If the Minneapolis police are already nervous about people taking their pictures -- and the stories Tim Nelson has uncovered suggest they are -- it might not be a bad idea for everyone to get comfortable with the idea soon.
This week, I've taken more pictures of cops and security that at any other previous convention. On several, I expected a warning not to take a picture. It never came. That doesn't mean that some Denver cops aren't losing it, though.
One ABC News photographer and reporter was detained for photographing some senators and big-money supporters, according to ABC. Many of these incidents seem to happen where there isn't that much of a threat.
A more typical scene is described in a Boulder newspaper about a parade that occurred on Wednesday:
Horse-mounted police and hundreds of officers standing in full riot gear, with batons at the ready, looked on, took some verbal abuse in stride and allowed the non-permitted event to take its course.
(Aside: The paper embellishes the size of the crowd. I met this protest parade, ducked one block down to use an ATM machine and in the time it took me to make a fastcash withdrawal -- $40 if you must know -- the parade had passed.)
Many of the Denver residents I've talked to this week have been unnerved by the sheer size of the police force here. Who wouldn't be? At the same time, however, it's generally clear that the security forces have been well counseled on what to expect, and the need to keep calm. The officers, too, are experiencing an attention that they've likely never encountered before either.
Will the Twin Cities be able to say the same thing a week from now?
This much is fact: There are going to be more cameras trained per second on the cops for five days than they've seen in their accumulated lifetimes.
Local officials tried to get the Republican convention to Minneapolis - St. Paul as a marketing tool for the region, to enhance the Twin Cities' image.
Let's take a look at how that's going so far:
(Taken by Nikki Tundel on the 16th Ave. mall on Wednesday night.)
Save this link. Next week, if you are told not to take a picture, drop me a line with the particulars. But be mindful of this one tip: If the police ask you to do something next week, you probably should do it. Security forces in Denver, while courteous, are in no mood to discuss principles, or negotiate alternatives. The early evidence suggests the same will hold true in the Twin Cities.(1 Comments)
The most e-mailed stories on Web sites can tell us a lot about what people think is interesting. They can be a reality check.
How closely is Denver following the convention? Here's the most-emailed list on the Rocky Mountain News Web site at the moment:
At the Denver Post, readers appear to be interested in some peripheral parts of the convention...
Posted at 9:47 AM on August 28, 2008
by Bob Collins
In a comment attached to another post, a News Cutter writes:
Looks like you were up pretty late for a man of your age. On a lighter note, there was a brief story about all the bikes (the pedal kind) that are scattered around Denver for people to use. I understand we may have some around St. Paul too. Have you used or have you seen people using the bikes? It would be interesting to see how much this project really mattered. I understand the bikes had gauges for miles and calories etc.
Here's a picture I took of the main location yesterday:
Business was pretty brisk and the majority of the bikes seem to have been dispatched. Denver appears to be very bike friendly and very skateboard friendly. As near as I can tell, most of those grabbing the bikes are locals.
I've never been to Denver before. It's hot in the sun and the altitude certainly takes some getting used to. A walk up a few stairs at the light-rail station requires a moment's rest, although that may have more to do with your first sentence.
Next to the bike corral, however, is the place where -- if I had a choice and a large trust fund to carry me through my unemployment years -- I'd spend the whole week.
A giant Guitar Hero location:
It's put on by the Rock the Vote people. While you're waiting, you can have your caricature drawn. It features huge speakers, and a large video screen. There were no lines when I went by, but that may have more to do with the fact they stuck the thing out in direct sunlight.
I'm hoping this thing makes its way to the Twin Cities. Perhaps by then I will have worked up the courage to give it a go.
According to Rasmussen Reports today, 74% of those surveyed say the convention has them united.
If 1 out of ever four Democrats says he/she is not on board with Obama (or don't know if they're on board with Obama), doesn't that mean they're not united?
Consulting dictionary.com on united:
1. made into or caused to act as a single entity: a united front.
2. formed or produced by the uniting of things or persons: a united effort.
3. agreed; in harmony.
Three out of four Democrats aren't behind the Democratic nominee? That's the kind of unity that loses elections.
In the last presidential election, John Kerry had 89% of the Democratic vote, and still lost.
If you're looking for something to do during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul next week, create a fictitious cause and then go out and try to attract attention. You will.
The Miami Herald's Dave Barry writes about his and Star Tribune's James Lileks' encounter with people who were protesting bird porn.
Even though many appear to be playing with less than a full deck, you have to admire the commitment some of these people have to their cause -- even if few of us can actually figure out what the cause is, or determine whether it's a real passion or someone is just having a good time; not that it matters this week.
Walking (that's right, walking, and not talking on my cellphone or texting like everyone else) back to downtown from Pepsi Center yesterday, I encountered Art, from Heartland, Wisconsin, who was dressed in black with a cow-themed tie. I didn't take a picture of him because I was afraid he would actually talk to me.
"Who do you write for?" he asked. Curses, my plan didn't work.
"Holstein Today," I said, waiting to see if he'd laugh, a sign of some sanity.
He didn't laugh, but showed an amazing talent to walk and make his pitch at the same time.
