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Democratic Convention, Monday

I did wind up watching quite a bit of the first day of the convention, and I took some very sparse notes. Here they are, for what they are worth. I'll try to write a couple of more coherent essays (brief essays, I hope) about some of the bigger issues, like the sense of powerful women in the Party and some contradictory and conflicting images around that, the tensions between the convention for the Party and the convention for the swing voters, and the color scheme that makes pale blue shirts for men look so atrocious.

Rev. Leah Daughtry, the CEO of the convention. Angry black woman in bright blue. And pearls. “The least, the last and the lost”. That’s good.

Video about The West. Governors and Senators from NV, WY, AZ, MT, WY, NM, CO. That’s pretty impressive, actually. Video is too long. Interestingly, includes a plea to get together and work on the campaign; that can’t be aimed at the conventioneers, but who else is watching at this point? Not that there’s anyone in the hall yet. Ends with AZ Gov. saying we have never elected a president from Arizona, and at least for this cycle, she’d like to continue that precedent. Hee hee.

The Credentials Committee: Eliseo Roques-Arroyo, Puerto Rico. Si se Puede. A good speaker. Then Jim Roosevelt. Unity talk. Stiff and squinty. Announces that MI and FL delegates get votes, and gets a big round of applause for it. Alexis Herman (former Secretary of Labor) on Hope and Determination. Then Dr. Dean adopts the report on voice vote.

The Rules Committee: Sunita Leeds. Pearls. Nervous-looking. Announces a new committee to look at superdelegates and caucuses. Mary Rose Oakar from the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination League, looks very Jewish to me. Ohioan. Nominates Nancy Pelosi as convention chair, other women as officials of the convention. Gov. Walker, then, who I missed, appears to nominate other officers, men this time. Then Dr. Dean gets the aye, and then he adds some other officers.

Note: Dr. Dean, in identifying the people who will be, I think Sergeants at Arms, some purely nominal post anyway, says that one of them is an “LGBT activist”. Amazing to think that (a) only four cycles ago, having an openly gay speaker was a Very Big Deal, and (2) the head of the DNC can now casually refer to LGBT without explaining or identifying further. This is the first of the moments where I find myself shocked, not by how progressive and egalitarian and diverse my Party is, but by how recently those changes have happened. More on this later, I hope.

Anyway, here I skipped a bit.

From the platform committee, Patricia Madrid, AG of NM. Patriotism is working to improve the country. Examples of patriots are are Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta. Then Judith McHale, who talks about letting America be America again. Shout-out to Hillary. Dull, boilerplate speech. Tiny mouth, very serious. Nancy Pelosi gavels it aye.

Skipped some more.

The Hispanic Caucus. Missed the first bit. Silvestre Reyes, not a very likeable man. Jose Serrano, US Rep. from the Bronx, starts with “Hello, New York! Helllloooooooh, Puerrrrrto Rrrrricoooooooooo!” Speaks Spanish with a Bronx accent. Little moustache. I like him.

Nancy Keenan, from NARAL. “My Party, the Democratic Party.” Right to choose contraception. Stand with women who choose adoption. “How is it moral, John McCain…”

Amanda Kubik, speaking for young delegates. Making our change visible. “Yes we can! Or as we say up in Fargo, Yah sure, ya betcha!”

Emil Jones, Jr. IL State Senate (minority leader? Former minority leader?) South Side. Very tough looking. Nice suit. “We were not a likely pair.” Says that Sen. Obama told him “You know I like to work hard”, so sent him to work with Republicans on ethics reform. His nose is wider than his mouth!

Reg Weaver from the NEA. Black pinstriped suit. Big fellow, black, bald, with a big white walrus moustache.

Best Reader asks “what’s with the disco?”

IL AG Lisa Madigan. Wearing purple, no pearls. Very likeable. Underscoring Sen. Obama good for women. Pushing the IL state senate stuff, which of course is all he’s got, really. Important, though. Perhaps they should have saved some of this for later?

Dan Hynes. Illinois State Comptroller. Lost to Sen. Obama in the primary for Senate. “No-one likes to lose, but it’s a lot easier when you respect and admire the person who wins.”Pale blue shirt, pale blue tie, looks odd against the blue DNC background.

Alexi Giannoulis, IL State treasurer. Appears to be eighteen years old. "basketball buddy" Blue tie with a HUGE knot, very loose around a thick neck. Actually 32.

Randi Weingarten, AFT. Very angry. Good with the audience. Teachers must be partners, not pawns. Join us in this quest.

John Legend, singing. Not very interesting R&B. If you are out there? Tomorrow is starting now? Yawn. Clearly my break isn’t over.

