Thursday, September 20, 2007
John David Roy Atchison, Federal Prosecutor, Family Man, Republican... Likes to Have Sex with 5 Year Old Girls.
Police say he solicited sex with Michigan 5-year-old
September 18, 2007
A federal prosecutor flew to metro Detroit with a Dora the Explorer doll, hoop earrings and petroleum jelly for a 5-year-old he planned to have sex with, police say.
John David Roy Atchison -- who prosecutes civil and criminal matters as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern Florida District -- appeared on the other side of the law Monday in Detroit federal court. Atchison, 53, of Gulf Breeze, Fla., was charged with enticement of a minor using the Internet and knowingly traveling interstate to engage in illicit sex.
During continuous conversations, he expressed a desire to engage in oral, vaginal and anal sex with her fictitious daughter. Money was not part of the discussion.
In the chats, he also suggested he previously had sex with minors.
With eyes cast downward and fiddling with papers, Atchison asked for a court-appointed attorney Monday until he obtains his own. He was ordered to remain in custody, pending a detention hearing at 1 p.m. today. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted of the crimes.
Atchison, who is married and has children, boarded a Continental flight that left Pensacola, Fla., at 9:10 a.m. Sunday with a layover in Houston. He then changed planes, leaving Texas for Detroit Metro Airport and arriving at 4:52 p.m., where he was taken into custody without incident about eight minutes later.
Atchison's arrest was part of an undercover sex sting on behalf of the FBI Macomb Office and the Macomb County Sheriff's Office collaborating in the Macomb Area Computer Enforcement Team, also known as M.A.C.E.
"Nothing surprises us anymore," Sheriff Mark Hackel said Monday.
Besides working for the government in the Pensacola office, Atchison also serves as the president of the Gulf Breeze Sports Association, which includes youth athletics such as soccer and T-ball. Messages left at Atchison's home were not returned Monday. A person who answered the phone at the association said the board probably would release a statement today.
Dixie Morrow of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern Florida District, said she would not comment on the arrest or Atchison's professional background.
M.A.C.E. began cracking down on Internet crime six years ago. Soon after, officers became desensitized to the language predators use, Hackel said. Now they're almost unfazed when they discover prominent community figures are behind the perverse exchanges, he said.
"We don't care who they are. It doesn't matter," Hackel said, adding his team will track down the criminals regardless of their position.
Earlier this year, in separate incidents, a paramedic and a zoo consultant traveled from California to Macomb County and were nabbed in the same type of sex sting. And last year, the Orlando Sentinel reported that another Florida prosecutor, who worked in Rockwall County, killed himself after police said he was caught soliciting sex with a minor.
Contact CHRISTY OYAMA-ARBOSCELLO at email@example.com. Staff writer David Ashenfelter contributed to this report.
Meanwhile the Senate Does Important Work Like Express that David Petraus deserves "support." Jesus the Senate is Full of Assclowns.
as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the SenateVote Summary
|Vote Number:||344||Vote Date:||September 20, 2007, 12:36 PM|
|Required For Majority:||3/5||Vote Result:||Amendment Agreed to|
|Amendment Number:||S.Amdt. 2934 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008)|
|Statement of Purpose:||To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces.|
|Vote Summary||By Senator Name||By Vote Position||By Home State|
|Akaka (D-HI), Nay |
Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Allard (R-CO), Yea
Barrasso (R-WY), Yea
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Not Voting
Bingaman (D-NM), Nay
Bond (R-MO), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Nay
Brown (D-OH), Nay
Brownback (R-KS), Yea
Bunning (R-KY), Yea
Burr (R-NC), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Nay
Cantwell (D-WA), Not Voting
Cardin (D-MD), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Yea
Clinton (D-NY), Nay
Coburn (R-OK), Yea
Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Corker (R-TN), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Craig (R-ID), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Yea
DeMint (R-SC), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Nay
Dole (R-NC), Yea
|Domenici (R-NM), Yea |
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Nay
Ensign (R-NV), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Yea
Feingold (D-WI), Nay
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Yea
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Gregg (R-NH), Yea
Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Nay
Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Hutchison (R-TX), Yea
Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Nay
Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kennedy (D-MA), Nay
Kerry (D-MA), Nay
Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay
Leahy (D-VT), Yea
Levin (D-MI), Nay
Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lott (R-MS), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Martinez (R-FL), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
|McConnell (R-KY), Yea |
Menendez (D-NJ), Nay
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Nay
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Not Voting
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Nay
Reid (D-NV), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Nay
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Sanders (I-VT), Nay
Schumer (D-NY), Nay
Sessions (R-AL), Yea
Shelby (R-AL), Yea
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Nay
Stevens (R-AK), Yea
Sununu (R-NH), Yea
Tester (D-MT), Yea
Thune (R-SD), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Yea
Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Yea
Webb (D-VA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Nay
Wyden (D-OR), Nay
|Vote Summary||By Senator Name||By Vote Position||By Home State|
|Martinez (R-FL) |
|Reid (D-NV) |
|Not Voting - 3|
|Biden (D-DE)||Cantwell (D-WA)||Obama (D-IL) |
|Vote Summary||By Senator Name||By Vote Position||By Home State|
|Alabama:||Sessions (R-AL), Yea||Shelby (R-AL), Yea|
|Alaska:||Murkowski (R-AK), Yea||Stevens (R-AK), Yea|
|Arizona:||Kyl (R-AZ), Yea||McCain (R-AZ), Yea|
|Arkansas:||Lincoln (D-AR), Yea||Pryor (D-AR), Yea|
|California:||Boxer (D-CA), Nay||Feinstein (D-CA), Yea|
|Colorado:||Allard (R-CO), Yea||Salazar (D-CO), Yea|
|Connecticut:||Dodd (D-CT), Nay||Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea|
|Delaware:||Biden (D-DE), Not Voting||Carper (D-DE), Yea|
|Florida:||Martinez (R-FL), Yea||Nelson (D-FL), Yea|
|Georgia:||Chambliss (R-GA), Yea||Isakson (R-GA), Yea|
|Hawaii:||Akaka (D-HI), Nay||Inouye (D-HI), Nay|
|Idaho:||Craig (R-ID), Yea||Crapo (R-ID), Yea|
|Illinois:||Durbin (D-IL), Nay||Obama (D-IL), Not Voting|
|Indiana:||Bayh (D-IN), Yea||Lugar (R-IN), Yea|
|Iowa:||Grassley (R-IA), Yea||Harkin (D-IA), Nay|
|Kansas:||Brownback (R-KS), Yea||Roberts (R-KS), Yea|
|Kentucky:||Bunning (R-KY), Yea||McConnell (R-KY), Yea|
|Louisiana:||Landrieu (D-LA), Yea||Vitter (R-LA), Yea|
|Maine:||Collins (R-ME), Yea||Snowe (R-ME), Yea|
