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|Demeter (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore||Sat Mar-22-08 01:25 PM
|A Report on Take Back America 2008 By Rob Kall|
March 20, 2008
I go to TBA every year because it's a great place to meet activists, writers, bloggers-- to network, schmooze, recruit, promote and prosetelyze for OEN.
Here's a report on the meeting, some quotes, some color, with an idea of what I did there.
When I arrived, before entering the hotel, I was pleased to see there was a crew promoting impeachment. I was also pleased, when I told them I would put their photo in OpEdNews that they were excited that they were going in OEN. Throughout the conference, people routinely greeted me with warmth, recognition and appreciation.
Here are some quotes, some stories from the meeting:
"America is a liberal idea. We must lay claims to the liberal and not run from that position." Jesse Jackson
Roger Wilkins, at Take back America, told us about how, when people were protesting against the Viet Nam War, all night long, Lyndon Johnson Complained that it was keeping his daugher Lucy awake. Wilkins, emphasized-- "They HEAR US... and they conclude that your silence is acquiescence."
Jesse Jackson, commenting on conflict within the progressive community, told about how Martin Luther King in his dark days, his days where hope dimmed, where King had a migraine for three days straight. Jackson reported that King lifted himself out of this funk by preaching to himself, raising himself up, and when it came to the challenges of dealing with Lyndon B. Johnson, he never dissed him. King said, "Blacks shouldn't fight whites. Whites shouldn't fight blacks. But I WILL be heard."
Roger Wilkins Quotation:
Change can come, but only if Americans take seriously their citizenship in this country.
The line-- 'The only things that are certain are death and taxes is a lie."
The only things that are certain are certain are death, taxes and change. Roger Wilkins
Roger Wilkins was a part of a panel on the legacy of Martin Luther King after 40 years-- Progressive Movement in a Democratic Era: The Lessons of King and the Civil Rights Movement. He, Taylor Branch and Reverend Jesse Jackson discussed how the actions at Selma had effects that extended far beyond Selma. Wilkins advised, "Don't worry if you don't bring instant results because they will help those come after you."
For example, Taylor Branch told how, in Alabama, women were legally proscribed from serving on juries. The human rights marches in Selma led to changes so women could become jurors.
The 'keyhole democracy' is THEIR (the right's) democracy. The 'open door' democracy is our democracy and we're winning around the world. Reverend Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson, Responding to Fox News on Rev Wright's Remarks:
After the panel, a Fox noise crew got in Reverend Jackson's face and insisted he comment on Reverend Wright's widely replayed remarks that were beleaguering Obama. Here's how Rev. Jackson replied:
I hope we will be allowed to express our views and our priorities. I think this is a great season of growth and reconciliation. And I see men voting for Hillary in great numbers and whites voting for Barack in great numbers. They're the conduits for a new and a better America.
There will be reactions all over the place about it but I think it is a great moment in history and I want to put, embrace up the hopes into that, and i hope that Barack's address today will end the focus on the candidates and not on the supporters and the surrogates as the case may be.
So that's all that I have to say about that and-- I do not want you to harrass me with your agenda, please.
Earlier, reverend Jackson had said, "While some are focused on the horse race, I'm interested in who's in the wagon and who isn't" and "This campaign is not about surrogates, it's about candidates. Let's keep our hope alive. " I'm guessing the Fox reporter didn't get anything worth using.
As soon as I left the panel discussion, I went to the press room. It was overflowing into the hallway. I looked in and Obama was giving his speech on race. So I watched it live, in a press room full of very serious looking journalists-- at least 50- and they all ranged from slack jawed awe to tears. I was both, by the end of the speech.
$350 Million to Get out the Vote
After the Obama speech, there was a press conference in which a coalition of organizations announced that over $350 million will be invested in getting out the vote for this election.
Insuring Bush's Place (low) in History
At a panel discussion on the Bush Legacy, the idea of making sure that Bush is not treated like Ronald Reagan, ie., lionized and made a hero was emphasized. There's a project-- the Bush Legacy Project-- that was presented by Brad Woodhouse, who presented a talk, The Bush Legacy and the Specter of a Third Bush Term. The project wants to insure that Bush does not get framed in history as a good president. John Podesta also on the panel, discussed how Bush was the worst president in history, and that the fact is not a partisan idea, and how the "Iraq quagmire has clearly eviscerated the strength of the greatest fighting force in the world... that this was a failure of vision.
