Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Continued Police State

The video speaks for itself.

Following is a first hand account, via Pharyngula, of Nathan Acks, who was arrested Monday August 25th at the protest that I posted below.

Last night at approximately 7:30pm I was arrested as part of a mass arrest at 15th & Court and charged with disrupting a permitted assembly and blocking public streets. A third charge - throwing rocks and missiles - was listed on my pre-printed ticket, but the crossed out.

At the time I was not protesting. I was acting as an observer for the People's Law Project, and was dressed in a button shirt and a neon-green baseball cap stating that I was acting as a representative of the National Lawyers Guild. I followed the protestors out of Civic Center Park, but remained on the sidewalk until pushed by riot police into the street. At no time during the abortive march did any legal observer, or any marcher that I have spoken to, observe any destruction of property, any thrown objects, or ANY ORDER TO DISPERSE BY THE POLICE.

At some point during my visit to Gitmo on the Platte, the compact flash card I had been carrying that contained photographic documentation of the protest disappeared. This included pictures of the badges of some of the officers involved, images of a marcher OBEYING police orders being shot with pepper spray point-blank in the eyes while trying to retreat (when I was hauled away he was sitting with a street medic, and I could hear him sobbing again and again, "I can't see..."), and photographs of a second protestor who was shot three times by what appeared to be three separate officers with bean-bag guns while KNEELING, motionless, 15 FEET AWAY, hands outstretched as if in prayer, and wearing nothing but a pair of POCKETLESS shorts.

The arresting police officers - Aurora PD - were uniformly assholes, but the officers from the sheriff's department who handled us after we arrived at Gitmo on the Platte were professional and sometimes even courteous. However, I know that this was not an experience shared by everyone, and did notice a significant change in attitude when it became apparent that I was functioning as a representative of the National Lawyer's Guild. My hat had been confiscated from me during the arrest, but one of the officers at the holding facility returned it to me shortly after I arrived. I wore it from that point forward.

At 10:53pm I had posted my own bond. At midnight myself and woman who was also arrested and had been able to make bond were released. We were the first two people to leave. I hitched a ride back with her friends, gave a video interview when I arrived back at the People's Law Project offices, and helped man the phones for the rest of the night, fielding calls from arrestees and worried friends and relatives.

At least as of last night, those of us who had been released were returned to the world STILL WEARING THE ZIP CUFFS WE HAD BEEN ARRESTED IN. The
police would cut out one of our hands, but leave the the remainder of the cuff
on the other hand. When I left the PLP offices this morning at 10am, calls were
coming in that folks being released from the courthouse were being hassled by
police in riot gear - ON THE STEPS OF THE COURTHOUSE ITSELF - and that more police in riot gear were stopping individuals - some minors - in Civic Center
Park and demanding to see photo ID and to be allowed to search any bags they
were carrying. Many of these officers - including many who made the arrests last
night - ARE NOT WEARING VISIBLE BADGES, or otherwise have their names and badge numbers obstructed. THIS IS ILLEGAL.

The way that the arrests were handled, the way that we were released still in zip cuffs, the way that bystanders are being hassled today, all represent a continuation of a pattern of intimidation that began before the convention and was already legally questionable. At least some police actions today have now fully crossed that line.

I will not be intimidated.

I've slept as much as I can, and am about to leave again, return to the streets, and again take up my position as legal observer. If I am arrested again, then so be it. I have the resources right now to overcome this - something that many others do not. And I have a job to do.

I almost closed my last e-mail with a saying from Frank Herbert's Dune that has its roots in modern Arabic. I decided that doing so would make the letter too melodramatic (something that several of you commented on anyway), but
today I have no qualms. If the explanation I have seen is correct, then it feels very appropriate. I say it now not for myself, but for those I was arrested with, those who stood up and sang as the riot police called in, and those who will also refuse to be intimidated and return to the streets today.

Long live the fighters!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Authoritarianism Is A One Way Street

An account from the comments section of that story:

I was there! Just taking pics, but I decided to gtfo when somebody yelled gas
and I saw a cop holding said gas cannister.

