Posts Tagged ‘DNC’

WHYY Audio: Day 2 at the Convention with Lily Gold

August 27, 2008

In her latest update from Denver, Lily brings Dave Heller up to speed on her attempts to get credentials for the Convention floor, her interactions with fellow high school students and her plans for Thursday night – Barack Obama’s acceptance speech.

Listen to the mp3 from yesterday’s chat between Dave and Lily.

Third Day’s a Charm

August 27, 2008

And the end approaches to another hectic day at JSA and the DNC.  I awoke this morning after approximately 3 hours of sleep only to realize that I had overslept and had to rush to get to the bus before it left without me.  Instead of the delegates breakfast we went straight to the Cable Center of Denver for a speakers program.  Included on the list of speakers were Bob Graham, the former Governor of Florida and veteran of various Vice Presidential and Presidential races, as well as George McGovern, the Democratic Presidential Nominee in the 1972 election won by Richard Nixon.

Graham was pretty funny and very likable at one point telling us a story about filming an “MTV” (his word for music video) with Jimmy Buffett.  He was pretty candid about questions asked of him, but also seemed to be very intent on informing us about civics academic programs and their potential benefits to the future of America.  All around though he was fun, entertaining and informative while also being very interesting to listen to.

McGovern, the other very notable speaker on the list seemed rushed, as he confessed that his schedule had filled up more quickly than he had expected.  He talked mostly about his life and how he started out in South Dakota as one of the only elected Democrats in a mostly Republican state.  From there he went on to talk about his Presidential bid and some of the ways it has affected future elections, such as the extensive length of modern presidential elections.  He started his campaign much earlier than was generally accepted at the time and others have followed suit.

It should be noted that all of the speakers were not reading speeches so much as giving short unscripted talks and then answering our questions about their lives and experiences.

After the Speaker’s Program we went into downtown Denver and walked around for a while.  While there, we went to the set of Chris Matthew’s Hardball, which was really cool to watch.

What really struck me about Denver is the sheer amount of protesters, as well as the extensive police presence.  It seemed like every block there was a group of heavily body-armored police officers with dogs and automatic rifles scanning the crowd for any sign of a civil disturbance.  To match the police presence, there are literally hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrating on issues ranging from outlandish – our government’s involvement in the planning of 9/11 – to the serious – pro-Life protesters arguing with pro-Choice protesters – to the downright funny, with one group of people marching to bring back Crystal Pepsi.

While in Denver, I continued my quest to secure credentials to the Convention, which are exceptionally hard to come by.  By the end of the day, I had become so desperate that I began cold-calling the Democratic headquarters of different states to see if they had any extras.  Finally however, through a family connection, I got credentials for Thursday night at Invesco Field and possibly to see Bill Clinton and Joe Biden tomorrow, which is awesome.

Anyway this post is getting to be a little long, but I still want to talk about what actually went on at the convention so I think I am going to open it up to you guys.  What did you think of the keynote speech?  I think Warner brought up some issues that hadn’t been raised previously in this election, but he didn’t elicit the excitement I was hoping for.

What did you guys think of the Governor of Montana – Brian Schweizter?  I loved his energy and the ease with which he spoke, he seemed like a nice, regular, normal guy who just happened to be speaking in front of a few million people on live television.

What did you think of Hillary?  Did you think she made enough of an effort to through her support to Obama?  Did she talk too much about her campaign?  Did it seemed forced, did you think her heart was really in it?

And finally, the clincher, were Bill Clintons tears real, or were they just a ploy for sympathy?
I am looking forward to your responses!

If at First you Don’t Succeed, Try Try and Continue Not to Succeed

August 27, 2008

Though those avid readers of my desperate attempts to get credentials know that I like to recall my days in chronological order, I decided to start this post with words of wisdom Congressman Tim Ryan.

When asked if he ever had a day when he felt like what he does isn’t worth it, his answer was simple and unexpected: “Get some sleep. Pushing yourself until you get burnt out makes you unable to enjoy the experience.”