Panel discussion on the economy. This is dumb. It’s like a parody of a Sunday morning politics show. It turns out that Barack Obama would be good for the economy! And John McCain bad! With no specifics! But lots of chatting. But I kinda like Sherrod Brown with his goofy hair and cheap-looking gray suit.

Nancy Pelosi video. It’s OK. A bit eulogy-ish, if you know what I mean.

Nancy in white. A disco pantsuit, or Nehru jacket thingie. Also, my Best Reader hates the podium. Awkward gavel business.

Margie Perez, N’awlins musician. She’s hot! Katrina, of course. Can’t afford to let John McCain drown our hopes in the same failed policies. Musician’s Village, Habitat for Humanity. A nice, if odd, bit when she grabbed the fleur-de-lis she wears around her neck, as if it were an amulet.

Video about Katrina. Which appears to be also the Jimmy Carter video. Pres. Carter gets to make the Louisiana is the third-world thing out of personal experience (with both), without making it sound insulting.

Hey! Jimmy Carter is there! With Roz, I guess. It doesn’t look like he’ll speak. They’re playing “Georgia on my Mind”. …aaand, he’s gone. Hmph. And now we’re back to a video, evidently about Barack Obama in law school.

Maya Soetoro-Ng. Comes out and hangs five (later looks this up, Wikipedia calls it the shaka sign). She doesn’t look polished (in the negative connotations), and seems strangely comfortable up there. Now she’s settled in to read from the teleprompter, seeming less comfortable, stiffer, more prepared. “Bounteous opportunity. It is a gift he has already given us in this campaign.” I don’t really like that already-historic meme that seems to be popping up.

The hall has filled up, now, at last.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. “first political convention in history to take place within sight of a mountaintop.” Again, already-historic. Not the right tone. More of his IL legislative history, which is nice. “party establishment was skeptical”. He’s not his father. He is good, though, within the normal parameters of good. Sets up the party establishment, and then says that the election wasn’t decided by them, but by the voters, the people of IL, and IL is America. An odd then about the He and the We and the She. “The well being of the ‘we’ depends on the well being of the ‘he’ and the ‘she’.“ Very awkward sounding. “The Selma generation, my father’s generation”; I like that, point out the generational thing, and that it’s effectively John McCain’s generation, as he was old enough (by 1964 at any rate) to have helped with the movement, and didn't. “I know Barack Obama, I have seen his leadership at work.” In Denver, a mile high, “Freedom has never rung from a higher mountaintop than it does today.” The music isn’t as bad as four years ago. That’s something. I’m not saying it’s good, I’m just saying it doesn’t make me want to hurt the musical director. Yet, anyway. Where’s Will.I.Am?

It’s been five minutes now of music and panning over the Big Tent. I love the Big Tent, but it does seem like a programming problem.

Homes for our Troops? Each convention site-meaning here and in Minneapolis? Didn’t get this.

Mike and Cheryl Fisher, talking about lunch with B.O. before the IN primary. Kinda cute. Very much an aw, shucks.

Tom Balanoff, SEIU Chicago. This guy isn’t much of a speaker. OK. His tie works on TV better than it ought to. Why did they give him a prime-time slot? Is anybody other than C-SPAN going to show it?

Caroline Kennedy (Schlossberg) enters to the tune of “Sweet Caroline”, which I think means that the Sox won. “Barack Obama and Edward M. Kennedy. Their stories are very different…“ Ya think? “Barack Obama is making them feel hopeful, the way they did when my father was President.” “I’ve never had someone inspire me the way people tell me my father inspired them. But I do now, with Barack Obama.” Uncle Teddy. “If you… Teddy is your Senator, too.” wonderful.

Video tribute opens with water. A. Cline points out that Teddy and water are not necessarily the right combination. Wish that chap would quit it, if you know what I mean. The tribute thing has a touch of noblesse oblige, what with the yachts and all. Comment about Joe dying in war, a bit awkward but nice.

They are going to let him talk! Oh, wow. I am a little worried that this undermines the message, particularly the generational message. But wow. I’m teared up, a little. “we are all called to a better country and a newer world.” “For me, this is a season of hope.” Moon stuff. Not a great image, since we left it and didn’t go back. “not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation. And this November, the torch will be passed again…” “The work begins anew! The hope rises again! And the dream lives on.”

They’re playing “Still the One”. Ah, well. Time for a break, again. Last time, I came to loathe the musical director with the hate of a hundred … er … hatey things. Maybe I should go to bed.

Tom Harkin comes on and gives a brief two or three sentences in American Sign Language, with an interpreter to speak for him. Lovely. Now he’s introducing Jim Leach, a Republican Rep from Iowa.

Jim Leach is giving a dull speech. I’m knocking off for the night. I’ll watch the last two big speeches, sooner or later, right?