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October 26, 2004

Andrew Sullivan Comes to His Senses

By Byron LaMasters

Not a shocker, but here's his endorsement of Kerry. Not a glowing endorsement, but one nonetheless from a Bush supporter in 2000. I do fear not only for America, but for both parties should Bush win next Tuesday. I fear an inevitable, bloody, gut-wrenching fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, and I also fear a Republican Party out of control - with no regard for our budget deficit, and highly reliant upon religious conservative voters who will shape a dangerous social and foreign policy. Andrew Sullivan shares my concern:

And when you think of what is happening in the two major parties, the case for a Kerry presidency strengthens. If Bush wins, the religious right, already dominant in Republican circles, will move the GOP even further toward becoming a sectarian, religious grouping. If Kerry loses, the antiwar left will move the party back into the purist, hate-filled wilderness, ceding untrammeled power to a resurgent, religious Republicanism--a development that will prove as polarizing abroad as it is divisive at home. But if Bush loses, the fight to recapture Republicanism from Big Government moralism will be given new energy; and if Kerry wins, the center of the Democratic party will gain new life. That, at least, is the hope. We cannot know for sure.

Finally, I think that Sullivan makes a compelling case for voters who supported attacking Iraq from the begining. Even if you believe that Bush was the right man for responding to 9/11 and dealing with Saddam Hussein, a clear arguement can be made for a Kerry presidency. The next four years will likely present America with complex foreign policy problems where a nuanced, rather than an absolutist approach is necessary. In this ever-changing world, John Kerry is best prepared for the task. Sullivan writes:

In the essential tasks of building support for greater international help in Iraq--financially, militarily, diplomatically--Kerry is the better choice. No, other countries cannot bail us out or even contribute much in the way of an effective military presence. But within Iraq, the impact of a more international stamp on the occupation and on the elections could help us win the battle for the hearts and minds of Iraqis. That battle--as much as the one on the battlefield itself--is crucial for success. I fear Bush is too polarizing, too controversial, too loathed a figure even within his own country, to pull this off.


Kerry has said again and again that he will not hesitate to defend this country and go on the offensive against Al Qaeda. I see no reason whatsoever why he shouldn't. What is there to gain from failure in this task? He knows that if he lets his guard down and if terrorists strike or succeed anywhere, he runs the risk of discrediting the Democrats as a party of national security for a generation. He has said quite clearly that he will not "cut and run" in Iraq. And the truth is: He cannot. There is no alternative to seeing the war through in Iraq. And Kerry's new mandate and fresh administration will increase the options available to us for winning. He has every incentive to be tough enough but far more leeway to be flexible than the incumbent.

For once (on a non-GLBT issue), I completely agree with Andrew Sullivan.

September 26, 2004

What were we really doing at the convention?

By Byron LaMasters

I finally got around to reading the New York Times magazine profile of political blogging. There's a lot of things I could write about the article - it's quite long, but a rather good in-depth look at Ana Marie Cox and Markos Zuniga (among others. But really, what did we do at the convention? Wonkette sums it up:

In Boston, at the convention, she hardly blogged at all. MTV had scheduled a single short piece for her to do from the convention floor. ''I'm not really doing anything for MTV,'' she said at the start of the convention. ''I'm doing interviews about being hired by MTV.''

That's pretty much it. Some of mainstream media folks complained that bloggers didn't add much to the convention, but that's because instead of paying attention to what we wrote, they spent most of the time asking us mostly generic (and sometimes condescending) questions about what we were doing there. Oh well, it was fun. If only they would have taken the gloves off in July...

August 24, 2004

Soon to be Published

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Scott Goldstein is someone whom I have come to know through the Dean campaign. I met him at the National Convention in Boston as he was coordinating the Dean Delegates. He's asked to publish part of my original writings from the Winter Wanderlust in Iowa and such.

I'm sending in the permission for it to be used in his latest book "The Tea is in the Harbor" to be published this October. This from the letter explains how it will be used...

The format chosen was to tell the stories of some of the “New Revolutionaries” or the “Sons of Liberty” following chapters or sections in the book. Your stories are interspersed throughout the writing.

So keep an eye out. This is Scott's Second Book, the first having been written about the 2000 election which is available here. It's an interesting feeling being published in a book, granted it's not My Life by Bill Clinton but hey, you try where you can. :)

August 21, 2004

KNAF Radio

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

If you happen to live in the Hill Country area around Fredericksburg, tune in this morning (Saturday) to KFAN 910 AM radio at 9:00 a.m.

Jan Fritz, wife of station owner Jason Fritz, has her weekly segment Kit & Kaboodle which covers a wide range of topics. This week's hour long show will be an interview with me about politics, my experiences regarding the Democratic National Convention, and youthful idealism.

If you miss it, I have been told it may run on another Saturday before the election at which point I'll post about it again.

August 19, 2004

The Road to Boston

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

What follows is the more or less official report I wrote for my journey to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Parts of it were published on the front page of the Community Section of my local paper, the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. While not a full and complete record (other elements and stories lie in the archives of this site) it should give new information and a readable picture of what was the most moving journey of my life to date.

From Austin to Boston: The Tale of Texas’ Youngest Democratic Delegate by Karl-Thomas Musselman

Growing up, I thought I would find myself among the stars. With an interest in space and my last name, I figured it must be destiny that if Armstrong was the first man on the Moon, then Musselman could be the first man on Mars. My plans were to spend my life studying the heavens, getting to know the likes of Polaris, Vega, Sirius, and Castor.

It was certainly a lofty goal, but destiny found me some stars down here on Earth to be among last month, stars with names like Clinton, Gore, Dean, Edwards, and Kerry. It was the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and I was the youngest of Texas’ 232 delegates in Boston, representing Democrats in 21 Central Texas counties, including Gillespie. For a 19 year old Democrat from Fredericksburg, I’d say that’s still pretty ‘out of this world.’

Getting Started

My convention story actually began four years ago with the 2000 presidential election. Unlike the majority of Texans, Al Gore inspired me and was the reason I got involved in politics as a career. At the age of 15, I attended our Democratic Precinct Convention at St. Joseph’s Hall with my parents in my first act of participatory democracy. Even though I could not vote, it was there that I made the bold statement that in 2004, I would be the youngest delegate for Al Gore to our county, state, and national conventions.

Unfortunately, that dream in full could not be fully realized as Gore did not become President in 2000. But that did not stop me and in 2002 I got involved in the John Courage for Congress campaign. I volunteered for him at our County Fair and on Election Day, I stood outside the Courthouse polling location handing out literature to the few voters that trickled in after I got off from school.

While handing out literature for Mr. Courage that evening, I remember one woman, a Hispanic employee at the high school, who said she had only planned on voting for Sanchez for governor but she voted for Courage thanks to me. That one moment made that night worth it and I realized just then that conversations like that, multiplied by millions, was what was needed to help Democrats win in 2004. Most importantly, it gave me hope in a year when there was little for an aspiring Texas Democrat.

Primary Politics

A year before the Democratic primaries, in the spring of 2003, I had already settled on my candidate for president, Howard Dean. For the next year, whether it was in Texas, New Hampshire, Iowa, or Arizona, I did what I could to help him win the nomination. But by the time the Texas Primary came about, my man was out of the race but still on the ballot. John Kerry had the nomination so I went ahead and cast my ballot for Dean along with a dozen other Gillespie County die-hard Deaniacs. It was the least we could do heading into our Precinct Convention that night, where 9 of the 13 Dean voters signed in county wide. It was there, in the same St. Joseph’s Hall that my journey to the National Convention began. All those in attendance advanced to our County convention where a few weeks later, I was elected as one of four delegates to the State Democratic Convention in Houston.

In the Running

Traditionally, delegate seats go to Party regulars, long time activists, or elected officials. The rules are set up and not widely publicized in order to encourage the continuance of those in the system, and discourage flocks of new people from overtaking it. Certain paperwork has to be filed with the state party in advance and deadlines have to be met. Because of this, most of my work to become a national delegate took place in late May and early June, before the actual State Convention. This meant that I knew in advance who I was running against for the male John Kerry delegate slot for our district, which consisted of the same 21 counties in Troy Fraser’s State Senate district. It also meant I knew and had access to contact information each of the voting delegates in the district that would decide who to send to Boston.

Because of party rules, and the way delegates are allocated, I faced a bit of an uphill battle to begin with. Two of the 21 counties, home to Temple, Killeen, and Abilene, made up half of the total delegation from our district. Five out of six of my competitors for the seat were all from Abilene, and the remaining one from Llano, was the former head of the Wesley Clark campaign in Texas. Thankfully, Bell County, the most populated county with 51 delegate votes had no dog in the race providing an opening. My plan was to run a grassroots campaign, win over the Bell county delegates and pair that with votes from Gillespie, Kerr, Blanco, Burnet, and other smaller rural delegations.

The very first action taken was to develop a message for my campaign. I decided to run on my youth, activism, and my dream from 4 years prior. “Believe in me, Believe in our future” was the slogan which adorned the first piece of campaign literature, a hang-signed and addressed letter sent to all 160 odd delegates and Democratic Party County Chairs. Soon to follow were three different e-mails including endorsements and directing people to my campaign website I had set up. About 70 phone calls were made to gather support and in the week before the State Convention, I printed up postcards that included the time and voting location where the vote would be held in Houston.

At the state convention, I bypassed most of the caucus meetings and such on the first day. Instead, I staked out in front of our district’s sign in booth, talking to delegates as they signed in. Like any good candidate would, I offered campaign stickers, over a hundred of which were taken, more than enough to win if they actually turned into votes. By the time our district met to vote, there was little more to do than some last minute hand shaking and nomination speeches.

As it turned out, all but one of the other 6 challengers for the National delegate slot dropped out of the race, leaving a long time labor union delegate from Abilene as the only competition. We gave our speeches, each focused on our strengths, but when the vote was tallied it was evident that the grassroots campaigning did it’s job. With a 120-30 vote win, a four year old dream was fulfilled and I was headed to Boston.

Democracy Fest

I traveled up to Massachusetts the weekend before Democratic National Convention with the Austin delegation in order to attend Democracy Fest, the national gathering of Howard Dean activists, delegates, and progressives. Held in the rural western part of the state, it required a day’s travel by car and an overnight stay at a cheap motel which was the cause of the best joke of the trip.

It was very late by the time we arrived at the motel to spend the night. We ended up driving by the back entrance at first and saw a bank of old rooms of which the roof had been burned off by a past fire. The rest of the rooms were just fine but it gave a new meaning to smoking and non-smoking rooms we thought.

At Democracy Fest, we attended training sessions sponsored by the Latinos for Democracy people from California where we learned what it was like to run and political operation in a Democratic state. Alongside that, there were entertainers down in the dining tent; everything from political bands, comedy groups, slam poets, solo singers, and speakers.

Dean’s presidential campaign manager Joe Trippi, an icon to most of the grassroots, spoke that afternoon which prompted some interesting discussion. This event, being a gathering of the core of the hard core activists, had a number of people who were incredibly upset with Trippi for what they believe he did to the Dean campaign at the end. There are complaints about his firm managing the horrible media ads, not paying enough attention to Iowa, not paying attending to minority building, or any number of reasons.

Personally, I found it ironic how some of the Deaniacs disliked Trippi so much. The man had to build an enormous campaign first in order for his detractors to complain about how he let it fall apart! They have to at least give him credit for that.

Trippi spoke about his new book, The Revolution Will Not be Televised. Or rather, he spoke on how it was not a ‘tell all’. But he did outline what his greater vision was for political organizing beyond the Dean campaign. He spoke about how he felt that Americans are in a time between TV being the dominant medium to the Internet taking over. It’s an idea of how people will return to the community driven model of interaction, organization, and socialization instead of being driven by the solitary conversation that direct mail and TV ads create now in politics.

