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January 7, 2015

FBI investigating explosion near NAACP office in Colorado Springs

FBI investigating explosion near NAACP office in Colorado Springs

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

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An explosion that took place in a barber shop next door to the Colorado Springs, Colorado office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) yesterday is currently being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Officials said the explosive device was placed next to a can of gasoline but the gasoline did not ignite after the device detonated.

The FBI are seeking a balding white male, aged about 40 years old, as a “person of interest” connected to the case. The FBI statement continued: “He may be driving a 2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate”.

FBI Special Agent Amy Sanders said: “The investigation is ongoing and it is not known at this time if the NAACP or a business in the vicinity was the intended target”.

Gene Southerland, owner of Mr. G’s Hair Design Studios, said: “I was cutting somebody’s hair and I heard the explosion […] It was such a loud explosion that some plastic containers fell off the shelf.” Southerland continued: “Some neighbors came out and said they saw a Caucasian gentleman get into a white truck […] It was such a beautiful day and everything, sunny. And in broad daylight, you hear this explosion. It’s frightening”.

Henry Allen Jr, the president of the Colorado Springs branch of the NAACP, told reporters: “We’ll move on. This won’t deter us from doing the job we want to do in the community.” The NAACP national office put out a statement stating that the group “looks forward to a full and thorough investigation into this matter by federal agents and local law enforcement”.

US Congressman Doug Lamborn told Colorado Springs newspaper The Gazette by email: “I’m thankful that none of the volunteers or employees of the Colorado Springs NAACP were injured in today’s apparent bombing […] I hope that the FBI investigation is able to swiftly apprehend the people responsible for this act of violence and intimidation.”



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August 5, 2012

On the campaign trail, July 2012

On the campaign trail, July 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, July 2012

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

The following is the ninth in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the rules of third party candidate polling are examined, a third party activist causes four other parties to lose their place on the Illinois presidential ballot, and the new vice presidential nominee of the Justice Party speaks with Wikinews.

Summary

Like June, July began with poor economic news as the monthly Jobs Report showed slow economic growth with unemployment remaining above eight percent, precipitating a fall in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and President Barack Obama’s re-election chances on Intrade. In response to the report, Obama proclaimed “It’s still tough out there”. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney responded that Obama’s “policies have not worked” and said it’s “time for Americans to choose whether they want more of the same.” Romney also reacted to June’s National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He explicitly referred to the individual mandate as a tax, mirroring the decision, despite comments from campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, who deemed the individual mandate as a penalty, sharing the view of the Obama administration. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch criticized the Romney campaign, tweeting that it needed to hire political professionals and said it was doubtful Romney could win the election. After meeting with Romney early in July, Murdoch expressed dissatisfaction with the campaign’s message and its lack of attacks on the “incompetent” Obama administration.

Romney speaks at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City for which he served as Organizing Committee CEO.
Image: Uncleweed.

Additionally, speculation about Romney’s vice presidential selection intensified earlier in July as Romney’s wife Ann revealed that her husband was considering choosing a woman for the ticket. This came out before Romney appeared at a Fourth of July parade with Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who had been mentioned as a potential pick. Other women discussed as possibilities included South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, New Mexico governor Susanna Martinez, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who took herself out of contention last month. Others receiving speculation in July included Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Also in early July, Romney spoke at an NAACP convention. Despite the fact that most African Americans supported Obama in 2008, Romney said, as president he “hope[s] to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between.” During the address, after he mentioned his plan to repeal Obamacare, Romney was met with a chorus of boos. Nevertheless, he continued the speech and proclaimed that if elected, conditions would improve for African Americans. He received applause after arguing in favor of traditional marriage. The next day, vice president Joe Biden addressed the convention, and alluded to voter ID laws, asking the audience, “Did you think we’d be fighting these battles again?” President Obama was unable to attend the convention, but sent a taped message instead. Also, in mid-July, physician Jill Stein, who previously challenged Romney for governor of Massachusetts, won the presidential nomination of the left-wing Green Party. She selected homelessness activist Cheri Honkala as her running mate.

Obama meets with a victim of the 2012 Aurora shooting
Image: Pete Souza.

Throughout the month, Obama continued his attacks on Romney for allegedly outsourcing jobs while at Bain Capital, releasing a new advertisement referring to Romney as an ‘outsourcing pioneer.’ However, the Romney campaign disputed the attacks as misleading. and Romney himself said that the alleged outsourcing took place during an absence from the company while focusing on the operation of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Obama heightened attacks on Romney’s refusal to release all of his tax records, with one surrogate calling Romney’s actions possibly “felonious.” Romney described the comment as “beneath the dignity of the president” and asked Obama for an apology. Obama refused, suggesting, “Mr. Romney claims he’s Mr. Fix-It for the economy because of his business experience, so I think voters entirely, legitimately want to know what is exactly his business experience.” Furthermore, Obama argued that entrepreneurs like Romney should not take all the credit for their successes since others chipped in: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the internet so then all the companies could make money off the internet.” Romney highlighted the comments to go on the offensive against Obama; he referred to them as “insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America”. Later, citing 100 Obama fundraisers versus zero meetings with his jobs council in the last six months, Romney delivered a fiery speech in the swing state of Ohio in which he suggested that Obama’s “priority is not creating jobs for you [but]…trying to keep his own job. And that’s why he’s going to lose it.”

