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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:27 am 
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I spoke Voronwë about the idea of starting a "personal reporting" thread on the Presidential election.

I happened to run into a McCain-Palin rally in town today, quite by accident, and I got some pictures, which inspired the idea.

So this thread is where you can report on your own impressions of rallies, campaign work (if you are involved) etc as opposed to the hot and heavy discussions of policy and strategy as found in the main thread, which primarily references mainstream media rather than personal accounts.

------------------

I was going out for my regular after work bike ride today, when I noticed that the streets around the courthouse downtown were packed, and many were cordoned off.

A McCain-Palin political rally was going on.

The presence of a Republican rally in Media, Pa is both unsurprising and ironic because of the political realities in Media.

Delaware County, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, is known as a Republican stronghold. It includes many of the wealthy communities on the Philadelphia Main Line, but also some of the poorest, such as Chester City.

The county seat is Media, which is a Democratic holdout in the center of the county.

The end result is that the Republicans historically have held rallies here to get access to the Philadelphia market and take advantage of their local power base. Philadelphia itself has been Democratic for many years, so Republican Delaware County is a way to get access.

The irony is that the county seat and courthouse are in Democratic Media.

Anyway, I got some pictures and ran into some folks I knew and some that I didn't, including a Chinese reporter for a Shanghai newspaper who was covering the Presidential race who interviewed me on my impressions (this was right after the incident that follows).

I also got to see a protester get taken down hard. I did not get a picture of that. The police were quite quick and emphatic at that point to tell everyone (including me) to put your cameras away. I'm not sure that it was legal for them to do so in the manner that they did, but when there are a dozen cops with sticks telling you to put your camera away, the easiest decision was to back off.

In addition to Palin and McCain, Senator Joseph Lieberman also spoke. He introduced them, in what I suppose was an attempt to give a bipartisan feel to the event, and to counterbalance the many Obama supporters who showed up.

I have some pictures which follow, and I give the locations, which you can reference on Google maps.

Downtown Media, near Courthouse

Here's where I first encountered the crowds on Veteran's Square, lading up to the Courthouse.

Image

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A little further up there were Obama supporters, and even at least one Ron Paul supporter.

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A view from Olive Street North of the Courthouse, looking down Front St to the steps of the Courthouse, which was where the speakers were.

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A view from Orange St up Front, looking the opposite way--I had ridden my bike around to the other side. Right behind me, which you can't see in the picture, were all the TV and Radio vans and emergency services:

Image

Here Palin is speaking; she is the blob with the red jacket below the banner with the word "Peace". This was taken from Pearl St and Veteran's Square, as were most of the rest that follow:

Image

Another view of the Obama and Ron Paul supporters along Veteran's Square:

Image

A couple pictures of McCain: like Palin, he is speaking from a podium below the Peace banner:

Image
Image
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Finally, a (presumably) anti-Palin poster with a picture of Palin in a patriotic bikini, and the slogan--Vote with your Brain:

This was on State St and Veteran's Square:

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Following this I looped around a while later, as things started to break up, and I was talking to some friends I know in local bands from the music open mikes, when a young dark-clothed "punk" protester came running around the corner with a dozen cops in pursuit on foot and mountain bike.

He was slammed to the ground. As this was happening, a number of people, including myself, gathered round, and I pulled my camera out, as did some others, and police immediately got in our face and started yelling: "Put the cameras away!"

On the corner, there were several other people including several folks of Southeast Asian descent (of which there are a fair number locally), and I spoke to one of them who had a large camera and a press id, the others also appeared to be with him and had a video camera. It turned out that they weren't local, and the one that I spoke to was from a Shanghai newspaper, and he was covering the event for the Chinese market.

We spoke briefly, and he asked about my impressions and what I thought about the race, and took my name. My basic impression that I gave was that I thought that the rally did not contain much substance, which was not unexpected. "Do you love America?" (Cheers.) "Do you love our military?" (Cheers.)

We need to handle the financial crisis. Obama has done nothing....

(My thought: Did you read the proposal for the $700 billion bailout on the road today, Senator McCain?)

It served the purpose of a rally, which was to hit a few talking points, and get the people who already support you to cheer.

McCain made a little joke when the crowd yelled in support:

"Today I can truly say that I have Media support!"

I told the Chinese reporter the truth that I hadn't made up my mind yet. However, I also indicated that I felt that Palin was unqualified, which was turning me away from McCain.

