Street scenes from Denver in preparation for big night

By Evan Anderson – Here are few hastily compiled street scenes from Denver as the Iowa delegation prepares to ship out for Invesco:

The Hard Rock Café has been turned into a rolling boulder gathering no moss, but plenty of onlookers. Although Oscar nominee Angela Bassett has been already spotted at the DNC convention, rumors of her appearance within the Hard Rock are misinformed. In fact, the surging crowds outside the brassy entrance doors are eagerly informed that they are all lying in wait for a brief glimpse of even bigger stars, if the police escorts will allow it. According to Denver security, Oprah and George Clooney are hosts to a gathering inside the Rock, although with all the cops surrounding the building one might think it was Obama and George Bush instead.

Nearby on the 16th Ped-Mall, religious protestors abound in a renewed presence. With signs calling for “War on Mormons,” “Guns for nuns” and “Follow Jesus” these activists are slowly followed by cautious police, hoping that no arrests will have to be made so close to the Invesco rope-drop. Up a few blocks on Curtis St., religious protesters wielding huge yellow banners are quietly rerouted to the sidewalks in front of our hotel, so as not to protest directly in front of the Federal reserve bank branch.

Up further on Curtis, “No Snowmen Left Behind” protestors have left ice sculptures out on the street corners and in front of The Curtis itself. The ice snowmen sculptures are symbolically standing out in the full sun, “gently twisting in the wind” for all environmentally-concerned delegates to see and reflect upon. Perhaps the dignitaries further down the block at Baur’s Restaurant are smiling at the sight. Although it is unclear just who is currently enjoying a wet lunch at Baur’s, the black limo with Time-Warner magazine placards plastered discreetly on the windows makes one wonder if we’ll see these snowmen in Time’s Sept 1st issue.

Back on the Ped-Mall, the Republic Plaza is calm and surprisingly vacant, no protestors here, at the moment. However, just steps away the large Starbucks has a strong police presence outside, as many of the delegates from the Sheraton Hotel across the way come here to chat and watch the protestors walk past.

Outside the Virgin music store, protestors are calling for an end to amnesty for immigrant workers. Up the street outside the, now, legendary Hyatt Regency, protestors with Immigrant Justice are gathering together to make their walk around the Colorado convention centre. Inside the Hyatt, the hotel’s Strata Café, located in the lobby offering full-length window viewings of the nearby protestors, congressional handlers and delegates sip sleek drinks while sitting on even sleeker high-backed chairs or leather benches.

Walking back to the hotel, one might sniff occasionally, trying to figure out if they have a cold or if there is some sort of odorous protest in progress. The later is true on the corners of Champa St. where activists calling for the legalization for marijuana give off a familiar musty honeydew aroma.

Finally shuffling back into the hotel, one immediately notices that the courtyard is now fully energized in anticipation of Obama’s acceptance speak at Invesco. Many of the fourth floor windows are covered in Obama placards and signs reading, “McCain, mores of the same.”

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Anticipation builds for Barack Obama’s big speech

By Evan Anderson – This is the time when some omnipotent voice comes out of the intercoms shouting, “Def con one. Repeat: we are at Def con one.”

The entire lobby of the hotel has been turned into an Ellis Island émigré holding pen as the non-floor-seated delegates mill about anticipating the moment fast approaching when the shuttles to Invesco field arrive.

Meanwhile the entire Rialto-Starbucks hub has more suits dashing around it clutching Blackberries than a herd of CPAs outside the IRS headquarters. At least the Iowa delegation’s breakfast had wonderfully full-fat bacon, croissants and sausage to sustain our energy levels (we’re going to need it).

Also sustaining the energy of the Iowa delegation was the incendiary speech from AFSCME International’s President Jerry McEntee. Following the seventeen-minute intro from Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, McEntee joshed the Iowa delegation, noting that he was asked only to speak for seven minutes. McEntee played a game with the delegates, asking who has attended the most conventions. McEntee won handedly, surprising many as he noted that his first convention was as one of just nine Muskie delegates in 1972.

