It appears that having been a delegate to the DNC got me on the White House (at least Obama’s White House) Holiday Card List. It was a Really Cool surprise to find this in the mailbox this morning:
In eighth grade, I was a bench-warmer for my Catholic grade school’s football team. Our star receiver was a guy that was always a dick toward me on the school playground. In fact his name was Dick, and his friends called him Dickie.
One Saturday morning we were playing a road game. I was standing on the sidelines (as usual) when our quarterback threw a bomb to Dickie who then sprinted toward the end zone. As I was jumping up and down screaming, “go, Dickie, go!”, a little voice in my head reminded me, “hey, don’t you hate that guy?”
Indeed, I did hate that guy. But at that moment, he was part of my team and he was helping my team to win, and it made everyone on the team happy.
As a National Bernie delegate, that’s how I feel about voting for Hillary. I have problems with her hawkish foreign policy and her coziness with Wall Street. On the other hand, she has adopted most of Bernie’s playbook; and a growing number of “Bernie players” are on the team.
We all would have preferred to have Bernie as our quarterback, and we feel sore about how the choice was made during tryouts. But Hillary is now our quarterback, and there is nothing we can do now that will change that. For our team to win, we must respect and support our quarterback, just as I cheered for Dickie in eighth grade.
Remember, Bernie people: we’re winning! If we elect Hillary and flip the Senate, then Bernie Sanders becomes one of the most powerful people in Washington. So do his allies such as Elizabeth Warren and (hopefully) Russ Feingold. These are OUR people, and Hillary can’t do anything without their help and approval.
So this is no time to walk off the field in disgust. To support a third party this year is a waste of effort, like picking a high school team to win the Super Bowl. We need to make sure our team keeps the ball. Letting it fall to the other team would be a disaster.
With our players on the field, and the quarterback running our plays… that puts us in a good position to get our quarterback on the field next season.
The game doesn’t end on election day. That’s when the second half begins.
You can learn a lot about someone by looking at the company they keep, so it’s disturbing to see the Republican Party hanging out with the repulsive sewer-rats of humanity.
Ever since their “southern strategy” of the Nixon years, Republicans have appealed to bigots with “dog whistle” terms only racists would understand. When white nationalists flocked to the party like flies to a cow pie, Republicans doubled down. They saw only votes where they should have seen vermin.
Now the vermin have promoted a sleazy bullying con-man to the top of the Republican ticket. Party leaders express outrage when he says (in plain English) what Republicans have said in carefully coded language for generations. But the somber condemnations always end with, “He has my vote.”
I’m sorry, that is unacceptable. Any candidate running as a Republican is disqualified from holding any position of public trust.
By nominating Donald Trump for president, the Republican Party embraced hatred, bigotry and mean-spiritedness. The American people must loudly and unambiguously demonstrate to the world that this is not who we are, and we must do so by rejecting every Republican on every ballot in the nation.
The Republican Party has degenerated into a party of white hoods, brown shirts and dunce caps. Democrats may not be perfect, but their candidates are sincere good-hearted people working to improve everyone’s quality of life thru public service. Democrats are far more worthy of our votes than the creeps and clowns on the other side of the ballot.
I grew up reading MAD magazine, and a common element of portrayals of crowd shots on TV was someone holding a sign that said, “Hi Mom!” I started thinking about this after coming home from the Democratic National Convention, around the time the emails and text messages started coming in that started with, “I saw Obbie on…”
The first such message came from RoZ’s brother on the Sunday evening after the convention. He had seen me in a report on a Showtime political show, and offered the following image:
I remembered the camera coming by as I sat along the aisle during roll call Tuesday night, which was confirmed in the brief video clip he sent along to show the context… a clip where my mug was visible for about a quarter-second.
So while my brother-in-law was ribbing me about my “fifteen minutes of fame”, it wasn’t even fifteen frames, and most people didn’t even notice.