Mind you when I heard this I had not slept for two days, had not eaten yet, and had a headache from the altitude.  So, when I heard a successful young congressman say that the secret to his success was sleep, it did not make me feel so great about the position I was in.  Instead of disregarding it as a benign comment or dwelling over the possibility of burning out and trying to succeed in business without really trying, I tapped into a JSA-encouraged principle and took action.

In the spirit of the congressman from the DNC youth panel, I decided to write today’s entry before we actually arrive back at the hotel and my desire to hibernate under my sheets for more than a few hours kicks in.  Also, considering it is only 10:30 on the East Coast, hopefully my mind will be more alert and my isms will actually make sense.  Here’s hopin’.

But let’s go back to the beginning.  Thankfully the call time for this morning was the more reasonable hour of seven o’clock.  After grabbing some coffee, we hopped on the bus and headed over to the Cable Center for this morning’s feature famous speakers.  Today’s main attraction was The Honorable George McGovern. For those of you who were not alive during the Vietnam War era, Mr. McGovern ran for president in the 1972 as the Democratic nominee for president and was basically bitch slapped by the voters.  And even though Mr. McGovern was the most anticipated of our variety show of speakers, bars set high are usually only meant to be topped by olympic gymnasts.  Surprisingly, the speaker preceding the Honorable delegate from South Dakota was Andrea Stewart-Cousins, an African-American New York state senator who was commanding, was up-front about her issues, and was not afraid to tell everyone that as a kid from the Upper East Side she had “money, money, money”.

After the speakers, we jetted off to the Convention Center for the DNC youth council panel discussion.  Now, for those readers who are less familiar with JSA, the motto of the organization is “be flexible”  a.k.a. “be ready for things to fall through”.  So, in true JSA style, we missed the first half of the panel and only made it for the discussion with young representatives about how they got elected.

One thing they said that I hadn’t heard the day before in my speaker’s program?  It’s fun to run against old people. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.  Besides, since I wasn’t able to get this post done before I got back to the hotel and I am sitting on my bed with two sleeping roommates, I don’t have time to make stuff up!

The other main afternoon activity besides roaming 16th street scouting out buttons and potential t-shirts was going to the taping of Hardball with Chris Mathews. The taping was held outside with little shade from the hot Denver sun. Now even though seeing Chris Mathews was exciting, what captivated my attention more was the mood of protesters who filled in the back rows of the crowded audience.

I don’t know if protesters is the right word to describe these, well, extremists, who were firm indulgers in the 9/11 conspiracy theories. They came armed with signs and bullhorns and a large arsenal of chants: literal ones like “9/11 was an inside job,” mean-spirited ones like “Do your job” and the Obama-themed one “We are the change.”  My friends and I were standing almost right in between the protesters and the police officers, watching this act of civil disobedience from afar as spectators.

I think that was the closest I will get to being a part of a riot while I’m here, though you never know: if someone has extra credentials to give away, I would brawl to the death.

Sorry.   I like to work that credential part in whenever I can just to remind people reading this that I am still up a creek without a credential. The credential story of the day was when someone in the program went up to some guy eating in a restaurant and asked for credentials, and out of his bag comes 15+ credentials. I guess luck really be a lady tonight, though sadly that lady is not me!  I must have crappy karma or maybe there is a sticky note on my back that says “will bite when approached with credentials”.

Sadly, I had to leave Hardball early because, when I looked in my bag to grab money for a button (I now have 9 by the way, though my Hebrew one is still by far my favorite), I realized I didn’t have my wallet.

Pause for gasp.

I called the place were we had lunch and thank goodness they found it! So then I walked more than six long blocks in the heat to get to my wallet.  If you were wondering what I did on the walk up, I conducted a little back-and-forth in my head: “I need to go and sit and get something to drink” to “you have no money to buy anything to drink.”  As soon as I reached that pivotal Corner Bakery Café (free plug!) I bought myself a delectable frozen pomegranate smoothie.