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Last edited by BrianIsSmilingAtYou on Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:34 am 
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Fascinating, Brian! Thanks so much for sharing this. I hope others will have an opportunity to share their personal experiences with the campaign, too.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:18 pm 
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Thanks for sharing your experience, Brian!

I feel very troubled by your description of the police activity. We're not allowed to take pictures or video? It sounds more like something that would happen in Russia.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:37 pm 
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I don't think they can legally require it, Cerin, but in the circumstances it's hard to resist an order from a police officer, especially an angry one.

There are organizations whose purpose is to document police interactions with protesters, and in the past they have cost police departments and cities a fair amount of money in settlements because of documented excesses. The police are on to that now and shut down or confiscate cameras, especially video cameras, when they have the faintest reason to do it.

I have sympathy for both sides, because the presence of cameras can incite protesters to worse behavior, while the absence of cameras can do the same for the police. Still, as an American my instinct is that transparency is better.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:43 pm 
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Hoo YEAH! A Ron Paul sign. McCain really REALLY hates those.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:33 pm 
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Prim wrote:
The police are on to that now and shut down or confiscate cameras, especially video cameras, when they have the faintest reason to do it.

But can they do this lawfully? Don't we have the freedom to take pictures, or are there actually laws that forbid it?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:38 pm 
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Cerin, did you hear what happened at the Republican National Convention? Accredited journalists, including an AP photographer, were arrested for filming/taking pictures of/reporting on police response to protests. Of course, later the charges were dropped. Is it legal? Of course not. But it is all too easy for the police to say that their interpretation was that the reporters/whoever had a camera were inciting the protesters or obstructing the police. Even when there is video showing that isn't true.

Regarding Brian's pictures, I am disturbed about the poster of Sarah Palin in a bikini (which comes from a fake photoshopped picture). It seems to me that the protester is trying to tap into exactly the type of emotions that he is supposedly opposing. That's not necessary or desirable, as far as I am concerned.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:34 pm 
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from CG

Quote:
Hoo YEAH! A Ron Paul sign. McCain really REALLY hates those.


Do you have a link that substantiates that?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:57 pm 
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Yes I do.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:59 pm 
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It would be polite to provide the link.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 3:32 am 
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Thanks everyone for weighing in.

I agree with Voronwë's assessment of the Palin poster.

However, I should say that most folks were quite civil despite their disagreements, despite the one protester that I saw taken down.

I look forward to anyone else who may have some stories of their own.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:36 pm 
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A bit late here with a report on Obama fundraiser I attended on Oct. 5th.
Here's some photos and notes from the event:
http://www.newtondems.org/?q=taxonomy/t ... 392b55eeae

I didn't do any photos myself, and was mostly just looking around as it was the first time I ever was doing anything political like that.

The fundraiser was high-profile, sponsored by Democrats of the city of Newton, which is a wealthy Boston suburb with large Jewish population. Barney Frank was going to attend and amazingly, he did, even in the midst of financial crisis and bailout negotiations. He looked noticeably grim, much more down-cast than the other attendees - who included paralyzed congressman from RI and another congressman from NH, and a former DNC chair Steve Grossman - who's also a Jewish MA community
activist.
Still, Barney Frank cracked some jokes, for example that that RI congressman is only one in the House paralyzed from neck down (but there're many paralyzed from neck up - heh). But mostly he was dead serious, delivering what appeared later as his stump speach on Freddie and Fannie and Dems responsibility for the crisis. And did I mention he was extremely grim? I think both because of economy situation and his personal situation in regard to that. I approached him later with a question plagueing me about McCain/Palin ticket, which I don't want to mention directly. And he was reassuring about McCain on that question.

As for the speakers - the most upbeat and optimictis was the NH congressman, who was one of the earliest Obama supporters from the Dems primary. He cracked some jokes as how he hinted to Obama that he might pick him as a VP, but Obama rejected his foreign policy credentials. Which consisted of him being able to see Canada from Mt.Washington, and being able to see Russians in Manchester city square. To which I shouted "hear, hear" - as me being the only Russian at the event, I think. :)

There were about 500 people in a pretty small hall, with donations starting from 250$. In the end they told us that 130000$ was collected that evening - which confirms my estimates. Most of the people were elderly, like maybe 2/3rd. And the other 1/3rd was middle-aged, with only few young faces in the crowd. And lots and lots of people had Barack Obama lapel pins in Hebrew.

The were two 10-11 yr old girls there - one with a T-shirt with something like "Democrat in training" hanging in the crowd, and another black girl who was running around helping other adult volunteers with refreshments.

