Sunday, August 31, 2008
(Updated) Michelle Obama, Romney, McCain Plan Visits to New Mexico
UPDATE: According to KRQE and the McCain campaign, Johnny, his wife Cindy
and the new symbol for unqualified tokenism, VP choice Sarah Palin, will appear at a rally at the Albuquerque Convention Center on Saturday, September 6th at 6:00 PM. The event is free and public, but you must reserve a ticket here and pick it up within 24 hours. Tickets can also be reserved by emailing email@example.com.
It was originally, and incorrectly, reported by KOAT that McCain would be here next Sunday and that Romney will visit New Mexico on Saturday. We'll see if their info on Michelle is any more accurate.
Gustav may be bearing down on the Gulf Coast but campaign planning goes on. KOAT is reporting that Michelle Obama will visit New Mexico on Thursday, September 4th, VP slot loser Mitt Romney will drop in on Saturday, September 6th, and McSame himself will appear here on Sunday, September 7th. Given the shaky nature of what will go on in St. Paul this week -- with Repubs doing everything in their power not to be a part of any split screen TV coverage that shows them partying while a major hurricane in the Gulf is reminding people of their shameful history in dealing with Katrina -- I guess they think heading for the desert is the best plan.
Bloggers Report Outrageous Police Actions in Minneapolis
There were plenty of mucho macho, paramilitary-style displays and actions by law enforcement and Secret Service officers in Denver during the DNC Convention. As I reported before, we'd run into one person holding a peace sign surrounded by a dozen officers in riot-SWAT gear with assault weapons, or a small group of older women wearing peace teeshirts drawing a crowd of mounted police, bicycle cops or guys in suits wearing earpieces. Or streets would be closed down for blocks because a small group was walking together and chanting a slogan.
However, as far as we know, nothing came close to the kind of police state behavior that's already going on in Minneapolis as the GOP arrives for their Convention in St. Paul.
Check out this piece by Glenn Greenwald, who's on the story with Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake -- which also has several articles on the situation in Minneapolis. Police in riot gear have been raiding houses, forcing people to lay on the floor while handcuffed, seizing their computers, arresting journalists and lawyers and generally running amok claiming they are uncovering potential "conspiracies -- without any evidence of lawbreaking of any kind. I sure hope the whole world is watching, but maybe it's our own citizens who should be paying the most attention and admitting certain dangerous realities about certain "security" obsessed law enforcement officials.
Serve and Protect?
We personally endured a few over-the-top, in-your-face intimidations in Denver. The worst came when the battery-operated scooter I was using to traverse the long distances between events broke down right before we were past the blocks long "security perimeter." The defective battery (one of two we encountered in my rented scooters) had been giving me trouble all night because it wouldn't hold a charge for long. I had gotten help from Convention volunteers and firefighters to recharge it enough to keep going very slowly, but it gave out again when I neared the exit from the Pepsi Center's secured area.
Two Secret Service agents were clearly peeved at this and ordered us to get the scooter out of there immediately, or else. They had beet red faces, were yelling loudly and were trying to be as intimidating and wise ass as they could. Oh, how they relish their power. When we explained we couldn't carry the heavy scooter ourselves and it shouldn't be pushed, they went ape shit. Questions or comments aren't allowed.
The beefy agents refused to help us or call anyone else over to help and just kept demanding we get the thing past the last barriers. One of them finally ordered me out of the scooter. He then half picked it up and half dragged it past the perimeter and threw it so hard against a concrete barrier that it almost overturned. Next came a nasty-assed grin. Pride in service!
We had the temerity to ask what we could do to get farther and they spouted a few epithets and said they didn't care if we spent the night there. They clearly detested being asked any questions, as they apparently perceive themselves as having unassailable and unlimited power to act as they desire, period. These types are really tough when it comes to dealing with a pair of gray-haired women, one of whom has mobility problems. After letting the scooter sit there for 20 minutes or so, it regained enough juice somehow that we managed to get it started so we could move at a snail's pace to an area where we could hail a cab to take us to our car.