Tonight we had a private JSA watch party at the cable center which meant we got to see Hillary Clinton’s head across a total of 16 screens, so if you thought that orange suit was bad on one tv, imagine that fluorescent magnification by 16!  Other than the suit, though, I think Hillary did exactly was she was supposed to: she started with a strong statement in favor of Obama, talked about her issues, thanked her fans, established unity with Obama through a shared disagreement of bad Republican views, and ended telling everyone to vote for Obama.

Can anyone guess what the people behind me on the bus ride home were fiercely debating? The orange prison-inspired suit.  Was it just me or did she remind anyone else of the man with the yellow hat from Curious George? And what about Bill: we saw him laugh hysterically, mouth “i love you” twice to Hillary, and we even saw him shed tears. Was he being overly dramatic for show or were his emotions genuine?

I was most disappointed with the keynote speaker because, considering that role was given to the one and only Barack Obama four years ago, I was saddened by the lackluster appeal of this year’s pick, Mark Warner.  You would think given the precedent set four years ago that the DNC would have given it to someone as inspiring and energetic as Obama was for years ago.

Now since 1 am has come and almost gone, I have decided that, in the spirit of Congressman Ryan, I would put done my theoretical electronic pen and, as my mom would say, “hit the sack, jack.”

On tomorrow’s agenda we have another delegate’s breakfast, speakers who actually look interesting, more cauci (caucus nominative singular, cauci nominative plural- all of you Latin fans know where I’m coming from) and my last day to try and get credentials before the convention moves away from the Pepsi Center and over to the Mile High Stadium on Thursday. But for now I must get some beauty sleep.

Good night, everyone.

Sleepless Deprived in Denver… Already

August 25, 2008

I am officially in the Mile High City, though I must say, this city seems to many miles high with bubbling Obama spirit. Or at least, that is probably what the information people walking around the Denver airport in cowboy hats would have told me. And, if any of the readers out there are avid skiers like I am, you know that these Western American, type-casted, human information stations are not usually floating around. But between these urban cowboys and the bellowing voice of Denver’s Mayor Hickenlooper welcoming delegates and travelers alike over the loudspeakers on the train, I can already come to one obvious conclusion: Denver is pulling out every known and unknown stop for this Democratic party.

My travel day went as well as should be expected. Though I did not have the fortune of sitting next to a delegate or a celebrity on the way over here (someone had Spike Lee on their flight), I did sit next to a nice lady who was on her way to the convention via Xerox and was going with marching orders to make copies of anything convention related. So for all of you interns out there: there is hope! You can use the “skill” of copying pro!

But before I even got on the flight, I staked my claim in terminal D9 scouting out potential JSAers. One girl complimented me on my shoes and, as it happened, I was sitting in the same row as another girl. Little did I know at the time that these two potentials would end up being my roommates. Who knew?

The official name of what I am doing here is the 2008 Democratic National Convention Symposium and, seeing as we are not a group of delegates, the 2008 DNC Symposium was welcomed to the Millennium hotel in Boulder CO with open arms. Don’t take that as a scoff for Boulder, though: I quickly located the closest Starbucks and Einstein Bagel. Sadly, I doubt I am going to see much more of Boulder because between our packed days in Denver and slee… oh wait… I was going to say sleeping, but seeing as it is my first night and I have to be up in about 4 hours suggests that I will not be doing much of that.

Let’s just hope that the coffee kicks in soon.

By far the highlight of the day was receiving my complete and extremely detailed schedule for the week. Now, I would share this information and give a little preview as to what I am going to be doing, but that ruins the element of suprise. But for those skeptics and believers out there who want something to chew on, we are hearing from a plethora of people including someone old, someone new, someone borrowed from Obama’s campaign and someone who is blue after losing a presidential election back during another unpopular war.