He was asked a question after his talk along the lines of, “If you were the Kerry campaign manager, what dream idea would you have for the campaign.” Trippi’s response was that at the national convention, during his nominating speech, he would have Kerry make the announcement that he was putting the future of his campaign into the hands of the American people by not accepting $75 million, taxpayer funded, public financing check for the post-convention portion of the general election campaign. By making a bold statement like that, for one, a media firestorm would be created, and two, it would advance the acknowledgement of online organizing and fundraising to now, not 10 years from now.

I understand his vision and I can see, just like I see it in any of the other Deaniacs, there is a deeper commitment, vision, and belief behind what we are all doing. And that gives me hope.

Boston at Last…

There is no way one can fully convey the awesome experience of being a first time National Convention Delegate. There is so much to take in that it is near impossible to remember all the amazing pieces. One tries to take pictures, write down what they can, and take home as many memories as possible while fulfilling an official duty as a delegate.

Activities fall into a few categories, some having little to do with the Convention Hall. One of the primary ones is official caucuses. Throughout the week, delegates could attend convention caucuses if they happened to fall into one of the various interest groups like Hispanics, Native Americans, Veterans, Disabled, or a variety of others. I attended the Youth caucus where for two hours we discussed what we could do to get students more involved on campuses. In addition, speakers came including representatives from one of the Wrestling Federations doing voter registration, one of the head organizers of MoveOn.org, and the two Kerry daughters. Other caucuses had speakers in line with their interests ranging from Congressmen to Ben Affleck to Hillary Clinton and Teresa Heinz-Kerry. Since speakers are almost never announced ahead of time and can drop in unexpected, delegates depend on word of mouth and their ability to get from one event to another quickly for the best caucuses.

Also during the week were various trainings put on by more groups than one can keep track of. Topics ranged from fundraising to effective crowd-building to developing winning messages or building online grassroots organizing tools. There were sessions in which delegates gave brief speeches and received critiques. In others, delegates were invited to hear big name party analysts give their view on how the race for the House and Senate were developing. Hopping from hotel to hotel, sometimes across town to make particular session not only provided hectic schedule but also a way to burn the excess calories that most delegates took on at on the various breakfasts and after-parties scatter about town.

For veteran delegates who have been to many National Conventions, it is these meetings and parties which provide the most fun. It’s hard to pass up free food, free drinks, and the opportunity to schmooze with important luminaries. Some events are free, others by donation. Some are invite-only or open if you happen to know the right invited people. Or, in my case once, if you act like you’ve been invited and walk on in with a reporter in tow, few will question you.

A facet of great importance at modern day conventions is one that is nearly impossible to overlook. The Media. For every delegate, there are at least 3 officially accredited members of the media. In the hall, on the streets, or behind the security perimeter there was no place that delegates could go without running into someone with a camera, recorder, or notepad. As Texas’ youngest delegate, as well as an online ‘blogger’ (an internet writer and pundit of sorts) I had around 30 different media encounters ranging from Texas newspapers to BBC radio to MTV.

It would seem as if the convention was more for the media and less for the delegates and these days, and that is mostly true. The entire message is managed by the party, with every speech, every poster, every official event trying into a grand theme, in this Convention’s case, “A Stronger America.” The organizers even supplied official ‘talking points’ in every delegates welcome packet, none of which have been infused into this article because the time for media pandering ended with the close of the convention.

A little known fact is that former presidential candidate Al Sharpton’s 20 minute convention speech was 14 minutes over what had been scheduled because he junked the official script on the Teleprompters. But because John Edwards’s speech had to start on time later that evening in order to be picked up by television broadcasts, organizers had to cut that many more minutes out of the night’s schedule, which they did with amazing speed.

Speaking of speeches, hearing so many stars of the Democratic Party in just four days was one of the most exciting things about the National Convention. Every single one of the 10 Democrats who ran for President addressed the delegates, some with louder applause and cheering than others. While the likes of Rep. Richard Gephardt and Senator Lieberman barely got the crowd on its feet, Wesley Clark and Howard Dean had to wait through minutes of non-stop cheering and frequent applause.

Dean’s speech meant much to me personally, and it meant a lot to the convention as it was the premier speech of unity for the party. As he ended his speech, he began to run through a list of states where he said we would be proud to be Democrats in, Iowa style, capping it off with Texas, at which our delegation burst out in full minute of nearly deafening cheers. Though our delegation had not one single official Dean delegate, we had the largest Dean delegation with 75 of us having been Dean supporters at some point in the past year. It was like being there for the infamous Iowa Caucus Dean Speech one more time. And just like the other Dean delegates, official or otherwise, there was a certain bittersweet feeling. Like Dean himself joked in his convention address, we know he was going to be there; we just thought it was going to be on Thursday night instead of Tuesday, accepting the nomination instead of speaking on behalf of unity behind the nominee.

While Dean’s appearance was personal, he actually came and visited with the Texas delegation at the Convention Hall on Thursday, the rest of the Democratic Superstars spoke as well. Bill Clinton and Al Gore spoke to our heart, to the base of the party, articulating the very message which we had lost two years ago. Elvis may have been the King of Rock and Roll, but Clinton was the King of Soul, the Democratic Soul of the convention. Barak Obama’s keynote address opened many eyes, ears, and hearts to the formerly unknown Democratic Senate candidate from Illinois. He hasn’t even been elected yet and delegates chattered about an Edwards/Obama ticket in 2012. John Edwards’s speech on Wednesday night, given while he had a 101 degree fever, was true to its message “Hope is on the Way.” After seeing him at the Texas State Convention, I finally got his message and realized why so many Iowans caucused for him. After Clinton, I have never heard a speaker so optimistic about what America could and should be. Most Democrats I know can’t wait to see the Cheney verses Edwards’s debate in the fall. “Talk about emotional opposites,” was a fellow delegate’s comment.

John Kerry’s acceptance speech was one of the most masterful works of political oratory, not because of what he actually said, but the effect it had on its targeted audience, undecided voters in swing states. With over half a million dollars spent on polling and focus groups in the prior month, the message was honed and perfected to appeal to the middle and satisfy the base, the premier balancing act of politics. As a result, the base donated over $5 million dollars online the day of the speech and the polls moved in the places that mattered, the battleground states.

And we as delegates were treated to a confetti filled balloon drop with the highly appropriate “We are Family” and “Celebrate Good Times” songs pumping through the Convention Center. Never underestimate a balloon drop’s power to create unity and energy, because it turns even the most ardent Anti-Bush Democratic voters into Pro-Kerry Democratic voters. While politicians might not care exactly why they get the votes they do, democracy cares because so much more is accomplished in the long run when citizens are for, not against, pro, not con.

But lost in all this hubbub of activity, speeches, parties, meetings, and general hoopla is the very simple task for which I was elected: to cast my official nominating vote for John Kerry as the Democratic Nominee for President. It was indeed the fulfillment of a four year old dream, one born on the inspiration of Al Gore, carried on by the hope of Howard Dean, and fulfilled by the acceptance of John Kerry.

Who said the third time couldn’t be the charm?

August 14, 2004

"He's adorable. We all love him"

By Byron LaMasters

That's me!:

The first person I spotted was 35-year-old Jessamyn West, who runs the wonderful librarian.net.

"My town's got 1,200 people in it. I have no frame of reference to deal with this amount of people," the dreadlocked Vermont librarian told me, nodding toward the crowded convention floor. She's been spending about six hours a day in the bloggers' area; it takes her a while to get going, since she has to pick up her credentials daily at an out-of-the-way hotel.

She pointed out a few notable blog-stars to me: Markos Zúniga, aka dailykos.com; OxBlog's Patrick Belton; and the exceptionally attractive Byron LaMasters from the Burnt Orange Report. ("He's adorable. We all love him," West said.) Aside from her, I spotted only one other female blogger in the section.

West said she's had a great week at the DNC, especially since, back home, "the only other person I know who knows about computers is my boyfriend."

Sure, it could be a little breezier on bloggers' boulevard. The location could be much easier to find. But it's a start. And the bloggers don't seem to mind so much.

"It's good to be here where all the nerds are," she said. Posted 8 p.m.

I really need to write this reporter a thank you note. You'd think I set this up, but I swear, I had no knowledge of this article...

It's so much fun doing google searches on my name. I'm like the only Byron LaMasters in the world, so if you do a "Byron LaMasters" search on Google.com, you'll find out plenty about me.

Anyway, reporters say good things about me. I am 'exceptionally attractive!" Go me!

Why Orange? Orange Mike Responds!

By Byron LaMasters

A lot of people wondered why Orange (BOR's favorite color)? Orange Mike, a Dean delegate from Wisconsin (who we could almost always spot within a minute from the nosebleed seats AKA Blogger Blvd. in the Fleet Center) tells us why he wears orange. Via email to Texas 16th Senatorial district delegate Patti Fink:

"he's wayyyyyy into deer hunting, wears orange all the time"?

Actually, the irony is that I *don't* hunt, even though I live in Wisconsin (what the hey; I don't drink beer, even though I live on Milwaukee's Brewers Hill and belong to the Brewery Credit Union).

I just enjoy the color orange. I started doing my "full orange" at science fiction conventions almost thirty years ago; later expanded it to union conventions and the bargaining table (weirds out new management suits).

Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey
Dean delegate, 4th Wis. Congressional District

I took a picture of Orange Mike when he visited Blogger Blvd., here.

August 09, 2004

Last Convention Photos

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The last of the DNC Convention pictures are finally uploaded! Thursday, the day of the big Kerry speech starts here.

At the very end of the set you can find three panoramic shots I put together. Boston City Square, the Sept. 11 Convention memorial, and downtown Pittsfield where Democracy Fest was held.

August 01, 2004

Some Numbers

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Here is some interesting figures that were passed on to me from sources inside the back-rooms of the Convention Stage.

John Kerry's Acceptance Speech had about $500,000 of polling and focus groups done on it to determine the most effective message that voters across the spectrum would like. That's info you won't hear most anywhere else.

Besides that, info that had now gone into a press release from the campaign is as follows.

On Wednesday, the campaign shattered its previous online fundraising
record, raising over $3.3 million dollars in one day, only to crush it on
Thursday with a total of $5.6 million raised -- bringing its two-day total to
$8.9 million. At times during Kerry's speech, johnkerry.com received over
5,000 hits per second.

July 31, 2004

More Convention Wrap-Up

By Byron LaMasters

Apparently, I'm the last person on Earth to find out about Jib Jab's "This Land" video. Absolutely hilarious if you haven't yet seen it.

Natasha has her version of our Novak baiting on her blog, Pacific Views (my picture and version of the events are here). Natasha probably scored more interviews than any other blogger. She did a great job, and if you don't read Pacific Views regularly (I didn't), it's definitely worth it. Check out some of her work:

Joe Trippi.
Andrei Cherny - Senior DNC Advisor.
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) on farm policy (I'll be posting my thoughts on this interview in the next couple of days).
Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Javier Brown, College Democrats of Georgia.
Jerry Springer.

Jesse and Ezra of Pandagon.net are just really cool. Yeah. That's about it. Read them, even though they really don't need the extra traffic.

So is Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis. He got me copies of all the embargoed speeches that got emailed to him (I wasn't on the email list) if I didn't get a print copy that was passed around. He also took some great pictures of Kate Snow of Good Morning America interviewing me in Blogger Alley. Bill also got some great coverage of several caucuses so check out his blog if you don't already.

I spoke with a high-ranking DCCC official, and their polling shows some good news for Richard Morrison, and they are considering targeting the race. I'll post more details on it in the next few days.