A Cowed Citizenry
It was also instructive to watch our fellow citizens watch the inexcusable rudeness with which we were being treated. They stared, they saw, they fled. After all, the message was clear -- they could be next if they said a word. I'm convinced the authorities could have done whatever they felt like doing to us and nobody would have made a peep in our defense.
You see, intimidating tactics like those we witnessed do in fact work. The goal is to keep everyone quiet, obedient and unquestioning of any behavior on the part of "the authorities" and, quite often, it works. In fact, I'm sure it makes many people feel "safe" from "the terrorists" -- but it makes me feel like our civil liberties could easily go the way of video cassettes if the brutes among law enforcement are allowed to operate unrestrained.
It's especially ironic when Convention speakers are going on about enforcing the Constitution and Bill of Rights while right outside the door there are law enforcement entities acting like citizens exercising -- or even thinking about exercising -- their civil liberties are "the enemy." Not to mention the extreme threat posed by gray-haired women with a scooter with dead batteries. Priorities, priorities.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Denver Day Four: The Masterpiece
I thought day four of the Dem Convention in Denver would provide an emphatic exclamation point to a week full of superlative moments, but I was wrong. It went beyond the communication capacity of mere punctuation. Day four was on another plane altogether from run of the mill politicking. It blew me away on every level. I'm not alone.
Fireworks and flags
I'll go so far as to say it was transcendent political theater from start to finish. It was a singular and historic experience created by perfect timing and tempo, just enough of every ingredient, a smashing main entree and a magical crescendo of an ending -- all happening within a massive, thundering bowlful of Democrats ready to celebrate, and to rumble. Every element was perfectly in place and choreographed for maximum impact without going completely over the top. All the fine lines stood unsullied after all was said and done.
This was Obama's emergence as a commanding general election figure even more imposing than his primary incarnation. He's added a new and tone-right toughness we didn't see much of before. Primed and polished by his long primary fight, Obama is clearly now at the top of his game, ripe and ready to engage fully, with no punches pulled. It was magnificent to witness live.
California Here We Come
By virture of several strokes of luck (and magnanimous souls), we found ourselves incredibly close to the action to the right of the stage, near the front of the California delegation on what's usually the turf of the Broncos. That, in itself, was quite an experience -- looking up into huge, filled to the brim stands, getting some hint of what it must be like to score a touchdown there. And the crowd cheers!
Our site line to the main podium was superb and when the crowd clapped, danced, chanted or stomped -- which was often -- it could be eardrum shattering. The California delegation was lively, to say the least, up and moving most of the time -- whole lotta shakin' going on. Whole lotta wonderfully eccentric shakin' as a matter of fact. It was a particular coup for Mary Ellen and I to both be down on the floor together.
The DNC only issued one blogger floor credential to be shared between us, along with one so-called "arena" credential that didn't allow entry into the hall proper -- only the hallways, certain out-of-sight press areas and outside the building within the security perimeter. Since my mobility issues resulted in several bad experiences trying to be on the floor with the New Mexico delegation, Mary Ellen for the most part used the floor credential after the first day and I looked for action outside the hall proper. I found a lot of it, but it wasn't like being on the convention floor.
Unexpectedly, at Mile High we encounted a pair of kickass DNC volunteers who took notice of my battery-operated scooter dealie and declared Mary Ellen and I should be seated together on the convention floor. We followed them through tunnels and up ramps, across tv cable-strewn platforms, budging past Andrea Mitchell and her NBC crew and William Kristol and the Fox News freaks in the cramped aisles, to find ourselves before the California delegation. Only the Iowa delegation was between us and the stage. No sweat, the Cali's said, come on and join us. You can fit your scooter right here. We were floored. But there we were, for what certainly was the most momentous event of the entire convention.
