Civil Society, Conventional Wisdom – Part II

The GOP is bringing their national convention to Saint Paul next year.

The local, regional and (I have to presume) national left is planning on being here in force.

It’s going to be an interesting 18 months.

Let’s pick up where we left off last Thursday.


A couple of bits of housekeeping, first.

I’m schedule to appear on Minnesota Public Radio’s “In The Loop“.  It’ll be recorded Thursday night at the Taj MaKling in downtown Saint Paul, and broadcast  Friday, at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m.

The subject?  Protest!


As a couple of commenters obliquely pointed out last week, the temptation to rhetorically overstep is almost overwhelming.

As I noted, the Saint Paul City Council has officially welcomed protesters. I gave significance to the fact that they haven’t mentioned anything about protesters who come to town with an aim toward disruption – and a commenter correctly noted that in fact legislators’ resolutions should be presumed to refer to activities that are within the laws that they make and that their government is charged with enforcing.

True, and a good point.

Another commenter said something to the effect of “he’s just setting up a strawman”.  That’s not true in and of itself – I’m not trying to negate either the legitimate, law-abiding protesters’ points or right to speak with the activities of their less-legitimate pals. 

Merely pointing out something the mainstream media in this town, I suspect, will bend over backwards to avoid reporting; while the fringe left is complaining about nonexistent plans to stifle their free speech, some of them would seem to be intent on no good.


Lassie at Freedom Dogs – who has, herself, immense experience dealing with the left’s professional protest clacque – writes in quoting the RNC Welcoming Committee (RNC-WC) website:

Looks like they hope to maintain a looser structure so as to escape notice by the authoritarians, and are confident that their numbers are strong.

…we hope that the RNC-WC will maintain a unified, anti-authoritarian presence at the 2008 RNC. Our numbers are huge, and it’s time that our actions reflected that.

Well anarkiddies, our numbers are also strong, and we look forward to welcoming you next fall. Keep daddy’s number on speed dial — that unfortunate authority figure is the one you’ll be crying to for bail. This is going to be fun to watch.

It’s a “MySpace” site.  Big whoop? 

Maybe, maybe not.  You be the judge.  Here’s the “Welcoming Committee’s” agenda:

Those who work with the RNC Welcoming Committee must agree to:

1. A rejection of Capitalism, Imperialism, and the State; [Whatever]

2. Resist the commodification of our shared and living Earth; [Kumbaya]

3. Organize on the principles of decentralization, autonomy, sustainability, and mutual aid.  [Kind of like a bunch of terrorist cells.  OK, that was a low blow.]

4. Work to end all relationships of domination and subjugation, including but not limited to those rooted in patriarchy, race, class, and homophobia; [Unless they’re Israelis, but again, whatever]

5. Oppose the police and prison-industrial complex, and maintain solidarity with all targets of state repression; 

6. Directly confront systems of oppression, and respect the need for a diversity of tactics. [Hm.  “Diverse” tactics?  Let’s come back to that later.]

Though the RNC-WC is focused on a specific event, we hope that our work transcends the convention by contributing to the development of anti-authoritarian movements and mutual aid networks both locally and globally. We are no more opposed to the Republican Party than we are to the Democratic Party. Affiliations and labels aside, we invite all who share our vision to join us in resistance.

So they wanna protest.

Cool.  See y’all on the street. I’ll be interested in checking out those “diverse” tactics.

Waving signs and walking around dressed in papier-mache puppets?  Go for it.

Threats, violence and intimidation?


Jeff Kouba – he of stronger stomach than I – apparently reads the MN Daily.

And a few weeks ago he found this little nugget; a U of M twinkie is having violent little delusions of grandeur.  And if you believe him, he’s not alone.

Oh, not

Maybe it was all the wine my buddy salvaged from some trash containers after a high-class tasting party, and then served up at his own festive blow-out gathering of assorted radicals on Friday night, but I’m really starting to have hope.

Yes, I’m starting to believe certain vague, visionary plans to throw our Republican friends a street party in St. Paul in 2008 are really, truly going to happen.

Look away, you fun-loving Republicans, we’re planning a big surprise party for little ol’ you during your special convention in 2008.

Aw!  You shouldn’t have!  I love surprise parties! 

Hopefully, it will be more fun than the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Oh, but now my mellow is harshed.  I don’t like violence!

And to be perfectly clear, either does the “writer” of the MNDaily op-ed, John Hoff – as long has he’s potentially on the wrong end of it, as in this editorial, where he frets about the crummy neighborhood around his stop on the Ventura trolley.  So we know he’s not a diagnosable sociopath, since he doesn’t like potential violence aimed at him, anyway. 


Yup, we know you Republicans are still jealous about all the attention Democrats enjoyed in Chicago back in the days of the hippies, but just think: 40 years, my pinstriped, conservative friends.