|Maryland:||Cardin (D-MD), Yea||Mikulski (D-MD), Yea|
|Massachusetts:||Kennedy (D-MA), Nay||Kerry (D-MA), Nay|
|Michigan:||Levin (D-MI), Nay||Stabenow (D-MI), Nay|
|Minnesota:||Coleman (R-MN), Yea||Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea|
|Mississippi:||Cochran (R-MS), Yea||Lott (R-MS), Yea|
|Missouri:||Bond (R-MO), Yea||McCaskill (D-MO), Yea|
|Montana:||Baucus (D-MT), Yea||Tester (D-MT), Yea|
|Nebraska:||Hagel (R-NE), Yea||Nelson (D-NE), Yea|
|Nevada:||Ensign (R-NV), Yea||Reid (D-NV), Nay|
|New Hampshire:||Gregg (R-NH), Yea||Sununu (R-NH), Yea|
|New Jersey:||Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay||Menendez (D-NJ), Nay|
|New Mexico:||Bingaman (D-NM), Nay||Domenici (R-NM), Yea|
|New York:||Clinton (D-NY), Nay||Schumer (D-NY), Nay|
|North Carolina:||Burr (R-NC), Yea||Dole (R-NC), Yea|
|North Dakota:||Conrad (D-ND), Yea||Dorgan (D-ND), Yea|
|Ohio:||Brown (D-OH), Nay||Voinovich (R-OH), Yea|
|Oklahoma:||Coburn (R-OK), Yea||Inhofe (R-OK), Yea|
|Oregon:||Smith (R-OR), Yea||Wyden (D-OR), Nay|
|Pennsylvania:||Casey (D-PA), Yea||Specter (R-PA), Yea|
|Rhode Island:||Reed (D-RI), Nay||Whitehouse (D-RI), Nay|
|South Carolina:||DeMint (R-SC), Yea||Graham (R-SC), Yea|
|South Dakota:||Johnson (D-SD), Yea||Thune (R-SD), Yea|
|Tennessee:||Alexander (R-TN), Yea||Corker (R-TN), Yea|
|Texas:||Cornyn (R-TX), Yea||Hutchison (R-TX), Yea|
|Utah:||Bennett (R-UT), Yea||Hatch (R-UT), Yea|
|Vermont:||Leahy (D-VT), Yea||Sanders (I-VT), Nay|
|Virginia:||Warner (R-VA), Yea||Webb (D-VA), Yea|
|Washington:||Cantwell (D-WA), Not Voting||Murray (D-WA), Nay|
|West Virginia:||Byrd (D-WV), Nay||Rockefeller (D-WV), Nay|
|Wisconsin:||Feingold (D-WI), Nay||Kohl (D-WI), Yea|
|Wyoming:||Barrasso (R-WY), Yea||Enzi (R-WY), Yea|
|Vote Summary||By Senator Name||By Vote Position||By Home State|
Mitch McConnell and Republicans Making Majority Rule the Exception Rather Than The Rule in Congress.
Robert L. Borosage
September 20, 2007
The Republican obstruction campaign continues. Yesterday, the Republican minority in the Senate filibustered and blocked two measures that had majority support in the House, and bipartisan majority support in the Senate. Republicans continue to filibuster at a pace three times anything ever seen before, in a systematic effort to block popular reforms.
Fifty-six Senators, including six Republicans, supported the resolution offered by Sen. James Webb, D-Va., and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to guarantee the soldiers fighting in Iraq adequate home rotations. This sensible bill -- vital to the mental health and readiness of the soldiers on the front line -- was blocked because the remaining Republican senators lined up with their leadership to filibuster it.
Similarly, 56 Senators, including six Republicans, supported the legislation introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Arlen Spector, R-Pa., to restore the fundamental right of court review for those detained under suspicion of terrorism. Once more the will of the bipartisan majority was subverted by the filibuster strategy of a partisan minority.
Republicans are filibustering so many bills that the press has begun to cover this extreme tactic as business as usual. The front-page Washington Post story covering the Webb proposal is headlined "Senate bill short of sixty votes needed." The article says the proposal "failed on a 56 to 44 vote, with 60 votes needed for passage." The article never tells the reader that the reason majority rule was frustrated was because of a Republican filibuster that requires 60 votes to overcome.
The New York Times coverage - "GOP minority prevails" is the subtitle -- was somewhat better. In its fourth paragraph, the article reports that the proposal "fell four votes short of the 60 needed to prevent a filibuster." In fact, the 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster, not prevent it. Both papers reported the filibuster correctly on the habeas corpus legislation.
It is vital that the press get this right -- and that the media expose the extraordinary scope of the Republican strategy of obstruction. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, has announced that Republicans will filibuster every "controversial measure." They are making majority rule the exception rather than the routine in the Senate. Never has any party been so brazen or systematic in using the filibuster to block the majority.
A partisan minority of Senators has used the filibuster to block efforts to bring the troops home from Iraq, to frustrate passage of clean energy legislation, to block giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs, and much more.
Their strategy is clear -- and very likely to work. The public expects the party in charge to get things done. Excuses are largely dismissed as political bickering. The Republican minority blocks popular reforms and then charges Democrats with running a "do-nothing Congress." For scandal-stained Republican legislators yoked to an unpopular president pursing an unpopular debacle in Iraq, this may be their best hope for survival.
It works, of course, only if the public doesn't learn of it. So how these stories are covered is critical. Citizens need to be told each time why the bipartisan majorities are frustrated, why the super-majority of 60 votes is needed, and who is responsible. Reporters should be reporting on the Republican strategy, and exposing the cynical calculation behind it.
These measures did not fail for lack of bipartisan, majority support. They have majority support in the House, the Senate and among the American people. They failed because they were blocked by a partisan minority pursing a partisan political strategy. The press should insure that Americans are told that story.
"The Mood is Getting Ugly"
Bush, Congress at record low ratings: Reuters poll
By John Whitesides / Reuters
WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress registered record-low approval ratings in a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday, and a new monthly index measuring the mood of Americans dipped slightly on deepening worries about the economy.
Only 29 percent of Americans gave Bush a positive grade for his job performance, below his worst Zogby poll mark of 30 percent in March. A paltry 11 percent rated Congress positively, beating the previous low of 14 percent in July.
The Reuters/Zogby Index, a new measure of the mood of the country, dropped from 100 to 98.8 in the last month on worries about the economy and fears of a recession, pollster John Zogby said.
"Since the last time we polled we have had the mortgage crisis, and we are hearing the recession word a whole lot more than we've heard it in the past," Zogby said.
"There are things that happened in the September polling that drove the number down a bit, and they are mostly economic worries," he added.
The Index, which debuts this month, combines responses to 10 questions on Americans' views about their leaders, the direction of their country and their personal situations. Polling for the Index began in July, and that month's results provide the benchmark score of 100.
A score above 100 indicates the country's mood has improved since July. A score below 100, like the one recorded in September, shows the nation's mood getting worse. The RZI, which will be released the third Wednesday of each month, had remained at 100 in August.
"The public mood is not just dark. What's darker than dark?" Zogby said. "The mood is getting ugly."
