Even weather boosts action outside the convention hall

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Boos erupted on the floor of the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday when the party hastily amended its platform to include the word “God” and to reinsert support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Both references were in the 2008 platform but had been dropped, and Republicans immediately criticized the omissions. When Democratic Party leaders moved to put them back in, many rank-and-file delegates booed.

The booing of one’s own party is unusual at these tightly scripted conventions, but it happened to both parties this year. Ron Paul supporters jeered at the GOP convention when they lost procedural votes on the floor.

Here’s what else was going on around Charlotte this week:

Don’t believe the media: Abda Alexander has been driving a taxi in Charlotte for 23 years. He’s had drug dealers and gangbangers for customers, but he never had a problem until last weekend, when people yelled at him and someone threw a cup of beer at his cab.

The 59-year-old has a long gray beard and dreadlocks, and he goes by “Lionman.” A wood carving that reads “Lionman on the prowl” sits on his dashboard, and a Bible sits next to the gearshift.

But it’s what was on top of the cab that started the trouble – an ad from the Media Research Center that read, “Don’t believe the liberal media.” Similar billboards were plastered around Tampa, Fla., for the GOP convention.

So on Monday, Alexander taped over the word “liberal” in the ad, despite the conservative taxi company owner’s warning to his drivers to leave the ads alone.

“They call me Lionman. I can’t be Lionman if I don’t stand up for my rights,” he said.

Sunglasses for the times: The sidewalks outside the Charlotte Convention Center are crowded with protesters and vendors selling all manner of Obama memorabilia, and one vendor Thursday afternoon added some unintentional political commentary into his sales pitch: “Support your candidate. Obama sunglasses. They’re polarized. Wanna try a pair?”

Bipartisan storm: Hurricane Isaac forced cancellation of the first day of the GOP convention, and it turns out that Isaac hit the Democrats, too. According to AccuWeather, heavy rain from the remnants of the storm was partially to blame for the soaking afternoon rains that hit Charlotte this week and led organizers to cancel plans to hold the convention’s final day in an outdoor stadium.

Unpacking the SWAG: Like any old convention, the national political conventions give out SWAG bags – stuff we all get. Here’s what was inside:

GOP SWAG: A handheld fan, SPF 30 suntan lotion and sunglasses from the Alternative Energy Institute; a tin of breath mints from CSX railroad; a copy of Bay Pop magazine; a Tampa Bay Storm koozie; a “Founder’s Wisdom” booklet with speeches by George Washington, James Madison and others; and a hardback book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness by Mitt Romney.

Democrat SWAG: A national convention lanyard; a cardboard fan for those humid afternoons in the security line; a pedometer; cards from the Awkward Family Photos game; and an iPad cover from Belk, a local company.

jhanel@durangoherald.com