Records of Rights, RIP

interactive table at the Records of Rights

The day before the Supreme Court made Trump a king, I visited the National Archives.

It was my first visit in more than a decade. What’s to see other than that Declaration of Independence?

A lot. After peering at the faded words of the Constitution in the Rotunda, I went downstairs.

There I found Records of Rights, an exhibit that highlights how Americans have debated about and fought for rights like free speech, religion, and equality.

The first thing you see is a rare copy of the Magna Carta that David Rubenstein paid $21 million for and then donated to the Archives.

Signed in 1215, it is the first document to put into writing the principle that the king and his government was not above the law.

It’s what separates us from the despots of the past – or at least, that’s what I was taught. We do not have absolute rulers in Western world. Every person is equal before the law.

Rubenstein should add a giant asterisk to the Magna Carta now, for the Supreme Court gave Trump something no English King or American President ever had: immunity from prosecution. He can literally shoot someone in Fifth Avenue, call it an official act, and walk free.

The rest of the Records of Rights depicts history in the style of American exceptionalism. There’s a section on how women won the vote. Civil rights gets a shout-out and marriage equality.

Inside, you’ll find this moving quote from Barbara Jordan, the Watergate-era congresswoman who grew under segregation in Texas.

“We, the people.” It’s a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787, I was not included in that “We, the people.” I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation, and court decision, I have finally been included in “We, the people.”

The theme is progress, that notion that the long arc of history bends toward justice, to paraphrase President Obama paraphrasing Martin Luther King.

Yet, even in this temple to American democracy, there are discordant notes. In a panel on the 14th and 15th Amendments, passed after the Civil War and intended to give black Americans equal rights, there’s a mention of how the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

Barbara Jordan became a member of Congress in the 1970s because of the Voting Rights Act. Now, Southern states can return to the discriminatory practices of the past without federal interference.

The centerpiece of Records of Rights is an interactive display table, where you can scroll through documents of our rights, neatly organized by categories including privacy, equality, speech, etc…

Included in the digital collection is a copy of Roe v Wade and a note that it was repealed in 2022. With it an absurd quote from Samuel Alito, of upside-down flag fame:

“the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.”

The Constitution doesn’t mention a lot of things (women, cars, the internet) but does talk a lot about enslaved humans and keeping British troops out of your house.

Records of Rights describes how the American people took these archaic documents and evolved them to meet the needs of a dynamic, free country.

The Supreme Court has crumpled up these documents, from the Magna Carta onward, and thrown them in the trash. With an absolute monarch at the helm, no right is safe.

Records of Rights is an exhibit infused with American exceptionalism, that we aren’t like Russia, Germany or other countries that have fallen into barbarism.

This is a dangerous and naive idea.

As Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny, put it:

This is something that Americans often get wrong. We think that because we’re America, everything will work itself out. This is exactly what the founders refused to believe. They thought human nature is such that you have to constrain it by institutions. They preferred rule of law and checks and balances. They were the opposite of American exceptionalists.

The men who signed the Constitution loathed monarchs (that’s the whole point of America, remember?).  They set up three equal branches of government to prevent the rise of tyrant, something that the Supreme Court has willfully overturned.

The curators of Records of Rights were smart to make the interactive table of documents a digital display, one that can be easily updated as the Supreme Court takes ours away.

Celebrating the Arrest of Tommy Tatum

Tommy Tatum, traitor, speaks at the J6 rally

Live your life in a way so that the entire Internet doesn’t celebrate your arrest.

It began with a tweet, one that was rapidly retweeted, favorited and shared. Texts began to fly among people. Discord servers buzzed with expletive-filled reactions, photos and so many potato-based memes. A Twitter Space popped up and rapidly filled with laughter and mockery from around the country. Outside the DC Jail, Anarchy Princess and the Commish arrived, bullhorns in hand, to taunt the chuds of Freedom Corner with the news:

Tommy Tatum had been arrested.

A loathsome insurrectionist who bragged that he was “untouchable,” Tatum was more than just a January 6th rioter. He spent almost two years in DC harassing police officers and victims of the Trump-inspired attack on the Capitol.

Claiming that he knew the truth about that day, he was a figure of some note in the conspiracy universe who appeared on podcasts and YouTube shows to spread the lie that antifa caused the insurrection, despite the fact that he had filmed himself attacking the police.

Tatum was also a key figure in the pro-insurrection vigil outside the DC Jail which calls itself “Freedom Corner.” Bald and well over 300 pounds, he was the muscle of the group who took it upon himself to bully and stalk counterprotestors, most of whom were women a fraction of his size.

