Convention Blog Watch

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— Joe Russin

Wednesday, Sept. 1 | 3:15 p.m PDT

Slantpoint found former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson unsympathetic to claims that New York City is shortchanged in favor of states like Wyoming when it comes to terror funding. Simpson noted that Wyoming has 98,000 square miles to protect.

Simpson in other interviews with bloggers found at Captain’s Quarters said he expects the campaign to get nastier, that Wyoming deserves its three electoral votes, and that John Kerry’s Senate record amounts to a “big goose egg.”

Tommy Franks, the general who led the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, confirmed to bloggers that, to no one’s surprise, he backs Bush. The transcript is at the Captain’s Quarters..

Security at Madison Square is apparently not airtight. Last night, Code Pink’s founder managed to get close to Vice President Cheney — a fulsome report on Democracy Now. Today, according to Tacitus writing for Red State, some AIDS activists managed to disrupt proceedings on the convention floor. And Blogs for Bush says some protesters managed to crash a youth convention meeting with the Bush twins and some White House staffers. Blogs for Bush reassures that “despite the protest, everyone is having a good time.”

Speaking of the Bush twins, David Adesnik of Oxblog says their appearance last night was not a big hit on the convention floor. Adesnik writes that the twins “came across and childish and totally lacking in substance.” Qualities, he adds, that will not help their father overcome a “reputation for being a lightweight.”

TalkLeft finds the whole affair to be lacking in spirit, and reports that outside the convention area, New York is “a shadow of its normal self.” On the street, parking is readily available, a rare site in NYC.

Technorati reports that the most linked to article of the day is a piece by former Bush campaign lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg wondering why the media seems uninterested in links between the Kerry campaign and various friendly “527" advocacy groups.

Bloggers in Wonderland

Tuesday, Aug. 31 | 2:30 p.m.

For several bloggers, the parties (especially the bash thrown by National Review) and first night of the convention were almost transcendental experiences.

Slantpoint was “awed;" he found the convention floor to be even more exciting than rock concerts or wrestling matches. Tough competition indeed.

Blogs for Bush reports that the convention is “an extraordinary experience,” and it’s only the first day!

Political Musings thought that the only thing lacking was McCain’s failure to make any “real criticism” of Kerry.

Perhaps predictably, the Daily Kos was less impressed, wondering if McCain was phoning it in and upset that Rudy Giuliani did not point out his differences with the GOP platform. Kos also claims to have discovered the formula for convention speeches: “9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, John Kerry (is awful), John Kerry is a flip-flopper, Terrorism, Amen.”

On Technorati‘s Attention Index, Michael Moore’s USA Today column leads in links, closely followed by an E&P article suggesting that Moore may not return to his press seat in the Garden.

Blog World in charts and graphs

Monday, Aug. 30 | 6:45 p.m.

For those seeking a view of what all the key bloggers are up to, Technorati is keeping track of the most linked subjects and blogs. It’s all laid out in pretty charts and graphs. Topping the charts is a New York Times story reporting two degrees of separation between conservative columnist Robert Novak and the publisher of the anti-Kerry book “Unfit for Command.”

Joshua Marshall of Talking Points has some interesting things to say about Sen. Kit Bond’s speech this afternoon, and he has a sharp comparison between President Bush’s claim a month ago to have a “clear vision” on how to win the war on terror and today’s admission that “I don’t think you can win” the war.

Closely watched Republicans

Monday, Aug. 30 | 12 p.m.

Matt Stoller, blogging forBlogging of the President found cognitive dissonance in the hall:

So I’m watching the Republican delegates do their waddling dance to disco music, which is the music coming from the fusion of gay and black culture in the 1970s, and I can’t help but thinking that there’s something not only surreal but completely disconnected in their rhythmic movements. At the DNC, the delegates were awkward, but it was an awkwardness borne of a lack of talent. Here, it’s a cruel awkwardness, as the mean-spirit nature of the party platform is completely divorced from the music and rhythm of the convention. Hearing Reverend Louis Sheldon speak ill of homosexuality and then praise Dick Cheney’s compassion for his daughter in opposing the FMA was similarly surreal - this is not about principle, for principled hatred would turn on Dick Cheney for traitorous thoughts. No, this is weirder. This is gay-baiters dancing to disco, suppressors of the black vote bringing on black performers, draft dodgers attacking true heroism, all the way to Abu Ghraib voyeurs and perpetrators talking of freedom, democracy, and accountability.