I found some other stuff while looking around for a video that I still haven’t found. On the first night, I was in the second row up from the main floor and watched as a CBS News crew set up to interview someone in the first row, directly in front of me. While the crew was live, I remembered this advice from George Carlin:
This is something you can do for practical…humor. Do this on television; if you can get into a kind of a side of a television story…, the kind of thing where you’re not the center of attention ’cause they’ll edit you out if you do this as the center speaker. You must be on the sideline. And what you do is you don’t say this, but you move your lips to it. And what you move your lips to is- “I hope all you stupid ******* lip readers are looking in!”
So I tried that. I also mouthed the words, “Hi, Rozie.” As the crew was setting up, I sent her a text that read, “go to CBS,” and a few minutes later a text came back that read, “I just saw you, love.” I never did find any video of the interview that took place right in front of me that night, but while looking for it I found this:
This was found in the online version of USA Today (embedded in an article about the hell we raised at Ron Kind’s appearance before the Wisconsin delegation breakfast on Wednesday). While the guy to my left was going ape-shit every time a speaker mentioned Hillary’s name, every camera in the building seemed to converge upon him.
The next day, a friend emailed us a smartphone-picture of a page from the dead-tree version of the New York Times containing the same picture (Page B4 on Wed, 7/27). On Monday of this week, we received the actual paper in the mail, so I upgraded the picture a bit:
Unfortunately, the caption said the picture was taken outside. A correction was requested, and one was issued about a week after the story ran.
A picture caption on June 27 with the Economic Scene column, about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, misidentified the location of the photograph showing delegates to the Democratic National Convention protesting the agreement. It was taken on the floor of the convention hall, the Wells Fargo Center — not outside the building.
Did they really say “June 27” when the image was published on July 27? The Old Grey Lady is slipping.
Relaxing at home one evening last week, we watched one of Bill Maher’s shows from convention week, and during the “New Rules” segment we saw this:
It looks like I was trying really hard to make it clear that I was not with this guy.
Just to complete the collection of what I’ve found so far is this one that I came across yesterday (Tuesday):
I was there for four days, but nearly all the pictures I find of myself in the media were taken within seconds of each other. And the only reason I show up at all is because I was sitting next to a camera magnet.
I know there are at least three videos out there where I was directly interviewed on-camera. The first was taken on the second day while I was sitting on the aisle in my green & gold tie-dye, but I have no idea who the crew was with. On the fourth day I was interviewed in the hallway by “Italian TV”, and on the floor by “Norwegian TV”. If anyone happens to have copies of these videos, I’d love to see them, if only to find out whether they translated my comments correctly.
Now that I’m home, seeing myself in the media isn’t that much of a thrill relative to the feeling I get when I watch news reports as DNC events reverberate thru the country. For instance, I keep seeing clips of Michelle Obama or the Khan couple, and as I realize how these events are now part of political history, it blows me away to remember that I was actually there.
On Thursday, there was a woman who was doing a live video-stream from the convention floor, and in this video she accuses one of the Wisconsin Bernie whips of being a “sell-out”. One of my constituents alerted me to this video, asking whether my fellow delegate had indeed “sold out.”
In the video, a Bernie whip named Matthew can be seen asking the person filming, and two people sitting with her, “Why are you here now?” I kind of wondered that, too. They were not supposed to have credentials, and they were advised that if they engaged in any kind of demonstration they would be physically removed.
I will react to this video here, but I will not post a link, nor will I post the names of any of the people involved. They are publicity hounds directly defying Bernie’s instructions to his delegates, so I will not indulge their lust for attention.
I was a direct witness to the incident recorded in the video. The video was taken by “tape-over-the-mouth” lady, and much of what she says here (at least what’s audible, her production values are sorely lacking) is complete bullshit. She is the person who’s picture was widely circulated Monday with white tape over her mouth and the word “silenced” written upon it.
A bit of background:
After the delegation breakfast on Thursday morning, the staff of DPW (Democratic Party of Wisconsin) had a meeting with Wisconsin’s Bernie delegation. It was a chance for us to air our grievances and to discuss ways to work together constructively going forward.
It was a very productive meeting, though we were presented a request/demand from the national party: If we leave the meeting room with our credentials, then we are agreeing not to disrupt the convention with dissident demonstrations, and no signs would be allowed other than those distributed by volunteers inside the hall.
It would be OK to wear a NoTPP button, but NoTPP signs were not OK.
