Denver—Civic Center Park, the park which some protesters have been using to hold demonstrations since last Saturday, was discovered on Wednesday morning to have a new six and half foot high fence. It was not immediately known why this occurred.
Many I have spoken with today are questioning whether you can hold a meeting such as the DNC, which should fundamentally be about the free exercise of rights, speech, voting and at the same time squelch so many others' free speech rights outside the convention hall. A so-called “free speech zone” was created next to the Denver arena where this convention is being held. Protesters call it the “freedom cage,” and have boycotted it since the convention began. But Wednesday night the largest demonstration during this convention took place and the destination was the “freedom cage.” The 5000-plus demonstrators quickly overwhelmed the “cage” and the group headed to a showdown with more than 500 heavily armed police and their tank-like water cannon closer to the site of the DNC. Some 50 members of the Iraqi Veterans Against the War stood at attention and asked to present a one-page letter to a delegate of the Democratic Party. Finally the police accepted the letter and at sunset the crowd was dispersing.
Maybe Sitting does Matter
Where you sit can sometimes say a lot about how much the Dems love (need?) you. There is no mistake about where your state’s delegation is seated inside the Pepsi Center in Denver. Traditionally, the President and Vice-Presidential nominees sit right in front of the stage, and there they are: Illinois, front and center, and Delaware (Joe Biden’s state) stage right. The state that hosts the convention, Colorado, is stage left. Now is where it gets interesting. The states that are too close to call, or have potential to be in play, are given good seats. Michigan and Virginia, both important to the Dems, are pretty close, directly behind Colorado and Illinois. Pennsylvania is seated to the left of Michigan and Florida is directly behind Delaware, pretty good seats too. Nevada is behind Florida on stage right.
Iowa is stage left as is Vermont and that is curious. Not Iowa, but Vermont. Ohio is out in center field behind Virginia and Michigan. Seems like Ohio and Vermont should switch places in terms of needed electoral votes. Now guess who is way out in stage center-left field (California) and far-left field (Minnesota)? Why, because they are likely to vote for the Obama-Biden ticket, as are New York, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Wisconsin, all out in stage center right and far right fields. So a seat is not just a seat at the DNC.
Year of the Woman
Nancy Pelosi just said that 100 years ago at the DNC in 1906 there were five women delegates. This year there are more women delegates than male delegates for the first time ever.
Conyers to the Rescue
When we get back in session, John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, revealed Wednesday afternoon, we will issue a Contempt of Congress citation to one Karl Rove. Conyers also will continue to urge that Guantanamo be closed down, never to open again. More ideas: examine the abrogation of so many international treaties; "this notion that the President is above the law…the supreme court has said time and time again that the president is not above the law” has to be contested; “proactive and preventive is how the Dept of Justice should be run…our goal is to have a presidential election that is free and fair, unlike 2000 and 2004.”
Rep. Mike Honda and former Army Chaplain James Yee Talk Rights
The “American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections”
(note: AMT has have gotten five congresspeople this week to address the concerns of American Muslims at a variety of forums at the Sheraton Hotel.)
James Yee, former Army Captain was railroaded, jailed then exonerated and placed back in his former position at Ft. Lewis. It was too much for Yee though and he was given an honorable discharge.
Yee’s story is that he was stationed at Guantanmo Bay U.S. military base. He was assigned as a Muslim Chaplain. “I used the chain of command to raise my concerns. Many people did not know about the abuses that are taking place down here. They got me out of there as soon as possible and place me in a South Carolina brig. I was not only found not guilty I was also given an honorable discharge,” and a medal. “At Guantanamo I was putting forward American values", Yee said, “humane treatment of prisoners and justice.”
Then it was Mike Honda’s turn. Honda is a congressmember from Santa Clara county. He said, “I think quite frankly he’s (Yee) been framed.” Honda went on to say, “The Japanese community was the first one out there after 911 because we knew what was going to happen.” We were out there for Muslims and others. Honda went on to talk about Pat Tillman’s case. Why did they lie? We had hearings and that’s how we found out there’s 180,000 Blackwater…mercenaries in Iraq, he said. “The Patriot Act is the most unpatriotic act,” Honda believes. He also mentioned the prosecutions of Wen Ho Lee and Aaron Watada. Honda was asked what he expected from an Obama administration. He said, given the past eight years [of civil rights abuses] it’s time to develop a Department of Peace. We did it with energy and education…the power of example, it’s what Bill Clinton talked about last night.
Now it's all over but the clean-up. Here are all the pictures from the Democratic convention, both inside the hall with the delegates and outside with the protesters.