It’s like a bunch of mean librarians who hate the books you check out and love the part of their job that allows them to fine little children, thinking that taking their allowance money is teaching them personal responsibility.

TheBoi from Troy has this account of the same meeting where Rev. Sheldon spoke:

The California Delegation to the GOP convention met for an organizational meeting and to hear from Governor Pete Wilson.

The breakfast meeting’s invocation was given by the Rev. Lou Sheldon, of the Traditional Values Coalition. The noted right-wing Christian Conservative activist did not dissappoint those looking for his venemous tones. Quoting George Washington, Sheldon cited the “indispensible supports” of “religion and morality” as the keys to “political prosperity.” Sheldon also cited DeTocqueville as saying that America’s greatness is in the centers of religion. Unfortunately, the Abbey probably does not count as one of Sheldon’s “centers of religion”...

Former Governor Pete Wilson received the morning’s only standing ovation.

At the end of brief comments, Wilson charged that John Kerry had “written off California” in that they consider the Golden State already in their column (which, admittedly it probably is). But Wilson emplored the delegates to give Kerry a surprise. Finally, Bush’s State Campaign Chairman Gerry Parsky said how California can help re-elect George Bush. Under Gray Davis, he said, California saw the effects of Democratic leadership. The policies of Gray Davis in California, he said, are those being offered by Kerry for the nation: more taxes and more regulations. Parsky emplored the delegation to “focus on the things we agree on” and re-elect the President.

TheBlog for Bush, after getting overly excited about spotting Sean Hannity in the flesh in the house! settled down for a chat with former NYC mayor Ed Koch, a one-time liberal who has become a Bush fan:

This was our first exclusive interview, all of the bloggers gathered around to ask him questions.

We talked about his endorsement of President Bush, telling us he was the one who first used the term the “Bush Doctrine.” He explained that while he doesn’t agree with President Bush on many domestic issues, he said all the other issues “are trumped by the single issue of standing up and dealing with international terrorism,” and said flat out that the Democrats “don’t have the stomach to do this.” Koch also said that liberals like Ted Kennedy don’t represent the entire party, as well as whom the media dubbed as “Deaniacs.”

RedState explains why speakers at these conventions often have less than memorable moments at the podium:

Here’s the problem with a one minute-or-less convention speech: you are forced, no matter who you are or what office you’re seeking to boil down your message to the following items:

Look at how great I am.

Look at how great America is.

Yay, Bush!

Witness, as a perfect example of this “I am in love with the sound of my own voice” situation, the remarks by Eric Hoplin, the College Republican phenom who could’ve essentially summed up his entire speech by standing and announcing: “I am a gigantic tool.”

Notes from the marching crowd

Monday, Aug. 30 | 11 a.m.

In the middle of every crowd of 100,000 are at least a few stories. The blogosphere has discovered some of them.

Timaeus atThe Daily Kos has a tale of suffering and (spiritual) redemption:

I’m just about to turn 50, I’m a do gooder lawyer, I’ve gotten extremely fat almost to Michael Moore territory, and this year has radicalized me beyond all telling. I’m regularly waking up from dreams in which I’m denouncing Bush and his crime family for their crimes. If he steals this election, I’m moving to Canada. I’ve already got my escape route plotted. (I’m an American PATRIOT! I have a picture of George Washington in my law office, along with many images of the Statue of Liberty!!)

So I just HAD to go to today’s rally. I got up at 5:30 to make it by train. I could not BELIEVE the militarization along the way. SWAT teams with unmuzzled dogs at Union Station in D.C. and also at Penn Station in NYC. An INCREDIBLE number of cops, special SWAT cops with riot gear, RNC agents with guns, “Secret Service Police” guys with machine guns, tons and tons of national guard troops in full special ops mode--it was incredible. The inside of Penn Station in NYC was like 10 war movies at once. I saw at least 300 cops and soldiers, all heavily armed, just at Penn Station. I’ve been to lots of large crowds, and even got tear-gassed once in D.C., and I’ve never seen ANYTHING like this in this country.

