The Noisy Tantrum of the “Silenced”

On Thursday, there was a woman who was doing a live video-stream from the convention floor, and in this video she accuses one of the Wisconsin Bernie whips of being a “sell-out”. One of my constituents alerted me to this video, asking whether my fellow delegate had indeed “sold out.”

In the video, a Bernie whip named Matthew can be seen asking the person filming, and two people sitting with her, “Why are you here now?” I kind of wondered that, too. They were not supposed to have credentials, and they were advised that if they engaged in any kind of demonstration they would be physically removed.

I will react to this video here, but I will not post a link, nor will I post the names of any of the people involved. They are publicity hounds directly defying Bernie’s instructions to his delegates, so I will not indulge their lust for attention.

I was a direct witness to the incident recorded in the video. The video was taken by “tape-over-the-mouth” lady, and much of what she says here (at least what’s audible, her production values are sorely lacking) is complete bullshit. She is the person who’s picture was widely circulated Monday with white tape over her mouth and the word “silenced” written upon it.

A bit of background:

After the delegation breakfast on Thursday morning, the staff of DPW (Democratic Party of Wisconsin) had a meeting with Wisconsin’s Bernie delegation. It was a chance for us to air our grievances and to discuss ways to work together constructively going forward.

It was a very productive meeting, though we were presented a request/demand from the national party: If we leave the meeting room with our credentials, then we are agreeing not to disrupt the convention with dissident demonstrations, and no signs would be allowed other than those distributed by volunteers inside the hall.

It would be OK to wear a NoTPP button, but NoTPP signs were not OK.

Most of us chose to comply with the party’s (and more importantly, Bernie’s) request to follow these rules. In my case, I feel that we are more powerful if/when we are inside the room. And the Hillary camp has made efforts to make the Bernie wing happy. It felt like complying with this request would amount to a reciprocation in good will. After all, that’s politics. “You help me with this, and I won’t fight you on that.”

The three people sitting to my left were not willing to go along with this compromise. One of them surrendered her credentials after the meeting, and the other two didn’t bother to show up. (If they had credentials, they probably picked them up at the delegate table and skipped breakfast. I never saw either of them at any of the breakfasts.) I was told that tape-lady had her credentials revoked for her behavior on the first day (I could be wrong), and the person sitting directly next to me was the same one I personally watched handing in her credentials in the morning.

So Matthew was completely right to ask “why are you here right now?” They weren’t supposed to be there. He advised them that they would be physically removed if they caused any trouble, and for that they whine in the video that Matthew was a “sell-out”.

As it turns out, they did cause trouble just as Hillary’s speech began. That was when tape-lady’s tape reappeared on her mouth and she stood on her chair, and the guy next to her also put the tape on his mouth.

Tape-lady was the exact kind of person Bernie called out Monday night for eroding our credibility. She sat directly behind me on Monday night, and impressed me as a publicity hound using a gimmick to get her picture in the paper. And here she was sitting next to me again, and causing trouble again, and making me and other Bernie delegates look bad. I joined other delegates in the immediate area in holding flags and signs to deny a clear shot to any photographers in the area.

This is when tape-lady stepped over the line: she grabbed an American flag out of my hand and threw it on the floor (oh, yeah, that’s really gonna help our movement… NOT!). I replaced my flags with one of those vertical Hillary signs. For the entire week, I had resisted holding any Hillary signs, but the time had come to disassociate myself from delegates who claimed to be Bernie supporters but were not.

While this was going on, security people were approaching from the end of my row and the row in front of us to get tape-lady off of her chair… they did not want anyone standing on the chairs. Within the next minute we found out why. I don’t know whether tape-lady fell as her chair seat folded up from under her, or if she directly assaulted the woman to her left, but I saw tape-lady apparently attack the woman to her left… a “little-old-lady” Bernie delegate who was simply there to enjoy the party.

The tape-over-the-mouth people were hauled out at this point, and the innocent Bernie delegate was attended to by a doctor who was called over. Apparently she was OK, though somewhat rattled as we all were. At the after-party at the hotel, I met one of the people who sat to my right, and she was pissed off that the commotion caused her to miss the first fifteen minutes of Hillary’s acceptance speech.

I have fought for the causes represented by Bernie’s campaign for virtually my entire adult life, and my affiliations have followed the gradual mainstreaming of this platform. After thirteen years as a Zendik I became a political EarthFirst-er. For many years I was a die-hard Green (David Cobb delegate to the 2004 GNC), and now I am a Green Democrat ready to join the Social Democratic Caucus.

