Joho the Blog » 2003 » August

August 25, 2003

AKMA on Ordaining the Gay and Educating the Young

AKMA’s back and reflecting on topics roiling his church. Fascinating.

In the comments, Jonathon Delacour asks if students are arriving in seminaries knowing less and less about Scriptural issues, then what is it that they know more and more about?

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Sleepless Notes

I’ve posted some pretty mediocre snapshots from the Dan campaign’s Sleepless Summer Tour.


The Sleepless Tour is being well-blogged by guest blogger Natasha C.


15,000 people turned out for the Seattle rally. That is incredible. And 5,000 in Portland, OR; Portland is not a big city. (We lived there for a year and I can promise you that it is a beautiful city, though.)

Garance Franke-Ruta of The American Prospect says that what’s happening is better understood as a movement than as a campaign. The size and fervor and grass-rootedness of the crowds supports that reading…

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August 23, 2003

Sleepless at 10 (Central Time)

There are about 800 people packed into a hangar at the Milwaukee Airport. It’s been festooned with Dean posters and a huge flag – a bit like dressing up the gymnasium for the prom. The crowd has turned out solely on the basis of notices in email and on the web site. It’s Saturday night. It’s 10pm. And the crowd is on fire. They’re applauding, laughing, booing the bad guys, chanting.

The Governor speaks without notes and with no Teleprompter. At the end, you can barely hear him over the crowd’s sustained roar.

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Sleepless at 9

I met the Governor. Joe called me over. We talked about – guess what? – blogging! He said he hadn’t realized how deeply issues-oriented were the readers of his blogging on Larry Lessig’s site. I said that I thought it worked out well ultimately. No presidential candidate had done that before. We’re all making this up as we go along. And then we talked about the value of the campaign blog.

What can you tell about a person in a few minutes of casual conversation? Lots. The Governor looked me in the eye, engaged immediately, did no meaningless “Hey, howya doin’?”, turned to a topic that was interesting and real, was perfectly at home – not a flicker of hesitation – in talking about a episode in which he didn’t do as well as he’d liked, was alert, friendly, curious.

Compare and contrast with, oh, let’s say, President Bush…

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Sleepless at 7:15

[Joe Trippi has just declared me the first blogger to travel as a blogger on a presidential press bus. Woohoo! I think I’ll print myself up a certificate!]

There are four buses for the press and staff. I looked in each and picked the studious one where most people have their laptops out. I’m just that sort of guy,

Joe Trippi’s son just came through with an assortment of potato chips. I chose BBQ because it just looks so professional to have your fingertips and lips ringed with orange flecks.

I’m sitting next to Patsy Wilson from Reuters; she’s got a White House press pass hanging from her bag. In front of me, Mario from the Getty Archive is editing some photos he’s taken of the event: bring a face out of the shadows, turn up the contrast on a woman holding a Dean sign, upload it via a cellphone modem. Isn’t technology amazing?

It’s quite a collection of journalists. Maybe 30 of them. CNN. The NY Times. Reuters. C-SPAN, Newsweek. Fourteen months before the election. This must be what momentum feels like.

On the plane now. It’s a chartered 737 sitting on a back leg of the airport. No metal detectors here, but they do a thorough job going through everyone’s luggage. The press sits in the back of the plane, the staff in the front. Plastic clumps of grass are taped to the seats because this is a “grassroots” campaign, which is somewhere between charming and hokey.

The Governor enters the plane last of all. (Yes, they wand him before he enters … you never know, given his stand on gun control, he could be packing heat :) The press crowds the aisle, pointing cameras at him. Now it’s like a rugby scrum except with cameras and inside a plane. The Governor talks with reporters until we’re all told to sit down so we can take off…

We’re half an hour into the trip and it’s a bit of a party. People are standing in the aisles. There are dozens of conversations going on. It’s festive.

Some of the staffers are sleeping, having worked their butts off for an event that pumped up a crowd of 4,000+. I’ve talked with some of them and they feel they’ve turned a corner. The campaign is on its way. (One of the journalists on the bus said that you can tell a lot about a campaign by how well organized the press facilities are and this campaign was running exceptionally smoothly.)

It’s festive but it’s also weird. Behind me, one media person is interviewing another about her reaction to the campaign so far. The Governor is sitting with a staffer, and the cameras are on. Always. You could desalinate a small pond with all that a wattage.

The plane is touching down…

All these entries are cross-posted at the Dean campaign blog

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Sleepless Summer 6:00

All entries from the campaign trail are cross-posted at the Dean campaign blog.

