Meanwhile I'm posting this live from Manchester NH at Occupy NH Primary. Its crazy how political this state is. Wish a bunch you guys were here. So far I've seen way too many Ron Paul fanboys, Fred Karger... and Vermin Supreme.
Tonight should be fun with the debate. I hear there's a bunch people around following candidates. Hartford is currently watching the Maine tent. I got three people taking pictures of me already holding flags. New Haven has been handing out condoms (see my Facebook) saying protect yourself from getting screwed by the govt. There"s press all over the place. And now Vermin Supreme started a USA chant.
If someone's wandering around with a Mitt Romney sign - are they on a walk of shame?
I could write a long post here about the last couple days, but it'd suck since I'm on my phone.
We are everywhere and raising hell. People from all over are here. After leaving a Mitt Romney rally featuring Chris Christie, and Kelly Ayotte - it was getting wild. Some Romney supporter spit in the face of a kid. People nearly starting fights. I called some woman a cunt. Romney got heckled repeatedly, Christie once, then Romney got mic checked at the end by NH, NYC, and Maine people. One the Maine guys had a Romney supporter covering his mouth during all this.
One the NYC guys handed Romney a condom, he immediately gave it back. The story behind this is - a woman in New Haven thought of giving out condoms this weekend with the message "since the government is screwing you, might as well use protection". The Connecticut people were handing them out Saturday, and one them wound up getting passed on to the corporate whore himself.
Newt Gingrich got heckled and faced stiff protests this afternoon. Boston people were giving him rough questions and trying to start debating him. Before all that, the woman from Hartford got pushed around by Secret Service or the security detail or whatever it was. More people got crap outside protesting from MPD, including Mark Provost who was summoned for noise ordinace violations banging a drum.
Provost was the guy Wednesday who made Romney get uncomfortable with the opening question in a townhall. Met him Saturday. I met the guy who slipped the note to Obama during the mic check on him in November, over at the Romney rally tonight in Exeter.
Someone was arrested in Concord trying to sneak into the NBC debate this morning. First one of the weekend I think. And the big occupy presence up there created a nightmare for logistical people behind the debate. Press had to deal with us to get to the spin room.
Vermin Supreme heckled Santorum, even took the podium for a couple minutes. He's awesome.
I'm not sure who's reading all this, but I just wanted to share my stories of this weekend anyway.
It's been one crazy experience that I wish wouldn't end so soon. But, today is the last day up here.
Yesterday was pretty interesting. Romney and Gingrich were doing private town hall meetings - press and employees of these companies only. So we didn't have too much opportunity to make ourselves known. Ron Paul was canceling events. Rick Santorum had been given headaches all weekend long, but among people I was around - he wasn't a major target.
As said before, I was in one of the groups who had targeted Romney at a rally in Exeter. So yesterday, we were waiting to do it again in Bedford (near Manchester). The security at the front door recognized a lot of us from Exeter and tried blocking us from entry. I got kicked out, but most the rest were able to get themselves in. We each had partners getting inside, to stick around and make it tougher for security to get us all out. So when my partner, this girl Kristen from Texas, got picked out by security - she grabs me by the arm and we walk in as a couple. But then they pick me out saying they know me from Sunday - so I just walk away without arguing and let her push her way through. I just sat in my car waiting two hours for everyone to come back out. (And yeah, I got her number.)
I just stood outside the door for a few minutes, watching everyone else get in the school - and then hearing security chat up about knowing who we all were, and being able to pick us out of the crowd when needed. I was able to text people on the inside giving them a heads up. I also managed to stand among the crowd of sign holders outside - talked to one guy wearing a suit from Virginia. I'd bet a lot of money he's a paid supporter. I feel dirty having to lie to people. I told this guy I was from New Hampshire and voting for Romney today. That I care about his vision of America. But this is what I have to do sometimes to not get caught in drama. (more on this later)
I hate having to listen to Romney speak. He's everything wrong with the political system in this country, personified. So maybe it's better off I had been waiting for Kristen in the car. She told me it sucked. They got kicked out quickly once they heckled Romney. Even Diane from the NYC group, who Romney was questioning during the exchange - was taken out of the room by security and police while Romney was responding. Also, the paid supporters are very quick to counter our outbursts - we need to be more clever in doing stuff here.