McEntee praised the DNC and in particular the Iowa delegation for its continued support of labor. According to McEntee, over 25% of the delegates in Denver are union members. McEntee’s sharp words rang across the ballroom more sharply than any speaker yet invited to these breakfast meetings. However, not all of McEntee’s comments were praiseworthy. Iowa Governor Chet Culver was given a verbal reprimand by McEntee for Culver’s recent vetoes against union bargaining rights in Iowa. McEntee made sure the silencer was on his weaponry though, gently reminding Culver that his election was only made possible through the support of unions, including AFSCME.

McEntee also revealed the troubling stories of canvassing AFSCME members and asking those not identifying as Obama supporters what their rationale was. Said McEntee, when union workers told me they felt they could not support Obama because of their concerns over false and misleading claims that Obama might be a Muslim (“not that there’s anything wrong with that” to quote Seinfeld) McEntee said he was incredulous. When McEntee was told by some union workers that they couldn’t feel they could vote for Obama because of his race, McEntee received a minutes-long round of cheering and applause from the entire Iowa delegation with his retort, “That is [expletive deleted].”

Joe Manchin, Governor of West Virginia, stoked McEntee’s sparks and sizzles in his own address to the Iowa delegation. Manchin noted that West Virginia is indeed more conservative than he would prefer it to be, but Senator Obama has come behind from losing to Senator Clinton in their primary from the largest percentage spread in the state’s history, to currently leading McCain by five points in the latest media polling in the state.

This will likely be the last posting from Denver for many hours as the security is so necessarily restricted at Invesco that even toupees are sent through the metal detectors. Watch for many in the Iowa delegation in the upper sections, level 100. We may be leaving soon, but it is expected to take hours, all under the infuriatingly close observation of the sun’s full rays, to trudge through the security ranks.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Iowa is where it all started for Barack Obama

By Rod Boshart – By no surprise, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama carried a lopsided majority of Iowa’s delegation in the roll call vote to nominate Obama as the party’s presidential candidate today during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Obama garnered 48 or Iowa’s 57 nominating votes, while nine Iowa delegates voted for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Jacob Krapfl, 24, a veteran of the Iraq War and a native of New Vienna, announced Iowa’s roll call vote on the convention floor, saying Iowa was the state “where it all started for Barack Obama.

“Back on a cold winter’s night in January, Iowa planted the seeds for a new Field of Dreams for America with Barack Obama’s campaign for change,” he told a televised audience.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Afternoon musings from Denver

By Evan Anderson – “Plant the seeds of change” is what the protestors were yelling at convention-goers. The TV cameras were taking pictures of the protestors. The police were watching the protestors, but the DNC delegates were taking pictures of the swat team police.

“Civil blood” has been shed in Denver, with protestors on the Ped-Mall actively throwing off the burdensome cloak of civility for outrageous senility. Most of the DNC delegates watched the protestors cross up and down 16th while taking candid camera angles behind smiles and nearly gleeful eyes.

Several protestors dressed as pink pigs huddled together outside the Colorado Center blocks away. These activists were campaigning against Global Warming, what the 16th Ped-Mall protestors were calling for, or against, remains, as Joey Tribbiani would say, “A moo point. The point of view of the cow, so it’s moo.”

The riot police, arriving by the truckloads, carefully watched several of the protestors holding signs with the statement, “Big Brother is Watching You.” Of course that’s a bit of a “Thank you captain Obvious for saving the world, again”-moment as the police had no choice but to watch them.

One protestor was even assigned a handful of black riot-geared officers to keep a perimeter on his personal-space, although it should be noted that he was dressed entirely in black with a face mask which covered all but his eyes and over-exerted mouth. This “seeds of change” march continues as we speak; however, there is still more news from Denver of note.

