Denver has taken a lead over St. Paul News Cut's Convention Competition. Today's category: "There's a there there."
Here's Denver's "there," the core of the convention activity on the 16th Ave. Mall.
The place where all sorts of "characters" showed up...
... where there were street musicians and people trying to make a buck. There was the giant Guitar Hero game. It was a never-ending show.
Where's the show in the Twin Cities? Where's the "there" here? It's not St. Paul. Other than the kids and the cops, people meeting in a convention behind barricades, and a few restaurants within spitting distance of the security zone, there's nothing going on there.
Naturally, there's even less economic trickle-down out around Grand and St. Clair. I stopped at the St. Clair Broiler on Monday afternoon and learned I'm only the third convention-related hack to show up there.
And so I headed to Minneapolis in search of the Main Street of the Republican National Convention. Nicollet Mall would be the logical choice, but it was mostly empty, too. Few delegates, no bands, no hucksters, no show, no festive atmosphere and no (daytime) fun.
Some establishments were closed to get ready for private parties.
The Dakota was all locked up because of the big "Keep Florida Red" celebration featuring LeAnn Rimes on Monday night. The minimum cost to get in? $10,000.
The National Education Association reserved another establishment on the same block. The NEA is thick in the Democratic Party, but as things shifted to the Twin Cities, the union stressed its Republican membership. One of every 3 teachers is a Republican, the union trumpeted.
Nearby Brit's Pub was also closed because of an event hosted by a women's business group.
With the media dropping us like a hot potato, about a third of the total attendees have disappeared. Unfortunately for the vibe, it's the third that tends to mingle with real people. The remaining attendees mingle with themselves at private parties and receptions.
Even the opponents seem down. Here's the Unconvention headquarters:
High-noon on the mean streets of Minneapolis...
Other than an occasional whiff of tear gas, there's very little for Minnesotans who aren't big spenders to experience at the convention.
Where is the convention hiding? If you find it, drop me a note. I'll check it out.(12 Comments)
No, but it's playing in prime time anyway, and it's not going to change now.
Yesterday's announcement that Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant came because of "rumors spreading on the Internet" that the youngest child of Palin was actually that of Sarah's daughter.
The controversy has raised questions about how well Palin was vetted by the McCain campaign.
But there's a more important question: Who's vetting Daily Kos, where the rumor picked up steam, was regurgitated and was never properly checked out?
There are, as you might expect, dueling reactions to the "new journalism" today, but it's mostly based around the "old journalism." Should the mainstream media have paid any attention to the rumors?
No, says media critic Dan Kennedy. But he lets Kos off lightly:
Who was hurt by Daily Kos? No one, really, because there's all sorts of misinformation percolating in the tubes (I thought an Alaska reference would be appropriate). What you hope is that the solid stuff will rise to the top, and that it will be proven or debunked. And if it's debunked, it ought to be done somewhere other than in the mainstream media.
As for what "millions of people" who know about the rumor would think if the media stayed silent, well, I don't hear any complaints over the lack of an investigative series on 9/11 conspiracy theories. Most people are smart enough to understand that the media would not shy away from a story like Palin's fake pregnancy if it were true and could be verified.
PoliGazette (in the Netherlands), however, sees little role for the "new journalism"
... it is too late to backpeddle, apologize and move on for those who brought up this
subject and who have now already done tremendous damage to Palin's image and reputation. After all, in the end rumors are heard by many more people than the news that the rumors are false.
The issue itself speaks ill, not of Palin but of the blogosphere and partisan 'citizen journalists' who are more than willing to publish stories that unfairly destroy a person's good reputation, simply because doing so may help their favorite candidate or because it will help them get some more hits.
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post pushed Markos Moulitsas (the creator of Daily Kos) on the subject and got the stock blogger answer to questions surrounding what defines responsible journalism for "citizen journalists."