The national survey of 1,011 likely voters, taken September 13 through September 16, found barely one-quarter of Americans, or 27 percent, believe the country is headed in the right direction. Nearly 62 percent think the country is on the wrong track.
About two-thirds of Americans think the value of their homes will stay the same or drop in the next year, and about one-third expect a recession in the next year amid a housing slump and credit crunch.
The poll also found little confidence in U.S. foreign or economic policy, with 68 percent of Americans rating economic policy as just fair or poor and 73 percent calling foreign policy either fair or poor.
Most of the polling was done after a speech by Bush and testimony to Congress by the top commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, indicating the United States would make some reductions but planned to keep high troop levels in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
Zogby said continuing uncertainty about Iraq contributed to the bad public mood and helped push down ratings for Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
"I think we are seeing an anti-institution mood here," he said. "Post-Katrina, and now with Iraq and the economy getting worse, people just don't have faith that anybody is solving their problems."
In the 2008 White House race, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York led the Democratic field with 35 percent. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois was second with 21 percent and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina was third with 10 percent.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden drew the support of about 3 percent each.
For Republicans, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani led the 2008 field with 26 percent, while newly minted candidate Fred Thompson, a former senator and Hollywood actor, was second with 24 percent.
Arizona Sen. John McCain was third at 13 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was fourth with 7 percent.
In both parties, about 20 percent of likely voters said they had not made up their minds, leaving plenty of room for the races to shift.
The national telephone survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Bush's God Damned Hypocrisy. Fuck Bush.
Democrats should attack Bush, not MoveOn.
by Paul Begala at HuffPo
Before a single Democrat condemns MoveOn's ad, they should insist that George W. Bush and the Republican Party repudiate the anti-military smears on war heroes that have been the hallmark of Mr. Bush's political career.
Too many Democrats still think Mr. Bush's presidency is on the level. Let's be clear. Mr. Bush is not leading a serious, sober discussion about public discourse during a war. He wants to divide progressives and score political points. We should not let him. Throughout his career he's been willing to tolerate and benefit from vicious lies about military men. We should not concede that he is legitimately angry now.
Mr. Bush is, as he likes to say, a loving guy. But by golly the MoveOn.org ad criticizing Gen. David Petraeus has him madder than Larry Craig in a pay toilet.
When a "reporter" asked him a loaded question about the MoveOn ad (not mentioning, for example, that Petraeus wrote an op-ed in support of the Bush Iraq policy a few weeks before the 2004 election), Bush swung for the fences. But then again, he's always been pretty good at T-Ball - and this was definitely teed up for him.
He slammed MoveOn, repeating language he used Wednesday in a meeting with right-wing columnists, saying that criticizing Petraeus is tantamount to attacking the entire US military, and expressing astonishment that leading Democrats have not attacked MoveOn as courageously as Bush has.
Before Democrats fall all over themselves to agree with a president whose trust and honesty rating from the American people is even lower than his IQ, let's look at the real record of Bush's cowardice when it comes to speaking out against attacks on military heroes:
- In the 2000 South Carolina primary, George W. Bush stood next to a man described as a "fringe" figure - a man who had attacked Bush's own father - at a Bush rally. With Bush applauding him, the man said John McCain "abandoned" veterans. McCain, who was tortured in a North Vietnamese POW camp, was incensed. Five U.S. Senators who fought in Vietnam, including Democrats John Kerry, Max Cleland and Bob Kerrey, condemned the attack and called on Bush to repudiate it. When pressed on it at a debate hosted by CNN's Larry King, Bush meekly muttered that he shouldn't be held responsible for what others say. Even when he's standing next to them at a Bush rally.
- In the 2002 campaign, draft dodger Saxby Chambliss ran an ad with pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, then said Sen. Max Cleland lacked courage. Max Cleland left three limbs in Vietnam as an Army captain. Mr. Bush's political aide, Karl Rove, later refused to disavow the ad, saying, "President Bush and the White House don't write the ads for Senate candidates."
- Also in the 2002 campaign, the PAC for the Family Research Council, a close Bush ally, ran an ad in South Dakota that pictured Sen. Tom Daschle and Saddam Hussein. "What do Saddam Hussein and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle have in common?" the ad asked. Apparently, they both opposed drilling in the Arctic wilderness. First, I had no idea that supporting drilling in the wilderness is a family values issue. Second, I have seen no reporting on the late Iraqi dictator's position on Alaska drilling. But I do know Tom Daschle is an Air Force veteran. Mr. Bush never disavowed the smear.
- But perhaps the worst was what was done to John Kerry. Kerry earned five major medals in combat: the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. And yet supporters of Bush and Cheney decided to smear his war record. The despicable, dishonest Swift Boat attacks alleged that Kerry fabricated reports that earned him the Bronze Star. The Swifties also suggested that Kerry's wounds were insignificant - and that one was even self-inflicted. Kerry's wounds were certainly more serious than Mr. Bush's, who suffered a cut on his finger from popping a beer can while avoiding his duty in the Alabama National Guard. At the 2000 GOP convention, rich, white Republicans were photographed gleefully putting Band-Aids with purple hearts on their chubby cheeks. Mr. Bush refused to condemn the attack - blandly noting he didn't like 527 groups generally - and later nominated one of the men who financed the smear to be Ambassador to Belgium.
Mr. Bush is a coward and a bully. He knows he'll never be the kind of hero his father was. He knows he lacks the heroism of John Kerry or Max Cleland, so he overcompensates with bluster and bravado. In fact, he told bloggers recently that he wishes he were fighting in Iraq. The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin reported that Bush told a blogger in Iraq that he'd like to be carrying a 50-pound pack and an M-16, but, "One, I'm too old to be out there. And, two, they'd notice me."
So Mr. Bush is too old to fight in Iraq, and he was too rich and well-connected to fight in Vietnam. But he's itchin' for a fight with a progressive interest group. Does anyone believe he'd have the same outrage if a right-wing group were attacking war heroes? Of course not.
During the Fox network broadcast of the Emmy Awards this week, Actress Sally Field’s acceptance speech was censored because she used the word “goddamn.” “If mothers ruled the world,” Field said, “there would be no god-damned wars in the first place.” Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films catches Fox News cable pundits using the word “goddamn” repeatedly on air. Watch it:
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Republicans Watch Out! Here Comes Liberal Kentucky! Yeeeeehawwwwwww!
Kentucky at War
by BOB MOSER
[from the October 1, 2007 issue]
Carol Trainer could hardly process what was happening. To her, a 60-year-old grandmother and Vietnam veteran, of all people. On Memorial Day, of all times. Arrested for protesting the war at, of all places, Abbey Road on the River, an annual five-day Beatles tribute that had adopted a fortieth-anniversary Summer of Love theme for 2007.
Forty years ago, when the Louisville native married Air Force officer Harold Trainer, Carol wouldn't have gone near anything associated with the Summer of Love. "I wasn't an activist; just the opposite, in fact." But since 2002, when the Trainers--he retired from twenty-three years in the Force, she from eleven years as a Northwest Airlines flight attendant--found that they couldn't keep quiet about the catastrophe that was poised to unfold in Iraq, they've been unlikely stalwarts in one of the country's feistiest grassroots antiwar movements.