I wrote about the insurrectionist shitshow known as Freedom Corner. In response, he doxxed me.

This is my story. It’s an excerpt from my memoir, How I Became Red Bike Guy.

So, You’ve Been Doxxed

March 26, 2023

I was doxxed on a rainy afternoon. I was at home, doing work, and occasionally checking in on the drama at Freedom Corner.

It was a big day for them. Marjorie Taylor Greene and a Congressional delegation were touring the J6 prisoner facilities at the DC Jail. The chuds expected major press coverage when the “shocking truths” about the jail were revealed.

The DC Jail is an aging facility stuffed beyond capacity where deaths are common. But the J6 prisoners are kept in their own wing, in individual cells, and they have access to iPads and the internet so that they can contact attorneys, research their cases – and make nightly calls to Freedom Corner.

Representative Jasmine Crockett, Democrat of Texas, called the J6 wing one of the nicest she’s ever seen and in no way comparable to prisons in her home state.

Marge, of course, had complaints. But when the Georgia Representative began to speak outside the jail, a man began blowing a whistle. He was wearing a jacket with a hood and had a mask over his face. Every time Marge began spreading conspiracy theories (“they painted the jail before we visited!”) he blew his whistle.

I watched, amused, as Defender of Ants (DOA) livestreamed the event and sparred with the chuds, who were big mad at “Whistle Guy” as he was soon known on Twitter.

So mad that they followed him back to the Metro, Ashli Babbitt’s mom Micki and another woman Sherri, stalking him as he left to go home.

And following them was DOA, filming as he wondered what Micki and Sherri were up to.

As Whistle Guy got to the Metro, he attempted to get on the elevator to take him down to the station. Micki and Sherri followed him into the elevator and blocked the doors so that they wouldn’t shut.

DOA then arrived, framing the scene: Micki and Sherri standing in the door with the older gentleman trapped inside as an alarm began to ring. Sherri was smoking a cigarette.

“Do you need help, sir?” DOA asked.

“Yes, they won’t let me go!” Whistle Guy said.

“C’mon, Micki, this is a really bad look,” DOA said. “This is kidnapping.”

Seeing that they were being filmed, they let Whistle Guy go, Sherri flicking her cigarette at DOA as they left.

When this clip made it to Twitter, I shared it, thinking it was nuts. Micki and Sherri looked like high school bullies, except that they’re in their 50s.

And then came the accusation that I was Whistle Guy. “You’re him!” came the cry, a slur that rapidly spread through the chudoverse.

Within minutes, I was receiving hateful replies on Twitter, accusing me of damaging Marge’s hearing with my whistle.

And then the real doxxing began.

Tommy Tatum, a J6er, put my name, face and contact information on his website, describing me as an agitator. He was 99.9% sure that I was Whistle Guy.

Why me? Chuds can only dox people they know. I had written about Freedom Corner on my blog. They hated hearing the truth about their squalid, violent movement. I had become a kind of boogeyman to them. They talked about me in their chats, accused me of somehow manipulating Google search results to give my posts prominence, and saw me everywhere.

There were at least three different people they identified as me. In addition to Whistle Guy, there was a man who regularly visited Freedom Corner in a motorcycle helmet. He had an electric guitar and sang a song of his own creation called, “Tommy Tatum has no butthole.” And there was another guy who came by with a camera, like I did sometimes.

All these people became Joe Flood.

Anarchy Princess tried to tell them that Whistle Guy was not me. “You idiots are terrible at this! He’s older than Joe and the ears are all wrong. Look at the ears!”

It didn’t matter. The online mob had been activated.

I received threatening emails. I tried to tell them that they had the wrong guy but soon gave up. Nasty notes came in through Facebook; I soon made it private, along with all my other social media channels. This continued for a couple days. I received dozens of messages.

It’s scary when your name and photo appears on a conspiracy-laden web site calling you a traitor. I was targeted.

Thankfully, my LinkedIn was out of date. I had never gotten around to adding my new job to the site.

Doxxing is a favorite chud tactic. I am far from the first person who they doxxed. They’ve also doxxed “Whistle Girl” (who also blows a whistle) revealing where she worked and flooding her company with demands that she be fired.

The chuds called another one of the counterprotestors a “drug addict” and shared her account of overcoming addiction. It’s a powerful, inspiring story that they tried to paint as shameful.

And they tried dox Biketifa but, since they’re terrible at it, doxxed the wrong person, claiming that he is a disbarred attorney named Grant. Biketifa’s name is not Grant and he’s not a lawyer, or a “bard lawyer” as they called him online, conjuring images of a poet writing verse as he attends trials. They posted a photo of Grant who looks vaguely like Biketifa in the sense that they’re both white people.