Following the July 20 Aurora shooting, both Obama and Romney suspended campaign rhetoric out of respect to the victims. The next week, foreign policy came to the forefront as Romney embarked on an international tour to meet with foreign leaders. While in London, ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Romney suggested the city was not ready for the event, which prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to argue that London is “one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world” and that, as with Romney’s 2002 Salt Lake City games, “it is easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.” After this, Romney visited Israel, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and voiced his support for Israeli actions against Iran to prevent nuclear proliferation in that nation. Romney received some criticism after a meeting in Israel in which he argued that cultural differences impacted the economic disparity between Israel and its neighbors. He completed his trip in Poland, where he received a warm reception, and endorsed a missile defense system in the nation that President Obama scrapped in 2009. In response to the trip, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs argued that Romney “both offended our closest ally and triggered a troubling reaction in the most sensitive region of the world…He certainly didn’t prove to anyone that he passed the commander-in-chief test.” The Obama campaign announced at the end of the month that former President Bill Clinton would be given a prime-time slot at September’s Democratic National Convention, while San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was slated to deliver the keynote address. On July 31, Obama led Romney in the national RealClearPolitics average, 47.0 percent to 45.0 percent.

Polling rules restrict and fuel third party campaigns

Third party presidential candidates are often excluded from most presidential preference polls. However, because of the criteria of the Commission on Presidential Debates, strong showings in polls are critical for third party candidates to effectively communicate their message to voters. In addition to the constitutional requirements to be president and the attainment of enough ballot access to potentially win the election, the Commission requires a 15 percent average in five nationwide polls to participate in October’s three presidential debates. Since these rules were adopted in 2000, no third party candidate has been invited to the debates due to the inability to meet the polling standard.

Gary Johnson speaks at the “Conservatives Against Unconstitutional Wars” rally in July.
Image: Gary Johnson campaign.

In early July, for the first time in this election cycle, Gallup released a national poll that included the three third party presidential nominees with the most ballot access. In addition to Romney and Obama, who registered 40 and 47 percent, respectively, the poll gauged three percent support for the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson; one percent for Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein; and less than half a percentage point for the Constitution Party presidential nominee, former Congressman Virgil Goode. According to Communication Specialist Alyssa Brown, the Gallup organization uses “editorial judgment…including assessments of news coverage of third party and independent candidates” to determine whether or not to include certain candidates. Brown says her firm also measures inclusion through the interpretation of “responses to open-ended vote preference questions…[and] name identification of third party candidates.”

Two other polling firms have included just Johnson in their nationwide polls for a three-way race: an April Public Policy Polling survey showed him with six percent support, and a July JZ Analytics poll found a five percent backing. JZ Analytics Senior Analyst John Zogby says that third party candidates are included in polls usually to see how they affect the race between the two main candidates. His firm added Johnson because “libertarianism appears to be growing in support among young people…[and] we wonder if he can be a factor.” Zogby says that additional candidates will likely be included as the election draws nearer. When asked why JZ Analytics does not simply include all ballot-qualified candidates on a state-by-state basis, he gave three reasons: expense from the time taken to read all the names; questions on how to deal with candidates that appear multiple times on the ballot; and the lack of any significant support for certain candidates, which provide no useful data when applying the view that “the value of a poll is not to predict but to create accurate results that can be interpreted.” Wikinews attempted unsuccessfully to contact other firms about their inclusion criteria for third party candidates.

Gary Johnson supporters picket outside CNN headquarters in July to protest the lack of campaign coverage.
Image: Gary Johnson campaign.

Despite his inclusion in some polls, Johnson does not believe it is enough. He feels that because “only three polling organizations out of 18 are including my name,” debate participation looks to be a nearly insurmountable task. However, he clings to the hope that if he can qualify for the debates, he can possibly win the election. Another kind of poll may assist that goal.

Statewide polls, which measure voter support in individual states, do not count toward the average for the presidential debate qualification; but polling high enough in them could significantly improve a third party candidate’s chances. Russ Verney, who worked on the 1992 presidential campaign of the last third party candidate to appear at the presidential debates, industrialist Ross Perot, and who later served as the campaign manager for 2008 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr, says the Barr campaign’s ideal strategy was to utilize local media in western states that were already “predisposed to Libertarian viewpoints” to work to improve statewide polling above 20 percent. Though this was never implemented due to low campaign funds, Verney believes it could have created a national news story that would have boosted the campaign’s national profile and exposure, perhaps improving the showings in national polls, and like Perot, leading to debate inclusion.