As for me - I was a part of the protest at the New Hampshire campaign headquarters for Obama. We had a "die in" protest, originally scheduled for inside - but then done in the parking lot since the office manager wouldn't let us in. Cops were eventually called. The guy just had a smug attitude about it.
However, one of my pictures and captions I posted on Facebook was used in a Washington Post blog entry - which was pretty cool.
From there I went to Nashua with a guy from Occupy Boston and a guy from Occupy Asheville to try and lob some tough questions on Gingrich - but it was a private event. We waited in Nashua to try and do the same at a Jon Huntsman event downtown - but the Asheville guy got bored and both the guys were blowing our cover and quite openly talking about scheming being a waste of time and needing to get back to Manchester to prepare for Romney.
I was trying my best to blend in with Huntsman supporters, even was talking with some the crowd and holding a Huntsman sign (which later got confiscated from me). But nope, too obvious I was with two fellow Occupiers. Now I really don't have much against Huntsman, he seems like the sanest of the major candidates in the Rep field. I wanted to hear him speak, and try and get him to comment about campaign finance issues - the fact that guys like him are being buried because they can't compete with the millions upon millions Gingrich and Romney have. But I got blocked by my own people - which was just as well, since as soon as we got back to Manchester, we were off to Bedford for the Romney rally. Had we waited till after 3:30 in Nashua, we would have missed the caravan over from Manchester to Bedford.
Back in Manchester though, us and the Ron Paul supporters double teamed to shut down a Gingrich rally. Then was able to confront Rick Santorum outside an event in Manchester as well. I wasn't at either one - but we gave both of those guys hell this weekend. The Ron Paul supporters up here are hardcore and freaking everywhere. They been trying to co-opt the ONH stuff the past few days, setting up nearby us and trying to convert our people to the cult of Ron Paul.
Someone else was assaulted by Gingrich's security team yesterday - so that's three in two days a black eye for Newt. Rebecca from Occupy Hartford got pushed around by one Sunday, and a few minutes after that some kid trying to sneak in through a window got his hand beaten and bloodied by someone trying to keep him out.
I have no idea what is happening today, but I really wish to be in DC next week. I'm enjoying this Occuvacation. And maybe a day or two in South Carolina to help those guys out.
Good to see the turnout out at the Primaries Lowerdeck. It sounded alot was going on. I'm glad Occupiers showed up at the townhall meetings. Can you explain the deal with the signs at the Romney meeting? Who thought it would be a good idea to write on what looks to be trashbags? I agree with your idea it needed to be more clever. He's essentially Gordon Gecko type, writing on trashbags does not come off as a good idea. Kudos to you meeting up with multiple candidates. Sounds like Newt's security is pretty rough bro.Sucks about the dude's hand
If you are coming to DC and wanted to save a lil money. You can set your tent up at Freedom Plaza and get free meals. Or you if you prefer some home comforts, you can try getting Holiday Inn in the DMV (DC/MD/VA) suburbs. They are about 60 a night.
I'm jacked for this Tuesday. It's gonna be good to be at Congress and after work on Thursday, I'll drive down to DC to support Occupy The Courts. It's time for us to make some noise.
Vincent Gray, DC's mayor, is evicting the McPherson site. Some Occupiers are real pissed about it. But Freedom Plaza is still good, even though we are located right in front of the mayor's office. It goes to show that if you clean your site and don't deal illegal drugs on the premise. It makes a real difference.
1. What's the difference between the two camps? Are they both Occupy DC, or do they have difference purposes and banners?
2. I'm not familiar with the Occupy Congress schedule. I was thinking of going to South Carolina for a few days on Wednesday, but I'm pretty flexible as to what I know and can do. Columbia SC to DC is like 16 hours round trip, on top of the 14 from here to DC ... yikes.
1) Message wise, there is little difference between the two camps. McPherson are against money in government (there location is basically by K street where all the lobbyists are), Freedom Plaza wants human needs over corporate interests(located off Pennsylvania Avenue). It's essentially the same. On major days of action, both camps work together. The slight differences are based on more specific actions. Another difference is how each camp chooses to run their site. Freedom has got a strict no intoxication policy on the site(includes alcohol) which does not always satisfy everybody. Plus, some people prefer McPherson because they have more grass for people to set up their tents. A good chunk of Freedom Plaza is stone but, at the same time, has always had a history of civil protest so cops and park officials are pretty good about respecting the camps. Essentially Kevin, who is one of the founders of Freedom Plaza, wanted a more organized location. Very heavy on political action and the speakers who show up I believe have more substance. But it's debateable.
