Monday, October 22, 2007

Hillary Clinton Comes to Fresno

I attended Hillary Clinton's ralley over at Fresno High today. I must say, it was certainly a more interesting event than I expected.

Hillary seems to have finally adopted a position of withdrawal from the Iraq War. She's pretty late to that party, but it was a necessary change on her part, if she expects to win either the nomination or the election. Given the reputation of the Clintons when it comes to political speech, I fully suspect she is speaking on political calculation alone--once in office, she will likely keep the troops in Iraq for as long as she can, and ensure a continued military presence long after the bulk of the troops are withdrawn. I even fully expect some kind of military action in Iran, or maybe even Pakistan. After all, even if she does withdraw troops from Iran, the fight against "Islamic Extremism" must go on, right?

Let me be clear on what I mean by her speech being motivated by "political calculation": I am calling her a flat-out liar. It's sad that we can just assume that about politicians in general... and then turn around and vote for them anyway.

She also gave the usual talk about the poor, how we need to give them free medical care, help with their farm jobs and such, etc. Basically running through the who's who of local grievance groups. For the most part, the speech itself was uninteresting. What was interesting was some of the activity in the peanut gallery.

I was among a small group of Republicans standing holding signs, ensuring the alternative was seen at what was, apparently, not only expected to be a one sided rally, but in addition, the one-sidedness was vigorously enforced. The first thing I noticed was that nobody inside the cordoned area was allowed to hold signs other than the approved Hillary Clinton signs. This was not that big an issue for me, and for the most part, it was respected--we held signs from the street from outside. The group was pretty evenly split between mainline republicans holding orange signs stating things like "oppose socialism" and such, and our own group, holding Ron Paul signs. The numbers shifted as time went by, as my group picked up some new recruits.

It became increasingly clear that we were VERY much not welcome. There was a large group of students who put great effort into blocking the view of our signs with their own Hillary Clinton signs. They (and their adult backers) even went so far as to find a billboard-sized sheet of styrofoam or something, plastering a huge section of Clinton signs on it, and blocking us with that. There was also a group of adults (I don' t know who they were) prowling the grounds and practically assaulting anyone who dared show an unauthorized sign beyond the barrier.

There was one student of the high school (remember, the rally was held right in front of the campus), a kid named Joel Davis, who was holding one of the orange signs on the other side of the barricade. He was there for probably ten seconds when some woman raced over to him, literally grabbed him by the arm, physically dragged him and removed him from the premises. She also took his sign, tore it up, and threw it in the garbage. I expected she was a school official or someone else he knew, to take such liberties without so much as a preliminary "you can't hold that here." I asked him about it; she wasn't. Nobody knows who she was.

Shortly afterward, I began to notice a group of surly looking people hanging around our position, literally glaring at us. One of them was staring right at me, about three feet away. I just continued my usual grin and stared right back... he moved on. But there was another group of students standing around holding United Workers of the World flags. Most of them were on our side of the barricade, but one of them attempted to pass a flag to one of his friends on the other side. This surly group converged on him like a pack of wolves. Another woman actually had to come over and tell them that grabbing and shoving was not necessary. I repeat: These were not teenagers; they were not students. I don't know who they were.

Then I noticed an elderly fellow in a black suit trying to escalate the matter. He was not pleased by what was going on, and was particularly disgusted by the activities of the other teenagers who were deliberately attempting to block our signs. The last I heard he was on the phone with the Chief of Police, complaining about the matter. When I asked another attendee who he was, I was told his name was Charlie Waters, and that he was "a veteren. That's all you need to know about him." (I think it may have been the same woman that interceded on behalf of the UWW kid.) I probably should have followed up on that, but his attention was hard to get.

I ended the event by handing out a few "Democrats for Ron Paul" fliers (sorry, I couldn't find a copy to link to). I only had ten of them, but I had no trouble getting rid of them. I should have printed far more. People seemed interested.

EDIT: According to Teresa Fierro, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Fresno County, the people organizing the blockade and standing around "staring us down" (those were her words) were a group called “Fighting Machinists International Association of Mechanics.” No, I don't know who they are.


Anonymous said...

You weren't going to vote for Senator Hillary Clinton anyway, so why should I accept your version of the truth?

Tarvok said...

You don't. Look into it yourself, if you've a mind to. :)

And what specific part do you have an objection to: the content of her speech? It's bound to end up on the 'net somewhere. My analysis of it? My opinion is my own, and you are free to yours, but as far as foreign policy, I don't think it can be denied that opposing the war is a new position for her. My retelling of the events regarding treatment of opposing student demonstrators?

That'll be a little harder to verify, but if you really want the lowdown on that, I have supplied three names of individuals that were present. I wish I had gotten more, but I'm still learning my craft, trying to move from opinions and ranting to actual reporting.

But anyway, welcome to the Weekly Ramble. :)