At Abbey Road, Carol had joined cohorts from the Louisville Peace Action Community (LPAC), passing out end-the-war pamphlets to incoming patrons--many of them young folks duded up for the occasion in flowers, beads and peace signs. Early that afternoon, she'd decided to join the fun inside, have a couple of beers and dance along to the music she'd missed in the '60s. After spotting a couple of youngsters holding up peace-symbol signs, she figured it would be OK to walk around with her bright blue End the War! sign. The festival's producer gave her explicit permission to do so. After all, it was perfectly in tune with the spirit of a festival whose grand finale would be a musical production called "Hell No, We Won't Go."
Trainer didn't make it that far. As she was dancing and singing along to the strains of psychedelic nostalgia, holding her sign off to the side of the main festival stage, an oversized sheriff's deputy came stalking toward her. "He comes up to me and says, 'Drop your sign,'" Trainer recalls. "I said, 'Why?' He said, 'I told you to drop your sign.' He grabbed it out of my hand when I didn't drop it. That kind of started me. I thought, What's going on here? I kept asking why and he wouldn't tell me." The only explanation Trainer received, after her arrest, was that offended patrons had complained that she was harassing them and ruining their fun. She says that while dozens of people thanked her for the message, she had been confronted by four patrons, including one veteran "who said, 'This is Memorial Day--we're here to enjoy ourselves.' I said, 'When do the people in Iraq get to enjoy themselves?'" Crying and struggling with the deputy, she tried appealing to Mayor Jerry Abramson, who was watching the show nearby, but he "just stared and glared at me and didn't say a word." The deputy and a Metro Police officer dragged her off forcefully in handcuffs. "I did not go quietly," Trainer acknowledges, and she ended up charged not only with disorderly conduct at the festival but also with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. (Two of the charges were ultimately dropped; on the advice of LPAC's attorney, she agreed to do forty hours of community service for the resisting-arrest charge without admitting guilt.)
"You don't think that this could happen in the United States, you know," says Trainer. "One thing that irritates me is when some military people come up and say, 'I'm over there so you can do this. So you have the right.' And I'll say, now, after this, 'No, I don't have the right.'"
While protesting the war has alienated the Trainers from many of their old military buddies--"They tend to think we've left the reservation," says Harold--they've become fast friends with "peace people" they once despised. "They've really accepted us very well as partners in the peace effort," Harold says, "even though we're military." While LPAC, a spinoff of Louisville's large and active Fellowship of Reconciliation, includes its fair share of hard-core pacifists, the group--like so many other peace efforts around the country--has flung its tent wide open. "When Harold and Carol joined us," says longtime activist Judy Munro-Leighton, "it elevated our credibility about 1 million percent. When people came up to us at the state fair, or wherever we were demonstrating, and said, 'Yeah, what the hell do you know about it? You've never fought in a war,' we could point to Carol and Harold and say, 'They have.'"
Carol Trainer's twelve hours in jail kicked off the most raucous summer yet for Kentucky's antiwar movement--a vibrant microcosm of the coalition of peace activists, military veterans and families, blue-collar hard hats and college professors, old and young and (mostly) middle-aged, who've been spurred to action by the disaster in Iraq.
LPAC has been a force since the buildup to the war, bringing out hundreds to loudly protest George W. Bush's six speeches in Louisville in the past six years, holding regular street-corner demonstrations, marking every Iraq anniversary and landmark death count with in-your-face panache. They've chartered a plane to fly over the Kentucky Derby flashing an End the War banner. They've commemorated Iraq milestones with displays of empty shoes, empty shirts and--in 2007--4,000 white flags along the Ohio River. They've read the names of Iraqi and American dead from the county courthouse steps. And they've been particularly creative when it comes to getting under the skin of Kentucky's pro-war politicians.
When Louisville's Republican Congresswoman, stubborn Bush supporter Anne Northup, refused to meet with her antiwar constituents, LPAC posted "Missing" posters around the city with smiling images of Northup, labeling her a "lapdog" who "answers to Bush." They staked out her home for seventy-three straight Sundays with "a variety of signs you can't even imagine," says Munro-Leighton, until Northup finally agreed to a meeting. "We had a cardboard Bush with a bubble to show he was speaking, and we changed the message weekly to 'I Love Ann,' or 'My War's Going Great!' or 'I Sold the Country.' On the first anniversary of the war, we made her a cake out of black cardboard and put it on her car. 'Happy Anniversary!'"
Tarred by her unflagging support for Bush and the war, Northup lost her 2006 bid for a sixth term to Louisville's John Yarmuth, an unabashed liberal Democrat calling for withdrawal. With Northup dispatched, Kentucky's peace brigade laid plans to fry a far bigger fish in 2008: Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Bush's powerful Iraq War ally, who will be running for a record fifth Senate term.
As summer--and McConnell's recess vacation--approached, two new sets of nontraditional allies materialized to help LPAC bird-dog the senator, who makes his home in Louisville with his wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. Matt Gunterman, a 30-year-old rural Kentucky native and Yale University graduate student, launched the DitchMitch blog earlier in the year, bringing together a varied band of bloggers from around the state on a composite site with a common goal. And in June, two young native Kentuckians and a Navy veteran opened an Iraq Summer headquarters in Louisville, part of a national campaign by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI) to target key members of Congress with a homegrown antiwar message before they returned to Washington to resume the war debate.
By mid-August McConnell was sending out fundraising letters complaining about being harassed by "the '60s antiwar movement on steroids." But as the Republican kingmaker well knew, the reality was something altogether different from that old stereotype--and considerably more formidable.
Jim Pence is a 68-year-old, Salem-smoking, pickup-driving, self-proclaimed hillbilly from economically devastated Hardin County, retired after thirty-five years in the factory at the American Synthetic Rubber Corporation. Politically inactive until 2004, when Bush's re-election and the war in Iraq spurred him to "vow to fight with every ounce of my strength from then on," Pence now makes some of the freshest, funniest antiwar and political videos anywhere--and as a result, he's become the unlikely heart and soul of Kentucky's DitchMitch campaign.
Linking from his own Hillbilly Report website to DitchMitch and YouTube, Pence puts up snappy vignettes on subjects ranging from Kentucky's annual bipartisan political hoedown at Fancy Farm--where McConnell made a hasty exit this year after being jeered by protesters carrying signs showing him as Bush's hand puppet--to a fanciful take on Bush and Condoleezza Rice's relationship, set to the tune of Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight," to a hard-hitting series of exposés of liquor-industry fundraising by Ron Lewis, the holy-rolling Congressman from Pence's district. "I don't know, I just disappear into them," Pence says on a dog-day August morning, navigating Louisville traffic en route to the Iraq Summer office. "I stay up some nights till 4 and 5, editing these things."