The Lead Up
We loved the tunes they played to break up the speakers -- mostly old soul. Al Gore was welcomed like the Nobel Peace Prize winner he is, emphasizing the bad news about our earth and our climate, but pointing the way clearly to workable solutions. Everyone loves Al -- the president who should have been. Gov. Bill Richardson got a really strong welcome, with feet stomping and cheers. He gave an unusually vigorous speech, jabbing humorously at McCain and his many flaws and tossing in some enthusiastically received Spanish near the end. It almost looked like his hair was transforming into a small pony tail at the back, which wouldn't be a bad look for the Guv given his generally admired beard.
Stevie Wonder was WONDERful as always. Sheryl Crow was perfect for a day in the sun. Michael McDonald's voice is still excellent after all these years. The crowd really got behind the ordinary people who addressed the crowd about why they were supporting Obama.
Here Comes Barack
And then eventually, finally, it was Obama time -- and you all know what happened then. Perhaps the best convention speech of all time. Given in the most exotic and dramatic setting. Before 84,000 or so at Mile High and at least 50 million on TV (not counting PBS and C-SPAN). A fabulous finale with fireworks, waving flags, star confetti and red, white and blue streamers. From our vantage point on the "field" it was like a 3-D visual jackpot. A knock out. I don't care what McCain and Repubs do -- this one stands alone and rises above.
One of my favorite parts of Obama's speech took on the wedge issues always used by the venal right wing to try and bash Democrats and conjure hatred:
"We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country."
"The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gun violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the 2nd Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.”
“I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination."
We're heading out to Salida and the mountains today for some short but sweet respite from the political mishmash. There are more videos and photos to upload but you'll have to wait till we get back to an internet connection that works like it's 2008 and not 1999. I'll also have more to say about our complicated and enlightening convention experience, but that will have to wait until I'm home and can don my (clear) thinking cap once again.
We don't have as many photos as we'd like of Obama's night because, yes, we had ANOTHER technical snafu, this time right in the middle of Obama's day. Our new digital camera with all the bells and whistles that we bought especially to cover the convention went haywire during our time in Mile High. As far as we can tell, all our photos from the day were wiped out and we could take no more photos after we discovered that. We get what used to be called psychedelic images on our camera's LED display instead. I'm not kidding you. So we did get a few shots with our old camera and primitive cell phone camera, as well as lots of great stuff from our Flip video, but most of our best photos of Day Four were apparently wiped out. Ah, technology. And logistics. The twin conquerors of convention blogging!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Tonight: Volunteer Kickoff for Jason Marks for PRC
Jason's new TV ad for general election
I meant to get this up earlier, but Denver got in the way. It's essential that we support Jason Mark's campaign for re-election to the PRC. He's qualiflied for public funding in this race so he doesn't need our monetary donations, but he needs as many volunteers as possible for voter outreach. Jason is up against Repub Tim Cummins this time -- and Cummins is backed by all the wrong people. If we want to keep Jason's ethical voice on the PRC, we need to get involved now:
You are invited to show your support for Jason Marks as he runs for Re-Election for the Public Regulation Commission District 1:
A Great Opportunity to Hear and See
"Your Consumer Watchdog!"
Public Regulation Commission, District 1
Join Jason Marks for refreshments after work!
Friday, August 29th at 5:30 - 7:30 PM
Home of Jason & Maxine Marks
4916 El Aguila Pl NW
(Near Wal-Mart shopping center, Coors & Ouray)
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 280-3223
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Denver Day Three: Wild, Wooly, Wow
There's so much going on at once, and all of it's happening at what can feel like the speed of light. Except for our internet connections. YouTube is still hopeless, but we are having some success with our cell phone Zannel uploads from the convention floor and getting photos up on Flickr. Our Flickr stream.
It was one powerhouse speech after another yesterday. Thought Tom Udall was terrific in his short but sweet time at the podium (text of speech). New Mexico was pivotal in the roll call vote for Clinton when our delegation passed to New York's and Hillary called for a stop in the voting and moved to throw her delegates to Obama.
Melissa Etheridge had perfect pitch and it was moving to have Mr. Lennon still in the mix, although we've been saying "all we are saying is give peace a chance" for way too many years now.
Bill Clinton's welcome was so thunderous it felt like the building was shaking. He came through for Dem unity with class and the crowd was urging him on every step of the way.