How did they find Grant? He’s the husband of a bike advocate in Arlington. That’s chud logic for you – how many people could be riding bikes? It has to be him!

Anarchy Princess has also been doxxed, and in a far more sinister fashion. They revealed her personal information online and sent people by her home to threaten her. She had to move due to the threats.

The morning after I was doxxed, I went to play soccer like I normally do. Leaving my apartment building, I took a good look around, scanning for suspect vehicles, like trucks with out-of-state tags. I was on my bike and figured I could easily get away, knowing the city better than they did.

But there was no one. Everyone is brave online but these keyboard warriors weren’t going to do shit.

Doxxing does not work. After the shock wore off, it just pissed me off. And left me wanting revenge.

If you liked this, check out How I Became Red Bike Guy, my memoir of life in DC during the turbulent Trump years.

Trump is Not Good for Business

walk-up window at Mia's
The good ol days of the Trump administration, when toilet paper was a scarce commodity.

“Trump would be better for my business.”

The words were spoken at the end of my doctor’s visit. We we were scheduling my next appointment, six months in the future.

“December. God knows what could be happening then,” I laughed.

My doctor bemoaned Trump but stated that he would be better for his finances.

Would he though? Is chaos good for business?

I’m a government contractor, like many consumers in the DC region. If Trump gets elected, my agency may not exist. It’s one of those pesky ones that spoke the truth to the petulant dictator.

Even if it does exist, would my company have the contract? Trump would probably redirect it to Jared Kushner or one of his cronies. I’d lose my job and health insurance.

Assuming I kept my job and health insurance, going to regular doctor visits might not be my priority.

I am Red Bike Guy

Project 2025, the Heritage Foundation guide to the upcoming terror, calls for using the military to imprison the opposition.

I am Red Bike Guy. I mock fascists, including the J6-loving chuds of Freedom Corner. They hate me. I am on an enemies list. If Trump gets elected, I could end up in a camp, on the run or exiled from my country.

This kind of chaos would ripple across the United States, with Trump mobs emboldened and ordinary citizens forced into action. No one and no where would be safe.

Businesses large and small need predictability. Stable markets, laws that don’t change on a whim and consumers happily spending their money.

That would not be Trump II.

“Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Trump asks.

The summer of 2020 gives us a preview of what a second Trump administration would be like. An economy in ruins due to the government’s failure to handle covid, with Trump in complete denial as he spreads the disease across the country with campaign rallies. Toilet paper is in short supply as supply chains are disrupted.

The police and the military get corrupted by Trump as he uses them to crush Black Lives Matter protesters in Lafayette Park. DC is boarded-up following the disturbances, with block after block of shuttered restaurants and offices.  The country roiled by Trump’s random tweets, stocks rising and falling, with every utterance from the deranged Boomer who just can’t put the phone down.

How is this good for business?

Trump Will Not Leave Your Business Alone

My doctor, too, should worry about government’s interference in health care. They spell out their plans for medicine in Project 2025. It’s a hard anti-science, anti-vax document that would make draconian changes to healthcare in the United States, making it impossible for women and the poor to access the care that they need.

If elected, Trump promises revenge. Not growing the economy. Instead, he and his allies will go after their enemies, including companies like Apple and Google, sending this country down a spiral of vengeance.

We really want to burn it down,” Trump supporters have said, again and again.

Believe them. Look at what they did on January 6th.

And it would be economically calamitous. Moody’s predicts increased inflation and a recession if Trump wins.

I think they understate the impact. Consumers preoccupied with chaos are not going to be spending money – or going to their annual checkups.

Another Trump administration would be disastrous for businesses and the economy. And democracy.

A Biden victory means stability. Declining inflation. A government that respects freedom and the rule of law.

Vote your wallet. Vote Biden.

Late-Stage Cult: Trump at the Capitol Hill Club

Failed coup

Waiting outside the Capitol Hill Club for Trump to show up, a parade of pasty septegenuarians in suits traipsed by to kiss the ring of the aspiring dictator.

Gray hair, blue suit, red tie. All vaguely familiar, once-powerful men who had reduced themselves to being bit players in our nation’s psychodrama. What’s the point of being elected to Congress if all you do is follow orders?

I waited with my camera, careful not to block the sidewalk (this was Capitol Police territory) and trying to stay out of the way of the professional media.

A car pulled up and a scrum of reporters surrounded it. Someone important, though I couldn’t see who, as they disappeared amid a crowd into the Capitol Hill Club.

“Who was that?” I asked.

A photographer showed me the back of his camera. On the screen was a stooped figure with a mess of gray hair. Newt Gingrich, this 90s-era mediocrity trying to reinvent himself as a statesman.

