Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Convention, Day Two

Oh my gosh, I was up so late last night and did not want to get up at 6 this morning! I can't believe I am still up tonight and definitely should be sleeping. At breakfast this morning, we had a great speaker, Doug Jones, who was the state attorney in Alabama who prosecuted the klansmen who bombed the Birmingham church in 1963 and killed four little Black girls. He showed us a slide show and described the investigation a few years ago that finally resulted in justice for the families and the community. After breakfast, I came back to the room and planned to go to a place called the Fluid Coffee Bar for a meeting of social worker delegates at noon. I was messing around, checking emails and taking my time, when I looked again and found out the meeting was at 11, not noon. It was 10:20 by then. I am so disorganized!! I knew I had to take the Light Rail and then walk some distance so rushed downstairs to get directions. Of course, no one seemed to know exactly how to get there! I figured I could get directions at the Light Rail, but no, there was no attendant and you just purchase your ticket from a machine. I did have a downtown map from the hotel so got on the Light Rail and tried to figure out where to get off. All of my fellow passengers were also out of towners so no help. I made a decision to get off several stops down and quickly realized I was wrong. There are security guards all over town right now and one of them asked me how I was doing. I said, "a little confused, but otherwise okay!" He asked if I needed help and told me yes, I should get back on the Light Rail and go to 18th and California. I did as he instructed and walked over to 19th, which was the street where the coffee shop was located. I had to walk about 6 more blocks and finally got there at 11:30 just as the social workers were taking a group photo. LOL We ended up hanging out for about another hour and it was fun to talk with some of my colleagues from around the country. There were a couple of National Assoc. of Social Workers staffers from DC and people from CO, KS, WI, MO, and CA, to name a few. The one from CA, Sally, is a school social worker in urban LA. We ended up walking together down the 16th Street outdoor Mall, meeting a friend of hers and having lunch together. She is young, 29, and seemed like just the right kind of person to be working with inner city kids. I am still looking for my protesters and did see a few guys with "Iraq Veterans Against the War" signs on the mall but no one else. I think I am entering the convention from a totally different direction or they are only allowed to gather far away. I didn't get to the convention till almost 3 and figured the line would be horrendous but it was very smooth and easy to get in again today. I was too late to go down onto the floor, though, so I don't have too many celebrity sightings to report. I found my compadres on the 3rd level and we enjoyed some of the early speeches, including the mayor of Fairbanks, AK, and Dennis Kucinich, who really got the crowd fired up. We also had all of the Dem female congressional contingent speak; this was the 88th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote!

Small world that it is, one of my friends from Abilene is here at the convention as well. David Dillman is a political science professor at ACU and has worked at quite a few Democratic conventions over the years. He was always great to support many of our peace and justice activities in Texas. Just happened to exchange emails with him a few weeks ago and learned that he would be in attendance. So we were able to meet for about 45 minutes this evening when he was in between his duties. It was great to see him and catch up on news.

Two of the women in our contingent, Liz, an alternate from Homer, and Pat, who is married to Mike Davis, my district mate from Dillingham, decided to make some cool hats and signs today, "Alaska fisherwomen and men for Obama." They walked around the hallways for quite awhile and said they were interviewed by lots of people, including the BBC. It gave them an opportunity to talk about several issues they are concerned with such as sustainable fisheries and environmental issues, so they were pretty excited. When I met back up with them, we ran into a couple of women from Code Pink, the antiwar group. They were all wearing pink outfits including one in a pink tutu and several in prom like dresses with sashes that said "I Miss America." Not sure how they got in; I guess they must have been delegates or had credentials of some sort. Of course, we can wear whatever we want so I imagine they were fine as long as they were not being disruptive. The ones we met were just walking around and passing out "I am a delegate for peace" stickers.

