Teh WateringHole: Wednesday, May 9, 2012: There’s A Hole in the Budget

“Tweeter”, our investigative journalist, calling in his latest report.

According to our latest sources, members of the T-Party are unhappy with Mr. Etch a Sketch, the Presumptive Presidential Pick of the rePublican Party. So much so, that they’ve come up with their own marching song:

There’s a hole in the budget, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney;
There’s a hole in the budget, Mitt Romney, there’s a hole.

Fix the hole in the budget, poor people, poor people;
Fix the hole in the budget, poor people, fix it.

With what shall we fix it, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney;
With what shall we fix it, Mitt Romney, with what?

I’ll cut Welfare, poor people, poor people,
I’ll cut Welfare, poor people, I’ll cut.

There’s still a hole in the budget, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney;
There’s still a hole in the budget, Mitt Romney, still a hole.

I’ll cut food stamps, poor people, poor people,
I’ll cut food stamps, poor people, I’ll cut.

There’s still a hole in the budget, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney;
There’s still a hole in the budget, Mitt Romney’s still A-Hole.

(sung to the tune “There’s a hole in the bucket”)


(yeah, just try to get this song out of yer head!)


RNC Welcomes Everyone (but only if you like Totally agree!)

Recently, Michael Steele, party chairman of the RNC, welcomed moderates into the now tiny tent that is the Republican party:

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appealed to the political middle Friday to join his party but added that the party itself wouldn’t moderate.

“All you moderates out there, y’all come. I mean, that’s the message,” Steele said at a news conference. “The message of this party is this is a big table for everyone to have a seat. I have a place setting with your name on the front.

“Understand that when you come into someone’s house, you’re not looking to change it. You come in because that’s the place you want to be.”

What a welcome!

TNR gives the best response:

Steele added that moderates would be expected to clear the table and wash dishes quietly while the other guests argued over whether Barack Obama was a fascist or merely a socialist. Oh, and hope you guys are up for a little unpaid babysitting: The rest of us were hoping to check out a tea party later tonight.

You betcha!

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17 States Reported McCain Robocalls

I received mine the other day and was horrified when this message was left :  “Hello. I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC,” – “need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home, and killed Americans.”  These propaganda tactics should not be allowed.  What this causes is a myth to be perpetuated and some people believe these lies to be true.  Which leads to what we see in the video below by The Young Turks.

The McCain-Palin Campaign and the Republican National Committee has launched a massive campaign on Thursday, more on this from Huffington Post.

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Old News is Sometimes Fun News

Normally, I wouldn’t be so callous as to someone being robbed of a significant amount of money and valuables, but, well, I just can’t help myself.

How many of you go on a business trip carrying more than a hundred large (that would be greater than $100,000) in cash and valuables? Heck, how many of you HAVE more than $100k in cash and valuables? While I am part and parcel of the ownership society (I own more crap than I know what to do with), I doubt that everything I own in total (aside from house and car) adds up to more than $100k.

So, here’s to you, Mr. Schwartz. You get the Republicans Are Tools! Whose Family? What Values? ™ award.

And as a bonus to you, dear reader, watch this shyster’s commercial.

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Macomb Co. GOP Block Voters-Michigan Dems File Lawsuit

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Just when we thought all we had to worry about was voter caging in Ohio, which is still of major concern, now we can add Michigan to the list, thanks to the GOP. A lawsuit was filed on Tuesday– to challenge an attempt by the Macomb Co. Republicans— to keep people who are facing foreclosure from voting.

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Detroit by Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several Mccomb County voters. It asks for an injunction prohibiting the Macomb County GOP, the Michigan Republican Party and the Republican National Committee from challenging Michigan voters whose homes are on foreclosure lists.

Now, the Michigan GOP is demanding a retraction by the Michigan Messenger for a story they published called “Lose your house, lose your vote“.

In the article, Macomb County Republican Party chairman James Carabelli was quoted as saying, “We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses.” Carabelli contends the quotes as reported by Eartha Jane Melzer were “fabricated.” State Republican chairman Saul Anuzis charges the story is a “complete fabrication.”

Melzer accurately reported the quotes and the Michigan Messenger will not have the story retracted because the claims made by Carabelli’s and Anuzis’ are false.