Bill Christesen, a local protester (you’ve seen his signs at Trump trials and Supreme Court hearings), was standing by the entrance to the club, with a message for the supplicants.

FAILED COUP, it read, big black letters on white posterboard.

Another protester arrived, holding signs that she had cleverly made out of cardboard bags. They read:

Is this the meeting of felonious sex offenders and their enablers?

GOP is to Putin as Squeaky Fromme is to Manson.

And then there was the bear. A climate change demonstrator in a bear costume, adding a surreal touch to the background of photos of Republicans arriving to meet their master.

Tim Burchett and Matt Gaetz

Members of Congress began to show up, including some I recognized. Troy Nehls, a Texas blowhard, famous for his Trump socks and now infamous for stolen valor. Tim Burchett from Tennessee, whose folksy demeanor hides a firm commitment to fascism. Matt Gaetz with his puffed-up hair, almost as if he’s trying to live out the Butthead meme.

And then, appearing in my viewfinder, a face that made me gasp: Marjorie Traitor Greene.

Marjorie Traitor Greene

As they went inside for their ritual show of devotion, Bill warned: “Don’t drink the Koolaid.”

“Haha, you got me,” Burchett replied. He’s the witty one of the House GOP, known for losing verbal battles to Jared Moskowitz from FL.

But it was a very low-key affair, held in voices barely above a whisper. No crowds of Trump supporters. No MAGA hats. None of the local chuds who demonstrate outside the DC Jail, despite Trump’s vow to free violent January 6ers.

I couldn’t stay and left before Trump’s arrival. Not that I missed anything – they brought him in through the alley, avoiding reporters and protesters alike.

At the Capitol Hill Club, he gave a talk that even his supporters described as rambling, with praise for Hannibal Lecter and weird asides about Nancy Pelosi.

They must know it’s almost over, that the life force of this shared delusion is dissipating as its supporters age and die, that the cult leader is befuddled and confused, that the whole thing is going to end badly, most likely with a crushing defeat in November.

It would require an act of courage and independence to leave now. It would be the end of their careers – and possibly their lives.

So they cling to the fantasy, like the followers of Jim Jones and Charles Manson once did, intending to win or bring the whole world down around them.

I Will Show You How It Was

I Will Show You How It Was


You lead a comfortable life. You have a job in a city, friends, a busy social life. On the weekends, you like to ride your bike and go out to bars. You have plans for the future – foreign trips, a bigger place to live, maybe even a family.

The politics in your country are a bit of a mess. The President is sinking in popularity and regarded as an unserious figure. But you live in a democracy with a free press – unlike the much bigger nation next door.

There’s talk of war. But those kinds of threats are nothing new. Bellicose language from your bully of a neighbor – that’s just the way things work in your part of the world.

But a ground war? Madness. Something like that hasn’t happened in 80 years.

Your President tells everyone to remain calm. Life goes on in your city. Christmas shopping. Holiday parties. Work drama.

Embassies begin to close. Your foreign coworkers are evacuated. Satellite photos show troops massing on the border.

You don’t know it, but your comfortable life, with 24/7 electricity, shops crammed with goods and the freedom to pursue a future – all that is about to end.

Illia Ponomarenko shares his experience in I Will Show You How It Was: The Story of Wartime Kyiv.

It is brilliant and disturbing.

As Americans, we are used to war happening to other people far away. And typically, we’re the ones who brought it.

Hiding in bomb shelters, seeing your friends go off to the front, scrambling for bare necessities – that’s something that we find hard to imagine.

Ponomarenko makes it real, for the war on Ukraine is a war on the kind of free, democratic, capitalist society that we all recognize and enjoy. Missiles slam into apartments. Bombs fall on cafes. Tanks roar in the suburbs.

This isn’t happening in the 1940s, but is happening today, in Europe.

Ukraine is on the front line in the battle against dictators. It is all one fight, from the streets of Washington to the trenches in the Donbass. Either we’ll be free or trapped forever under the thumb of Putin and Trump.

Ukraine fights for us, for the kind of freedom that we enjoy and take for granted in the West. I Will Show You How It Was: The Story of Wartime Kyiv demonstrates how precious – and fragile – that freedom is. We owe it to Ukraine to give them everything they need in this struggle.

Slava Ukraini!

Performative Crap: The Use and Abuse of the American Flag

Flags on the 14th St Bridge

I was at a Mission BBQ when it happened. As I sat down with with a brisket sandwich, the music suddenly stopped and there was an announcement.