To help us navigate through the hustle and bustle of downtown Denver, JSA has taken the time to organize us into “pods.” A “Pod” is the group of kids that we walk around with and it is organized by state. Now, when I say organized by state, I mean that they are organized according to the closeness of the hotels that are delegations are staying at. Sadly, the Pennsylvania delegation does not seem to carry much pull with the hotel heirs and/or the Democratic National Convention Committee, because my pod is a bit, shall we say, assorted: Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. So my pod is quite the bag of mixed nuts, but never fear- I met some of the Minnesotans and they are ready to rumble.

I know I said that I wasn’t going to divulge any of the headliners in our playbill, but I will say that the reason I need to wake up in what is now 3 and a half hours is because tomorrow, we have the equivalent of breakfast with the Disney Princesses in Cinderella’s Castle; we are having breakfast with delegates from our states.

But, this is not merely a photo-up with some syrup. Tomorrow, I will attempt the same feat attempted by Charlie Bucket in countless movies and books: I am going to go on a quest for a golden ticket. But this golden ticket goes around your neck, and instead of getting me into a chocolate factory to see Willy Wonka, it gets me into the Pepsi Center to see some of the greatest thinkers and orators of our time give the historical speeches which most people will have to dutifully watch on CNN.

Yes, I am talking about credentials. The delegates have them and I want them, so I will work all the charms my mother gave me to get them (in a completely platonic way of course).

But don’t fret. If at first you don’t succeed, try to smooze with them again. We have another ulterior-motive- driven breakfast on Tuesday where I will continue to work my charms, credentials or not. And if I don’t get on the floor tomorrow night, I will watch the speeches on C-SPAN just like you guys, except I will be at a watch party at the hustle-y bustle-y convention center. Now, as my eyes begin to close and my head begins to subtly turn off, I want to end by sending a little welcoming shoutout over to “Shipped to the DNC with Dan.” Since he is from Jersey, he is in a legit Pod with Hawaii and Guam, so hopefully he will be able to interject with breakfast food for thought from the Jersey delegation. But, I must say our brief meeting was quite cordial, so I would not hold my breath for a blogger summer smackdown.

So as it is almost time for me to wake up, I have resolved to try and cherish the few hours of sleep I can. But stay tuned for the next episode where we find out what features and creatures I see tomorrow and if I succeed in my quest for DNC gold.

The Anticipation is Building…

August 24, 2008

As I sit here on the eve of the opportunity of a lifetime, I find that there are no words left in my head.  I know that the title of this post may have led you to believe that I am bubbling over with excitement (which I am) but I just can’t seem to find any words left after the countless e-mails and phonecalls that have gone into the preparation for this day.  So instead of dealing with my lack of thoughts, I have spent the last 24 hours obsessing about the little details that go into preparing for an event like this, much as I would expect the people over at the Pepsi Center are doing as well.

Quite like those laboring volunteers, I too spent the day tending to my appearance, but instead of hanging up banners, I was in my manicurist’s chair dealing with hang nails.  In addition to my outward up-to-dateness, I also dove into this week’s issue of Time Magazine completely devoted to – that’s right – you guessed it – the Democrats. But, beyond my last minute cramming, the only prep that I have done preceding this hooplah of an event is following the ups and downs of election for the past year or so.  I guess the reason why I have spent the day doing trivial things is because the more I think about my lack of formal preparation, the more scared I get.

Now, I know I said that I have been devoid of thoughts, but I must admit that is partially a lie: I, like everyone else in the free world, waited in heated anticipation to find out when the pin would drop on Obama’s announcement of his running mate.  Luckily for me, instead of subscribing to Obama texts, I subscribe to CNN text message alerts, which means that I received my text at 12:52 am instead of waiting up until three.

Now for those of you who may wonder about the early morning Obama text, I read in this Fox News Article, not very Democratic of me I know, that the Obama camp scrambled to send out their text after their pick was leaked to the media (hence my premature CNN confirmed text).  But, despite the fumbling of the mass message, I completely 100 percent agree with the veep victor.