Later in the evening, some of our delegation came up and traded passes with me and a visitor named Pam so we could go down on the floor. They said they would get the passes back before Hillary Clinton spoke in the final event of the night. Man, the floor was PACKED. It was so hard to move and people were just squashed together. It was almost scary or claustrophobia-inducing, especially for a short person like me because I could not see past the people in front of me. We finally got over to the AK delegation and hung out for awhile. I wanted to cruise the floor but it was way too crowded. Eventually, we needed to leave to trade back with the delegates but as we got to the exit, we were told that the fire marshal had shut it down and no one else could go onto the floor. We said these people had passes and seats and were told it was too bad, no one else on the floor. If we left, we could not come back. We didn't feel that we had any choice but to leave so we could explain the situation to those who had given us their passes. I really felt bad for them that they couldn't go back to their seats but they didn't seem to care too much and in fact said we should have just stayed if that was the situation. Very nice of them! But now we were also out and couldn't go back. Pam had left her bag upstairs with our other seatmates so we worked our way back to the third level. Meanwhile other people had taken some of our seats so there was only one left. I let Pam have it and had to watch Hillary's speech on a big screen in the hallway along with a bunch of other people. The place really went wild for Hillary and gave her a great reception. I have to say that I thought she did a good job of telling her delegates that they had come too far to sit this out or to vote for someone other than a Democrat.

I did pass Roland Martin who's on CNN regularly, and Governor Kathleen Sebelius when I was trying to get back off the floor.

Got back to the hotel about 10:15 and Rich said he'd been watching the talking heads who were dissecting Hillary's speech and mentioning that she did not specifically say that she thought Obama was "ready to lead" or would be a "good commander in chief," which were some of her criticisms in the past. I hadn't really thought about that and it is true that she was not that specific. Now I wish she had laid those things to rest but, all in all, I thought she gave a pretty inspiring speech.

Today was the Alaska primary so we had a little gathering in the lobby to watch some of the returns when we got back here. I could not stay long since I knew I wanted to write a little on the blog and get to bed at a reasonable hour. :) Looks like that is not happening again!

Rich had a quiet day and has been working out daily, good for him, huh? Plus he went to the pool, back to Whole Foods, and to a movie. He is having a little vacation while I am busy, busy, busy all day and all night!

Tomorrow is our day of service so some of us are going to a women's shelter and the rest of the delegation are staying here and packing up food boxes for Meals on Wheels. I think Rich and I are going to go downtown together when I get back from my service activity, have some lunch and walk around before I go to the convention. I think we are having the roll call vote at 3 or 3:30 so I want to be there for that. Bill Clinton is speaking and then Joe Biden.

I am having trouble with my photo card reader so I am going to post this without pictures for now and will see if I can get it to work in the morning. If not, I may have to go to the store and buy another card reader. Can't leave you without photos, now can I?

Thanks for the comments; I have no idea if I was actually on TV, certainly did not see myself, Kathi, but I imagine it is possible since there are tons of TV folks there and it could have been any of them. I thought it was unlikely since I was up on the 3rd level and they seem to focus on the delegates on the floor but who knows?! If so, I hope I was not making some sort of ridiculous face. LOL

Photos added on Wednesday:
Fairbanks mayor
Pat and Liz
Alaska section, note Fox News nearby
Some of the AK delegation including former governor Tony Knowles second from left
David Dillman
Code Pink
Third tier in the Pepsi Center
Police on the street
Iraq vets against the war getting a high five from an old guy
Police on horseback
My new friend Sally from LA
Social workers


Susan said...

You are correct--"your people" have been moved to designated free speech zones far away from the convention site. They left the zone yesterday to marh up the street and a gazillion police detained a whole bunch of folks including press before separating out the press and ordering them out and then who knows what happened with the few folks left surrounded by police because there were no press there to record it. LIfe and time in these days...

Sounds like you are on quite the adventure! Keep it up!

Kristinn said...

I'm sorry you're not getting enough sleep, but at the same time grateful! I'm really enjoying your descriptions of the event Aunt Jane!!! Thanks!

Sarah Durham said...

I was watching the today show this morning and they mentioned that there was word that a "Jersey" band might be playing Thursday night! Does that mean you are going to get to see Bruce??

Gigi said...

We are going to go out tomorrow and try to find our people. :)

I have not heard a word about anyone from Jersey being there but wouldn't that just be the best?? I noticed they were playing "The Rising" on the loudspeaker tonight. Maybe that's a foreshadowing! I hope you are right, Sarah!