Photos from Thursday night – First installment

No time for words – Rich

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Thursday pm photos

No time for words. Enjoy the pics – Rich

Ray Nagin and New Orleans – follow up

Ray Nagin left the convention last night to go home to New Orleans ahead of Gustav which may hit the city as a Category 2 or even 3 hurricane. Tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary of Katrina. I called up an old girlfriend, Angela Breckenridge, PhD who teaches at Delgado College. She said the college is now at level 2 emergency management procedures getting regular text messages and prepping for the storm. The SPCA is evacuating animals early and the city has enough trains and buses on standby to evacuate everyone out of the city – no Superdome holding areas. Just get everybody out.

Breckenridge went to Wal-Mart last night to get bottled water and charcoal. A lot of her neighbors in the city were buying plastic storage bins to evacuate for this storm. One neighbor had already booked a block of rooms in Jackson, MS. The bayou near her house is drained. It was drained for Hurricane Faye.

She said people were being more conservative this time around – for themselves and for their concerned families. Asked whether Mayor Nagin’s return to New Orleans was warranted or simply a political move, she said that it is the right thing to do given the potential severity of risk to the city. She’s worked with the mayor on projects before although I wouldn’t call her opinion of him glowing – more mixed.

As for the rebuilt levees, Breckenridge said her neighbors have been told so many things about the strength of the levees, they don’t know what to think. People aren’t willing to count on them.

Wednesday night wrap up

I’m starting to curse the UAA rule of no alcohol consumption while on university-paid travel. Dear Board of Regents, you try four days of 4-5 hours of sleep while working 16 and see if you can’t really use a beer (pale ale, amber, stout – not that Bud of Miller swill) at the end of the day. I’m sure you folks have never had a drink after hours on university travel. I’m double the drinking age, for goodness sakes.

Well, it’s official. The convention is now crazy. In the movie “Bull Durham” about minor league baseball, they refer to the majors as “the show.” Monday and Tuesday were minor league. Wednesday is the major league – the show. Tonight? The World Series – literally when you consider the implications of the election.

Barack Obama is now the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. History has now been made and Hillary Clinton had a starring role in making it happen. Wednesday afternoon’s highlight was the roll call where each state in alphabetical order can cast their votes for whichever candidate they wish or are obligated to. Clinton had released her delegates earlier in the day to vote as they wished. In the past states, have even cast votes for a favorite son in a symbolic measure.

States also have the right to pass their turn and vote later if they are not ready or, as is more common, it is a large state whose vote tally would clinch the nomination for a candidate before a small state got to cast their vote. New York had passed on the first round. Later, when it was their turn again, Hillary Clinton showed up and moved that they suspend further voting and declare Barack Obama as the nominee – a procedural move called “acclaiming.” The general census from people I spoke with was that it was a very suspenseful build up.

Getting on the floor yesterday was more difficult. More people were waiting in line for passes and when you had one there were still times when security was closing the floor off to press saying “delegates only” even though the networks were all on the floor. My plan was to forego trying to get on the floor for my allotted 30 minutes during the Bill Clinton speech because of the potential to be blocked out by security and then be too late to even snag a seat in the nose-bleed seats. Clinton was scheduled to speak at 7:00, so I got to the upper level around 5:45 and got one of the last remaining seats.

Melissa Etheridge put on a great performance which included “America the Beautiful”, “The Times They Are A Changing”, “Give Peace a Chance” and “Born in the U.S.A.”

Bill Clinton delivered a great speech – as expected. The guy knows how to work a crowd. The first sentence out of his mouth was that he was here to support Barack Obama. He spoke about the heated primary increasing global warming. Clinton drew comparisons between himself in 1992 – when the Republicans said he was too young and inexperienced to be president – and Barack Obama. With respect to foreign policy, Clinton took a shot at Bush’s unilateralism saying “People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.

So who drew the short straw to go on after Clinton’s speech? Party pariah John Kerry.

I saw Bill on the Club Level after his speech. Madeline Albright came up and gave him a hug. I got within two feet of him with my recorder and asked him to give a shout out for college radio, but he just smiled. He’s about the same height as I am. Was it nice to see the former president that close? Yes. Was it a life-changing experience? Was he a god-man like some people make Reagan out to be? No and no. And no to Reagan too. People idolize their politicians too much. They are just people. Well…most are. I still want to see an autopsy report on Karl Rove whenever he passes to see if he is part machine like Darth Vader. Of course, if he is, he will never die and we’ll know that way.

About the club level, it’s where the well-heeled hang out. You’ll see suits on the convention floor and the main and upper levels, but the Club level is where the private booths are and the limited-entry lounges reside. You can catch a fair amount of big wigs and celebrities on this floor. Keep your camera ready.

I did get to meet Sen. George McGovern a few minutes later and thank him in person for the telephone interview he granted me back in the spring. Well into his 80s, the guy still keeps a very busy schedule and doesn’t grant a lot of interviews.

Joe Biden closed out the night with more family members than I’ve ever seen on a single stage. If they could sing, the Von Trapp family would be shaking in their boots. Biden’s drum beat was simple on every issue he brought up last night including Afghanistan, Iran, setting a date for troop withdrawal: McCain was wrong. Obama was right. McCain is a good man, he said, but he is wrong.

Ray Nagin left the convention last night to head home to New Orleans. Tropical storm Gustav is looking to build and currently projected to hit New Orleans. Nagin said if it grows to Category 3, he will evacuate the city. Tomorrow is the third anniversary of Katrina.

So today, I’ll be prepping for the World Series of politics, which means filling some more stories for KRUA 88.1 FM Anchorage, figuring out where I’m supposed to be in our new venue of Mile High stadium, as well as finding my digital SLR which wasn’t in my pack when I got home last night. Wish me luck.

Breaking news – Ray Nagin leaving convention because of Gustav

The News Hour with Jim Lehrer just came by my station and told us that Ray Nagin is heading back to New Orleans to get the city read to evacuate in case Hurricane Gustav grows to a Category 3. All models are currently pointing towards the hurricane hitting New Orleans. “This will be the first real test we’ll have of the federally rebuilt levees,” News Hour reported Nagin as saying.

The entire video is at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/video/share.html?s=news01s1041q3a6

Only photos – no time for words (Part 2)

Only photos – no time for words (Part 1)