It is worth noting that Carabelli and Anuzis have yet to send the demand for a retraction to Melzer, the Messenger’s editors or the Center for Independent Media. To make such a far-fetched charge to other media outlets but not to us suggests that their motivation may be more political than factual.

We are not partisans of the Democratic Party, as alleged in the press release. Case in point: When Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a liberal Democrat, arranged tax breaks for Sovereign Deed, our coverage was critical. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization, we do not favor any party. We favor accountability.

Now to get to the interesting part–about why the Republicans will use foreclosure lists to block voters, is a cheap and effective strategy. Michigan Messenger interviewed Republican activist Allen Raymond, who by the way has a book out called “Confessions of a Republican Operative: How to Rig an Election”, in which he talks about his life and work. Raymond explains to Melzer about the key part to a November victory is holding down Democratic turnout.

Raymond knows about Republican campaign tactics. For almost a decade he managed campaigns for Republicans running for state and national office. In the 2002 New Hampshire elections, he ran a phone-jamming operation aimed at blocking elderly people from arranging rides to the polls, an illegal action that he says was approved by the highest levels of the party. He spent three months in federal prison.

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US Citizens Tortured at the Republican National Convention

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In a most disturbing twist of events, it has been reported that not only were journalists and news photographers detained and/or arrested, and preemptive arrests were performed, but it is now being reported that the brutality of the St. Paul police, under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security, was extended to medics on the scene, as well as local residents.

We’ll start as  a young protester describes his own torture at the hands of the police, a telling which is too reminiscent of the handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The following is from FireDoglake, and I strongly urge you to read the entire story. It is beyond belief that this could and did happen in The United States of America.

From a fourth-year University of Minnesota medical student:

While much attention has been paid to arrests of prominent journalists & protesters harsh treatment during arrests, in the streets of St Paul many community members feel invisible as they live out the RNC protest repercussions. Undocumented families, refugees have been staying away from their homes in highly patrolled areas near downtown St Paul in fear of encountering police by accident. I visited and documented a gentleman of color who had no prior criminal history, who was detained without cause near central St Paul. During his arrest, while handcuffed he was beat by a police officer. The victim had recently had major surgery, released from hospital less than a week prior. Later, during booking, the same officer punched him repeatedly in the head and neck in front of other officers who looked on without concern. When police realized that this man was severely injured, they drove him one block away from the hospital and let him limp his way to the ER.

People of color, those most marginalized in our community, have faced severe consequences because of RNC protests. Police riled up, frustrated with protesters are taking out their anger on those without large wallets, or skin privilege.

There are more stories of abuse of people and abuse of power below the fold.

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Palin: The Real Scandal-Toxic Policies

Seen from the air, Sarah Palin’s state is an environmental wonderland. From Anchorage to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, there is a vast landscape of snow-capped peaks, fjords, crystal glaciers, coastal lagoons, wide river deltas and tundra.

The guardian of this wilderness – and Governor of Alaska – has, this week, become one of the most recognizable faces in the world. But behind her beaming smile and wholesome family values is a woman aligned with the big oil and coal firms that are racing to exploit Alaska’s vast energy reserves. In the short term, that has bought her popularity at home.

It is a stance that guaranteed John McCain’s new running mate a rapturous reception at the Republican convention this week where the response to the coming energy crisis was a chant of “drill, baby, drill”.  But the woman who could soon be a 72-year-old’s heartbeat away from the United States presidency has an environmental policy so toxic it would make the incumbent, George Bush, blush.

Mr McCain has stressed he is concerned about global warming and has come out against drilling in the Arctic reserve. But, in recent weeks, he has wobbled on the issue. And environmentalists are describing Mrs Palin, who denies climate change is man-made, as “either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading”.

She wants to start drilling. She wants to block US moves to list the polar bear as an endangered species. And she has allowed big game hunters to shoot Alaska’s bears and wolves from low-flying planes.  The 44-year-old governor says a federal government decision to protect the polar bear will cripple energy development offshore. As a result, she is suing the Bush administration, which ruled the polar bear is endangered and needs protection.

The US Geological Survey says climate change has shrunk Arctic summer sea ice to about 1.65 million sq miles, nearly 40 per cent less than the long-term average between 1979 and 2000.  In such a situation it was unconscionable for Governor Palin to ignore overwhelming evidence of global warming’s threat to sea ice, says Kassie Siegel of the Centre for Biological Diversity.