Oooh!  An ambiguous warning!

Of course, there’s nothing ambiguous about the gutlessness of people like “John Hoff”:

Nobody in this column except me has a real name, of course, and even I have been known to become “John Hoffman,” in homage to Abbie Hoffman of the Chicago 7.

You know – Abbie Hoffman, upper-class yippie turned condo-pink cause celebre, who went “underground” for a decade after being busted for dealing coke?  The person over whom Pete Townsend earned everlasting credit for clubbing with a guitar at Woodstock? 

The person who served as the model, in many ways, for today’s pampered, privileged, tax-funded hothouse “radicals”?

Anyway, the article continues:

We talked about gas masks. I mentioned how difficult it was, during the Battle of Seattle, to procure a gas mask at the last minute. But it isn’t enough to merely possess a gas mask, oh no. I know from my time in the army that gas-mask training is essential, so you will trust your equipment even when you’re exhausted from running, fighting for breath, and it’s tough to suck air through the filters.

Wow.  Gas mask training.  Sounds dramatic!

Stella told me activists have been planning and coordinating for a few months, traveling to the Twin Cities and quietly familiarizing themselves with routes and landmarks. A meeting between a major group of “anti-authoritarians” and a large liberal Christian organization was scheduled to take place … um, well, no sense mentioning the day or the location.

Of course not!  Because acting like it’s a big secret certainly buffs up that self-serving sense of drama that being an arrested adolescent requires.

Which is, perhaps, what we should write this next bit off to (emphasis added):

Will enough people come to the street demonstrations in 2008? Will it be a gas? Will demonstrators have enough sense to focus on a target of opportunity outside the main security perimeter, like a luxury hotel where delegates will be staying with their laptops and revealing documents, instead of going up against massive security surrounding the convention center? It would be good to apply the hard-earned lessons of Seattle in 1999.

Yeah, I know.  John Hoff and his alleged friends are a bunch of hyperdramatic arrested adolescents; for this little flock of state-supported (over half of a U of M student’s costs are paid by the taxpayer before they even see a tuition figure) dilettantes, the drama is the point; sneaking about with secret names and big plans is validation for people who’ve adopted the whole “change the world now” mission in life.  I’ve known the type over the years – even interviewed a bunch of them on my old KSTP talk show (kids from the “Backroom Anarchist Center”); talking about recreating the fabled riots of the mystic past is for them what NASCAR and sports-talk radio are for blue-collar guys – a time-killer, a substitute for doing something useful.

And yet.

Hoff’s piece appears in the Minnesota Daily – a semi-independent body and not an official voice of the U of M, by any means (if I recall correctly, they are partially funded by student activity fees, although I’m not entirely sure of the extent), but certainly no underground publication.

Question:  If it were a Republican student advocating stalking pro-abortion activists (for that is exactly what Hoff is advocating; “Will demonstrators … focus on a target of opportunity…like a luxury hotel where delegates will be staying with their laptops and revealing documents” which has nothing to do with protesting the administration and everything to do with harassing people who are, in turn, exercising their own rights to free speech and assembly!), what would the university’s reaction have been?


Relax.  I’m not especially exercised about little John Hoff’s fantasy life.  Talk is cheap.  And it doesn’t impugn the vast majority of protesters, who, wrong as they are in my opinion, don’t intend to do anything stupid.

But as much as some on the regional left fret about being “stifled” and “oppressed“, the fact is powerful, well-heeled interests in Saint Paul are looking out for protesters’ First Amendment rights.

I just want to make sure that the rights of those of us who dissent from this city’s political mainstream – and those who come to this city – will get the same consideration.  The mainstream media has been reticent to cover the abuses of the anti-war, anti-Republican protesters.  

If that’s a do-it-yourself job, that’s fine; it’s what we conservative bloggers do best.

But someone’s gotta do it.

27 thoughts on “Civil Society, Conventional Wisdom – Part II

  1. Good Lord. Who thinks like that? I would love to be there to help in the learning process of those young minds, but like most of us rich, bloated Republicans, I have a job and really can’t just take off. I work at one of those fascist companies who manufacture things that other companies use in their businesses thereby providing meaningful, rewarding jobs to many thousands of people. We have dumpster divers in my town also, but we call them bums. Pretty sure that’s what these guys are called in their home towns.

  2. If one of these clowns is exercizing their “right” to block traffic, can I exercize my “right” to freedom of movement using the hood of my car?

  3. With the Senate race going to be very close, perhaps we will have another Wellstone funeral moment. The loony left may be so repulsive and violent next year that they will hand the election over to Normie. Could even trickle down to the Presidental race. Don’t see Minnesota going Republican here, but nationally if the voters see who supports the Democrats, it could help our side.

    Bring it on, lefties.

