Denver Convention Report

I saw Carl Bernstein on CNN or something either last night or this morning, and he said that media should spend more time covering the convention instead of talking about it. Yep.
I’d like to spend more time covering OR talking about it and less time on half-hour or forty-five-minute walks between events. It is HOT out!
I went to a Blogger BBQ with Howard Dean. It was noce that they threw this for us. But it was on the other side of the convention center, another half-hour walk, and afterwards the Secret Service wouldn’t let any of us back in through that entrance so we all had to walk around the entire perimeter… As I have mentioned, the distances here are vast, making it near-impossible to get from one thing to another.
I’m pretty sure that they noticed that some of the bloggers have been gaining weight, and arranged this convention in a way that requires us to work a lot of it off. They want to keep us healthy so we can keep blogging promoting their candidates — for free of course.
I am uploading a video from this to YouTube as well and will post it here when ready.

Denver Convention, Transportation and Democracy – The Sheer Distance

One problem that many people attending this convention are forced to deal with is the sheer distance between events. First, getting from the airport into town is a very expensive cab ride with few other choices.
I was immediately struck that there is no light rail system out to the airport! I don’t understand how a major airport near a major city could have been planned and built without incorporating light rail from the start. Of course, this was all done in the unfortunate oil/car-dominated era that we are all working to end…
In town convention events are vast distances apart. Even inside the security perimeter itself things are far apart. It is a long walk in the sun to get from the Pepsi Center to the Tivoli, where the Starz Green Room is. It is a very long walk from the Big Tent to the Starz Green Room. Etc.
Getting my official convention credentials this morning meant taking a cab for miles, to a hotel in another part of town. (Long lines, waiting, waiting…) And then there were no cabs available to take me back. Miles and miles… There was a free city “16th street mall” shuttle that helped part of the way.
So this is a problem with this convention. Having things far apart might be OK if there was some way to get from one place to another. You can’t have a car here but everything seems to require that you do.
And of course in the larger picture this is the problem with the way America has built up its housing/mall/freeway infrastructure. You have to have a car, period, or you cannot participate in the modern America except in a few larger cities that have well-thought-out transportation. This requirement that you have a car imposes a certain cost on people. But there are plenty of people who can’t meet those costs and are forced to drop out of participation. So look what happened in New Orleans when Katrina hit. Many people simply could not evacuate because they did not have their own cars, and there was no real transportation available otherwise.
America has created distances between people, classes, and even physical distance requirements that work against us in the long run. This kind of approach, where you can’t participate if you can’t afford your own car is anti-democracy. In the case of this convention, it was just dumb.

DNC Convention — Kennedy Speech — Big Tent Report

It is about 6:45pm Denver time in The Big Tent — the “blogger central” of the convention. Finally some time to blog. Senator Ted Kennedy just spoke. That was quite a moment, reminding us that America was once able to send people to the moon, and that maybe one day we can get back to that kind of vision. Later Michelle Obama speaks and I will post an update.
They have a live audio feed from the hall itself, and big-screen TVs around the tent with network coverage, so you don’t always see on the TV what you are hearing. That is probably a very good thing because I don’t care what Wolf Blitzer says and I can safely say that none of the bloggers here do either.
There are supposed to be about 400 people here in the blogger Big Tent. That seemed about right today. This is a steel-frame temporary building that was just finished Saturday, I think. The name comes from the Republican Party’s focus-group certified slogan, which means that everyone is welcome to vote for Republicans — and no matter what you end up giving tax cuts to the rich and losing your health insurance, savings, pension, home and job.
Around Pepsi Center
There is a very big perimeter around the Pepsi center itself. I walked several blocks around that over to the other side of the perimeter. As you walk you pass so many people heading to or from the convention, many of them recognizable. “Isn’t that …?” Paul Begalia riding in a bicycle taxi. Journalists you’ve seen on TV, etc…
The convention has a different crowd that the big tent — people are dressed better. Bloggers tend to wear shorts and t-shorts. In the convention hall (I learned four years ago the hard way) a guy would tend to dress up much more and you might feel out of place without a sportcoat. (I don’t know how to describe the same thing for a woman.)
Starz Green Room
After walking (and walking) I checked in at the Starz Green Room. It is well air conditioned. You see, that matters a lot when there are hundreds or more people everywhere you go, after walking on a hot day with the sun at this altitude burning you. And everyone here does a lot of walking because of that several-block security perimeter.
The Starz green Room has a film festival going on, and the Seachange Forum panel series. Click through and scroll down for the schedule.) I wasn’t able to stay long, but it is a great, welcoming environment, professionally run with great content. If you have a credential into the convention itself you should look at the schedule and reserve a place for one of their events.
More Big Tent
So this evening many people have gone over to the convention hall so it has cleared out and is somewhat less of a zoo (there is free beer). You can actually find a seat now, but not that many I was an idiot who didn’t get his credentials in time so I get to stay here. Tomorrow I will be in the hall.
Here is what I look like blogging on a couch here:
(Taken with Flip Video supplied by the Voter Genome Project)
Click here to see today’s earlier convention post with pic and video.
Let me know what you want me to cover here at the convention.