After all these years, we finally have a seat at the table, and the greater party is respecting and listening to us. We did not score the touchdown of getting Bernie as the nominee, but we scored a HYUGE first down, and we’re getting a lot more of our players on the field.

We are now 46% of the team, and we’re teaching the other 54% to be better players. Let’s keep doing that. To walk off the field simply because you don’t like the quarterback is not helpful. We’re winning. Let’s keep moving the ball down the field and score some touchdowns!

(Apologies to those who don’t like/understand football metaphors. If you request a translation into an alternative metaphor in the comments, I’ll give it a try.)

ONE MORE THING: I am still facing a massive credit card bill from this mission that needs to be paid before the end of the month. Any donations toward reduction of this financial debt will be greatly appreciated.

Fired Up – Ready to Go

Our train leaves tomorrow (Tuesday) morning to take us to Philadelphia. We’ll get there in time to do spend a few days reconnecting with the city (we lived in Phila. for two years in the 90’s) before facing the busy days and short nights of convention week.

Bernie may have endorsed Hillary, but there is still a lot of important work to do. To vote for Bernie as our nominee is not the only reason I am going to Philadelphia. I am mainly going there to do everything I can to change the direction of the Democratic Party. For too long, it has acted as Republican-light, but the only way we can win is to return to the populism of FDR and JFK.

This is more than a campaign.. it is a movement, a movement that must grow beyond this convention and beyond the next election. We go to Philadelphia to launch this movement forward.

By the way, after the convention we will have a YUGE credit card bill to deal with. We’ve had modest success with our fundraising, and we greatly appreciate all of the contributions – big and small – that we’ve received so far.

Right now we are at about $1,600. But our hotel room alone is going to cost $2,200. If we can raise another $600, that part of our bill will be covered and we will have an easier time squeaking thru this financially.

You can help out here, and you can monitor our progress here. Thank you very much.

Going to the DNC.. On the INside

Most of you already know that I’ve been elected to be a Bernie delegate to the Democratic National Convention. The time is winding down before RoZ and I return to Philadelphia for the first time since we lived there over 21 years ago. So we are excited to spend a few days reconnecting with our old neighborhood, which will be followed by the intense experience of the convention itself.

Very few people get such an experience, so I plan and hope to share that experience thru a new blog that I’ve started at… http://inside-the-dnc.purplearth.net/

If you go there right now, you can read the story of how I got elected, and what I faced in the aftermath of becoming a national delegate. I still need to catch up on the adventures in fundraising, travel planning and delegation conference calls that fill the months leading up to the convention.

We may try something new: Since writing can be time-consuming, we may sometimes post audio narration of events, especially given the hectic pace of convention week.

One annoying thing I’ve encountered lately is the attitude that “Bernie doesn’t have the delegates, so why does it matter anymore?” People forget that the convention is about a lot more than nominating a candidate for president. It’s mainly about defining what the party is going to stand for during the next four years, and what message the nominee and all of the down-ticket candidates are going to carry into the general election.

As I type, the platform committee is meeting in Orlando. Our side is not getting everything we want, but the platform is a much stronger and more forward-looking document due to the influence of Sanders delegates. We are slowing – and in some cases reversing – the corporatization of the party that’s been happening for too many years, and beginning the process of turning it back into the party of FDR and JFK.

So yes, going to the convention DOES matter. I plan to make my presence count for all it can, and fight for a country where everyone can thrive and enjoy life without killing each other or the Planet. And I plan to find a way for every delegate to go home happy and united, ready to send the party of greedy bigots and assholes to the disgraced dustbin of history.

Finally, I would be remiss to not mention that this is no free ride. We are required to stay in the very expensive “official” hotel, which is $420/night for five nights. We had enough credit card reward points to cover our round-trip train fares, but the hotel bill is going to hurt without some help. So it would really help if you can pop into my gofundme page and throw something into the hat.

In the meantime, go read what I’ve written so far while I try to get caught up.

There Goes the Neighborhood

We live down the street from a major hospital, and over the years we’ve watched that hospital tear down out neighborhood to pave it with parking lots.

Now that four and a half blocks have been taken down, they want to tear down another entire block.

This video illustrates the history with archived aerial photographs and satellite images.

