Tuesday, September 23, 2008



This was part of the advertising display of a Juice vendor in the Carmel market. The juice was incredibly delicious by the way. Much easier to drink it than to deal with all those seeds.

In Israel, even the rust is beautiful

Just got back from a quick trip to Israel. Albuquerque established a sister-city relationship with Rehovot, and as President of the New Mexico Federation, I came to support the program. After the various business meetings and signing ceremonies there was some time to wander Tel Aviv with camera in hand.

Instead of feeling guilty for never using it, I put the 90mm lens with the Macro adapter on, and took a bunch of pictures of little things. This one came out well, though the depth of field is rather slight. There are so many beautiful things and people in Israel, you can find good pictures everywhere.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Rioter and the Tourist

And the cameraman and the demonstrator and ...

This one captures something of what it was like in front of the Capitol on the last day of the convention. It was really hard to make a coherent picture, one that included just what I wanted and nothing else. In the end, it was easiest to give up any notion of that, and accept that the pictures would reflect the rather chaotic situation in which I found myself. Choosing a wider lens than usual forced me to work closer to the subject, which helped this one also perhaps. The look in the masked fellows eye appears in several of the shots. I was told that the bandanna brigade does not like to be photographed, but it was a hopeless wish, given that everyone in the crowd had a camera of some sort.

The ubiquity of gear made me feel a bit superfluous. Looking at the images in Capture One though (such an improvement over the make-do on the Linux laptop I took along!) makes me think otherwise. The beautiful color and detail that the M8 provides must set these shots apart from the others. At least I hope that the cell-phone cameras are not this good yet!

Friday, September 05, 2008

some shots at the riot

I liked the everyone poops t-shirt. I did not so much like the part a little after all of these when I got a bit of tear gas in my nose. It was just a whiff, but quite unpleasant. Then I had to walk all around the capitol to avoid blockading lines of police, and was so disoriented that I missed where my car was, and was a bit grumpy by the time I found my way back to the Xcel center. The protestors were trying to disrupt the convention, and in a way they succeeded in my case. Of course I knew there was a high likelihood of a riot, and sought one out.

Should mention that despite the word "riot" the whole thing that I saw was relatively peaceful. Saw a few arrests, and one guy getting sprayed with something. Think I saw a CS grenade fall into a crowd (that quickly started running away). The first main confrontation was when the marchers were stopped on a bridge, then sat down. The cops just watched them.

Later a different intersection was blocked, and that is when the gas was used. More effective than the gas were the police tactics. They would use horses and bicycles and men in the riot gear to split off different groups of protestors, and block them in. Once they had a small group sitting down they started to arrest them one at a time, although even then they were very patient. I did not wait to see the entire group taken in.

I left about 7:00, but when I came back at around 11:00 there were still a large number of protesters being arrested. Only found that out because they were blocking the on ramp I was trying to use to get back to my hotel. Rolled down the window of my rental car to ask a cop if there was any way to walk over to take pictures, was told no, and just to look on yahoo. Told him I was planning on putting mine on yahoo (I know of course that blogger is a google thing). He laughed.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Great Plan, Good Speech

Everyone says that John McCain is not at his most comfortable in giving a speech from a teleprompter. He does better in less formal settings, such as a Town Hall. I was hoping perhaps that tonight would be an exception, but in many ways it was a confirmation. The themes he touched on were all good ones. Perhaps it is difficult to make an exciting speech about making sure government gets out of the way of the American people. It is a challenge. Much easier to right a speech that rips into your opponent, the way the ones yesterday did.

McCain's speech was not helped by a couple of interruptions. After the last one I could clearly see a code pink woman being carried from the convention hall. It may be that the shouts of "USA! USA!" from the crowd were not helpful. It was also a bit odd the way the speech ended, with the entire hall screaming, and McCain continuing to talk, with the sound system unable to generate enough volume for him to be heard over the crowd. Probably those of you watching on TV were able to make out what he was saying, I could not.

My last criticism goes to the way the comparison of McCain's plans with Obama's went. It was odd that the pauses were after mentioning what Obama would do, such as raise taxes, which naturally led to booing by the crowd. It seemed that there should have been a way to do it the other way around, so that there would be cheering after McCain's plans.

Overall though the speech was a success. The bit about learning to love America in another country's prisons was very touching. It was particularly difficult for me to listen to because I remember visiting Hanoi and seeing the "Hanoi Hilton" undergoing demolition. I was told that they were building a modern hotel on the site which was hard to believe, but is apparently true.

The part about school reform also went over well, and I was surprised to find the entire hall cheering with me when he mentioned Judges who will not legislate from the bench.

The woman next to me was a black lady from New York City. She was very pleased by the bit about school reform, and told me that she is doing the best she can to bring black people into the Republican party. One of her chief weapons is letting them know that Martin Luther King was a Republican. I wished her good luck.


I hope this comes out alright. Rawstudio is not giving me thumbnails, so I have to load a picture to see it at all. Technical details: ISO 320 90mm f4 at f4 and 1/60th.

