Riding through the DNC- Day 1

This will begin my week-long saga of being in Boston and having nothing to do with the Convention. Yes, some of us are here every day. The closest I will get to the Fleet Center is riding underneath it twice a day.

So, the big story today is how little a story the commute was.  The dire predictions (fueled in no small part to the "sky is falling" reporting from the Boston Herald) had everyone expecting a horrific commute.  What we got was remarkably normal.  Clearly, a lot of people are staying the heck out of dodge, but not a massive ammount.  I'd say my train had somewhere between holiday commuting traffic and every day traffic.  About what you'd expect for the period of the summer when many people are off on their vacations.

The Boston Globe seems to back up my impression.  Drivers found the experience rather underwhelming given the doom and gloom that was predicted.  Again, light traffic helped a lot, and they hope to get it even better by convincing people to take mass transit since traffic is so light there.  But, of course, that won't happen because the roads weren't a problem and people are still scared about what will happen with the much threatened bag searches.

This was my big worry going into the week.  The transit authority originally planned on bottlenecking the entrances to all stations that would eventually pass under the Fleet Center and searching random bags.  This seemed like a nuisance, but an understandable one.  When the ACLU and the like complained, the transit cops stepped up the threat to searching ALL bags just to be fair.  Now this, I dreaded.  The thought of waiting in a long line just to get into the station seemed dreadful.  Especially since they seem to want to do this from now on, even after the DNC.  Thankfully, the seriously modified the search all bags plan and came up with something entirely sensible.  Instead of searching everyone at the stations entrances throughout the system, they are stopping the train one stop before it rides underneath the Fleet Center.  Transit cops (who are looking quite scary, by the way) then board the train and walk through the cars checking all of bags.  Its smooth, sensible, and not at all a problem.  They also only did this while the Convention was in progress, also sensible.  A huge hassle became a point of good planning.  Horray.

In other news, there is much complaining going about the "Free Speech Zone".  Okay, yes, it is unfortunetly named, but it isn't near the oppressive, Orwellian structure some suggest.  It seems to have become fashionable to label the demonstration zone at the Fleet Center a "cage", such as these anti-abortion activists.  I'm normally sympathetic to complaints about "free speech zones", but that's usually because they are designed to move free speech as far away as possible.  That's just not the case here in Boston.  I've been out to the Fleet Center.  The protest zone is right out in front of the Fleet Center.  You can't get any closer.  Its also right next to the delegate parking lot, as evidenced here.  And the fence is quite necessary given the busy traffic in the area and the fact that to ensure the protesters a spot next to the FleetCenter, the set up an area on a Construction site underneath a soon-to-be-dismantled elevated rail.  (Boston's last, I believe).  I know its trite, but someone could get hurt.  Last I checked, a small bit of fence has never silenced our civil liberties.  And just look at these creatively dressed protesters. And just look at that blue sky above them.  Yeah, that's quite the picture of a cage.  And, of course, protests continue throughout Boston.  Gotta love the marching anarchists.

As to the Convention itself, it seems that inspite of the fretting that Kerry was going soft, we learned his real plan.  Lay out the attack on Bush from the big guns, getting it out of the way, and then turn around and present your positive message from everyone else.  It makes perfect sense.  Jimmy Carter critizing Bush carries much more gravitas than Howard Dean doing so.  It doesn't look as much like politics when its the elder statesment of the party laying out the case against Bush.  And this frees Kerry to lay out the case for himself in the next 3 days.  The spin is key, though.  The speeches made the case against Bush, but seemed largely about making the case for Kerry.  That's clearly not the early spin, though, but it may be just as well to get that out of the way now.  What's more, this gets all the Clinton talk out of the way in one day.  Gosh knows the press loves to speculate about the Clintons.  Now its out of their system, and we can be on to bigger and better things.  Count me as impressed with the plan.

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