“Please stand for the National Anthem…”

Around me, the servers stopped their frenetic activity and stood at attention. Patrons rose from their seats, hands on their hearts, and turned to face the American flag hanging from the mock warehouse ceiling.

I remained seated. Why is this restaurant asking me to stand for the National Anthem? This is not July 4th. I am not at a sacred memorial. I am in Roanoke.

“Performative crap,” a friend of mine called it, these rote and meaningless gestures in the direction of patriotism from organizations trying capitalize on our love of country.

Mission BBQ is chain of restaurants that are all decorated the same. A half-ton Army truck is parked outside while the indoors is covered with photos of American soldiers throughout history and other military memorabilia. Walking in, I passed a picture of a pre-9/11 World Trade Center.

In the mood for barbecue, I didn’t think much about all this carefully-scripted nostalgia as I walked to the counter. But sitting there, with people around me standing and singing the National Anthem (who were they pledging allegiance to? A company?) it all seemed a little gross.

Veterans should be applauded for their service. But this wasn’t about that; it was about a company wrapping itself in the flag to sell more stuff.

The Flag of Occupation

Also, your view of the military changes when it’s used against you.

This time four years ago, during the last chaotic summer of the Trump administration, I watched military helicopters thunder by the window of my seventh floor apartment. They were so close that I could see the pilots and their American flag patches.

Trump was mad at Black Lives Matter so he sent in the military to crush their protest. And then he walked across Lafayette Park (with General Mark Milley) to hold an upside-down Bible in an ill-conceived demonstration of strength.

armed yahoos

A curfew was in effect that night as the National Guards of various states ran amok in the city, buzzing protesters with helicopters and assisting the police as they kettled students.

For weeks afterward, troops in fatigues and AR-15s garrisoned the Lincoln Memorial and other monuments (where were they on January 6th?). Men and women with guns, but no identification, stood on street corners downtown.

Staying in some of the nicest hotels in the city, they left after Mayor Bowser refused to pay their hotel bills.

This was 2020, the fucked-up year that America is determined to send down the memory hole. But I remember what I saw.

Freedom Corner Flag Wave

Right-wing fanatics have seized the flag with white-hot devotion. Trump literally fondles it.

And you see it at the nest of traitors called Freedom Corner in Washington, DC. This nightly vigil outside the DC Jail wants to free the January 6th prisoners who tried to end democracy. They begin every evening with the Pledge of Allegiance, facing the flag, before moving on to their demands for the hanging of Nancy Pelosi.

Referring to each other as patriots (we call them chuds), you get nonsense from them like, “He has evidence that January 6th was a setup. A a real patriot.”Or, “All he did was push some cops. A patriot.”

Waving flags at their lonely vigil, they use Old Glory as cover for treason.

There’s an inverse relationship to the amount of American flags displayed to actual patriotism. Real patriots don’t storm the Capitol in the name of a wannabe dictator.

Trump supporters use the American flag as a weapon. During the failed coup attempt, they beat police officers with them.  On January 7th, a rioter shoved me with a flag pole after I called him a disgrace. Earlier this year, a Freedom Corner chud assaulted local counterprotester Anarchy Princess with a flag pole outside the US Court House. He goes on trial this summer.

Unlike 2020/21, the failed Trump movement can’t attract a crowd anymore. Freedom Corner is lucky to get six people at their vigil outside the DC Jail.

Instead, they encourage their elderly YouTube followers to do flag waves.

Something anyone can do, it’s a uniquely American (and pointless) activity – standing on a busy road or highway overpass waving an American flag. The occasional driver honks, perhaps getting a glimpse of the red, white and blue at 60 mph. A patriotic response that the chuds misinterpret as support for their anti-democratic project.

The flag is held upside-down, a recent gesture made fashionable among right-wing circles by the neo-fascist Supreme Court.

“I hate that they’ve taken the flag from us,” another friend told me.

When I’m outside the Beltway, I have to recalibrate my paradigm. A cluster of American flags does not mean chuds, like it would in DC. It could just be a Memorial Day celebration.

It’s time to take back the American flag from traitors. It belongs to all of us.

But I’m not standing for the National Anthem in a restaurant. As the Star Spangled Banner played, I remained seated while everyone else stood, facing the Stars and Stripes. I’ve seen how the flag has been used and abused to justify insurrection.

And then everyone resumed eating, the moment forgotten and meaningless, a bit of patriotic kitsch in Southwest Virginia.

Bike to Work Day 2024

Bike to Work Day donuts in Rosslyn

What is Bike to Work Day in this age of telework?

Most of white-collar Washington has been on a hybrid schedule since the covid epidemic. That means people go into the office for a few days a week and are remote the rest of the time.