Basicly the protesters went into the street in front of the City & County building and the cops wern't keen on it, so they started lining up and telling
everyone to get back on the sidewalk, at which point somebody hit the deck in
the street (pepper spray perhaps?) and a mob sort of formed from there. It was
about that point that I whipped out my camera and at the same time my boyfriend
and I both got shoved by a couple of riot cops for doing nothing more than
standing there. We would have moved if they said so, but you know Denver cops,
violence for no real reason. From there the protesters bolted across the park,
past the Seal Fountain, across Colfax and started heading down 15th. Some kid
pulled one of the road closed signs into the middle of the intersection of 15th
and Colfax and the mob made it about a block or two before the cops cut them off
and they sort of got cornered against a building. It was soon after that I heard
somebody yell gas and to run, so I joined a small herd of people in running
cause getting pics is one thing, getting gassed...not so keen on it.

Contrast that story, where the cops motivation is to keep the street open, with my eyewitness account of what happened on the 16th Street Mall earlier in the afternoon.

I was on the Mall Shuttle, heading down to Wyknoop where the "Big Tent" is located. Many powerbloggers like Kos, Greenwald, the crew from FireDogLake and so forth are down there and I wanted to see if I could catch any of them. Well, the Shuttle stopped and there was this huge ruckus.

Notice that the cops didn't pepper spray the hateful fundies. Nope they protected them, and let them block the Mall for a good 20 minutes! One person was arrested at this incident - and you guessed it, he wasn't one of the fundie whack jobs.

Also, after this pepper spray ruckus in fornt of the Civic Center, the cops asked RTD to shut down the Mall Shuttle for an extended period:

Police officials asked RTD to shut the 16th Street Mall bus shuttle service
shortly after 7 p.m., said RTD spokesman Scott Reed. The mall service resumed
around 9:30 p.m
So it's abundantly clear to me that the cops interest was not the free flow of traffic.
If you wish to agitate or protest in accordance with the right wing agenda, no matter how extreme, you have the blessings of the authoritarians. If you wish to agitate or protest against that right wing, you get pepper sprayed and taken to jail.
Freedom of Speech - it's a one way street my friends.

Monday, August 25, 2008

For Now...

I've got some tasks to do this morning, but then I'm going to go run around with the video camera and see what's going on at various places.

Till I can get back with some film and a post, the Live streaming of protests, or whatever the hell might happen during the DNC in Denver's Civic Center Park.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Running Away To The Mountains

The Chef and his Missus asked us up to Frisco this weekend for Music on Mainstreet!

So we're going up and be back Sunday when the Convention madness starts. You'll never guess who is playing:

Blue Oyster Cult! HAHAHAHAH!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

About Tribes

The month of July, 1975, a doublewide trailer 10 miles south of Poston Arizona, 4:30 AM, about 97 degrees and 35% humidity.



BANG BANG. (On the trailer door. Muted voice of The Foreman, Rocky Humeumptewa.) Hey come on. Wake up.

Sleepy me: Hey, need your truck weighed? Gramma runs the scales. Hang on a sec. I'll get her.

BANG BANG. No, you're late.

(Shit, I just now recognize Rocky's voice. I forgot I was on the hoeing crew this morning.) OK, hang on just a minute.

BANG. "Hurry up!"

My gramma is nowhere near around and Rocky knows it. He's the foreman and works for the same ranch my gramma does. He knows she's gone to California with the Owner. That's why he came to wake my 13 year-old-ass up. My job today is to do my last run on hoeing weeds out of the cotton with the other younger kids, about 5 of them from 10 to my age, and I then have the priveledge this afternoon of learning to drive and move around the cotton pickers to the fields that the pickers will actually run. Me and Anson Humeumptewa, Rocky's cousin. Anson is a year older than me. And he also had a surprise for me later, that neither he or I knew at the time.

"Hurry Up!"

Rocky is pissed. I should have already been ready to go, and since adults are smart and kids are, well, kids, I really can't blame (read ARGUE) with him so I hustle. Which means I forego a shower, and all that nonesense. Frankly, you wouldn't smell any better after a shower there in those days. The well water was sulphur-licious. Bad egg smell. Which was worse, body odor or that sulphur smell of the damned from untreated well water which is what you had plumbed in your bathroom and clotheswasher? I just jumped very quickly into some overalls, grabbed a ball cap, a couple of bandanas in my pocket (for later sousing- hey, bandanas were an integral part of cooling) and was out the trailer door in a mere 90 seconds.