Biden nailed it. He will be the intense attack dog we need to eviscerate McCain's lies and Bushism. It was a very emotional night in the hall as you could literally feel power passing from one generation to the next, with all that implies. Another roller coaster ride.
We find everything turning into a blur of color, light, cheers and speech snippets as the pace picks up even more than we thought possible. In the Pepsi Center hallways, on the convention floor, in the press area bowels below, outside hall and for miles around there's a kaleidoscope of motion, drama, comedy, exhilaration, sudden jabs of sadness or fear, soaring speeches, riveting conversations and a diversity and rollicking array of humanity at its best and sometimes worst.
We have met or seen many, many famous celebrities, politicians and media people. Best of all we've had conversations with ordinary Democrats from all over the nation from all walks of life. And from the feel of things, there is a profound sense of unity and purpose taking hold here in Denver that we know will spread out when folks return home.
The crescendo comes this evening as Obama accepts the nomination in Mile High Stadium after a day full of speakers and music. Here's the schedule. The program ran so long yesterday that Gov. Bill Richardson's speech was moved to today in the 5:00-6:00 PM time slot, so he'll have an even bigger viewing audience than he would have had on Wednesday.
We are exhausted but steeling ourselves for the final push. Conflicting info on the best way to get to the stadium. Word is the security perimeter will be a mile out. Maybe they should rename the stadium Mile Out for today. They want the 75-80,000 attendees to be at the venue by 2:00 PM. Obama speaks at 8:00 PM. It's sunny and hot. No shade on the field or in the stands.
The security precautions were up an octave even yesterday, so we can only imagine what they'll be like today. We decided to drive to Union Station downtown and take the light rail to whatever stop they decide will be the last one before Mile High. We're hearing folks will have to walk a mile or more to get to the stadium and what will no doubt be long and slow security lines. But it should be an outrageously powerful, momentous event, and we are so lucky to have a chance to experience it live -- with all the sounds, smells, visuals and shivers.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Day Three: Tom Udall, Big Bill and Biden
Today we get to hear Bill Clinton say whatever he plans to say -- and we hope it's something very positive and unifying. Obama's VP pick, Sen. Joe Biden is the headliner. Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Tom Udall will also address the crowd.
I uploaded a bunch of convention photos at our Flickr page this morning. I think you'll enjoy them. Took forever to upload. I'm also trying to upload our videos to our YouTube account but the pace is positively glacial. The slow net connections make these tasks really time consuming but someday everything will be up there! Bear with us.
Onward into downtown Denver ....b
Denver Day Two: Bits and Pieces; Romney Visits Pepsi Center
NM Rep. Moe Maestas holds up The Sign. We gathered up a bunch of these to take home!
No time to upload all our video and photos (other than a few from our cell phones). No time to write right now. Just a few bits and pieces before I collapse:
I thought Hillary hit every note Dems needed to hear and created the perfect chord of party harmony and determination in the heart of every person I talked with or heard talking at the Pepsi Center and beyond tonight. The speech, as one delegate in the media area told me, will become a legend. From what I experienced and what I heard, it already is. Do you agree?
I thought Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer did a knock-out job of revving up the energy in the hall a bit before Hillary's speech. A funny guy. And a Democratic Governor of a Red State. At least it was ....
I was roaming around the media hallways in the bowels of the Pepsi Center tonight when I spotted a half dozen dark suited men surrounding ... someone ... and coming right at me. As the pack got closer, a tall, dark-haired, grinning guy came into view. It was none other than MITT ROMNEY. Mitt Romney at a Dem Convention? The moblet was past me faster than I could raise a camera or say a word, and disappeared around a corner.
I see that Katie Couric and who knows who else interviewed The Mitt-Mitt, and you can see it here. What a nervy rat.
We got to meet Illinois Rep. Jessie Jackson, Jr. and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey who were standing around outside the media entrance after Hillary's speech.
