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The readers of Daily Kos and other blogs turned a video about me into a event.  You gave me one of the best weeks of my life, and I wanted to say "thank you."

I took a walk through the Tea Party that called itself a "March on Washington" on September 12, 2009.   The Washington Post ran a picture; a couple of people put up photo-essays on Flicr.com; somebody else put a video up on YouTube that went viral: See: Teabaggers can’’t handle a little dissent. http://www.youtube.com/...
Although it made a mess of my law practice for a week, it made last week one of the best of my life, and for that, I have you to thank.  So this is my thank-you note to the boggosphere for letting me hear more kind things about me than will be said before my funeral.
Many had questions.
WHY?
Why do people attend the other guys’’ rally with a giant sign?
Mostly just to show them what we are really here; show them what we look like; show them that we won’t  back down.   To listen to the radio clowns, "we" are ignorant and lazy and hoping to sponge free health insurance off those who work.   I’m a lawyer, who, as quite a few noticed, hasn’t missed enough meals.  I have health insurance.  I have a nice income.  I know how important it is to make sure America gets what it is paying for from the health providers and I know how important it is that everyone has access to affordable, adequate health care.  

It seemed important to show them that picture. And I won’’t deny that needling my opponents was on the agenda. Providing a photo op for press covering the event was probably on my list as well.
A question that many many many of them were shouting at me was "how much are you being paid?" Sometimes in the video you see me laugh out loud. That was one of those times. Seriously: how much would you have to pay somebody to do that?

PATRIOTS ONE; PATRIOTS ALL
But for many, the "why" question was "why wasn’’t I scared?
The answer to that is twofold. First, I was very confident that I wasn’’t going to be hurt.
This was not my first rodeo.  At about every march I’ve been to over 40 years, there were opponents. Frequently pretty loud and nasty opponents. The anti-abortion folks and the anti-gay folks are pretty much a fixture at any left-wing event.
But I’’ve never personally witnessed anyone being hospitalized. If anyone were killed or even seriously hurt, I feel like I would have read about it, and it hasn’’t happened. At least not since Kent State. And that’’s with both sides screaming obscenities in each others’’ face. As you can see in the video, I was almost completely moot except to answer the questions of reporters and police, at least until the melee subsided.

This is not true of, say sports rallies.  When feelings are up this high over one team vs. another, it’s not uncommon at all for people to be injured.  I’m convinced that this is because people who turn out at events designed to make America a better place are people who care about people.  People who take off time to go try to change policy.

Patriots.  On both sides.  Our rallies, their rallies.  We have far more in common with people on the other side of the issue than with folks who don’t know what "public option" means.  I respect them for that, and I hope it showed.  Shoot, it may have saved my life.
Secondly, both I and they knew what would have happened if I was wrong. Now nothing at all can sound as pretentious as somebody with my crabby nature and occasional temper invoking the Mahatma. But if every sinner in the bar can call himself a Christian who tries, albeit unsuccessfully, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, then I feel like I can tell you that I tried to implement what I think I have learned from Gandhi. That is that if they hit me, it will hurt them 10,000 times as much as it hurts me, but that if I even thought about hitting back, it could mean . . . well, that's a pretty brutal thought.
But confident as I was that if anybody jumped me, the others would pull her off before she could do real damage, I also knew that if she did hit me in the head or throw a rock at my back, she would so shake the faith of everyone who saw it, everyone who was shown a picture of it. An instant loss of any moral high ground. I’’ve been punched before; I can take a blow. That little bit of discomfort would be a very small price to pay to strike a blow like that at those who are denying health care to millions of Americans.

MdFriendofHillary????
The first blog I saw about the video was one in Daily Kos that identified me by my Kos and Flickr persona, MdFriendofHillary.
So a few have questioned the moniker "MDFriendofHillary." Does that mean I do not support the President?
Hardly.

Although I worked very hard for Hillary; I campaigned in eight states (if you include the District of Columbia), but after she withdrew on June 7, asking us to work as hard for Barack Obama as we did for her, I took her at her word.  I had signs similar to the one you see in the Tea Party ready for the July 4th Parades in 2008.  It has always seemed important to me to show the world that there were a LOT of us who worked hard for Hillary and quickly assembled behind Barack Obama.

But the biggest reason is the Flickr.com page. I use that page to distribute pictures I have taken of supporters posing with my signs. As you will see if you check out the Flickr page for "MdFriendofHillary", there are several thousand pictures of people posing with my signs. I passed out little slips of paper telling people they could go there and download the pix that they could then put on their Facebook page, or use to make t-shirts, or send to Mom to tell her who you support. I’’ll go over 50,000 "views" this week. That’’s a lot of folks who know that name, I thought.
 