Though third party inclusion in statewide polls remains infrequent, such polls often reflect broader support. For example, in his homestate of Virginia, Virgil Goode has nine percent support in a July Public Policy Polling survey, substantially more than his national average. Jill Stein tripled her national standing with three percent in her homestate of Massachusetts in a late June Public Policy Polling poll. Nevertheless, no other third party candidate is faring as well as Johnson in multiple states: a July poll from Public Policy Polling showed him with 13 percent in his homestate of New Mexico (down from 23 percent in December); he stood at nine percent in Arizona in May; and had an eight percent backing in Montana during the same month. These showings in western states are significantly better than Johnson’s national showings. Since his campaign, unlike the 2008 Barr campaign, has access to federal funding, Johnson could possibly employ the Verney strategy, and improve his chances.

Ballot access denied in Illinois

The state of Illinois, which accounts for 20 Electoral College votes, automatically grants ballot access to any presidential candidate that files a petition on time. However, if a petition is challenged and does not list 25,000 valid signatures, ballot access is denied. In 2008, an individual named John Joseph Polachek took advantage of this law and submitted a petition with no signatures. No one challenged this and so Polachek appeared on the ballot.

In this election cycle, Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode; Justice Party nominee, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson; Socialist Party USA nominee Stewart Alexander; and candidate Michael W. Hawkins all submitted petitions with less than 25,000 signatures in hopes that they would not be contested. However, on July 2, Cook County Green Party chairman Rob Sherman filed a challenge to the four petitions, arguing the candidates did not put in the same amount of effort as the Green Party petitioners, who, along with the Libertarian Party, collected more than 25,000 signatures. He also reasoned that additional candidates would divert potential votes from the Green Party.

Virgil Goode collects signatures for his petition to appear on the Virginia ballot.
Image: Brian D. Hill.

Several third party activists and even some members of the Green Party condemned the actions, and asked that Sherman withdraw his challenges. He initially remained unwavering, but attempted to withdraw the challenges just ahead of the final court decision. The court would not allow Sherman to voice his change of heart, and proceeded to remove the four candidates from the ballot.

According to Sherman, Illinois Green Party counsel Andy Finko requested that he be the main objector. He further claims that before this, Finko contacted then-presumptive presidential nominee Jill Stein’s campaign chairman Ben Manski, who purportedly labeled the challenge as a “decision for the Illinois Green Party and not one for the Stein campaign.” However, Sherman says that both Manski and Stein personally contacted him a few days later, and asked that he withdraw the challenges. Sherman argued to them that he “had staked [his] national reputation on it” and that a withdrawal would hurt the Green Party ticket. He did not decide to withdraw the challenges until he felt the Stein campaign had completely deliberated over his arguments, which eventually came a couple of weeks later. Wikinews was unable to contact Manski or Stein to confirm that these conversations actually took place.

Virgil Goode offers a different perspective on the challenges. He says that Sherman, a self-identified atheist, offered to drop the Constitution Party petition challenge if Goode gave his support for the removal of “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency and “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. To this, Goode replied “no deal”, explaining that he co-sponsored “legislation in the House to put ‘In God We Trust’ back on the face of the Presidential dollars so that it could be readily seen by the public.” It is not known if the other candidates were given this same opportunity, but Rocky Anderson says that he personally was not. Sherman did not respond to inquiries concerning such a deal.

For Goode, the decision may have affected his ability to participate in the presidential debates. Without Illinois’ 20 electoral votes, he may fall short of the Commission on Presidential Debates ballot access requirements. Goode currently has access in 18 states for a total of 169 electoral votes, over 100 less than the required 270. Nevertheless, the campaign is still working to get on the ballot in additional states. Furthermore, the removal may affect Green Party ballot access elsewhere. According to ballot access expert Richard Winger, the party is currently a co-plaintiff with the Constitution Party in five states in cases where ballot access laws are being challenged. He says that “state attorneys…attack the plaintiff parties …[using] the number of states in which each of the parties is on the ballot nationwide” as evidence of strength or lack thereof.

“It’s tough enough to get on state ballots without other third parties undermining the efforts” says Anderson, whose Justice Party has thus far attained ballot access in Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New Jersey, Anderson does not fault the entire Green Party for Sherman’s “unfortunate behavior”, but the events do affirm one thing for him: “In my view, third parties should all hang together in promoting ballot access.”

August 1, 2012 LP, GP, CP Ballot access.png

Wikinews interviews newly-selected Justice Party VP nominee

Justice Party Vice presidential nominee Luis Rodriguez.
Image: Rocky Anderson campaign.