David Weinberger applies the smackdown on Charles Cooper's silly critic of the Convention Bloggers. Rick Heller of Centerfield also defends himself against Cooper's attacks.

I finally gave in to Wonkette guest editor Boi From Troy and did a short interview with him. I figure he's been hitting on me since Monday, and even if he's a Republican, I figured five minutes of flirting was worth the several hundred (thousand) visitors the link from Wonkette would bring. Breaking stories like Why Margaret Cho got disinvited from the HRC party also helps getting Wonkette linkage.

That's all that comes to me for now.

Back Home

By Byron LaMasters

I'm back home in Dallas from the Democratic convention. I'll have lots of posts over the next few days wrapping things up. I still have lots of material from interviews, etc. that I would like to post, along with many pictures. Today, I've been catching up with laundry and watching convention videos from the C-SPAN archives to get another perspective of them. The convention is an incredible experience. I got around 4-6 hours a night, so I slept for about 14 hours last night catching up. The trip was so fast-paced. I think I would have needed 100 hours a day to sift through all of the news and information that I needed to cover the convention as well as I would have liked. In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently. I wanted to go to some state delegation events, but was unable to. The main state delegation events were morning breakfasts at 8 AM. That would have required waking up at 6 AM to get to the subway station at 7 AM in order to find my way to an 8 AM event. Considering that I didn't get to sleep until 3 AM at the earliest nights, going to delegation breakfasts was not a realistic plan if I wanted to maintain my sanity throughout the week.

I'd like to especially thank the DNCC for giving us the opportunity. They were very helpful, and when a lot of us had a hard time getting an wireless connection on Monday night, they were up there with two teams of technicians on Tuesday afternoon. The blogger breakfast went great. The only conflict of the week between the bloggers and the DNCC was due to Matt Stoller's "Not sold on Obama" post on his personal webpage after the blogger breakfast. And to be honest, I'm a huge fan of Obama, but his comments at the blogger breakfast were pretty generic. I was mostly focused on taking pictures of the guy, so I didn't hear everything, but I think Obama felt obligated to just stop by personally thank the bloggers who had been following his candidacy much longer than most Americans. He certainly got a reception Tuesday night. His was the best speech of the convention along with Bill Clinton. They both get an A+. I'd disagree with Jim - that Kerry's acceptance speech was the best I've ever seen. It was a damn good speech, but not the best ever. John Kerry simply isn't a great speaker. But he rose to the challenge and captured the moment. I give him a solid A.

Speaking of Obama, check out his blog. It just got bombarded with visitors on Tuesday night. According to Atrios - Obama's webpage was getting 18,000 hits a minute during the speech.

As for Kerry. He keeps breaking records. As he did earlier in the year, John Kerry broke online fundraising records in two consecutive days. The U.S Newswire reports:

The highly successful 2004 Democratic National Convention ensured Kerry and Edwards started this tour with tremendous momentum at their backs. The four-day showcase of the Kerry- Edwards plan to make America stronger at home and respected in the world energized Americans everywhere.

On Wednesday, the campaign shattered its previous online fundraising record, raising over $3.3 million dollars in one day, only to crush it on Thursday with a total of $5.6 million raised - bringing its two-day total to $8.9 million. At times during Kerry's speech, johnkerry.com received over 5,000 hits per second.

The campaign also succeeded in energizing people in states across the map. On Thursday night, more than 200,000 Americans gathered with friends and fellow supporters at over 5,000 house parties to watch Kerry accept the nomination.

Most importantly, millions of Americans over the last four days learned about the lives of service and strength Kerry and Edwards have lived, about their experience standing up for middle-class values and their plan for America's future.

Wow! Not only that, but Kerry / Edwards are on the road drawing tens of thousands of people in mid-sized conservative-leaning cities in Pennsylvania:

10,000 in Greensburg, PA.

20,000 in Harrisburg, PA.

17,000 in Scranton, PA.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

July 30, 2004

Why Margaret Cho was Disinvited from the HRC Convention Party

By Byron LaMasters

One of the few controversies this week at the Democratic convention was the disinvitation of comedian Margaret Cho to the July 27th "Unity Party" for GLBT delegates sponsored by the HRC (Human Rights Campaign). Cho has a huge following in the gay community, so her participation in the event was widely anticipated by the organizers and many delegates. The Washington Blade provides some background:

The Human Rights Campaign says it stands by a decision to drop bisexual comedian Margaret Cho from the roster of entertainers invited to perform at a July 27 “Unity 04” party in Boston for gay delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Cho had promised to put on an “incendiary” act attacking President Bush, according to HRC spokesperson Steven Fisher. Fisher said such a performance would have diverted the event’s “message” away from the organizers’ aim of helping to elect John Kerry president.

Some of Cho’s gay fans said the comedian became a victim of efforts by the Kerry campaign and some of its gay supporters, including HRC, to tone down controversial rhetoric inside and outside the convention hall.


Fisher said that 10 of the 12 groups that signed on as sponsors of the Unit 04 party supported HRC’s proposal to withdraw the Cho invitation.

Fisher said HRC raised concerns after Cho informed the gay rights group through her publicist that she planned to use new material at the Unity 04 event from her “State of Emergency” national tour, which is set to begin soon. He said HRC called Cho’s representative and asked to review the material.

Cho then informed HRC she would put on an “incendiary” performance and would not in any way “tone it down,” Fisher said.

“We said we feel she’s great but this was not the right forum,” Fisher said. “This is a political convention where everyone is on message.”

According to sources close to the HRC, Cho's "new material" which she refused to tone down (thus prompting her disinvitation) included references to "fist 'cheney'-ing" and sexual humor regarding the Abu Ghraib prison. Organizers were worried that such humor would be offensive to some, and would cause a media frenzy that would distract from the overall positive tone of the convention, and thus decided to rescind their invitation to Cho.

Bob Novak Without the Makeup

By Byron LaMasters

As I left the convention center with several fellow bloggers, Natasha of Pacific Views spotted Bob Novak and proceeded to chase him down to try and interview him. I ran after Natasha to see what was going on. She finally caught up with Novak, and asked him a question about the outting of Valerie Plame. Novak was approaching security, made a funny evasive manuever, mumbled something, then continued walking much faster. The rest of our group caught up with Natasha, and we started walking towards the Charles River out of the Fleet Center to catch a taxi to meet up at this place in Cambridge with some other bloggers. About a minute later, Novak is storming back towards the Fleet Center, probably having forgot something. Natasha doesn't miss a beat. She asks Novak again, "Do you have a statement regarding my question"? At that point, Novak turned around and I caught this flattering picture of the Real Bob Novak.


Afterwards, Natasha, everyone else and I kept north to get a taxi as Bob Novak turned into a bat and flew away.

July 29, 2004

The Best Speech I've Ever Seen

By Jim Dallas

Kerry's acceptance speech - out of the park! Natural but idealistic, easy-going but serious, small and big.

You gotta believe!

UPDATE: Here's some extended commentary from an IM between me and Byron.

Jim D.: The speech to me seemed very Capra-esque.

Jim D.: It started off with a sort of Clintonian "my momma always said" touch and had it's Kennedy-esque moments..

Jim D.: But it was a speech which let Kerry talk about big ideas without becoming overwhelmed by them.

Jim D.: It was passionated but poised.

Jim D.: Much like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Jim D.: It captured the mind of our candidate, but it captured also his heart and soul and because of that I trust Kerry more than before. I mean I can say I am really FOR this guy and not just a defeated Deanie..

Byron L.: post that.

Jim D.: It came across real good on TV (C-SPAN at least).

Byron L.: what you just said.


By Byron LaMasters

I'm pleased that John Kerry is framing the Democratic domestic agenda about values. What are values? Republicans would make you believe that values are about stem cell research, abortion, guns, gays and God. But what are values really about? Should they be about ideology? Or should they be about doing things that actually make a difference in the lives or ordinary people.

Values are not just words. They're what we live by. They're about the causes we champion and the people we fight for. And it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families.


We believe in the family value of caring for our children and protecting the neighborhoods where they walk and play.


You don't value families by denying real prescription drug coverage to seniors, so big drug companies can get another windfall.

We believe in the family value expressed in one of the oldest Commandments: "Honor thy father and thy mother." As President, I will not privatize Social Security. I will not cut benefits. And together, we will make sure that senior citizens never have to cut their pills in half because they can't afford life-saving medicine.


You don't value families if you force them to take up a collection to buy body armor for a son or daughter in the service, if you deny veterans health care, or if you tell middle class families to wait for a tax cut, so that the wealthiest among us can get even more.

Democratic values are about helping people. Republican values are about advancing an extreme ideology. Family values should be an issue in this election, and I'm glad that John Kerry is making it one.

"I Accept Your Nomination for President of the United States"

By Byron LaMasters

Just testing this out. I might have missed the words, but here's the reaction from the nosebleed seats:

Here's my video of it: here

2000 vs. 2004

By Byron LaMasters

Bush 2000 - "I will restore honor and dignity to the White House"

Kerry 2004 - "I will restore trust and credibility to the White House"

One failed. Now, Kerry has his chance.

Hampsters for Kerry!!

By Byron LaMasters

Well, Kerry certainly must have the hampster vote after the night. After Alexandra Kerry's inspiring story of John Kerry diving into the river, grabbing that hampster, getting out of the river, performing CPR on the hampster (mouth-to-mouth) and saving its life.

Somehow, it's just not quite as inspiring as pulling Jim Rassmann out of the Mekong River in Vietnam, but in the world of hampsters, John Kerry is probably hailed as a hero nonetheless.

Speaking of Rassmann, he's up next, and the runners are handing out "Veterans for Kerry / Edwards" signs.

Tammy Baldwin Interview

By Byron LaMasters

Tammy Baldwin is probably best known as the first and only open lesbian to be elected to the United States Congress. She is also the first non-incumbent open gay or lesbian to win election to that body. As a Congresswoman from Madison, Wisconsin, she has been highly involved on health care issues. I also had the opportunity to ask her about higher education since her district includes a large university - The University of Wisconsin. Along with Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis, I had the opportunity to spend ten minutes to ask her a few questions.

First, we asked how she felt that GLBT issues had been handled at the convention. She was very pleased. She felt as if she had two very distinct honors in that regard. First, her selection as a vice chair of the convention was the first time that an openly gay person had been selected for that honor for a Democratic convention. Second, she was honored to have the opportunity to speak on the opening night of the convention on health care issues. She said that her selection was significant for the state of Wisconsin - a swing state this fall, and also for the fact that the Democratic Party has embraced gays and lesbians in positions of prominence in the party, not just on the sidelines.

As the first open lesbian in congress, Baldwin believed that her success as a candidate was due to her involvement in local and state level politics first. By the time that she ran for congress, her sexual orientation was old news, because voters had a chance to see her as a public servant who cares about good health care who happens to be gay. She said that she'd work with the media to make sure they'd get their one "can an out lesbian win" story during her first campaign, but only once. Then she'd move on to the other issues for which she was fighting. As for advice to other gay and lesbian candidate, Baldwin said that the key was to build your way up. A gay or lesbian candidate with no experience on other issues can be easily labeled as a one-issue "gay candidate". When Baldwin first ran for office in 1986, there were slightly over a dozen openly gay and lesbian elected officials nationwide. Today, there are well over 200. She believes that state and local offices are the training grounds for Congress, and the they are the best way to build political skills and position oneself.