“Even the Bush administration can’t deny the reality of global warming,” Ms Siegel said. “The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this.”

Governor Palin would also like to bring open-cast coal mining to Alaska’s Brooks Range Mountains, an act of environmental vandalism in the eyes of many.  The Palin administration has allowed Chevron to triple the amount of toxic waste it pours into the waters of Cook Inlet. This, even though the number of beluga whales in the bay has collapsed from 1,300 to 350 – the point of extinction – because of pollution and increased ship traffic.

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Governor Palin’s Speech to Nowhere and Obama

Governor Palin’s speech went a little too far and entered the realm of lies and mudslinging, to the degree of even turning off the undecideds.   In two different focus groups of Clinton-supporting Nevada women — married and unmarried — conducted immediately after Gov. Sarah Palin’s Wednesday night speech to the Republican National Convention, a few common reactions quickly took shape.

First, women in both groups were impressed with Palin’s speaking ability and poise. But they were hardly convinced that she was qualified to be vice president, or that she truly represented the “change” they were looking for, especially in light of what was deemed an overly harsh “sarcasm” pervading her address.

In the married group, the majority agreed with this statement. “Once she started mudslinging, I thought, it’s the same old crap as other politicians. McCain used her to get the women’s vote. And she’s using McCain.”  The unmarried group also voiced similar objections to the harsh, partisan edge of Palin’s remarks. “I’m not impressed with her at all as a person.”

Now let’s break down her speech where she stretched the truth, lied and dig into the attacks also. 

PALIN: “I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending … and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress ‘thanks but no thanks’ for that Bridge to Nowhere.”

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a “bridge to nowhere.”

PALIN: “The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.”

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama’s plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain’s plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

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BREAKING: Palin Delivers Romney’s Speech

Big Blue over at The Left Anchor reports:

Well, I guess this settles it. Sarah Palin was such a last-minute surprise pick, that even the McCain people hadn’t anticipated it, having already drafted the speech to be delivered by the vice presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention:

Not anticipating that McCain would choose a woman as his running mate, the speech that was prepared in advance was “very masculine,” according to campaign manager Rick Davis, and “we had to start from scratch.”


In an effort to prevent any damaging mistakes, the McCain campaign is orchestrating Palin’s public introduction carefully. Except for an interview with People magazine the afternoon her selection was announced, she has not taken a single question from a reporter, and it remains unclear when she will speak to the national news media.

It’s amazing to see conservatives continue to praise McCain’s judgment and experience when it has become abundantly clear that neither he nor his campaign team bothered to put very much thought into the single most important decision he had to make as a candidate. By all accounts, nobody even traveled to Alaska to get on the ground research done regarding Palin. Thusly why her five months pregnant teenage daughter came as a surprise, as too, I’m sure, did her past participatoin with the Alaskan Independence Party — a party that advocated for Alaska to secede from the union. And clearly, anyone who was actually ready to take on this kind of role would not need to be hidden from the media for a week following their announcement. This is a total embarrassment for the McCain campaign.

Frankly, I find it easier for conservatives to defend the not-ready-for-primetime Palin than McCain on this one. Everything we’re learning about Palin is far more damaging to McCain than it is to Palin. McCain is not a serious politician. He selected an inexperienced, ill-informed governor based almost entirely on the notion that he might be able to siphon off some Clinton voters, and the choice was so out-of-left-field that not only was the media caught off guard, but so was his campaign. (h/t Devilstower)

Amy Goodman Free From Jail

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Glenn Greenwald had some MUST-READ reporting today on what is happening in St. Paul at the RNC Convention, and outside it:

“Scenes from St. Paul”

There are numerous updates (8 so far), photos, and videos (including this one). Don’t miss this post.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Amy Goodman Free From Jail“, posted with vodpod

Preemptive Strikes Against Protests at RNC

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by Marjorie Cohn

In the months leading up to the Republican National Convention, the FBI-led Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force actively recruited people to infiltrate vegan groups and other leftist organizations and report back about their activities. On May 21, the Minneapolis City Pages ran a recruiting story called “Moles Wanted.” Law enforcement sought to preempt lawful protest against the policies of the Bush administration during the convention.