North-South Corridor: The Road Proposal that Will Not Die

Over twenty years ago, there was a proposal to build a new highway connecting downtown La Crosse with Interstate 90 and the northern suburbs. City residents wanted nothing to do with the “North-South Corridor”, as it would degrade urban livability and encroach on a beloved and ecologically important marsh. So in a 1998 referendum, La Crosse rejected the road by a 2-1 margin.

I remember the DOT presenting traffic studies predicting horrible gridlock in twenty years unless we built a road. But here we are, twenty years later, and traffic armageddon has failed to materialize. Now the DOT has returned with a series of new proposals, insisting that we will suffer horrible gridlock twenty years from now if we don’t “increase the capacity” of our local roads.

There is no reason to believe the DOT’s ominous predictions are any more accurate today than they were twenty years ago, and for La Crosse to allow North-South Corridor 2.0 to be built would be a horrible mistake. Read on

A New Bridge… At Least Ten Years Too Late

I went to a ribbon cutting today. A new bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians finally opened on the north side of La Crosse, connecting neighborhoods on one side of a railroad yard with workplaces on the other. But this was a celebration that was many years overdue.

HendricksonBridge

The new “Bud Hendrickson Bridge”, seen from its eastern approach, spans the BNSF rail yard to connect the north side of La Crosse to the the industrial park and a bike-friendly route to Onalaska.

Read on

If Data is Collected, It Will Be Mined

Subversives, fugitives and drug dealers have operated under the assumption that all phones are tapped for as long as there have been phones. This is even more the case with today’s digital communication. The safe assumption is that every line is tapped, so when engaging in any form of electronic communication, it’s good to heed the advice given in The Anarchist Cookbook way back in the 1970’s: “If you can’t say it in front of a cop, keep it to yourself.”

So now we learn that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting and analyzing all the data they can grab. This should come as no surprise. If the data is there, they will mine it. They always have, and they always will. I’m not saying that it’s right. It’s actually contrary to every sacred principle this nation was built upon. But it is what it is.

Most of us knew all along that the emperor was walking around naked. Now that the official media has finally noticed, they’re going bat-crap crazy talking about it. Let me throw a few random thoughts into this cacophony. Read on

A Second Line for Red (aka Christoper Vogts)

Red (aka Christopher Vogts) 2006Red was a guy whose life overlapped with ours for a period in the late 2000’s. In the gang of activists we hung out with at the time, he was the energetic bike freak with the fiery red beard.

As a student at UW-La Crosse, he helped start a program that reclaimed and rebuilt discarded and abandoned bicycles. While helping us with the last Spokes’n’folks parade in 2006, he connected us with the eight-foot trailer that eventually became ours.

He delivered the trailer with a double-decker bike he had recently built, and took a little time to ride it around in the alley behind purplearth world headquarters.

In March 2010 he hosted us at Nottingham Co-op during one of our visits to Madison. He was happily working at a local bike shop, and the last time we saw him was when he walked with us to the bus stop, carrying our bikes in a cart he built from recycled bike parts.

Since then, Red continued to work in that same bike shop, and embarked on frequent cross-country bike tours. It was on one of these tours that his life ended. On his way to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Red was hit by a van on a highway in Mississippi and he died at the scene.

Being 150 miles from Madison, we couldn’t get there for the memorial (like Red, we don’t have a car), but we thought we’d share the video above, the images below, and links to his obit and a story done by a Madison TV station.

Scott Walker Must be Fired for Fraud

One week before he was elected governor, Scott Walker told the editorial board of the Oshkosh Northwestern that he was willing to work with unions and to listen to any ideas they had to save money. In general, Walker presented himself as a reasonable and collegial manager.

After the election, he told a billionaire donor of his plans to bust public employee unions as part of a “divide and conquer” strategy. This governor turned out to be the polar opposite of what he advertised himself to be. We all have friends, neighbors and family members who were directly hurt by Walker’s divisive and mean-spirited agenda.

For those who say that recalls should be reserved for cases of criminal behavior, I answer with one word: Fraud. Just as a worker would be fired for lying on a resume, the people of Wisconsin must fire Scott Walker for the frauds he committed to get elected.

Walker’s rich out-of-state cronies are dumping planeloads of money into our airwaves, mailboxes, and telephones to deliver their next round of lies. Voters must not be fooled by these expensive packages of deception, but I trust we are smart enough to recognize that gold-plated bullslop is still bullslop.

The people of Wisconsin made a major collective mistake in November 2010. Those who regret voting for Walker (or not voting at all) in that election can redeem themselves on June 5 by electing Tom Barrett as governor and Mahlon Mitchell as lieutenant governor.