Monday, February 26, 2018

What An Exciting Day!

I arrived in DC Saturday night, direct from Iceland, and attended a meet-up and organizational meeting last night.  Today I was up bright and early--the Supreme Court was to hear the Janus case today!

Our first stop was the Heritage Foundation for some breakfast and last minute details:

Then it was off to the steps of the Supreme Court building!  The "forced unionism" crowd was there in force, but I was impressed at our own numbers.  Mostly I took video, in a format that I can't post here, but the entire area in front of the Supreme Court steps was covered with the two competing rallies regarding Mark Janus' case.

I'm going to attempt to be very honest here, very objective, but the union supporters won't believe me.  On our side, we were having fun--yes, there was some chanting, but there was also music playing and singing and dancing on the sidewalk!  Our side was very upbeat, positive, uplifting!  I didn't see the same thing from the other side; sadly, they tried to interrupt our speeches with their chanting and yelling, there were many instances of extremely vulgar language hurled at us (and yes, there were children around), and they were for the most part angry.

Honestly, that's how I saw it.  At our briefing we were told to smile and be "happy warriors", and I think we accomplished just that.  And there was a lot of pro-teacher talk, too, as many of us there are teachers.

Several of us got up and gave short speeches.  Here's a picture of yours truly.  (Yes, the speech had been written in advance and gone over with a fine-toothed comb to make sure it stayed "on message".)

I had a couple chats with some on the other side, people who didn't seem too Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.  I carried a sign that said "My Job, My Choice", and wore a beanie that said "Stand With Workers".  I had a second sign that said "Stand With Mark."  Mark Janus' case is all about giving workers the choice of whether they want to be in, and pay, a union; it has nothing to do with union "busting" or trying to eliminate unions.  Our signs emphasized that message.  Some on the other side had signs that read "It's about freedom" and "unrig the system":
(I asked the people if I could take this picture.  They said it was OK but they absolutely didn't want their faces in the picture.)  The man on the left said to me, "On any other day, I'd be carrying your sign."  I replied, "On any other day, I'd be carrying yours."  We both found that kind of funny.

I think our side had the better arguments, though.  How is "forced unionism" about freedom, unless I live in Orwell's worst nightmare?  And isn't it currently the unions that rig the system?  *sigh*

We cheered, they booed, when Mark Janus emerged from the Courthouse with his attorneys:
They gave a small press conference, and several of us served as a backdrop.  The Supreme Court Police would not let us take any signs, pins, or other "First Amendment paraphernalia" with us.

Standing about a yard behind Mark, I took this picture of NPR's Nina Totenberg asking Mark some questions.  What, what's that you say?  You don't think I took that picture?  Well, check out this screenshot, sent to me by a friend in California:

Just who do you think that handsome devil is at the end of the red arrow, standing next to Rebecca Friedrichs??!!

This one is better:

And just like that, it was over.  Off to lunch.

I had the rest of the day to my own devices, and since it's been awhile since I was in DC, I played tourist a little.  I went into the National Archives and saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  If you haven't ever done that, I recommend it--it's a spiritual experience.

From there it was to the White House, where I let President Trump know just what I think of his job performance as President thus far:

I hadn't yet seen the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Monument, so that was my next destination.  It was moving.  Very moving.

 Impressive in scale as well:

After that I decided that it was time to get back to the hotel.  To be honest, I'd been on my feet for most of the day and was ready to relax a bit.

But what an exciting, uplifting, hopeful day!

Tomorrow some of us are scheduled for interviews with education reporters, and then it's back home to California for me.  I land close to midnight on Tuesday--and I have work on Wednesday :-)

Update, 3/1/18:  Added the 2nd screenshot of me behind Mark Janus.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking us on your journey. It was fun and fabulous.

Mike Thiac said...

Any video/audio of your speech? If not, do you have a transcript?