On July 17, Rocky Anderson announced his selection of Chicano writer and community activist Luis J. Rodriguez of California as his running mate on the Justice Party presidential ticket. Rodriguez is a published poet, columnist, and author of such books as the 1993 bestseller Always Running, which documents his youth and involvement in the street gangs of East Los Angeles.

As an advocate for urban social change, Rodriguez hosts readings and workshops, and frequently speaks at schools, prisons, churches, homeless shelters, and migrant camps. For his activism, he has received numerous awards including KCET-TV‘s “Local Hero of Community”, and the “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” from the Dalai Lama.

Anderson described the vice presidential selection process as “arduous”, but held that Rodriguez exceeded his personal expectations. He proclaimed that his running mate “brings with him a wealth of knowledge and real-life experience, inspirational personal growth, and proven commitment to social, economic, and environmental justice.”

With Wikinews, Rodriguez discusses his initial reaction and reason for accepting the nomination, his responsibilities as the vice presidential nominee, and how he hopes to complement Anderson on the Justice Party ticket.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhy did you accept the Justice Party’s vice presidential nomination, and how exactly did that nomination come about?

Luis Rodriguez: I was quite surprised by the invitation to be Rocky Anderson’s running mate, and honored. I’m convinced that we need to have a strong voice in the political arena for justice in all its forms–in our social and civil relationships, in the environment, and in the economy. I see this ticket as an opportunity to express new ideas and new ways of organizing for concerns of mine such as urban peace, the arts, labor rights, and immigrant rights as well as those espoused by the Justice Party, which I agree with. As far as how my name came up, I’m sure it was from within Rocky’s team, somebody who knew my work around the country and the many talks I do to open up a new vision for America. I’m convinced the two-party system we have today has pushed out too many voices and concerns of vital importance from the conversation and from actual policies.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your responsibilities as the Justice Party vice presidential nominee?

Luis Rodriguez: Being that the election is only a few months away, I see my main role as speaking out as articulately and rationally as I can on these very issues… in the mass media, the Internet, social media, and blogs. I’m also a published writer/essayist and speaker and will try to get our views as a ticket out in as many forms as possible.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow will you complement Rocky Anderson on the ticket?

Luis Rodriguez: America is a very diverse and vibrant country. This ticket is in the direction of encompassing how this country is actually made up while finding the unity-in-diversity necessary to move everyone forward toward true justice in all areas of our civic and political life. I think Rocky Anderson is brave and insightful to select someone like myself, not for celebrity or to cater to any “winnable” ticket, but one that is real, addresses what really matters, and actively works to bring in those constituencies often forgotten. Rocky as a former mayor of Salt Lake City will be complemented by someone who has never held political office yet has spent more than forty years in grassroots organizing and community building.



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July 30, 2010

Former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod to sue blogger Andrew Breitbart

Former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod to sue blogger Andrew Breitbart

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod has said that she’ll “definitely sue” conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.
Image: United States Department of Agriculture.

Shirley Sherrod, an African-American employee of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) who was ousted last week, has said that she will “definitely sue” conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart over a video clip posted online at BigGovernment.com, operated by Breitbart, that made her appear racist.

Formerly the director of rural development in Georgia, Sherrod was referred to on Breitbart’s site as a “racist govt employee,” and the video had been edited to make her appear to have discriminated against Caucasians. Sherrod spoke in March of this year at an NAACP meeting. The clip edited from the original video footage of this meeting misrepresents Sherrod as deliberately failing to support a white farmer because of his race. In reality, the full video revealed that Sherrod was speaking about racial reconciliation and the lessons she learned after the episode. However, the USDA asked Sherrod to resign before the full video was released. The farmer mentioned in the video and his wife later stated that Sherrod had actually helped to save their farm, and after the full video was made public, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and US President Barack Obama apologised and Vilsack offered Sherrod a new job with the USDA. However, Sherrod said that she has not decided whether to accept the new position.

Breitbart said that he posted the edited clip to prove that the NAACP has racist elements, and has not apologised to Sherrod. Shortly before the video clip was posted, the NAACP had demanded that the Tea Party, a conservative activist group that Breitbart is active in, remove racism from parts of that group.

However, Sherrod says that she no longer wants an apology. “He had to know that he was targeting me,” the 62-year-old said at a convention of the National Association of Black Journalists.



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September 25, 2007

Interview with U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo

Interview with U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tom Tancredo

Tom Tancredo has been a member of the United States House of Representatives since 1999, representing the 6th Congressional District of Colorado. He rose to national prominence for his strong stance against illegal immigration and his announcement that he was a Republican candidate in the 2008 Presidential election. David Shankbone recently spoke with the Congressman and posed questions from Wikipedia editors and Wikinews reporters:

DS: Throughout my life my father, a lifelong Republican and an avid listener of Rush Limbaugh, told me that all we needed in this country was a Republican Congress, Republican Senate and a Republican White House to get this country on the right track. Last year he expressed his disappointment to me. So many Republicans, like my father, feel lied to or let down by the party. The rationale for the Iraq War, the sex and bribery scandals, the pork barrel projects, and, as Alan Greenspan recently pointed out, the fiscal irresponsibility. People feel there have been many broken promises. Why should someone vote Republican today?