Gov. Dean enters as U2’s “Beautiful Day” plays. The crowd chants. Dean starts strong. After saying that the Sheriff estimates the crowd at 4,000, he says: “The president is sleeping comfortably in Crawford tonight. And while he’s sleeping, we’re going to take our country back.”

I’m not going to blog his entire speech. But it’s good. It’s focused on issues, with passing funny jabs at Bush. But, more important, he’s doing a good job of flipping the cliched expectations. For example, he warns us that the Republicans just don’t know how to handle money: “Borrow and spend, borrow and spend.” And he goes after the idea that the Republicans are tough on defense and Democrats aren’t; “North Korea is about to become a nuclear power because President Bush won’t sit down and talk with someone he doesn’t like.” He says that he won’t hesitate to send American soldiers into battle but not without telling us the truth about why.

He talks about balancing the budget, about providing educational and child services. He talks about Martin Luther King’s dream and says “This president played the race card” with regard to affirmative action, “and for that alone he deserves to be sent back to Crawford, Texas.” He talks about the make-up of the Supreme Court. He talks about being a world leader not just through military strength but also by being respected around the world.

He urges people to sign up on the Internet. “We won’t spam you … except for the last three weeks of every quarter when we’re trying to raise money.”

“The reason we’re going to beat this president is that we’re going to give the 50% of Americans who’ve given up on the political process a reason to vote again.”

The Governor has connected with this crowd, and it seems to me that he’s connected beyond issues and politics. And that’s exactly what he has to do.

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Sleepless Summer 5:30pm

Ok, I was off by a little bit. I’m not good at crowd estimates, but it’s got to be in thousands, not hundreds. The cab driver found the venue by following the stream of people. All types. Stand still and every type of American will pass by.

After the predictable Bruce Springsteen recording on the PA – it’s a sign of age that he’s become a safe choice – and some Loving Spoonful, the local mayor (Dan Gardner) talks briefly. Then Jasper Hendricks who remembers segregation. And Isis Castro who spoke from her experience as an immigrant to this country.

Elaine Castro says that in the Dean campgian she’s reecovered her enthusiasm for the political that she lost in her youth. She says that Gov. Dean, among other qualities, is “articulate.” The crowd goes wild.

Bill Euille, the first African American mayor of Alexandria, speaks.

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Sleepless Summer 2pm

I’m on my way to a Howard Dean “event” at a place called Cherry Hill Farms in Falls Church. My participation was arranged so quickly that I have few expectations about the nature and scale of the event. Twenty-five people in a living room? Two hundred people screaming like bobby soxers? Because it’s the kickoff of the Dean campaign’s “Sleepless Summer Tour,” I’m pretty confident that it’s not going to be a dozen oil industrialists balancing caviar-topped crackers on their checkbooks as they wink and say how they know they can count on the Governor…

It’s a lovely summer day no matter how we humans choose to populate it.

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Off to the Sleepless Tour…

I leave in a little while for the trip to Falls Church, VA, to meet up with the Dean campaign. I’ll be blogging the event here and at the Dean campaign weblog.

I’m all a-twitter. (Well, at least I’m all a twit.)

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Right, wrong and none of the above

I had a brief-but-hearty discussion with someone I love and respect last night over file sharing of the napster sort. He thinks it’s obviously wrong and those who think it will be permitted forever are living in dreamland.

I remain conflicted about this. My friend seemed to be approaching it from a rules-based moral position — stealing is wrong — with pointers to consequences: CD sales are down (well, there’s argument about this), and who knows what the broader effects of wholesale file sharing might be. My friend lives a principled life and I admire him vastly for it.

I, on the other hand, am unsure exactly which rules to apply since we don’t have a pay-per-play policy in the real world — I am allowed to make a copy off the air and I am allowed to give a friend a taped copy of a CD, and you are allowed to re-read my book without paying me again — and I see wonderful consequences mixed with the undesirable ones as a result of allowing some degree of file sharing.

So, I come down to the following assumptions, none of which I believe without qualification:

Having a vibrant, rich public domain is good, important, necessary, etc.

Artists need to be compensated fairly. The marketplace needs to encourage artistry.

We positively do not want to have to pay every time we get value from someone’s creative work even if that would be the fairest way to treat artists. Art needs to suffuse a culture and that can’t happen if the economics demand strict fairness.

The recording industry as it is currently constituted is so unfair to artists that it needs to fail before the right relationship among artists and audiences can emerge.

Except in the extreme cases, I just don’t know what’s right and wrong. But I do agree with AKMA‘s overall educational precept: the truth lies in complexity.

(Apologies to AKMA if I got that wrong. And apologies to my interlocutor for, ironically, over-simplifying your arguments.)

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