people whose support you need the most decide that your cause is just another crazy radical fling that will go the way of the other fling.

Most of the world thinks Mumia is just where he is supposed to be right now.  There was plenty of evidence to convict him. But whatever.  Just when you think a movement is about to go mainstream, some nitwit has to start emoting over Mumia, as if there weren’t other disadvantaged and poorly represented African-American men and women wrongly imprisoned and innocent.  It’s been thirty years and Mumia, the celebrity prisoner, is still attracting a cadre of followers who cannot see that just because a person was a Black Panther at some point in his life does not mean that the world is out to pin murders on him and put him away for life.  Sometimes, a cold-blooded murder of a police officer is just a cold-blooded murder of a police officer.  We don’t attack the police even if they’re complete thuggish assholes sometimes (no offense).  When you need them, they’re usually there for you.  That doesn’t make them our best friends but it does mean that we need to treat each other with respect even if we have to be civilly disobedient.

So, Mumia represents everything the Occupiers are against and I was really worried that the support for Mumia was going to be the downfall of OWS.  In fact, I wrote emails begging them to take Mumia’s greeting down.

But, you know what?  That was the wrong thing to do.  Because I checked the thread on that greeting yesterday and the vast majority of people thought like I did.  Here’s the top comment on that thread with plenty of mojo:

I have been working at Occupy Wall Street since week 2. I am involved heavily in several working groups. I attend meetings and actions every day of the week. But this? This is bullshit. Here’s the thing y’all. Yes, the criminal justice system is brutally unfair. It is racist. It is classist. It is broken beyond all repair. The prison industrial complex has swallowed any hopes that a poor black man ever had to a right to a fair trial in this country. HOWEVER, Mumia? Mumia is guilty as hell. Guilty, guilty, guilty. He stood over Officer Daniel Faulkner with a gun registered in his own name and shot him point blank in the face in front of multiple witnesses. Because of Mumia’s involvement with The Black Panthers, because of his background as a guerilla journalist, and because of the undoubtedly racist climate of Frank Rizzo’s police department in the 1980′s, Mumia’s conviction became a cause celibre. I do not believe in the death penalty. I think that our justice system is a sham. But slapping Mumia’s face on the front of the OWS website is insulting and offensive to all of us who have worked so hard these past few months. This movement is about socio-economic inequality and corporate corruption. It is not about promoting the latest Free Mumia rally on campus. Please show some respect for the legions of us who have put in so much time, and do not glorify the convicted murderer of a police officer. No matter how many college kids wear his face on their shirts.

They are occupiers and have dedicated time and their presence to the occupation.  They are just average folks and they do not want the occupation to be associated with Mumia.  It’s pretty definitive.  Yes, there are a few vocal and persistent supporters but their obsession is not that of the vast majority of occupiers.  The occupation is to save America, not to give Mumia Abu-Jamal a platform to proclaim his innocence and unfair incarceration due to his political beliefs from 30 years ago.

I’m really rather encouraged.  This is the way the system is supposed to work.  Give everyone a voice and let the conversation and arguments carry the day.  It is regrettable that Mumia was convicted of being in the wrong place at the time when a police officer was gunned down and that Mumia was seen shooting the cop, and that he owned the gun that was used to shoot the cop, and that he was in turn shot by the cop, and that he pretty much confessed to shooting the cop to other cops and medical technicians before he was taken in for surgery, or that he tried to represent himself in court and did such a lousy job of it that he had to be replaced as his own defense attorney before he did real damage to his case.  He’s had his day in court and his appeals and many opportunities to change public opinion and he’s still in jail.  There’s a reason for that.

All these things are regrettable, but they are not our problem. If Mumia was such a good guy, such a saint who shared our concerns for economic and social justice, he would refrain from ruining every attempt to get something off the ground by inserting his “greetings” and attempting to co-opt a movement to work in his defense.  To me, he sounds like a narcissist.

Our problem is finding a place to occupy, to protest and to voice our grievances about economic injustice and the rigging of the rules in favor of the rich and powerful to the detriment of everyone else no matter how hard working. Our task is to invite others to join us.  Our task is to become a force to be reckoned with. Once we have solved our own problems, which affect millions of people in this country, those who are concerned with the plight of Mumia can turn their attention to it.  But leave the rest of us out of it.

The community seems to be pretty much agreed on that.

And here’s a little video of the activities of December 17.  I’m sorry to have missed this one.  Bishop Packard’s attire was lovely.

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