TT: The best reason I can give: we’re not the Democrats. The best thing we have going for us is the Democrats. Maybe that’s as far as I can go; I hope that there are candidates out there who will reflect and carry out the values that your father believes in when he votes Republican. To the extent you can ferret those people out from the others, that’s who he should vote for. The party was taught a pretty harsh lesson in this last election. I have noticed in the last several months we have done a better job of defending Republican principles as the minority than we ever did in the majority. I feel more in tune with the party now than I have throughout the Bush Presidency. Even before he came in, we were in the majority and we were still spending too much. Hopefully we can say that we were spanked by the American public and that we learned our lessons. There are true believers out there who will stick to their guns, and it’s a matter of principle. What’s the alternative? Hillary Clinton?

DS: You yourself said you would only serve three terms in Congress, but then broke that promise. What caused you to reverse yourself?

TT: What happened was this: having ‘lame duck’ stamped on your forehead in Congress when they know you are not going to be around. Then the committee assignments become less meaningful. That was just one of the factors. Far more significant was my becoming the most visible Congressional member on the immigration issue. When I came into Congress I approached Lamar Smith, who was “The Man” on immigration, and said to him, “I’ve come to help you on this issue.” I felt it was one of the most serious we face as a nation. Lamar said, “It’s all yours! I’ve had it with 10 years of busting my head against the wall!” I started doing special orders—that’s when you speak to an empty chamber and whoever is watching CSPAN–and I did that night after night and wondered if it was worth it; was anyone paying attention? Then I’d go back to my office to pick up my keys and I’d see all the telephone lines illuminated, and the fax machine would be going, and a pile of e-mails would be handed to me the next day. I realized: people pay attention. I started picking it up, speaking around the country, leading the caucus on it. In time it became apparent there was nobody to hand the baton to; there were supporters, but not one single soul was willing to take it on as their issue. It was the first year of my second term that I sent a letter to every supporter I had. I said I had come to this conclusion that at the end of my third term (which is three years away) I don’t know if I will run again or not, but that the decision would not be based upon the term limit pledge, because immigration issue makes me feel I have a responsibility I can not shirk. I said that if anybody who gave me money based upon my term limits pledge wanted it back, I would do so. I received maybe three requests.

DS: There are an estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. To round up and deport millions of people would be a major government undertaking, requiring massive federal spending and invasive enforcement. What level of funding would be necessary for U.S. Immigration and Customs to achieve the level of enforcement that you’d like to see?

TT: Only a relatively slight increase because the only thing you have to do, other than building a barrier on the southern border, is go after employers. We need to go aggressively after the employers, and try to identify some of the more high profile employers who are hiring illegal aliens. Go after them with fines, and if they are not only hiring them but also conspiring to bring them in, then they could go to jail. A perp walk would have a chilling effect. If you break that magnet, most illegal aliens would go home voluntarily. An article in the Rocky Mountain News stated there has been an employer crackdown in Colorado, and that they are going home or moving on to other states. If we did it nationally, they will return home, because the jobs are no longer available. It doesn’t have to happen over time or instantaneously. The costs to the American public for 12 million illegals are enormous and far more than are paid for by the illegal immigrants themselves in taxes.

DS: How long would full enforcement take for you to succeed?

TT: It would be a couple of years before employers were weaned off illegal immigrants and then a couple more years before you saw a really significant reduction.

DS: Can you explain your remarks about bombing the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina as a deterrent to terrorists operating against the United States.

TT: The question I was answering was “What would you do if Islamic terrorists set off on or more nuclear devices in the United States?” My response was that we would need to come up with a deterrent, and that deterrent may very well be a threat to take out their holy sites if they did something like that in the United States. I still believe it is something we must consider as a possible deterrent because at the present time there are no negative consequences that would accrue to the people who commit a crime such as a nuclear, chemical or biological attack. There are no negative consequences; they may die in the attack but that is not a negative consequence for them. Usually they aren’t going to be state actors.

DS: But wouldn’t an attack on Mecca and Medina be an attack on a sovereign state?

TT: You are not attacking the state, but the religious ideology itself. Holy sites are not just in Saudi Arabia; there’s a number of them. In fact, Iran has one of the holiest cities in Islam. And I never used the word nuclear device; I was talking about taking out a physical structure. The reason I suggested it as a possible deterrent is because it is the only thing that matches the threat itself. The threat is from a religious ideology. Not just from Islam, but from a nation whose requirements include jihad against infidels, and we are a threat to their culture, which is why they believe we need to be destroyed. We must understand what motivates our opponents in order to develop a successful response. I’ve received death threats, enormous criticism, and I’ve been hung in effigy in Pakistan, but nobody has given me an alternative strategy that would be a deterrent to such an event. I guarantee when you read the national intelligence estimates, you would be hard pressed to not walk away from doing something.

