Thursday, September 4, 2008

From the RNC. Today's talk of the town. Hilda Moeller

A little while ago I was eating lunch at Zeldas, a little cafe inside the St. Paul Public Library. While I ate, a reporter from The Washington Times asked if he could interview me about last night's speech by Sarah Palin. I had just been interviewed by Hannah, another reporter from the Washington Times, so I invited him to talk to Cuca, the Panamenian owner of the shop. Cuca told him that she is an Independent, who was quite impressed by Gov. Palin's speech. A middle age woman was sitting at the next table. She wanted to give her opinion, and she did. She thought that Palin was wrong, because she should stay at home and take care of her children instead of putting herself and her career first. An employee of the cafe came in defense of Palin, and a young male customer offered a weak support of the dissenting opinion. It was great to see everybody, invited and uninvited, joining in the conversation. It was exciting to see how many people are paying attention. According to today's news, Obama's speech was watched by 38 million people while Palin's, a name unknown to most until last Thursday managed to gather 37 million viewers, and generate a lot of conversation.
The atmosphere at the Xcel Energy Center was phenomenal last night. The Washington Center got passes to make sure that every student experienced at least one night at the convention with good seats. Last night was my night. I sat just three rows up from the red carpet. Granted, it was a side view, but we had the large screens to see the close ups, while we were close enough to take some pictures. I am at the library's computer so I can't post pictures, but I will do as soon as I can.
The professors and students who enjoyed the priviledged seats yesterday, arrived around four in the afternoon. Shortly thereafter the entertainment started with live jazz music and, compared to the ones later in the evening, insipid speeches by lesser known personalities. It was interesting to see how things work in real life. When I have watched the conventions, I always thought people brought their own handmade banners. For security, or whatever reason, banners are not allowed through the security gates. Before the event starts, young people came out with stacks of different banners that were distributed according to people's choices. There were Catholics for McCain, Hispanics for McCain. I held one that said Women for McCain. There were many others, and also for Gov. Palin. Someone behind me had a "Hockey moms for Palin" banner. They also brought smaller printed banners with McCain-Palin, and others with slogans. They are distributed where they know they will be picked up by TV cameras. By the way, during the speech I got a txt message from one of the students of The Washington Center, and another from my husband in Texas, telling me that they had seen me on TV during the Paling speech. My three seconds of fame!
Gov. Palin wasted no time setting the record straight as to her experience. Since she is running for VP and Obama for president, and they are both fighting against the inexperienced image, it created an interesting triangulation Obama, Palin, McCain. Interestingly, this week the Republican Party seemed to have changed strategy. Intead of distancing themselves from the last eight years, now they are accepting the past. They are talking about the benefits of the surge and how right was McCain in voting for it.
The only problem with the excellent performance by Gov. Palin is that it creates a higher expectation for McCain's speech. She is going to be a tough act to follow.
About 30 feet from the library where I am, there is one of the gates to enter the convention. I have been fortunate enough to be able to come Tuesday, yesterday and today. What a fabulous experience this has been! Next time I will tell you about tonight's events. Until then.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

From the RNC - Go with the Flow - Hilda Moeller

I signed up for a Sunday luncheon with Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. How exciting! Then the luncheon was moved to Sunday at noon. Oh no! I was scheduled to work with Lifetime TV from 11 AM to 6PM. Then I received a call from Lifetime, would I please work from five PM to one AM at the Rock the Vote Party? Yes! I get to go to Cheney’s luncheon. Seven hours later, I got another call telling me that someone had to drop of the program and they needed me back at 11 AM, so I had to cancel my reservation to the Cheney luncheon. Shortly later, it was announced Cheney will not come to the Convention because of Gustav. This is just one example of why Eugene Alpert, the Senior Vice President of the Washington Center keeps telling us to keep our expectations low and to go with the flow. Good advice, otherwise one could get discouraged. (By the way, Daniel, another Texas student got to go to the luncheon today and was nicely surprised to see Mike Huckabee in Cheney’ place as speaker).
During the weekend, I attended several parties. Saturday evening I went to a Media Party where I was able to take the enclosed pictures of the Mississippi River.