"Our people are doing the vetting. Even if some of it is hitting dead ends, other ones are striking direct hits," Moulitsas says. His role, he adds, "is to sit back and let the citizen journalists do their job, and I amplify the stuff that shakes out.":
In other words, if you throw enough stuff against the wall,some of it will stick. Moulitsas focuses on the stuff that sticks. Others says the danger is the amplification and effect of the stuff that doesn't.
Many bloggers like to point out that other bloggers will "fact check." But that didn't happen in this case. Nobody in the blogosphere investigated the rumors, or made phone calls, or lifted much of a finger to confirm (or deny) a damaging accusation that turned out to be entirely incorrect.(13 Comments)
The Welcoming Committee (their Web site proclaims them as "anarchists") issued this statement a bit ago:
First, let us start by saying thank you.
Thank you to the 1000's of people who courageously faced 10 ton buses, concussion grenades, tear gas, pepper spray, batons, charging horses, gas masks, rubber bullets, and all of the tools of repression and intimidation that were used yesterday to repress the public in this supposed democracy. Your direct actions stand in stark contrast to the conventioneers inside the Xcel Energy Center, passively dragging the party line and the rest of this world down with it.
We are inspired by the extraordinary people who stopped buses, blocked highway ramps, and breached concrete barriers to reclaim the streets and recapture the space of downtown St Paul. We are excited about what the next few days may bring, now that the illusion of business as usual has been shattered.
The actions taken yesterday prove that the tactics of intimidation, harassment, violent oppression, the snatching of specific individuals, and the profiling of activists will not stop committed people from taking to the streets for what they believe in and putting their bodies behind those convictions. These tactics were seen yesterday in the targeting of medical workers, journalists, legal observers, and the public. They are the same tactics used daily by police and governments around the world to terrorize and oppress those that they claim to serve.
Indeed, after a long hard day of losing control in the streets and having to resort to calling in the National Guard, Sheriff Bob Fletcher continues the raids on homes, public spaces, and our lives. It isn't surprising that these tactics continue, especially now that Sheriff Fletcher and the mayor's office are faced with the challenge of trying to spin 284 arrests and climbing, 130 of those people being charged with felonies, along with massive police and military brutality. In spite of the arrests of our friends, we are excited by the fact that the number of people willing to take to the streets and express their dissent is growing, and we proudly support the March for Our Lives happening in St Paul today.
The infrastructure that has been created for these actions with the help and support of the twin cities community has been amazing. 100's of people in Minneapolis and St. Paul have opened their homes to 1000's of protesters, Locals and newcomers have taken time off work and from their lives to cook meals, provide medical care, legal support, and transportation. We understand that it must be intimidating to see people organizing for themselves around the idea of mutual aid and solidarity, but in doing this we are actively creating the world we want to live in. This is work that we will continue to do for the rest of our lives.
See you in the streets(26 Comments)
The Republican National Convention gives political wonks a chance to engage in some interesting discussions. The Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota this week is holding several forums this week.
One of them -- What are Americans Looking For -- begins at 10 and features Charlie Cook (photo below) , the editor of the Cook Political Report; Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center and Bill mcInturff, co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies.
E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist, is moderating...
10:14 a.m. - We're underway with introductions.
10:15 a.m. - Charlie Cook is up first. "Louisiana is known as the state in which half of it is underwater and the other half is under indictment," he jokes.
10:17 a.m. "Studying voting patterns... is actually a detriment in this election rather than an asset because nothing is happening in a way you would have guessed." He says this would be a difficult election for the GOP under any circumstances. You look at party ID, it's different than the last elections. The Republicans shouldn't have a chance in this election but "John McCain made some important deposits in the maverick bank years ago and now it's time to make some important withdrawals."
"I don't know whether the selection of Palin was brilliant or insane. But it's one or the other. There's no in between." Cook says the biography and narrative is there but he says he was talking to a guy who had three interviews for a job at Ruby Tuesday, which is more, apparently, than it took Gov. Palin to get the job..