DS: Aside from becoming President, if you could be granted three wishes, what would they be?

TT: It was the other night that I saw for the third or fourth time Saving Private Ryan and in the last scene Private Ryan asks, “Have I been a good man, have I earned it?” My greatest wish is to be a good father and to have earned everything I have been given in this life. And to be a better Christian.

DS: Farmers rely heavily on seasonal manual labor. Strict enforcement of immigration laws will inevitably reduce the pool of migrant labor and thus increase costs. Do you support tariffs or other government intervention to keep American farm products competitive?

TT: No, I don’t , because I challenge the premise of the question. The ability for farmers to obtain workers in the United States is only minimally hampered by the immigration process because there is, in fact, H-2A, the visa that is designed specifically for agricultural workers. We can bring in 10,000,000 if we want to. There are no caps. There are restrictions in terms of pay and healthcare benefits, and that’s what makes hiring illegal aliens more attractive. The costs would increase for certain agricultural interest, but it would be regional. You would also see a very aggressive movement toward the mechanization of farm work. We are seeing it today in a lot of areas. We saw it in the tomato industry with the Bracero Program. That was a program many growers relied heavily upon: workers, primarily from Mexico would come up seasonally, work, and then went back home. It was successful. But liberals ended the program as a bad idea because the immigrants couldn’t bring their families. When that happened, tomato growers said they’d go out of business. Lo and behold they developed machinery that can harvest citrus fruit, and now they are genetically engineering trees that have a thicker bark but are more flexible so they can be shaken by these machines. You’ll see it more and more.

DS: Do you agree that our forefathers intended birthright citizenship?

TT: No, the Fourteenth Amendment, upon which the concept of birthright citizenship is based, was a response to the Dred Scott decision.
During the original Senate debate there was an understanding that it wouldn’t be provided to people simply because they were born here, but instead to people under our jurisdiction. For instance, nobody assumes a child born to an embassy employee or an ambassador is a citizen of this country. There was an understanding and a reference to “under the jurisdiction” of the United States.

DS: You and Karl Rove engaged, in your words, in a screaming match over immigration, and Rove said that you would never again “darken the doorstep of the White House.” Are you still considered persona non grata at the White House?

TT: Yeah, even though he is gone, the President’s feelings about my criticism of him have not changed. It wasn’t my stand on immigration, it was my criticisms of the President that have made me persona non grata.

DS: Psychologist Robert Hare has discussed in his work the use of doublespeak as a hallmark of psychopaths, and social scientists have pointed out that the use of doublespeak is most prevalent in the fields of law and politics. Do these two trends alarm you?

TT [Laughs] Yes and no. Unfortunately doublespeak is all too characteristic of people in my profession.

DS: What is the proper role of Congress in the time of war?

TT: To first declare it, and then to fund it or not.

DS: Politics is dominated by lawyers. What other group of people or professions would you prefer to see dominate the field of politics and why?

TT: I can’t think of a particular profession from which I would be more comfortable drawing politicians from.

DS: Do you think lawyers are better for handling legislation and as politicians?

TT: No, they don’t offer anything particularly advantageous to the process. I don’t think it should be dominated by one profession. I’ll tell you what this profession is, and it doesn’t matter what field you come out of. There’s something I noticed here. I tell every single freshman I come across that there are very few words of wisdom, having only been here for ten years, that I can pass along to you but there is one thing I can tell you: this place is Chinese water torture on your principles. Every single day there is another drip, and it comes from a call from a colleague asking you to sign on to a bill you wouldn’t have signed on to; but it’s a friend, and it’s not that big a deal. Or a constituent who comes in and asks you to do something and you think it wouldn’t be such a big deal; or a special interest group that asks you to vote for something you wouldn’t vote for. After time it erodes the toughest of shells if one isn’t careful doesn’t think about it. Even if you recognize that these small steps lead to a feeling that remaining here is the ultimate goal; that the acquisition of power or the maintenance of power is the ultimate goal, that really does… it doesn’t matter if you are a lawyer or not, it does seem to have an impact on people. It’s a malady that is very common in Washington, and you have to think about it, you really do, or you will succumb to it. I don’t mean to suggest I’ve been impervious to these pressures, but I’ve tried my best to avoid it. One reason I am persona non grata at the White House is not just because of immigration, but because I refuse to support him on his trade policy, his education policy, Medicare and prescription drugs initiatives. I remember leaving that debate at 6:30 on a Saturday morning , after having the President call every freshman off the floor of the House to badger them into submission until there were enough votes to pass it. I remember a woman, a freshman colleague, walking away in tears saying she had never been through anything like that in her life. Here was a Republican Congress increasing government to an extent larger than it had been increased since Medicare had come into existence. Your dad should have been absolutely mortified, because it was against all of our principles. And I know the leadership was torn, but we had the President pressing us: we had to do it, we had to stay in power, the President is asking us to do it. Principles be damned. There were people who caved in that night who I never in a million years thought would.
And the threats! “You like being Committee Chairman?” Yes I do. “Do you want to be Chairman tomorrow?” And that’s how it happens. I was called into Tom Delay’s office because I was supporting Republican challengers to Republican incumbents. I had a group called Team America that went out and did that. He called me and said to me, “You’re jeopardizing your career in this place by doing these things.” And I said, “Tom, out of all the things you can threaten with me that is the least effective because I do not look at this place as a career.”