I work from home full-time. So I never bike to work. Or am I always biking to work?

I wasn’t going to get caught up in semantics when there were free donuts available. Bike to Work Day 2024 saw me at 7 AM rolling across the Key Bridge to Virginia

Rosslyn  is trying to rebrand itself as more than just corporate office buildings. The concrete “skyway” system which old-timers might remember is being torn down. They want you at street level now, as jets roar overhead on approach to National Airport. Rosslyn got in early with a food hall, opening with spectacularly bad timing in 2020. It’s been redone, with a new slate of restaurants, and new name: Upside on Moore.

To me, Rosslyn will always be associated with covid. In 2020/21, when DC was saddled with maddening covid restrictions, freedom was available across the Potomac. I went there to do forbidden things like sit indoors and put milk in my own coffee. It’s where I wrote big chunks of LIKES and, later, HOW I BECAME RED BIKE GUY. It’s my happy productive writing place.

So, I’m probably the only Washingtonian with positive feelings about Rosslyn.

Bike to Work Day in Rosslyn

Gateway Park in Rosslyn hosted one of the many Bike to Work Day pit stops in the DC region. If you drive, Gateway Park is probably just a glimpsed concrete island as you rush to get to I-66 or the George Washington Parkway. Marooned by four-lane roads and speeding cars, it is not the most inviting prospect for a visit.

But they had free donuts. Lots of them! Plus, coffee from McDonalds and snacks for riders.

I registered here to pick up my trademark scratchy Bike to Work Day t-shirt and got a bike mirror, too. A mechanic from Trek did a safety check on my bike and I browsed tables from Arlington organizations such as the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail, who volunteer tirelessly to maintain the trail.

Then I was back across the river, riding past the Kennedy Center, the White House and to Franklin Park.

Franklin Park

This is another redevelopment project, in which the city took over maintenance of the park from the federal government. They ripped out everything, regraded it and added a new fountain, benches, a Children’s Garden and bathrooms. Unlike forlorn Gateway Park, Franklin Park is easy to access and hosts events all year, including concerts and fairs.

Bike to Work Day in DC used to be huge. Pre-pandemic, hundreds of people would gather for speeches, music and raffles. These were veteran bike commuters and newbies, organized into rides from the suburbs.

2024 is more low-key. Commuters don’t come downtown on Fridays, even the bike ones. It’s everyone’s telework day.

At Franklin Park, there was less than a hundred people but the DC Public Library brought their book bike, there was a selection of Bromptons to look at and I got some DC Circulator freebies. Plus, I saw a lot of my bike friends, part of the rolling community in DC.

That’s the state of Bike to Work Day in 2024 in Washington, DC. Commuting patterns are different now. There’s not the 9-5, Monday to Friday influx of commuters anymore.

I went home to get online before 9 AM. I had biked to work, after all.

Last Night at the GW Gaza Encampment


Mayor Bowser didn’t want to be embarrassed as she testifies before Congress today, so she sent in the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to clear the Gaza Encampment at George Washington University.

I visited the camp, located in the University Yard, the night before, just hours before the police would move in.

A couple hundred people had gathered to protest Israel’s attack on Rafah. A professor gave a speech on the need to divest from American companies that supplied bombs and weapons to Israel.

The atmosphere was chill in the Yard filled with blue, orange and green tents. Toddlers played as “Free Palestine!” was chanted. Food was available nearby while medics were on hand in case of emergency. Campus police intermingled with the protesters; I saw one of them warn a protester about attaching a hammock to a lamp post because it was wobbly.

There wasn’t much to photograph so I just sat with Anarchy Princess, legendary tormenter of chuds, and watched the crowd.

The only interesting moment for us came when we spotted the right-wing live-streamer known as Corringe, who peddles conspiracy theories and MLM products on YouTube. She had claimed that she needed a bodyguard to visit the encampment but there she was, wandering through the demonstration, interviewing folks and filming signs. No one cared.

After we left, things heated up, with students marching to University President Ellen Granberg’s home on F Street, chanting “Granberg, Granberg you will see, Palestine is almost free.”

At 4 AM, the police moved in. Using batons and pepper-spray, they forced the protesters out of the University Yard with more than a dozen arrested.

Why now?

Because Mayor Bowser testifies before the House Oversight Committee this afternoon and didn’t want to be embarrassed by questions from House GOP members.

Think this is too cynical? You don’t know Muriel. She’s been Mayor since 2015 and rules the city with irritate pique, annoyed at residents with their complaints about murders and pedestrian deaths, and unfettered by a powerless City Council.