10:22 a.m. Cook: "I thought experience made a big, big difference when people made a decision for president." But experience has been devalued to the point where a Barack Obama could win a Democratic nomination. For that reason, he's not willing to say the Palin pick is insane. "From the folks I talk to, Sen. McCain wanted desperately to pick Sen. Lieberman but when too many party leaders said 'at best, you'll have a walkout, at worst they'll burn the building down if you pick Lieberman.' He was so committed to making a pick that would shake things up that if you can't pick Lieberman or Tom Ridge, Gov. Palin was the next choice."
Cook says the race was so close that McCain didn't need to do a "Hail Mary" pass. He says what we learn in this election year probably won't have any lasting value; it's that weird of a year.
10:25 a.m. "There's not a single state in this country where John McCain is as organized as George Bush was four years ago. The idea that the Palin pick will grab Clinton supporters is "absurd."
Next up: Andrew Kohut of Pew Research Center.
10:29 a.m. His top questions:
He says most soft supporters of McCain are moderates and "I'm not sure how Palin will play there."
10:38 a.m. Bill McInturff, co-founder of Public Opinon Strategies is up next. He's presenting the key findings of his latest survey.
He notes the transformation of the American voter since last summer. Then 47% said Iraq was the #1 issue, now it's the economy and jobs (45%). "The $4 shock (of gasoline) has started to wear off," however.
There's been a 34% jump in concern about oil. What dropped? "Everything else," according to McInturff.
Questions and Answers
Q: What's up with the terrorism issue? What is its trajectory?
A: McInturff: It has residual power in New York and Washington because "we were attacked." The rest of the country, he says, has moved on.
Q: The terrorism issue has appealed more to Republicans in the past. Is that still the case?
A: Kohut: The GOP has lots its advantage on the issue. But then he says McCain has a larger advantage in the polls than Bush did at this time in 2004. But peoples' minds are on other issues.
Q: Do we have a new "normal" being formed? (i.e. record turnout among young and African Americans)
A: Cook: "Whenever I hear people say, 'things will never be the same again,' I just yawn. 9/11 was going to change American politics forever. I don't buy it. I do think the combination of President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan turned 1 - 1 1/2 generations to the Republican Party. What I wonder is whether President Bush has pushed a generation away from the Republican Party."
McInturff: "There's a huge capacity of young people to increase their percentage of the turnout and I believe, especially with Latinos, they're going to do that. People vote when they're mad and when they're mad, they vote to fix it. Then they tend to disappear. I'm not convinced we're seeing some sustainer of new young votes. We realign based on what works."
Cook: "Over the long haul, it's a long haul."
Q; How much do we know about what happens to Hillary's voters?
A: McInturff: About a third of Clinton Democrats are very hesitant about voting for Sen. Obama. They are white, tend to be less well educated, have middle income, but the gender isn't women. 55% of these are men.
Dionne: 6% of Clinton Democrats would've vote for McCain, even in a matchup between Clinton and McCain.
Kohut: Says the majority of disaffected Hillary supporters are women.
Cook: "I think if you wanted to woo Hillary votes, you (McCain) would have gone somewhere else." Says the Plain pick was just intended to do something "out of the box and give the finger to the establishment."
Q: What's going to happen?
A: Kohut: I can't imagine it being a McCain blowout. If he wins, it'll be close.
McInturff: Health care will again be pushed off the national agenda. Obama could win by more than Hillary could. He also could lose by more than Clinton would.
Cook: It's like a stool for Obama. One leg is African Americans, one is Hispanic, one is whites under 50 or college educated. The one place where Obama is underprforming is whites over 50. A stool can stand on three legs. It's not very stable; you can't rely on it, but if it stays where it is, we're going to a close race.
If Obama connects with whites over 50 of working-class whites, he could win big. But if not, it'll be close.