On our trailer's patio was a freezer. I nodded at Rocky, just slammed the door (Nobody locked their doors out there. There was no reason to.) and grabbed my frozen gallon of water. And by that I mean it was a gallon of milk; we drank it, I rinsed it, and had thrown it in the freezer. There were always a couple of those frozen gallons of water in that freezer. Evian and other bottled waters were yet to be. This milk gallon turned into drinking water for the rest of the day/shift in that frikking lousy part of the desert; the South Colorado Basin, should be Mojave, but somehow shit grows here.

Rocky expressed no comment, as that custom was the same for him. He just wanted me to hurry my ass up, and I obliged, scrambling into his International truck. I don't recall the year of that International, but it was a creme color, beat up from ranch work and looks in my mind's eye to be early 1950's.

Crazy Indian. He drove with the lights off. He knew where he was going and I didn't, so I suppose it was really me that was crazy. Unnerved me. And that's why Rocky did it I think. I was the same five feet eleven inches that I am today as I was at thirteen, albeit gangly yet chubby, stupid, be-acned; Rocky was just short of thirty years old, five foot six, and all Tewa muscle. Proud. I couldn't blame him. I'd be proud if I was Rocky Humeumptewa. I have wished I was Rocky Humeumptewa several times in my life. Anyway -

We cruise along the dirt road, stop a few times to re-set the waterflow in the ditches. Even doing that chore it only takes about twenty minutes to get to the road that runs along the Colorado River, and the edge of the Arizona side of the Colorado River Indian Tribes land where most of it has been leased to commercial farms/ranches. We head right, north, to about where the wier is.

The sun starts to come up.

We pull up to a ditch draw, and stop. We get out and I notice that the field to the north side of the ditch is tomatoes. I say "Hey, when did we start growing tomatoes?" Rocky replied curtly "WE didn't. Albert let this land out to Hunts farm. Gotta chop weeds anyway. Part of the deal."

I immediately understood why he was extra bitchy that day. Nobody had said yet to me that Al was subleasing parts of his lease, and the fact that it was tough time particularly wrankled the native tribes, i.e. Rocky. It only took a minute to reset the ditch and then Rocky said "I'm glad we beat Tammy. She should be here any minute."

And lo, in about five minutes, right about 5:15 AM Tammy appeared with the rest of my compadres. I was the only white kid on hoe duty. The rest of the seven were either Mexican, migrants or Tewa kids, and all between 9 and around 12 years old. Racism was endemic, so Tammy of the 98 IQ but around 28 years old was the supervisor of the hoe kid gang. The object of the day? Twenty acres of tomatoes; HOE! And hoe we did. One kid per row, eight kids plus Tammy made us a 9 row horror show on those weeds/water steelers let me tell you.

We were done about 10:30 that morning; had to stop as it was about 105 degrees and about 50% humidity, but we had finished the acreage. Rocky brought my timecard to me; he had written in 4:30 AM beginning, and I wrote 10:30 end. $2.05 per hour. Same rate for the other kids, but less time. Tammy cheated and started their cards at 5:00 am. Nobody thought a thing of it, because HELLO! They were all on the road well before that time.

What mattered to me, really was I was Getting A GREAT GIG NEXT! $4.00 per hour! Driving Equipment! It was Unheard Of Riches To Be Thirteen And Driving Equipment For That Much Money!

First was the mandatory drink, food and rest. These farm conditions are nasty you know, or maybe you don't. So at our 10:30 100 whatever degree stop, we just rested in the cotton shade for a bit, on the other side of that farm road, across from those goddamn tomatoes, then we drank some gatorade, and ate the cold tamales that Tammy brought. This Was The Usual Way. Tammy packed up the kids in the back of the ranch owned pickup, which might even be considered child abuse today, and they all merrily drove back to the compound where most of us lived, and went to their respective trailers.

I switched from ball cap to bandana; I watered that bandana and wrung it out, then folded and put it on my head in the fashion that my better half calls "hippy helmet." Replaced the ball cap and voila, I'm ready to go. I looked a little wistfully after the pickup Tammy was driving down the road. I think I am so cool. Rocky catches everything, says nothing.