Slapping her name on everything that DC residents pay for, “Mayor Muriel Bowser Presents” has become a kind of rueful joke, as we taxpayers see her name on street improvement projects, music festivals and flyers that she mails using our money to flaunt her accomplishments.

Will she put her name on this? Mayor Muriel Bowser Presents Crackdown at GW?


I visited the camp this morning. The police have blocked off H St. Scores of them. Squad cars fill the campus. Bike cops are lined up on 20th St. You can’t even see the University Yard, the police keeping the press away.

Yet, ordinary life continues, like it has this entire time. Western Market is open – police officers were getting bagels there. Neighbors walked by to gawk. Commuters arrived at their offices.

Last night, I talked to a photographer. He had just returned from a vigil for a three-year old who was shot and killed.

The police were not there for her, this child in Southeast. Instead, they were across town, in Northwest, crushing a peaceful student protest so that Mayor Muriel Bowser wouldn’t face embarrassing questions as she testifies before Congress today.

Someone should ask her about that. Why were hundreds of officers sent to arrest demonstrators? How come they’re not in Southeast and other neighborhoods where they are needed?

The crackdown at GW was a colossal waste of resources and proof that city services operate at the whim of one person and one person only: Mayor Muriel Bowser.


First they came for the students…

Gaza Encampment at George Washington University

First they came for the students and I said nothing…

January 6th taught me how mobs form and organize. It showed me how the power of a group empowers ordinary people to commit unthinkable acts of violence. I saw it in my neighborhood in Washington, DC, as the red-clad horde marched to Capitol Hill to fight for Trump.

And now, another lesson on the road to tyranny, in which a powerless and reviled minority becomes the focus of state power, cheered on by a wide spectrum of society.

The Gaza Encampment at George Washington University is a peaceful enclave of free speech in the middle of the nation’s capital, one of the very few places in the nation where students can speak out against Netanyahu without getting their heads bashed in.

I’ve visited multiple times. The encampment is more like an old-fashioned teach-in than anything else. There’s a library for books, lectures from academics and even poetry readings.

teach-in at the Gaza Encampment

It is not violent. This generation is very good at not engaging. They are masters of the side-eye, humoring the Fox News correspondents and others wandering through the camp, looking for violent perpetrators and antifa types. The media-savvy students ignore them and go on with making signs, cleaning up the camp and looking after each other.

Buffeted by history, from covid to the political chaos of today, this generation is very different from the world-weary, cynical individualists of my own.

They stick together.

The media distorts and exaggerates. Walk twenty feet from the encampment and you wouldn’t know it was there. Life goes on at George Washington University. Students rush to class. Graduates pose for photos in front of the GW Hippo, the school’s unofficial mascot. Everything is open, even the bougie Western Market across the street from the protest, where you can get sushi, arepas and hot chicken. You can find cops, press and demonstrators there, getting something to eat before returning to work.

Not to say that there are not moments of weirdness and conflict. The students recently held a mock trial of their university president. There have been fights over flags. Students removed a GW flag and raised a Palestinian one, after a scuffle with security guards. Administrators hung a massive American flag from a building. At night, students used a projector to light it up with a photo of “Genocide Joe.” Lauren Boebert visited and tried to remove the Palestine flag on the George Washington statue as students chanted, “Beeetlejuice.”

(Note: check out the GW Hatchet, the student newspaper, to get in-depth encampment coverage.)

There are Jewish people on both sides of the protest. Being Jewish doesn’t mean you support Netanyahu, the Israeli version of Donald Trump, both of them chaos agents who want to see the world burn. At the encampment, there are typically Israel supporters across the street with their flag, ignored by protesters.

Israel supporters

Choose your side in history now

Many of the students wear masks because they don’t want to be doxxed. This makes sense to me – I was doxxed by Trump supporters last year who tried to get me fired and sent me death threats by the dozen.

The House GOP, who sponsored the January 6th insurrection that left scores of DC police injured, has demanded that the DC police arrest the protesters and clear the camp. So far, they have refused. The protesters are non-violent and DC will let you protest, unlike other places.

The Gaza encampment isn’t the only one in the city, either. Across town are the insurrectionists of Freedom Corner, now almost two years into their nightly demonstrations to free January 6th prisoners. They have an encampment too, with flags, tables, chairs and food, just like the Gaza encampment.

At their protest, they call for the hanging of Nancy Pelosi and have attacked counterprotestors on multiple occasions.

Grifter Corner

Has the House GOP demanded their arrest? Do they want this protest shutdown?

No. Republicans support this. They have visited Freedom Corner and held press conferences in support of the “hostages.”

Let that sink in: you can commit violence on a street corner for two years in the name of Trump, unbothered and protected by the police, but if you protest Israel you’re in danger of being taken off to jail.