2)Occupy Congress is scheduled for all day. Not too sure on the exact logistics. I'm just gonna assume we march on down and park out in front of Congress voicing out. I think we have guest speakers coming down but I'll get back to you on that
I went with Conn Ave, affordable and close to Metro
Great news bud! When you take the Metro, take the orange line to get to the sites. Freedom plaza is off metro center. Mcpherson square has its own stop. Glad you can make it. Solidarity! Looks like I owe you some beers.
So we in Connecticut are getting together and collaborating on an action against ALEC and one of its corporate contributors Pfizer. ALEC is a group which in a nutshell writes legislation for corporate supporters to benefit corporate supporters.
On Wednesday, we in CT will be protesting Pfizer. They themselves are corporate evil, and this should be fun.
I'll be live streaming the event Wed morning if anyone is interested in watching stuff go down.
I love that increasing numbers of people seem to be catching on to ALEC these past few months.
A progressive group put on a daylong All About ALEC session outside of Madison in the fall, but I was unable to attend. I was at Camp Wellstone campaign training weekend in anticipation of the recall at the time. They did, however, make that session available on DVD and I acquired a copy.
I am looking into putting on similar ALEC informational sessions around my senate district, where our senator was once ALEC's state chair. I want to spread the word about it in advance of his upcoming recall election.
A good organization to check out is Common Cause. They have been informing people about ALEC for awhile now. They are a national progressive NGO who are also looking to overturn Citizens United. They might have a chapter in your state.
Here's some local media coverage: www.theday.com/article/20120301/NWS01/303019537/1018 ... they got good pictures in there too. The last one in the slideshow, of Erin (Occupy New Haven) on her knees in front of the police van... that takes a lot of courage to just cross the line and surrender yourself like that.
I got a story, will get around to typing it later.
I don't think we quite have the same thing going on here in Wisconsin.
Madison does have an Occupy. It is wintering in the parking lot of a vacant car dealership along East Washington Avenue. There is a ten-foot tall rocketship they constructed, and one of those drive-in arrow signs which reads "Occupy Madison: Not For Sale." I've driven by enough, but never visited. It's on its third or fourth location now, and I haven't since the second one. I'm sure I'd see familiar faces, because I know I know some people involved with it, but I haven't been since its brief second location in the fall.
I just don't know. As I mentioned earlier, around here it got channeled into something consequential in seemingly the blink of an eye. There were people collecting signatures for the summer recalls just weeks after we had a hundred thousand people in the streets. Careers were ended over votes on that bill, and we've made some progress in stalling other parts of Walker's agenda as the results of those efforts. The only reason we're recalling Walker this far removed from the onset is because we statutorily had to wait. Some observers have called it "the most consequential nonpresidential election this decade." I know Wisconsin has a six-month head start on Occupy, but I can't help but compare. I guess I observe Occupy and I don't see momentum translating into results at the rate it has out here.
Don't get me wrong. I embrace a great deal of what Occupy works for. As was said in the Walker thread, Wisconsin started something here. I'm just not sure whether that lead has been followed as much as I'd have hoped. We took what we had going and we turned it into something. And we still are. It just sometimes seems to me like we led Occupy to a fork in the road and you wanted to diverge. Or even just decided to hang around at the fork for a while. We all petitioned for the redress of our grievances, this is true. I just think Occupy's been a bit lost beyond that.
We are the 99%! Yeah? And? So? What?
When we're in Wisconsin and our grievances go unheard, we flex the muscles behind that strength in numbers. I see other states proceeding with recalls and ballot initiatives (shout-out to Ohio, Montana, Arizona & Michigan.) It's something concrete which can be discussed, decided upon, implemented. It seems to me as if Occupy has the "grievances" part down, but isn't really as adept at the "redress" part.
We would have a hundred thousand people outside our occupied capitol in Madison, and the worst things that would happen would be someone being spat upon, someone's sign being torn, only injuries being from slipping on ice - and we turned it into something in the end. I look back to that fork in the road where I don't feel Occupy proceeded beyond stating grievances.
I think that explains part of the divergence. We have specific referenda or recalls in states that have pushed back through institutional means. There were specific issues and public officials involved as opposed to general grievances. Something to be the focus of not only debate but a prescription for action, like laws to be enacted/repealed or special elections. I think that makes our situations differ. It definitely made our respective movements' relations with police a study in contrasts.