We rumble towards the Colorado. Then Rocky turns NORTH! I am alarmed, as we are not going to be in Albert's ranch land much longer if Rocky keeps this shit up. I say nothing.

We get to the wier. Rocky pulls out fishing tackle from his box in the back of the International. Hands me a rod. I know enough to say nothing in front of this Indian; he has made me a fool frequently by letting me just be adolescent me in the past. My face was made hot red many times by him, his brother and his father, and my step-grampa Abner had totally enjoyed that! "No More" I had resolved my birthday in the Spring previous. So I just take the rod. Remain Silent. We go to the weir, squat on top, and throw out our rods.

We each get a mix of crappi and sunfish, about three fish each in relatively short order. Call it an hour. So it's right around 1:00 - the hottest part of the day until about 4:00. I know that it's stupid to do ANYTHING regarding activity right now at 112 degrees, but I want to suggest going home, or something. I am a restless thirteen year old, ergo, that's natural. Rocky says "Let's go get Anson." And off we go in the truck. It's about 15 miles to their place, dirt roads the whole way.

(We go past here, LePera Elementary School, and this is a nicer picture than it was in '75:)

And Rocky lays a bombshell on me:

Did you know that your school was used to imprison people?

I laughed at him, foolishly. "What are you talking about Rock? I'm imprisoned there as much as Anson or Elsie is, duh."
Rocky - "You do not know of The War then, or of us Tewa as People. Your Government sent many Japanese to camps during World War II - do you not know of this?"
I confessed, no I did not. Another red faced 13 year old moment, as I felt something coming.
Rocky - "These buildings were prisons that your people made. The Tewa... the land is sad. It is this time that is forgotten now. My mother reminded me. Look at it."
Silence; for an uncomfortably long time. The school/prison land faded from our sight as we continued on. I couldn't have squeaked a word out if I wanted to.
Of course, I broke first. " This is just the school. I never heard this. Am I supposed to say something? I feel like I'm supposed to, but I don't know what."
Rocky is/was no fool. What could he demand a thirteen year old goofy white kid say?
"Let's go get Anson."
Off we went to the Humeumptewa compound. Not a word passed during the time in transit. I'm not sure what either of us were thinking. Until we got there.
Anson Humeumptewa was throwing bales of hay onto a flatbed truck next to a corral of goats when we hit the compound. We drove up alongside the corral fence. He jumped of the hay bale stack and strode over to the truck, smiling and all sunshine. Got to the passenger window, which would be where I was sitting, and his smile turned into a frown.
"You guys STINK!"
The three of us started laughing - cause it was true. Fish, bait, canal /ditch duty and hoeing in the ersatz Mojave at 100+ degrees creates a perfume that is not exactly laudable.
Rocky killed the engine, looked at us, somewhat wistfully I thought, got out of the truck and walked to the main house.
Anson and I remained. Once Rocky was out of sight, we grabbed seats on the side of the International, and lit cigarettes. While we smoked in the silence for a few minutes, Anson wriggled around in his pockets, and pulled out a scraggly bag of weed. Rolled a joint.
"Let's go to the weir."
I couldn't say no to Sunny Tewa Indian boy of My Own Age.
Back we went to the wier on the Colorado. On the way, we went past our school, as you pretty much had to do. As we passed, Anson said "School. I really don't like it."
"It makes me feel different."
Cause of that Japanese thing, that Prison thing? Rocky just told me all about it.
"No, it's not that."
Then what is it Anson?
He said nothing further until we got to the wier. We clambered on top of it, cast our lines again, and now the heat was diminishing from it's 4:00 mad heights.
No fish for a while, and no talk.
The sky started to dim. I was feeling squirelly, as even though gramma wasn't home, I should really start to go home. I patted Anson on the back. "Let's go."
We started to reassemble our gear. In the middle of that, he grabbed me and hugged me so fiercely, I thought I was gonna just gasp and die.
He, still holding me, looked me in the eye and said : "You're gonna be all right."
I jabbered something, I don't even know what. But I do remember this last part so vividly:
"You're kinda like us Indians. You're different. Don't let them get to you."
He brushed my forehead with his hand, then just PUSHED me! Right on my forehead and started LAUGHING! I couldn't resist and followed suit. Pushed him back right on his forehead too.
It was sexual, and not sexual. Anson somehow gave me permission to be me. He knew I was gay and somehow, made me come out. I was never the same after. And I have always loved Anson Humeumptewa for that to this day.
And I am sure he's not gay. He was just, well, Anson.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Few Notes To The Obama Campaign

Dear David Plouffe -

Since I know you read my blog religiously and can't wait to hear what my opinion is about how to run BO's campaign, I thought I better get to it and give you my invaluable insight about what you should have on your to-do list between now and the end of the Convention.