On higher education issues Baldwin shared many of the concerns that many students, especially of those at the University of Texas, as she represents a large university in Madison - the University of Wisconsin. Wisconsin, like Texas, struggles with the same concerns of higher tuition rates. She felt that John Edwards' "two Americas" speech perfectly captured the problems of many students. She said that the solution to the problem was increasing funding for the Pell Grant program, and lifting the ceiling on the amount for grants so that it could cover a higher percentage of costs. Higher education funding has shifted vastly to students so that scholarships, grants, a part time job, and a small loan is usually no longer enough. Now, many students must take out dramatic loans and are strapped with huge debts for many years. Such debts leave many students with limited opportunities after college, making them less likely to take jobs after college where they give back to their communities after college such as joining the Peace Corps or teaching in an inner-city school. Baldwin decried this as "depriving our country of a talent pool".

John Kerry will be visiting Wisconsin next week and Baldwin cited health care, job instability and Iraq as the most important issues in the state. Baldwin said that while Bush has visited Wisconsin frequently, he tends to stick to the "conservative hamlets". When asked how Bush would be treated in Madison, Baldwin replied, "I don't know. I haven't seen him here".

I also had the opportunity to interview Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) yesterday, but I haven't yet had the chance to put it up. It may be up tonight, maybe tomorrow, maybe over the weekend....

Translate me this

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Apparently some version of one of my profiles has been translated into Spanish and made into this and this and this and this paper/online. I imagine it's got to be AP Spanish or something, I'm not entirly sure. Here is the (badly) translated text.

The performance of the blogueiros will not be restricted to the commentators politicians. Some democratical commission agents including Karl-Thomas the Musselman, youngest delegated of the Texas also will have its blogs. The youngster of 19 years, that when child dreamed in being the first man to step on in Mars, despertou for the politics in the 2000 elections. The blogueiros ones go to offer one another angle, one another market for notice and information is of the convention

Karl-Thomas Musselman, blogueiro and democratical commission agent

Musselman created its site and its blog, musselmanforamerica.com, because it was concurring to represent a district with 480 kilometers of extension. The initiative disclosed the possibility of a new link with the voters. The site was redesigned for the conventions and Musselman waits to obtain to bring up to date blog, with a connection without wire, right-hander of the meeting in Boston.

The democratical commission agent says not to believe that the blogueiros ones go to supplant the traditional media, but detaches the paper of them. "the blogueiros ones go to offer one another angle, one another market for notice and information is of the convention", affirms Musselman. "We are not under a flag of ' right and balanced ' (slogan of the Fox sender). We can be a little more irreverent, more critical, more analytical ", we add the blogueiro. "This is the nature of that we are, and is therefore that the people read blogs."

I also seem to have been translated into German as is evident here (taken from the AP story)
And if you are in Longview, TX, you might pick up your paper (Longview News Journal ) or check this out online; they picked up the Ausitn American Statesman profile from Monday. Nothing new, just interesting that it's out in Longview now too.

Also, I've been listed on the front of the Out for Democracy Blog. Entry is here.

Oh, and MTV just interviewed me.

Atrios is Real!

By Byron LaMasters

I can prove it! The picture was taken at the blogger party last night hosted by the DCCC at Meze. They made us feel important at least. Whether we are or not is probably debatable. But being a VIP at a party in convention week with a wristband for free drinks and a "blogger goodie bag" and free t-shirts upon leaving certainly made me feel at least a little bit starstruck.

(left to right. Jeralyn of Talk Left, Duncan of Atrios, and Byron of Burnt Orange Report)

Orange Mike

By Byron LaMasters

He's a Dean Delegate from Milwaukee. From the Fourth Congressional District of Wisconsin. His real name is Michael Lowrey, but as you can see as he takes a break from the floor to check his email up in Blogger Alley, he is aptly named:

Boston Globe on the Texas Delegates

By Byron LaMasters

The article is really pretty silly. I mean there's some good points, but overall, the article paints the wrong picture of the Texas delegates. It starts with a picture of Texas delegates looking very bored. Well, yeah - the picture was taken early in the afternoon when no one was paying attention - in Texas, or in any other state. But this is just silly:

Texans are not taking the slights as well. The 232-member delegation is a proud bunch, easily recognizable in vests emblazoned with the Texas flag and cowboy boot-shaped pins that flash in neon red, white, and blue lights. Some wave American flags festooned with faux sprigs of bluebonnet, the Texas flower.

Yesterday, the Dallas Morning News weighed in on the matter of the Texas delegation's lodging at the airport hotel in verse: "Hello, Mudda, hello, Fadda. I am overlooking Lufthansa. The Texas Dems have come to Boston. And state support for Bush is gonna cost 'em."

But Texas' treatment comes as no surprise, given the Texas Democratic Party's anemic condition -- a dramatic comedown from last century when such Democrats as Sam Rayburn and Lyndon B. Johnson dominated both Texas and American politics, said Earl Black, a professor of political science at Rice University.

"Texas Democrats are weaker than they have ever been," Black said. "Every major statewide office is held by Republicans. . . . I'm sure whoever is deciding who goes where has written off Texas so completely that Texas Democrats have to settle for the crumbs."

Texas delegates protest, arguing that Bush is losing favor in his home state.

"Don't count Texas out," said Earlie Davis, 72, a retired teacher from Dallas.

Others seemed resigned to Texas' diminished role.

"Texans want to do anything possible to see George Bush go," said Jim Fletcher, 55, a businessman from Fort Worth. "Even if that means taking a back seat."

Can someone explain this to me? Why does the Globe say that "Texans are not taking the slights as well", when their only source is silly Dallas Morning News ditty, but not of any delegates. The most negative thing they could find was a warning to the media to "not count Texas out". I guess the reporters are just bored. They're making up news where none is there. All of the Texas delegates I've spoken to are enthusiastic about the opportunity. Travis County's 14th senatorial district didn't have nearly eighty people run for six delegate slots because they were expecting to be treated to fabulous parties, cocktails, happy hours and boat trips. Sure some fun is nice, but Texas Democrats were eager to come to Boston to participate in being part of making history to nominate and elect a new cycle.

Oscar Mauzy is MIA at the DNC!!!

By Byron LaMasters

Yup. The Dallas Morning News breaks the news. Oscar Mauzy is missing in action at the Democratic Convention (screenshot available here):

MIA at the DNC

The Democrats best known to the most Texans aren't at the Boston Hilton this week. They aren't delegates, so they're on vacation or back at work. They include:

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Austin

Rep. Chet Edwards, Waco

Rep. Martin Frost, Arlington

Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Corpus Christi

Rep. Max Sandlin, Marshall

Former comptroller and lieutenant governor nominee John Sharp

Governor nominee Tony Sanchez

Former attorney general Jim Mattox

Former land commissioner Garry Mauro

Former agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower (although he came for a day to promote his book.)

Former House Speaker Pete Laney

Former U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (who is in frail health)

Former state senator and Texas Supreme Court Justice Oscar Mauzy

Former Senate nominee Victor Morales

Good research to the guy at the Dallas Morning News. It's abundantly clear that Texas Democrats are running away from the Kerry / Edwards ticket!

A slight problem, though. And I won't even mention the fact that Jim Hightower and Victor Morales have distanced themselves from the party in recent years (Hightower supported Nader in 2000, Morales refused to support Kirk in 2002). A bigger problem though is that Oscar Mauzy died in 2000 - almost four years ago:


Justice Oscar Holcombe Mauzy, champion of the people and friend of the underdog, died peacefully after a brave battle against lung cancer on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2000.

Born to Harry Lincoln Mauzy, Sr. and Mildred Eva Kincaid Mauzy on Nov. 9, 1926, Oscar was the sixth of eight children and the namesake of long-time Houston mayor Oscar Holcombe. Although his father's death when Oscar was only three prevented Oscar from knowing him, he was always proud of his father's work as a union organizer. The family was raised by Mildred Mauzy in Houston's Fifth Ward.

Oops. Next time the Dallas Morning News wants to engage in Democrat-bashing on their headlines, they ought to do better research. Or, if they want to list dead Democrats as being MIA in Boston, they ought to include Ralph Yarborough, Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn. Then again, they mentioned that Lloyd Bentsen is in frail health, so you would think that they would point out that AWOL Oscar Mauzy is dead.

Hat tip to Tom Blackwell.


By Jim Dallas

And I want Byron and Karl Thomas to get me the answer.

Four years ago, much was made of Gore writing his speech on a notebook computer.

This year, both Kerry and Edwards wrote their speeches out on yellow legal pads.

Has our party been taken over by luddites?

The Edwards Speech (As seen on TV)

By Jim Dallas

Not being in Boston, I've had to watch everything on TV.

I tuned into ABC last night to watch the Edwards speech. First off, and most importantly, Peter Jennings was being a real dick last night; the pre-speech commentary was mostly a string of Republican anti-Edwards talking points. And then Jennings seemed largely bored at the conclusion of the speech. The SCLM strikes again.

Now, on to the speech itself. It was good, and very well delivered given the fact that Edwards was just recently sick. I think I agree with Josh Marshall that Edwards was at "about 75%"; but not so much because of the delivery but because, as far as I can tell, there didn't seem to be a very clear theme to the speech. Put another way, I liked it, but I spotted a few areas where, had I written it, I would have done it differently.

Also, I was perplexed by the phrasing of one of Edwards's applause lines, to wit:

"And by doing all those things, we're going to say no forever to any American working full-time and living in poverty. Not in our America, not in our America, not in our America."

Now, the way it came across on TV was "we're going to say no" to the people (as in, "minimum wage workers, go cheney yourself.") Not, "we're going to say no" to the idea of people working minimum wage and living in poverty, which is clearly what was intended. It took a moment or two for me to realize what he was saying.

It doesn't have to be that way!

All in all, Edwards is still one of the best speakers in America today, and I'm proud that he is our vice-presidential nominee.


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Photos from Tuesday start here.

Photos from Wednesday start here.

Also for you Houston folks, I might be in a piece on FOX 25 tonight at 9 pm.

As a side note, today I finally got up before 8 am and made it to the Texas Delegation Breakfast. There were a number of Congressmen there, some speaking (Gene Green, Ken Benson, and Ciro Rodriguez (who Party Chair Soechting endorsed in hoping he won the recount battle going on in that district against Democrat Henry Cuellar).)

New Mexico Governor and convention Chair Bill Richardson spoke to our delegation, thanks us for helping his state's economy with our Senators. The guy is actually really funny, much better today than his speach yesterday on the floor. Maybe he's better with smaller crowds. Either way, he actually recognized me on the floor of our Breakfast as the delegation's youngest, which was pretty awesome.

I'm off now to the official GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered) lunch with Glen, Mark, and the Austin people. Texas is proud to have two of the seven Transgendered delegates at the convention, (one is from Austin, Christina).

Over the Top

By Byron LaMasters

America, we have a nominee tonight. I had a DCCC party for bloggers to get to, but I stayed at the Fleet Center to watch an important part of history occur. Soon after John Edwards spoke, the official nomination process began. Alabama yielded to Massachusetts in order to allow John Kerry's brother and sister read announce Massachusetts' delegates unanimous vote for Kerry. Then Alaska yielded to North Carolina to cast their votes for John Kerry. Finally, around 11:30 PM EST, the Minnesota delegation came up to vote. They yielded to Ohio, where John Glenn announced that Ohio's delegates had put Kerry over the top. Yup. The Florida of 2004 is Ohio. And if John Kerry wins Ohio, it's highly probable that he'll win the White House.

July 28, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

George W. Bush's supporters chanted it in the 2002 election rallies to drown out anti-war hecklers. Well.. Democrats can do it, too. A great salute to our veterans here in the Fleet Center tonight.

Will Kerry Make an Appearance?

By Byron LaMasters

He's in town. Al Gore made an appearance four years ago. Will Kerry? I wouldn't be surprised if he joins with Edwards after Edwards gives his speech, but we'll have to see...