Most of us chose to comply with the party’s (and more importantly, Bernie’s) request to follow these rules. In my case, I feel that we are more powerful if/when we are inside the room. And the Hillary camp has made efforts to make the Bernie wing happy. It felt like complying with this request would amount to a reciprocation in good will. After all, that’s politics. “You help me with this, and I won’t fight you on that.”
The three people sitting to my left were not willing to go along with this compromise. One of them surrendered her credentials after the meeting, and the other two didn’t bother to show up. (If they had credentials, they probably picked them up at the delegate table and skipped breakfast. I never saw either of them at any of the breakfasts.) I was told that tape-lady had her credentials revoked for her behavior on the first day (I could be wrong), and the person sitting directly next to me was the same one I personally watched handing in her credentials in the morning.
So Matthew was completely right to ask “why are you here right now?” They weren’t supposed to be there. He advised them that they would be physically removed if they caused any trouble, and for that they whine in the video that Matthew was a “sell-out”.
As it turns out, they did cause trouble just as Hillary’s speech began. That was when tape-lady’s tape reappeared on her mouth and she stood on her chair, and the guy next to her also put the tape on his mouth.
Tape-lady was the exact kind of person Bernie called out Monday night for eroding our credibility. She sat directly behind me on Monday night, and impressed me as a publicity hound using a gimmick to get her picture in the paper. And here she was sitting next to me again, and causing trouble again, and making me and other Bernie delegates look bad. I joined other delegates in the immediate area in holding flags and signs to deny a clear shot to any photographers in the area.
This is when tape-lady stepped over the line: she grabbed an American flag out of my hand and threw it on the floor (oh, yeah, that’s really gonna help our movement… NOT!). I replaced my flags with one of those vertical Hillary signs. For the entire week, I had resisted holding any Hillary signs, but the time had come to disassociate myself from delegates who claimed to be Bernie supporters but were not.
While this was going on, security people were approaching from the end of my row and the row in front of us to get tape-lady off of her chair… they did not want anyone standing on the chairs. Within the next minute we found out why. I don’t know whether tape-lady fell as her chair seat folded up from under her, or if she directly assaulted the woman to her left, but I saw tape-lady apparently attack the woman to her left… a “little-old-lady” Bernie delegate who was simply there to enjoy the party.
The tape-over-the-mouth people were hauled out at this point, and the innocent Bernie delegate was attended to by a doctor who was called over. Apparently she was OK, though somewhat rattled as we all were. At the after-party at the hotel, I met one of the people who sat to my right, and she was pissed off that the commotion caused her to miss the first fifteen minutes of Hillary’s acceptance speech.
I have fought for the causes represented by Bernie’s campaign for virtually my entire adult life, and my affiliations have followed the gradual mainstreaming of this platform. After thirteen years as a Zendik I became a political EarthFirst-er. For many years I was a die-hard Green (David Cobb delegate to the 2004 GNC), and now I am a Green Democrat ready to join the Social Democratic Caucus.
After all these years, we finally have a seat at the table, and the greater party is respecting and listening to us. We did not score the touchdown of getting Bernie as the nominee, but we scored a HYUGE first down, and we’re getting a lot more of our players on the field.
We are now 46% of the team, and we’re teaching the other 54% to be better players. Let’s keep doing that. To walk off the field simply because you don’t like the quarterback is not helpful. We’re winning. Let’s keep moving the ball down the field and score some touchdowns!
(Apologies to those who don’t like/understand football metaphors. If you request a translation into an alternative metaphor in the comments, I’ll give it a try.)
ONE MORE THING: I am still facing a massive credit card bill from this mission that needs to be paid before the end of the month. Any donations toward reduction of this financial debt will be greatly appreciated.
Our train leaves tomorrow (Tuesday) morning to take us to Philadelphia. We’ll get there in time to do spend a few days reconnecting with the city (we lived in Phila. for two years in the 90’s) before facing the busy days and short nights of convention week.
Bernie may have endorsed Hillary, but there is still a lot of important work to do. To vote for Bernie as our nominee is not the only reason I am going to Philadelphia. I am mainly going there to do everything I can to change the direction of the Democratic Party. For too long, it has acted as Republican-light, but the only way we can win is to return to the populism of FDR and JFK.