== End. Now it's time for your analysis in the comments section. ==(1 Comments)
The Massachusetts' GOP blog writer has finally identifed the anarchists:
Protestors - not as many as they might make it seem like on TV. There were a few small groups scattered on a few street corners, but there was only one Ron Paul group that became particularly violent and force had to be used. Local police were prepared and in good force. In fact, some young demonstrators were actually asking delegates where the parties were.
Perhaps Ron Paul is posing a bigger threat to Sen. McCain in Massachusetts than elsewhere.
Brenda Goff, a delegate from Kentucky, also repeated the Ron Paul theme:
As delegates entered the area close to the Xcel Center there were minor protests. It appeared to not be more than a dozen people holding signs with comments like "God hates McCain." As we left the Convention at the end of the day their were maybe 5 or 6 people protesting and yelling "Ron Paul." I understand that while the convention was in session there were larger protests in the streets outside the center but our delegation was inside and was not affected.
... but enough about them, what about us, Massachusetts?
Host City - Minneapolis and St Paul are indeed the twin cities located across the river from one another but learning they distinct in their own right. Both however are clean, very metropolitan in terms of restaurants and tourist attractions. Haven't explored them all just yet, but impressed with our welcome so far.
.. and Kentucky?
The local police and the community have been welcoming.
Virginia delegate Randy Marcus also blogged to the people back home that there weren't that many protesters yesterday:
On the way to the convention hall, we encountered our first protestors. I don't know how they will be perceived through the media, but it was a very small group of very animated (and irrational) people. There were more people watching the protestors than were actually protesting.
Keep in mind, of course, that the delegates are ensconced in buses that do not travel through the streets of St. Paul, and then are allowed into the security zone. Delegates don't get much of a look at the street from their entry point.
The blog of the Cleveland Plain Dealer assesses the streets of St. Paul...
Only in America can you have hard-working individuals unite with their political friends inside a convention and solicit donations to storm victims, while outside unemployed terrorists disrupt the daily lives of tax paying citizens. The Democrats would have us believe that we need more wealth redistribution from these taxpayers to these to non-workers. The media coverage was very good at showing film clips of this violence. I did not see any acts of terror at the Democratic Convention. Is it because Republicans are more likely to spend their time working to support their families, strive to make a better life for themselves and their communities and paying high taxes while doing this rather than waste their lives protesting?
The District of Columbia delegation got a pep talk this morning, one blogger notes, to stay on message regarding the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's daughter:
Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman from Arkansas who once headed the DEA, stopped by to speak to delegates he called "insiders." He told them not to overreact to news that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's teen daughter is pregnant.
"To me, its not a distraction. It's part of the media examination," he said
What gets talked about in those private receptions? According to one South Carolina delegate, an interstate highway connecting Michigan with the Atlantic Ocean.
While we non-Italians were painfully underdressed we soon found ourselves engrossed in wonderful conversation and enjoying some of the best Italian food that we have ever tasted! I even met a well placed Republican official who is very interested in helping make I-73 a reality in Michigan so that the interstate can, eventually, connect the great lakes, in Michigan, with the Atlantic Ocean, in South Carolina.
Why don't you see more people walking around with their convention credentials? They're scared to, according to a Vermont delegate.
Smart Conventioneers are not wearing their 'credentials' in a visible manner. We've been hearing stories that people will "do something not nice to you" if they see that you're part of the convention.
For the record, I wear GOP credentials on the mean streets of the Twin Cities. So far, no problem.
Meanwhile on Twitter we get the weather report from a DC attendee:
Muggy as all hell here in ugly Minneapolis... And....it's raining. This convention sucks.
Reader John Morson sent along this recap of how a group of people on the way back from the labor concert at Harriet Island got caught in a standoff with police on Monday.
The Wabasha St Bridge was closed in downtown St Paul today (Monday). Following a concert on Harriet Island, everyone was told that they could only use the Robert St. Bridge. Thousands of people proceeded to cross that bridge, which had been closed to car traffic. Suddenly, riot police blocked the north end of the bridge. holding all of us captive, batons at the ready. We weren't protesters or anarchists, just regular citizens trying to get back home, via the only route possible. The riot police essentially held us pedestrians captive on the Robert St. Bridge for a very tense period of time, refusing to talk to us or recognize the gross error they were making.