Kucinich Sightings

By Byron LaMasters

Just came back up to take my seat and sure enough, there's Dennis Kucinich signing books. I was going to see if I could ask him a few questions, but he got a phone call and the security guy didn't look too friendly, even if he worked for a guy supporting a Department of Peace. Oh well.

That's all for now...

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Hate to say it, but that's all for tonight. My battery is going out in the middle of Bill Richardson's 'so-so' speech. I'll update tonight if I can, and the past couple of days will slowly come back online. There are some great little stories I have to tell, and there might be some exciting press that the Texas delegation is going to create tomorrow thanks to an idea of mine. Think fundraising....on the floor!

Bob Graham

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Now, Bob Graham, the first candidate to drop out of the presidential primary, is speaking. After Sharpton, it's a huge drop-off in energy. It's sad, because I know people in Florida liked him a lot, and he's a good man. But it's just really an example of why he never took off in the polls. Bob Graham is in serious need of some Joe-mentum.

Karl: He's approaching Dick Gephardt levels of interest here.
Nick: He's surpassed it.

Oh, and Rob Reiner just walked by the Texas delegation as well as Ron Kirk (who ran for Senate two years ago in Texas).

I'm here blogging live on the floor, around the other young Texas delegates (Nick Lawrie, 24 and Matt Glazer, 21) and Matt and I and Christina (one of Texas two Transgendered delegates) have our laptops with stickers on them. That of course, drew a photographer out of the woodwork. Normally they only go for the people with big silly hats.


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I was right, Shapton has grabbed the crowd's attention. And in less than 15 seconds he managed to give out one of his infamous zingers. You do have to give him credit, he can rouse an audience and make you understand and believe in him. He's managed to get the entire audience on it's feet twice, thrice 8 a dozen times already.

"This is not about a party, it's about living up to the promise of America."
"Mr. President, read my lips, out vote is not for sale.

Lieberman Appears

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Dennis Kucinich just finished speaking on the floor. While he was the man who stayed in the race until about a week ago, and has been gathering a number of delegates across the states, his reception still was not heralded as the big unifying speech that Dean's was last night. It's a bit of a shame, but still, the party in my opinion owes him less than it does Dean and I think the organizers accepted that. Texas (having 75 'stealth' Dean supporters in other delegate roles) has only 1 maybe 2 Kucinich 'stealth' delegates. The Kerry campaign was actively trying to squelch that movement. (You can always tell when Kucinich is excited because he starts hopping around at the podium).

Soon we will be moving on to Al Sharpton. I have a feeling that he will get a greater reception with more people listening than Kucinich. It will indeed be an interesting night pre-Edwards. I think today has been a bit more negative in tone than the last two days. I hoping Edwards lifts it up at the end.

Kucinich Speaks

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Dennis Kucinich just finished speaking on the floor. While he was the man who stayed in the race until about a week ago, and has been gathering a number of delegates across the states, his reception still was not heralded as the big unifying speech that Dean's was last night. It's a bit of a shame, but still, the party in my opinion owes him less than it does Dean and I think the organizers accepted that. Texas (having 75 'stealth' Dean supporters in other delegate roles) has only 1 maybe 2 Kucinich 'stealth' delegates. The Kerry campaign was actively trying to squelch that movement. (You can always tell when Kucinich is excited because he starts hopping around at the podium).

Soon we will be moving on to Al Sharpton. I have a feeling that he will get a greater reception with more people listening than Kucinich. It will indeed be an interesting night pre-Edwards. I think today has been a bit more negative in tone than the last two days. I hoping Edwards lifts it up at the end.

A Few Texas Degates Express their Opinion on the War

By Byron LaMasters

Texas has no Kucinich delegates, who I might add - just finished his speech with a strong endorsement of John Kerry.

News Reports

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I wanted to leave with with an update on news reports that this blog or myself have been mentioned or profiled in. I know there are probably more out there than trackable, but here is my best findings. Some are really excellent and they all seem to take different angles though of course there are general themes (youngest delegate or blogging)

KUT Radio Diaries: Reported by Public Radio Exchange
Go Here to Listen to Series
Login is easy. Make one.

These are really cool. I'm doing them with Nick Lawrie of Ausin, 24.

Daily Texan Blogging Article

Houston Chronicle Profile and Picture
Fellow delegate-blogger Patti Fink is in the back left of that picture. This ran on the front page of the Chonicle paper, and online edition. Greg has a screenshot from this morning.

Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram Profile
There is a good picture here and a really well written fun article.

Austin American Statesman Profile
Probably the most political in tone of all the articles, with comments from this blog. The author, Ken Herman, won a Pulitzer when he was 24 I have been told.

Waco Tribune-Herald Article

Michael Moore and his Posse

By Byron LaMasters

I turned around after taking a picture of Sean Hannity's hate station to see Michael Moore walking in the hallway with a gaggle of several dozen reporters. Taking pictures of the entourage was a challenge, since these types of things tend to act like a wrecking ball. Either you get out of the way as it comes towards you, or you get trampeled. I got shoved up against a trash can a little bit, but I squeezed through to take some more pictures. Here's one for now. Moore is being talked to by U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY).

Sean Hannity

By Byron LaMasters

Yeah. I got to see where he's spewing his lies and crap on the first floor of the Fleet Center (check out Media Matters).

Bush V. Choice Blog

By Byron LaMasters

NARAL Pro-Choice America has a set up a webpage with a blog. Anyway, go check them out if you have the chance, and let them know in the comment threads what you would like to see from them.

Wednesday Pre-Convention

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Waking up at 9 am today was early, too early for me it seems, but I had to get downstairs to the delegation breakfast due to our state Party Chair 'complaining' (kinda) to me the other day that I keep sleeping in. Apparently they have been wanting to introduce me as the youngest in the delegation (not that most of them already know, but I understand).

Well, that didn't happen today (for some reason there was no food in sight by the time I got there (isn't a breakfast supposed to have food) and I managed to get some coffee moments before it disappeared.

My plan was to attend some of the Democratic GAIN trainings today, but that fell through as I have been so far behind in blogging. I ended up taking the Blue line (Boston T (subway)) into downtown, transferring to Green line and then off at the Hynes Convention Center stop. Instead of exiting left on the street, I went right to find some grub.

Walking down Newbury St was quite an adventure. There are all kinds of shops there, a lot of them upscale but not mainstream. Local things, and just generally a really great atmosphere that wasn't too busy.

Whenever I go to cities or events, I tend to explore the not so walked areas. While this was more that, it’s still too close to the center of everything for me. On Friday, if I have time, I’ll probably ride out and just see the far flung parts of town.

Either way, I end up eating at a place called Finagle A Bagel, which I’ve been dying to eat at all week. Finagle has actually become my word of choice this week and I have been using to excess almost. Either way, I met up with a photographer for the Dallas Morning News there and we proceeded to start a photo shoot. Due to the rain we moved to the Library and sha-bam, here I am!

I’ll start working on back-dated posts now and then post some more from the floor of the center starting around 4:30 EDT.

Boston Library

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I am currently sitting on the base floor of the expansive Boston Public Library on Boylston Street. I managed to get a library card and a wireless spot and finally have a chance to get some blogging done.

A lot has happened in the past two days and I must offer my apologies for not having more up to date coverage. Tonight on the floor, I should have more time to update and post.

More coming as of now!

Boston Library

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I am currently sitting on the base floor of the expansive Boston Public Library on Boylston Street. I managed to get a library card and a wireless spot and finally have a chance to get some blogging done.

A lot has happened in the past two days and I must offer my apologies for not having more up to date coverage. Tonight on the floor, I should have more time to update and post.

More coming as of now!

We told ya so...

By Byron LaMasters

Well, finally, the rest of the country (well, at least those who watched) figured out what all the comotion about Obama in the blogosphere was all about. I was cheering Obama on since March. And I've been thrilled with him ever since (here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here).

Obama just brings it all. He has an inspiring personal story. He frames a progressive message in a conservative manner by speaking about personal responsibility, a unified America and opportunity through hard work. One thing that I'm struck by is that conservative columnists are praising the speech - a speech that brought the mostly left-leaning Democrats in the convention hall into a frenzy. Why?

I think that Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher captures conservative reaction to the speech well:

One more thought about Barack Obama: almost always when I hear African-American politicians, I feel like they're speaking to their own, excluding my kind of voter. Tonight I felt like Barack Obama was speaking to me, to the mainstream, to everybody.

Consider this line from Jesse Jackson's landmark 1984 Democratic Convention speech:

My constituency is the desperate, the damned, the disinherited, the disrespected, and the despised.

That's a great fragment of rhetoric, but I'm a middle-class white socially conservative male who is, therefore, the Bad Guy. So, tonight, 20 years later, along comes another black Democrat from Chicago, and he gives a magnificent mainstream speech that makes me think that this guy is onto something, that he would at least listen to somebody like me. I probably wouldn't vote for Obama because I'm sure I don't agree with his policies. But I'd sure hear him out, because I don't perceive that he thinks of people like me as villains. That's progress for the Democratic Party.

Obama won't win the votes of people like Rod. But he has won the votes of not only the Chicago Black community and the White liberals that supported Jesse Jackson. Obama beat a terrific field of candidates in places that normally don't vote for progressive African-American politicians - the collar suburban counties of Chicago. Last night, he proved exactly why.

Obama is the type of African-American politician that White progressives like myself have always dreamed of. It's an outrage that the United States Senate has no African-Americans currently. It's easy to blame conservative voters as racist for opposing African-Americans for the body, be in Ron Kirk in Texas, Carol Mosely Braun in Illinois, or by scaring off qualified African-Americans from running statewide like Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee. But Obama is different from all of those above. While Kirk was able to form a multiracial coalition in Dallas, he failed to do so statewide.

Obama is the rare African-American candidate that speaks in a langauge that appeals to the Black community and progressive Whites, but also to working class, middle class, White, moderate to independent to conservative voters. Jesse Jackson is a brilliant orator, but he is clearly rooted in the African-American community, and the first description that would come to most Whites would probably be something along the lines of "African-American activist". That's fine with me, but it's difficult for many middle-class Whites to related to his perspective. Obama, on the other hand frames his story as an American story, as the son of an immigrant who worked his way through school without question of how he got into Harvard Law School (as the chair of the Harvard Law Review). It is my hope that more African-American politicians will adopt Obama's rhetoric. It's not necessary to abandon progressive ideals to build a strong multiracial coalition (some would argue that Ron Kirk did that in 2002), but it is necessary to articulate those values in langauge that appeals to all voters.

Full text of Obama's remarks are here.

July 27, 2004

The Kucinich Delegates

By Byron LaMasters

Today, I had the opportunity to interview several delegates for Dennis Kucinich. From delegate totals, I knew that Kucinich had the most delegates from Colorado, Maine and Hawaii, so I tried to catch some people from those delegations. I was successful in interviewing several members both from Colorado and Hawaii. Last week Dennis Kucinich endorsed John Kerry, and in the past day or two he became the last candidate to officially release his delegates, but unlike Howard Dean and John Edwards (and all of the others - I think) who asked their delegates to vote for John Kerry on the first ballot. Dennis Kucinich asked his delegates to "vote their conscience".

The Kucinich delegates from Colorado appeared to be idealists first, but they determined to take a pragmatic approach. I had a chance to speak with Colorado Kucinich delegate Joel Leventhal and Colorado Kucinich alternate Aime Fournier. They were part of the delegation of fourteen Kucinich delegates from Colorado - the largest Kucinich delegation of any state. Kucinich did well in Colorado for several reasons. By the time the caucus in Colorado rolled around in April, all of Kerry's Democratic primary challengers but Kucinich had dropped out. The system was also a closed party caucus system. So, only the most dedicated activists. Considering that Kucinich was actively working the state and building an organization, it's not a huge surprise that he snagged some delegates.