He apparently has put together a book of Barack Obama quotes and has come here with two other people with the goal of distributing 50,000 of the books, which require you to download it from the Web site. According to the Web site, 386 people have downloaded it so far.
So close.(1 Comments)
Michael Harold's plan to get rich has come a cropper.
Harold, who is from Denver, is driving a 10-foot-high Barack-Obama-in-a-Bottle around Denver, staying one step ahead of the police, who don't seem that interested in enforcing the fact he doesn't have a license to sell the smaller $19.95 versions.
Harold also has a few thousand McCain-in-a-Bottles but no way to sell them in St. Paul.
His brother-in-law, who let him borrow the pick-up truck, needs it back.(1 Comments)
Posted at 6:25 PM on August 28, 2008
by Bob Collins
Even with a major security challenge hours away, you could feel Denver exhaling a bit on Thursday afternoon. Nothing significant had gone wrong, the protests in the city had, for the most part, failed to tarnish the city, and within a few hours, everyone would be gone and the city would have its city back.
On Wednesday afternoon, this roaming band of quick-response cops (my colleague, Nancy Lebens calls them the Denver version of the Vulcans) was still in high-alert mode. They'd park on a street, and the officers wouldn't get off. They'd just stand there and be ready to go.
But by Wednesday night, they were letting protesters take their picture with them.
All over town, the body language of the police was "it's over," even though it wasn't.
Some were even enjoying some of the sideshows on the 16th Avenue Mall, something that wasn't happening earlier in the week.
I talked to one officer from Arvada, Colorado who said the police in the area were glad to have St. Paul hosting the back-end of this political convention doubleheader. "All the protesters have to get out of town to get up to St. Paul," he told me. "They can hang around your city for awhile after the convention, but they're getting out of here."
Which means, he says, the homeless people can come back. Many of them were shipped up to his city, given tickets to movies and provided shelter, anything to get them out of the place in the city where they congregate most -- the 16th Avenue Mall.
The Mall is the retail core of the convention. It's Obama, Inc. Anyone who can make a buck with Obama-themed merchandise, is trying to make a buck.
Obama and McCain flip-flops were the featured item. Obama on the left. McCain on the right.
By mid-afternoon, the line to get into Invesco Field had snaked back and forth more than a mile from the stadium...
... as hundreds more streamed up from the city's downtown.
By Friday afternoon, they'll be gone. The protesters, and most of the media will head toward St. Paul for the Republican National Convention, unless Tropical Storm Gustav intervenes.
Away from the glitter and goofy hats of a political convention, you can usually catch a whiff of the things that keep Democrat insiders up at night.
In Denver on Thursday, the "faith caucus" held its first meeting ever, an attempt to bridge a divide within the party over abortion, and prepare for a Republican strategy that markets faith as a GOP virtue.
"It's hard for people to talk about religion," Party Chair Howard Dean told a three-quarters-empty Denver Convention Center ballroom. "We've been people of faith for a long time. We just don't like to talk about it. It matters how you live your values, not what you say on Sunday."
That shot at Republicans was the easy part. When Dean left, the rift within the party over abortion was more apparent.
"I'm a pro-life Democrat and I like to think I'm in a party that has room for me," said Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, former director of the Congressional Black Caucus. "Nobody should be left outside a party that's called a Democratic Party. I'm proud to stand beside a pro-choice Democrat, but I want you to hear what I have to say. It's saying 'my values matter and you have room for my values that my Bible tells me about.'"
The issue has driven millions of Catholics into the arms of the Republican Party. "The Catholic vote is an important vote," said Dr. Douglas Kmiec of Pepperdine University, a Catholic legal scholar who wrote a Slate Magazine article claiming Obama is a natural choice for Catholics. "It's 25% of the electorate. Catholics have voted for the winning candidate in the last nine presidential elections. They know how to pick a winner."
Kmiec told a Catholic newspaper earlier this week that Barack Obama's position on abortion is "morally unacceptable." But he's still voting for him. "I, too, am pro-life, but that label ... has to be a commitment to all of life, from the moment of conception to the moment of death," he said. His church responded by denying him communion.
Wooing conservative Catholics to the Democratic Party may be a tough sell. It's no coincidence that Obama picked a Catholic -- Joe Biden -- as a running mate. Biden, however, supports legalized abortion in defiance of his church.
An even tougher sell for a party trying to learn how to talk religion is evangelical Christians, a solid Republican voting bloc.
"Younger evangelicals are morally conservative but more socially compassionate than previous generations of evangelicals," according to Cameron Strang, of Relevant Magazine. "They're very pro-life, but this generation has a more holistic view of what it means -- the defense of innocent lives. Not just the unborn, but it includes genocide, unnecessary war, slavery, and abortion."
Strang identified some common ground on the issue of abortion -- adoption reform. "If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, what happens to all of these unwanted children?" he asked. "It costs $25,000 for an adoption. It costs $500 for an abortion. That's messed up."
But Strang this week showed why it will be difficult for Democrats to stand side-by-side with evangelicals. He was to give the benediction at the convention on Monday, but pulled out, citing fears his bridge-building gesture would be misinterpreted.
Little known to outsiders, the Strang name carries weight with evangelicals, especially in the fast-growing charismatic and Pentecostal branches, according to the Chicago Tribune.(14 Comments)