Heh, refreshments were pretty good, but I was so pumped on adrenalin that I couldn't really enjoy them.

The most interesting points I walked away with was a case made by a local lady who said that McCain started out as a moderate, and she hoped he would appoint moderate Spureme Court judges. But Palin pick demostrated what kind of people he would pick, for judges as well. And that scared her into action.
And another point was made which was the same I made earlier to my husband: that those donations are really investments, one of the most important investments in the future which we can do today.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:35 am 
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Thanks for the report, Mrs. Underhill.

There are local centers for both the Democrats and Republicans in town here.

The Democratic one is fairly high profile, on Baltimore Pike, which is the main through road. It occupies a former auto dealership with a large glass window facing the road, so you can see everyone inside when it is lit up at night.

--------------

It turns out I will have to get an absentee ballot, as my company has decided to hold a training seminar election week.

I've been trying to figure out why they chose that week, since it would complicate things for people.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:43 am 
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I had to get an absentee ballot too, Brian, because I will be travelling 11/4. I've never done that before.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:42 pm 
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Well, I'm here to tell you that large 100,000+ candidate rallies aren't all they're cracked up to be. :P

I went to Obama's Sunday rally at Civic Center park in Denver with my daughter and a friend and her daughter. Step 1: get the public bus schedule and go to the bus Sunday morning. But RTD was running their usual Sunday morning schedule so the bus was entirely full (actually, they turned away all riders at my stop and had to do so at the two stops previous). Ok, plan B. We all get in my car and drive to downtown Denver. Actually, since the place is pretty quiet on the weekends, we have no trouble parking. We then show up an hour and a half before "doors open." We get into a mega long line. I mean, it took 20 minutes just to walk to the end of the line with people streaming in lining up behind us.

There were lots of vendors selling Obama-Biden shirts, buttons, etc. and so on. I didn't see any McCain/Palin signs or protesters.

It continues on with just massive, massive amounts of people. So the line starts moving slowly. However, just as we get within a block of the venue, suddenly the pace picks up abruptly and we just walk quickly. Turns out they had filled up the park and all the rest of us were in the wide avenue that terminates at the state capitol building. So we took our place in the press of people. However, the ground was not slanted for viewing, so we had zero view of the stage. :(

The crowd was pretty lively and excited though, and I've never seen so many Obama/Biden paraphernalia in my entire life on people. Shirts, buttons, sweatshirts, hats, all festooned with Obama stickers/signs/sayings/his face. :)

I got my daughter on my shoulders for his actual speech. My neck and shoulders are still feeling it today--she's a 65 pounder. :help: She reported seeing a white dot with a black head on the stage. :P

The speech was good, the echoes were a little distracting (we were between one set of speakers and another which was about one second behind the first speaker). We cheered at the appropriate places. It was a decent speech, but I can't help but think the guy's gotta be tired of delivering the same dang speech with slight daily variations by now.

Leaving I was struck, again, by the massive crowds of people. Walking away, we essentially took over several streets, as in people thronged the street including the roadway, and anybody in a car was just going to have to wait. :) It was interesting--the power of peaceable assembly in action--made me realize more than ever that we do have power, all of us individuals.

Uneventful ride home. Turns out there was 100,000+ at the rally (confirmed by Denver police). If you see a picture of Obama at the rally, with the golden dome of the state capitol building in the background, we were next to the trees on the right hand side of the picture, about halfway to the state capitol building. :blackeye:


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:49 pm 
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I know a couple people who went to Denver. I kind of wish I could make it to one of those rallies just for the experience, but, OTOH, I hate crowds. >100000 people makes me cringe just thinking about it.

I'm trying to decide if I want to vote early or go to my polling place. There's something romantic about voting on election day, but if I vote now I'll be done. Hmm...

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:58 pm 
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Vote early, River. They're predicting multi-hour waits on Election Day. Unless you like multi-hour waits. :) 2004's one-hour wait to vote for Kerry was enough for me, thanks. I voted by mail-in this time.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:08 pm 
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I barely waited at all to vote in 2004. But the ballot is clogged with propositions this year so that'll be slowing people down.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:15 pm 
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If turnout's huge, it'll be worse. Haven't a lot of people been stripped off the rolls in Colorado, too? A lot of them will be finding that out for the first time on Election Day.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 4:07 am 
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I did my absentee ballot today.

It was pretty straightforward.

Normally, I could walk to the county election office, but we've had miserable rain (as anyone who watched the World Series can testify).

So I drove over, walked the last bit in the pouring rain, and got it in.

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