Palin kicks a##

Okay. First off this was the first time I have ever been to a National Convention. For a lifelong D it is odd I suppose that I picked an R convention, but hey, Joe Lieberman was the D nominee for VP in 2000, and he spoke here in St Paul last night. In any case there is something tremendously energizing about being in a stadium full of excited people. Those of you who are sports fans may know something of this.

The last time I walked out of an arena with my throat hoarse from yelling was the Rahman-Maskaev fight I blogged about some time ago. This was similar in that I had no idea I would get so wrapped up in it. I was very curious to see what Sarah Palin would do, since like a lot of people who like McCain I was worried that she was a mistake.

She wasn't.

Before I get to that, I should mention that Giuliani did an amazing job. I remember a New Yorker cover from several years ago, when it looked like he would be running against Hilary for the Senate. The cover depicted her as an innocent wide-eyed tourist in Central Park, and Giuliani as an unshaven thug about to mug her. Well, this time Obama was the tourist, and Giuliani laid into him with a lead pipe. Whupped him so hard I am likely to be surprised the next time I see a picture of Obama and he is not in a body cast.

Some folks on the internet have complained about it, thought it was too rough. Maybe so, but for the crowd in St Paul, it was perfect. Giuliani looked like he was having fun too, which took some of the edge off. In the old westerns they would always say "smile when you call me that", and Rudy was sure smiling. Made me glad I voted for him for Mayor back in the day, even though I was doing it out of professional solidarity -- we were both prosecutors.

Palin seemed to get off to a slow start, but she picked up. Talking about her family in a calm, proud way. Took the attacks and turned them completely around. If anyone wants to make her family matters into a political issue they will lose. You probably have heard some of her lines already like: what's the difference between a hockey mom and a Rottweiler? Lipstick.

That one proved true. If the traditional role of the VP is to be an attack dog, then McCain made a great pick. She went after Obama with one of the best lines yet. Mentioning that she was Mayor, she said "I guess that is kind of like being a Community Organizer. Except with responsibilities." It was not just the great line, but her calm and self-confident delivery. Obama comes across like a man who has thought a great deal about an issue, and then come to a conclusion he believes to be correct. Palin is a woman who has seen enough to know what is what. She did not think her way into her positions, she lived her way there.

What is it that politicians do besides make speeches? They have to make decisions. Obama never stood up to the corruption in Illinois. Palin stood up to the corruption in Alaska, took down a Governor from her own party. It was strange to be in a convention hall, normally the home of the party stalwarts and hear so many speakers talk about taking on the Republican establishment. We have all no doubt noticed that the Republican brand is rather damaged from the last eight years so there is no doubt a measure of smart politics involved here. But more importantly is the sense that for McCain, and perhaps even more for Palin, it is true.

Mitt and even Huckabee had some good lines, but the bottom line is this: Palin deserves her place on the ticket.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"Country matters more than Party"

Heard Lieberman talking to an AIPAC group this morning, he told some lovely stories from his most recent to trip to Israel with John McCain. When people ask me why I support McCain, I usually tell them that like Lieberman, I am an Independent Democrat for McCain. Certainly no one can argue against the notion that country matters more than party. Well, except for those who call Lieberman a traitor I guess.

Like Lieberman, it became obvious to me that the Democratic party decided to allow partisan attacks on the President to take the place of serious engagement in the fight against Islamofascism. A good argument can be made that we ought not to have gone into Iraq, but I can see no argument for losing the war we are fighting against those who cut off heads and blow up school children. That is what I told a reporter for the Washington Post today, so I suppose it is safe to mention it here.

It is indeed ironic that on the day of the anti-war protest (the one I was photographing Monday) the US handed over control of Anbar Province to the Iraqis. The same Anbar province that not too long ago we were told had been "lost" to Al Qaeda. The same province that would indeed have been lost to Al Qaeda had we given up, as so many of Joe Lieberman's colleagues in the Senate wished us to do.

Two of those Senate colleagues are running on the Democratic ticket this year. It is true that Sarah Palin has not had much experience in foreign policy. But she never advocated for the US to lose this war, and that puts her head and shoulders above Biden and Obama.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Fascism in the Streets

In the comments I see someone has noted that there was an element of Fascism present here in St. Paul yesterday. That of course is true, though I did not write much about it. As indicated previously, the marchers I saw and photographed were mostly good natured and peaceful. The only fascist chant I heard was the famous "Whose streets? Our streets!" which of course is relatively mild.

Not so mild were the efforts of some to put that slogan into practice in a violent manner. Since I am not really much of a photo-journalist I was unable to provide any pictures of window breakers. In fact, I was just out in downtown St. Paul in a fruitless effort to find this evenings riot. By the time I got down there all the cops were taking off their gear and packing it up in the rented minivans they had driven down in, or were eating sandwiches while awaiting the order to pack up. I might put up such a picture, since it is the sort of work you might not find elsewhere, but perhaps that is because a picture of a cop in riot gear eating a plastic wrapped sandwich is not terribly compelling.

