Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Trump wins presidency with lowest minority vote in 40 years

Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency with less support from black and Hispanic voters than any president in at least 40 years, a Reuters review of polling data shows, highlighting deep national divisions that have fueled incidents of racial and political confrontation.

Trump was elected with 8 percent of the black vote, 28 percent of the Hispanic vote and 27 percent of the Asian-American vote, according to the Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll.

Among black voters, his showing was comparable to the 9 percent captured by George W. Bush in 2000 and Ronald Reagan in 1984. But Bush and Reagan both did far better with Hispanic voters, capturing 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively, according to exit polling data compiled by the non-partisan Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.

And Trump’s performance among Asian-Americans was the worst of any winning presidential candidate since tracking of that demographic began in 1992.

The racial polarization behind Trump’s victory has helped set the stage for tensions that have surfaced repeatedly since the election, in white supremacist victory celebrations, in anti-Trump protests and civil rights rallies, and in hundreds of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic hate crimes documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist movements.

The SPLC reports there were 701 incidents of “hateful harassment and intimidation” between the day following the Nov. 8 election and Nov. 16, with a spike in such incidents in the immediate wake of the vote.

Signs point to an ongoing atmosphere of confrontation.

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a white separatist group that vilifies African-Americans, Jews and other minorities, plans an unusual Dec. 3 rally in North Carolina to celebrate Trump’s victory.

Left-wing groups have called for organized protests to disrupt the president-elect’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

And a “Women’s March on Washington,” scheduled for the following day, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to protest Trump’s presidency.

American politics became increasingly racialized through President Barack Obama’s two terms, “but there was an attempt across the board, across the parties, to keep those tensions under the surface,” says Jamila Michener, an assistant professor of government at Cornell University.

Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric “brought those divisions to the fore; it activated people on the right, who felt empowered, and it activated people on the left, who saw it as a threat,” she added.

That dynamic was evident last week.

When Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended the Broadway musical “Hamilton” in New York on Friday, the multi-ethnic cast closed with a statement expressing fears of a Trump presidency. A far different view was on display the next day as a crowd of about 275 people cheered Trump’s election at a Washington conference of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist group with a strong anti-Semitic beliefs.

“We willed Donald Trump into office; we made this dream our reality,” NPI President Richard Spencer said. After outlining a vision of America as “a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” he closed with, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!”

DIVISION BREEDS CONFRONTATION

Though Trump’s election victory was driven by white voters, his performance even among that group was not as strong as some of his predecessors. Reagan and George H.W. Bush both won the presidency with higher shares of the white vote than the 55 percent that Trump achieved.

The historical voting patterns reflect decades of polarization in American politics, but the division surrounding Trump appears more profound, says Cas Mudde, an associate professor specializing in political extremism at the University of Georgia. These days, he adds, “people say they don’t want their children even to date someone from the other party.”

Indeed, voters’ opinions of those on the opposite side of the partisan divide have reached historic lows. Surveys by the Pew Research Center showed this year that majorities of both parties held “very unfavorable” views of the other party — a first since the center first measured such sentiment in 1992.

And the lion’s share of those people believe the opposing party’s policies “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being,” the center found.

That level of division has spurred activists on both sides of the political divide to take their activism in a more confrontational direction.

In the wake of Trump’s victory, protesters on the left took to the streets by the thousands in cities across the country, in some cases causing property damage.

Much of the agitation was motivated by a belief that Trump’s administration will foster racism and push the courts and other political institutions to disenfranchise minority voters, says James Anderson, editor of ItsGoingDown.Org, an anarchist website that has promoted mass demonstrations against Trump’s presidency, including a call to disrupt his inauguration.

Meanwhile, John Roberts, a top officer in the Ku Klux Klan affiliate planning the December rally to celebrate Trump’s election, says the group is committed to non-violent demonstrations, but he sees Trump’s election as likely to bring a new era of political conflict. And much of the strife, he says, will be centered around racial divisions.

“Once Trump officially takes office, there is going to be a boiling over at some point in time,” Roberts says. “Who knows when that’s going to be, but it’s not going to be pretty.”

15 years after Sept. 11: How the unity we forged broke apart

For a time, it felt like the attack that shattered America had also brought it together. After Sept. 11, signs of newfound unity seemed to well up everywhere, from the homes where American flags appeared virtually overnight to the Capitol steps where lawmakers pushed aside party lines to sing “God Bless America” together.