A threat was heard that they were going to use tear gas on us if we didn't leave. I called 911, as did many other people, in an attempt to contact any authority in order to get any information that would keep us all safe, and hopefully allow us to get home. A police van approached from behind us and people tried to talk some reason into the officer who was driving. Finally the riot police were told to move aside. Everyone walked by without incident.
However the riot police were also blocking streets that people live on, or had their cars parked on, and would not allow these citizens to go through. We were sternly told to "Just keep walking!" and were not informed which way to go or what to do. My girlfriend and I had to take a circuitous route home, which was otherwise only four blocks away.
Posted at 1:46 PM on September 2, 2008
by Bob Collins
Republicans didn't want to be seen partying while New Orleans was underwater.
Not everyone got the word, apparently.
The Minnesota Joint Information Center put out an advisory this afternoon:
Law enforcement coordinating security related to the Republican National Convention are asking media representatives to exercise caution, following credible reports that media may be targeted by groups wishing to cause disruption and damage.
... is the group of people waiting to get into the taping of The Daily Show in St. Paul. If those people had a sense of humor, they'd all bring kiwi fruit in with them.(2 Comments)
With only five delegations staying in the city, and everyone else being bussed out of the Xcel and over to party town, some downtown St. Paul businesses are giving up on the idea that there's any economic benefit for them out of the Republican National Convention.
One large eatery in Town Square, which specializes in closing immediately after the lunch rush normally, had tried staying open until the supper crowd left. Today, they gave up the ghost and shut it down after lunch.
Republicans meeting in St. Paul have not strayed from the party line that Sarah Palin is the perfect vice presidential pick for Sen. John McCain. But every now and again, a slip of the tongue cracks the veneer.
It was all going well tonight for Ohio State Rep. Jo-Ann Davidson, the co-chair of the Republican National Committee, as she was paying tribute to Republican women, with a nod to the last time the Republicans met in St. Paul.
"Ever since that convention, women have been an integral part of the party. And today, 116 years later, we are holding a convention that will nominate a Republican woman governor, Sarah Pawlenty our next vice president."
Whoops. There was no indication from Davidson that she realized the gaffe she had just made.
But it might be understandable. Davidson was on the team that scoped out Minneapolis-St. Paul for the convention. She's made dozens of trips to the Twin Cities in advance of the convention and worked closely with Pawlenty, who many Republicans had hoped McCain would tap as his running mate, and who remains a hot ticket at the convention.(3 Comments)
Twitter got a lot of attention from the various press outlets today for its value in following yesterday's rampage by anarchists and the response by police.
One aspect of the social networking service is getting less mention: It's being used to coordinate the violence.
This evening, for example, the Twitter feed for the anarchist group at a protest outside the Xcel Energy Center, where the Republican National Convention is being held, warned, "Cops near Excel are searching people's bags for goggles and gas masks-- hide them!"
From the looks of things, the anarchists set up separate Twitter accounts for "sectors" of the city on Monday, giving the go-ahead at a coordinated time for the anarchists to break away from the peaceful protest and initiate a day of combat with police.
The system was also used to report places where protesters could get to delegates without police protection. At 2:31 yesterday, for example, one reported:
bringing in delegates at st peter and kellog WIDE OPEN
As the police moved on one sector, Twitter was used to move in protester reinforcements:
sector 2 requesting backup at kellogg and wabasha, massive amounts of riot cops
It's unclear whether the police, themselves, are also monitoring the Twitter feeds to try to stay ahead of the protesters, or whether they're doing anything to disrupt the communications. Nonetheless, the main Twitter feed for the anarchists reported on Tuesday afternoon that all of the "sector feeds" were not working.(13 Comments)