Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain-Palin ticket...why???

Being at the DNC over the last week has not just inspired me for the Democratic party, it has inspired me to pay more attention to the Republican National Convention as well. It is important to be educated and know "why" we make choices.

So, I woke up Friday morning, anxious to find out who McCain would choose as a running mate.

I can't completely say I didn't see it coming, but I was definitely surprised by his choice of a 44-year old, pretty much unknown, 1 1/2-year governor (since December 2006)...with no other experience than the local city council and the mayor of a small, suburban town...from the remote state of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

CNN explained that the Republicans wanted to, "Shake things up." The New York Times called her a "novelty."

Talk about Affirmative Action in the worst way!

I hope people understand that nominating Barack as our party leader was not simply to "shake things up." Barack Obama was chosen because of his leadership abilities, his vision, his ability to reconcile on many different levels. But what I think many people overlook is that Barack Obama was chosen for his intelligence! Barack Obama taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago! You can't teach constitutional law and know nothing about the constitution.

On the other hand, Sarah Palin asked the question in an interview with CNBC, "What is it exactly that the V.P. does every day?" Though it may be just a soundbyte...and though she may have been trying to be humorous, it was a statement that I have to wonder if it was based in reality. I mean...seriously...don't we need someone who could potentially be the President who at least has a vision for the job?

I have always said that I think despite the media's portrayal of Barack's "lack of experience," he has the vision, the intellect, and the understanding of how to get things done. He may have been in the Senate for a limited amount of time...but Palin has rarely even been out of Alaska! (she got a passport in 2007 so she could go see troops in Kuwait and Germany).

I think it is interesting that this election has changed the tide. Women and people of color are now the critical people to have on your side. White men are no longer the unassumed choice. Women and people of color are now seen as strengthening the ticket. I believe the events of this election are going to launch us to a new level of thinking in our country. That's amazing and interesting.

However, we can not allow people to diminish the abilities of women or people of color by choosing less than qualified people. There are plenty of very intelligent and qualified people without choosing some obscure person. If we allow that, we reinforce the thought that women and people of color are truly not capable.

I am extremely excited about the way this election has changed what our future will look like. However, I do not want to accept a minimization of women or people of color's abilities or intelligence. That is insulting.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Let's get started!

The energy at Invesco Thursday night was electric!

Let the commentators call it what they may..."Kum ba yah," "All about the celebrities," ...whatever. It was an ingenious way to organize supporters, engage people, and reinforce the message Barack has communicated all along, "...this election has never been about me; it's about you."

From the very beginning of the evening, I was intrigued. As we got settled in the stands, the jumbo tron flashed, “What is the name of Sen. Obama’s comprehensive early education plan?” and asked us to text our response of E1, E2, or E3. The correct answer? Zero to Five. (The E2 option was, "No Child Left Behind for Real"...which I thought was pretty funny.)

And then (you can click the picture to enlarge it and see the question better)...

The answer? $4000.

I wish I would've thought to record Ray Rivera's explanation of the texting. He asked us all to text in messages to Barack. On the jumbo tron they showed a map of the United States which, he explained, had stars on every state. In real time, the stars would get larger as the number of text messages from that state came in.

The campaign's use of technology is amazing and forward-thinking...which is exactly what we need for our country.

Unfortunately, my phone died near the beginning of the evening. I wasn't able to text and call friends like I'd hoped. But I know people who were "twittering" and blogging in real time to keep everyone up on what was going on.

So what's next? Will people continue with the energy they felt Thursday night? Or was it really just a "celebrity" event?

Personally, I think it's more than some "high" or inflated sense of excitement. I think Barack Obama inspires people to be a part of change.

At IHop (where we went after Invesco), the server sat down and talked to us about the convention.

When I got back to the hotel and finally got enough "juice" in my phone for it to power up, I had several texts and voice mails from friends in different states, of different ages, and even of different political parties who were paying attention.

The morning after, I got a text message from a college student I rarely hear from telling me that McCain had chosen his VP. As we text'd back and forth, she expressed her desire to help get Barack elected.

As I was walked around Denver the day after, I ran into a guy who was standing on the corner registering people to vote. I really wish I would've stopped to interview him and find out where his motivation came from and what the response had been so far.

I have chatted with random people as I walked down the street, into stores, and as I walked through the airport.

There is a sense of camaraderie in the air. There is a sense of community.

What I like about Obama is that I think he realizes our country shouldn't be about a certain few making decisions for the entire country. Democracy is "government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system."