Both Joel and Aime supported Dennis Kucinich because they believe in moving the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction. They said that Dennis Kucinich represented "the voice of the direction we want to see the party go". They said that they will join the Kerry campaign on Thursday, and they believe that 99% of the Kucinich delegates will do the same. However, they believe that it is important to vote for Dennis Kucinich on the first ballot. By doing so, they believe that they send a message to the people that elected them to serve as a delegate at the convention that they're hard work meant something. Then they believe that they can come home to their communities with credibility to ask other progressive not yet behind Kerry / Edwards to join the fight to defeat Bush in November by supporting Kerry / Edwards.

Another Kucinich delegate, Michael White of Boulder, Colorado was running from delegation to delegation this afternoon handing out surveys to Kerry delegates. It's well publicized from polls of the delegates by various media outlets that the delegates are liberal - not just liberal on a generic political spectrum, but liberal for the Democratic Party. Michael gave surveys to as many delegates as he could asking them to say which issues on Kucinich’s platform they agreed with. Then he planned to send the results to the Kerry campaign in hopes of encouraging the party to embrace much of the Kucinich platform.

Dennis Kucinich came in second place in Hawaii by visiting the state twice (no other candidate did) and by connecting with many of the left-leaning progressive Democrats in that state. I spoke with four Kucinich Hawaii delegates: Cecile Smith, Isaac Harp, Elaine Gima and State Representative Maile Shimabukum (D- Waianae). All four stated their intent to vote for Dennis Kucinich on the first ballot. All four plan to support John Kerry for President, even if Hawaii is not a swing state - they, like other Kucinich delegates strongly believe in moving the Democratic Party to the left, but are Democrats nonetheless. Shimabukum defeated an incumbent Republican last cycle, but has a tough reelection this time from both the Democratic primary and the Republicans because of her stances on issues of peace. The important issues to Cecile were getting out of Iraq, a single-payer health care system, canceling the Patriot Act, canceling NAFTA, WTO and signing the Kyoto Protocol. Most importantly, though, to the Hawaii delegates was the Department of Peace.

One man, Isaac Harp had seen his son sent to Iraq. While he returned safely physically, he worries that he was effected emotionally. Furthermore, the Bush administration, because of their failure to prepare to the war - did not get his son the armor that he needed to be safe for months. For that reason, among many others, the Kucinich delegates in Hawaii strongly support a Department of Peace. The Kucinich delegates also brought up some Hawaii sovereignty issues, however I feel obligated to research the materials they gave me before I address that issue.


By Byron LaMasters

The signs are being handed out. In a minute we'll see a sea of Obama Blue (and yes, this whole time I'm working on my original reporting - I'll post on the Kucinich piece soon).

Update: Read the speech (you'll have to copy and paste it somewhere because it's a .txt file)! Classic Obama. He rivaled Clinton for his ability to bring the crowd to it's feet.

Kos, MyDD Interview Chris Bell

By Byron LaMasters

Damn. You just never have enough business cards. Jerome said he would have invited me if he knew my number. Well he does now... so next time they get a Texan to interview, hopefully I'll be able to make it. But for now, check out what kos and Jerome have.

Wow! The Kerry Folks Allow Kennedy Signs

By Byron LaMasters

No one but the New York delegation had Clinton signs last night, but the entire floor just erupted waving Kennedy signs in a standing ovation as Ted Kennedy came on stage. All we saw last night was Kerry / Edwards signs. But then again, Ted Kennedy doesn't exactly have presidential ambitions anymore. As for the Clintons, well...

National Anthem

By Byron LaMasters

That was different. Never heard of the language, but it sounds enchanting however it's sung. Thanks to Michael Enis and Alicia Childs of the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona for singing tonight's national anthem via satelite.

John Kerry Blog Blogs on Bloggers

By Byron LaMasters

Therefore, if the John Kerry blog will blog on bloggers. I'll blog on their blog blogging on bloggers. Ok, I really just wanted to see how many times I could use a variation of the word "blog" in a sentence, but here's the links on the Kerry Blog:

Our view from "Blogger Alley" of the Clinton Speech

Blogger Breakfast Post

People I've been within 5 Feet of Today

By Byron LaMasters

Jesse Jackson
Charlie Rangel
Anderson Cooper
Bill Schneider

vs. yesterday....

Barack Obama
Howard Dean
Tucker Carleson
Al Franken
With the exceptions of Howard Dean and Barack Obama, they all seemed quite busy at the time, so I didn't have a chance to talk to them, but I did have a great interview to talk to a lot of people today. I think I've figured out my strategy for blogging the convention. Try to go to an event or so earlier in the day. Then in the afternoon, spend a coupl e of hours on the floor of the convention talking to delegates and elected officials that I can find (as I did today). I'll be blogging tonight on the Kucinich delegates I interviewed from Colorado and Hawaii. I also want to provide live commentary on the major speeches tonight, especially because I was unable to last night. I think my coverage of the speeches last night wasn't as good as it could have been because my initial thoughts were harder to capture after catching the network analyists thoughts on the speeches. Anyway, Maya Angelou is speaking right now, but unfortunately there's an NPR guy here interviewing the guy next to me (ok, the NPR guy is actually a nice guy - he interviewed me on Sunday at the blogger thing that night). People are also still filling up the seats, so thats making some noise as well. Also, the wireless problems have been taken care of, so the blogging out to be much smoother than last night throughout primetime.

Last Night

By Byron LaMasters

Overall, a very good night for Democrats. I planned to blog more extensively last night, but I had difficulty pulling myself away from watching the President Clinton speech over and over and over again as I flipped back between CNN and C-SPAN.

Of the four major speeches, I found Gore to be effective. He was self-depricating and funny, and if only he would have acted as such without using words like "lockbox" all the time in 2000, he might have won without a recount. I think the way in which he spoke of the 2000 election with a laugh as opposed to with a frown or a scream was quite effective in arrousing the anger and passion that many Democrats feel regarding that election without alienating moderates or undecided voters. And the repeat of "The Kiss" was quite humorous.

Jimmy Carter was just hard to hear. Fortunately, I received a copy of the speech, but from the upper deck, he was a challenge to hear. I think the speach was effective to the extent that Jimmy Carter is not the kind of guy that you would expect to deliever the red meat. And when Carter delivers the neat, people listen.

The 9/11 tribute was phenominal. Abosolutely beautiful. I was talking to someone when I noticed the overhead lights go out, and candles light up on the floor, when the family member of 9/11 victims ended her speech. At first I wasn't sure what was going on. Then the violin began playing "Amazing Grace", and everyone was quiet. Seeing all the candles from above was truly a splendid site.

I honestly wasn't too impressed with Hillary Clinton's speech. It was a good introduction of President Clinton, and defense of Kerry, but there was nothing particularly memorable about it. Perhaps, the reason is due to Bill Clinton's mesmerizing that followed, but nothing about Hillary's speech stood out.

There's not really too much else to say about President Clinton. He has the unique ability (as does John Edwards) to speak in a way that tells a story. Actually, I had heard most of the speech before. The "strength and wisdom" quote was extraordinarily powerful. Clinton trotted out the Bush-Cheney-and-I-could-have-gone-to-Vietnam-and-didn't-but-John-Kerry-said-send-me line back at the DNC unity dinner in March. In fact most of the speech was based on that speech back in March. Do a "unity dinner" search on C-SPAN to find the video (you'll have to go a little over an hour into the speech). I got the feeling that Bill Clinton is itching for a fight. And as much as the Clinton's might harbor future White House ambitions, I was convinced by President Clinton's performance last night that he'll work to get John Kerry elected. And Kerry would be stupid to not send Clinton into the Black community especially, in most every swing state come this fall. Personally, I find the Hillary '08 speculation to be silly. The only way that Hillary will win the Democratic nomination in 2008 will be if Democrats across the country are fully convinced that she did everything in her power to get Kerry / Edwards elected in 2004. The Democratic base hates Bush so much, that they won't stand for any major Democratic figure sitting on the sidelines this year.


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Monday has passed an though I have not had the time to write up a full report as of yet, I do have Monday's pictures up here. My apologies for being a bit slow on this past day, but I need more than two hours of sleep to operate. I will be back on track later today. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures; I will get labels on them as I have time.

July 26, 2004

Ben Affleck Applies the Smackdown on CNN

By Byron LaMasters

Just saw this... gotta love it:

Larry King: We are the only network still on the air still right now with our post convention coverage.

Ben Affleck: Well, FOX News is doing a John Kerry worships the devil thing.


Texas Delegation Blog

By Byron LaMasters

When I ventured on to the convention floor this evening, I had the opportunity to speak with several of the people working on the Texas Delegation Blog (besides Karl-Thomas). Check out their work, here. There's also other official delegation blogs on the official blog of the convention.

No Parties Tonight

By Byron LaMasters

I just got back to my hotel tonight. I had been running around for 15 hours straight after getting about four hours of sleep last night, so I decided I come home, see what the TV and other blogs are saying (and catch up on some blogging as I was still having trouble with the wireless connection).

No Gore/Dean Scream

By Byron LaMasters

Well, that is if Gore sticks to the script. I just received an advance copy of Gore's speech. The DNC people probably wouldn't like it if I posted it, though. That goes into that whole journalistic ethics thing that may or may not apply to bloggers. Who knows?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to heading up to our blogger section and watching them in person.

Convention Advice and Tidbits

By Byron LaMasters

Don't take pictures of federal buildings with lots of security officers around. They tend to ask a lot of questions.

Bostonians love donuts. There are donut shops on practically every corner. I mean, really. And I briefly heard a CNN segment earlier today that noted that Boston had something like ten times more donut shops per capita than the U.S. average.

Boston subways don't always go where the map tells you that they're going. Usually, its not too difficult to get around, though. It can just be a minor problem, so it's good to plan a little extra time.

Go Johnny Go is back in. At least until November 2nd. Ok, maybe until 2004. Or hell, maybe until 2016 when John Edwards is reelected. But he better not have a running named John.

The press filing room has a much better connection than the "Blogger Blvd" where the wireless connection goes in and out every five minutes. My advice to other bloggers? Do your blogging in the press room, then watch the speeches you want in the Blogger section. I'll be back up there around 8:30 PM eastern to catch the Gore, Carter and Clinton's speeches.

There seems to be a 10-20 minute lag on my posts in the convention center regardless of where my connection is. So, if things look weird, it's because it's taking forever for me to know if posts go through.

Tucker Carleson looks different in person.

It's very tempting to make Andrew D. jokes with Ezra of Pandagon.net. Ezra and Andrew both worked for Dean last summer in Burlington, VT. Ezra had the pleasure of sharing a place with Andrew and two other people for the entire summer. We love you Andrew. Really, we do. I swear!

James Carville is good. Very Good. It doesn't matter if he's on Crossfire, or if he's rallying a Vets for Kerry rally, as he did today. He's just good.

The best advice, bar none that I got for the convention was to eat and go to the bathroom whenever you can - preferably not at the same place. Yesterday, I ate breakfast at 9:30 AM, got busy and just sort of forgot to eat lunch, then finally ate dinner at 7 PM. Today, I decided I'd just eat breakfast and lunch at the same place to make it easier. I had a little bite to eat at the hotel as I headed to the shuttle stop, I had breakfast at the blogger breakfast a little after 10 AM. Then I had another big plate of eggs, bacon, sausage and potatoes as they shut the buffet down a little before noon. That's a good thing. I haven't had a chance to eat since.