DitchMitch creator Gunterman, whose postgraduate goal is to fire up an Internet-based "Ruralution," connecting grassroots progressives from rural America to spur political action, sees Pence as a prime example of the passion and wit that generally go untapped by Democrats and urban progressives. "There's no one like Jim in the entire United States," says Gunterman. "Not with his age and his ornery attitude. He is very much a hillbilly, and he's reinvigorated the term."
In his three years of crisscrossing Kentucky to publicize its antiwar and progressive insurgencies, Pence has also stirred up the state's traditionally timid left-wingers. "When I first went out with my camcorder, I'd go up to people at peace rallies and ask them, 'Would you like to say something to Mitch?' and they'd just go, 'Uhhh...' Or even if they would say anything, they'd say, 'But I don't want my picture taken.' I just kept saying, 'The newspaper's not even going to cover this, and if TV does, it'll be for ten seconds. Whereas this video's going up on YouTube tomorrow.'" As Pence kept filming and posting his increasingly popular videos, the activists opened up and embraced this new mechanism for showing that, yes, the military stronghold of Kentucky has a vigorous antiwar effort. "People are stepping out more than they would a few years ago," Pence says. "Now I can't get them to stop talking when they see that camera. People know me now, and for the most part they trust me--whether or not they should!"
While Pence and DitchMitch have inspirited Kentucky activists, they've also pushed the state's more established media to take notice of the progressive groundswell. "DitchMitch gives us the power to hold the media accountable in Kentucky for the first time," says 24-year-old Shawn Dixon, a native of rural western Kentucky who's just started his first year at NYU law school. In 2004, when Dixon was working as deputy policy and communications director for Democrat Daniel Mongiardo's uphill Senate challenge to Republican Jim Bunning, he spent much of the campaign in a state of frustration over Kentucky newspapers' assumption that the incumbent would cruise to victory. "There was no recognition that this would be a competitive election and that this guy was beatable until about a month before the election, when it became impossible to ignore." Bunning wobbled back to Washington with a slender 23,000-vote victory, but this time around, with LPAC continually raising eyebrows and DitchMitch helping to popularize the anti-McConnell movement, "the media don't have a choice," Dixon says. On the same day in late July that Louisville's Courier-Journal ran a column about McConnell's dip in popularity (below 50 percent approval), the Herald-Leader in Lexington ran a story, sixteen months before the election, titled "McConnell Vulnerable."
That's music to Pence's ears. "It's not just what he's done to perpetuate this war," says the high-tech hillbilly. "It's what he hasn't done for Kentuckians, with all his power, on healthcare and so many other issues that really matter to folks at their kitchen tables. We're trying to cut through the kind of moral-values crap that McConnell's been using for twenty-five years to get himself elected. We're doing what we can to show the emperors without their clothes. And show that the folks who don't like Mitch, and can't stand this war, are just regular people like me who finally woke up and spoke up."
The Friday before the "Take a Stand" town-hall meeting that would culminate Louisville's Iraq Summer, Desert Storm veteran Brian Smith spent the first day of his most unusual summer vacation yet, volunteering round-the-clock for the antiwar effort. Smith has been working with Iraq Summer since June, when its three paid staffers hit the ground in Louisville. "I've been in charge of making coffee, making smart-ass remarks and doing guerrilla ops," Smith says. The previous night, that meant joining Louisville natives and Iraq Summer organizers Aniello Alioto and Sara Choate in planting fifty bright red Support the Troops/End the War signs outside a fundraiser where McConnell was speaking on behalf of scandal-plagued Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher.
"We want to be where he is," Smith says. For two long, hot, parched months, that's where Iraq Summer, combining forces with LPAC and other peace groups around the state, has been. They've bird-dogged McConnell's fundraisers. They've organized a stream of rallies and vigils outside McConnell's home. And they've drawn in a new batch of blue-collar and military folks like Smith, who still pinches himself when he looks in the mirror and sees an antiwar protester looking back.
"Initially I supported the war," he says, "more because I felt it was a duty to support the troops because I knew what they were going to be going through. When I saw antiwar protesters here at first, they gave me a little bit of a rise, because I felt that they didn't really understand the issues and would be proven wrong." He laughs. "Now I'm spending all my spare time working with them." Abu Ghraib was a breaking point for Smith. "My only defense of the war to that point had been, 'Well, at least we're the good guys.' After that, I had nothing left. But what really activated me was the surge. I thought after the 2006 elections things would change, but they just steamrollered right over us. So I went from there to the peace rally in Washington in January." A group he met there, Veterans for Peace, later connected him with Iraq Summer. "I would never have believed, a year ago, that I'd be doing anything like this," Smith says.
Nor, for different reasons, did Alioto, who'd been teaching diplomacy and national security classes to youth leaders in Washington, DC, when AAEI's national field director, Kate Snyder, called to ask if he'd return to Kentucky to dog McConnell. "I said no. I didn't want to go work for some peacenik, 'Let's end the war and sing songs' kind of campaign. But she said, 'This is a pro-military, pro-veteran campaign. It's not antiwar; it's anti-reckless war.' Then my ears pricked up."
Alioto found even more grassroots anger back home than he'd imagined. When Iraq Summer canvassed McConnell's neighborhood, "87 percent of the people who answered their doors took an End the War yard sign. I like numbers," he says, chuckling. But Alioto has also found that "there's still a lot of organizations, and a lot of individuals, that are scared to get involved. We get a lot of backdoor help. The hardest part is letting people know that we're not the traditional antiwar movement."
The nontraditional nature of the movement is on vivid display August 28 at the Take a Stand rally. A crowd of nearly 800 packs a Bellarmine University auditorium to hear not only from the expected cast of politicians, including Congressman Yarmuth, but also grassroots warriors like Smith, who leads the Pledge of Allegiance wearing several days' worth of stubble along with his old Army infantry jacket. There's 85-year-old Jean Edwards, a legendary local peace-and-justice activist, and her 15-year-old granddaughter, who asks the question, What would Gandhi do? There's a liberal white Presbyterian minister who went to Mississippi in 1964, during Freedom Summer, followed by an African-American minister who surveys the room and declares, "We are the people that can end this war. It has always been and will always be us--the good people, the common people, the regular people. It will always be incumbent upon us, when we have had enough." There's Bill Londrigan, the state's AFL-CIO chief, echoing that theme: "This is a war of elites fought by the working people of this Commonwealth and this country." And there's Lieut. Col. Andrew Horne, who's pondering an antiwar challenge to McConnell in '08, pacing the stage talking about why he chose to lead his National Guard unit into Iraq--and why he subsequently turned into a national VoteVets spokesman against the war. Horne leads a refrain that will be echoed during the evening's culminating event, a candlelight march to the senator's home: "Hey Mitch, can you hear us? We are the people!"
The marchers are mostly solemn and orderly, sticking to the sidewalks under pink-streaked evening skies as they wind up busy Bardstown Road to the accompaniment of honking horns, then down through McConnell's leafy old neighborhood. Informed that "We're going to McConnell's," one neighbor, standing on his lawn to view the procession, urges the folks: "Blow him up!" A few doors down, a white-haired senior citizen in a blue scooped-neck T-shirt hangs over his side porch bellowing a different opinion: "Damned idiots--you're helping kill 'em!" His plump face is scarlet with fury.
