Cockroaches Come to the Light
by Terrell Aronspeer - August 31, 2011
Allow me to set the stage. Quitman is a small rural county seat with just over 1800 residents, down almost 200 since the previous census. The Carol Green Center is Quitman’s convention center and would seat maybe 300 if they were all good friends and most of us are. The Town Hall for Congressman Jeb Hensarling, representative for Texas’s fifth district which includes Quitman, had been canceled and notices had been sent out. The Congressman, now a member of the questionable “Super Committee” had to return to Washington. Philip Smith from Congressman Hensarling’s Athens office told me he would be on site to apologize to any who did not get the cancelation notice and to take their concerns back to the congressman. It was a courteous and thoughtful thing to do. I told him I would be in town and I would stop by and say hi.
When I arrived at Carol Green I was surprised at the number of cars present and additionally, there was a camera van from Channel 19. I walked into Carol Green to find it all set up for an event we all knew would not happen. At the far end of the room is a raised stage. Quitman’s local live theater presentations take place at Carol Green so the venue is familiar with fictional drama. In front of the stage were rows of folding chairs neatly arranged for the canceled event. The puzzling thing was that both Carol Green and the news media, including Channel 19 had been notified of the cancelation.
In front of the folding chairs, long white folding tables had been set up and my poor friend Philip Smith was sitting at one of these, talking to a couple of Democrat Party political operatives known to engage in provocation. They were trying to take a contentious and complicated plan to run an oil pipeline, carrying Canadian oil sand through the area and make it into a wedge issue between the congressman and his usual constituents. The Democrat Party, now completely taken over by the international socialist movement, seeks to de-industrialize the American economy. As this is an energy company project, they are bent on stopping it. To do so in East Texas, a number of Republicans have to be enlisted in the fight. Republicans, especially Texas Republicans, understand that property rights are a cornerstone of civilization. At the very mention of “eminent domain,” rural Texans are prepared to chain their gates and protect their property with whatever action is required. Issues like these define the hard work of governance. I do believe there is a solution which protects the interests of all parties. However, this is of little concern to the Democrat operatives.
Between the tables and the rows of chairs was a contingent of Democratic toadies, chanting anti-Tar Sands slogans while holding signs vilifying the Tar Sands Project. On the other side of the table, the Channel 19 cameras rolled. Philip was stuck in the middle trying to address their concerns while taking copious notes for the congressman. Remember all this was happening at an event which was canceled the week before.
A line had formed for people wishing to speak to Philip Smith. I waited patiently in line with Greg Bowen, president of Lake County Republican club, and another club member, Pat Lafferty. I wanted to offer to Philip a sensible solution to the Tar Sands issue and to apologize for the obvious set-up which was occurring in my town. Greg and Pat also wished to offer some suggestions on this and other subjects for the congressman. Eventually the circus act reached some convoluted conclusion and moved on and, it being my turn, I took a seat at Philip’s table and we were joined by Greg Bowen.
Shortly into our conversation a strange, in every sense of the word, man took the seat to my right and began to argue with the content of our discussion specifically challenging the suggestions I requested Philip convey to the congressman. When I turned to face him he was so close all I saw were his yellow teeth. ‘My God,’ I thought, it’s Scott Farcus, the bully from the movie “A Christmas Story” (“I swear, he had yellow eyes” . . . a famous line from the quirky film.) But of course the real Scott Farcus lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This was just one of his many toadies acting out the instructions in Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” (These rules, taken from last month’s Sentinel in the guest article can be found at the end of this article. See how many of the rules they employed in this trumped up event.) I suggested that he take his place in line as everyone else had done and take his turn, in turn. He turned more belligerent challenging me to remove him from the chair. Greg, a former law enforcement officer, suggested that he respect the process and exhibit the same courtesy we had shown by patiently waiting his turn. The provocateur then challenged Greg in the same way he had challenged me. Not bright, as Greg is a formidable presence. However we cannot expect these people to be bright. Philip picked up his papers and we moved to another table. That is what Republicans do. We believe that each of us has a right to be as stupid as we wish. We did not even envy his extra helping of stupid.
As we continued our discussion with Philip another altercation broke out behind us; we turned to see this same democratic operative get into a yelling match with a gentleman in a red shirt behind us who had been waiting patiently in line. The gentleman had only reiterated what we had said, that there was an orderly process and that he should respect it. Then the little toadie started to push the man as if he were a bull enraged by the color of the shirt. Philip suggested we convene at a later time and he went to break-up the fight. I had no doubt that I would speak to Philip or even Jeb at some time in the near future. The congressman’s office is usually very responsive to constituents’ concerns.
But as we were leaving I found myself wondering why a television station would send a camera crew and, as I later found out, a reporter, to cover a canceled event. I spoke to Philip on the phone later that day and he assured me that he had personally called Channel 19 and informed them of the cancelation. He also had told the Radillos, Eddie and Patti, of the cancelation. I am told that the Radillos issued notices that the event had not been canceled. This, in my opinion is a deliberate disinformation campaign on their part. It explains why so many Democrats were there. It seems to me reasonable to assume that they were also the ones responsible for Channel 19’s presence at the canceled event. The Radillos are also Democratic operatives who have appeared at every Jeb Hensarling event, always trying to stir up some controversy. I have made every effort to maintain a civil relationship with the Radillos even helping them load up their polling supplies at the court house on primary day. This civility is never returned but in fairness, civility is not listed in Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.”