That cohesion feels vanishingly distant as the 15th anniversary of the attacks arrives Sunday. Gallup’s 15-year-old poll of Americans’ national pride hit its lowest-ever point this year. In a country that now seems carved up by door-slamming disputes over race, immigration, national security, policing and politics, people impelled by the spirit of common purpose after Sept. 11 rue how much it has slipped away.

Jon Hile figured he could help the ground zero cleanup because he worked in industrial air pollution control. So he traveled from Louisville, Kentucky, to volunteer, and it is not exaggerating to say the experience changed his life. He came home and became a firefighter.

Hile, who now runs a risk management firm, remembers it as a time of communal kindness, when “everybody understood how quickly things could change … and how quickly you could feel vulnerable.”

A decade and a half later, he sees a nation where economic stress has pushed many people to look out for themselves. Where people stick to their comfort zones.

“I wish that we truly remembered,” he says, “like we said we’d never forget.”

Terrorism barely registered among Americans’ top worries in early September 2001, but amid economic concerns, a Gallup poll around then found only 43 percent of Americans were satisfied with the way things were going.

Then, in under two hours on Sept. 11, the nation lost nearly 3,000 people, two of its tallest buildings and its sense of impregnability. But out of the shock, fear and sorrow rose a feeling of regaining some things, too _ a shared identity, a heartfelt commitment to the nation indivisible.

Stores ran out of flags. Americans from coast to coast cupped candle flames and prayed at vigils, gave blood and billions of dollars, cheered firefighters and police. Military recruits cited the attacks as they signed up.

Congress scrubbed partisanship to pass a $40 billion anti-terrorism and victim aid measure three days after the attacks, and approval ratings for lawmakers and the president sped to historic highs. A special postage stamp declared “United We Stand,” and Americans agreed: A Newsweek poll found 79 percent felt 9/11 would make the country stronger and more unified.

“I really saw people stand up for America. … And I was very proud of that,” recalls Maria Medrano-Nehls, a retired state library agency worker in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her foster daughter and niece, Army National Guard Master Sgt. Linda Tarango-Griess, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004.

Now, Medrano-Nehls thinks weariness from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and combative politics have pried Americans apart, and it pains her to think of the military serving a country so torn.

Larry Brook can still picture the crowd at a post-9/11 interfaith vigil at an amphitheater in Pelham, Alabama. The numbers seemed a tangible measure of an urge to come together.

Now? “I don’t think we’re anywhere close,” says Brook, who publishes Southern Jewish Life magazine. To him, political partisanship and clashes over Middle East policy are walling off middle ground.

Three days after 9/11, Joseph Esposito was at smoldering ground zero as Republican President George W. Bush grabbed a bullhorn and vowed the attackers “will hear all of us soon.” The moment became an emblem of American strength and resolve, and Esposito, then the New York Police Department’s top uniformed officer, was struck by “the camaraderie, the unity” of those days.

He remembers the support police enjoyed then, and how much the tone had changed by the time of the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011, when police arrested hundreds of demonstrators, many of whom said cops unjustly rounded and roughed them up. Now the city’s emergency management commissioner, Esposito has watched from the sidelines as a national protest movement has erupted in recent years from police killings of unarmed black men, and as police themselves have been killed by gunmen claiming vengeance.

These days, Esposito hopes his job can be unifying. He wants people to feel that the city helps neighborhoods equally to handle disaster. “The 1 percenters should not be better prepared than the 99 percent,” he says.

“If everyone feels they’re getting their fair share,” he adds, “it fosters better feelings toward one another.”

For all the signs of kinship after Sept. 11, the first retribution attack came just four days later, authorities said.

Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot dead while placing flowers on a memorial at his Mesa, Arizona, gas station. Prosecutors said the gunman mistook Sodhi, an Indian Sikh immigrant, for an Arab Muslim.

Seeing hundreds of people gather in solidarity on the night of his brother’s death showed me “the greatness of unity,” says Rana Singh Sodhi, of Gilbert, Arizona. But in the last two years, he’s felt a “change toward hatred again.” He worries politicians are stirring animosity toward immigrants and minorities.

So does Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali.

After 9/11, he invited first responders for tea and coffee at the Northeast Denver Islamic Center to show appreciation and emphasize that Muslims “are regular Americans.” Now, Ali, who is African-American, believes Muslims and people of color are being demonized with “incendiary and divisive” remarks.

“We can’t act like racism hasn’t been a part of all this,” he says.

Can the United States feel united again?