Sunday I attended a reception before the private showing of the movie “An American Carol.” After the movie I found myself (by accident, believe it or not) at a great reception given to all the Delegates and their guests. I visited with a number of them, including the Puerto Rican delegation that was most friendly. Every person I talked to was excited about McCain’s pick for Vice President. Apparently, the Republican Party is ready to support an even more conservative vice president than John McCain. It is also apparent that the lack of experience of Gov. Palin is not important at all, as it does not seem important for the Democrats, the lack of experience of Obama. A delegate from Florida told me that there was a lot of excitement for McCain in her state and even more now that they know about Palin.

By the way, I got a picture taken of me with an unexpected guest.

Today, the Convention started. Since it only lasted two hours and my fieldwork did not end until six in the evening I was not able to be at the Xcel Energy Center. However, across the street from where I was doing my field work there was a lot of action. A group of “anarchists” tried everything they could to stop the busses that carried the delegates to the convention from going through the bridge into the Xcel Center. They tried to block the streets with anything they could. They also joined, uninvited, peaceful anti-war protests. Then things turned violent. There were store windows broken, slashed tires, a garbage can set on fire and thrown at a police car and other mischief. Riot officers who carried batons, rifles and tear gas guns were present. Two hundred and twenty three people were arrested across, one hundred and thirty of them with felony charges. During the demonstration, people from the media tried to find out what they are protesting or what they believe in, but they would not say. The police were in high alert and were prepared to stop this self-described anarchist group of people that call themselves “The RNC Welcoming Committee.” This group was not related to the organizers of the peaceful anti-war protests.
Tonight there are many parties around town. However, they have quickly turned into fundraisers. This morning Laura Bush spoke at the Convention and urged people to help those who, because of Gustav, will be needing help and people swiftly followed her advice.
I hope that in my next blog I will share with you my experience at the Xcel Energy Center. See you next time.

From the RNC - Exciting Friday! Hilda Moeller

What exciting times these are! First, we got to watch Obama’s impressive stage production and impeccably delivered speech. Of course, though flawlessly delivered, his speech invited analysis. However, people were just catching their breath to begin commenting on it, when John McCain surprised the nation with his phenomenal choice for Vice-President. By the reaction of my fellow students at the Washington Center, the timing and the announcement could not have been more astonishing. Mrs. Palin automatically added spice to the race. However, this news was being overshadowed by Gustav, a hurricane threatening to cause havoc somewhere between Louisiana and Alabama and threatening the Republican National Convention. We will not know what will happen until probably Sunday. In the meantime, we have a day to catch our breath before the convention.
Yesterday we saw a side of politics that is nothing like the presidential races. Minnesota State Rep. Patrick Garofalo, a Republican, and Minnesota State Rep. Steve Simon, a Democrat, spoke to The Washington Center. They came together, declared to be best friends; (and by the way they joked and teased each other, it is obvious that they are close friends) while at the same time presented their case for a subject that is sensitive in Minnesota: transportation and roads. Politically they could not be in more disagreement. However, they respected each other’s views and told us the way they have worked together to find a common ground to their ideas. I know this is not extraordinary. Anybody who has evere watched the House in session on C-Span knows that in general, that is the way politics is played. At the presidential level, though, it gets ugly.

The students have received their assignments. I will be working with Lifetime TV. None of us has credentials to go into the Xcel Energy Center the days of the convention. We all hope to get them through the organizations with which we will be working. Since we have no guarantee that we will get them through the organization we will work for, we try to meet as many people as we can and see if there are other venues that may provide credentials. Credentials are given a day at a time. Even with credentials, the access has degrees, from very limited to not so limited access. Credentials are needed to attend other events and there are tons of them. There are breakfasts and luncheons people from the media or politicians, receptions to delegates and other dignitaries and evening parties from interest groups. I plan to attend some of the receptions this weekend, and next time I write I will tell you about them. See you then.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