Back at the Grand Hyatt, “so grand in its appointments” that you cannot enter it without a letter of invitation (no, really!) Senate Majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, attended the AFSCME luncheon as their honored guest. Reid received much applause with this, his quotation from Woody Guthrie lyrics, “I’m not scared, I’m sticking with union.”

Also attending was another favorite son of Hawaii, Congressman Neil Abercrombie although “Coconut Hat Al” was still up and about bartering political buttons amongst the tables. Congressman Abercrombie had all the markings of a seasoned politician, this despite his buoyant nature which, with his stature, makes him a near-double for Danny Devitto.

Cedar Rapids political-watchers might remember Abercrombie from the pre-2008 caucus season when he came to the Linn County Democratic Picnic at Usher’s Ferry, Sunday, July 14th 2007. Abercrombie attended the Cedar Rapids event as a supporter for Obama.

Abercrombie held the audience, as T.S. Eliot liked to say, “in rapt contemplation of the thought, of the thought of the name” … of the name of the city to host the 2012 DNC convention. Said Abercrombie, “Mark your calendars for the next convention, Hawaii, baby!”

AFSCME members were served grilled chicken, stuffed manicotti, pizza and Tiramisu served with chocolate flakes.

Other Denver updates: Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss was the guest of MSNBC just minutes ago at their Union Station media platform. Simultaneously on CNN, political contributor Josh Levs speculated about the short list for Senator John McCain. Levs noted, “We don’t get to see the list, of course.” Well, why “of course?” So far in presidential elections, the media makes the short list, the candidate makes history, not the reverse.

Speculation is increased, however, on the possibilities of McCain choosing either Minnesota’s governor, Pawlenty, or else former rival Mitt Romney.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Chet chat

By Rod Boshart – Gov. Chet Culver used his three minutes of time to address convention delegates Tuesday by touting Iowa’s renewable energy effort and thanking Americans who have helped in the flood recovery effort. Culver said he looks forward to an Obama-Biden administration energy policy that will usher in 5 million new green-collar jobs and put an end to eight years of big oil companies and their Washington lobbyists directing national energy policy.

Photos

By Rod Boshart – The Gazette’s Rod Boshart took some photos in Denver on the first official day of the Democratic National Convention.

Below: A street painter applies paint to a mural in downtown Denver on Monday close to the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Below: Demonstrators and passers-by engaged in peaceful but sometimes confrontational discussion of religious philosophies Tuesday in the pedestrian mall near where the hotel housing Iowa’s delegation to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. The gathering took place under the watchful eye of Denver police officers in riot gear.

Below: Virtually every corner of the downtown area of Denver where Democrats are staging their national convention are reaching out to delegates in their own way this week, including this business celebrating “Discobama” as the time approaches for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to accept his party 2008 presidential nomination on Thursday.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

An experiment: Live coverage of Barack Obama

By The Gazette – Reporter Jeff Raasch just completed one of two live blogging experiments that appeared on GazetteOnline.com today.

Raasch was in Davenport covering an town hall event with Barak Obama. Here is a replay of the live coverage.

Columnist and blogger Todd Dorman also did an experiment with live blogging. He is in Denver for the Democratic National Convention and attended a breakfast with the Iowa Delegation. Here is a  replay of his live blog coverage.

The live blogging application we used is provide by Cover It Live, a free service. It worked very well. One of the positive things about the application is that it allow for real-time reader interaction. Here are a few examples:

[Comment From McHale]
This live blog is just a few seconds ahead of KCRG’s live stream. Wow! Thanks to the media for looking for new ways to cover these events!

[Comment From Patty]
I think I would ask about his education plan. I have heard he supports universal pre-k education, which I am in support of. I just haven’t heard some of the other details. Thanks to the Gazette staff for hosting this. Great way to spend my lunch period!

[Comment From Tiffany]
Thank you for doing a great job covering this! It’s great to have some live local interaction.

Let us know what you think of these two experiments. We’d like to do more of them in the future.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]