They mentioned that there is, associated with SMU, where Bush's library (one shelf, one book ) is being established, a half billion dollar effort to promote a positive spin to Bush's legacy. The left will have to fight hard and invest serious money in making sure that the lie of a positive Bush presidency will not succeed.
One of the panelists reported that, apparently, they are comparing Bush to Abraham Lincoln, whose popularity faded near the end of his presidency. From the audience, someone shouted out, "Where's our John Wilkes Booth?" I turned, looking for the homeland security goons to show up.
Arrianna Huffington commented on McCain, "They should disqualify him from holding sharp scissors-- let alone being president." And, following up on Podesta's remarks about the evisceration of the USA's fighting forces and referring to her Greek heritage, she discussed how the Athenians (the first democracy) collapsed, after invading and getting mired in Sicily.
She also said it is unAmerican to politicize real threats to America, that McCain is way out of line claiming that Al Qaeda will increase violence in Iraq because it wants him to lose. Here's the link to the online presentation of the panel.
The White haired guy who picked up my dropped paper
I dropped a piece of paper out of my conference bag, and when I turned to pick it up, a white-haired guy had already bent over to pick it up for me-- Phil Donahue.
Norman Lear just taking in the meeting
How I Got Norman Lear to Laugh
At the Gala Awards dinner, honoree Norman Lear, founder of People for the American Way, developer of the TV shows All In the Family (Archie Bunker) Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons... the list is WAAY too long. Click on his name for the link to IMDB to see what a life he's had. When finished his acceptance talk, he walked away from the microphone, then came back and announced, "I've had to pee for the past hour," and rushed off the stage. There was a break in the program while the waiter staff started bringing out the main course, and I took a cue from Mr. Lear. As I approached the men's room there were a lot of men going in and inside, it was packed. There was Mr. Lear at the sink, washing his hands. "You've inspired us all, Mr. Lear," I quipped to him. At first he thought I was talking about his words of wisdom, but my gesture to all the men in the men's room made it clear I was referring to his parting remark. I got a laugh out of one of the kings of laughs.
A lot of the reason I go to Take Back America is to make connections and solidify relationships already made.
I did an interview with Mike Gravel and it looks like he'll be posting regularly to OEN. Ends up a friend of his, who helps him, and who was accompanying him to the conference is an OEN regular reader and occasional poster. He's scheduled to be a guest on my radio show tonight, at around 8:00 PM. (AM 1360 Straight Call Kall with Jim Strait and Rob Kall)
I met Jack Layton, head of Canada's left wing party, and a member of Canada's Parliament, and will be interviewing him.
Phil Donahue and Jim Dean at
Take Back America
I spent some time re-connecting and chatting with Jim Dean of DFA, John Podesta (Clinton's chief of staff and head of Center for American Progress, Arianna Huffington, Bob Borosage, Campaign for America's Future, Mark Green, Jon Elliot, Cenk Uygur and Richard Greene of Air America Radio, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, radio hosts Mark Levine, Peter B. Collins and Guy James, ...folks from Alternet, Commondreams, thenation, YES magazine, MotherJones, uberbloggers Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers of openleft.com, Bob Fertik of democrats.com, David Swanson of afterdowningstreet, David Sirota, Cliff Schecter, Gloria Totten head of Progressive Majority, and a lot more interesting people.
I met Jane Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith of Firedog Lake, and Donna Edwards, who recently beat conservative democrat Al Wynn in the democratic congressional primary in her Maryland district. I'll be interviewing her about how progressives can defeat DINO incumbents.
I gave out cards and pitched OEN to Norman Lear, Phil Donahue, some union heads,... you know-- threw a lot of stuff against the wall. We'll see what sticks.
A poll of close to 500 attendees found that over Obama pulled over 70% to Hillary's 17%.
I also connected with a lot of other potential new writers and informed many other publishers and bloggers about the site.
ON the final day of the conference, Norman Lear spoke on Reflections on God and Country, from the left.
You can see a LOT of the talks one the website for Campaign for America's Future
One more thing-- remember-- I said I'd save the best for last.
After he spoke at the Gala Dinner, I had a chance to chat with Bill Moyers. I first met him a few months after I started OpEdnews, when our circulation was under 50,000 readers a month. I mentioned it to him, that now we are up past 600,000 and he replied that OEN is on his FAVORITES LIST. How cool is that?
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