Some Americans fear it will take another catastrophe, if even that can shift the climate. Others are looking to political leaders to set a more collaborative tone, or to Americans themselves to make an effort to understand and respect one another.

When Sonia Shah thinks about the push and pull of American unity since the attacks that killed her father, Jayesh, at the World Trade Center, she pictures a rock hitting a pond.

The innermost ripple, that’s the tight circle of support that came together around the people most directly affected by tragedy. Outside it, bigger and more diffuse, are bands of debate over policies and politics in the wake of 9/11.

“We usually see the outer rings of the arguments,” says the Baylor University senior. “But I think there always is a current of unity that goes underneath things.”

 

Contributing to this report were Associated Press journalists P. Solomon Banda in Denver; Nati Harnik in Lincoln, Nebraska; Mike Householder in Farmington Hills, Michigan; Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky; David R. Martin in New York; Jay Reeves in Pelham, Alabama; and Brian Skoloff in Gilbert, Arizona.

Bush 41 unloads with critique of Cheney, Rumsfeld

Former President George H. W. Bush has finally revealed what he really thinks of his son’s presidency, faulting George W. Bush for setting an abrasive tone on the world stage and failing to rein in hawkish Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense chief Donald Rumsfeld.

In a years-long series of interviews with biographer Jon Meacham, the elder Bush frowned on the sometimes “hot rhetoric” of George W. Bush, saying such language may get headlines “but it doesn’t necessarily solve the diplomatic problem.”

The elder Bush faulted Cheney and Rumsfeld for their “iron-ass” views, calling Rumsfeld an “arrogant fellow” and saying Cheney had changed markedly from the days when he served in the first Bush administration.

As vice president, Cheney “had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer,” the elder Bush said, adding: “He just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with.”

Ultimately, the elder Bush assigned fault to his son for Cheney’s over-reach and for fostering a global impression of American inflexibility.

“It’s not Cheney’s fault, it’s the president’s fault,” the elder Bush said. “The buck stops there.”

For all of that, though, the elder Bush did not suggest that he disagreed with his son’s decision to invade Iraq, saying Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein “is gone, and with him went a lot of brutality and nastiness and awfulness.”

The assessments are contained in Meacham’s 800-plus page “Destiny and Power,” the fullest account yet of Bush, the only modern ex-president not to write a full-length memoir. Meacham, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his Andrew Jackson biography “American Lion,” draws on Bush’s diaries and on interviews he conducted with Bush from 2006-2015. The book is being publicly released on Tuesday.

Jeb Bush, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, said he hadn’t read the book but he showed no inclination to echo his father’s criticisms.

“My thought was that Dick Cheney served my dad really well,” Bush said in an Associated Press interview Thursday in New Hampshire. “As vice president, he served my brother really well. Different eras. Different times.”

George W. Bush, too, was measured in his reaction, saying in a statement that he was “proud to have served with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Dick Cheney did a superb job as vice president, and I was fortunate to have him by my side throughout my presidency.  Don Rumsfeld ably led the Pentagon and was an effective secretary of defense.”

In the book, George W. Bush was asked about his father’s criticisms of his own language and allowed that his rhetoric had been “pretty strong.” But he was unrepentant on that count.

“They understood me in Midland,” he said, referring to the Texas town where he was raised.

The elder Bush, for his part, said he wasn’t sure what had changed Cheney, but added that he thought the Sept. 11 attacks had made him more hawkish about the use of U.S. military force abroad.

“Just iron-ass,” the elder Bush said. “His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East.

The elder Bush also speculated that the views of the vice president’s wife, Lynne, and daughter Liz may have contributed to Cheney’s rightward turn.

“Lynne Cheney is a lot of the eminence grise here _ iron-ass, tough as nails, driving,” Bush said. “But I don’t know.” He said daughter Liz Cheney also was “tough” and influential in her father’s administration.

As for Rumsfeld, Bush said he had “served the president badly. I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the president having his iron-ass view of everything.”

“There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks,’ Bush said of Rumsfeld. “He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that.”

Rumsfeld responded in a statement: “Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43, who I found made his own decisions.”

Emails and phone calls to several contacts for the Cheney family were not immediately returned. But Meacham gave Cheney a chance to respond in the book to Bush’s criticisms. Meacham wrote that Cheney smiled and murmured “fascinating” after reading a transcript of Bush’s comments.

“No question I was much harder-line after 9-11,” Cheney said, adding that the younger Bush wanted him to play a significant role on national security.