WHERE CAN WE GET SIGNS LIKE THAT?
I made each one of those signs with office equipment. They are 8 ½½ x 11" sheets of paper that I printed on an Hewlett-Packard 6310 color-jet all-in-one printer-scanner-fax machine. The important point is the "postering" software. What I use is a program I bought in 2001 on Ebay called "Monster Photo." I can’’t find another copy of the software, but the "poster" option is available on most photo-printing software.

IF YOU’’RE EVER IN [ pick one: JUNEAU, NY, CLEVELAND, . . . . .] I’’D LOVE TO [ pick one: MARCH WITH YOU, HUG YOU, BUY YOU A BEER ] !
And I’’d love to march with you, too. But please don’’t wait for me to make it to Oswego. This thing can’’t wait till I get to Oswego. We need a public option. NOW.
There are several ways you can march with me without waiting for me.
First, as soon as you finish, go to www.my.barackobama.com. That’’s the old campaign web-site. It appears on the screen as "Organizing for America." There, once you sign in, you can plug in your zip code and find events near you, volunteer opportunities, and, well, news about what thousands and thousands of "Friends of Hillary" are doing now to make this thing happen.
You can also help me out a bit. I told Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania that I would be a co-host her fundraiser-reception, and, well, I’’ve been a bit distracted. She is the Co-Chair of the New Democrats’’ Task Force on Health Reform and has been a leader of our cause for I don’’t know how long. Here are some links to YouTube videos of her defending our issue:


Now this is an important district for us. It’’s the swing district that was held by Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky who lost it in the first off-year election after Bill Clinton won, famously risking her political career to be one of the last votes to put Bill Clinton’’s transformational budget over the top. It would be intollerable to lose that seat in the first off-year election after the next Democratic President because she was a leader in passing his health care reform.
So if you could drop by her web-site and mention my name when you made some show of support, it might help me be a hero instead of the goat.
AllysonSchwartz.com

Finally: Giant Brass Ones.
For a guy with real insecurity issues, seeing all of the praise is . . . . well it's wonderful. And sooooo over the top. "My hero!" "courageous".
Oh my.
Thank you so much.
But at the risk of sounding ingracious, I'm at least a little embarrassed by the connection between "courage" and my male body parts.
Of all of the "courageous" people I've heard about in all of my life, the bravest of the brave is a whole group of people I've never met.
In Viet Nam and, I guess, in any modern war zone, they ferry the wounded into field hospitals on helicopters, where they are first met by triage nurses. Those young ladies (they were nearly all women) had to decide in a split second whether this one was "savable if we get him into surgery immediately", "savable and can wait" or either "not savable" or "only savable if we could throw out a better candidate and there fore not savable."
If "not savable," they to dispatched them to another group of young women who were USO volunteers who would hold their hands until the passed. It's been said that the USO volunteers always wore perfume because they wanted the soldiers to know it was a woman holding their hands even if they were blinded or bandaged to the point that they could not see.

Somehow, those women got themselves out of bed in the morning knowing that that would be their day. They got up, put on a folded a cotton cap and walked into absolute hell every morning they were there.
Courage.
Courage that makes you wonder how they invented the word before they say those young women go to work.
Courage that makes me embarrassed to be called "brave."
And maybe even more embarrassing is having my courage praised by pointing out the most obvious difference between them and me: my sex.
I am so flattered to be so praised. You don't know how much; you can't. But I would soooo prefer to be praised in a way that shows what faint impersonation of those women’’s courage I was able to display when my chance came around, instead of having being praised for the way in which I can never be like them.
Thank you so much.
MdFriendofHillary.

Originally posted to MdFriendofHillary on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Keep up the good work (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      myboo, sherijr, whoknu

      I've seen you twice in person now--at the September 13 rally, and at College Park last Thursday.  Remind me to say next time I see you (was going to last time, but you were talking to a reporter, and I was in a rush to try to beat the traffic).

  •  Fixed your tags. Here are the tag (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bellatrys, blue armadillo, sherijr, whoknu

    guidelines. Nicely done.

    All evil needs to succeed is for good people to say "the votes aren't there in the Senate."

    by Jacques on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 11:07:20 AM PDT

  •  I watched the video (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myboo, Derfel, blue armadillo, sherijr

    and was impressed that you were ballsey enough to walk through the crowd; strong enough to keep that banner aloft for over 5 minutes of video; had a good police escort.