- Announce the VP candidate on Thursday afternoon, say around 2 or 3 Eeastern time. You'll dominate the news cycle through Friday night and into Saturday when all the media is going to be congratulating themselves on how wonderful they are at the media kick-off in Denver at Elitch's. After that it's "All Convention All The Time" mode, and all together you'd end up with about 7 days of free national media.

- And about the VP. No sitting Senators, please. Biden, Bayh and Clinton all need to be right where they are in the Senate. You need all the Dem senators and more to be able to actually execute any actual governing. And if you're still really about change, dump the white dudes and I still think you should pick a woman, and there are two pretty good ones available.

- People have mentioned Sibelius, but how about Janet Napolitano? The fact that since she used to be a US Attorney General and was the lawyer for Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas SCOTUS nomination farce, she would be perfect in the OVP to help clean up whatever land mines Cheney has left, not to mention a very good overseer to help clean up the Department of Justice. She has the added benefit of acting like a dagger through McCain's Arizona heart; he'd lose his home state if you picked her.

-Speaking of political daggers through hearts; enough of this bi-partisan/post-partisan talk. Are you frikking DUMB? Listen to me, at a time when 75-80% of people are saying "country going in wrong direction" you need to forcefully REPUDIATE these jerks who have lead us to where we are. All you've got to do is articulate what the people are thinking. It goes kinda like this:

"Damn, things suck, particularly my finances. The Bush administration and it's cronies have damn near wrecked the country by spending all this money on that dumb war, which they lied about to get us over there. And they want MORE of it with Iran? They're probably lying about THAT too.

They need to GO! Their policies stink and have gotten us in this fucking debt-hole with the Chinese and not to mention the shitty Oil Countries. Might as well buy milk to drive your car; same goddamn price per gallon and it's hard to afford either."

So David, understanding what every day people are thinking, do you think that people REALLY want to hear about BI-FUCKING-PARTISANSHIP? No way. People don't want these Republican clowns anywhere near their lives. You don't need to get all nuance-y and professor-ish with the people. To get the people totally on your side just call it what it is. For instance:
  • When McCain/Media throws out that "Obama ain't quite 'Merkan" business, you respond with "McCain is a grumpy old man, who doesn't mind killing the children YOU send to Iraq to protect his oil buddies. He doesn't mind doing it at all, and that makes me sick."
  • When McCain/Media freaks out because you picked somebody who is not a sitting senator and they start throwing around "inexperience," you respond with "Yeah, look where Bush and your so-called experience got us - in the toilet, buddy, and everybody knows it."
All in all David, I'm just saying why don't you START the fights? Given McCain, Rove and the Media conditions, you're gonna end up fighting anyway, whether Obama likes it or not, so you may as well control the turf. And every fight needs to contain the element "McCain = Bush." It makes McCain so mad, he'll eventually lose his cool in public and everyone will go "Yep - grumpy old war pig. No Way."

So get busy and get with it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

From the Department Of Shameless Self Promotion

I've never done this before on this blog, but I need to make a plug.

We're renting out a room during the Convention.

Here's a quick virtual tour:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Strings Or No Strings?

Last week The Democratic National Convention CEO, Leah Daughtry, held a press conference to announce the ticketing process for Obama's acceptance speech at Mile High/Invesco Field. The press conference itself didn't go so well near the end, but everyone was pretty glad to hear that there was a process to get tickets to the event.

There's an FAQ page about the tickets which seems straightforward, including this:

Q: Do I need to volunteer with the Obama For America campaign
to receive a Community Credential?

A: As part of the application process, individuals applying for credentials will have the opportunity to request more information from the Colorado Campaign for Change regarding volunteering and outreach opportunities both before and after the Convention. While volunteering is not a prerequisite for recipients, Coloradans who volunteer with the Campaign for Change will have the opportunity
to receive all-star seating for Barack Obama’s speech. [emphasis mine]

So far so good.