This is more than a campaign.. it is a movement, a movement that must grow beyond this convention and beyond the next election. We go to Philadelphia to launch this movement forward.
By the way, after the convention we will have a YUGE credit card bill to deal with. We’ve had modest success with our fundraising, and we greatly appreciate all of the contributions – big and small – that we’ve received so far.
Right now we are at about $1,600. But our hotel room alone is going to cost $2,200. If we can raise another $600, that part of our bill will be covered and we will have an easier time squeaking thru this financially.
Most of you already know that I’ve been elected to be a Bernie delegate to the Democratic National Convention. The time is winding down before RoZ and I return to Philadelphia for the first time since we lived there over 21 years ago. So we are excited to spend a few days reconnecting with our old neighborhood, which will be followed by the intense experience of the convention itself.
Very few people get such an experience, so I plan and hope to share that experience thru a new blog that I’ve started at… http://inside-the-dnc.purplearth.net/
If you go there right now, you can read the story of how I got elected, and what I faced in the aftermath of becoming a national delegate. I still need to catch up on the adventures in fundraising, travel planning and delegation conference calls that fill the months leading up to the convention.
We may try something new: Since writing can be time-consuming, we may sometimes post audio narration of events, especially given the hectic pace of convention week.
One annoying thing I’ve encountered lately is the attitude that “Bernie doesn’t have the delegates, so why does it matter anymore?” People forget that the convention is about a lot more than nominating a candidate for president. It’s mainly about defining what the party is going to stand for during the next four years, and what message the nominee and all of the down-ticket candidates are going to carry into the general election.
As I type, the platform committee is meeting in Orlando. Our side is not getting everything we want, but the platform is a much stronger and more forward-looking document due to the influence of Sanders delegates. We are slowing – and in some cases reversing – the corporatization of the party that’s been happening for too many years, and beginning the process of turning it back into the party of FDR and JFK.
So yes, going to the convention DOES matter. I plan to make my presence count for all it can, and fight for a country where everyone can thrive and enjoy life without killing each other or the Planet. And I plan to find a way for every delegate to go home happy and united, ready to send the party of greedy bigots and assholes to the disgraced dustbin of history.
Finally, I would be remiss to not mention that this is no free ride. We are required to stay in the very expensive “official” hotel, which is $420/night for five nights. We had enough credit card reward points to cover our round-trip train fares, but the hotel bill is going to hurt without some help. So it would really help if you can pop into my gofundme page and throw something into the hat.
In the meantime, go read what I’ve written so far while I try to get caught up.
We live down the street from a major hospital, and over the years we’ve watched that hospital tear down out neighborhood to pave it with parking lots.
Now that four and a half blocks have been taken down, they want to tear down another entire block.
This video illustrates the history with archived aerial photographs and satellite images.
Over twenty years ago, there was a proposal to build a new highway connecting downtown La Crosse with Interstate 90 and the northern suburbs. City residents wanted nothing to do with the “North-South Corridor”, as it would degrade urban livability and encroach on a beloved and ecologically important marsh. So in a 1998 referendum, La Crosse rejected the road by a 2-1 margin.
I remember the DOT presenting traffic studies predicting horrible gridlock in twenty years unless we built a road. But here we are, twenty years later, and traffic armageddon has failed to materialize. Now the DOT has returned with a series of new proposals, insisting that we will suffer horrible gridlock twenty years from now if we don’t “increase the capacity” of our local roads.
There is no reason to believe the DOT’s ominous predictions are any more accurate today than they were twenty years ago, and for La Crosse to allow North-South Corridor 2.0 to be built would be a horrible mistake. Read on
bikepacking: backpacking by bicycle; traveling long distances by carrying overnight gear and camping along the way.
As long as RoZ and I have known each other, we’ve wanted to go bikepacking. Since we moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin in the mid-90’s, we’ve had easy access to a premier network of bike trails. Most are part of the “rails to trails” movement: reclaimed rail beds with gentle grades far from highways and traffic. With plenty of places to camp, our part of the world is made for bikepacking. Read on