Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I went back to Ohio...

Well just to let everyone know that I made it back to Ohio safely after essentially spending my entire Monday travelling. To get an idea of what I mean, just consider that my flight took off from Oakland at 9:55 AM and I finally landed in Columbus at 8:55 PM after an excruciating 2 1/2 hour layover in Nashville. I am now planning to write Southwest a letter lobbying for non-stop flights from Columbus to West Coast cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. After all, if no other carrier offers them, this should be a business opportunity, right? Besides, Columbus is a similar size city to Nashville, to which Southwest offers non-stop flights from all three destinations mentioned above.

While I was gone, I somehow missed the news of the Marines from Ohio who had been killed in Iraq. However, today's L.A. Times had extensive coverage of how a ceremony was held at the I-X Center in Brook Park for all those servicemen from Ohio who have died in Iraq, 49 so far. They also documented how the mood in this town has shifted over the past months of soliders from Ohio's own 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines being killed at an alarming rate.

Much to my own gall, The Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS was protesting outside this memorial ceremony for the Marines and others killed in Iraq. This is the same Rev. Phelps who is interviewed in the Gay/Striaght episode of 30 Days with signs saying such things as "God Hates Fags." Rev. Phelps and his church also wanted to post a memorial at the site where Matthew Sheppard was brutally murdered stating "Matthew Sheppard entered hell on this date..." The Rev. Phelps and company held signs and placards implying that God killed these Marines in order to punish the American military for allowing homosexuals to serve under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Some passerby had to be restrained by the police and many called the display blasphemous.

I have maintained, and continue to maintain, that the struggle we are in is a struggle of rational, reasoned morality versus religious extremeism in all its forms, whether Christian, Jewish or Islamic. The Rev. Phelps' display is yet another reminder that not all religious extremists are Muslims, but they are all equally dangerous.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mission Accomplished (for real)

On Saturday 8/6, I was over at the convention site by 10 AM at the request of OYD President Jonathan Varner (JV for short). The Platform committee the night before had requested an extenstion of the deadline to submit their report from 11 PM Friday to 2 AM Saturday, and JV wanted us to be around in case a vote needed to be taken. However, there was apparently no such drama as the Platform committee report was adopted without further controversy. We heard a speech from the President of the Los Angeles City Council about what it was like to be acting mayor of LA on 9/11 at the ripe old age of 28. After that there was some free time so myself and a couple other members of the Ohio delegation took the opportunity to go down to Fisherman's Wharf for some fun before the general session for elections began at 2 PM.

This was YDA's first contested elections in a decade. The Gallaway slate (which included Ohio's own Lauren B. Goode) inlcuded the incumbent president and a couple other incumbent officers. The opposition Unity slate was headed by the former President of the California Young Dems, Alex DeOcampo. During one of their many outbursts of chanting "Unity! Unity!" on the floor, the delegation chair from North Carolina was over conferring with us from Ohio and began chanting "We bailed you out! We bailed you out!" When I asked what he meant, he stated that the CYD under Alex's leadership had been unable to raise enough funds to cover the cost of the convention, forcing YDA to step in with $100,000 in national funds as well as arranging for the $50,000 pledge from UNITE HERE! The delegation chair (named Newman) colorfully stated that "It's ridiculous that they couldn't raise that money. You can't chuck a stick in this town without hitting five Democrats with Titanium cards. But they couldn't raise a hundred grand? What does that say about Alex DeOcampo's leadership?"

With a strong showing of our own Unity, the states of Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Massacheusetts, Virginia and Texas, stuck together to get 7 of the 8 members of the Gallaway slate elected, including Ohio's own Lauren B. Goode to the post of Democratic National Committeewoman. The opposition Unity slate was supported by Washington, Oregon, California, New York and Pennsylvania amongst others. Unity's lone victory was the election of Rob Dolin to the post of Secretary on a razor thin vote of 1006-992. The defeat for Georgia's Flora Brooke Hesse was hardfought and included a challenge from California that the Ohio delegation did not have all its delegates on the floor for the vote. After the sergeant-at-Arms confirmed that we did, we began chanting O-H I-O in excitement and definace, and to my unending pleasure, the Michigan delegation quickly began chanting O-H I-O as well. It might be the proudest moment of the conference for me.