“I do disagree with his putting it on Lynne and Liz,” he added.

The book suggests that Jeb Bush isn’t the only member of the current presidential field who has long had an interest in the White House. The elder Bush writes that when he was a presidential candidate in 1988, Donald Trump made an overture to be his vice presidential candidate, an idea that Bush found “strange and unbelievable.”

Bush also traces his own evolution in thinking about gay marriage, writing: “Personally, I still believe in traditional marriage. But people should be able to do what they want to do, without discrimination. People have a right to be happy. I guess you could say I have mellowed.”

ACLU sues architects of CIA torture program

Three former Central Intelligence Agency prisoners represented by the American Civil Liberties Union suing two psychologists who designed and implemented the CIA’s torture program.

CIA-contracted psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen helped convince the agency to adopt torture as official policy under George W. Bush administration, making millions of dollars in the process.

The two men, who had previously worked for the U.S. military, designed the torture methods and performed illegal human experimentation on CIA prisoners to test and refine the program. They personally took part in torture sessions and oversaw the program’s implementation for the CIA.

The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of three men — Gul Rahman, Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud — who were tortured using methods developed by Mitchell and Jessen, as detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s landmark report on CIA torture.

The United States has never charged or accused the victims of any crime. One of them was tortured to death and the other two are now free.

“Mitchell and Jessen conspired with the CIA to torture these three men and many others,” said Steven Watt, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program. “They claimed that their program was scientifically based, safe and proven, when in fact it was none of those things. The program was unlawful and its methods barbaric. Psychology is a healing profession, but Mitchell and Jessen violated the ethical code of ‘do no harm’ in some of the most abhorrent ways imaginable.”

Milwaukee jury orders gun shop owners to pay $6M for selling gun that wounded two officers

A jury today ordered a gun shop to pay nearly $6 million to two Milwaukee police officers who were seriously wounded after being shot by a gun that was purchased illegally at the store.

Jurors agreed with Officers Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch that Badger Guns was negligent and overlooked obvious signs that the gun was being sold to a “straw buyer,” a younger man who could not legally purchase the weapon.

The case has drawn attention because it could set gun law precedent in finding that gun shop owners can be held financially responsible for a crime committed with a weapon purchased at their store.

Attorneys defending the owner and operators of Badger Guns and its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, said in closing arguments Monday that their clients didn’t act negligently when they sold the weapon. James Vogts and Wendy Gunderson said their clients and the clerk who sold the gun were deceived by the straw buyer.

The officers’ lawyer, Patrick Dunphy, told jurors there were several tipoffs that should have been sufficient to cancel the sale, including improperly marked forms and the behavior of both the buyer Jacob Collins and the recipient Julius Burton, who was with Collins when the purchase was made. Dunphy also said the shop failed to verify Collins’ identification at the time of the transfer.

The case recently surfaced in the presidential campaigns after Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton said she would push for a repeal of the George W. Bush-era gun law that lawyers say shields their client from liability claims.

Authorities have said more than 500 firearms recovered from crime scenes had been traced back to Badger Guns and Badger Outdoors, making it the “No. 1 crime gun dealer in America,” according to a 2005 charging document from an unrelated case. A former federal agent has also said the shop fails to take necessary precautions to prevent straw purchases.

Norberg and Kunisch were shot after they stopped Burton for riding his bike on the sidewalk in the summer of 2009. A bullet shattered eight of Norberg’s teeth, blew through his cheek and lodged into his shoulder. He has remained on the force but says his wounds have made his work difficult. Kunisch was struck several times, losing an eye and part of the frontal lobe of his brain. He says the wounds forced him to retire.

Vogts, representing Adam Allan, the owner of Badger Guns at the time of the sale, said the officers had to prove sales clerk Donald Flora knew he was committing a crime when he made the sale but that the evidence didn’t support that. He said Collins and Burton went out of their way to dupe him.

Flora testified earlier in the trial that he didn’t remember the transaction.

Gunderson, representing Walter Allan, Mick Beatovic and Badger Outdoors, emphasized that her clients weren’t negligent, since they sold their stake in the operation to Walter Allan’s son Adam Allan.

Both defense lawyers pushed back against the assertion that their clients engaged in a conspiracy.

“Adam Allan did not buy his father’s gun store with the intention he was going to sell guns to criminals,” Vogts said.

The jury began deliberations yesterday.

Burton pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree attempted intentional homicide and is serving an 80-year sentence; Collins got a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to making a straw purchase for an underage buyer.