On the train, there were fliers stating that all but two of the Penn Station entrances were blocked. In reality, it turned out that only one was open--at 7th Ave. and 34th. I went out that way, being helped along the way by soldiers showing the way with rifles, and outside the march was going by only about 100 feet away. But there were barriers everywhere and THOUSANDS of cops. Helicopters overhead. Sharpshooters on building tops. It took me an 8 to 10 block hike to join the march--W to 8th Ave., N. to 36th, E. to 5th, down to 5th & 34th, a couple of detours along that way, wall to wall cops and barriers along every part of that way.

So I did the march 17 blocks from 5th & 34th down to Broadway & 17th at Union Square, and then back the whole way.

It was HOTTER THAN HELL and I’m REALLY FAT and oh boy damn did I suffer. I can hardly walk tonight, bottoms of both feet are worn off. But I’ve never felt more right about my action. I’ve never been much of a public activist, although I’ve saved hundreds of people in my work...I felt “solidarity” today. Praise God.

Shankar Duraiswamy atThree Guys l found and instances where two basic American rights—the right to dance and the right to drive—came in conflict:

Sal and I had been walking down the 20th street sidewalk toward 7th Avenue. Before long, we found ourselves in the presence of some decidedly outside-the-mainstream demonstrators. A bunch of them were wearing uniforms described by Sal as “somewhere between security guard and international soldier of fortune.” The word that came to my mind was “militant.” Alongside them was something of a “grunge” crowd, though I’m not sure if that term entirely captures their look. On the other side of the street, meanwhile, a ragtag group of people wearing assorted items of pink “apparel” and banging out some percussive beats was making its way down the sidewalk...Like any fine marching band, it turned out that this one had its own color guard. Before long, a group of them had appropriated about 2/3 of 20th street as their own --- this, despite the fact that 20th street had not actually been shut down in this area --- and started performing a choreographed dance...This was all well and good, I suppose, but posed a significant inconvenience to a bunch of cars that were trying to get down 20th street (note the taxi on the left edge of the above photo). Now I’m a staunch defender of the First Amendment and the right to peaceably assemble and protest, but I didn’t see why these folks couldn’t back up the dance just a few steps so the cars could get around them. I started to remind myself that a lot of protesters aren’t really interested in anything other than being defiant for the sake of defiance, and that, in any event, it was already pretty clear that these were not even your mainstream demonstrators

Annatopia atMajority Report Radio found marching to be many houred thing:

To give you an idea, I got into the city at 12:30 p.m. and was at the march by about 1:15. I caught them just off Broadway and twenty-something, and I assumed I was toward the middle. It took about an hour to get to Union Square, then I milled around a bit taking pictures and cooling off. Around 3 p.m. I headed back toward the tank and got caught by a police blockade that was allowing the rest of the protesters to pass by. I heard from several sources at that point that the tail end of the march was “just passing by the Garden.” So basically it took over six hours to complete the march. I spoke with several organizers who said they easily surpassed the quarter million mark. I asked several police officers for an estimate, but nobody would venture a guess until the end of the march passed them by. When I finally got back on the north side I asked a few more officers and was told half a million people

Of course there were some arrests. Joshua Kinberg said he was nabbed while describing a bicycle-based innovation to Ron Reagan. He reported his experience toHardblogger:

I was arrested while Ron was interviewing me about my invention— a bicycle that prints text messages on the street in water-soluble chalk. While we were conducting the interview, the police stopped me and asked for my ID. After I produced identification, the police waited for their sergeant to arrive before placing me under arrest without stating the charge. I was doing nothing more than describing my invention to the media and explaining my disagreements with the Bush administration.

When I arrived in the Tombs, I was placed in a cell with around 30 other cyclists. They had spent the previous night in a location they were affectionately calling “Lil’ Gitmo,” a makeshift detention center on the West Side piers converted from a former bus depot. Lil’ Gitmo had cells sectioned off with chain link fence and razor wire, and a floor covered in motor oil, transmission fluid, and other toxic chemicals. The cyclists detained there were forced to sleep on this hazardous floor wearing nothing more than bicycling shorts and t-shirts. Consequently, several developed serious skin rashes the following day. After 36 hours most of the cyclists had been released with a pending court date.

The streets heat up

Sunday, Aug. 29 | 5 p.m.

At least that is the report from NYC Indymedia, with “chaos on Broadway” and arrests in front of the Milford Hotel. There is a nice collection of protest pictures, and promises of more to come, from rhsager.

Bloggers check out the floor and the streets

Sunday, Aug. 29 | 4:30 p.m.