Biden adds experience especially in foreign policy, which is where Obama needs it most.  His liberalism compliments Obama nicely and his relationship with blue collar workers can potentially make Obama competitive in places dominated by Hillary supporters.  Now, I don’t mean to be a kill joy, but there is one major flaw in the veep selection (besides for the 3 electoral votes dominantly Democratic Delaware has to offer): Obama Biden.  Try saying that five times fast.

So, I guess I am filled with many thoughts, but the one in particular that seems to be dominating is my fear of the unknown, both in my role as a Junior StatesWOman and as a media correspondent.  But, now that I have found my way through the murky waters of my first post, I feel a sense of relief wash over me.  And I guess you will have to continue to tune in as I relate my escapades navigating my way through the waters of the DNC while trying to figure out how to be the best Junior StatesWOman I can be.

Lily Gold is a rising junior at Germantown Friends School and is attending the Democratic National Convention as part of the JSA – Junior State of America. Check back for her blog posts throughout the week and tune into 91FM for live reports with WHYY’s Dave Heller in the afternoon.

Platforms – where issues meet politics

August 13, 2008

Some progressives are quite happy with the Democratic platform – like Steve Clemons, HuffPo contributor and writer of The Washington Note.

He provides a link to a draft of the platform here.

So lets take a look.  First, according to Clemons:

Some of the key zingers are a focus on technology and taking back the government and getting more democracy per se via technology. There is a focus on service, on faith-based efforts — a focus on citizen stakeholding.

And what I love most about the platform is that it started with a focus on what we need to do in America as Americans — and not necessarily on the wars and conflicts in which war are embroiled abroad.

The document is 55 pages long and organized around the theme of “renewal.”  The four main sections are “Renewing the American Dream,” “Renewing American Leadership,” “Renewing the American Community,” and “Renewing American Democracy.”

Do we get the picture?  We apparently need a big ole, nationwide restart.  Put our collective finger on the power button and re-boot America.

In the Preamble of the platform, an emphasis is made on the need for all Americans to come together to solve the problems facing the country.  The specific example used to emphasize this point is particularly telling:

Today, America must unite again –to help our most vulnerable residents get back on their feet and to restore the vitality of both urban centers and family farms –because the success of each depends on the success of the other.

So just 3 pages into the text of the document, we see the geo-social spectrum – the urban and the rural – tied together in a way that infers the ills brought on by the corporatization of food production and the abandonment of cities in favor of developing green space in the suburbs.  I think I’m going to like the rest of this document.

I do want to offer one suggestion on this point:

To lower the price of gasoline, we will crack down on speculators who are driving up prices beyond the natural market rate. We will direct the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to vigorously investigate and prosecute market manipulation in oil futures. And we will help those who are hit hardest by high energy prices by increasing funding for low-income heating assistance and weatherization programs and providing energy assistance to help middle-class families make ends meet in this time of inflated energy prices.

Remember the quote of the day from a few days back, to paraphrase, that the hard truth is that we shouldn’t lower gasoline prices.  If you really want to help the working poor through middle income and encourage energy conversation and clean the environment, try making gas more expensive with gas taxes and then refunding a set amount of money from the revenue and give it right back to folks under a certain income level.  They get the same amount back whether they drive a lot or not.  I guarantee, they’ll figure out how to drive less while getting more than enough back to take care of their families.

Suggestion number 2. As a former teacher, please move the following paragraph to the top of the education section:

We know that there is no program and no policy that can substitute for parents who are involved in their children’s education from day one–who make sure their children are in school on time, helps them with their homework, and attends those parent-teacher conferences; who are willing to turn off the TV once in awhile, put away the video games, and read to their children. Responsibility for our children’s education has to start at home. We have to set high standards for them, and spend time with them, and love them. We have to hold ourselves accountable.

There’s never going to be a way for the government to ensure that only people who are fit to be parents get that opportunity.  But at least we can to offer parents all the help we can to educate their children.

The rest of the platform is worth a read so that you can be prepared to compare it to the Republican party platform when it comes out shortly before the RNC.