Since Friday, local police and sheriffs, working with the FBI, conducted preemptive searches, seizures and arrests. Glenn Greenwald described the targeting of protestors by “teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets.” Journalists were detained at gunpoint and lawyers representing detainees were handcuffed at the scene.

“I was personally present and saw officers with riot gear and assault rifles, pump action shotguns,” said Bruce Nestor, the President of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, who is representing several of the protestors. “The neighbor of one of the houses had a gun pointed in her face when she walked out on her back porch to see what was going on. There were children in all of these houses, and children were held at gunpoint.”

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Republicans Fiddle as MN and LA Burn

While protesters are tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed outside their convention, while one of the top independent journalists is arrested by riot police, while Gustav invades the Louisiana coast, the Republicans party with their lobbyists.

And to ensure that they remain classy, they are dancing the night away to a band called Hookers and Blow.

Honestly, you cannot make this stuff up!

Silence From The Press About RNC Police Raids and From The Politicians

I was under the misguided delusion that all of these raids, police harassment, snatch squads, and arrests made in St. Paul would cause a media blitz to descend upon the Twin Cities.  Oh, there was a blitz, but it wasn’t by the media.  It came from concerned bloggers and journalists that don’t work for the MSM.

So I checked the front page stories from all the newspapers today; to see what they deemed important for you to know.  This is what I found.  NYT’s has “Thousands Stream From New Orleans Ahead of the Storm”, good start but “Troops Surge Took Place Amid Doubt and Debate” could have been buried on page two.  How about USA Today, maybe they thought is was noteworthy, no it didn’t appear there either.  “Bush, Cheney skip GOP Convention” made it.  Wall Street Journal headlined Gustav, Bush Cancels Convention Speech and the Highlight of the Day “Night Runner”.  You ask “Night Runner”??  Is about McCain VP pick Gov. Sarah Palin discusses her unusual workout and fitness routine.  Do I care about the workout habits of Sarah Palin??  OMG, since when did a government official’s fitness training become of National Importance.

Robert Kennedy Jr., in his speech, notes that the decline of our media could be traced to the 1988 repel of a Federal Communications Commission regulation known as the Fairness Doctrine, which Reagan threw out the window.

I agree with that view to a certain point, the rest of it IMHO is the 5 or 6 men that run all the media outlets.  The Rupert Murdoch’s of the world have killed any fair and balance reporting that most of us remember.  It is not in their best interest for you to know about  civil rights violations that are happening around the country.  If you did, you would probably write your congressman, email the government, or even protest on the White House front lawn.  That is not a problem Bush and his cronies want to deal with. So to protect them, media giants like Murdoch squash any chance of you hearing the truth.  That the US is under siege, in a manner of speaking, that you could just disappear or have policemen break down your door with automatic weapons in hand, cuff you and take you to jail.  Your crime, you thought about, or were going to protest a corrupt government, and you asked to see a warrant.

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Will McCain turn RNC into telethon for hurricane victims?

Raw Story

A top aide in the McCain campaign said officials may turn the Republican National Convention into a service event to aid possible victims of a hurricane headed towards the Gulf Coast, CNN reported Saturday.

Convention officials are discussing several ways of changing plans so that Republicans are not seen celebrating in the wake of category 4 Hurricane Gustav, which could cause serious damage to New Orleans.

“He wants to do something service-oriented if and when the storm hits and it’s as bad as its expected to be now,” the McCain source said.

What a party of hypocrites..

Its been three years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. What have they done for the people who needed help desperately, and have continued to need help over the last three years? Not much. Who has benefited? Developers and corporations. Oh, and we can’t forget Blackwater. Blackwater is gearing up to go to New Orleans once again..

Business will be booming..

Amy Goodman from DemocracyNOW asks investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill how Blackwater profited off Hurricane Katrina. H/T: Crooks & Liars

And health care for these people.. If they were really concerned about the health and well-being of these people of New Orleans post-Katrina, then why haven’t they done something before now to get their hospitals going again that serve the needy? Watch Broken Levees, Broken Lives.

Refresh yourselves with the facts:

Katrina Pain Index: New Orleans Three Years Later.
Just a tiny excerpt from a VERY long list:

1.9 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to metro New Orleans for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.

2.6 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to State of Louisiana for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.

