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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Katherine Kersten

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Katherine Kersten

Last Build Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 00:24:57 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Will Riots Greet GOP at Convention?

Fri, 07 Sep 2007 00:24:57 -0600

Later, the protest ride turned ugly. Two officers tried to arrest several riders who covered their faces with hoods while blocking motorists. They resisted, and about 30 protesters surrounded the officers, chanting "Let them go! Let them go!" Forty-eight law enforcement personnel from six agencies responded to a police call for help, and chemical spray was used to control the crowd. Nineteen demonstrators were arrested. Get ready, Minnesotans. The protest was "a kick-off" for a "weekend of organizing against the Republican National Convention" to be held here in September 2008, according to the RNC Welcoming Committee, a local anarchist group. Across the country, similar groups have announced their intention to cause havoc in our cities next year. Annette Meeks has seen these tactics before. In 2004, she was a delegate to the GOP convention in New York City. Meeks, my former colleague at Center of the American Experiment, said that many of the protesters in New York differed markedly from their predecessors. "It used to be peaceful ex-hippies with placards -- they're almost quaint by today's standards," she said. "In New ! York we saw a professional class of protesters, with an angry, violent mob mentality. Their goal is not to be heard. Their sole purpose is to create anarchy in our streets." Meeks saw protesters use burning trash bins in an effort to shut down Manhattan's theater district. Swarms of bicyclists blocked traffic, crowds of protesters harassed delegates at their hotels. "They screamed obscenities -- any way they could conjugate the F-word," she said. "Then they grew weary of yelling and started spitting and throwing thinngs at us." Meeks saw the tip of the iceberg. During the convention, demonstrators rampaged through Midtown Manhattan, throwing traffic cones and other objects at cars and windows. A policeman was kicked unconscious. Protesters attempted to take over hotel lobbies. 'Direct action' According to published reports, their plans included shutting down Wall Street, sealing off subway stations with police tape, using mobile infrared transmitters to change traffic signals, and carrying out "direct action" against businesses like Chevron and the Rand Corp. The New York City Police Department -- hard-nosed and highly organized -- prevented the situation from deteriorating into chaos. "The city was a security fortress like I've never seen," Meeks recalled. "The protesters were very well organized, but the police were even better organized. When police confronted them quickly and calmly, it destroyed their plans." Twin Cities officials expect the 2008 Republican National Convention to be a public-relations bonanza. A major party convention should showcase a city -- its entertainment venues, its cultural institutions and its leaders. Organizers estimate that the convention will bring $150 million to $250 million to the metro area. But if chaos erupts in our streets, the publicity could take a very different turn. About 15,000 members of the news media are expected here -- from Germany's Der Spiegel to CCTV, China's main TV ne! twork. T hey'll all be searching avidly for excitement to report. "If we have mayhem, the good will that accompanies a well-presented convention will be instantly erased by acts of domestic terrorism," Meeks warned. Signing up in droves In such a situation, our first impulse is Minnesota Nice. Twin Cities lawyers are signing up in droves to aid what they may naively view as old-fashioned protesters. St. Paul is reportedly exploring the possibility of helping protesters find campgrounds. But Minnesota Nice isn't likely to dissuade determined anarchists. When demonstrators converged on Seattle in 1999 to protest a World Trade Organization conference, the mayor welcomed them and police backed off. Protesters trashed the city so thoroughly that, within hours, the mayor declared an emergency and asked the governor to call in the National Guard. In New York City in 2004, former Mayor Ed Koch implored residents to be civil, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered shoppin[...]

Keith Ellison Goes Overboard

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 00:36:30 -0600

Actually, bona fide tyrants don't just claim, as Cheney has, that some communications are off-limits; they torture and execute their political opponents and whole populations. Imagine how long a critic like Ellison would have lasted in Stalin's Soviet Union or Pol Pot's Cambodia. But even the "impeach Bush now" crowd might have raised an eyebrow when Ellison compared the Sept. 11 terror attacks to the burning of the Reichstag, or Pariament building, in Nazi Germany in 1933. "It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that," he told applauding atheists. "After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted." If you're fuzzy on your history of Nazi Germany, you might have missed Ellison's point. Here's the context. On Feb. 27, 1933, the Reichstag building in Berlin burned. The fire occurred a week before the March 5 elections, which pitted the Nazis against the Communists, Social Democrats and other parties. For decades, it had been widely believed that the Nazis themselves planned the fire in an effort to discredit the Communists and justify Nazi seizure of emergency powers. Today, many scholars believe that the arsonist was a lone radical. The identity of those responsible for the fire remains controversial. It is clear, however, that Hitler - then chancellor - cynically exploited the Reichstag fire to grab power for himself. The day after the fire, Hitler pushed through a decree that ended protection of political, personal and property rights. Then he moved to crush thousands of his political opponents, including Reichstag members. In "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," William Shirer provides a vivid account: "Truckloads of stormtroopers roared through the streets all over Germany, breaking into homes, rounding up victims and carting them off to [Brownshirt] barracks, where they were tortured and beaten." Hermann Goering, one of Hitler's henchmen, made clear that the rule of law was over: "Fellow Germans, my measures will not be crippled by any judicial thinking," he bellowed. "I don't have to worry about justice; my mission is only to destroy and exterminate, nothing more! ... [T]he struggle to the death, in which my fist will grasp your necks, I shall lead with those down there - the Brownshirts!" Despite their brutal tactics, the Nazis failed to win a sufficient parliamentary majority to take power legally. On March 23, with storm troopers lining the aisles, Nazi leaders persuaded the new Reichstag to pass an "enabling act" that effectively ceded total power to Hitler. Where is George Bush, with all his shortcomings, in the terrible tale of the Reichstag fire and its aftermath? On what grounds does Ellison compare Bush with Hitler, who butchered 6 million Jews and many others? On Tuesday, Ellison told me that he invoked the Reichstag fire to make the point that "in the aftermath of a tragedy, space is opened up for governments to take action that they could not have achieved before that." Which of the Bush administration's post-9/11 actions did he place in that category? The Iraq war, Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence and certain provisions of the Patriot Act, he said. Those seem a tad short of unleashing storm troopers, torturing political opponents and demolishing the rule of law. During his speech, Ellison went on to tell the atheists that "I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that, because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box -- dismiss you." Granted, such statements might get you dismissed as a nutball. But are they true? Ellison now says they are not. When we spoke, he agreed that Osama bin Laden -- not the Bush administration -- was responsible for the attacks on 9/11. But why didn't he do the responsible thing and say that when asked about it at the atheists' meeting? During Ellison's first six months in Congress, observers have mostly left behind hi[...]