We are the government. The power is vested in us. It's time that we really consider who we want to elect based on which of the two candidates embody "we, the people" in it's true spirit?

(Pics to come well as more reflective posts about this past week).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It does get better!

This morning I decided to try for another star-studded event. They were introducing a new documentary, 14 Women, a documentary about women in politics. As has been the norm this week, I was allowed to step up to the front and take pictures or do interviews. I was squished in between a lady from the Boston Herald gossip column and a fashion editor of the Rocky Mountain News.

The fashion lady made fun of all of the stars who "looked like they were wearing Target clothes." Hmmmm...I wondered what she thought about me as I wore my Target shirt, Target shoes, and Old Navy khackis. I didn't ask her.

After snapping a bunch of shots, the gossip lady turned to me and asked for my card. She explained that her photographer hadn't shown up yet and she may need to buy some pictures from me! I gave her my card and am hoping if she really does contact me, some of my photographer friends will explain to me how selling photographs works. Wouldn't it be great to earn back some of the money I've spent this week???

As I played paparazzi, Angela Bassett came through again...and then I realized that lady yesterday was just as ignorant about what Angela Bassett looks like in person as I was. The lady I saw yesterday was Lynn Whitfield! So here is Angela Bassett...for real!

After pretending to be paparazzi, I went on to an "I have a Dream" event in hopes of seeing Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ. Not only did I get to see him and edge my way up to get a picture, after I composed myself, I thought enough to catch him as I saw him getting into his car, give him my card, and ask him to speak at our prayer breakfast. We'll see what happens.

After that, it was off to the Pepsi Center for yet another surprise. We got to go down to the podium while they were doing roll call! It was truly an amazing experience to hear everyone call out their delegates. Not 10 minutes after we got back to the Blogger Lounge, Hillary went down on the floor and made a motion to nominate Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee! We barely missed her! It was still amazing as everyone in the room erupted in spontaneous cheers when Hillary made the nomination. For the first time, I felt like we were coming together. It was truly a neat moment.

I went back on the floor shortly after and ended up walking around right by all of the news channels...

...and hanging out with my friend, Liz, and the Texas delegates.

I'm now back in the Blogger's too crowded to get on to the floor tonight.

We just listened to Bill. What an amazing speech. Great job, Bill. There were some great lines in there.

I'm anxiously awaiting John Kerry, Chet Edwards (who we met and chatted with on Monday at the delegate breakfast), and the big finale, Joe Biden.

What a lineup tonight!!

Hillary supporters...Unite!

My friends at Dallas South blog have been doing interviews with Hillary supporters this week. They say Hillary non-uniters are in the minority...but they're loud. I tend to agree.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It can't possibly get better!!

When the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., my body had a really hard time shaking out of such a deep sleep. I was exhausted from all of the happenings last night! I checked the calendar and decided to go to some Civil Rights award event. I checked out the map. After kind of figuring things out Sunday and yesterday, it seemed do-able. I didn't have a ticket, but I hadn't yet made the connection with Pam to give up my press credentials so I thought I might have a chance.

Sure enough, as I walked up to the press table outside of the restaurant, a man quickly came over..."Are you press?" "Yes," I replied. "Right this way." And he quickly ushered me to the front of the restaurant and explained where the program would be taking place.

Learning my lesson from not getting coffee in my body yesterday, I tried to do gulp my Starbucks as fast as I could. I saw the crowd of people inching in (I've learned that's a sign of important people). I put down the Starbucks, grabbed the camera and started shooting. Al Sharpton was walking in. I was informed later that the lady he walked over to was Spike Lee's wife! But that was just the beginning!

A very pretty lady walked in and, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out who it was. (I don't remember names of movie stars very well). I finally admitted my ignorance to a lady...and felt even more ignorant after the admission...It was ANGELA BASSETT!!!!

The event began with...wouldn't you hero again...John Lewis! an opening talk. Then, Pras Michel from the Fugees introduced his documentary film, Skid Row, bringing attention to homelessness by his being homeless on skid row for 9 days.

But the best part for me was watching the Civil Rights awards. I have put so much time and effort into studying the Civil Rights movement that it makes me emotional every time I stand in the presence of these great leaders who have gotten us to this point of our history. Martin Luther King, Jr. introduced them. As these older women spoke, I was overcome with emotion (but I didn't cry...I was the "press" and had to do my job!). Dorothy Height, Doris Crenshaw, and Rev. Willie Barrow (with the Rainbow Coalition) spoke words of wisdom. I want to be like Rev. Barrow when I grow up. She has made it possible for kids to go to college because of her persistence with them and the institutions. She claims 65 god-children who contact her on a regular basis.