This is what the Republicans have brought you so far when it comes to hurricane tragedy and real peoples’ broken lives. A telethon? Too little too late. This RNC “telethon” is nothing but a total ‘show’ for political advantage. Theater. Nothing more. If they were genuinely concerned for the well being of these people, and truly wanted to help the victims of a major hurricane, then they had their chance three years ago and did nothing.

There is a very good post on this today from Bob Geiger:
McCain Has Long Used The Troops — Now It’s On To New Orleans

He references a post by Martin Bosworth:
From Katrina to Gustav, You’re Still “On Your Own”

To use this impending tragedy for political gain, and just to make themselves look good, is reprehensible, it’s hypocritical, it’s manipulative, it’s misleading, it’s dishonest, disingenuous, and it’s slimey politics.

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Massive Police Raids-Squashing the Right to Protest and Assembly

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I posted yesterday about one raid in St. Paul, unfortunately there were many other similar raids across the city.  Here is an excerpt from Glenn Greenwald with some details about these police raids.


“Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets.”


“Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff’s department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than “fire code violations,” and early this morning, the Sheriff’s department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.”


Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald went to two of the homes –one had just been raided and the other one was in the process of being raided.  They give us a chilling look and description of what these people went through.


“In the house that had just been raided, those inside described how a team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant. They were forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took away the laptops, computers, individual journals, and political materials kept in the house. One of the individuals renting the house, an 18-year-old woman, was extremely shaken as she and others described how the officers were deliberately making intimidating statements such as “Do you have Terminator ready?” as they lay on the floor in handcuffs. The 10 or so individuals in the house all said that though they found the experience very jarring, they still intended to protest against the GOP Convention, and several said that being subjected to raids of that sort made them more emboldened than ever to do so.”


Twin Cities Indymedia posted this yesterday: RNC Welcoming Committee Organizers Seek Sanctuary From Illegal Arrests.


“Today two members of the RNC Welcoming Committee sought sanctuary from illegal disappearances carried out by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office at the Twin Cities Friends Meeting in St. Paul. Andy Fahlstrom, 27, and Betsy Raasch-Gilman, 56, appealed to the meeting for sanctuary following the arrests of five other Welcoming Committee members on Saturday, August 30. Warrants for the “search” of two other members have been made public – others have been “searched” and then arrested and held without bail for “probable cause.” Many have been snatched on the street by plainclothes officers.

“In the past two days we have seen numerous instances of police harassment and arrest of Bushville campers on Harriett Island, independent journalists, and now the arrest on false pretenses of activists who have worked for over two years, in the open, to provide support for public dissent this week,” said Raasch-Gilman.

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Song of the Times

The Beach Boys circa `1963

The Beach Boys circa `1963

During last week’s Democratic National Convention, we were treated to Jennifer Hudson giving a brilliant rendition of our national anthem. Following that was Sheryl Crow, Will.I.Am and John Legend, and the ever popular wonder boy of our time Stevie Wonder.

CNN reports that the Republican National Convention will have, amongst others, Charlie Daniels and The Beach Boys will be their headliner.

If there was any question whether the DNC is the party of the future and the RNC is the party of the past, there is no longer.  Well, besides offering America the-oldest-ever-to-possibly-be-sworn-in-first-time President of the United States (along with possibly the least qualified Vice Presidential presumptive nominee in our lifetime).  That is the biggest question of all.

Breaking News: Inside an RNC Raid


Thanks to the miracle of cellular technology, I was able to talk to a homeowner while his home was surrounded by police conducting an RNC-related raid. At approximately two-thirty this afternoon, I reached Mike Whelan, a waiter and army veteran, at his duplex at 951 Iglehart Ave. in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Whelan said he’d invited independent observers from the group LegalWatch stay in one half of his side-by-side duplex while they monitored RNC protests.

Whelan described himself as a supporter of the RNC demonstrations, but said he is not affiliated with any particular group. “I want to build a country that’s based on good social values,” he explained.

When I spoke to him, Whelan was waiting in one half of the duplex with his roommates, Dan and Julian. The three were afraid to go outside because the police were still there. Whelan said he thought that the police were inside the opposite side of the duplex, where the legal observers were staying. “I think they are detaining people,” he added.

Whelan, who seemed remarkably calm for a guy whose flower garden had just been trampled by police with drawn automatic weapons, said he’d just returned from a morning of garage sale shopping when the commotion started. That would have been about one o’clock local time. He described what happened:

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