One thing I would point out is that Channel 19 is a CBS affiliate.
On the Channel 19 news that evening I noticed several things. First, I should consider going on a diet. Second that Channel 19 had a reporter on site covering a staged protest of the event out front in advance. The coverage included only a single viewpoint. Yet I know for a fact the other viewpoints were represented. Finally I noticed at the end of Channel 19’s piece, they confirmed that they had received advance notice of the cancelation from Jeb Hensarling’s office.
Reflecting on the morning’s events I asked myself why anyone would want to do this. It appears to be a great effort to make news where none really existed. I called Channel 19 for clarification and after fighting off efforts to be brushed aside was told that “Steve” would call me back. Apparently Steve is out of minutes on his cell phone. I am left wondering, if Channel 19 is so devoid of ethics that they actively participated in trying to manufacture news? Their broadcast and coverage leaves this a wide open question. Or are they so naïve after decades in the news business that they can easily be manipulated by unscrupulous activists and bent to their will? Why were the Democrat activists so aggressive and actually shoving peaceful citizens at the canceled event? Obviously there would be no police presence at a canceled event. For Republicans, and indeed, most Texans, civility is a default position. But for Democrat activists, free of the guidance of a law enforcement presence, anything is permissible.
This is not the first time this political season we have seen these Political Flash Mobs. Remember how Mitt Romney was accosted at his event in Iowa. Rick Perry was subjected to the same. This is apparently going to be a long and ugly political season. If they are willing to expend this amount of energy in Quitman, expect that what we experienced here this morning is indicative of what we can expect for the next 14 months all across the country. As we attend these events we should come prepared for these shenanigans. The provocateur in this instance made a point of violating personal space, going toe to toe and speaking an inch from his target’s face. If unsuccessful provoking one person, he would move on to the next. Do not take it personally. You are just being used; you are a pawn in his game. All Republican candidates need to read this piece. They too need to prepare for these assaults by providing adequate security and structuring the physical layout with an eye to personal safety and the safety of attendees.
In light of this event I have the following recommendations:
First for all candidates:
- It is your responsibility to be sure that at all events, even canceled ones, where you or members of your staff will be present, there should be adequate law enforcement presence.
- Check out the venue in advance. Note and address in some meaningful way all security concerns.
- Choose closed venues as much as possible. A Tea Party or Republican clubs will ask you tough questions but will also respect rules of civility.
- When scheduling open events, have eyes and ears on the ground in advance. Do not discount the insights of locals. Quitman is Republican by a wide margin. We have a single Democrat in County government. A small minority can be quite vocal and they can bring in help from outside.
- If signs are allowed at events, try to read them on the way in. Staged events and chanting are planned events intended to disrupt and distract. Announce in advance that such activities are not allowed and participants will be escorted out. These events belong to all the people and we are not going to allow a single faction to take over the event. Take pre-emptive actions: no sign rules, a single microphone brought to a single speaker (Have the ability to shut it off. Our children do not need to be subjected to obscenities), orderly procedures spelled out in advance such as questioners queue up at a questioner’s podium, time and number of question restrictions, etc.
- Add all thoughtful suggestions to this list.
- At any political event, even the canceled ones, there should be a law enforcement presence. Leave if there is none.
- Know at all times the location of the closest law enforcement officer.
- Please do not shy away from attending these events. It will be their victory if you do. But bring a friend or several. Bring a cell phone with a camera or a pocket camera. Be alert but level headed. Do not go spoiling for a fight. Obviously this is the footage they are seeking. Close ranks. Obstruct and move on as a group. Do not engage them in debate. Suggest they respect the civil process and move on. If they follow you, move towards security.
- Know where the exits are and think of how your group will move in an orderly manner toward them.
- Note the presence of elderly or handicapped persons who may need assistance if things in their area get out of hand.
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Bring children only if you are sure of their safety. Assume nothing.
Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.”
· Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.
· Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people. The result is confusion, fear, and retreat.
· Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of an opponent. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
· Rule 4: Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”
· Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.
· Rule 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy. “If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”
· Rule 7: A tactic that drags on for too long becomes a drag. Commitment may become ritualistic as people turn to other issues.
· Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.”
· Rule 9: The threat is more terrifying than the thing itself. When Alinsky leaked word that large numbers of poor people were going to tie up the washrooms of O’Hare Airport, Chicago city authorities quickly agreed to act on a longstanding commitment to a ghetto organization. They imagined the mayhem as thousands of passengers poured off airplanes to discover every washroom occupied. Then they imagined the international embarrassment and the damage to the city’s reputation.
· Rule 10: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Avoid being trapped by an opponent or an interviewer who says, “Okay, what would you do?”
· Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.
According to Alinsky, the main job of the organizer is to bait an opponent into reacting. “The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.”
~ Terrell Aronspeer