Free speech only exists if it’s for everyone, and for speech that you find personally objectionable.

Students have a right to protest, especially on their own campus. It’s shocking to me how many so-called “liberals” want students arrested just for speaking out.

You unleash this police power at your peril. They’re coming after the students today; they’ll be coming after you next.

Jeff Sharlet, a professor at Dartmouth who watched his students and colleagues be brutalized by officers armed with assault weapons, puts it aptly:

Now that it’s been established that the authorities can easily change the rules of what’s allowed, and use force to snuff out minority viewpoints, we face a very dark future. Liberals should not expect to have a Women’s March, a Black Lives Matter protest or a Climate Change rally in the future, if this precedent stands.

And don’t plan of protesting Trump if he becomes President in January 2025. Because there will be tanks in the streets. And it will all be legal.

Imperial Blowback at the White House Correspondents Dinner

Gaza protester confronts woman going into the White House Correspondents Dinner
Gaza protester confronts woman going into the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Outside the White House Correspondents Dinner, powerless students screamed in rage while tuxedo-clad grandees arrived for a dinner to celebrate their own bravery, dedication and rightness.

It was hard not to think of Nero fiddling as Rome burned or other apocalyptic visions watching this discordant display of wealth and privilege in the nation’s capital.

In America, we slide toward dictatorship, Trump II, with new imperial powers soon to be bestowed upon him by a fascist-friendly Supreme Court.

Overseas, it is even worse, as Israel uses American-made bombs to pulverize Gaza. Pretending to be neutral in this fight, we promise to help the Palestinians, too, our wealth being used to feed a defenseless population and then kill them.

This type of absurdity is only possible in fin-de-siecle empire, a global power slouching toward armageddon, liberally spreading dollars and death around the world, as if this we can do this forever without any consequence reaching our shores.

Reading the articles and TV reports produced by those celebrating themselves at the Hilton, you’d believe that the students were the enemy. Not the defense contractors profiting at this explosion of war, the media types racking up page views or the politicians riding division to the top.

It was the students, kids with nothing but home-made signs and a propensity for street theater, that were the biggest danger to the United States. Across the country, college students demonstrating against genocide  have been crushed by militarized police in scenes reminiscent of Russia, China or Iran.

Imperial blowback they call it, as the vast security state that we created to protect ourselves is now turned against us. Drones, snipers and tanks are not just for brown people anymore.

You could see it at the Washington Hilton. A drone hovered overhead. Snipers on the roof. Helicopters circling. And hundreds of officers surrounded the hotel, from a dizzying variety of agencies, their black SUVs and tactical trucks double-parked on all the side streets. A massive display of force to protect President Biden and his audience of blow-dried TV anchors and millionaire celebrities.

MPD officers stretched in a double-line for more than a block down Connecticut Avenue. DC police to protect men in tuxedos and women in ball gowns from a screaming, chanting, powerless rabble.

Organizing this battle line was Sgt. Riley, an officer I recognized from Freedom Corner, the pro-J6 vigil outside the DC Jail. He’s one of the most highly-paid people in the DC government. In 2022, he earned an extra $165,000 just in overtime.

Washington is suffering through a wave of stabbings, murders and carjackings. Just the night before, on the other side of Dupont Circle, six people were shot outside a club.

Riley and his squad weren’t there, nor any of the other neighborhoods where they were needed. They were at the Washington Hilton.

My tax dollars at work. And yours, too, as our vast security state mobilized not to quash an insurgency in some distant land but one here in America. All the wars we’ve fought and lost over the past three decades and we still haven’t learned the lesson: invading and brutalizing a population, whether it’s a country or a campus, generates fanatical resistance.

argument between Israel supporter and Gaza demonstrators
Israel supporter argues with the crowd.

There were a couple of uncomfortable moments.

A middle-aged supporter of Israel waded into the demonstrators and began screaming at them. He was unhinged; they were calm. MPD carried him away for his own protection as he fought the officers.

A woman in fancy dress ended up on the wrong side of the police line. One of the demonstrators, young enough to be her daughter, came up close and yelled at her about going to a party while genocide was occurring in Gaza. They were face to face, with fear in the older woman’s eyes.

Young versus old. Rich versus poor. The powerful against the powerless.

This is a very different generation. I’m not going to pretend that I understand them, because I don’t.

But seeing them outside the Washington Hilton, as the black-tie crowd took selfies in an orgy of self-congratulation, you could feel something old and rotten dying. And something new being born.

The suffering in the Mideast has galvanized them. They are finding their voice. And soon they will discover their power.