The Guam Delegation

By Byron LaMasters

I had the opportunity to make it down to the convention floor earlier where I literally ran into the Guam delegation walking on to the floor of the Fleet Center. They were easy to recognize with their bright red Hawaiin shirts with "GUAM" written on them. It was an interesting group. All of the delegates were either Kerry delegates or unpledged. They had quite a journey to get here. The leader of their delegation, an attorney named Mike Phillips had travelled from Guam to Hawaii to Los Angeles to Boston. It takes about a day.

Mike has an interesting story himself. He's attending his second convention - his first was the 1992 convention in New York that gave Bill Clinton his historic convention bounce. Back in 1992, Mike was one of the youngest state chairs and the security / credentials people didn't believe him at first when he tried to show up at several caucuses. Mike's serving his third (non-consecutive) term as chair of the Guam Democratic Party. He's lived in Guam all his life except for college at UCLA and graduate school at the University of Hawaii.

I asked Mike what the most important issues were for Guam. He said there were three key issues. The first was the war in Iraq, as young people from Guam have served alongside young people from the fifty states in the war. Second, is the Guam economy. Mike noted that whenever the Asian economy goes into recession, as it did in the late 1990s, it seriously effects the Guam economy, and they have little representation in Washington D.C. to attain relief. Third, are issues of self-determination. Guam is a unique case. It's too small to realistically be admitted as a U.S. State. Yet, it relies upon the U.S. government heavily in many ways, so most in Guam would probably not be interested in Independence. Still, Mike would like to see greater self-determination for Guam while maintaining bonds with the United States. Mike noted specific historical injustices in Guam. Guam became a U.S. territory in 1898, yet only was able to elect their own governor in 1970, and only afforded the right to trial by jury in 1972.

Anyway, Mike said that with no real representation in Congress, it is critical that he uses events like the Democratic convention to be able to share his concerns with others, and seek the change Guam seeks. I hope that this post can help him achieve that.

Big Lead for Kerry with Students

By Byron LaMasters

Great news from the latest Harvard Institute of Politics Poll (PDF file). Kerry has a huge 21 point lead (58-37%) among students (Bush Approval is at 40/53%). This reflects the trends in other polls that I've seen in recent weeks (I'll try and cite them later tonight if I have a chance) that Kerry is opening up a significant lead among young voters. Many people say that young people don't vote, but there is hope that that will change this year. Look at college tuition rates. Look at the lack of good jobs for many college graduates. Look at the young people that die every week in Iraq. Young people must get involved in 2004. As Bill Maher says, it's not coke or pepsi in 2004, it's coke or "Jesus juice". Even controversial issues like the Federal Marriage Amendment are opposed by the vast majority of young people. Hopefully, Kerry/Edwards will continue to reach out to young voters, and hopefully copy many of the tactics that worked for the Dean campaign. Regardless, whatever they are doing now is working - if only we'll vote.

Via Political Wire.

From the Front Page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

By Byron LaMasters

More coverage from the front page:

Blogging is making a breakthrough into what had been a realm of mainstream American journalism.

More than 30 bloggers are covering this week's Democratic National Convention, a first for the popular keepers of online journals.

Among those granted press credentials is Dallas native Byron LaMasters, who runs Burnt Orange Report, a blog on Texas politics.

"I'm happy to say that I don't claim to be nonbiased," said LaMasters, 22, a sophomore at the University of Texas. "I support John Kerry for president, but I hope my blog can be a place for people willing to engage in debate and not just name-calling,"


The day LaMasters learned of his invitation to this week's convention, he asked his readers what they wanted him to report on. The suggestions were few; most simply wanted him not to copycat the press corps. Rather, they wanted an irreverent account of his experience. In essence: be a blogger, be yourself.

GLBT Delegates

By Byron LaMasters

The 2004 Democratic National Convention has set a new record for the number of openly gay or lesbian delegates. It was announced at the GLBT caucus earlier today that there were 255 openly gay or lesbian delegates to the 2004 Democratic National Convention and 7 transgendered delegates. That is up 15% from 2000. Also at the GLBT caucus were many speakers, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and several high ranking GLBT officials in the Kerry campaign and the DNC.

Breakfast Blogging

By Byron LaMasters

The rumors were that Max Cleland was going to speak to the bloggers, but he had to cancel, and that the speaker for our breakfast would be someone bigger than Max Cleland. I wasn't sure if that meant that we were going to have Michael Moore, or some other larger than average individual, but alas, we were in luck. The credentialled bloggers, and about twice as many news reporters (or was it three to one?) had the opportunity to hear two people who needed no introduction. Barack Obama and Howard Dean:

Obama just had time to stop in, say hello, talk for three minutes, and leave. I would have loved to hear him give his stump speech, but I can wait for that until tomorrow night.

Dean, on the other hand, in typical Howard Dean fashion, offered a few surprises. The typical - basically what myself, and every other blogger has been saying to most media folks we talk to - that blogging is a two-way communication with voters - something that has not existed to this extent in a long time, if ever in the American political process. Dean noted that the first two people that he hired for Democracy for America were bloggers. Dean then said something to the effect that the "mainstream media are the last people to figure out whats really going on in America, because they spend so much time in Washington". In a way, he was right. In the polls and in fundraising, Dean was the leader for the Democratic Presidential nomination by June (July at the latest), yet the establishment media only proclaimed him as such at the end of the year. The activists knew Dean was the frontrunner. The bloggers knew it. But the mainstream media wasn't buying it. Perhaps, in the long run, the media was right, but not before they joined with everyone else in saying in December what the rest of us were saying in July - that Dean was the frontrunner.

Dean continued to note that most politicians fight the last war as opposed to the next one. Dean predicted that people like Rupert Murdoch and others in the mainstream media would lose out in the long run, or be forced to change to accommodate the next generation. There's a reason why young people get their news from the Internet and the Daily Show. When the mainstream media does not conform to the demands of their viewers, they lose. It's the same with bloggers. The credentialed bloggers in Boston are only here because we have (at least enough of the time) met the needs of our readers.

Perhaps Dean paid the bloggers his best compliment with this: "If i were you I would not be insulted if someone didn't call you a real journalist... Have you read what's in the NY Post from time to time?" Yup. Gephardt for VP... all the way.

Bloggers Blvd

By Byron LaMasters

The "Bloggers Blvd." is up in sections 319 and 320 of the seventh floor above the convention center. A wireless connection was set up for us, but it was acting pretty flaky, so I'm currently down on the third floor in the press filing room, so you can expect several of the posts I've been working on today in the next couple of minutes.

Photos Up

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I got the pictures uploaded from the last three days. Check them out. Eventually I will get them labeled.

Voice of America

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Though it's not official yet, you may be able to hear me today on Voice of America, between 1:30 - 1:45 p.m. ET during the "Talk to America" call-in part of Doug Bernard's show. If you tune in, and I can make the interview, you may just hear me. I'll try to make it.

Link to online feeds.

Media Update

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

(Including an e-mail I just recieved, there have been about 24 total media requests of some sort that have come my way in the last 2 weeks. To quote Bush, I'm "shocked and awed".)

The Associated Press article has now hit the wire meaning it's been picked up by about one and half dozen newspapers across the country so far. And the bit that has to do with Texas is as follows with my oh so wonderful quote at the end...

For Texas delegate Cate Read, 37, of Houston, a blog is an extension of the daily e-mails she sent when she was a delegate in 2000. When she ran for delegate this year, fellow Democrats asked her to keep up the Internet missives. One man in her district printed the e-mails so his elderly parents could read them every day, she said.

Blogging comes naturally for some delegates, especially the younger ones. In tech-savvy circles, they assume important events will be blogged.

"It's another element of your lifestyle," said delegate Karl-Thomas Musselman, 19, a government major at the University of Texas in Austin. "It provides a connection that I think didn't exist just from watching TV or reading editorials in your local paper it's someone I can relate to."

If no one from the Texas delegation blogged, Musselman said, "I think there would be real dissatisfaction."

I'm still trying to figure out what all I meant in the original interview that was drawn into that quote.

In addition the AP piece, the Waco Tribune article ran today...

"Most bloggers don't consider themselves journalists but rather as political activists," said Byron LaMasters, who received credentials on behalf of "Burnt Orange Report," a political blog based in Austin. "I don't have an editor. I write whatever I want to write, but I feel responsible to our readers, the Democratic National Committee and to the blogging community to conduct myself professionally."

LaMasters, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Texas at Austin, said his blog receives 700 to 900 views daily.

"I think blogging will add another dimension to covering politics with a new attitude," he said. "I think it will bring some excitement to the coverage. I know I'm excited about going."


Nor are all bloggers at the convention credentialed, for that matter. Karl-Thomas Musselman, who blogs about politics on "Musselman For America," will attend as the youngest delegate from Texas, representing state Senate District 24, which includes Temple and Killeen. He plans on blogging from Boston, saying it adds another layer of reporting from the inside on things the mainstream media won't cover.

"I'll be able to provide a personal touch by interviewing other delegates about party concerns," he said. "Most bloggers wouldn't pretend to say they are objective. I realize that conservatives aren't reading my blog looking to have their minds changed."

Musselman, 19, is a sophomore at UT-Austin. He has been a Democrat since growing up in Fredericksburg, Texas, he said, and participated in a peace rally in March near the Bush ranch in Crawford.

BBC News Online also writes up their story...

But the bloggers will not only be laptop-toting political pundits. Some delegates will be blogging, including the youngest delegate from Texas, Karl-Thomas Musselman.

The 19-year-old originally dreamed of being the first man to set on foot on Mars, but the 2000 election sparked an interest in politics.

He started his website and blog, musselmanforamerica.com, because he was running to represent a district that is 300 miles (480km) from end to end. It was a way for him to connect to voters.

He redesigned the site for the conventions and hopes to be able to update it wirelessly from the convention floor.

He does not think the bloggers will in any way supplant the traditional media, but stresses they have their own role.

"Bloggers provide another angle, another market for news and information out of convention," he said.

"We're not under a banner of [Fox's slogan] 'fair and balanced'. We are able to a little bit more flippant, more critical, more analytical," he said. "That is the nature of who we are, and that is why people read blogs."

That last one is probably the best quote I've seen so far pulled out. I mean, of course I said everything I'm quoted as, it's just always a game as to what fits with the theme of any particular story and makes the final cut.

Also, a quickie blog based interview on my thoughts about Farenheit 9/11 and my reporting at the DNC.


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

After our free continental breakfast at our hotel in Lenox, we made a quick trip back to the Democracy Fest to say goodbye. We are leaving early to Boston so that Glen can organize the seating arrangement of our delegation. We will be missing Howard Dean’s speech out here in Pittsfield, but we will likely see him at various events this week, and possibly on the floor if our arrangement to have him come sit with the Texas delegation for a time hold true. (The only other delegation that he was planning on staying with was, of course, Vermont.)

On the way out to Boston, a reporter from the Austin American Statesman called an interviewed me on the way to Boston, with the cell phone cutting out twice in more rural areas. We met up for a photo shoot later in the day. Veronika from Congressional Quarterly asked to interview Byron and I for our reporting on the Burnt Orange Report, though I didn’t end up making it downtown to meet her. And Laura from the Daily Texan at UT also called to talk about blogging for her story.

In Boston, we had to deal with a couple of situations, one being the rooms, and the fact that our group was not in adjoining ones. After talking to about 3 different Hotel people, Glen manages to get a young’n to rearrange the arrangements, add two cots, drop me off the ‘official’ list in order to bypass the hotel’s automatic person/room ratio and adjust the names… shebam, we have adjoining rooms. Never underestimate the power of Maxey.

