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:

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