Also spotted Joe Scarborough who was talking to everyone in sight and posing for many pictures, as well as Paul Begala, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and New York Reps. Jerry Nadler and Charlie Rangel. CNN personages were everywhere, many of them obviously looking to see if they were being recognized. We also bumped into a number of regular visitors to Washington Week racing down hallways in the Pepsi Center. Photos and video to come (she says again).
It was wonderful to have Rep. Tom Udall and his wife Jill hanging out with the NM delegation in the Pepsi Center. Relaxed, down home and full of friendly hugs for all.
Great to see NM-01 candidate Ben Ray Lujan up on stage, all smiles.
Alejandro Escobedo sounded excellent. Melissa Etheridge will play for the Dems tomorrow.
Did I say that Hillary was powerful, present and persuasive?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Denver Day One: Ted Kennedy Brings the House Down
Go to top of DFNM's main page to see our Zannel vids & photos.
Monday was full of logistical problems for us and many others. Cell phones stop working. Net connections turn to mud. Streets suddenly close and open. Traffic snarls erupt. Everything stops when small protests come through and sudden detours appear. People get lost and lost again, including us.
The security perimeter around the Pepsi Center is massive and is extended even farther when the major speeches of the day start happening. Cabs have to drop off fares many blocks away from the venue. The big limos and other expensive vehicles of the connected get right through, however. Door to door service. Must be nice.
Feel the power with the NM delegation on the Pepsi Center floor
The security check through the media gate was rapid, but the line leading up to it was very long and moved very slowly. Lots of familiar media faces everywhere, looking rather prissy and kept, the most infamous ones trailed by clumps of handlers and gofers. Big setups for media on the floor and all around the Pepsi Center.
Finally getting onto the floor of the Convention and seated with the New Mexico delegation seemed like a major achievement -- but it sure was wild, crazy, exhilarating, chaotic, moving, inspiring and worth all the hassles to be a part of the sign-waving, chanting, dancing, pumped up masses of Dems right there in the middle of the action, live. The energy skyrockets, calms to serious, pauses, skyrockets again.
I don't think I've ever been in a place with this many Dems and it feels really powerful. Like we can win. Like we're on the right track. Like we can turn the corner and move forward toward a progressive and humane future again. It's a contagious feeling and you can see it travel through the crowd at times, like a wave. Standing in that swirling mass of positivity can make you believe, again, that we really can change things, that's it's worth all the effort and grunt work over the past years, that the tide is turning at last. That we can win.
Greeting Ted Kennedy
The appearance and speech of Sen. Ted Kennedy was definitely the high point of the evening for me. The film vignette on his life, the sailing, the brothers, the VIGAH (!). He gave a powerful and defiant speech in the face of his battle with cancer. He looked good. He was clearly experiencing a rush from the crowd and the crowd was getting the same from him. Tears running down faces where you wouldn't expect to find them. He passed the torch to a new generation of Americans and pledged to be back in the Senate in January. I believe him.
Here comes Michelle
Michelle Obama's speech was very good too, but I've heard her give much more intense and compelling speeches on the primary trail. Now it's clear she's being scrubbed a bit for the masses, taking a gentler, more maternal tone that must seem less threatening to some than her more confrontational, feisty, independent natural persona.
You know how middle America can be -- or at least how the consultants perceive it to be. Gotta tippy toe around and make nice according to the strategists. I disagree. I think strong personalities like Michelle can win people over without having to turn the tone down, but in the risk-averse politics of today, we'll probably never get to see if I'm right.
I have much more to say but no time to say it. We have to head out and get our credentials for the day and get into the flow of things again. We're way behind posting photos and videos and stories, but it's time again to jump onto the moving train that is the Dem Convention 2008. Catch you later.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Former Sen. Fred Harris: NM Superdelegate
Go to top of DFNM's main page to see our Zannel vids & photos.
Here's a video of an interview we did recently with former Oklahoma Sen. Fred R. Harris, who's a New Mexico superdelegate. Sen. Harris also chaired the Democratic National Party from 1969-70 and ran for president in 1972 (briefy) and again in 1976. Harris was a major force behind opening up the Democrat's convention and delegate process to minorities, women and ordinary Dems, workiing with former Sen. George McGovern and others. If it wasn't for the small "d" democratic efforts of Harris and other progressive Democrats, it's unlikely that either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would have been primary candidates this year. And DNC delegates wouldn't be the diverse bunch they are today. Thank you Senator Harris!
