Editor: Here is the latest post by Doug Porter, who has just recently returned to San Diego after a 30-year sojourn. Before he departed San Diego in the mid-1970’s, Doug worked on the Door, a San Diego alternative weekly. Back in the early part of that decade, he did much of the research and writing about the GOP Convention – then slated to come to San Diego for their summer 1972 convention.
By Doug Porter / OB Rag / July 9, 2008
Once upon a time (waaay back in 1972, before MTV), the Republicans wanted to hold their National Convention in San Diego. President Nixon had fantasies of being crowned for a second term in his home state, and our fair city, with its predominantly republican power structure, was the perfect setting. Bribes were paid, deals were made under the table and, voila!, it looked like a sure thing.
Our fair city wasn’t immune to the national protests against the war that were going on at the time. The San Diego Convention Coalition was born, representing just about every local flavor (and a few national ones, too) of protest organizations. The SDCC plan was to have massive non-violent protests as a counterpoint to the Nixonian lovefest.
Nixon’s gang, headed up by Donald Segretti, set out to turn the “challenges” posed by protests into “opportunities” to further energize the GOP base. The plan was to have agent provocateurs in the crowds provoke the police into violence.
Not the outdone, the FBI-funded paramilitary Secret Army Organization had its own visions for the Convention, including lobbing explosive artillery into the general area of the protests.
The police were ready for action. Their shopping list-paid for by the feds-included:
- 30 quarts of pepperfog formula
- 7 grenade launchers & 300 cartridges
- 100 triple chaser grenades
- 100 speed heat grenades
- 100 ferret shotgun rounds
- 150 knee knockers
- 5000 plastic handcuffs
- 1000 plastic batons
- 100 14 lb body shields
- 12 flack suits
- 2 hand held metal detectors
- 157 gas masks and helmets
- 20 cassette recorders
- 2 telephone recorders
- 2 binocular cameras
- 1 econoline van
But it was not be. The backroom bargaining was exposed (by the San Diego Door, among others) and the Convention was moved to Miami.
Fast Forward to 2008…..
The 2008 GOP Convention is slated for Minneapolis-St Paul on September 1st – 4th at the Xcel Center. The local police are ready for just about everything, having been funded to the tune of $50 million via Congressional earmark. They’ve doing a much better job of keeping their shopping list on the QT then their counter-parts planning for the Dems Convention in Denver. (No purchase orders for ultrasonic “crap cannons” have been leaked, yet.) But we do know that the plan is to keep any would-be demonstrators out of sight and mind of the Republican conventioneers by directing the permitting process to go in circles, a technique that they’ve no doubt learned from their counterparts in other nations “less free” than the United States.
Two protest groups have announced plans for the GOP Convention: The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War (TCMRNCSTW????- this group needs help with marketing) and the more militant RNC Welcoming Committee. Actual protest plans haven’t made their way on to the internet yet, lest John McCain use “the Google” to find them out. We do know that the protest planners are negotiating with local farmers to use pastures for visitors to sleep in. One article estimated that as many as 50,000 people will show up for the protests.
Another story in the local press detailed a FBI attempt to recruit an informant to cruise “vegan potlucks” throughout the area and rub shoulders with would-be RNC protestors. Special Agent “Maureen Mazzola” (don’t ya just love the name?) wanted the potential informer to report back to the “Joint Terrorism Task Force”. This task force’s mission is “to investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.” And the potential informant, who was being squeezed because he’d been nabbed for spray painting, was told that he’d only be compensated if there were actual arrests.
This being the age of the internet, there are tee shirts and buttons about the protest available at: www.northernsun.com/n/s/home/march-on-the-rnc.html , so that, no matter what demonstrations you happen to stumble upon, you’ll be properly attired. For those of you who delight in the tackiness of GOP convention memorabilia there will be stuffed toy elephants, elephant hats, flip-flops, engraved watches and so much more available from street vendors throughout the downtown.
There are plenty of other good reasons to visit the Twin Cities during the Convention this year, so, should the demonstrations prove to be banned, boring and/or ignored, you’ll have plenty of things to do.
The St. Paul City Council has now signed off on legislation to keep bars in the downtown area open until 4 am during the Convention. It seems to me that, if one was inclined to get some inside dope on what the real deals that are going on at the Xcel Center are, you’d want to go hang with the GOP delegates after a 20 hour drinking day. Be forewarned, though, some of these downtown joints can be pretty seedy. I’m sure that there will great photo opportunities of waitresses being harassed at an establishment called “Alary’s”, a weird morph of Hooters and Coyote Ugly, where the (female) staff strips down to their underwear after 10pm. You probably don’t wanna take the kiddies on that particular field trip.
Should you manage to “borrow” the credentials off some poor passed out conventioneer, there are parties galore throughout the Twin Cities to crash. And we all know that Republicans know how to party, especially when some big time lobbying group is picking up the tab. The Minnesota Agri-Growth Council is hosting a party for 5,000 of their closest friends at the Milwaukee Road Depot in Minneapolis that is expected to cost “a little bit over $1 million”. Other parties include: Blue Cross & Blue Shield (800 people), the Texas Governor’s Ball (1000 people), the Ohio Republican Party (1000 people) and smaller gigs for AT&T, Wells Fargo and Target. Just look for the D’Amico Catering vans and you’ll find the parties.
Word has that the attendance at these parties will be especially high this year as the Democrats, reeling from disclosures about the 28 page list of catering specs for their convention, are spreading the word that the official GOP menu will consist of tuna surprise, creamed corn, green bean casserole and packets of ketchup dissolved in water to make tomato soup. This is, of course, not true, but you just know the food will be a lot better with the lobbyist crowd. Let McCain and his anti-lobbyist staff eat the damn green bean casserole!
Speaking of people who don’t like McCain, there are two other interesting side shows to watch for as the convention unfolds.
Cranky newspaper publisher Ed Felien has declared that he wants President George Bush to be arrested when he comes to town. A hearing was held back in May seeking to force the Hennepin County Attorney to present charges to a Grand Jury for the purpose of seeking an indictment. One has to wonder if this actually a covert move by the McCain camp to keep da’ decider out of the convention and away from the candidate.
Finally, for those who feel cheated by the Star Trek exhibition/show now running over at the Aerospace Museum, the Ron Paul campaign has announced that it has secured Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota on September 2nd. Paul, who has been univited to speak at the convention because he refuses to endorse McCain, is hoping to pack 11,000 supporters into the venue for day-long event that will “send a message to the Republican Party”. Party favors are expected to include Spam, Spam & More Spam. Tin foil hats are optional.