I received the following description of Republican National Convention goings-on, as recounted by someone who accompanied the Oklahoma delegation, in an email today:
On the way up to Minneapolis, I must admit that I voiced my indecision as to which Presidential candidate would be worse? McCain or Obama. My experiences at the RNC made it QUITE clear for me that McCain would not be better than Obama. Not to say Obama would be any better, but it would be tough to be worse than what I saw of McCain.
I’m sure you have all heard about the raids of private homes, the tear-gassing, the unwarranted arrests, etc. that occurred outside the RNC venue. But what many did not hear about, and what really doesn’t come across fully unless you are there to experience it first-hand, is how McCain’s hired hands terrorized and intimidated even the RNC DELEGATES! I spoke to a couple of non-Ron Paul supporters who voiced how they were disturbed by the heavy-handedness on display at the convention. Let me relate just a few of my own experiences as well as some of those with me at the convention.
First, I was amazed by the sheer number of McCain’s hired thugs. They each wore a colored-coded ballcap (I wonder where they got that idea?) with “McCain” emblazoned on the front, except for one color, black. The black hats had a white star on the front, and this was a very special designation: the Ron Paul handlers. These were assigned to monitor and handle the Ron Paul people specifically. I don’t know about you, but I feel honored. That goes to show just how far we have come as a force in the Party and how afraid they are.
Getting back to the size of this goon force: I estimated that on the floor of the convention alone, there were 150-200 red hats. The red hats were charged with things like spotting troublemakers, starting chants (to overpower anyone saying something “off-message”), and generally keeping things under control and filling in with paid enthusiasm where the rank-and-file left off. Think about that number for a moment, 150-200. That’s almost one for every ten delegates on the floor. And when McCain finally spoke, the floor was flooded with other paid staffers as well to help further bulk up the applause. They also had what I call “morale officers” posted behind the delegations and they would say things like, “come on, Oklahoma, you can do better than that” and then urge them to cheer and clap louder for the speaker. It was a tightly managed production, and what struck me was the lack of confidence McCain must have had in his ability to inspire genuine support from Republicans in attendance to the point he thought he had to have a hired army on the floor to boost morale as well as silence opposition.
There were also hired hands with white hats. These were the ones who would deliver signs. You know those homemade-looking signs you saw people holding? Those weren’t homemade. They were made by RNC staff and then distributed to those in the audience. One of the most absurd examples I saw was when they handed a “Hispanics \<heart> McCain” sign down a row with no Hispanics in it. If you saw one of those signs on TV, that most likely wasn’t a heart-felt statement from someone of Hispanic descent in the audience, but rather a convention-goer dutifully hefting the message the Powers That Be have ordained for you to see. It was all very deceptive.
Back to the black hats. The black hats, as I said earlier, were intended as Paul-control. Several of our very own Paul delegates were harassed by these thugs. One of ours had some of her McCain-provided signs torn (because they believed she had modified them to promote Ron Paul) and had her belongings ransacked. Another of ours had some of his flyers on REAL ID confiscated summarily. And on another occasion, he was told to submit his bag to be searched by someone without any security credentials. When he refused on the grounds that he had been presented with no security credentials, he was told that his badge was CIA-issued. Our delegate replied that he would not believe that unless someone with actual security credentials could confirm this man’s authority to search his bag. Sure enough, a security officer was summoned and confirmed this man’s authority. This indicates he may have been telling the truth when he claimed his badge was CIA-issued. If that is true, it is very chilling since the CIA has no domestic authority and it is indeed illegal for them to operate domestically.
Many (if not all) of our Paul-supporting delegates had colored-hatted goons tailing them everywhere they went. One even reported being followed to and from the bathroom. I was not a delegate but was given the opportunity to sit with the alternates, and once they saw I was not standing and cheering when I was supposed to, we had a yellow hat (quick response team) assigned to stand by our row who watched us closely the entire time. In fact, each aisle on the second tier of seating had at least one red hat standing at the bottom looking up at everyone seated there as if to say, “we’re watching you”. I could feel the hot breath of Big Brother on my neck the entire time. I refused to compromise my integrity by applauding a criminal, but I also knew that made me a target. We knew our every move was being watched, and we could have our belongings confiscated at any time and be thrown out if not arrested.
Some Ron Paul delegates from another state reported that at one point they were surrounded by security, had their personal effects seized including books, flyers, pins and buttons, etc, and when they protested that Ron Paul was just another Republican, they were told, “this is McCain country?”.
Yes, the police state was on full display not only outside, but also inside the Republican National Convention. If this is the way McCain and his advisors handle possible dissent, by making sure no message can be heard but theirs, and by terrorizing and intimidating anyone who might hold a different opinion, just imagine what this man will do as President.
Of course, my thought is that this is probably not specific to McCain’s campaign, but rather probably a failing of the Republican party leadership as a whole. I rather suspect things would look the same on the other side of the aisle as well, if there were a Paul-like candidate shaking things up there the way Dr. Paul has done on the Republican side of things.