So it was the day of the Daily Show event. I was hoping to be there by noon but I missed the bus so I called a cab. I figured I wouldn't get there by the time I wanted but I knew I had to be there by 1. After about 50 minutes the cab never called or showed and the free shuttle was ready to head downtown. So i jumped on that went to Union Station, then took the free 16th Street Mall shuttle up to the light rail. Luckily the light rail went straight to University of Denver, where the show was being taped. I was able to get a hold of one of the faculty members who was there to let her know what was going on. She said it was fine so I wasn't so stressed. I showed up at the University of Denver and started walking toward the event. The University has a beautiful campus. I walked halfway across and started going down the street I thought would take me to the event. But after about 2 miles I realized I was going the wrong way. On the plus side I was able to see more of Denver. It's an impressive city. After an hour and a half or so of walking I finally made it to the event. They official staff got the message I would be late and didn't hold it against me. They put me to work watching the outside line. It was extremely hot and after walking for about 3-4 miles I was ready to go inside. Thankfully there was an ice cream truck parked next to the line so I was able to get some. 
After a while of waiting and watching the line security came out and told the people waiting there was no more room. Needless to say people were very upset. It was about then when one of the staff members knocked on the window and motioned for me to go inside. As discreetly and quickly as I could I grabbed my bag and headed inside in front of the line. Up to that point I wasn't sure if I would be able to actually view the taping of the show. I was so excited. Inside we waited a bit until someone came out to the floor. I soon learned his job was to get people loose, excited, and loud with a comedy act and instructions. He was hilarious! He would talk and poke fun at members of the audience. He made sure everyone knew they were "more than half of the show" because people at home would enjoy the show more with laughter from the audience. After he was done John Stewart came out to answer questions. Soon after the show was under way. It was absolutely hilarious. If you happen to see the first episode of the Denver edition of The Daily Show, I was there!
After that I headed back toward downtown. I had nothing to do, Peter and April were in their fieldwork and professor Jasperson was in the Pepsi Center. Unfortunately, I didn't get back into town till about 6.30pm and by 5 it would have been too hard to get into the Pepsi Center. So Dr. Jasperson gave my day credential to another student because otherwise it would have been useless. So I went over to Leelas to watch Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech. By the time she was on the cafe` music was turned off, the t.v. turned up, and just about everyone there was attentively watching the speech. It was such an amazing speech. She really did a great job in showing her party unity. After the speech there was a small applause in the cafe`. 
Dr. Jasperson had texted me to meet them all at the Pepsi Center because Rep. Ciro Rodriguez wanted to meet everyone from UTSA. I didn't make into the Pepsi Center but was able to speak to him briefly over the phone. It was a good thing because I intern in the Commissioners Court where Rep. Rodriguez's younger brother "Chico" Rodriguez works. 
Soon after I met up with Dr. Jasperson, April, and Peter at the Cheesecake Factory. As it was the night before, the city was filled with people heading to after-convention parties and events. We didn't have any access to any for the night so we made out way back to the dorms at Regis. 
It was such a great experience to view the taping of The Daily Show. I really want to thank Dr. Hicklin for giving me her slot! And to Dr. Jasperson for taking me to the training session and for giving me so much support!