  4. THe thing is, when the fecal matter hits the air ventilator, you would be quite justified in pulling up these inciting documents and prosecuting the writers as accessories (at the least!)

  5. It’s probably just a lot of quacking from this guy, but a person interested in helping maintain order could always work a security shift or two on his/her off hours, or volunteer for the police/sheriff reserves during this event. There’ll be ways to participate if you wanna.

  6. Reading the MPLS paper on this… of the moonbats said that they shouldn’t be forced wear orange jumpsuits if arrested. Also the ACLU is already siding with the criminals, 16 months before they commit their crimes.

    Only the left could say that they should be able to commit crimes, but not have any consequences for doing it. To repeat what I said above, I really think is this going to be a Wellstone funeral moment for the Democrats.

  7. Boy, you wingnuts sure are scared of a few hippies!

    Scared? Hardly!

    I mean, when you shine a light on the cockroaches that overrun your tiny clown-size Bronx apartment you share with nine other clowns, is it because you’re afraid of ’em? Or you just don’t want ’em crapping in your base makeup?

  8. Not scared, I just find it odd the the DFL is welcoming violence. Kind of reminds you of the Democrats in the South 50 years ago. I’m a pretty big guy, I can and will defend myself.

    Totals of arrests in 2004 conventions:

    Anti-Republicans in NYC 1,806 arrests
    Anti-Democratic in Boston 6 arrests

  9. Hee hee! Yes indeed-ee. I’ve been there a couple of times when a mob has started throwing things – and it is scary. If you’re not at least somewhat afraid when the stampede starts moving, then you don’t understand the situation. That said, it’s also kind of stimulating. But yep – I was afraid. Right up until the end.

  10. Oh Sweet!! I wasn’t planning on being anywhere near St Paul for the convention, but WOW!! This sounds like way too much fun to miss. How often do you get offered target practice in town?

  11. 5. Oppose the police and prison-industrial complex, and maintain solidarity with all targets of state repression;

    But what do you do when the state oppresses a male based on his race and he in turn oppresses his wife/girlfriend/boyfriend because he’s also a member of patriarchic oppressing class? How do you maintain solidarity with both oppressor and oppressed?
    Marx, Prince Kropotkin, Trotsky, Gramsci, and now these guys. The only original idea they’ve had in a century and a half is that buggerers are also an oppressed class.

  12. These statistics were stunning:

    Totals of arrests in 2004 conventions:

    Anti-Republicans in NYC 1,806 arrests
    Anti-Democratic in Boston 6 arrests

    Shows exactly who the grown-ups are…

  13. Colleen, it just shows which side is the most violent.

    That is why Republicans have to do things like have controlled access to Presidental appearences and more security at the national convention.

  14. Good lord you people are dumb. You might also consider that both New York and Boston are Democratic cities. A Republican convention is likely to generate much more opposition. And if you read a newspaper. (If you know how to read a newspaper) you’d know that most of the NYC arrests were part of a preventative detention program that the mayor ordered to avoid any possibility of trouble in advance. Almost all the arrests were thrown out in court and the city had to pay a buttload of money to settle civil suits by the protestors.

  15. You might also consider that both New York and Boston are Democratic cities. A Republican convention is likely to generate much more opposition.

    Chicken and egg, Vobo.

    Were the demonstrators arrested because the Mayor reacted with all the finesse of a poetry reading in a Supermax? Or did the Mayor overreact because the demonstrators had spent the previous year rolling up enough threats and plots to keep the NYPD’s Intel unit buzzing like Crispin Glover after a case of Red Bull?

  16. After the events of Monday, I don’t dismiss any threats as just talk anymore.

  17. John Hoff is no naive, little undergrad. He’s a 40 yr old journalism grad student/activist who wrote a popular book on dumpster-diving,

    tried to challenge Seattle’s sidewalk sitting ordinance,

    was at the 1999 Seattle WTO riots, then moved to Grand Forks and got elected to the city council as a “Green Libertarian,” but pissed so many people off they held a special election and recalled him,

    had some harebrained scheme to buy up cheap farmland and turn it into some kind of commune/prairie reclamation/hemp farm,

    at UND he got the student newspaper editor in trouble by publishing the real name of a date rape victim in his column,

    caused all kinds of trouble in the student government,

    since then, unfortunately for us, he’s been burdening us with his presence at the U of M, although he still manages to piss off North Dakotans,

    then threatened to have the FCC regulate the radio talk show host’s blog, because they offended him (free speech advocate he’s not, at least not if he disagrees with you),

    and after the pathetic ant-war protests a few weeks ago, he criticized them for not targeting ROTC or the Washington Ave recruiting offices (like last year, when they covered the storefronts with red paint, 6 were arrested).

    In short, let’s not underestimate Hoff. If he’s writing this pablum in a public, freely available newspaper, I imagine the really violent crazies are planning much worse in private.

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