AT&T Thanks the Blue Dog Democrats With a Lavish Party

Last night in Denver, at the Mile High Station
-- next to Invesco Stadium, where Barack Obama will address a crowd of
30,000 people on Thursday night -- AT&T threw a lavish, private
party for Blue Dog House Democrats, virtually all of whom blindly
support whatever legislation the telecom industry demands and who also,
specifically, led the way this July in immunizing AT&T and other
telecoms from the consequences for their illegal participation in the
Bush administration's warrantless spying program. Matt Stoller has one
of the listings for the party here.

Armed with full-scale Convention press credentials issued by the DNC, I
went -- along with Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher, John Amato, Stoller and
others -- in order to cover the event, interview the attendees, and
videotape the festivities. There was a wall of private security
deployed around the building, and after asking where the press entrance
was, we were told by the security officials, after they consulted with
event organizers, that the press was barred from the event, and that
only those with invitations could enter -- notwithstanding the fact
that what was taking place in side was a meeting between one of the
nation's largest corporations and the numerous members of the most
influential elected faction in Congress. As a result, we stood in front
of the entrance and began videotaping and trying to interview the
parade of Blue Dog Representatives, AT&T executives, assorted
lobbyists and delegates who pulled up in rented limousines, chauffeured
cars, and SUVs in order to find out who was attending and why AT&T
would be throwing such a lavish party for the Blue Dog members of

Amazingly, not a single one of the 25-30 people we tried to interview
would speak to us about who they were, how they got invited, what the
party's purpose was, why they were attending, etc. One attendee said he
was with an "energy company," and the other confessed she was
affiliated with a "trade association," but that was the full extent of
their willingness to describe themselves or this event. It was as
though they knew they're part of a filthy and deeply corrupt process
and were ashamed of -- or at least eager to conceal -- their
involvement in it. After just a few minutes, the private security teams
demanded that we leave, and when we refused and continued to stand in
front trying to interview the reticent attendees, the Denver Police
forced us to move further and further away until finally we were unable
to approach any more of the arriving guests.

It was really the perfect symbol for how the Beltway political system
functions -- those who dictate the nation's laws (the largest
corporations and their lobbyists) cavorting in total secrecy with those
who are elected to write those laws (members of Congress), while
completely prohibiting the public from having any access to and
knowledge of -- let alone involvement in -- what they are doing. And
all of this was arranged by the corporation -- AT&T -- that is paying for a substantial part of the Democratic National Convention with millions upon millions of dollars,
which just received an extraordinary gift of retroactive amnesty from
the Congress controlled by that party, whose logo is splattered
throughout the city wherever the DNC logo appears -- virtually attached
to it -- all taking place next to the stadium where the Democratic
presidential nominee, claiming he will cleanse the Beltway of corporate
and lobbying influences, will accept the nomination on Thursday night.

The only other media which even attempted to cover the AT&T/Blue Dog event was Democracy Now -- they were also barred from entering. I was on Democracy Now
with Amy Goodman this morning to discuss what happened. They put
together a 5-minute video montage, including our efforts to enter the
event and interview the guests, which they broadcast before my segment.
The video and my segment can be seen and/or heard here -- it begins at the 1:00 mark. A transcript will be posted shortly.

Jane Hamsher also filmed some of what transpired, and Salon
has created our own video of last night, including the efforts by the
private security teams and Denver Police to prevent us from standing on
public property to interview the arriving members of Congress and
AT&T executives and lobbyists. That will be posted shortly. There's
nothing unusual about this event -- other than that it was more
forcibly private than most and just a tad more brazenly sleazy. The
democracy-themed stagecraft inside the Convention is for public
television consumption, but secret little events of this sort are why
people are really here. Just as is true in Washington, this is where --
and how and by whom -- the business of our Government is conducted.

Here is the video from last night's festivities, with our attempt to
interview various attendees and interactions with the private security
forces and Police -- filmed by Jane Hamsher and edited by Salon's Caitlin Shamberg:

UPDATE II: The transcript for the Democracy Now segment I did this morning, preceded by the video they produced, is now here.

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