But wait; you get a confirmation call about your ticket standing. Listen here to the call that Jess got, and she did not check the "volunteer" option to get better seats:

Six volunteer hours per ticket - whether you checked that option or not.

But then later today, Westword got a clarification from Matt Chandler at Obama headquarters.

Westword just got a clarification call from Matt Chandler at Obama headquarters. No matter the contents of the message left for Jessica Centers's friend (and if you listen, my guess is that you'll agree the caller implied that anyone who wanted a seat at Obama's speech would need to volunteer six hours), here's the deal: Only people who indicated they wanted to volunteer got the notification regarding these "all-star volunteer" credentials, which involve preferred seating. For everyone else, "there's absolutely no volunteering tied to it," Chandler says. These people are eligible for "community" credentials, and they should hear if they've made the cut -- on strictly a first-come, first-served basis -- by 9 p.m. Friday. If they're on a wait list, they'll be notified later.

And what's the ratio of "all-star" to "community" credentials? Although
the numbers have yet to be determined, "the vast, vast majority" will be
community, Chandler says. No volunteering strings attached.

OK, so which way is it? The campaign needs to clear up any confusion and get the outbound calls under control with a better script with the real info in it, the right script if you're volunteering to get better seats, or a plain confirmation if you're just getting tickets. Otherwise they're going to piss off a lot of locals. And why not just call them tickets instead of community credentials?

Monday, August 11, 2008


Yep - I'm just going to go ahead and steal this from TexBetsy at Mock Paper Scissors.

How about praying for a brain instead?
from The Carpetbagger Report by Carpetbagger

Guest Post by Morbo

Stuart Shepard is the type of right-wing Christian whose vision of faith
is more informed by the mean-spirited, vengeful God of the Old Testament than
the founder of the religion he so claims to cherish.

Shepard makes his living producing short videos for James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, the largest, best-funded Religious Right group in the nation. Shepard undoubtedly believes these videos are hip and clever. I suppose they are — if you’re a benighted fundamentalist Christian who just got web access last week. (”Look,
Ma, I’m surfing the ‘internets.’”)

Consider Shepard’s most recent effort. He asks Christians to pray for rain on the evening of Aug. 28, when Sen. Barack Obama is scheduled to give an outdoor address at Denver’s Mile High Stadium during the Democratic National Convention.

Shepard calls for “abundant rain, torrential rain … flood-advisory rain.” He adds, “I’m talking about umbrella-ain’t-gonna-help-you rain … swamp-the-intersections rain.” (He later denies he wants people to be flooded out of their homes, however.)

Why would Shepard pray for this? As he puts it, “I’m still pro-life, and I’m still in favor or marriage being between one man and one woman.”

Oh, I see.

Obama favors legal abortion and supports rights for gay people, and thus God should smote him with a downpour. But why stop with rain? If Obama’s views are this evil, wouldn’t it make more sense to pray for an earthquake, too? That would teach Obama and all of the secular humanists who support him.

Shepard denies he wants anyone to be harmed by this deluge, but a rain that swamps intersections and sparks flood advisories is not be trifled with. I’d guess that people in the Midwest, who grappled with rains like this recently, would not find Shepard’s comments amusing.

Shepard’s suggestion isn’t funny, witty or clever. It’s just mean-spirited and immature. It is also nothing like what Jesus would do.

Friday, August 8, 2008

My Report on UFO Hunting At Devil's Tower

Not really. I just like to say "UFO Hunting" whenever I go up to Devil's tower, ever since Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

I took a little road trip with my Dad on August 1st and 2nd up to northern Wyoming, and WHO KNEW that it was the same time as all the Harly folks riding to Sturgis for their rally! I hadn't thought a thing of it, but the preferred rides include a bunch of the same parts of Wyoming where we were travelling. Here's a little map to put it in perspective:

Also I misspoke in the video below about the first town. The bar and the Dogie theater are in Newcastle and that's where we stayed overnight; not Sundance.

