There are others doing this as well--with pictures. I'll just throw out some of my thoughts. All in all, I found the whole thing energizing. It was great to hear and talk to people who are all trying to figure out how to get these people out of office and get some better people in. I have a strategy of my own, but that's another post.
The morning session consisted of a panel of bloggers (here's the list; I don't know them all). Hurricaine Katrina was in the forefront of everyone's minds. Everyone agreed that the media had actually done an excellent job of covering the story, finally telling a story that wasn't full of Bushco spin. And further, they were consistently contradicting the Bushco spin. Because we are all weavers of words, we spent some time discussion how to shape the narrative of Katrina, of the war in Iraq, of the economy, of gas prices. Nothing definitive, but everyone agreed that the message needs to be direct and easily digestible without losing sight of the details entirely (the footnotes, as everyone called it).
Paul Krugman was there! I was sitting right behind him. Others got to lunch with him, but hey, I was nearby, basking in the glow. He said, "I couldn't do what I do without you." This blogging thing might be catching on!
More talk about "carving out rhetorical spaces." About pointing out where Bushco says, "they should have gotten out" but "we couldn't have seen this coming."
One thing bloggers do is to research the details, to point out the local stories that are related to the national ones, to make to emotional connections for people. One of the panelists pointed out that takes about three days for story to catch on. In other words, keep hammering home the point.
A commenter likened us to the characters in Fahrenheit 451. We each focus on one slice like memorizing a book.
We then broke for lunch and I had lunch with my friend from the burbs and 5 others (if I can find their blogs or comments, I'll link them). Great conversation, good food. Lots of fun.
After lunch, the panel consisted of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Congressional Candidate Patrick Murphy. Senate candidates Alan Sandals, and Chuck Pennachio, and State Representative Mark Cohen. There were also representatives from the DNC and DCCC. Mostly these were stump speeches, especially for the candidates, but I was happy to provide them a forum for that. Congresswoman Slaughter was mad as hell and she said, "If we don't take the House back this year, we can kiss this country goodbye."
Patrick Murphy gave a stirring speech. He's a veteran of the Iraq war and he had a plan for winning and for winning other Democratic seats, even down to local school boards. He talked about Constitutional values and framing the debate in those terms. Sandals discussed health care and pensions. I think I'm blurring this together. I can't remember exactly who said what here, because there was some give and take among the panel members, but people talked about fuel prices, especially in the winter when fuel costs are expected to rise by at least 25%. Mark, I think, called us the spirit of Thomas Paine. Pennacchio was also and energetic speaker although he didn't offer many specifics.
The resounding theme of the day was--We need leadership! We need to take back our government because if we don't, we're going to find ourselves in a corporate dictatorship.