Monday-Convention is in full swing-Matt

So, last week I seriously began to have my doubts about what I could get out of this program. It seems The Washington Center dropped the ball with my fieldwork, so I really don't have anything to do. Definitely, not what I had expected. But thanks to Dr. Jasperson and Dr. Hicklin, another one of our faculty leaders, things really started to turn around. 
The day started out with Peter, April, Dr. Jasperson, and I meeting up at one of the many Starbucks, downtown, to discuss our game plan for the day. After that we all headed to the Texas delegation lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe` downtown. There we were able to mingle from delegates from cities such as Houston and Dallas. Soon after we arrived Peter and April had to go to their fieldwork assignments. While we were there professor Hicklin showed up. While we were there we heard an interesting speech by Charlie Wilson about how he got started in politics. It started when during his childhood when Mr. Wilson's neighbor poisoned his dog. To get revenge Mr. Wilson burned his neighbors lawn. But that wasn't enough.  When they were older Mr. Wilson ran for the same political office as his neighbor and was able to influence votes by telling the story of his poisoned dog when he would drop voters off at the polls. In the end Mr. Wilson won by 16 votes. "That's the day I fell in love with America and the day I fell in love with politics" said Mr. Wilson. 
While we were there I was also lucky enough to meet and interview Texas Rep. Charlie Gonzalez. I will put up the interview at the end of this posting. Also, a staff member from Sen. Leticia Van de Putte's office provided us with credentials to get into the Pepsi Center for that day and for Invesco Field on Thursday for Sen. Barack Obama's historic acceptance speech! I was so excited. I knew that this trip was now worth taking now that I was guaranteed access to see Sen. Obama give his speech. 
After the lunch reception I made my way over to an "Unconventional Woman" event where Speaker of the House Nanci Pelosi was to speak. Unfortunately, I had just missed Speaker Pelosi but I stayed to hear other key note speakers, including female senators, to talk about the importance of women in the political process. They also showed a sneak peak of an independent film entitled, "14 women", about the first 14 women senators and their personal stories and successes. 
After I left I stopped off briefly at Leela's, a European Cafe` that soon became our favorite internet cafe` hangout. I didn't stay for long because I was to meet Dr. Jasperson and Hicklin at the Pepsi Center. I soon learned what the actual convention is all about. It's full of speeches to get people excited and emotional about putting democrats in office. It's also about officially passing resolutions by groups such as the Rules and Credentials Committees. And of course it's mainly about officially nominating the candidates for the office of President and Vice President. 
Because my fieldwork position fell through, professor Hicklin was kind enough to give me her volunteer slot for The Daily Show with John Stewart. So professor Jasperson and I left the convention center to make the training session at the University of Denver. It was madness around the Pepsi Center. It took us more than 30 minutes to get a taxi. Even though it was close we made it to the training session. It was pretty straight forward though. All we were going to do was guard certain points of the building until the show began. 
After that Dr. Jasperson and I made our way back to the Regis University. The original plan was to head back to Regis, rest up for a bit, then make it back to the Pepsi Center for Michelle Obama's speech. Unfortunately, we got times confused and we realized she was speaking earlier than we thought. So we wouldn't make it to her speech. But there was a Texas Gala event afterwards that we began getting ready for. 
After waiting forever for our taxi to arrive we hopped into another students taxi despite there being 5 people to 4 seats. Haha, we made it though. We met up with Peter and April at the gala event. We talked to some delegates and hung out for a while. They had some amazing food. We didn't stay too long though. So after that we grabbed another taxi, cramped again, and headed back to Regis University. 
This day was very important. I learned what the convention is really about and I also learned that things were going to get much better. 
I would like to thank Dr. Jasperson, Dr. Hicklin, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, and Rep. Charlie Gonzalez for making this day so great!
I would also like to apologize to all the readers for such a late posting. 

Here is my interview with Rep. Charlie Gonzalez.
When I asked how Rep. Gonzalez got involved with politics he said he didn't really have a choice. He was raised in a political family. His father was a major source of political exposure. After his father retired he followed in his footsteps and became a lawyer, practicing in many types of law such as family, criminal, and workers compensation. He go his basics taken care of at San Antonio College and then graduated from UT Austin. From there he went to St. Mary's to study law. He says he was just "trying to survive". After that he became a county judge. 
When I asked him what his personal key issues were he responded by saying that they always revolved around his assignments as Chairman of Environmental Study. Those issues included energy, commerce, telecommunications, and technology. As far as energy goes he was looking for alternative energy sources to help cure global warming and independence from foreign oil. He was also very interested in the "digital divide". The internet is becoming a growing tool and to advance ourselves we need to get more people involved as it impacts all aspects of life. It has become a center and tool for commerce. 
I asked Rep. Gonzalez what he thought were the most important things he thought people should walk away from the convention with. He said there are two main things he would have people walk away with. The first was a true recognition of what's at stake with this campaign. The second was a focus on what the republicans were doing and a more vivid contrast between them and the democrats. 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Computer Problems Revisited-Matt

NO!! Once again my blog was deleted before I could post!!!

I really apologize to all the readers. I will start posting in shorter bursts so this won't happen as often. 

Friday, August 29, 2008

From the DNC- Goodbye Denver -April, Matt and Peter

We would like to thank Leticia Van de Putte, Ciro Rodriguez, their staff, and Time Warner Cable for all of the assistance and favors you did for us these past two weeks in Denver. We have some great photos to post, but Matt and I are boarding the plane for San Antonio right now! Peter is about to board for Austin too. We are all very appreciative for all of the opportunities and hope that we gave a glimpse of what the DNC looked like "from the ground up."
-April, Matt and Peter