DS: You have supported proposed constitutional amendments that would ban abortion and same-sex marriage. You are also a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. Why do you believe that the U.S. Constitution should regulate medical procedures and personal relationships, but not gun ownership?

TT: The issue of medical procedures and relationships: I don’t really believe the federal government or any level of government has any business in determining about who I care about, or who anybody cares about, but I do believe they have a legitimate role, and the federal government has a responsibility, because of reciprocity. We are only one federal judge decision away from having gay marriage imposed on all states. That’s why there is a need for a Constitutional Amendment. I really believe a family–male, female, rearing children–I believe that is an important structure for the state itself, the way we procreate, which hopefully provides a stable environment for children. That is important to the state, and that’s why I think it’s legitimate. The reciprocity clause forces us into thinking about a Constitutional Amendment. I believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned because I think it’s lousy law, and many liberal jurists think it’s lousy because it read into the Constitution a right to privacy. I don’t’ see a connection between these things and the 2nd Amendment. Same-sex marriage and abortion, perhaps, but I don’t see a connection to the Second Amendment question. I support the 2nd Amendment because it is one of the most important we have. It’s a right we have to protect a lot of our other rights. And in our urban centers…and I don’t’ believe as some Second Amendment radicals believe that every single person has that right. I don’t think so! If you have committed a felony, or if you are a danger to yourself or someone else, then you shouldn’t be able to obtain a firearm, but law-abiding citizens should because it gives them a sense of security and protection against people who would do you harm. I don’t believe urban communities are more dangerous because people are allowed to own guns, but because dangerous people have guns. I would feel more comfortable if in the District of Columbia I could carry a concealed gun. I have a permit.

DS: You recently spoke out against the Black and Hispanic Congressional caucuses, stating, “It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a color-blind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race. If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive, race-based caucuses.” Do you also believe there is no longer a need for the NAACP?

TT: No, I think it’s fine, because it’s a private organization, and people can belong to whatever private organization they want, and the need will be determined to a great extent by reality. If in fact people feel committed to an organization that they believe represents their interest, and it’s a voluntary association, that’s fine. All I’m saying is that for Congress to support these things, that run on money that is appropriated–though they fund them in a convoluted way, but it gets there– my point was about leading by example. If people said we don’t think it’s a good idea, maybe that would have an impact on how people feel about things like the NAACP. I would hope there would be, and I would assume Martin Luther King hoped–that’s his quite about a colorblind society–that there will come a time we don’t need them. That it’s an anachronistic organization. I also don’t believe in the creation of districts on race.

DS: You were one of a handful of Republicans who voted for a bill proposed by Maurice Hinchey and Dana Rohrabacher to stop the Department of Justice from raiding medical marijuana patients and caregivers in states where medical marijuana is legal, citing states’ rights concerns. On the other hand, you have suggested state legislators and mayors should be imprisoned for passing laws contrary to federal immigration law, and you support the Federal Marriage Amendment to ban gay marriage nationally. How do you reconcile these seemingly contradictory positions?

TT: We are talking about issues that are legitimately based upon the Constitutional roles of the state and federal government. I believe there is no Constitutional provision that suggests the federal government has a role to play in preventing states, or punishing states, over laws with regards to medical marijuana. I believe absolutely there is a role for the federal government for punishing states or laws when they contravene federal jurisdiction. For instance, protecting states against invasion. Immigration is federal policy, and there’s a law actually called “Encouragement”: you can’t encourage people to come in illegally or stay here illegally. I believe that is constitutionally a federal area.

DS: If you had to support one of the Democratic candidates, which one would it be and why?

TT: Although I couldn’t vote for him, if I had to support one for a nominee it would be Obama, and I would do so because first, I believe we could beat him [laughs], but secondly, and less cynically, I think it would be very good to have a black man, a good family man, and a very articulate man, to have him as a role model for a lot of black children in this country.



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August 29, 2006

HUD hoaxer calls attention to lack of affordable housing

HUD hoaxer calls attention to lack of affordable housing

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A member of The Yes Men speeching in Sydney.