On the sidewalk in front of McConnell's nondescript two-story brick condo waits a thin line of counterprotesters, most of them portly, scruffy, tattooed bikers who've parked their hogs in formation across the way. Some hold signs reading Peace Through Strength and Stand Strong Mitch, while others aim cameras at the protesters in a vain attempt at intimidation. It's impossible not to notice the irony: how much more "mainstream" the war protesters, a mostly middle-class khakis-and-polo-shirt crowd, look than the ragtag defenders of Corporate America's favorite member of Congress. Across the street, the only sign of possible life in the condo is a yellow light glowing through the upstairs windowshades. (McConnell's spokesperson will later say that the senator was in Lexington that night, helming another fundraiser for Fletcher.) When McConnell's defenders finally rumble off, Smith shakes his unruly head of black curls and grins. "They got no staying power," he snorts. "All huff, no tough."
To say the least, it has not been an exemplary summer break for Mitch McConnell. The Larry Craig scandal was one thing. He's also taking flak from conservative Kentuckians for supporting Bush-style immigration reform. More disturbing has been the floundering campaign of Governor Fletcher, a former right-wing Congressman handpicked by McConnell to run for governor in 2003. Plagued by a criminal investigation into preferential hiring for state offices, Fletcher has been spectacularly unpopular throughout most of his term and now trails Democrat Steve Beshear--a leader of his party's newly ascendant, moderately progressive wing--by about twenty points in the polls. Populist Republican Larry Forgy, who narrowly lost the gubernatorial election in 1995, is making noise about challenging McConnell in next year's primary, exposing the widening chinks in the senator's Kentucky machine.
Worst of all, though, is this nagging band of peace protesters. Will they be a temporary phenomenon, drifting apart after the war finally sputters to a halt? Or could this strange confluence of urban liberals, independent-minded hillbillies and populist bloggers turn into the Republicans' worst nightmare: a left-leaning version of the silent majority that's propelled the likes of McConnell into office for the past few decades? Clearly feeling the pressure, McConnell has tried to dip a toe in the new reality while clinging to the tried-and-true. While he wildly claimed on CNN in July that Kentuckians "overwhelmingly" support his backing of Bush and the war, the senator has nuanced his rhetoric, making vague promises of "changes" in September after the much-ballyhooed Petraeus Report. Despite that halfhearted concession, he hasn't been allowed a moment's peace.
And sure enough, even on the blazing hot morning after Take a Stand (which also attracted hundreds to Lexington and Newport rallies), some sixty protesters and fans carrying I ❤ Mitch signs are waiting for McConnell's gunmetal SUV to pull up at Boone Tavern, a colonial inn that graces the tiny eastern Kentucky college town of Berea.
"I think the war is wrong," says Lisa Myers of Lexington. "We're spending all this money that we could be using for healthcare, for education--for positive things. This war is costing us $9 billion a month, and we have poor people, lots of them."
Meanwhile, Jim Pence is busy coaxing local protesters to speak their minds into his camera. "I'm Laura Mangus, from Berea, Kentucky," says a somber-faced woman holding a long rectangular sign reading, How Much More Misery and Death Per Gallon? "I'm here today on behalf of my son, who came back from Iraq very, very wounded. When you have a son that calls you at 2:30 in the morning wanting to blow his brains out because of what he saw and experienced in Iraq, you darn well better know I'm going to be here to let my senator know what I think about this."
"I had twenty-eight years of military service," an elderly fellow in a lawn chair, antiwar sign propped up in his lap, tells the Hillbilly. "I think this war is absolutely stupid." "Hi there," says a wise old face, peering into Pence's camera. "My name is Sister Nan and I oppose war in general, and this war in particular."
Around noon, the protesters cluster around the front of Boone Tavern, chanting, "Enjoy Your Lunch, End the War!" in the direction of the room where McConnell is holding forth. With an air of determined calm, McConnell's senior Kentucky staffer, Larry Cox, materializes. "Mitch knows your position," he says. "There's no way he can ignore the sentiment here. Things are changing now. There is very likely to be a change in direction." Why won't McConnell come out? various voices grumble. "Would the senator come out to address just one question?" "No," says Cox. "Would the senator come out if we promise not to ask any questions?" another protester suggests. "No."
After Cox escapes back into the fundraiser, accompanied by a stirring chant of "End the War!" the protesters trickle around to the back entrance, where McConnell's SUV sits idling. Martha Wilkie of Lexington, holding a sign with Thou Shall Not Kill on one side and Blessed Be the Peacemakers on the other, waits by the door alongside a gaggle of McConnell's admirers. She carries the scriptural sign, she says, because "people who support the war are all so into the Bible. But they disregard what's actually in the Bible." And speaking of disregarding, she says, "What in the world is McConnell scared of? Why won't he just come out and talk to people?"
The question lingers in the still, hot air for another half-hour. And then, in a flash, McConnell's ride goes ripping down the driveway and swerves around to a side door. Head down, the most powerful man in Kentucky skitters down a flight of steps and ducks inside the vehicle while his constituents come rushing around the corner, watching the back of their senator's SUV as it speeds him away, snug in the air-conditioned comfort of his increasingly fragile cocoon.
Bourbon, Baseball Bats and now the Bantu
Its Shrinking Work Force
By MIRIAM JORDAN - Wall Street Journal
September 18, 2007; Page B1
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- In 2003, Mattie Cox read about the arrival here of Hussein Issack and other refugees from Somalia's long-persecuted Bantu minority. Mr. Issack came from a subsistence-farming family and had never set foot in a factory. Nonetheless, Ms. Cox's first thought was to put him to work at the trailer maker where she is a human-resources manager.
"He was a man with kids who was new here and needed work," she says. Four years later, Mr. Issack is still working at Kentucky Trailer, having learned on the job how to use industrial tools to make doors for Allied Van Lines Inc. and other moving companies. "Today, he's multiskilled," Ms. Cox says.
Louisville's past was built on race horses, bourbon and baseball bats, but the city is staking its future on Somali Bantu and other immigrants flocking here from across the globe. As neighbors like Nashville join a national wave of cities drafting ordinances designed to repel many foreigners, Louisville's business and political leadership is working aggressively to absorb immigrants.
In speeches, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson champions the city's immigrants, whom he calls "internationals." In each of the past four years, he has handed out "international awards" to individuals, companies and organizations working to integrate and improve the lot of newcomers. "Communities that embrace diversity are going to be the most successful," says the mayor, who has been at the city's helm for most of the past two decades and avoids distinguishing between legal and illegal immigrants.
The powerful mayor hasn't faced much opposition to his strategy, but at his monthly community forums, some city residents have questioned whether his policy might be robbing Americans of jobs.