Harris was also an early and enthusiastic supporter of Howard Dean when he ran for president in 2004. These days, he's a passionate supporter of Barack Obama and is very optimistic about our chances for victory up and down ticket this year.
More on Fred Harris and his varied and illustrious career. Also see Bill Moyers' interview with Fred about his service on what came to be called the Kerner Commission, a prestigious task force appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to study poverty, racial inequality and unrest in the 60's.
Monday: Dem Convention to be Gaveled to Order
At long last, today's the day for the official opening of the Dem Convention in Denver, and we'll be on the floor with the New Mexico delegation. Here's a chart that shows where we'll be sitting. We have a great site on the floor of the Pepsi center right behind Indiana on the left-hand side if you're facing the stage, so keep an eye out. You can see where I think we'll be on the left side in that narrow section in the photo above of the Pepsi Center.
Michelle Obama is the headline speaker tonight, but many more notable Dems will take the stage starting at 3:00 PM MDT. Here's today's complete schedule for a day devoted to the theme "One Nation."
I'm very excited that Sen. Ted Kennedy is supposed to make an appearance here today during a tribute to his many acccomplishments and a speech by Caroline Kennedy. It's unclear whether Ted is well enough to speak, but we know if he can possibly manage it, he will. Either way, it'll be a moving, emotional moment and a chance to thank Sen. Kennedy for his long service to the nation.
Keith Little, Frank Willeto, Bill Toledo, Jimmy Begay of the Navajo Code Talkers Association will present the Colors. Former NM Attorney General Patricia Madrid will give the report on behalf of the DNC Platform Committee, probably around 5:00 PM our time.
You can watch rather minimal network coverage, more comprehensive cable news coverage, or watch it all gavel to gavel on C-SPAN TV or online, or on the official Democratic Convention site.
PS: We bumped into former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman today and managed to get a video interview. We hope to get it up later today or early tomorrow. As I'm sure many of you know, Siegelman clearly got railroaded by the Rove machine, which resulted in his conviction on trumped up charges. We'll also have some footage soon from this morning's NM Delegation breakfast, which featured a surprise appearance by Donna Brazile.
PSS: There are rumors going around that Bruce Springsteen and/or Jon Bon-Jovi will serenade Obama when he accepts the nomination at Mile High on Thursday. We'll keep you posted.
Sunday in Denver: Confusion, Cops, But No Cigar
Whose streets? Our streets.
Go to top of DFNM's main page to see our Zannel vids & photos.
Lesson of the day: it takes much longer to do things than it appears it should. It starts with the slow wireless connections that seem to be the norm, at least where we've been. Our "economy studio" hotel's connection is often slower than dial-up. Last night, for instance, it was taking forever even to load a web page, let alone watch or upload a video or photo. It makes me think of how countries like Japan and many European nations have nationwide broadband that's many times faster than the fastest connections we have -- and many times cheaper.
Good job telecoms and Bushies. Let's have more of this infrastructure neglect for four more years. No way to have advanced, public-wide broadband when the incredibly underregulated telecoms are so busy doing illegal surveillence on our citizens. Ironically, when we finally did get our first day's "media credentials" we discovered that Quest had apparently donated the strings used to hang the plastic-coated pass around your neck because the Quest logo was all over them.
Rats in a Maze
Then there's getting around town if you can get accurate information on where you might want to go. We ended up bouncing around town like ping pong balls, following bad directions, only to be denied entry to events we were encouraged to attend. We did this to the point of exhaustion so we didn't go to events we really could get into -- at least if we played the childish game that seems to dominate interactions at this kind of event. It mostly consists of waiting around for long periods of time, cutting through crowds, battling credential checkers and sidling up to certain people to get the secret password that permits you to go here or there and drink free liquor while in the vicinity of people you've seen on TV.
