Saturday, December 17, 2011

An Odyssey to Take Back the Capitol.

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An Odyssey Begins

On a chilly Sunday night a small group of citizens from the Green Bay area gathered at the DePere Park and ride. In the dark they were assembling to begin a journey From DSCN9471 (2)_20111204_009compressedNorth East Wisconsin to the Capitol of the United clip_image002[4]States. An endeavor organized and funding by the group Wisconsin Job's Now and with the support of the United Steelworkers Union.

A diverse group, ranging in  age and backgrounds as wide and diverse as the community they were to represent. A community who identify as themselves as the 99%. The first leg would take DSCN9482 (2)them through the Fox River Valley, ending with a very short hotel stay in Milwaukee. Their route would have them picking up more along the way. It was a short layover  then on to the buses bright DSCN9474 (2)_20111205_010compressedand early on Monday for the main journey to Washington DC.

The ride was for most part comfortable on the large touring buses that were acquired for the trip. With each bus having a "captain", roll call was called after each bus "break" in which riders would depart the bus for a short gas station DSCN0080 (2)_20111208_019compressedbreak. We smokers looked forward the each one.

With the Buses departure from Milwaukee at about 8am, and a dinner break at around 7 pm, the group arrived in Chevy Chase, Maryland at the 4H National Conference center in the rain. The rain would become a constant companion for much of the week we would soon find out. The facility was basic, but clean and was adequate to meet most of our needs. Wireless High speed internet was throughout the facility.

After a little DSCN9483 (2)confusion of room assignments and location, soon the group was settled in, glad to finally be off the buses and looking forward to their first day of taking the Occupy Movement to Take back the Capitol.

Day One of Take Back the Capitol

The next morning starting with DSCN9490 (2) (1024x576)boarding the buses (school type this time) for the 45 minute ride to the Mall, in Washington DC home to the main encampment of the "Take Back the Capitol" event. This was a nationallyDSCN9493 (2)_20111206_013compressed organized event done in spirit with the #Occupy Wall Street movement. But the other #Occupy camps in DC were not directly involved inDSCN9501 (2)_20111206_021compressed this event, as they were focused on other just as important themes and or messages.

As we arrived there was as usual some confusion, but it all came together shortly after some strong coffee and a breakfast of egg and croissant were found and consumed . Then more coffee.

We were instructed to DSCN9513 (2)_20111206_022compressedregister at the tables where we were assigned to groups that were being sent to specific representatives on the hill. 

I was with the group that was sent DSCN9511 (2)_20111206_020compressedto see U.S. Representative Sean Duffy (R-07) . Rep. Duffy is a former Lumberjack competition champion and Lawyer. He had opposed the Democratic supported Dodd-Frank bill that the Democrats pushed after the most recent financial crisis that has fueled America’s stubborn DSCN9595 (2)_20111206_032compressed economic downturn. A bill that would have reigned in some of Wall Street excesses by those that then benefitted by the tax payer bailouts in the trillions of dollars. 

With the Federal Reserve Bank fervently resisting a currently pending bill to require an audit of theDSCN9529 (2)_20111206_023compressed total amount sent to Wall Street in 2008, corporate control of government increasing, the effect of big money in politics combined with stagnant wages, the record loss of living DSCN9541 (2)_20111206_024compressed wage jobs and massive bailouts of Wall Street firms who were the root cause of our economic distress, we carried a message. A message that our representatives were ours and do not belong to the big money special interests of K street and those they represent. A message that said "were are here, and we are not going away". A message that clearly states "we demand change". A message that states we demand the end of our taxation without representation. DSCN9560 (2)_20111206_028compressedOur general focus that day as directed by the DSCN9558 (2)organizers was on jobs. Jobs that pay a living wage that can actually support "the American Dream".

As some of you who have come to know me may notice, I can always bring any theme that finds it's basis in economics back to the root cause of monetary policy and the control of our monies in this country by a secretive and private Federal Reserve Bank.DSCN9567 (2)_20111206_025compressed A Bank that many of our greatest leaders throughout American history warn us would be the leading cause our enslavement to the money controllers,  the impoverishment of the American people and the end of the American Revolution. 

Our mission that first day was to take the message directly to our elected representatives by marching to their offices and insisting of  having our concerns heard. By insisting that we be listened to, and that not all Americans are not going to quietly sit by while their country to sold out to wealthy self-serving private interests with far less than the good of the country and its people as their primary concerns.

I am not that so sure that any of the participants were hopeful to actually speak to any of the Representatives that day.  But DSCN9572 (2)_20111206_029compressedsome of us were successful that day. DSCN9573 (2)_20111206_030compressed In my group’s case, I learned that Rep. Duffy had be a co-sponsor to bill HR 459 to audit the Federal Reserve’s bailouts of Wall Street in 2008-2009. I wondered if Rep. Duffy would be willing to explain my fellow occupiers why this is a very important bill that we should support. This was also a sort of strategic positioning common in politics that placed him in a positive with us, thus offering theDSCN9586 (2)_20111206_031compressed possibility of letting him "sell" himself and his efforts to our group. After asking this in such a manner and with this type of wording to his chief aid, the aid quickly went to his office and got on the phone. I wasn't that much later, maybe an hour or so, that we received DSCN9588_20111206_033compressedword that the Representative would indeed meet with some of his direct constituents that had come  from his district in NE Wisconsin.

With a small group of constituents along with a coordinator on their way to meet with Rep. Duffy, the rest of us moved to another location in the building in front of Rep. Paul Ryan. There was an interesting sign on the locked office door (most remain unlocked) that may, or may not have been directed at our group.DSCN9590 (2)_20111206_034compressed By now word had spread throughout the building that members of the 99% had  occupied the building. I observed the resolute but eventually unsuccessful attempt to speak to or see Rep. Ryan, which didn't really surprise me. In the case of Rep Duffy, where there was at least one issue that he could say that he is on the side of the 99%, there is or was no such DSCN9605_20111206_037compressed_20111216_038compressedcommon ground with Rep Ryan regardless of how small or minute.

With the likelihood of any more success rapidly decreasing, I decided to take it upon myself to make my way back to the mainDSCN9618 (2)_20111206_036compressed camp to get to the media tent. There I could at least get out a quick report on the day’s events so far and publish a few of the many photos of the day.  

With the weather conditions quickly worsening and the mud of the camp grounds getting thicker, the day was essentially done by 5pm. Sandwiches (somewhat soggy) were provided in one of the tents, and I grabbed two. Another 45 minute bus ride back out to the 4H then lead to an evening of reflection on the day’s events with the various members of the groups that we had lost communication with throughout the day. There was a wide range of success expressed, with many basically feeling ignored by the representatives they were to see. 

Overall, everyone I spoke with did feel that day was an overall success. As far as DSCN9617 (2)_20111206_039compressedanyone could recollect, no such specific effort had ever been made in this exact manner by this or any other recent movements of recent memory. A new method of directly expressing dissatisfaction with the status quo had just been tried and executed with limited success. A model for future events had just been tested. A model that I feel we will soon be seeing often in the near future, especially after the winter and entering next year’s election cycle and political conventions.

Day one ended not in a tent in the mud, but with a hot shower and warm bed, and as a former Ranger, I am happy and not ashamed to say.

To March in the Rain

Day two began with less confusion and more rain than the day before.  After a long lost bus ride … coming soon.

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