I'm not trying to be a dick, Occupy. This is kind of reminding me of talks with my irresponsible, whimsical slacker brother out in California. He's the Little Pete to my Big Pete, the Flavor Flav to my Chuck D, the Randal to my Dante. I love him, but we've got different styles. You're pretty great yourself, Occupy. I just want to see you reach some of that unrealized potential I see in you. I agree with what you're talking about, but there's lots of work to be done. We've got common enemies, but it almost seems like it's action here (and select other places) and mostly talk elsewhere. Where's the Occupy bills, referenda, recalls? Something new or different actually implemented? I just don't see it.
I've had some thought about what I think are approaches by our related but differing movements. You don't Occupy your turf or on the outside of theirs, you take the fight to them. Get in their systems. Challenge their laws. Make them fight for their careers. Take up their time, resources, energy. Occupy means to take up space, and that has been accomplished. Occupy also means to take up someone's time & effort, which has been done to some extent. Occupy further means to hold an office. That's another thing we need to start taking our government back.
Those Tea Party bastards - with the funding and direction of the same malefactors of great wealth which we mutually vilify - already gave us a blueprint on how you do it. They got in their representatives' facing and they hijacked their closest major political party at the local level. I would say Occupy their town hall meetings, but they've been on the decline since the Tea Party takeover. That's still doable, though. Occupy your Democratic Party at your local level - probably county. If you can get 30-50 of you together to become voting members, and Occupy that meeting once a month, your Occupy bloc would probably wind up running the show. That's what seems to be going on with the Wisconsin movement taking place alongside the recall. I personally know at least a handful of people who've gotten their name on a ballot since all this began here, for example. Just because Citizens United dealt a big blow to the Democrats doesn't mean that the silver lining isn't that they are ripe for the taking. That's how the teabaggers took over the GOP after the Obama wave, and I think it can be replicated. Hell, if we're The 99% all we need to do is get 50.6% of us united at the polls behind something new.
It's that fork in the road again. I think one is more likely to lead to evolution and the other to revolution. I don't think we have necessarily exhausted peaceful means yet, coming from my perspective as being with the Wisconsin Uprising rather than Occupy, and I think a lot of time and energy could be more productive if refocused into activism resulting in legislation and votes which actually redress those grievances.
I agree that we haven't gone beyond grievances. Figuring out what grievances to go after and focus on was a task in itself. Now we are looking at how to get political traction and how to restructure our economy so all the power doesn't go to Wall Street. Democracy is tough work, made even more difficult when you got to work a full-time job on the side. There is no salaries or internships at Occupy so its purely based on passion. And having the same passion day in and day out is difficult. But there has been some national discussion in my Occupy teleconferences that could help lead us on the right direction.
We have talked about supporting state banks or co-ops that invest more in local communities as opposed to nationalized banks. Some of us are working on a guerrilla consumer awareness project. We have been placing stickers on certain items in grocery stores, Walmarts and such that tells consumers what these companies support with their money. Such as putting labels on Miller-Coors about their support of Scott Walker and informing them. Occupy nationwide should also think of making a Super PAC. I know its not what you guys were doing in the office during Walker. But most of Occupy are amateurs when it comes to politics. Give it some time and it will mature.
You are right about public office. Occupy really hasn't done anything on that unlike the Tea Partiers. I admit, I haven't inquired. But can you really just go up to your state office and ask to be put on a ballot? Heck ill give it a shot.
I agree that we haven't gone beyond grievances. Figuring out what grievances to go after and focus on was a task in itself.
Same here. Walker supporters like to paint this as entirely a union matter. It's not. Don't get me wrong, it's good knowing they've got grievances with the same government and are doing something about it. I'm still their ally in this, yes, but in the respect that I believe collective bargaining is a human right - outlined by the Article 23 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and signed onto by the U.S. Senate and as such is law. I subscribe to the belief that a government which can take away one right can take away other rights, and that does not sit well with me. I took to the streets in Madison and it had nothing to do with unions. It had to do with the attempt to sever my alma mater UW-Madison from the rest of the UW System. It had to do with offering up state assets & facilities up for sale via no-bid contracts; there's no way that isn't just the usual pay-for-play instead of being fiscally responsible. It had to do with the power grab of making thirty-some agency heads political appointees of the governor rather than civil servants as they had been.