In any case the closing banquet is over and it is time now to have one day of relaxation in San Fran before heading back east. More updates as they become available

A sunny Friday in San Francisco

Let me see if I can summarize two days in one post. Friday morning (8/5) I was over at the convention site early to hear a panel discussion on the situation in the Middle East given by Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. After that there was a luncheon hosted by the Gallaway slate at Lafayette Park. Since Ohio's own Lauren Goode is part of the Gallaway slate my attendance was imperative. They told us it was merely three blocks from the Holiday Inn to the park. That was absolutely true. What they didn't tell us was that Lafayette Park sits at the peak of one of San Francisco's famous hills, and getting there would involve walking straight uphill for three blocks. I made it, thinking that I should move to San Fran because I would likely lose about 50 pounds.

After that was over about 2 PM I had no other items I needed to be present at until our Ohio state caucus meeting at 4:30 PM. So I decided to step out of the hotel to the cable car station and ride the cable car down to Fisherman's wharf. Of course I had to change lines so it wasn't a quick trip but very scenic I must say. I walked out to the end of Pier 39 to find, to my disappointment, that the Golden Gate Bridge was shrouded in fog and invisible to my picture taking efforts. I then wandered around the Wharf til about 4 PM when I walked to the cable car station to ride back to the hotel. The only problem with this is that it was absolutely packed. I would have waited in line forever. So, displaying true savvy, I cursed the stupid "tourists" and walked one block north to North Point Ave to catch a #47 bus. I caught one almost immediately and got back to the Holiday Inn right on time.

At our state delegation meeting we discussed our efforts to get the lovely Mrs. Lauren B. Goode elected to the DNC woman post in Saturday's elections. Immediately thereafter at 5 PM we had the Great Lakes regional caucus meeting with the other states in our region (Indiana, Illinois and Michigan). All these states agreed to support the Gallaway slate and therefore Lauren. Displaying true Midwestern spirit, the meeting was soon thereafter adjourned to the hotel bar, allowing the delegates to get dinner before our general session meeting at 6:30 PM.

At the general session meeting we heard from several speakers including CA state treasurer Phil Angelides, who is the Democratic candidate for governor of California in 2006. We also heard from Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, and the truly remarkable story of how she ousted Republican Bob Dornan from a seat representing very wealthy Orange County. Her story was extremely inspiring. We also heard video taped messages from U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) encouraging us to get involved in the American Democracy Institute, a new think tank that she is involved with, and from John Kerry (D-MA) profusely thanking us for the work done on his behalf in the 2004 election. We also heard from the chairman of a new organization, Wake Up Wal-Mart! that is attempting to expose Wal-Mart's $1.5 billion annual price tag to US taxpayers. The evenings final outside speaker was Chris Chafe of the union UNITE HERE! Chris presented YDA with $50,000 raised from the union membership as a token of their appreciation for moving the convention out of the Westin St. Francis in accordance with their boycott. He also explained UNITE HERE!'s reasons in disassociating themselves from the AFL-CIO and how it would affect Democrats.

This is when the fireworks started.

The program for the evening clearly stated that after the outside speakers were finished, the nominating speeches and the nomination acceptance speeches by the candidates would begin. However, since it was 10 PM they must have figured that there was no way that the speeches would happen that night. Either that or they (the opposition Unity slate) were simply unprepared.

In any case, as the convention speaker announced that the speeches by the candidates would now begin, a member of the Unity slate rushed to the podium to make a Motion to Adjourn until the following morning. The speaker announced that this was the time set aside in the program for the candidates to speak, and that it wasn't fair to deny people who had prepared a speech the right to speak. The motion failed on a voice vote. They then asked for a stand-up vote to get a better idea of the exact vote. When that too failed, they then asked for a Roll Call vote. The chair explained that this would require a 25% vote of those assembled and would like be very lengthy as each state chair would have to individually state the votes of their delegates. This motion ultimately failed, and the speeches went on as planned, but it was a preview of the fireworks to come during Saturday's elections. More on that tomorrow.