Chasing Our Tails
It helps to be connected to a media organization of any sort, that's helping to pay the bills by the way, and tossing tips your way as to what's going on. These sorts are used to running after "stories" and waiting for hours to get a quote that pretty much says what everyone would expect the person to say. They have the process down.
On-their-own partisan bloggers like us aren't really there to get a "scoop" or a nonstory story, we don't have a stipend from a news entity to pay for anything and we're women to boot, so we don't really fit in with the pushin' and shovin' to get in and grab free food and drink crowd. We don't have rooms close in, we have certain health issues that make it difficult to get around -- and so much going on in Denver seems joltingly disorganized and spread out.
One guy with sign, many cops
For instance, we're encouraged to attend our delegation's 7:30 AM breakfast meetings that usually feature prominent speakers and such. But we're staying in a room assigned to us by the DNC housing office that's in a "hotel zone" so far out that the shuttles that take you downtown don't start until 10 AM. Convenient.
At any rate, we spent much of yesterday on the phone trying to get information, going through a disorganized process of getting our credentials at the downtown Sheraton, and then walking the length of Denver's long 16th street pedestrian mall because we got bum information from a Sheraton employee. Imagine an employee at a major downtown hotel not knowing the way to the Convention Center. It boggles the mind.
Cops Playing Soldier
It was a fascinating trip down 16th street and downtown Denver though. The "police" presence was way over the top -- they are everywhere in large numbers, on bikes, horses, on foot, hanging off the sides of trucks and in patrol cars -- often congregated in tense bunches, watching for "terrorists" domestic and foreign, or any lone person with a sign. Many of them are dressed like faux soldiers in battle gear, roving clumps of SWAT-like intensity. It was a common sight to see one or two people holding signs or wearing message tee-shirts surrounded by 10 or so cops in battle regalia. Provides that all-American, 21st century vibe to the town.
The Party, However, Goes On
Of course, in the midst of the intermittent cop-mobbing of citizens, there's also a festive, devil-may-care feeling in Denver. Despite the seriousness of the nation's problems, people in town for the Convention seem generally jazzed and excited to be there. There really IS a sense of hope in the air, no matter how idealistic or illusory it may be in the final analysis. People like parties and there are definitely tons of parties going on in the streets, suites, bars, restaurants and ballrooms. IF you have the right pieces of paper and/or the right connection with the right people and/or you are persistent.
You'd never know a war or two was going on if you look at the faces of folks strolling around downtown or emerging from black Lincoln Towncars. And, I admit, that upbeat mood can be infectious, at least until you see another clump of cops or think of what's going on elsewhere in the world at that very moment.
We eventually cabbed it to the Convention Center for a delegate welcome event were told we could attend, struggled along the building's entire length to the one elevator that most "welcome" people didn't know about -- only to be told that we weren't allowed in. No one knew why. The DNC people blamed the non-DNC people and the non-DNC people blamed the DNC people.
By then we were so starved we cabbed it to Union Station to get some dinner before the next event we were told we could get into. The closest place recommended by the cabbie was the pricey but world-famous Morton's, known for its steaks, seafood and elegance. We split everything we ordered so the cost wasn't too bad, considering, and the food was really top notch. Respite in the storm. We spotted a number of other Dems there too, including former NM Party Chair John Wertheim, Caroline Buerkle, who managed the Patricia Madrid and Don Wiviott campaigns, and former Ambassador Ed Romero. Our waiter told us Tom Brokaw had reservations there that evening, but he later cancelled. It was that kind of hobnobbing place.
By the time we finished eating, the NM Chairman's welcome event was winding down at an old rail car at Union Station. We heard media credentials were again being questioned, but we don't know if that was true because we said to hell with it and grabbed a cab to get to our car to make the 40 minute drive back to our room in Aurora.