Louisville hasn't actively recruited the immigrants: Many of them are refugees who were randomly assigned here. Others ended up in Louisville because they heard that the housing was affordable and jobs were abundant. But among the new arrivals are many foreigners who first settled elsewhere in the U.S.
"It's not that the city has a 'Let's go and find immigrants' approach," says Randy Capps, a senior research associate at the independent Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. "It hopes that by being a welcoming place, more immigrants will want to settle there."
There's a practical reason for the city's openness: Like many other U.S. cities, Louisville faces an aging population and falling birth rates that are shrinking its work force. United Parcel Service Inc., General Electric Co. and other major companies with operations in Louisville say they need immigrants to keep thriving.
"It's an economic imperative to attract immigrants at all levels, from factory workers to software engineers," says Omar Ayyash, a Palestinian from Jordan who runs the city's Office of International Affairs.
Louisville isn't the only place eager to attract immigrants. But these towns are swimming against the tide. After the recent failure of the federal government to enact immigration reform, states and towns across the country have begun drafting their own laws to tackle illegal immigration. "Many states and local governments are getting back into the immigrant-bashing mode," says Mr. Capps, the immigration researcher.
Mayor Abramson figures that immigrants are more likely to contribute to the community if they're integrated into it. "You can engage these folks or you can wait to deal with the liabilities," he says. "What I am trying to do aggressively is ensure they become assets."
Louisville's approach has changed the composition of a 700,000-person city, which was once mainly white and African American. From 1990 to 2004, the city's foreign-born population jumped 388% -- far above the 73% increase in the national average -- as it absorbed thousands of Asians, Eastern Europeans, Africans fleeing persecution and Latin Americans in search of opportunity. Some 80 languages are spoken in its schools, and one apartment complex -- "Americana" -- houses families from 42 countries.
All of the immigrant groups pose challenges, and perhaps none more than the Somali Bantu. While the overwhelming majority of Bantu men have jobs, their large families, illiteracy and limited skills can make self-sufficiency an elusive goal.
Historically, the Bantu in Somalia have been treated as second-class citizens by the country's lighter-skinned dominant clan. When civil war erupted in 1991, thousands of Bantu were enslaved, tortured and murdered. The lucky ones managed to flee to the relative safety of refugee camps in Kenya. The U.S. agreed to resettle about 13,500 Bantu, and starting in 2003, the refugees were scattered across the country, from upstate New York and Florida to Idaho and Oregon.
The first couple hundred Bantu arrived in Louisville in 2003 and 2004. But since then, the city has attracted hundreds more of the preliterate Muslim minority who were originally assigned to other U.S. cities. "People are nice, the rent is cheap and you don't need English to get a job," says Nahiyo Osman, a Bantu woman whose family moved to Louisville from Chicago six months ago.
"The Bantu have plenty of life skills. But they have to learn from scratch basic things that we take for granted," says Katie Carman, director of Arcadia Community Center, which is attached to a large apartment complex and offers Bantu children an array of free services.
A hive of Bantu-related activity, Arcadia relies on grants and volunteers to operate. In 2006, it got a $25,000 grant from the Louisville Community Foundation, a local nonprofit, to fund Bantu cultural classes, after-school programs and a summer camp. In May, employees from GE, which makes appliances here, renovated the center with a $5,000 grant from the company.
Charnley Conway, a vice president of human resources at UPS, which plans to add 5,000 jobs at its Louisville hub over the next three years, says investing in immigrants like the Bantu is vital. He adds that UPS has enlisted mentors to work alongside Bantu and other foreign employees struggling with English. The company funds English-language programs and the work of resettlement agencies, such as Catholic Charities, which help new immigrants.
Hussein Issack and his family -- two children at the time, but now four -- were among the first Bantu families to land in Louisville. Kentucky Trailer, which hired him, had already developed expertise in immigrant labor. The closely held firm had turned around its business by hiring Bosnians and Latin Americans in the late 1990s and translating its instruction and safety manuals into their languages.
The Somali Bantu, who speak Maay Maay, have no written language. So Mr. Issack learned through observation how to drive screws and rivets, use an electric saw and mount doors on trucks.
Despite everyone's efforts, the immigrant population is sometimes a financial burden on the city. A year ago, Mr. Issack moved into public housing because he couldn't afford a bigger apartment after his fourth child was born.
But Tim Barry, the director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority, says he isn't concerned. "This is the sacrificial generation," says Mr. Barry, who is convinced the next Bantu generation will be better off.
Write to Miriam Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Republican Presidential Contender's to Blacks and Latino's: "We Don't Need Your Vote."
Candidates Are Urged to Attend Forums Sponsored by Minorities
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; A01
Key Republican leaders are encouraging the party's presidential candidates to rethink their decision to skip presidential debates focusing on issues important to minorities, fearing a backlash that could further erode the party's standing with black and Latino voters.
The leading contenders for the Republican nomination have indicated they will not attend the "All American Presidential Forum" organized by black talk show host Tavis Smiley, scheduled for Sept. 27 at Morgan State University in Baltimore and airing on PBS. Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) all cited scheduling conflicts in forgoing the debate. The top Democratic contenders attended a similar event in June at Howard University.
"We sound like we don't want immigration; we sound like we don't want black people to vote for us," said former congressman Jack Kemp (N.Y.), who was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996. "What are we going to do -- meet in a country club in the suburbs one day? If we're going to be competitive with people of color, we've got to ask them for their vote."
Making matters worse, some Republicans believe, is that the decision to bypass the Morgan State forum comes after all top GOP candidates save McCain declined invitations this month to a debate on Univision, the most-watched Hispanic television network in the United States. The event was eventually postponed.
"For Republicans to consistently refuse to engage in front of an African American or Latino audience is an enormous error," said former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), who has not yet ruled out a White House run himself. "I hope they will reverse their decision and change their schedules. I see no excuse -- this thing has been planned for months, these candidates have known about it for months. It's just fundamentally wrong. Any of them who give you that scheduling-conflict answer are disingenuous. That's baloney."
Former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman urged candidates to "reconsider this opportunity to lay out their vision and other opportunities in the future."
"Every one of these candidates I've talked to is sincerely committed to offering real choices to African American and Hispanic voters, and in my opinion have records that will appeal to many of these voters," he added.
Mehlman, a longtime aide to President Bush, aggressively courted the minority vote as RNC chairman in 2005-06. He recruited black candidates to run for office as Republicans and condemned electoral tactics that showed hints of race-baiting.
Except for McCain, the top GOP candidates have distanced themselves from that proposal, which Kemp worries will become another strike against the GOP with Hispanics. Bush received 40 percent of the Latino vote in 2004, but the Republican base remains inflamed about illegal immigration, leading the candidates to focus on border-control proposals.
In passing on invitations to the Morgan State forum, the Republicans cited hectic schedules, noting in particular that September is a critical month for fundraising after a traditional summer slowdown. With fundraising closely scrutinized as a measure of their strength, all are eager to report a showing that reflects enthusiasm for their candidacies.