The Fascist movements of the early twentieth century had a component of street fighting youth. I don't think Horst Wessel ever called out the "Whose streets?" chant when he was getting in fist fights with young Communists, but maybe he did. The spirit of the call was certainly present, in that the youth have a special claim on the public space, which they will take by violent action. Breaking windows to intimidate political opponents is of course classically fascist.

The best defense to a charge of fascism against the bandanna clad window breakers of 2008 in St Paul is that window breaking is also a popular form of teenage hooliganism. In other words, the mobs in the street are not fascist only if they are not political. That defense could very well be a good one. While it has not been easy to engage the bandanna crowd in conversation, my sense from one snippet was that the individual did not understand the difference between anarchism and communism. In my view, they are essentially opposites, since communism requires central planning, and hence a central government. Perhaps they view anarchy as a brief phase after which they will establish some sort of control? Or perhaps as I said, they find acting out somewhat thrilling, and are looking for an excuse to be violent. The counter-argument is that there must be some political element in a protest outside the Republican National Convention. If the protesters don't know what they are for, they at least know what they are against.

In truth many of the followers of the fascist movements of the last century were probably at a similar level of political consciousness. The current movement lacks a charismatic figure, like a Mussolini, to organize the youthful and the violent. Fortunately the economic situation in this country is not so severe as that obtaining in post-WWI Europe. Also fortunate is the cool competence of the police that I spoke to, who have been doing a pretty good job of not allowing the anarchists to achieve much in the way of anarchy.

Monday, September 01, 2008

All American

The colors at least are all american. These ladies also seem to be enjoying themselves. Note the Minnesota Capitol in the background.

Radical Rooster

Almost as cool as Clown guy, and this one did not attack.

Miss Justice

The famous Code Pink puppets. The women with birds would periodically circle the large puppets during the march. They were missing Democracy and Clean Air also, not just Justice.

American Clown

This was one of the more ebullient protesters. The lizard helmet is an interesting touch I did not notice until looking at the jpeg. Just so you know how many risks were taken to bring you this shot, you should know that shortly after this picture was taken, your intrepid photographer was hit on the head with that Flag-colored bat. In truth it was just a balloon, but it counts as harassment as well I think.

proned, or "we always get the slow one"

After taking a bunch of pictures of protesters in all their glory I sat down to eat and have some beer. The camera was off, and the day was almost over. Until this. I really don't know what the situation was, but there were a group of folks dressed about like the guy on the ground walking down the street, followed by the cops you see here. The anarchists broke into a run as they entered the pedestrian plaza, and the cops started to shout and run after them.

The other anarchists made good their escape, as they were not as heavily laden as the officers. One of the cops quipped "we always get the slow one" which counts in some circles as police brutality (he *humiliated* me, man!), perhaps. After about 20 minutes they let this fellow go again.

The crowd reaction was interesting. Lots of people cheered the police when they made the arrest, but then some people cheered this guy when he came back. A different group of people probably.

No Bama No Way

Made it to St. Paul, and to the protests. Went to the start of the Parade route, followed them to the eXcel center, and then stopped to eat. I guess my mistake was in not following the anarchists around after the main parade broke up, because I did not get any action shots of windows being smashed. I do have a cool arrest photo though ...

I took a lot of pictures today, but this is the only t-shirt I bought. Maybe it was just because it was the end of the day, and I was very tired, but it looked funny to me and I got one. After I paid, a woman with RNC credentials came up, and said that everyone on the inside was complaining because they wanted to buy stuff, but there were very few vendors inside the eXcel center.

Certainly if the stereotypes have any validity there should be plenty of commerce inside a Republican convention. Maybe that one doesn't? After all the best shopping in the country is in reliably blue places like NYC and Los Angeles (yes I know Houston has the Galeria, but I said best).

I will try to post some more pictures shortly.

Orrin Hatch and me

So I am on my way to St. Paul, on a mission to take pictures of protesters at the Republican Convention. For some reason Delta thinks the best way from Albuquerque to Minneapolis-St. Paul is through Salt Lake City. Waiting for the plane to leave that airport, I look up from playing FreeCell on my laptop to a familiar looking gentleman who has just sat down by me. Sure enough, it is Senator Orrin Hatch.

We had a nice chat. When I asked if I could take his picture he suggested that I get one with him. This was taken by another Convention attendee, a lawyer who had been talking about the various changes that the Republicans were making in light of Hurricane Gustav (no relation to Gustave). The Senator seemed surprised that there was no flash, but he pretty quickly figured out that I am a bit of a camera buff. I hope to have more pictures up tomorrow.

We shall see in a bit if I can avoid being arrested as a demonstrator while I try to mingle with them. Of course if the RNC welcoming committee (anarchist group) is really doing its job, I might not be able to get anywhere near the eXcel center.