The major events for the rest of the evening included riding three blocks down to our official Texas welcome party at the Hyatt Harborside. The place was absolutely beautiful. It was on the corner of the bay, looking out across to Boston proper. Delegates, alternates, committee people, big wigs, and probably some “big wigs” as well were all there. There was Mexican and Italian food, fajitas and pasta. Oddly enough, the more grassroots, new party folks were outside the big white tent eating Mexican while the party regulars and suits stayed in the tent with the Italian. Self-selecting classism, would make an interesting sociology study.

I ended up talking to Rodd from the BBC Radio London and then introduced him to Texas Arab American delegate from Austin as well as Glen and later the Democratic Mayor of Waco (which represents George Bush’s ranch). Ken, reporter/photographer extraordinaire from the Austin American Statesman was around and interviewed me as well, adding a sixth Texas paper to cover me (after Fredericksburg, UT-Austin, Waco, Dallas, and Houston.) My cell phone was literally ringing every half hour with some new news request or update. I can’t imagine though what I would have done without it and how I have somehow managed to get along all these years without it.

I met up with Aldon Hynes, credentialed blogger from Connecticut and husband of Dean Dozen candidate Kim Hynes.

After dinner, it was over to Boston proper to the City Hall square to listen to the music and Boston Pops Orchestra. Nick Lawrie and I meet up with the Public Radio Exchange to do radio spots for KUT, UT-Austin’s radio station, as well as any others that might want to pick it up. We are doing delegate diaries, 3 of them, and will be meeting again Monday and Wednesday nights for the next rounds.

We did some walking around downtown to buy Glen Diet Cokes, because he’s more or less addicted to them (we joked about how he could be an official sponsor except he’d have to do the ads and say “I’m Glen Maxey and I approved this ad because it’s time to quench our thirst”.) The Pops started close to 9 pm but were wonderful. They had standard fair patriotic songs, but also classical, Elvis, and modern as well. The director was amazing we agreed, because he got into his directing so much. In addition, at 10, the fireworks were shot across the bay and romantic music was playing; it was really special and exciting all at the same time.

But alas, we did have to return to our hotel, though the fun did not end. There was the Sheila Jackson Lee party (not that crowded apparently, bad timing) where I got down on the dance floor right along with the Congresswoman (who had endorsed Dean during the primary at our Houston rally).

All that left for a very tiring day.

Last Saturday

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Arising from our ‘non-smoking’ room, we packed up the bags and moved to Pittsfield, out in far western part of Massachusetts to go the Democracy Fest, the national pre-convention gathering of Howard Dean delegates, ‘shadow’ delegates like us who are officially John Kerry (etc.) delegates but Deaniacs at heart, and other hardcore volunteers and Blog for America commenters.

We arrived around noon while things were already in progress, and met up with Fran Vincent, Austin delegate and volunteer organizer of Democracy for Texas as well as Marla Camp who is on the DFT steering committee and was on the National Platform Committee in Florida.

Throughout the day, we attended training sessions sponsored by the Latinos for Democracy people from California. Alongside that, there were entertainers down in the dining tent; everything from political bands, comedy groups, slam poets, solo singers, and speakers. Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi spoke around 2 pm which prompted some interesting discussion. This event, being a gathering of the core of the hard core activists, had a number of people who were incredibly upset with Trippi for what they believe he did to the Dean campaign at the end. There are complaints about his firm managing the horrible media ads, not paying attention to Iowa, not paying attending to minority building, etc.

Personally, I find it ironic that some of the Deaniacs dislike Trippi so much. Come on, you have to at least thank him for building an enormous campaign first so that he could screw it over in the end! Note my sarcasm.

He spoke about his book, The Revolution Will Not be Televised. Or rather, he spoke on how it was not a ‘tell all’ (though according to those in the know, he apparently bashed a number of people and Howard Dean after the whole campaign reshuffling. Dean also had his words, but kept them in private conversation I was told.

In any case, he outlined what his greater vision was for political organizing beyond the Dean campaign. About how we are in the time between TV being the dominant medium to the Internet taking over. It’s an idea of how people will return to the community driven model of interaction, organization, and socialization instead of being driven by the solitary conversation that direct mail and tv ads create now.

He was asked a question along the lines of, “If you were the Kerry campaign manager, what dream idea would you love to do to the campaign.” Trippi’s response was that at the national convention, during his nominating speech, he would have Kerry make the announcement that he was putting the future of his campaign into the hands of the American people by not accepting $75 million, taxpayer funded, public financing check for the post-convention portion of the general election campaign. By making a bold statement like that, for one, a media firestorm would be created, and two, it would advance the acknowledgement of online organizing and fundraising to now, not 10 years from now.

I understand his vision and I can see, just like in any of the other Deaniacs, there is a deeper commitment, vision, and belief behind what we are all doing. And that gives me hope.

During the afternoon, Glen Maxey spoke, though I missed it due to talking to a Hartford Current Reporter for an hour. She was a story on young Dean supporters and what has happened to them post-campaign. If anything, it brought back a lot of memories and a big smile from me.

Most of the rest of the evening was spent eating and drinking out in the main tent until it got late. We headed out to Fran’s campsite where the Texans and other Deansters got together to stand around the fire, drinking, and telling stories about the campaign. It was a magical moment, reliving so much of what happened, with people from six different states all knowing what you are talking about, down to the smallest detail. It was community.

Last Friday

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Having finally gotten an Internet connection here in Boston, I'm uploading the entries that I have so far. Pardon my lateness...

Leaving Austin today, we had few problems, other than the fact that there was bad weather in Newark, NJ which was delaying our Continental flight to Providence, Rhode Island. Being early, like I usually am to the airport, I had a head start in getting things arranged so in the end we were put on American Airlines flight through Chicago.

I’m traveling with Glen Maxey (Dean State Coordinator and general Texas political guru), Mark McCulloch, a delegate here in Austin infamous for the “Austin Progressive Coalition” yellow doorhangers, and Nick Lawrie, the 24 year old delegate from here in Austin who had blockwalked state delegate’s houses and made handwritten letters asking for votes to the National Convention. They arrived, with a news crew from the local FOX affiliate (which later ran our departure story at 5 and 9).

The flights were more or less uneventful and once in Providence around midnight we packed up the rental car and headed west through Rhode Island, Connecticut, and then up to West Springfield, Massachusetts where we stayed for the night. Our motel was a Rodeway Inn. On our first pass by it, we were a bit worried because the bank of rooms for the Inn had been burned down. Of course, the actual motel part was on the other side of the burned building leading Mark to make the observation that this Inn “clearly had a choice of non-smoking and smoking rooms.”

Sunday Night Fun

By Byron LaMasters

Tonight I met a bunch of bloggers at this blogger event in Cambridge. Then, several of us tried to make it into the big party tonight at Club Avalon where Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Al Sharpton, etc. etc. all made appearances. Jesse of Pandagon.net gets it right.

Okay, so as virtual nobodies, we've learned a valuable lesson. Knowing about parties does not garner you a way in to parties.

Yeah. Ezra (also of Pandagon.net) had some will-call tickets for the party, and he talked a bunch of us into going out over by Fenway Park (where, I swear, the catcher who was catching John Kerry's first pitch HAD to be a Republican. I mean the catcher let the ball go through his legs and bounce back towards the backstop. Although, John Kerry should have practiced the pitch. There's really no excuse. Sure, I don't expect a 60 year old to throw a strike, but Kerry could have at least gotten the ball over the plate.. but I digress).

Yeah, so Avalon Club. The highlight was seeing Jerry Springer leaving. Springer managed to pose for pictures, and shake a lot of hands. I tried to get a good picture or two, but they didn't turn out so well - it was at night with all sorts of bright lights from Fenway and the club, so that's to be expected.

Next event? The Blogger breakfast at 10 AM. Rumors are swirling about it, and I'm excited.

Update: There's another blogger on my floor at my hotel - Natasha of Pacific Views.

Charlie Cook: "Bush will Lose"

By Byron LaMasters

While I was in the Fleet Center today, I picked up a print copy of the National Journal Convention Daily. Charlie Cook had perhaps the most insightful analysis of the recent polls that I've seen in awhile. Cook took the combined results of the last four AP polls on the national presidential race, so that he could attain a large enough sample size of undecided voters to make some educated observation. Cook's findings were quite significant. He found that undecided voters had decidedly negative opinions of America under the Bush administration. Undecideds broke 18/75 on the right track / wrong track question (compared to 41/56 overall). Undecideds also broke 22/69 on approve / disapproval of President Bush's job performance. John Kerry supporters were even more likely to believe that America is on the wrong track and disapprove of President Bush, but overall, undecided voters were much closer on these two questions to Kerry voters than to Bush voters.

Thus, all Kerry has to do to win is to cross the threashold of acceptability to voters, whereas Bush must convince voters who already disapprove of him and think that the country is on the wrong track - that even though they may not like Bush, Kerry would be worse. It's a hard arguement to make, and it's why Bush has spend nearly $100 Million in attack ads against John Kerry. Why? It's his only chance to win. If this election is about George W. Bush and his record as President - Bush will lose (unless Osama is captured, Iraq is stabilized, gas prices return to normal, and the economy starts booming again - all of which would be great, but it won't happen). Democrats have a reason to be optimistic, but John Kerry is absolutely correct in his approach. A Bush bashing convention would be fun for the delegates, but it's not what undecided voters need to hear. They need to hear why John Kerry will make America safer and stronger - and that's what I'm expecting to hear a lot of this week.

More BOR Press

By Byron LaMasters

I was quoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution here:

Like Kos, Byron LaMasters can participate immediately in politics through his blog. No waiting. Just type and click the mouse.

"Formerly, if you were an activist and you wanted to get involved, how would you get involved?" asked the 22-year-old University of Texas government major who runs the Burnt Orange Report. "You contact the county coordinator who then contacts the state coordinator, then the regional coordinator then the national coordinator. A lot of stuff happens and by the time they get back to you, it's out of date.

"Blogs allow anyone to have a stake in the campaigns. Blogs are basically just online diaries, but politics has found a way to use that technology."

Meanwhile, Karl-Thomas made it into a story in the Austin American Statesman:

"It's another element of your lifestyle," said delegate Karl-Thomas Musselman, 19, a government major at the University of Texas in Austin. "It provides a connection that I think didn't exist just from watching TV or reading editorials in your local paper — it's someone I can relate to."

If no one from the Texas delegation blogged, Musselman said, "I think there would be real dissatisfaction."


By Byron LaMasters

Here's a look at what will get me past about six rounds of security and into the Fleet Center tomorrow:


By Byron LaMasters

They're already up. They'll be coming down on Thursday night.

July 25, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

From both the right and the left, protesters decended upon Boston today:

The Left

And the Right

CNN vs. FOX News

By Byron LaMasters

CNN will be covering the convention live from the floor of the convention - for the first time in convention history. Above, Wolf Blitzer did his show earlier today on the convention floor.

Meanwhile, fair and balanced FOX News is up three floors above the convention floor with the networks who are covering less of the convention than ever despite the fact that 60% of Americans are more enthusiasic about voting than usual right now (compared to 38% in October 2000).

Downtown Boston: 07-25-2004

By Byron LaMasters

Check out my pictures from today, here.

Downtown Boston had thousands of police in the streets today. There were transit police (yes, I got searched twice - once on the orange line the stop before arriving downtown, and once as I got on the train to head back to the hotel. The transit police just came in and asked everyone with a bag to open it up). There were police on horseback, police on nearly every street corner, the U.S. Army, the national guard, helicopter police, motorcycle police and police in cars. The outside of the Fleet Center has the feel of a military base in a war zone. In a way, it makes me feel more secure, but on the other hand I almost feel like I'm living under martial law in a military dictatorship. Despite the security, tall fences and thousands of security personnel, the inside of the Fleet Center had the feel of a political convention that was absent on the outside. I'll be excited to be spending the next four days blogging from inside the convention center.

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