Democrats have been invited to so many debates and forums that the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) was moved last month to send out a memo saying he would begin declining invitations to them. Republicans have confronted a somewhat more manageable schedule. Interest groups important to the party have held fewer forums, and the leading candidates have still felt they could skip some.
Several Republicans have so far declined to participate in a forum sponsored by the Web site YouTube that would be broadcast on CNN. Earlier this week, the top contenders skipped a "values voters" forum organized by conservative activists in Florida.
"We consider every debate invitation equally as they relate to the schedule," said Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman. "Unfortunately, our schedule considerations for the month of September were such that we had to decline several debate invitations and candidate forums from different groups around the country, including Wharton Business School and CNN."
But while the GOP campaigns have generally offered no public rationale other than timing for missing the forums, an adviser to one suggested they had little to gain from attending an event such as Smiley's.
"What's the win?" said the adviser, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. "Why would [the candidates] go into a crowd where they're probably going to be booed?"
Giuliani, Romney and McCain also declined to appear at events sponsored by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the National Urban League, which Smiley said suggests a pattern of ignoring minority voters. He said debate organizers will set up lecterns showing the names of the absent candidates.
"When you reject every black invitation and every brown invitation you receive, is that a scheduling issue or is it a pattern?" he asked. "I don't believe anybody should be elected president of the United States if they think along the way they can ignore people of color. That's just not the America we live in."
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
"I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." - Dick Cheney May 31, 2005.
September 14th, 2007 7:40 pm
Cheney to Michigan: Progress being made in Iraq
By James Prichard / Associated Press
GRAND RAPIDS — Vice President Dick Cheney today reiterated the Bush administration’s case that progress is being made in Iraq while acknowledging that tough work lies ahead.
“The troop surge has achieved solid results and in a relatively short period of time,” Cheney said during a speech on Iraq and the global war on terrorism at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
Cheney’s remarks came a day after President George W. Bush’s speech to the nation on Iraq. On Thursday night, Bush defended the war, saying progress justifies preserving a large U.S. military presence there for at least 10 more months.
Noting this week’s sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Cheney said the war on terrorism doesn’t need to be endless. But he said conditions that breed and foster terrorism must be eliminated.
Cheney, who spoke for about a half-hour, said the president remains steadfast in his goal of achieving success in Iraq to help make the United States safer and won’t be swayed by political considerations or polls.
“President Bush will make his decisions based on the national interest and nothing else,” Cheney said.
Bush was to reinforce his message the United States is winning and that continuing the fight is crucial to American security during a trip Friday to a Marine base in Quantico, Va., just outside Washington.
Cheney’s speech was one of two planned by the vice president for Friday. He was to travel to MacDill Air Force Base in Florida for a speech on Iraq.
Cheney was chief of staff at the end of Ford’s presidency and was among the dozens of dignitaries who attended Ford’s funeral in January.
Condi Rice Works for Blackwater Now.
Rice apologises for US security firm shootings
· Move to prevent Iraq government expulsions
· Blackwater guards blamed for deaths of eight civilians
Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Tuesday September 18, 2007
Members of Blackwater scan Baghdad from their helicopter. Photograph: Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty
The ministry of interior yesterday took the decision to expel Blackwater after eight Iraqi civilians were killed and 13 wounded in Baghdad when shots were fired from a US state department convoy on Sunday.
Diplomats, engineers and other westerners in Iraq rely heavily on protection by Blackwater. The Iraqi decision created confusion on the ground, with uncertainty over whether protection was still available and whether Blackwater staff should leave the country immediately.
Ms Rice called the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, to apologise for the shooting. They agreed to run a "fair and transparent investigation", according to a statement from Mr Maliki's office.
It added: "She has expressed her personal apologies and the apologies of the government of the United States. She confirmed that the United Sates will take immediate actions to prevent such actions from happening again."
The office did not specify whether the apology was sufficient to reverse the expulsion decision.
The apology offers a face-saving exercise for both the Iraqi and the US governments. The US would find it temporarily awkward if Blackwater was expelled. At the same time, it does not want to be seen to be undermining the decisions of the Iraqi government, which the Bush administration repeatedly insists is autonomous.
There are tens of thousands of mercenaries - or private security operators - in Iraq, including British firms as well as American. Jeremy Scahill, author of a book about Blackwater, put the figure at about 180,000 and described them as "unaccountable". Blackwater has 1,000 employees in Iraq.
The private security firms are controversial and are often hated by Iraqis who regard them as trigger-happy. US soldiers can face court martial if accused of unprovoked assaults or over-reaction, though the ratio of those convicted is low. But the law in relation to private security firms is vague.
Brigadier-general Adam-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said: "We have cancelled the licence of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities."
He said there would be prosecutions in relation to Sunday's deaths. He said foreign security contractors opened fire after mortar rounds landed near the convoy. "By chance the company was passing by. They opened fire randomly at citizens."
Jawad al-Bolani, the interior minister, said: "This is such a big crime that we can't stay silent. Anyone who wants to have good relations with Iraq has to respect Iraqis."
He told al-Arabiya television that foreign contractors "must respect Iraqi laws and the right of Iraqis to independence on their land. These cases have happened more than once and we can't keep silent in the face of them".
I just love watching Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman and the rest of these Village gasbags blithely discussing Alan Greenspan's pronouncement that the Iraq war was all about oil as if it's always been just so obvious. It's not even controversial except that it's Alan Greenspan who said it, which they seem to find tittilating. But now they go on and on about how America runs on oil and that wars are fought over resources (even though it's a "Marxist" argument *shudder*.)
Well, no shit. It was always obvious and there were a whole bunch of people who told the truth about that from the very beginning and were vilified as traitors, naifs, terrorist sympathizers and worse by these oh-so-jaded commentators who are discussing it now with all the emotion they used when they ordered their lunch today.
I'm sure you'll all recall how everyone with any sense of decorum ran as fast as they could from the disgusting hippies who had the nerve to say this:
The denizens of the Village are just unbelievable. If we could have had a real debate in the beginning perhaps this "democracy" could have decided for itself if the trillion dollars we would spend on the Iraq invasion and occupation might have been better spent on alternative energy and conservation so we didn't have to fight any useless wars over oil. We had a right to make that choice for ourselves not be mowed down by a bunch of oilmen and over-excited teenage media whores who wanted to run around in a military costume and pretend they were Ernie Pyle for a week or two.
Instead, Alan Greenspan says from on high that the war in Iraq is about oil and even after five years of shoving shrill neocon sanctimony and intimidation about WMD and terrorism and "Demaaahcracy" down our throats, the whole goddamned town nods its head and says, "of course, everyone knows that." Arrrgh.
"It's bad enough when politicians turn their backs on a war they voted for and supported when it was popular," Cheney said Monday. "But no one in politics, regardless of party, should hesitate to object when an American soldier at war is mocked and insulted."
Delegates to the Republican National Convention found a new way to take a jab at Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam service record: by sporting adhesive bandages with small purple hearts on them.
Do they even believe the shit they say?
Labels: Right Wing Hypocrites
This is Investigative Reporting. Bush's Fake Sheik.