So there - now you have a first hand look at the countryside where all this Harley riders and Sturgis blather was happening this week.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Some Dem Convention News

A couple items:

The police and Secret Service are bracing -

The Secret Service is wary of discussing threats against the people they protect, but with Obama poised to become the first black presidential nominee, there are special worries. While law enforcement officials say there are no specific, credible threats against Obama, they expressed concern about low-level chatter on Web sites frequented by white separatists who spew hate about Obama's race and what they perceive as his liberal agenda.

One recent scheduling change caused a major shift in security plans. When Obama announced last month that he would accept his party's nomination not at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, where the convention is being held, but at Invesco Field, home of the Denver Broncos, the Secret Service scrambled to work out plans with local authorities to secure the open-air stadium, which seats more than 75,000 people. Invesco is also adjacent to Interstate 25, a major corridor through the Northern Rockies that will most likely be closed for at least part of Obama's acceptance speech.

"The magnitude of the event has expanded," said John W.

Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver and a Democrat. "It's bigger and more profound than we expected." Officials acknowledge that their projections for the number of protesters are based more on a worst-case chain of events than specific information about who will show up, but they say they cannot take any chances.

As a result, the Secret Service, the Pentagon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and scores of police departments are moving thousands of agents, analysts, officers and employees to Denver for the Aug. 25-28 convention. They will operate through a complex hierarchy of command centers, steering committees and protocols to respond to disruptions.

National political conventions are a chance for federal agencies to test their latest and most sophisticated technology, and this year is no different. There was a brief flare-up recently between the FBI and the Secret Service, when each wanted to patrol the skies over the convention with their surveillance aircraft, packed with infrared cameras and other electronics. The issue was resolved in favor of the Secret Service, according to people briefed on the matter.

And speaking of the acceptance speech complicating the security issue, yesterday afternoon the DNC released details about how to get tickets, called Community Credentials for Obama's speech.

Q: What is the deadline for applying for Community Credentials?

A: The deadline for applying is August 12. After that, people will start to be notified that they were selected to receive Community Credentials. Starting August 20, unused credentials will be cycled back through the system and offered to people signed up on the waiting list.

Q: Who will receive Community Credentials? Have individuals who would have
otherwise been at the Pepsi Center already been assigned credentials for INVESCO Field at Mile High?

A: More than half of the seats at INVESCO Field at Mile High will go to Colorado residents. Nearly two-thirds of seats will go to residents of the Mountain West and Southwest regions – both areas of growth for the Democratic Party. Each state, the District of Columbia, Democrats Abroad, and the four territories will receive an allocation of Community Credentials. Colorado and states in the neighboring Mountain West region will receive a larger share of these credentials. Delegates, alternate delegates, pages or guests credentialed for the Pepsi Center will also be seated for events at INVESCO Field at Mile High.

And lastly, it appears that Security trumps Free Speech. Like that wasn't damn obvious.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Friends Service Committee
and others argued that the rules would keep them too far away from delegates to
get their message across during the convention, which is scheduled for Aug 25-28
at the city's downtown Pepsi Center.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger agreed that the protesters would suffer
some infringement on their freedom of expression but said those interests had to
be balanced with security concerns.

"The restrictions inhibit the plaintiffs' ability to engage in some forms of expressive conduct, (but) ... the plaintiffs have a wide variety of alternative means of expression that will allow them to effectively communicate their messages," Krieger wrote in her 71-page ruling.

Oh well.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eroding Soul

These soldiers don't realize it at this moment, but they are losing their humanity.

Notice a couple things here:

- The tank soldiers aren't worried about the taxi being a car bomb or anything. They would be inside the tank, rather than popping their heads out of it and reversing to crush the taxi again. Also, those who are filming arent worried about it being a car bomb, and exclaim "Do it again!"

- Way at the back of the alley, observe closely and you will see several Iraqi kids come out to see what's happening. In their eyes, is this not wanton destruction and cruelty? It sure is in mine.

We can't get the military out of there fast enough.

And by the way, just my opinion, I don't think we should redeploy to Afghanistan either. It will just be more of the same. Deprogramming these kids, both sets, Iraqi children and American soldiers, from the horrors that they've either seen or inflicted should be one of our highest national priorities.

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Dear Blogosphere - very light posting and commenting for a bit.

I have to pay some very serious attention to Meat World right now, but I shall return with Unconventional Hoo Hah as soon as I can.