    I'd be interested to know what the last officer (with the shiny badge) said to you after he shook your hand.

    I'm from a family of MD lawyers -- my Dad, uncle and me (I'm on retired status as I'm out of state now).  Have to say, my Uncle Pat (now deceased) would have bought you a few beers at the end of your journey even though he was pretty conservative.  He was an (in)famous trial attorney who got away with using the term M'f'er in front of a jury without getting sanctioned.

    Kudos.

    •  He told me that I was a "counter-demonstration" (0+ / 0-)

      and that I needed a permit.

        I was pretty sure that to be a counter-demonstration, you have to be a group, but then I though WHY would I argue with him.  I was cooked.  It was time to put a fork in it and call it dinner. So I pointed to the nearest edge of the group and we walked that way.

  •  Thank you for what you did (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Derfel, blue armadillo, sherijr

    You are an inspiration. I cheered as I watched the video.

  •  They aren't "balls of brass"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue armadillo

    THEY ARE BALLS OF STEEL.

  •  I was very moved by your bravery in the video (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue armadillo, sherijr

    And glad to see that you received an escort by the police. I've gone through Gathering of Eagles crowds and did not feel very safe. To do so with a sign like that really takes guts, and is inpsirational.

    I'm curious though - usually the police try to keep opposing protestors seperate from each other. What was the rationale that you used for walking through the demonstration area? Or was it just considered a public space at the time?

    I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this. (Emo Philips)

    by erratic on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 11:20:49 AM PDT

    •  I don't know. I just walked. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic

      I walked.  A few thousand booooooed and the police arrived without saying anything for a long time.

      Many people have asked how I arranged a police escort.  I gave some thought to saying that you Google "Escort Services" and ask for the ones with the handcuffs, but Elliot Spitzer has had a tough enough time.

  •  Nice diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue armadillo

    Any comment on why the police always have to surround the protester who is working for peace, the end of wars, providing health care to even the most poor...instead of surrounding the guy with the hate-filled sign?  

    It took me three hours to figure out FU meant Felix Unger! -O. Madison In honor of kos' Saturday hate mail-a-palooza

    by Meggie on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 11:26:19 AM PDT

  •  That was brave of you (0+ / 0-)

    and thank you.

    Five of us went to the alamo when the Tea Party Express bus came through - with our signs, pro-Obama shirts, lots of REAL health care reform NOW flyers to hand out.

    We met much the same reception - lots of boos, lots of "GO TO HELL" shouts - but also a surprising number of relatively sane discussions with folks - we handed out more than a few flyers explaining our position, and really felt not particularly unsafe (despite this being well-armed and proud of it Texas)

    We had a few yellow-flag carrying teabaggers come up and thank us for showing everyone that the First Amendment IS for everyone, and we in turn told them that we knew that plenty of the tea party folks felt the same way, that is why we felt safe there, among people that value our Constitution - we came as fellow AMERICANS, not as opposition although we held different views on things.

    So I really do appreciate what you did. alone on the mall - that took real nerve.

    Thanks.  And thanks for the diary.

    We are all Americans - I am just disgusted with FOX and Beck and Limbaugh - the entire crowd that is playing with these peoples' emotions, fears and prejudices, selling them lies, turning them against their fellow Americans, truly abusing their trust. THAT is what disgusts me the most.

  •  likeminded in San Antonio (0+ / 0-)

    I'm so glad you marched with your sign! My friends and I did a similar thing here in San Antonio when the Tea Party Express came to town.  We were asked many of the same questions about being scared, etc.  There were some crazy people out there.  But there were also a lot of people who came up to us just to say thanks, I don't agree with you, but we're glad you came!

    I wanted to add one more organization - MoveOn.org is holding Sick of It events tomorrow.  Ours in San Antonio will be visited by Tea Party folks.  All progressives need to turn out to these events.  Just visitMoveOn.org to see if one of the 100 events is in your area.

  •  New and free poster software (0+ / 0-)

    If anyone else would like to create posters like yours there is a highly rated freeware program available for both mac OSX and Windows called PosteRazor.

    http://posterazor.sourceforge.net/

    Andrew

  •  Brave Nurses & Volunteers in War (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for your last section where you described the wartime triage nurses and USO volunteers.  Often people who know better are so busy grabbing glory for themselves, they overlook others equally as deserving of praise and attention.

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