Anyone hungering to see Vice President Dick Cheney on scene, Blogs for Bush ’04 has what may be exclusive images of the veep and his wife doing sound checks — at the convention podium!

And as if that isn’t enough excitement, the Bush-Cheney official blog reports that “the energy of the Convention is already taking the grassroots effort to new heights. Bush-Cheney Missouri had a HUGE Super Saturday success story unfold this weekend. With the help of over 500 volunteers across the state, the BC04 Missouri team executed more than 20,000 phone calls and visited more than 7,000 homes in a single day!”

Conservative blogger Hugh Hewitt has arrived in New York and passes this observation on the state of readiness: “I wandered around mid-town Manhattan assembling the credentials, three times coming across the Billionaires for Bush protesters, who are a pretty funny bunch, though their message gets a little lost with the Heinz fortune in the background. On 42nd street a huge banner is up proclaiming that “Democracy Is Best Spread By Example, Not War,” which just begs for a sign opposite with just the dates 1941-1945, or perhaps a huge picture of Neville Chamberlain. And you really can’t get a feel for how large the police/army presence is until you walk a few miles and are never out of sight of at least four or five of NYC’s finest. You just have to be here to get the story in full.”

Hugh tells us he is off to dinner now, in keeping with tell-all style of the blogocracy.

The Boi from Troy had a hectic day (thought you would want to know), enduring long lines before he could get to the free food and liquor in the Log Cabin Republican Big Tent Event. And he had a hard time getting to work: “Within ten minutes, I was interviewed by the Yale Daily Press, New York Observer, Newsday, Le Point and the New York Magazine. After the second or third interview, however, I had refined my self-styled talking points so when David Corn tried to bait me in an interview later that day, I was able to hang with him and not necessarily give him the sound bite he wanted.” Fortunately after all the exertion, the boi has a very nice hotel room in which to rest, and you can see his view if you view his site.

Activism up close

Sunday, Aug. 29 | 3:30 p.m.

The action today was mostly in the streets. The irrepressible Wonkette found herself thinking New York had become bi-polar, if not bicoastal: “New York has changed so much with the arrival of the protesters. It has, in fact, turned into San Francisco. Artfully unkept, earnest young people who genuinely feel they know what’s best for you, personally. (Case in point: Someone had defaced an ad in the subway for a women’s razor with the angry retort: ‘Mammals have hair, deal with it!!’) Of course, it’s San Francisco overrun by Republicans and police, which some would argue is an improvement.”

Scott Sala ofSlantpoint was unimpressed with what he saw going past Madison Square Garden:

“I managed to get to the front row alongside the march. This is not because of any great journalistic savvy, but because no one was there watching. There are more people watching the Halloween and Thanksgiving Day parades. Adding to the dullness was an appearance by Jesse Jackson in Union Square. He had a modest crowd surrounding him, including 30 or so cameras, but for the most part, all the protesters walked right on by, oblivious to his presence. Either they didn’t care or were not attracted to his terrible sound system.”

Roger L. Simon, a Hollywood screenwriter who has ventured east for the occasion, was on the street musing: “Hey, Hey LBJ ... I almost found myself engaging in that familiar cry myself today (oh, how many times I had!) until I shook my head and realized this wasn’t 1968, it was 2004 ... not that the hordes streaming around me down Fifth Avenue this afternoon seemed to know or care. The conflation of Iraq and Vietnam was in high gear, the ‘masses’ urging a regime change (in Washington) that would bring our boys home and stop this immoral attempt to bring democracy to the Middle East. Never mind that Kerry has never made remotely clear what he intends to do or that there is an actual fledgling democratic government in place in Iraq, as there never was in Vietnam. I mean what do we know about democracy -- we’re the barbarian Americans? Vietnam bad, Iraq bad. C’est simple, n’est-ce pas?”

Meanwhile, just in case the faithful are wondering, United for Peace and Justice, the main sponsor of today’s march, lists the 10 reasons for protesting during the RNC conclave. The list actually turns out to be 11, because beyond the obvious crowd-pleaser of the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act, UPJ says protest is “a powerful and inspiring way to make your voice heard.”

Meanwhile, Tacitus quotes Harley, another screenwriter who throws right and votes left, grousing that: “It’s a safe bet that more people will see news coverage of the various protests in the city than will see the President accept his party’s nomination. This is not necessarily a good thing.”