Assuming the role of Rene Oswin, spokesperson for United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in New Orleans, Louisiana, a member of The Yes Men gave a satirical 15-minute speech claiming that HUD had reversed its decision to demolish four serviceable public housing complexes — a controversial action, suspected by many former residents and the NAACP as a policy intended to drive out poor black families. The media coordinator for the Survivors Village, Annie Chen, applauded Oswin.

Alternatively, Oswin proposed for Wal-Mart “to withdraw from areas near low-income New Orleans neighborhoods and to help nurture local businesses to replace them,” “partnership with health departments and the CDC” to “insure there is at least one well-equipped public health clinic for every public housing development,” and “that Exxon and Shell have agreed to finance the rebuilding of the protective wetlands from part of their 60 billion dollars in profits this year.”

From Washington, D.C., HUD spokeswoman Donna White confirmed the speech as a hoax and that no one named Rene Oswin works for the department. She said, “I’m like, who the heck is that?”

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May 14, 2005

Bikers begin descent on South Carolina resort for rallies

Bikers begin descent on South Carolina resort for rallies

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The Harley-Davidson dealer on
Kings Hwy is an early focal point for the rally.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina —This weekend is the kick-off for two motorcycle rallies held annually in the U.S. eastern seacoast town of Myrtle Beach. Enthusiasts this year are expected to meet or exceed the 170,000 bikers that arrived last year in droves to the small resort town of 23,000. Festivities span two weeks, and extend again this year into the Memorial Day.

Leading off is the week-long Harley rally, followed by the next week’s BikeFest. In and around town, both day and night are punctured by the sounds of bike engines gunned and revved at stop lights and in parking lots. Groups of cycle riders dominate the streets.

“By Friday night, the front parking lot will be a full line of motorcycles to the corner.” said motel owner Ranjan Patel. The Super 8 motel takes up half a block at its location in the heart of the downtown motel strip. “Both sides [of Ocean Blvd] are nothing but bikes.” Both she and her co-owner husband agree, the influx of bikers dwarf in size the numbers of tourists who visit during regular summer months for ocean-side and family amusement park attractions.

The highly accesorised bikes, decked with chrome and polished to show it, flashed the townscape. Choppers made a showing, but road hogs dominated the ridership, often going twosome. Many rally goers arrived on the scene with SUV’s or big pickup trucks towing cargo trailers loaded with cycles.

Cargo trailor filled with motorcycles.jpg

Growth in the sheer size of the two rallies led police to make changes in the handling of traffic flow. During BikeFest last year, the mostly black crowd that came in on the heels of the largely white Harley rally the week earlier, were faced with confusion when the two-lane Ocean Blvd was made one-way.

A branch of the NAACP in Conway, the next town over from Myrtle Beach, alleged discrimination by Horry County and Myrtle Beach Police. They claimed authorities and police used an overwhelming and aggressive police presence, combined with a restrictive one-way traffic pattern, to intimidate and discourage the participants in the rally.

An injunction was issued earlier this week by U.S. District Judge Terry Wooten, who ruled that bikers at both rallies be treated the same. Myrtle Beach city lawyers immediately filed an appeal to the ruling at the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying “the trial court erroneously determined that the plaintiffs would likely succeed on the merits; that is, that the city of Myrtle Beach intentionally treats Memorial Day weekend tourists differently from others similarly situated because of their race.”

A plan to submit an opposition to the notice has already been announced by Michael Navarre, an attorney for Steptoe & Johnson, who represents the NAACP civil rights group. “We certainly don’t think the judge has ruled erroneously,” Navarre said, according to The Sun News.

Traffic control and safety measures were in full swing Friday morning on US-17. Both directions of the 4-lane divided highway south of Myrtle Beach had traffic cones and parking barriers set up to control traffic. Large flashing road signs on each side of the highway warned cars to use the passing lane. The warning sign flashed a message that the right lane was for motorcycle use only. Police monitored the pull-offs near a Harley dealer’s lot where popular attractions were set-up in the immediate vicinity.

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February 11, 2005

Bush administration removes critical report from website, replaces Civil Rights Commission chair

Bush administration removes critical report from website, replaces Civil Rights Commission chair

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Friday, February 11, 2005

A report documenting the civil rights record of the Bush administration has been removed from the Commission’s website. The report was submitted to the administration in December by a committee, chaired by Mary Frances Berry, who has served as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for nearly 25 years.

The report, Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration described setbacks to a range of civil rights issues from policies that have further polarized communities. One week after Berry submitted the report, the Bush administration forced her out, announcing her replacement before she had actually resigned. The new chair, attorney Gerald A. Reynolds, was quoted in a New York Times article as saying he believed traditional civil rights group “overstate the problem” of racial discrimination. His appointment has been termed “a disaster” by NAACP Board Chairman Julian Bond.

In an exclusive interview with Tolerance.org February 9, Berry warns of further erosion to civil rights, with a weakened Civil Rights Commission unable to press the Justice Department to enforce the laws.

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