And before it was all over, Spike Lee walked in!

As I left the restaurant, I got caught in some motorcade where secret service blocked off the street. I can only speculate it must've been Bill or Hillary. (if they won't tell us...which none of the police would...then I can at least speculate on who I saw! :) ).

I made my way back to the Big Tent so I could eat and blog...and wouldn't you know, I found my moment with Dan Rather!

We moved real quick to the Blogger BBQ...with me in hopes of getting a picture of Howard Dean. Before we could get to Howard, I saw Ann Curry and Anderson Cooper. Unfortunately, I could only get close up shots...but none with me in them. Oh well. I've still got tomorrow.

You know how those restaurants have their walls full of the people who have come to eat there? I think I may have to do that and have my own wall of fame at my house!

My brush with greatness!

I text'd "OMG!" to my friends so many times last night that one finally text'd back and said, "You've got to calm down! It's only Day 1!"

Of course that's easy for her to say...she's in Texas!

After sitting in the Blogger Lounge for a while, my new-found friend came back from an interview he was doing for his blog and started showing me close up video of Joe Biden, Jimmy Carter, Bill Richardson, and Howard Dean! I had to get out of there!

That's when he informed me I could walk through the "do not enter--staff only" door in our Blogger Lounge, talk to the guy in the blue shirt, and get a pass to get on the floor for 30 minutes at a time.

I jumped at the chance and we hurried down to the "belly" of Pepsi.

On our way, we happened upon Dan Rather. Though he didn't seem too eager to take pictures with people, I snapped this shot and then had Brian snap a shot of me standing behind him. I'll have to get it from him later.

Once on the floor, the energy was amazing!

And then we ran into John Kerry! (Actually, it would be more accurate to say we were smashed beside him. The crowd in the small aisle around him was so packed...and I was sandwiched in the middle...trying to breathe. But I got some great shots of him!)

We took a break and went back to the Blogger Lounge so we could hopefully time our 30-minute passes just right so that we could see Michelle speak.
After some anxious waiting and getting our timing just right, we ended up on the floor right after the Michelle Obama video started. We saw her brother speak and then absorbed the energy as "Michelle" signs were passed out and the noise level rose. Absolutely amazing!!

And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we packed up and left the Pepsi Center...and as we were walking outside, we ran into John Lewis!!!!! absolutely FAVORITE Civil Rights hero! I was so awe-struck, I couldn't even remember his name! But, I did have enough sense about me to drop my stuff, run up to him, and ask for a picture. He was just as kind in person and very composed as I explained to him that he was my all-time hero.

Wow. What a night! Can it get any better??

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Day in the Life of "press" at the Dem Convention

After finally making my way to the Pepsi Center, I decided to utilize my "media credentials" and explore. It was 3:00 in the afternoon and I hadn't had coffee all day. I was on a mission.

I approached the Press Information Center to ask one of the ladies where I could find some food and coffee. She directed me to three different pavilions where she assured me there would be food...and coffee.

Equipped with my two cameras, I was off.

I knew I was important when I walked out the door and saw the sign to the News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

I felt more news media-ish as I saw the sign to the other news media.

I followed the signs and figured out I was walking around the belly of the Pepsi center. There were flat screen TVs set up periodically...I suppose so all of the behind-the-scenes people could know what was going on so they could get on stage in time.

As I turned to my left, I realized, "Oh my goodness! I could sneak up that corridor and be right on the floor beneath the stage!" Unfortunately, I decided not to be devious and try to sneak up there, but took a few pictures of the tunnel. It's a dark picture, but you can see the stage in the background. Wow. That may not be as impressive from the looks of a dark picture, but it was pretty darn cool!

After finally finding my way outside, right in front of me stood the Luitenant Governor of Maryland, Michael Steele. Though I knew his face, my mind went blank and I couldn't remember who he I was too embarrassed to walk up to him and say, "Hey, I don't remember who you are, but I know you're important. Could I take a picture?", I just took one of him talking to other people.

I asked security where the media pavillion was...explained I was "press." (I'm sure my confidence in the request assured them I was with someone important!) I headed over and waltzed right questions asked. As I milled around looking for free food, I discovered more important media tucked away in different segmented sections of the pavillion...and then found a break area for the media...where they were making fun buttons that allowed us to feel as if we were running for president. Of course, I had mine made: "Dr. J President '08."