It had been mentioned that we might want to attend a stogie puffing confab of Dem bigwigs at the historic and luxurious Brown Palace hotel, but we passed on that too. Somehow, the thought of pushing our way into a smoke-filled room populated mostly with well connected males sipping expensive booze didn't sound that appealing. But then, that's just us. You know how females are. The scent of male power and privilege -- and the spectacle of others trying to sniff it to gain an edge -- can be a bit tiring after awhile. Put me in a room full of grassroots activists any day. Now that's exciting.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Denver Convention: Getting Closer
Go to top of DFNM's main page to see our Zannel vids & photos.
We're ALMOST to Denver for the Democratic Convention. We're at our "economy studio" in Aurora out on the flat plains near the airport and amidst the warehouses -- "media housing" arranged by the DNC housing office. Trains pass by whistling every now and then. Flocks of starlings gather and converse. We can see a colony of prairie dogs across the street. Not exactly in the thick of the action of downtown Denver, but we may come to treasure that as the pace picks up.
We'll be retrieving the first set of DFNM's media credentials today at the Sheraton downtown. Everyone has to pick up new credentials daily, to avoid counterfeiting I guess. The rest of the week we'll be picking them up at the Hampton Inn downtown. No reason for the change.
Tentative plans are to check out the lay of the land this morning and then meet up this afternoon with some of the other state bloggers who are a part of the Zannel PoliticsBlue project. We have our own channel called DemocracyForNM within PoliticsBlue and you can see our videos, photos and messages at our channel page or on the top of the DFNM blog's main page. We'll be gathering at The Big Tent to put faces to the names and see what's happening at the two-story blogger headquarters put together by ProgressNow, the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado and Daily Kos to be a home away from home for credentialed and noncredentialed bloggers.
We'll also be hooking up with the New Mexico delegation tonight at a 5:00 PM welcome gathering at their downtown hotel headquarters. I'm sure the energy will be outstanding as everyone realizes we're finally here after months of anticipation, nominating the next President and Vice President of the United States. Yowsa.
Matt of New Mexico FBIHOP was trailing us by about 35 miles yesterday as we drove up to the Convention. Text messaging kept us connected as we progressed along I-25 through Northern New Mexico, which looked very green from the monsoon rains, up and over Raton Pass and into Colorado. We passed through the old city of Pueblo, with its coal-fired power plants, rusting industrial infrastructure and new development at its fringes. North along the Front Range of the Rockies, the mountains always to our left (!), and into the sprawl of the urban corridor that starts around Colorado Springs. The Focus on the Family welcome sign was plainly in view from the highway. It didn't make us feel very welcome.
The NEW Front Range
We hadn't been up this way for years, always preferring to travel into Colorado on the other side of the Front Range to avoid the congestion, up 285 even when we go to Denver. It was truly shocking to see the massive seas of sprawl development. There seemed to be homogeneous housing projects -- almost every one of them brown-toned with houses crammed together -- shoehorned into every possible nook and atop every possible mesa and foothill all the way to Denver. We passed one new office complex after another filled with rectangular boxes of mostly horrible and sometimes pompous design. Way too much reflective glass, way too little creativity, a corporate sameness with corporate ideas of what architecture means.
There seemed to be only a few undeveloped gaps between the Springs and Denver -- demonstrating the exploding development of the Front Range during the past decade. Albuquerqueans, be happy we don't have enough water to sustain this kind of essentially unregulated "growth." Of course neither does the Front Range, but that hasn't seemed to place any restriction on the burgeoning construction.
The Rockies themselves still provide an imposing and awe-inspiring backdrop to the West along the highway, even with intermittent clouds and rain. But I still remember the Front Range when I first encountered it in the early 80s and it pains me to see all the clutter on what was once a truly Western tableau with jaw-dropping, wide-open vistas galore in all directions. Colorado is getting quite a "green" reputation, but seeing the vast sprawl tells a different story. We can't really keep living and "growing" in this manner, consuming in this way, and expect to make genuine progress on cutting greehouse gases and severing the umbilical cord that ties us to fossil fuels. The change we need isn't just around the edges -- it's gonna take a major paradigm change. Are you ready?
Click on photos for larger versions. All photos by M.E. Broderick.