Democracy is tough work, made even more difficult when you got to work a full-time job on the side. There is no salaries or internships at Occupy so its purely based on passion. And having the same passion day in and day out is difficult.
It's for the love of the game here, too. There aren't many salaried positions to be had in the movement. I gave up a job the first week of the protests, and I've sank what money I did have from my current job into doing things. I suppose I might have had an internship with the Democratic Party in the sense that I showed up and did something, in that it probably looks better on a résumé. It's just a sad truth of politics that there's no money in it for us grunts. Not directly, at least, and I think they like it that way. It can wear on a person, which I think is another thing they're counting on, but it seems it gets to a point where you feel guilty for taking a day off from the movement.
Occupy nationwide should also think of making a Super PAC. I know its not what you guys were doing in the office during Walker.
We Are Wisconsin, United Wisconsin, and One Wisconsin Now - among others - are organizations which have sprung up just in the past year here. I think only WeAreWI may be a Super PAC, but if it's not it and the others are definitely PACs. I think this might be a bit of a mischaracterization. With recalls turning into campaigns, I actually have had conversations with one dissenter who is contemplating taking the Super PAC approach for my particular state senate race. It's not something that's been ruled out.
But most of Occupy are amateurs when it comes to politics. Give it some time and it will mature.
When I sat down with my fellow team leaders for our first meeting, we had a United WI pledge list of people who had earlier promised to sign the eventual recall petition. I was the only one of us who had seen something like that in the past, even though it was presented in pretty standard format for a campaign call sheet/walk list. Though Wisconsin may measure well in certain measures of civic involvement, it certainly was not the case that this was all done by seasoned political actors. It was an awakening on this end, too.
You are right about public office. Occupy really hasn't done anything on that unlike the Tea Partiers. I admit, I haven't inquired. But can you really just go up to your state office and ask to be put on a ballot? Heck ill give it a shot.
I was talking more along the lines of your local parties. Get in there enough and you can get on the committees that decide which candidates get on ballots. I had mentioned attending party meetings and think I should go into some numbers on this. In my county, the Democratic Party only has about 150 actual members. Since I wrote that rant, I attended my most recent county meeting. We had about a tenth of that show up. Granted, it was on the first night of nice weather in months and opposite Super Tuesday, but I think it goes to show that there's an opportunity here. Look at how badly the Republicans got what W called a "thumpin' at the rodeo" in 2006 and 2008. Compare that to where they are today. A weakened political party can be ripe for the takeover. If Occupy could do the same to the Democratic Party as the Tea Party did to the Republican Party, they could be onto something. Maybe that'd be something to tie in with an Occupy SuperPAC? I have to tell you, though, it's not as guaranteed. We all know there's no billionaires leading, coordinating & funding the way to such an approach and it would probably happen in more of a patchwork fashion. Oh, and a word of warning from what I observed taking the OFA training about a month ago... the Obama campaign people were definitely dismissive of Occupy. You'd be lucky to get more than two words out of them on the subject before they move onto the next question/comment. Which, I suppose, is another reason why I think Occupy needs to Occupy the Democratic Party. Gotta make them listen to you somehow...
So today is Boston's "Wisconsin" protest, against public transportation cuts and fare hikes. It's dubbed Wisconsin because... the goal is to swarm the state house and raise hell until the MBTA and the Patrick administration changes its mind. No fare hikes, no service cuts, no layoffs.
Ever since I read Kdogg's Wisconsin stories and all the stuff going on in Madison last year... I was inspired to do something. Then Occupy came. And now in Boston, we were gonna pull a state house protest off.
But, I'm at work in Connecticut right now instead of Boston. And it freaking sucks. I really wish I was on Beacon Hill fighting the machine, instead I'm just a small cog in another part of the machine.
I told my supervisor I wanted to leave at 1130 (half day) cause I had stuff to do, personal reasons. I got guilt tripped into staying. I also had fellow coworkers tell me the company retaliates against those who complain about work stuff, and worse cause I'd be skipping out on work. I freaked out, stayed here. Turns out half the info I got was from real disguntled assholes that were full of BS.
But since I got a few extra vacation days starting August, and stuck around here today rather than take half a point, maybe I"ll go to Wisconsin this fall... or just do something here to support the people of Wisconsin. And Boston.