As I was waiting on my button, I snooped around a little more and found Tavis Smiley's door. I was supposed to go to an event with Tavis last night and after getting info that he wouldn't be there, we left...and found out later he was there! So, though Tavis never actually walked out of the door, I felt like I had gotten a little closer to him by seeing his door.

Since I found no food at that pavillion, I headed to the one behind CNN. I ran into a friend outside and we went in to explore. We found the mini-eggrolls and mini-steak kabobs. As we hung out eating, I struck up a conversation with a guy from First Data--a new concept of money to be used like the Exxon passes you can swipe and pay. The great thing?? They were giving out $10 collector pins that doubled as money and could be used in the Pepsi Center! Even better?? After striking up a conversation with him, He gave me an extra one! (gotta love free money) In exchange, I told him I would blog about FirstData. So...for more information, go to :)

Whew! I had my adventure, got a few free things and was ready to head back in. And wouldn't you know, on the way back in, as we wound through the belly of the Pepsi Center, we ran into Dan Rather! My friend took a picture with me standing behind him (he didn't seem to keen on being involved in a photo op with me...ok, so maybe I'm not *that* important. :) )

And now I'm sitting in the blogger lounge and can only watch the DNC on distant flat screens that I can barely hear. And I'm *extremely* jealous that my friend, Brian, just went out to do an interview and ended up running into and getting amazing video of Jimmy Carter, Barack's sister, and Joe Biden!! Check out his and Shawn's blogging, videos, and twittering at You may not see me blogging much more. I've gotta get out from behind this computer and get a piece of the action!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Creating a politico

I am headed to the Democratic National Convention in two days!...and I'm more excited than even I realized I would be!

I have worked all week trying to get loose ends tied up so I could leave work for a week while, at the same time, plan for all of the [unexpectedly] amazing sessions, speakers, and events that will happen at the Convention.

But even as I planned my own trip, I've had to wonder why and how I got so involved in this. Are people born to be politicos??...or are they made? It's the old nature vs. nurture question.

So, I reflect...

...For some crazy reason, I remember that Jimmy Carter ran for president. I must've been about 8 years old. I remember sitting in our living room watching him on TV and my parents talking about how they didn't want him to win again. (I have no idea why that has stuck in my mind all of these years!)

...When we moved to Missouri, the old, fairly run down, general store (no longer in operation) right beside our house would be converted to a polling place every election. My great aunt and uncle (evidently much like James Carville and Mary Matalin) were a staunch democrat and republican couple who worked the polls together every election--and adamantly disagreed on who should win.

...My dad was elected to the school board for several years, then ran for County Commissioner when I graduated from high school and worked his way up to Presiding County Commissioner, a post which he still holds despite his "retirement."

...Going off to college, I knew I had a duty to vote, but had no idea about the issues. I knew I was Republican because my parents were Republican. I felt so strongly about the importance of voting that I sent off for an absentee ballot, forgot to cast it until the day before the deadline, and spent $9 overnighting it back home just so I could ensure my vote counted for...George H. Bush. (yes, you heard me right--and I'm sure if I ever decided to run for political office, that admission would come back to haunt me!)

I suppose I didn't really activate my personal interest and develop my own beliefs in politics until fairly recently. As I've gotten older, I've begun to see the connection with politics and justice (and oftentimes [in]justice!) and realized that I can play a part in creating and correcting the "systems" that affect we, the people.

It is because of the influences and people in my life that I feel I have the power to change things. It is because of their visible presence that I developed an understanding of how politics play an important role in our society. It is because they believed in the "we the people" part of our constitution and knew that the "we" included them.

Though I may differ with many of my family members on what the end result should look like, they have taught me to believe that we all have a right to be a part of the process.

As an adult who works with numerous children, I hope that my engagement in the process will stick in the minds of the young people I'm around just like it did with me. I hope that my action and involvement challenges them to educate themselves about the people who run for our public offices and then equips them with the knowledge to challenge the elected officials themselves. I hope that taking them along with me to things makes them comfortable with the process just like having a polling site at my backdoor made me comfortable with walking in and out of the voting booth.

And I hope that, just like my dad still does for me, no matter if the youth I'm around agree or disagree with me on who should win the election, we can have intellectual, challenging discussions about the issues, and know that the most important part is getting involved.

And now I am off to the Democratic National Convention to do my part!